She Goes Everywhere……Places You Should Visit.

Hellooooo…..anyone still out there?  While it has been some time since I have posted anything on the blog I have still been busy exploring, working, and getting involved in this little community out in the middle of the Pilbara.  I thought I would do a quick update via a picture post to catch everyone up on the highlights.  At a later date I will hopefully share a little more about my trip to the Blue Mountains earlier this year, as my family and I had some great adventures there.  I am also knee deep in my next hitlist with lots of exciting things planned for the future.  In the meantime here is a little snapshot of the places I have been exploring over the last three months and which you really should add to your travel hitlist!

Mt Nameless, Tom Price

Exmouth, Western Australia

Great Ocean Road, Melbourne.

Numbat Trail, Swan Valley and Hyde Park, Perth

Pannawonica, Western Australia

There is no place like home.  I am in full training mode again with the Red Dog Relay coming up and my next big, scary goal is a half marathon trail run in the Margaret River region.  Here are some pictures of Pannawonica while out and about.

Ok now we are all caught up!!  Have you been to any of these places?

Hitlist Number 5

I didn’t quite get a chance to post my new hitlist prior to going on holiday to Wollongong, New South Wales.  I love holidays and I love the chance to explore new backyards.  Half the fun for me is checking out what sights are around and what might be possible to visit.  I like to keep exercising on holiday and it is a great chance to have a little break from the gym, get outside and explore.

After living in Pannawonica, where a 2 hour drive to the closest shopping centre is no big deal, I often look at places to visit anywhere in a 3-4 hour radius from Wollongong.  One year we did a family trip to Canberra and this trip I did look at travelling to the Snowy Mountains to hike Mt Kosciuszko, the tallest peak in Australia.  I changed my mind for our family trip because the new location had a lot more to do in our short timeframes and lots of fun for young and old.  I have also included a couple of items to help me kickstart my health and fitness when we arrive back in Pannawonica.  Short and sweet for this hitlist.

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Happy New Year Everyone, I hope 2016 sees you crossing off all your personal hitlist items!

My Top Tips for Exercising with Kids

For those of you that may be thinking of exercising with your kids but don’t know where to start, this is a post for you.  As I have mentioned here and here, kids can struggle to meet the minimum requirements for physical activity as recommended by the American Council of Sports Medicine (ACSM), especially as they head toward their teen years.  Current guidelines are as follows:

  • Children and adolescents should accumulate a minimum of 60 minutes of physical activity daily as part of transportation, physical education, sport, free play and planned exercise. The activities should be a combination of moderate and vigorous intensity. Moderate intensity is defined as activity that increases breathing, sweating, and heart rate and vigorous intensity substantially increases breathing, sweating, and heart rate.
  • Sedentary activity is a strong contributor to overweight and low physical fitness. Sedentary activities such as television viewing, computer and telephone use, and inactive video games should be limited to < 2 hours per day.

While my kids are pretty active, I know I can be guilty of leaving them on technology for >2 hours per day especially on weekends.  Progress not perfection.  I believe that the first part of the equation is teaching our children to value and enjoy exercise and this is one of the most beneficial things that we can do as a parent, coach or trainer.  Here are my top tips for exercising with children.

  1.  Monkey See Monkey Do – Exercise in front of them.

We can try and teach our kids healthy habits in many ways but at the end of the day they will be watching and learning from the habits of those closest to them. Typically, most of us will head off to the gym or out the door for a run or ride on our own and sometimes the kids don’t get to see us actually exercise.  Trust me, I am all for a bit of time out while exercising but I also think it is important for them to see us huffing and puffing, sweating, and finding it difficult too.  This may mean taking them to the park and doing your workout while they play, taking them for a jog/walk in the pram, letting them scoot or ride beside you while you run, using attachments for bikes to take them along for a ride, or simply putting on a fitness DVD at home while they play.  More often then not I bet they join in.

2.  Variety is the Spice of Life

Mix it up, keep them interested.  Exercise doesn’t always have to mean running 4km, doing lap after lap in the pool, or just training with your sporting teams.  Although all of these activities definitely have a place, participating in a range of different movements has many benefits for kids.  These can include reducing the risk of overuse injuries and providing opportunity to develop a large range of movement skills, therefore increasing their confidence and the likelihood that they will continue to exercise long into the future.  Research shows that children who do not develop these
skills early in life may be less likely to meet or exceed recommendations for daily physical
activity later in life.  So get busy moving with your little ones.  Check out my earlier post on 7 Ways to get the Kids Active and Outdoors for some inspiration, or if you are stuck indoors (because it is nearly 50 degrees celsius outside as in Pannawonica at the moment), one of my children’s favourite games is ‘Just Dance’.  I have attached a YouTube link so you can see what’s involved but you can follow this link to purchase, it even comes as a smart phone app.  Just quietly, it is hilarious watching your kids playing when they don’t know you are looking.  I love it because they drop the ‘too cool’ facade and just boogie!!

