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Friday, October 20, 2017

The Good Luck Ghost

I don't believe in ghosts.

Except for those ones that haunt old lunatic asylums and prisons and places of great historical significance.

I don't believe in spirits of those that have died. Other than the ones that I sometimes talk to.

I don't believe there is a God for you to pray to who is going to have magical powers and change what is going to happen anyway, but I am not going to miss the chance to try and barter my way for a better result if I can - just in case.

A couple of weeks ago I saw a Facebook competition. That is not a big deal, you see them all the time. But as a social media manager who hangs on Facebook more than you ever should, I also know that it is against FB policy to ask people to TAG OR SHARE your post and when I see that day after day I have to eat cheezels to make myself chill out about it. So I have been eating hundreds of cheezels and this is not really a good thing, anyway, I am not writing about cheezels. But I do have some if you want one.

Anyway, back to the competition I saw. It was offering 200 bucks to spend on some Yarra Trail clothes and it did NOT breach the Facebook rules. So I did what I do whenever I see these competitions, I entered to win.

I entered to win because my Mum loves herself a few Yarra Trail clothes and she is not shy of an iron, which is important because most of the stuff is made from beautiful linen. Beautiful linen that requires a commitment to being ironed.

This is also not a huge thing, I often enter competitions like this, I love them. They are free to enter, make me think about what to write, introduce me to a new product and then I scroll on and carry on with my day. Haven't seen a prize for a couple of years and the last one I won was a high chair, but I don't have a baby.

Did you know it's been five years today since my Dad died? I am not sure if he is a ghost or a spirit or if he is looking down on us shouting to stop moping around and bloody do something. Perhaps he's hanging out in heaven waiting for us, or maybe he's just dead, the end.

But last night, I got an email. I won the Styling You competition and Mum now has 200 smackers to spend on herself. I think it's my Dad still looking out for my Mum. And the rest of us. Telling us that he's still around. He's trying to tell me he's like my good luck ghost and when the good things are happening, that's when he's here, I just need to look about more. But then, I don't believe in ghosts. Do I? 




Friday, September 29, 2017

Big 4 Apollo Bay

When there's an invitation for a weekend away, we're the first people to say yes.



Which is why we found ourselves having a long visit to We've headed that way ourselves but always stopped a few towns before Apollo Bay.
Apollo Bay last weekend. It's three hours drive from Melbourne along the Great Ocean Road. But it's three hours that most people find that bit too far.

If you don't make that extra effort, you're really missing out on some beautiful scenery. The ocean, the trees. So fabulous.

We booked into the Big 4 Holiday Park because we are kind of groupies to the Big 4 park. Our cabin was looking straight at the beach, we could walk from our door to the beach in seconds.



The cabin was spacious, with plenty of room for friends and family to join us for meals, for all the kids to lay out and watch a DVD or a movie on Foxtel. We had three bedrooms and the cabin could sleep 7 very comfortably. The spa bath was a very welcome addition and the perfect place to sit and relax and read my book while the kids were out playing in the park area.


The weather was freezing. It was cold and wet and not so spring-like conditions. But the kids still made it into the heated pool. It was heated well, but it is an outdoor pool so be prepared for warm showers straight afterwards if the weather is arctic, like we had.

We did manage a small amount of time walking along the beach, but the wind was working hard to discourage us. Instead, we headed out in the car and found the beautiful Otways to walk through. With trees hundreds of years old sheltering us we had a break from the wind and enjoyed the lush green ferns. There is nothing bad to say about spending time in the trees.



Apollo Bay has plenty of places to eat, parks to run around in and we tried out two of the local pubs. My favourite was the Apollo Bay Hotel - because I had the Pumpkin and Blue Cheese Pizza, and let's be honest, I've never met a blue cheese I didn't love.







This is not a sponsored post. We visited, paid, checked things out and researched what to do all by ourselves.










Thursday, September 14, 2017

A sneaky snow day - Lake Mountain

It's no secret I never cope with winter.

Around the corner from us is a street that we have renamed Blossom Street. Each spring time, the trees in the street blossom a few weeks before every other. They are the indication that I have nearly got through winter. But this is Melbourne. So Blossom Street has already turned to leaves but the snow fall is also continuing. 

