Sunday, July 31, 2011


I have decided to do a blog about the cakes I have made. All of these I have either made on my own, or collaborated with someone more skilled than myself. I will try to explain each one.

This first cake is Diddy's Christening cake. It is white chocolate mud cake with white choc ganache and strawberry choc decorations. I decided to do chocolate decorations because I don't like eating sugar decorations and making them is so tedious. If I am going to invest a large amount of my time making decorations then they had better taste nice when I'm finished!!! Taste is more important to me than appearance. After all, it's what is inside that counts!!!

Kristy deserves the credit for Rohan's 3rd birthday cake. Even though I was the one who found the picture in a magazine and spent hours making the little cakes (50 in total, we had a combined party and Jago had a cake that was in the shape of a 2), Kristy was the one who put together the little teddies in the cars. It took her hours and she spent the entire time whingeing about it. But she did do a fantastic job!! They look so cute.

I decided to do a camping cake for Rohan's first birthday. I googled and googled and could not find anything suitable to copy so I used bits and pieces from pictures of cakes I found and threw in some of my own ideas. I was quite pleased with the outcome!

This next cake was the first and last time I made sugar flowers. Actually, I lie. I was MEANT to make the sugar flowers but mum and Kristy ended up doing most of them because the chalky feeling of them made my blood run cold. Mum gave Kris and I a lesson and I spent more time complaining than I did flower making. I think mum had to rework all the flowers I made anyway. The cake tasted delicious and for all the hours we spent making those stupid little flowers, I think they were chucked in the bin. I have not met anyone who likes to eat them. It was after this cake that I vowed never to waste so much time on aesthetically pleasing things that taste like crap again!!!

This is the cake I am most proud of. I made it for mum's 6oth birthday. The cake itself is caramel mud cake with white chocolate ganache. The photo is made from icing. You can upload your pic on to a website and they turn it into icing. Kristy spent about 40 minutes trying to get the picture on to the cake. It was soooo difficult!!! The two cakes are massive. They don't look like much here, but they are huge. Just making the cake alone was a 1 day job. Then making the frangipani's took me another whole day. I'm sure if you were the type of person who is not easily distracted then you could probably accomplish making them in a much shorter time though. Luckily Aunty Barbra was on hand to help me ice the cake. She did the piping around the edges as I had neither the hand strength, technique nor inclination to learn either to do the job. It was a mammoth task to ice it. I had my cousin melting chocolate and James's mum giving me colouring tips. But it turned out to be spectacular!! Worth every man hour I reckon!!

You will notice that I am quite fond of decorating cakes with chocolate. I think it comes from my love of chocolate!! This dinosaur cake was made for Kristy's belated 10th birthday (it was very much belated. I think it was 17 years late!!). Kristy has never let anyone in the family forget that her 10th birthday was overlooked. So we decided that to stop her constantly bringing it up we would throw her a belated one. As she was into Jurassic park when she was 10 I did a dinosaur themed cake. It is just a basic mudcake with a white chocolate dinosaur. I made the dinosaur by drawing a picture of a raptor on baking paper and then painting it with white chocolate. Once it has hardened you just pop it on the cake. Easy!!

Koby's christening was the day after mum's 60th birthday so his cake was just thrown together. I had pre-made the cake and the chocs so all we did was slop a bit of ganache on and pop the choccies on top. It doesn't look anywhere near as good as it tasted!!!

Kylah had a Wiggly Party for her third birthday so I just bought a cake topper for her cake. Those things are such a pain in the rear to get on a cake. Not much to say about this one.....

We took Kylah to Sea World to swim with the dolphins for her 7th birthday so her cake was sea and dolphin themed. The chocolates are coloured with special powder you buy specifically for colouring chocolates. I also used strawberry oil in them to make them extra delicious.

Another one of Kylah's cakes!!! Although I guess out of all my children she has had the most birthdays! This is 3 round butter cakes stacked on top of each other. It took my sister in law, Eliza, and I about 5 hours to make. The amount of butter in this cake is insane!!!

Kylah's fourth birthday was a Thomas theme. Yes, Kylah was right into Thomas at four. I think I copied this one from the womans weekly kids cake book.

Kylah's first birthday cake. This butterfly was HUGE. It took me forever to do but worked out pretty well. It was very tasty!!!

Jazzy's 5th birthday cake. Jazzy was supposed to have a pony party for her 5th birthday but it got rained out. She is horse obsessed so I decided to make her a horse cake. I had delegated the job of cake making to Ben, but at the 11th hour he made a deal with me that he would do all the housework if he didn't have to make the cake. It was only 1 week since I had left hospital after having Didabell and I was in no condition to do housework so I accepted the deal. Luckily it didn't take too long to make.

These are just little cupcakes that Kylah and Jazzy took to dancing one week to share with their friends. They have chocolate roses on top. Yummo!!!

Jago's first birthday cake. A piggy. I could have done a better one but I wanted it to kind of match with the ducky cake for Rohan's second birthday and the cow cake for mum's 59th birthday (the three of them had a combined party). The duckie and cow cake should be below somewhere. I think the piggy cake was a butter cake with butter cream icing. I made the cakes in advance and froze them so all I had to do the day before the party was ice them. It took mum and I a good 6 hours to ice the three cakes. And by the time we got to the last cake, the cow, we were so over it that we did a pretty crappy job!!

Here is Rohan's duckie cake. And it is bleepingly obvious that mum and I ran out of steam when we started the cow cake. It is a bit of a disappointment.

The one and only cake made solely by Ben. Jazzy's 3rd birthday was a mermaid cake. I copied the idea from someone on facebooks pictures of their child's birthday. I'm not sure where they got the idea from. But it was a big hit. Well done Ben!!!!

Jazzy's second birthday was cup cakes decorated with flowers. The flowers are made out of marshmellows and smarties.

Jazzy had a My Little Pony cake for her 4th birthday. She was/is Pony mad!!! Again, those icing pictures are so painful to work with. I do not recommend them at all!!!!!! They don't taste very nice either.

Jasmines 1st birthday cake. This was much harder to make than it looks. I had left it till the last minute because I had been so consumed with Kristy's wedding, Jazzy being ill with a feeding tube, me being in intensive care with bird flu.... crazy times!!! But mum helped me put this cake together at the 11th hour and it turned out ok.

Kylah's 6th birthday cake. This is supposed to be a dancer on her cake made from chocolate and mosaic-ed with broken freckles. I was feeling quite artistic at the time!! The idea and execution was all done by me!

I plan to keep adding pics to this post with my latest cakes. Or maybe I will have to wait a year or two and then do a cakes#2!! post. I love making cakes and plan the children's birthday cakes months in advance. I'm sure a lot of people moan about how I go overboard with the kids birthdays (and I do admit the jumping castle AND petting zoo at Rohan and Jago's 2nd and 1st bday might have been a tad overkill) but I really don't see the harm in making their birthday's fun and enjoyable for everyone.

