It was a joy to receive an invitation to visit Cindy and Clive and their family. We first met them at the Rainbow Gathering in November, and finally we had an opportunity to visit their home in Maroubra, although Clive was away for the weekend.

Cindy and her boys, January 2012
Cindy and Clive have three boys: Elia, Noah and Jenga.

It’s been a while since we’ve visited a family with children. Our girls have missed the company of other kids, and I’ve missed the simple joy of enjoying a friendly chat over a cup of tea while our kids play together.

Entering Cindy’s house was especially welcoming for me. She has decorated her home with many African textiles and handicrafts — reminding me so much of my own African upbringing.

Clive and Cindy have three boys — Noah and twins Elia and Jenga, and Clive’s 16yo daughter Tahlia has also been staying with them during the holidays. It took a while for our children to warm up to each other — they connected just before it was time for us to drive away, but we’re thankful for that connection and hope to build on it in the future!

Calista with toys, January 2012
It's been a while since we've visited another family, and our girls are eager to explore the terrific range of toys on offer.

Watching television, January 2012
Watching television as a group is a non-confrontational way for our girls to become accustomed to the new people around them.

Noah and Elijah, January 2012
Noah is bold enough to ask for a turn at holding Elijah. Somehow they share the same facial expression in this captured moment!

Noah juggling, January 2012
Then it's time to start showing off! A ladder in the living room (with a mattress beside it) provides a great platform for the boys' antics, and Delaney is eager to climb up and show her stuff too.

Cindy and Elia, January 2012
Elia helps Cindy and me with the puzzle we've chosen from a big stack in the corner. A puzzle is good fun — it keeps the hands busy while we talk about a myriad of topics.

Noah on the computer, January 2012
This is a very tech-savvy household, and I watch 6yo Noah google "how to make a paper ninja star" and then click through the instructions as provided in a Youtube clip.

Tahlia, January 2012
Tahlia has a special way with her little brothers, and she is a natural at cuddling Elijah too.

Aisha playing with toys, January 2012
Aisha arranges Tahlia's Beanie Baby collection into an elaborate family setting.

Delaney on a wheely bug, January 2012
Dell tests out the wheely bug as she starts hoarding toys so the others don't play with them.

Brioni doing craft, January 2012
Brioni glues feathers onto a strip of paper to make an elaborate headdress for her little bear. Brioni is in craft heaven today — there are so many interesting papers, stickers, glues and scissors available for her to use!

Elijah sleeping in the corner, January 2012
It's been lovely to put Elijah to sleep in a quiet corner of the house while his sisters play in another room.

Feeding Elijah, January 2012
I don't have enough pictures of me with Elijah, so I'm thankful that Cindy grabbed our camera and took a few. Delaney is sleeping on the couch next to me — she's fighting some minor illness and is running a fever, so extra rest is the best thing for her.

With Delaney feeling off-colour, it was lovely to be in a home where we could bathe her and keep her cool. It was a treat to sleep in a real bed overnight, and Aisha and Brioni enjoyed being in proper bunk-beds for a change. Interestingly, Calista still opted to spend the night in her bed in the truck which was parked just outside.

Cindy introduced me to Magformers, a magnetic construction toy that she says is terrific value. Plastic pieces are embedded with small magnets and they “click” together nicely when placed alongside other pieces, bringing out the construction engineer in adults and children alike.

Elia with Magformers, January 2012
In showing me how they work, Jenga builds an elaborate building with the Magformers.

Lauren, January 2012
I negotiate carefully with Elia to get the pieces I need to complete my colour-coordinated star. These magnetic shapes are very fun to handle and can be used to make all sorts of three-dimensional constructions!

Noah colouring in, January 2012
Once he realises that he has kindred crafty spirits around him, Noah brings out the paper face-masks and starts decorating them with our older two girls.

Aisha with a butterfly mask, January 2012
Aisha decorates her butterfly mask in elaborate, perfectly-mirrored patterns.

Tahlia, January 2012
Before we leave, the boys and Tahlia climb up into the truck to examine our girls' living quarters.

Thanks so much for the invite! We enjoyed playing at your house a lot, and next time we look forward to seeing Clive again too.