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What We’re Reading and Viewing

How should one start a post about books?

Obviously…with a photo of a box of books.

This box got somewhat lost.

It took six weeks to find its way to my place

but it finally arrived…thankfully.

What was in it?

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Well, a sticker book for my nieces to play with at my brother’s wedding.

No, it didn’t arrive in time.  😦

I also got Robin McKinley’s book, “Shadow”.

I’d hoped to take this one to Adelaide with me.

Nope, that also didn’t happen, since it was travelling all around the country without me.

I also picked up two books from my wishlist –

Sylvie Well’s “My Guardian Angel” and “Elvina’s Mirror”.

These books are about the plight of the Jews at the hands of the Crusaders.

This story sounds intriguing.

I also bought the Emily books, written by L.M. Montgomery, the author of Anne of Green Gables.

Have you read them?

I’ve read and LOVED the Anne books but never read Emily’s story

so I plan on fixing that.

And, finally,

(yes it was a big order – the last before our government added even more taxes to our lives)

I bought Dante’s “Inferno” and a book to help me understand it, “A Beginner’s Guide to Dante’s Divine Comedy”.

I chose Anthony Esolen’s translation after looking through different translations and finding Esolen’s to be my favourite.

I’m enjoying Inferno more than I imagined that I would.

You should definitely try it if you haven’t already.

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Okay, time to talk about the books we’ve read.

Recently, we finished reading “Leaving Glorytown: One Boy’s Struggle Under Castro”.

This book was really eye-opening.

It’s the true story of the author’s childhood in Cuba under Castro’s oppressive regime.

Do you know anything about Cuba under Castro’s Communist government?

I knew virtually nothing before this book.

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We also read about Carl Linnaeus, the guy who organised the system of classification that we use for plants and animals.

We started with this darling picture book, “Karl, Get Out of the Garden”.

(Picture books are a great way of getting a quick overview of a topic.)

Then, we read one of the Great Minds of Science books on Linnaeus.

It’s a fascinating story.  Imagine renaming every plant and animal on Earth!

This story will also help you remember the order of all those phylums, genuses and kingdoms.

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We’ve also been reading about Australia’s Democratic System

in preparation for a trip to Canberra.

This (pictured below) was a great overview of our system.

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Since we’re heading to a performance of Hamlet in a couple of weeks,

we also read a children’s edition of the play.

If you are looking for a great illustrated version,

get this one by Bruce Coville.

In fact, all of the Bruce Coville Shakespeare’s books are fantastic.

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After reading the abridged story, we watched several Hamlet movies.

(The Mel Gibson version will always be my favourite.)

We also watched “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead”

as we’re seeing a performance of that as well.

Have you read or see this play?

All I can say is that I hope the play is better than the movie.

Tom Stoppard should have left Shakespeare’s play alone.

He totally massacred a classic

and we didn’t find it funny at all.

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Last week, we also watched a movie version of the Eureka Stockade.

This dvd was great.  It was an old black and white classic.

The older movies are always better history teachers.

They focus on history rather than turning everything into some sort of love story.

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The other week I bought the newly published book, “Mephisto”

We have been waiting for ages for this book.

Well, not exactly this book.

We didn’t know that it was in the works.

We have just always wanted a book with further information about the Mephisto.

We have a little museum guide and that has had to suffice up until now.

Oh, sorry, you might not know what the Mephisto is.

It’s a WW1 German tank that was disabled and taken as a souvenir by Australian soldiers.

It’s also the only WW1 German tank left in the world

and it’s housed at the Brisbane Museum, when it’s not off travelling.

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Currently, we’re working through Ken Burn’s “The West” dvd series.

I really like Ken Burn’s documentaries,

although the boys are finding this series a little dry.

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Hmmm…I wonder what the postman will bring me this week

and what’s ready to pick up from the library.

🙂

 
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Posted by on August 12, 2018 in My Library

 

Adelaide and a Wedding

Last month, we went on a little trip south to Adelaide.

We were heading there for my brother’s wedding

but decided to stay a few extra days to check out the city.

Now, first, let me tell you,

that Adelaide truly is the city of churches…at least in the city centre.

My golly gosh!  There were so many!

And it was not uncommon to see a couple of churches in a row.

