It’s Beginning to Look a lot like Christmas!

We don’t own a Christmas Tree. We’ve had a couple of artificial trees previously, and the last one was actually quite nice, but we gave it to the op shop two house moves ago, partly because our house at the time wasn’t big enough for a tree, and partly because we decided we would rather have a real one. First we tried our hand at a living tree (a species that dates back to dinosaur days!) in a pot, and that lasted, well, one Christmas 😉 so we decided this year to go for a real tree, direct from a farm. We figure it’s good to support a local farmer, it’s good for the environment, and we’ll only have to keep it green for a couple of weeks, which we can hopefully manage!

So it was off to the local Christmas Tree Farm to buy ourselves a tree! Just Molly and I went because, well, the tree was going to take up the entire back of our van being as we have neither roof racks nor a trailer!

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It was a bit exciting! And there were hundreds and hundreds to choose from!
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Some just needed to be hugged!
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Some were a bit too small
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Although they were very, very cute
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And some were waaaaaay too tall!

We realised that we had forgotten to measure the size of the van interior, so we used Molly as a tape measure by getting her to lay down in the back of the van, which actually worked pretty well! 🙂 We realised that the maximum size we could get was just a tad taller than her with her arms stretched up high.

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Finally we found one that was just right. 🙂
All we needed then was a friendly farmer with a saw, a quadbike and a trailer, and the tree was ours!
All we needed then was a friendly farmer with a saw, a quadbike and a trailer!
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The barn where we parted with our money was just so cute, I had to get a photo of it. 🙂
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Carrying the tree over the threshold. 😉
You know those books where you have to spot something on each page? What do you spot in each picture? ;) Someone was VERY interested in our new tree!
You know those books where you have to spot something on each page? What do you spot in each picture? 😉 Someone was VERY interested in our new tree!
Time for some decorations! This is the first year that I have been able to fully and absolutely let go of any sense of control over the end result. Molly was the only child particularly interested in decorating and she was VERY interested, and wanted to do it by herself, so we cranked up the Christmas music and she went for it. Placing the start on top required a bit of creative furniture moving, but was successful in the end!
Time for some decorations! This is the first year that I have been able to fully and absolutely let go of any sense of control over the end result. Molly was the only child particularly interested in decorating and she was actually VERY interested, wanting to do it by herself, so we cranked up the Christmas music and she went for it. Placing the star on top required some problem solving and was successful without any broken bones or upturned trees, which is always a good thing!
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Time to remember a special little boy, who never got to celebrate even one christmas with us, but remains forever in our hearts. We loved you and love you still Cody xo
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On a lighter note, I would like to take a brief moment to remember our Christmas Angel. May she rest in peace. 😉 Forever rejected by a child’s preference for a Christmas Star!
All in a day's work. :) Let the celebrations commence (or continue, as the case may be!)
All in a day’s work. 🙂 Let the celebrations commence (or continue, as the case may be!)

Wishing everyone a wonderful, loving, peaceful, fun Christmas, however you choose to celebrate. Remembering, too, those who grieve or are lonely at this time. xo

Settling In

After our first night in our empty house, things were about to get a whole lot more cluttered! With the truck arriving 30 minutes earlier than expected, I was not only without coffee making facilities, but also without a take away coffee. And it was 6.30am. Oh dear!

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We’ve never used a removalist company before, and wow! How amazing they were! Although it would have been much nicer if they’d brought me coffee!

Before we knew it, the multitudes of boxes that had surrounded us at our old house were now surrounding us at our new one! And it was only me, two kids and a dog there to unpack it. I did offer the removalists my undying love and affection if they would just stay and unpack everything for me……

Fortunately, I received offers of help from my sister-in-law and my mother-in-law, and even from a friend I’d never actually met! It was such a strange and wonderful thing to welcome her to my new home and meet her face to face at the same time. We had chatted so much online through a common interest group, and now here she was bringing me practical help and good conversation that wasn’t typed on a keyboard, although I was somewhat tempted to communicate via iPads across the kitchen bench! They were all so incredibly helpful in getting the initial unpacking of my kitchen done and helping me find a bit of floor space to walk on! They even brought coffee, which is more than I can say for the removalists. 🙂

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The joy of a drive-through coffee shop up the road! (Not sure about the straw though?)

