Showing posts with label family. Show all posts
Showing posts with label family. Show all posts


There's No Place Like Home

Phew! Boy is it lovely to be home.

We have been away ( with only a few days home between trips) since June. It has been a combination of reasons that have drawn us away from our home base.

Firstly, a family member's illness saw us drop everything and head away for a week. Everything worked out okay and shortly after that we headed to Sydney for what was meant to be a holiday anyway. We came home for a few days and then headed back over the mountains to see family again and make sure that everything was still going okay.

The day that we arrived home we got word that our family member was heading to Sydney for treatment and we dropped everything and raced down there to be with them. That meant another ten days away.

Basically we missed the whole of July. It went whizzing by.

All in all, it hasn't been too bad. We certainly made the best of a bad situation. Because the boys were missing school I made it my duty to give them as many educational experiences as possible. Over the next few days I will post some of the photos from the various places we visited and the things that we learned.

Here is a pic of some broad beans I snapped when we visited Taronga Zoo. They had a brilliant 'eco house' display which consisted of a house, garden and farm setup. It gave me lots of ideas and made me want to rush home to get started.

When we returned home the garden was in a pretty good state. Luckily there had been lots and lots of rain. The only damage was from the visiting king parrots that have been helping themselves to the juicy pea pods.

Living in hotels and living out of suitcases soon loses its appeal. I was surprised how adaptive my children really are. It seems that they can cope anywhere as long as we are together.


What To Do On A Dreary Day ?

It was such a dreary, miserable raining grey day. I just had to search out some colour to brighten up my world.

So, when it's rainy and dreary - what do you do ? You jump in the car and drive up to the lighthouse and run around like mad people because it is so windy and cold and everyone is hyperactive and the wind somehow gives you permission to yell and scream and let out all the energy that builds up when a storm is approaching.

Don't you love this mural ?

As the rain eases and the sun breaks through you get back into the car and drive home like a 'normal' family and become 'normal' and refined and well behaved once again.

You drive back up the driveway and the neighbours will never know how crazy you all really are.


Paper Crafting Distraction

I needed some major distraction on Saturday afternoon. So I paper crafted like a woman possessed!

My youngest son went for his first sleepover. He was so excited that he was finally old enough to be let out! He turns nine in May.

I was excited for him as well. He was acting super grown up and playing it really cool. As he marched out the front gate with barely time for a cuddle and for me to spit on a hankie and wipe his little face like the embarrassing mother that I am - he was off!!

I was........ lost..... reflective maybe ? Can't quite explain it, just a little .......... delicate perhaps.

So, what better way to distract oneself that cracking out some coloured paper, some good wine and some great music.
These are some of the cards I made. You can see more of them at my stamping site

Do you want to know something really funny (?).......

When my eldest son went to Sydney for the first time on a school excursion it was the day of the major dust storm that brought Sydney to it's knees. So, you could imagine how I felt when I packed the youngest boy off to one of our local beach suburbs and they announced the tsunami warning for that area ! LOL

Coloured paper....... red wine..... loud music........ {thank goodness for the distraction}


Post Vacation Blues

We arrived back from our annual holiday and for the first few days I had what I coined 'post vacation blues'. Normally I am really happy to go away, but very happy to return home again.
We use our annual holiday as a time for renewal. We make our plan for the upcoming year, talk about our focus and and areas of improvement we will launch into for the upcoming year.

We also totally relax.

I enjoyed watching 'Chocolat' ( must be about the fifth time I have seen it and still love it!)

I enjoyed having lazy breakfasts like this.

and of course there was lots and lots of this.......

I think I got a little too used to having someone come in and change the towels. I even joked about employing some person who I never actually meet who will come in like the tooth fairy and do things while I am not looking. lol

But.... thank goodness that feeling has passed and I am now ready to face the year.
We had family come and stay last week, so it was nice to be home and to enjoy spending time with people you love.

Now it's time to put my 2010 plans into action.


