Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Get out and do stuff: Langham Hotel Pool Day

The Langham Hotel at Southbank in Melbourne is beautiful.




It has a divine staircase up the middle that is always filled with a flower display that makes you stop and take notice. The hotel is also well known for their high teas and cuisine.

But there is also a swimming pool and spa area on Level 9 of the hotel with beautiful views across the city, and you don't have to stay at the hotel to use them.

A few weeks ago Miss 9 became Miss 10. With her birthday falling in the summer school holidays it's always a tricky event to schedule and get invites out etc. This year, we decided that we would make all the decisions about her birthday and it would be a surprise day for her.

Mr H and I decided a day in the city was the perfect option and so we headed straight to The Langham, paid for a day pass for us all and that gave us the pool, spa, sauna, steam room and ALL the towels that we wanted.  We invited two other little girls to join us, so together we had four kids and two adults.

We ordered room service and had it delivered to the roof top balcony and the girls sat and ate hot chips and dumplings from a silver tray.







More swimming, more checking out of the snail shower, and steam room and then we dried off and went for a walk to Federation Square. There is always something to check out there, but for the birthday girl we went straight to ACMI, joined in on a make your own gif workshop and then went for ice cream.





Mr H then surprised them all again with tickets to the giant slip n slide and even though the weather was cool, they all still run straight on (again and again) until their 45 minutes was up.

A quick walk back to the Langham and we settled down for hot chocolates in the lounge area, then went straight back to the pool.

By the early afternoon there were a few guests sitting in the spa sipping on their champagne, but still none using the heated swimming pool, perhaps four squealing girls kept them out.

As I swam around I chatted with a lady who had just arrived from Canada and pointed out all the buildings that you can see from the pool.



Eventually we dragged the girls out of the pool, they went to get changed and found delight in the smallest of things - hair dryers, shampoos and hotel shower caps.

A day in a Five Star hotel isn't how they spend their usual summer holidays so it was a really fantastic way to spend the day for the newly Miss 10. It was highly enjoyable for parents too.

If you're looking for something a bit different to do in the city, head to The Langham, right up to Level 9 and grab yourself a day pass at the pool. You can also book in for massages and all that jazz and order dumplings and champagne...there sure are worse ways to spend your day!


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Get out and do stuff: Melbourne Star



There are so many things you can just get out and do. Every day of the year there are people ready to entertain you or teach you or show you stuff.

If you think there is nothing more to see or do, act like a tourist. Go check out the tourist attractions in your town.




If you're in Melbourne, that might be Melbourne Star.

It sits there for all to see but so few of us actually get down there and take a trip around. At night is shines gorgeously and the kids love to be first to point out 'the big wheel', but we had never thought to actually go in and take a trip.

I wasn't sure what my kids would think of it but they really loved it and it's certainly got kids in mind.



Take the time to check out the signs along the way, there are some interesting facts and figures to read. Once onboard, the kids had a crossword to fill in, they needed to look out at the view to find the answers, like how many red squares on the top of the car park etc. At the end, they both won a little prize by completing the challenge.



Miss 7 was a bit nervous about the height. She preferred to stay towards the centre rather than near the windows and she mentioned a couple of times she was scared the door might open and she would fall out.

If you don't like heights, it might not be for you, but if you can fight the fear for a little bit, you'll be well rewarded.



Because the views are what you are after and if you go on a nice clear day you really will be seeing further than before. You'll see a long way and the audio speaker dude will fill you in on what you are looking at as you go.

Half an hour later you are back on the ground and if you have made the trip in with your kids, it's worth finishing off the day by taking them to play at the new park just near by. It's under the Bolte bridge and is great for kids that are tired of plastic slides and swings.





There is also plenty of space for running, picnics, cartwheels and handstands while you continue to enjoy the view of Melbourne.












Friday, January 15, 2016

A decade of parenting




Today marks the anniversary of me being a parent for an entire decade.

It's not a very long time.

It's quite a long time.

I was so organised for parenting. I read every book available before my babies arrived. The books tell you exactly what you need to know, as long as you read as many as you can. Sooner or later you'll get the answer you want to hear.

Having a baby knocks your brain about, and your heart. It does things to your body that you can see physically on the outside but it does even more to the bit that you can't.

