Tuesday, October 21, 2014

I have a new job

Do you want to come and meet me at my new job? I would love for you to come along and say hello. 

No, I haven't resigned from my usual day job, instead I am starting work for the very fabulous Itty Bitty Book Van! 



This Sunday, October 26 2014,  the van is headed to the gorgeous gardens of the Werribee Mansion for International Children's Week festivities. With thousands expected to hit the lawn to indulge in lots of fun and entertainment, more hands are needed in the van and those hands shall be mine. 


These lawns will be filled with picnics and happy kids and families.


I can't wait. 

It's no secret that I love children's books. We have many hundreds of our own and I have borrowed many more from the library over that last eight years. But there are always more new books to read and share with both little people and with big people who enjoy the illustrations and the craft of a well told story. 

There are so many things to do at the mansion this Sunday. Nearly all of it is free too. 


Will you be there? 

Want me to read you a story? 

Do you love kids books as much as me?


Monday, October 20, 2014

Two Years of a Dead Dad.

Last year on this day it was the first anniversary of my Dad's death.

I never wrote about it. Looking back at my posts in October last year, I busied myself with Frocktober. I made myself so so so busy saying yes to everything. I thought I knew exactly what to do and how to deal with things.

"Don't allow any quiet moments in your brain, just fill every waking moment with tasks and the grief will not be a guest in your heart." These are the things I told myself. It worked. For awhile anyway.

The anniversary came and went and nothing happened. Dad was still dead. We were all still sad.

So here we are at year two. Dad is still dead, confirming he was not Jesus, as he has not risen from the dead. We miss him. Fuck I miss him. If I could just call him once a year that would be ok. If I could bargain with some God to just allow that at least. Even if it was a limited number of years that I got to do that. Even just one call. Let's face it, I am desperate, I will take a text message if that's all God is handing out.

Immy asked me last month if I would cut my leg off if I could see Poppy again.

Yes, I said. I would cut both my legs off.

"Wow" she said. "You know then you would have no legs?" I told her I could live with anything if it just meant we got him back.

"Would you kill yourself to let Poppy come back?" asked Miss 8.

"No." I said. "That would not really help."

As children they understand death in different ways, but these concepts change for them as they grow.

Immy has cried more. "I miss his cuddles and tickles and it's not fair that I didn't get more years with him."

Miss 8 has wished he was here to remind her of his card tricks and all the maths tricks he could do with a box of matches. He had a knack of entertaining small children at dinner tables, he played paddocks on napkins and asked them riddles appropriate for their age. He knew all the good knock knock jokes. Of course I saw the tricks many times, but I have forgotten them, I always did. She feels ripped off that she won't get to work them out. I feel ripped off too, because I know how much he wanted to live.

In my head, I have to constantly remind myself that the crap day, the shit day of remembrance is the 20th, because to me it was the 19th, the last day I saw him and hugged him goodbye. He wore a thick wool jumper that day. It was cold in Melbourne.

Throughout this year, I have silently questioned my blog and its future. I have given it substantial less time and attention than ever before. But you know what I have found also? I use my blog to check back on things we did, images of the kids and comments. It's indulgent, but personal blogging is a very self indulging hobby.

I like writing our stories and I really like it when I stumble across an old post I wrote and see my Dad has left a comment on it.



One day, Immy and Miss 8 will know that Poppy read every single story about them that I wrote. But it won't be enough.

And here we all are.

Living anyway.

Happy, most of the time.

I work hard to keep myself from being smothered by that heavy, dark blanket that sometimes floats above my head threatening to fall from the sky and pin me down. I see it much less than I did last year.

Cheers Dad. I hope the wine is good where you are, the music is upbeat, the sun is shining and the company is engaging. Give me a call when you can (text if you have to).



Friday, October 17, 2014

Traditional Disco

It's Disco fever in our house this week. The long awaited night of all nights was on tonight at school.

It started with the flyer arriving home a fortnight ago. It's designed by the primary students and has an excessive use of Word Art and clip art to confirm this is the case. Comic sans usually gets a gig too.

This year in the class that Miss 8 refers to fondly as Performing Farts, each class is learning a dance for the disco too.

The grade twos are learning Staying Alive. I am so excited. The Preppies are learning YMCA.  I think it's wonderful they are learning of their parents history. The next wedding we attend we will be able to do the Macarena as a whole family. I hope all schools have 'Traditional Disco' in the curriculum.

I love a bit of a dance and what is better than some disco moves to get your weekend kicked off. The world needs more disco dancing, imagine the reduction in anger and violence if more people just started hand jiving more.

Parents were not invited to attend the school disco, with the wonderful teachers adding the task to their already busy schedules. So the disco allowed us an extra bonus - Mr H and I decided that rather than our usual Friday night takeaway, we could actually go out to a restaurant and eat whatever we wanted. We found a new Thai restaurant and no one spilt their drink.