You got up and gave it a go didn’t you??  Go on admit it….

3.  Watch out for Overheating

Be mindful that children have a large surface area of skin when compared to their little bodies, as such they are more exposed to heat and are also less efficient at cooling the body down when it does heat up.  Basically, this means try to avoid exercising during the hottest parts of the day, make sure they keep up the fluid intake not just during exercise but also in the lead up to physical activity, they will need more frequent breaks when it is hot, and keep an eye out for signs and symptoms of overheating.  You can read more about it here.

4.  Exercise as a Family – What is good for one is good for all…

Some of our favourite moments have come from being active as a family.

Just get out there and be active.

5.  Strength Training is OK

There is a lot of misconception surrounding strength training and kids but the research supports that it is safe and beneficial when performed correctly.  I found a great article that busts common myths and misconceptions surrounding children and strength training and you can check it out at this link.  My recommendations for introducing kids to strength training are as follows:

  • For the most part, body weight exercises are the perfect introduction to strength training and with all the variations you should be entertained for a long while.
  • Don’t expect perfect technique straight up, it takes time and repetition to develop new skills.  I find that I give them the basics and try not to pick at them the whole session.  As long as they are not unsafe I will cut them a bit of slack, especially in the first few sessions of a new program.
  • Stay with the same program for at least 4-6 weeks.
  • If at all unsure pay for an Exercise Physiologist or qualified health professional to design a program for your family.  You can have peace of mind from anywhere between $60-$120 depending on who you approach.  You may even be able to claim these sessions back through health insurance.
  • Technique, technique, technique.  Children need to master good technique and good body awareness before they even start thinking about introducing weights.
  • Should you decide to introduce weights to a program keep it simple.  Make sure you are very confident in the person instructing your children and the focus must always be on good technique.

Surprisingly kids love boot camp sessions.  We have recently started family boot camp sessions and apart from a couple of spots of whinging here and there, my kids are more than happy to work out .  I think they also know not to waste time trying to get out of it as it doesn’t work with me!  We keep these sessions short and sharp, usually all finished in 30 minutes from start to finish.  Crank out some great tunes and happy days!

6.  It does not always have to be fun.

Shock, horror, I know.  Nearly every article I read is about making sure exercise is fun for kids, blah, blah, blah.  It does have to be enjoyable but that is not where our jobs stop.  I think that if we set kids up with the expectation that exercise and physical activity is always fun I believe we are setting them up for failure.  Instead we should be encouraging them to find the satisfaction and joy in completing something difficult and teaching them how to deal with situations when the going gets tough.

Not everyone will agree with me and that’s OK. Not everyone will understand why I do crazy things such as 4km fun runs with my kids (and expect them to actually try and run it all) or complete boot camp sessions as a family and I am OK with that too.  For me it is simple, how can I possibly ignore four years of university training, nearly 15 years of working in the health industry, a multitude of research articles and my own experience with exercise, when it tells me that staying active is one definite way to increase our chances of living a full and healthy life.  Time will tell, but I am enjoying the journey in the meantime!

 

 

Exploring Karijini in 50 photos or less…

If you visit Western Australia, make sure you give yourself plenty of time to visit not only because of the distances you will need to cover but also because there are so many spectacular places to see.  Karijini National Park, was right up at the top of my list of places that I wanted to visit while living in the Pilbara.  Due to my research and all the pictures I had seen of the gorges at Karijini, I had high expectations going into this trip.  I was a little nervous that the colours wouldn’t quite live up to the pictures or that the gorges wouldn’t be as great as I pictured in my mind.  We had also been told that it would be too hot camping and hiking at Karijini in October and that we needed more than a weekend, but sometimes you just have to stop waiting for everything to be perfect and just do things.  Our reasoning was that nights were still bearable for sleeping, down in the gorges would be cooler, the kids would enjoy swimming in the warmer temperatures of October rather than freeze in July, and three days was better than none.  I am so glad we just did it, it was the perfect weekend with fantastic weather.

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Room with a view – this is why camping is so great.

We used the rail access road from Pannawonica heading towards Tom Price and Karijini.  Just remember that you will need a rail access pass if going this way, carry no alcohol, and the corrugations on this section are pretty rough.  We shredded a tyre on the way home, so beware.  As we were coming from the north western side of Karijini National Park we decided to stop in at Hamersley Gorge on the way through.  This was our first stop and it didn’t disappoint.

