Saturday, 21 March 2015

Decisions Decisions

This weekend we are packing up our house getting ready to move into the camper at my Mum's next week.

When you are packing up your life to go 'camping' for six months there are so many decisions to be made! 

FIVE bottles of perfume and THIRTEEN bottles of nail polish. What do you do with them? I can't pack them in a sea container because if they spill it will be a problem. But I don't want to simply bin them.  So many body lotions and hair products. Oh well, off they go to my sister. 

Tupperware! I have three packing boxes of tupperware and I keep thinking 'oh maybe I should take that, and that, and that. But the truth is we just don't have the room for a dip platter and a container to store our lettuce in. So I have got it down to a few square fridge mate containers. 

Craig wants to take the coffee machine and the Nutra bullet. So into the kitchen tub they go. Leaving little room for anything else! Yesterday when packing up the draw I held up the garlic press and said 'take or leave'. He looked at me like 'oh we need that' then we both realised we are getting carried away! 

I have three garbage bags of towels and sheets and blankets that are in the sea container and I still have too much stuff here to go in the towel tub under the camper. I face the decision of taking our soft 'good' towels. Or keeping the crap 'camping' towels in the tub. Considering we are going for six months I am taking my good towels! Im going to splurge and buy new ones when I get home if need be.

Oh god, so many clothes so little room. 


Even bigger FUCK. There have been tears as I said they can only take two teddies each. Even then we are still having SIX teddy bears accompanying us on our road trip. Matilda cannot choose and is loosing sleep at night. So we have decided to let Nana babysit her teddies that she couldn't bear to put in a box. Phew.  Matilda has also been upset about packing away her books, her bead making kit, her loom band kit and a picture she drew three years ago! I have found that she is quite the little hoarder and is very attached the 'things'. More so than the other two kids. 

So basically thats us. Packing and deciding and discussing. And taking things out of boxes and putting things back in.  

I am proud to admit I have only cried twice in this process. Once when Craig expected me to have man strength and hold the whole weight of our 1950s drink fridge. And once when my good outdoor table got a chunk taken off it when we put a bedside table on it and slipped. 

Anyways all good. And as Craig pointed out all of this is 'self inflicted'. !!!! 

Only 7 days till we move into the camper trailer and only 21 days till we hit the road. 

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Food, glorious food!!

My family is into food. Always has been. 

Its not like any of as are obese or anything, its just that we revolve a lot around food! Its our social thing. I don't think 'Ive ever been to visit my mum and not eaten something. Or at least been offered something. Even though we have all moved out of home, my brother and sister still go there and raid the pantry and eat as they please. Mum still stocks the foods we all like and when she cooks she still makes enough for five people. I guess old habits are hard to break.  

When we were growing up we hardly ever ate out. Our treat was fish and chips and sometimes in the school holidays we might get Mcdonalds. Apart from that we ate at home. And mum cooked three meals a day. I never went hungry. 

You don't realise how lucky you are to grow up like that until you are an adult and have the knowledge that there are kids that grow up with nothing to eat. Or kids that live on take away and junk. And when you become a Mum yourself and have three little people who are always saying 'Im hungry' and you have to plan and prepare meals, snacks and do the grocery shopping. You are in charge of the nutrition and the health of your family. Its hard work sometimes! 

Some of my first memories of life involved food. Especially cake. I used to have sleepovers at my Nana's house a lot. We would get out the Womens Weekly cookbooks and find cake recipes to try. My nana would give me free range of her little cottage kitchen and I would make all sorts of cakes. Marble cakes, banana cakes, chocolate cakes. She always said 'as long as you clean up'... I was allowed to make what I wanted. She had a cellar that was her pantry and it was always loaded with supplies. 

When the cake was done and on the cooling rack my nana would cut a slither and give me a critique. 'well its a bit dry shanna, next time get it out of the oven a bit earlier' or 'yes this is lovely it would go nicely with some whipped cream'. 

