From the Vault # 2 – Motherhood: Instructions not included

Seeing as it is Mother’s Day today, I thought it would be fitting to share a speech I had written and delivered at a Womens Expo in October 2013.

 

Motherhood: Instructions not included.

23 Oct 2013

Good morning. My name is Mrs. Matilda and Hamish’s mum…or Jasmine for short. I was invited today to share my experience as a stay at home mum.

With my youngest ready to start school next year, I have found myself reflecting on the past seven years as a stay at home mum; what I have learnt, and what is yet to come. It is a bittersweet moment for me as I’ve watched my babies grow and start school. At times testing, motherhood is a very rewarding role. You learn to parent as you go along. There will be many a long day and sleepless nights, but all will be worth it in the long run. All your preconceived notions of parenthood will change – just go with the flow.

During my time as a stay at home mum, I have learnt the following:

Despite your mother-in-law informing you after you find out you are pregnant that all her babies were over nine pounds, your obstetrician will only laugh at you when you request to have an epidural eight months in advance…Oh how he laughed…

Pregnancy and baby books are guides only. Your instincts should be listened to always. No one knows your baby better than you.

Celebrity magazines lie! Your abs will not immediately reappear after giving birth. Don’t pack midriff tops in your hospital bag. Embrace the tummy, for it is there for bub to rest on when feeding and cuddling. Enjoy your new baby and please don’t stress about losing the weight.

If your baby is breast fed, don’t stand with them near busty statues or store mannequins. Babies are very opportunistic!

When you become a mum, you will soon learn to understand the meanings of your baby’s and husband’s cries.

Your clothes make the best wipes for little grubby hands and runny noses.

Teething pain can be eased by biting mum, hard.

Sometimes going out can wait, and it is better to have a feed, nappy change and sleep instead. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

I know every word of every song by The Wiggles, and while I felt bad for Sam, I was secretly happy to see Greg return as the Yellow Wiggle.

I can now speak basic Spanish thanks to Dora the Explorer, and if I am ever in doubt, I sing out for map or backpack. Never trust Swiper the Fox. Ever.

Whilst funny at first, blueberries are not meant to be stuck up nostrils.

If it has shelves, it will be climbed.

If it is a drawer, it will be emptied.

If it makes noise and lots of it, then it is the best thing ever. If it is too quiet, whine at mum before crawling off for the pots and pans cupboard.

If something is broken then get mum to fix it. If you broke it, hide it and blame your sibling when mum finds it.

Walls are great for drawing on. When mum gets cranky just remember that everyone’s a critic and go find another crayon.

As a mum you will get to know the staff at the poisons info hotline on a first name basis. And if your toddler finds and eats six herbal kids’ cold and flu tablets, their poop will be fluorescent green for the next week.

Two words: stain remover.

If your toddler has lost their favorite toy, it will be in your handbag. If you have lost your phone, purse or car keys, they will be in the toilet.

When your toddler no longer requires nap time during the day, they handle the change better than mum!

Nudie runs after bath time are a must. For those of you wanting to have a baby, I recommend you try bathing and worming a feral cat whilst wrestling an octopus to get an understanding of what it is like to bathe and clothe a toddler.

Let your toddler dress themselves. Miss-matched socks, shoes, clashing colours and prints with scruffy hair will all make for some great photos to show on their 18th birthday.

You will never know the excitement like that of when your toddler starts using the potty. I would then also liken the nerves of going shopping with a newly potty trained toddler to that of a bomb squad trying to diffuse a bomb. Only a matter of time before an explosion.

Don’t read Roald Dahl’s The Witches to your toddler. They will begin to publicly accuse every elderly lady of being a witch!

Play-doh, dirt, cat food, shoes and foliage from the botanic gardens are all part of the toddlers essential diet.

Cereal tastes better for dinner.

An audience in the bathroom becomes normal.

“Hide and seek is the greatest game!” said no mum ever.

Mum cuddles and kisses fix everything. Stop and listen to what your children are wanting to tell you. If you listen to your children, they will listen to you.

My daughter believes cleaning gives you wrinkles “Mum you clean all the time and you have lots of wrinkles!” Thank you Tilly, I love you too.