Mr H loves the snow. LOVES IT. In this, we are not a match. I find very little about snow lifts, bulky clothing, wet socks and frost bite to be fun. He sees nothing but happiness. 

Last week when the snow was just too good to resist, Mr H got up early and told the girls he was cancelling school and they were going to the snow. 

They were dressed in minutes and on the road to Lake Mountain. 

If you're in Melbourne, Lake Mountain is a very easy trip to take. Leave at 7.30 am and you'll be on the mountain for morning tea. 

They made one quick stop for some snow boots for the girls and grabbed some extra ski goggles.

Lake Mountain did not disappoint. They spent six hours playing in the snow, tobogganing, making a snowman and exploring the bush. 


They had snowflakes that stayed on their nose and eyelashes. 

For lunch, Mr H had packed a thermos with hot dogs and thrown a bag of bread rolls in the car, that's his version of packing a picnic. 


We had some toboggans they took with them, but because Mr H can't share, he also hired an extra one for himself. You can get whatever you need on the mountain, but we've always found the best service is in the towns before the mountain - like Marysville. These are usually small businesses with excellent service and information, on the mountain customer service doesn't seem to be a KPI for most job descriptions - they'd probably prefer to be out in the snow rather than serving you. Don't let this stop you from getting your kids up to the land of the white fluffy stuff. They are going to really love it. 




 HOT TIP - Teach your kids to stop before they take their first trip down the slope.





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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Aching Glute

Over the last few weeks I've been writing blog posts in my head again. I haven't done this for ages, which is why you'll notice that I have not really written any blog posts.

The only thing that's happened in the last few months was the random day my back went out. A random day after I had joined an online fitness training program and thought it was a great way to get fit.

OH THE PAIN.

Invisible pain is excruciating for many reasons, but one of them is that you look quite ok. There is no blood, no stitches, no bruise, no fever. JUST ALL THE PAIN.

It's awful.

It lead me to join weird Facebook groups in the middle of the night when I was lonely and sad and not sure what I was going to do. This was good for a few weeks, but most of the people were American, and I tell you, a group like that shows you what a totally useless medical system they have. There were people living in agony for years, they were sympathetic and considerate, but they mainly told me that this was now my life. Give up work. Prepare yourself for friends to slowly accept you can't join them and one by one they too will disappear.

I couldn't accept this was going to be it for me. First I hit Dr Google, and Youtube and I started to read and listen to everything. All the snake oil salespeople, the people who have never been injured but knew what I needed, they were easy to find. It was all so shonky but I was also so ready to BUY IT ALL. Let me have it, what ever it takes to be pain free, I was ready to hand over my cash. But my credit card was a little sad looking so I waited a few days and kept reading and realised most of what I needed I already had.

My doctor said - be patient.
My osteo said - this is going to get better
My Neurosurgeon said - you can have surgery if you want, but why don't you have a think about it first.
My natural remedy friends had all the potions I could take but I listened to those who have been down this road before and I purchased all the ones I needed.

And I got a diary.

I started writing about what I was doing each day, what I might try and do the next day, the information I had found and exactly how much medication I had found. I wrote down the things I found hardest (grocery shopping/sitting on wooden chairs) and found ways to avoid them (Thank you online shopping and cushions).

They say that necessity is the mother of invention and this is never truer than for the person in chronic pain. I've sticky taped towels together and positioned cushions in the perfect way, I have finally realised why Crocs shoes were invented - they are for people with chronic pain to take showers because they absorb some of the impact that hard surfaces put on your body.

My glute muscle still feels like I've been kicked by a horse or hit by a car. It's best I don't walk for long periods of time, or stand still too long. I have to wear very very ugly shoes, even to work.

But it's getting better. It's going to get better. If you also have chronic pain the main thing you need to know right now is that it doesn't have to be forever. You're going to find a solution, it's just probably not going to be in a Facebook group at 2 am.







Thursday, May 11, 2017

The story about a girl learning to swim.

As our second child, I must admit we didn't start official swimming lessons from when she was a few months old. Actually, she was about two.

And then, in winter times, we stopped because it was so cold in Melbourne. Then aged five she got whoopping cough and we had another term off, at age seven, it was Glandular Fever and we had to stop everything.