HAMERSLEY GORGE

We spent about an hour and a half here before hitting the road again to drive a further 40 minutes to Dales Gorge Campground to set up camp for a couple of nights.  Dales Gorge Campground was a lovely place to stay and was an easy walk to beautiful swimming holes.

DALES CAMPGROUND, FORTESCUE FALLS, and FERN POOL

Our second day of exploring was jam packed as we decided to tackle Hancock Gorge.  This is the home of the very adventurous walks to Kermits Pool and to Handrail Pool.  As there has been several fatalities at Karijini National Park there is always a little debate about the safety of kids on various trails.  For us, I was confident in my kids ability to handle most trails, they have hiked many times before, have good fitness levels, and are aware of the risks surrounding them.  I am not sure on all the details surrounding the fatalities in the area but I found that the trails were well marked, and provided you follow the safety guidelines, quite safe.  As I have mentioned before, I believe that it is important for kids to take calculated risks and where better than in nature’s own wonderland.  The kids loved it.  After the hike to Kermit’s Pool we gave the kids the choice about whether we did another adventurous hike on the same day and they all screamed ‘YES’!  And no whinging all weekend….it must be fun right?

HANCOCK GORGE – KERMIT’S POOL WALK

HANCOCK GORGE – HANDRAIL POOL

After leaving the campground at about 8am, it was about 2pm by the time we finished both trails at Hancock Gorge.  We stopped in at Karijini Eco Resort and were very excited to find that they did coffee and ice creams for the kids.  If you are not quite up for camping, this is a lovely location to do a little bit of ‘glamping’ and still get to explore Karijini.

On our final day of the whirlwind tour of Karijini, we decided to squeeze in a hike to Circular Pool which is also near Dales Gorge Campground.  We wanted to let the kids have a swim before the 5 hour trip home and thought it would be a fairly easy climb similar to the trail down to Fortescue Falls just up the road….slight miscalculation.  This hike was nearly the straw that broke the camel’s back.  Everyone was tired after a busy couple of days, and of course packing up always makes for a few frayed tempers, so when this walk was a little further and steeper than anticipated we nearly lost a few converts.  In saying that, it was still a great walk and if we had more time we would have had a quieter day before tackling this trail.

DALES GORGE – CIRCULAR POOL

We did not see enough of Karijini and will have to plan another trip.  It was such a fantastic weekend away, and we returned with many tired but happy campers.  Photos and words cannot capture the beauty and majesty of Karijini National Park, it is one of those places that you simply must see for yourself.

 

7 Days and 7 Things to Do in Bali – Exercise Hitlist Style

Earlier in the year my sisters and mother organised a girl’s trip to Bali.  As far as girl’s trips go, Bali has it all especially if you are on a tight budget.  We had seven nights in Bali (four nights in Seminyak and three nights in Ubud) and this is what we got up to.

  1. Shopping, Pampering, and Cocktails at Sunset.

First stop was Potato Head.  If you enter Seminyak into your search engines, chances are Potato Head will pop up as one of the top five attractions for this area.  My younger sister and I arrived half a day ahead of my Mum and older sister who had brought her 15 month old (ie not party animals) so we decided to hit Potato Head for cocktails at sunset to celebrate our first night in Bali! Even better was the fact that I lived on the west coast of Australia,on the same time zone as Bali, therefore in with half a chance of staying awake long enough to keep up with my little sister who was coming from the east coast which was three hours ahead.  Wahooo!

Potato Head

Although we did find it a little pretentious, the cocktails were worth every dollar (~$12AUD), the view fantastic, and the relaxed vibe a perfect start to our holiday.  We didn’t book in for dinner but were very lucky to sneak a table at Lilin and the food was delicious.  All in all, I would recommend that you organise a visit to Potato Head if you are in Seminyak.  Breeze restaurant was another fantastic place to enjoy sunset and cocktails.

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I have to admit that we spent a lot of our time in Seminyak indulging in shopping, massages, facials, and eating well.  As most people would agree, going on holiday often involves a manic period of organising before being able to enjoy the break, and we purposely kept our first few days largely unstructured.  We did book High Tea at Biku as it had come highly recommended and can be difficult to get in to.  I didn’t manage to snap any decent photos so you will just have to take my word for it that the spread for high tea was delicious and plentiful, the coffee was actually pretty good, and it had a great, if quirky atmosphere.  You can also sit for a Tarot Card session included in your high tea experience.

