Sunday, 21 June 2015

Portraits of my daughter - the 52 project (25/52)

{the 52 project}
A portrait of my daughter, once a week, every week, in 2015. 
Linking up with Jodi from Practising Simplicity.  

25/52

 
Here's to the open road, adventure and lots of cups of milo around the campfire. Can't wait to go on holidays with you.  

Friday, 19 June 2015

Road trip holiday - Lismore to Carnarvon Gorge

Three years ago l had this inexplicable desire to just pack the car and hit the road.  I think l must have needed an escape, but l saw that Great Dividing Range in the distance and just wanted to drive towards it.  To see new places, to wander, to get away from everything. 

And we did just that.  We hired a pop-top camper and hit the road with no set itinerary.  We had three weeks and our only plan was to visit Lightning Ridge and the rest we would make up as we went along.


Just about to hit the road, three years ago. Look how little Bella was!
It's fair to say that trip was probably the best we've ever had as a family.  The sense of freedom, the length of time that laid out before us; life on the road was wonderful and refreshing and deeply relaxing.

We also saw a lot on that trip, and really didn't cover that big of an area.  It struck me that there is just SO much to see out there.  Places and areas that could rival some of our more well known tourist attractions, but nobody seemed to know about them. 

 

Bella, almost four years old, at the Warrumbungles.

Us girls exploring sandstone caves in the Pilliga Scrub.
In Australia, open road touring is dominated by people we call Grey Nomads -  older, retired people that travel independently for an extended period of time with a caravan or motor home.  It's custom here to work, raise your family and then when you retire, hitch up the caravan and see our country. 

After three weeks on the road, we could see that these Grey Nomads were onto something.  But instead of waiting under we were retired, we agreed that starting now whilst we're young (l think we're still young?) was indeed the sensible thing to do.

It's taken us three years, but we're finally ready to hit the road again. We had planned to go again the year after, but our lives were turned upside down when Mum was diagnosed with cancer and passed away soon after.  Then last year we were all set to go, but decided to sell our house and move.  But this year, there's no stopping us. 

Again we have three weeks, which seems to be the perfect timespan for us.  It's enough to get that sense of freedom and not free constrained, but short enough that we can work around school holidays and its' not an extended period of time to be away from home. 

And our only set plan is to travel to Carnarvon Gorge in western Queensland, and stay for 5 days.  

Otherwise we have no plans, no itinerary and we'll make it up as we go along.

The direct route from home to Carnarvon Gorge is about 900 kilometres, so the trip will be a bit longer than our first adventure.  But Bella is older, and will be able to handle longer trips in the car better now.


And the best news?  We leave on Monday. 

So excited, but l still have a long list of things to do before we leave.  

At this stage l'm undecided as to what blogging l'll do whilst away.  I'm taking the laptop, but it will largely depend on how much internet coverage we'll have along the way.  Perhaps also how relaxed l get as well - who knows, pulling myself up out of the camp chair to sit at the computer may well be a big ask!  

Follow along on Instagram as l'll be sharing photos there for sure.  You can find my account feed in the top right hand corner of this page.

Hooray for the open road.  Here we come.   

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Jerusalem Creek - Reconnect with Nature

{reconnect with nature}

A community of like minded people who see the value in understanding and appreciating the natural world.  Each week we step outside, find some nature, photograph it and learn something about it to share with others.  Just a few sentences about the tree you’ve photographed, or the bird you've seen, or how you’re noticing the seasons change is all you need and together we'll reconnect with nature, one photograph at time. 
 Read more about the Reconnect with Nature - one photograph at a time idea here.

 
Jerusalem Creek 
 
Hidden behind the dunes in Bundjalung National Park, is a special little place called Jerusalem Creek.  Jerusalem Creek is a small waterway, only about 5 kilometres long, that runs behind the dunes before meeting the Pacific Ocean north of the Black Rocks Campground.

   
In the aerial image above you can see the Black Rocks Campground at the bottom (the white lines are unsealed roads cutting through the white sand).  Then stretching to the north is Jerusalem Creek. 

 
Considering Jerusalem Creek always holds water, you might be thinking it's unusual that a water way would exist in such a sandy landscape. Wouldn't the water just drain away?  
Well the Creek's secret is the Coffee Rock that underlays the area, the cemented sand that featured in last week's Reconnect with Nature post.   The Coffee Rock acts as an impenetrable barrier which creates a perched water table and allows the Creek to always hold water.

 
The Creek winds its way through the heathland and is lined with Melaleucas or tea trees.  The organic rich environment has stained the colour of the water, so it's a rich tannin colour but still ideal for swimming and fishing.       
 
 
The still water and pristine environment make the Creek a very popular place for canoeing, and a pontoon for launching non-motorised vessles has been provided. There's also a walking path so people can follow the Creek down to where it meets the ocean.      

