Sunday, December 30, 2012

Sunday Stills (Last of 2012!)

The last photos for 2012. We're savouring our holidays with my Beloved's folk - beach trips and mangoes, lush green and frogs croaking. The days are gliding by all too fast!

1. A wonderful Summer rain. I love the sound of it on the roof and listening to the frogs heralding it's arrival
2. Christmas Candles
3. Christmas tree out on the porch.
4. Making the (Gluten Free) Christmas pudding. My favourite recipe. Heaps of cherries and lots of dried pineapple. Mmmm!
5. My Poppet and Sprocket's Great Nana
6. Grandpa Sheba's pigeons circling the garden as they prepare to come down to their loft to roost for the night
7. Mangoes on the tree just before they were cut down to ripen on the porch before the birds and fruit bats got them
8. My Poppet on the swing

Joining with the lovely Em of The beetleshack for the last Sunday Stills of 2012. I've loved capturing the little moments and I'm looking forward to completing a whole year of Sunday Stills next year!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Like Jewels in My Hand

Jewels in my hand 

I hold dead friends like jewels in my hand
Watching their brilliance gleam against my palm
Turquoise and emerald, jade, a golden band

All ravages of time they can withstand
Like talismans their grace keeps me from harm
I hold dead friends like jewels in my hand

I see them standing in some borderland
Their heads half-turned, waiting for my arm
Turquoise and emerald, jade, a golden band

I'm not afraid they will misunderstand
My turning to them like a magic charm
I hold dead friends like jewels in my hand
Turquoise and emerald, jade, a golden band

By Sasha Moorsom (1931-1993)

As the New Year approaches I always remember a very dear family friend who died around this time some years ago. Growing up he was trips to the zoo, the Melbourne show, Luna Park, the beach. He was cheesecakes and treats and feeling like the most special girl in the world. As a kid I would listen to him and my dad talking late into the night, completely convinced they could solve all the problems of the world. Feeling completely safe, completely loved.
I still can't believe he will never meet my children, that they won't meet him. That he will not be there to  bring that steady, unconditional love to them, that vivid rainbow of memories of festive days outside the everyday.
This year many people dear to me have died. My beautiful, beloved Granny in Scotland. My inspirational Great Aunt, who was like a force of nature. The family friend who was my first connection to Tonga, which led me to my husband in the Solomon's Islands...and thus to my children. 
I take this time at the close of the year to be grateful that I knew them, to be grateful for my love for them and their love for me. 
To hold their memories, like jewels in my hand. 

Thursday, December 27, 2012 the tropics

Cicadas ring like distant alarm clocks. Frogs thrum. Fruit bats swoop overhead and the lush grass is scattered with headily scented frangipani.
I'm revelling in our evening walks at present- the balmy breeze, the possibility of possums or perhaps a green tree frog. We always see scores of cane toads, staring at us accusingly before hoping away from the Sprocket's eager hands. The moon has been full, the sky scattered with stars. My Poppet and Sprocket have been walking with us, their hands warm and small in our own. This time last year we walked them in the pusher, I would sing lullabyes or my Beloved and I would talk. We would return to the house with our little ones asleep and carry them through to bed. Now our little ones steps are light as they skip by our side, their eyes keen as we observe the nightscape, enjoying the cool.
We've been up in Queensland for a week now, enjoying a tropical Christmas with vast quantities of prawns (I abstained - they still have eyes,) pavlovas and champagne (I definitely did not abstain!) and the ever present smell of mosquito coils and sunscreen. I still felt a little off-kilter; after three decades of Christmas following one routine I'm still accustoming myself to my Beloved's traditions. This is where both my little ones spent their first Christmases...(sigh, sweet nostalgia) but... well, I missed my mummy and daddy down in Melbourne!
But... I do feel so lucky to be able to lay claim to two distinct Christmas festivities. So lucky that my little ones have so many houses they feel to be 'theirs', so many people who love them unconditionally.
I'm joining with Maxabella at 52 Weeks of Grateful to give thanks for family, for belonging and for the lovely balmy evenings of the tropics.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012


The presents are unwrapped, the turkey is eaten and we're trying to avoid polishing up the last of the trifles and puddings.
My Sprocket has already destroyed two bigger, bigger robots with buttons. My Poppet is trotting around with a troop of pink dolls. It's been wonderful to see my little ones delight and awe, to watch their awareness of Christmas develop.
But now as we pack away the Advent calendar and put away the Christmas stories, I'm starting to reflect on the gifts I truly want to give my children.
If I could give them any gifts I could, I would give them...

