If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ll know that just prior to turning 40 I decided to ‘take stock’ and set myself twelve monthly challenges to complete in different areas of my life.
August was an absolute dismal failure, September was a bit meh, but October?
I absolutely nailed it.
My challenges aren’t ridiculously hard, makeover-my-entire-life sort of stuff. I choose three or four things to do in the area of my life that I am focusing on. I make them specific, I write them down, and I DIARISE them so they actually happen.
October was Family month. This month I decided to focus on my immediate family and my side of our extended family (not that I don’t love my husband’s side, it’s just they are a bit more scattered than mine). My goals were:
- Have a ‘day of fun’ with my husband and tots
- Spend an afternoon hanging out with my brother
- Have a family meal with my extended family
- Complete some tasks I set myself for marriage month in August. See here for why this month bombed.
Early in October D and I took the kids to Dannevirke to visit their Fantasy Cave. Dannevirke is about a 1&1/2hr drive from our home town, and has all the makings of a great family day out.
The Fantasy Cave is simply wonderful. It doesn’t take more than an hour to go through it though, so I would recommend tagging something else onto a trip there, like we did. We first had a picnic lunch at the Dannevirke Domain on Christian Street (about 1 min away from the city centre). Dannevirke gets its name from the Danish settlers who developed the area in the 1870s. The town has capitalised on its heritage, and has a Viking theme all over it. The domain has a great playground, complete with its own Viking ship.
This part is more for older kids, and as you can see, there is plenty for them to climb on.
The toddler area is fabulous – and, most importantly – it has shade!!! (Very lacking at Whanganui playgrounds.)
Chip and Sausage having fun at the toddler’s area
There are plenty of picnic tables, rubbish bins and trees nearby. On the other side of the domain are beautiful gardens and a fountain.
But, back to the Fantasy Cave. The photos below aren’t mine as you aren’t allowed to take photos while inside, but these are from accredited websites.
The Cave was created by locals about 20 years ago, originally as somewhere the children could visit Santa. But it blossomed into so much more. The cave meanders over several levels of a large building, and has displays of well-known nursery rhymes and fairy tales. There are a lot of animatronics, and huge amounts of detail in every vista, so you could spend quite some time looking at each one.
If you have a kid who just has to touch something, this is not the place for you. My almost-three year-old surprised me by sticking to my command of ‘look with your eyes, not your hands’. She was so delighted with the place, exclaiming each time she spotted something that caught her eye.
Chip really enjoyed it too, although restraining him from touching things was much trickier. You can’t take buggys into the cave, so D had to carry Chip around. Just as well he’s so strong and manly, eh? Now Chip is even more mobile, I can’t see myself taking him there again until I know he can keep his hands to himself. Sausage is still asking to go back six weeks later, so I think we’ll have to go on a special Mummy-Daughter road trip.
My brother has had an incredibly tough time in the past year, and I don’t often get to spend time with just him. With D’s help, I took him out for an afternoon of fun. He had no idea what we were doing, but went along with his hare-brained sister nonetheless. We saw Bridge of Spies, which was absolutely fantastic. I have no idea how closely it resembles what actually happened (it is based on a true story), but it remains the best movie I have seen this year. My brother and I found it gripping, and the cast is superb. We followed it up with a slap-up lunch and a good, long chat.
My parents, brother and my family have been having dinner together every Friday night, which has been lovely. I get a kick out of the loving relationships my tots have with my folks, and I’m sure all the love and attention has helped them develop into the friendly extroverts that both my kids are.
D finally managed to get away for a couple of days on a retreat. He didn’t do much but sleep, eat and read, but came back refreshed from his time away. D is an introvert so time by himself to rest and re-energise is important, but incredibly hard to get at our stage in life. Juggling both kids by myself was tiring, but being able to give D a break was priceless. I believe that giving each other permission to practice good self-care is a key ingredient to a good marriage.