Splendid Saturday Splendid Sunday

What a fabulous weekend we had. It was SO busy. We got up early on Saturday morning and went down to the river for a ski. The water was like glass.
When we got home we cleaned the boat and put it away and headed down to the gym. The boys swam while I went into the gym.
We them headed home for a breakfast of bacon, eggs and homemade bread. By this time it was actually one o'clock , so I guess it wasn't really breakfast.

We then headed out into the yard and decided to move the chook pen to create a bigger space in our 'farm' area.

Luckily the iron for the roof renovation hadn't arrived yet, so it wasn't too difficult to lift up and move around.

After working in the garden for a few hours I came in and created a birthday card for our son's friend. He was having his party at the bowling alley. I also made some yummy french onion dip and water crackers to take to a friend's house for dinner.

We had a great night out and headed home about 11.30pm

Sunday morning is latte morning. Every Sunday I am delivered my signature coffee (vanilla latte on skim) in bed. I know I know!!! I am totally spoilt!!...... what can I say.....??

After hanging around in bed reading for a while, I made everyone pancakes with chunky blueberry sauce. They were perfect! The sauce was just fresh blueberries thrown into a saucepan with a tablespoon of water and a tablespoon of sugar and simmered until they broke down and thickened up...... this will definitely be on the 'keep' list.

We did a few jobs around the house and garden and then headed out for a Sunday drive. We headed up to one of the local lighthouses and were looking out when youngest son spotted the whales frolicking just off the shore line. They were coming up and crashing down with a big splash! I don't have a zoom lens with me, so that photos I have are just flecks in a grey ocean.

It was sooooo windy up there. My hair was standing straight up!

When we got home I organised things for dinner and got everything ready to start another week. We had an early dinner, a beautiful roast. We were all exhausted and had an early night.
What a jam-packed weekend it was..... but definitely enjoyable!


Milk Bubbles

Take one straw

One glass of milk

and two boys


who should be getting ready for bed


add a giggling mother

grabbing the camera

when she should really be cross


the waste

that's a half a glass of milk


haven't I taught you better than that


{giggle from mother}

{naughty giggle from the boys}


Reconnecting With Your Photos.

One of the reasons that I make albums of my photos is that I love to RECONNECT with the memories that the photos provide. I love to record what the photo means to me and the memories that come flooding back as I drift off into each image.

I just had to share this one.

It was eight years ago. After giving birth to a very sick baby I was finally able to bring him home. He was yellow with jaundice. His big brother had already taken ownership of him and as a family we felt a total feeling of completeness.

I have always loved this photo, but today, in preparation for a scrapbooking weekend away I dragged it into photoshop, sharpened it up and took out all the colour. Sometimes a colour image holds a lot of distractions. Turning it greyscale allows you to study the image in depth and see its purity.

When I look at this image I can remember the sense of joy I had. I can also remember that feeling of total exhaustion that only the mother of a new born can understand.


Changes At The Dinner Table

Sitting around the table with my in-laws this week, we struck up an interesting conversation. The topic of the conversation was for the benefit of my children, particularly the youngest son. It started like this:

" Poppy, when you were a kid, what did you do if your mum was cooking tea and it was still twenty minutes from being ready and you were staaaarving?"

"nothing.... you just had to wait" he replied.

"So, you didn't go and get a few biscuits out of the cupboard or eat an apple or grab a small packet of chips ?" We asked as youngest son's eyes began to get wider.

Pop told us all about the ways things were. You always ate everything on your plate because that was it! If the meal was cooking.... you waited. It was as simple as that. The meals were simple but adequate. They ate the same things all the time, there was no need for anything gourmet or new.

When I think about the 'old way' of eating there are a couple of things that always come to mind. Firstly, how the food was supposedly 'bad for you', - all that butter, bacon and dripping and yet only a very small proportion of the population was overweight. Secondly, the rhythm of eating - breakfast, morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner and supper. It sure seems to be a lot of eating!

What strikes me about the way we eat today is that we are NEVER hungry. I see mothers with prams pull out all sorts of weird and wonderful things - it seems that kids can't go anywhere without having an emergency box of barbecue shapes in their backpacks or a six pack of juice poppers because the label says they are good for us.

