Sunday, December 14, 2014

Letter to the world - fifth edition





Hello world. It’s my yearly blog post time, which means just one single thing. I am a year older.

The year of five was flat out. I started school and left Mum home on her own all week. This was the first time in eight years that she had time to herself. The question to ask is, exactly what did she do with that time? I don’t know the answer, but by the end of the year Mum got herself a personal trainer, that wasn’t so much fun because she complained a lot about having sore legs, then arms and then she ended up crawling on the floor unable to walk when she hurt her back. Anyway, that was the end of personal training.

Earlier in the year I got whooping cough. Mum didn’t talk about it here because she couldn’t be bothered with the conversations about vaccinations. I was lucky, I had been vaccinated so my cough wasn’t as bad as some of the babies who haven’t had their needles. I also got to sleep with Mum and Dad for two months because the whoops are really bad at night time. Mum and Dad said it was like having a new baby in the house again, but it didn’t seem like that to me, I would love to have a baby sister. I ask for one every week, but still there is no baby here.


One day I split my chin open when I fell up the step at school and I needed a trip to be stuck back together and then I split the back of my skull open on my bedhead. That was an interesting Saturday night at the emergency doctor, they used my hair to tie my skin in place and lots and lots of glue. Everyone wanted to look at it.

Other than injury I have also been very busy dancing my way through the year. I have done disco dancing at school and I can sing Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes in Japanese. I was probably the bestest ballerina on stage at my dance concert, that’s what Nana told me.

When I grow up I am still going to be a vet to baby animals. I am not so sure about fish anymore though. When we went to Singapore, Mum and I went in the giantist reef you have seen, it was good for a bit, but those fish came a bit close to me and I had to go on Mums back for the next 50 metres around the reef. Mum’s snorkel kept filling up with water when I was pushing on her head. I don’t think Mum liked it very much, she seemed happy to reach the end.


It took awhile but I have mastered the art of scooter riding and now I’ve got it, I really like scootering very very fast. So fast, that my leg sometimes aches the next day from too much scootering.

Being five has been pretty good for me, I went on an overseas trip for the first time and got a passport. Then I went to all the worlds in Queensland. Plus I climbed some really big mountains when Dad took us bushwalking. I learnt to read so fast that I surprised everyone when I just started reading big girl books with no pictures.  I even have days now when I don’t insist on wearing a dress. I still LOVE playing with my baby dolls and my toys, I love making cakes, but only if I get to lick the spoon AND the bowl. Actually I don’t even really want the cake., just the mixture. Actually, isn’t this just what ‘raw food’ is…cake mixture?


I don’t know everything yet, but if being six is as good as being five, the year ahead is going to be awesome. I am going to have swimming lessons again, I might start karate, I will have a think about riding my bike without training wheels.  I will be climbing trees and swinging off monkey bars, wearing out all of my shoes faster than I can grow out of them.


I have been five for a really really long time so come on down six, I am ready and waiting to explore every second you got.









Wednesday, December 10, 2014

5 Things: Shopping for me.

We have had a few extra travels this year and filled the house with a few new bits of furniture so Mr H and I have agreed that we are not really doing Christmas presents for each other.

Instead we have a $50 limit to buy each other something, anything. Nothing amazing, just a token something. Or something for a laugh. Whatever.

It is proving very difficult for him.

Firstly, because when he goes shopping the first place he goes is to the bike shop, followed closely by the golf shop. He just can not find anything to buy for me. Just lots and lots for himself.

He has walked around the shops for hours and is still empty handed - well actually, it is me who will be empty handed come Christmas morning.

There have also been whispers that I might be one of those people that is difficult to buy for, no way. I don't want to be one of those people.

If you need to buy a little something this Christmas (for me) here you go Mr H.


A book. Everyone needs something more to read. You can't be re-reading old books, life is too short and you don't have the time, there are too many books to read.

Right now, I need this book because it is my next book club read.



What do I break, lose, scratch and never have enough of every summer?
SUNGLASSES.

I have given up having pricey specs, but I always need some new ones. I don't even care what they look like, as long as they are in the car when I need them (three pairs would be useful).





Can never have enough of....ELK.

Anything at all, I will wear it.





A groovy hairbrush (that I don't have to share with the girls and never goes missing from the bathroom).


An extra charger for my phone so that I never miss all your important calls again.



See! It is super easy to buy me a little gift.

Otherwise you could always make me something - like dinner for a whole month?





Thursday, December 4, 2014

Review: Officeworks Kodak Picture Kiosk.

This is a sponsored post

With Christmas fast approaching I’m challenged once again to find the perfect Christmas gift for Mr H. I wanted to find something that’s thoughtful and personalised and that’s when it struck me - a family photobook which captures all of our favourite memories from the year that’s past!