The shopping was pretty great, however that was coming from a person who lives in a little town with one grocery store so I was a little excited (ok I was in heaven) to have so much variety at my fingertips.  There was the main ‘eat’ street, leading off from Seminyak Square, that was scattered with clothing stores, restaurants, beauty and massage shops, and other merchandise.  I loved the shopping here especially as I didn’t have to barter. I’ll just put it out there….I hate bartering!!  If you do want to test your bartering skills I did enjoy the Flea Markets Oberoi that we stumbled across in Seminyak.  I would check out the stores first to get an idea on price, or alternatively work on accepting a deal at about a third of the stall holders first asking price.  I also enjoyed the shopping in Ubud, and due to extra time in Kuta because of flight delays, we also checked out Discovery Shopping Mall and Beachwalk Bali which were great but very similar to shops we had at home.

In terms of pampering, take your pick.  For the most part you can get a nice foot massage, manicure or pedicure, or back massage for $5-$10AUD.  While the cheaper treatments are nice, pay a little more and you will receive a deluxe service that would match any five star spas in Australia for a fraction of the Australian price.  My best find?  A facial at a little random spa at a boutique hotel in Kuta, J Boutique, for ~$18AUD.  My sister and I even tried the fish spa…it took a little getting used to.

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2.  Visit a Temple in Bali

Unfortunately we ran out of time to visit some of the more spectacular temples in Bali, however we did stop at the Taman Ayun Temple on the way to Ubud.  This temple had some amazing architecture and grounds, and we were lucky enough to attend while the locals were preparing for a ceremony which was really interesting to see.

King's Temple

3.  Check out Tegenungan Waterfall

After several days in Seminyak indulging in the finer things in life, it was really nice to get outside and explore.  We hired a driver for the day for ~$50AUD to pick us up from our hotel in Seminyak and take us to a few places on route to Ubud before dropping us at our hotel there.  The Tegenungan Waterfall was one of our stops and it was beautiful.

Waterfall

I laughed at the little cafe built right on the edge with no railings whatsoever.  The steep descent down to the waterfall and the return trip definitely blew the cobwebs off after sitting in the car for several hours in traffic.  It was a great little detour.  There was a small entry fee and you will have to pay for parking too (~$10AUD for all four of us, including parking).

4.  Climb an Active Volcano

Even though I had to wake at 2.30am on holiday, this was a really great experience and I would love to do it again minus the fog and half the people.  I have already written about climbing Mt Batur in an earlier post so click on the link and read all about it.

The view from the top of a volcano

The view from the top of a volcano

5.  Yoga in Ubud

This was one of the activities on my current hitlist as I like trying different classes in different countries.  I really enjoyed this one hour class at the Yoga Barn.

Yoga

My pictures were terrible and didn’t do the venue justice.  It was open decking all the way around with lovely gardens and water features.  The only downside were the mosquitoes!!  There were several spray bottles around the room for patrons to use to keep the local pests away which worked for the most part.  Great class.

6.  Make your own Silver Jewellery

This Jewellery workshop in Ubud was one of my favourite things that we did in Bali.  We debated whether or not to do it because it was 3 hours out of our precious schedule and at $45.00AUD it was one of the more expensive things that we would do in Bali.  It was worth every penny and the time flew.  We opted to go with Chez Monique Jewellery Classes, with the class located in the owner’s traditional housing complex.  It was a lovely atmosphere and great to see his family go about their day to day business while we were in the class.

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We were able to see first hand what was involved in making jewellery, from design choice, to cutting templates, to using different techniques on the silver to get the effect you are after.  I was even able to use some gems that my father had found in my earring design.

Jewellery Workshop

My Mum, younger sister and I all chose something different which was great because we all used different techniques and learnt so much.  My older sister went to the Monkey Forest instead as she didn’t think her toddler would sit for 3 hours.  We all had such a great afternoon and were happy with our finished products.  Such a great keepsake for our girl’s trip.

Finished product

7.  Visit the Rice Terraces in Tegallalang

On our final day in Bali we visited the Rice Terraces in Tegallalang.  It really is amazing and I would definitely recommend visiting these terraces while in Bali.  Make sure you have some small change on you because as you walk through the terraces you will come across several toll booths.  These toll booths charge a small donation to continue in order to help support the local farmers.

So there you have it, 7 Things to Do in Bali in 7 Days.  I’m already planning another trip, what else should be done while in Bali?