Loving hearts
Active, curious, reflective minds
Generous, creative, grateful, resilient and joyous spirits

And the thing is, they already have most of those things - although we're still working on resilience and reflectiveness. But as a parent the responsibility to strengthen the traits which will bring my little ones happiness and check the traits that will bring them misery, is so great.
Sharing, helping those less fortunate, tolerance, being thankful for the glorious bounty around, accepting we can't always have what we want, gratitude for what we have, facing misfortune with fortitude, living in the moment, forgiveness ... they're things I still struggle with as an adult.
It seems such a big task to instil these things in two small people. Especially when their favourite word at the moment seems to be 'mine'.
My Beloved and I plan to sit down soon and discuss how we can best plan for the coming year to help our children grow. To help us all grow. Last year we let a lot of things slide. Routines disappeared and we were left with a chaos not good for the children or us. A lot of things got lost in the rush.
We're still discussing ideas.
I'm hoping if we keep the most important things - love and joy and grace - in our hearts we'll come up with a game plan.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Journeys End

We're finally at Journey's End.
We've driven many, many miles through the desert to be in my Beloved's hometown for Christmas.
We've admired the vineyards of the Yarra Valley, the Christmas Lights of Wagga Wagga, the stunning sky, opals and ingeniousness of Lightning Ridge, the mass of animals and goodwill at Milmerran.
We've seen emus and kangaroos, held puppies, yabbies, hens, ducks and turkeys. We've fed lambs, swam in dams and been down mines.
Four nights after leaving Melbourne we're finally at our home-from-home in Queensland, admiring the mangoes growing on the tree in the backyard and the deep green of the banana leaves.
We're a wee tad tired.
If we lived in Europe our journey would be roughly the equivalent of Edinburgh to Rome. (A tad further) but we crossed three states rather than four countries.
Now at journey's end I'm grateful for catching up with friends and family, for the wonder on my kids faces at all the new and amazing things, for the chance to reacquaint myself with the heartland of this fragile, ancient land whose edges I cling to. I'm grateful we managed to avoid flood and flame (although we saw the singed trees that edged my Uncle in Law's property and the smoke on the horizon). It's been an amazing trip...  but I'm so grateful to have arrived!

Joining with Maxabella at kidspot for 52 Weeks of Grateful.







Monday, December 17, 2012

Woo-hoo! We passed. Halfway through Med-School

The results are (finally!) out and we (that is my beloved) passed second year post-grad medicine.
And while it's been fun, knowing we don't have to repeat the year is an ENORMOUS relief.
We are now officially halfway through. (Big  breath!)
This year has sped by, albeit with some very long moments (and months).
As soon as the long drive is over we'll open the champagne.
Let the celebrations begin!

(Belated) Sunday Stills

A busy, hectic week. Only now that we're on the road can I finally exhale. A busy week, but with some beautiful moments. We've been deep into craft, so grateful for rain, and beginning on the first of the Christmas celebrations. St Nickolas has already visited the kids, filling their stockings the night we stayed with my parents in Melbourne. There will be presents under the tree for them when we arrive in Brisbane. We had an early Christmas party at my Grandmother's and it was lovely to see the children explore her bounteous cottage garden, exclaiming over cicada shells, butterflies and dragonflies.

