Feb & March Catch Up

What a school year it’s been! I had a friend once tell me she couldn’t fathom writing, publicly, about the curriculum choices of her family because what if God led you to circumstances that meant you ended up doing something entirely different. You know, I’ve thought about that statement a lot in the past because I think it’s fairy common for most of us to start our with fantastic {on paper} ideas & make changes through our year.

This year has been quite the year for my own little gang, & scarily enough we’re not quite done with our first term yet! We started in January as is our normal custom, took time off for the olympics & some deep reflections on our curriculum choices & then made some dramatic changes for our family in regards to curriculum, & are back at things again.

We’ll be taking off a small amount of time for the upcoming holiday & consider that our term break before jumping right into the throws of Term 2. It will likely seem a little strange for us, but I’m so glad we took the time off to enjoy the olympics. Morgan will likely not have the opportunity to do that again, & he soaked up every minute of it that he could.

We wildly cheered on Team USA at ever available hockey match, not to mention we tuned in for every hockey match, which included some late nights and/or early mornings. This boy is a tad gaga for hockey, & knowing how fleeting the years go buy I was delighted to soak it all up with him. We watched the men fall prey, sadly, to the Czech’s in an epic double overtime that resulted in a shoot out. I’m pretty sure our neighbours were terrified something horrific was happening here as we wear our emotions on our sleeves during sporting events.

We also watched the US Women outshoot the Canadian Women in an equally epic double overtime that resulted in a gold medal after the shootout. The neighbours likely presumed we were dead at that point, because we were holding our breath entirely expecting Canada to walk away with that win after the US Goalie’s Flub. Flags were waving like crazy, but until the final puck went into the net it was a nail biting silence that filled our lounge. Mr S walked in the door just in time to join our insanity for that final shoot out.

Oddly enough we also watched the US Men’s Curling Gold Medal Win, in fact we watched so much curling we feel ready to attempt the sport ourselves at this point. Speed skating, bobsledding, ski jump, & Alpine also got our attention. In fact about the only event that we didn’t watch was figure skating, although I did not miss the opportunity to introduce my children to Scott Hamilton.

Our house is askew with rumbled quilts, scattered pencils from a half finished art project, screwed up paper from science notes, half read books, maps, & everything else you can possibly imagine, and here we are again, back to the routine as we welcome the beginning of fall that arrived like an outraged & half starved lion. 

Storms rolled in with such a clamour we all jumped out of bed wondering if the house was going to survive. I, on the other hand, can sleep through pretty much anything & clambered right back into bed, pulled up the quilt & slept soundly until the morning. The men folk huddled together in the lounge room riding out the storm & wondering what on earth was wrong with women that they could sleep through such drama.
It’s been an interesting, nearly complete, Term 1 in which I’ve hard written any of our typical weeks in review. It’s funny how the chaos of life can throw things like that to the curb. Amongst all the memory making there’s also been the harder parts of life, for even the happiest of us must endure them must we not?

We’ve spent weeks convincing the boys beloved Nana that her home phone has not been hacked, that the local phone company is not the reason for everything going right or wrong, & helping her to a variety of medical appointments for both her memory problems & her physical pain issues.

It’s a hard mountain to climb at times, parenting the parent. I won’t lie, I hate it. I don’t hate being there & providing security & grace or even wrapping them in the love they so desperately need. It’s the other parts that I hate. It’s just such an odd feeling to have to parent a parent & nothing in all the world can prepare you for it. On the other hand there are multiple joys & memories to be made. It’s funny how when the brain is scanning memories for where you put your medication it can suddenly pull up stories from a childhood long past & tell you stories you’ve never heard before. 

It’s been a true joy to watch my children rise to the challenges & face them without batting an eye. To adjust their own sails & expectations, take it in stride & keep on going. To recognise a bad day in their Grandmother’s world & to offer an arm of support {quite literally}, a hot cup of tea, & to let her pick any movie she’d like to watch. And in our home that’s a huge offer because we generally only watch “guy” films— Ha!

What a long winded way to wrap up the previous month or two of our lives! It’s been an interesting time to say the least! But rather then tack more here & share our curriculum changes our our current weekly wrap up I think I’ll save those for an entirely new post.

