Monday, July 27, 2009

Kai's Birthday

Today was Kai's 5th birthday. I found it really hard to celebrate it so far away from family, people who've been friends for a long time and Kai's friends of several years. Both Slade and Kai's birthday parties in South Africa have always been celebrated at our home, with lots of children running around and enjoying themselves, and my family there too.

Yesterday afternoon we had a small tea party with a few friends. It was really great. The children had a wonderful time, and it was nice to be able to sit and chat to the adults. The weather was wonderful so we sat outside on our patio. The children ran around playing inside and outside and just generally having fun.

I continued with my tradition of making a decorated cake (in fact, I did two this year...more about that later). Kai had chosen a teddy bear cake for the afternoon party. I was pleased with the way in turned out, even though it did look decidedly dog-like during the icing process!

This morning Kai opened her presents. We gave her a little kitchen unit that has a fridge, dishwasher and sink. The tap and dishwasher make noises which she absolutely loves! Slade had chosen a Dora track for his sister. She is really pleased with it as she loves Dora, and Slade rather likes the track too!

Kai had asked her friends at school to dress up for her birthday. Her teacher decorated the classroom with streamers and balloons and put pictures of fairies on all the tables. Phillip and I took the princess cake that I had made to Kai's classroom around mid-morning and had a little party with them. We then left them dancing to Kai's new Hi-Five DVD (she's really into dancing at the moment).

When I went to collect her she had several presents that she had been given by her teacher. It was really wonderful how they had spoiled her and really made her feel so special on her birthday. We are really so happy with Calamvale Early Learning Centre, which is the kindi that she attends. The staff are all so wonderful and caring. One of the mom's who came to Kai's party yesterday, and also works at the centre, said that it was really great when Kai, encouraged by her teachers, shared stories about South Africa earlier in the year, and that some of the children still talk about Africa every now and again!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Slade's Sports Day

Slade had his sports day at school yesterday. It was a really fun day. For the prep and year one children it is mostly just about having fun. They weren't involved in the more serious athletics activities that the older junior school children were doing.

The event started with a parade. The preps and year ones walked with their group of classes -- Slade is in the gecko group and as he is the class rep he walked in the front carrying the banner. Each group had a war cry that they had made up themselves. The older children were split up into their houses and each house had a war cry.

The preps and year ones then did 80m running races in groups of about eight. Slade came second in his run. He was really happy about that, and I was so proud to see him participating and having such fun.

After having a break, the children did fun activities in small groups. They did long jump, relay type games, kicked balls into a soccer net and did a small obstacle course. Slade thoroughly enjoyed it all and participated in everything. I am so proud of the way he tried his best, was confident in all that he did, and interacted well with the other children. A real feel-good morning!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Sunshine Coast

We headed up to the Sunshine Coast at the weekend. Leaving home at about 7am on Saturday we headed north along the motorway, stopping briefly at a beautiful botanic garden on route and then to Mons to the home of Derek and Odette, friends of ours from South Africa. Phillip worked for Derek, who owned a Liberty franchise in Westville, until they left for Australia about seven years ago. It was wonderful to see them and catch up. They have two children, Jessica and Bevan, and the children all played really nicely together giving us time to chat!

We left around lunchtime driving into Maroochydore, one of the big holiday towns on the Sunshine Coast. We stopped to look at a caravan and camping park there. Cotton Tree park is quite nicely situated alongside the river, right as it runs into the sea so you can walk around the bend and you're on the beach. A really great spot. The campsite is run by the Sunshine Coast council and is the biggest in Queensland. It was pretty full -- lots of camper vans and caravans especially. Funny to see shelves at the office for people to get their post -- seems that there are quite a few people staying there for lengthy periods of time!

We decided to head up the coast towards Noosa and stopped at another council-owned campsite at Coolum Beach. A really nice spot, still quite busy, but a much smaller park. The park is on the beach, just on the other side of the sand dunes so you can't actually see the waves from your tent. After setting up our tent, we headed onto the beach. It was wonderful out there -- blue sky, great waves. Slade so enjoys the water and was out there with his boogy board. Kai played a bit in the waves and really enjoyed playing in the sand as well.

We also spent time at the play area, just up from the beach. Kai picked up a branch from the ground and started to sweep the stairs leading up to the little play room at the top. We wondered if that's something she learned in Africa!

We made use of the electric BBQ facilities (for 20c) at the campsite, and the jug (kettle) and hot plate which were free for anyone to use. The evening was cool, but we made hot water bottles and got into bed early. No fires were allowed in the camp and we had an unpowered site, so we had an early night and went to sleep listening to the sound of the waves.

The next morning was more of the same -- time on the beach and at the play area. I also spent time walking around looking at some of the many resorts and apartment blocks for a possible place to stay later in the year.

We had a long trip back -- lots of traffic for no apparent reason -- perhaps just other people who'd also been away for the weekend. But all in all it was a great weekend, and the kids are very keen to go camping, particulary at the beach, again soon.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Fabulous Weekend!

We have had the most wonderful weekend filled with such excitement for the kids (and Phillip and I really enjoyed ourselves too).

Yesterday (Saturday) we went to South Bank in the city where there was a Hot Wheels (cars) event. We parked at the railway station fairly near to our house and took the train into the city.

The Hot Wheels promo was fairly small, but the kids had an absolute ball.

There was one marquee where they could play with hot wheels toys -- the cars that change colour when sprayed with hot and cold water, and other tracks that could be put together. They have really wonderful systems that fit together and you can set them up so that one car goes part way along a track and then sets off the next car, which goes along and sets off the third one, and so on. A little challenging in a room full of children, but great fun nevertheless.

There was also this amazing limo there as part of the promotion. Amazing inside -- a fancy bar like look to it! Seriously flashy!

The kids got given cars, and the absolute bonus was that when the event ended at 2pm, the organisers didn't want to pack up anything so the children could take any cars and all the tracks and other bits and pieces that they were playing with. Well we came home with a whole lot of stuff. The spray set, as well as various other bits and pieces of track that fit together, and a couple of cars!

We wandered around South Bank a little, mainly while walking between to and from the railway station. The kids played in a wonderful play area and we spotted this funny sign, which was in a covered area that was about 3m by 2m in size!

One of the most wonderful things about South Bank, and I am so looking forward to taking my mom to see this, is this beautiful bougainvillea archway.

Then today, as a special birthday treat for Kai who turns five later this month, we went to the Princesses Disney on Ice show. Kai was absolutely star-struck! It really was beautiful. We were at the huge Brisbane Entertainment Centre -- great venue, easy to park, and just off the motorway -- and we were sitting almost at the back (in the cheapest seats!), but we could still see quite a lot and managed to get some okay pictures.

The skaters were wearing great costumes -- I especially liked the Ariel scene -- the octupuses and sea horses, and in the Beauty and the Beast scene, there were skaters dressed up as cutlery wrapped in serviettes! The dwarfs had really great facial expressions.

It was wonderful to see all the skating. The show featured various princesses -- Ariel, Aurora, Mulan, Cinderella, Snow White, Belle, and there was a dragon that breathed fire.

There was a beautiful carriage that carried Cinderella, and at the end of the show Tinkerbell got into it and fireworks went off around her. What a way to end!