Our little Lily is eight! She had a great birthday including being able to choose her own cake. For future reference, this rainbow cake from the Cheesecake Shop only looks amazing. Just look at it, don't eat it. Lily enjoyed some time with her siblings and our Super Neighbours at the pool and even though she is not very confident in the water yet, she still managed to have a good time.
The children had a week of intensive swimming lessons and have gained enough confidence in the water for me to be able to take them to Southbank in the mornings. It has been wonderful getting there early and having this free resort pool all to ourselves! We are usually home by about 9am before the heat and the crowds descend. Heath is able to drop us down to Southbank and pick us up so we don't have to worry about parking. Which I am told is quite expensive even at that early hour. Now that we have decided to stay in the area for a while, I have been doing my best to get the family out and about to enjoy the amazing attractions within two kilometres of home.
The APT8 has opened and I took the children for a morning of art viewing last week. After our many visits to the museum and science centre, we have discovered (through experience - see above photo!) that two hours is the magic time for family excursions. Any longer and oh wow, I pay for it with tired and tetchy monkeys for the rest of the day. And sometimes the next day too! However, at the APT8 we only saw about half of the exhibits in three hours so we will have to go back for sure. Many times! It is well worth the trip if you are thinking about seeing it. If you have children around the same age as ours, maybe schedule a few trips so you don't end the day with overwhelmed balls of crankiness because that can ruin a good day out. Oh and get there as early as possible because it is much more fun with fewer people.
The highlights of the exhibition (of what we have seen so far) is the little room with walls of projected moving images. You have to take your shoes off and sit on the floor - the children loved the novelty of being shoeless! This installation forces you to slow down and be still for a while. The images move slowly at first and there are some really cute surprises. There is some nudity and the children noticed 'I can see a doo-doo!' Yes, thank you Lily. There is also a little hut inside and my three thought it was there own private dance studio. There even had a small audience for a while and when I asked them to finish their dance and come out, the ladies watching said there thought they were watching the bests part of the exhibit!
There is some adult content throughout the entire exhibition and I didn't find any signage to warn viewers but I was able to steer the children away from images that were inappropriate for them. There is lots of activities for children, so much that it is difficult for little ones to engage very deeply with any one piece. There is just so much going on and I think next time, now we know the layout of the gallery, we will be able to concentrate our time just on two or three of the works to get a better appreciation of what the artists are saying.
As we head into the crazy season, I am doing my best to remind the children the real meaning of Christmas and steering their focus from receiving to giving. We have begun a new tradition of making small gifts for siblings and our Super Neighbours. Zoe has been very busy with craft these last few days and the other two have joined in when they get tired of running around. As for their Christmas gifts this year from us (maybe from Santa as I am not sure yet if we are still perpetuating the myth of the fat man), there won't be as many as previous years.
They will get -
Something to play with
Something to read
Something to wear
Something to eat
In previous years we have gone overboard with gifts - it is so easy to do! - and it seemed as they opened with last gift, they had forgotten about the first gift. So this year, and from now on, we are only giving memorable gifts that will survive past Easter. This way they can enjoy their gifts and time together instead of wanting to play with the 'next thing'. Stay tuned to see how this new approach to Christmas gifts goes down with the children...
We have scaled back on 'stuff' around our house over the last six months and I am seeing the positive affects of this de-cluttering. Personally, I feel less stressed or anxious and I am able to focus better on what I need to do each day. The children are really playing with their few toys - mostly Lego and a few stuffed toys - instead of going from one toy to the next. They are playing more imaginary games that need no toys or they use improvised things such and cardboard boxes or large pieces of fabric. Their games are more elaborate (I didn't think that was possible!) and they don't get as easily annoyed with each other. Sure they get cranky and we all still have meltdowns but I think there is a slight shift on how we are dealing with emotional outbursts. I also think it is because we are not overwhelmed by our immediate environment and 'stuff' that we just don't need. As each box comes back from storage I am sorting it and if I can't find room for it or I really don't need it, it is going to charity. We have quite a bit of storage in the laundry but I realised I really don't need 10 sets of single bed and 6 set of queen bed linen (we don't even own a queen sized bed!) We just don't need 50 bath towels or three rice cookers! When we cleared out before we put the house on the market I de-cluttered and then still had quite a bit of stuff in storage. As it comes back I realise that we haven't needed 95% of what has been in storage. Therefore we won't miss it if it doesn't come back. As for the toys.. well some of them will come back but I am hoping to convince the children they don't need many of them. Again, stay tuned for the fall out about that strategy!
As we cut back on the things we need I have been inspired to go further with ideas from this book - Simplicity Parenting. I have just found this guy's website too and it has lots of great stuff to think about if you are interested in simplifying you life. One of the easy ideas I have found is cutting back on screen time. For the children and myself and just hanging out together. The children find something to do on their own (without too much or any direction from me) and I just read. They really don't need me to provide entertainment - they need to create their own. And I must say they are really getting good at it! I don't often hear 'I'm bored!' but when I do I usually say 'Great! I bet you will find something awesome to do now!' And they do! Every time.
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