Family Getaway

Where do you and your family go when you really need to get away from it all?  For us it’s the rainforest.  When I’m there my heart rate slows down, my brain stops buzzing quite so loudly, and feel like I can breathe. We have just returned from a wonderful week away at Springbrook.  Here’s what a fun but refreshing family holiday looks like for us.

Bushwalking together (Miss 4 walked 4.6km on her own!)

Early morning bird watching with Mummy.

Photographing AWESOME bird life.

(This is a male Golden Whistler pachycephala pectoralis)

Exploring caves.

Climbing trees.

Discovering new creatures.

(This is a Land Mullet we found while bushwalking)

Venturing behind waterfalls.

Making new friends (Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary)


Capturing rainbows.


What’s your idea of a great family holiday?

What do you and the kids enjoy doing together?

Any other rainforest-loving, bird-watching, rainbow-chasing families out there??

Give A Little Charity on Mothers Day

This post is sponsored by UNICEF and Kidspot.

I’m coming up to my 5th Mother’s Day.  My purple slippers are looking a little ratty, so I could ask the kids for a replacement.  I wouldn’t mind an artsy camera strap for my new digital SLR.  Or really I’d be just as happy with a few more plants for the backyard.  Truthfully though, I don’t need anything.  I have a few wants, but no needs. Continue reading

Blemished Children

This week I did something I thought I would never do: I sent my young daughter to school with makeup on!  It was class photo day, and she had an absolute shiner of a black eye.  It was every shade of green and yellow and black and blue you can imagine! The bruising (as a result of playing around in the loungeroom and bumping into a cupboard corner) was still visible.  I just took the edge off with a bit of pressed powder. Continue reading

Life at 5 – Resilience

Did you watch the fascinating documentary Life at 5 last night on ABC1?.  The third installment of the Life Series saw the eleven Aussie kids involvied in the longitudinal study now aged 5.  Australia has already met these children and their families in Life at 1 and Life at 3.  (If you missed these ones you can iview them over at the Life Series site.)

(Shine: at age 1, age 3 and age 5.)

Over two episodes, Life at 5 tracks our group of children against contemporary scientific discoveries and findings from two areas of child development: childhood resilience, and the factors which enhance school readiness.  Life at 5 runs alongside Australia’s unique, federally-funded longitudinal study, ‘Growing Up In Australia‘, gaining exclusive access to a wealth of scientific findings from this study, in which 10,000 children and their families are interviewed over 15 years to unveil never-before captured sociological and scientific data. Though intimate, the adventure is big.  The Life Series combines vivid personality updates, interwoven with never-before seen archival footage and brand new psychological observations recorded on hidden cameras behind mirrored glass in The Life Lab…

The buzz word for last night’s episode was resilienceResilience is a topic I have written about previously, and it is a life skill worth serious investigation.  Resilience is the ability to bounce back from adversity, or roll with the punches.  For some time now research has been showing that children who exhibit resilience in their early years are far more likely to be “successful” in life as an adult. The experiments conducted in the Life Lab as part of the documentary revealed so much about the way children process and react to challenging situations.  Those of us who were chatting on twitter during the screening wondered how well our own kids would cope with the Marshmallow test!  (And perhaps even how well WE would cope…)  If you’d like to tweet with us next week, parents and educators will be using the hashtag #lifeat5 to keep up with the conversation.

I’m really looking forward to part 2 next week as the five year olds start school!  Hope you’ll join me then for a chat.  I’m off to buy marshmallows.

I was approached by the ABC to promote this series, but my opinion is my own.

Super Mum

This week I was Super Mum

NOT because the house was clean.

NOT because the clothes were all washed.

NOT because I baked from scratch.

NOT because I was neatly dressed.

NOT because we were on-time for the school run.

NOT because I juggled a multitude of commitments.

NOT because I lived up to anyone’s expectations, including my own.

This week I was Super Mum

BECAUSE when my son asked me to wear a cape to school, I did.

I did try all of those things in the list. Some I succeeded at. Some I failed dismally. Most I’ll be working on for a long time, and I’m ok with that.  I only need to be a good-enough mum, not a supermum.  Unless I’m in a cape. Then I’m seriously super.

Cyclone Yasi and Media Storms

As the South-East part of the state recovers and rebuilds following the floods, the North and Far-North Queensland communities are bracing for the most severe cyclone we have ever seen.  Tropical Cyclone Yasi will hit tonight.  Schools have been closed for the rest of the week.  Hospitals have been evacuated.  Airports shut. Roads closed. Thousands and thousands of residents told to flee. This is a very, very serious storm.

(Satellite image at time of post: Bureau of Meteorology)

There is likely to be extensive coverage on television networks for the next 48 hours, possibly longer (particularly in Qld).  Here are some things I learned about the coverage of a natural disaster during the recent floods:

  • It will be incessant.  Expect rolling coverage, and the cancellation of regular programming (including children’s shows).
  • It will be emotional.  Footage will show real people dealing with real feelings.
  • It will be traumatic.  Homes will be destroyed, and lives may be lost.
  • It will be dramatic.  In case a natural disaster isn’t dramatic enough on its own, you can be sure the footage will include carefully selected songs, slow motion scenes, soft focus tear-stained faces and images of precious possessions amid rubble.

My message to you is to protect your children from some of the media storm if they are not directly affected.  It is up to us to expose our children to enough so that they understand what is happening at an age-appropriate level, yet protect them from some of the dramatic footage which they are not emotionally ready to deal with.  As I said with the last natural disaster in my state:

As parents, we have a responsibility to walk our children through times like this – and it isn’t always easy.  Their questions need to be acknowledged, even if we can’t give them answers.  We have to know our kids.  Really know them, in order to help them make sense of the world around them. We have to know how much information they can comprehend.  We have to know how sensitive they are.  We have to know how much they are likely to worry.  We have to know what will reassure them.  We have to know our kids.