So really, Miss 8 has had a bit of an average attempt at swimming lessons compared to her sister and over the summer it was clear that while she was confident in the pool, we needed to sort out her actual swimming stroke and improve her style.

We booked into our local swimming pool, a no-frills local pool where you do your lessons and are free to have a swim or a play afterwards.

After her first lesson, Miss 8 was excited that she was probably the best in her group. On week 2 the teacher called a supervisor over to suggest this was the wrong group for her and they sorted out getting her to swim a full lap of the pool to show her freestyle. But, she quickly told them, no. She couldn't swim that far.

A little encouragement to give it a try saw her take off and swim the best lap ever.

Ten minutes later she asked me how many laps it would take to swim a kilometre. I did some quick maths, told her it would be TWENTY laps but it was great she could now do one all on her own.

When all of a sudden she took off swimming. Miss 8 decided that she was going to swim a km, because a kid in her class did it that weekend.

I suggested she aim for six and then re-evaluate, but she just kept going. Slowly, in her own style of stroke, lap after lap until she hit 20. We high-fived and did underwater somersaults to celebrate.

And then I re did my maths calculations and sighed, saying it was actually 40 laps, as this was a 25m pool. ARRRGGGh.

So off she swam. ANOTHER 20 laps.

I really didn't think she was going to make it. I walked behind her every lap, getting more and more exhausted because the reality is that I haven't swam 40 laps in, well, ever.

And just like that, we have a kid who loves swimming. Who isn't afraid to swim a lap of the pool or stress out when she can't touch the bottom for a long time. She's happy to try every stroke and knows she can swim for as long as she likes.

We've still got a way to go with making those strokes look the way they should, but right now, she's swimming along.


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Maybe my favourite tween book


I've always felt that once you stop reading picture books to your kids you are missing out on some of the best books, artwork and stories that get written. The gorgeous illustrations, quirky humour and exciting dreams of future worlds.

Well, the same goes with books written for bigger kids.

Maybe the words are bigger on the page.

Maybe you'll read the book in one night.

Maybe you will love it so much you can't wait to share it with your kids.

Maybe a Fox is worth the read by you and your kids.

It's a little different to anything else available right now. It's not about fitting in at school or dealing with the latest social media crisis, it's not complete fantasy.

Maybe a Fox is sad. As an adult and as a parent, my heart was breaking in sections of this as 11 year old Jules talks about the little memory she has of her mum.

But the magic of this book is the community around Jules and her family. The support she has from the people and the environment around her.

There is magic in wishes, magic in believing, magic in hope for answers and better days.

This book is all about dealing with grief but it is also so much more. I don't want to spoil it at all by saying too much, but if you're looking for a book to share with kids 9-13, Maybe a Fox should be on your list.



Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Middle School; what's it all about?

I used to read books about kids in middle school and I had no idea what it was. We are used to primary school and secondary school. It's the way of things here in Australia. It's how our schools are run.

Well, most of them. But not the one we go to.

This year we started in Grade 5 and that means middle school. It's a big deal. Everything changes. No longer do you have a tub or a chair bag or containers of shared pencils on your table, instead, there are lockers and locks to navigate. There are classes and timetables and the requirement that you eat your food when you need to. There's no brain food or smart snack or nude food, it's time to get that stuff sorted all on your own.

Middle school is for kids aged from around 10-14, or years 5-8 for us. It means there is no moving to secondary school and being the smallest kids in a big massive place. It means you get to use the good stuff, the science labs, the bigger sports grounds, interschool sports and swimming carnival days. You have music festivals and big bands. It's not such a bad deal, but it can be overwhelming.

You also kick off the year with a bonus day camp. A day for everyone to get to know the new kids, or new kids to them, for teachers to get to know you better and to learn some extra skills about teamwork, resilience and gaining confidence.

The thing with middle school is that as a parent, you've gotta be getting things right. Especially if your kid tends to be the type that worries. If the note says bring roll-on insect repellent you DO NOT pack the pump spray. If it says pack suncream, it is NOT OK for you to pack the Peppa Pig one you found rolling around in your bag.

