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Our first day

*Scroll over the photos to read the titles*

We arrived at the hotel.  The trip there was lovely.  When we got out of the plane it was still light and by the time we arrived at the hotel it was dark. The owner of the hotel was the man who drove us and we mentioned that we would like to return to the airport so we could find our way to FieraMilano City, the congress centre in Milan, in the morning. He told us his daughter was a team leader of a group of volunteers involved with WMF and that is exactly what she was doing at the Malpensa airport! What a blessing!  The hotel was amazing.  They arranged everything for us.  Julia, the daughter, arranged for us to catch a bus directly to Fiera which meant we didn’t have to catch the triains and transfer at the stations! We can really feel God working on this trip!

We arrived at Fiera at about 11am after a lovely breakfast of croissants and Italian toast, nutella and great coffee.  The kids were very patient and helpful in getting the luggage to Fiera.  The pushing of luggage is still a novelty…wonder how long that will last!   We were very well welcomed.  The congress didn’t start until the next day so we a had a whole day to familiarize ourselves with the venue and the kids got to be some of the first to play with the equipment. We registered and collected our kits and meal and travel tickets and then decided to find out about our accommodation.  That proved to be more difficult than we anticipated!  We had a couple of volunteers help us make phone calls to the organizer at the parish we were staying at and still couldn’t get in contact with them!  After a while though, we managed to check our emails, get a mobile number and we were on our way to a nearby parish via taxi phew!  We arrived at our parish and were greeted profusely by the priests and parishioners.  They had been waiting for us! We felt so, so welcome. We are staying in a three bedroom apartment above the parish centre which is perfect.  We are able to participate in the parish activities when we are there.  What a community.  When we arrived, at about 4/5pm, there were children playing in the soccer and basketball fields and so we went down to meet them.  The parish has a playroom set up with toys, a playground area for children and their sports, soccer tables, and grandparents (i nonni) group, a bar….  People come in after school and filter through until sunset which is at about 9:30pm.  If only parishes in Australia were like this.

Had pasta and salad at home for dinner after exploring the supermarket down the road and then we crashed!

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We arrived at the airport at 3:20 am after having to turn around and get a forgotten bag we left behind the front door at home!  I was quite stressed and at the same time well and truly ready to leave.  The kids we’re very excited.  They had had about 8/9 hours sleep and we’re ready for the day!

We had great seats for this flight.  Right up the front of economy with lots of leg room, lots of room to spread our mess!  The kids were given great little packs containing puppets, dress up soft toys, colouring in, pencils and books.  They were in their element with that and the screen in front of them!  I’ve decided that the best way to prepare kids for travel is to bring them up in a deprived screen media environment!  Our kids sat glued to the screens for ten hours….

We got to Dubai really smoothly and so I thought ‘okay here comes the hard part’.  I struggled to stay awake in Dubai, We wondered around the airport for a bit. The kids were very tired as they had watched their TVs the whole trip and not actually slept. J and I fell asleep on the chairs waiting for our flight to board.

It boarded and we told the kids they had to have a nap and they mostly did…and then they played games/watched tv!  By this leg of the trip, N had learned that he wasn’t allowed to run around and so sat quietly or fed. I don’t think he got the concept that we were on a plane at all. He kept saying ‘bye bye plane’ to all of the other planes! He was fascinated by them. When he was getting to antsy we would take him for a walk up to the back of the plane and he charmed everyone by saying ‘bye bye’ to them.  One guy wanted to take him back to his seat with him…N didn’t want to go!

We arrived in Milan at 8:30pm Milan time. The hotel picked us up at 9:30pm, 24 hours after we had begun our journey at home! I was exhausted. We all were. I was amazed at the kids. They had done a 24 hour plane trip with very few tantrums (Z had one when we woke him one hour before we landed in Milan, to put on his seatbelt…but that was the worst of it!).  I hadn’t touched any of the toys/activities I had brought for them to do. Mum and Dad were great, though very tired.  We were very excited and kinda proud to have arrived in Milan…the dreaded plane trip was over and the kids passed with flying colours! On exiting arrivals, we were greeted by volunteers from the World Meeting of Families (WMF). We were in the right place!

