Camping Part 1 – My Top 5 benefits of camping as a family

Camping is a great Australian past time, and has been for years.  Some of my greatest childhood memories are that of camping with family and friends.  These days as a family we camp in a Caravan (Jayco Expanda) and love it, however it wasn’t always this way.  As a child we camped in heavy canvas tents, had bush toilets (a hole in the ground, with a nice seat on top and a canvas room erected around for some privacy) and a bush shower (the solar kind that hung from a tree and would only give you a couple on minutes of water) and there was of course no power.  I could still easily camp like that and I have, but these days we usually put down our roots at a caravan park, with amenities such as toilet blocks and kiosks.

After our recent three-week camping trip down the coast, I’ve been thinking about the benefits of camping with children and how Phoebe has changed in our short time away.  I could probably prattle on all day, but instead I jotted down the things that sprung to mind straight away and thought I may share them with you.  Obviously, this is completely my opinion, but I would love to hear what you think too.

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1. Camping is inclusive – these days camping can be as expensive or as inexpensive as you want or your family can afford.  There is so much choice around.  You can camp by a river, in a National Park for instance for free.  Or you can camp at a caravan park where there is still an abundance of choice, from unpowered and powered sites as well as some pretty spectacular cabins.  You can choose to eat our regularly or cook your own to save on costs too.  Tents, camper trailers, caravans, we all start somewhere.

2. Community – when you camp, there is a difference sense of community and a different set of rules too.  As soon as your new home is erected, you’ll find yourself talking to strangers and your kids making friends with the neighbours.  Rarely do you worry about locking things up, it’s an unwritten rule that you don’t touch anyones camping equipment.  If a gale starts a blowing, everyone seems to whip into a frenzy helping each other peg down gazebos and batten down the hatches.  There is a definite feeling of generosity, and community when camping that seems to have disappeared somewhat in our local streets.

3. Independence – even at the age of four, Phoebe who is quite independent anyway became even more so on our latest trip.  She would be off for hours playing with her new friends, organise her own snacks and drinks (she would ask first of course), assist with cooking and preparing dinner, make her own bed each morning, choose her clothes for the day based on the weather and put her washing away.  We promote it while we are away and then build on it once we are home.

4. Fun, fun, fun – it’s amazing how kids when given the opportunity can make their own fun without the needs of technology and toys.  Cubby house making, games, make-believe, riding bikes, exploring and taking walks, can open up a different world to our children….one that we knew well as we were growing up but sadly many don’t these days.

5. Family time and relaxation – there is nothing better than spending time together as a family.  Camping is awesome for this!  Sitting down at the dinner table each night eating together (which is a rarity in some homes), singing songs around a camp fire and telling stories.  Taking day trips and bike rides together, exploring unknown places, and sharing knowledge with your children.  Your children see you in a different light and you will see them differently too.

So these are my Top 5, I could easily add more.  What would you add from your experiences?  Do you camp?

Bel x

The time has come!

The time has come my dear friends and readers, to relocate to the new home for A Mums Reality.  Life at no.2 is now officially up and running, so come and join me over at my new home

http://lifeatno2.wordpress.com/2013/01/20/welcome-to-my-new-home/

make sure you put the new address into your bookmarks, or your Google Reader, or whatever you use to stay up to date!

Can’t wait to see you ALL over at my new home.

Bel x

Summer and looking forward

There are things that I am looking forward to, some may never happen, others may.  Summer always seems to bring on thoughts of wanting and needing and of day dreams.  What are you looking forward to?

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These are some of mine….

