The house we rented had 3 bedrooms with double beds, plus a bunk room, so we Mums shared the bunk room and split the kids into the big beds. The pairings-up were: firstborn girls, second-born girls, boys, and a cupboard in the boys' room (really a sizeable walk-in wardrobe) for
View from the deck
Downstairs living area
Upstairs living area
The first job after sorting out the sleeping arrangements was to organise the division of labour. We put the focussed second-borns on the job of devising the Kids' Chores Roster.
It was an excellent roster, and was put together fairly and thoroughly. All older children were expected to give the little kids a hand with their jobs if needed, and this happened consistently and without any adult intervention. What a great bunch of kids. The roster worked tremendously well all week.
No shirking, fighting or nagging. Here it is in all its colour-coded glory.
Jen, Astrid and I handled the cooking with a meal plan we'd put together back in Melbourne.
We enjoyed some delicious family meals while we were there, thanks to Head Chef Jenny's excellent meal planning skills.
Rice paper rolls and fried rice.
Chocolate ripple cake
Hot dogs for the children, soup for the adults
Snakes, not an actual meal but a bit of group eating nonethelesss.
I decided to poach some quinces and pears the day before we went away, proper poaching which took over 8 hours, and used them to make a delicious crumble dessert for our first night.
It was accompanied by the lightest and fluffiest whipped cream ever, provided by Climber who put his strength to good use with the pure cream and an old-fashioned Nana egg-beater. It was most delicious.
On the first day the adults decided to go for a walk down to the nearby beach, but the children declined the offer to come with us, opting instead to play games in the house. It was a rather steep descent with a great many steps to reach the beach, and when we got to the bottom it seemed as though the beach might be inaccessible because it was high tide and that the waves came right up to wall.
However, we worked out that it was possible, in between waves, to make a dash for the next set of stairs and the next, so off we went!
Somers Beach was almost completely covered in ankle-deep seaweed, and looked, to quote Anthony, like every cassette tape in the world had been unravelled there. We ploughed on through it for a good long walk.
We got home to find the children had discovered pillow-fighting, something they did quite a lot of over the week.
Eventually the pillow-fighting took its toll on Cherub's inflatable mattress and we had to retire one (we'd bought 2 with us) until Fixit could do some puncture repair. Cherub was slightly upset about his damaged bed and was afterwards very assiduous in deflating it each morning, before the pillow-fighting began.
We had decided every morning that we'd have 'Fit Club' and Jenny, being a very organised individual, had brought with her some bootcamp-ish programs and some equipment like cones and skipping ropes. It was actually a lot of fun to do it every day, and the kids enjoyed taking part too. The first morning we held it in the backyard, and asked a couple of the non-participating children to take some photos.
Lucky-Dip Exercise Program bootcamp.
I made them all do planks. I'm working on my core strength this year. There was whinging, although they're smiling here.
One morning we did Fit Club in a playground with a Flying Fox. We all had to have a go on the Flying Fox, although obviously we grown-ups had to wait a while for our turns.
We make these holidays device-free (although television was allowed) so the kids have to make their own fun, in between activities organised by us for their enjoyment. There tended to be at least one pillow-fight per day, and quite a lot of board games were played too. There was also some jigsaw puzzle action, and Astrid, in particular, became slightly addicted. I think 2 or 3 puzzles were completed in total, Astrid did most of the work, with the kids crowding in at the end.
Hide and Seek was also popular with this crowd, as usual. This looks like an early-morning game, judging by the onesies. Once you've been found you go around with the seeker to find the others.
They also played outside with the soccer balls and netballs. I don't think the deck was the best place for playing soccer.
We even had a bit of tap-dancing, not in tap shoes though.
And then there were the organised activities. Walks on the beach for a game of Run To The Next Safe Spot Before The Wave Gets You.
A visit to the market at Bittern, where we started our collection of photographs featuring each person with an item that rhymed with their name for the now traditional Holiday Gif (see below). In adherence to another Mothers Group tradition, we also asked the kids to pose for a photograph in age order, which is a different concept to height order. They are all holding up the stuff they bought with the five dollars they'd each been given to spend at the market. (The money was predominantly spend on sugar, quelle surprise.)
How did this even work? asked Cherub.
We went to the nice and mostly seaweed-free beach at Point Leo, where the kids decided to re-create the town of Plumbington (basically a sand town with drainage channels) that they'd made together in Walkerville.
The water is the invading enemy in Plumbington. You have to try and keep it out.
It was cold, which you maybe can't tell from seeing all these children in swimwear?
This is how sensible people were dressed for that expedition. Brrrr.
Afterwards we went to Balnarring in search of sausage rolls (not as easy as we'd thought it would be, there was a temporary shortage right when we wanted them in bulk) and then sweet treats from the bakery.
Fixit rode his bike down to have dinner with us on the Sunday. His mean work were being mean about giving him holidays. Again.
Jenny's horse-mad daughter made good use of our proximity to my horse-mad sister, who owns a horse and let Bell ride it. My Mum was also visiting my sister during our time in Somers so it was nice and easy to pop over and visit them all.
We also took the kids to the historic homestead and bird-watching/wetland grounds at Coolart. The kids were not made aware of the fact that there'd be a big walk as part of this activity. Look at them heading in. So unsuspecting.
The middle kids even practiced their leapfrog skills.
We headed off down the walking trail, and the kids posed for the camera. This is right before they started a game of pretending to pose for Jen and Astrid and then running off before the cameras could be brought to bear.
Meanwhile my two took the walk at a more leisurely pace.
We caught up eventually.
We saw lagoons and bridges.
We sat in the hides and watch some waterbirds.
Then we went to the nice barbecue area for a reviving lunch. Some of the kids climbed trees whilst waiting for the sausages to cook.
We finished off by going inside the house, which the adults enjoyed for history and the kids enjoyed for exploring. We dissuaded the children from sliding down the banister of the grand staircase.
Then it was time for the boys and I to go home, collecting my Mum from my sister's house and bringing her back with us to Melbourne so she could see our new house.
I love these Mothers Group holidays. Not too much work, and plenty of fun, as a good holiday should be.