Is it my imagination or are we just grazing all day long ? Is food too readily available for us ? Has food become a pacifier to young children and is it to comfort rather than to nourish ?

It always seems strange to me that people ate traditional ways for such a long period of time, yet since food companies have been telling us how to eat more 'healthy' we are the unhealthiest we have ever been! Sure, we may be living longer, but we pop a lot of pills and have lots of replacement surgery in order to carry on.

Ockham's Razor ( a radio programme on ABC) featured a programme called Fructose recently. It was an extract from the book Sweet Poison by David Gillespie. You can find it here.

I was particularly interested in the way he looked back at how food intake and health changed in a relatively short period of time.

It was not that long ago that there were no gym memberships, no diet magazines and no meal replacement programmes. I think you will enjoy the glance backwards.

As far as our family goes, I want to talk more to my kids about the ways things were. I want to be more rhythmic in our eating patterns and stop for meals and morning/afternoon tea and enjoy the ritual of those events as well as the food intake. I may even bring back dessert! - home made of course!!!


Finding The Joy.

It really has been a good month that I have been in hibernation. A combination of illness and events have resulted in a well needed break. Today I am running about 65% - which compared to where I have been is really quite okay.

Yesterday I noticed that I was starting to feel better. I think the sunshine had a lot to do with it. Never have I dreaded the winter so much.

I noticed that I was drawn to the colour combination in the jelly bean jar and just had to snap a picture of them in the sun - I will have to make something with these colours soon - they are so delightful. ( The jelly beans are because we have a diabetic in the family)

Then I heard the laughter of the children in the front yard. I love when they get bored and start thinking up these fabulous things to do. This game involved part of an old climbing gym, a skateboard and lots of protective gear. The big brother hooked the rope around himself and towed the little brother at pace down the driveway until the little brother skidded across the cement and onto the grass and they both fell into fits of laughter.

Honestly boys! Life would be much safer if you just sat down in front of the television all day.

Today we also went on a bit of a cruise around our fabulous waterways. Even though it was too cold to ski, the sun was shining and we cruised around the river system. At one point the water temperature was 18 degrees, so I am sure a few more weeks will see us back on the water again.

Bring on the summer, I say. Usually I love the change in seasons and the different jobs that come with the change in temperature, but this winter I have really struggled. We had so much rain, our garden flooded out at least twice and there were days when I didn't even feel like venturing outside.

But today, today is different and I feel a change on the horizon. Bring it on !!!



Tomorrow it will be our youngest son's 8th Birthday. I can't believe it!

Yesterday we took a group of kids up to Port Macquarie to spend the day at the indoor rock climbing centre. The trip was pretty slow because we have had such awful weather. At least it was patchy. We were ready to cancel the trip if it didn't clear up a little because the last place you want to be in the rain is the Pacific Highway.

There is a lot of flooding around at the moment. Although the rivers have broken their banks around here, there are no threats to houses. Unfortunately that was not the case a little further north. Kempsey and Grafton were being asked to evacuate and we listened to the local ABC broadcasting emergency instructions all the way up. The highway was blocked just north of Port Macquarie - so there was very little traffic.

Once we got to the centre the boys climbed the walls ( must have been all those lollies! ) and also had a game in the laser skirmish maze. The day went quite quickly really - I know I was exhausted after holding up seven young climbers all day, not to mention the blisters on my hands!

Driving back, number 2 son was chatting away all grown up with his friends when he suddenly tapped me on the shoulder and lent forward and touched two fingers together with me. This is our secret family ritual. It dates back to when our eldest was too little to talk properly and used to reach out two fingers and say ' sou sou' instead of 'love you'. It became a habit that whenever we were going anywhere we would touch fingers and say 'sou sou' to each other.

When youngest son did it in secret so his friends wouldn't know what he was doing, I thought he must have had a truly wonderful day - although if you ask him he will day ' yeah, it was good' in a really cool, laid back sort of way. ...... after all, that's what you do when you are eight years old!


Learning Piano The 'Unschooling' Way

For years I have wanted my eldest to start playing piano.

 Notice "I" wanted him to play.