  • Christmas Holidays, my favorite time of the year.  Six uninterrupted weeks off work, bliss!  Heading away camping with my family and our ‘people’ is always a highlight of any year.
  • Christmas Eve – it’s party time for Hubby’s birthday, but this year I have other things in store.  The kids are now that bit older and get the whole Christmas thing, so I have some wicked little plans spinning around in my head.  I just hope I get the time to pull it all off.
  • Things being more about me than others.  It’s time that I start taking care of myself a bit more, listening to my body, my heart and soul and enriching all these things.  Selfish?  Maybe, but you know what, it’s my time.
  • Lazy mornings and breakfast dates.
  • Ice-creams and icey-poles, keep ’em coming this summer!
  • Creating our new playroom and study space.  The trip to Ikea is over (and yes, I was traumatized somewhat from our excursion there), now I’m awaiting the delivery and the putting together of stuff (which hopefully allows our marriage to survive).
  • Setting up the baby’s room, getting the car seat fitted and buying ‘stuff’.  I love all this preparation business.
  • Being a Mum!!  I’m looking forward to the few weeks after I finish work, just Phoebe and I (well, while she isn’t at Kinder anyway).  And then having the year off to be a stay at home mum.  And yes, I do remember that the first year isn’t always roses, but this being my last but and that I know a lot more than I previously did, I’m going to enjoy every minute.
  • Fighting about and finally narrowing the list of baby names down.  This is always a bit of fun (probably more so for Hubby who always seems to end up in stitches of laughter when I suggest certain names).
  • Nesting, who doesn’t love a clean, spick and span house?
  • Visiting the Day Spa, Mum got me a pregnancy massage that I am waiting to use on one of the days Phoebe is at Kinder.
  • Reading a couple of books before Bubba V arrives, coz I know when he/she does there will be little time for that.
  • Once Bubba V is here, getting out and about for some nice, long walks and building my fitness level.
  • Making new friends and continuing to put myself out there.  I’m feeling brave, I’m feeling inspired and excited.
  • And in general, spending time with Phoebe and Hubby, and with people who I really want to spend time with.

So c’mon, tell me, what are you looking forward to?

Bel x

It’s beginning to look a look like Christmas

On the 1st of December every year, we go to the local Christmas tree farm and source our tree.  We search is a thorough one, with the right height, the right shape and density.  We have been getting a real tree for about four years now, and out of those four years, only one of them it hasn’t been raining!  This year was no different, the day had been warm and humid, but as we waited for Hubby to get home from work, the dark storm clouds began to roll in, dark in the fact that it turned day into night.  Within mintues of beginning to wander down the ailses of trees (which of course were further from the main building than usual this year), lightning began illuminating the dark sky followed by loud claps of thunder and rain.

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Needless to say, like most children, Phoebe is scared to the bones just at the mention of lightning or thunder, let alone the sound!  Hysterical crying ensued (I’m sure people thought we were using our little saw on her and not the tree), all the while I’m trying to document the event like I do every year.  Needless to say this year, there wasn’t the normal abundance of photos to choose from, nor the time to get all artistic and creative like.

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Despite the rain, thunder and lightning, us all looking like drowned rats and me nearly slipping over numerous times in my trusty thongs (then having to traipse through mud bare footed), we got our tree and let me just say she’s a winner!  I think she is by far the best tree we have picked yet.

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We danced around to Christmas carols while Phoebe and I decorated the tree and Hubby did the lights outside.  I sipped on my new drink of the season (which is an alcohol removed wine) out of my wine glass and pretended that it was real.  Then we stood back and admired our handy work and placed all of our beautifully wrapped presents under the tree.

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So tell me, real or fake tree?  And do you have any traditions when putting yours up?

Bel x

What I’m reading in Blogland (2)

 

 

 

Every week, I’m going to start sharing with you one blog that is in my Google Reader at the moment.  I read loads of different types of blogs, all for different reasons.  I’m forever refreshing it and updating it, in with the old and out with the new.  I’ll work my way through, in no particular order, probably the ones that have appealed to me most in the last few weeks.

 

I hope that you’ll visit and find new reads along the way too.  Feel free to share with me some of your favorites, I’m always on the lookout for new reads!

I initially came across Kelle’s blog when I was trying to organize Phoebe’s tea party birthday.  The minute I landed on her page, I knew that it was all kinds of special.  If you visit, head straight over to “Start here if you are new” tab and then the “About this blog” tab.  And the tea-party that I did find on her blog was nothing short of beautiful and inspiring.  Since that day, I have been an avid reader of her blog!

Not only will you find one amazing story of love, strength and moving forward as a family which you just have to read (it will have you reaching for the tissues, so be warned), but you will also find a beautiful blog full of inspiration, lovely photographs and some amazing products.  I myself, have been greatly inspired by Kelle and the things she creates and does with her daughters.  Watch out Christmas, lots of new ideas have come from here!  I love everything about visiting her little space, the words she uses and the way she rights, the passion she converys for life, her family and her children.