When my kids are older they are going to look back and have so many wonderful memories from their birthday parties. Heck, I'm sure a lot of other kids are going to look back and have so many wonderful memories from my kids birthday parties. I get just as much enjoyment from planning the ultimate day for them and the perfect cake each year as they do from experiencing it. I truly believe that you can't spoil a child by giving them things or planning elaborate parties. I believe you can spoil a child by accepting rude or bad behaviour. I don't believe my children act spoilt and they have a LOT of toys and always have huge birthday parties. It is because we teach them to appreciate what they have and never to expect anything from anyone.

Anyway it is late at night and this post has taken me a lot longer than what I had planned. I didn't realise I had made so many cakes over the years!!!


(since I have written this blog I have added a few more pics.  The first one is the cake from Rohan & Jago's combined party - Snips and snails and puppy dog tails themed cake.  The second one is from Diddy's 1st birthday party, which was nursery rhyme themed.  The third is Jazzy's smash open cake.  )

Grandma's Date Cake (especially for Sig!!!)

This Date cake is super dooper yummy!! Always a hit!!

300g chopped dates
1 3/4 cups water
1/4 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups S.R. flour
1 tsp bicarb soda

Bring dates, water and bicarb to boil. Reduce heat and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Set aside to cool.
Beat butter and sugar. Add eggs and mix well.
With wooden spoon add date mixture and flour, stir well until blended and mixture is soft.

Bake at 180 deg for 30 - 35 mins in a loaf tin. Cake will feel soft when cooled.

Tastes yummy with lemon icing.

I wish I could add pics but it is always eaten before I get a chance to grab my camera :D

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Diddy update #6

We're back!!! Yay!!! So glad to be home.

What an ordeal. I have had such a good week. First thing I did when I got home Monday night was go to the gym for 1 1/2 hours. I then went to the gym 2 hours on Tues and 2 hours on Thurs. Who would have thought?? BIANCA exercising for fun and stress relief?!? It is weird. I have always hated exercise because I associated it with stupid diets. My whole mentality was that it was a waste of time to go to the gym if you weren't on a diet. I have no idea where that idea came from. But this year I decided it would be a nice escape if I joined the gym and had some 'me' time.

Monday night at the gym was just what I needed. Kylie and I talked and talked our way around the whole circuit and the treadmills while Ben dealt with Diddy at home. I came home feeling a million times better.

Diddy has been really sooky and clingy since we came home. I was a bit teary about it the first few days because she has always been such a happy baby and back home she just seemed miserable. But she is slowly getting better. She knows now that mask means sleep. I think her protests are more about having to go to sleep and less about the mask.

I purchased an oximeter the other day. She has started snoring even with the mask on. The nurses did tell me that the pressure they have given her on the cpap will need to be increased at some point (a task I cannot do - the machine is locked to her pressure) as she adjusts to having it on. So rather than stressing out about her oxygen levels I spent $500 on a machine that will monitor them for me. It may seem a bit excessive, but it's better than stressing about something that may not be anything. $500 is a small price for peace of mind I reckon!!!

We have also had to make some altercations to our caravan to be able to run the machine even when we are not at a powered site. It is actually quite good. We already had a kick arse battery in our caravan that ran the fridge. Now we have power points attached to it so I CAN TAKE MY HAIR STRAIGHTENER on the trip!!!!!!! Actually the power points were put in especially to run Diddy's cpap machine but an added bonus is I can charge the lap top and use my hair straightener!!!! I know, I know.... I usually look like I haven't even run a brush through my hair - let along a straightener!!! (truth be known usually I haven't even run a brush through it). But every time I wash my hair the intention is there to straighten it and do it nicely.... I just always run out of time - or get distracted!!!

I have been a bit down this week, which has made me do a lot of shopping and chocolate eating to ease the depression. I am pleased to announce that it has worked - or HAD worked until this afternoon (I will fill you in on that later). The shopping sprees have led me to discover that I really like Lorna Jane. I always thought that it sold cheap sports clothes for middle aged ladies. I was looking for some new yoga pants and when my usual shopping haunts couldn't provide for me (Target, Kmart - yes I am not trendy AT all!) I decided to go have a look to see what they had available. Oh wow!! It is definitely not cheap!!! I can't believe people pay that much for gym clothes!!! I can't believe I spent a fortune (sorry Ben) on clothes there!! I bought these new pants called 'Flash Dance Pants' and they are the most comfy pants I have ever worn. I feel like I could climb a mountain in them then put on a nice shirt and look presentable for dinner at a fancy restaurant. I bought them in two colours and am seriously considering going back for more. For me fashion is all about comfort. If I find something that is comfortable then I will buy it in every colour available. I'm sure you are all well aware of the 3/4 sleeve, v-neck, light cotton shirts from Target that I have in 5 colours and wear continually! It is all a delicate balance though. I'm still waiting to decide how much trouble I will get in from Ben if I go back and spend more money on 'Flash Dance Pants'. Once I am certain he will not leave me if I buy more, I might go and get them in blue. Hmmmm.... I think I might add 'Flash Dance Pants' to my list of favourite things I wrote on my first ever blog (all about me - and my 4 little distractions). I am a bit concerned that since I wear Lorna Jane now that I might be officially classed as 'Middle Aged' though.

The reason that I am bummed this afternoon is because Kris and I went to visit Sammy. We took Kylah and the babies with us and had a bag full of craft stuff to do with her. When we got up to the ward she wasn't in her bed. So I asked the nurses and they told me she had been moved to intensive care. So down I went to see if I could go in and see her. Unfortunately, since I was not family, I could not go in to visit her. Her own family hadn't been up to see her in intensive care yet so I was quite upset. Kris and I walked around Southbank for a while and then went back in. This time they let me in as they had rang her mum, who had given permission for me to visit. She didn't look very good. She was sedated and didn't look well at all. My heart broke. I couldn't even give her a cuddle as she was asleep. I am hoping and praying that she will be well enough soon to move up to the ward so we can go back and see her. Poor little thing. It isn't fair that someone so young has to experience so many difficulties.

I came home from the hospital all teary and depressed. Ben suggested that to get out of my rut we could do my yoga dvd together followed by some boxing. So the kids Ben and I all lined up in front of the telly and did 25 mins of yoga. Jazzy piked about 2 mins in and Ben didn't last much more than 10 mins. But he said he enjoyed watching me do it - lol!! Then we followed up with me letting out some steam by hitting Ben with boxing gloves. Amazingly, Ben was right. I do feel a lot better now!!!

As far as managing Diddybell I am back to normal now. I don't feel restricted in any way, having to carry the cpap around. I am not easily phased. Kristy pointed that out this afternoon when she said "not much bothers you. Most people would be bothered by the washing pile at your house but you don't seem to be".