Over the last decade I've learnt things that no book in the world will teach you.

Like, sounds.

Kids have certain sounds that require different parenting reactions. There is the loud bang that's followed by silence. This is a bad one. If a loud bang is instantly followed by crying and screaming, it's ice pack/band aid time, when it's silence, parents manage to run faster and breathe differently.

There are noises in the night. You can hear little tiny feet scampering around the house and you can instantly tell if it's just a child running to the toilet or if it's a child sleep walking in random places.

Parents can hear the sounds of a bad day at school in the silence of the car on the way home from pick up. Parents can hear the sound of 'I need help with something but I don't know how to tell you.' There is no chapter on learning this in the books, you have to teach yourself, you won't even know that you have. One day you just realise that you know these things.

When you have a tiny baby you know you're going to do EVERYTHING to protect that bundle from pain and suffering. And then along the way, some other persons shit kid utters the words to your beautiful child along the lines of "No! You CANT PLAY WITH US." Whatever age your kid is you want to stick chewy in that nasty kids hair and spit in their lunch. But you won't. You'll slowly realise that you can't keep the pain and suffering away forever. You can't live in a bubble where your kid never ever has to deal with the world. It's at these moments when you know you have to do something even harder. You have to prepare your kid for shit times. Because they are coming. It might be shit kids in the playground, it might be that your beautiful child is not going to be attending a party that every other kid got invited to or it might be Fluffy the bunny has gone missing. One day it's going to be the death of someone they knew and loved. The pain will come along for your kids and as a parent it will hurt your heart that you can't protect your child.

It will make you breathe differently.

Then you will learn about being a proud parent.

At first - YAY - I made a baby that cries and poos and looks cute in photos will be all you need. You'll be so proud that you got that baby out of you and that you're both still alive. Phew, what an effort. So proud. The world around you will be thrilled too. It's exciting to be a part of a new life. People will send cards and gifts and food. It's so amazing.

And then. Your baby will start to walk/talk/eat/roll/sleep/read and it will be better than any other baby that ever lived. No one will care. No one will be as proud as you. Only you will see what it took for your baby to achieve that thing, to ride that bike, to conquer that fear. But you will be proud of them. When they win that race, finish that novel, play the game, attend the concert, get invited to the party, make a friend, cook a meal, ace the test, you'll be so proud, they don't need anyone else to be.


There are moments you look at them and you're so proud for that brief moment, you'll take a deep breath and breathe a little bit slower.

No one tells you the stuff that you are going to learn either. All you read about is what you should be teaching your kids, like manners, kindness, reading and writing, to be a tennis star,  a Master chef, blah blah. No one says that your kids will end up bringing new people into your life, new friends and new interests. They don't tell you that you will learn to sew sequins on outfits and to braid hair in many styles. That you will learn about every highly contagious disease and know the best way to administer foul tasting medicine to toddlers. That you'll learn the name of every dinosaur and how to play minecraft. You'll build more lego and read more books, learn how to install a trampoline in the dark of night and how you can creep on your hands and knees to ensure a floor board doesn't creak.

It's possible you'll sit up hours and hours of the night helping your child to breathe.

Sometimes, you might even hear that moment when your child can't breathe and you'll learn the tips to help a child with whooping cough or croup or asthma to catch that next breath.

A decade ago no one told me any of the fears I'd conquer just because I had no other choice but to do so.

It's surprising how much parenting you do in a decade, it's surprising you even get a chance to breathe.










Thursday, January 14, 2016

The Givers and the Keepers




There are two types of people.

The Givers: those who find it easy to give to others.

The Keepers: those who feel that when they give something away they are the lesser for it, that in giving away they lose out on something.

This second group can feel this way with all sorts of objects.

Some don't want to give things to the op shop, just in case they might need it themselves in seven years. They worry about who might receive the goods they donate. There is the worry that any financial donation they give will be used up in administration or swallowed up by some dodgy charity group. These are reasonable concerns because charity groups do have expenses and some groups (not mentioning Shane Warne Foundation here) do find ways to spend millions of dollars on swanky events rather than the people they are meant to support. It's possible that your op shop donations might even go to someone with a drug addiction, or to a person who has no job, even if you don't like people with a drug addiction or people who have no job.

