Monday, August 5, 2013

Going South Before Heading North

This year we plan to holiday somewhere where we can go out and experience the Great Barrier Reef.

We left on our family holiday for this year on Tuesday, last week, and headed south. If you know your Australian geography, south is not the smartest route or even the scenic route to get to the Great Barrier Reef from Toowoomba. We should've headed North East. But we went to visit with my folks at their farm/building site outside Inverell, New South Wales.

The kids had great fun. Fires, fires and more fires! It's burn off season, and at one stage we worked out we had six fires going (including the one in the house and the one in the shed). Tank said he wanted to stay and have his holiday where he could light fires. He loves Granny and Grandfather's farm and is constantly enquiring after it (begging to go back). I offered to leave him with Granny and Grandfather if he wanted and he instantly said he wanted to stay with Mummy and Daddy (we love our Tank).

It was lovely to start heading North, we were hoping to finally get some warmer nights (freezing at the farm). But we didn't get very far, and we stopped back at home to get some of the things that we really needed, but mostly because the washing load just got too much. It was good for us though, as Christian got the chance to do some much needed maintenance on the camper.

So far we have camped at Inverell (Geebung Flat), Ashford NSW, Hervey Bay QLD, and we are stopped in 1770, QLD. We hope to visit Gladstone QLD, and that will be the highest we get, but we intend to make that a day trip.

Oh, and we have a "new" car...we call it "Chugga" (I think that's a reference to the children's programme "Chuggington" on ABC). Unlike the Kia we used to have (really you can't compare a Merc to a Kia!) this one can tow without missing a beat. The Mercedes Vito is an excellent family vehicle, really does tow what it says it does (the Kia struggled), has plenty of space and it was cheaper to buy second hand than a Tarago or VW Caravelle of similar kilometres. And the best feature? It has vinyl floors, so easy clean up, really easy clean up.

"Making Princesses" Retreat

We went to a place where we stayed at a cabin called "Applegum". That night we had a spa and ate chocolates. Mummy read a book to me about girls. That night we watched "Nim's Island".

The next day we had hot chocolates with Tim Tams and Bacon and Tomato with spinach leaves. Mummy gave a book for girls to learn more about Jesus. We went for a bush walk before lunch and walked mostly downhill. That afternoon we watched "Nim's Island" again. It's a good film about a girl named Nim who lived on a Island and had lots of adventures.

Half way through, I found a tick in my hair. We went to the office and got the tick out of my hair. Then we went back to the cabin and got dressed to go out. We went to a Chinese restaurant and had a good dinner and some dessert.

The next day we packed up all of our things and had a massage. We drove back home.

Written by Princess

Psalm 144:12
May our sons in their youth
  be like plants full grown,
our daughters like corner pillars
  cut for the structure of a palace
Dressed up for our special dinner together. We girls have
decided not to go tenting on our retreat. We think we
need something a bit special!
Otherwise known as "Big Girls Camp", or "Big Boys Camp", both Christian and I take our children away by themselves for two nights every year once they turn 8. Christian takes the boys, and I take the girls. 

The purpose of our camp is for us as parents to develop our personal relationship with each of our children, to give specific discipleship and encouragement in their relationship with Jesus, to teach them about their changing body and give them a godly perspective on sexuality and how to relate appropriately to the opposite sex. We do this well before they are teenagers because we want to imprint God's standards in their lives before the world gets it's chance. 

The idea comes from many sources that talk about our culture having a lack of "coming of age" or "initiation"event, as traditional cultures have. We did this in my family when we each turned 18. But we decided that it was important to develop our personal relationship with our children earlier because of the sexualisation of our world. Currently, I use Concordia Press: Learning about Sex series to teach our children about their body. This year both Tiger and Princess received a devotional book that we taught them how to use. Another good resource, particularly for girls would be Dannah Gresh's book on Mother Daughter dates.


Friday, August 2, 2013

Lady Musgrave Island

All the coral here is beautiful.
On our recent holiday, we took a day cruise to Lady Musgrave Island. We were warned, people get really sick on the way out. So I insisted that the children could only have a piece of toast for breakfast (knowing full well that this would not fill their tummies), I also insisted that everyone except Joybug had to take a ginger tablet to help with possible seasickness well before we went.

Our three happy snorkelers.
Pretty purple brain coral in the centre,
next to golden plate coral.
In his journal, The Man described the journey as "up and down, up and down". Truly, it was the sort of down like you get when you go fast over certain dips in the road, where your tummy jumps, except this was every ten seconds or so. One of the crew commented to me how still the sea was today, particularly compared to the last few weeks. It was fun at first, but within 20 minutes I was NOT enjoying it. So I focused on the horizon, and on breathing deeply, all while trying to help Tiger, Princess and Joybug who were struggling too. I stood to try and get water for Joybug and could barely find my feet! The crew suggested those who felt ill should try the back of the boat, but when I tried that all I could smell was the diesel, and that made me feel worse! I barely downed another ginger tablet, and Christian noticed I wasn't coping. He came and worked on pressure points in my wrists and immediately I felt significantly better. I kept working these for the rest of the trip and managed to keep it at just nausea (no vomiting).

Christian however didn't fair so well. We had half an hour to go in our hour and a half journey, when he couldn't hold it in any more. Poor man! I had no idea how I would handle it if one of the kids got sick too. I was regularly checking on them, even though turning my head made me feel sick all over. One of the two things I don't do well as a parent (or teacher) is vomit! As soon as we were 10 minutes from the pontoon we were all feeling fine, and ready to start the morning tea that had just been put out, although Christian was not so sure.

The water was five to ten metres deep, but we felt safe.
The purple coral here is plate coral.
On arrival at the island we all (right down to Joybug) donned wetsuits. Then all of us got into the water, but Joybug and Tank were too nervous to get off the ledge. It was AMAZING! The children were so amazed by everything they saw. Tiger was off naming the fish and creatures he saw. He recognised the sea cucumber, parrot fish and numerous other fish. I didn't know he knew so much! Princess and The Man kept trying to talk excitedly through their snorkel. The water was deep, but extraordinarily clear. The colours of the fish were incredible. Our camera is one we can use underwater and we all enjoyed taking these pictures. The children were disappointed when we had to stop for lunch.

Professional photographer who also was crook on the boat.
The floating white things is the coral's sunscreen from when
it was out of the water during low tide.
After lunch we went on a glass bottom boat and spied lots of different things, including big sea turtles. The boat then dropped us off on Lady Musgrave Island, where we had a bush walk. It's an amazing island made from coral. Walking through the bush growing there was incredible. We would love to go back there to camp and have the island all to ourselves!

We managed a bit more snorkeling before we headed back to the mainland. The return trip was wonderfully enjoyable for everyone. We were even able to enjoy the whales frolicking as we passed them by (couldn't look on the way to the island).

We topped the day off with quick baths and dinner in an Indian restaurant in a setting that reminded me and Christian of a restaurant we went to on our honeymoon in Vanuatu. Truly delightful!!
Pretty blue fish with staghorn coral.

The pink coral is finger and the long
golden coral is staghorn.

Snorkeling don't see that every day!
The golden coral is plate coral 
In the bush on the island.
Our family on Lady Musgrave Island.
Story by SJ. Captions by Tiger
The black lines are sausage sea cucumbers,
they are the vacuum cleaners of the seas.