Just add water…

Add Water… We’ve been away from Disney cattle station and the Gore earthmovers for the last 6 weeks. It was dinner dates, coffee breaks and the usual stuff over 50’s need to do such as new glasses, physio, doctors and skin cancer removal. Visiting new restaurants and enjoying walks along the water all made this […]

We all love a wedding…

Wayne and Ang’s wedding We came to Brisbane, not only to pick up the caravan but to attend the wedding of Chris’s eldest son Wayne to his wonderful soul mate Ang.

An excellent wife

Meet our newest Grandson:

Luke David Freudenberg was born at 1.31am on the 1st November.
Weighing in at 7lb.
Both Luke and Lacey are happy and healthy.

A very proud Nanna.

A very proud Nanna.

Lacey had been getting Braxton Hicks contractions for the last month but when Luke finally decided to come he wasn’t mucking around.

David, who had been waiting patiently for his birth and kindly giving Lacey sympathy during this “Is it?…Isn’t it?” period, had decided to go fishing at 4am as it was his best window of opportunity for the weather.

At 11.30pm Lacey told David that the contractions this time hurt a bit more than usual, David decided to time them. When Lacey’s next contraction started 1 ½ min later it was “all systems go” in the Freudenberg household.

Now isn’t it the way when you try to plan anything.

Lacey’s mother Maureen had been living there for the last week and a half ready to look after Elliana if this case scenario happened but alas she and her sister had booked a Melbourne Cup cruise and had left 4 days prior. Maureen had booked this cruise before Lacey got pregnant.

Doug, their second choice had gone away for the weekend. Lacey wasn’t due until the 6th.

So a phone call to a friend, a quickly packed overnight bag for Elli and it was off to Buderim Private Hospital.

Lacey was trying a water birth so while they ran the bath she had a shower, David was parking the car and finding Lacey’s requested music USB. After entering the bath Lacey said she had one large contraction that she didn’t like and then the mid wife was saying she could see the head. The next contraction Luke was out.

No hours of hands being squeezed, didn’t even get the music on. Two hours and it’s all over. Now that’s what Labour should be like!

The hospital has suggested she better camp outside if they have another child or it could be a car birth.

Lucky for David the contractions didn’t start after he had gone fishing as he thought even and hour out he would have had plenty of time.

A very happy family of four now. For giving birth a few hours before Lacey looks great.

A very happy family of four now. For giving birth a few hours before Lacey looks great.

When I got the text message shortly after Chris and I were up drinking coffee waiting to watch the Rugby World Cup between New Zealand and Australia.

So once the sun had come up (way too many kangaroos on the road before hand) I headed off to the Sunshine coast. Chris couldn’t come this time as we are still feeding the harvesters at Koramba.

I know we are behind with the blog and need to catch up…all in good time.

For the next couple of days I got to spend time with Elliana while David and Lacey got to know Luke at the hospital. I had a ball taking Elli on “Adventures”.

We caught the bus to Caloundra for a “Pink Ice cream” and of course we had to go to the beach for a swim. Elli’s afternoon nap which is usually 2-3 hrs turned into 4hrs. I think we were both a little tired.

The next day it was off to The Australian Zoo which we have annual passes for. Elli wanted to see the tigers.

Elli got to see her Tiger at The Australian Zoo.

Elli got to see her Tiger at The Australian Zoo.

After visiting the hospital for lots of cuddles with Luke I took Elliana to Sizzlers for a dinner date.

She loved being able to pick lots of different foods and the dessert bar was a kids heaven. Lacey’s parting words to me were “No soft drink Nanna” – yeh yeh. What happens with Nanna stays with Nanna. The only thing was with all that dessert fillings, marshmallows, smarties, ice-cream, jelly etc. I was the one babysitting at home. So she didn’t go to sleep at her normal time but was in bed and asleep by 8.15pm.

Now Elli wakes up EVERY night, has done since she was born. She dreams so vividly “No I don’t want to do that” etc. Most of the time you just settler her, give her back a rub and she goes back to sleep. But she does wake up EVERY night. On this night she didn’t. She slept straight through till 5.30am. Nanna on the other hand was up checking on her all the time with my phone light hoping I hadn’t put her into a diabetic coma from all the desserts. Ha ha that should teach me.

