School holidays are upon us.

I often hear parents complaining that they are dreading the school holidays. I don’t know whether I’ll be one of those parents in the future, though I suspect that being a teacher makes you dread them less. My Mum always LOVED the school holidays. She said she planned all the adventures we’d have well ahead of time. She’s a great Mum. I hope to be a Mum like that in the future, but I can also imagine that all that time together, especially during the winter holidays, could really drag.

These holidays I am planning some adventures. BP has the time off from studies, too, so we can spend some fun time as a family. I hope to visit the local reservoir to check out the kangaroos (and the play ground, of course) and we’d like to make the most of Little Fearse’s membership to the swimming pool by spending a little time there. I’d also like to have another go at edible finger paint now she’s a little older.

I’ve been reading about many other great holiday ideas, mainly for older kids. If you’re facing two weeks with your school age kids maybe some of these cheap and fun activities will float your boat:

And if you’re from Melbourne, too, and want some ideas for fun outings here are some really comprehensive lists.

If you’re from somewhere else, I bet there is a website dedicated to your city, too. Don’t forget to look on your local council website or around your area. There are so many free activities from moonlight cinemas to crafting and cooking workshops. It’s amazing how well children are catered for if you really look for it.

Get Googling!

Happy holidays,

Mama xoxox

Great literary holiday reads.

My school holidays are coming up and I’m looking forward to some extra reading time. Those of you who have been reading along will remember that I’m ‘self educating’ with the classics of last century through three book lists.

I’ve read a good number of the books on these lists already, as I started reading from them in 2001, just a year after they were published. Here is a list of ten books from these lists that I would recommend as engaging and quick holiday reads for any other lucky people who are about to embark on a few weeks break.

1. The Great Gatsby – F.Scott Fitzgerald

I really love F. Scott Fitzgerald and enjoy all his books, but The Great Gatsby is one of my all time favourites. This really is a short and engaging read. The best thing about reading this now is that you can then indulge in seeing the film at the cinema straight away.

2. Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown

One of my friends, upon finishing this book, declared that if it had been 100 pages longer she would have given up men for good. I tend to agree. This book is compelling – I think it took me a day to read.

3. The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

This book was a lovely lyrical read and only took me a day or two to finish while on holidays in New York.

4. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by Frank L. Baum

You think you know this story, but then… there are a few details in the original story that were altered for the film. Reading this really surprised me. It’s an enjoyable read and a good one to share with the kids.

5. 1984 by George Orwell

This is certainly not a heartening story (it gave me nightmares when I first read it), but it doesn’t take long to get through. The synopsis is pretty well known these days, but the details are really intense.

6. A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway

I read this in the last couple of weeks, while writing school reports. I raced through it fairly rapidly considering. Hemingway really is a sensational writer and this story is a wonderful read.

7. A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

This really is a slender volume and I have to admit that although it is on my shelves I still haven’t read it! I might get stuck into it these holidays myself.

8. Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg

What an awesome book. You will read this quickly because I guarantee you won’t be able to put it down.

9. The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver

This is a beautiful story that I also read very quickly because I couldn’t put it down. I read this pre-Little Fearse so I was able to read until all hours of the night. I’d like to read it again some day (and I never re-read books).

10. Slaughterhouse-Five  by Kurt Vonnegut

This book is a little macabre with a steady vein of humour. It’s a very short, bizarre book. I remember enjoying it thoroughly.

Which literary books have you enjoyed during your holidays?

Happy (nearly) holidays and happy reading,

Mama xo

Holiday houses and dust bunnies.

This week I visited my parents’ holiday house for the second time this year, but the first time since I started to do some serious reading on minimalism. It gave me a good opportunity to examine how my thinking has changed.

I have always loved spending time there – it’s in a quiet area, by a rocky beach.  The TV doesn’t get turned on much, and if my parents are there we will almost always play a game of cards after dinner. There are rock pools, bays and surf within walking distance. As the weather turns cool a view of the ocean out the front forms a back drop for endless hours of book reading. It’s a simple place to be.

What I noticed this time, however, was that holiday houses tend to become a retirement home for our stuff. Somewhere between usefulness and the junk yard these items find their way into cupboards, shelves and drawers in our holiday homes. I found myself itching to return the jars of shells to the beach and gather up the dusty books, unread for so many years, to be donated to the local book sale. I peeked into each nook and cranny in my old bedroom and was horrified to find the junk I’d transferred there as a ten year old still remained. I spent some time throwing away balls of old blue tack and rusty paper clip chains. There was a bottle of deodorant at least 15 years old. Who knows how long the moisturiser had been there?

Driving by many other holiday homes I spied through windows dusty vases on sills, whole rooms of standing fans, sunrooms overfilled with cane furniture and dusty house plants. It seems that the holiday house phenomenon is not particular to my parents’ house.

Once I would have seen the charm in these dust catchers. I don’t any more. I’m not sure whether to spend some time mourning the loss of that part of who I am. This really is a major shift in my mindset, and not something I expected at all from the BNN year. While this is something that is certainly exciting it’s also left me feeling a little sad. I hope when I am done with my decluttering and the 2-4-1 challenge ends I don’t look around and feel a little empty.

Three steps forward, two steps back.

Mama xo

A holiday library

Suspecting we might be housebound for our week away, BP and I took a quiet moment (Little Fearse’s last day at child care) and visited our local library.

Seven board books  for Little Fearse to explore all on her own (and hopefully not chew too much).

With an attempt at a bit of a sea theme, since we were holidaying by the seaside.

With an attempt at a bit of a sea theme, since we were holidaying by the seaside.

Eleven ‘children’s’ CDs for a little family dance-a-thon and some bad car trip singing.

Looking forward to seeing some new Little Fearse dance moves. She’s recently graduated from the simple knee bend to a bit of a side shuffle with an arm thrown into the air occasionally for good measure.

Looking forward to seeing some new Little Fearse dance moves. She’s recently graduated from the simple knee bend to a bit of a side shuffle with an arm thrown into the air occasionally for good measure.

Twelve unknown picture story books for Mama and Poppa to read to Little Fearse.

We find that reading a new story book to Little Fearse is, so far, even more exciting for us than for her.

We find that reading a new story book to Little Fearse is, so far, even more exciting for us than for her.

Since we didn’t even have to see a librarian with the new-fangled self check -out desks BP said he felt a little like he was stealing, walking out of there with two arm loads of books and CDs without parting with a cent. I have sometimes felt sad about the demise of the library, but you know what? The library was teeming with people – grandparents reading with their grandchildren, young kids playing video games (wha?), teenagers studying, people surfing the ‘net and perusing the extensive DVD collection. Some people were even borrowing books.

Libraries are alive and well. When did you last visit yours?

Mama xo