But the problem is the Keepers are missing out by not being more generous. If you think of how great it feels when you de clutter a wardrobe, or a kitchen drawer or a work space. How nice it is to know someone else can benefit from items you are no longer using?

Giving to other people feels good. Knowing that stuff you once loved and used but no longer need can make someone else happy is a great feeling.

Freeing the space you live in to only have the things you really love gives you more space, less to clean, and new spots to fill with new treasures you find.

Donating money to things like research helps come up with cures for diseases that your children might one day get. Imagine knowing that you don't have to worry about your daughters getting cervical cancer because there is a vaccine that they will get in high school which will decrease the possibility to a very very low chance? When it comes to research there will never be enough money so every dollar really does help.

Giving a little bit of what you have to people who don't have much will not make you sad or lonely or destitute. It's likely to make you smile. Smiling makes you happy. Being happier makes you healthier and being healthier makes your life better.

I am not writing this post as a request for money. This is not asking for you to do anything, other than to consider how you feel at the idea of giving away something that is yours.

I am also not suggesting that you leave all the money in your Will to the local dog shelter or that you fill every coin shaking can with every dollar you have. It's just a post to suggest that next time you are asked to buy a chocolate, that you don't feel as though you will be the lesser for buying one. If you are cleaning out a shed or a cupboard and sorting through things you haven't used in a long time, don't think about how you might (probably never) use it in the future, think about how good it will be for you to make space for something else.

And remember that giving comes in so many forms, including your time and your heart and your skills. Being able to teach someone a skill that you have (languages, music, to drive, to cook) is donating your valuable time. Perhaps you can call an elderly person who lives alone or drive someone to a scary medical appointment and sit with them in the waiting room.

Even if you're already a Giver, most of us might be able to give just a teeny tiny bit more. I am sure I can, I just need to remind myself that I'll likely gain so much more from the giving than the not giving.




Monday, January 4, 2016

Three Apps for Primary School Kids - January 2016

It's time for some new apps on all the new devices that some kids got for Christmas.

I spend a lot of time checking out the apps my kids use and I am constantly surprised at how pathetic so many of them are. There are very few that really get used and even fewer that allow kids to think, to be creative, to use their heads.

When I am looking for an app that I want to recommend I am looking for apps that are not just about consumption.

I don't want my kids (or yours) to sit and just consume other people's crap. I want them to create their own stuff, crap or masterpiece, who cares, it's all theirs. My kids don't connect with other people on their devices (I lock that stuff down, big time) but some apps do allow you to connect with people outside -that's up to you what you want your kids to be able to do.

Accapella 





If your kids watched Pitch Perfect and loved it, if they are into singing or if they like to perform, this is a fun app for them to sing and make their own songs. They muck around with the sounds, film themselves singing/dancing and changing songs around. It's pretty fun. Then you can delete it and do it all again.

Currently free, but this is for a limited time.


Agent A




I love this app!

It's not for little kids as they might not be able to work out some of the clues - but then again if they spend enough time on it you will be surprised at what they figure out all on their own. Never underestimate the skills of little people. I am even thinking of downloading this on my own device so I can solve the crime without the kids trying to grab the ipad out of my hands while I 'help' them. In Agent A, there is a mystery to be solved, there are clues to find and things to work out. Everything needs investigating, remembering, rethinking until you have saved Agent A. I am still working on that bit!

Cost: $4.49 - but totally worth buying, no adverts and we have had no negative things on this one.


My First Dog.





This app is not really all that amazing - unless you are 7 years old and love everything about puppies and you want one and no one will get you one, and it says PUPPIES!! AND THEY ARE SO CUTE.

It's your job to get a puppy, look after it, train it and all that stuff.

This app is free, it's possible it might end up having in app purchases, but again - SWITCH THAT STUFF OFF.




And if you are reading this online or on your phone and wish you had an easier way of reading or commenting you could download the Clairey Hewitt APP!  it's free, so click over and download me.





Monday, December 28, 2015

Remember Christmas 2015

I've always loved Christmas.

Some haven't been as great as others. There were a couple that were so significantly different than what I'd been used to or imagined they would be, that they were not so magical.

Christmas 2015 was great in so many mundane ways, the type of ways that I like to document so that we can all look back in future days, and say, 'remember Christmas 2015, that was a pretty good year.'