I’ve been making the effort to get more photos of us as a family. I even gave myself the formal challenge of trying to take a photo of me with at least one member of the family every single week in 2014.

With only three weeks to go, I have so far succeeded!

I called this little challenge #MyFamilyandMe and I started it after I noticed that our 2013 photobook was pretty much just all the kids and no one else. In 50 years time it would seem like we were never present.

With all these photos from the year on the computer I downloaded them onto a USB and headed off to the Kodak Picture Kiosk at Officeworks.  

It was really simple to plug in the USB and go straight to collating the photobook. I actually had so many photos of us all that I needed to add in an extra 10 pages to the standard photo book.

There were some pages that I only wanted the one image on, but most I allowed four to a page.

Photobook on screen



The end result was a photo album that we can easily flick through to see the year of 2014 for our family, with 30 pages and a hard cover, my photobook was $35.50.



While I was there I also printed up a few special Christmas postcards for Immy. She has two very good friends, they have been together for a few years in crèche and at school, but one of them is leaving as her parents head off to be expats in a new country. I had a lovely photo of the three of them when they were all dressed up for school. I wanted to get it printed for them, as they are such lovely friends, and it was just under $5 for the three of them.

Lastly, I couldn’t resist getting a few other images from the year printed up as photos. I want to get them framed and placed on the girls’ bedroom walls.
  


Once I printed out the receipt for my products and paid for them, I had an hour to wait.  There was only one thing left to do.

I went and tried out all the calligraphy textas, the special pencils, the new style pens. I used up heaps of the scribble paper they have out just practicing my writing. I haven’t done that in a really long time. Did you know that using a calligraphy texta still doesn’t work if you don’t move your hand in the correct way?




As I must confess to a stationery addiction I also purchased some more notebooks that I did not need (but loved too much to leave behind), some washi tape (can you ever have enough?) and more pens.

It was actually good that I bought them, because then I watched this on the Officeworks ‘How To’ page. I don’t care how fancy the cards are that you bought this year, nothing ever beats handwritten AND handmade.

There are more ideas in the clip below too. Even a husband could make these ones with the kids.





As we found ourselves embracing the digital age over the last decade, Mr H and I have been guilty of not printing many of our favourite images. Making the time to print a book at the end of each year is a great way to ensure we have the best mix of digital and print images. Because surrounding yourself with your most favourite of things is an important way to make everyday life wonderful.

Have you got a photo of you and your family together this year? Have you had it printed?








For inspiration on creative and personalised gift-giving, check out Officeworks ‘How To’ videos or join in the conversation on social media via #creativechristmas

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Being fabulous is not good for blogging

Fabulous Poppy. 




My blog posts are getting fewer and fewer. There is no denying it. Not because I am not happy here, quite the opposite. I love this blog.

Writing has never been my strength in the marketing world, but the answer to improve your writing is to just keep writing, try to write every single day. Just like reading or maths or cartwheels. If you do them every single day, you just get better and better.  Writing is something that I know I need to keep working on, and I am really happy to use this space to do that.

At the same time, I want to be fabulous as a mum and a wife and a friend and an employee and attempting fabulous can cut into my time quite a lot.

Being a fabulous Mum means different things for different families, it doesn’t mean being the only person available at every second of the day for your children, that would be crazy, but it does mean realising when you need to sacrifice time on something you want to do because your kids need you that bit extra for now. Some weeks it seems that I need to do this more than others. A blog post can wait, but childhood waits for no Mumma.

There are many benefits in building real life friendships in the community around you, but this takes lots of in real life effort too. It’s not hard, in fact once you start to get a group of people around you who make you laugh, share their stories, entertain you and are good fun, you just want to go be your own type of fabulous with them more and more. It could provide great blog fodder, but instead you are off having lunch again with no time to write the blog post.

I am on school council and committees and have duties as a taxi driver for the girls’ activities. I am also working more and more. I am lucky to have family who visit from near and very very far and when we are all together we eat lots and talk lots and have good times. Even the kids now take off with the ipads and make iMovies of their days together. Fabulous stuff.  Fabulous little clips that I love.

When you have a job you enjoy and an employer who is flexible enough to embrace your crazy working mind and the ideas that just flow from it, you can sometimes get really busy and have to change the whole week around. Being busy is fabulous. Doing stuff is fabulous. Writing about work things is not allowed, but I do write a blog at work, so somedays I get home and I might have written up three blog posts already. 


My back has recently gone bezerko and had me gulping great quantities of medication just to be able to stand up. This is not so fabulous. This is actually very much another f word altogether. But it has given me a few days to sit and stare at my blog and think about what is going on with it. It’s changing, but it’s not going anywhere, well, not anywhere that isn’t fabulous that’s for sure.


