Sunday, April 22, 2012

Open Horizon

This is a photo heavy post - beware! I'd also like to suggest that if you think you like a photo, click on it.  These photos with big sky, big space, big experience; let's face it, they're just better BIG!

I think it's fair to say that Ted is not made for country life.  Ted was generally happiest when there was a concrete slab of some kind close by, and most disturbed by long grass - not that you'd know it in this photo, proof positive at the deceptive powers of photography. Our first day there was the day following his visit to the hospital for his trolley forehead gash, so he was easily overtired.  Lou even sent me a message saying that we shouldn't feel pressure to drive out there that day after our big night, but I received that message while we were in Katoomba.  The option for not going was never there with my lot - they had been chanting 'Bathurst...Bathurst...' in their sleep.

We settled in to the house, all the while marveling at the size of an abode that had a broom closet - space JUST FOR A BROOM? And it essentially has 'wings' - the bedroom wing, the playroom wing, the bathroom was too much for Ted. For the first two days he kept asking me to hold his hand as he walked somewhere out of sight (the idea of being out of sight whilst still inside a house was just an unfathomable concept). The house was enormous and perfect for housing four rambunctious children.  

After we unpacked a little, we headed out for a stomp to the creek.  Unfortunately the paddock was overgrown and as you can see, Ted was pretty over it pretty quickly.  I don't know if it has been entirely clear from the blog, but Ted is huge.  HUGE!  19kgs huge in fact. So lugging this deadweight around whilst trying to take photos was definitely a challenge.  The light was stunning but being encumbered so as not to be able to take the shots I wanted made me a despondent little vegemite.  Almost as despondent as Ted is modeling in that second photo.

It's the small things when you get outside the city.  Having long pants to protect your legs. The highest wellies to allow you to wade the deepest in the creek.  Finding the biggest stick.  Smelling the start of a fire.  Looking up at the sky and seeing the horizon.  Everywhere. 

I was also (slightly) trepidatious that spending a couple of nights with a friend would wear the friendship down to an uncomfortable level.  Would Lou and I still be talking by the end of the first night?  Would we find enough to talk about over two nights (how long we were initially staying for)?   Would she be appalled by how we live our lives?  Ready to report me to docs for how I parent?  Disgusted by my egg-y breakfast?
Well luckily for me hanging out with Lou and her delicious two boys was just about the most wonderful experience I've ever had with a friend and her family.  It just worked.  The two older children were particularly gorgeous.  Dexter and Harriet spent a lot of time off together having important discussions, long investigations and giggling fits.  Ted was unfortunately trying out his latest phase of hitting anything that moves the very moment he feels slighted, but luckily for all of us, Hugo is the most relaxed sweetheart and forgave Ted with nary a backward glance.  Lou and I were able to parent each other's children easily, and had a similarly paced approach to everything from the rhythm of the day to when to wipe down the bench. It's the little things, don't you know?  And Lou - it was so easy, hey?  

So after a couple of days we moved into a third day...and then a fourth... and well, then it seemed silly not to stay until the Friday, just for completeness, you know?  Each night Harriet would ask if we would stay for the next night and each day Teddy would ask if we were going to stay for all of that day in "Bafirst".  And I kept saying yes for as long as we could. Five days and four nights of country fun.
We went on an excursion to the local adventure playground, where Harriet was practically breathless with excitement at being told there was a maze there.  As I told her where I would be sitting, she said not to worry because I'd probably have to find her on my way back to the car since she'd be lost in the maze.  I was just placing out the food in our designated spot when Harriet came running out from said maze, yelling "That was it?  That was too easy!  Babyish!".  We had the Wiggles line-up here as you can see, although it was amazing how impossible it proved to take a photo with four children together, without some hideous facial expression on at least one of them.  Me, a professional child photographer?  Pfft.
We delved into the world of op shops, of course.  I found some gorgeous old tablecloths, one a particularly awesome circular one, which only requires a cut, waistband and zipper to make it a skirt.  Woot!   Harriet bought a bear (who has already been named Annie, Honey and something else I've forgotten before returning back to Annie).  Ted ran around like a lunatic.
There was one morning where it took four hours for us to feed the children adequately to just get out of the house for the day.  Seriously.  FOUR FREAKING HOURS!  I have serious breakfast bar envy - this view was a constant each day, with all four children lined up at the bar requesting (well let's call it what is was, shall we?  demanding) food.  Food of all types and temperatures, qualities and quantities.  Porridge for the older two and Ted.  Hugo with toast.  Me with eggs.  Lou with toast.  No showers or bathing for anyone under thirty (took away too much time from running around games, slamming doors and eating).  After porridge it was crisis management as Ted invariably hit someone with excitement and then on to second breakfasts - more toast, bananas, tinned fruit,  berry yoghurt, corn thins, nut bars.  Then one adult would squeeze in a shower whilst the other one tidied up and attempted to dress a younger child.  Then it was elevenses - apples, vitamins, cheese, more berry yoghurt.  Then the other adult's shower.  Then the older children were cajoled into stopping play for three minutes to throw on some new clothes for the day.  Then boots.  Then stockpiling food for while we were out of the house.  Then, miraculously, we'd get outside.  Sometimes we'd even get a child or two into a car before finally corralling the last of the children inside vehicular restraints and then it was a drive into town.  

There are so many photos that I think I may have to do what I have never done before - let the photos tell the story.  We had a brilliant time. When asked what was her favourite part of the trip, Harriet replied without hesitating - "swinging on the willow tree".  Ted's reply?  "Playing houses with Hugo".  My reply?  "Finding out what an awesome woman Lou is, and calling her my friend".


Lou said...

Oh that made me all teary! It was an easy week indeed, it totally worked. What a special thing to discover huh? We can live under the same roof for days and come out the other side not only still friends but relaxed and refreshed too! Oh and wonderful photos....of course! (The kids asked me tonigh - why are you wearing Cass's pyjamas?!!)

Mr Shell said...

Looks like you all had a blast! Beautiful photos Cass!

Janet said...

What a beautiful tribute to friendship. I almost felt a little voyeuristic reading it but it was so lovely I kept going! The love of our women friends is so sustaining, I'm thrilled for you both that you've forged something so special. Very moving. <3