Only 24 hours to go!  We have spent the night doing a bit of paperwork and packing the last of the suitcases and I think we are ready to leave!!  The kids took forever to settle tonight with only 2 sleeps to go.  Don’t know how they will fair tomorrow night :-). Better go to bed now, it’s 3am.  The final countdown is ON!

Our version of work boxes

Actually it has turned into storage areas…. Have moved on from work boxes. They were fantastic for encouraging independent work and helping me get more organized. This photo is mainly for me, I have just cleaned the area and would like it to stay that way!

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Each child has a column of slots. The top slots are filled with random things that don’t fit anywhere else like finished time work for when they have finished the work I have set. The second row has reading program materials. The third row is for writing, the fourth for spelling/narration and the bottom is for Maths.

This is a bit late in the writing…. But in October of last year we decided to attend the World meeting of Families in Milan in June this year. God works in strange ways in our marriage. As soon as we knew World Youth Day was going to be hosted by Sydney, there was no doubt in our hearts that we were going to attend. We didn’t even consider the number or ages of children we would have by then…and we wouldn’t have known anyway!

A sense of calm and purpose came to Derek and I when we first considered attending the meeting of Families. There was no doubt in our minds that it was doable. We assessed the finances by googling airlines and finding rough prices and even though we knew we were cutting things very slim, it seemed so right. We discerned this trip for a weekend… Holding in the excitement of a possibility of taking our kids to see the wonders of Italy. We asked Derek’s parents to attend with us, a dream of ours since before we got married. They said yes. This is a trip that is to serve something beyond ourselves. I still feel it….a sense of being church and family…a time to plant and grow those seeds. A time to be Australian. A time to be in communion with others, in a way so profound we will carry it and share it with others for the rest of our lives. There is no better catechesis for our children than to give them a real, true, live experience of being Catholic, celebrating the Eucharist with 1 million other families. I pray that it sets their hearts on fire. That others can see that fire within them as they mature into faith filled adults.

Homeschooling 2012

Well, we have begun….never really stopped to tell the truth. We went slow over Christmas, but kept trudging through. This year gave way to un unexpected change…school at home! This is our second week of the experiment….why does it always feel like an experiment? It all started with the kids being unruly during the allotted school time. I tried to enforce a routine yet someone would always slip through the system! Usually I, ds2. So…. After much consideration I decided that we would all do school together. Our day looks something like this….

Wake up and do morning jobs and routine

Music for the older 3

Drop Z to kindy

Do Maths together around the table- no talking. I do lessons individually, play a game with young ones, and am right there to answer older ones questions. We have been getting everyone’s Maths done each day. That’s a record!

Recess….something very new to our day. They are having a piece of fruit and playing outside for a period of time determined by me and by N who needs some attention by this time

Reading- E is reading the Hobbit to C, I is reading Boxcar children to J, then we gather and the older ones do comprehension questions while I do focus reading with C and J. Z gets reading time too whilst the others are having read aloud time. Perfect!

Writing- E is working through IEW. I,C,J are doing Draw! Write! Now! Which they are loving. I is writing his own story, C is doing a bit of copy work and his own writing and J is doing copy work. Z is practicing writing his own name….it’s very long!

Spellling for E,I and C. And music for J and C.

That’s it! Ready for afternoon activities or a dip in the pool. So far we are enjoying it, I am yelling less and we are achieving so much more in a shorter amount of time. There is also the natural consequence of ‘homework’ if the allotted work is not completed in the given time (which I am flexible about to a degree). I completed all of his work and homework today and then got to play in the pool! Victory!

I’ll report back soon with the longer term results!

E on investing

The afternoon before their investment into cubs…..

E – what happens when get invested?

The K mum – well, you’ll probably do it at the beginning or end, you’ll have to say your cub promise then you’ll get  your scarf and badges.

E – oh (downcast look )… you mean it will be in front of everyone?

The K mum – yes, your pack will want to welcome you in.

E – well, then, I don’t want to be invested! I though you had to go into a private room and do those things!

(E leaves the room – the K mum gives him some space to think things through…)

No other comments were made that afternoon. E went on to be invested in front of the pack and replied to the welcome call with a very loud ‘1-2-3 WOLF’, the volume of which even surprised me!