Saturday, March 30, 2013

MAFAFA - Our Annual Family Camp

(This is a bit of a monster post.  In my defense, it's a pretty big weekend away too :)

When our children still lived at home we used to enjoy a week or two's holiday at the beach each year.  As they began to marry and have children of their own, we wanted to set aside at least one long weekend a year when the whole extended family could still enjoy some holiday time all together.

Budget restrictions meant that it couldn't be anywhere fancy, but we did want to go somewhere pretty and relaxing and that would fit us all.

A few years ago we began a new family tradition of going up to beautiful Tamborine Mountain for a long weekend each year. We found a great place there that provides separate family rooms, plus men's and ladies' separate shower/toilet rooms all under one roof around a central kitchen/dining/large living area.  Perfect for us!  Some of the rooms have just two beds, some three, four, or six; the larger rooms also have a sink area in the room.  Outside the main building are three cabins, with about twelve beds in each.  Although the furnishings are not flash, they are reasonably clean and comfortable and not too disagreeable!  (We think of it as camping but with more comfort :)  The facilities outside include a sand volley-ball court and lots of open spaces for games, as well as some stunning scenery, rain-forest walking trails and mountain lookouts with beautiful views nearby - also lots of fresh mountain air and wildlife, (especially birds).

There were only about 15 of us in the family the first year, and the camp has about 80 beds, so we thought we'd invite some friends to come along - then ended up with over 70 people altogether.  Thus was born MAFAFA!   (Munro Annual Family And Friends Activity)

We take a Camp photo each year.  About 20 people are missing here - off bush-walking I think.    Some people are holding their 'Muffie' awards :)

When we decided to get bigger, the concept changed a little..   Remembering the wonderful experience we enjoyed at Camp Quality when our family was young, our aim became to have a great time together, while also giving a break and even a bit of pampering if possible to the people who come.  Here's our usual program:

I do all the planning before we get there:  room allocations, activities, menus, cleaning charts, etc.  Tammy helps me in working out the activities program, then she takes over and does a fabulous job of planning and bringing up whatever we need for our big activities, with a bit of help from Abby and occasionally others who help.  Neil and I bring board-games, extra heaters, lots of lap quilts to go on the lounges, flowers for the main area, and usually all the food.  We get there a few hours beforehand to set things up.

The aim is to make a new throw quilt (because I 'throw' it together a few days before camp :) each year, to brighten up the lounges.  

When families arrive they find their rooms, get organised and have dinner.  After dinner, Tammy introduces the activities for the week-end and we have a get-to-know-you evening, which is always a lot of fun. Although we have activities available or organised for most of the week-end, it's very much a 'whatever you feel like' schedule.  It's usually cold at night during that time of year, so just snuggling up in a quilt near the enclosed log fire with a book, or for a chat with a friend is nice.  Most of the people who come love to play games, go for walks, or enjoy the activities together.

Board games are always very popular, in between other activities and into the night.

Our aim is that new mothers, busy mothers, and anyone else who really needs a break, doesn't have to do too much - and that the youth and young single adults have good opportunities to help out :)  Neil and I do almost all the cooking (as much as I can before we come), and a few friends like to help out.  We have a roster for kitchen clean-up after each meal, and everyone is asked to put their name down either once or twice, (or no times at all).  Having a good number of people of all ages around also helps young mothers with their children - lots of arms for cuddles, and eyes to look-out, and lots of friends to play with and fun activities to do :)

Tammy prints out the Activity Schedule on big cardboard sheets that go up in the main room, and people choose what they would like to do.   We more or less follow it, but it's flexible too.  Last year's program went like this:

Camp Schedule


6:00 – 6:30pm Dinner & Cleanup
9:00 – 9:30pm Supper & Cleanup
9:30 – 10:30pm WIDE GAMES - Outside, run by James. Dress warmly and bring your torches!


7:30 – 8:30pm Breakfast & Cleanup
9:00 – 10:30am MUFAFA SILLY OLYMPICS - Everyone welcome to participate or laugh from the sidelines.

If you haven't done anything like this for a while you are probably forgetting how much fun simple and silly games can be :)   It's also lovely to see all the different ages playing together - of course the children love it but the older ones do too!  