After explaining why the boy guinea pigs need to be spayed, my daughter later informed me that when she gets married she will get the vet to spay her husband. So cute…She thinks we are going to let her get married. We’re not even going to let her date!

Little boys are fearless. When the floors are being mopped, it becomes the perfect opportunity to work on some epic parkour moves. You get bonus points if you can get mum to run across the damp tiles to catch you mid-leap.

Cars and dinosaurs take up shelf space in the fridge on hot days.

Broken collar bones heal in about six weeks. This means that in six weeks your son will be back on the trampoline trying to attempt the same somersault dismount that broke his collar bone in the first place!

Fairies are real, and to get rid of monsters under the bed, spray them with water

Patience is a virtue. Eventually you will all get out of the house…once you find your son’s favorite pair of sneakers. In saying that, you start getting everyone ready to go out hours in advance!

Because I said so! Is a legitimate answer to your child’s constant questions.

Mum’s have superior conflict resolution skills, dispensing firm but fair justice. Also known as the “time out chair”.

Thank goodness for the game Angry Birds.

Your children laughing will make you laugh.

You learn to grocery shop like a ninja – quick enough before the kids realize that they have bypassed the toy aisle.

Saturday nights are the best because it is family movie night and camping in the lounge room.

Head lice are annoying, and treating outbreaks with mayonnaise will not only kill the lice but leave you craving for a salad.

White furniture makes parents uneasy. Delicate décor makes parents neurotic!

Be proud when people compliment your child’s good manners. Imagine how proud my husband and I felt when after dinner, both our children went to take their plates to the kitchen…did I mention we were dining at a restaurant?

Seven year old daughters thrive on drama and four year old sons thrive on causing it.

My motherhood motto has become “I don’t negotiate with terrorists”.

 

And finally…Your babies don’t stay little for long. So cuddle and kiss them often. Play games and laugh. Enjoy being with them. See the world new through their eyes. It goes by so fast. During the testing moments, remind yourself that this to, shall pass. Soon you will find yourself with a child ready to start school, and you will reflect on just how much you have both grown. Every night before you go to sleep, tell them you love them and kiss them good night. Every morning wake them with a kiss and tell them you love them, and just enjoy being a mum.

Thank you for listening.

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Being a mum is…

Every time I have to give Mish his dose of antibiotics I call it Fortnite Juice. He just had another dose…

Me: Cmon buddy! Here it is, Fortnite Juice time!

Mish: Mum. Stop. Stop calling it Fortnite Juice. Call it what it really is.

Me: Fine…

He opens his mouth and I pop the spoon of peach/orange colour medicine into his mouth.

Me: It’s goblin vomit.

Mish: 🤢

From the Vault: The Tooth Fairy

Way before I started this blog, I would post my stories on my personal Facebook page via the Notes application. I have decided that I will share these earlier posts here – one a week. I hope you enjoy!

21 June 2010

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My goofy girl Tilly – trying to convince the Tooth Fairy to pay up.

Hmmm. Parenting is no easy task and you are often faced with situations which require delicate, yet informative explanations – “cause I said so” does not gel with a three year old and her inquisitive little mind. I was faced with one of those moments the other day and I think I was not too clear on things as you will soon find out…

There is a cute little kid’s show called Charlie and Lola. One of Matilda’s favourite shows, not so for Hamish as there is no monster trucks. This particular episode, Lola had a loose tooth and her big brother Charlie set about explaining the Tooth Fairy. Lola was thrilled about the tooth/money exchange that was to take place, and so was Matilda as she turned to me and proceeded to check her own teeth for gum stability. A “Mum Moment” presented itself, and so I sat on the couch next to her to explain the story. As I opened my mouth, a little light bulb went off and I ran to my room and dug about in my little box of knick knacks where I just so happen to keep my first wisdom tooth in a plastic bio-hazard bag – serious! I returned to Tilly to find her now with one hand in her mouth, the other supporting the wrist and both feet up on either side attempting to get her savings account started. I sat down again and casually waved the bag in front of her eyes. She sat up and squinted at it. “It’s a tooth…my tooth” I explained. Fascinated, her eyes never left it, her little lips had curled back in a somewhat grossed out smile.