Luke so far is a dream baby! Lacey does say he is his father’s son as he is looking for food all the time.

Elliana is taking her role of "Big Sister" very seriously. She keeps commenting on how small everything is on Luke.

Elliana is taking her role of “Big Sister” very seriously. She keeps commenting on how small everything is on Luke.

Christmas at Home

 

We’d promised ourselves that we’d spend Christmas at home this year as we’ve been away for the last three .

With the grand kids now old enough to enjoy it we weren’t going to miss it.
But first, let me recap the last couple of months as we’ve not written up the blog for a while.

We’re still out at the farm at Belah Park cooking for the men from Gore Earthmoving.

Our contract was to be for eight weeks but as sometimes happens, that’s been extended due to other jobs being added to the original contract work.
They’re a great bunch of guys but everyone was looking forward to the two weeks off during Christmas and New Year.During the last thirteen weeks Chris and I have had only four days off. This was while the job shut down while the boys went to the Gore Christmas party.

We took this time to go back to the coast and stay at our favourite unit (#46) at Maroochydore. It was great to see the ocean and green grass. We’d told everybody we weren’t doing the run around Brisbane to visit everyone this time, if they wanted to see us to come on up.
Jennie and Emily stayed the night while Ashley, Lish and the kids came up for a swim for a day and of course David, Lacey and Elliana visited most of the time. We loved it.

Elliana24-11-14

Elliana is growing up so fast

As usual, out of the four days off, two are spent travelling and two are spent relaxing, so the time went too quickly.

The owners of Gore Earthmoving have commented that it’s very unusual not to have days off due to rain, but in the thirteen weeks we’ve been here there’s only been four days off due to the weather. That was just one heavy shower overnight but enough to stop the machinery from operating  and then four days to let the ground dry out.
The farm is in desperate need of water and as we all watch the BOM radar it seems storms appear and then divide as soon as they come near this farm. We seem to be on the sides of the rain clouds but only get the wind and of course the red dust.

The storms go around us but we get the wind and dust.

The storms go around us but we get the wind and dust.

The earthmovers have now completed the original task of extending the reservoir and I got to ride in the laser leveller with Simon while they finished off the last of the wall.
The pictures don’t show the extent of the work as well as I’d hoped as it’s all the same colour but believe me it’s an impressive sight.

Original Reservoir

This is the reservoir when we first arrived with the extra wall that would come down.

This is the finished reservoir.

This is the finished reservoir.

This is another job, before and after of building a head ditch, adding drainage pipes and laser levelling the fields.

The before and after shots with the head ditches dug and pipes laid for the water.

The before and after shots with the head ditches dug and pipes laid for the water.

The main drain pipe in the Reservoir has been replaced with concrete surrounds. This is where all the water will drain to, then be moved around the farm using a complex array of channels, sluice gates and pumps.

The new drainage for the reservoir.

The new drainage for the reservoir.

Size

Here I’m trying to give a sense of the size of this reservoir. I’ve walked half way down the wall and taken a photo back up the hill to the Nissan.

We hope one day we get to see if full of water.

The guys out here often joke about coming back to fish in the reservoir when it’s full as they know all the good spots.
We’ll be returning to Belah Park after Christmas as there is another 2-3 month’s work here. Airstrip, new irrigated fields, a lot more pipe laying and other bits and pieces.

Chris and I are still building the Farm Management program!

We’ve purchased another development licence for the program we use to build the front end section. This enables me to help Chris with all the fiddley parts like formatting, leaving him to do the larger coding jobs. As Chris is in the caravan, I set up in the mess room in the kitchen donger once the guys have gone to work and pack up before they get home.

One big negative about our job here is that we don’t do as much walking as we did at Koramba.

There’s only one toilet and shower to clean, no garden to weed and no yard to mow, so we’re sitting more working on the program and this hasn’t  helped the waist line or my diabetes.

I had a blood test a while back and the count is back into triple figures! The doctor has doubled my medication and David and Lacey have given me the spiel of not seeing (literally) my grandchildren grow up or be able to take them for walks or swimming.