 

Here, There, and Everywhere

Hello my poor, neglected blog and hello to anyone out there still following along.  I feel like I have been here, there, and everywhere this hitlist with nothing going to plan.  Looking back over the last few months I actually have travelled some miles.  I have been to Perth three times, which is 4 hours driving and 4 hours flying each return trip, I have been to Bali which should have been for a week but ended up being two weeks away due to volcanic ash playing havoc with flight plans, and we snuck in a trip to Karijini National Park which is 10hrs driving to make the return trip from Pannawonica, all in the space of three months.  Phew…..it is time to slow down a little and take a breath.  I honestly didn’t know where to start after not posting for so long, therefore I decided to review my current hitlist and see where I am at with it.

Bahaha what a mess!!

Bahaha what a mess!!

Well, I did complete a ride past the Boot Tree while participating in the Tour de Panna, and I hiked up Tank Hill and walked the Yaburara Trail in Karratha which you can read about here.  Unfortunately I didn’t end up running in the Pannawonica City to Surf due to a change in dates, but was still able to use that goal for training purposes.  Hiking Mt Batur in Bali was fantastic and Yoga in Ubud was also ticked off the list.  I will be writing a post about our trip to Bali and all the great things to do there.  Due to circumstances and life I had to make a few changes to some items on the hitlist.  Visiting Karijini was definitely on my WA bucketlist and when the opportunity presented itself we jumped at the chance and  I can’t wait to catch up on the blog post for that adventure.  Obviously that meant we bumped the trip to Python’s Pool but it is not forgotten.  The other change was swapping the MTB ride to Pannawonica Hill for the kids, to organising the Great Aussie Camp Out.  The kids had a lot of fun on the camp out and you can read all about it here.

That only leaves two items on the current hitlist.  I have to admit to a fail on the new recipe front, I figure its enough that I am actually feeding my kids at all at the moment, right?  The final item on the hitlist is definitely still on my radar and I want to lock in a new challenge by the end of the year.  There are a few options to explore but I can’t decide which one to commit to.  Decisions, decisions.

On the blog front I am making a dedicated effort to write at least one post a week until the end of the year so I will see you with another post soon!

Climbing an Active Volcano in Bali

Once a year, my two sisters, Mum and I, try and catch up for a girls weekend away.  We try and scratch out the time and money so we can catch up, reconnect, and often have some much needed down time.  Our first trip was to celebrate my Mum’s 50th birthday and we went to Bangkok, Thailand.

 

Over the years, between having kids, moving, living life, we haven’t always managed an exclusive girls trip each year, but we have had memorable trips to the Gold Coast, Palm Cove, Emu Park, and New Zealand.  This year my mum is turning 60 and my little sister turns 30 so we decided it was time for another overseas trip.  Sale fares cropped up for Bali and we spontaneously decided to book the trip well in advance.  This gave me plenty of time to research what trails, hikes, or special attractions that I would like to attempt while staying in Bali.

As you can probably guess if you have been following my blog, I love a good mountain climb, so not surprisingly Mt Batur Sunrise Trek caught my attention.  Trip Advisor had some great reviews of this hike and as it was a 4 hour return trip it wouldn’t take up too much time.  Let’s be honest those wonderful foot massages, cocktails by the pool, not to mention the shopping were all vying for my attention as well!

I managed to convince my little sister to come with me and our trip started with a 2.30am pick up from our Villa just outside of Ubud.  Yes, 2.30 AM pick up, arrrgghh what was I thinking?  It took about 30 minutes driving to arrive at the meeting point in the Kintamani National Park complex where we had a small breakfast of banana crepe and tea or coffee.  We were quickly ushered back into the car for a further 20 minutes before arriving at the base of Mt Batur.  As it was August, it was peak tourism season and the day we hiked there was upwards of 450 people on the mountain.  At just over 1700m above sea level, Mt Batur is not a big mountain so this is a lot of people to have on it at one time.  I have to admit I am really not a fan of hiking with this many people.  There was a lot of waiting before we started and there was a bit of stop and starting during the trek as well.

Before I left Australia, I had been talking to another couple who had just returned from Bali and had completed the Mt Batur trek.  Their advice was to take a head light which left your hands free for the steep part of the track, take a warm jacket for the summit, and they also warned that there were no toilets along the way.  I don’t know about you, but after breakfast, coffee and an early start, my bladder was becoming very demanding.  It was still early in the piece and easy walking, but I was remembering that there were no toilets along the way and we still had 3 more hours of hiking plus waiting time on the top of the mountain.  I figured that I would not be able to enjoy the rest of the trek if I didn’t sneak off for a toilet break under the cover of darkness.  My tips for taking the sneaky, stealth pee: Don’t forget to turn your headlight off;  Try and find a spot that the moonlight won’t reflect off your white backside; And finally, just try to forget that there are 450+ people walking around you and that your face isn’t glowing red in mortification.

