Sunday, July 3, 2016

What's changed?

Lots, and yet reading back on the posts from the last 8, EIGHT!!, years, not a lot. We still lose remotes and mummy is still crazy. I still have problems with blogging - I unfaithfully tried to start another blog for a trip we are about to do (more on that later...), but none of the other blog site formats appealed to me. You win, blogger, you win.

So, we are about to embark on a 'big holiday'. Husband (I can't remember what I called him, in the more recent posts, for privacy - I know I call the kids c1, c2 etc, would H1 be appropriate?!) has taken next term off with long service leave, and since I'm casual teaching this year, I've made myself unavailable. I did think that we would be more prepared, since I wasn't contracted to work this year, but as it happened I worked a fair bit and we are not prepared at all! I'm in denial, but we are also stalled by the fact our caravan won't even be ready for a few days. I think once it comes, and we can pack it, it will feel more real.

I'll find the other blog thing I started and copy the into post - since I wrote that, we extended the 9 weeks to 15 (but that's going to be more like 14 by the time we head off).

Since our last big trip almost 5 years ago, one thing has changed - these kids are now so grown up! Not only do they physically take up a lot more space, which could be an issue given the number of hours we are going to spend in the car together, but they have their own ideas about what they would like to get out of this trip. We are also conscious of taking them out of school for almost one whole term - they are in Year 2, 4, 5 and 6 this year - but we are hoping by involving them in the planning of the trip, using the blog as a kind of travel diary and maybe accessing work through their school, what they learn will exceed the expectations of the curriculum. Hoping!
So far, what we know, is that we have about 9 weeks of travel ahead of us. We are heading to Broome, and then heading south and following along the bottom of Australia until we get home. The biggest question for us at the moment is whether to go on the Tanami Track to Broome from Alice Springs, or to head north until Daly Waters before heading west. This is just a basic map I found, to show the different ways, I wouldn't mind going across the top, and seeing the Devil's Marbles (Karlu Karlu) and Mataranka again, but we are mindful of running out of time. I'm not sure which way would take us closer to the Bungle Bungles (Purnululu), but I think we should make that happen.

And since I wrote this, we were lucky enough to be able to trade in the Jayco and buy a new van. It's a big'n.

About Us

If you are here, there's a fair chance that you have been given this blog address and you already know all about us.
Since this is the world wide web, we've made a few name changes. I'm going to leave it up to the kids to name themselves (their bios will be below), and we will just known as Mum and Dad.
This is the last year before Miss 12 starts high school, so we are cashing in some of Dad's long service leave and hitting the road! Our last big trip was up to Darwin almost 5 years ago (see pics, when they were all so little), and I hope this trip can be just as amazing and memorable.
We travel by 'The Stormtrooper', our Landcruiser 4WD, and hopefully we'll all still manage to sleep in the smallest Jayco ever.

So I might try to record some of the memories from the trip in here. I'll be uploading pics galore to facebook, but this will be my place to write things that will help me relive this trip, 8 years into the future.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Things I need to do

The husband is away on a golf weekend and I have come down with a bad cold. I think I'm getting soft in my old age, most ailments I ever suffer seem to knock me useless for the duration. I spent last weekend in bed with a stomach bug and yesterday in bed with a dripping nose and a roll of toilet paper (because tissues never last more than one cold here, and no one ever has the foresight to buy more before another cold hits).
Anyway, kids have been mostly good. Great even. They entertain themselves 
, this was at 8am when I finally moved from bed this morning armed with their costumes to go swimming today.
I thought they could just swim and swim while I sat and sat, but the air in the swim centre was stifling and I could feel my body struggling to regulate my temperature. They are all so lovely though, I didn't have to ask them twice to get out (and the slushies I bought on the way out were not even a bribe, since even I didn't know I was going to buy them until they all got dressed and marched like little soldiers out of the centre!).
So I'm in the bath now, wondering if I'll make it through work tomorrow and making lists of things I need to do before bed. Make cupcakes for a school stall, take out the bin and feed the animals. Dry the school uniforms (although c3 has been in bed for an hour and was quite sniffly before then). 
That's all.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Our sanctuary

