Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Dentist, library and Healesville Sanctuary

Amelie had a dentist appointment yesterday so the kids and I went down to Healesville to have her front teeth checked - she had banged them hard on her knee when we were in Esperance a few weeks ago, then hit them again on LiAM's head a week or so later, and they have been bleeding and looking a funny colour since then.

The dentist said they were about to fall out (they are both baby teeth) and there's nothing to worry about, so that's a relief. He wants to get her back in for a filling - I'll wait and see when she's ready for that then book her back in.

Seeing as we were in town I was happy to hang around and explore somewhere. The kids wanted milkshakes from the fish and chip shop near Coles, where we often used to buy milkshakes before our trip. We started walking over, then talked about going to the library - LiAM realised that he'd want the iPad and his iPod if we went to the library so the kids kept walking to the shop and I went back to get the car. I couldn't find them when I arrived, then Caitlin texted to say they were in the library - the guy at the fish and chip shop had said they couldn't do milkshakes - unsure if that was just for today or permanently.

We hung out at the library for a while, reading books, finding books and DVDs to borrow, and playing on the playstation (Lego Indiana Jones) then Caitlin went over to the ice-cream shop to get milkshakes from there. They were delicious - more expensive and much tastier than the ones we normally get.

Everyone was keen to go to the Sanctuary, and I was pleased I'd thought to suggest it. We can go as often as we want on our membership, and it's so close to home, I hope we continue to pop in whenever we are in Healesville. We saw a lot in the couple of hours we were there. There've been some changes - there are cassowaries, a cool new koala exhibit and we hadn't been in the new lyrebird exhibit either. We watched the bird show, excellent as always, and we were all very very excited to see the wedge-tailed eagle when she came out. We went to feed the parrots - Caitlin was able to hold a red-tailed black cockatoo, it wouldn't go onto the arms of the other kids, and none of the parrots were interested in the food we offered them (provided by the keepers) - it was still great to see them and Caitlin was thrilled about the cockatoo. We saw the pelicans, bats, wallabies, more birds and the goannas, then raced back for the dingo talk, which seemed even more relevant after meeting dingoes on our trip. We learnt that the biodiversity on the dingo side of the dingo fence is in better shape than the non-dingo side. Makes sense really, if you take out the top predator, things change a lot. Also the dingoes keep the cat and fox populations under control. We saw echidnas and discovered they have rear facing claws on their rear feet. We saw a keeper syringe feeding a very old koala and talked to her about how they were helping this koala (she was 18), and LiAM asked about the echidna claws - it's so they can scratch themselves without getting caught in their own spikes.

It was a very enjoyable afternoon and I'm looking forward to going a lot more often and remembering to really explore our own region like we did at all the places we stayed on our trip.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Cool learning and connections

I'm confident that learning happens for each of us, every day, often in ways that aren't obvious at the time. Some days though, the learning seems to be jumping out at us and we are all making connections and it's like we can feel our learning jumping ahead.

In the last couple of days there have been lots of little incidents of delight where people expanded their knowledge or understanding of the world.

LiAM and a friend were outside after the rain and saw water running from the driveway, so they followed it all the way to the bottom of the hill and then saw more water running to that point from the other direction, and followed it up the hill to the top of the dam. On the way they saw a blue tongue lizard, and discovered lots about waterways.

Millie was going through all the odd numbers (1 is odd, 2 isn't, 3 is odd, 4 isn't...) and on the way discovered that the digits repeat through each decade of numbers - so 0 is the same as 10, and 20, and 30, and 1 is the same as 11, and 21, and 31, and 2 is the same as 12, and 22.... She's come back to it several times and keeps exploring the idea further and finding it holds no matter how far she counts. She's quite excited about it.

Caitlin has been practicing doing handstands on a raised surface like the couch - so feet starting on the floor, then hands on the couch and legs up - it was pretty tricky at first and she kept practicing and it didn't take long for her to get it. She also learnt some cool ways to flip into the foam pit at Gravity Zone Trampoline centre yesterday, a round off and some other aerials that she couldn't do before - doing them into the pit gave her more support and flexibility so it won't be long until she can do them on the ground.

