Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Proposal

This is the last photo of me while I was still, technically speaking, 'on the market'. Even though I wasn't really. CP and I had been dating for just over 2 years at the time the photo was taken. It was Easter 2003. The next day CP asked me to marry him.

This is where CP asked me to marry him. Except that it was empty. And there were drought cracks because it had been dry for so long. And there were burrs. And we had about 6 dogs surrounding us, running like mad, excited to be off the chain. Now it is looking very different. We were sitting on the pipe to the left of the photograph. 

I knew he was going to ask me. I had thought (hoped) he would do it the day the first photograph was taken. My parents had arrived in St George on the Friday. Over dinner, CP asked my father for permission to marry me. It's all a little blurry now, but I think he may have said something along the lines of "I know it's a little old fashioned, but it's still important to me..." To which my father replied something to the effect of "If you need me to supply a ladder so that you can just run away together..." And that was that. We had all but sealed the deal. All I had to do was wait. I knew he would ask me that weekend because my family was out and we were all heading down to the farm so that our families could meet. And we had spoken about it for so long that it was no surprise. 

On the Saturday night we did the big family dinner thing on the farm. Still nothing. Not that I can blame him. It's not like in the movies with romantic backdrops and sentimental background music to help things along. It would have been too nerve racking for CP to do it with all the family around. Even though he knew I would still say yes. 

I was really starting to think it wasn't going to happen. Time was slipping away quickly. I think I even started to think that maybe it wouldn't happen this weekend (which would have been fine too), and so I stopped getting my hopes up. 

On Sunday morning, CP and I went for a walk. This was all very normal. When I had stayed at the farm previously, it was common practice for us to take the dogs for a walk and sit down and have big 'talks' along the way. And so it was on this day. We sat on the pipe beside the empty dam. I swatted the flies away from my face. My hand a continuous window wiper. CP sat beside me and held my hand. He spoke about how different things looked after it rained. He told me that this was the farm at its worst, and that you couldn't imagine how amazing things could be with a little bit of water. He spoke to me about how hard things were for a farmer during a drought, and that if I could love him like this - at his worst - then I could only ever expect things to get better. And then as we sat there surveying the damage of 5 years of drought (or more), CP asked me to marry him. 

There was no ring, no bended knee and no formalities. It was just the two of us, making a verbal agreement. And then we walked hand in hand back to the house.

After someone asks you to marry them, and you experience a whole range of emotions in a single moment, the minutes afterwards are somewhat more subdued. At least they were for us. We felt like we had the best secret in the world. The thought of racing home (ringless) and announcing that we were engaged, just seemed a little too cheesy for my liking. So we kind of just hung around smiling goofily for a good half hour before I really felt that something needed to be said. 

We told both sets of parents within minutes of deciding that it was what we needed to do. And it was more like,"So, yeah, CP and I have decided to get married. So I guess, ummm, I guess that means we are engaged." than cliched romantic moment. But more than anything it was 'us'. It was our style. Our way of doing things. Even though it was no surprise to me, it was not at all what I expected. There were no tears, just an incredible feeling of joy. 

Every time I drive past the dam, I think about that day. I think about the farm at its worst, and how lucky we have been since then. I think about how far we have come together, and as individuals. And I am so grateful to be a part of this. And while now I proudly display two rings on a very special finger, our marriage is about more than that. It's about us making a life together, and creating a future for 3 very special little people. It's about sharing this life with people we love, and making a home for us all. And I think we are getting better at it all the time.

Monday, October 25, 2010

How to Survive on A Farm (Tips from someone who knows nothing about it). Part 5: A Little Thing Called Dust

I love this photo. It's not mine, and it's not taken on our farm. But it could have been. This is what a dust storm looks like once it's already hit.

Last year we had about 5 of them hit. Hard to imagine when you consider all the rain and flooding we have had this year. The weather is a funny thing.

It's impossible to tell by this photo, but this was possibly the worst dust storm we have had since I have lived here. This photo was taken from our back yard, facing south east. The worst of the storm had already passed. The worst of the storm hit while we were sleeping. A silent predator. And this is what we woke up to outside.