When he started first class I discussed the idea of having lessons with him. but he wasn't interested. He would say ' maybe one day'. Little by little he started mucking around on the keyboard and from time to time I would ask him if he wanted to do lessons - but still not interest! ..... didn't he realise that it would be much easier if he learnt when he was young and that it would be 'good for him'.

But...... I let my feelings of frustration aside knowing that if I forced him into lessons it would be something of a chore. He would 'have' to practice each week and I wanted him to LOVE IT, not necessarily be good at it.

I grew up playing the piano. I had formal lesson from about the age of ten and did up to my 5th grade AMEB exam. But for me, it wasn't about exams, techniques etc it was about being able to hear something and play it, to write pieces of music, to write songs.

Last year, the spark in my son was switched on. He started to tinker and I showed him a book with very basic 'teach yourself' notes. He absorbed it so quickly. I didn't 'teach' him, I just yelled out "that's meant to be an A" from the kitchen from time to time when I could hear him miss a note.
Every week or two I would show him a little snippet more. Lately he has been putting a one finger chord in his left hand while playing a tune with his right.

Last week I thought I would step things up for him. I grabbed a piece of paper and penned down the notes to a Red Hot Chilli Peppers song that he knows and loves. Then I left him with it to figure it out. He self corrects, which makes me so happy because he hears his mistakes!

Then I started him a book, with nice bright colours. You can see above that the 'music' has no rhythm associated with it ( that will eventually come). The note above the line is his left hand chord and the notes below are the melody. The different colours are used because that is how I think ( and I hope he does too) that is, the colour is used to 'section' the music.

The results are phenomenal. He plays with real passion. He has mastery over the keyboard. I will do him up some more songs like this, then we will move to the sheet music and start looking at the shape of the notes ( pitch) and the rhythm. He knows his 'every good boy deserves fruit', but this just gives him some quick success to embed his passion for music.

It gives us joy when we hear him pump it out - sometimes over and over again, ten or so times a day. This is very different to having to beg a child to do their piano practice before their lesson.

He played the song for his grandparents who were visiting this week. They liked it .......... I did not dare tell them that the title of the song is 'californication' LOL


Home On The "FARM"

Well....... 'farm' may be a bit of an exaggeration, but with my garden beds now fenced off from the chooks with a stretch of makeshift netting and a wooden gateway it has affectionately become known as 'the farm' and I am fully embracing it!

I have a vision for the 'farm'. It is a vision splendid. I have been looking back through the archives of Path To Freedom and have seen that they started with something not that much different to what we currently have. I think we even have a little more space.

Reading their journal is so inspiring. They didn't wait until they had their acreage in the country to start leading a more self sufficient lifestyle, they jumped in where they were, in the city in Pasadena and just made the most of the space they had.

So, whilst my 'farm' is not a huge area, it does have it's advantages. It is only 20 steps away from my back door, yet I am still within walking distance from the little shop, post office and the boys' school. It is small but extremely manageable. There is room for expansion ( a whole two square metres! ) and I can run and get anything from the area when I am cooking.

It would appear that the more joy I am finding around my home, the less I search for outside 'entertainment'. I like the planing, digging, seed raising, harvesting and preserving that comes from having a garden. They are 'feel good' activities. I could never find that sense of joy in shopping mall!

I like falling into bed at night knowing that I have worked hard all day. It seems I fall into bed exhausted yet wake refreshed ready to start a new adventure, or try something new.

Our boys finished school on Thursday and don't go back until the 28th april. I am really happy about having them home because there is so much 'home learning' to do. Sometimes their school days interrupt real learning ( and my boys have great teachers this year!) - I know that sounds strange, but to me ( and I spent eight years as a primary school teacher) parents are the first educators of their children. Kids learn the most amazing things by osmosis up until the age of five. They learn at least one language, how to crawl, walk, count, the names and attributes of animals and things in nature. They even learn to read! Then, once they start school, we seem to think that they can't learn independently anymore. They need a 'teacher' to tell them what to learn. For boys that classify birds, write 'how to manuals', cook, build, design lego robots, paint artworks and solve puzzles, it can be pretty boring to go to school and colour in sheets that say " F is for firetruck" LOL

So, school holidays is the chance to rev up some passion for learning. We will even take them to Sydney to some museums to spark some curiosity.

