Friday, 30 April 2010

Brendan Cowell - Two degrees of separation

I was driving this morning and heard Brendan Cowell (BC) on Triple J. I'm no longer a regular JJJ listener, I think I have outgrown it, but sometimes I still dabble. Today was lovely because I really like Mr Cowell. He's a funny mite with a unique take on life. One of those low-vibe but engaged types. If I were better at friend stealing, Brendan and I would be friends. We're not, but there is a story. There is always a story.

I didn't realise that I had met BC actually. My husband had to remind me.

It happened like this. Alhough we didn't have Foxtel, I cottoned onto the whole Love My Way series via the DVD store. I would borrow a whole series and devour it. That was one hellova story.I was in. At one stage, during one of my marathon viewing sessions, The Geege said to me "I'm glad he made it. He was always such a funny guy".

He was referring to BC, who played Tom, the complete F!ck Up of the series (although, truthfully they were all pretty messy). I of course retorted with some comment about "how would you know?" at which point, The Geege informed me that BC used to visit our house in Summer Hill (back in the 1990s). Apparently he went to uni with one of our old flatmates and was a regular couch dweller at our place. Who knew?

I wracked my brain. Nope. No recollection. None.

Do I remember seeing him at any of our parties? No. I cannot remember meeting him at all actually.

How can you just forget someone? Especially someone who would go on to be a famous dude? Especially someone who you find so interesting to listen to when he is interviewed on the radio now? It seems strange.

I can remember all the other couch dwellers from that time. The couples, the artists, the musos. But no BC.

I still keep in touch with my old flatmate. The one who is friends with BC. They are probably mates on FaceBook and I could probably stretch back into BC's life if I were so inclined.

I'm not.

I love that I have this funny non-connection with BC. It makes me like him even more. But the truth is, I was already a fan before I knew that we were almost friends. He is a fine actor and a wonderful screen writer. Best of luck with the new flick BC. I will be out to watch it when I can.

*Photo from theage.com

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

I don't get the whole fancy dress thing

Image from here

Our school is holding a Trivia night in a few weeks. My friends and I are mad about trivia. We used to play every Thursday night at the Dry Dock in Birchgrove before we all had kids. We were called the Crazy Dates. Our form was variable but were known to win from time to time (especially when my Dad came along for a game). Mostly we just had a laugh, hung out, ate some good pub grub, had a few beers and planned our weekend. The Crazy Dates are getting together for the Trivia night at the school. It should be fun. Except for the fact that it is fancy dress. It is a Circus Night.

I have to be honest and say that I am not a big fan of fancy dress. I just don't get it. Why do people want to dress up as Supreheroes or celebrities or something starting with the letter 'b'? What is wrong with a pair of jeans? A circus theme is particularly wrong for me as I have a thing about clowns too. I despise them and find them scary. No doubt there will be lots of clowns at the trivia night. This alone is reason not to attend for me, but I will because it is a fundraiser for the school, and I love trivia and the Crazy Dates will be together again. I doubt I will get fancy with my dress though. I can absolutely guarantee that no big clowny wig will find its way onto my head. No clowns for me. Not even for a good cause.

I have a friend with whom I went to uni. He is an awesome guy. Smart, funny, musical. He is also mad about fancy dress. I can't count the number of parties he and his flatmates had in the 1990s, all of which were fancy dress. James Bond. Alter Ego. Boys as Girls. It felt like every week were dressing up as something different. In hindsight, I realise that my anti-fancy has been with me awhile. I realise now that I had a pretty standard fancy dress thing at each of those parties. I wore this sparkly (short) blue dress I picked up at an op-shop (most of my wardrobe came from op-shops when I was at uni) that I would morph into any theme. I am not sure how it worked at the gender-bender party, but I am sure I pulled it off!