It started with Big Hewitt Christmas, around 50+ people for lunch at Uncle John's house. There were cousins to play with, these are all the great grandkids now, and it's often only Easter and Christmas that they get together. It took about ten minutes before a random game of chasey got started in the back yard, then there were all the presents, the grown ups insisted on lunch at some stage, which was great because these fabulous things were served.

Remember how it was a gazillion degrees, and when Uncle John said a prayer before our meal, he also asked us to consider having a prayer for the farmers who so desperately needed rain. Then, before we had finished our Christmas ham the rain was pelting down and we had to go super quick to move all the presents inside. Those Christmas prayers can be answered very fast. That day finished with all the kids winding down with a movie and zooper doopers. No complaints there.

Then we had Christmas number 2.
Nan and Pop arrived with the car loaded with presents. We tried a new 80s version of Christmas dinner for fun and teamed it with Pops sticky date pudding (it's the best available). Once the presents were opened we played multiple rounds of HedBandz, and the adults actually laughed more than the kids. There were even attempts at cheating by looking into spoons to try and see the answer. It would seem some of us are more competitive than we usually admit to (it's possibly genetic).  The new polaroid camera came out and the kids had no idea that you are not supposed to open the back of the camera. Film is just something they knew nothing about. But kids learn quick.



Christmas number 3 was all about friends, new and old.
When you team a restaurant with a park, a golfing range, an ice cream shop, climbing trees and great weather it's just win/win/win/win.

Finally real Christmas arrived.
It was again 790000 degrees Celsius.
But, Santa arrived and surprised us by getting the perfect gifts including the Husky Beanie Boo that has never been seen in the shops. We watched Santa on the santa tracker website and confirmed his sleigh in the night sky, I still can't believe we saw it!

We'll also remember that was the year the inside toilet started making weird sounds and everyone had to use the outside one at Granny's. It was special to have Great Grandma and pa with us too.



And the slip n slide on the hill.

The iMovie that the cousins all made together.

That grandma kept saying, 'of course you can have that, it's Christmas.'

Some of us will remember that Baileys brought out a bailey's cream, perfect for the Christmas pudding, and christmas cake, and to top the pav with, or just with strawberries or anything really. Some aunties even just ate it like yoghurt.

When we think of Christmas 2015 we'll remember the little turtle we rescued and the motor bike rides.

We'll remember swimming at the big pool, pork crackle and pavlova.

And we'll remember that Christmas Day 2015 was the night that she who never sleeps, (Miss 9) slept for 15 hours.

We'll remember it as a good one.










Monday, December 14, 2015

Letter to the World from Immy - Age 7 Edition

Hello world.

I really wasn’t sure if I would be here again this year writing on Mums blog. After all, she doesn’t ‘work’ here like she once did. But now that it’s a thing, I might just have to write here every year for the rest of my life.

Today I am seven.  It’s my sixth year blogging here and now I am pretty good at writing. It’s my very favourite subject at school, that and independent reading time.  I really like to write stories and read stories. I’ve been learning a lot about transactional writing, non fiction writing, persuasive writing and really, I like them all.

Being six has been mostly awesome. I went to a new school, nearly vomited over everyone the first day because I was so nervous, but after the first ten minutes it was fine. It was tricky when I had to learn Mandarin, because everyone else did it in Prep and I had to catch up, but I am now getting the hang of it, Mum is really really bad at reading Mandarin, I'll be teaching her.

My dog Peppa is still probably the best dog in the world, but I really really really, more than anything in the whole world, more than all the lollies in a shop, so much just want a puppy.  My first choice is a golden retriever, but I’d take any puppy. ANY PUPPY (do you hear me PARENTS).

Speaking of lollies, my love for them just grows. They are the best. I hide them in my room, I sneak them from the pantry, I would eat them every day if I could. Lollies and lasagna is all I really need. All other food is disgusting. I tell Mum and Dad this every single night and every single night they say “just eat five spoonfuls’. The things they make me eat. It’s just disgusting.

Do you hate how some clothes feel when you wear them? I do.

I hate woolly things, especially school uniform jumpers. I hate tags on my clothes, I hate t-shirts with things sewn on them.  I hate jumpers that are hard to take off over your head, I hate hats that flop in your eyes and shoes that are not super comfortable. I will not wear thongs or sandals or boots or dress shoes. I will wear sneakers. Preferably the ones my sister used to wear because they are already worn in and comfortable. I don’t care if they are scuffed and Yes I DO think they match everything. 

