We just left Albury on the train to Sydney- 3 nights there to catch up with some dear folks, then flying to Brisbane (wanted to take the train, but ohmygod it’s a long way) to stay with another darling friend, then meeting my parents in Harvey Bay for a week- the Great Barrier Reef is very high on Henry’s list. And then we fly to Bali, for a month with the inspirational friends we saw in Thailand. And then who knows what? (7 weeks to play with in SE Asia or Australia before we’re due in New Zealand.)
I bought some novels on Kindle, but forgot to download them while we had a signal- whoops, but I had faithfully promised myself to use some of this 8-hour train ride to catch the blog up with what we’ve been doing in Albury. It’s been hard to drag myself away from all the fun even to sleep, so forgive my silence here, please, my friends.
We were back for 6 weeks, after our wonderful fortnight at Bulli Beach, and did very little, really. Most days started with the Age newspaper’s cryptic crossword- my folks are pretty bloody good, and some of the clues are just so clever. There was one that was something like “Twist the Duke of Edinburgh’s definition of his marriage.” I’ll put the answer later.
We played lots of cards- 500 or Guillotine. We played a bit of pool, and some table tennis, and not enough Dominion. Mostly we played Scrabble every day- house rules give you 8 tiles instead of 7, and a 100 point bonus for using all 8, as well as the 50 for 7. Much more satisfying. Lauren saw somewhere that, “You can make the word curtains, and it’s worth 48 points. Isn’t that a great word?” and suggested it quite often.
The folks bought a new house, just after we got here. I think I already told you about that? It’s pretty sweet- a gorgeous block backing onto public land with a creek and bike paths with playgrounds dotted along them. We’ve been for walks, (though not as often as we would have benefitted from!) and taken chalks out and drawn the solar system to scale, and tried to teach the kids to ride bikes. Maybe one day.
There’s crazy ivy killing a bunch of their trees, so we’ve had some good whacks at that- Henry does love being let loose with a hatchet! There have been leaves to rake and balls to catch, and generally not enough exercise, in keeping with our normal lifestyle.
It took ages to get the internet connected at the new house. The kids struggled, but we all survived it, with regular visits to Auntie Cangy, or other places with WiFi.
Dave got back into cooking, and made lots of fabulous dinners. (He’s quite beloved. My parents are impressed with all their children-in-law, and perhaps a bit puzzled as to how we got so lucky!)
We hooked up with the local home ed scene a couple of times- met some unschoolers at our favourite playground, and then joined a gold fossicking day trip to Eldorado, and had a lovely time in the bush, picnicking by a stream.
The kids went along to a couple of clubs at the local library- hour sessions each of Lego, which was a hit and they went back to again, and Minecraft, which not-so-much, because they like playing together in a world with Daddy better. Or something. I found one of my favouritest books ever, Enid Blyton’s Secret Island, and read it to Henry, and he loved it. And there are 3 more in the series. Life is sweet.
Lauren joined the Girl Guides, after we saw them recruiting outside a supermarket. I’d been trying to get her into Rainbows in Purley, but without luck, and she was really excited to give this a go. She was about half the size of the others, (just turned 7, in a group ages 7-17, but I think the next youngest was 11, and there were a few heading for 6 feet, I think!) and just adored it. They all thought she was cute and funny, (and London is a long way from here, and perhaps a bit exotic,) and treated her very well.
(We’re in Wagga Wagga!)
Lauren’s first week with the Guides was a debating meet, where the topic was whether school uniforms should be compulsory. The leader knew she doesn’t read or write yet, so included her in the discussion and then while the others wrote their speeches, asked her to imagine and draw a uniform she would choose for home ed. It was pink and frilly and she pretty quickly got bored of that and drew a diagram of an underwater emergency flood shelter. God, how I love this kid. She spoke last on the pro-uniform team, held up her drawing and said, “So that is why we wear school uniforms.”
Lucky she doesn’t seem to get stage fright, because the Guides also had a dramatic show planned- one week they chose their characters and designed costumes and workshopped with the leader, and then she went home and wrote a fantastic script, pulling together a mermaid princess, a dog, an evil cupcake, a paranormal hunter, a Wild West gunslinger, a barista, a mime, an angel and Lauren’s Tamatoa- the evil crab from Disney’s Moana. What a hoot. They performed for the parents (and Gran, and Henry,) and Lauren was giddy with excitement, and jumped up and down cheering after their bows. Definitely pursuing the scouts/Guides harder, when we get home.
