Driving through the country…

Hello friends! How have you been? Have you been on any day trips lately?

One of my favourite things to do is go on a day trip.

I grew up in a quite town on the Great Ocean Road in Victoria. This town was surrounded by bush and farm lands on one side, and the great big ocean on the other. It was the kind of town where everyone knew everyone, and people looked out for each other.

When I was 18 I moved with my parents to the Brisbane suburbs. I had health issues and the warmer weather seemed to make a real difference. That was 18 years ago now, and I still haven’t become comfortable living in such a busy, bustling area. I think I’ll always be a country girl at heart.

So for that reason, I try to get out of this crazy, busy, claustrophobic area whenever I can. I don’t get out as often as I would like, but whenever I do it’s like I can finally take a full, deep breath; I don’t even realise I’m holding it in.

I feel all the stress starting to drop away as soon as we start to leave all the masses of cars behind, and the trees start to flash past the windows with greater frequency.

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On Saturday, we took a drive through the country, and down along the Condamine River Road. I love this road, even though the kids think it is much too far away. They complain in the back seat, and whinge that they are tired of just sitting still. But when we finally get there, it’s totally worth it.

The Condamine River Road has 14 river crossings. The kids always think it’s so exciting driving through each one, big walls of water splashing up on either side of the car.

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And then we stop several times to throw rocks in the water, play with sticks and find insects. It is just so beautiful…and calm…and the kids don’t have their faces glued to screens. To me, a day trip is like a magical little mini holiday away from the busyness of life.

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At the other end of the road we stop and have lunch in the tiny town of Killarney. It’s such a slow town, with very few cars driving along the roads, and a supermarket cashier that has very little to do. Whilst Killarney is a bit smaller than the town I grew up in, I do find the slowness, the quietness, to be the same. I love visiting these quiet towns; places people don’t generally think of as a place to visit. These towns are the best.

Whilst we were having lunch, Daniel was sitting in the garden playing with some rocks. At home, people would just look at you funny and move on. But in quiet little friendly towns, people stop and talk to you. They ask your little boy if he is having fun, with genuine interest.

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After lunch, we turned around and went back the same way we came. Crossing the 14 river crossings, and stopping several times to throw rocks in the water.

It was a lovely day. I can’t wait for our next little trip. Whenever, wherever it will be…I’ll be ready!

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Do you like a day trip?

Where are your favourite places to go?

 

 

 

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A return to homeschool

Sometimes I just have this amazing, almost desperate need to write a blog post. I feel like I have so much I want to say, but I just don’t know how to put everything down in words. Where do I start? Do I just put it all down in one post? Do I split it all between many posts? And most of all what is the most important thing I want to say, and is it really what I want to send out into the vastness of the internet.

So much has been happening this year, so many changes. The beginning of the year started with so much hope. With Daniel starting a new Autism school, and me starting on some education of my own, it felt like the beginning of new things. Not too far into the first term however, and we were already starting to have our doubts.

For so many reasons I can hardly count, we took him out of the school at the end of term two and I am now homeschooling him again. This time I am doing it on my own, without the help of my retired teacher relatives. It was a huge decision, a leap of faith, and I’m sure some feelings may have been hurt by the decision my husband and I made for me to take the reins this time.

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At the beginning I felt so overwhelmed. Scared even. But now we are four weeks into term three, and I know I’ve made the right decision not only for Daniel, but the family, and myself.

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It is definitely a hard road homeschooling a special needs child. I started out the term with a complete curriculum package. By the end of week four all we are doing from that is the science. I’ve found that one size definitely does not fit all when it comes to choosing curriculum, so now we have content coming from lots of different sources. That’s ok. He is finding his feet again, and I am finding my feet in all of this. We still have a long way to go. He still needs to get back into doing school work after doing very little during the first half of the year. And I need to learn how far I can push him before it all blows up in my face. But we will get there, and I can already feel that we are starting to get a little rhythm to our days.

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Last Friday, we took the morning off. He had put in such a great effort all week, so we packed up our buckets and spades and went off for a play down out the water. It was such a lovely end to the week that I am going to make it part of our regular routine. The beach is one of his very favourite places. He loves to explore between the rocks, finding hermit crabs and their shells. Finding special little stones, and hiding them away in his pockets for later. It is his happy place….though, that could also be said for the bush!

