Wednesday, 20 May 2015

The End of an Era

You may remember many posts from me over the years about our annual pilgrimage to the awesome Christian music festival, Easterfest. For sixteen years, Easterfest has been a highlight of the year for our family -- some years it was the only family holiday we had -- and last week, we found out that this year's festival, which we attended over my birthday weekend, will be the last ever Easterfest. You can read more about why here, but it basically boils down to the same reason so many festivals all around the world are closing down; fewer attendees, greater costs - they just become unsustainable. And it's such a crying shame!

I've been blogging about our Easterfest adventures since 2008, and you can read those posts here:
20082009201020112012. 2013 I attended but didn't blog about because I had to leave halfway through to go to my cousin's wedding in Perth, and 2014 was the slackest blogging year ever. But Easterfest has basically been an institution for our family. Mayana is six years old and this year attended her seventh festival. She was 10 weeks old at her first. Reuben was born two weeks after the 2012 festival, and was not quite one the first time he attended. And Quinten was a grand total of six weeks old at his first! I'm so glad that we got to share the festival with the kids, and that at least Mayana will remember it.

So given that 2015 is the last ever Easterfest *sob*, I thought I had better blog about it, and share some of the stack of photos we took! So here we go, a photographic wrap-up of the last *sob* ever *sob* Easterfest.

Good Friday church service

Lala and her two littlest boys

Miss Mayana with her super awesome ear-muffs

Selfie! Cool ear-muffs Reubs!

Who let these guys have the camera? More selfies!

More Reuben photography (you can tell by the way he puts his finger over the flash, lol). These our are very good friends Leigh & Lyndall. We met them about 13 years ago through Anglican Youth Ministries, and Easterfest was the one time a year we would definitely always catch up. I will miss that.

Easterfest was always awesome for making new friends too. Like Danni! We met through mutual friends, and she stayed with us for Easterfest this year. That's one way to become very good friends very quickly!

Me and my big boy.

My little sister and brother were lucky enough to be offered a performance spot at Easterfest this year. They had a set each day, and were fabulous. Their duo is called Alexie & Jordan, and you can follow them on Facebook. Do it!!

So it rained at Easterfest this year. A lot. It became a bit of a mudfest. And day two was a particularly rainy and muddy day. Pete and the kids and my mum and a few friends and me actually didn't make it to the park at all on Saturday. It was a shame to miss Switchfoot, but I couldn't bear the thought of trudging through heavy rain and mud with a pram and three kids. Mud and I aren't particularly good friends at the best of times. Plus at this point, Quinten was coming down with something and had begun to throw huge temps and get a mystery rash (which we found out the next week was a REALLY intense dose of hand foot and mouth disease), so I thought being outside in the wet may not have been the greatest idea for him. So we made the choice to hang out at the Easterfest Jazz venue on the Saturday evening instead. You know, I actually have no regrets. Aside from the fact that it was warm and carpeted and had padded seats and wood fired pizza... the music was simply amazing. We had such a fantastic night in there.

One by one the kids all dropped off to sleep, lulled by the sound of real quality jazz music.

He couldn't have done this in the mud!

Note all the gumboots! We all had a pair.. they were very necessary. I'm pretty sure Toowoomba sold out.

On Sunday the sun came out, and we ventured back to the park. It was still muddy. Oh so muddy. Have you ever tried pushing a four-wheel strider pram through ankle deep mud. Yeah. It pretty much sucks. But; worth it to get to the worship event on Sunday night! Oh, and also... Sunday was my birthday! How cool to get to celebrate my 28th birthday on the very last day of Easterfest ever.

It's blurry but I love this photo anyway. My dad and sister and I right down the front. This was during an African American gospel band called Light of Love. SO GOOD! The band that played next were called Bluetree, from Ireland, and I seriously get goosebumps just thinking about how awesome and impacting that worship was. 

Twas a bit chilly once the cloud cover blew away.... Brrr!

Down the front with Jase and Mays. Love these two.

No hands!!


It all got a bit much for Mays. That's a pretty fabulous place to take a nap.

The theme this year for Easterfest was, "Love Changes Everything".

How beautiful is it? I think definitely the prettiest festival we've had. Even with all that mud on the ground.....

I took this shot from right up the back on the hill. With our little point and shoot Samsung camera. Impressive, no?

I have to share this one, because my husband is actually crazy. It was fuh-reezing. Here he is rugged up in his woollen hat and leather jacket... and shorts. As you do.

Goodbye Easterfest. We love you and have loved you and will miss you forever.

Thanks for all the memories Easterfest... 16 years of fantastic memories.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

A Date With My Boys

A few weeks ago, Playschool was coming to town. Well, not our town, but one a few hours away. My sister and I decided that we would road-trip it and take our three boys. Alas and alack, my nephew came down quite sick the night before and our plans were dashed. I decided though, that I would do something special with my boys by myself anyway. I didn't want to do the big drive to Playschool on my own, so I chose something a bit closer to home and took the boys to "Snakes Downunder Reptile Park & Zoo".

It was such a fun day out. The term 'zoo' might be a bit far-reaching, but reptile park it is indeed. When we arrived, we literally had the whole place to ourselves, and the non-venomous snake show was about to start. Reuben enjoyed seeing all the big snakes, and also one very special "dinosaur" (read: baby crocodile)... but the fun was just beginning.

You see, after the show, the handler brought out one of the large pythons, and the said dinosaur, and let us have a hold! It was so cool that we were the only ones there at that point; no waiting around for the boys, and we got to spend as much time with the creatures as we pleased. Reuben was keen to hold both animals-- I myself was not quite so keen. Unfortunately, I was required to help him hold the crocodile as it was much too heavy for him to have on his own. It was well out of my comfort zone to do so, but he was beside himself with excitement. And not to worry, as Reuben explained to my mum, the dinosaur couldn't bite him, because he had sticky tape on his lips. Ha! I know I should have corrected him about the whole dinosaur thing but it just bought him such a great lot of joy to think of it as a dinosaur that I couldn't bring myself to do it.

