Thursday, 29 January 2015


I want to have lots of memories of our trip. The kids are small and probably won't remember a great deal so it is important that I take lots of photos and video clips for them to see later on. 

We already have a JVC video camera, it is 7 years old but works well. I had planned on taking it but just realised it isn't compatible with my Macbook. So I may look at upgrading it before we leave. 

Our Sony camera is also 7 years old and is a great camera which takes a good shot so I don't really need to upgrade to take still photography. But it is big to carry so it won't come on hikes and bush walks. 

I am getting Matilda her own camera for her birthday next week. Its a cannon and comes in a hard case and is built extra tough, which means she can take it in her backpack and I don't need to worry she will break it. 

We can take photos and videos on our iPads but they aren't the best quality. So iPads will be used to play games, check Facebook and to look up maps and camp sites. 

I am taking a portable hard drive to store pics and my macbook air will be used to transfer the pics around. It is light and easy to pack and can be used for blog writing, emails, Matilda's school work.

I am thinking about adding to my technology by getting a GoPro as they are small and can be taken anywhere. It can be used under water and takes photos and videos. But the price tag is perhaps an unnecessary pre trip purchase. 

All of these gadgets can be charged on USB points, which Craig has installed several into the back of the camper so they can be plugged in directly to the spare battery we have wired in. Even when we are bush camping we can charge our iPads and cameras ensuring we don't miss any happy snaps :) 

On saying this, I don't want to get caught up in having a camera in my hand all the time. I want to experience and enjoy things first hand not through a camera lense. But I do want to document our journey and as they say, a picture tells a thousand words. 

Thursday, 22 January 2015

To eat or not eat the pizza.

So my last post I wrote about packing clothing for the kids. In this post I am going to be brutally honest about the anxiety I have had about packing clothes for myself for this six month holiday. 

Clothes have always been a topic of distress for me. I know I know, you will either read this thinking WTF is she talking about or you will read this and nod your head and know exactly what I mean. Its probably not going to make much sense to any of you but bare with me. Or is it bear with me........ Anyways...

Lets rewind to when I was 18. I had just met Craig. I was actually quite thin, although at the time I thought I was fat. So it would be a date night and I would spend hours trying on different outfits. Putting these pants with this top. I would then pile it all in a huge mound on the bed and sit on the floor crying because I had nothing to wear. This would almost always result in my mum coming in and kindly letting me pick something from her wardrobe. Or she would come in and say ok wear this top and these pants and go and wash your face and brush your hair and you will be ok. And I always was ok. 

Then came the early twenties when I had moved out of home and no longer had the comfort of borrowing mums clothes. Or the comfort of her words to tell me that I was 'enough'. I was getting ready in a small unit with Craig. So the pulling all the clothing out on the bed in a mound ritual would result in him huffing and puffing frustrated at the door. Shan you have lots of clothes just put some on or we will be late. And me and my ugly crying eyes would throw something on and make a vow that I would do something about it so I didn't feel like this again. 

Mid and late twenties saw me in a even bigger clothing pickle. I was pregnant, or breast feeding, or just plain fat from being pregnant or breastfeeding. I had about four different sizes of clothing in the wardrobe. I didn't want to throw out my expensive size 8 Levi jeans, but I was more comfortable in a pair of elastic wasted massive maternity pants. In those days I had less luxury of time to choose an outfit. My time was more so spent mashing banana for a baby, teaming together a cute pink outfit for a toddler, and negotiating with a three year old that she didn't need to wear plastic high heel princess shoes to the pub for dinner. I would have five minutes to throw something on. I avoided mirrors and would have a baby or a pram or an "I'm so tired" excuse to hide behind.

Then came the time I hit 30 and I had a momentarily lapse of 'I don't want to do this anymore' with the clothing game. So I lost some weight, got a few decent items and threw everything else in the Salvation Army bin. I felt ok for six months or so. Felt like I was on top of the 'I don't look good enough' brain saga for once in my life. 

Alas, all good things come to an end and for some stupid reason (or reasons) I fell off the wagon. And then the wagon pulled me along the road, and I got gravel burn. 

