My family and I went away for Easter, with another family to a small city in the mid west of Western Australia, called Geraldton. It is about a four-hour drive if you drive non-stop, but if you have kids, and I do, it took around five and a half hours. It is a lovely coastal city, with great beaches and warm weather (also humid so I discovered) and picturesque ranges to the east.
The family we went away with, to be known as the G'mer's we have known for around one and a half years. This friendship began through our daughters, who became "best" friends almost immediately on commencing kindy together. The G'mer's consist of Mummy Maz, Daddy Brett, Chelsea (5), Riley (3) and Kourtney (4 months). They are super friendly, super generous and posses miles of integrity, not to mention they are all beautiful to boot.
So here is what I learnt this Easter holiday trip away.
No matter how good your intentions are you might not get up and leave by 5am. However the G'mer's who also had the best intentions to get up and leave much earlier than us, left much later than us. We discover this when they pulled in to the Badgingarra Roadhouse half an hour after we did.... they had a problem with fuses and trailer lights - not a lascivious love affair with sleep.
We stayed with Daddy Brett's uncle Bob and his lovely wife, pot plant extraordinaire and photographer Leslie. Leslie has a super cute English accent, which I couldn't help but imitate after a couple of days! She has a heavy metal rock star son, who has recently been on a world tour (perhaps she might add a comment, telling us the name of the band, cause I've forgotten... pretty sure it had a 666 in there). Bobby, a bit of a secret gardener, lawn bowler (I didn't hold that against him) and is a mean card playing train driver. He has a fantastic train set hiding in his back shed and there home is scattered with train memorabilia. I learnt that these people are lovely, generous and incredibly patient. One of the first things they said to us was, "our home is your home"! I kind of wonder if they wished they could eat their words right back up the first time we unleashed the kids in the back yard. I know that their teeny dogs, Sasha and Amber probably would have chewed those words to shreds. It turns out they had no interest in baby sitting our kids and spent most of their time in a custom made cupboard kennel!
The best laid plans might as well mean no plan... as far as our sleeping arrangements were concerned. Both the G'mer’s and ourselves carted our tents to Geraldton. We also knew that there was a spare room and an empty caravan. I guess, by the fact that we both brought tents - meant that we were sleeping in our tents.... but it's not quite what happened. Only one tent went up, which was inhabited by my husband Ryan, our daughter Chynna and Chelsea. I slept in the caravan with Sabin, my son. Brett and Maz slept in the spare room with their daughter Kourtney, and Riley, bless him, slept in the lounge room. I'm pretty sure Riley would have loved to have slept in the tent, but he has a funny little habit of waking up, finding a new location and going to sleep again. Maz has said that she has had to search her home for him on several occasions. It might not have been good to find him asleep atop a rose bush! Anyways... I was quite happy with my sleeping location in the caravan with Sabin. He sleeps really well, I was protected from the cold and condensation, had a modicum of privacy and was not forced to get up at 6am when the girls got up because I could lock the door, although I could still hear them - loud and clear!
I learnt that the Dongara Irwin Race Club holds a meet over the Easter weekend for the Dongara Cup. It was super casual - we had a bit of a picnic set up under a huge gum tree right by the race track. While it was super casual... you could get dressed up if you so wished. There was a Ladies Fashions on the Field comp for those so inclined. I learnt that my twenty-month-old son is fascinated by horses and horses racing around a track. He stood on the fence for each race and on a couple of occasions refused to move from the fence between races in case he missed something. At one point, he motioned to a woman sitting on the lawn every 30 seconds that the horses were gone and when would the next race be.