The next day the kids and I continued unpacking and trying to make some sense of all the mess. One of the boxes Molly was particularly delighted to open was filled with board games, which proved to be a great way to connect in the midst of the chaos. The problem was that I was so incredibly tired, I kept falling asleep in between each one of my turns!

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My sleepiness was apparently a brilliant source of amusement for the kids, and they even managed to capture quite a few videos of me snoozing and then being suddenly woken by some trick of theirs!

Then, finally, at the end of the day, 48 hours after our arrival, Geoff and Brady arrived in Larry the Laser, who had done a stellar job of towing a heavily ladened trailer over 1,000 kilometres! Even Molly’s three pet mice survived the trip. AND they stayed in their cage, much to Geoff and Brady’s delight!

The human family members weren't the only ones delighted to greet Geoff and Brady upon their arrival!
The human family members weren’t the only ones delighted to greet Geoff and Brady upon their arrival!
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Our first night “together” in our new home was actually only 5/6ths of our family, with Travis having chosen to stay in Newcastle. And, to make it particularly poignant, the day Geoff and Brady arrived was Travis’ 20th Birthday! We celebrated in his absence with some take away food at the coffee table because we didn’t yet have cooking supplies set up or even a dining table!!) It was super nice to have Brady and Geoff back with us, but sad to be missing Travis. It sounds as though he had a pretty fun night with his mates though!
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Gradually, gradually, things started to look a little bit like home.
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We went op shopping for treasures and furniture
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Buying drive-through coffee on the way – of course!

One of the expected surprises at the new house was that there was a basketball hoop set up in the backyard. Molly in particular had wanted one for awhile, and there was one already there! The kids quickly discovered that our little rebounder was a lot of fun to use when shooting hoops!

It’s beginning to feel a lot like home. 🙂

Home Sweet Home

Finally, finally, after two overnight stops, we made it to the real estate agent to hand over a small fortune in exchange for a large set of keys. We were almost “home”.

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Walking through the tunnel of bushes and putting the key in the lock for the first time (once we finally worked out which one it was!) was especially exciting, because we’d never even seen the house before! (One of the challenges of an interstate move.)

We had fun exploring our new house and discovering some of its unexpected surprises (well, I don’t guess they’d be surprises if they were expected, lol).

Like laundry chutes! Heaps of fun! I'm sure the novelty will wear off, but it was fun imagining some of the things we could put down there! Fortunately for Lucy, we decided that even our little dog would be too big! ;)
Like laundry chutes! Heaps of fun! I’m sure the novelty will wear off, but it was fun imagining some of the things we could put down there! Fortunately for Lucy, we decided that even our little dog would be too big! 😉
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We found a lovely wind chime on the back deck, discovered a little “friend” in the garden that matched one of two we had back home but had inadvertently left behind, found out that the front door bell is actually an intercom system which we had quite a lot of fun with, and discovered we have a ducted vacuum system (woo hoo!).
We decided quite quickly that although rather small, we really like the backyard! It has 3 fruit trees, a gorgeous deck and plenty of room for our little dog to run around and explore. I love watching the kids being creative with photography. It was a lovely way for them to connect with and discover their new outdoor living space.
I love watching the kids being creative with photography; it was a great way for them to connect with and discover their new outdoor living space (and share it with friends – thank you social media!). We decided quite quickly that although rather small, we really like the backyard! It has 3 fruit trees, a gorgeous deck and plenty of room for our little dog to run around and explore.
It was weird but also fun to spend the first night in a completely empty house. :)
It was weird but also fun to spend the first night in a completely empty house. 🙂

Hello Victoria!

A mistake on my calendar meant I suddenly had one less day in which to get everything packed up and ready for the removalists. It was a mad scramble and very stressful and I am so thankful for my amazing family and for friends who pitched in to help!

Before we knew it, the moving trucks were parked out the front ready to load up. I hadn’t slept all night and still wasn’t ready, but managed to somehow get through it all. Poor Geoff had only had a couple of hours sleep during the night and I fortunately managed to crash out for an hour or two on a mattress on the floor of our bedroom, while the moving guys were in the house labelling everything that was to go. Fortunately they waited to label the mattress until I woke up!