 
The Bundjalung National Park is a great example of what our coastline looked like prior to human settlement and development.  The Park preserves around 30km of coastline and within it, many absolute gems like Jerusalem Creek.  Together with other reserves to its north and south, they make up the longest stretch of protected coastline in our state.
How wonderful to know this will all remain protected for generations to come.          

Hope you've all had a chance to get outside this week and reconnect with nature.  Looking forward to seeing all your photographs.

Note to readers participating in the link up.

Please use the following points as a guide:
  • Share with us something you've noticed in nature. 
  • Only share one post per week, and link to that post rather than your general blog address.
  • If you can, please include something about your find that allows us all to learn more about the world around us. Just a few sentences about the tree you’ve photographed, or the bird you've seen, or how you’re noticing the seasons change is all you need.
  • Visit as many links as you can, amazing things are shared every week.  
  • And finally, please include a link back to Living a Good North Coast Life in your post

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Portraits of my daughter - the 52 project (24/52)

{the 52 project}
A portrait of my daughter, once a week, every week, in 2015. 
Linking up with Jodi from Practising Simplicity.  

24/52

 
And obligatory inclusion to mark your birthday
Can't believe l hadn't included this image in the collection yet.  It's almost half way through the year, and already looking back over the past 24 photographs is a wonderful experience.  Such a simple concept, but a lovely way of recording your life as it is now.

Friday, 12 June 2015

Recording my child's development - the annual birthday survey

Over the years l've used Bella's birthday as an opportunity to record information about her growth and development.   

I've used a series of simple questions to help capture how's she changed and answered them at different stages during her development. It was something l started when she was very young, and looking back l'm amazed that in the thick newborn fog, l had the clarity to start such a process. 

The concept is simple, you choose a set of questions to answer about your child every year, on their birthday and record the answers.  As you do, you create a magical record of your child and their interests over the years.

The first time l did this exercise, she was only 5 weeks old.  I then continued, recognising the differences that were occurring when she was 7 weeks old, 9 weeks old, 11 weeks old, 15 weeks old and then 3 years, 4 years and 5 years old.  This year Bella turned seven. Seven.

Annual_birthday_survey

The survey has always started with a series of questions for me.

What we did the week of your birthday
Your birthday was on Tuesday, and you decided to go to school to celebrate with your friends.  We took in cupcakes for your class, which we had to cook in the Webber BBQ as our oven died the night before.  After school we went to McDonalds for dinner with Granny Annie and Uncle Mark.
Friday after school Dad and l took you for your first horse riding lesson, which was your birthday present from us.  You loved it, and did really well.
Then on Sunday, we took you and six of your friends to the movies to watch Shaun the Sheep and then over to McDonalds for lunch.  The party went well, and you had a good time celebrating with some really, very lovely friends.
Otherwise it was a normal week for us.  You attended school Monday through to Friday, and Mum and Dad worked.  Wednesday after school you had dancing lessons (ballet and jazz) and Saturday morning you went to swimming.

Current favourite toys
Your Monster High dolls and How to Train Your Dragon figurines

Current friends
Alyssa and Charlize are your two best friends.

Words to describe your personality
Loving, sweet, caring, gentle, shy, unsure, sensitive, very funny and silly.

What you eat (or how much you drank when you were a baby)
Not enough! The foods you will eat seem to becoming less and less and you take FOREVER to eat your food.  Very little fruit and just enough vegies.  You love crunchy food.

How much do you sleep
You sleep like a champion.  Your current bedtime is in between 8-8:30pm and you wake up 6:30-7am. It’s been that way since forever.

The best bits for Mum and Dad
Watching you flourish at school this year.  Last year was a rough introduction for us all, but this year you’re doing really well. 
Seeing what a sweet girl you have become.  You have such an amazing, caring soul, and are a wonderful human being.   

The not so good bits for Mum and Dad
Helping you navigate the social dynamics at school is hard.  It's a big, rough old world out there and when you're as sweet and caring as you are, dealing with other kids at school can be difficult. I'm still amazed at how unkind other children can be, and how young it can start nowadays. 
You also need quite a deal of encouragement when facing a challenge. 

What you consider the best things in life
I think you are happiest at home with Mum and Dad, and our growing collection of animals.  You love hanging out on the lounge, watching tv or playing on your Ipad.  You also love playing with the dogs and our cat.  I think being at home is your downtime, where you can just relax and be yourself.

Biggest accomplishments
Hands down it is how well you have done at school this year, both academically and socially. 
You started the year on level 2 spelling words, and quickly worked yourself up to the highest level in the class.  You've also gone up a few levels in reading and are enjoying it a lot more this year.  
You're showing more confidence at school and will stand up for yourself (and others) if need be.  There seems to be less drama between you and your closest friends, and generally things have settled a lot.      