For the most part it was quite an easy hike, only the last 45 minutes or so was quite steep.  There are plenty of breaks and due the number of people hiking single file the pace is very steady, therefore achievable for most people with moderate fitness.  It was a lovely clear morning when we started out, it was dark but the stars and moon were bright and there was that lovely morning crispness to the air that I love.  Once we started moving it was a pretty cool sight to see all the twinkling spots of torchlight winding up the mountain.  Now the one thing I had been looking forward to since i woke up at a ridiculous time that morning was a spectacular sunrise.  We reached the top with a little time to spare and sat there shivering in our sweaty shirts, lucky we had a jacket, but I would recommend a dry shirt to change into.  As the sun started to rise, we started to catch glimpses of the view that we had climbed to see, all bathed in a beautiful deep red/orange sky and then tragedy struck in the form of heavy clouds rolling across the mountain……NOOOOOO! Get a load of our eagerly awaited sunrise view……

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Sunrise selfie.  Yep, not too impressed with our sunrise. Haha suckers!!

While the fog was this thick we were seriously doubting whether this trip was worth it.  But then the sun started to rise and the clouds started to clear…..

Looking down at the blackened land, cooled lava from an eruption in 1963 that destroyed a village, was a stark reminder that we had just climbed an active volcano!  In fact it is Bali’s most active volcano with mild eruptions every 10-15 years.  It did make me pause slightly when I did some research prior to the hike that the last eruption was in 2000 and Mt Ruang, in nearby Java, was on the boil.    Our boiled eggs for breakfast had been cooked in the steam from the volcano.  We were standing on a bloody volcano!  C’mon it was a little cool.

It was a pretty great experience and my sister and I were both happy that we did it.  We ended up descending a different path than we climbed.  It was a nice easy walk down, but I would have liked to see the path we had clambered up in the dark.  Oh well, it was not a bad view on the way down regardless.

While this trek is a very commercial enterprise and you could quite easily do it without a guide, I was happy to pay the fee as it creates a lot of employment for locals and I was hopeful that I was paying for their knowledge on the status of this active volcano I was climbing.  The views as we drove back to our accommodation were spectacular and all in all I was really happy with the whole experience and will cross this one off the hitlist!

Surviving the School Holidays – Exercise Hitlist Style.

As explained in a previous post I am not one of those awesome parents who get super excited by the school holidays.  I LOVE that I don’t have to make a gazillion lunchboxes and I love that I don’t have to rush around making breakfasts, finding socks and homework, and trying to get four kids out the door by 8am.  The downside is that they can drive me absolutely stir crazy!!  I have learnt through trial and error that the best way to survive the school holidays is to loosely stick to the following basic rules:

  • Have a plan and be a little organised.  Arrrggghhh, my 20 year old self would be horrified to hear me say that, meanwhile my super organised older sister is probably sitting there reading this and nodding smugly to herself.  OK I admit it, there is merit in planning ahead so jump on the band wagon and develop a super school holiday program for your family.  I often check out the local library, the local shire website, PCYC’s and leisure centres for their school holiday activities as they are often reasonably priced and sometimes even free.
  • Start with 1 or 2 big ticket items and plan your schedule around that.  For our family that usually involves a camping trip somewhere or a day trip and entry to a special Museum/Exhibition/Carnival or Show.
  • Plan to completely exhaust them every couple of days.  Trust me on this, you want them so tired that they don’t have the energy to talk back, whinge, or fight with each other and they are also more than happy to stay at home and vegetate the next day.  This is where I get them outside and make the most of local bike and walking trails, beaches, swimming holes and National Parks.
  • Even if you are only having a quiet day at home, spin it for all its worth.  For example if you want to hang out in your pyjamas til lunchtime and put a movie on hoping to keep the kids distracted so you can enjoy a coffee in peace, then this is what I would tell the kids when they ask what we are doing today: “Well you lucky kids,  we are going to have a Pyjama Party.  How bout we set up a theatre room in the twins room, you can choose two movies, I will get some awesome movie food ready (read usual morning tea put on fancy plates and add microwave popcorn) and we can enjoy a quiet day!!”  And that, people, is how it is done.
  • Invite others to get involved in your plans.  It turns a simple afternoon at the park into an awesome playdate, with minimal effort, no cost, and no fuss.  It may just save someone else’s sanity over the holiday period and with my hubby still doing FIFO a little bit of adult company goes a long way!!

With those tips in mind this is how my school holiday program turned out…..

School Holiday Program

So there you have it, a guide to surviving the holidays especially important when you have four kids, a husband that works away, and no family for 5000km.