1. Early morning flower in my parent's garden
2. My Grandmother in her garden
3. Poppet Painting
4.Poppet Painting her princess-arm to make arm prints (scorning the potato cut-outs I made)
5. End results -wrapping paper and cards
6. Grandmother's garden
7.Poppet in her great Grandmother's garden
8. Roadside blooms

We're a third of the way on our journey up to Brisbane. Wagga Wagga tonight. The kids are restless after a confined day and tomorrow is our longest stretch. So we'll see how it goes!
Joining with Emily at The Beetle Shack for Sunday Stills. 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Grateful for the Rain

Yesterday a cool breeze came calling at the end of a sweltering day.
The first heavy drops fell.
More, and then more. They began pattering upon the roof and we all smiled with relief, energy, vivacity, good-temper returning.
Coolness and darkness descended as one.
And I am so very glad for the heat to be gone. For the joy of the soft falling rain.
Today has been such a gentle grey day, full of rain showers. My garden has thankfully soaked it up and I have admired raindrops on roses and caught upon leaves.
After a week of rush and worry and preparations it has been so lovely just to listen to the rain, to breath deep of moist earth (say it, petrichor) and the scent of wet grass.
This week I'm joining with Maxabella and 52 Weeks of Grateful to give thanks for rain and for the joy of all green and growing things.  

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

It takes THAT long.

I'm not writing at the moment. 
Not that I don't want to be. Not that the ideas aren't clamouring away. The voices saying 'hey, get on with it, right me down. Pronto.'
But I'm resisting. And not just because it's Christmas and I'm supposed to be packing for our annual migration up to Queensland on (gulp) Monday. 
It's time to edit. And seriously? Editing a book takes so much longer than writing it. 
I'm dusting out a book I finished in the first part of the year and going over it. It's already had three people read it and make comments, (for which makes thanks!) which involved two fairly complete work-overs. 
Now I've set it aside to stew for a few months and returned to it. (And hey, do you know, I still really love the characters? I love the story. I love the setting. I love being in that world again. It's like a kind of coming home. If home is a spice island in a wonder-world created by Scheherezade...) 
And I'm working on the gazillionth re-write.
I'm also putting up chapters on Scribophile, the online writing group. But for each chapter I put up, I need to earn 5 karma points. Which takes about 5 hours (minimum) of critiquing other peoples work. Which I love. 
But it takes time. And on-the-ballness. And needs to be done with both hands, so not with a kid sleeping in one arm. And there are 25 chapters in my book sooo... that's about 125 hours of critiquing to get a complete novel up on the online critiquing site. 
And then there's thinking about all the suggestions people make in their critiques on my chapters. Discussing them with my beloved. Making them. Re-writing. Taking them out. Putting them back in again. 
Reading through the novel as a whole again. 
Reading it aloud. 
Reading it backwards. 
Getting my beloved to re-read it. And anyone else I can plead/bribe/blackmail/cajole. 
And thinking about their suggestions and doing a whole load more revisions. 
So I'm missing my writing. There's a pack of overly caffeinated werewolves in a wool-trading village in the Arpathian mountains who really want me to get their story down. 
But I won't be starting on anything new till April. 
It really does take that long. *
Yep. Writers should write every day. But sometimes that writing comes in the form of re-writes. 

*There are a few other manuscripts I really need to edit and NaNoEdMo is in March - 50 editing hours in a month... so yeah... April.

The Christmas Story

As we approach Christmas we've been watching this youtube every day after we light our Advent candles. Sometimes we watch it twice. Or three times. And each time the kids point out new things.

We watched it last year. I bet we watch it next year and the year after. And the year after.
They're a new generation - learning the Christmas story by youtube. The world is changing quickly!

Every time it makes me smile, every time the kids watch enchanted.

Christmas is coming! 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Beautiful Bug Boys

Last night, happily curled in bed reading to my Poppet, I smiled genially as my Sprocket ran up to show me his newest treasure.
"Look, Mummy!" he said.
And thrust a large brown bug in my face.
And then dropped it, somewhere in my bed.
And while I strongly suggested the bug would be happier with its own family, outside, the incident reminded me of one of my all time favourite books, and what I might have in store.

