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Liz’s Epic Quest of Awesomeness

21 October, 2014

About six weeks ago, I joined the Nerd Fitness Academy.  It’s a paid membership, although it’s free to subscribe to the twice-weekly posts on the blog.

The most recent blog post hit my inbox sometime in the night, but I got to read it this morning.  It was an update on Steve’s Epic Quest of Awesomeness.  It got me thinking about what I would set myself as an Epic Quest. Overseas travel is out of the question, at least from a financial perspective, as flights for seven people is… more than we can currently afford.  I could go on but, basically, Steve’s quests are going to look vastly different from my own.  Steve is a young, single guy living in America (where you can easily earn credit card points to turn into travel vouchers!) and I’m a not-so-young stay at home mum of five kids, including one with autism, living on a single income.  His dreams are different from mine and his idea of fun is different to mine.

Some lovely ladies on the Nerd Fitness Academy Facebook page suggested that bringing up five kids is an Epic Quest in an of itself.  Conquering the housework is an Epic Quest.  To a point, they are right, but they are quests that you can never just cross off your list, they are things that need doing again, and again, and again.  Even my psychologist (yes, I have a psychologist) has said that it’s important for me to achieve things, to do things that can’t be undone.  Once I’ve read a book, I can’t unread it.  Once I’ve done a 5km fun run, I can’t unrun it.  Once I’ve caught up on all the washing, give it a few hours and it needs doing again.  So I need to focus on things that I can’t undo (like weight loss).  Things that are done and ticked off and we move on to the next challenge.

And so, I am working on some quests so I can “level up my life”, as Steve says.

For 2014 we created an “Adventure Passport” with challenges for our three eldest children.  Things like going on a bushwalk, swimming in a natural body of water, visiting museums, attending live performances, trying new foods etc.  Some of them could be completed once and ticked off, some required multiple ticks to finish (such as trying a new food). So I am contemplating creating an adventure passport for myself, although I’m thinking it would also be awesome to have it laid out like a huge map (although I doubt I have the artistic skills to pull that one off).

The rules will be simple, although it’s a 2015 challenge, I am giving myself some wiggle room by allowing myself to start working on it from… well… now!  If there’s any caveats to a particular challenge, I’ll make it clear.  And all of the challenges must be ones that I cannot undo, like being a certain weight or having the house clean, and ones that I can’t completely mess up, like saying I’ll do something every single day/week, because life happens.  People get sick, crises happen.  Life happens.

Enough talk, on to THE LIST!

Fitness/Exercise Challenges

  1. Finish the Couch to 5k program.  Which means being able to run/jog for 30mins without stopping.
  2. Achieve 50 parkruns (currently at 15).
  3. Walk/Run 1000km across the year-and-a-bit (not in one hit!!) – which will set me well on my way to Mordor (I’m currently on 99km and The Road To Mordor is 2863km long).
  4. Be able to hold either a headstand or handstand (yoga) for at least a few seconds.
  5. Be able to do three proper pushups (on toes) in a row.

New Experiences Challenges

  1. Try five new foods.
  2. Attend a class, or a series of classes, to learn a new skill.
  3. Try an exercise class I’ve never tried before.
  4. Visit three cultural locations (museums, art galleries, historic sites) I’ve never been to before.

Book/Reading Challenges

  1. Read ten fiction books.
  2. Read five biographies.
  3. Read five non-fiction books (not biographies).
  4. Begin ten books from my “I should read these classics” list, and complete at least three of them (to qualify as beginning the book I need to read at least three chapters/50 pages).
  5. Read three novels aloud to our children.

Spanish Challenges

  1. Complete Rosetta Stone Level One – Spanish (Latin American).
  2. Complete DuoLingo in Spanish.
  3. Work through Laugh and Learn Spanish.
  4. Complete Rosetta Stone Level Two – Spanish (Latin American).
  5. Read a novel, in Spanish.