Silly French Fries

These cute & cuddly little fries were a gift from my youngest last year. There are actually 5 in total, but two are currently hidden somewhere.. They seriously are adorable to look at, but we both said the same thing, “It’s a shame they don’t come out!”

Upon closer inspection I realised they were only held in by a few, very large, stitches in which they’d been tacked in to keep them “safe.” I decided to clip them out one evening & hide all 5 chips around the house, leaving the empty “packet” on the hall table.

When the kids realised it was empty they asked what happened & Mr S declared that he’d eaten them. After the laughter stopped I suggested they look around & see if they could find them. It took them most of the day, but they did eventually round them all up, I’d put a few in rather obvious places including a child’s bed.

Once they were all rounded up & the boys were distracted I managed to sneak off & hide them again. The funniest part of the second hide was that the ones hidden in some of the most obvious places took them the longest to find. I mean, who doesn’t notice a giant smiling chip hanging on the front door, am I right?

Once they were located a second time the tables turned & I suddenly found these little cute potatoes in some pretty absurd places.. I went to brush my teeth one evening & found nestled in beside my toothbrush holder. Later, I found one in my pillow case. The following morning I discovered one in the door of the fridge, properly cuddled up to a box of almonds milk. Apparently Mr S had hidden that one in there.

Over the course of a week, the chips have been found & hidden over & over, which is why there are 2 currently missing! No one knows who hid them, or where on earth they are. In fact, it was only yesterday one of the 3 in the “packet” actually showed up. I was the guilty party of hiding that one & had totally forgotten I’d stuck it on the top case of a cook shelf between a book on Columbus & a Harry Potter book. I’d thought Mr S would spot it as he often sits near that particular book case, I guessed wrong.

Last night one was discovered hanging out of a child’s shirt, it actually took those not in on the “hide” a good hour to discover it being there & even then they only realised something was askew when they caught said child & I having a whispered conversation followed by a giggle.

It probably sounds completely random & totally nerdy, but hey what can I say? Years ago when our almost 17 year old turned 7 we hid penguins around the house, little laminated paper ones, for his birthday party & the idea was to see who could find the most.. That game was such a hit with my kids that for weeks afterwards they’d play the random “hide the penguin” game. Then one day we moved on to a little Toad, you know the crazy mushroom guy from Mario.. I’m not entirely sure what started it, but that one’s been going on for years.

Someone will find him hidden {or not quite so hidden} somewhere in the house & then claim victory before silently “losing” him again. He was once hidden so well it took us 3 months to discover him, & the only reason he showed up was because I moved furniture. He recently went through the washer & lost his lamination, & in all fairness I have exactly 0 idea where he is. I claimed victory shortly after the “washer” incident & hid him just behind a door frame that the kids walk in & out of a million times a day. Clearly someone found him, & has moved him.

If you ever open our fridge, deep freeze, or dryer there is really no telling what you’ll discover. On the flip side I can cope with hidden cuddly french fries & laminated Mario characters, I don’t cope so well with lizards & frogs, so you know.. no complaints from this Mamma. In the mean time, if you spot my missing fries while visiting, be sure to shout victory before returning it to the “packet” that’s on the hall table.

New Year’s Eve 2017

We kicked off our annual New Year’s Eve party at 2 last year instead of noon as planned. We had an unexpected call come through that needed dealing with so our town to town bike ride was canceled. Instead, we had just enough time to squeeze in a walk at our local footy oval before we came back home & I iced up my knee before the kids started opening bags.

At two they opened up our NYE board game which was CodeNames. I had to go through so many hoops to land that game that I nearly opted for something else, but I’m glad I didn’t. We enjoyed a few games of this, over much laughter based on how each person’s mind works, before we moved on to our three o’clock bag

At 3 we made peanut butter cups & watched a movie. Honestly, the adults weren’t too keen on this choice, but it fit the time requirement & we figured we’d give it a go. We’d actually had something else selected prior to realising our bike ride was off, but learning to roll with the punches is something we do around here. In the end the movie wasn’t half bad.