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Insanity

Suddenly our big move was upon us!! Our furniture and belongings were on their way, and it was time for us to follow!! The younger kids and I headed off first, so we would be there in time to greet the truck in a couple of days. Geoff and Brady were staying behind to finish a few things and clean up, and Travis was going to be helping and preparing his own move.

And suddenly it hit me. This was really happening! I was harbouring occasional doubts and fears, but knew that this was the moment for embracing our choice and moving forward. So as we drove off and passed familiar landmarks, we called out loud goodbyes from the windows…. whilst simultaneously feeling a sense sadness in our souls. It’s amazing how excitement and sadness can dwell together.

IMG_9362First stop was my mother’s place, for an overnight stay. We were only three hours into the journey but I knew that was all I would manage the first day because I was just so tired, plus we were travelling with a dog. It was also a good opportunity to say goodbye to my Mum. The worst part about the stop was when Molly got woken up by a spider biting her! She is terrified of spiders at the best of times, so this was an incredibly challenging experience but the kids handled it well and managed to kill the spider and then came straight to me for support and help. Do you want to see it? 🙂

Mum was a generous, gracious host  – as always – and it was hard to say goodbye, knowing that we would now need to do a plane trip or a full day’s driving to be able to see her. We have also left behind our entire extended family on my side, most of whom live in the same town as my mother. It is good to know she has them nearby, but I am also painfully aware that I won’t be there. We have promised Mum that we will fly her down as often as she wants to come, so we can at least look forward to some fun adventures when she visits, and we can discover Melbourne together! Apart from that, she is an amazing long-distance Nanna, Mother and Mother-in-law, so that will help, too.

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No sooner had we left Mum’s than the rain started to pour down. Simultaneously, one of our windscreen wiper blades started to come loose. Three times I had to stop in the rain on the side of a very busy freeway with semi-trailers hurtling past at high speed, to try to fix it. Eventually, one of the clips blew off and we were totally without windscreen wipers, at which point we made a quick dash for the closest store hoping to find help. We were pretty much in the middle of nowhere and the little tiny convenience store didn’t seem at all promising when the lady behind the counter could barely understand English and did know what a “windscreen wiper blade” was. Fortunately her husband was a kind, if somewhat unusual, man, and he not only did a creative makeshift job, he didn’t charge me for his time or the blade. Good samaritans can be found in the most unexpected places!
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One thing we’re looking forward to about Melbourne is cooler weather (yes, I know, we’re strange) and we sure knew we were heading south when we stopped to let Lucy (our dog) out for a stretch and a wee at Goulburn. I realise it won’t be this cold all the time, but goodness me we were feeling it in our bones!
Declan's photo from out the car window at Goulburn (edited on Instagram)
While I was having a little sleep in the car, Declan took this amazing shot out the passenger window. I love the contrast between the black and white in the mirror and the colours behind it. We likened it to how you see the most colourful view when you look ahead rather than looking back to the past. A very pertinent thought as we embrace the upcoming changes.
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Our very blurry photo of the border crossing into Victoria. It was late, we could hardly see the sign and we were driving with another car close behind us so this was the best we could do. Not quite the spectacular grand entrance we had been hoping for, lol!
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This isn’t a border crossing photo, but it is definitely photographic evidence that we had arrived in Vic!
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Declan, Molly and I all agreed that we loved this road trip, enjoying good conversation, frivolity, great music, and awesome scenery along country roads like this one.
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For my American friends 🙂

We had one more overnight stop with our wonderful friends, the Schlosses, and got a double bonus because the lovely MacKay family from “Wheel Education” were staying there in their bus, too!

Beautiful cake made for us,by our beautiful friend
Before we could leave, we were treated to this beautiful carrot cake, lovingly made for us by Molly’s dear friend, Maddie.
Lucy was a great travelling dog!
We had been a bit worried about how Lucy would go on such a long trip, thinking she would be alert and possibly unsettled for a lot of the way…..
Sleepy dog!
But she actually did a lot of this……
Gangster Lucy
And even this! (Although if you look closely you’ll see that she’s actually QUITE alert under her gangster disguise!)

Next stop: Melbourne, and our new home!

See Ya Later NSW!