We grabbed hot chips on the way home for the girls, which is exactly what we would have done 20 years ago after being out dancing all night too.

The school disco was a big hit for us all.

If you need to learn the moves to Staying Alive, here is the YouTube that was used by the Performing Farts teacher. I think it's in German, but the language of groovy dancing is clearly universal.

May your weekend be groovy.


Monday, October 13, 2014

Check your bags people




Scrolling through twitter last night I saw that Jetstar are going to start checking carry on bags much more often. Checking the weight and size of bags after too many complaints that people are taking too long to get into their seats on planes and causing flights to be taking off late.

I cheered and clapped and danced a jig. I also know I might be the only one who did. Sorry. (not sorry)

I don't even fly all that often, but I am a stickler for bag rules.

On one recent flight I checked all my bags except my handbag and my small laptop bag. When I finally got to my seat in the depths of cattle class I could not even slide my laptop in the overhead locker. Two other people had filled it with their giant bags.

On the next flight there was a Grandma flying to see her grandkids, her bag was massive and I offered to help put it up for her, she couldn't even lift her bag it was so massive, possibly filled with treats for those kids, but whatever, check that luggage.

I am not really fussed on the weight of your bag, if your bag is small but filled with kinetic sand and weighs 12 kilos, carry on. But if you are taking carry on bags, you need to take a small bag, that fits in the little bag checker thingo.

I too hate waiting at the baggage terminal for my bags while the taxi line gets longer and longer.

I also hate how you have to pay extra for doing the right thing and checking your bags into the underneath of the plane.

But that's the way things are. If you like to travel with extra shoes, you need to suck it up and follow the bag rules.

Now, if Jetstar could remove the totally ridiculous $8.50 per person, per flight credit card charge, I might really quite like them.



Are you checking your bags? 
Is there something minor that ticks you off?





Thursday, October 9, 2014

5 Things for the Perfect Shower Experience



You might need to start your day with a coffee. Forget coffee.  I can't start the day without a shower. Just like people are fussy about their coffee, I am very fussy about my shower.

We recently had a trip away and loved the apartment we stayed in, except the beds were really uncomfortable. The shower however, was superb. It got big ticks on all five of the essential shower needs. It was so good that I couldn't decide if the crap beds were worth putting up with just to have the ideal shower.

What are the five things on the Perfect Shower Experience list? Here you go...

1) Heat

A good shower needs to be really hot. Without the fear that you are going to run out of water or feel guilty for using it all and causing everyone else to have a cold shower after you.

I recently set off a fire alarm at a holiday destination with the steam from my shower, that is a sign of a damn good heat setting. (My apologies to all the other guests that weekend).

2) Pressure





We have one shower that has one of those huge big square shower heads. Often called the Waterfall style. It looks fantastic and has a great deal of water but it's kind of pathetic when it comes to pressure. Thank goodness it also has a second smaller shower head, and once you flick it to that, BAM! The pressure is all yours. It will get the conditioner rinsed out of your hair in seconds. Our water saving shower head is also fabulous for pressure.

3) A confined space. 

THIS IS RISKY BUSINESS! Those towels are going to get wet, and the bathmat would be soaked.


All those trendy lovely looking showers that are screen less or door less don't get a tick. I don't like the bath mat getting wet. I don't like to think the clothes I have probably thrown on the floor are at risk of getting wet. Towels should be safely hanging away from any shower spray. A perfect shower has a nice big area of space, but it also has a door on that area. When that door is closed, the glass is fogged up with steam and the water pressure is massaging your back, it's a cocoon of calm.


4) Solitary Time

My Family has still not quite got this under control. But step four of the perfect shower is no interruptions. NONE. No one coming in to the bathroom to brush your teeth or find a hair band. No putting your head in the doorway to ask where a tap shoe is or if dinner is organised. No calling out to me that my phone is ringing. Instead, when someone is in the shower, leave them alone. Always.

5) Fluffy Towels and Good Smells

These are nice towels. You can buy them here if you want. I don't have them myself, but I like them.

The last things for the perfect shower experience are the extras. Shampoos, soaps, body washes and scrubs that smell so beautiful add that last little bit of luxury to that ten minutes of solitude you might get for the day. I love just throwing in a different product each fortnight to the grocery trolley to try something new. The Perfect Shower is finished off with stepping on to a big fluffy bathmat and wrapping yourself in a heated fluffy towel (in Winter time). Because there is nothing worse than grabbing your towel and finding that someone else has just used it. Or wiped there toothpaste covered face all over it. 




How is your shower? Do you need a good shower to get your day started, or is coffee your thing?

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Fears of a Personal Trainer

I have been thinking of getting a personal trainer.

I have thought about it enough to send an email to one for costs and schedules.

But I must admit to being terrified of having a personal trainer.

What if.

What if they make me do things that I really don't want to do?  You know, like exercise.

What if they make me do something more times than I really want to do it. What if I am puffed out?

