Friday, October 14, 2011

Raising Boys: Keep the Adventure Coming!

With an all-boy family there is always lot of outdoor of action required. It keeps everyone happy, its what they want to do and burns off all their energy! My family is so much more happier and better behaved when we are out and about enjoying nature. I guess we don't have to tell them 'don't touch that', 'stop jumping off that!' and there isn't that much to fight over (though of course they always manage to fight over the car seats).

Something our family had always wanted to do was go on a adventure ropes course and they have a fantastic one at Thunderbird Park at Mt Tambourine in Queensland; but it is quite pricey. However Fathers Day gave me a perfect excuse to try it out and I thought it would be a great tradition to start.

Here are all the boys. We had just picked up Seth from basketball so he is still in his school uniform.

When we got there we found out Hayden wasn't tall enough to participate! Drama! We were really sad about this but luckily we had his game boy and he sat near us while we were on the course. So this didn't end up being a lot of fun for him (but I promised him a day off school to make it up to him).

Seth and Josh walking along the wobbly bridge leading up to the course.

You can see the boys on the course. Climbing over wobbly logs on ropes.

Here I am in some very attractive overalls. You can see the rope that attaches you to the cable so you can't fall down, you are attached at all times. (That doesn't mean if you fall you won't hang in a very uncomfortable position for a long time till you are rescued!)

See the ladder here? It was a killer. Because you had to keep locking and unlocking  your cable as you went up. I know it looks easy! But trust me..... its' really high up there!!

Here Seth has just come down the flying fox. The best part!

Josh, our monkey boy, couldn't get enough of the ropes course. He could of gone all day! The rest of us got tired out (like after an hour).

I got to take lots of photos as after one course, I was done (plus I had to keep Hayden company, that was a handy excuse)! Mark and the boys did about three more courses each getting harder. I will be working out at the gym on my arm muscles before I go back the next time!


Mark up high. You know, as you are going along there are other people using the course. It is hilarious hearing their comments. Some are terrified (like me) some are very cool and collected (our kids). When one lady was struggling on some hanging logs that were really high up, her husband was yelling encouraging comments like 'use your inner core', 'c'mon you can do it', 'deep breath's'. She crossly replied 'will you just be quiet!!'. Then when he was going across she resaid the same comments back to him and he was like 'ok I get it!. Not helpful!'

Anyway, a fun activity, we loved it! Though I must day even Josh was complaining for days afterwards about sore arms and legs. Already looking forward to next time and it was a great activity for teenagers as it is not to young for them- though obviously harder for the younger kids.

We had a nice picnic at Cedar Creek Falls afterwards, which was a perfect finish for the day. Yay for some great family fun!

P.S. Ben was here, just avoiding the camera as usual!
Boiled Eggs To The Rescue!

I don't like cooking dinner.

It's a burden to me. I didn't always feel this way, I used to enjoy and liked to try new things and look forward to eating it! But now I am on a diet and have to be healthy. Not to mention: its just so stressful trying to keep six people happy at meal time! I could slave over a really special dinner for a couple of hours, then have children cry when they see it and tell me they hate it! Then another night in desperation I will declare cereal for dinner- my children cheer for joy!

I know this is what most Mums face. I loved hearing the story from Marjorie Hinckley who said that one night she reheated a casserole and presented it to dinner, only to have her son ask, 'why have you cooked up the garbage?' She says, 'and he was old enough to know better!' Its good to hear of other people suffering.

The first few years of my marriage I made a big effort for dinner. Meaning we often had dinner AND dessert. Then I heard a Mum of six kids, who I thought was a Super Mum say, 'I think if the kids get boiled eggs for dinner then they have had a good meal!' I was shocked! It revolutionised my world. I had never thought to do something so simple.

A while ago I found out what my friends 'white stirfry' was that she regularly serves for dinner. Can you guess? Its porridge! Isn't that fantastic!

Now we have boiled eggs for dinner, in fact that is what we are having tonight. And you know what? Nobody complains! We might even be fancy and have some salad with it. You know, the green stuff the kids decorate their plate with?! :)

Monday, October 10, 2011

Yamba Holiday's
 Day Three

The weather is so unsettled. More than anything I have seen before it's raining, it’s windy, then the sun comes up and dries you off, then it starts raining again! The boys were not deterred and were down at our little beach building sandcastles and damming the water and fishing in the rain. I am amazed to see Hayden, who never has been one to get his hands dirty just loving building sandcastles. But it is quite  miserable day today cold and very windy.

We went into Yamba to have a look around and so a little shopping. It's kind of crazy taking Mark and 4 boys shopping, but it's not always fun going by yourself. We made it to a gift shop and the newsagent before it was time to have a break and go to the bakery. Where we had a morning tea of custard tart, apple pie and cream and caramel tart. I didn't buy nothing myself as I am trying to keep to my diet. But after I had a little taste of everyone's I may as well of.