The other thing I love is a good towel. We are kind of lacking in decent towels in this house and being the youngest I seem to get the rough hard ones that are also the smallest. What I want is a giant fluffy towel, preferably warmed by the heater and then delivered to me at the exact moment the shower is turned off. So far, this is a rare occurrence.

I’ve been super well this year (not like last year with all that whopping cough and stuff) but it wasn’t good when mum had all the stitches from the big lump the doctor took out. I wasn’t allowed to give her cuddles for a really long time, it was like 4 days maybe even more.
  


I am still thinking I will be a paediatric vet when I grow up.

My favourite movie is The Secret Garden. I borrowed it from the library and it had a scratch on it so I couldn’t watch it all, but I borrowed it every single week for the whole term until Mum told me to write a note to the library teacher and tell her that it was busted. My library teacher said thank you for the note.

That’s kind of it for being six. 

Six was good. Six was fun and funny and I grew so much that I went through three sizes of clothes and Mum says 47 sizes in shoes. My hair is nearly at my bum and I refuse to have it cut. EVER. No, not even a trim.




Seven is going to be ace.  It would be good if I get a fluffy towel and ALL the Beanie Boos in the world.

Catch ya later,
Imogen.





Friday, December 11, 2015

Things about Santa you may not know.

Many of you know that I love reading and I also love history. This is why I have always loved finding out about Santa and how he manages to do so many things.

In a time when Hollywood movies try and tell us stories about Santa that are not really true, it can be tricky to understand how all the magic works. But once you have a look at the full picture, it can start to make sense.


1) Santa doesn't go all over the world in one night. 


Of course Santa and the sleigh can't make it around to every house in every country in just one night.

In Belgium, parts of the Netherlands and some areas of France, Santa (or Sinterklaas as they call him) arrives on December 5, leaving presents for December 6th. That's when he kicks off the gift giving for the year.

Then we have the time differences around the world, so Santa has two nights - one in the Southern and one in the Northern Hemisphere. This takes substantial pressure off the reindeer.

Plus there are many countries that Santa doesn't go, including much of Africa.

2) Does Santa really give presents to every kid? 


Certainly not.

There are millions of kids who do not receive gifts.

Santa delivers gifts to children who have Christian beliefs and customs. Every religion and culture has their own special days for gifts and special treats, if you get gifts from Santa, you are unlikely to get them when some of your friends who might be Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim receive them.

Santa also only gives gifts to children, not teenagers or grown ups, so once you turn 13 the presents stop arriving, this is because the elves can only make a certain number of toys each year.

Santa only gives gifts to people who believe in Christmas and Santa. He saves the best and biggest presents for the kids he thinks deserve them.

3) What is Santa's phone number?


When you have a baby, the midwife makes you fill in lots of forms that go to the government and organises the birth certificate. She also gives out a piece of paper with Santa's number on it. This year, Santa also has a new app where parents can just leave a message. This is used to help Santa with his naughty and nice list. It is illegal to tell your children Santa's number and if a child calls Santa, they are instantly on the no-presents list.

4) Is Elf on the Shelf watching me all the time?


No. You are not being watched by some crazy elf that has scary eyes. The Elf is a new invention. It's been invented for people who just want to celebrate Christmas every single day for December, but the Elf is just for fun. He is not watching your every move and you should relax, get back to playing without feeling like the FBI is in the ceiling. The Elf is fun, but elves can not do anything to people and they can't talk to Santa.


5) Is it the real Santa at the shopping centre?


Maybe. Maybe Not. The thing is, you will never know. The real Santa will never reveal himself. He might even make you think he is NOT the real Santa. Because if he told you, every single kid in the whole world would start wanting to sit on his knee. He would never get back to the North Pole to get all his work done and he would need a knee replacement, and that's pretty expensive to get.

It's still hard to know, but some historians believe that the real Santa makes himself look like a normal man wearing dress ups, but we just can never be sure, you should constantly be keeping a look out.

6) Have I ever seen Santa? 


No, but a friend sent me this photo a couple of years ago, she snapped it with her phone in the car. She says it was the best day of her life.








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