Our other awesome thing in Albury is the Flying Fruit Fly Circus. It’s a school, and the students do academics with a local school but also lots of circus skills, and they offer public classes. Can you even imagine? Lauren was missing her gymnastics class at home, and joined the Tuesday night 90 minutes class called Acro Parkour Tweens, (this one 7-12 year olds, and she’s still the smallest, but does come up past the shoulders of a few kids,) and my siblings and I had a go at the hour long Adult Aerial class her first night, (and wept with pain for about 3 days afterwards) and then some of us settled into the 2-hour Adult Fitness class, instead. It’s about 30 minutes each of warm up/stretching, aerial stuff (trapeze and climbing ropes,) tumbling stuff on mats, and then whatever the instructor feels like- we’ve done juggling, hula hoops, mini trampoline, skipping rope, etc. Fun tricks! I did 6 cartwheels without stopping last week- never thought I’d do that again, and am bendier than I can ever remember.
Now we’re at a bit where the sunlight is flickering through the trees onto my lap, and if I keep typing I’ll get queasy. More later.
To twist is to meander, if you’re taking a path through the woods, or something. And Philip’s marriage is “Me and ER”- ER is, of course, the queen. (I say “of course,” but in fact I needed it explained to me. I thought it was “me and ‘er,” as though Philip has bad grammar as well as dropping his aitches.) It’s been about a month, and I’m still chuckling, and still a bit giddy about how clever people are.
(A while back, the train slowed while Lauren and I were in the buffet car, and passed a bunch of police and regular cars, stopped for an accident. There was a smashed up car. A really big ruin to someone’s day, and I hope you’re okay, people involved. Be careful, all my own dears, won’t you?)
That Adult Fitness class is a hoot- lots of friendly people, and I wouldn’t have needed too many more weeks before I could have actually done something on the trapeze, though I was psyched enough just to hang from my knees. But the best thing of all, (even better than just being there watching all the different stuff going on- toddler groups and kids and adults, groups plus individuals practising all kinds of fabulous things,) is the class Mum and I were taking, called Fruit Bats. (It makes me want to cryptic crossword it out somehow- the kids are Fruit Flies, and the old folks are Bats, but also Acrobats, and it’s just too punny and clever.) 2 hour classes, 2 mornings a week, (one of them with an instructor from the circus school) and they do stretching and games and juggling and things, and especially a million varieties of human pyramids! It’s for 50+, or 40+ depending who you ask, and is such a lovely, chatty, supportive group, and they always get my mum standing on other people’s knees, or kneeling on the floor as the base of someone in a bird pose, or all sorts of crazy things. My brother-in-law’s old head teacher goes, and flies me on his feet- he lies on his back and I’m balanced like bloody Dirty Dancing, man. It’s too much fun.
Also, we juggle hats. Juggling hats by yourself is one thing, but then we all line up, and get our brains muddled. Rub your tummy and pat your head? Ha. You start with a hat in your right hand, and one on your head, and your left hand on the hat of the person beside you. Then, rhythmically, you take the hat from the neighbour’s head and put it on your own head, (your own hat’s just been taken, of course,) and also swing your right hand up high in front of that same neighbour, on your left, and release the hat without throwing it, so it drops in front of him or her. The person on your right drops one in front of you at the same time, so as you drop yours, you have to quickly grab the one falling in front of you. And put your empty left hand back on your neighbour’s head, ready to take the next hat.
It’s all such a laugh, and also such a huge sense of accomplishment when you can touch your toes, or catch a hat, or spin a hula hoop from hand to hand behind your back, or whatever. It’s a combination of hard physical exercise, muscles and cardio stuff, balance, strength, weight bearing, (bone density, anyone?) and all the mental stuff- how physically easy some of the hardest, most frustrating things are! Exercise for our brains. And socially it’s fabulous. I can’t understand why there aren’t 400 people turning up each week. It’s the same with home ed- a lot of people would do it and love it and benefit greatly from it, if they knew it was an option, but how do you get the word out?
I brought Henry. Last Monday, on one of the days without an instructor, but lots of the Bats know exactly what they’re doing and we just crack on. So, I’d checked in advance, and explained that he was curious and would not cope emotionally in a kids’ class, and everyone was happy to have him along. He didn’t exactly try hard, but he joined in with a bunch of the stretching and juggling, and was pretty nice company, and now he knows what I’m doing and why I love it so much.
We’re somewhere little, but a while back we passed through signal and Dave did that magic thing where my phone gave internet to my iPad and downloaded me a novel. We’re just over halfway, I guess. Later!
(Later- wow, we got a nice deal at the freaking Westin Hotel. It is gorgeous. Going to read more Enid Blyton with Henry now. Goodnight!)