I wonder if fancy-dress aversion is hereditary? I can remember my Mum and Dad being rather pained by the fancy-dress themed functions to which they were invited. Mum went as an elephant to one such event. She dressed as an elf and carried a wooden 'ant' that Dad made her (get it? elf and ant?). At this point in time, my two older boys are very partial to a Spiderman outfit. They wear these, themed party or not. They are certainly breaking with tradition, but they are at the prime of their 'imaginative' play and I guess I should expect a bit of fancy dress in this phase. Maybe it will continue and we will be hosting fancy dress parties forever more. I doubt it. I will have to put my foot down at some point. There's only so much a party-pooper like me can tolerate.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

A Risky affair

We just spent the weekend away with our friends. Before we all had kids, this group would pack up and head away for most of the long weekends in the year. We had many trips to Gorokan (my husband's family has an old fibro there on the lake), the Hunter Valley (where we would inevitably drink all the wine we bought before we'd even left the region), the Blue Mountains (for a bit of bushwalking between beverages), Byron Bay for the music festivals and Little Hartley (where one of our friend's family has a wonderful farm). These have been some great times. The best in fact.

It was a pretty big deal to get away together again. It has been awhile since we managed to get away. Everyone has been busily breeding and finding an appropriate 'gap' hasn't been easy. I think we last had a trip together in 2006 (if you don't count the Port Douglas wedding for R and G in 2007). This year is our ten year anniversary of all being friends (some of us have been friends a lot longer, but all of the parties have been in there for at least 10 years now). That is a lot of weekends away, and a lot of fun and games to be had. There are now seven children (five and under) to accommodate, as well as 8 adults, so getting away is a much harder prospect. We have two amazing women in the group who love to plan and organise (not me!). They are whizzes at googling and researching and found us a wonderful homestead on the Central Coast.

It wasn't our first trip to the Central Coast, Gorokan (or Gozza as it is affectionately known) is there too, but it was our first one where all of the electricity in the house was fully functional, where we all had ensuite bathrooms and where we had a tennis court and pool for all of our entertainment needs. Plush. It was a great house that really did suit our needs. The kids had plenty of space, we could contain them (tennis courts are awesome large play pens!) and see them from wherever we were. Tops. Once the kids went to bed, there were plenty of places for the adults to get on with things without having to worry about noise. The bonus was we even had lovely places to go to do some sight-seeing and driving when the weather turned on Sunday. The Central Coast is a beautiful part of the world.

After the kids were down for the night, it didn't take long before we got stuck into the wine. It took even less time for us to get stuck into our other vice. Risk! The battle was on. I don't know if you have played Risk? It is a boardgame about war and global domination using dice. It is a long game (usually lasts about 6 bottles of wine and a few night caps). Our group loves it! We have been playing against each other for years. Everyone knows everyone's game and yet, it remains as exciting (and time consuming) as ever. We often play in teams so that the game can go on even when someone is off cooking dinner, going to the loo, getting a 'round' or whatever. It really is an obsession with our mates. In the end there are usually a few narky moments (especially when the alcohol consumption increases) but all is forgiven once the winner is announced and the dice are put away. This weekend we had 3 nights away and 2 games of Risk. It was a good fix (and may have to last us another 4 years until we can all get away together again!)

This weekend has reminded me that good friends are precious. I am so glad that I find the time to nurture these relationships because they make a crazy world that little bit saner. We put in the hard yards 10 years ago to make 'friends for life' with this group and they are more 'frandily' than friends now. I feel so lucky to have such wonderful people in my life and for us to be able to take time out together to enjoy life. I look forward to our next Risky Affair together, because no doubt it will be accompanied by lots of laughs, story telling and memory making moments as has been the pattern for the last decade. Happy 10 years guys!

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

The bum queen

It is not what you are thinking. Not more tales of nappies. I promise. I want to tell you all about a health issue that I have been struggling with and I know that many of you are too.