My nana had a friend called Jean. She was a very big lady. And she was sad. She had a mean husband and she lived in a horrible run down cottage on the other side of town. We used to go and pick Jean up in my nanas light green corolla. Her passenger seat went back so far that I had to sit in the middle because my legs wouldn't fit on the floor behind her seat.  We would take Jean back to Nanas house and we would all play card games and eat the cakes I made. We would laugh and Jean's face would be happy.  After the cake was gone my nana would get out chocolate eclair lollies. And Jean always said she couldn't eat them because she had diabetes. But she would have one. Then another. Then another. Her lolly wrappers would pile up beside her teacup. She used to flatten each one with such care before stacking another wrapper on top. 

When it was dark we would get back in the corolla and drop Jean at her house. Her face would turn sad again as she heaved her heavy body out of the car and shuffled inside her run down dark home. 

Jean died when I was about ten. She got sick and went to hospital and then she was gone. Her nasty husband never even got her a head stone for her grave. My nana saved her money and got one for her.  My nana is a lovely person like that. 

As I said my family has always been big on food. As a result I have grown into an adult who is into food and my children are into it too. I make cakes and slices for their lunch boxes. And we have fruit salads after school and Jelly some weekends. Craig loves syrup dumplings and puddings...Hmmm glorious food!!

Craig did say once as he took a bite of his dessert that the only reason he married me was because I could cook (I hope he has a few other reasons!)

Camping is going to be interesting in the food department. Its going to be tough only having a BBQ and a thermo mix as our cooking utensils. I will have to become quite inventive with meals and snacks so we don't get bored and tempted to buy take away. 

Today I am packing up my kitchen in preparation to move into the camper which will be set up at mums next week. I feel a little sad as I put my saucepans and recipe books into a box. But I know that we will not starve while we travel! And I know in six months time I will open the boxes, unpack into a kitchen, wherever we are living, and say to the kids what type of cake do you want? and soon enough my home will be filled with the baking smell from my childhood and I will close my eyes and remember being in my nanas kitchen. 

Cake and memories. 

Friday, 13 March 2015


I would think of myself as a semi organised person. Perhaps it is the primary school teacher in me.  I like things labelled and I like to have a plan. I also like a calendar and a diary and a good old fashioned checklist. 

Maybe too I am using this blog to organise my thoughts. However jumbled it may sound to you poor readers! 

My check list for pre trip tasks is starting to look quite accomplished. 

Organise a tenant for our unit- check
Go to bank and sort out finances and VISA card-check
Sort the first aid kit-check
Plan school work for six months-check
Book car 70,000km service-
Change our private health fund-check
Get a post office box to change our addresses to-
Book caravan parks between here and Darwin-check
Book car for wheel alignment-check
Buy a boundary collar for dog (to keep her in the yard at her babysitters while we are away)-check
Defer Uni-check
Start a blog for Matilda- half check
Organise a carpet cleaner and window cleaner for unit-
Buy kids a second set of bathers and hat-
Buy kids winter pyjamas- check (thanks nana)
Buy a single bed doona cover for camper-
Take mack book to apple shop-
Buy my sister a birthday present, wrap and leave it at mums for April 29th-check
Buy Abigail her birthday present, wrap and hide in my suitcase for May 18th-check

So I really only have a few bits left to do before we leave. 

Next weekend we are packing more stuff into the sea container. The weekend after we are packing the remaining things and moving to Mums for two weeks before we leave. That gives me two days to clean the unit before I hand over the keys to our tenant on April 1st. 

Craig was supposed to be finishing work on the Thursday before easter and we had a sneaky plan to leave a few days early and free camp our way to Kalbarri. But his boss has asked him to stay on another week. So he will be finishing up at work two days before we leave. 

I am dropping Gem off to the lovely dog sitters in ten days (sob!). We did have a short conversation about taking her with us. But it is not practical and near impossible given our national park stays and the fact we have no room in the back of the car. 