Abby: 'This game rocked! - Each team had a corner, and they suddenly had to cross to the opposite corner in whatever fashion they were told to (eg. wheelbarrow races, tumbling, etc). A bit hazardous, completely hilarious! :)'

Tammy is Activities Director extraordinaire!

Have you ever played dizzy-stick?   Soo funny to watch!

Playing Monuments.  This was the Eiffel Tower, with Stonehenge, below.

Food goes out from the kitchen every two or three hours :)  The camp has a big outdoor dinner bell that we ring for each meal break.

10:30 – 11:00am Morning Tea & Cleanup
11:00 – 12:30pm AGE OF ORIGIN & BEACH VOLLEYBALL - Run by James. Anyone over 12 is welcome to participate in Age of Origin (so long as they promise not to cry if they get hurt :)

Age of Origin is very popular tradition each year. Everyone who wants to play lines up, oldest to youngest. The line is split down the middle, to make a team of 'oldies' and a team of 'youngies'. The game is tackle rugby for boys but touch rugby only against the girls who play. I think it was Brittany or Jessica who won MVP last year :)

Bethy was our favourite Referee ever, the first year we played.  After that the boys insisted on choosing someone who actually knows the rules! :)  

12:30 – 1:30pm Lunch & Cleanup
1:30 – 3:00pm ACTIVITIES FOR KIDS Run by Abby & a few wonderful helpers for those who are interested: Toys, Balloons, Arts, Crafts, Painting, Jewelry-making, Card-making, Play-dough and Face painting.

PHOTO & SONG RALLY COMPETITION -  Form a team (extra points given for including all ages), and complete the rally anytime before 4pm (See Tammy for competition details)

The photo competiton has been very popular too.  People put themselves into teams of however many and have to take a certain number of (usually funny) photos, based on movie lines, to be judged by everyone after dinner, (we use a laptop and projection screen).   I only have the photos that were on Abby's camera, but these will give you an idea..

"Each man's life touches so many others. When he isn't around he leaves an awful hole"

"I go around turning down perfectly good marriage proposals!"

"The misery, the exquisite tragedy. The Susan Hayward of it all."

'I'm feeling very Olympic today!'

DAMPER MAKING - For anyone who’s STILL hungry! Come on out to the fire pit and enjoy some good old fashioned damper round the camp fire
3:00 – 3:30pm Afternoon Tea & Cleanup
4:00 – 5:00pm PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOP - Run by Alana ... Bring your camera!
4:00 – 5:00pm DECORATING FOR DANCE - Come and let your creative juices flow... materials provided :)
5:30pm – 6:30pm Dinner & Cleanup
7:00 – 8:00pm PHOTO COMPETITION SLIDESHOW & SONG PERFORMANCES - Photos to be submitted by 4pm

Damper making is surprisingly popular, considering the food at camp is already non-stop!  Everyone can add their own dried fruit, chocolate chips, smarties, syrup, etc, and put it into the fire to cook.  The children love this, but obviously the older ones do too!

8:00 – 9:30pm CAMP DANCE - For all those toe tappers out there... We’ll learn how to jive, barn-dance and just have some fun!
9:30 – 10:00pm Supper & Cleanup

Abby: ' Saturday night we held our first annual MFAFA dance! We weren't 100% sure how successful it would be, but it totally rocked and it's a keeper :) Micky had put together a play list and it was amusingly full of girl power songs "I Will Survive" "It's Raining Men" "All the Single Ladies", etc, but it was soooo much fun! :) We did a little bit of ballroom but didn't even end up doing the progressive line dance cause everyone was having so much fun with Michael Jackson's "Thriller", "Grease", and a bunch of others :) It was fun dancing around with our family and friends! Sadly I was having too much fun to take any pictures of the dancing, but here's one of the clean-up! In the afternoon people who felt like it had decorated and it was fabulous :) But it all came down in good time for Sunday.'

7:30 – 8:30pm Breakfast & Cleanup
9:00 – Noon CHURCH MEETINGS - Sacrament, Sunday school, Primary, Nursery, YM, Priesthood & RS.
12:30 – 1:30pm Lunch & Cleanup
1:30 – 3:00pm OPTIONAL SUNDAY ACTIVITIES - Walks; Missionary Letter-writing; Board games; Church DVD's
3:00 – 3:30pm Afternoon Tea & Cleanup

Abby: 'The Sabbath came and we all rugged up in our Sunday best - we had permission to hold meetings at camp. After a lovely meeting we had a beautiful afternoon hanging out and spending time together. We had lunch, chatted, played games, some people went on 'walks' (haha Tammy's group were lost and got back just in time for dinner! :)) and some had a sleep or rested.'  (The M'nM bucket was a group prize from the day before.)