But for now....... can't stop to talk..... got to get back to the farm... - crops to plant, corn to harvest! LOL


A Day At Saltwater

Photo from

Yesterday I spent the day as a parent helper with my youngest son's class. We went to Saltwater National park for the day as part of their "by the sea" unit of study. Saltwater is an area that has the beach on one side and a lagoon and mangroves on the other. It has walking trails all around it and is a popular picnic spot and an aboriginal historical site.

We were broken up into small groups and I had my son and two other children with me to wander around in the scrub and on the beach to discover as much as we could and classify things into living and dead.

Number Two son is a real nature boy anyway, so he was in his element. I loved seeing his eyes light up as we found three different star fish in the rock pools. I can't wait to see his drawings.
So......A joyful day because I was able to watch some real learning take place and secondly just because I was there, something I would have missed if working full time.


Just Try Your Very Best

When you take on a more simple, sustainable life you come to rely on your own personal skills.

Some skills like cooking and gardening you may not possess but you slowly develop and practice. You slowly get better at planning meals, balancing a budget, providing in home entertainment.

Sometimes you surprise yourself and are quite happy to add a new found skill to your bag of tricks.
My bag of tricks is missing one noticeable skill area. Sewing. I would love nothing more than to be posting photos of my home made clothing, quilts and other beautiful handmade items. Some people can't boil an egg, I can't sew a straight line.

Okay, maybe that is a slight exaggeration, but you can feel my emotion. I have made various things throughout my life, shorts, pyjamas, curtains, bags and aprons, but I have never progressed.- maybe it is a mental block.

But...... my sons MAKE me sew.

They won't allow me to say no. After all 'there's no such word as can't in this house'. I beg them to understand... I just can't sew. But they set me up at the machine and say "just try your very best".

Who on earth taught them such empowering phrases ?

How dare they use them against me!

So... after another day of being stuck inside with two of every animal waiting for the dove to come back with an olive branch which tells me the flood is over, I made a..... penguin. Thank goodness he LOVES it.

Those of you who know me well are laughing now.... I can hear it......


Not Blogging, Waving.

Just dropping in for a quick hello. My days have been swallowed by visits to doctors, surgeons, a trip to hospital and some surgery for number two son. A week off school before the operation and a week or so after the operation.

We are amazed by how brave he is. No tears, no fear. As I kissed him goodnight on the operating table and he closed his little eyes I felt my heart stop with pain.

But he, it occurred to us as we sat with him afterwards, had no expectations of what was to come and no understanding or fear. We wondered if it was the lack of commercial television in his life. He had not sat through tv shows depicting operating scenes or witnessing people lose loved ones all for the sake of "drama" in a 7pm time slot every night. We could be wrong, but it struck us that he was not frightened while we were struggling with 'what if' scenarios playing in our heads.

Experiencing this and as I listen to the horrific stories being told by the bushfire survivors in Victoria I wonder why it is that we need to watch television shows that 'simulate' drama, sadness, suspense, loss - when there is so much of it happening in the real world anyway! I don't understand.

Anyway... number two son is recovering so quickly. He is up and walking around and standing a little taller since all the compliments he is receiving about his courage.

I am just grateful that for this season in life I am at home... able to sit with him.... and snuggle him back to sleep at midnight without worrying about how I will cope with work in the morning. I know the season won't last forever, but for now...... I am grateful for the chance to take the time.


Strawberry Picking

Yesterday the boys and I went with some friends to Ricardos strawberry and tomato farm near Port Macquarie, about 45 mins from home. We got to pick as many strawberries as we liked and then just paid for them by the kilo.

They gave us all buckets and a pair of scissors to neatly cut them off the plants.

The plants were growing in a polypipe frame about seven feet tall and were very healthy looking.

We finished off the day by going to a nearby park where the kids had a swim in a sheltered area just back from where the river meets the ocean. A lovely relaxing day for all....... now...what to do with a huge load of strawberries.........minus the 50 or 60 we ate last night!