This is an excerpt from My Family and Other Animals, by Gerard Durrell. My Family and Other Animals recounts Durrell's adventures as a small, animal-loving boy living with his exuberant family in Corfu in the 1930s. It is sun-drenched and glorious. And Gerry really did grow up to have his own zoo.

Then one day I found a fat female scorpion in the wall, wearing what at first glance appeared to be a pale fawn fur coat. Closer inspection proved that this strange garment was made up of a mass of tiny babies clinging to their mother's back. I was enraptured by this family, and I made up my mind to smuggle them into the house and up to my bedroom so that I might keep them and watch them grow up. 
With infinite care I manoeuvred the mother and family into a matchbox, and then hurried to the villa. It was rather unfortunate that just as I opened the door lunch should be served; however, I placed the matchbox carefully on the mantlepiece in the drawing room, so the scorpions should get plenty of air, and made my way to the dining room and joined my family for the meal. Dawdling over my food, feeding Roger surreptitiously under the table and listening to my family arguing, I completely forgot about my exciting new captures. At last Larry, having finished, fetched the cigarettes from drawing-room, and lying back in his chair he put one in his mouth and picked up the matchbox he had brought. Oblivious to my impending doom I watched him interestedly as, still talking glibly, he opened the matchbox. 
Now I maintain to this day the female scorpion meant no harm...

There follows a hilarious description of his family under attack by scorpions, his mother being drenched in water meant for the scorpions, the dog biting the only stranger in the room, scorpion babies 'scattered like confetti' across the table... and general chaos.

Considering that a few days ago my Sprocket came running to me holding a large black spider, saying "Look, Mummy, dangerous, don't touch," it's probably a good thing I find My Family and Other Animals so funny.
I always wanted my own beautiful bug boy, just like Gerry. And look, I got one!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

A Singing Bird will Come...

 If I keep a green bough in my heart a singing bird will come.
                                                                                              Chinese Proverb

Things are starting to get rushed. We still have to make the Christmas cards and I'm afraid I'll forget someone. (Or forget to send cards altogether like last year...) There are presents to wrap and what if the Sprocket is devastated because his bigger, bigger robot with a button is not big enough? So many people to see and end of year good byes and...

Deep Breath.

This is the season of joy.
The season of magic.

Deep breath.

I wander to the book shelf. Returning to an earlier love I have neglected - poetry. My collection has been recently returned to me after a few years down at the beach house.

I saw a thousand herons who came here singing 
Flying, making a thousand sounds
Saying to the shepherds: glory be to heaven
And peace on earth for Jesus has been born 

(Riu, riu, chiu) Anonymous 16th c Spanish Folk Song

If I keep a green bough in my heart a singing bird will come...

Time to be still and remember, this is the season of joy. 

Sunday Stills - Christmas Countdown

One: My Sprocket telling us all about it while he sits on the gate to a cow paddock. Daylight savings is playing sweet havoc with getting the kids to bed at anything like a decent hour. This was supposed to be a sleep walk in the pusher (hence the PJs!)
Two: Wondering about the likelihood of frogs and bugs.
Three: Poppet looking at her big brother wistfully. We didn't bring shoes for her but she made sure we did the next night!
Four: Poppet, joyous by sea.
Five: Coriander gone to seed. I must look up how to prevent this. So many things to learn!
Six: Picking one of our strawberries.
Seven: This is how you blow out a candle...
Eight: Poppet with her 'pink pen'. Poppet cannot sleep without her pink pen.
Nine: The festive Dog. It was decided that our dog is actually a reindeer and she was duly decorated with the Christmas stockings.
Ten: A tangled tree.

The weeks are getting busier in the lead up to Christmas. So much to do, but so many magical moments. Sharing some stills from the week with the lovely Emily at The Beetle Shack

Saturday, December 8, 2012

First Ever Day at the Races

Were you horsie as a kid?