3:30 – 5:00pm OPTIONAL SUNDAY ACTIVITIES (continued as outlined above) ; Scratch choir practice for anyone interested.
5:30 – 6:30pm Dinner & Cleanup
7:30pm – 8:30pm FIRESIDE
9:00 – 9:30pm Supper & Cleanup

Practicing the musical item for the Fireside in the evening

We've noticed that Sunday night is a time when quite a few people love to stay up late, enjoying being together and not wanting Camp to end just yet.  There are lots of conversations and lots of laughing together :)  


7:30 – 8:30am Breakfast & Cleanup
9:00 – 10:00am CLEANUP AROUND CAMP
12:30 – 1:30pm CAMP AWARDS

The Monday morning sock-grab tradition is big!  The rules are that two people, fairly matched in size and age, sit back to back.  Each has on only one sock.  On 'go!' each person tries to remove the other's sock.  Very funny, very physical, and great for all ages.  We start with the young children of only 3 or 4, then work up to the battle of the Titans!  

Abby:  Monday morning brought the annual 'Sock Grab' competition - always a favourite :)  The biggest match of the day would have had to be James & Nate - they went for aaages! James grabbed Nate's sock in the early stages but couldn't get it off! It was very impressive lol. It was Nate's first ever sock grab experience. 

Food for Camp

Everyone contributes towards the cost of the menu ingredients. Neil and I do some of the cooking before we get to camp, and some in the big industrial kitchen onsite. We also have a few friends who help out with meal preparation here and there, and our family help out too. Everything except the lasagna we sometimes have for Sunday lunch, (thank you, Sara Lee!), is homemade. We try to make the food very plentiful and to spoil everyone a bit, especially the mothers, who get a break from cooking. There is always a big bowl of fruit on the kitchen counter if anyone still needs a top-up!  This is a one year's menu:

(Light) Dinner - Chicken and vegetable soup Home-made wholemeal bread rolls/butter
Supper - Hot chocolate Left-over soup  Coconut Macaroons Fruit bowl
Breakfast - Bacon Scrambled eggs Baked beans Sausages Tomato sauce Toast /spreads Choice of 6 cereals  Muesli Milk Choice of 7 yogurts Hot chocolate Choice of 8 100% Juices.
Morning tea - Cut-fruit platter (rockmelon, pineapple, grapes, watermelon, oranges, apples, bananas, strawberries) Hot chocolate
Lunch -   Egg and bacon pie Tossed salad  Warm bread rolls Potato salad Cheesecake  Fruit bowl Juices 
A’noon Tea - Cherry-ripe biscuits Fruit bowl Hot chocolate
Dinner - Fresh-cooked corned beef Mustard/white sauce Cauliflower au gratin Carrots Peas Oven baked potato pieces Bread/butter Sticky date pudding with caramel sauce and Cream/ice cream Fruit bowl
Supper - Chocolate crunch biscuits Juices Hot chocolate Fruit bowl
Breakfast - Choice of dry cereals Porridge Choice of yoghurts Toast/spreads Hot chocolate Juices
Lunch –       Lasagna Greek tossed salad Carrot cake  Fruit bowl Choice of juices Hot chocolate
A’noonTea - Apple rolls Fruit bowl Hot chocolate
Dinner - Tacos  Ice-cream and jelly Fruit bowl Juices Hot chocolate
Supper - Date and rice bubble fingers Chocolate Cheesecake biscuits Hot chocolate
Breakfast - Pancakes Cream/icecream Choice of syrups  Lemon juice and sugar Juices Hot chocolate (left-over cereals/yogurt?) Fruit bowl
Morning Tea - Left-overs
Lunch - Sausages, onions, cheese , tomato sauce in bread slices/hotdog buns (Any left-overs)

The best things about camp?:  It's fun to be with everyone!  It's great to see people get a break, enjoy friendships and just relax. It's beautiful up on the mountain..  It's great family time for us all :)

Friday, March 29, 2013

Happy Easter Everyone!