Watching BTN yesterday there was an article about a whole bunch of new words being added to the Australian National Dictionary. I was interested in the words that had been added and we chatted about some of them, and I was pleased to hear about the dictionary and didn't think I'd heard of it before (or not in a way that was memorable). About an hour later I was reading a book called 'The Bush and the Never Never' - I had picked it up at the library that afternoon, partly because we've just been to the Never Never, and partly because it was written by a man whose name was almost exactly the same as one of my uncles. I was already feeling a bit weird because that same uncle had rung me up this afternoon (after I'd borrowed the book) - and we'd had a great chat about our trip and he was saying how much he'd learnt about Australia by reading my blog, and I was talking about things I'd learned too. On the 2nd or 3rd page of the book the author was talking about the meaning of the 'bush' in Australia, and that words related to the bush take up more room than any other in the Australian National Dictionary. A dictionary which I now know something about because of the kids' news program, and one that I am going to find out more about because 2 mentions of it in one hour has made a fun connection that I want to explore further.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Life in a house is a little strange

I'm feeling pretty relaxed as we continue to settle back in to life at home. Occasionally a worry or anxious though flares up, and I'm able to fairly quickly put it in perspective and feel OK about it, and get on with whatever I am doing. The car and trailer are slowly being unpacked, things are getting put away or reorganised, and it's surprisingly easy to keep the house looking tidy. We're all being more efficient with lights, water and power, we're not taking them for granted after living outside for 4 months.

I'm finding it tricky in the late afternoons as the light inside gets dull, but it's still light outside - it feels too early to turn lights on, and I'm not really enjoying artificial light anyway, but there's parts of our house that get dark quite quickly and the low light can bring my mood down a little. So there's still adjustments to be made to living in a house again, and it's helping us see what things we could do to improve the layout and set up of our house, which is cool.

Caitlin is at another sleepover - she'll have 9 nights without sleeping in the same place 2 nights in a row. She's so excited to see her friends again and is full of energy. She's doing heaps of work on reorganising her room and has made a photo presentation to show at Girl Guides this week.

We had our best friends come over and visit for the day yesterday, everyone was so happy to see them and they to see us. The kids played Minecraft and on the trampoline and shared all their new skills with each other, we mums talked and drank tea and enjoyed being with someone we were really really comfortable with.

Tony was back at work yesterday, he found it tiring although enjoyable. I found the afternoon really weird, waiting for him to come home and getting used to having that adjustment each day, time with him here and time with him away. I think we all missed him after being together so much on our trip.

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Back at home

It's good to be home. Although I would have been happy to continue travelling for longer, even permanently, I'm also very glad to be back in our house and the familiar surroundings. It is a little odd though, it seems familiar and strange at the same time.

The kids have loved being back and have settled into their comfort activities. LiAM spent a lot of time playing the Xbox yesterday, playing with his new Skylanders game, and Amelie joined him on and off. Caitlin has been on the phone to friends and went for a sleepover last night, with the girl who she spoke to nearly every day on the trip. Millie has found her comfortable clothes and spent time with her toys and watching LiAM and playing on the iPad. I've pottered around the house, putting things away, reorganising where things are, playing the piano, organising my photos, reading, watching TV. Tony has watched football and the Olympics and went to see his junior baseball team play.

Over the next week I guess we'll start venturing back out into the world of our home life, seeing friends, shopping, starting back at some of our activities. I'm really hoping (and will try to stay aware) that I'll be able to continue the relaxed pace of life and thought that we have been living on the trip, and that I'll be able to slow down and step back, take a breath or a break before I become overwhelmed by things, and be able to put my energy into the actions that will help everyone be happy and peaceful, rather than getting caught up in too many things and not having time to assess and prioritise.

Friday, 10 June 2016


I haven't posted here for ages - most of my energy earlier this year was going in to surviving Vintage and getting ready for our trip around Australia. We left at the start of May and are currently in the Northern Territory near Litchfield National Park. I'm blogging the trip daily (updating it when I get internet access) at travellingandexploringourworld.blogspot.com.au - I'd love you to follow our adventures there!

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Horse experience

Yesterday we had nothing planned except for Caitlin going to Guides at 6pm. We were having a relaxing morning - LiAM and Amelie were playing Lego Marvel Superheroes on the Playstation, Caitlin was getting ready to reorganise her room, I was chatting on the phone and folding washing, when Caitlin got a call in response to her ad for unpaid horse experience. This lady had rung a few days before, asking Caitlin to come and help out at her riding school, and at the time they couldn't work out a which day would suit them both. When she rang yesterday, she asked if Caitlin could come straight away - so Caitlin changed into clothes that were more suitable for working with horses, I gave everyone something to bring with them to eat in the car, and we headed up to Castella.

The women we met at the riding school were lovely, friendly and obviously very much into horses. They chatted to Caitlin about homeschooling and asked her about her experience with horses, then I left her there for a few hours to help them out. The other kids and I debated whether to go and do a forest walk while we were up there - LiAM wanted to go back home, Amelie wanted to walk, so we decided we could walk after we picked Caitlin up. Back home the kids continued playing on the PS3, and I pottered around and did some more tidying, a bit of research for our trip and so on.

