About a month ago, an online friend in Melbourne wrote to me for some advice about accommodation options for the Gold Coast/Brisbane metropolis. Of course, I suggested the best 3.5-star guestroom that I know — ours!

Katherine and I initially met online when we only had two children. I’ve trailed her pregnancies by a couple months, and we each have four children with the oldest just five years old. (She, however, managed to squeeze out two boys while I just worked on being consistent…)

It’s been terrific to chat online and compare notes on our families. However, I didn’t really know what Ben and Katherine looked like properly and asked Katherine to wear a pink sombrero at the airport so I would be able to recognise her. (She declined in favour of a grey cardigan — so boring!)

This has been Ben and Katherine’s first holiday sans enfants, and it’s been like a second honeymoon. They’ve visited the theme parks and can now offer sage advice on the what rides not to take.

Ben + Katherine, September 2010
It's been wonderful to get to know Ben and Katherine during their brief holiday in Queensland.

Soon after arriving here, Katherine brought out a gift for the girls — an I-spy quilt. I’d never heard of it before. This quilt uses completely different materials for all the squares, usually in busy, child-friendly prints. It makes a great activity for the children as well as a handy mat.

I spy quilt + Delaney, 8 months old, September 2010
Katherine made this beautiful I Spy quilt specifically for our girls!

Ben said that it took Katherine many late nights to finish the quilt in time for their visit, and I’m amazed at all the work she did. She said that she entered a fabric swap to gather all the different materials. (When I realised all the squares were different, I had a mental picture of piles and piles of different fabrics sitting in a cupboard at home.)

The I-spy quilt is a fantastic gift and a beautiful reminder of our friendship. The children will remember her fondly every time they play I-spy with it!

Girls playing with the I Spy Quilt, September 2010
It didn't take very long for the girls to catch on to the I-spy game.
I spy quilt, September 2010
The girls have loved pointing out various elements on the squares.

We’ve absolutely loved having Ben and Katherine as our guests and are hoping that we’ll be able to get together soon so we can meet their children!

Calista, 2yo, Katherine, + Brioni, 4yo, September 2010
The girls have just loved playing and talking with Ben and Katherine (after initially pretending that they were shy).

I also haven’t forgotten that I was going to “interview” Katherine to see how these Sparkling Adventures compare with her observations of Real Life. Stay tuned!