Metaphorically it actually sounds better than it was. I would have much rather literally fallen off a wagon that what I did to myself. I let myself go. Again. And my size 10 jeans got tighter. And I had to go shopping for more clothes. bigger knickers. Size 10 got space bagged under the bed and was replaced in my wardrobe for the comfy big patterned pants and black leggings (I hate leggings so much). And every time I skipped a workout or I ate that bit of cake I told myself it would be the last. But it wasn't. I took an 'I don't care' attitude. I don't care if I am fat. What does it matter. Its not like I have to impress anyone. Its not like anyone looks at me anymore. Its not like I work and need nice clothing to look smart and professional. So I hid. And continue to hide today. 

My weight has always been in conjunction with my happiness. The happier I am the less I weigh. The less I weigh the happier I am. Its as simple as that. As vain as it sounds. Craig has tried comforting me that 'I'm not fat'. Then when he realised that wasn't working he has begged me to 'do something about it'. He has made every logical point. That we have enough money to join the gym, buy fruit and veg etc etc. Its something that is quite embarrassing really because I am depressed that I am too FAT! seriously. There are children right now on the other side of the world who have nothing to eat. And I am complaining about cake and cookies. Another guilt notch to add to my belt buckle. 

Here I find myself at 32 years old.  Fatter than I have ever been in my life. Yep I weigh as much as I did at 9 months pregnant. Fuck me. What have I done to myself. Why did I do it. Where did I go wrong. 

And I have a suitcase than will need to be packed in two months. packed with clothes that I don't have because nothing fits. I could pack the clothes that fit in a plastic shopping bag right now. Like some bag lady. My leggings and patterned pants in a plastic shopping bag.  

And when I went through everything in my wardrobe on the weekend and piled them all on the bed and cried on the floor, for the first time there was no mum at the door to offer me one of her tops to feel better. There was no Craig at the door scoffing at me that surely I had lots of clothes that fitted. Or to hug me and say he loved me anyway. Nope. I was on my own. Actually, I wasn't alone. I had three little faces staring at me. Wondering why mummy was so sad. And why her wardrobe was thrown around the room in a rage of anger. Some role model I am. Pass the cake, emotional eating time people. Followed by an 'Im not eating dinner cause I ate cake' rationale. 

So what do I do. Do I make some unachievable goal to lose weight by the start of our holiday so I can pack my nice wardrobe. Do I make myself anxious and try in a desperate attempt to be 'good' enough to fit into my small Lorna Jane pants. 

Or do I just shove everything back in the wardrobe and close the doors. And give myself some more time to contemplate. 

For now there is no post on this blog about how many t shirts will fit in my suitcase. 

Nor is there going to be a post of my mad juicing cleanse, pre holiday. Im done with that shit too. 

I am not sure. I am lost. But I will work it out.

Its only clothes right. 

Mesnwhile watch this. The first time I saw it this made so much sense I actually real life LOLed. But maybe I have taken it a bit too far. Hold up on the pizza.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Clothes, clothes and more clothes

On the weekend I had a sort of the girls clothes to work out what would fit in suitcases, what I needed to donate and what I needed to buy before we go away. 

I started by putting every item from their wardrobes on the kitchen table. I then curled up in the foetal position and rocked for a bit under said table as I contemplated what the heck I was going to pack and what I was going to do with all the rest.

Once I got over my attack I started being ruthless. I donated a large box of clothes that the kids no longer need. I sorted knickers and socks and t shirts and winter stuff. And I made a list of who was missing what. 

My trial packing for the kids suitcases looked like this.

5 knickers
1 singlet
2 leggings
2 shorts
3 t shirts
2 long sleeve tops
1 nightie
1 winter onsie
1 jumper
2 summer dresses

Then I have vacuumed down spare jumpers, winter pjs, tracksuit pants, raincoats and padded vests into a clothes storage bag. This will go in the back of the car beside the fridge. 

According to my kids they are happy with the selection I have packed. But they told me they must take dress ups. So I am still working out where I am going to pack the ballet dresses, plastic tiaras and the princess Anna Dress. At this stage I am thinking of hanging them from the UHF aerial. Then we can drive really fast and sing 'let it go, let it go'. 

On a serious note, I figure that if I haven't packed enough clothing we can buy stuff along the way if needed. I don't mind hitting a target store every now and again. Even a target country can fulfil my shopping urges. I also plan on hand washing most stuff every day so it can be dried over night and to avoid the costly washing machines in caravan parks. And if all else fails I will let them wear the same clothes every day and we can be a feral family. 