We are living in a semi packed and semi functioning unit at the moment. I am finding it hard to keep it clean and tidy in the circumstances. So I have abandon all efforts of trying! 

I think the count down is now at 28 days till we leave. I might just stop counting from here on in! 

Thursday, 12 March 2015

The brochure of life.

I was recently watching an interview between a reporter and Joe Cross, the guy who lost weight by juice fasting. During his interview he made a statement about getting caught up in what he thought he should be doing. What society expects. The materialistic/idealistic concept that is life. He described it as 'the brochure of life'.  He explained it as being caught up in the every day rapids, floating down the stream and doing everything that is expected.

It made me think about my own brochure of life.

Only three or four decades before my birth women definitely followed a life brochure. They had no choice. It read something along the lines of: school, married, children, housewife/mother. The end. Very rarely back then could any women branch off from their path. Could they define themselves as who they wanted to be.

I was lucky enough to be born into a decade of choice.

Despite this choice, however, we still have some expectations in life.

For example, it was expected that I would complete a high school education. From there it was expected I got a job. Both of which I followed through with.

From this point I followed the brochure and found a partner, got married and had children.

But then what.

I am at that point now. The selfish point, the one that some may call a 'mid life crisis'. The point in your life where you go 'oh fuck is this it!'

Don't get me wrong, I do love my children and I am not suggesting I run to Tibet and live with the monks for spiritual meaning. Nor am I suggesting that I go define myself in the world by dumping my kids in a daycare and going off to mark my place in society by getting a career.  But then do I really want to just be a mother and a housewife?

Im in a limbo land.

Wanting to be the ideal 1950s housewife. Trust me I want to be the little wife and the cook and the mother with the kids hair in perfect plaits. But theres a wanting,  one where I can define myself as an individual.

Im sort of looking past the layers of materialistic stuff in the world. Im looking past the cars, houses, fancy clothes and money. Im looking past the brochure.

And it is scary stuff.

I walked through the shopping centre the other night. Every shop I looked in I thought why are we working so hard to buy this stuff. Why. It reminded me of a quote of Elizebeth Gilbert whereby she says that she spent most of her 20's working all week then spending the weekend wandering around box shaped stores buying stuff she didn't really want or need.

I remember crying to Craig once, probably five years ago. I was crying because our house was too small. I felt that there was too much stuff in it and I pleaded with him that we needed a bigger one.

Looking back on that conversation I feel so stupid, and so selfish.

Houses and stuff are safe. And remembering I am still in limbo land between the expected brochure and writing my own damn brochure I am scared to not have a house. Scared to not have routine and normality and predictability.

You will see that through my blog, I am bloody scared. Scared that we should have taken the road most travelled. Scared that we have branched off from what people 'normally' do. And a bit scared that without making changes I would have died of boredom.

Maybe I will re write this post once our six months is over. Maybe I will read it again and think back to this moment in time when I am grasping so tightly to convention that my knuckles are white.

When I look back I will probably laugh. And realise none of this mattered anyway.

So for now I have no idea where we will be at in a year. or two years.

Will we even come back after six months?

But I do know that this time in a month we will be on the road. We will be driving off the brochure of life and onto the brochure that I like to call 'doing whatever the hell we want'.

Ahhhhh..... can't you tell Im a little nervous.

Friday, 6 March 2015


 I have been on holidays......

We used to go away occasionally as a couple. We might head down a few hours south of Perth for relaxing weekends full of good food, sleeping in, casual sight seeing. The pictures above are of Craig and I having a 'holiday' in Italy. We were on a gondola being whisked through the waterways in Venice. I can remember the delicious dinner we had that night, of seafood and pasta and good music. We chatted into the night before returning to our hotel room which overlooked the cobbled streets.  We ate delicious pizza, we ordered room service in France and we sat by the clear blue lakes of Switzerland and ate custard pastries with strawberries on top. We took selfies and silly pics in front of the Eiffel Tower. 

And then we had kids. 