It was a night much like any other night. CP and I have a large window above our bed. We keep all the house doors open (with gauze sliding doors closed). When the weather is warm we keep it open and this helps the air to circulate. The night the dust storm hit, I remember hearing the wind picking up as I slept. I heard the whistling of the wind through the trees. I think I even remember the faint smell of dust swirling through the air. But it didn't bother me at the time. I put the dusty smell down to the fact that it had been quite dry and that of course, with a little wind, it would make it's way from the bare earth, into the swiftly moving breeze. 

By daylight something felt amiss. The air was heavy. My sinuses were playing up. I lifted my head from the pillow to look out the window. I wiped away the feeling of hair or powder on my face and noticed, on the back of my hand, that it wasn't hair or powder, but in fact red dust. As I sat upright in bed, I noticed the white  silhouette of my head on a pillow now coated in fine red particles. The dust had layered everything in our house with a red coat of dust. We saw what you have seen in the pictures above all around us. 

As I walked through the house, my feet left little imprints into my new 'dust carpet'. It was millimeters thick in places. I was torn between feeling angry, astonished and down right amazed. I had never seen anything like it. 
Eventually the feeling of walking and sitting on layer upon layer of dust got the better of me, and I spent the entire day vacuuming and revacuuming and dusting and cleaning away areas of dust. It wasn't a big clean by any means, but it served the purpose of allowing me to eat and relax without feeling 'dirty'. My house was manageable. 

Three days later I awoke to another dust storm. 'Depressed' does not even come close to describing the way I was feeling. And so I set about cleaning again. I can't remember if there were 2 or 3 dust storms in that 'series', but I do remember there being about 3 or 4 good dust storms that year. If you can call them 'good'. 

On the second or third day after our initial dust storm, the east coast of Australia woke to this...

 An orange haze that encompassed the coastline. The dust had made it's way east, and now the 'coasties' were having a taste of what we had already been experiencing out west. It sucked. 

One week into 'the dust', I started the real clean up. This meant taking books off book shelves, cups and plates out of cupboards, (in fact, emptying ALL cupboards), taking curtains down, and moving furniture around. Vacuuming and mopping were not enough. You had to do it all at least twice. The red dust had permeated everything. Weeks later you could still taste the dust. It had settled on all the leaves on all the trees. We had to wait weeks still for rain to remove the dust from the grass.  I'm sure it was still in my skin, my hair and my nostrils. 

The stories were the same everywhere you went. The school in town still shows signs of the dust. You can't clean every page of every book in a place the size of a school. At least no one in town was criticising anyone for the 'state of their houses'. A dirty house was easily forgiven. At least we didn't have wet paint that had been drying when the storm hit... like someone I knew. So it could have been worse. 

When I first moved out to the farm, my mother in law once told me not to get too hooked up on the dust. She explained that in a house like ours on a farm like ours, dust was inevitable. Don't clean it every day. Just do it as you really need to. And she was right of course. And mostly I try really hard to stay calm about it all. Mostly, it's easy enough to do. But this week in 2009 was different. I will never forget that week. The depressing nature of dust, and the amazing power of mother nature.

PS: For anyone who is interested, the following video showing Dust Storm Footage was shot in Broken Hill in the same series of dust storms... just so you see how fierce mother nature can be at times... (Click on the link above).

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Driving Home From Book Club This Week: A True Story Of Jess And A Pig

There are so many posts I want to do on Book Club. It is one of my favourite things to do. We meet once a month to discus a book. At least that's what it is in theory...

We are a group of between 10 and 15 women who live and work locally. We are a mixed bag, aged between 23 and over 40. We are married, engaged, dating and single. We are mum's and we aren't mums. We are all shapes and sizes and backgrounds. We have different beliefs. Some of us work together. Some had never met before we joined book club. And when we get together, it is just pure, unadulterated fun. We laugh till our stomachs hurt, and cry with joy. We eat till we are full, and make the most of a night off.

I love it!

But this blog is only going to be about the drive to and from book club this week. I'll do the rest another day.