Other things Mum and Dad have noticed
Your empathy for others is a wonder to see.  You seem to have a radar for people or animals that need some extra attention or love.  It's was no surprise when Dad came home and said that you had made a new best friend at dancing and that the little girl loves you to pieces.  That little girl is battling cancer and although nobody has told you that, you just knew that she needed some extra love.  Simply amazing. 



Now that Bella's old enough, l've also included an interview with her.

Favourite colour
Purple

Favourite toys
Monster High dolls, How to Train your Dragon figurines and My Little Ponies

Favourite fruit
Carrot!

Favourite tv show
Monster High, Dragons of Berk
Favourite movie              
Shrek, Star Wars, Frozen, Shaun the Sheep

Favourite breakfast
Bread

Favourite lunch                
Cruskits with butter and vegemite

Favourite dinner
Noodles, Tacos and Pasta

Favourite drink
Poppers of chocolate milk, milo

Favourite outfit
Monster High dress (with skulls wearing top hats)

Favourite game
Dodge ball at school, and go fish with Mum and Dad

Favourite animal             
Echidna and Koala

Favourite song
Blank Space and Wildest Dreams by Taylor Swift Legendary Lovers by Katy Perry

Favourite book
Her big book of Disney stories

Favourite friends
Alyssa, Erin

Favourite outside activity
Bullrush at school, playing with the dogs and helping with the chickens 

Favourite holiday
Camping

Favourite thing to take to bed   
Collection of Beanie Boos and her new Owl

What you want for your dinner on your birthday    
McDonalds

When you grow up what do you want to be             
A wildlife carer like Mummy and to type on a computer

It’s a lot of fun to look back over these and see how much she’s changed, especially since those early days.  Life moves quick, and what is normal and everyday now wont be in the months or years to come.  Even if you don't have children, selecting a set of regular journaling prompts on which to record and reflect upon how you change or how your family changes over the years would be an interesting process.  If you’re interested in doing something similar you’ll find a ton of inspiration on the internet. 

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Coffee Rock - Reconnect with Nature

{reconnect with nature}

A community of like minded people who see the value in understanding and appreciating the natural world.  Each week we step outside, find some nature, photograph it and learn something about it to share with others.  Just a few sentences about the tree you’ve photographed, or the bird you've seen, or how you’re noticing the seasons change is all you need and together we'll reconnect with nature, one photograph at time. 
 Read more about the Reconnect with Nature - one photograph at a time idea here.

 
Coffee Rock

A feature of the Black Rocks campground, within the Bundjalung National Park, is the large stretch of coffee rock that's been exposed along the coastline.  

 
Coffee rock is the common name given to rock-like formations of compacted or cemented sand.  The campground was named after these dark rocks that dominate the shoreline.   
 
 
I remember first learning about coffee rock whilst studying at University. 
Coffee rock is quite a common feature along the North Coast, so it was something we often came across during field trips.  Probably the simplest of way explaining how it forms is the interaction that occurs when organic rich groundwater of nearby freshwater swamps meets with saltwater. 


 
That interaction tends to have happened a lot along the North Coast, as many of our beaches are bordered by floodplains and low lying swamps.  The iron oxides and organic matter that are usually very abundant within the swampy groundwater interact and cause the sand within the dunes to cement.  If the layer of coffee rock stays buried beneath the sand where it can remain wet, the coffee rock becomes an impenetrable barrier.  The layer can be so hard that it often restricts the downward movement of both water and plant roots. 
 
In Bundjalung National Park, large areas of coffee rock have been exposed along the beach due to coastal erosion.  This has exposed the coffee rock to air, drying it out and making it soft and easily eroded.  Right along the beach you can see amazing formations and the evidence of erosion from waves and rain. 
 
  
Looks like coffee granules right?

As we were clambering around on the rock, it was amazing to think of how it was formed, and how long it's stayed buried and great to explain to the girls how it came to be.

 

Hope you've all had a chance to get outside this week and reconnect with nature.  Looking forward to seeing all your photographs.

Note to readers participating in the link up.

Please use the following points as a guide:
  • Share with us something you've noticed in nature. 
  • Only share one post per week, and link to that post rather than your general blog address.
  • If you can, please include something about your find that allows us all to learn more about the world around us. Just a few sentences about the tree you’ve photographed, or the bird you've seen, or how you’re noticing the seasons change is all you need.
  • Visit as many links as you can, amazing things are shared every week.  
  • And finally, please include a link back to Living a Good North Coast Life in your post

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Portraits of my daughter - the 52 project (23/52)

{the 52 project}
A portrait of my daughter, once a week, every week, in 2015. 
Linking up with Jodi from Practising Simplicity.  

23/52

 
Someone once said "the outside of a horse is good for the inside of people"
And l think that was certainly true for your first riding lesson. Above all the rest, l think this is my favourite photo of that first lesson.  It shows a nervous beginning, a patient teacher and how l captured the slight buckle in your step that you often do.