ANow first up, if I was to say the words 'home sanctuary' I can pretty much guarantee our home wouldn't be the one to come to mind. No, not the house where you are required to step over obstacles from the front gate right through to the back door (scooters in the driveway, school bags in the hall, a tipped over washing basket of things I cleaned out of the car 4 weeks ago, random toys, a bag of clothes for Vinnies and a box of clothes that were to go to the shed 2 months ago but have come around to being season-appropriate again). Not the place where you struggle to complete a sentence without someone  jumping in to complete it for you or add their own perceived version of events. Not the place where 3 days with of washing and not sorting means one lounge suite covered in clothes.
Ugh. I get sad reading that. That's not what I want for our home! But it is what it is, physically. 
So when I say home sanctuary, obviously I don't mean a place of zen and calm relaxation.
What I do mean is that finally (and it has taken me a couple of years!) I want my kids to be happy. I am allowing myself to care more about their happiness than their teacher's or their friend's or their friend's parents. Yes I care that they go to school and follow instructions and are nice people, but for too long I have worried about what other people think. I want our whole family to go to school or work, and when they get home to just shrug off the day and enjoy being home. For this to work, I've needed to stop worrying myself silly over what people think when the kids have issues with friends at school, when they don't go to school, when they cry at school etc etc some 'bad' behaviours don't need discipline as much as understanding. C1 recently refused to go on her school excursion and we were so angry and embarrassed. What 9yo would give up the chance for a fun day off school with their friends?! That question turned into 'what 9yo is too worried about being bus sick to ride on the bus?!' and also had us asking 'why doesn't she just trust us that she'll have a good time?!' And 'why won't she just do what she's told?!'. We still haven't got the answers, but now I've decided they aren't that important. If she felt too anxious to ride the bus an hour to the excursion, why are we angry at her and trying to force her?! To quote the author of one of my many parenting books, 'kids do well if they can'. If she could ride the bus she knew she'd have a good day once there...but she couldn't. Not only that, but she had been telling us for DAYS that she didn't want to go and why and we just ignored her. We ignored the whopping tantrums that were in retrospect caused by the stress, we ignored that she had been too anxious to eat for days leading up to the excursion and we offered her numerous rewards if she did make the trip (despite her telling us nothing we could offer her would help - that just became another challenge for us to try to overcome!). So her dad took her to the bus, she cried, he yelled, she cried some more, she was very quiet for a day or two afterwards...and meanwhile, the people we had been concerned about (while the one we should have been concerned about suffered) probably didn't give her a second thought once they left the bus stop. 
That's not the sanctuary I want to create, but it was the catalyst for change around here. And we are all happier for it.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

What to do?!

Well while first day back went off without a hitch, 2nd day was a disaster with c2 and c3 both returning to me in tears. This was a first for c3, she's not typically an anxious kid and usually is too eager to please to do anything outside of the rules. But today, as I stood next to c2 who was clinging to the car door, out c3 came from school with body heaving sobs and (as c4 would put it) drops coming down her face. She said she
was sad c2 was sad and that she had nobody to play with :( c2 had no reason for today's episode, except to say 'you know it's hard for me to go back to school after holidays!'. C1 came out sometime during all of the drama and I nearly laughed at the ridiculousness of my situation but it turns out she was ok and just trying to help.
It really is a juggling act with so many little kids (who aren't so little anymore but are needy as ever!). I count on them all being good and compliant and relaxed so as not to upset anyone because there can be an avalanche of emotion if just one isn't feeling stable. If c2 was feeling just a bit stronger this morning, he could have turned c3 around and gone into school to play handball with her. They look after each other, when they are themselves feeling ok. After an hour or so of alone time in their bedrooms (and a bit of cathartic screaming and stamping from c2) I gave them their homework to do and negotiated a time to return to school (recess). They both went fine then, and both said their days were good when I asked them after school.

But I always ask myself what could I have done differently...and usually come up with nothing. I wonder why other parents do not have to deal with this level of school refusal - I understand that if it was only c3 I could have taken her in to settle her a bit but when I had c2 refusing to move an inch from the car door that couldn't happen so she pretty much came along for c2's refusal routine. Why does he even have a refusal routine?! Isn't that ridiculous itself, that this keeps happening and yet we can't fix it...we can only ride out the storm. 

What was really bothering me today though was that I know these kids could be happier in a different learning environment. My heart tells me so. Why are they perfectly happy to complete schoolwork at home but not at school? Why can they socialise beautifully with other kids, that they know and that they don't know, in any setting but an instructional one? (Not that they don't socialise there, just that having those friendships at school isn't enough for them to want to go). How can they learn when they aren't comfortable where they are? But I don't want to stop working, and I don't want to homeschool them, and I want them to have a normal school life, and I want c4 to start school there just as we've planned and I don't want to give up on the fact they should just bloody well do what I say because I'm the parent and that's why! ;) I do wonder just how much we can all take though. 