I started to explain how the Bank of Tooth Fairy works, that for each tooth that falls out – ON IT’S OWN ACCORD, gets placed under the pillow where the TF collects it, leaving you some money. From the tooth, they make great little portable houses, and despite the GFC, business is booming for TF Home Industries. Matilda asked why I still had my wisdom tooth, and I explained that this one was just for me, and I showed her the upper left side of my mouth from where it was yanked out by the dentist. I explained to her the roots, where the blood went in and how much sits inside the gum. Matilda was fascinated, and what I misinterpreted as excitement – but she was just eager to go to the potty. So with my Mum of the Year badge stuck to the back of my head, I sauntered into the kitchen to my eaves dropping husband. I had done well, we can tick the tooth fairy talk off the list of conversations.

Later that day, Matilda approached me, little hands clasped in front of her, her sweet little smile and crazy baby hair sticking out in all directions. She snuggled up to me on the couch. “Hey mum you know your tooth?” “Hmmmm” “Well can I borrow it to put under my pillow?” “Why?” “I want to buy a rainbow ice cream, but I only have ‘Fairy Money’ (lint from Mike’s belly button) and I need real money”. “Nooooooo. No. Nope. Noo-zaaa. That is mum’s tooth, the tooth fairy can only take YOUR teeth, and sweetie you still have quite some time to go till your baby teeth are ready to jump out”. I gave her a quick hug and she wandered off and Hamish resumed smacking my face with his matchbox car.

Since then, Matilda has come to the conclusion that if she can’t sell her teeth just yet, other things would surely be worth something on the Fairy Property Market and as such I have caught my daughter attempting to sway the TF’s interest with other items. Yesterday afternoon she snuck out of the kitchen, I was hot on her heels catching her out as she placed the organic, free-range egg under her pillow. Other items have been a tub of yogurt, shredded paper, lint, a pair of underwear, Mike’s squadron patches, her brother Hamish, a cat, and a pile of cat hair – all to no avail. In desperation she has taken to asking anyone if their teeth are going to fall out because she really, REALLY needs a rainbow ice cream. I think in lieu of a baby tooth, I am going to loan her my wisdom tooth and let her get that much needed ice cream on Thursday…Job Done!

 

⚠️ Mum’s Post ⚠️

⚠️ Warning: contains gross stuff! ⚠️

I have spent the past week dealing with a sick hubby, and on Wednesday my son joined the Man-Flu club. I am functioning on very little sleep as I am busy measuring out doses of medicine, making sure they are drinking water, encouraging Mish to eat “just one more spoonful of soup”, and soothing post coughing fits.

I have spent the past week camped out on the tiny couch – giving Mike the comfy bed to rest and recover on, and Mish gets the big couch so I can keep watch over him and have the sick bucket at the ready.

Mish has now reached the coughing up gunk stage of this virus and I have got him into the habit of spitting it up in the sick bucket. Last night he was sleeping better and Mike was not coughing and gakking as much so I decided to take my chances and go back to sleeping in our bed. I brought Mish in too so I could still keep an eye on him. I was looking forward to catching a moment of sleep in a natural sleeping position and not the current position of neck bent at 90 degree angle and legs hanging over the arm of the couch.

Sleeeeeeep! Come at meeeeeee!

Mish was tucked in between Mike and I. I settled down, stretched out and began to finally relax. As I started to drift off, Mish sat up straight, his eyes still closed – he turned and slightly leaned in my direction and he…

Spat. On. Me.

He hocked up a great big ball of phlegm right on my torso. As soon as he had cleared it he laid back down as if nothing had happened. Sound asleep. At first I was in disbelief “did he… did he just spit on me? No! Seriously? He did! Oh gross kid, cmon!!!” I jumped up and looked down at my pyjama top that now had a great big spit wad stuck to it. Through some gymnastic moves and twists I was able to remove the top without getting any of the gunk in my hair or on my face. I changed my top and decided to move Mish to the side of the bed with the bucket next to him.

Through all of this Mike just laid there laughing his head off.

Back in bed I was now pinned between Mike and Mish. I didn’t get any sleep. Mish spread himself out, arms and legs akimbo. Mike used me as a wedge – to prop him in a position on his side, so he wouldn’t roll over. My neck now has a crick in it. Mish somehow managed to drool on my face through the night and Mike kept farting on my right thigh.