Then we found a second hand op shop that was just packed with people. With the clothes where only $2 each. Because Ben had gone through all 5 T-shirts in a day and a half (!) we brought him a couple of t-shirts and a jumper for Hayden as it was colder than we expected. We then found this old 50's style lolly shop/ cafe that was really cute.

Hayden is pleased with this lollipop.

Ben and Seth have brought a bag of treats.
After such a vigorous shopping expedition Mark suggested checking out the movies. Yamba has a one roomed cinema and would you believe it the Smurf movie was playing in 10 minutes (and it was only showing once that day) and the tickets were only $7 each! A bargain! So Mark brought some tickets and we all hustled I inside. Except it wasn't the Smurf movie but 'The Zookeeper'! We stayed and watched anyway as we didn't have anything much better to do with the rain.

Chilling out after a very short shopping trip! :)

Friday, October 7, 2011

Yamba Holiday's
Day Two

Today started bright and early. Our bedroom had windows on three sides and the light streamed in early in the morning (great for the view, tough on trying to get any sleep). Mark got up around 5 and found Hayden up so they went for a walk. The rest of us were slow to start and sluggish for most of the day. The boys were happy to be outside for most of the day and made a giant sandcastle out of all the sand on their beach. Even scooping sand from under the pontoon ramp when they ran out.

Mark, Seth and I went on an exploring bike ride and found a great mangrove waterway for crab pots. It is so much fun to ride and just the best way to explore a new place, but gee it so painful on the behind!

Seth on his bike!

Me, happy to be on a bike. The ground is so flat here and it is so pretty, it was perfect for bikes.

In the afternoon we went for a drive and found the Yamba beach- complete with baths, rock pools and even a little cave on the cliff. There was only a little sandy beach; most of the coastline seemed quite rocky.

Josh and Mark near the Yamba sea baths
(or whatever there name is, they have sea water in them anyway).

A photo of Ben, its hard to catch this guy for a shot!

Driving further along we came across several deserted and damaged houses across from the beach. Driving a little further we saw a sign of the name of an aboriginal community with more damaged houses but this time looking lived in. I was really shocked to see people living in houses so derelict; especially since down the road where all these big beach house mansions. I had heard about this before but it was really confronting seeing it firsthand.

Mark and I, happy and relaxed at the beach!


Josh on the rocks, always climbing something!

It is really good to see the boys unwind today. There was no complaining about when it was computer time and how they had nothing to do (while they waited for it to be computer time). They kept themselves occupied with chasing and building and exploring. After dinner tonight I suggested a favourite activity of my childhood days: kids vs. dad wrestle on the floor. Mark was a little hesitant, but the oldest three were all for it. They had a lot of fun and amazingly no one got hurt! See the details here. Hayden was really tired from his early morning and activity all day and asked if he could go to bed at about 6:15, just to have a 'little rest'. He was asleep shortly after.

Hayden loves collecting things from the beach. Not sure what he has got here!

Not missing the computers, ipods, phones at all and so glad we made the hard decision to leave them behind. Its so nice to see the kids just play and be active and has given them a chance to do other things; like say even draw a picture!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Toowoomba Flower Festival

I have always wanted to go to the Toowomba Flower Festival which is held each spring. But as it is scheduled in the school holidays each year it doesn't really work out.

However this year I was passing through, just at the right time. So I caught up with my old friend Rochelle Catalini and her boys and we headed out to Queens Park. It was a brave move with 5 boys between us (I had one with Nan) and we only managed a quick stroll thorugh the flowers as my boys wrestled and chased one another. But it was so nice to see! I really love flowers. It was great to catch up with Rochelle and see her kids too.

Rochelle, Hyrum and me...

How beatuiful are these tulips!

More beautiful tulips...

Rochelle taking photo of beautiful tulips...

Lots of older people looking at flowers, note: not many other Mums braved the gardens with their kids.

I like this flower bed of all differnt types of flowers.

I think these are delphiniums...

Rochelle and Hyrum. He was so well behaved!

These two little cuties, Hayden and Liam, were still for the camera for a minute.

My boys about to wrestle (luckily they didn't fall into the flower bed)...

Seth with his robot dance moves... (do my kids seem a little hypo to you?)

My boys happy at last, up a tree! Can you see them? Poor Hyrum and Liam are not quite tall enough to get up yet.

Anyway it a slightly stressful but fun time. Hopefully one day I can do it, minus children, and really have a good look. But it was still fun. Thanks Rochelle for putting up with us!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Our Yamba Holiday

With the business of life we decided in would be nice to get away and 'disconnect' from life. Because of schooling the 3 oldest boys have had laptops this year and were becoming a little too obsessed with technology and we needed some time out from it. Having teenagers now, we also needed to spend some family time with them, away from the stresses of school, homework, computers etc. So we found a fairly reasonably priced house in Yamba which had plenty of space to explore and run around and have booked it for a week; leaving all computers behind! We've never been to Yamba before and we love to explore new places so it is an exciting prospect!