Yes, side by side!

Oh and they were beautiful churches.

Actually, there were lots of beautiful historic buildings.

Hats off to Adelaide and their foresight and determination to protect their heritage buildings.

With all of their beautiful buildings, mixed with plenty of green spaces, Adelaide was a really pretty place to visit.

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We had only one complaint about Adelaide and it’s a major one.

Adelaidians can not drive!

Or, at the very least, the drivers we experienced in Adelaide had little regard for others on the road.

They just changed lanes without checking if anyone was beside them, many of them without even bothering to indicate!

Even buses did it!  (We also saw a city bus, full of passengers, go straight through a red light!)

Driving in Adelaide, for us, was a nerve racking experience,

The whole time, we drove expecting that, at any moment, the car beside us would change into us.

So, for us, Adelaide was a stressful place to visit.

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Now, back to the nice parts of Adelaide.

Their museum was gorgeous. Clearly a lot of money has been spent…well spent.

(Hear that Brisbane Museum, yet another museum that is nicer than you!  But I digress…)

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The museum makes use of a number of buildings, one of which is a gorgeous heritage building.

It was lovely and a piece of history on display as much as the artifacts in the cabinets.

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The old display cabinets haven’t been tossed aside in favour of ‘new but not beautiful’ cabinets.

Adelaidians know how to preserve history.

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Our only complain about the museum was the almost total unrepresentation of colonial history.

There was a huge focus on Pacific and Aboriginal cultures,

but very little on South Australia’s colonial history.

We’d wanted to learn more about how South Australia, the colony, came to be,

but, we went home none the wiser.

Come to think of it, the Brisbane Museum is the same.

In Australian museums, where is the British heritage that makes up a part of our history.

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However, we did enjoy the Pacific cultures exhibits.

There’s a lot of beauty in their artifacts.

Cultures that value beauty enough to include it in even their practical implements are to be esteemed.

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I have to say though.  Even beauty isn’t going to make this ‘pillow’ comfortable.

Thank you to whoever come up with the idea of soft fluffy pillows.

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Our favourite displays from the Aboriginal exhibits are always the dot paintings.

But, just recently, I found out that dot paintings, as we see them, aren’t ‘traditional’ art,

but, instead, only begin in the 1970s.

Yes, seriously.  Google it.  I was shocked too.

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Speaking of things I like, look at these squirrels.

I loooove squirrels.

Sadly, Australia has none.  😦

Squirrels are much more interesting to watch than koalas, who simply sleep all day.

Yes, I’d swap for them.

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In Adelaide Museum, there was a whole taxidermy exhibit displaying animals from different regions.

We hadn’t even heard of some of the animals,

but we’re not animal people so that doesn’t really surprise me.

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The discovery room is always a popular museum location.

They keep all the creepy yet cool stuff there.

Check this out – a shingleback lizard with twins!

Cool!!

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Even dead, this shark is fearsome-looking.

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Yes, son, he could probably swallow you whole, although he prefers to nibble or chew.

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The exhibit I was most looking forward to was the Douglas Mawson exhibit.

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We’d read up about him and his fateful expedition, before heading to Adelaide

(and we are keen to see the hut replica in Hobart).

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I can’t even imagine what it is truly like in Antarctica.

Yes, it’s cold, obviously, but it’s also windy.

The average wind speed is 69km/h!

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Hubby’s favourite exhibits are always to be found in rooms related to Ancient History

so he was excited to find that Adelaide has a room dedicated solely to Ancient Egypt.

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The museum has two complete mummies and the sarcophagus for one of them.

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At first I thought some of the artifacts must be replicas.

I mean, how would South Australia have received such artifacts to keep.

But, on closer inspection, I found that just about everything was authentic.

So I had to find out more.

I discovered that, in 1890, the South Australia governor commissioned Reverend William Roby Fletcher

to acquire ancient artifacts from London and Cairo.