I was - in so much as I read every book there was about horses.
The Silver Brumby (and all the ones that came after,) by Elaine Mitchell, the My Friend Flicka trilogy, A Dream of Saddlers Wells (and all the Wells books in the series - ballet and horses how can you go wrong?) Various novels set in the Yorkshire moors about a horse I think was called Thunderwith... or Fireheart... or maybe I'm confusing them now.
Anyway, in my head I was incredibly horsie. In a romantic, riding into the mist kind of way. Not so much a falling off, cleaning out dung kind of way.
In real life the few times I tried riding I hobbled for the next day or so.
Today we went to the races. It was my first time ever. It was very exciting. We won $35 dollars.
My Poppet fell in love. Look at her. I'm fairly sure she's sizing the horses up to work out if they'll fit in the back garden. She's even worked out which horse. Obviously, 'the pink one'.
I'm not sure when she'll work out the jockey isn't included.

Poppet's Pink Horse.

Discovering the Pink Horse wasn't coming back, Poppet buried her sorrows in strawberries. (And demolished the better part of a sponge cake. Oops.)

Do you ever go to the races?

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Bye-Bye Mama Milk

It’s been twelve days since my Poppet last nursed. I think it’s safe to say she’s weaned.
In the end it wasn’t as hard as I’d expected. With her cot in the kids' new room she’s had the choice of sleeping in her new room and nursing to sleep, or sleeping in our room without milk, and she’s chosen to sleep with us. When the milk truly goes away I’ll work on getting her into her own bed.
And so… it just happened. No tears, or only mine, no fuss.
That’s both my babies weaned – the baby years pretty much officially over. They’re kids now, playful, exuberant, imaginative, hilarious, curious, but no more my little babies.  (Although of course always my little babies, just not my baby babies)
And I’m so grateful I’ve had these lovely years, so glad that nursing was easy for me, and that it allowed me so much freedom.
I’m so grateful for the memories of my little ones busily guzzling, for their looks of blissful, milk-drunk fullness, for the memories of them holding hands as they both nursed when my Poppet was a baby and my Sprocket a toddler.  All those long hours that the Sprocket sleep-fed and I dreamily read. All those beautiful midnight feeds with my Poppet when it was just her and me and I had her all to myself, to admire her beautiful hands, the line of her cheek.
I’m grateful that nursing allowed me to eat gutsily without qualms, although that’s already come back to haunt me in the last few months as the Poppet’s feeds have trailed off… and the weight has quickly piled on.
If I’m a little teary I’m blaming it on the last wild goodbye party of the milk-hormones as they prepare to kick off after having full run of the joint since the Sprocket was born. They seem to party hard.
And I am grateful, I am. 
But I don’t know if we’ll have another baby. I don’t know if Poppet’s the last baby I’ll ever giggle at as they greedily suck, I don’t know if she’s the last baby who will curl her hand around my fingers as she feeds. Who’ll look up at me and smile.
So I'm grateful I’ve had these years. And I’m grateful they’re over and my brain will (hopefully) continue it’s long march back from the Land of Milk-and-Fuzz.
I'm joining with the wonderful Maxabella at 52 Weeks of Grateful at Village Voices today. 
But I have to admit, it’s a bitter sweet kind of grateful. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Pilfering from the Family Tree

Writing my first historical novel, I've come up against a problem.
Well, a few promblems.
One of the main ones is finding information about a small, specific area in a set time. A small specific area that is not a large city and where no large battles were being fought.
Another is that most of the information I do find is about rich and titled people.

I wanted part of my novel to be set in a small village in Scotland. 
In 1801. 
Living on the far-side of the world this information is harder to find that you'd expect. 