Seriously, David sounded just like me when I used to give him those lectures as he was growing up.
So while I was home it was lots of walks, no desserts and plenty of interesting salads. Not hard to do at home as Roxy, David and Lacey’s dog, was always up for a walk. Roxy would come running as soon she heard the “W” word, her very expressive face questioning “Did I hear right? Did you say WALK!” then she would not leave my side until I took her for her walk.

We bought Elliana an annual pass to Australian Zoo for Christmas as well as purchasing ones for both Chris and myself. This way when we come back home we can take all the grand kids to the zoo. The best part is with the annual pass we only need to stay for an hour or two and not spend all day there. There’s so much to see and Terri, Bindi and Robert have continued to fulfil Steve Irwin’s dream. The place is beautifully kept and very interactive between visitors and the animal’s without stress to the wildlife.

We ended up going three times and I would have happily gone more.

Zoo 3Zoo 2

I also had the pleasure of going Christmas shopping with Lacey.

Night shopping, day shopping, loved every minute of it. The crowds, the people, the whole mad circus. We even did the Christmas lights visits.

Chris of course stayed home unable to handle the madness of shopping.

I happily wrapped presents just to have the paper ripped off again so soon by the excited grand kids.

Christmas morning was spent with David, Lacey and Elliana watching Elli open up her gifts. The funny thing was David had thrown in a plastic toy fishing rod with magnetic fish to catch and this was the toy she loved most. The girl knows how to cast and now an excited father is already thinking of her next Christmas with a real rod.

Christmas 3

The colours of the ocean are amazing.

The colours of the ocean are amazing.

David and Lacey then went off to Lacey’s mothers for lunch and dinner while Chris, myself and the dogs went to the beach.

I love the colours of the ocean!

That aqua and green and as the surf rolls in the mix of white froth. We literately can’t get enough of the view.

The best part about staying at Wurtulla is only the locals use that part of the beach, so on Christmas morning we were crowded with 20 people 150m each way on the beach, completely different to further up at Mooloolaba as shown in the below photo taken by Nikki and James while staying there.

This was taken by James and Nikki at Mooloolaba. Hate fighting for a spot.

This was taken by James and Nikki at Mooloolaba. Hate fighting for a spot.

It was then off to Jennie’s place for Christmas dinner with the Jones family. It was great to catch up with everybody. Of course we ate too much.

Christmas 4

The rest of the time off was spent swimming, walking and enjoying the sound of rain on the caravan roof when the occasional storm came through, something we don’t hear very much of out west here.

 

A flying visit back to Brisbane:

I know it’s only been 2 weeks since we left Brisbane but here we go again.

Two reasons for the trip back..

1. Emily is flying to New York for a month.

2. The Accountant is fitting us in during her lunch break.

Emily is doing an intensive drama course on Broadway, as well as attending acting lectures at the University of New York run by her old Lecturer from ACU Dr Tracey Sanders.

Even though Emily only did one semester of a Bachelor of Arts degree she has kept in contact with Tracey and was encouraged to go to New York after winning the Rocky Horror Show competition.

Even though she works full time as Manager of Cue at the Logan store, Emily has put every other bit of spare time into dance , singing and drama lessons.
She wants to get back into the whole drama scene and when she returns from New York she has auditions for NIDA, The Conservatorium of Music, The University of Melbourne and the University of Perth.

We are so proud of her “Going after her dreams”.

She’s willing to keep going until she makes it no matter what the obstacles.

Her passion has replaced the world’s usual problems that can stop any of us achieving our dreams and just like her father, she refuses to let these problems stand in the way of her dream.

Staying in New York City and attending Broadway – that’s two of her dreams already achieved by age 21. Way to go Emily!

This is not to say she doesn’t put everything into her full time job either.

On her return home Emily has been asked to take on the management of the new store at Garden City Westfield now that the new wing of the shopping centre is nearly completed. She can still outsell most of the staff at Cue.

We got away from the farm Thursday and stayed the night with Barry and Christine. Unfortunately Barry had to start work at midnight, but we caught up with him again in the morning before he went to bed. Catching up with Barry is always a great pleasure for us.

We then headed over to the North side to visit Karen and then to our accountant. I’ve been seeing Shauna, our accountant, for 23 years and it was nice of her to give up her lunch break to fit us in. As usual we do a lot more talking and catching up than paper work.

