Wednesday, December 31, 2014

NYE Traditions

My guys are pretty keen on keeping with tradition & for NYE that generally means a countdown for us. Years ago we started filling little bags that we pinned a paper analog clock to. The bags had goodies or things inside to keep them occupied as we rang in the new year.

Traditionally speaking our bags often had/ve the same things inside & that tends to make them a wee bit predictable, but that's never really bothered the kids. One thing in the bags has always been a movie or a notification to pick a movie to watch. The trick was that we'd pop the movie on & dim the lights. While the kids were watching, generally something reasonably cheesy but fun to them, we'd roll the clocks forward. By the time the film was over we'd have enough time to grab our party poppers, dash out the door, scream Happy New Year to utterly confused neighbours {after all it was only 10pm} & then dash back inside & hurry very tired children off to bed. Those tired kids slept through the city's firework show, hundreds of people outside screaming Happy New Year at the same time, & countless fire crackers going off around the neighbourhood.

As the boys got older we slowly changed the time until the year they actually made it until midnight. The first year they made it to midnight, the youngest was so tired he asked if we'd use his party popper outside for him. After watching it explode we had to carry him to bed & he slept well into the morning. Now that we're dealing with tweenagers & teenagers staying up until midnight doesn't seem to be much of an issue for them though.

When I asked what people wanted to do for NYE this year the cry was, "We want to do the bags!" So, I broke the news to them: We're not doing bags this year. There was a few minutes of silence before one of them started to chuckle, "Good one Mom!" "No, I'm serious! I don't even know where the bags are!!" "MOM!!" "Nope, we're not doing the bags! But, we will do balloons."

There was a few minutes of confusion before I explained that the balloons would work in place of the bags. I have extremely sensitive hearing. I'm the gal in the movie theatre who has to put her fingers her in her ears often because it's just too loud. I hate big parties or crowded anything because the noise is just too intense for me. Yep, I hate the sirens at parades, & I can hear one while driving before most people are aware there's a problem. I have been honked at so much for pulling over for emergency vehicles that are a good 10 blocks behind me!

Popping balloons doesn't really excite me, but my kids don't generally mind. Inside the kids will find rolled up pieces of paper that will disclose what we are doing for the evening. Things haven't changed much around here, so our events {in no particular order} will be pretty simplistic:

  • Make Cherry Ice Cream {we use to buy it, but those pesky food allergies..}
  • Paint Mini Figs {this is our only new event because I was all organised & have some salt dough mini-figs drying in the oven. Here's hoping they work out or we'll be decorating paper ones instead!}
  • Bake mini cakes to enjoy during movie hour
  • Unwrapping the new devotionals for the New Year {we generally give each child one, I'm really excited about the ones we've picked this year!}
  • Play the NYE Game {we purchase something new each year; this year is Rotten Tomatoes Card Game}
  • Decorate the pizza for dinner
  • Fill out Year End Review forms {sometimes we write down goals for the new year ahead; but this year we're snagging a freebie}
  • Hang up the 2015 Calendars {We purchase the kids a new calendar for their rooms each year; plus the family calendar}
  • Walk Around the Block to catch the fireworks {we could actually see them from our second story, but Nana can't climb the stairs, so we take her around the block to the top of the hill instead}
  • Movie Time {we select a newer released movie that we haven't seen yet}
  • Hang up the New Year Banner, grab the party poppers, & Fizzy drink to ring in the New Year

Nothing super special, but the kids love it & it sure beats hearing, "How long until.." Our neighbours still think we're weird, but the new ones find it enjoyable to watch our sparklers & shouts of Happy New Year when it's actually midnight. One year, we might actually have the neighbors join us, but then again they can be loud & I really really don't handle loud noises very well..


Our final day on holiday we took the kids into the city, they were both keen to hit the bigger library & we had a secret up our sleeves anyway. We spent one day hitting a few shops & the library & the final morning before heading out we popped into Airtime 360.