May your week be good and remember to always protect your back.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

When is a tween not a tween?

Image from One Red Fly. Clothes for 3-14 year olds.


When a parent can't stand the term, yet uses it anyway.

A tween is a marketing dream. Or a marketer's dream.

Once including kids aged in the pre teenage years of 10-12, it seems to now have dropped to the 8-12 bracket.

It's a way to advertise to teen wannabes. To kids who are told they should no longer want to play with toys and instead they should be interested in smaller sized adult products. A tween is told not to play with toys so much, instead they should have some hot pink hair ties and a lip gloss, an iPod with a trendy cover. A tween girl begins to get messages from around the age of eight that she should be interested in non-kid things.

This is a very modern thing to do to our kids and as parents we seem to be blindly following the marketers wishes. It can be hard not to.

Don't bother popping into Bonds Kids to get your eight year old child an outfit. Kids apparently stop at size 7, but Bonds are not alone in this. Cotton On kids stops at size 8 - after that you need to go in the Teen range and your eight year old is encouraged to wear the same as a 14 year old might want to wear. Ask the parents of any kids wearing size 8 - 12 and most are struggling to find shops that cater to their needs. Children's boutiques more and more specialise in only newborn to 8 years - maybe this is because they just can't sell the older stuff. Maybe.

Search hard enough and you will find a brand that thinks kids are still kids, all messy hair and slouchy and busy doing their thing rather than reapplying their face.

This is more how I am happy for my kids to be. Just wearing clothes that let them do all the things they need to do.

Image from Missie Munster

Tweens were actually first referred to as those post the teen years - the people in their 20s, still working out what they wanted to do with their lives.

The "tweens" were defined by J.R.R. Tolkien thusly: "At that time Frodo was still in his tweens, as the hobbits called the irresponsible twenties between childhood and coming of age at thirty-three. 

That makes sense, even using the 'tw' from twenty. I like it. And really, if you have met any 'kids' in their early twenties lately, they really are pretty much tweens in the true sense of it and mostly still living with their parents.

Which leaves me with my own eight year old wannabe tween. She who begs for an Instagram account and sleep over parties but who can't safely cross a busy road on her own.

I am reluctant to use the term tween at all. Preferring to call things as they are, I like kids to be children and teenagers to be teenagers, but modern society is dragging me along. I am being forced to shop in teen shops for clothing.

As a marketer I am fully aware of the dollar benefits of segmenting to the tween market. It's a powerful one. Where kids have enormous power over the financial decisions of the family household.

Just check out any Smiggle store, jokingly referred to as crack for kids. How much Smiggle is enough? Filled with overpriced smelly textas that every kid wants, they are not too pricey that parents can't afford them, yet enough that not every kid gets them. They distinguish themselves from all the Crayola your kid has had for the last five years, making them so much cooler, adding in ipod speakers and slap bands to up the "I want it" factor.

I can't fight society and the influence it has on my kids. It is what it is and they live in a world surrounded by peers that have a big impact on them. But I can search for things that I think will provide them with entertainment, stuff they might 'play' with, while not even knowing. I have found most of these 'things' to be bigger outside things. Scooters, sneakers with wheels in them, kinetic sand, tennis racquets, trips to trampoline centres and roller skating rinks. Board games and card games and books are also great options.

And it's also important to note that society has made big progress in the advertising we do.

Do you remember Barbie and the Rockers...





Perhaps the tween market can actually become a great thing. With the right marketing teams pushing it the tween target audience could be sent messages about how great it is to be a child. That time when you can climb a tree without an adult's help. You can ride a bike without training wheels. You can spill popcorn all over the couch and not be the one who has to clean it up. The tween still lives in a time of fewer problems then teenagers, when at least their skin is not marked with pimples  and Impulse isn't sprayed every half hour.

The tween years might actually be the best ever. They just need a new campaign.



P.S I have a really fantastic list of things to giveaway at the moment. Please take a look and let me know which ones you would love to win. 


Thursday, November 13, 2014

The BIG Giving Giveaway 2014

Once again I am running my one and only Christmas giveaway post. The giveaway with a difference.

Each item mentioned in this post has happily agreed to provide me with a giveaway item to review. One to giveaway to a reader, AND a third item to giveaway to a charity/person of my choice this Christmas. That was the condition sent to every PR who asked me to write about their products this Christmas, just like last year, as soon as I asked for a third item to give to a charity, most companies decided not to continue. However - Social Media for social good, well it feels good, so I am not budging on my terms for this post.

There will be four prizes in total to win, so let's just get straight into it.

Prize One: Tickets to Disney Live: 




Win ONE family pass for Friday 9th Jan 2015, 1pm performance. IN MELBOURNE.