Oh happy times......


Monday, 19 January 2015

Fur babies

So Craig tells me yesterday that we have 77 days till we leave for our six month trip around Australia. And I am  very excited about that. but I am also a little sad. Sad about leaving my new little niece, my mum and my sister. 

And sad about leaving my dogs......

I got my first dog for my 21st birthday off my mum. Craig and I had just bought our first house and I had been talking to mum about getting a puppy. She doesn't believe in buying animals as a present, but lucky for me she changed the rules just that once and took me to the pet shop where I picked out my beautiful Golden labrador, Ruby.  

Ruby has been my best friend ever since. The first few years she was an only 'child'. We worked all day long and came home of a night to a bright and bubbly golden whirl wind. She chewed every plant we planted. Ripped Craig's brand new jeans off the line. She even chewed the walls and we had to replaster them. Then, when she was about 5, I had Matilda. I was home all the time and Ruby got lots of walks with the pram. She settled right down and was such a good girl. She has continued to be such a good girl. She is great with the kids and although she is getting old (she is 12 this year) she still enjoys coming for a walk with me. She no longer pulls the lead and she no longer walks ahead. Now she walks along by my feet, nudging the back of my legs when she gets tired. 

While we travel Ruby is going to stay with an older lady who is a friend of a friend.  My heart breaks into two when I think about leaving her. But I know she will be ok and I know it won't be forever. 

A year and a half ago we got a chocolate labrador to add to our family, Her name is Gem and she too is beautiful. She is going to stay with a friend of Craig's. He has five acres and another dog. I know Gem will be happy there for six months. 

I am so grateful that they will be going somewhere safe while we travel. Taking them with us was never an option. Three kids in the camper trailer is plenty! 

I know it is time for a change, but I am still allowed to be sad leaving my two fur babies. 

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Am I Lame?

Is it lame to write online like this?
I have to think, who am I writing this blog for? 
Am I writing it for myself, or for my family, or for people I don't know?

When I first started writing in August 2014 I wanted to do it for myself. To keep a record of what we were doing. A bit like an 'online' diary. But I worked out soon enough that obviously an online diary can only contain certain information. There are just some things in life I don't want to put out there! Things that are better kept in my written journal that is in my bedside table for only me to see. So obviously this blog needed an audience. It can also get a little boring just writing for yourself  *hi me*. 

So I thought, well this blog could be good for family to follow our travels. And a few selected friends. So I gave the address to a handful of people. Which is were I am at right now *waving hello to family and selected friends*.  

But I have to be careful. Because when one starts writing for an audience it starts to become slanted and bias.  Like, am I going to write a post on 'my kids are being a pain in the arse' or am I only going to write the la de da side of things. Oh we are off on a picnic and life is roses. 

Then I think, should I just put it on Facebook for all to see?  Whats the harm in letting anyone who wants to have a read follow along. Should I get some business cards made with my 'blog' address on it. Handing them out to fellow travellers in the camp kitchen like 'hi my name is shantelle and I have a blog'. Nah, that is just a touch carried away. 

I only have about three people that I have ever hated in my life. One of them was a girl in high school lets call her ZD. A total and utter bitch who stole my lunch order out of the box so I had no lunch. Who sniggered and picked on me for my hair, my clothes and basically made my life hell for the year I had to associate with her. Then there are the other two people who I would use the H word for, but we won't go into who they are, my point is do I want these people reading my blog? what if they found it through a friend of a friend. Do I want them knowing my business? 

And then theres the thinking about writing for an audience,  even my small audience, and an insecurity that creeps in. Will they like it? are they bored? am I a good enough writer? is my spelling ok? are they judging the content of my posts? Do they like my green background and boarders?

I follow a few travel blogs and a few 'mum' blogs. These people often wear their hearts on their sleeves. Thats what makes it a good read. It makes you feel like you know them. Like we are friends. Can I be good enough to write like that? And can I cope with the criticism that comes with expressing your own thoughts and feelings? What if I write about a town say, and write that 'its a great place' and some random comes on and says 'you idiot no it is not'. Will I start crying and delete the whole thing?

Theres also the security aspect. I am putting my kids photos on this. What if a sicko is reading this and then sees my kids in a playground and approaches them and knows enough information about us to plot a kidnapping. 