Anyway, I am going to sign off now. I have just organised for my kids to have a play with some of their friends tomorrow arvo so I thought I might bake some muffins for the occasion.

I don't think there will be anymore Diddy updates anytime soon but I will aim to keep going with my regular blogging. I have decided to blog my way through the Northern Territory and we leave in two weeks!! I will have to do a couple of blogs about our plans before we go.

Might try to do them after I get the muffins in the oven.


I h

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Diddy update #5

You can all stop worrying about smashed face syndrome. the dr this morning says Diddy should be fine as long as I don't put the mask on too tight. He also says he likes to call it mid face hyperplasia (not sure about spelling of that), which sounds a lot nicer than the alternative (he may have thrown in a fancy word for mid face too). failing that, my mum has decided that she will pay for plastic surgery for her if she needs it. lol!!! she WONT need plastic surgery, its just my mum trying to make me laugh! actually, funny story - when Jasmine was born ben was in the air flying and my mum took me to hospital. as ben wasnt there mum was the one who cut the cord. Jasmine now has a quite prominent 'outie'. my mum confided in kristy a while ago that she feels so much guilt about jazzys belly button she is going to pay for plastic surgery to have it corrected when she is older. lol. mum was convinced that she must have cut the cord wrong and that is why jazzy has an outie not an innie!!! it has been a running joke in our family ever since. So she is adding Diddy to the plastic surgery fund and had also decided koby needs his ears pinned back.
so I am completely over those dramas. I have managed to let it go!!!
We are leaving tomorrow! YAY!!! I have mixed feelings though. I have become quite attached to 'Sammy' who you may remember from previous posts. I have been mothering her these last few days and it is going to be hard to say goodbye. I asked sammys mum if its ok if I visit her when I leave and she said that is fine. poor little pet is so lonely in here. she spent most of today waiting for her mum to come and visit. her mum didn't make it here till dinner time and by that stage she was beside herself with worry. her mum is lovely. she had kids at home who she can't just leave and lives a long way away. sammy has been in here for months and won't be going home anytime soon.
On a more positive note I have had such a good day today. I havent been upset at all (except when I got teary a few times when sammy was upsett). I am managing to work Diddys cpap well. although really l don't think its anything to be too proud of - it isn't rocket science!!!! basically you put her mask on and press 'on'.
Kylie came up in the morning, and we drank diet cokes and gossiped, then kristy came up, again more diet cokes, yogos and gossiping. then Anne Marie came up with diet coke, noodle box AND baskin & robins!!!!! again more gossiping and laughing.... actually we weren't really gossiping, just chatting away happily.
Yesterday I had Jason, Jo, Melissa and Nicole visit. and the day before con and karen came. that is on top of all the texts, phone calls and facebook messages. I certainly feel very loved.
Anyway, back to reality tomorrow. hopefully we see all our drs early so I can make it to the gym in the arvo. goodness knows I need it after all this laying around eating chocolate!! what do you think the chances are of the ENT specialist, respiratory specialist and cpap lady all coming to see me before lunch time?? I would say slim to none but I have all my fingers and toes crossed!

Diddy update #4

I can't help but wonder why I am getting upset about the things I am. I was perfectly fine until I read all about the, so eloquently titled, smashed face syndrome. the nurses keep trying to reassure me and my logic and reasoning are telling me not to be upset but I just can't help it. initially, when I was putting the mask on I felt like I was helping her. now I feel like I am disfiguring her when I put it on. it is not like I am someone who is ovely concerned with appearances anyway (one look at me sitting here typing this in my pjs with vegemite on my face and unkempt hair wil confirm that!!). I know I need to let it go but it its easier said than done.
The other thing that has made me upset this morning is that when Diddys sheets were changed yesterday they took her blankie. I know, from the wailing of the little girl in the next bed whose doll went missing with the sheets, that these things do not return. it is stupid really. it is an old pale blue blanket that someone gave to rohan. it is super soft and Isabelle likes to hold it while she sleeps. I bought it in here to give her some comfort and now it has gone. I don't think Isabelle even knows she doesn't have it. She just likes it when she does have it and I thought it would smell like home for her. So it's more of an issue for me than her.
I think what happens is that I get upset about something, and rather admit that I am upset about it, I channel all my upsettness into stupid things.
On a positive note Diddy is adjusting well to having her mask on. Last night she didn't even cry when I put it on her. this morning she cried, but I think she is crying more because she knows it means bed time and not because of the actual mask.
ben is off to work today after having one day off. he won't be able to come in until tomorrow. I miss the other kids so much. I missed out on seeing Kylahs dance concert yesterday. I was tearing up just talking to them on the phone last night. I wish I was at home surrounded by my 4 kidlets and mountain of washing!!
Anyway, there is one thing this pity party is missing and that is some diet coke and chocolate. so on that note I am off to hunt down both!!


Saturday, July 23, 2011

Diddy update #3

We saw our Dr this morning. He is a respiratory specialist and is quite baffled by or little Didabell. He told me that he would leave her on the cpap for about a year and then take out her tonsils and adenoids. He hopes that removing them may improve her condition but doesn't hold high hopes. He thinks this may just be something she has to live with. He also briefly mentioned that having the cpap on her face may affect the growth rates of certain parts of her face in the same way that orthodontic head gear affects the shape of a face. She would be more susceptible to this happening because she is a baby and is still growing.
As soon as I had a spare moment I googled this and found, to my horror, that it is called SMASHED FACE SYNDROME!!!!! I burst into tears and was upset all afternoon. Whoever named that syndrome deserves to have their own face smashed!!! no, I don't mean that (ok maybe I do just a little). I have been putting Diddys mask on extra loose this afternoon and the alarm keeps going off because there is too much leakage. Her leak rate went from 4ltrs a minute to 27ltrs a minute!! but I have managed to get over myself. Diddy is a gorgeous little girl and will always be gorgeous no matter what. I am trying to let it go and not worry about it.
I have made friends with the little girl in my room. She has hardly whinged all day. I think its because she had isabelle and I to talk to. poor little thing is lonely, just wants some company.
All the messages, texts and phone calls have made Isabelle and I feel so loved!! it has really helped me, knowing I have so many wonderful friends and family. We had some visitors today, which helped the time pass.
You will be pleased to know that I managed to have a shower tonight without anyone barging in! Twice today I have been walked in on while on the loo so I was extremely pleased to make it through my shower without anyone copping an eyeful. I had barricaded the outside of the door with linen bins and chairs to try to deter people from entering and I had pushed chairs up against the inside of the door. Who on earth designs a toilet door that can't be locked?!? CRAZY!!!
Oh wow this blog post is all over the place. I just read it back to myself and it doesn't have the usual flow I like my writing to have. I'm not going to fix it though. I am so emotionally drained I think my thoughts are all over the place. I had better get some rest now.
Thanks again everyone for all your support.
Oh I put a picture in of Diddy playing with a balloon Melissa bought her (one of the many pressies she received today). When she is awake she is her happy normal self and has been having a ball sitting on her mat playing toys. She is still my little Diddybell.
Oh and yes we are still planning to go on our trip in a few weeks time. At this stage the Drs have said she is fine to go. we just need to buy a special attachment to connect her machine to the battery in our caravan.
ok I am really going to sleep now!!!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Diddy update

