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Well, our Inaugural THL Homeschooling Women's Retreat has now come and gone....and what a beautiful time it was! I feel so grateful to have time to restore with Tracey and Ali and Stassi while Ethan (my son who is a second year apprentice chef) cooked delicious and nutritious meals for us. I did share some photos and words on Facebook and Instagram but thought I'd do a post here too so it's easy to find in the future.

I'm not gonna lie. Leading up to the retreat, I was pretty spent. It fell only 3 weeks after the day our daughter Zippi went into a moderate DKA state (diabetic coma) and was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. On its own, that weekend was HUGE and overwhelming. It was scary and yet because of the seriousness of the DKA, we had very little time to sit and process what had happened. After the transfer to the other hospital in an ambulance and after a very short amount of time, we went from being people who knew NOTHING about Type 1 Diabetes, to parents who were thrust into the place that we had no choice but to learn everything we could about this new auto immune disease that had so abruptly entered our lives.

Only 2 days before the DKA and subsequent week's hospital admission, I had also just launched my first ever Kickstarter campaign for the first play I'd written in the best part of 20 years. I had home-schooled all week leading up to the retreat too and so when I say I was spent, I really was. Apart from organising things for the retreat, our lives had been filled with learning about continuous glucose monitoring systems, blood pricks and recording blood sugar levels, to learning about how to deal with hypos, daily emails and phone calls to the paediatric team at the hospital 1.5 hours away (we were so grateful for this level of support!) along with of course, the things that normal life requires from us: meals, washing to be done and hung out, dishes to be cleaned, shopping trips to be made. I snapped at both Ethan and Brett before leaving. Sigh. And I apologised to the both before the retreat had begun but I think by now you probably do get the picture that I was really in need of a break. I was so looking forward to spending time with Tracey and Ali. Tracey had been in my local homeschooling group years earlier but had moved away about 8 years ago and I hadn't had a good chunk of time with her since. Ali and I had *met* online via the Australian Homeschool Summit and other interactions on Zoom but we had never met in person. I was so looking forward to it. The weekend did not disappoint for me. My goal from the beginning of this whole venture was to be with like-minded women who also wanted a chance to recharge their batteries. I had hoped for yummy food to be brought to us, good conversations to be had and laughs shared amongst the group (no matter how big or small it may have been). And all of these things (and so much more!) came to pass.

I'm going to now share with you some of the photos I took on the weekend. I'll add a line or two about each one. Here goes ;)

Friday afternoon: On arrival, I had gluten free muffins and gluten free chocolate brownies (not pictured here) awaiting our guests along with some drinks and fresh fruits.

We settled into our rooms (this was mine) and had a little gift bag awaiting on each bed.

A few photos below: our lovely venue Eddy's in Canowindra (thank you Cathy for having us and making sure we were all settled in!) We loved the art on display too. There were lots of places to sit and explore too.

Check out the pressed tin ceilings! My goodness, it was SO lovely!

Later on Friday after we'd had some sweets, we shared a charcuterie board that Ethan made for us with deli meats, fresh fruits and veg, crackers, cheese and dips.

Dinner was served for us in the dining room (chicken laksa, noodles, vegies, rice, sweet potato and chic pea curry).

We called it an early night and relaxed quietly on our own. I was able to read Kim Kelly's book The Rat Catcher (an historical fiction - I adore Kim's writing!) and get a really good sleep!

Saturday morning:

Waking up on Saturday morning, I felt so refreshed! Already! I could hear Tracey and Ali chatting on the veranda upstairs.

I went into the kitchen, helped myself to one of the Breakfast Muffins Ethan had made for us and heated it up in the microwave. Paired it with a cup It was delicious! I sat and read some Scriptures and was encouraged by reading the Psalms.

Ali then went for a walk into town while Tracey and I spent some time catching up. Ali came back with special presents for us which was such a lovely gesture!

We hung out for the next few hours working through our session chats and workbook. It was so powerful, encouraging and inspiring to hear different perspectives on the questions. Stassi arrived and the floor was opened for Tracey and Ali to ask anything of a homeschooled graduate. I invited Stass to stay for the remainder of the weekend (and both Ali and Tracey were happy for her to do so too).

There was even time for get some reading in on the veranda.

Saturday afternoon:

We went for a walk around the gorgeous village of Canowindra.

Some shots from Saturday:

Our workbooks and journals (and pencils to use for doodling), delicious frittata Ethan cooked us, and our visit to the swinging bridge and river.

Posing in the town for a photo with my friends Tracey and Ali ;) Poor things were so good about me taking a million photos - I just love looking back over them. Thanks guys for letting me! ;)

Ethan, my son, who as I mentioned above is currently in his second year of his chef apprenticeship, was our (paid!) cook for the weekend.

He made us beautiful meals and took care of the washing up and mopping of the floors too! I barely had to lift a finger which was a dream!

Saturday evening: This is now one of my favourite photos from the weekend! Ethan set our dinner tables up on the veranda and we enjoyed the last of the afternoon sunshine eating haystacks!

Ethan had a slow cooked beef roll for us with ranch seasoning, baked potatoes, cheese, salsa, sour cream and a veg and beans topping to go on our corn chips. It was delicious!

With full bellies, we headed off to a local organic winery where an art exhibition (that Ali had heard about that day) was happening! These are lovely friends of mine over at Rosnay Cellar Door. It was such a lovely evening! Dressing up, admiring beautiful art and having enjoying each other's company was so fun.

When we arrived back at our accommodation, Ethan had a dessert platter and mousse awaiting us. We all got into our jammies and lit up the lanterns as we watched the movie Dear John. It was almost like a slumber party!

Sunday morning:

Sunday morning saw us head into town for some freshly brewed coffee at the Melissa Barber Galleries .

I love Melissa's style and her gorgeous range in the cafe and gallery too! If you visit #Canowindra, you MUST stop by even if just for the visual feast you will give your eyes.

Ok I was going to not post these two but couldn't help myself. Like seriously, how beautiful!?!

We arrived back to Eddy's and had kept poor Shiayn from S.omethingtolove waiting! She was so patient with us and encouraged each of us as we created our pieces. Thank you so much for traveling over to Canowindra Shiayn and for helping us take home a beautiful piece of art that we will remind us of our weekend away.

So much fun! And ps: how yummy those gf scones were! Thanks Ethan!

Sunday afternoon: We packed up, said our goodbyes to each other and left our weekend retreat to head back into our normal lives!

I miss you Ali and Tracey! Thank you so much for coming and sharing your lives and hearts with me. It was such a special time and I won't forget it. Love to you both xx

Thank you Stassi and Ethan for coming and sharing with us too to help make our experience so memorable. Love you both xx

And I thought I'd include here Ali's words that she sent me after the retreat: From the moment I arrived, Lusi’s warmth and friendliness enveloped me and set the scene for a truly amazing weekend. Whether it was having a delicious breakfast made by a talented local chef whilst watching the fog and hot air balloons rise over stunning landscape or walking along the streets of a quaint village chatting with an incredibly inspirational fellow retreat goer, this was a weekend designed to reset, recharge and rejuvenate. While home schooling and motherhood are ventures I wouldn’t swap for the world, the reminder that I need to still be me to strong enough to do everything I need to do, was timely and succinct. I highly recommend any future retreat with Lusi for any home schooling mum. - Ali D

Thank you Ali for sending that through. It warmed my heart so much to know it was an amazing weekend for you because it was definitely that for me. More soon friends. Love and hugs, Lusi xx

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