The entire area is nothing but trampolines. All the black spots in the picture above {aside from where the guys are jumping} are trampoline mats. The green is padding over the bars that hold them in place. We had a great time playing a few rounds of dodgeball, a few more rounds of basketball, & then the guys hit the foam pit. I wasn't game because the lights were killing my eyes at that point. Morgan had his old glasses on & managed all right, but I wouldn't let him wear them into the foam pit. I was worried they'd fall off & break with the crazy flips he was doing!

The only downer to the area was that it was hot in there. There's no air flow or air conditioning. Just one giant ceiling fan that doesn't move the air too much. Not that anyone was complaining as long as we had plenty of water at hand. You can take drinks in, but only as far as the shoe/stair area.

The place that houses Air 360 also has a few other fun things to do, one of which was mini-golf so we played a round of that as well. We had the entire place to ourselves & yet we still managed to spend 20 minutes looking for a lost golfball. Funny thing is, we found it, but turned around & lost another which we didn't find. We did, however find another one. At one point a set of preschool twins ran out to give us tips on golf. Apparently their Pop plays golf all the time & they know all about it, they were a great cheer squad for us too!  The boys had an absolute blast & were well & truly worn out for the long ride home.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

George Town

 After our museum trip & stop off at Yorktown we headed back to the caravan only to decide we were too close to the Georgetown to not hit it. Unfortunately, with the poor weather there was no way we were walking the beach to get there so it meant a much longer car ride.

We had a decenter amongst us, but the promise of hot cocoa & a movie when we got back lured him into the car. We could actually see the lights on the lighthouse from our caravan park so our goal was to find the lighthouse in question.

We managed to find 2 other lighthouses, which we made the mistake {kinda} of stopping off at prior to finding the one that was still in operation. When we rolled up to the one that was actually working {they all use to relay off of each other} we discovered it had closed 5 minutes prior. Oh the luck! The gate was still opened, so we parked outside of it & walked up the hill, in the rain I might add, to check it out.

Most of us found it well worth the view, all though there was one amongst us who was not happy to be drenched & cold. Same poor subject also managed to wake up with a cold the next morning, & that really didn't help! On the other hand, we learned that we could actually stay at the lighthouse next time we were out that way, you know, if we really wanted to. We also learned the horn in the lighthouse still functions on Sunday afternoons. We were trying to decide if we'd missed it because we hadn't been at our destination at the right time or if we'd simply not heard it due to the distance between where we were staying & the actual lighthouse.

On our way back we stopped at Batman bridge for a photo, & before anyone asks this is not named after the man in black! It's named, instead, after a famous Aussie. We'd actually crossed the bridge & I turned around to go back; if you pop under the bridge you can actually touch a portion of it. Which a few of us did.

Wouldn't you know that once we were done getting our photos & back on the highway the rain finally let up. Not that it stopped us from dishing up hot cocoa to go along with dinner, the movie on the other hand never happened because the dvd player in our caravan wasn't working. Go figure!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Yorktown Adventures

While away we drove, a few times, past Yorktown, the place that could have been the capital of our state. After our stop at the museum we thought we'd pop into the site & have a look around.

Keep in mind, if you opt to check it out, that it's really nothing more then an open field in the middle of now here. There are picnic tables & a foul toilet you can use if you dare. Be warned, though, the walls of the toilet don't reach the base of the structure & lots of wildlife happily strolls in & out. Bull Ants while using the toilet aren't really my kinda thing, but hey it beats snakes!

It was still a great stop off if, for nothing more, then the historical value in it. There's lots of signage before you walk the path to give you a brief idea of what the place use to look like both before it was "settled" & after it's abandonment.

There's also a beautiful metal map that we'd meant to make a rubbing on the following day on our way out. It was raining too much on the day we did stop & we didn't have a crayon or pencil on us. Perhaps next time we're out that way:

The darker spots in the photo were actually wet from the rain. We scooped some of the water off in order to read it. There's also a plaque that hangs up behind it explaining when the abandoned site was cleared & marked as a historical site.

There's a small path you can follow around which leads you to this funny little gate. It kinda feels like you are walking into someone else's property, but it's all part of the path you're meant to follow. In fact, just inside the gate to the right is a guest book for people to sign & to the left is a British Solider standing guard.