Well today has been pretty emotional.
I started off being my usual positive self even though I was running on no sleep.
Diddy needed to fast for half the day, which she was not too impressed with, then i had to hold her down while they did the barium thingy which she was also not impressed with. She screamed and screamed. I felt so bad but I just held it all in.
Then the ENT did the camera down the throat and up the nose thing. Usually they put babies under a general anasthetic to do it but there were no theatres available so they decided to do it without. At first she seemed ok, probably because she was asleep, but she woke up midway through and the terrified look on her face broke my heart. She screamed and screamed while they finished the procedure. I couldn't even comfort her.
The barium thing was completely normal and the camera thing found no obstructions and nothing wrong with her airways. Her adenoids were on the large side, but not big enough to be the cause of her problems.
I think it was just after that, that the reality of it all hit me. I thought that it would be her adenoids for sure and that it would be an easy fix to just whip them out down the track and eliminate the problem.

Before I talk anymore about that let me tell you about my day. I was so bored today I spent most of the time, that I wasnt tending to isabelle, rearranging my corner of the shared room to make it comfortable. I also spent a bit of time desensitising myself to the shared bathroom. So I was none too impressed when the nurse came in and told me I was moving to another more suitable room (still shared though). so we had to shift all my stuff and it was cermoniously dumped in my new space. It was then that I found out that my new shared ensuite had a 2nd door going out in to the corridor for the general public to use and IT COULD NOT BE LOCKED!!! This piece of information pushed me right over the edge and I began to bawl. My fear of pubic toilets had cracked the wall of positiveness I had been surrounding myself with.
Once I had started it was hard to stop with the whole 'poor me' pity party I was having. I know that in the grand scheme of things Diddys problems are quite minor and not life threatening. But I had convinced myself that it was her adenoids and that this was a temporary problem that would be fixed with surgery in a years time. I was not prepared for it to be an unknown problem or for her to have the cpap for years, as the dr had suggested.
So I don't know what the next step is. I think we will be released on Mon and then come back every 3 months to see if the cpap needs adjusting. I have to wait to speak to the dr on mon morn.

(30 mins later)
Well! I have found out why they shifted me into a new room and it has nothing to do with being a bigger space (which I don't think it is anyway, just different shaped). the two other children in my room are a boy and a girl. The girl is 9 and the boy looks like he is pushing the upper limits of age for the childrens ward (i would guess 13yo). neither of them have their parents staying so they must have needed to have a third party in the room. the boy is very quiet but the little girl is loud. she has spent a good deal of the night chatting to me. she had been here for 2 months and is quite a handfull for the nurses. she wants them to remake her bed everytime she gets up, scratch her back, fetch her this and that.... her demands never stop!!! I felt really bad for the little girl. obviously she is lonely and hounds the nurses just so she can have company. I let her borrow Isabelle's 'piggy' teddy that Diddy sleeps with because the little girls dolly had gone missing and she couldn't sleep. It was quite funny actually. The little girl (lets call her sammy - not her real name though) wanted me to make Diddy smile for her. So even though Diddy was in a grumpy mood after her procedure I tickled and smiled at her until eventually she cracked a little smile. Sammy's response was 'that's not big enough. make her do it again'!!! lol!! I only wish I could tell you she was joking but she was dead serious. Sammy has quite a lot of problems, which she was obviously born with, and I think she must be used to people just responding to her every command. she is very sweet though (although I did hear a nurse refer to her as the 'terd').

anyway that's enough from me tonight. I should try to get some sleep while I can.

thanks everyone for your messages. they are helping the time pass in hospital.


Little Diddy

Ok, I am making am attempt to write a blog using my mobile. you will have to forgive my spelling errors (obviously they will be the fault of the phone) & the grammatical errors (too hard to bother too much with grammar). I thought I would blog about what is going on with Didabell because there isn't enough space in my facebook status to fill you in and I'm sure that not everyone is interested anyway. So for those of you who want to keep updated on what's going on, you can just check the blog.

This all started a few months ago when Diddy began to sound really snuffy all the time on top of snoring like a champion. Having had one child who had obstructive sleep apnoea I knew what it sounded like and mentioned to my gp that Diddy had it too. He referred us to the mater paediatric respiratory unit for a sleep study.

We came for our appt at the mater last week and the Dr wanted to get her in for a sleep study as quickly as possible because she is so little. He told us to go home and wait for a call - we were going to be called when there was a cancellation. We didn't have to wait long. Less than a week and we were back.

I turned up at the hospital at 5 and they fitted Didabell with 6 million wires. I settled her in and then just read in the room. I had a terrible time sleeping. I knew that the nurse was worried about her oxygen levels and I was so uncomfortable (i hadn't bought my latex pillow with me - the sacrifices we make!!!)

In the morning I suspected the Drs might say to me 'yes she had apnoea, we might need to take her adenoids and tonsils out when she is a bit bigger'. But it turned out to be a little more complicated than that.

When Isabelle stops breathing in her sleep her oxygen levels were dropping to just over 70%. Usually when this happens your heart beats faster to get more oxygen around your body but Isabelle's heart was slowing down.

They said she needed to stay in hospital until they could sort it all out and that she needed to go home on a CPAP machine. A cpap machine blows air continuously up her nostrils to keep her airways open. She will need to be hooked up to a machine whenever she is asleep. The Dr said she would likely have to use this machine for a few years.

The mask is quite scary looking. I had seen a cpap on Jazzy when she was a tiny baby and it just looked like little prongs up her nose. Isabelles cpap looks like something out of a horror movie.

So we are now up in the childrens ward waiting for her to have xrays, a barium something or other & a camera put inside her, which will be done under general anasthetic. they are trying to find out what is causing her obstruction. They don't think it is her adenoids and she doesn't have the othersymptoms required for it to be floppy airways. they are saying they think it may be a cyst in her throat or maybe a flap of skin. personally, my money is on adenoids!!
So here I am having to face all my darkest fears - shared rooms, polyester linen, public toilets etc. Luckily for me little Diddy is her normal happy, self and I managed to sneak home yesterday to grab my beloved latex pillow (those of you who have read my previous posts will understand!!).
I am not worried or stressed about her because I know she is fine. I view this probably in the same way parents with kids who have allergies view an epipen. I am just so thankful that the technology is available to help my baby.

