I had bought The Art of War in very recent history (can't remember precisely when but I feel like it's been at least a year by now) as 14yo had expressed a desire to read it. He didn't get around to actually reading it until recently, when he suddenly went on a health kick (both physical and mental) and on advice of J and 18yo, started trying to get in at least a little bit of exercise, eat a healthy breakfast (the kids and I don't really eat breakfast as we never feel particualrly hungry for a while after waking up) and read a book every day.
It was the first in a host of books that he read (some he actually read and some just got skimmed, some he selected and some J assigned so I don't have a full list of what he read or skimmed, I knew Art of War was one, there were a couple of chess books, a book about game theory, an attempt made at a poetry book but he really didn't enjoy that, and I once more managed to completely forget we have Manga Shakespeares, and he still baulks at anything that looks "too big").
He also started playing chess a lot more with J.
The kitchen crafts continued with desserts and a coconut bowl he made out of a coconut he got J to buy.
16yo decided to try her hand at a tiramisu which from memory didn't last long (apparently 18yo discovered that he loves tiramisu).
16yo was out of comps as she had broken her knee the week before. She continued helping out by scoring both in the rounds where we were supposed to provide a scorer and covering for other clubs when they were unable to.
She was eventually cleared to return to coaching but not training and was able to take her girls to their next batch of comps (they had gone with other coaches who took the same level in the one she couldn't do).
She was able to return to training and regain most of her skills just in time to be in the end of year display a few weeks out from the end of term.
We were once more invited to help with KMart's Wishing Tree Appeal, with 16yo reprising her role as Elsa. This time she was joined by Ana and Olaf.
18yo also debuted, coming in as one of Santa's helpers with the mistaken belief that that would involve mostly standing around and occasionally helping out with something but then realising it was a lot more involved with the guiding of the mascots and pointing out children he had to do as the mascots really can't see much of anything in the outfits, and then handing out cupcakes.
16yo and I decided to make gift bags for our groups for the end of year and we decided to give it to them after the end of year display. 16yo chose the components and the gift bags themselves and assembled them, all I did was buy everything.
The head coach wanted to ensure that all the kids had gift bags and we had a few items left over after making ours so after liasing with the head coach to see how many more were needed, she gave us a number and we bought a few extra packs of the things we had leftovers of to make up numbers and 16yo made those up too.
We had leftovers again after that and they were donated to the cause and got cycled into yet more gift bags.
14yo bought a starter set for Warhammer with some store credit and has been really getting into it, reading up on the lore and then regaling me with it (there is a lot).
He and 18yo put together the minis for the starter set and he is already planning on which armies he wants to develop and how he's going to paint them, including researching what type of paints and brushes he should be getting after finding my brush sets in the art cupboard.
I only had some really old acrylic paints in the art cupboard from when they were smaller and did a lot more painting, so he practised with those on a slightly broken butterfly bottle opener.
I had warned him that the paint wouldn't stick and it didn't, but at least he got to practise a few painting techniques which was most of what he wanted out of the experience.
And then after much chaos and panic (J was finishing up with work and sourcing the food supplies we were bringing with us, I was frantically trying to finish the photobooks in time to get them shipped out to come with us, and the kids got roped into doing more of the house chores while we were doing all this), we finally headed off to Christmas Island. We had to take the long way which J and the kids had never done before and it had been quite a while since I'd had to do it (depending on how term holidays worked out when I was in high school and uni, I occasionally had to take the long way). Fortunately everyone was old enough to cope with it now, I wouldn't have wanted to do it when they were younger, and I don't think they particularly want to do it again.
One of the first places we went to was Margaret's Knoll, which had changed quite a bit from the last time we'd been there.
The thing used to be a basic platform with guard rails. These comparison shots are from 2017 which was apparently the last time I took photos that showed the actual viewing area rather than just the views, as the last time we'd been there was apparently 2020/21.
The view is mostly the same.
It's a little browner and less leafy than usual as the island has been pretty dry aside from a bout of rain that arrived with my aunty (who also flew over for Christmas).
This time round the kids got roped into helping with the tart production line, with the younger two dolloping the jam onto the tart bases and 18yo overlaying the cross on top.
The tarts were their usual level of delicious and the ones that didn't get eaten at Christmas evaporated the day after.
The Blowholes are another area we return to every visit. The only changes here were ones in the vegetation (again that little bit dryer), a fun closer than usual encounter with a booby bird that swooped very low overhead on its way to wherever it was going, and kids who read more/all of the signs on the way past.
One of the last lessons for the year for 14yo was finally getting to learn how to process a coconut.
He learned to chop the top off and after drinking the water, how to cleave it in half to be able to get the meat, though these ones pulled off my uncle's tree were old and not great eating.
A number of coconuts were processed that evening.
To finish off the year we went swimming at the Cove (18yo loves jumping off the jetty, the younger two were content with just jumping off the attached platform).
There is some decent snorkelling in that area so everyone also had a swim around looking at all the fishies in the nearby reef.
We ended with a bang with a small but very fun new year party. The kids and Sprat had been playing with sparklers, running through the "test packet" before trying to get this batch lit for the countdown. There was a brief and very vocal panic as the countdown happened and then cries of HAPPY NEW YEAR rose from everyone else, and then screams/hoots of jubilation (Sprat and 16yo were yelling, both boys had party blowers) when the sparklers finally all flared at once.
This work by bek (ryivhnn) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.