Experiences Challenges

  1. Attend four live performances, including at least one musical, one live music performance and one theatrical performance.
  2. Visit four different museums, art galleries or other cultural locations (in addition to the new experience challenges).
  3. See five movies at the cinema, rather than always waiting for them to come out on DVD and then forgetting about them.
  4. Go to three different fesivals, carnivals, fetes, fairs etc.
  5. Go to High Tea in two different locations.

Holiday/Travel Challenges

  1. Have a week’s holiday away as a family.
  2. Have one night away with Mark.
  3. Have one night away, without Mark and the kids.

That’s 27 challenges in total, which is a great number, being 3 cubed (yes I’m a geek).

I also have in mind a weekly challenge of sorts, where working towards my Epic Quests earns me points, with a points target each week, but that will come in a future post.

The Magic Donkey Ride

7 October, 2014

Giles Andreae is another favourite author around here for the pre-school set. I’ve mentioned There’s A House Inside My Mummy, and I will post about some others, now that I’ve worked out where they are ;-).

But to the Magic Donkey Ride. I love the story of how this book was created (it’s inside the cover) when Andreae’ son asked Andreae to tell him a story about a donkey he could see in a field from his bedroom window.

The book has the hallmarks of young children’s fantasy books – a fantastical tale that happens at night, when everyone else is tucked into bed. Of sneaking out and sneaking back and the parents being none the wiser. Of flying through the sky on your very own magical donkey. And of secrets that are never told.

The rhythm and rhyme are great – I hate kids rhyming books with a clunky rhythm. Well worth a read!

Sleepy Bears

30 September, 2014

I know I’ve featured Mem Fox quite a bit, but I can’t help it. Her books, on the whole, are readable and enjoyable for both parents and children alike.

Sleepy Bears tells the tale of a mother bear, calling her cubs in to sleep for the winter “Come in, come in, my beautiful bears. Winter is here and in winter we sleep”. She then goes on to speak to each of her cubs individually, telling them what they may dream of, as they drift off “to sleep” to hibernate for the winter.

It has a lovely rhythm to the text, with a sense of adventure, while still being a quiet, calming book, just right for bedtime.

Happy Birth Day

23 September, 2014

Happy Birth Day has some of the most realistic newborn baby illustrations I’ve seen. It is a great story, told from the parents’ perspective, to their daughter. It’s a hospital birth (with a midwife) and includes images of the baby being breastfed. It includes the baby being naked but not the adults.

It is also a good book for not depicting grandparents as gray-haired. It’s not as overt about it as “Our Granny”, but it’s there, nonetheless.

The author and illustrator also teamed up again to write the book Hi New Baby, which tells the story of a sister and the arrival of her new sibling. The girl in Hi New Baby, is the baby in Happy Birth Day. A perfect pair for a child anticipating (or dreading) the arrival of a new brother or sister.


Our Granny

16 September, 2014

How can you beat the winning combination of author Margaret Wild and illustrator Julie Vivas? Then add a book that talks about “Granny” and it’s a winner in this house (my mother is Granny to her grandchildren).

This book looks at all different sorts of grannies. Some knit, some go to protest rallies, some wear jeans or do exercises for their wobbly bottoms. It’s a great antidote to all those books that depict grey-haired grannies, sitting on rocking chairs, knitting.


Hello Baby

9 September, 2014

If I was to think of any illustrators from my childhood, I can think of… Well three. But one of those would be Julie Vivas.

In Hello Baby, author Jenni Overend and illustrator Vivas take on a story of a home birth. There is a little nudity in this book but it’s dealt with sensitively and appropriately.

It’s one of the longest books I would put in this category but I would make it essential reading if you are planning a home birth or for your child to be present at the birth of a child, or your child is especially inquisitive about the process of giving birth. A beautiful picture book for young children, about the important “stuff” of life.

Can You Cuddle Like A Koala?

2 September, 2014


John Butler writes and illustrates beautiful books about animals for young children. This is a perfect bedtime story and I think we actually have two copies of this book – a board book and a paperback.

The text is simple and rhyming, and the illustrations take up a full double page each. The illustrations themselves are muted and quiet, soothing ready for bed. We also have “While You Were Sleeping” by Butler.


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