Well the drs just came in and saw us. He said if everything goes swimmingly well we may be able to go home on Monday or Tuesday. It depends on how fast I learn to operate the cpap machine and what the tests show up. She is going to have to use it for all naps as well, which should make going out very interesting!! AND also in the car!!

Anyway, this post has taken me a whole 24 hours!! I don't know what I am going to do with myself now that I have finished.

Will post again when there is more news.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Lake Cootharaba

We went camping at Lake Cootharaba earlier this year and gee it was a lovely place to camp. So picturesque and serene - we had a wonderful, relaxing time.... well almost...

The first day we were there was perfect. The weather was gorgeous and the Lake was calm. We took the kids for a walk along the banks of the river and sat around a campfire that night.

The second day the rain set in and ruined the ambiance. We went from being camped 50m from a lake to having our very own lake right outside our caravan door.

The mozzies went from being bad on dusk to constantly bad and we all sat miserably inside the van wondering what to do.

It was decided that we would spend the day 4wding. 4wding is an activity that both Ben and I enjoy. Ben enjoys it because he sees it as an adventure and I think he almost hopes we will get bogged somewhere to make it all a little bit more exciting. I enjoy it because I get to sit on my bum, usually with my feet up on the dash, sipping diet coke and coaxing Ben into D&M's.

I don't think the kids are particularly fond of it. Rohan and Jazzy are usually lulled into a deep sleep from all the bumpy driving and miss the whole thing and I'm sure Kylah sits up the back bored senseless from my constant jabbering to Ben about rubbish. Occasionally, if all the kids are awake we will sing or play games but this is unusual.

This particular day is the first time Ben and I have been bogged while on one of our family 4wding trips. Unfortunately for us we were bogged in the middle of nowhere with no mobile reception and in amidst a giant mud puddle. After spending an hour trying to dig the car out by hand (Ben forgot a shovel) he decided to leave me, the 5 kids (we had a friends son with us) and all the mozzies in the mud pit while he went for help.

Trying to keep the kids calm and happy in a mudpit for over an hour wasn't as easy as it may sound. Usually I have no aversion to mud.... anyone who has seen the picture of Rohan and Rainbow Beach will know what I'm talking about... but this mud STANK!!! It was sooo disgustingly smelly that I was worried if they got too much on them I would never get the smell out!!
Kylah, my drama queen, started bawling about how she was too young to die and screaming out "help us!", "somebody help us!!". Rohan was in a foul mood because he had been rudely awoken from his deep slumber when the car abruptly stopped. Luckily for me the other 3 were being well behaved. I just gave them a bit of food and we made up some games to pass the time.

Ben came back with the good news that the RACQ was on their way to tow us out. Luckily for me (me?? or Ben??), Ben had bought me RACQ deluxe membership for my birthday. Yes - I think Ben must be the romantic present buyer ever!!! No, it wasn't racq membership and a box of chocolates or diamond earings... it was just the membership. As my friend Trina so eloquently put it 'isn't that just like paying a bill for your birthday??' Anyway, Ben assured me that one day I would appreciate his gift and I did appreciate it that day. If we had not had the membership it would have cost us about $500 to get someone to tow us out and I'm sure that I would then have had to put up with a dark mood from Ben for day's to come.
After finishing on the 4wd track we drove back towards Lake Cootharaba via the beach. Beach driving is so much fun. We stopped so the kids could burn some energy running up and down the sand hills. I used up some energy by converting the choccies we had eaten in the car into chocolate breast milk for Diddabell.

There was no campfire that night due to the rain and the mozzies so we spent our time in the caravan doing puzzles and playing board games with the kids. Weather like that makes you so grateful to have a caravan!!!

The next morning brought with it enough sunshine to enjoy the benefits of being camped next to a lake. We hired a kayak (or maybe a canoe... not too sure of the difference) and the kids played on the beach and in the water.

That afternoon, while in the middle of a 5km hike, the torrential rain began again. So we all got extremely wet and muddy trying to dash 2km back to the car. Poor little Rohan and Jazzy cried the whole way about being wet and muddy. Because the rain was so heavy our insect repellent washed straight off and we had no protection from the 1000's of mozzies. The rain was so thick you could barely keep your eyes open in it.

The amenities at Lake Cootharaba were spectacular!! They were soooo clean. Cleaner than my own at home! I was quite comfortable using the toilets there AND the showers so we all cleaned off after our hike before settling in for another night of puzzles and games.

All in all it was beautiful spot to camp. Even with the crappy weather we still had a fabulous time!!


Raising Resilient Children

It may come as a huge surprise to you, given that I am the least resilient person I know, that one of my goals as a parent is to raise strong, resilient children.

I am so very fragile that the thought of ever having to spend a night away from my very pricey latex pillow (molded specifically for my neck), 1000 count Egyptian cotton sheets or luxury toilet paper sends me into a cold sweat. God forbid anything should happen that would keep me from my daily diet coke / chocolate fix. I would likely have a melt down to rival most two year olds!! I once forgot to take my pillow on holidays with me and had to spend one night without it. I was so upset that the next morning, my sister spent an hour and a half of her time to go to my house, pick it up and drop it to me!! Ever since then I have been so scarred from that incident that I invested in another pillow and spent a week 'breaking' it in so I could constantly leave it in the caravan - so it will NEVER happen again!!! I have carted my pillow on EVERY overseas holiday and EVERY camping trip ever since.

The thought of putting the washing out with no shoes on frightens me no end (what if an ant crawls on my foot? what if I step on something? WHAT IF THERE ARE BINDIES????). I can honestly say that I can count on one hand the number of times I have stepped out of my house barefoot in the 5 years we have been living here. I have extremely specific things that I like to eat. I will only eat one type of yogurt (ski d'lite strawberry), one type of muesli (Lowan Apricot and Almond), one type of frozen veges (McCain Steam Fresh), one type of toothpaste.... I could go on all night. The moral of the story is that I take fussy to the extreme.

Yes, I can think of nothing worse than raising a child to turn out just like me. It is bad enough that I have to listen to myself whining about things let alone adding another whinger to the mix!!!

Given my own fussy behaviour I'm sure that a lot of people probably consider my parenting methods strange and hugely hypocritical.

For starters I do not allow the kiddies to be fussy when it comes to food. In our house you eat what you are given or you don't eat. It is as simple as that. Ben and I do not care if one of the kids doesn't like something (and they know from experience that if they express their distaste for a particular food we will often serve it up more often!!). There are no exceptions. If they flat out refuse to eat a particular food they will be given nothing and served it for the next meal, then the next and so on - till they eat it. No child is going to starve to death and we can tolerate their tantrums. But the fact is that there are no tantrums anymore. The kids are well aware of our rule and because we are consistent with it they comply. In fact, our kids will happily sit down and eat almost anything and everything you serve them. I do not want them to grow up being as anal and picky about food as I am. Slowly I am trying to 'train' myself to step outside my comfort zone. I have been cooking and eating foods in the last few years that I never would have touched with a 10ft pole 5 years ago. Now that I have trained them up to eat what they are served we are more relaxed and I like to cook things I know the kids enjoy.