As Mark owns his own business leaving for a holidays is always really full on as he has to try and wind up all his jobs before he leaves. Normally this means working back at night. This time seemed even more busy than normal, with Mark working 50 hours in 4 days in order to be ready to go. It really wears you out!

Anyway I thought I would keep track of how my 'disconnect- reconnect' holiday would go.

Day One
Even though woke up early I lingered in bed. Not eager to jump into all the work ahead to get the family packed. After the normal crazy dash of packing and cleaning, tantrums and fights we were ready to leave. This holiday we had the great idea of getting a bike rack and taking our bikes. It looked so easy when other people did it. But as young can see in the photo, getting five bikes on a Prado was no mean task! I mean it looks like a circus bus! We actually had people drive by us looking at us to see who was driving this crazy car and grinning!

This is our Prado all loaded it. Doesn't it look crazy!
We were worried we might get pulled over by the police.

We had a pretty good run the way to Ballina until we passed the Macadamia Castle. We started reminiscing about previous times we had been in the area (without the gameboys you see we had time to talk). Like the time we stopped at the macadamia castle and when a particular child had dropped his ice-cream and had a tantrum when he dropped his ice-cream cone. We all had a good laugh at this distant memory when 'thump' a book came hurtling passed us all the way from the back seat. Then came a few more items. It seemed this child didn't seem to appreciate the story and was getting really upset. But the rest of us couldn't stop laughing as we remembered another time when the same child had gotten upset and had started throwing things from the backseat.

Here we stopped at Ballina for lunch. The boys are relieved to be out of the car and into a tree.

Anyway we finally made it to Yamba. Past all the sugarcane fields and down the long windy road that lead to town. The three and a half hour drive, took us about five, but we finally made it and got to our holiday home. The boys were thrilled- it was a two story house, which, to them, means it was a rich person’s house. The best bit though, was that it was that it was on a canal which meant we had our own little pontoon with about a meter and a half of 'beach'. The boys were in the cold water in no time. There was lots of fish darting all around which made Mark just start itching to fish, even before unpacking the car.

The boys love their little patch of sand.

Instead of going fishing we went to find some fish to eat and this was the great food we found to eat. Morton Bay bugs (called Yamba bugs here) for only $20 a kg. We got four for $10 and they were so fresh. The prawns were so big. Mark and Ben (who just LOVES his seafood) peeled them all before dinner so they were ready to go. They hadn't been frozen and they were seriously some of the best prawns I have ever had. Especially since I didn’t even have to peel my own! My family to myself, no stresses and appointments, great food, life is good!

Here is our yummy meal of prawns (already peeled!) and 'Yamba Bugs'. It so so fresh!

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Family Wrestle

It was after dinner on holidays and the boys still seemed to have lots of pent up energy, so I suggested a wrestle.

Having a kid and Dad wrestle was a favourite activity for me and my siblings when were growing up. It started when we were small and the aim was to have our Dad pin all of us down before we could get away. Of course any underhanded activity such as ganging up on Dad, pulling each other from his grasp and tickling was allowed. It normally ended in somewhat getting hurt, so the rule was, 'when somebody cries the wrestle stops.' Of course this meant lots of swallowing of tears and insisting that we weren't crying, as we tried to stop the flow. (Of course sometimes it also meant time out for some child that got a little to carried away).

Mark wasn't that keen on my idea. I mean, have you seen my two oldest? They are really tall these days. Ben is taller then me and they are both really strong. So we had to modify the idea so that it wasn't all the kids at once.

Hayden was a little scared to join in, being the smallest. So he just jumped off the furniture. You can see him above.


Anyway you can see they had a fun time and the next night they were calling for another one... Well the kids were. :D

Dressing Up

Bookweek Parade

I know some people love to get creative and crafty when it is time to dress up. But the invitation of 'fancy dress' gives me shivers down my back (not happy ones). Its not something I am great at.
So imagine my delight after a long and tiring day when Hayden reminds me, 'Mum what is my costume for bookweek parade, tomorrow?'

I was so in luck, as Mark and Josh came to my rescue. Josh went to our old dress up box and found an old Harry Potter cloak, so Mark went in search of some glasses. Not finding any he made a great pair out of an old coat hanger! Amazing. Hayden was so thrilled and he doesn't even watch Harry Potter!

We put him to bed in his pj's for bedtime but when we went and checked on him later he was back in his Harry Potter costume, curled up asleep. So cute!

There is such an atmosphere of excitement when you go to school and all the children are not in their uniforms but their special costumes. Its so funny as every year you see most of the girls as some form of princess's and most of the boys as some type of superhero. There is several batmen every year.

Here is Hayden's class here walking to the school gym for parade. Can you spot Hayden?

This is Hayden's friend Joel as Bart Simpson.

I love this teacher dressed as Where's Wally. Some people have great ideas ( I will have to try and remember and copy that one next time ;D ).