Oops, sorry it's been a while, I've been AWOL! Well, Whangamata actually, for a week of surf, sand and relaxation. It was brilliant! Best of all, we got there to find that the TV didn't work, which couldn't have been better for our No Screens Month! I was expecting plenty of whinging and moaning about having no TV but the kids didn't complain once throughout the whole week. We didn't miss it at all, we were too busy having fun! Noel and Ali went fishing and Liam and I spent every moment we could in the sea. It's great now the boys are that little bit older to take to the beach. You don't need quite so many eyes in the back of your head. I honestly believe boogie boarding is the absolute BEST fun thing you can do with your kids! It's so invigorating, not to mention hilarious!
Evenings were simple but so enjoyable. Noel and Ali caught dinner most days and we brought plenty of homegrown veges with us so meals were delightfully tasty and simple. Our treat was to go for a drink at the Ocean Sports Club, where you can just sit outside in the evening sun and watch the boats come in and families fishing off the wharf. Later on the four of us would blob out in the lounge on bean bags and chat about anything and everything. The kids brought board games but we never took them out of the box all week, we were always too busy talking and singing along with the radio. The boys always cringe when we go to Whangamata as the radio stations are somewhat old fashioned. They would protest loudly whenever we inflicted Kool FM on them and I confess Noel and I were a bit the same to start with but in the end we found it so relaxing listening to all the old tunes. The boys got a wonderful education in music from Led Zeppelin to Elvis and Tom Jones!
The weather was glorious except for one day where it rained ALL day. 'Oh great – what are we supposed to do today?' moaned Liam. 'Read a book!' I said, tongue in cheek. 'No way!' came the reply. It's a well known fact that Liam detests reading, which is a real shame, not to mention rather surprising seeing as he has two bookworms for parents. 'Tell you what', I said. 'We'll go to the book shop and you can choose a cool looking book. I'll even buy it for you, then if you don't like it you haven't lost anything. There are heaps of great books out there if you look – and what else are you going to do today?'
Begrudgingly he agreed so off we went and not long after he returned with a copy of 'Diary of a Wimpy Kid' by Jeff Kinney. He read the whole book in one afternoon and the next day returned to the shop to buy the sequel with his own money. By the time we had finished our holiday he had read Harry Potter and the Philospher's Stone from cover to cover and had purchased Chamber of Secrets and Prisoner of Azkaban from a second hand book shop to take home with him. He's kept up his reading ever since and can often be found now with his nose in a book, much to Ali's amazement, who in turn has followed suit. As soon as we arrived home from the beach the boys rushed upstairs. 'Great', I thought to myself, 'we're not home five minutes and they're on the Playstation already'. Wrong! They were happily holed up in their bedrooms, one engrossed in a book and the other battling with his action figures. Hooray for No Screens Month!
My best bargain of the week had to be my handmade shell necklace I bought from the roadside for 50c. We had just arrived at the beach for a swim and were unloading the car when a chorus of little voices said 'Shells for sale!' We looked across the street to find four little girls seated at a picnic table with a sign that said 'SHELLS 20c EACH'. 'Oh dear, I don't think I've got any money on me!' I told them apologetically. However I was so impressed with their money making enterprise and overall cuteness that I ended up dredging the car for coins and found 50c down the back of one of the seats. 'Ooh, that'll do!' they said excitedly. So I went over to choose a suitable shell and found they had done a wonderful job of painstakingly decorating each one. 'This one's a necklace', one of the girls said proudly, holding up a painted pink shell threaded with a matching ribbon. So I chose that one and wore it all day at the beach. I've got it hanging up above my desk now and it always makes me smile!
The biggest expense of the week was definitely the boarding kennels. Unbelieveably it costs more for the dogs to go on holiday than us! On the positive side we came home to a huge feast of vegetables, picking 2kg of beans, radishes, courgettes, cabbage and - at last! - tomatoes. We also picked up 16kg of smoked tuna caught by Noel and his mates while we were away. If you think 1kg of that is roughly equal to six of the usual 180g tins, that's the equivalent of 96 tins!
All in all, we had a wonderful week for very little cost. No Screens Month has shown us that on the whole we communicate pretty well as a family but it has certainly helped broaden our horizons and find new things to do and we have had more fun as a result. We came home, looked at the TV programme listings and said 'Hmph – we sure didn't miss anything!' To be honest, after a whole week without TV I wish we didn't have one at all. I'd get rid of the blasted thing tomorrow if I could but Noel and the boys insist we have to keep it so they can watch the sport. Honestly - men!