Another one of the things I do to 'harden' up the kids is to let them run around bare feet as much as possible (with the exception of public toilets). This drives my mum insane as she hates kids to have dirty feet. But I figure the more time you spend bare foot, the tougher your feet will become. Who cares if there are bindies or bits of sharp rocks.... ? (I can almost hear the gasps from other parents!!). The kids are up to date on their tetanus needles so we have nothing to worry about. I have done such a good job 'toughening' up Rohan that once when we were at Sea World someone pointed out that there was a trail of blood behind us. Turns out that Rohan had kicked his toe and hadn't even made a peep about it. Now, if it had been me that had kicked my toe in that way I'm sure there would have been tears, bandaids and the WHOLE of Sea World would have known about it. He wasn't even bare foot at the time - he had thongs on.

I guess in general, we don't constantly give in to them and pander to their every want. I think that if you are constantly fussing over your children and making them as comfortable as you can then you are going to have children and then adults, who just cannot cope when some of their comfort is removed. My kids don't have the same caliber of linen, fancy mattresses, special foods, latex pillows... that I do. I don't want them to grow up with a dependency on lifes finer things because sometimes those things can be taken away. I would rather that they grow up to appreciate those things when they get them than have them think that they are something they can't live without.

The kids are never allowed to say the word 'bored' in our household. I respond to the 'B' word in a similar way that I would respond to them saying the 'F**k' word. In fact I think I would rather them say the latter!! If you can't find something to do in our enormous house full of every conceivable toy then I will find you something to do - and it won't be fun!!! We don't have computer games because I find them to be antisocial and addictive. Given that Ben and I both have addictive personalities, I'm quite sure that we would never see our children again if we allowed them to have a Nitendo DS or a Wii etc. The kids mostly entertain themselves and make up concerts (which we are all forced, I mean delighted, to watch - and video tape), or very elaborate games in the backyard or with their toys.

I also try to make them emotionally resilient. I have only had limited success in this area because my eldest is a huge drama queen. I try not to 'feed' their emotions. When something happens to upset them (a kid is mean to them, someone hurt them etc) I never say 'oh poor you.... you are so hard done by'. Rather I would say to them 'Oh well, that's not very nice that they did that, I know you would never hurt someone. Now chin up, stop your crying and get over it.' I do acknowledge that they feel sad but encourage them to try to just get over it and move on. I think that if you allow kids to feel sorry for themselves and wallow in the negative emotion then you run the risk of your kids growing up to be 'victims' (everyone is always mean to me, my boss is awful, everything always happens to me.... etc - I'm sure you all know someone like that!!!). I try to teach them that people only treat you in a way that you ALLOW them to treat you. I don't particularly care what it was that the other kid did - it isn't my place to discipline another persons child (to a degree... there are some things that cross lines). I don't see any positive things that can arise from me intercepting and fighting my children's battles for them.

I guess I am so hard on them in that respect because I am always so affected by other peoples opinions. I wish that I was emotionally tougher and it is something that I am working on.

At the end of the day we don't know what is in store for our children. Who knows what kind of trials they are going to have to face in their lifetime. I want to arm them with as many coping skills as I can and if that means being a little tougher on them when they are young then so be it. Sometimes I worry that I may be too strict on them in some regards and too relaxed in others. I constantly worry about whether or not I am not doing the right thing. But I'm sure we all have those thoughts and just do the best we can....

I guess our own experiences influence the way we parent. I wouldn't want to have to put up with myself as a child (hat's off to my mum!!!) and I am aware that I don't have the best coping skills. So I am trying to raise them in the best way I know how.

People always assume that homeschooling parents are extremely overprotective. But my experience has led me to believe that this isn't always the case - and certainly not with me!!!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Carlos Creek at Rainbow Beach

Rainbow Waters Holiday Park, on Carlos Creek is one of my families favourite places to camp.

There is sooo much to do in the local area! From fishing, catching crabs to boating, tubing, swimming, playing in the mud - you are never short of things to do.

The few times I have been have been over Christmas / New Year when it is extremely busy. But it isn't a problem because the grounds are so huge and there is plenty of space for everyone

Carlos Creek runs into Tin Can Bay so it is a perfect spot for the kids to have a dip and also a good spot to put a boat in.

The creek is fairly large and calm so I was quite comfortable letting the children play in the water and row in their little boat. The banks of the creek are quite muddy (I think you will see a pic below of Rohan covered in mud) but that just adds to the fun for the kids!!

There are plenty of midgies and mozzies so if you are quite partial to being bitten then I would suggest taking a LOT of repellent. There is one poor boy we know who goes there every year camping and ends up with six million bites all over him. He has some kind of allergic reaction to the bites. But he loves it so much he won't let that stop him from going!!

I don't find the mozzies to be too bad personally. Nothing that a bit of mozzie spray can't fix. They can become pretty annoying for some people though.

Over Christmas I found the bathrooms to be quite feral (but then I find all bathrooms feral) so I used my own camp toilet/shower. They were also a bit of a hike from where we were camped so I find it easier not to have to take the kids over every time they need to go (which is constantly).

Over all I love Rainbow Waters Holiday Park.
You are so close to Rainbow Beach that it is only a short drive into town to go to the shops or swim at the actual beach. We went 4wding up the beach there and the sand dunes are just beautiful - and tons of fun to play on (or so it looked - personally I don't think there is anything fun about running up a sand hill but each to his own!!!)

Another spot that gets the thumbs up from Bianca!!!!

Triple Choc Biscuits

My friend Stacey gave me this recipe and these biccies are ALWAYS a hit. They are to die for!!!! Probably my favourite biscuit recipe ever.

*1 1/3 plain flour
*1/2 cup cocoa powder
*1/2 tsp bicarb powder
*1/4 tsp baking powder
*115g unsalted butter
*1/2 cup brown sugar
*1/2 cup white sugar
*1 egg
*1 tsp vanilla
*100g plain choc chips
*100g white choc chips (use a good brand!!)


1. Preheat oven to 160deg.
2. Sift together flour, cocoa, bicarb, baking powder. Set aside.
3. Beat butter and sugar until smooth and creamy. Beat in egg and vanilla.
4. Add the flour mix and mix until almost blended. Add the choc chips and mix.
5. Put on baking paper (about tblspn sized balls).
6. Bake for 12 - 14 minutes.

Easy and Delicious Banana Bread


*2 banana's
*3/4 cup sugar (I usually use brown)
*1 cup SR flour
*2 tblspns golden syrup
*pinch of salt
*1 egg


1. Combine bananas and sugar and beat.
2. Add other ingredients and beat.
3. Bake for 40 mins at 180deg. EASY!!!

Muesli Slice

This recipe is so versatile. I make it with choc chips for my kids for morning tea and I also make it with added dried fruit for my husband to take for breakfast on his fishing trips.


