Sunday, 27 January 2013

Back to School!

Oh the last day of holidays! So bitter sweet...mostly bitter ;)
There is that exciting buzz in the air that comes with the nervous energy that comes with the start of the school year. In my family it is a BIG deal- we all have to go back to school.

So I couldn't get to sleep last night, or the night before that...or ever since Mrs Wishy Washy started interrupting my blissful, holiday slumber. Here she is on top of the pile of big books for this term. I do love her, really I do! I just wish she would butt out so I can continue my holidays in peace. Just look at the smug, bossy look on her face!!





















Lists have been ticked off with a truckload of supplies purchased. See the lengthy receipt from Big W...and then the very conservative receipt from Kikki K for my school 'essentials' :))))





Shiny, squeaky , new school shoes have been tested with the appropriate moaning and groaning that comes from wearing thongs for 5 weeks.



I am excited about seeing my school friends and hearing about their holidays. I can't wait to meet the kids who will be in my class this year. I am busting to crack open my new notebook and test my brand new, super sharp pencils. Maybe I should get myself a new pair of shoes too.

I am just about to set to task on the stack of sandwiches to go in the freezer for the weeks worth of lunches. Truly the back to school fun is endless.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Home :)

Eric set straight to pottering! He and Joe have gone to Bunnings EVERY day since we got home.

















Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Reflection.

I don't know about other bloggers, (I suspect it is true of us all) but I write in my head throughout the day, in those random moments of quiet. There have been so many things that I have written so perfectly in my heads- thoughts, moments, ideas... but then I forget about it all when it is finally time to get out the laptop. I have so many notebooks around the house and work with little snippets in each- I really need to make better use of them and record brilliant moments as soon as I create them. Some of the things I thought up have since come back to me in those "Oh yeah..I meant to talk about that" moments or when I go back through photos I am reminded of things that happened. The other thing is that hindsight changes perspective and I often find that my feelings and thoughts that I recorded at the time have changed a bit. One of our favourite conversations when we are travelling is about our favourite things of the day and then our best memory so far. It is hardly ever the big, touristy stuff that makes the cut. It is usually stuff like a swim, a bike ride, catching a fish- that everyday type stuff that sticks and makes you smile. Some of the memories I have from last summer kind of blurred all together to create a feeling or a mood that became a whole memory. I remember preparing yummy fresh food on the side of the road, high tide at Whyalla, enjoying Adelaide together, walking the pier at Bussleton, watching Sam and his brothers make tomato sauce. It's snippets that pop up but create the feeling of that holiday. There was lots of hot, sunny days and swimming.
This holiday has such a different tone. Neither is better than the other- but they evoke different feelings. This Summer was much cooler and I am a bit sad to say that I didn't actually get to swim in the ocean once. It was either way too cold or we were ill prepared for getting down to the water with Campbell. The memories that linger this trip are more about my beautiful boys and how much they are growing and changing. Nearly all of the instant memories involve moments that made me swell with pride or laugh out loud. Our camping trips are the best way to really catch- up with my boys. Our school terms are so busy that we have so little time to just sit together and hang out- this is the best way to really get to know what goes on in those heads.
My favourite bits:

CAMPBELL
I am overwhelmed with pride for my biggest boy. He has been such a joy to travel with this year. This has not always been the case- at all!!! I used to often think that his physical disabilities were much easier to manage than the autistic tendencies that would so often cause a great deal of anxiety and stress. I have to say that things have really changed this year. He is finding it so much easier to cope with new places and situations. He is able to tolerate things that his brothers want to do (even though they are BORING!) and he understands that they don't like all of his interests either. We are able to reason with him and he can cope with having to wait for the things he wants until they are actually available. All of this means that we can now eat in restaurants and cafes, we can meander through museums, we can fish while he reads his book- although he protests about it loudly and refers to it as the 'F' word!!! F is for fishing, but not everyone realises that when he shouts it in public. So these autistic tendencies still create plenty of embarrassing moment but we are all learning to laugh out loud and ignore the puzzled stares. However, now that he is 14 and almost as tall as me, he is becoming quite heavy and awkward to lift. Showering and toileting are quite often a challenge at the best of times. Eric really has to carry the load now that Cams is too grown up to take into the womens bathrooms and even when there are separate disabled facilities, I find it really hard work to lift and transfer him. I am not sure how long we will be able to continue doing things this way, so we are making the most of every chance we have. Campbell never complains about the indignity of some of these experiences and he happily settles himself in the tent surrounded by his pile of books. He makes friends everywhere we go and is frequently the most charming young man I know. He is very flattering and thoughtful and is quite good at the art of making conversation. He makes people smile and laugh. My eyes have filled with tears just thinking about the powerful impact he can have with his funny questions and thoughtful relfections. He senses when people are lonely and he makes a heartfelt effort to give of himself. Of course he does sometimes make us cringe when he makes a joke based on a 1970's BBC comedy that is now considered a bit politically incorrect!!! He nearly always pulls it off though- especially since he usually follows it up with "Was that rude? I didn't insult you did I?"
The things that I will remember most about Cams this trip is the 'Dad's Army' theme tune- sang at the top of his voice, right behind my head in the car, with every ounce of enthusiasm he could muster. I have never even watched a complete episode of that show but I can sing the theme tune word for word!! I will recall his cuddles on the ferry trip across the Kangaroo Island. He was really tired, and I think very stressed this day, so he snuggled up close and snoozed until we arrived. It was precious. I will also smile about his request for 'fish and chips' every single day!! Every chance he got he ordered it. How I love him and how I wish that we will be able to find solutions that enable us to camp together and travel for many years to come.