I am thinking of booking myself a few nights in a hotel to try and catch up on sleep. Feeling and looking like a zombie 🧟‍♀️

Them new place feels.

We are coming up to two months in the new place since moving from Sydney to Brisbane over the Christmas period. And as usual, with a military move, nothing runs smoothly. The prepack and uplift in Sydney was pretty good, and we headed out on the drive up without any dramas. Doctor Who, our now senior guinea pig, survived the drive up and seemed to enjoy it. The kids had fun and it was an easy move up.

The down lift into the new house was quick. By mid afternoon we had all our belongings in and ready for us to start unpacking and sorting. This was the easiest, drama free move we have ever experienced. For me, growing up an Army brat, we had many a move with dramas – car breaking down, interesting accommodation stops (un-flushable poos in toilets, mounds of pubic hair in the shower drains, neighbouring guests playing the Lost Boys soundtrack on repeat as they sat outside and downed can after can of beer – just to mention a few), myself or one of my three brothers getting sick, my mum suffered hyperemesis gravidarum on our posting from Darwin to Sydney – she was so sick in the temporary accommodation in Sydney as we waited for our house to be ready for us to move into.

The first afternoon in the new place we went and picked Ripley and Dwight up from the pet resort where they had been enjoying their own little holiday as the rest of us drove up to Brisbane. Dwight was quite confident exploring the new home, for a cat he is very un-catlike. Ripley lost her cool when she saw her new massive back yard (our place in Sydney had a yard the size of a postage stamp – it was really small). So, to watch her take off and do zoomies around the big space was awesome. She trotted to the back door, tongue hanging out, tail wagging – a very happy German Shephard!
We had the house sorted out quick, and Mike and I were stoked at how smoothly this move had gone and how nicely we were settling into our new place. We had gone out and bought the school supplies, high-fiving each other at how great this was all turning out.

Then Ripley started scratching at her ears. She started shaking her head a lot. Her head then remained tilted. We took her to the vet where it was discovered she had a severe ear infection in both ears that would require her ears to be flushed out and treated. Okay, nothing too major. We booked her in for the day procedure and the week leading up to it she was on a course of steroids to help open her ear canals in preparation for the procedure. The morning of, I took her in and filled out the paperwork. The vet explained exactly what they would be doing and what the after care will be. Easy. They then took her into the surgery to get her ready and I went back home to wait out for the call to say she was ready to come back home. I got the call, but it wasn’t to say she was ready to come home. Whilst cleaning her right ear, the vet found a large haematoma that would require draining. Alright, drain away. Later that evening we were finally able to go and bring her back home. She was groggy but her ears were now clean, and her right ear had a collection of stents in them to help with the draining out of the haematoma. On the way out of the clinic, the nurse gave us a cone to use on Ripley if she started scratching at her ears – we didn’t want her to pop the stitches in her ear.

Turns out Ripley was the best patient; not once did she scratch at her ears. Dwight on the other hand was proving to be the difficult one. He was determined to get at Ripley’s stitched up ear, and this is where we put the cone to good use – not on Ripley, but we placed the cone over Dwight to contain him – stop him from trying to help clean out Ripley’s ears. It worked!

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The only way we could keep Dwight away from Ripley’s ear.

So, a minor blip on the road to settling in. No big deal. We moved onwards. The kids started school, and as expected there were tears and frustration at missing their friends and school from Sydney. To help them adjust, Mike took them over to a co-worker’s place for a swim in their pool and a barbecue lunch. The co-worker’s son is in the same class as Mish, and his daughter was attending the same high school as Tilly. I stayed at home in order to get the school lunch baking done and to catch up on an assignment. I was going to go out later that night to meet some other military wives, hoping to make some new friends.

I missed the dinner.

Instead I was sitting with Tilly and Mish at the ER waiting for Tilly to be seen.

Whilst at the barbecue lunch, Tilly had managed to face plant the pool wall when she swam right into it. When they walked through the door, I was greeted with my daughter sporting a massive purple honker on the middle of her face, followed close behind by Mishy, whose face had been char grilled as a result of not applying sunscreen. As I was grabbing ice packs, slathering aloe gel onto my son’s face, arguing with my daughter that she will be going to the hospital to have her nose checked out, I was gathering my handbag and googling the address of the local hospital. Less than a month in the new place and we were checking out the emergency department.