Because I am new to all this maybe I am getting carried away. Like my grandparents did when they got a plastic card to get money out of an ATM. 

Maybe I need to just be savvy. 

And maybe since it is my blog, I can write whatever I want. If people don't like it, well they can bugger off, right? 

Thursday, 15 January 2015


Planning stages 

We have decided to not enrol the kids in distance education, instead I will be teaching them by my own plan for the six months. For Matilda, who is in year 2, I am estimating time wise it will be an hour a day (five days a week) of explicit instruction. Charlotte is in Pre Primary this year and her work will mainly be blending, segmenting, rhyme and letter recognition. We will complete handwriting worksheets and do basic counting and simple addition to cover maths. While school work is very important I also believe there is so much informal learning that happens on the road so we will play that part by ear and imbed most learning in our every day travels. 

Some days we may not do any formal work and other days we might do two or three hours. Some of the lessons I have designed as oral instruction (time tables drills and word games) so we can complete as we are driving.  

The other lessons are worksheet/workbook format and will need to be completed when we are set up somewhere.  My material list is quite low as I will have most of it on my laptop. Consumables like textas and glue can be purchased as needed.

For Matilda I have spent time reviewing the curriculum framework standards and writing up an overview.  I have selected several relevant outcomes for year 2 to cover while we are away. The beauty of writing an 'Individual Learning Plan' is that I can focus on areas she needs help with and can accelerate in her areas of strength. 

I won't put lesson plans on here as they are too long and boring for any non teacher types, but here is the draft of Matilda's learning journey for two terms that I am working on. I have collated relevant standards and come up with the following:  


NUMBER: Recognise and represent multiplication as repeated addition, groups and arrays

This will be completed on a daily basis in an explicit lesson using times table flashcards and counters
MONEY: Count and order small collections of Australian coins and notes according to their value

M will be exposed to different money denominations and be asked to count out money for purchases

LOCATION: Interpret simple maps of familiar locations and identify the relative positions of key features

M will use an ipad map to follow along the journey and plot locations on a larger scale map
CHANCE AND DATA: Identify a question of interest based on one categorical variable. Gather data relevant to the question
Collect, check and classify data
Create displays of data using lists, table and picture graphs and interpret them
M will collect and classify information and create various charts to display this information. (Relevant data examples; colours of cars, different types of vehicles on the road etc)

DIARY writing
Writing for PURPOSE

M will write in a diary on a daily basis. This process will be completed using the writing to recount method of the 5Ws (who, when, where, what and why).
M will be encouraged to expand on the text to add own feelings thoughts and ideas.
M will be guided with her grammar and spelling but will be expected to self-correct using a dictionary. M will also have access to a thesaurus to add adjectives to her text.

M will complete an online blog on a bi weekly basis using content from her diary.
M will be encouraged to recognize she has an audience for her text and to write in a manner that is semantically appealing.
M will focus on correct spelling, grammar and sentence construction.
M will complete this task independently with parent assistance only when required.
Parent to view before publishing.

M will have a visual journal that will be completed on a bi weekly basis. M will be required to draw landscapes and to use the arts as a mode of self-interpretation.

M will also be encouraged to take photographs for her blog. This will be done independently and without bias.
This learning will be informally assessed on a process rather than product base.

M will receive instruction on how to set up, maintain and publish information in her blog. M will be required to format her own pages and to add suitable photographs to the page.
M will receive assistance from the teacher during this part of the process.

M will complete crossword/puzzles and educational games on the ipad and laptop.
EXPLICIT learning
ORAL language skills

(20 minutes x2 per week)

M will complete the year 2 soundwaves workbook.
M will also receive an explicit oral language lesson focusing on areas such as homophones, blends, segmentations, synonyms, alliteration and compound words.

M will be asked to recount parts of the day to parents and will be encouraged to use correct grammar and pronunciation in this process.

M will make phone calls to family members and friends to continue to build on her oral language skills.

Using the text (primary values)
M will complete a worksheet weekly on protective behaviours and social skills. This will be completed with parent and will be discussed informally during and after.

M will research a different animal each week (relevant to the area) and will identifying (per curriculum framework) several aspects of the animal such as its external features, its habitat, its diet and recognize that science involves asking questions about, and describing changes in, objects and events.