ANDREW
There is one particular memory that I haven't written about before but really does sum up our Drew. On our very first stop after leaving home Campbell was really anxious about finding a book shop (that Christmas money was burning a hole in his pocket) and we managed to find an op shop open  in the morning before we left Albury. Campbell found some books and was easily settled for the day of travel. Andrew also pottered around and found a little 'Mario' bag that he thought would be good for putting his bits and pieces in while we travelled. It was brand new and looked like an unwanted present. When we got out to the car Andrew opened it up and found a $2 coin inside. My guess is that a lovely Grandma had popped it in the gift to follow the tradition of a coin in a new bag. Drew immediately insisted on taking it back to the shop. He went back in alone and told the lady that he didn't want to steal it and could she give it to the person it belongs to. Of course that was never going to happen, but he was all smiles and feeling so much better. This is Andrew. Many 10 year kids would have delighted in realising that not only did they get the bag for free but they actually made a profit on it! I hope karma ensures that he is rewarded for his honesty and sense of right and wrong.
I have realised this trip that he has become his own person. He has very clear ideas about what he likes and what he wants for himself. He has discussed his friends a lot and has really clarified the sort of friend he is and what he wants from his friendships. It has been quite confronting watching his growing confidence and self- esteem because with that comes a desire for greater independence. I struggle with letting go- is it just me?? Having spent too long in the Children's Hospital with Campbell, with most of that time spent on wards with children who has sustained head injuries, I am quite the panic merchant!!! I actually do have faith in Andrew's ability to make sensible choices and to take safe risks. He is a very sensible and careful kid, who not only looks after himself but also both of his brothers. He is in a tough spot poor Drew. He is testing the waters like the eldest child usually does, but at the same time he has an older brother that he worries about and cares for. I trust him and I am immensely proud of him- giving him a bit more independence is helping him grow into a very capable young man. He gives us every reason to smile and feel pride- he was and always will be an absolute treasure.

JONAS
Well the adult front teeth are growing- he has that gorgeous gappy smile that is the all important right of passage for a kid in year 1. He looks adorable. His hair has bleached in the sun, his skin is tanned and he has that gorgeous gappy grin to complete the look. He hasn't hit year 1 yet but he is completely ready. Having taught year one for the past 3 years I notice a big shift in that transition from kindy. There is a change in attitude, a change in the tone of their voice and a new sense of self. I think it is the start of moving away from the family circle and starting to realise that there are so many other relationships to build in life. This is why teaching year 1 is such a joy- kids realise that their teachers are people with lives of their own and they are always so curious about that. Joe is already talking like a year 1 kid. I wish I could articulate what that looks and sounds like but it's really just about them not being the baby anymore. Did I mention that I struggle with letting go??? Ahhhh my baby is not a baby anymore. It is so bitter sweet. He is such a gorgeous big boy...but my BABY! I wish everyone could see the happy-go-lucky, confident boy he is. I hope that he lets his shyness relax its grip on him this year. I feel like there has been a shift in his behaviour this holiday- he was willing to play with other kids and wander around the camp grounds collecting bugs without someone holding his hand. Everything about this trip delighted him. He is our most curious child and he loves exploring and finding new things- especially if there are animals involved. He loved the penguins, the seals, the crabs, the fish, the bugs, the lizards....every single creature he could find. Jonas would have been happy exploring with his bug catcher for hours (and some days this is just what he did). He is finally letting go of Andrew to allow himself to try stuff on his own. I love that our camping trips give them a bit more freedom to test boundaries (while we can watch on from the corner of our eye at a safe distance). He is developing his own funny gestures and expressions now that are just completely him- he doesn't look like or act like anybody else- he is just Joe. I love that Joe.

My boys are my pride and joy and I love having our precious Summers to be selfish and just be us! We don't do work, we don't get jobs done around the house, we don't worry about bills- we just be!
It is good for the soul.