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So that’s where I’m at right now. I no longer do my own study, but I did get credits for the units I completed so that’s nice. To be honest, I really don’t miss it. I hated being stuck in the office all day in front of a computer. And I get to spend all this wonderful time with my special little boy. I feel so darn lucky!

 

 

The Snow

Most school holidays we go on an adventure in our little caravan. Sometimes its to the bush, sometimes to the river, and more often than not, to the beach. This holidays, however, we went somewhere vastly different.

For the last few years we have been planning a trip to the snow. It’s been something we’ve talked about often, but excuses were always made. It’s too far to drive! Daniel would get too cold! It’s too expensive! It was put in the basket of things that would happen…one day.

At the beginning of this year we decided we’d had enough of the excuses, and the kids were just so keen to see the snow. We made the decision that we’d make it happen. We knew that we’d be doing it on a pretty tight budget, but we’re used to staying in a tiny caravan without amenities, so we weren’t too daunted. My stipulation was that we needed a car, and we needed a place to stay that was warm, had it’s own toilet and shower (no trudging to toilet blocks at night in sub zero temperatures, thank you), and that there was some room to move and hang jackets etc.

With these thoughts in mind, we decided caravan park cabins would be the way to go. In order to save even more money, we didn’t stay in the snow itself. We stayed in a small town called Jindabyne as it was only a half hour drive up to the snow each day. In the end it turned out perfect because instead of being stuck at just one snow resort, we had our choice of four different snow fields, all of which were within a half hour drive.

We also decided to drive down instead of flying and then renting a car once we got there. This saved a massive amount of money. When we discussed this with the children we explained that this was a deal breaker. If they wouldn’t sit in the car for the 2 day drive each way, then we couldn’t go. Everyone agreed that it was worth it.

Some of the cabins we stayed in on the way down and way back were pretty shady, but the cabin we stayed in at Jindabyne was beautiful. I think it must have been almost brand new and it was huge as far as cabins go. We kept the heater on the whole time we stayed, so it was a nice and cosy place to return to each day.

We drove in to Jindabyne at about lunch time on the third day. The children had been so good in the car, but were so impatient to see the snow. We already had some snow gear which we had purchased at the Aldi snow sale, but we weren’t due to pick up our rented snow gear until the next day. So what, we thought, let’s go up and have a short play to tide us over until the next day.

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So there we were, playing in the snow at Thredbo in our snow jackets paired with tracky pants and running shoes. We looked a bit silly, but we didn’t care because we had finally made it. The snow! That place that had seemed almost mythical just a few days earlier, a place just to be seen in pictures. Even as I stood there, taking pictures on my iPhone of the kids with their huge smiles plastered on their faces, I still almost couldn’t believe we were really there. It seemed unreal somehow.

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Once we’d had a taste for it, we couldn’t wait to go back the next day. This time we visited Perisher and the kids had their first go on the snow toboggans. We started off on the slow slope but soon worked up the courage to try the faster one. Let me just tell you, tobogganing is addictive.

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By the end of that day, Darling Hubby and my Isabella were snow boarding the toboggans down the slope. Isabella looked like such a natural that we decided that the two of them needed to go and have a lesson on proper snow boards. They both had a blast, but it was so hard to get a decent photo with the speed that they were going and with the number of other people around the place.

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On our second last day, something magical happened. I had hoped that it would, but I didn’t believe that we would ever be so lucky.

Darling Hubby and Isabella were off returning their snowboarding gear and the temperature felt like it was dropping by the second. As the boys and I were sitting down drinking hot chocolate and watching our breaths come out in long streams of steam, it began to snow. Just a little bit, but snow it did. At first we weren’t sure it was actually snow, but then it came down a little bit harder and little bits started to build up on our beanies and sleeves. By this time Isabella and Darling Hubby had joined us again and were watching in amazement. We were all so happy, and I think it made the whole holiday complete.

By the last day in Jindabyne the children were getting rather homesick. There was a real mixed feeling of being both sad to leave, but excited to get home…or rather, get back to unlimited internet!

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Myself, I would have stayed a lot longer which is rather odd for me. I’m normally the one that can’t wait to get home. I’m a real homebody in general. This time I found it really hard to leave. I’m not sure if it was the beauty of the place, or the temperatures. I love the cold!

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So that was our trip to the snow. We did it on a budget, but I don’t feel we missed out on anything. It also meant we could splurge on yummy food….and lots of lovely hot chocolates!