Jayden was absolutely smitten with this fellow, & his friends which were scattered around the property. He was pretty keen to go home & "whip one up" himself. I told him if he does we should hang it on his bedroom door to help keep guard. 

The path circles you around the field that use to have gardens & other things in it when the land was settled when the British first landed there. There's also a lot of signs that explain who was there, what was happening at the time, & what it might have looked like. There's a man-made pond/dam there now which is completely fenced in, but was a beautiful site to look upon. So was the little house that stood there. It's a replication of the one that was formerly there. 

The boys were disappointed that it was locked up tight, but they got over it quickly enough when we spotted the huntsman hiding at the top of the house. It's a little confusing to see, from Yorktown, the image of what must have once been a river that would have encouraged them to land there, but if you drive a few k's up the road you'll quickly see, especially at low tide, where the river is & why it turned out to be such a poor choice.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Beaconsfield Mine

We knew it was going to be rainy on the Monday we were away so we wanted to find something inside to keep us occupied & the Beaconsfield Mine that was a little drive from where we were seemed to fit the bill. In the end it turned out to be a wonderful idea as we spent so long in the museum Mr S had to finally drag us out before he passed out from lack of food.

The kids had an absolute blast as a good percentage of the museum is hands on & clearly marked to that effect too. The lady who gave us our tickets also gave the kids a lovely little Eye-Spy page to keep with them to spot a plethora of animals throughout the museum as we went along. My kids love these silly little things & they seem to be readily available at most museums lately.

First off the kids tried out telegraphs, telephones, & various things down this line. There was an old phone booth you could use as well & ring a number which would work on one of a variety of phones in this section. Morgan tried it out & one of the Asian tourists answered the phone, they had an awkward conversation as one was speaking in Japanese & the other English before they both hung up in a fit of giggles.

The museum is huge & very maze-like in it's appearance as it's intermingled with the older portions or factories that are no longer in use but still there for the viewing with the newer portions that have been recently added on. The photo above is an older section that's run down, but you're still permitted to walk through & view. To get to it we had to walk through the newer section which had an entire section based on the cave-in from several years back. It was complete with a small tunnel to climb through to understand what cramped quarters the men inside were stuck in until they were rescued.

We really loved walking through the older ruins of the museum & seeing so much that was built well before machines did the majority of the work. Those steps led up to a small little cabin similar to what someone mining for gold might have slept in. There was also a gold mining area up there where you could try your hand at mining for museum gold if you wanted. While the boys tried it, they had far more fun working the old hand pump that was up there.

At one point Morgan & I broke off from Mr S & Jayde who were busy searching for something on the list & enjoying building with some bricks provided. Morgan & I found an entire section in another arch just next to this one with wrenches in it. We had a bit of a laugh that they were labeled wrenches & quickly confirmed that they were imported from the USA; otherwise, they would have been called spanners. Im' not sure how I missed a photo, but one was nearly as big as we were!

We got lost in an upstairs section for a long while as there were a great many things to do. Morgan contributed several strips to the newest rag rug that was in the process of being put together. The strips are all tired to a piece of canvas with large square holes in it. There were needles & other "tools" to help you poke your strip through if you needed them. Jayden {in the background} was checking out the old fashioned stove. He was a little nervous about opening the doors to peek inside because there was suppose to be a snake hiding somewhere. Not a real one! But it had him a little leery of opening up closed items.

Mr S got a little distracted writing his name in calligraphy, after we pulled him away from trying on the wigs! The kids thought it was hilarious to see him with black curly hair instead of his normal mop of redness. We have a video of Mr S who tried out the organ on display. Most people were just pecking out a few notes, but he treated everyone to a full song until he realised others were coming to check it out, then he opted to move on.

Back outside in another section you could operate this amazing water wheel. We were kept pretty busy in this area as well as there were heaps of blacksmith tools to check out & a variety of mine simulations to try out. In fact, there was even a set of stairs to climb up so you could sit on a bench & watch the actual mine at work. Which, the kids were keen to do.. until they realised this mean staring at the entrance in the ground where the very occasional person came out to obtain something before darting back inside.