Leesa (my neighbour) and I alternate driving the 80km round trip. The evening begins at 5pm. I have usually spent the entire week psyching myself up for the garlic prawns and sticky date pudding. They are divine. Leesa and I fly out of the house at 5 on the nose. My house is usually clean, kids are bathed and fed and all CP has to do is tidy up after the meal and hold the kids back as I make my break for the car. The second I am in the car it's like I can taste the freedom. Once Leesa and I are both in the car, it's a full 1/2 hour of uninterrupted conversation. We can talk about kids and husbands and work or whatever. But we can finish whole conversations without children interrupting or shouting around us.

The drives to book club are mostly uneventful. At certain times of year you are driving directly into the western sun, dragging the trip in by an extra 5 or 10 minutes. And now, in the loveliness that is Spring, it is just a relaxing drive.

The drive home is another thing entirely. This is where we carry out all the "C" rated conversations that couldn't be discussed at book club. C for "car rated". Nothing you want to share with a group of women in a busy food and bar area. And that's a big call. We discuss some pretty funny stuff at book club - and it's not for me to release anyone's secrets here - but we all have some things we like to keep sacred.

The drive home is always dark. Regardless of the time of year. It's always a slower drive, than the drive in. Aside from the darkness, you also have to be careful of kangaroos, wallabies, and whatever other animals happen upon the road. One night we must have slowed down for no fewer than 100 kangaroos or wallabies. We spent more time in second and third gear that night than we ever have before! Mostly, it's just an opportunity to debrief before we launch back into the reality that is being a Mum.

This week the drive was a little different. About 30km into the drive home, we hit a kangaroo. If you haven't been reading these blogs from the beginning, check out my blog on kangaroos to see my thoughts on this. When I hit the kangaroo, I was just relieved that the car sustained no damage. Leesa and I were discussing this when out of nowhere, a pig hurtled itself full speed in front of my car. There was no time for any reaction other than to slow and hope for the best. The pig was large enough that I imagined that the panel damage would be huge.  Pigs are seriously filthy creatures. They are aggressive, disease ridden beasts. Germans dig their meat. Australian's could care less. And I apologise to anyone who really doesn't understand this at all. The poor creature would have died on impact (it went under two wheels), and we drove on sort of in shock at what had just happened. I was relieved it wasn't a sheep, as hubby would not have been happy at me hitting the stock. But only a few kilometers down the road we had finally decided to go and photograph the roadkill. Here is the photo. It's me looking cheesy after a night out with the girls, heels and all, pretending to be stoked about the dead pig. I think it was nervous laughter.

So why did we decide to photograph it?

1. Leesa has 2 sons, aged 9 and 11 who were going to LOVE this story, and we wanted the photographic evidence to prove it actually happened.

2. Our hubby's might have been kind of impressed too... especially if we embellished the story a little. 

3. We had only just been discussing (at book club) how we had never really been "pigg'n" before, and how it just wasn't 'our bag'. This whole event kind of mocked that, and we wanted the memory photographed. 

4. It had been a long night, and we were feeling silly.

5. We thought that we might be able to send this pic into the "Boars and Babes" magazine. And I am joking about that. They wouldn't publish it even if we did, (which we wouldn't) because I am not wearing a bikini and brandishing a gun. 'Boars and Babes' is a quality magazine you only find in small towns like ours. And you don't buy it for the articles. 

Actually, it's not even really pigg'n. Pigg'n technically involves massive, scary dogs and guns. We had neither. But we did have a dead pig. And I was just pleased that the car wasn't in the same condition as the pig. 

But boy did we laugh about it. Book club could not have been a more interesting night. And one of Leesa's sons was thoroughly impressed. The other one was disappointed I wasn't wearing a bikini, so that it could be more authentic... hmmmm. CP was happy the car was okay.

And now I never have to go 'pigg'n' again. Been there and done that, and now I've bought the t-shirt. 

By the way, this is how CP thinks a pigg'n photo should really look... OK, maybe he doesn't, but it's exactly how I think it should look! And CP looks cute in this pic...  

But I digress. This post is about the drive home from book club. And even without pigs and kangaroos and darkness, it is the quality time I can spend with a friend that is the most important thing. 

And CP still looks cute in this pic...