At 5 we started work on homemade pizzas. We do this every year, & I’m telling you every year I feel like it takes longer than the year before. It’s weird, but it’s a tradition we enjoy. Sadly we can’t just order pizza thanks to gluten & dairy allergies, but making them is half the fun, right? This year the pizza making session went so fast we had time to clean up the huge mess we made AND still found ourselves waiting a few minutes before opening the next bag!

At 6 the kids decorated the house with our typical NYE banners, but I also threw in some 2018 glasses & a number balloon thingie that required no helium. I may have been the most excited over that one. They have tabs at the bottom you can slip a straw in to blow them up, & each time the kids got one filled with air I may have squealed a little too excitedly over it. Ahh, small pleasures, right?

At 7 we turned on the cricket, the Big Bash League is a big deal in our house so we watched the Strikes completely wipe out the Heat. In fact, it was such a blow out that the game ended 30 minutes earlier than any other game this season & the commentators were scrambling to fill the space before the fireworks went off at the stadium.

At 8 the kids opened up their new calendars. The Lis Climo one was new to our home, but oh my goodness it’s a fresh new laugh each day! I keep thinking we should save all the comic strips & when we need a good laugh pull them out. Jayden got an Adventure In Odysse cd, Morgan’s was still “in transit” out there somewhere & didn’t arrive until the 2nd.

At 9 we geared up to go watch the early session of fireworks in our town. We live close enough that we just walk a couple of blocks over & watch from the top of the hill. They were a bit shabby this year as the new organisers this year were unaware more people turn out for the early fireworks than the 12am fireworks, but it was still enjoyable as we don’t get to see fireworks very often.

Once we got back from fireworks the kids opened the ten o’clock bag to find another movie & American marshmallows inside. True story, not all marshmallows are created equal, & lest you think I’m making this up you’d just have to try an American Mallow if you haven’t, or an Aussie Mallow if you haven’t. Our preferred is the American so I picked some up from Happy Tummies {AU}. Our 10pm movie was Escape From Mr Lemoncello’s Library which is the same book Morgan had read earlier that year & raved about for ages.

Sadly, he said the movie was nothing at all like the book & just kinda.. weird in comparison. However, he was good enough not to say anything while the movie was on so I’ll have to see if I can snag his copy to read sometime soon.

At 1130 we opened our final bag of the night which contained glow sticks for each of us, party poppers to share, sparkler, & to my kids shock a giant bottle of champagne. In reality the giant bottle was a huge party popper that I spotted at the grocery & couldn’t resist picking up for our party. We had a time getting it open & I think I may have actually been recording the whole thing which is likely worthy of “Epic Fail” or some other like minded website.

After that we all clambered inside made a million “last year” type jokes & after telling the guys how lame their jokes were I ended up saying, “And now I’m off to bed because I haven’t had a wink of sleep all year..” which pretty much did everyone in on their way to bed.

Scrapbook pages made with the Project Life App.

Meteor Showers

Last December, I happened to catch that there were suppose to be meteor showers happening between the 12th & 15th of December, & it just so happened that on the 12th Mr S had one of those crazy long work meetings that we generally stay up waiting for him to roll in. So, when it got dark out the boys & I gathered up blankets & went out back to see what we could find.

In fairness we weren’t really sure what we were looking for, & I’m totally blind when it comes to the Southern Hemisphere’s night sky; I still find myself looking for constellations I grew up knowing! Thankfully there’s an app for that, one of many ways I’m grateful for modern technology. The boys brought up the app so we could locate the stars that we thought the meteor showers were most likely to be happening near, & then we sat, & kept on sitting for ages.

I nearly fell asleep to be honest, it was so incredibly peaceful & quiet.. you know if I can discount my boys hushed laughter & my constant, “Shh, the rest of the neighbourhood might be sleeping!” By the time Mr S got in we’d watched the same 2 satellites cross the sky more than a half dozen times, watched a plane fly out over the Bass Straight, & finally googled meteor showers so we know what to be looking for.