I learnt this the hard way. I also learnt that you should lay out the things you want to pack, check they are ok and allow time for your kid to pack the stuff they want. Because, hey, this is middle school, not kindergarten and they don't want you packing crap in their bags anymore. No, not even the spare hat or sunglasses or a couple of band aids for emergencies.

However, pencils and paper will forever be cool. And lip gloss. You can never have enough of that. And bucket hats, the ones that have not changed in a gazillion years.







We're just three weeks into our middle school days and we've got four years to go. I 've still got a lot to learn. I am still not even sure I like this whole concept. I think I do, but I am also still thinking I'd like to have these babes in primary school for two more years. Either way, this is where we're at. Let's hope as the term rolls on we grasp the fun and excitement of new things and the love of packing 48 bags a week for acro, swimming, guitar, library, sport...





Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Harry Potter Tween Clothing in action


Two girls doing gymnastics wearing Harry Potter tween wear



I have walked to every shop that sells clothes for kids over eight and stalked too many websites. Ask any parent of a kid aged 8-12 about buying clothes and most will tell you the same story, there is barely anything decent.  Finding clothes that suit the tween aged kid is tough. Finding clothes they want to wear that also allow them to be kids is close to impossible.

Thankfully, right now, Warner Bros. Consumer Products and Big W have released a new range, which has a few pieces that my kids couldn’t wait to get their hands on. We’ve been Harry Potter fans for a few years – We even had the best Harry Potter birthday party a couple of years ago so I was hoping they’d be happy to see these.  But to be honest, they are so fussy with clothing I wasn’t sure what they would think.

We were gifted a package of clothing from Warner Bros. Consumer Products, containing tees and track suits which arrived when we had visitors, so I let them all grab a few pieces and try them on. Not only did they love each item, they kept talking about how comfortable they all were.  

Because this is Melbourne we get the pleasure and pain of dealing with multiple weather situations every day. Luckily for us, this meant that we got to try out all the options in one day.

“They’re so comfortable” was the comment they repeated every time I asked for an opinion.


Girl wearing Harry Potter tshirt while sitting on a swing.


Miss 8 prefers the Harry Potter Raglan Tee teamed with her denim shorts, which is pretty much her summer uniform.

Miss 10 is often found lounging around in an armchair with a book or her iPad and likes to snuggle into her hoodie. Both of them have been grabbing the Harry Potter Track Pants each evening when they come in from playing outside.

These are a lightweight tracksuit material, perfect for the summer/autumn. For our friends in the lovely northern states they could be great for your winter (just don’t wear them in Melbourne in July!)  I also found the items very true to size/age range.  My kids are on the taller side, Miss 11 wears the size 12 and Miss 8 is wearing the size 8 in each item.

Tween Girl watching Ipad wearing Harry Potter tween wear


Finding something for your kids to wear is much tougher than it should be, but the Harry Potter tween range at Big W makes finding an outfit easier, and it’s also priced at a level that’s affordable.

The items we tried out include:

Harry Potter Track Pants - $19

Harry Potter Raglan Tee $15

Harry Potter Hoodie $25

Harry Potter Long-Sleeve Tee $15





The girls loved these items so much that I’d like to give some away, and the Warner Bros. Consumer Products team agreed that it would be great to share the love further.

If you’d like to win some for your own kids, pop over to my Instagram page, leave a comment and you’ll be in the draw to win.  Check out #WBPromotion for other chances to win some goodies too.





*Please note: I received the Harry Potter Tween clothing items to try and decided to write about them because I think my readers would be interested in them. The giveaway will be held on my Instagram page, items will be sent directly to the winner from Warner Bros. Consumer Products.  

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

On our Book Shelf: Tweens and Kids

What did ya get for Christmas?

I hope you got a book.

One of the best bits of every Christmas in this house includes the new books that we all get to read.

This year the presents were a great success.


For Tweens and Teens: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

Forget the movie, this book was rated 'THE BEST BOOK I'VE EVER READ' by Miss 10. It even got rated better than Harry Potter, which was something we didn't think would ever happen. This is the book that dragged her from her iPad, left her begging to not get ready for just five more minutes so she could read a few more pages.

Initially, we had suggested that it was a book best read in the day time as it might get a bit scary. However, while she admitted the thought of watching the movie could be a bit scary, the book does not provide the fearful, anxious inducing worry that some movies do.