And then I bethought me the family history, carefully compiled by a maternal Great Grandfather.
He leaves out a lot of the interesting stuff.
The convict. The illegitimacies.
And the volumes are more a collection of lists (and male C.V's) than books, but for detailed content about everyday people living in remote villages, they're brilliant.
Luckily, most of my maternal ancestors come from one small area in Morayshire Scotland. This is true for both my mum's mum and her dad. Throw in at least one case of cousin marrying (First cousins but with one remove) and it's a worry....
Specifically they tend to come from around Knockando. This seems ironic as it's known for some of the best whisky in the world, and all the maternal ancestors I've met or heard of, were tee-totallers.
However, the good stuff is the family history tells me names, dates of birth and death, occupations, villages, and marriages.
A lot of the females lived in big houses. But they were the ones emptying the chamber pots. Which is good for me, as it reminds me to ensure all the servants in my book are real people with real personalities and not giggling half-wits.
In 1801 my many times great grandmother, Jessie Gow was born to Helen Gow of the tiny hamlet of Birnie, Morayshire. There is a blank for her father's name and the words 'illegitimate' scrawled across her death certificate.
I often wonder what the story behind that is and how hard it was to bear an illegitimate daughter or be an illegitimate child in the heart of dour Presbyterian Scotland in 1801.  Of course, according to the poems of Burns it wasn't all that dour. And he had his own crop of illegitimate children...
I've only been in that area once. It was mid winter and snow lay deep. My Sprocket was 13 months, my Poppet was growing within me and making me puke. We saw the house in Elgin that Jessie Gow ended up living in with her husband, a carpenter who sadly died young.
We got lost in the snow around Birnie. I remember it layered in crisp white and punctuated by terror on single-lane, iced-over roads.
The history of families is fascinating - whether my own or other peoples. It lets you see beyond the stereotypes to the real deal, imparting fascinating glimpses of a time almost unimaginable.
My favourite story is about the many times Great Gran who was forbidden to marry the man she loved so threw herself off the pier at Arboath. She changed her mind, or was fished out, and sent to her brother in Peru to mend her broken heart. The saddest stories are the many people who died in workhouses, or woman forced to work down the mines leaving their babies in the care of older siblings.

Do you have favourite stories from your family history? Any surprises? Black sheep?

Writing Wednesday - 4 Writerly Discoveries of 2012

2012 seems to be racing to a close, galloping furiously towards the New Years finish line.
Before the Christmas rush catches me up I thought I'd take a moment to reflect on things I've learnt this year about writing.

One. I now know what steampunk is. I like it. I like the aesthetics (Victoriana with an edge) I like the literature: Scott Westerfeld is a favourite. I love the way it twists ideas, subverts the known, how brilliant it is for stretching boundaries and pondering what if's...

Two. I've come across the concept of Fan fiction. I still find this a bit perplexing to be honest. Seriously, if you can create your own totally personalised world, why would you gatecrash someone else's? However, I'm willing to keep an open mind - a lot of people seem to like writing it, a lot of people seem to like reading it. I'm willing to be persuaded... And... well, maybe that's what I'm doing in my re-telling of The Frog Prince? I like the story so much I'm re-writing it into my own world? Hmmm...

Three. I've discovered the totally wonderful world of Online Writer's Groups. Over the years I've tried to find in-person writers groups, but haven't had much success. (Although I keep hoping!) With the Online-Writers Groups there are so many people participating that it's easy to find writing that it's a true honour and delight to critique, and critiquers that really make a difference to my writing. Winner.

Four. I've entered the fantastic world of National (International) Novel Writing Month, (NANOWRIMO - 50,000 words in a month) which is a blast and comes with cute badges, certificates and word-count tracking graphs, as well as support group and a series of great pep talks by famous authors. (National Novel Editing Month is coming up in March... 50 hours of Editing in a Month. I'm so there) I never knew it existed before. Now I can see it being an annual, much anticipated event.

All up, this year's been rich in words and learning. Bring on 2013!

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Twelve Days of Christmas

Do you have a favourite Christmas picture book? 

I can't decide on one -  there are just too many brilliant and beautiful ones. But I keep looking...
The range of picture books today, the sheer talent that bursts from the shelves sometimes has my draw dropping. And Christmas brings out some of my favourites.. The playful illustrations, the clever text, the whimsy and romance and fun are all so very heartwarming.
In my past life as a Youth Services librarian I used to eagerly look forward to the weeks before Christmas when I'd start on Christmas themes. As they couldn't be religious, I kept to festive books, and of these books based on the carol The Twelve Days of Christmas quickly took centre stage. Here are some I had to get my own copy of... 