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I also found this quote written by Fletcher in 1892 in “Egyptian Sketches”

(which I may have to read in its entirety as the snippets I read were fascinating!),

“This body snatching is a curious business. It is an odd sensation to stand on a mound of rubbish and see bits of dirty sponge-like stuff, and shreds of cerements and human bones lying all about.  You pick up one of these spongy bits and find that it is fibrous muscular tissue.  You get interested and poke into the sand, and then, turning around, see a youngster holding a head in his hands, which he wants to sell you for 10 or 20 piastres, or the hand of some nameless beauty torn from her mummy…Somehow one gets over the awkwardness of one’s feelings, and is quite ready to pocket a rare scarab, or an amulet, or a papyrus roll if fortunate enough to get one…”

This extract may explain why there were ‘bits’ of mummies’ bodies also on display.

Can you see the mummified hands and feet in the photo?

There are also mummified cats next to them.

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Despite it’s macabre origin, we still loved the Egyptian room.

It was totally fascinating.

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Of course, we didn’t spend our whole holiday at the museum.

We also visited the Mall’s Balls.

All of the tourist sites said it was a must see.

Ummm…peoples.  Why?!

This is not an attraction.

It’s just a sculpture.

We snapped the obligatory photo and moved on

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…to the real attraction on the mall – the bookstore!

The Dymocks in Rundle Mall is to die for.

The children’s section goes on and on.

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But the fun didn’t end there!

This bookstore had TWO storeys.

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I was so overwhelmed with glee that I found it hard to focus on what I wanted to buy.

But I found this treasure and was delighted.

It was a good read.

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While in Adelaide, we also visited the zoo.

The meerkats were at the top of our must see creatures.

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Adelaide Zoo has a meerkat that is losing her colouring and turning white.

There is a sign at the exhibit that explains that she turned white over only a few months,

but that no one knows why.

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Apparently, in all other regards, she seems healthy enough.

How interesting.

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The monkeys also impressed us.

Who doesn’t love the monkeys?!

These fellows were swinging from branch to branch and tree to tree,

putting on quite a display.

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Birds don’t ordinarily impress me but this Golden Pheasant really caught my attention.

What a beautifully coloured bird!

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Of course, you can’t visit Adelaide Zoo without checking out Australia’s only pandas.

They are only on loan to Adelaide for ten years, which means that their time here is almost up.

(They arrived in 2009).

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When we arrived at the exhibit, Wang Wang and Fu Ni were waiting in their glass enclosures

for their keepers to do whatever they were doing in their outdoor enclosures.

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But, we didn’t have to wait long for them to be released.

Don’t they look so cute and cuddly.

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Yes, we have to remind ourselves that they are bears, with big teeth and big claws.

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Okay, enough tourist stuff.

Onto the wedding, the whole purpose for our visit to South Australia.

It was held out in wine country at this gorgeous old church.

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This church is the only one in Australia that has a crypt built beneath it.

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Don’t my ‘not so little’ men scrub up well.

What you can’t see is that one of these boys,

who will remain nameless,

didn’t realise that there was cardboard under the collar of his new shirt

and so he spent the whole day and night wearing cardboard around his neck.

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You see, I wasn’t there to inspect their appearance before leaving the cottage.

I’d dashed off to help my brother-in-law dress and care for his three daughters

(as my sister was in the bridal party).

My nieces are, of course, adorable.

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I mean, check out this sweetie.

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The same sweetie who fell fast asleep during the ceremony in a matter of two minutes.

I left her to go and do a reading for the service and came back to sleeping beauty.

Yes, in this exact position.

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The service continued nicely while she slept and my brother married my new sister.

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And, at the end of this holiday,

I had another married sibling

and I had visited another Australian capital city.

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Posted by on August 12, 2018 in Family Events, Family Life, Field Trips, Geography

 

Term Two Review

Oh how I am failing at blogging this year.

I have no good excuses.

Blogging just hasn’t been happening.

So what have we been doing this past term?

Well, first of all, we’ve been sneaking in as many visits of my new niece as possible.

Isn’t she cute?

These are a handful of the hundreds of shots I took of her.
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This is one of my favourites.

She wasn’t a keen model.

She just wanted to sleep and her mother and I just wanted to pose and photograph her.

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Then she woke up and gave us some more cute shots.

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She was only a couple of weeks old in these shots

so this isn’t a ‘real’ smile but boy does it look like it.

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She’s now about three months old

and coming out of that newborn fog

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and interacting more with the people around her.