I had to go to the doctor today. It was one of those appointments that you have to psych yourself up for. Not for the girlie bits, but for my bum. My regular doctor was not available. She is well acquainted with my bottom so going to see her would have been a lot easier. Instead, I had to go and see the Registrar (ours is a GP training unit). He is still learning to be a doctor, is guaranteed to be less than 25 years old and will have to be supervised by another doctor. The horror. Two strangers looking at my bottom!

I am a long term bottom sufferer. You name it, I have had it. From my year of constant Anal Fissure (AF) hell following the birth of my first child (healed when I got pregnant with my second) to a more intermittent year of AF and haemorrhoid disruptions (healed when I got pregnant with the twins) and another chronic AF after the twins (healed when I lost weight with WW). Prior to this weekend, I have been pain free for all of 4 months. I honestly can say that being able to do your ablutions without the need for Nurofen and Rectogesic is like escaping a prison for me. It has been blissful.

At the weekend, something went wrong. My closely balanced diet, exercise, fibre consumption, fluid intake equation came upstuck, and consequently, I am back in pain. The absolute horrendousness of it! I thought I was done. The pain has been of distractible proportions. I honestly can say that it is on a par with labour pain, although it is constant (not every 5 mins for a minute or two). After a number of days of this, and no help from the Nurofen or Rectogesic combination (my carefully conconcted routine for dealing with the pain of defecation) I realised that this is NOT an AF.

One moment of joy (maybe this won't go on for the next 52 weeks) and another few of horror (what could possibly be more painful than an AF and not require surgery? followed quickly by, I will have to bare my butt again). Sigh.

So I went today, saw the young doctor (who was nice about it all) who was supervised by the older doctor (who I used to work with) who both had a good look up my... well you get the picture. Anyway. The good news is, no AF. The bad news, a thrombosed haemorrhoid. If you haven't had the pleasure I hope you never do (google it!). If you have, please tell me there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

So as I slathered yet another cream onto the region this evening, I reflected on this journey with my sense of humour (as always). If you can't laugh about it... The doctor said to me to think of this everytime I found the pain unbearable (borrowed from Forest Gump) "Life is like a thrombosed haemorrhoid, sometimes it is a real pain in the *ss".

I truly am the bum queen - I even have my own motto now :)

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Nappies all round at our place

I never thought I would have 4 kids in nappies at the same time. My kids are close together, yes but I would have thought that my eldest one would have cracked the toilet training code by the time the twins came along. In many ways he did, but not the night-time thing. I think toilet training (TT) is an art, and I think I probably should have learnt more about it before it began, but I didn't and I am still yet to be fully successful at it. We still have the twins to do, so maybe by confessing my failings I may get some good tips. So here is the status quo.


The Nugget showed some interest in TT just before I was about to give birth to Doo Dah (he was 20 months old). At that time I was not prepared to tackle TT whilst breastfeeding a newborn, so I discouraged him. He never showed any interest again. By three, I think he bagan to see the benefits of having someone sort out his mess. We tried everything to try to spark his interest. Books, rewards, toy withdrawals, all manner of desperate measures, but nothing. He was nearly 3 and a half before I finally had success encouraging him to have a go! I credit this to my sister-in-law actually. She bought him a pair of spiderman boxer briefs he simply had to put on. He was wee ready within a couple of days. Number twos took a little longer, but basically the whole thing was quick and fairly painfree. Or so we thought.


Nugget regresses with TT when things get a bit tough in his world. We saw this when the twins arrived (blatant marking of territory) which was highly distressing, but short-lived (thankfully). We also saw it when we were talking a lot about starting school. He started pooing in his nappies at night! He would go in, poo, come out and tell us and we'd have to clean him up. It was a particularly difficult stage. I didn't handle it well at all. Four year olds poo should NEVER have to be handled in this way. Awful business. Thankfully, another short-lived phase.