I also learned at the races that my husband is a very fast sprinter indeed. As between race entertainment they held a 100 metre dash - one for the boys and one for the girls. Two of the boys... not our two, got out on the track in their undies - tight black boxers (very nice indeed) and off white well worn y-fronts (not so nice- but good try). Our boys got out there and had a bit of a wager on who would come in before the other. Now I knew hubby was quick, but Brett is pretty fit... so I really didn't know who was going to get up. There was a lot of elbowing at the start, but my husband is really darned fast and he came third overall. My question is how fast would he be carrying three of us, if a massive tsunami was approaching???
|Ryan has the denim shorts and green shirt with yellow stripe on.|
I learned that at 5 years old it is acceptable to lie about, dob on, yell at and hit your best friend often. Then five minutes later, have forgotten all about it, but then five minutes after that shoot the other one down again. This is where I know Leslie and Bobby were very patient souls indeed, they didn't yell and scream, like I did probably with one and a half days to go (well I guess to be fair to myself... I didn't scream either, not out loud anyway). There is only so much whinging, whining and dobbing one can put up with, especially if you have MS, have been going hard for three and a half days and then are so worn out that all you want to do is sit in a quiet room and not move for 48 hours.
I learned that your children will suffer no lasting ill effects if they eat chocolate for breakfast, lunch and dinner with some other crap thrown in for good measure! If we were at home I would have let Chynna have maybe one Easter egg at breakfast, then slowly consume the rest over the coming weeks. And Sabin... he's tricky, because Chynna at the same had not eaten much chocolate at all in her short 20 months... but obviously because he see's Chynna eating chocolate he wants some too, so he would have to have had one at breakfast too. I also would have consumed my eggs slowly... but I learned (just not in Geraldton) that if you have eggs and other crappy food to eat, whether you eat it in one hit or slowly over a few days/weeks you are stilling going to eat the same amount of calories anyway. I also learned that Maz and I have the same eating philosophy... eat what you want and if it tastes nice lots of it. I am paying for it now of course... on a watch what you eat health kick - more like boot up the date health kick!
I learned that my son is the gatekeeper and loves to watch model trains. Sabin over the five days we were in Geraldton, opened and closed the little gate onto the patio, like a million times. He and Riley had a number of squabbles over it... which I think Sabin won. He liked to open it to let you in and open it to let you out - he'll make a great concierge one day. He loved to join Bob in his shed, stand up on an old chair and watch the model trains go around and around on the track. We live right near a freight line, so Sabin sees trains daily and I tell you he is “obsessed”. One day to escape the arguing 5 year olds, Bobby and Sabin went and hid in the back shed all by themselves. When the girls discovered them, Bobby firmly asked them to go away. Good on ya Bobby.
I learned that my daughter is probably never going to go fishing again. She caught the first fish on her first ever beach fishing trip. She was very excited until she found out she would be eating the fish and that this meant the fish would die. To avoid a monumental break down, I quickly suggested that because the fish was so small that we throw it back. But then later Chelsea caught a fish and it was put in the bucket and Chynna had an EPIC meltdown. I tried to explain that there are millions of fish in the sea and that I couldn't make someone else chuck the fish they'd caught back... but she wouldn't have it. Ryan caught another tiny fish and I made him throw that one back without Chynna seeing it. Brett decided Chynna had been watching too much Bindi Irwin (if you don't know who that is google her - crikey!) and that she was some Green Peace warrior, but I think it was more likely that she was totally unprepared mentally for the ordeal. You know the catching and eating thing... I could have helped her, by telling her in advance about the reason for fishing which didn't mean looking at the shiny, sparkly, pretty fish - what a bad mummy! Eventually Chelsea's fish was set free because nobody caught anything else anyway.
Lastly, I learned that water is a great entertainer for children of all ages, even the ones in their 30's and 40's! Geraldton has an awesome water playground, which kept us all entertained for hours. The biggest problem associated with this was the sun and sunburn. Ryan copped some flack for the amount of sunscreen he put on the kids, which was our usual amount. People think that sunburn cream is supposed to go on lightly and leave no trace, when in fact the opposite is true. Sunscreen should be applied liberally and not rubbed in until it disappears. Proof is in the pudding - none of the kids got burnt. I can highly recommend the water playground at Geraldton’s foreshore, it’s grassed, has shade and it’s close to the gelato shop, The Dome and cafes… what more could you ask for.
So that wraps up what I learnt… almost. I also learned that holiday trips are fun when you go with family and friends. I am really looking forward to next year’s Easter break and the trip we have planned to the Dongara Races.