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Her big sister, Miss Two, is also growing.

Growing in personality and attitude.

I love this age.

(And she loved the kidney beans activity I set up for her.)
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These girls love my boys

and my boys idolise these little girls.

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Moment like these (below) just melt my heart. 

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The other day I had my first school experience.

I took my eldest niece to her first sports carnival.

Watching her run her little race made my eyes well up with tears of pride.

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My own not-so-little munchkins have also been hard at work.

We’ve been digging into trigonometry this term.

I like it a whole lot more than I did when I was at school.

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The boys (one in particular) are loving their graphing calculator.

I still feel faint at the cost…of two of them!

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Of course, it wouldn’t be my house if we weren’t reading.

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We read lots of books this term (as always) but a highlight was this book about the Lebensborn program.

If you don’t know anything about it, “Hitler’s Forgotten Children” is an informative read.

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We also read about Eva Mozes and Dr Mengele.

You have to watch her dvd “Forgiving Dr Mengele”.

It was fantastic.

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We also read “Gulliver’s Travels”.

It was our dud read of the term.

I had been really looking forward to it, but, now that we’ve read it, I don’t recommend it to others.

I totally understand why the book has been abridged for children.

Not a fan and I had really wanted to be.

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We also read the whole Egyptian Mummies souvenir guide from the museum.

No, we haven’t been to the exhibit yet.

We just always read the guides before we visit.

I know.  We’re weird.

Hopefully we’ll get to the exhibition during the holidays,

which are quickly filling to the brim.

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My favourite documentary this term was “How the States Got Their Shapes”.

It was fascinating.

I learned so many new things.

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Oh and I read this delightful little junior fiction novel to myself.

I totally loved it.

Reading bugs, lots of great book references and a library to save – what’s not to love!!

Hubby is going to read it to his grade two class next term.

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Actually, there’s been lots of book action this term.

I’ve been book culling, cleaning and shuffling again.

I got rid of a whole pile of junior non-fiction that the boys had grown out of

and that I didn’t love enough to keep in the house.

Don’t panic, only one of those six empty shelves were left totally empty by the time I was finished.

I haven’t totally lost my mind.

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Of course, a book decluttering means that there are spaces to fill

so of course I have been to the Lifeline Bookfest.

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I didn’t buy a huge amount though.

I bought a bag full for my nieces

and this tidy little pile for our own shelves.

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I don’t tend to buy much at the Lifeline sales anymore.

I prefer to buy exactly what I want from online bookstores.

For instance, these Richard Maybury books that complete my collection of his books.

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Or this lovely new book from Living Books Press.

I just love how they present their books in brown paper, twine and a wax seal.

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Or any one of these glorious books that are in my ‘to read’ pile.

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Oh I have to recommend this title – “In the Land of the Blue Burqas”.

I just finished reading it last week (and another of the author’s books, “Farewell, Four Waters”).

I had to rush out and buy a paperback copy of it to read to my boys next term.

It’s brilliant.

It’s about a Christian aid worker who goes to Afghanistan and her interactions with her Muslim neighbours.

If you want to be reminded of how good our God is, read this book.

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This term I’ve also been busy with schole for the mumma.

Yes, the homeschooling mother should also be learning and stretching her mind.

I’m almost finished “Saving Leonardo”.

I highly highly recommend this book to fellow Christians.

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Check out the view from where I sometimes meet with friends to discuss books.

How distracting is that view!

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The boys have also been to more QUT Stem workshops.

This last workshop was on robotic arms.

The boys loved it.

We have several more of these workshops in coming months.

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Plenty of technology has been happening in our home this term.

The boys have been steadily working through Arduino tasks.

Ethan does the programming and Brayden does the electronics.

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Yes, yes, I let my homeschooled kids out of the house sometimes too.  🙂

I let them mow the backyard at least fortnightly!!  🙂

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And we head to different parks to let them run wild with friends every week.

The other day we were at this park (below) for six hours!!

It’s just trees and space to run and play but we love it.

I had a dear U.S. friend visit and we sat at this park and talked and talked until the sun was on the way down

and we were concerned that our husbands might send out search parties.

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Ah, it’s been a very good term.

And next term is going to be huge.

We have more travel planned.