I would love to hear any other great suggestions for surviving the holidays with kids.  Let me know in the comments below!

Our Weekend Among the Valley of the Giants

This is a Throwback Thursday post that I have been meaning to write for ages.  We took this trip a few months after moving to Perth and just before I started my blog.  It was a really fantastic weekend away for my family and deserves a mention and a record on the blog for posterity!

After living the FIFO life for a few months at this point we really wanted to get away for a long weekend, enjoy being together as a family and explore this amazing new state we were living in.  We had been given a tip off that Coalmine Beach was a lovely little tucked away spot that we should go and check out.  After a quick google we booked a spot at Coalmine Beach Holiday Park.  It is a lovely location and the amenities are standard for a good caravan park.  I do have to mention that the managers at the time were not the most welcoming which wasn’t great when we had been driving 5 hours from Perth.   We arrived around 5.30pm and the first thing we were told was to make sure we kept the kids quite after 6pm?  O..K….Then we checked into the cabin we had booked and the top two bunks weren’t made up.  It may just be me but there also seemed to be a lot of ‘shouty’ signs all around the cabin….’CLEAN UP AFTER YOUR MEALS’, ‘PLEASE MOP SHOWER AFTER USE’, ‘DO NOT LEAVE LIGHTS ON’, they just seemed to be everywhere.  I expect to see them on the general information brochure but they were plastered to the walls.  Anyway, it seems I still have some anger issues with the hospitality, but in saying all of that it is a lovely location and one of the cheaper places to stay in this area.

Back to the good stuff, Walpole and surrounds are just beautiful and we had such a great day at the beach just metres from the caravan park.  Check out the photos…

Did I mention that there are Wineries in the area too?  Winning.  We stopped in at West Cape Howe Winery and grabbed a couple of bottles to try, delicious.

winery

 

We could have quite easily spent a lazy weekend just at Coalmine Beach but one of the big drawcards for this region is the Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk.  There was an entry fee,  approximately $45.00 for our family of 6, which I thought was reasonable for this experience.  There was a wonderful information centre with interactive displays that the kids loved, there was the Tree Top Walk along the suspended bridge right up amongst the top leaves blowing in the breeze, and then there was also the Ancient Empires Walk at the base of these massive trees to really appreciate their size.  The staff were really friendly and informative and the facilities were fantastic, definitely worth the money.

We made another stop this day to view the Giant Tingle Tree.  This tree is just massive.

tingle trees

The other stop we should have made on this trip but didn’t know about at the time, was The Diamond Tree Lookout which is on route to Perth from the Denmark/Walpole area.  We stopped in at the lookout on the way back from the trip to Albany for the Adventurethon.  To be honest, we had initially skimmed over this as we thought it was just a lookout and the kids are generally not too enthused by lookouts.  How wrong we were…..

Well that turned into quite an epic post.  We really enjoyed exploring this region of Western Australia and it is definitely worth a visit.

Happy Exploring!!

 

Mothers Day Classic 4km Family Fun Run

As I mentioned previously, this event was merely the icing on the cake on our journey to run 4km as a family.  All the work, the pride, the satisfaction came from training together twice a week, sometimes three times a week, in the lead up to the Mothers Day Classic.  By the time the actual day rolled around it was all about celebrating a job well done.  We decided to make a weekend of it and booked a unit in Dampier, near the beach, where we had a relaxing couple of days playing at the beach, park, and enjoying a dinner out.  The other important part of the weekend was raising awareness and funds for Breast Cancer research.  A big thank you to our family and friends who sponsored Team Campbell and all our efforts. I will let the photos tell the story of our day at the Mothers Day Classic 4km Family Fun Run.

It was a great event to participate in, and it may become a Campbell family tradition.  The husband has been a little forgotten in all this, but his story is also pretty impressive.  My husband would be the first to tell you that he is not the most athletic person but he was quite keen to sign up for this family challenge.  Hubby has never run 4km without stopping…..ever.  The first time he did this was at this event, with three of his boys, holding hands as they crossed the finish line.  Mr Exercise Hitlist was a little emotional, quite chuffed, and it is a moment that he will cherish for a long time to come.  Mission accomplished I say.  Another special mention must go to my eldest child, 8 yrs old, who managed to complete the whole course without stopping.  He wasn’t fast but he stuck to his game plan and just kept plugging away.  This is harder than it looks in this type of event, as there are people everywhere so it is hard to keep a steady pace as you try and weave in and around people.  There were also a lot of children in the event, which was fantastic, but most kids would walk a little, and sprint or jog a little, then walk again.  My younger kids found that hard as they wanted to walk when the others were walking even though they had run much further in training!  They all did a fantastic job, but especially the eldest who was probably one of the only kids to run the whole distance!!  I am beyond proud of my little family.