Monday, 21 January 2013

Eden

Eden is a beautiful town to drive into with the ocean from almost every angle. It has managed to maintain the endearing beach holiday feel about it without any of the hype. Old fashioned, quiet and all about enjoying the seaside. Not the place to go if you are looking for top end shopping or countless resorts hemming the ocean- we loved it! We had intended to stay in Eden for a few days but it seems the vote was cast while I went for a walk along the beach- everyone was ready to go home. I admit I didn't complain. I have so much work to get on top of before school goes back and I have been dreaming about 'Mrs Wishy Washy'! I can't put it off forever. Having home within our grasp after such a long journey makes it taste so much better too.
So we got to see the Whale Museum and have a wander around town. The boys had a swim in the ocean and Joe entertained himself with a crab he found scurrying along the sand. I stumbled across a family from school and was greeted with mush enthusiasm- they were so gorgeous! I knew that they holidayed in Eden every break but didn't know where and we ended up only a few sites apart in the most massive caravan park. We left with a gift of some pretty abalone shells that the lovely girls carefully selected from their collection.
We knew the trip home would be a pretty long one so we figured that we may as well stretch it out and see some of a favourite spots along the way. We somehow missed Merimbula!! I am cross about that- I think we were all a bit too relaxed to take proper notice. The whole trip home was full of silly antics, lots of giggling, making up silly songs- there was a bit of a buzz in the air...we are nearly home! We did notice the turn off to Tilba Tilba thankfully and enjoyed a spot of morning tea and shopping for cheese. We also squeezed in visits to Ulladulla and Kangaroo Valley. Everything was at a slow and relaxed pace but somehow the time flew by and it didn't feel like a long trip at all.
It was nice to get home :)
Damn.... the pool is a ghastly green and I now need to put away the Christmas tree and unpack the grubby camping stuff. Oh but my bed is giving me a very inviting sirens song....ahhhh :)







Tilba Tilba



Kangaroo Valley


Excited to get home and discover a belated Christmas present. Oh my...I got a Mrs Smileys locket from my gorgeous friend Lisa. What a perfect homecoming!!!!

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Lakes Entrance

The threat of what appeared to be a huge bushfire made us a bit nervous on the drive to Lakes Entrance. Thankfully we didn't have to get too close. The highlight of our stay here was the boat trip we took. These cute little boats were available for hire and after no success fishing from the beach, we were sure we would fill a bucket with fish from the boat. Well.... we did have a great time cruising ;) We didn't really explore much at Lakes Entrance- it may be becoming apparent from recent blog entries that we are getting a little bit travel weary. We are enjoying opportunities to just relax by the ocean rather than doing too much of the exploring and sight seeing that we were so keen to do 4 weeks ago. Campbell is quite homesick and is counting down the days until he gets home to his own bedroom. As reluctant as Eric and I are to get back to our very busy reality, the novelty of camping does lose it's shine eventually. Our visit to Lakes Entrance will be fondly remembered by us all despite our lack of adventure. We all loved our boat trip, the Mexican dinner we had one night we were there (I will especially remember that delicious glass of Sangria), the hilarious neighbours (Pugsley Snr and Pugsley Jnr) and the cleanest caravan park we have ever seen. My goodness that place had rules for EVERYTHING but it was such a gorgeously clean bathroom (see you can hear my camping weariness). The rules for the pool alone had about 20 bullet points on the list!! Our short but sweet visit brings us closer to the end of our holiday.




Oh Yes! Those hot fudge sundaes may be fondly remembered too .














Friday, 18 January 2013

Phillip Island

We enjoyed our last night in Geelong with some dinner on the bay. Joe also made the most of the lucky dip he got in the magic shop in Melbourne by becoming Jonas the Pirate for the evening.
We started off for Phillip Island a bit disappointed that we could only secure one night in the caravan park- we will have to make the most of our time there. We drove the short distance to Queenscliff to get the ferry across to Sorrento. It was a much easier and cheaper trip than the Kangaroo Island ferry- there was even a elevator for Campbell to go straight from the car into the passenger lounge. As soon as we got going the kids were invited to play some games set up by volunteers. The trip was over before we even had time to appreciate the view!! The drive around the coastline towards Phillip Island gave us views of surf boards tucked under arms, over flowing caravan parks and the cutest little seaside cabins. Very sweet and pretty but very, very crowded. Once we arrived on Phillip Island we dumped the trailer to start exploring- we had to see it all today!!! How gorgeous it was too. Again I will let the photos do the talking.
After an easy dinner of salad wraps I took the boys down to the beach for a swim, while Eric and Campbell relaxed. A game of Beetle completed our busy day. We have managed to fit a lot into our day again today- too much for any of us to want to go to the Penguin Parade tonight. We saw one peeking out at us while we were walking to the blow hole today and Eric and Joe saw them parading on Kangaroo Island. It feels like home is getting very close now- we are all looking forward to seeing our Charlie soon.








Jonas the Pirate.


The ferry trip to Sorrento.




A lunch stop along the way.







Phillip Island.









 
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