Our little family of three had the loveliest Easter long weekend. After a busy and full couple of months, Ben and I were craving a longer break than our regular Saturday, Sunday, back to work on Monday. Four free days were just what we needed to fill up our cups and find our feet. Each morning after breakfast, I retreated to my writing desk and dove into work, leaving Ben and Joan to do chores, make cubbies and eat snacks. Building Duplo houses for her soft toys was the only pressing task at hand, and by giving Joan his full attention he was able to step away from his to-do lists and have a proper mental break. Meanwhile, I was able to create and find fulfilment in that area of my heart, which allowed me to come back to my loves refreshed and ready. Ready to eat, as it were. This weekend was filled with long lunches and easter eggs. In order to avoid dealing with caffeine + sugar highs, I chose carob eggs for my 19month old. After tasting one, any guilt of depriving her of a Lindt bunny evaporated because, dang, that “chocolate” is TASTY. A few days before the weekend, I purchased a bunch of little carob eggs, along one with one giant egg, and on Easter Sunday I brought them to Red Hill for our family lunch. Long before my brother and his girlfriend arrived, Joan spotted one nestled on the windowsill, its shiny wrapper shimmering in the sun. What a lesson in patience that was. Joan waited by the front door, listening for his footsteps on the stone path and every now and then exclaiming, “Jackson! Come on!”. She knew that when they arrived, that egg would be hers. As they walked through the front door, Joan grabbed her basket and made a beeline for the back door, running past the eggs I had hidden in clear view, towards that shiny egg by the window. Watching her look for little treasures and put them in her basket filled my heart with more joy than I ever knew a person could experience. That is the magic of childhood, isn’t it? After most of the eggs were found (thought there may still be one hidden in my father’s shoe), we sat down for lunch, which included woodfired pizza, Anna Jones’ greens pie and Autumn panzanella, and homemade sourdough hot cross buns. Ben and I brought a bottle of Moët to share, which we were gifted 8 months ago. We were saving it for a special occasion, and I cannot think of a more special day than this one.
* written over the month of April, in dribs and drabs as I catch moments here and there.
DOING: sitting next to Joan while she naps and typing on my computer. She’s still not sleeping for longer than 40 minutes for her day nap, however by parking myself close by I can sometimes encourage a longer snooze if I rest my hand on her belly when she rouses. I’ve spilt a lot of coffee on her bed sheets this past month.
HEARING: the white noise app. I think Joan must expect that it always rains heavily when she sleeps.
LOOKING: at the coffee stains on Joan’s sheets. I’m still working my way through our laundry after camping last weekend (I had a decent pile waiting even before we left), so these sheets are not a priority. Perhaps they should be, but a coffee-scented room is a touch more enjoyable than a nappy-bin scented one, so I haven’t rushed to clean them. Also, I’m a big fan of drying our washing outside on the clothes line, and there’s only so many sheets one can hang while avoiding downpours.
DRINKING: coffee. How many times have I mentioned coffee in this post?
Each year, a few days after Christmas, my family of five would pack our car and head up the coast to Depot Beach. The nine hour drive was a fine price to pay for weeks of freedom in nature with friends. Our days were spent swimming, playing, refuelling, creating inappropriate songs and singing them in the shower block, chasing the daily newspaper delivery van to purchase Killer Pythons and Nerds, and on the occasional rainy day, reading books in our tents. At night, we slept soundly, having exhausted ourselves in the great outdoors. I have fond memories of this time, and always imagined I’d offer my kids the same experience. Ben didn’t camp as a kid, and if he’s honest, would prefer to spend the night in a hotel, however I continued mentioning the idea, determined to show him how great it can be. I wanted our little family to begin creating precious camping of our own. Recently, when friends invited us on a trip, Ben immediately said, “Great!”, and didn’t hesitate when I showed him the tent I wanted to purchase. I think he did it for Joan. Like most children, she adores the outdoors, and the thought of making her happy was reason enough to agree.
The tent of my childhood was large, green and canvas. It felt secure, spacious and cozy, and I wanted the same for our family. My friend Vanessa, who had invited us camping, raved about her Canvas Camp tent, a big, bell-shaped beauty, so I followed her lead. The weekend the tent arrived, we assembled it in our backyard. The set-up was straight forward and didn’t take long at all. As Ben and I secured the base, Joan skipped along the edge, announcing, “Hammer! Hammer!”. I had forgotten how satisfying it is to hammer tent poles into the ground. When it was up, we lay inside and marvelled at our portable home. I told Ben I could imagine Joan having backyard sleepovers with friends in the coming years, which made him smile. We both agreed we’d made the right purchase. This tent is not a couple of hundred dollars, it’s decently more than that, however we saw it as an investment in comfort and happiness, and a push to get out there and create memories – to camp often and to camp well. To help with the cost, I contacted the company and asked if they’d be keen to give a discount in exchange for some pictures here and on Instagram, and they kindly agreed. Well, upon Ben and my mum’s encouragement I contacted them. I’m not in the habit of asking for discounts, and I don’t enjoy doing it, but I asked politely and explained that I’d totally buy the tent regardless and they were casually cool about it all. I guess that’s a sign to put myself out there more? Perhaps. Anyway, there’s my full disclosure for you! If you’re considering purchasing one of these tents, I want you to know that it is the bee’s knees, and you will be thrilled. We bought the 5m variety, which is huge and gave us an incredible amount of space, even with our blow-up Queen bed from Aldi. I’m looking forward to making our tent even more homely on our next trip, perhaps with a little reading chair and table, and a cabinet for cups and pots.
So where did we camp? Vanessa found a stellar spot along the Blairgowrie foreshore that was an ideal mix of green, dirt and beach – the perfect, gentle introduction for our first family camping trip. On our camp stove, which we’d borrowed from my parents, we made meals of porridge (with dates and coconut milk), scrambled eggs (with toast cooked over the camp stove in one of these things) and pasta (with jarred pesto, spinach, canned chickpeas and tuna). We went into town for takeaway coffees and sipped them as our babes played in the sand. When the kids went to bed in the evening, we sat outside under twinkly lights with wine, cheese and chocolate. It was lovely. I’m pleased to say that Ben is now a camper. As much as I hoped he’d enjoy himself, I didn’t want to force my passion onto my husband, so it was wonderful to see him “get it” on his own. Relaxing in a chair with a mug of tea that he’d made by heating water over the camp stove, I saw him watching Joan. She was soaking up every inch of space, exploring the bushes and running around the camp site in waterproof pants, a cup of water in her dirty fingernail hands and wet shoes from running in the water. She was in her element and we were happy. This is indeed the start of something wonderful.