Mr S quickly got out his fancy pants camera & joined us, but when we did finally start seeing meteor showers they were far too quick for us to capture anything more than complete awe. All of Jayden’s science lessons seemed to come up in topic as we sat there & watched the flashes arc across the night sky that evening.

We decided to have a go the next night as well, but we only saw one. In all our waiting the kids dragged mattresses outside, & a half dozen blankets including the “snuggly” type blankets Mom made & mailed to them. One is a giant slice of pizza & the other is a Starwars space ship. They were all snuggled up & looking innocent.. gazing at the sky & discussing various things they’d each learned at some point, & discussing how cool it would be to spend a whole year studying astronomy.

Me, being the Mom,  thought, “Aww look..” & decided I should snap a photo… except it was so dark my phone wouldn’t capture anything. I decided to pop on the flash & just be quick. Well, I blinded my poor kids, which was only made worse because they’d both taken off their Irlen tints. I review the photo & think, “This will never do!”

I don’t warn them, I just snap again, & there’s screams of, “MOM!!” Followed by, “Shh, it’s just a photo & you’ll wake the neighbours!!” Followed by another brilliant stream of flash going off, which resulted in kids curling up in balls wailing that they were blind, Mr S erupting in laughter, the dog barking, & neighbours starting to turn on lights to see what all the fuss was about. We packed it up & called it a night pretty quickly.

Scrapbook Layout was made with the Project Life App.

Starting Again

I’ve received a lot of emails, comments, messages, & so forth hoping we are all well & stating how much blog posts were missed. I didn’t reply to a single one, because I wasn’t really sure what to say. In fact, I wasn’t even sure if I’d continue with this little blog, my intention when I created this blog was to connect family across the world, especially grandparents, with what was going on in our lives, & over time it’s grown & changed, & with that the reasons I posted various things.

Children grow up & life changes & with that the purpose & use of this blog has changed. That’s not at all different now. I really struggled to find the right words over the past 18 months as my heart was heavy with my own emotions & burdens, that I didn’t want to post here. And while that road has been painful & difficult, it’s also been a private ordeal for me.

Eighteen months ago a family member verbally attacked me. It was a painful ordeal. I allowed myself to be defined by that attack. The words of that family member hurt deeply, as did the actions. Sadly, other family members joined the fray, but there were also those who did not. 

For me, the those who didn’t step in hurt me as deeply as those who were calling me ugly things & slamming accusations at me. The craziest part about all of it was that it was over some big world event {not the election thank you very much, all though I took a nifty beating on that one too..}

It’s pretty hard when people you trust attack. It made my world stifling hot, small, & painful to face. Being an Expat is never an easy thing, you are always an ambassador for your home country, but you are also an adopted member of the country you live in. You are never quite home because everywhere becomes home, which means you are always homesick. 
You never fit in no matter which country you are in. You get tired of good-byes which are deeply emotional & it can make starting new friendships hard because you don’t want to make an emotional bond that will, one day, be severed.

And all this hot mess of emotions came floating up from that place I keep them deeply locked & under control. I’ve spent the past year & a half fighting them. It’s hard, you know, to fight emotions, to take care of you when you’re always the one taking care of everyone else.

Over the holidays at the end of 2017 my husband had two glorious weeks off work, & they were the best two weeks we’ve enjoyed in a long long time. All our stressors were gone, which include the beloved Nana we care for on a regular basis. Yes, I just admitted that it’s a stressor, because it is. It’s no easier parenting a parent than it is a child. 

You have to be everywhere & everything at once. You have to be both listener & story teller, parent & child, helpful & needy. There were days prior to that vacation where I hit the floor running, & by bedtime realised I’d only eaten one meal & hadn’t had a shower. Busy, stressed, overly emotional, & exhausted are mild adjectives to express what I was dealing with.

So those two, stress free, weeks where our schedule was our own, our family time was truely our own, was amazing! It left time to do some deep soul searching & to consider what things needed to change to move me in a new direction. To let go of the pain & emotions that were swirling around.

And I was reminded how I use to enjoy doing things, how I use to have hobbies, how I use to write often both for enjoyment & for a stress relief. How I use to craft, & often, for the very same purposes. See, when I say I’m busy, stressed, & exhausted I’m not kidding!  

