Ellie, Alyssa & the Backpack

Holiday Plans

29 December 2019

Dear Ellie

The very best thing about Summer holidays is not Christmas. It’s not Por Por’s mango salad which she makes for our picnic dinners when the days are longer and we can sit outside. Nor is it the yummy sweet pineapple tarts she brings around every week for me, even though they are super delicious.

It’s not even going to the beach, trying to find a spot on the soft sand that isn’t already taken by someone’s colourful towel or giant umbrella! Last week I was at the beach, it was crazy crowded. Can you believe we lined up for 23 minutes by the ice cream van in the 36º heat? I got a soft serve with a chocolate flake and I had to eat it at super speed so it wouldn’t melt all over my hands. But I didn’t quite make it. Yep, it got the better of me. I lost a race against an ice cream!

So I am going to claim that not even ice cream vans are the best thing about Summer holidays, even though I know you will disagree with me.

The best thing about the Summer holidays is that everything is unplanned. It’s that one time in the year, we don’t do anything that is scheduled (the one exception is when you go away and there’s a plane to catch, of course). 

We go to the beach, we have a picnic dinner in our backyard, we sing carols with the neighbours, we go for a long walk, I listen to new music, watch a movie. I discover a new series on Netflix. Mum sits next to me reading a book and I’m playing a game on my laptop. She smiles at me and I smile back. Then we decide we’ve had enough and Mum says, “What do you want to do?” 

“I don’t know. What do you wanna do?”

“Go for a swim?”

“Nah, I just washed my hair.”

“Bake a cake?”

“Sure. What flavour?”

“I think we have some cacao somewhere. So chocolate? Actually those bananas look pretty spotty. How about banana?”

Everything just happens to be whatever we feel like at that moment. And I love that about the Summer. It’s having nothing to do and nowhere really to go. Knowing you don’t have to be anywhere at any particular time. Even when we do go somewhere, once we get there, it’s still easy.

Today I had absolutely nothing to do. No schedule, no classes, no Mandarin lessons. No nothing! I don’t think I even checked my watch once. Okay, maybe I checked it a few times — you know me! But only to see if it was too early to eat! 

Actually Mum said I could do holiday Mandarin lessons if I wanted. She said I might get bored sitting around the house. I gave her a — seriously, you did not just say that look and she laughed then walked away. You see, even Mum is relaxed and joking with me. It makes me happy that with everything that we had going on this year, it’s time to slow down. Do you feel the same?

Yesterday I was outside helping Mum in the back yard and I saw a kookaburra. I have a vague memory that I’ve seen her before. It must be part of her morning routine to fly by and sit on our gum tree. She has a long beak, brown fluffy wings with tinges of green on the edges, a brown tail and a white chest. I love that she has good posture. She sits up proudly. I want to sit straighter next year. I realised that I must not notice her during the year when I’m busy and have to go to school. I heard her song and I felt silly that I must have missed all those other times she’s been singing in our yard. Even though she’s laughing at me! It makes me feel sad thinking, what if one day I wonder how she is, look for her but she’s stopped coming to our gum tree? I won’t realise until it’s too late. So I decided I’m going to notice things more. 

I got a new journal for Christmas. It’s a gratitude journal — here is a photo of what it‘s like!

That’s all from me. I’ve had a great week and can’t wait to see you when you get back from your holidays. Can you believe it’s nearly the end of the year and the beginning of a new one? The end and the beginning. I love it! I wonder what next year will bring for us?

Call me! Write to me!

Lys xx

Friday 3 January 2020

Hi Lys! 

Happy 2020, happy holidays and all that stuff…

Hmmm. You got me thinking about what I love best about summer holiday. 

For me it’s the adventure. Free to explore. Do something different. Sometimes I like to imagine I’m the star character in my own adventure story like my own version of “Famous Five” or like “Ellie saves the day”. So funny. Don’t tell anyone I told you that it’s a bit cringy. 

Right now I’m emailing you from a little tropical island. It’s so small you can walk the whole way around the island. There are palm trees full of coconuts, hermit crabs on the beach and it’s hot all the time. My hair keeps sticking to my face and back but I refuse to tie it up. I love being all beachy. They actually nickname this place barefoot island. Can you believe that – shoes are optional! And you guessed it, I’m not wearing shoes right now. 

Lucy is completely obsessed with the hermit crabs.

She goes crab hunting in the afternoon on the beach. She lines them up to see which one gets to the water first in a mini race. Then she picks them up by the shell and chases us. Their little legs sticking out the bottom of the shell all wiggling. I swear she is not afraid of anything!

Yesterday I went snorkeling for the first time. We went out on a boat into the deep water. We had to put on our snorkels and flippers and slide off the boat in the middle of nowhere. I mean nowhere! I could not see anything except water. I was a little nervous but once I put my face into the water and saw what was below I wasn’t afraid anymore. There is a whole world down there. See that’s another adventure story “Ellie the Mermaid”! There were big pieces of coral that look like giant brains. We saw giant blue starfish and schools of fish – bright blue, yellow and silver. There was one really big fish swimming round and round in circles really fast making kissing lips the whole time. It made us all laugh – which you can’t do with a snorkel without swallowing water by the way!  

There was also a lot of dead coral too which made me feel sad. We were really careful to make sure we didn’t touch anything.    

So I think this year is going to be a great year. It has a good number 2020. It rolls off the tongue. Let’s have another awesome adventure together.

Ellie xoxo