A few hours later we headed back up the hill to get Caitlin. She was very happy, and so were the women she'd been working with. She'd spent the 3 hours helping them with their every day care of the horses, and they'd let her do everything that they were doing - it is exactly the type of experience she was looking for.

From there we drove around the to the Toolangi Forest Discovery Centre - I've been meaning to go there since I first heard of it, about 8 years ago, and we've never made it. The Discovery Centre was closed 'until further notice' but the bush walks were still available, so we meandered off on the Yea River Walk. It was beautiful - lots of tree ferns and tall gums, and quite cool walking in the forest even though it was a warm day. Amelie was a little frightened of the wolf spider holes in the ground, so she kept close to me except when she was exploring the ferns. The river was small and pretty when we reached it (on 2 occasions). The kids pretended to be horses and jumped over any logs or branches or dips in the path. LiAM made a crown of fern leaves for Amelie and put it in her hair - she happily became 'The Princess of the Jungle'. All the kids were very tired by the time we made it back to the end of the loop - Caitlin was nearly asleep on her feet.
Yea River

Princess of the Jungle
Taken by LiAM
Back home the younger kids kept playing their Superhero game, and Caitlin had a bit of a rest then sorted out her room, moving in some more drawers to store her hair and makeup equipment. It frees up some room in the other kids' room so I can reorganise things in there a bit.

At 6 I took her in to Guides and then came home and finally got to the dishes I'd been planning to wash all day. We had a quiet night - the kids watched some Kung Fu Panda and played a few games and I went to bed as soon as I could, I was quite tired myself after our fun and unexpectedly busy day.

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Going away and feeling better

My energy returned slowly after my day of rest, and 5 days up at Mum and Dad's helped me restore my emotional energy a little. They were away, so we had the house to ourselves and shared with our friends who brought their caravan up and spent the days with us. The kids had a wonderful time, playing iPads, lego, zoo animals, the piano, swimming, watching movies, playing hide and seek and other games they made up that involved toys and stairs and upstairs and downstairs, bike and scooter riding, card games, talking and thinking and learning and laughing. The adults also had a great time, helping with all of the above, and doing puzzles and reading and chatting and relaxing. It was perfect timing for a low key trip away, and I felt much better once we got back.

Since then we've had a few quiet days at home, one of them with Tony here all day which was wonderful (he's still been working long hours, nearly every day). We had a really busy day yesterday, with all 3 kids visiting the dentist (teeth all doing well), then meeting friends at the museum for a very fun afternoon, then visiting my sister and her family before they go to England next Monday. The kids had a great time playing with their cousin - who calls Caitlin 'Cake', and the other 2 'more Cake' (possibly some combination of Caitlin and cousin?) - they love playing duplo and cars and trains with him, and being bossed around by a 2 year old. He is pretty cute. Once we left the kids all voted for Subway for dinner (I had been thinking we'd go to McDonalds, but without hesitation they all asked for Subway) - it takes us ages to order by the time 4 of us decided what we want and how many drinks etc, but it was tasty and fun and everyone was happy with their order.

Other things we've got up to in the last several days
- LiAM and I have played cards a lot - it was funny, a few times I started to suggest that he play a different card to the one he chose - then remembered that his strategic understanding of the game is as good (or probably better) than mine, so I kept quiet, and sure enough, he ended up winning doing things his way. He can think a long way ahead in a game and really understands what all the moves mean
-Tony took Amelie to McDonalds on his day off, she was so thrilled to have some time alone with him
-LiAM and I went for a walk around the dam and explored plants and animals and mud and animal tracks, and talked about all sorts of things
- we've watched lots of Heartland, which has sparked discussion about childcare, parenting practices, relationships, horses, jobs, responsibility, friendship, trust, script writing, decision making
- LiAM has played a lot with his Skylander figures, making up a game for them to play with each other and creating a score sheet for them
- More and more often LiAM is saying 'does this say '....'?' instead of asking 'what does this say?' when he sees text on screen or on a sign
- Caitlin has been helping Tony make some wine with some of the local grapes that weren't picked for use this year
- We've been reading random fact books and learning all sorts of interesting trivia
- lots of talk still about planets, dwarf planets and star constellation
- Caitlin had a sleepover with a friend, and the rest of us visited other friends for the afternoon, the girls played dress ups and did puzzles, the boys played playstation games, and the adults chatted
- we're going lots of planning for our big trip which is coming up rather fast