I was also so darn excited the other week when Kelle herself responded in tweet form to a conversation I was involved in about her inspiring us, eeeeek!

What are you reading this week?

Bel x

Self Portrait Maternity – 26 weeks

When I was pregnant with Phoebe I worked two weeks up until my due date and was planning on doing the same with this little one.  At the moment I’m just thanking my lucky stars that I have holidays in two weeks time for six weeks and that I can really rest.  After that, I’ll reassess everything and may have to re-do the budget a little and finish work much earlier than I had hoped.  In any case, I’m still trying to enjoy being pregnant but realise that unlike my first pregnancy, my body is already screaming out to me to  slow down.

This week has been hard, like really bloody hard. My body has started to scream at me “that’s enough”. My pelvis is well and truly screwed, almost word verbatim of my Osteo (I use the term almost loosley). I spent the wee hours of Sunday morning having a cry in bed, and no, it didn’t seem to help the pain but sometimes all that’s needed is a good bloody cry!

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I spent Monday and Tuesday at work, waddling around like a wounded penguin. All the while, I couldn’t get out of any chair quicker than an old lady! Tuesday night I finally met with my Osteo who was a little shocked at my rapid decline and it was decided that I would finally start wearing a support belt. Already it is helping me to move around alot freer and with much less pain, but to say I’m fixed would be a great understatement. I know that the next fourteen weeks I will be spending some time on Struggle Street.

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I’m trying to stick to a routine with the washing and housework, so that when I come home from work I can slump down on my bed for an hour of so and let my sore body rest guilt free.  Sorry for all the doom and gloom, I’m not normally one to focus on the negative, but hell, I’m just so sore it’s a bit too hard to ignore!

Bel x

A little bit of Mummy guilt

I had a moment the other night, one where the mum voice and the teacher voice were in full conversation.  I knew this would happen eventually, it was in fact inevitable, how could it not be?  Weeks ago, I needed to put in preferences for Phoebe’s Kinder times for next year.  Throughout the whole process I was tossing up between two groups in particular.  It was either to be a full day Monday and Tuesday with a Wednesday morning or a Wednesday afternoon followed by a full day Thursday and Friday.  I tossed the pros and cons for a while before making my decision, there was lots to consider, including Bubba V, and I’m still not 100% sure what the clincher was, because both groups seemed even when I weighed the options.  Whatever it was, I made my choice.

So at the Information night, I collected Phoebe’s pack and discovered she had been put into the group I had first requested.  I was pleased, it meant consistant morning get ups for Kinder, an afternoon that we could share just mother and daughter, and the option for a nice long weekend.  It wasn’t until I looked at the Kinder groups did I realise that all her friends from her current Kinder group were in fact all in the other group I had been tossing up about.

The Mum in me was shattered and my heart broke just a little, seriously, not one little friend or known face for my little girl next year?  And new teacher to boot?  What on earth had I done?  The Teacher in me then kicked in, she is of course going to face these challenges yearly when she is at school, there is no difference from next year to two years time when she will head to Prep.  She needs to experience making new friends, working with new teachers and helpers.

Today, I’m not so sure how I feel.  I know in my heart she will be completely fine.  And in realistic terms six weeks holiday is a long time for kids and they easily forget things.  I think I did the right thing for our family, I just hope in the end I have created an new environment where she will continue to thrive and learn.

Have you had some Mummy guilt lately?

Bel x

Homemade salt dough gift tags

I love Christmas, love it!  All the excitement in the lead up to it, the preparation, present buying and wrapping, oh my!  This year we are going back to basics a little.  Some brown wrapping paper, twine, and some coloured snow flakes for decoration, as well as tags.  We made our own tags this time around, I usually buy the bulk packet, and have heaps left for the year after but can never find them!  As I was about to make these babies, I discovered my oven was dead!  Luckily though, you can air dry, just takes much longer and I’m not sure what the effect is if it is done in the oven (and whether they are more brittle etc).