Doo Dah was a different kettle of fish. He started TTing at 2+3months. The twins were all of 3 months old, but after the last disaster, I wasn't prepared to delay it this time. He had many accidents to begin with, but he was sorted with wees in a couple of months. Number twos on the other hand... he would save those up for his nappy (day or night sleep). This went on for at least 6 months until finally he just started going to the toilet. He is out of nappies in the day (still occasionally wees if he has a long day sleep), but still in nappies at night. He plays all the games and tricks Nugget used to, like going to bed and then getting back up insisting he needs to do a poo even though he has been put on the toilet before bed. Argh.


So this brings me to now. 4 children still in nappies at night. The Nugget has been having a few dry nappies in the mornings lately (but never the magic three that my Mum says I should insist on before taking him out). All attempts to have him out of nappies at night have been unsuccessful and have generated lots of washing (I am already at my limit in this department). I haven't tried the Doo Dah at night, but he is still wet in the morning. There is no real end it sight it seems.


So what have your TT experiences been? Got any ideas or suggestions for me?

* Photo from: http://www.alipants.com.au/

Friday, 16 April 2010

A very Lego birthday

Nugget turned five yesterday. We had a wonderful day with the extended family. He was spoilt rotten. So many gifts! I was pretty happy that he got loads of Lego. He has been madly constructing ever since. Lego brings back many fond childhood memories for me.


Lego is good wholesome fun. Sister B and my brother and I used to play Lego for hours. My brother made a mean Lego robot. Sister B and I were all into houses. Usually she made these elaborate 3D mansions equipt with chimneys, double brick walls and a fully tiled roof. I was more into floor plans. Sister A was often reading (she always had her head in a book) along side we Lego-ers but she was always involved with a quick comment or suggestion. These were good times.


My brother entered a couple of Lego competitions too as I recall. He is a bit younger than we girls and by the time he hit the double digits, children were starting to be a presence, in a sales and marketing sense. School holidays at the local mall were full of "activities" for kids, and Lego often had a big stand and the opportunity to compete for prizes (more Lego of course). My brother tried is luck but I don't think his robots cut it with the big players. It was lots of fun though and I was a very keen observer. Clean wholesome fun.


I am excited that my boy has hit the age where Lego is within his play repertoire. We have been having a ball putting together the Police Station and Star Wars spaceships. It is a lot harder than it used to be - there are steps to follow and hundreds of different shaped blocks - but it is still fun. Clean wholesome fun.


* Photo from: digital-photography-school.com

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

The peanut butter roll-up slapper

Nugget only started school this year and after one term I was already over the drop-offs and pick ups. Not to mention the school lunches! I was looking forward to the school holidays. To some quality time with the big guy. To getting my 3pms back. To not having to wake babies to walk the 300m to the school to pick the little fella up, only to be stuck with two whingey babies and a stack of homework. Two whole weeks of freedom.


As it has turned out though, having four kids at home all the time is quite tiring. Our house is very small (our family planning was not in sync with our house budget) so it has been a complete bombsite constantly throughout the holidays. Toys, blocks and craft leftovers strewn everywhere. The clutter tires my brain. And then there's the fact that we have been getting out each day to break up the monotony (and reduce the 'screen time'). Playdates, trips to the park, the Easter Show, parties, Christenings, bushwalks and of course, our camping trip have all been thrown in to the holiday fun. It has been great but well, tiring. You know, more washing, less time to do it. Children whose routines have been a little skewiff. Even getting to the shops has been almost impossible. The food rations have been slowing dwindling...


So I have been doing my best to dress up the daily menu. Really we are just having the same thing each day (fruit, rice crackers, popcorn, and sandwiches) in a different sequence with a little treat or two thrown in when good behaviour is present. It is quite dull really. All low Points, but even I am bored. The kids love a bit of peanut butter and, with the nut-free zones at school and preschool they don't get to have it much these days. They ask for it daily. There are only so many times that you can enjoy peanut butter on bread isn't there? Well actually, we have managed to invent an awesome morning tea. We call it the peanut-butter-roll-up-slapper and the kids think it is great! So what is it? A piece of wholemeal bread with peanut butter on it, rolled in half and 'slapped' into their hand (like a low-five). Hey presto! The PBRUS! No dishes, no butter, no knives and a bit of fun to boot. They get their PB hit and I can still give them a healthier sandwich option. Win:win.