We have so many photos & videos from our hours inside this place! It was time so well spent as the day was miserably wet & rainy. The kids didn't spot everything on their lists, but were still rewarded with a small treasure packet from the lady at the desk which includes a sticker or two & some museum gold. They were pleased as punch with the gift, but spoke of little else for the next 2 days! They can't wait to go back & finish finding all the missing items.

If you're in the area it's really well worth a trip out & geared for little ones to be quite hands on. All hands on displays are clearly marked. There's a park nearby if you happen to visit on a less wet day, as for us, we had a picnic in the car which elicited lots of "great ideas" from the locals who were scurrying around under umbrellas as they walked their dogs.

Saturday, December 27, 2014


For the past few years we've planned 1 getaway after another only to have something crazy come up & prevent us from going away. Sometimes it's a minor like when Jay came down with bronchitis & had a poor reaction to his medication. Yeah, we decided camping a few hours from home wasn't the wisest choice. Other times it's been more major, like the year Nana broke her hip. This year we were determined we were going to have a small get away up the coast line.

Our original plans were to spend a couple weeks up the coast line in an area we've yet to make it that Mr S is desperate for us to see. Scheduling clashes caused that idea ot go up in smoke & Mr S was pretty disappointed. So I laid out the suggestion we go west instead of east & check out the coastline in the other direction.

Oh the excitement that ensued! School was well into it's 3rd term so we were likely to have the majority of the camp ground & the tiny town to ourselves. Our plans were looking well rounded & we were deciding which sites to see on our own vs signing up for the touristy end of when we got the news.

Turned out, our tiny little no one really goes there kinda town was being invaded by Hollywood. Yeah, the one from California. Because, as it turned out, the town was this perfect little "no one knows about it, but just right for what we want to use it for" in regards to filming their latest film. Apparently where were some big names up there too, but I've got to be honest with you, I'd never heard of them before.

It got worse, all the accommodations were booked for the next 2-4 weeks. What?! Yep, really. Then the next report was that the town was being done-over to make it look more authentic for the movie. This included covering the streets with gravel, because I mean what says authenticity quite like a few tons of gravel being spread through town, right?!

We canceled our idea to head west immediately. There was no way we were hanging out in a town run-over by Hollywood. Our idea of fun is being in the bush, or on the most deserted section of the coastline you can find. No internet, no interruptions, no phones, no work. Just the 4 of us & the occasion wildlife darting through.

We scrambled for a few ideas & then took on a rather poor defeated attitude. We had a dog-sitter all lined up for our pooch & they showed up to collect the dog on Saturday, the day we were suppose to leave but ended up being asked ot do something else instead. We woke up Sunday & decided we were going away.

We had no idea where, but insisted the kids pull out clothes for 4-5 days, some pjs, swimming gear, & a favourite board game each. We made a few calls & found a speck of coastline a few hours away that was reasonably deserted, & close to a few fun activities we were keen to check out with the kids. Talk about a flurry of activity! We had all hands on deck & were out the door & to our destination in two hours time.

20 minutes after arriving we spent the entire afternoon on this stretch of beach. There were a few more people, after all it was still the weekend, but it emptied out pretty quickly & it was just us. The kids swam, & built sand castles, & played ball. After tea we returned to the beach & spent the evening walking up the coastline until we decided we'd better head back before we got trapped on the beach at high tide in the dark.

Our accommodations were pretty quiet too because aside from the odd camper or two & the groundskeeper we were the only other people there. We spent the evening having a great laugh over watching the wallabies run around the adjoining golf course, & wondering who was going to clean up that kinda mess in the morning. Which resulted in a whole lot of laughter about wallabies out there having their own golfing tournament. Not a bad way to spend a few days!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

2014 Week In Review: Week 34

I didn't forget about the other weeks in our school year, we've just been busy wrapping up end of school things, Drs appointments, & life events. Week 34 was more of a half week for us which isn't the end of the world, but I always feel a bit silly calling it a full week when we may not have schooled each day.