We spent the next two nights at David and Lacey’s place. On Saturday we all headed off to the “Real Food Festival at Maleny” were we spent most of the day enjoying the great food and talks on home gardening and food preparation.

The Real Food Festival has a wonderful variety of food from Sunshine Coast producers, manufacturers, retailers and restaurants and it’s a unique opportunity to talk to, taste and buy from them.

There were presenters at various venues so we split up so we could attend a few. David, Lacey and Chris went to learn about keeping chickens as David has been thinking about getting some chooks at home. They found it very helpful and even went back to the presenters display to continue learning how to clip the chickens wings.

I went to Dan and Steph Muleron’s Sausage making class. Dan and Steph won the 2013 My Kitchen Rules. I learnt a lot and afterwards we all had a sausage from their stall.
I now know how to get that crunch when you bite through your homemade sausage and can’t wait to try it out at home.

There was also a “McDonald’s Farm” which displays baby animals. We wanted to show Elliana the animals as after visiting the farm she knows the difference between sheep, cows and horses.  At first it was a bit over whelming as we had bought food and the animals were hungry and in her face as they desperately tried to get at the food she carried, so we took her back again later in the day when most of the animal were asleep or a lot more contented. She loved touching and feeling the animals and we loved watching her.

Ahh so that's what humans taste like.

Ahh so that’s what humans taste like.

See Mum they're soft.

See Mum they’re soft.

"Now Elliana this is where lamb chops come from"

“Now Elliana this is where lamb chops come from”

Here we are planting lettuce to take home.

Here we are planting lettuce to take home.

Sunday we headed over to Jennie’s place where she had prepared a feast for lunch as a Bon Voyage lunch for Emily. It was good to catch up with Ashley, Lish and the kids, Barry and Christine and of course Emily and Jennie.

Ashley, Barry, Chris and Charlotte going through the door.

Ashley, Barry, Chris and Charlotte going through the door.

After a leisurely breakfast Monday morning Chris and I headed back to the farm about to head off on another adventure.

Where are going…WEST!

During the weekend away Martyn had rang and asked if we wanted to cook for an Earth moving company for about eight weeks.

We were assured Toby, the manager of Koramba, had no objections to us leaving our green house and shade cover behind and that we would be allowed back to the farm.

We said yes!

What will we learn next?

Trying to get to Brisbane:

We had planned to head back to Brisbane for a visit and as usual I had made numerous appointments, the doctor, podiatrist and this time the accountant.

We were going to get away early as we wanted to stop off at Computer Alliance and get my laptop seen to. Remember last visit I had Win8 put on to my computer well now I wanted it off.

I had so much trouble downloading program’s that I normally work with, if we got them on to the desktop in the
first place, when you went to use them, the computer would freeze.
I couldn’t even load the Governments AUSkey  for the BAS statements, even their Techs couldn’t get it to work.

I ended up shelving my laptop and using one of the touch screen computers we had bought for the business which has Win8 on them thinking that my laptop was to blame.

It was better but still a lot of trouble to download anything.
My laptop never had any problems before, you could plug anything into it and it would automatically download the right driver for the product and would open the programs easily.

I wanted that easy of work back. Computer Alliance said they would put Win7 back on.

Yah! an undo button. We all need an undo button in life when we get these idea’s in our heads and it doesn’t work out the way you thought it would.

So we are on our way to Brisbane and about 20 km down the road from Talwood a noise started coming from the motor. We aren’t mechanics but we thought it was coming from the manifold.
Do we turn back or take it slow to Goondiwindi? If we went back to the farm we would still have to go in to Gundy to get parts…without a car.
So we kept going and made it to Nissan at Goondiwindi where we were told it was probably a leaking manifold and now that it was hot, had stopped making the noise and should be ok to drive to Brisbane.
We asked this question twice as we were going over the Cunningham highway towing the van.  Yes we were assured.  It would also be easier to get fixed in Brisbane.

We made it 70km down the road until black smoke began pouring out of the car. We ended up having to call the RACQ to be towed back to Gundy as we had done a gasket on the turbo.

Awww broken, you need a tow truck.

Awww broken, you need a tow truck.

Hooking up the caravan to the tow truck.

Hooking up the caravan to the tow truck.