I will be approaching Term 2 through different eyes, being a school holidays survivor. I will try to appreciate the routine more and pine less for the 'freedom' of holidays. I will spend my time stocking up the pantry, getting the toy cupboard re-organised and the jigsaw puzzles back in their boxes, purchasing craft supplies and getting ready for the July holidays. I will be more prepared next time and hopefully, less tired.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Easter Show adventure

I'm not really sure why I thought it was a good idea, but it seemed okay at the time. Yesterday, I took Nugget and Doo Dah to the Easter Show. I am being dramatic because it was lots of fun, but the feralness of the children today are testament to how tiring it was for them. Truthfully, we go every year. We even went last year when Dew Drops and The Minx were about 4 months old. This year though we decided that The Geege could look after the twins for the afternoon, so it was just me and the 2 older boys. We did the whole experience - public transport to the venue, 3-4 hours milling around the Show and public transport home.


The train trip to Homebush Bay was great. We had to take three different trains, but the boys didn't mind as they had been begging me to have a trip on the train for ages. We had a drink and a snack and watched all the exciting things one can see from a train (train tracks, stations, other trains for those of you wondering) and counted the stations to the venue on the Cityrail map. My kids love a map. Easy. There was still a spring in their steps when we got to the showground.


The show itself was also great. The boys didn't want to see the animals (what the?) so we spent the afternoon going on rides, looking at the vegetable displays, attending a cooking class, checking out the show-bag hall, home-brought lunch sitting in the big arena watching the show jumping and watching the street parade. Throw in an ice-cream and you have a lovely afternoon with two very excited boys. Fresh(ish) air, exercise and not too many preservatives.


All the greatness was over by the time we headed home on the train. "Trains are boring" my nearly five year old said as we waited for 20+ minutes at Strathfield station for our train. My three year old, who had spent much of the day in the stroller I rummaged up before we left, decided he'd had enough of sitting and was running like a nutter all over the platform. Not cool. At one point I turned my head for a second and when I looked up to find him he was touching the Countrylink train that was sitting at the platform. Thankfully I managed to pry him away before the train left the station but still... get back behind the yellow line, dude. Can't you read? Oh! That's right you are three and no you can't.


When our train finally arrived, we struggled on and were stuck in the doorway. It was hot and cramped. I had a nasty case of "shoppers wilt" and I wished we had been able to sit for the journey, but I couldn't. Instead I had two little boys to entertain and lots of other passengers to be polite to and apologise to for the loud, energised state of my overstimulated company. The boys were actually very well behaved (for the situation) and there is something delightful about the way the innocent questions of children bring a smile to even the tough audience of a claustrophobic commuter. Doo Dah (to the 16 year old male with spiked hair) "Didn't your Mummy have time to brush your hair this morning?" Bless.

* Photo sourced from: goaustralia.about.com

Monday, 12 April 2010

What to name the twins?

I was reading the newspaper recently and they published the 2009 data on NSW Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages top 10 names for babies. This year Isabella and William took out the honours, with last year’s favourites, Jack coming in at number 2 and Mia, at number 4.

It got me thinking about the terrible time we had trying to come up with names for the twins! Finding not only one name that both parents agree on, but two (or more) is a pretty challenging task. Although the possibilities are endless, there seems to be a theme in twin-naming, especially in the US! You need to decide whether or not you want the names to connect in any way (baring in mind that the names you choose will share a connection in the minds of people who know your children).


Some ideas that we discovered on the internet when we were looking at naming our twins. You may think I am a nut, but it is a much more difficult task than you first think!