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PS. Just to prove I was there…here’s an awful photo of me with my gorgeous daughter.

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Seventh

I missed a day! Life just got in the way, as it quite regularly does.

I have one little boy who loves, loves, loves bugs and creepy crawlies. And I have one little boy who is deathly afraid of them and can’t settle down when he knows one is in his room.

I have been leaving my blogging until the evening, when the children go to their bedrooms for quiet time before sleep. At this time of the day most of my chores are done, Darling Hubby is settled in front of the TV and the children are quiet. It’s my time to do whatever I feel like. Most of the time I sit down and watch whatever is on the TV and maybe do a bit of crochet or knitting, but I’ve been setting aside this time to do my blogging each night.

But not last night. There was a flying bug in Mr Aiden’s bedroom. I couldn’t find it. Darling Hubby couldn’t find it. But Mr Aiden swore he saw it. The only way to have him stay calmly in his bed was for me to sit in his room with him. This is not an uncommon thing in my household. Nightmares, bad thoughts, flying and mysterious insects, and thunderstorms are all circumstances which require Mummy to sit in a bedroom.

After spending time in Mr Aiden’s darkened bedroom for a couple of hours last night, there was just no chance I was going to write a blog post. I just fell in to bed and was asleep in seconds.

And to tell you all the truth…I had nothing to write about anyway.

Most of the last few days have been filled with preparing for our little caravan trip and getting things ready for the new school year.

Today we all packed up into the car and went to the big Westfield down the road from us. Our mission? School shoes.

What a massive job it is to get three kids fitted with school shoes. For the last couple of years we’ve just had Miss Isabella and Mr Aiden to buy shoes for, but this year Mr Daniel starts at his new school, so he required shoes also. Quite a while later we walked out of Athletes Foot with five new pairs of shoes and a much smaller bank balance. Our job was done!

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Of course, whenever we go to the big Westfield down the road we must get Donut King. And so we did! We go out to the shops so infrequently that I find I really look forward to having morning tea out with my little family. It may only be Donut King, but the kids get so excited about it and it is such a joy to witness.

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This afternoon, when dinner was over, and the family was occupied with their own business. I sat outside on my little veranda out the back. I love to sit out there at the end of the day. The muggy heat of the day has passed and I can feel the craziness coming to a close. The beautiful Rainbow Lorikeets chirp happily in the trees close by.

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As I sat out there I thought about what I would write today. Truly I had no idea. What has really happened that would be of interest? But why not write of the little things. These are the things that make up my life. These are the things that give my life meaning.

Fifth

Yesterday I mentioned a new project that I was working on. Well here it is.

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After reading my post, First, Darling Hubby starting looking on the internet for second-hand spinning wheels. After showing me several that he had found, I decided that I liked the sound of one that was just a few suburbs away. It was an Ashford Spinning Wheel and looked to be very well maintained. After making a few enquiries I decided to get it. It seemed like a marvellous way to spend the money I got from my parents and parents-in-law for Christmas.

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The lady I bought the wheel from was lovely and very obviously a passionate spinner and fibre artist. She gave me several tips on where to buy fibres and even invited me to the local Spinners & Weavers Club. It doesn’t start back until February, but I will definitely be there. I’m going to need all the help I can get. She also writes a regular blog called Mels Natty Knits. I look forward to sitting down with a cup of tea and reading it when I get a few spare moments.

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I picked the spinning wheel up two days ago. For the first afternoon I simply practiced peddling whilst I watched YouTube videos on spinning.

Yesterday I stopped in at my closest Ashford supplier and picked up a couple of packets of ready to spin fibre.

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My first few attempts at spinning were awful, but it was so much fun. I managed to fill a whole bobbin with bumpy, twisty yarn.

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My first bobbin of hand spun yarn

Today’s attempt was much better. I must admit that when I let my mind wander a bit and stopped over thinking things, the results were much more pleasing. In some sections I was actually amazed at how well I was doing… and then it went all sloppy again because I was getting cocky.

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All in all, for two days’ worth of spinning I’m pretty happy. I never expected to be great to begin with. In fact I expect I’ll still be pretty awful in several months’ time. That’s how it was with crochet, and that’s how it was with knitting (which I’m still not great at). Everything worth doing takes time.

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I plan to make a crochet square with each bobbin of yarn I spin, no matter how bad it is. It’ll be like a memory blanket showing how far I have come.