We have moved house a lot of times. We have even moved quite long distances away. But this has, by far, been the most intense move we’ve ever done. I think it was partly because

  • It was an interstate move
  • Geoff was away a lot leading up to the move
  • We didn’t have a lot of time to prepare
  • We had a LOT of stuff to move and we were paying movers to do it for us (because we literally did not have enough days between Geoff finishing up at one place of employment and starting at his next one, so it was “Bye, bye, holiday pay!!”) so we wanted to get rid of lots of stuff that we either no longer wanted or needed, and also items that were simply too old and damaged to bother paying to have moved!
  • We had quite a lot of trouble finding a house to rent
  • And last but not least, our move was coinciding with our oldest moving out on his own AND he was away on his first overseas trip to Bali for about 10 days leading up to our move!

In the final weeks before moving day, I was constantly torn between wanting to spend time with friends we were moving away from (including one who was going through a particularly difficult time) and also wanting to prepare for Travis moving out of home. I also wanted to ensure we could spend as much relaxed time with him as possible before and after his Bali trip, so we could “end on a good note”. Staying on task and putting tasks before people are not strong points for me, so it was a constant challenge; however, before we knew it the end was upon us and it was time for some farewells!

We had a night out with some of our homeschool friends. This is Molly and her friends being totally silly out on the street after dinner. It was a fun night and reminded me of how much we will miss these awesome friends!
I was driving around doing errands while Declan and Molly were at their final youth group, when I unexpectedly spotted them all walking up the street to the “Senior Citizen’s Centre, where they funnily hold the night session!). I acted like a spy, taking photos out of my window while stopped in a carpark! (They had no idea and I can honestly see a future for me as a private investigator, lol). The vibe was so fun and vibrant, it was easy for me to see why they will miss “Youthstreet” so much!
Getting fitted for reading glasses. Very exciting!
We couldn’t leave town without squeezing in an eye test for Molly (she’d been asking for awhile and had just found an optometrist she trusted and liked enough to have him test her eyes). Lo and behold she does need glasses for close up work, and they fortunately arrived the very day we were due to leave for our move!!
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We gathered with some of our dearest friends at one of our favourite hang out places, “The Croatian Club,” for a farewell complete with woodfired pizza, Polish beer, good conversation and lots of fun. We can only hope we find friends as good as these in our new location!
It was a poignant thing to go to our local Italian restaurant upon Travis' return from Bali to say, "Welcome home, happy 20th birthday for the day after we leave the State, and see ya later!" It is so weird to think that our firstborn is now officially "out on his own"! He will be missed very, very much and I am definitely not used to the idea yet!
It was a poignant thing to go to our local Italian restaurant upon Travis’ return from Bali to say, “Welcome home, happy 20th birthday for the day after we leave the State, and see ya later!” It is so weird to think that our firstborn is now officially “out on his own”! He will be missed very, very much and I am definitely not used to the idea yet!

A Change is as Good as a Holiday?

A little while ago (not very long), we were advised that the owners of our home were returning from their trip around Australia, possibly just for a few months, possibly for good. This meant we had to move out, but would potentially be able to move back in after a few months.

An idea was born.

We could head off on an adventure!

I shared the idea with Geoff, who usually takes a deeeeep preparatory breath when I start a sentence with “Hey, I’ve had an idea…..” I fully expected that he would write it off as totally crazy and that we should simply find a house to rent nearby to our current home, but he surprised me by saying words to the effect of “Why the heck not?!”

So we started dreaming.

My dreams of far-off lands like the UK, Canada and even New Zealand, quickly morphed into more realistic places such as Tasmania or Victoria (Melbourne). I clung to the Tassie idea for awhile, but soon realised it was a no go, and agreed that Melbourne was the place. With lots of extended family already living there, plus better homeschooling laws, better climate (yes, we’re strange, we like the cooler weather!) and, basically, Melbourne being a very “hip” city, it seemed like a great place to base ourselves for the next six months or so. It wasn’t quite an overseas, exotic locale and was, in fact, only one state away from home. It didn’t sound quite as glamorous as some of the other places I’d been thinking of, but it didn’t sound terrible, either! With four-sixths of Geoff’s family already living there, we had good reason to move closer to them and spend time with his half of the family, who we’ve hardly seen for the past seven or so years.

We sat with the idea for awhile and then gathered the kids to have a chat. We presented the dream and asked for their thoughts, moving into a brain storming session where no thought or idea was considered silly or wrong.