Common Beginning (Same initial letter):
Just as a set of twins start their lives from a common source, so is the most popular method for naming baby twins in the US – twin names that start with a similar sound. It is a bit naff, but an overwhelming 52% of the most commonly used twin names follow this pattern. Considering our twins are Jake and Gemma, it is little wonder that I place this method at the top of the list!

The most popular twin names with similar beginnings are:
BOYS—Jacob and Joshua; Daniel and David
GIRLS—Ella and Emma; Madison and Morgan
MIXED—Emily and Ethan; Emma and Ethan


Mirror Image (Anagrams)
A unique way to match twin names is to find two names in which one spells the other in reverse. Such names are hard to find, and parents who find mirror names with a personal significance have come across a real gem. Check out http://nameberry.com/blog/2009/05/27/twin-names-individual-choices-same-meaning/ for some good options. You may be thinking that this cannot be real! Do people really do this? But trust me, when you are stuck trying to name twins you too could find this a compelling option.

Some examples include:
BOYS –Noel and Leon
GIRLS—Neelia and Aileen
MIXED—Aidan and Nadia; Axel and Lexa


Meaningful Doubles (Similar meaning or origin)
The final option that I list here is a more intellectual connection - names whose meanings are the same. Being a person who loves language and sounds (have I mentioned that I was a speech pathologist in a former chapter of life?) I find this to be a lovely twin connection. Names with similar meanings can add a profound connection to a name pair.

Here are some favourites:
Aurora and Dawn—both mean “dawn” in Latin
Dorothy and Theodora—both mean “ in Greek
Grace and Hannah—Hannah is Hebrew for “grace”


While cute name pairs may be appealing to you, there are the DEFINITE NO-NOS! Just as naming your child after a piece of fruit you ate daily during the pregnancy (think Gwyneth) may seem a great idea at the time, some twin name couplets are just not on. Remember that these names will be used often together and not only when the children are at school, but also when you are out and about pushing them in the pram... in your presence... connected to you. You might want to think twice before using the following combinations. Some of them are real, some I rather like, and others, well….

RAINE AND STORM
LUKE AND LEAH (I like this one!)
BONNIE AND CLYDE
BILLIE AND JEAN
MONA AND LISA
BARBARA AND KENNETH (think dolls)
RHETT AND SCARLETT (tee hee)
ADAM AND EVE


Some of this post is sourced from—http://www.babyhold.com/babynames/Popular/Popular_Twin_Names_by_Theme/ and http://www.how-to-choose-baby-names.com/names-for-twins.html

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Five tips for surviving camping with kids

 
The Geege and I are avid campers. Before we had the tribe we used to camp regularly. Usually we would carry all our gear on our backs, turtle like, and hike to some amazing Australian landscape or another, pitch our tent and enjoy the quiet. I truly love it.

We spent the greater part of 1999 in a tent in outback Australia travelling around. Grey nomads, without the grey. I don't think I feel more alive than when I am in the bush. And, I think my husband and I are never more connected than when the rustle of the trees and the scrunch of our hiking boots on rock can be heard above all else. Bliss!

It is little wonder then that we still camp. Even with four kids. Easter is probably the most popular weekend for camping in the year. When you are out there it feels as though the whole of Australia is lining up in a tent next to you. It is a crazy phenomenon as most Easters it rains. A lot. We rarely brave the Easter crowds (read Easter weather), but this year we decided last minute that we would. I was excited to be getting into the bush (we hadn't been camping since last October when the twins were 9 months old) but a little apprehensive (Dew Drop and the Minx are both still crawling). It would also be our first camping trip where it was just our immediate family. Two adults, 4 little children. It could have been a disaster, but we survived, and enjoyed, the experience. Children LOVE camping. They really do.