Our last day of holidays - pizza and a family game in the park. No wonder they hate going to school.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

School holidays

Mostly good. I may sound a little jaded right now but that's because it's one of those times when everyone wants something of me just as I sit down. Meanwhile, dad is walking around and more than capable of doing what the kids are onto me to do! What's with that?!
I have enjoyed not waking up at 3am with insomnia related to the worries the kids have at school. It's a terrible feeling, anxiety, and it's kind of funny (but not funny ha-ha) that it took c2's struggles with anxiety for me to ever have experienced it chronically! I mean, I'm sure I must have felt it at some stage, probably when I had an assignment due at school or my best friend wouldn't sit next to me at school for some unknown reason, but mostly I've been as cool as a cucumber for most of my life. Hmm...just writing that I see that school is a cause of anxiety for even the most chilled people so no wonder my intense little minions are struggling. Anyway, the good thing is that no one is feeling it right now. Everyone is sleeping well, eating well, playing well and enjoying the limited pressures of holiday life.
I took this photo yesterday. They had been playing on that trampoline for 2 hours!!! There was the occasional incident, but quickly resolved.
So all of this time for me has made me realise I need a hobby. I haven't had this much free time for as long as I remember. Currently I spend my free time cleaning but that's not a very good hobby and I'm not a natural. I don't get a great buzz out of organising and having a home beautiful (probably because it never lasts long - I do have one room that I like to keep tidy and as long as I can sit out there without mess everywhere I'm happy enough). So, what could it be?! I'm leaning towards exercise but just need to decide what I'm going to do. I've always been interested in triathlon - I like running, riding and swimming - but I just have to battle the part of my self image that is telling me that I am not athletic, I am lazy and I can't commit to anything and see it through. The thought of me in Lycra is also amusing!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

End of term and the wheels are falling off

I don't actually know where that phrase comes from, but I know what it means! Let me give examples from just one day in the second last week of a long school term -
C1 ran away today. She threw her tennis racquet on the ground 3 times and then decided she would rather live at her friend's house so picked up the racquet and ball, slung it over her shoulder and literally ran away. She is 9, not 2, by the way. This followed a tantrum (at 9, not 2!) for half an hour that she didn't want to be at the tennis court, and of course the running away all began because it was time to go home and she hadn't hit a ball. 
C2 is having anxiety again, not yet at last year's level so I am doing all I can to make home life stress free and help him through these next couple of weeks. That means afternoon activities that he can look forward to (hello tennis court) and dinners that I know he enjoys. I am getting more comfortable with the anxious part of him though, it's taken me a while but I now understand that he doesn't want to be anxious either but he just can't help it. We had C1's confirmation on the weekend and he looked so unhappy at the start of it all, his eyes looked almost fearful, so I didn't push him to kneel or stand when he was supposed to - and I squeezed his shoulder to let him know that was ok. I've got his back.
C3 (who is 6.5, not 2) also had a tantrum this afternoon, with the highlight being a back thrown across the room and 'I hate you mum!' screamed from her bedroom. All because c4 had picked up a $2 stuffed toy from Vinnies during the day and she wanted a toy nooooow. I'll talk to her tomorrow when she's rational and she can pack up some of her old toys to take to Vinnies and I'll let her have a $2 one too. She had $2 canteen money today so the situation wasn't entirely unfair, not that I have to justify buying him anything while she's at school. 
C4 is ok. No major dramas. He only goes to preschool 3 days/week so isn't too tired or over it. 

Bring on holidays!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Sick kids

Poor c2 has had a really bad run with illness lately. A month ago, all of the kids had colds. They weren't too bad but I thought they could benefit from a day off school, and I took them all out bush to take some photos...
They don't look too sick there do they? Anyway they all went back to school, revived from their day off.
Until 2 weeks later. C2 got tonsillitis. All of the kids have quite big tonsils to begin with, so when they become infected there's a lot of tissue to become gross. I took him to the dr, who I thought said 'here are some antibiotics. He should be fine for school tomorrow'. After 3 days off, it was hard for his little anxious body to get back into the going to school vibe. Thursday morning was ugly, there were threats, yelling, attempted bargaining and consequences. He ended up going and lasted all day but when I picked him up from the bus he looked miserable. He said his mouth hurt.
Friday afternoon he was worse. He had ulcers in lots of places in his mouth, and cold sores on his lips. His gums were red and swollen. Saturday morning he couldn't even talk so we went back to the dr and he has herpetic gingiostomatitis - or something like that!
:( he was so run down from the tonsillitis, the herpes virus went viral in his mouth. And I found out the dr said not to send him to school last week...there is a slight language barrier between the African dr and us, but even c2 'knew' the dr said he could go back to school on Thursday. 
It must be incredibly painful, but he also smells like death. It is really repulsive! We get him to rinse with mouthwash but he can use a toothbrush while his gums are so swollen and sore. He is also contagious, if the sores are touched and germs spread, so he's off school for another couple of days.
Another day off work and I feel so guilty. It's not easy being a working mum. There isn't the gender equality in the workplace that there should be really. Dad has a higher position and more responsibility so it is harder for him to take time off, especially since we are in the same workplace and my efforts are considered more disposable. But I want to be working so it kind of sucks. I don't resent poor c2 for being sick, I just wish his dad *could* stay home because he's the only other person I would leave my sick child with. 
Anyway, off to watch some crappy tv before getting into the housework.