Due to some exceptional technical difficulties, 
(ie  we're having some family time :)
today's post will be up tomorrow! 
See you then :)

Thursday, March 28, 2013

I Will Help You!!!

The girls play a very noble game that they invented themselves, and it makes me laugh.

One of them will go and get themselves 'stuck'.  This can involve climbing onto a table, under a bed, under the covers, or anywhere really!  One day recently (when I had camera in hand), it was standing behind the coffee table.

Ana stood behind the coffee table, and called out, "Hep, 'Aggie!!  Hep!!!" (Yup that's how she says 'Maggie' - she has a thing with leaving off the first sound in words :) - it's adorable now, and we're assuming she'll starting using them as she gets older...)

Hearing the cry, Maggie gets all excited, calls out "I will help you!!!" and runs over.  On this particular day they were concurrently playing dress ups, so she was running in heels (that's my girl lol), and had to stop to carefully place her handbag down, but they did look fabulous, so I'm sure they'd say it was worth the trouble ;)

(sorry - I had the camera on some funny setting and the pictures are really terrible!)

Maggie took her sister by the hand, and led her out from behind the coffee table, 'saving' her!  They take this game very seriously, as you can tell by Maggie's very serious and worried expression (drama, drama! :))

 Ana is led out of danger (in one of the blurriest photos ever snapped) and they both breathe a sigh of relief.

But the next thing you know, Maggie's gone and gotten herself stuck in the same spot! ...

... And it's Ana's eager little cry of "I hep you!" you can hear as she runs back over to save her sister :)

There follows the "Ana you saved me!" exclamations and grateful hugs.

The thrills of being rescued and of playing 'the rescuing hero' keep them going all day in different places!

So if you're ever in distress, call us - I don't know any other knights in shining armour who'll come running in such style! ;)

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Clawing my way back onto the wagon

Weight Loss. Exercise. Healthy Eating.

These three things are like my own personal axis of evil.

I mean, I know they're not 'evil' evil, and that with a stronger will power and a positive attitude they could actually be my personal axis of happiness or something equally optimistic. But for the last several years, they've fallen somewhere between 'complete and utter failure' and 'momentary success followed by complete failure' on my success scale.

But, since I'm a Munro, and like Churchill we 'never, never, never (completely) give up', I'm clawing my way back onto the wagon and trying again. Last year I actually had quite a bit of success with the exercise and healthy eating thing.  I was working out with a personal trainer 2-3 times a week, and actually got quite fit and strong.  It was pretty great.  Then I injured my ankle, and it took a long time to figure out what the problem was (tendon issues and a break in one of the bones) and so my training stopped for several months over Christmas.  Then my trainer up and moved to Sydney (which I thought was very unsupportive of him) and so my fitness ran off and my tone fell off, and I started eating copious amounts of chocolate again.  Sigh.  I did occasionally go and swim laps at the pool... but that's it.

SO.  I'm trying again.  My friend Lauren and I are training together with a new (and lovely) Personal Trainer named Rowena, and I had my first sessions with her last week.

Over four circuits we did 80 squats, 80 sit-ups, 80 push-ups  80 step-ups, and a whole bunch of boxing.  As you can tell, we were starting out 'gently', since it was my 'first session back'.  (Personal Trainers, by the way, are all a little confused about the meaning of words like 'easy' and 'gentle').

I couldn't move the next day. Well, I could.  I suppose I'm exaggerating.  But it hurt to move, which is practically the same thing.  And to top it all off, the next morning I felt really nauseous.  Like, really nauseous. I had some important stuff on that day, so couldn't stay home even though I knew that I needed to because I could tell I was going to be throwing up all day.  I said a prayer for strength, and packed emergency 'sick bags' in my handbag, and carried an empty ice-cream container down to the car.

By 10 am, I was still just as nauseous, but I hadn't actually gotten sick.... which was confusing. And at about 10:30 am the penny finally dropped and I suddenly realized that I wasn't sick.  I just has sore tummy muscles from the 80 sit-ups I'd done the day before! That's right people, this little woman has muscles in my stomach. Turns out there's more than just 'soft tissue' down there! How exciting is that?!

And so we come to the moral of this story, which appears to be that you'd better wish me luck.  I have a feeling that this wagon isn't going to be moving particularly fast.... :)