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Marcia Brady – Tilly channelled this look following face planting into the swimming pool wall.

Diagnosis: Soft tissue damage, and a slightly crooked nose that will need to be checked out by an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist; we were cleared to head back home to rest. She had a night ahead of her of ice packs and Panadol. When we got home, I remembered that she had her school photos coming up that week too. I looked over at her, her mashed up nose, panda eyes, relaxing on the couch watching You Tube. Next to her was Mishy with a painful looking face – shiny from the layers of aloe gel I kept applying to stop his face from cooking.

Two days later, following our trip to the ER for Marcia Brady and El Scorcho, I sat with what was going to be my first of many coffees for the next few weeks, and watched my husband pack his gear into his car and head off on tasking. No sooner had he driven off, Ripley got up and walked over to the dining room and vomited.

Oh boy. Here we go…

I cleaned up the vomit and put Ripley outside where I then watched her. She wandered around the yard and then went and laid down on her bed. Maybe she overindulged in the kitty litter? Whilst she relaxed outside, I got the kids up ready for school. When I returned from school drop-off, I brought Ripley back inside. She seemed flat. Missing hubby? I offered her one of her favourite treats, she turned her head away and rested her chin on her paws. I called her over to the other side of the room and I noticed she seemed really slow to stand. This wasn’t right. I called the vet (who had only a week earlier taken the final stent and stitches from out of Ripley’s inner ear) and I explained what was happening. They booked her in for that afternoon. In the meantime, I washed her mouth out and thinking to myself could it be she has licked a cane toad? She was drinking water, but not enough.

By the time I got her to her appointment, she was flat. The vet was going to take her in for the afternoon and run bloods and to get her on a drip for hydration. Half an hour after admitting her, I got the call to say Ripley had pancreatitis. This is the first (and hopefully now the last) time this has happened, and my head was spinning. Of course, something like this would happen when my husband is interstate and I am in an area I am not familiar with. Ripley ended up spending two days in hospital undergoing treatment. By the Friday evening, despite her latest test showing her pancreas was still giving her grief, she was stable enough to come home for the weekend. She had a pain med patch on her back leg, and she was much brighter and excited to see us and be back at home than she was when we brought her into the clinic on the Wednesday.
My job over the weekend was to keep her fluids up and serve up several small portions of either boiled chicken breast or specialised dry dog food throughout the day and on Monday morning we would be back for another test, and if still positive, we would have to discuss further testing and examination by a specialist. My mind was trying to work out how I would juggle things if I had to drive across through Brisbane to the specialist with the kids in school – would I have to take them out of school for the day because of appointment/driving times being outside of school hours? I played nurse over that weekend, determined to get my best friend better. The thought of not having her kills me, and when she was in hospital, I felt lost without my side pup.

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Back at the vet – this time with pancreatitis.

Come the Monday morning, after I got the kids to school, Ripley and I were back at the vet for the next blood test. As I sat and waited for the vet and Ripley to return, my stomach was in knots. She had been doing so well over the weekend, I would be gutted if I couldn’t turn it around for her. Eventually Ripley and her vet returned, and the news was the best – NEGATIVE! We did it! We got her pancreas back down to normal levels. We could go home and get on with things – and with a specially modified diet. That afternoon she came with me to pick the kids up from school so she could give them the good news.

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So for the weekend leading up to the final blood test on the Monday, I had to serve up several small portions of boiled chicken and special dry food throughout the day for Ripley. Dwight was so incensed that his sister was getting “special treatment” he decided to protest – refusing to eat his “blah” food in order to get what Ripley was getting. So I had to make up a Dwight-serving (plate on the left) so he felt he wasn’t missing out on what poor Ripley had to eat (bowl on the right).

They say things happen in threes. Since moving in we have had ear surgery, busted nose and sunburn (which cleared up without blisters or peeling) and then pancreatitis. The kids and I have been housebound as Ripley recovered from her ear op and then pancreatitis, and the kids from their own injuries. We have not had a chance to get out and explore the area. This last weekend was the first weekend we were able to go out because Ripley was okay. Saturday, we checked out Springfield and enjoyed a nice long lunch, making the most of the slightly cooler weather that has come over. Yesterday (Sunday), we got up early to check out the local show ground market for breakfast and a scout about. The kids were happy to score a collection of 90’s era Yowie figurines. I enjoyed a fantastic coffee and stocked up on some soy melts from Violets Gifts and Treasures – as I type this I have Lolly Shoppe in the burner and the house smells like a candy store.