It’s funny how one little word or comment can change a life, both good & bad. 

But here’s the thing, it doesn’t have to. People are going to be mean at times, & people are going to be amazing at times. How we choose to react to that is totally within our power.

Not that I didn’t know that before, but it’s hard to let your heart heal when you are busy being there for everyone else. When you are busy helping them heal their own hurts & pains & falsely tell yourself that it didn’t hurt, that you’ll be okay while hiding in the bathroom crying.

Which is when I realised, that part of what I enjoy doing is blogging. I enjoy sharing that insanity of our lives because it makes me laugh. I laughed so hard last night over a 2 minute cake, yep— really! I love sharing our school days so we can look back on them & be reminded of all the amazing things we learned. I even enjoy, on rare occasions, sharing the more personal things, rather like this blog post.

A big thank you to each of you who reached out & wondered how things were. They made me smile, & the truth is I AM fine, a little battle weary, sporting a few new scars, but I AM fine.

Ants In The Pants

When I was four or five I was given the game Ants In The Pants, I recall playing it, mostly with a lot of frustration because it was quite difficult to get those crazy ants inside those crazy pants! I remember, for the few years I went to a private school before being homeschooled, the cafeteria had the game too & it often came out along with Spill the Beans to be played.

Why this memory hit me so strongly over the past month I’ve really no idea at all. I think it started when our very wiggly child was, well.. wiggling all over. I told him he was acting like he had ants in his pants. Which made me chuckle as I thought about the game.

Our child, on the other hand sat up & said, “Ants? In my pants? I hope they are bull ants or jack jumpers. That’d be really painful.” Ahh, the joys of living in a country with inch-long ants that hurt like the dickens when they bite! And our poor boy has some first hand experience on that front too.

I then had to explain exactly what the game was, & how you played it. I went on & on about the little pair of blue pants you tried to get the ants to jump into, but I’m afraid the more I described this game the more confused my kids got. Maybe it was the concept, who knows.

Last Friday we ducked into our local library to return some books & then made a quick dash for the grocery shop. I was trying to be quick & efficient, both due to time & because I’ve been fighting some nasty chest infection for the past 5 weeks & I really didn’t want to be out longer than I had to be.

As I’m dashing hither & yon trying to avoid crashing into all the other crazy Friday shoppers eager to get home from a long week of work & settle in for a cold night to watch football finals, I nearly crashed into a promotional display in the produce department.

Yes, the produce department. See our produce department & deli are side by side  & it’s not abnormal for our deli to back up so long that people react like they’ve won the lottery when their number is called & they are served. So much so we still giggle about the man who screamed, “BINGO!” when his number was called. Needless to say, it’s a great place for all sorts of promotional displays & the powers that be use it to their advantage.

The promotional display that I happened to run into was a display for old board games made new, & right there smack in the front was Ants In The Pants. Not in the tall slightly cubist slightly rectangular style box I remember, but in a flat pack box. I was slightly doubtful that it could be the real deal available for $10, but the box claimed it was & had the Hasbro logo on it so I snatched it up, much to my children’s confusion, & dashed through the store to finish collecting our meat pies, melon, & milk.

When we got home I whipped out the game with as much flourish as is possible when you’re hacking between every word & said, “Let me introduce you to— Ants In The Pants!” They laughed. I dont’ mean they giggled, I mean they laughed so hard I completely lost them for a few minutes there.

So I did the only sensible thing available, I pulled out the dairy free chocolate & bribed them to play a round with me. We put our pants together, that’s right they now have to be assembled thus the flat packing, & sorted out colours. There were many gripes that these “bugs” didn’t look anything like ants but more like grasshoppers, true true.. Mr S walked in & we waited for him to join us.

And while our dinner cooked we shot ants all over the kitchen. It may be the first time in al the years we’ve lived in Australia there was not one complaint or shout of horror at finding ants all over the kitchen. To be honest, the game is still as crazy as ever & I’m still absolutely horrible at getting those ants consistently into the pants, but it sure elicited a lot of laughter around our kitchen.