Travis thought it was a wonderful idea and said we should definitely do it, but that he wouldn’t come with us. He was almost twenty at the time, and starting to consider his options for flatting with friends, or heading north to warmer weather and bigger waves. My heart started to race at the idea that we could end up living a whole state or two apart, but reassured myself that it was “only for six months”.

Brady quickly wrote the idea off, but within about 20 minutes of conversation had totally changed his tune, and became very excited about the idea, having often thought of relocating to Melbourne himself once he moved out anyway!

The younger two had reservations but also enthusiasm about the adventure ahead, and before we knew it a mutual decision had been made and plans started to snowball, for our “6 month adventure”!

I will save you the dreary details of our hunt for a rental property (which ended in a twelve month lease, rather than six), the sorting and stashing of all our worldly goods, and so on. 🙂

I will say this, though. I have the most amazing mother on earth. I kid you not. I was really worried about telling her our idea, knowing that it would take us much further away from her. We were already three hours away, but this would be a much greater distance, and require flying rather than driving to visit. I wanted to tell her in person, so I invited her to meet me for lunch in the city, because I “had something to tell her”. It wasn’t until afterwards that I realised how hard it must have been for her to hear those words, and the possibilities her imagination may well have been dredging up.

So I headed off on my 2.5 hour train trip and she drove the hour trip in to the city, and we talked. And talked. And talked. (Some things never change!)

The short story is (because trust me, if I started on the long story we’d be here all night!) she gave us her blessing to move nine hours away from her. She is a widow and could easily have wallowed in self pity, feeling upset with us for “abanding” or “deserting” her, but instead, she started to get excited about coming down for regular holidays, saying that she’d always wanted to see more of Melbourne and now she had the perfect excuse, and at our expense! She was also very diplomatic, stating that we could have announced we were moving to the other side of the earth!

I was so amazed by the way she embraced our choice, and yet she was also honest about how she would miss us being closer to her.

Before we knew it, everything was full steam ahead and life started to look a lot like this:

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Okay, so there were a few distractions along the way, like playing with bubble wrap. 🙂
... and playing with boxes
… and playing with boxes
Saying yes to helping your child make their first Halloween costume
Saying yes to helping your child make their first Halloween costume
..... and saying yes to helping one of your other kids with their Halloween costume!
….. and saying yes to helping one of your other kids with their Halloween costume!
Having birthdays .....
Having birthdays …..
..... and birthday parties
….. and birthday parties
Sending your first born off on his first overseas adventure, knowing that on his return he will have just a couple of days before moving out on his own for the first time
Sending your first born off on his first overseas adventure, knowing that on his return he will have just a couple of days before moving out on his own for the first time
..... and then dealing with the courier who ran into your son's motorbike and tried to rip you off!
….. and then dealing with the courier who ran into your son’s motorbike and tried to rip you off!
Saying yes to the kids inviting their friends over
Saying yes to the kids inviting their friends over
..... and saying yes to an electronic drum set, even though it takes hours to set up and would have to be packed up for the move in two weeks!
….. and saying yes to an electronic drum set, even though it takes hours to set up and would have to be packed up for the move in two weeks!
Spending your first supposedly uninterrupted day of packing at the roadside with your husband's broken down car
Spending your first supposedly uninterrupted day of packing at the roadside with your husband’s broken down car
..... sorting and purging, giving away and selling
….. sorting and purging, giving away and selling
..... patching up "packing injuries" and buying way too many mangoes just a few days before the big move!!
….. patching up “packing injuries” and buying way too many mangoes just a few days before the big move!!

And that’s only half of it. There were also multiple interstate business trips for Geoff, a couple of bouts of sickness for me, a vomiting child, interstate visitors (which was much more fun than the vomiting child!), and many other intermittent interruptions to the task at hand. The stress culminated in a sudden realisation, three days before the truck was due to come, that it was actually coming in two days! I had inadvertently forgotten to change the amended date in my calendar, and I suddenly had one entire less day in which to get everything finished! There are many good reasons as to why moving house rates so high on the stress scale and we were experiencing them all! But we got through it, as does everyone who experiences similar situations. And before we knew it, the time for goodbyes was upon us, but we’ll leave that post for another day……