All you need is:

Some cooker cutter shapes, these are Phoebe’s play dough ones and they worked a treat!

1 Cup of plain flour, 1 cup of salt and 1/2 cup of water (give or take)

I also bought these stamps off ebay a few weeks prior.  Cute little letters to stamp in names.

And then it was seriously a matter of mix in the ingredients, and throw it onto a flour covered bench for a bit of kneading.  Roll out, not too thick (it’ll take way too long to dry) and not to thin (they’ll break quite easily once dry), using shapes and letter stamps.  Also, don’t forget a hole up top to attach some string to later.

Great activity to today with the kidlets.  While I was stamping letters, Phoebe was cutting shapes and making her own Christmas decorations.  Next time I want to try and stamp with ink and maybe even colour the dough with some food die.  When we were finished , we placed on a tray out of harms way and left them to try for quite a few days (I turned them over each morning).

Bel x

What I’m reading in Blogland (1)

Every week, I’m going to start sharing with you one blog that is in my Google Reader at the moment.  I read loads of different types of blogs, all for different reasons.  I’m forever refreshing it and updating it, in with the old and out with the new.  I’ll work my way through, in no particular order, probably the ones that have appealed to me most in the last few weeks.

I hope that you’ll visit and find new reads along the way too.  Feel free to share with me some of your favorites, I’m always on the lookout for new reads!

So, without further ado, my first blog, selected at random…

1000 Homes of Happiness is one sweet little blog.  It all began with one idea about bringing family together and making others happy.  Kellie and her three daughters have set about to make 1000 origami houses, each with a special message on it.  They leave them in places to be found by others in the hope that they will make them smile.

Not only is it such a sweet idea, and a beautiful one to create as a family, but the photographs Kellie places on her blog are also a beauty of their own.

What are you reading this week?

Bel x

The Big Bad Wolf

Phoebe had her dance concert on Sunday. It’s been all year coming, and none of us were sure of the outcome. You see, last year my dear girl was in the baby group, so darn cute they were that when they walked out of stage and started their number, there were lots of “ooohhhs” and “ahhhs” and a few giggles. Being that Phoebe is a smart lil chicken, she of course heard the laughing but summarized that everyone was in fact laughing at her. It took some persuading by me and her teacher to get her to hop on stage one last time for the finale.

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This year, she has loved dancing and seems to have learnt a lot. She prances around at home practicing and is often found in the yard making up her own little dance. However, this whole year she has remembered that concert. She has been apprehensive about it, not nervous I don’t think, but apprehensive. We have supported her through it and listened to her concerns but been encouraging at the same time.

She performed her first dance on Sunday beautifully, and you could see that she in fact was probably the leader of her little group, they all looked at her for the next move. There was one point though where I grabbed Hubby’s arm and whispered “she looks like she’s going to cry”. She didn’t though, and she finished the dance.

There was a short intermission and her second dance was to begin. But as all the Little Red Riding Hood’s skipped on to stage, I immediately knew, she wasn’t there and she wasn’t coming on. My heart dropped, I was worried for her, so I scooted backstage and there was my Little Red Riding Hood, in her costume with tears streaming down her face.

I was supportive but did not baby her, I did not try to persuade her to go out on stage either. If she was to go out, it would have to be her own decision. I was neither the pushy parent or the pandering parent, rather the supportive parent. She chose not to go back on for her other dances, she was upset, visibly, but I just kept telling her that she had already done her best. She said she didn’t like the crowds and I got it. I guess the crowd was her very own Big Bad Wolf.

Instead, I sat behind the black curtain while she sat to the side of the stage and waited for her name to be called to grab her trophy. Our family cheered loudly for her, hoping that it would make her feel better, and that out there in the sea of faces there were in fact people who loved her no matter what.

Tonight she goes back to dancing, and I know she’ll love it because she doesn’t have to be in front of the crowd. I’m not sure what will happen next year, she has been saying for a while she doesn’t want to do dancing anymore but Karate instead (not sure still where that has come from!). Whatever she chooses, we will support her, however, we will encourage her to stick with whatever she chooses for the year, she also needs to learn that you can’t just give up on things.

Have you had moments like this as a parent?

Bel x