After returning home from our weekend I asked the kids and hubby what they thought about training, running in this event, and whether they would do it again.

B1 (8yr old) – What did you like the best about training?  Icy poles at the end.  Favourite training moment? When you and I ran that whole 3km.  Did you feel like you could run 4km without stopping at the start?  No way! It was really hard at the start.  What did you feel like when you finished the 4km on race day?  I was really proud of myself, it felt good.  I also felt like I was saving lives.  Would you do it again?  Maybe, not for a while.  I would rather train for a bike race.

B2 (7yr old) – What did you like best about training?  Icy poles.  Favourite training moment?  When we did that really good run all the way to the pool and then we got to have a swim.  What did you feel like when you first started running? I didn’t like it.  My legs hurt and it was hard.   Did it get easier? Yes!  Some days it was awesome.  What did you feel like when you finished the race? Awesome.  Would you do it again??  Yes.

I found this drawing B2 had drawn a few days after the race....I think he had fun right?

I found this drawing a few days after the race….I think he had fun right?  B2 is the one right at the top yelling ‘Weeeee….’

B3 (7yr old) –  What did you like best about training?  Icy poles.  Favourite training moment?  The days off.  What about the 3.5km run?  That was good.  When I ran the 3.5km, I felt like I could keep running and running.  What did you feel like when you first started running?  Sore after the run.  What did you feel like when you finished the race?  Good.  When prompted for something other than ‘good’? I liked that we all ran together.  Would you do it again?  Not really.  I want to do a bike race.

B4 (5yr old) – What did you like best about training?  Icy poles.  Favourite training moment?  When I sucked it up and ran all the way to the shed which was the longest run.  (Just over 2km)  What did you feel like when you first started running?  I didn’t feel like I could do it but I could.  What did you feel like when you finished the race?  Good.  It was my first time to do a race.  Would you do it again? Yes.

Hubby – What did you like best about training?  Icy poles.  Loved the occasional cheer squads from the locals.  The guys waiting for the bus to go to work, and the more sane locals who were sitting outside having a beer.  Also loved the ticker shown by B1, and B3 when they did their breakthrough runs.  It was hard work though and some days I really didn’t feel like doing it.  Favourite training moment?  It was a training run with Team Rangas, which started out shocking, but then they kicked into gear and ended up putting me through my paces.  What did you feel like when you first started running?  I doubted whether I could do it, I wondered whether my knees could do it.  I thought surely this is just a phase and Beth will give it up.  I was surprised when it got easier.  What did you feel like when you finished the race?  I was a bit emotional, I was proud of myself.  I was blowing out holding hands with my boys as we crossed the finish line.  I was really proud of the twins for digging deep, as we mixed up where the finish line was.  They thought we were done but then had to find something extra to run the extra 500m to the actual finish line.  I was really impressed that the eldest finished without stopping, thought he would be the first to stop given the attitude at the start of the race.  Would you do it again?  Yeah I would.  I would love to do a team event with the family.

Me – What did I like the most about the training?  I love the excited chatter when we got home from a run, when they would chat about how far they ran before stopping, how awesome so and so was today, what we should try next time.  All while sucking on their icy poles.  I think this is really why everyone loved the icy poles!!  What was my favourite training moment?  It still has to be the D-Man running the 3.5km, it just clicked that night, he ran so comfortably.  He was just buzzing, and I swear he would have run the loop again if I let him.  Proud mumma moment.  In saying that, all my boys had runs that just made me proud!  What did you feel like when we first started running?  I felt like this was going to be the longest 10 weeks of my life and it would be a miracle if I didn’t have a mass mutiny.  There was a lot of ‘Sometimes things are hard, and it hurts, but you just have to find a way to get it done’, ‘Suck it up princess’, and ‘We just have to get the job done tonight boys’.  There were a lot of runs where I was really proud of them because they gave up at some point, felt like it was too hard, but then managed to regroup and finish off strongly.  What did I feel like when I finished the race?  I stayed with my youngest during the race and he didn’t have the greatest run.  He was a crook with a small cough and a little overwhelmed by it all, so during the race I actually felt a little underwhelmed and not sure I had met my expectations of race day.  Looking back at it all, it was all that I needed it to be and a great family bonding experience.  My youngest wore his medallion for all of the next week, to school and everywhere.  He would have worn it to bed if he could.  Would you do it again?  Absolutely!

Stay tuned for our next adventure, looks like they are all on board to try something else!