Joyful, Joyful Day......and the Chooks Arrive.

Today was one of those days. Absolutely Splendid!

We arrived home last night so the morning was filled with washing and a radio interview with ABC in Perth. I can now proudly say that A Vision Splendid is reaching coast to coast! LOL
Then I decided to make a ladder for the chook house out of whatever scraps of timber I could find. The boys helped me to cut the steps roughly to size and even straighten out the nails that we were recycling. It is quite rough, but I actually love the fact that it's a little 'wonky'. We then used a old piece of timber for the perch.

We harvested a huge lots of beans. Here they are in a colander that belonged to my Grandmother. We use it all the time. I am certain that it will last another lifetime yet. I love old things so much. You know they are going to last well, because they already have!

I cleaned out the fridge and freezer pulling out all the compartments and washed them ready for Christmas goodies and stockpiles of harvested produce.

Then we went to town and adopted our girls. All four of them. Since then the boys have spent all afternoon in the cage with the chooks helping them to adjust to life with us.

I had one of those splendid moments. Full of joy. The boys were playing with the chickens and feeding them by hand while I watched and I could smell the beautiful aroma of a banana cake almost ready in the oven. Pure Joy !

To top it all off we are now going for a swim and then we will head off to the movies to sit in air conditioned comfort. We are seeing Madagascar 2 so I hope there are a few laughs in it for me too.

What a Splendid day!


Just A Quick Hello

Just logging in to say a quick hello. We are on the road and I have been searching for a wireless connection to be able to log onto the site. The picture below is of my 101 year old Grandmother who we have been visitng in Dubbo, western NSW, and who I thank for starting me off on this journey. I told her all about A Vision Splendid and she said "oh, so I am famous am I ?" and laughed. Nothing surprises her!

The response to my story in the Telegraph's Sunday magazine has been amazing. If you didn't see it, the article was titled 'Dollars and Sense' and told the story of people who choose frugality as a way of life which brings with it lots riches. Thank you to all the people who have emailed me and hello to all the new readers.

While we were in Dubbo we took the boys to the zoo. For those of you that haven't been there, Western Plains Zoo is very different to your concrete and cages type zoo. The animals are in huge open areas with a small but deep river or moat separating you from them. You can drive, walk or ride the 6km circuit. As you look around, you can't see the moat and it looks as though you are just walking through the plains. The wetlands bring hundreds of wild birds to the area which shows that the habitat is in balance.

It was a wonderful learning opportunity for the boys. The talks from the rangers was excellent. There was a very interesting talk about how the number of hippos have dropped 98% over the last twenty years because of the sale of their meat on the black market. The hippo dung kept the fish population alive, so the drop in hippos has also meant the drop in fish which results in the loss of the local fishing industry and the villagers' food supplies. It really struck me that mother nature has a way of keeping everything in balance, in a life cycle that is so well contructed yet held together with spider webs. One thing changes and the web falls apart. As usual it is the humans that have disrupted the web. We are such a distructive breed wouldn't you agree?


My favourite animal was this little meerkat and with his lovely little face I will sign off until I am back in the land of a decent internet connection.
Stay Tuned..............


Collecting Experiences

I woke up early this morning with a very exciting thought. The boys have finished school and for the first time in a few years I am not working! That means that I am in holiday mode with them until they go back to school at the end of January. I am so thankful to be able to have the opportunity to do this.

I am now turning my mind to things that we can do throughout the holidays. For the first time in a long time petrol has dropped below $1 a litre. That is a huge saving. I have never changed the amount of cash I allocate to petrol each week, simply adjusting how much driving we did. Last month $30 worth of petrol barely put a drip in the tank, whereas $30 this week almost half filled the tank.

Cheaper fuel prices means we can get out and about more and explore some of the local area again. It is great to live like tourists in your own town. There are some beautiful areas around here that I have never been to because we tend to explore new areas we go to.

So.... thinking about a collection of experiences that we can 'experience' over the holiday period.

April Theme: Re-organise and Transition

In the Southern Hemisphere, April is in Autumn.  The days here are still warmish, but there is a sneaking whisper in the wind. That whisper ...