It finally feels like everything is now starting to settle (touch wood!) – the kids have made friends and are loving their new schools, and Ripley is back to normal. Dwight is still annoyed I am enforcing his diet, and Doctor Who shows no signs of slowing down despite his age. As for me, I am looking forward to eventually making friends and establishing myself.


This will be a good posting.

A New Adventure for Team J – Coffs Harbour, NSW

So after a good nights rest in our lovely room at the Charlesworth Bay Beach Resort in Coffs Harbour, we were up early to embark on a full day of activities.

Coffs Harbour is one of the largest urban centres on the North Coast of New South Wales. Situated 540km north of Sydney and 390km south of Brisbane, Queensland Coffs Harbour is our favourite holiday spot to relax and unwind. It is probably most known for the tourist attraction and amusement park, the Big Banana – a massive banana, the first of Australia’s Big Things it was built in 1964 on a banana plantation. You can walk through the Big Banana, pose for photos out the front too. It is a popular item on the Aussie tourist to do list. The weather in Coffs is always lovely – even in winter, and there are plenty of accommodation options available.

Up and ready for the day ahead, we started off by grabbing breakfast (and a coffee for me) at the Coffs Central Shopping Centre. Whilst there, I popped in to some shops for some bits and pieces for the day’s activities, and Mike bought the kids a Play Station VR set for Christmas. Whilst walking about the shopping centre we came upon Santa who was handing out candy canes. Caffeine hit, new swimmers (bathing suit), sunscreen, batteries for Tilly’s camera and the first Christmas gift sorted, we set off to our first activity for the day – checking out the Clog Barn Holiday Park.

 

 

This is a cute little attraction and accommodation option, that Mike and I have stayed at previously (December 2004 on our first posting from Sydney to Townsville). Back then the accommodation was clean and comfortable and unique. This time, we took the kids in to walk through the clog shop and model Dutch village before grabbing an ice cream each from Big Oma’s Coffee House (the morning was warming up quite quickly). Whilst eating our ice creams we met a lovely little pup by the name of Katherine who was enjoying her breakfast next to her owner. She had finished her breakfast before him though – for a tiny dog she could eat like Flash Lightning! Meanwhile, her owner was enjoying his big breakfast serving from Big Oma’s and holding conversation with Tilly and Mish. The staff there were all lovely and super friendly. At certain times, they run a clog making demonstration – we were too early for that, but you can still check out the workshop and look at clogs that have been made and are available for sale.

From there the Team headed to Dolphin Marine Magic. This is a fantastic education centre for young and old alike. The team there run shows daily to educate visitors on marine life and the conservation and preservation of our oceans. We arrived in time to catch the dolphin presentation which had a cameo by the lovely sea lion Adelaide. The dolphins, Zippy and Bella flipped and splashed, jumped and called out to the audience. The children were all enthralled by the experience. After the presentation, everyone was invited to come down to the pool where Zippy and Bella were doing the rounds for belly rubs (the LOVE their belly rubs). If you have not had the opportunity to pat a dolphin, they are very soft and smooth. Round and round they went, lapping up the attention. Then it was off to look at the other animals. We hung around the pool for a while, watching Zippy and Bella swim and play. They would come up to the sides to look at people, checking everyone out. Sometimes they would grab one of their balls and push it to the side to who ever was standing there wanting them to play. Mish was one of the lucky ones to be chosen by Zippy to play fetch – and he absolutely loved every minute of it.

Whilst we were still with the dolphins, Mike had snuck off to organise for the kids to meet Ozzie – a great big and beautiful sea lion. Last time we visited the park in 2009, the kids had their photos taken with one of the seals, and here they were going to get to do it all again. Ozzie, as you can see in the photos is a great big beautiful sea puppy. The kids were smitten with him, getting the chance to give him pats, toss the ball with him and feed him. For the photos they decided to poke their tongues out instead of getting a fishy, whiskery smooch from Oz.