Nothing overseas this time

…unless you count the Bass Strait as ‘overseas’.

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on June 30, 2018 in Family Life, Homeschooling Days

 

Easter Holidays and Beyond

Well, the Easter holidays have been and gone

and I’ve been totally slack with my blogging…again.

But I do have some ‘what-I-think-are’ valid excuses.

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On Easter day, we spent the day with family,

in particular, my little nieces Miss Aria, 5, and Miss Evie 2.

Their mother was in hospital overnight for her pregnancy to be monitored

so we made sure these little people had a lovely day.

Isn’t Miss Evie a cherub?

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I could just eat her up, she’s so cute.

I love the two year old attitude.

There’s nothing ‘terrible’ about it.

The twos are terrific.

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It’s when their little characters start showing themselves.

(Evie got annoyed with my picture taking

so she decided to snap a picture of me in return.)

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Then, at lunch, the girls’ daddy arrived to see them

and tell them that they got something extra special for Easter –

a new baby sister

(just a smidge undercooked at 33 weeks).

Her name is Isla (the ‘s’ is silent)

and she was 2.5 kg (which is 5lbs 8oz)

(She’s actually only 4 ozs smaller than Ethan was at birth.

They are the same length, although her head is a centimetre bigger,

but she is uncooked and Ethan’s cooking timer was complete.)

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So I spent the beginning of my holidays hunting for 00000 outfits for little Isla.

That was fun!!

I used to fret that I’d never get to buy sweet little girl things since I had boys,

but, with three nieces to spoil, I can have all the pink and purple fun that I want.

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We also spent a chunk of time over the holidays,

helping babysit the two bigger girls

while their parents spent their days and night with little Isla.

(This is why you need to live close to family if you can.)

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We took the girls to the Ipswich Art Gallery for their holiday program

but it was terrible this time around.

It’s the only ‘bad’ thing we’ve attended there.

There was hardly anything to do

and a really long wait for the main event

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…a disco climbing web.

which Miss Aria didn’t even want to climb in once she saw it.

‘Her boys’, as she calls my Little Men, weren’t allowed on due to age restrictions

and she wasn’t going on by herself

so that hour of waiting was a total bust.

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To redeem the day, we went for ice-cream

and a little play in the shopping centre playground.

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It always amazes me what these little people can get my teenage boys to do.

How many 16 year old boys would climb into a playground boat with a two year old?

He was helping her climb around in the boat

and taking whatever orders Miss Evie dished out.

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Secretly, I think Brayden enjoys the opportunity to play as a little kid again.

He really gets into the girls’ imaginative games.

Here they’re checking for ‘cocodills’ (Evie’s word) in the water

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Anyone who walked through the playground,

Evie would warn them about the dangerous cocodills.

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During the holidays, we also had the Commonwealth Games.

It was pretty much a non-event in regards to all the hassle they’d warned us about.

The Coast resembled a ghost town and driving places was a pleasure.

Hubby even went with a friend to a couple of events.

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Over the holidays, we also drove out to Goondiwindi,

a 4.5 hour drive from our place.

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We drove out there to visit Hubby’s Grandmother, the boys Great Grandmother,

who is almost 98 now.

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Hubby spent a lot of time in Goondiwindi growing up

as his grandmother had a massive sheep farm just outside of town in New South Wales.

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If you didn’t know already, Goondiwindi is on the Queensland and New South Wales border.

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The border is the Macintyre River

and this old bridge takes you across to New South Wales.

Yes, our trip included a trip to New South Wales.

We always drive across and back

just so we can say that we took an interstate holiday.  🙂


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The motel we stayed in was a dump though.

(I won’t name names as that’s just mean.  Perhaps they are doing their best.)

No, it wasn’t our first choice; the better places were full for some reason.

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I actually liked the layout of the rooms.

The family room had two decent rooms, each with a tv, and a bathroom.

I just didn’t like the condition of the rooms.

Our air conditioner could very well have come off Noah’s Ark.

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The furnishings were in desperate need of repair.

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And my personal ‘favourite’ was the bedside lamp they expected me to sleep next to all night.

(I didn’t, by the way.  I put it on the floor.)

Check out the dust on that thing.

Yes, both were as bad as each other.