I am also terrified of everyone else that might be in the group. They could be some kind of boot camp junkies who have been attending PT sessions for years. Unlike me, who has been home attempting to be Betty Crocker and licking the beaters on the cake mix most days.

What if the personal trainer forgets that I have a dodgy back and just one plank too long and I might be back to the physio? And will the PT know that I can use this excuse to get me out of nearly every exercise there is?

I would like to tell you that I am a highly determined individual with a will power that can do anything I put my mind to. Sadly, this is only the case if a cheese platter is the end result.

I now find myself a bit of a weakling. Little physical strength, no cardio health and more wobbly than a plate of jelly. A PT might be my best option for a few weeks to get me back on track.

But, you know, what if?




Monday, October 6, 2014

Inspiring People: Jersey Girls Dairy

Karen and Rosco from Jersey Girls Dairy

If you listen carefully, you are surrounded by lots of inspiring people. Here is the second story in my Inspiring People series.

As you pull into the Jersey Girls Dairy in Stanthorpe, Queensland, it is similar to most farm gates, gravel driveway with paddocks of cows.

Inside, you meet Karen. Karen taught herself how to make cheese over 15 years ago and along the way she and her husband Rosco ended up with a farm filled with Jersey Cows.

They started to make cheese from the milk of the Jersey cows, which is very different to your standard old milking cow, much creamier. It didn't take long for people to fall in love with their cheese.

At a time when many dairy farmers have been unable to survive the milk cuts forced on the industry by the duopoly we have, the Jersey Girls Dairy is at full capacity.

Karen now has two local women working with her who make all the cheese. They have such a high demand that they can no longer keep up the supply from their own cows and have to purchase milk from another farm in the district. Added to this are the ladies working at the front counter who also grow vegetables and produce at home for the cafe that is on site.

Jersey Girls Cheese Stanthorpe Queensland

The cheese is fabulous. I tried every single variety that was available (consider it research) the milk shakes are also better than you will have tried before. But the story I felt most important from the Jersey Girls Dairy was more than just milk and cheese.

Up there in Queensland in the middle of nowhere really, Karen and her team have what so many people are looking for, and I am not even sure if they realise it. They have jobs they love, they have flexibility. They really have the holy grail of work/life balance.

Each of the ladies that work there start work after school drop off. "They have to look after their families first" says Karen. In the afternoon, there are days when the kids all get off the school bus at the dairy and go home from there, otherwise the work day ends with the school day.

Staff are encouraged to do things, be creative, try new product lines. If they want to make jam or pickles or grow something, Karen will incorporate these into the shop too.

Being a really great employer can offer a business so much, but not everyone manages to do this very well. Investing in your staff with simple things like flexibility and opportunity is totally worth it. For Karen, having two people making the cheese allows her more time to work in other areas of the business, to leave the farm at times and to enjoy her time more.


As we were leaving we met Rosco, he had been out with the cows and was happy to take us over to say hello to the girls. He pointed out one old lady over by the fence. "She's in retirement. Most farmers don't keep them, but I can't let them go. This paddock is kind of like an Old Cows Home" he said.

It seems both the staff and the animals are treated with respect and dignity at Jersey Girls. And that is something we could all do a little more of.


Who has been your favourite employer? Have you tried cheese from a jersey cow?


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The importance of invitations

In case you didn't know, I love me some snail mail and one of the best things to get by mail is an invitation.

Along with bills and letters, invites arrive pretty rarely in my dusty old letter box. It's possible I am just not being invited to all the parties of the season, but let's just pretend that this is not the case.

I love it when the kids get invitations where the kids have tried to do their best handwriting and written out all the names.

For work I have to whip up the words for many an invite and most of mine I admit to being pretty dull. There is a certain level of boring that comes with being professional.

Usually.

Which is why I am just loving the invitation that I received this week.

It's bright orange, it's funny, it was delivered by the mail lady, it was unexpected.


I don't think I am even going to make it to the event, but the invite alone tells me it is going to be a really really good night.

It even came with a page of magnet words to play around with. The card is on fancy sparkly stock and the graphics are fabulous. Every word has been carefully considered.

It's a truly nifty piece of marketing. (Not all will understand my joy at such a thing)






I am already seriously jealous knowing that people will be instagramming every fun detail and I will be home wiping the dishes.

Well done Buderim Ginger.

The right invite can really set the vibe for a function, party or event. This invite has given me some confidence to make my own work ones a bit more creative.

And speaking of invites, here is a not quite so exciting one for you...

I am speaking as part of a panel talking about health blogging. It's true, I am terrified of scary people and their questions, but I am doing it anyway. Come along if you want. Just click the not so exciting invitation which will take you to the bookings page, promise you will not be a scary question askerer.







Do you send invitations? Do you like to receive them?
Will you send me one? Are you going to the Ginger One? Will I meet you at the Health bloggers gig?









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