*2 cups muesli
*1 cup SR flour
*1 cup chopped dried fruit (I use apricots, sultanas, apples etc)
*3/4 cup brown sugar
*180g butter
*1/4 cup honey
*2 eggs
* Choc chips (if you are feeling naughty!!!)


1. Melt butter & honey then allow to cool.
2. Add other ingredients.
3. Press into a tin.
4. Cook for 30 - 35 mins on 180 deg


Gluten Free Mud Cake

This cake is soooo delicious you won't even be able to tell that it isn't gluten full!!!

* 1 tsp coffee
*1 tsp hot water
* 100g butter
*150g dark choc
*1 tsp vanilla essence
*4 lrg eggs
*3/4 cup caster sugar
*200g almond meal (I buy it in bulk and it is HEAPS cheaper)

1. Dissolve coffee in the hot water.
2. Place butter, choc, vanilla & coffee in saucepan over low heat until melted.
3. Separate eggs in two bowls.
4. Beat whites with half the sugar until stiff with soft peaks.
5. Beat yolks with other half of the sugar until light and creamy.
6. Fold cooled choc mixture into yolk mix.
7. Stir in almond meal.
8. Fold in egg whites
9. Bake for approx 40 mins on 160degrees

Notes: Beating the egg whites till they are similar to a meringue mixture gives the cake it's height. It doesn't raise a great deal.
I ice mine with dark choc ganache (melted dark choc with cream mixed in).

Monday, July 4, 2011

Bianca's Cooking Tips

I often receive praise for my tasty meals and I am always very surprised to receive such praise. I mean really?!? All I did was read a recipe!!! (Although, having said that I do believe that if you alter an existing recipe by more than 3 ingredients then you are able to claim it as your own.) So I thought I'd share a few little tricks of the cooking trade with you all!!

When push comes to shove I like to cook because I like to eat. Back in the days when I used to go on every diet known to man, people did not eat tasty treats at my house!! So if you want to cook nice, tasty food then you need to make sure you like eating it. I am hopeless at making things I don't enjoy eating. My sister in law and her husband can tell you all the vegetarian horror meals I have concocted. I have no interest in making meals tasty without meat because I love to eat meat. So on the rare occasion where I am required to whip up some tasty vegetarian dish I fail dismally. I think quite possibly the worst thing I have ever cooked was a vegetarian carrot tart. It's crust was made with oats and it's filling was made with carrots and cream cheese. It was like some kind of horrendously wrong, savoury cheesecake - the type of food you have to spit out. It was so bad that you couldn't even politely eat a few bites before proclaiming that you are too full from the big lunch you had to eat the rest. I am almost retching now just thinking about it.

Another reason, apart from possessing the ability to read a recipe and follow instructions, that I believe I can whip things up is that I'm not afraid to make a mess. Anyone who has ever been to a dinner party at my house can attest to the fact that after eating, my kitchen looks like one of the thousand saucepans and bowls covering every flat surface in the kitchen has exploded. But you can't quite tell which saucepan or bowl exploded because it is all covered in food/cooking utensils/plates etc.

Yes I am aware of the 'clean as you go' method of cooking but I am not adept at following it. Cooking just doesn't work out for me if I am constantly pausing to tidy. I don't know how many times either Kristy, Ben, my Mum or my Grandma has patiently explained to me how after using the flour/sugar/eggs/etc if you just put it back in the cupboard then they don't have to spend an hour cleaning up after me when I have finished. (I employ a - I cook / Ben cleans policy at my house but if he isn't home then it ends up being Kristy or Mum)

I am also a bit of a minimalist. Some friends of mine gave me the Gordon Ramsay cookbook for my birthday (hopefully they won't read this blog post) and his recipes require faaar too much effort for my liking. The only recipe I have attempted from his book is one called a 'Chocolate Marquise'. I went for that one simply because I was seduced by the name. (my favourite food is chocolate and the diamond on my engagement ring is a marquise cut - a sign from above???). It certainly was sumptuously delicious but it required about 6 complicated different cooking methods to make it. As far as I am concerned that just means 6 different ways you can stuff it up!!! Give me basic things any day!!! I can do a mean mud cake and I have been told that some of my cheesecakes rival adult nighttime activities (wink wink nudge nudge). But ask me to temper chocolate and I have NO clue. I don't even bother watching masterchef as I have no inclination to learn how to complicate my cooking. I think I must be the only Australian who can claim to have never watched even a SINGLE episode!!

I have a few rules that I go by in order to make my food as tasty as possible:
1. From scratch is always best. I don't like packet mixes. (with the exception of french onion soup mix - it is so versatile!!!)
2. I am intolerant of intolerances. I hate being restricted in the ingredients I can use but make an exception for proven medical allergies.
3. I may be messy but I am extremely thorough with kitchen hygiene. There is NO cross contaminating of ANYTHING in my household. I once refused to eat food that had been prepared in my sisters sparkling clean kitchen because I witnessed her chopping up raw chicken then rinsing the chopping board/knife before cutting up lettuce. I deal with any raw meat like it is a lethal substance and sterilise anything that has come into contact with it.
4. If you're going to make something - make it good!!! I once was served pancakes by a person (who I hope isn't reading this blog) who is quite anal about healthy foods. This person decided not to add any sweetener to the pancakes and instead put in a drop of vanilla essence. I don't eat pancakes very often, but when I do I like them to taste good and have sugar in them!! These tasted very bland and not at all appetising. This same person, on numerous occasions, has told me all about heathy alternatives to things. I just plaster a smile on my face and switch off (making sure I nod my head every few second for good measure).
5. It is better to eat salad with dressing than no salad at all. I used to hate salads. That is because the only time I would eat them was when I was on some stupid calorie restricted diet and they would have no taste. I now love, love love salads because I have learned to make them tasty. I add Caesar dressing, eggs, chicken, avocado, feta.... and I can eat a massive bowl of delicious salad. I don't think that the motto 'why bother eating salad if you are going to add fat and salt to it' makes any sense. Aren't you better off eating those foods than not eating them??
6. Don't eat my cooking chocolate. If you ever hear of a wife beating her husband to death with a wooden spoon it will probably be me. I can't stand how Ben constantly eats my cooking chocolate. I have to tape signs to it saying 'NO BEN! DO NOT EAT!!'. But he eats it anyway. I will hide it from him, threaten to withhold certain marital benefits, take money from his wallet to replace it - all to no avail. Nothing works. The trouble is... I don't buy biscuits or sweets. So when someone is popping over or I am going somewhere I think to myself 'oh I'll just whip up some choc chip biccies'.. then I go to the cupboard and find that the kilo of cooking chocolate has disappeared. I become enraged and usually send Ben an extremely abusive text message. He is also constantly eating sultanas so we never have any of those in the house. You are rather limited in the way of biccie making if you don't have any sultanas or choc chips.
7. Food is enjoyed best when shared. I have never, and will never, whipped up a mud cake for my own guilty pleasure. It is always best to make something when you know someone will be around to partake in the eating of it.
8. I think I've run out of things.