Holding a crocodile. You wouldn't do this at a Playschool concert! Note my very forced smile.
Next up was the creepy horrid snake. Reuben again couldn't have been more excited to have his hold. The handler wound the snake around his body, and Reuben giggled as the snake explored around his neck, flicking its tongue in and out. I took a bunch of photos of my little man, cool as a cucumber, with this gigantic snake wrapped around his body. He handled it really well; only freaking out a tiny bit when the snake tightened its grip around Reuben's legs when it started to slip down at one point. The handler offered Mama a hold, but I was nowhere near as brave as my cool little dude and politely declined.

"Yeah, that's right, I'm holding a snake". Coolest dude.
Quinten was sitting in his pram while all this was happening, but as the handler unwrapped the snake from Reuben, he started to call and reach out toward it. He was, of course, too little to handle the snake properly, but the handler head it over him in his pram, and Quin was delighted about the whole thing. He had a pat, the snake flicked its tongue all over Quinten's feet to check him out, which Quin thought was completely hilarious.

Do you think Quinny's a parseltongue?
Once all that was over, we explored the rest of the park and said hello to all the other animals. We watched a koala presentation which the boys were pretty underwhelmed by-- the Koala's were sitting with their backs to us and pretty much just ignored us.

The koala's weren't in the mood for being show ponies today.
The kangaroos were a bit more accommodating, and we spent quite a while hanging out with them - once we got brave enough to sneak past the Emus who were guarding the gate! They are rather big and intimidating creatures!

Old Man Emu
Reuben was so cute talking to the kangaroos.
Sizing each other up.
Quin was pretty intrigued with these guys too.
We saw a gigantic four metre crocodile (from a distance) and explored a snake house filled with dozens of extremely venomous snakes which totally gave me the heebie-jeebies, even if they were well and truly contained within their glass cages.

Yeah... we ain't holding that one... and he sure ain't holding us!
This is the snake that Reuben held earlier. *shudder*

It was such a fun day out with my boys... Especially Reuben. I am beginning to discover that he responds really well to quality time, and doing something like this where it just us, was really good for both us us. I definitely need to do more of it!

Any outing that ends like this is good with me!

Do you like to take your kids on dates? Any ideas about other places I can take my boys? Would you have held the snake!!??

Monday, 11 May 2015

I'm baaaack!

Hello world!
Does anyone still read this old thing? We have been without a properly working computer for about six months now and blogging from an iPad is painful, so alas and lack, I have become a rather absentee blogger.

And yet; here I am! That is because my (slightly insane) husband bought me a flipping MacBook Pro for Mother's Day yesterday. After I unequivocally made it clear that this would NOT be setting a new bar for gift-giving, I graciously accepted my VERY generous gift, and here I am... with a computer that actually talks to the network and internet... how novel!

Now it's just a matter of getting my blogging mojo back. I have plenty of stories to tell, but finding the time to sit and tell them may be another matter, so let's see how we go.

I thought I'd start off by catching you all up on life in the Friend house. Life goes on, much too quickly for my liking, and the kids are growing like weeds.

My beautiful Quinny-Bean turned one in March. One! Can you believe? He has six teeth (four at the top, two at the bottom) and runs faster than I can catch up with most of the time. He started walking just before his birthday, and once he started there was no stopping him. He's a gorgeous little fella, he's pretty chilled out, though has a much louder voice than his siblings and doesn't like to stand for too much badgering from them that's for certain! He's a lovely little boy, who charms everyone he meets.

Quin is learning lots of tricks from his brother...

Reuben turned three in April. He is a real boy's boy. He likes all the boy things... dinosaurs, trains, trucks, cars, making LOUD noises. He is rough and tumble, incredibly mischievous, cheeky as anything, and completely adorable. His EoE is well under control at the moment, and keeping him off wheat, dairy, eggs and peanuts has helped him to avoid a flare-up for quite a few months now! He is scheduled to see the immunologist in October, and I'm interested to see what comes from that. He goes to kindy one day a week and loves it.

Reuben and I on his third birthday. This photo sums up his personality beautifully.

Mayana, my big girl, is now SIX! She is in grade one and jumping ahead in leaps and bounds. She loves school, and works hard. She is up to level 19 readers, nearly finished sight words, and her teacher had only wonderful things to say about her at our parent-teacher interview. She's still our social butterfly, and is never happier than when surrounded by friends. This year she has started a few extra-curriculars, and thoroughly enjoys both Girl's Brigade and Calisthenics. She still loves her 'making', and our house is always brimming with her creations.

Could she be any more beautiful!?

And Pete and I are well! We moved house last October, into another old Queenslander, which we are renting from my parent's. In essence, we get to treat the home as our own, and Peter and my dad are constantly planning their next project for the house. Pete has so far painted the entire living area, and next on the list is Mayana's bedroom. I've started doing relief teaching again, and am enjoying the one or two days a week work. I love relief teaching; getting experience with so many different age groups and picking up ideas from various classrooms and teachers. I'm still into all my crafting (which is obviously where Mayana gets it from) and crochet is still my hobby of choice, although I have been getting back into my sewing machine a bit too. My other hobby is creating allergy-free food alternatives for Reuben. I have in fact started a Facebook page to share my recipes, which you can find here if you're interested in following along!

My SUPER family. More on this later, promise.

So there you go, our 2015 so far in a nutshell... We are well, healthy, happy; life is good.

And hopefully, you'll be seeing more of me in the coming months!!

Ciao for now!

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