Holidays evolved. To more of a 'same shit different place' kind of thing. Literally. Here is one of the kids potty training on the way to Shark Bay for a camping holiday we had a few years ago.

Holidays became a juggle of 'did we pack the kids panadol' and 'is this all really worth it'.  It involved me wheeling a double pram to the toilet blocks just so I could carry three girls and all their towels and clothes and toiletries. Many a conversation was had with old ladies commenting that gee I had my hands full and gee wasn't I lucky I had three girls. 

Then came meal times. No more sampling of delicious cuisine and wines. No more five hour long lunches chatting about life.  Instead we hit the local IGA and grab 500 grams of shaved ham and a loaf of bread. Home made sandwiches at the playground. Our conversation consists of negotiating who will walk who to the toilet block. 

Hotel rooms evolved. Into the more affordable family option. Camper trailer. 

In our first camper, the jayco hawk
Our second set up, the PMX camper complete with strollers and portacots

Fun times would be had. But there are also times of stress. Trying to find somewhere to heat up a baby bottle. Trying to find a playground. A camping spot that isn't too close to water and is close enough for the toilets. Trying to keep the kids quiet at 5.30am so we don't wake fellow campers. Trying to get the kids to sleep at 7pm when the fellow campers are all playing music and chatting and laughing amongst themselves. 

I do love the word 'holiday' it sounds so glamourous. So relaxing. 

Especially when I tell people we are going on a six month holiday. Oh how indulgent. 

But the reality is, although we will be seeing lots and doing lots and having a break from our every day life; travelling Australia in a camper trailer with three children is not going to be a holiday as such. I still have to cook, clean sticky hands, wash clothes, wake up so so early.

In previous times we have gone away camping for a maximum of two weeks. I would then return home with out of routine children, mountains of washing and need to do a huge food shop. 

I am wondering how I will go as we won't be returning home for a long time. in fact we don't even have a home to return to this time!  

So this is how you do it when you have a family. And although there are shit times, it can still be magical.

Right now I couldn't be happier that we are dragging our three little people around this country so they can see and experience so much for themselves. And what a privilege to see and experience it with them. 

Never a boring moment for us. 

And one day many years from now when we are old and grey we will be alone. We can sit on a gondola in venice, listen to good music and eat great food and remember fondly back to our camping holiday with our babies. 

Monday, 2 March 2015

Study Break

I am one of those weird people who loves studying. I like the sense of achievement. I like that it is something that can never be taken away from me. You can burn my house, steal my clothes off my back. But you cannot take knowledge out of my head. 

I am not particularly academic, but I manage to pass everything I do, and I have studied in some hard situations. My final unit in my under graduate was completed with a six month old baby who I had to leave with my mum two nights a week to be on campus and then I had to study around her naps. Then I did my ATP while pregnant with my second. I still managed to get a high distinction. 

My post graduate study was done in between baby two and baby three and completed when baby three was two years old. 

Then I have recently started my masters. I have done units while we were packing up in Kalgoorlie and while kids were at home on school holidays. We had no furniture set up and I had no babysitter. Juggling my laptop on my lap sitting on the bed with papers around me. Putting disney movies on to entertain the kids. And I still got marks in the 70%. 

So I thought it would be a breeze to study while travelling. And this semester I enrolled in a research unit as part of my Masters of Education. 

But yesterday I sat down and read the unit outline. For the first time in my life I had no passion for it. I felt overwhelmed and a little sick at the thought of submitting assignments online with no guaranteed wi fi. No printer. Limited space for books. No library. I started working through each obstacle and then went, nah. Not this time sunshine. 

So today I made the call. One that hurt my pride. But one that I had to make. 

I deferred my studies for a year. 

I want to enjoy our holiday. I don't care if I don't finish my studies till Im 60. I just don't want the stress of it right now. 

Ahhh a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. 

And I look forward to studying once again when I have a proper house and a proper desk and proper time to do it. 

Only 42 days till we head off!!