Monday, October 18, 2010

Waste Not Want Not

Before CP and I were married, he was once visiting me in nearby St George (where I lived and worked at the time). I had to head to the coast early one Sunday morning, and as CP was leaving after me, I asked him to take out the 'wheelie bin'. Hopefully everyone reading this knows what a wheelie bin is. But just in case, it's like the size of a small fridge. It's a heavy duty plastic garbage bin, where you store all your rubbish (out on the side of the road) so that the garbage truck can take it away on the designated day. And it's on wheels. (See picture).

So I left CP with the simple instructions to "wheel the bin out to the side of the road before he left." CP nodded enthusiastically. And then off he trotted to go and inspect this amazing thing I called a 'wheelie bin'. Moments later I was summonsed downstairs.
"Jessie, how exactly do I take this bin out to the road?"
"Ummmm.... you hold the handles and tip it, and push it out."
"But I mean, which way does it face?"
"Are you kidding?"
"Why would I be kidding?"
"Errrrr.... never mind. The handles have to face the house."
"So I just hold it like this (he demonstrates the correct stance required) and then wheel it out?"
"How far from the road do I leave it?"
"(Trying to restrain a laugh) It doesn't matter."
"Can we just do a rehearsal?"

And so we did. We did this it until CP was sure he could handle it alone. Too cute.

It got me thinking. How on earth is it possible that a 20 something year old had never dealt with a wheelie bin before, in this country, in this day and age?

And then it occurred to me to ask what happens with rubbish out on a farm. CP (many weeks later) took me for a drive out to the farm rubbish dump. (Really romantic way to spend our weekend together!). It all makes sense really. If you live 40km from the nearest town, you can't really wheel your bin out to the nearest 'main' road (3 km away), in the hope that some non-existent rubbish truck might take it away for you. So this is how it works out here...

1. You place your rubbish in a bin inside your house. (Much like in any town anywhere). We keep food scraps separate for our chooks. We also try to keep glass and aluminium cans separate too. And I will explain why later.

2. When the inside bin is full, CP takes it outside to the "rubbish drum" not far from the house. (Outside jobs are all for CP, I find I am much more competent when it comes to inside jobs). The rubbish inside the drums is burnt until it is a pile of ash.

3. This continues until the drum is full, and then it is taken by farm truck out to the 'dump' which is about a kilometre from the house, and then emptied. The drum is returned to its usual resting place and the process continues.

4. Bottles, glass and cans are recycled either in town (driven in as the allocated drum fills) or given to people who come to the farm for recreational purposes (such as shooting)  who take it back to the 'big smoke' and are able to claim financial rewards for recycling such products. Or we just bury it in our own dump.

Since I am a compulsive "non-hoarder", I have a real issue with keeping any kind of rubbish around. I'm so bad, I throw something out and then weeks later will wish I hadn't. Photos from when I was 15, diaries, books, you name it. I'm terrible. I married into a family that is the complete opposite. I once told my father in law that we should throw out any old furniture we didn't need anymore. His exact words were, "Waste not, want not. If we throw it out today, I guarantee we will need it tomorrow."

And so we don't throw anything out.

When one storage shed gets too overcrowded, we build another storage shed.

And that's just what you do when you have all this space.


As a general rule, I don't like cats. I am allergic to them. They make me sneeze. They cause my nose to run. They leave hair all over everything.

In spite of all of this, when I was young, we owned a pet cat. Her name was K.P. She was white. She was okay as far as cats go. She developed skin cancer, and by the time she died, she had scratched both her ears off, and part of her nose. But we loved her, and I cried something fierce when she passed away. Though I've never owned a cat since...

My hubby is not a cat fan either. He used to joke (okay, maybe he wasn't joking) that if it didn't have a collar on, then it was shooting season if it came onto our place. Our place being over 20 000 acres of only us. So town rules do not apply in this situation. You can't go around shooting anything that purrs in a populated area. As much as hubby would like to. Feral cats are a bit of a problem out here in the bush. They kill local wild life and aggravate our working dogs. They're not good for much, except for breeding rapidly and carrying disease. That's why if they stand still for long enough, they will surely feel the wrath of the farmers. Especially MY farmer.