I thought I would pass on some of my knowledge gained from all this camping, for those of you who haven't yet taken your kids. It really is do-able. So here I go, my top five tips for surviving camping with little kids:

1. It is a good idea to go with a group (especially the first time). If you are not into groups (I am mindful that many people are not), just go with one other family who has kids of a similar vintage. The kids occupy each other which allows for some down time for the parents. We didn't get a lot of that on this trip (which was a shame) but there were other kids in the campground at Kanangra Boyd National Park and our older boys managed to entertain themselves with them some of the time. Another reason to go with others is that you will also learn a lot from other campers. They know about what food works, how to set up the campsite, what gear to bring and how to manage your day out there in the bush. Take a seasoned camper with you the first time you go. Covert their knowledge and their gear.

2. There are only a few windows within the first year of a child's life that you can happily camp. I have camped with a newborn and it was awful. Frequent breast feeding in the cold is not a lot of fun. So I say, wait until they are at least 4 months old before you go. From then you have a window until they are on the move. In our case, because our children's gross motor development has been slow, we had a window from 4 months until 10 months. Once they are crawling, I suggest you wait until they are walking before going again. Crawling children + camping = VERY dirty knees, hands, faces etc. Add a bit of rain into the mix and you have wet, muddy babies which is nothing shy of delightful.

3. Successful camping takes planning. Start with the menu. Try to think of food that all the family eat, that you can make in one pan plus or minus a pot and you can eat out of a bowl. We had an Italian sausage and tomato sauce pasta one night and a chicken casserole with rice the next. Minimal dishes = less washing up and less stuff to pack. Freeze everything you can before you go (including bread). It will keep the Esky cold and the food fresh for longer. Make your Day 1 sandwiches at home before you go and stick them in the freezer. That way you will have lunch for the car trip (if you have a long journey) or a ready-made lunch when you get there so you can get straight into activities (bushwalking, exploring) when you arrive.

4. You need to have the right gear. By this I do NOT mean the latest and greatest. Beg, borrow or steal the first time you go so you can make sure you like it before you commit, but once you DO get your own kit, make sure it:

a) Fits into your car! Compact is the key. You can only take what you your car can hold so think it through before you make any purchases. We had to take a trailer the first time our family of six went camping because our gear was too big for our circumstances.

b) Gives you a comfy night's sleep. By this you need to think about warmth and softness. Nowadays you do not have to give up comfort for packability, but you need to do some research so that you get the best gear to suit your needs. Let me just say that a $30 kid's sleeping bag made for a sleepover at a friend's house will NOT suffice in the bush. Your kids need to be warm, so get them a decent sleeping bag. Ours just have a bag and a self-inflatable mattress and this seems to work well for them (they are 3 and 5). I have never really found the winning recipe for babies sleeping arrangements, but as I am happy to have them sleep with me at night, and they are happy to sleep in portacots in the day, this works for us. A word of warning, we have spent literally years working out the right mattresses for us and lights/lanterns for our campsite and tent. God only knows how many we have tried. Our current combination worked a treat at the weekend. Finally success!

c) Is well maintained. Often you have to pack up in a hurry because the children are going nuts and want to get moving. If you don't have the time to dry everything meticulously at the campground, make sure you get it out when you get home and give it the attention it deserves. Camping gear is expensive and you need to treat it with some respect so that you get the longevity out of it that you should.

And finally,

5) Camp near(ish) to home. A long car journey at the beginning and end of a camping trip can be torture! On the way there, the kids are so excited that they ask every five seconds if they are there yet. On the way home, they are so tired that they are grumpy and difficult to motivate to get in the door. We use a DVD player in the car for longer trips (Kanangra Boyd is about 3.5hours from our place so was a big trip), and you can play all the car games (eys-spy, spotto etc), but at the end of the day, camping within an hour's drive (if you can) is the best option. It makes the whole thing do-able for an overnight camp which means you can go more often during the year and it becomes less of a big deal. The more you camp, the easier it becomes. Truly.
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