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Friday, November 10, 2017

What the cool kids wear to the best parks

If you played your cards right in Melbourne this week then you'll be one of the lucky people to be having an extra long weekend.

Thank you Melbourne Cup. 


And long weekends are perfect for checking out the new parks around town, so that is exactly what we did.





First stop was the new Aeroplane Park in Braybrook. This is an old park that was closed a couple of years ago when it was ruined by a fire. The latest version has just reopened and it's an excellent mix of things for kids of all ages. With things to climb on, paths to scoot on, whizzy things, swingy things and space to lounge about on the grass.

The gardens are still being planted so this park is just going to get better and better over the next few months.




The next day we headed to a new housing estate on the edge of town.





These areas seem to have clued on to the concept that people will pay more to live near great play areas. Which means that they seem to be competing to have the best playgrounds and facilities and the parks are the first things built.

Perfect!

We headed out to take a look at the Woodlea playground.

I found a wonderful big log and played "Lay Like a Lizard in the Sun". In this game, you must lay very still, just like a lizard that hopes no one will you see you. I am very very good at this game.

Miss 11, spent a lot of time climbing. On ropes, logs, stairs to the top of the cubby thingo.

She was also pretty happy to be decked out in the new Harry Potter t-shirt that was gifted to us last week. It's a never-ending struggle to find clothes for girls that are not 8 years old. The options go from toddler clothes to nightclub with very little in between, making the Harry Potter fashion line one of the best choices for us.




Mr H is not one to miss out on any chance of having a bit of fun, so he was first up the stairs to climb through the rope tunnel - yep, it holds grown-ups.





When it comes to Harry Potter fashions there is no chance Miss 8 is missing out. When our parcel arrived she grabbed this t-shirt with both hands, put it on and has barely taken it off since. She needs her clothes to be the right fabric, the right fit, the right feel. If there's anything with an itchy seam, a wonky tag, sequins sown in...it's not going to get out of the drawer.

This slogan was also pretty spot on. She'll be waiting for that letter and off to Hogwarts in the new year.




Have to say I really like this new spinny whizzy thing at this park. You just can't fall off it. If you do get in to such a state that you are rolling off, it will be a gentle roll on the rubbery soft floor. It's also something kids of all abilities can get on to.





Woodlea Park has a space for waterplay too - if you take small kids, you better take spare clothes as they are not going to be able to resist playing in the sand and water and fountains.

As all good weekends should, we finished up with a night out at a new restaurant and ate as much as we could squish in - which was quite a lot because hanging at the park all afternoon made for many hungry tummies - even that of the lizard.









Harry Potter t-shirts were gifted to us, but they are available at Big W, along with a range of other items for the tween ager in or HP fan in your life.






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.






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...