Once hubby was so excited at having found a feral cat sheltered under our house, that he dashed around like a mad man locating rifles and bullets and whatever else it is that you need to exterminate a wild cat. He raced around the side of the house, ignoring my request to just 'slow down and think about this.' I mean, it was all such a crazy rush!


One shot. No hit. No cat. It was smarter than the farmer, and took flight moments before impact. But what was the hissing noise we both heard now? On closer inspection, hubby had successfully taken aim at the water pipes under the house, one of which now had a gentle spray rising from the plastic tubing which once contained it. An eye roll was all hubby needed from me. He knew he was in enough trouble as it was. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what happens when you rush into something like this. I told hubby it was his karma. He told me it was all the cat's fault, and that next time he wouldn't miss.

But why all the cat talk if I don't even really like them?

This week my next door neighbours' cat died. His name was Albert and he was 14 years old. He was a big, grey ball of silky smooth hair. Distinguished, as far as cats go. I used to joke with my neighbour about keeping a collar on him - just in case. But Albert was really beautiful, and if he had ever wandered onto our side of the fence, hubby still wouldn't have shot him. He was regal almost.

Albert used to sit on my neighbours' office chair, and keep her company while she emailed and kept her records up to date. He put up with my 3 feral children (her children too, as well as many other children who were fortunate enough to meet him) as they pulled and pushed and prodded their way around his furry little body. We once fed Albert for a week when our neighbours were away. The poor thing was covered in burrs (the really sticky ones that knotted in his long hair until he was a tangled mess). I tried really hard to brush them out, but it was to no avail.

I don't think Albert did anything that was particularly astonishing. He had that 'old cat' thing going on for a while where he would lie around mostly, probably contemplating his life. But it was what he stood for that will be missed most by the family who have lost him.

My neighbour brought Albert home only 2 months into her marriage. Albert has been at the 'farm' for as long as she has, pretty much. Albert was there before there were kids. He saw two children born, and he watched them grow into little men. He saw them all through drought and through flood, and he saw dozens of other animals who passed through their lives throughout the last 14 years. Albert has been the constant.

And that's why his passing has left them all a little sad.

Albert has his own special spot in the garden now. And he's sleeping peacefully, and watching over them all. I don't know of anyone who didn't like Albert. Even CP liked him. And we will miss you Albert.

Thinking of you and your family today. xxx

Friday, October 8, 2010


This is him. The reason I now call the bush my home. CP... my very own version of The Marlborough Man. 

I think the picture above is my favourite picture of him. Even looking at it makes me happy. It just reminds me of all the physical things I love about him. And it says nothing about all the things that  irritate me about him! 

Warning: this is only going to be a shallow look at a man with a lot of depth.

Physically he embodies everything I never thought I would ever end up with. Except for the dark skin... mmmm lovely, dark skin. He is a real cowboy. Right down to the big hat and Wrangler jeans. And somewhere in the recesses of his wardrobe is a pair of calf high cowboy boots just itching to make an appearance. He comes complete with a farmers tan (which I had never even heard of until I moved out here), 5 o'clock shadow and rolled up sleeves. He drove a ute when we first met, listened to country music and spoke with that unmistakable western Queensland twang. Australia's answer to the USA's southern drawl. 

When I first moved out west to teach, friends and family joked that I would meet a farmer and get married. It will NEVER happen, I thought. And then I met him... straight out of rugby training. It wasn't the brooding, dark eyes, the thick head of dark hair, the chiseled jaw, or the arm muscles that rolled deliciously under his shirt. It was the talk of his travelling that really attracted me to him. Seriously! 

CP is a hard worker. He is never idle. As much as that pains me at times. 

He is a handy man, and I can honestly say that nothing attracts me more than a guy who can fix things for me. This goes back to when I was a teenager. I wasn't a kid who had boyfriends, but I'm sure even my mother would remember my 'gas man' fixation. Nothing was nicer than watching the guy who would come and change our gas bottles over. Ahhhhh. A handy man. But CP can fix a car, tractor, bike, piece of electrical equipment. You name it, he'll have a go at it. Sweet.

Even on a day when I am cranky with him for abandoning me during the witching hour with the kids, I still get excited when I hear the motorbike pull up in the shed, and the gate squeal open, and his heavy boots plodding across the verandah.

