Category: The January Holiday Files

The Family Lasagne

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Lasagne. Who doesn’t love it? Layers of meat, lasagne sheets, herbs, vegetables, b├ęchamel with golden brown cheese melted on the top. Yum!

As you know, I’ve recently come back from a family holiday. On the weekend, we had a big bash for my uncle. Over the course of three days, family arrived from all over the east coast, culminating in an amazing party on the Saturday night!

Every family has it’s own recipe for lasagne. Everyone’s mumma cooks the best lasagne. I’m privileged to be related to the two best lasagne cooks in the world – my mum & my wife! Everyone’s lasagne is just that bit different. Some are meaty. Some have vegetables grated through. Others are vegetarian! The fact of the matter is, you can tell what a lasagne is just by looking at it – layers upon layers of deliciousness!

As I watched my family arrive over the course of a few days, it was like constructing a lasagne. Everyone that arrived brought with them a new layer, a new dimension, a new aspect of enjoyment to the gathering. Some people are the ‘meat’ of the family – they just seem to have the brawn you can lean on in hard times. Others are the lasagne sheets. They manage to keep the whole thing together! You have the herbs and vegetables – you only need a little bit of them to know that they are special! And of course you have the b├ęchamel and melted cheese – the fun ones of the family that turn any gathering into an event!

Families differ as much as the recipe for lasagne. Like lasagne, a family has some very simple elements. Seldom are two alike, but you know it when you see it. You take what you know from the past. You keep the best bits. You add something new and fresh, keeping the traditional elements the same. You mix it with a whole stack of love. You bake it. You serve it. You enjoy it. You love it.

The family lasagne. It’s what you put into it that makes it delicious and interesting!

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Detours

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After leaving the peaceful town of Wauchope, we ventured south to Port Stephens, where wind & rain met us at my childhood holiday destination!

Just as we were leaving my brother-in-laws place, I was certain his wife told us to ‘just turn left’ for a short-cut back to the freeway. Naturally, I turned left. We went through beautiful countryside, past rolling green paddocks, livestock and windmills. Over single-lane bridges and the peaceful Hastings River. After quite a long ‘short cut’, my wife’s eyes said ‘are you sure this is the right way?’

We drove until the sealed road turned to loose gravel.
We drove until cows blocked our path.
We drove until my wife checked the GPS and simply said ‘turn around’.

Naturally, the children (and I!) loved taking the detour. The scenic route. The wrong way!

Y’know, I’m pretty sure the Bible says something like ‘submit your plans to the Lord and he will make your paths straight’. Evidently, I did not submit my driving plans to either the Lord or my wife!

Detours can look like many things, both on the road and in life. Some detours can be fun – calling in sick and spending the day at the beach! Other detours can be dangerous – a wrong turn down the wrong street. Othertimes life may through out its own detour – an unexpected death of a loved one.

Some detours you want to recreate, others you want to avoid all together. Some we remember, some we learn from, some we just have a shadow of a memory. Regardless, the detour becomes part of the road we travel. Happy, sad, beautiful, rough, painful, sublime.

I’m interested – tell me about some of the detours you’ve had – be it on the road or in real life.

Observations from a Family Road Trip

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So I’ve just returned from a family road trip. I left with my wife and two children and came back sans wife & kids but gained a brother & sister! Amazing how these things work out!

Having over 1800kms to muse, I’ve noticed a few things about family road trips. Want to hear 1800kms of wisdom? Lend me an ear.

– Any savings you make on petrol with vouchers are lost when you purchase road-trip snacks at the service station (usually at least 100% mark up from supermarket prices!)
– Children will be full of excitement and refuse to sleep for hours on end, until 20 minutes before you arrive at your destination. At that point, they will crash to sleep, waking when the car stops in a cranky, moody stupor.
– You will always pass something that ‘looks interesting’, make small talk about visiting the place, then forgetting whatever it is when caught up in a traffic jam 5 minutes down the road
– Petrol will always be cheaper ‘back there’. Your wife will make it her duty to remind you of that.
– You will never be able to locate the source of that rattle in the dashboard.
– Your turn to chose the next song will never actually come around.
– If, by chance, your turn to chose the next song does come around, no-one else will appreciate your choice of Johnny Cash and proceed to whinge through the entire 3 minutes of aural bliss.
– The game ‘count the red car’ will last exactly 1 red car, where you will revert to playing ‘eye-spy’ with your three year old, trying to spy things that they actually can’t see.
– ‘Big’ things, like ‘the Big Banana’ and the ‘Big Prawn’ will always, always have bad coffee, overpriced souvenirs and dirty toilets with the obligatory ‘big willy’ signature on the back of the toilet door.
– It’s not uncommon to be tempted to leave your children at the Big Banana, especially after playing ‘eye-spy’ for the last 5 hours.
– The current going rate for horse-poo is $2/bag, regardless of the size or quality of the poo. Why any traveller would want a sack of horse poo in the car is anyones guess, but they are sellin’ it so there must be a market for it.
– You will always miss the right turnoff. Possibly twice.
– The ratio of arguments to km’s travelled is usually 1 argument per 135 km. With children in the car, this ratio decreases by approx. 15km per child. A family of four can expect to have an argument about something (keeping hands to themselves, song choice, that petrol was cheaper ‘back there’) every 105 km. If the average speed of the car drops below 80km/h (for example if you are stuck in road works), this ration can actually decrease even further.

So I’m interested – what observations have you found when travelling with your children?

Social media, Geography and Self

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I’ve had the luxury of recently spending some time in a relatively small country town. My brother-in-law and his family have been very kind to host my family and I for a few days in their gorgeous home overlooking a country vista. The children have loved spending their days playing with the dog, roughing up the chooks, collecting eggs and getting water-logged in the pool!

My hosts have lived in this area for quite some years, and, by all accounts, know and are known by many in town.

The massive proliferation of social media has seen the globalisation of community, which essentially makes me think about the nature of ‘self’. The Onion satirises the perfect ‘facebook’ family, and it can be easy to get slightly envious of seeing others ‘picture perfect’ lives on social media.

I don’t think it is uncommon for an individual to have difference ‘personalities’ on social media. For me, I’m on Facebook, Instagram as well as this blog. On each of these, I’m slightly different. My instagram is stacked with photos of my beautiful children, things I love and things I’ve drunk. My facebook jots random thoughts and chronicles random Friday night happenings. My blog is where I put to words some of my deeper musings in life. I am the same, but slightly different.

I suspect it could be quite easy for one to either project a completely different ‘self’ online, or even fabricate their existence all together on social medial.

Getting back to this country town, I was amazed to see how close my brother-in-laws social circles were. He played football with guys he worked with, traded with, drunk with. The wives met together, chatted together, met at the school together. I compare this to my life in the city. I work in town. My church friends will rarely come across my social friends. My work colleagues will never come across either of those circles.

Essentially, I could be the same or completely different in these different circles, without any major ramifications or affect on each other, due to the geographical and social distance between the groups. This is compared to my brother-in-law, who’s circles are all very closely linked. If you have a bad reputation in one circle, it’s going to very quickly flow into all other circles, due to the close geographical proximity.

What I’m interested in knowing is if people find their ‘selves’ more congruent when their circles or communities are more closely linked geographically.

Tell me – do you differ (or not differ) in your projection of ‘self’, depending on the community you are in?