We parked the caravan at Martyn’s and Sarah for what we thought would be an overnight stop but turned into a four day wait. The gasket had to be posted from Melbourne, the mechanics who were working on it got sick and then it needed the studs holding the manifold and turbo to be replaced.

ahggggg!!!!.

Now we seem to find hold ups and detours can be just as fun as organised trips. This hold up proved to be no different.
Martyn took Chris fishing for Murray Cod.
Techniques, tall stories, and some cold morning swims will always be in our memories from those four days. We have yet to eat any of the fish as the day they actually caught any fish was the day the Nissan got fixed and we continued on our way to Brisbane.

Martyn with his Murray Cod

Martyn with his Murray Cod

Martyn and his mate  Fordie (David)

Martyn and his mate Fordie (David)

97cm

97cm

It was also great taking Grace, Martyn and Sarah’s 5 month old daughter for walks in the pram around Goondiwindi. She is such a good little baby with a beautiful smile.

With the Nissan fixed, we left Goondiwindi around 3.30pm Friday and headed to the Sunshine Coast arriving very late at David and Lacey’s. We then still had to go through the setup before falling into bed just as the rain started. There is nothing like going to sleep listening to rain on the roof.

Finally after 4 days we get to hook the van back up to the Nissan at Martyn's Place.

Finally after 4 days we get to hook the van back up to the Nissan at Martyn’s Place.

We booked the Nissan in with our old mechanic in Brisbane, Mark Adams Mechanical. He is honest, affordable and a really nice guy.
While Mark was chatting about life in general he was walking around the car listing numerous things he could see wrong with the car. This was before he had even put it up on the hoist.
Now I’m not saying he was making any of this up Mark shows you everything he is talking about. A 2 in hole in the muffler we had no idea was there that I could put two of my fingers in. Leaking shockies, the diesel chip we had fitted to improve the fuel consumption was disconnected. Fuel filter not clipped in, wires hanging on the steering column wearing out, he started to laugh and said he needed a note pad to remember it all. Remember we had just had it in the mechanic garage for the last 4 days and they never mentioned ANY of this.

“Mark just fix it”, we need our car to be in good mechanical repair. We never miss a service but we have decided while we are near Brisbane we will be bringing it back to Mark for our services in future.

We had already decided we needed a lift kit because if we wanted to put the wrap around bulbar it was going to need the extra height  with the extra weight.
So Lift Kit, new Shockies, muffler repaired, service done and every bolt and screw tightened as well as other little things we were happy with the $2490 bill.
We have paid up to $700 for a service on the Nissan in some towns. Mark had the car for two days but we couldn’t get back to Brendale from the coast for another two days, so in total out of the 16 days we were away from the farm we had no vehicle for 8 of those days.

Lacey, a Toyota driver loves to pick on the Nissan has now taught Elliana to finish the saying:
“Nanna and Grandpa drive a Nissan…Elliana finishes off the sentence while rolling her head back with…”aww broken, they need a tow truck”

I will have to capture this on video as it really is beautiful, even if it’s not true.

Even my dinner date with the girls was marred this time with Karen not feeling well. Monday night, after feeling a pain that she thought was gall stones for a few days moved to the center of her chest. She called the ambulance and was told she was having a heart attach. Karen was rushed to Prince Charles and within hours under went a triple bypass.

No blood pressure problems, cholesterol is lower than mine and Karen is a nurse, and even she had no idea she was having a heart attack until the Paramedic told her. Yes she smoked but that has now changed. Luckily everything is ok and she is home behaving herself now. It really does hit home how quickly life can leave us. Now she has to be walking 2.5km a day by the time she sees the doctor again in six weeks.

I had better get some walking shoes if that’s what you are suppose to be doing.

The rest of the time away was spent racing around trying to attend appointments and catch up with family. Chris and I came home crook again with colds (thank you grandkids). We think we might get a flu shot next year as colds seem to take a lot longer to leave us now.
We were glad to be back at the farm.

A family visit:

We had visitors come out to the farm.

David, Lacey and Elliana had been down at Tamworth for a family reunion to celebrate Lacey’s Nanna’s 100th birthday. On their way home they stopped at the farm.

We also had Noel and Dermot, Natalie’s dad and brother, visit at the same time.

Noel and Dermot arrived before David and Lacey so Chris took the boys out for a run around the farm.