This is just the first in this trilogy by Ransom Riggs, and we are heading straight to the shops with our Christmas money to buy the next ones.


For Primary School Kids: Hot Dog, by Anh Do



From the creator of Weirdo, we have a new series, starting with Hot Dog. As expected Miss 8 read it super quickly and then read it again. Then her cousin read it, then another kid and another, all in three day. Kids have become confident that books by Anh Do will provide them with an instant laugh, and an easy read that has some comic illustrations to entertain them. The newest book continues to provide exactly what they want.

Miss 8's review was 'it's a wonderful book, it's not very long, it could be longer, there are no people in it, but the cat dresses up a lot because his humans dress him up all the time. I think other kids will love this.'




 What's your favourite read this summer? 



Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Circus 1903






Things have changed at the circus over the last century. Well, just a little bit, but really not all that much, Circus 1903 shows a bit of a glimpse of circus life in 1903, with costumes, acts and entertainings similar to the old days.

But the circus will always be filled with people who do things with their bodies that the rest of us just will never ever manage to do. They bend, stretch, balance, throw, flip, twirl and bounce.

Our circus acts are now minus the animals, but that didn't stop the team at Circus 1903 from having an elephant on stage. With the clever clogs who make enormous puppets, they built a life-size elephant and the cutest baby elephant to run about on the stage with them.


Circus 1903 is filled with great acts that you expect the circus to have, with performers from all over the world. There aren't any clowns, which is a good thing for most of us, but there are lots of laughs.

A major highlight for me is just the Regent Theatre in Melbourne, rather than a big tent out in the middle of nowhere, instead you get to enjoy one of the most beautiful locations in Melbourne.

Your kids will love it, grown-ups will enjoy all the acts and it doesn't go for too long so the small ones are not out all night long.

The backdrop at the front of the theatre also makes for a really great photo shoot location, so make sure you snap a few pics of yourselves before you go in.



Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Strawberry forests forever




Last week the girls and I took a little drive just out of Melbourne to a place called the Strawberry Forest.

It's a new way to pick your own strawberries that doesn't include crawling around in the dirt to find them. Instead, they are grown vertically. Really, this just all seems so simple and normal that I am not sure why no one has been doing this for the last gazillion years. Or maybe they have, they just didn't invite the rest of us to come and pick them.

At the Strawberry Forest the berries are all organic and they look fantastic. There is a big sign begging people not to eat them as they pick them and I have to admit I was very very close to just testing them a few times. It was only my fear of being caught that stopped me!

The Strawberry Forest is located along one of the most beautiful roads I know, the Avenue of Honour in Bacchus Marsh. There are other fruit growing places along the road where you can stop and pick or purchase fruits depending on the season, one place also had an ice cream van which is a pretty good match to go with all those lovely strawberries.

If you're driving from Melbourne you might want to plan a lunch stop in Bacchus after you've picked your strawberries, as it doesn't take more than 10 minutes for three of you to pick 3kgs worth.

Prices per kilo change throughout the year, but currently they are $15 per kg. Check their Facebook page for details on open days, as the farmer closes to keep the farm looking spic and span.





Monday, January 2, 2017

New App for Kids 2017: Toca Life Vacation


Holiday time equals downtime for everyone and that means the kids might be using their devices more.

I much prefer my kids to be creating not consuming while the use their iPads, it's way too easy for them to just sit and watch rubbish that other people have uploaded.

Toca Life is the latest in the Toca Boca line of apps. I've been a fan of their stuff for awhile now. They are well known for making things gender and cultural neutral without resorting to animals.

With Toca Life Vacation kids can 'play' by moving things around and being the owner of their own vacation creation. Dress your characters, head to the airport, go to the beach or the hotel, check into your room, go to the ATM, head out for a meal. Whatever you end up doing, the child is in charge.

This is not a 'game'. You can't go out for mucking up, and you're not aiming for different levels, you just play.

You can also just reset and start all over again if you want to.

You will need to pay a few dollars for this one, it was AU$3.38 on 1 January, I prefer to pay for the apps and know that there are not going to be any adverts or in-app purchases to worry about. Once you have downloaded this one, you have everything you need.

You can get Toca Life Vacation from the app store.