Oh, and I also love all of the pictures of him on our wedding day. He is just so dang cute! He scrubs up so well in a suit! *Sigh* Still smiling... 

There are so many things about him I love. I'm sure I could write one hell of a blog about CP that was of more substance, but I'll save that for when I'm a little older, and a little crustier. Today, is just my appreciation of some of his more, ummm, physical attributes.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Lies We Tell

white lie
An often trivial, diplomatic or well-intentioned untruth

I am a stickler for the truth as a general rule. I cannot tolerate lying in any shape or form. And yet I have become quite proficient at telling 'white lies'.

I lie to my kids. I tell them that Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny are real. (I suppose they are - I mean, I am a living, breathing organism no matter how you look at it). I also tell them the Tooth Fairy is real. See above excuse. But the lies are never that simple when you have kids.

What's that present you accidentally found in the back of the car/the cupboard? Ummm... It's for Hayley and Clancy... or, I just buy the box and Santa/Easter Bunny fills the box on the right day.
You swallowed your tooth honey? Ummm... never mind, we'll write a letter to the Tooth Fairy and explain everything. The Tooth Fairy forgot to come? Ummm... she must be REALLY busy at the moment. Never mind, I am sure she won't forget today.

And the good old "don't pick your nose because your head will cave in, or your hand will fall off." Total B.S. Mind you, once we were at a party and there was a guest who had lost a hand in a childhood accident. When Olivia noticed, being the child that she is, she asked him IMMEDIATELY where his hand had gone. And quick as a flash, he replied that it had fallen off from picking his nose too much. Olivia was mortified, and I was delighted. I could not have come up with a lie that good to save my life! It was priceless. And if Olivia never remembers anything else ever again, she remembers that night, and she hasn't been anywhere near her nose ever since.

But why would any self respecting woman be proud of someone lying so blatantly to her child? I'll tell you why! Because it was one less lie I had to tell her myself! Honestly, sometimes I feel like all I do is lie. I am flying by the seat of my pants for several hours of the day. Winging it if you will. Just because I am a parent, doesn't mean I get it right all the time, or that I know the right answer to every question my child asks me.

Children ask a million questions a day. And I am all for trying to educate them and feed their thirst for knowledge. I want to give them the truth as much as I know how to, but sometimes my 'truth' just isn't enough. Sometimes the truth is just 'I don't know.' My girls ask me questions about God, and how the world started, and where is heaven, and what happens when we die. I give an answer that is 'part what I think they should be hearing', and part 'keeping their minds open to new ideas'. I never tell them anything that will frighten them or make them feel insecure. I own a book that offers the kinds of answers to tough questions kids ask. It has helped a lot. (Go to: Questions Children Ask: And How To Answer Them - by Miriam Stoppard).

Sometimes when we are driving in the car, a song with swear words will come on the radio or iPod. When my girls think they have heard a swear word, I deliberately start singing the wrong words to them. For example: "Sex is on Fire" becomes "His legs are on fire"... It's all about protecting their innocence.

The thing about telling white lies to children, is that we do it to keep them little for as long as we can! There is an innocence that is lost when children start "learning the truth", and I for one am keen on delaying that for as long as possible. I like my kids being kids.

My lies don't stop with my kids. I lie to my husband too. Mostly about purchases I have made, but other stuff too. And before you judge me, please refer to the definition of "a white lie" I included above.

When dealing with husbands, it's important to remember that "it's not how much you spend, it's how much you save." Charlie rarely asks what I have spent (it's probably for the best), but we have a mutual trust that we won't make 'major purchases' without approval from the other first... Even though there was that time he bought the work ute without asking... but I digress... In any event, the white lies I tell Charlie sound something like, "I have saved you SO much money! This item was almost 50% off the original price." or "This old thing? I've had it for ages..." or "It was on sale!" or "I only buy nice things and clothes to make me a better wife. I'm so much happier for having this new phone/dress/hat/bag/shoe". You get the picture?

Sometimes I exaggerate times with my husband too. Times that "book club" starts. Times that I was on facebook etc. Not that my husband makes me feel guilty about doing 'my thing'... but CP is a busy man, and sometimes it's just easier to be more productive. I justify doing my thing as having "mental health time".