Tickets are Valued at $155/family pass (4 tickets).

For more details on Disney on Ice tickets around the country check here


Prize Two: Sparkly Warkly Pack




This is a gorgeous pack! It will include; 

1) Forever Clover Gift Pack

Remember swap cards. Of course you do. They were fantastic and they are on the way back. But of course they come with more of a twist and these ones have an entire book series to match them. We had some friends from school come over and play swap cards, we also swapped a few books around so that each of the girls could read about the Forever Clover girls. These are great books for girls aged around 6-9, particularly those that are happy to never read another book about fairies.  

Sandy Feet Australia sells bathers that are going to last more than one week of swimming lessons in designs that grown ups want to wear too. With a cut that keeps in mind that children (including girls) are active little beings the Sandy Feet Australia togs are not skimpy little numbers. The cross over back on the girls bikini and tankini stops them having to worry about straps falling off. You will be able to decide what you want from the store and it will be sent directly to you. My girls modelled their outfits over on Instagram too.

3. 'Lil Fairy Doors. 
We received a 'Lil Fairy Door. Just the one. It was instantly the cause of a fight as the girls discussed who would get to have the door in their room. Miss 8 is an excellent negotiator and tried every argument she had to get it in her room. In the end, it is in my room and will be used to bribe them for a few weeks until I get a new one from the online shop.

4) Milky Foot and Spotner
Have you tried the Milky Foot? If not, do your feet a favour and get them milky this summer. It's a small luxury for feet that spend their days running around after everyone else. When you can't indulge in a full on regular foot treatment, you can do a Milky Foot at home instead.  Spotner is a new cream that works on age spots. Thankfully age spots are not my biggest concern right now, but this 'pen' means you can just dab it on, not rub yet another cream all over you.

5) Little Live Pets Butterflies. 
Colourful and flappy, these butterflies are both a cute decoration for a room and something to play with. They flap differently depending on how much interaction they get. 

Prize Three: Tickets to Thriller Live




Want to see this fabulous new show?

I have a double pass worth $179.80 for Wednesday 28 January 2015.  
THIS IS FOR THE MELBOURNE SHOW
You and a friend could be off to the theatre for a sing and a dance.

For more information on where to see this show, check ticketmaster.


Prize Four:  Flippy Flappy Happy Pack





Prize Pack Four is filled with lots of little gems. If you win this pack you will receive. 

1) Thomas Track Master Set. 
This includes the Water Tower Starter Set and a Raceway Expansion Pack. 

2) DVD of Thomas the Tank Engine Movie, Tale of the Brave. This is a great movie that every little Thomas fan will enjoy. At 70 minutes long, it's more than the standard tv show version of Thomas, but not too long that little people can't sit through the whole thing. 

3) Evans and Hall
This online business was new to me, but Evans and Hall has some really really nice stuff. It is filled with stationery and classy products that are just a little bit different, just a little bit nicer than the other stuff you see, just a little bit better. This pack includes a box of Science Flash Cards. The cards are a delightful way for kids to learn and chat about the world around them, thick cards, stunning images. You will love them. 

4) DVD  - The trip to Italy
Mr H and I sat down the other night and watched this DVD. It's like a funny documentary. With two men, Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon, taking a road trip and eating their way around Italy, there are lots of little one liners in this film, but stay focused, it moves fast, when you think nothing is happening you miss another great line.


4) Milky Foot and Spotner
Just like in Pack Two, this will be added to pack four too! 



5)  Australia Post Shop
When you are heading to the post office to buy all your Christmas card stamps, take a look around what is on the shelves. There are heaps of toys and items for kids gifts. You know when you don't want to spend a lot but you also don't want to just buy more junk? This is what you need. The WoodWorx packs have great little options and both my girls did them WITH NO HELP. The book packs are excellent value, you will not get better priced books then these, I buy a few ever year. There are even slinkies! 


________________________________________________________________________________

Phew, that took a while to get through, but it is totally worth it. I have the most amazing pack of all these items that I am able to give away this Christmas to a family in need. And that feels good, it feels really good.

A huge thank you to all the businesses taking part above. Click on their links and take a look around.

________________________________________________________________________________


To enter to win one of the above prizes you need to do ONE thing. 

LEAVE A COMMENT on this blog post OR on a facebook post that links to this post (on my facebook page) You must also leave me an email address or a twitter handle or an instagram handle so that I can contact you. 

Simply tell me which prize you would like to win and why. Or, if you would like the prize to be a surprise for someone you know who might really need a little surprise, tell me that too. 

That's all. 




Comments Close on November 30.
Winners will be chosen by Team Huey and the decision will be final. 
No payment was received from any of the products in this list.



THIS GIVEAWAY HAS NOW ENDED.






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