But, we survived.

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On the way back home,

(Why are the return trips the longest and most boring?!)

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we stopped in at Toowoomba to check out the Da Vinci Machines exhibition

at the Cobb and Co Museum.

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We’ve been to this exhibition before when the boys were much younger

and to be honest that presentation of it was much better.

The Cobb and Co Museum didn’t seem to have the ideal space for the exhibition.

There were a few dedicated corners of Da Vinci exhibits

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but a number of the exhibits were scattered all through the museum,

making it somewhat like a hunt.

But we enjoyed our time there anyway.

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The exhibition wasn’t focused on Da Vinci’s artworks,

although there were a few key reproductions included.

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It was focused on his ingenious inventions

which have been built as models for this exhibition.

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Although the boys were much younger when they first visited this exhibition,

it surprised me that they remembered a number of the exhibits.

This Archimedes Screw was one of their favourites, then and now.

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Not all of the exhibits were hands on,

but quite a number of them were

so it’s a great exhibition for both young and old.

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We’d never been to the Cobb and Co Museum in Toowoomba before

so we took a little time to check out their displays.

I was really astounded at the sheer height of the coaches.

This picture doesn’t do it justice.

Suffice it to say that, standing next to this coach, I could not see inside it.

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They say that EIGHT people fit inside this coach.

From what I could see, you’d only comfortable fit two people on each of the two seats inside,

but I think they must have squeezed three on each.

Imagine that with your great big dresses with all its layers.

Oh and two passengers would have to travel up with the driver.

That would have been the best view but I suspect you’d end up rather dusty.

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Oh and my favourite thing at the museum was these energy dome things.

There were three of them and I wanted to take them all back to the Brisbane Science Centre.

They were so cool.

Much better than the plasma ball they have at the Science Centre.

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Before we left the museum, I had to take a picture of the tree in the car park.

It was huge.

(Why do photos never show extreme sizes very well?

Am I just taking the photos wrong?!

I’ve actually been working on my photography

and have only used the manual settings all holidays.

I’m pretty impressed with myself.)

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Back home, we got on with the mundane stuff.

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Yes, there were book parcels received during these holidays.

I mean, of course!!  🙂

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We also received daily photo updates of Miss Isla.

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Baby Isla was kept in hospital for a couple of weeks

until she was breathing well on her own

and feeding properly.

Then she went home to her sisters.

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And Aunty Tracey went for a visit too

…and a cuddle of course.

Baby Isla is perfect.

(I love this photo I took of her.

It’s my favourite.)

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She just needs to do some growing to fill in all her old lady wrinkles of skin.

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The day we visited, Miss Evie was delighted to have her boys come and play with her.

Not sure the boys felt the same way about spending all day with a two year old,

but they survived and it’s good future dad training for them.

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Somehow Miss Evie even got the boys playing dolls in the doll house!

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Oh I haven’t shown you the doll house, have I?

My dad made it for Aria’s 5th birthday.

Yes, that’s a solar panel on the roof

…I mean, of course.

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The solar panel runs all the lights inside the doll house.

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Those drawers at the bottom pull out

to reveal additional spaces.

One is a backyard pool area and the other is for storage.

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Oh and most of the furniture and trinkets in the house

were 3D printed especially for the house by my brother.

My mum made all the soft furnishings and did the wallpapering.

(Yes, that’s Frozen on the Samsung tv.)

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Check out the 3D printed bathroom.

Yes, even the toilet and the toilet paper.

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Um, yes, I might also have spent some time playing in this doll house with Evie.

And, no, I might not have been doing it for her enjoyment.

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Anyway, now the holidays are over and we are already two weeks into the new term.

We started the term with two full days of STEM workshops at QUT.

The first day the boys did a wind power energy workshop

and the second day they did a bionic arm workshop.

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Sadly, I don’t have many photos of the workshops.

The mums don’t get to go inside with them,

which is a good ‘classroom’ experience for the teens,

but it means we have to rely on the photos the teens take for us.

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Both days, the boys also participated in different Cube activities.

(The Cube is a giant two storey touchscreen interactive experience).

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Anyway, that brings me up-to-date with now.

And, on that note, I better go and do some planning for the week ahead.

🙂