Monday & Tuesday were reasonably normal days despite the snuffles & coughs in the house, but Wednesday Morgan & I had an appointment with the Irlen Specialist. Our former specialist retired from this particular speciality & we'd yet to meet the new one. Morgan had been complaining on & off about not seeing properly, but I'd often discover his glasses needed a good cleaning & then I wouldn't hear anymore about it.

However, we started to notice some number reversals again, problems with reading were creeping back in, he was tripping a lot again, & becoming continually more cranky. I honestly didn't make enough connections until he burst out in tears {not at all normal for him these days} & lamented that he couldn't see anything properly & when he took his glasses off it was all most like having them on.

We immediately contacted the new specialist & were so blessed to find out she was making a trip to Tassie in a 3 days time. There was serious rejoicing happening in our home! As she'd never met Morgan & Morgan had never met her there was a lot of preliminary things that had to happen & our appointment was the longest we've ever had while dealing with SSS/IS {scotopic sensitivity syndrome/irlen syndrome} It was absolutely gruelling for Morgan who was extremely nervous which only heightens his problems. We did eventually explain to him there was no passing or failing what he was going through & that regardless of the outcome of the day he was still taking his now "less then stellar" glasses home. He eased up a bit considerably at that information.

Once he was done I had to go through the paces, all though not nearly as many as he did. We told him he could enjoy being on the other side of the table to see how it all looked, but he was so exhausted he couldn't keep his eyes open. Poor kid tried to pull up a video on my phone so that he wouldn't fall asleep.

It's really tough watching him go through the paces, & each time I do something new comes to light. It was so evident, this time, how little his current glasses were helping him. I think it's made us both very aware of the signs to be alert to! We also learned a lot more of the science behind what's going on with him & were even treated, yes I really mean treated, to seeing a brain scan of the situation.

When a normal person reads, writes, or goes about their daily business their brain works at a moderate to slow pace depending on what they are doing. When Morgan's doing these things without his glasses or with glasses that don't suit, his brain is working in overdrive. It was amazing to see the differences in brains between a person who struggles & one who doesn't. The imagine is enough that if one saw it I think they'd understand how a person seriously has nothing left to give when they are struggling like this.

Morgan wasn't alone on the front, we've known for a long time that SSS/IS are hereditary, & his former specialist was keen to put both myself & Mr S through the tests to see which one of us it came from. As we've learned more over the years, I've become increasingly more aware that I'm mostly like the parent Morgan received his situation from. It seems both my children have been blessed with my sensitivities, one with light the other with sound. Hey, I like to share!

Morgan & I both walked out with a new prescriptions, all though we're both still eagerly anticipating the arrival of our glasses in the mail. We have to mail our frames & prescriptions to the mainland to the Irlen Lab & wait for their return which is, on average, 3-3.5 weeks wait time. I think in the past it's generally been 3 weeks for us.

Jayden was an absolute trooper through all of it. He patiently watched each of us go through all the testing & then assured us the sun was not burning our eyes out of our faces. He even attempted to offer kindly advise to us on which frames looked best, all though I'm not sure his tastes are exactly mine.

For now we have some overlays to use, plastic coloured sheets that have to be laid flat against what we are reading or doing, until our glasses come. The overlays work, all though they can be more cumbersome. They also don't help with my sensitivity to glare in general when I'm going about day to day things in the home.

We called school off for the remainder of the week because our eyes were just that sore! So school consisted of what we accomplished on Monday & Tuesday as well as the books we listened to on our way to & from the Drs. We did get quite a bit done in our day/time home, all though I'd all ready let Morgan off the hook for reading & math until after we found out what the news from the Dr was.

He's officially done with Math & reading for the year until his glasses come. At which point he'll probably remain done with math until the new year. He's a little frustrated by that as he'd set a goal to finish his current book before the New Year, but this was a situation beyond his control.

We started Son Of Charlemagne & continued on with Adam Of The Road which was our audio. We are enjoying the later far more then the former, but both have their places in what we're studying. We wrapped up Ephesians this week, & have kept our pace with MOH 2 as well. The kids also did a few spelling lessons, they are doing really well there. It really felt like a light week for us, but it answered so many important questions about our boys vision struggles that a light week was worth it.