Anyway, the point of this particular blog is to let you all know that I thought I'd start blogging different recipes I have that work well for me. People are always asking for the recipes of things (I myself am guilty of that - I love new recipes!!) so I thought I'd put them all on one communal site.

Anyway... It is bed time for me!!!


Flanagan Reserve (near Mt Barney)

Ok, I have decided to stop going in chronological order for my camping reviews and have decided to review a more recent spot while all the tiny details are fresh in my mind.

Flanagan Reserve is about 20 minutes past Rathdowney (if you are heading from Brisbane). We have been there twice now and really like it.

There is plenty of shady camping sites and it is really cheap. Not quite as cheap as camping in national parks.... but cheaper than most commercial places. The picture below is the view from our campsite on the creek.

The first time we went to Flanagans, we were with some friends who also home school. Our children have known each other for years and have spent a lot of time together doing activities. We hardly saw the kids all weekend as they were off exploring/playing. The adults had tons of times to sit around and chat and relax.

The second time we went was this weekend just gone. We were able to snag a prime camping position right on the creek and we went with my mum, my sister and some close family friends. A few of our home schooling friends also dropped by over the course of the weekend and one of the families were there for one night.

I really enjoyed being camped so close to the creek as the kids could play down near the rocks and we could see them from the campsite. I'm not sure how we would go camping near a creek once Isabelle starts walking though. So far I have been lucky, and by the time my kids start walking they have developed a whinny, clingy attachment thing to me so they haven't wanted to run off, even when presented with opportunities. But who knows how little Diddy Do Dah will turn out!! I try to give my kids as much freedom as possible. I distinctly remember Kristy and I making a cubby house in a drain outlet on the banks of Sussex Inlet River. Kristy would have been no older than 4 at the time!!!

Whilst I might be a bit stricter than my mum was (although she did point out when I reminded her of this that unlike my children hers were strong swimmers) I am certainly not a hoverer. I think that it is really necessary to give kids survival tools and you just can't do that if you are watching them like a hawk 24/7. So we watch from a safe distance and have rules in place (no going in the water, make sure you all stay together... etc). I have complete trust in my kids. If I ask them not to do something, and talk to them about what may happen if they disobey, then they always follow what I have said.

Once, and only once, Kylah has asked if she could ditch her booster seat in the car now that she is 7 years old and legally able to. I said to her 'of course you can but you do realise that if we are in an accident you are much safer if you are sitting in the booster seat. You are much less likely to have bad injuries (I then list a few) and because mummy wants you to stay safe I would like you to stay in it until you are either too tall for it or too heavy for it'. So Kylah chooses to sit in her booster. Even when she has friends who come in our car who don't use one she will still want to sit in hers. Because she understands the reasons why I want her in it.

The same goes for safe behaviour around the water. My children are well aware of the things that can happen to them if they disobey the rules and are vigilant about making sure that they don't get too close and follow what I say.

Oh wow... I'm getting off track here!!! The creek at Flanagan's is fairly shallow in the parts where the kids play anyway. They could easily stand up if they fell in. The deep part was in front of where we were camped so we could watch them there.

The ammenities at Flanagan's constantly smell of detol, which is rather comforting, but apart from that are pretty dismal by my standards. You need 20c coins to use the shower and you have to leave the shower cubicle to put more money in. I only know this because I have been told. I have not used the showers at Flanagans!!! Apparently if you can get into the disabled toilet then the shower in there is much easier to operate. There is only 1 shower and 2 toilets in the ladies and in the mens. For such a big place I find this very surprising. Apparently, when it is really busy, they bring in port-a-loos. *I am hyperventilating at the thought of ever having to use one of those*. Amazingly I have never had to line up to use the loos there. I think most people must relieve themselves in the creek or behind a tree because there never seems to be anyone in them. I can't imagine too many people using their own camp toilets as there is no dump point there and they would have to carry their own waste out with them. I ended up carting my own toilet paper to the toilets with me this trip as they supply extremely thin 1 ply toilet paper that breaks off after 1 square. It takes you an enormous amount of time to get a satisfactory amount so I fill my pockets before I go to the toilet.

There are a lot of nice walks to do around Flanagans. This last weekend Ben and I did the 7.4km trek around the lower parts Mt Barney. It was quite a nice walk but not at all what I was expecting. For starters Ben had told me, in his proposal that we go, that it was only 3.7km around the base of Mt Barney. I assumed that this meant 3.7km return.... but no, it meant 7.4km return. Saying it was around the 'base' of Mt Barney was also misleading. The trek was so up, down, up, down, up, down... that if you put all the ups together and all the downs together then I'm sure we could of CLIMBED Mt Barney. He also lured me there under the promise of a spectacular view of the lower portals (what is a portal?????). When we finally got there the lower portals looked extremely similar to the creek which we were camped on. Although, at the end of the track, if you cross the creek and climb over some rocks then there is an even better view of the creek and more rocks. I was not at all willing to put my feet in the freezing cold water so I quite happily sat by the creek and ate my apple, followed by Ben's apple, while he went exploring.

All in all it was quite a lovely walk. Not to toot my own horn, but I must say I was absolutely astounded with my own fitness levels. We did the hike in 1 hour 50 mins and the sign said it should take 3 hours. It was quite steep and I did not whinge once!!! In fact - I barely broke a sweat. I really enjoyed the walk and the whole time marveled about what wondrous things the gym has been doing for me. Who knew that sheer laziness (not wanting to feed/bath the kids some nights so concocting a plan to go to the gym and abandon Ben during feral hour) would lead to this!?! It was also nice going for a walk with just the two of us. We usually have 4 kids in tow and having that 1 hour 50 mins to talk, uninterrupted, to Ben was wonderful. By the end of the hike I had talked Ben into agreeing to new hiking clothes for me, private singing lessons for Kylah and a trip next year to either the Cook Islands or Vanuatu!! I need to go hiking with him more often!!!!
Ben decided to go all Bear Grylls on me and turned his nose up at the bottled water I had brought for him in favour of digging a hole to drink his own rock filtered, muddy creek water. I would not be the least bit surprised if he ends up with some horrendous gastro bug!

All in all Flanagans is a spectacular place to camp. I found it to be a tad dusty but I suppose it is good practice for our trip through the centre - there will be plenty of dust then!!! We will definitely go back again as there are more treks in the area that we want to do. Just remember to BYO loo paper :-)