29 February 2008

Autumn Cleaning

Now that Summer is ending I thought it was time for some Autumn Blog Cleaning. You may have noticed the change to the layout and also an updated Logo. The old one was pre Martin! This photo was taken last week on our working holiday and Rose was too curious to see what I was doing fiddling with the camera to face the glorious view, so we told her to keep looking at the camera.

25 February 2008

Now that is a tree

Another bonus of the farmhouse was this really old tree. It was a great climbing tree and before we had unpacked James and Peter were already exploring its upper reaches.
The trip was split into two days of around 6 hours driving each day. We listened to The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, Alice in Wonderland, Mort by Terry Pratchett and The Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. 
The trip went very smoothly, even with Martin who we thought would get a little stir crazy. He certainly did enjoy running (!) around once we stopped but he didn't complain too much.
On the way we stopped at various farmer's fruit stalls and purchased fresh fruit. The bananas we bought were especially yummy and Martin happily chomped his way through a few.
On the return trip Eric read out the Lord of the Rings Trivial Pursuit questions and we all competed to get the most answers. It was close but Lana narrowly beat Ariel and James.

Mine! Mine! Mine!

On Day Two, Lana and the children went to the beach while I visited a client near Palm Beach in Queensland. There had been many storms and floods in the area recently and much of the beach had been washed away.
But this didn't stop the children enjoying themselves at the beach. Martin enjoyed watching the seagulls and then chasing one. I don't know what he would do if he actually caught one.  
(Click the photo for full details)
Ariel gathered a great collection of sea shells and the boys dug holes and ran into and out of the water's edge.

A house with a view

Sometimes it's worth taking a trek a little out of the way. This is the view we had from near the back porch of the farmhouse we rented last week. (Click the photo for more details)
There was a river and creek nearby which Lana and the children visited on day one while I visited one of my clients that day.
The house was a much better idea than our earlier attempts to find accommodation at a hotel/motel/caravan park. Instead of being squeezed into one or two little boxes we were able to enjoy the room of a house with plenty of space. The cost actually worked out better than the silly motels/caravan parks.
In Australia most motel type accommodation charge a base rate and then an amount per person. They only allow 3 or 4 people per room and then cheekily say "children are free". Ah, but you will need an extra room because "fire regulations" limit us to only 3/4/5 people per room. Bah!

Trust but Verify

We have just returned from a working holiday up North. The main location in which we stayed was a holiday house on a farm about 30 minutes south of Beaudesert, Queensland. It was a very isolated spot out of Internet and mobile phone coverage. Also, being so well placed in the bush, the GPS needs to be monitored carefully.
With directions to get to the accommodation from the North, we used the GPS to get there from the South. The two photos in this post indicate two of the roads we were suggested to take.
The fence line on the second photo is called "Strong Road" according to the GPS. Hmmm, I think I would need a strong car to attempt it.
The GPS is still pretty good. It allows us the confidence to try alternate routes even though we know there is the risk the road may not actually exist. We can always back track and try an alternate route.
It also lets us find places like Wonglepong!

10 February 2008

The Family Rosary

We have been reliably informed that one can gain great graces by saying family prayers together and that the family Rosary is very effective and worthy.
I am sure that it is not because of the deep meditations one may ponder or spiritual feelings one may experience. I think the benefits accrue from sheer perseverance in the face of all the distractions little ones cause.
This is a quick snap of Martin doing his best to distract us from our determination to say our prayers. He looks like he is bowing to his appreciative audience.
It takes a great amount of perseverance to concentrate of the part of Jesus' life and meditate on that area on which we are praying.
We have read that being distracted during prayers is a very common thing as we are human after all. It is the returning to prayer and not abandoning the effort which is the good thing.
(Note that Martin has now learned to climb onto the Treasure Table, but as he hasn't actually climbed ladders or chairs onto tables, we are still hovering at Defcon 3.5)

8 February 2008

Snap Happy Children

We're getting ready for the annual Robertson Show. The children are making lots of craft items to display and they have planned a massive cooking day just before the show.
All the children (except Martin) have been going around with digital cameras taking photos. After the first round or two, I showed them the results and explained important concepts such as standing still when taking a photo, lining up the subject with the little cross in the middle of the screen, waiting for the camera to focus and so on. Since then the results haven't been too bad. And being digital, there is no cost of developing or delays to seeing the photographs.
This photo is by Clare, capturing Rose taking a photo of the flower. Quite by accident it is a really nice photo. (Click for greater detail)

Defcon 3.5 - The Relocator!

Martin is excelling at his new job. He is a Relocator.
It is important that you pronounce this is in an
announcer's deep voice, as in
"... and here is THE RELOCATOR!"
Anything left on the floor has a good chance of being elsewhere when you return.

4 February 2008

Guardian Angels on Duty

We have often said, "The fact you have survived childhood seems to be a proof for Guardian Angels."
The boys had setup a rather dangerous arrangement around the trampoline. I explained to them all the dangers and suggested they should dismantle or re-arrange the lot to make it safer.
"We've had it this way for months," replied James, "Nothing's going to go wrong."
Famous last words.
Peter bounced too far and hit his head against a plastic pipe and narrowly missed damaging his eye. As it was he received a rather nasty cut and a lovely black eye. He also received great experience that should help him be more careful in the future.
And to be thankful for Guardian Angels.

2 February 2008

Family Socialisation

We recently had a fun time at a local park which has just refurbished their playground. There were ducks to feed, tadpoles to watch, things to climb and spinning things to, well, spin on.
The children really enjoy spending time together and we enjoy spending time with them. This seems to be such a counter cultural experience. When I announce we are going to have a "Family Day" all the children's eyes light up and they look forward to whatever we are hoping to do - read out loud, go to a park, picnic, watch a movie, play cards, walk in the bush, whatever.
So often we are told that we are risking our children's isolation and stunting their "socialisation" - whatever that is meant to mean. Yet, if socialisation is helping the children form an important part of society, I can't think of a better way than raising healthy, well adjusted adults who actually enjoy their parents and siblings. All the concerns about "socialisation" seem to be based on mythical cases and theoretical situations as the reality is that healthy families - homeschooled or institutional schooled - are much better prepared for the realities of the adult world in which we live. One day all children need to shake off the artificial boundaries of school aged years and confront the world around us. Some can do it younger, others delay the reckoning till their 20's, 30's or even 40's.
We either pay now or pay later in all things we do. We have found that "paying" now in terms of time spent with the family is providing solid returns as the years move on.
Hooray for family life!

Lana's Day In

On Saturday we gave Lana a special treat. I took all the children with me for a trip to the nearby town. This meant Lana had about 4 hours of very quiet time at home. She was able to do some cross stitch and watch a movie without any interruptions.
The notable thing was being able to put down a thread or needle and not have to put it away as she knew it would be there when she returned!
After a little shopping we went to the park and played around. I deliberately didn't call Lana so she could have uninterrupted time alone, but she called me instead, wondering how we - and in particular Martin - was surviving.
As you can see from the picture he was doing quite well. I left with seven children and returned with the same number. No worries.