Can I ask you to do two things?

  1. Please pray for those directly affected by this disaster.  If you are on twitter you might like to use the hashtag #pray4qld as well as #TCYasi
  2. Turn the TV off. Don’t leave it running, replaying the disaster over and over again in front of your kids.  Watch some together. Answer their questions. Talk about what we can all do to help. Then turn the TV off.

If you would like me, and other readers, to pray for anyone in particular in Yasi’s path, please just leave a comment below. We will hold them in prayer throughout the night and into tomorrow. Blessings, Cath. xx

Brisbane Floods – The Aftermath

The waters are already receding and the cleanup has begun, but the effects of this disaster will be felt for a long time.  I hadn’t intended to post again about the 2011 Brisbane floods.  However, I have had requests from readers across Australia and around the world!

My supermarket shelves!

Whether you have a four year old or a fourteen year old, they are probably asking you the same question: Why?  Some whys are easy to answer…

  • Why is the news on all day?
  • Why isn’t Dad going to work?
  • Why is the power off?
  • Why are the supermarket shelves empty?!

Some whys are harder…

  • Why do people build houses where it floods?
  • Why is it flooding on a sunny day?
  • Why didn’t the dam stop the flood?
  • Why did some people die?

Some whys are difficult, even for us…

  • Why couldn’t we save everyone?
  • Why do we have to have floods?
  • Why does God let bad things happen?

As parents, we have a responsibility to walk our children through times like this – and it isn’t always easy.  Their questions need to be acknowledged, even if we can’t give them answers.  We have to know our kids.  Really know them, in order to help them make sense of the world around them. We have to know how much information they can comprehend.  We have to know how sensitive they are.  We have to know how much they are likely to worry.  We have to know what will reassure them.  We have to know our kids.

My 2yr old son understands only a little of what is going on.  He has seen television footage (hard not to here in Brisbane) and talks about the river.  “River. House in river. Oh mess! More river. Truck in river. Oh dear. Mess!”  He followed his sister’s lead when they played floods earlier this week, and his focus was mostly on, you guessed it, the river.  I have simply explained to him that we need to make the river “all safe” again and fix the mess.

My 4yr old understands more and is asking lots of questions.  She asks about our friends and family (particularly her aunty), and whether they are safe.  She needs reassurance that our home will not flood.  She wants to pray about kids whose toys and clothes washed away.  She processes through play, rescuing people and rebuilding cities in her roleplay.  I am careful though to protect her from some information and some of the distressing television footage.  This is part of my job as her mother.  I have to know which things will be too much for her to deal with.

My sister's suburb

One thing that can help children of all ages to process the aftermath of a disaster, is to give them a practical opportunity to respond.  If your child is upset about other kids having muddy bedrooms, for example, ask them what they would like to do about it.  Young kids might like to donate some of their toys to charity, or to a specific evacuation centre.  Primary aged kids might like to donate some of their pocket money, or spend some of their money on a new toy for another child.  Local teens might like the opportunity to get in and help another family clean out the mud.  Other teens might be prompted to come up with a fundraising idea.  Letter writing is another great practical way for kids of all ages to respond.  You might help your child to write an email asking for change, post a letter of thanks, or send a drawing to give encouragement.

Most of us have been indirectly affected by the flooding.  If your family has been directly affected, or your child is having difficulty dealing with this disaster, I would strongly suggest that you seek counselling.

1.  Know your child

2.  Acknowledge their questions, answer appropriately if you can, and admit it if you can’t.

3.  Help your child to respond according to their age and understanding.

*   *   *   *   *

How have your kids been affected by the flooding in Queensland (and beyond)?  Have they asked lots of questions?  What other ideas do you have for responding in practical ways??

Brisbane Floods – Processing through Play

This week hasn’t gone as I planned.  It hasn’t gone as anyone in Brisbane planned. How do you plan for a once-in-a-hundred-year event?

Today, 75% of the state of Queensland has been declared a disaster zone, with flooding widespread, deaths confirmed and many people still missing.  It is a grim day in this beautiful part of the world.  The Brisbane River is swelling… spilling over its banks and swallowing our capital city.  The river’s peak is due to hit at 4am and inundate thousands of homes and businesses.  Many Brisbane residents will get little sleep tonight.

Our home is high and dry on a hill, and safely away from the river so we will not be directly affected.  But I wonder – will anyone in Brisbane (in fact, in Queensland) not be affected by this disaster?

24hr rolling coverage is on all stations on the tv, so the kids have seen many images of our city in crisis.  My sister is very close to the rising waters, and we are all keeping a close watch on details for her area.  Her power is cut for safety reasons, along with 120,000+ other homes, so we are doing our best to keep her up to date on the unfolding events.  My Dad had to spend the night with us too as all roads to my folks’ place were cut.  Despite not seeing any floodwater in real life, my children are very aware of what is going on.

Today the kids played “floods” together.  They set up roads and bridges and traintracks, then covered much of the landscape with a blue scarf.  They had people stranded at one end, and built a hospital at the other.  They flew a duplo helicopter from one end to the other, rescuing those in trouble and taking them to the “very strong and stable and high up” hospital.

I stopped for a moment to consider their play.  I know that the reality of the situation is less black and white.  I know that real people have lost their lives in this disaster.  I know that this flood will impact communities in ways beyond my children’s understanding.  But I didn’t discourage them.  Why?  Because play is part of their way of processing. They are making sense of the situation in their own way, and trying to understand the world around them.  Their play is a healthy response.

I hope that this is all they will have to process. We’ll see what the morning brings…

(image source)