They ended up down the back boundary of the farm near Stretch the supervisor’s place where they found more cattle eating the green carpet of barley in one of the 200 acre fields causing Chris to use the Nissan to chase them back to their home on the adjoining property.

Once David arrived it was back out again to try and shoot some feral animals. I think Noel and Dermot were rather surprised at the amount of wild life on this property. Kangaroos in plague proportions, emus with their young, foxes and of course feral pigs.

There was no luck on the shooting side and just like fishing it was the equipment at fault, they needed to sight in their guns, (Yeh yeh haven’t we all heard those stories “I would have got it but…”).

So it was back home to enjoy the evening around the camp fire with a dinner of lamb chops. We’d wanted to show off our own butchered meat supply of lamb, goat and of course let the visitors taste the beef from T-bone.

Grandpa showing Elliana the tractors and Pickers.

Grandpa showing Elliana the tractors and Pickers.

Plans were made to go out and check the pig traps for Shannon the next day and I wanted to show Elliana Shannon’s cows and introduce her to Topsy our little calf who’s now not so little.

The next morning after breakfast the boys took off to check the traps. Lacey, Elliana and I went out to see the cows. Elliana truly looked the part trying to feed the cows with grass while calling out “Come here”. Not quite sure what the cows thought of it all.

Elliana and cows 1

She looked the part with her gum boots, but now sure about her "Come here"

She looked the part with her gum boots, but now sure about her “Come here”

The boys returned back to the camp having had no success with the traps but they knew they had to sight in their guns as it had been a long time since anyone had used their weapons.

We ‘d brought David’s plinkers (targets made from steel plate that when hit with a bullet give a “plinking” noise) and so it was off to the back of the main  reservoir to set these up to test the guns as well along with some boards to mark out how far off their shots were.

Noel and Derment sighting their guns.

Noel and Dermot sighting their guns.

Along the top of the Reservoirs is a good place to put out targets.

Along the top of the Reservoirs is a good place to put out targets.

Lacey shooting “Fox Targets with David checking the accuracy.

Lacey shooting “Fox Targets with David checking the accuracy.

And what was Elliana doing you ask, watching “The Wiggles” of course

And what was Elliana doing you ask, watching “The Wiggles” of course

Chris’s was out by a mile but eventually they were all happy. David had a go of Chris’s 22-250 aiming at one of the plinkers 150 meters away. We thought he had hit it as it wobbled a bit but it should have spun around.

It wasn’t until we went to collect them that we realised the power in the gun as it had shot straight through the 10mm thick steel… all 5 shots. Elliana’s future boyfriends should take note.

All five shots straight through the plinkers.

All five shots straight through the plinkers.

Plinkers 1

Jack, Shannon’s pup, was fascinated by Elliana. It must have been that she was the same height as him and he never seen a small child before.

He didn’t jump up on her and if he tried to lick her we taught her to say “shoo Jack” and they soon became best mates, he would follow her around and they would both investigate things together, sticks, dirt, trees, rocks.

“Here want to play with the stick”

“Here want to play with the stick”

Jack watched her very carefully.

Jack watched her very carefully.

For dinner Wednesday night, Chris cooked his sweet Goat Curry and as always sitting around a roaring campfire was a pleasant way to spend an evening.

Thursday the boys headed out to walk the dry river bed where Shannon had told them the guys has shot 22 pigs the previous week walking it in the middle of the day. Yes they saw pigs but they were a bit slow off the mark to shoot them and the pigs quickly disappeared in the thick scrub.

Now David had come across a fox and even with the fox standing there looking at him he managed to miss it. He unloaded his magazine and raced back to try another shot with Chris’s gun, still no luck. Of course as family and friends we gave him heaps about it. His determination was set, he wanted to shoot a fox. These animals might look cuddly but are quite savage with the livestock and are feral.

Thursday afternoon we caught up with Jason one of the farm workers. Jason has a couple of lambs and a pig and he was happy to let us show Elliana the different animals. After a dinner of roast beef they were back out hunting and this time everyone was happy with their shots.

It was a great time seeing everybody and being able to show them around the farm.

The pleasure of being Grandparents:

This was the longest break we’d taken in 2 years.