Following the meet and greet with Ozzie, we headed up to see the Little Blue Penguins get their lunch. Initially we thought it was to watch the handlers feed them, but they had it all set up and visitors were able to line up and feed the penguins. They were so funny to watch, huddled up waiting for the handler to open the gate. The little wings and tails wiggling in anticipation for the big bucket of fishies. A few of them tried to climb off the little platform to dive right into the feeding bucket, the handler would gently set them back on the platform. They were adorable little characters, and oh boy can they put away their food!

 

The whole experience at Dolphin Magic centres around conservation and preservation of these wonderful creatures and their habitat. They are running an awareness program called Experience. Discover. Act. You can become involved in this program by simply snapping a selfie of you out and about picking up rubbish and tag on your social media it to #EDADMM – in doing so, they hope to spread awareness of the plight our marine life are facing due to pollution.

 

Before we knew it, it was coming up to lunch time and we were heading over to the next attraction – The Big Banana.

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Tilly and Mish letting me take a nice “normal” photo of them…

I don’t think a visit to Coffs Harbour is complete without a visit to the Big Banana. It is a large amusement park, spread out through a banana plantation. Right up behind the Big Banana is the café where you can enjoy coffee, cold drinks, cakes, hot meals and frozen bananas. There is a kids arcade next to the café, and out behind is the ticket counter for the other activities that are on offer. You can choose from tours, theatre (4D experience is coming soon), mini golf, laser tag, tobogganing, and if you are brave enough, you can try the Racer Slide. There is also a water park too cool off in, a cheese shop (for blessed are the cheese makers!) which not only have all things cheese, they run cheese making workshops and have a selection of amazing handmade chocolates to choose from. There is also a candy and opal shop on site too. We bought tickets for the Racer Slide and the toboggan. First up, the Racer… Holy cow it is a big, long slide! The hike to get up to the top can rattle you if you are not a mountaineer, or just fit in general. Mish made it to the top, but upon looking down the slide he went pale and shaky and decided he wasn’t dare devil enough to give it a go. Mike went down the slide twice, I had one go and that was enough for me – self preservation kicked in as I felt my bum lift only so slightly off the slide. I didn’t see anything other than my life flash before my eyes as I screamed all the way down, clutching the carpet sack I was sitting on for dear life. Tilly on the other hand, first go and she was wild about it.

We gave her all the remaining tickets, and she would bolt up the steep incline, carpet sack over her shoulder – without breaking a sweat. She would then take her spot on one of the lanes and as soon as the light turned green, she was off like a shot, arms up in the air and whooping it up in adrenaline. Mike had over estimated our eagerness for the slide and as such had purchased a heap of tickets for it. So much so, that Tilly befriended two other young girls and was only too happy to share the remaining slide tickets with them (we didn’t mind, and we could see the girl’s parents were grateful for the chance to be able to get off their feet and have a cold drink and a rest whilst the kids wore themselves out).

Slide tickets finished, we headed up past the water park to the toboggan ride. Mish was apprehensive about it, but I managed to convince him to come with me on my toboggan. First round, he loved it – I put him in control of the brake, so he felt comfortable. Second go, he wanted to remain with me. The third round and he was ready to take the ride on his own and he and Tilly set off to do the toboggan track with the parentals watching on.

It was getting late in the day, so we wrapped up our visit to the Big Banana with a stop in at the cheese shop to sample some cheese and buy a box of handmade chocolates (yum!). We decided it was time to head back to the resort where we would finish the day with a swim in one of the three lagoon pools at the resort and then a wander down from the resort onto the beach for a spot of shell collecting. Unfortunately, we had to be on the road the next day to head to the next stop in our road trip, so the quiet swim and beach combing was a lovely way to finish up our fleeting visit.

Some other places we wanted to check out but didn’t get round to seeing was the Bunker Cartoon Gallery and the National Marine Science Centre. This just means that we absolutely must and will go back to Coffs!

To be continued…

We were also sad to learn of the passing of a wonderful man, Coffs Harbour local and Australian surfing legend Scott Dillion. We had the absolute honour of meeting him during our 2009 holiday when he was running the Legends Surf Museum. He passed away on the 12 December 18 at 90 years of age. I will always remember our meeting him – he absolutely adored the kids and took us through his museum, finishing with us all sitting on the porch and chatting and goofing around, and before we left, he had gifted us with an autographed poster. A very down to earth Aussie bloke. 