The thing about lying is that you ultimately always get caught. Think about Santa, the Easter Bunny, The Tooth Fairy. Think about your new purchases, and things you have said. And that's why I stress the importance of white lies in my life as opposed to the nasty, hurtful ones.

So call me a liar. I am a liar. Tell me something I don't know. But something you should know about me, is that I only tell white lies. I swear...

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Drive To The Big Smoke

When I was the kid, a long trip in the car was anything more than an hour. We would amuse ourselves by playing "I spy" or "the number plate game", or by reading a book or colouring in. We would listen to the radio and sing along, and god forbid, we would even talk to our parents. We never had DVD players, bluetooth gadgets or GPS toys to keep us occupied. 

AND HOW WE FOUGHT! There were 3 of us in that back seat. So if anyone ever 'crossed over that invisible line' on the seat, it was all out war! 
"MUM! Jackson is on my side!" 
"MUM! Jackson is NOT touching me!" (That fantastic kid thing whereby you put your hands in front of another person's face without actually touching them, but close enough to drive them crazy).
"MUM! Hannah keeps singing!"
MUM! Hannah is looking at me funny!"

It seems karma has finally caught up with me. My poor mother. I am feeling your pain 10 times over!

I have been completely opposed to the use of DVD players in the car in the past. I have read articles on how children don't even know the way around their local suburbs because they are too busy watching movies and playing computer games. I didn't want my children to be affected the same way, and have always strongly encouraged "looking out the window" as a great alternative to watching a video. Hmmmm. But since it's quite possible that my kids are the worst behaved children in a car, EVER, and we spend so much time in a car, I am starting to sway.  

In my children's defence, not too many children are subject to the 7 hour car trip that my own children are on a semi-regular basis. In fact, a short car trip for my children is anything under a few hours. I should be grateful for how well they amuse themselves as it is. But I'm not. They have just reached the age where they want to fight (much like I did) with their siblings. They want the same toys at the same time. The same pencils at the same time. The food or drink that the other child has. They want to talk at the same time. And this all ultimately ends in a screaming match, firstly between the children, and then finally between me and whoever else is yelling at the time. And we pull over. And I yell some more, threaten death to the next person who even moves, and promise that next time someone will have to get out and walk. But it never happens. 

CP once told me the story of when (25 odd years ago) his parents dropped him (somewhere out here in the sticks) on the side of the road, after enduring his poor behaviour for god knows how long... and that after they drove off to scare him, CP took off into the bush beside the road. Turns out it was his parents who got the bigger fright that day when they went back to collect him and he was gone. I mention this story, only to explain that the poor behaviour genes don't only run on my side of the family.

Anyway. We have just done this drive to Brisbane recently. The 3 kids and myself. CP generally stays at home when we do the city appointment run. I try to stop every 2 hours or so, to let the kids have a feed and a play before the next leg. The first and second stops are invariably a McDonalds. McDonalds is good for several reasons. It has a play area that is fenced and kid proof. The food is cheap and the kids (sort of) like it... except for Olivia, but that's another story. And there are toilets. All in the one building. Tick, tick and tick! It's not the stops that are the real problem. It's getting 3 children in and out of car seats, and hoping and praying that they listen to you and don't run on the road at any given moment. And mostly, my kids are pretty good about that.

It's always a relief to finally arrive at our destination. We sort of fall out of the car, and stumble around like zombies for an hour or so afterwards. And we always sleep well that night.

So back to my point about kids fighting in the car. I really have changed my mind about DVD players in cars. They are a god send. In fact, my whole opinion about travelling long distances in a car with children has changed. I have 3 requests for the next car we purchase. 

1) It has to have 3 rows of seats (the 7 seater car). This way we can all spread out a little more. 
2) It has to have a DVD player (or at least be able to have one installed). And preferably one that works with head phones, so that I don't have to hear anything.
3) It has to be automatic. That way, in event of the first few changes not working on the children's behaviour, then at least I will have a hand free... you know, for all that back seat waving and bad parenting behaviour that Mum's so often do. Oh, and for turning up the radio REALLY loud. Or at least loud enough not to have to hear my kids fighting...