I wanted at least 3 weeks away but Chris was already anxious about getting back to the farm, as back there he’d have uninterrupted time to finish the Farm Manager program he is currently working on.

I had things planned… a lot of things!

We didn’t get away from the farm until 11am and finally reached David and Lacey’s at 9.30pm that night after stopping along the way to do a few things and encountering the never ending road works which held us up for over an hour along the highway. David was at work and Lacey was at her mother’s so the procedure for putting the van away at David’s went like this.

• Park the van over the road

• Get the spare key to David and Lacey’s house, open up and find David’s Toyota keys.

• Take off cover from Toyota, (luckily David had already hooked up the boat to the Toyota.)

• Park Toyota and boat out on the road

• Reverse Caravan into back yard, unhook car then park Nissan in driveway.

• Reverse Toyota and boat back in yard. Put cover back over Toyota.

• Level up van and lower stabilizer legs.

• Hook up water, sullage hose and electricity.

• Shower and finally bed.

WHOA!

All this while trying to keep quiet so as not to wake the baby asleep next door at Casey and Catherine’s place.

It was back on the road by 8am the next morning, this time I was going away with the netball girls for a few days down the coast and Chris was staying with Barry and Christine. The last time us girls went away was 6 years ago so it was differently overdue. Talking, laughter, wine and food was the order of the day. Even the rain didn’t dampen our moods. The spa was hot, the pools heated and enough restaurants in walking distance that the car was not used. It was a great way to start our break.

Andrea, Sandie and Karen. We laugh so much we cry.

Andrea, Sandie and Karen. We laugh so much we cry.

Breakfast from the balcony

Breakfast from the balcony

The Calypso Plaza Coolangatta.

The Calypso Plaza Coolangatta.

Chris as usual loved catching up with Barry and Christine, as well as catching up with Emily, Wayne and Ang.

 

Remember the first time your children said Mum or Dad and the thrill it gave you? Well that thrill comes back when you hear your grandchildren call you Nanna and Pa. I would hear Elliana awake in the mornings and I would go inside and as soon as she heard me unlocking the door she would start calling out “Ah Nanna, Nanna” and I would be welcomed with this huge smile.

Nothing melts a heart more than a smile.

Nothing melts a heart more than a smile.

Grandpa would get the same attention. Elliana would hand books to Chris, then climb onto his lap while he read her stories. Look out if he sat in the wrong lounge chair!  “Pa” as she pointed to the “correct chair”. Swimming lesson, walks along the beach and shopping days are completely different with grandkids. I loved every minute of it.

I was there for Elliana's first haircut.

I was there for Elliana’s first haircut.

Nanna and Elliana at swimming lessons.

Nanna and Elliana at swimming lessons.

 

Chris and Riley putting together Charlottes birthday present.

Chris and Riley putting together Charlottes birthday present.

We visited an Aquaponics seminar while in Brisbane as we were thinking of adding fish to our hydroponic system. The one we visited was a large set up but I asked the most vital question for us, “How long can you go away for?” The answer – “1 week at the most in winter as the fish don’t need feeding as much then”. This system recirculated the water and still required other nutrients added to the fish water. We have looked at this system before but after experiencing the Autopot system it seemed to us it would be a step backwards. The Autopot system can incorporate aquaponics and we might investigate this more whenever we’re in Melbourne again, but for now this system is out of the question. The closest Autopot dealer to Brisbane was in Hervey Bay, so one of our days was spent on a leisurely drive up the coast. We met with Ross at his home where he happily showed us his set up. He had fully grown, producing pawpaw trees in the 12in pots and this made us change our fruit trees from the grow bags and repot them in our 12in pots when we came back to the farm. We picked up a window box and 10in pot for David and Lacey while we were there. Lacey would like to have fresh herbs growing but she is on her 2nd try so far and they don’t survive. At the point of writing this it’s been 5 weeks with no maintenance from Lacey and the plants are doing extremely well in the Autopot system.

 

Plants are still surviving in the Autopot system.

Plants are still surviving in the Autopot system.

We also got to visit the Caravanning and Camping show in Brisbane. We hadn’t been since 2010 and thought it had shrunk in size since then. One thing we bought was a remote controlled Jockey wheel so we are able to maneuver around the two trees we have at either end of the shelter that we store the van under at the farm. We had bought it off the inventor/ owner and he guaranteed us he would replace it if we weren’t satisfied. We like the idea of a man, simular in age to us, still inventing and producing items. This product had only been on the market for 3 months.