May he rest in peace.  

 

A New Adventure for Team J

Things are starting to settle down on what has been a month of big changes for our family. As I sit here typing this, we have just clocked up our first week in our new place. So, where will I begin? Last month was crazy. We were packing up our home in the lead up to our posting interstate, I was also trying to continue with my university study and working full time right up to our pre-pack day. Our daughter Tilly was closing the chapter on six years of Primary School, graduating year six and also saying goodbye to all her friends as she was getting her head around the fact that she will be starting her high school journey in another state, away from the friends she has made over the last four years of our posting to Sydney.

The day of her graduation was surreal – I could not link the Tilly standing next to me, holding her graduation certificate with the tiny Tilly who walked through the gates of the school on her first day of Prep, with such swagger and sass. Her school bag was bigger than her, and now she stands the same height as me, and is on the cusp of her teenage years. I sat through the graduation ceremony, in a daze, but holding it together. I cried when the Principal dismissed the year six students from the hall “for the very last time.” The teachers were all wiping away tears…so were all the other mums in the hall.

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Tilly on her first day of school with her cousin Em and little brother Mish (2012) to last month’s graduation with her dad Mike and little brother Mish

That night she had her formal, so we made a big fuss about it for her. She had picked out her outfit two weeks earlier and now she was excitedly getting dressed. I let her wear a little mascara and a touch of tinted lip gloss. When she came out of her room, myself, Mike and Mish all were caught off guard by just how grown up she looked. The little Prep Tilly was well and truly gone. She was driven to her formal in a Corvette –owned by my boss’ husband. Tilly loved it, she could not stop talking about how great the car sounded and all the attention it got when she pulled up the front of the venue. The boys in her class were pretty impressed by her ride.

All the year six kids looked so different now. Like young adults, they were ready for a night of good food, dancing and cake. Parents were not allowed, we had to go off and do our own thing, and this was just for the kids. Mike, Mish and I enjoyed a dinner with some friends before we went in to get some quick photos, have a dance with the kids and then head home. It was a fantastic night for Tilly – she had so much fun partying with all her friends. I exchanged numbers with other mum’s so our kids can all stay in touch. Then that was it.

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Last day of school.

The day of the removal up lift was the kids last day at school. They had their shirts signed by friends and teachers, exchanged Christmas gifts and cards with friends and come the final bell, it was hugs and final goodbyes. Tears and more hugs. I grew up an Army kid and we moved every two years. I hate this part of the life – it never gets easier and I felt so sad for my kids and their friends.

That was that. The next morning the cars were packed, we checked out of the hotel and we started our journey to the next posting. Dwight our cat and Ripley our dog were already in the pet resort in our gaining location of Brisbane. They were flown up the day before the up lift. From all accounts of the pet transport company and the pet resort, they were doing just fine. Our guinea pig, Doctor Who was going to travel up with us – he rode shotgun in Mike’s car. Doctor is 5, almost 6 years old, so in guinea pig years, he is a little old man. He handled the trip really well though. We had a comfy travel crate for him and a portable pen for the hotel stays.

The drive out of Sydney was surprisingly really smooth considering we were heading out on the very first day of school holidays. Tilly and Mish rode in my car and we had it stocked with lots of snacks, cold drinks and audio books – the kids LOVE the Tree House series by Andy Griffith and Terry Denton. We were on the first leg to Brisbane – Sydney to Coffs Harbour. We love Coffs, it is our favourite little family get away spot. So we were all pretty excited to be going back there for a two day mini-vacation. By 3pm that day we arrived in Coffs and checked into Charlesworth Bay Beach Resort. We quickly unpacked and set up Doctor by the big double doors so the cool ocean breeze could cool him down. No sooner had we unpacked, I was running the kids down to the little beach – the very first beach Mish was taken to when he was seven months old (we had stayed at this resort back in 2009 when we had a little family vacation upon Mike’s return from deployment). It was really surreal watching him running into the waves. Last time he was at this beach he was not too thrilled by it.

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We finished off the long day with Thai from a great little place called Memory Thai (Tilly highly recommends the Pad Thai and Mish and I love the Yellow Curry).

To be continued…