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I’m so excited to be starting this new adventure.

Are you a spinner? Do you have any tips for beginners like me?

Fourth

Today was another slow day.

In the morning we went into the city to visit Pottery Barn Kids. I had been looking on their website at children’s bedroom décor just for the fun of it when I saw a backpack that I thought Mr Daniel would love. He starts at a new autism school this year so we were in the market for a special new bag for him. I showed it to Mr Daniel, as he can be very picky about what he likes and doesn’t like, and he loved it.

I know I could have simply ordered the bag off the internet, but I’ve been dying to visit Pottery Barn. It looks like it has so many beautiful things but I just haven’t been able to justify a trip into the city just to wonder around. This seemed like the perfect excuse….or so I thought!

Let me just say that Pottery Barn is in no way autism friendly. For that matter I don’t think its kid friendly either. So much stuff was packed into such a small space. It was busy, it was frantic and there were just so many people there. Let me just say that we were in and out in under 10 minutes and darling hubby and I sighed with relief when we finally made it to the car.

Having said all that, I can’t wait to go back again. This time it’ll be kid free. What I could see, as it flashed before my eyes, was gorgeous. Give me an overstuffed space filled with beautiful homewares any day…so long as I’m on my own. I could have explored that place for hours.

After making another one or two stops we went home and I spent some time on a new project. I like to spend a little bit of time each day doing something creative or I go a little crazy.

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This afternoon I made a huge pot of bolognaise sauce to put on pasta. I like to make a big batch and freeze it for quick dinners. I’ll also be taking a portion away with us next week as it’s such an easy dinner to make in the caravan.

This recipe has been in my family for quite some time. I’m not really sure how long. I’ve tweaked it a little bit to suit my family’s tastes.

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Bolognaise Sauce

Ingredients

2 Tbsp Oil

1 Onion

2 Cloves Garlic, Crushed (I normally use the squeezy tubes of garlic)

500g Minced Beef

1 Red Capsicum

Large (800g) Tin of Crushed Tomatoes (I blitz these with a stick blender – my kids hate tomatoes)

4 Tbsp Tomato Paste

½ Cup Dry White Wine (or water)

½ tsp Dried Basil

1 Tbsp Finely Chopped Parsley

1 ½ tsp Salt

Freshly Ground Black Pepper

1 tsp Sugar

 

Method

Heat Oil in a frying pan and sauté onion until soft.

Add garlic and cook for 1 minute.

Increase heat, add minced beef and cook over high heat, stirring continuously, until meat juices evaporate and meat begins to brown.

Add capsicum, tomatoes, tomato paste, wine, herbs, seasoning and sugar. Stir to blend well and if mixture looks rather dry and an extra ½ cup of water.

Cover pan tightly, reduce heat and simmer sauce for 1 hour. Stir occasionally during cooking to lift and meat sediment from initial browning.

Third

Hello all.

Today was a quiet day. I just pottered around the house tidying things up and catching up on a bit of washing. I also made a start on getting the caravan ready to go up to the beach next week. I can’t wait. The beach is my ‘happy place’ as far as short holidays go. We go every summer holidays for at least a few nights.

During the day I also spent some time on crochet. It’s not a project that I am particularly excited about though. I am making a soft toy of a character in an iPad game that Mr Daniel is simply obsessed with. This game is not popular enough that plush toys have been manufactured so it’s up to me to make him one.

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This will be my second stuffed toy of this character. Last year I sewed him one. It turned out pretty well, however I made it out of felt and it was so loved that soon it was covered in holes where the felt had simply separated from so much hugging. I had – I still have – one very disappointed little boy.

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It was such a lovely day to sit outside on the veranda and do some hooking. We’ve been going through a heatwave where we are and so we’ve been stuck inside with the curtains closed and the air-conditioner pumping. Today the weather changed and it was raining most of the day. I love to sit outside and listen to the rain whilst doing something I love.

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As much as I don’t particularly like the project I’m working on, I do love the feeling that I’m making something for my little boy that I know he’ll love…and let’s face it, if I’m crocheting, no matter what it is, I’m generally pretty happy. I’m just praying that it will turn out like I’m hoping.

I won’t tell you what the character or game is just yet as my creation doesn’t look like anything. It’s just straight rows of red, red, red. Maybe in a few weeks I will share a few more details.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve created?

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