The Twelve Days of Christmas: illustrated by Jane Ray

The illustrations in this book seem to me perfection. I'm a big fan of Jane Ray, and this is beautifully done. The colours and details sing to me. Is it sappy of my that I like a tinge of romance even in my picture books? I suppose it is... but I love seeing the true-love appearing in different windows and in the corner of the page through the book... until he appears on the last page on the girl's doorstep with one perfect rose... 
(Although someone needs to discuss with True-Love the benefits of discussing pets before presenting them as gifts!)

The Twelve Days of Christmas, Anniversary Edition, A Pop Up Celebration by Robert Sabuda

What can I say? I love this book. I love pop-ups and these blow me away. I've always found pop-ups work especially well for reading to large groups of children... and I love seeing the awe on kids faces when the tree with lights flashing pops-up at the end! 

The Twelve Days of Christmas, Written by June Williams, Illustrated by John McIntosh

This one is an Australian version: it begins with the gift of an emu up a gumtree - who is of course stuck, then as the rest of the animals arrive (nine wombats working, eleven numbats nagging) they work together to help the emu get down the tree. Funny and sweet, with a real Aussie flavour. 

The 12 Bugs of Christmas A Pop-up-Christmas Counting Book  - David A. Carter

This one is an almost guaranteed favourite with kids. Carter, who has also done Birthday Bugs and Bugs in Space, has succeeded with a true crowd winner with The 12 Bugs of Christmas, guaranteed to make kids (and adults) giggle and with some truly amazing pop-ups. 


Sunday, December 2, 2012

Ah Folks, I Need a Little Help...

In two weeks we're going on our very first road trip as a family, driving up to Queensland from Melbourne as part of our annual Great Migration.

And camping.*
And I'm excited, of course I'm excited. I love seeing new places and catching up with friends. And spending 1,980 kilometres in a confined space with my nearest and dearest. This is the stuff of childhood memories. This is how magic is born. (I hope.)
But this is a big trip.
This is 21.5 hours of driving (and then back again!) With a two year old and a four your old.
We're driving up to Queensland via friends in Lightning Ridge and family in Milmerran.
But there's a big gap between Melbourne and Lightning Ridge and somewhere in that gap is our perfect camping site. And also hopefully some cool things for the kids to see on our frequent run-the-kids-around stops.
Does anyone have any ideas? Know of any perfect camping places? Things we HAVE to see?
Tips for toddlers in long car trips. (Drugs aren't an option!)
On the way home in January we're sticking to the coast. But before I open my lonely planet - does anyone have things we have to see or do? Know of any good camping sites along the coast between Caboolture and Gippsland?

The board is open, gentle folks, any and all help or advice would be much appreciated!

*The last time I camped I got the blisters to end all blisters walking around Wilson's Prom and a kind policeman ended up giving me a lift back to the car from where the track joined the road. (The sight of me tramping in socks with a massive backpack might have given him the hint I'd appreciate it. Or mybe it was the face scrunched in agony...)
The time before was my folk's lone attempt at a family camping trip. It was so windy we didn't even get the tent up... and drove back to our beach house.
My parents went camping in the highlands of Scotland for their honeymoon... and were flooded out. Abortive camping trips do not lack precedence in my family.
We are starting off well for Anderson family tradition. The Sprocket has already broken the tent pegs on our brand new, never-been-used-in four-years-tent. We're using my baby brothers, veteran of many confests...

Sunday Stills - Advent

The First Day of Christmas is always so exciting - and seems doubly so now the kids are old enough to have some idea what's going on. (Although not yet old enough to know that using the Nativity figures as action men is not theologically sound!) The Advent calendar is up, the Nativity has been carefully arranged (Baby Jesus, despite several kidnapping attempts is still present) the stockings are out and the tree is decorated. The Christmas books have been unpacked and the carols are playing.
It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!
Joining with the lovely Emily at The Beetleshack for Sunday Stills.