Just in case we hadn't quite filled our quota of weekends spent away from home, we were away AGAIN last weekend - this time, at an annual get-together with around 18 families from our eldest sons' school. That's over 40 parents and 55 kids, people.
I know. CRA-ZY!
The brainchild of my friend, Mary, three years ago, it's a weekend of highly organised chaos that Mary herself pretty much puts all together - including booking it, collecting money from everyone, putting together an extensive menu and carrying out a food shop. The weekend is filled with shared meals, outdoor activities, a little tennis, a large bonfire and heaps of marshmallows, a talent show, and lots and lots of champagne. (Natch. Can you imagine trying to get 55 kids to GO TO SLEEP!?)
It's held every year at Point Wolstoncroft - a Sport & Recreation Centre on Lake Macquarie - about an hour and a half's drive from Sydney. We drive up on Friday afternoon and stay through until Sunday. We take three lodges, all with six bedrooms each (everyone gets an ensuite) and a living area that includes long tables, an indoor bbq, kitchen, lounge and ping-pong table. We divide our time up between the lodges during meal times, preparing two dinners (Fri and Sat night), two lunches (Sat & Sun - although not everyone stays for lunch on the last day) and one cook-up for brekky (Sun). Kids eat first, then bed (in theory, anyway), and parents eat afterwards.
|Outside one of the lodges. The bush setting is gorgeous.|
|Our lodge. Big sliding doors allow the outdoors, in.|
|The nerve centre over the weekend - the indoor bbq.|
On Saturday, all the families do two activities, choosing from archery, rock climbing and a giant swing. (One year there was bush walking and canoeing, but the last two years we've only chosen from three - which is all you need.)
|The 7yr old rock climbing at Pt Wolstoncroft last year.|
This year, I had a bit of a dodgy shoulder blade (no idea what I've done to it), so I skipped the activities. Hubby took the boys, and I took advantage of the peace and quiet...
|A picnic rug, a cuppa, a good book and a beautiful view.|
To be honest, the weekend for me is equal parts pleasure and pain.
I LOVE that my kids spend the whole weekend outdoors, riding their bikes and playing with their friends - total free-range kind of fun that they just don't get in the city. Believe me, this weekend is the kind of stuff that childhood memories are made from. Every year, they can't WAIT to go.
I get to catch up with people that I mostly see in passing at the school gate (I especially love the dinners, and I'm fortunate that my kids are pretty good at heading off to bed without fuss), and we actually manage a full conversation. The kids are too busy enjoying themselves to be interrupting every few minutes.
On the flipside, even though all I have to do is turn up then pitch in a bit whilst I'm there - I have it easy compared to Mary! - I still find it a bit of work organising the packing. Clothes (and their clothes get filthy, so you need extras), bikes, bed linen (doonas & pillow are provided, but we take our own), towels, this and that - all for not quite three days.
The beds are just not our own beds, so no one sleeps properly and by the end of the weekend, we're all exhausted.
Never one for school camps as a kid, being surrounded by people constantly, and never quite having much privacy is a bit of a challenge for me. I'm a pretty social kinda gal, but the whole weekend is a really intense form of socialising. Even when you're in your room - the door closed - there's the very real possibility that another child will enter looking for your kids!
And even though it's a necessary evil when there are so many people involved, I'm not a fan of highly planned holidays. I like to go with the flow, you know? But you just can't on such a weekend.
So those things combined always have me dreading the trip each year.
However, once I'm there, it's all okay. (Well, apart from when the 4yr old kept sneaking off and I had to go on the hunt for him - he's just too young yet to go exploring on his own, especially when we're surrounded by water! Then on the Sat night he decided to grab a sparkler straight after it went out. Not good.)
It really is all worth it.
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Although I have at least three vlogs planned for you all, I just haven't found the time lately to sit down and film them. That's life.
However...I have been keeping my face on camera a little by filming a few vlogs for Kleenex Mums. I have three up there at the moment where I talk about Kids and the Internet: Kids and Facebook, Kids using the Internet at home and Five Tips to keep your kids safe on the Internet. Check all the videos out HERE!
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Last, but most certainly not least, I received an award this week from Sarah over at Sarsm's Blog - the Stylish Blogger Award (thanks again, Sarah!). 'Stylish' was not used in relation to my fashion sense. I guess puffer vests really aren't that popular after all. ;) But Sarah's words touched me and I'm just so chuffed.
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So, on the blog this week:
Tips for Ski Trips with The Kids - if you're off skiing soon, better check this out!
Write on Wednesdays - Character Building - I sunk my teeth in to describing Kate - the main character of the ongoing story I'm writing for this weekly writing task. Super fun!
Finding the Perfect Family Car - Toyota gave me a Kluger to play with for two weeks recently. Read what I liked, and didn't like about it. Hubby also gives his two cent's worth!
And on the recipe blog, I wrote a post on Do's and Don'ts for Dinner Parties.
What did you get up to this week?