So after 3 weeks we headed back to Koramba to experience the farm with no distractions…yeah right! We were in for the biggest life lessons we have experienced for a long time…

Chris and Natalie’s Engagement Party Friday 23rd May 2014:

Unfortunately Big Chris couldn’t make this wonderful event as there were still a few residents left on the camp.

I drove back on the Thursday by myself and stayed at David and Lacey’s. Now, since I knew the event was coming I bought myself a new outfit (like every women does). I believed, due to the fact it was an outside evening event and at the end of May it would be cold. WRONG! Heat wave!

So of course I spent Friday out shopping for something ELSE to wear. I know, any excuse to go shopping.

Eaton Hills Hotel Rooftop function area.

Eaton Hills Hotel Rooftop function area.

It was great to catch up with so many people and I had an absolute ball. It was held at the Eatons Hill Hotel on the Rooftop, a great event area. Natalie looked stunning and Chris couldn’t keep the smile off his face every time he looked at her.

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Chris and Natalie so much in love.

Noel and Margaret, Natalie's parents giving their speech to the happy couple.

Noel and Margaret, Natalie’s parents giving their speech to the happy couple.

 

I enjoy writing speeches for the special moments in the boy’s lives, such as the 18th birthday when you honestly, never thought they would make it to this age. Growing up, defying death as they found out they couldn’t fly off the roof. Skateboards and mountain bikes rearranging their faces or teeth. Broken bones and learning to drive. Then there’s only being able to fall asleep when you hear the sound of their cars arrive back safely.

The wonderful "Red Velvet" Engagement cake.

The wonderful “Red Velvet” Engagement cake.

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Another speech for their 21st’s when they are already men but in your eyes they are still that little 5 year old who wants to tell you about how he caught tadpoles in the creek. And then the big ones, their engagement and weddings. You’ve already lost your sons to their fiancé’s and wives and it still shocks me that they are grown men as you hear them talk about insurances and making their wills. Writing their speeches brings back so many wonderful memories that you ask yourself “Where does the time go?”

As this engagement speech says, Chris and I wish for them a wonderful life, a great engagement and a marriage of great potential. Love Mum xxx

Chris and Natalie’s Engagement Speech 23rdMay 2014

We would like to thank everyone for coming to celebrate this special time in the lives of our son Chris and of his beautiful fiancé Natalie.   For the last couple of years my husband Chris and I have been travelling, so getting to know Natalie has been spasmodic at times. During the birth of Elliana I had the pleasure of staying with Natalie and Chris for a few days and this is where you see people in their true form.

It was easy to see the love between Chris and Natalie and the fact that each brought out the best in the other. When these two met at Amart All Sports, Natalie was Chris’s boss. And around that time Chris probably wouldn’t have made the  “Suitable candidates” list that Noel and Margaret wanted for their eldest daughter.

So when David, Chris’s brother, offered Chris another pathway with the words “Clean yourself up I can put your name down with ODG” Chris had enough brains to do it.  I look at my son now and see the man he has become and I look forward to watching him grow even more now he has the love of his life beside him. They say “Behind every great man, there is a great woman” but I believe more is achieved when you are beside each other, a “Team” working towards the same dreams and goals.

Being Married can be the most rewarding time in your life. How often do you hear of people who have near death experiences suddenly realise that the only things they thought about was their partner and family. The material objects in life that most people seem to spend more time on become unimportant.

So make the most of this special bond, make it the most important thing in your life because if you do the rest of life becomes so much easier.

I would like to pass on a couple of things I have learnt a long the way: Think about the other person before yourself.  What would they like to do, see, and feel? A marriage is not about ME ME ME Forgive them…. repeatedly. We’re only human and we make mistakes every day. TALK to each other. Talk and forgive……. Talk and compromise.

Never take this gift, the gift of finding your soul mate with complacency.  Natalie I’m so glad you found our son Chris, for making him your life partner. Together you can do great things, together you can conquer the world. So Chris and I, and everyone else wish for you a wonderful life, a great engagement and a marriage of great potential