Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Effort and School Reports. Does Art Count?

We got a first report last night. It seemed a rather uneventful occasion.

I recall report night being a rather big deal as a child, everyone would be reading how they were going,  what the teacher had said and whether or not we agreed with what the teacher thought, and we were always gauging our parents reactions, would we be in trouble - like in year 10 when my behaviour in religion was deemed inappropriate.

But it all passed rather boringly here for a first report. I read it at swimming lessons to ensure I wasn't disturbed and it pretty much just said what we were expecting.

Except one section. There is always one.

One section indicated that effort was lacking. This was a surprise as Popps is usually the type who likes to impress, thrives on praise and likes to do her tasks as well as she can. The lack of effort was in Art, so I asked her if she liked Art, she said she does, it's one of her favourite subjects and then she pulled out a massive art folio that came home too. A semesters work that she then went through and described every piece in detail (fun for all, you can imagine).

As a newbie school parent, we're not sure if we need to discuss this anymore with her. 

How about  you, can you produce a decent self portrait - and how do you discuss 'effort' with your kids after report time?

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Migraines, Merlot and Movie Tickets.

Image totally unrelated to this post.
Immy providing a concert to her toys when no real people would sit and watch it.

It's been a big week. I decided I need to seek more help with managing my migraines. Currently I average about 10 days a month with a migraine, I get through it ok, but it requires days of medication, too much codeine and sometimes a spaced out Mummy that goes to the supermarket to buy one thing and comes home with seven choices for dinner because she couldn't make a decision.

The doctor has suggested two options for me to try, one involves taking medication every day to try and prevent migraines appearing. I am still not sure I want to do that, but will give it a three month trial and see how it goes. There are two side affects of the medication, one it makes you sleepy, so I need to take them at night, the other, it causes weight gain. I wasn't too happy about this one so I decided that I need to start getting on top of that before I start.

I went and gave my all at a Body Combat class.

I can now hardly move. Throwing down voltaren like a crazy lady.

Yes, I am going in circles, I know, I know!

The good bit was that we discussed how I have pretty much given up alcohol to help with the migraines, doctor suggests that clearly that isn't working so I should feel free to drink in moderation again. Hello Winter Merlot with my soup dinners.

Thank you for all the retweets on twitter about my post discussing the iPad donation to Popps' school and thank you for all the entries into my Brave post - the most I have ever had.

If you are a winner, please send me an email at claireyhewitt AT gmail DOT COM with your postal details on it.

The Winners, as judged by Mr H are:

Di from Max the Unicorn
Kim Maxwell
Mrs BC

Have a great week everyone.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Someone said yes to one of my crazy ideas.

I am excited.

Happens a lot I know, but this has been a couple of weeks in the thinking and today I can talk about it.

I am always on the look out for ways to work creatively with a brand. I get the odd email from PR reps and business owners asking me to write about their products on my blog. Lots are great products, events or services but writing about them is boring for me AND for you and rarely do people take me up on any creative ideas I suggest...usually they just ignore me and actually, most just never even write back. 

But not this time. 

I had been reading some articles that indicated learning your way around the computer we use today is really a waste of time for kids at school entry level (Prep for Victoria) so fast is the technology moving, Kinder kids of today won't be using a mouse and clicking file/open/ gdrive/... in twenty years time.

They already swipe, use apps and most won't have a CD player when they leave home.

Popps' school teacher had mentioned they wanted IPads to use in the prep classroom.  As a public school, they have limited resources but they could see the potential of iPads as a teaching tool.

They also know much much more about teaching children and which games/apps are really of use to a child then me. I could tell you that Popps liked a game, but I can't really tell you the real benefit, if any, it gives her education wise.

So I replied to EA Mobile that I would love to talk about their products while in use at my daughters school. To do that they would need to gift an iPad filled with all of their games on it to my daughters school. Not to me, the school. I told them it was a public primary school and that's all. 

They said yes. 

Today the iPad arrived filled with games. I have had a couple of meetings with the principal and some teachers. They are pretty excited about this arrangement. It has meant they have had to set up an itunes account and start thinking about what that means. They are already listing the many ways students at different levels can benefit from access to an iPad.

The EA Mobile iPad will be used by Popps in the classroom as the teacher sees fit. Other children in the class will also use it for their own needs, dependent on their own independent learning plans. 

In three months the teacher will give me some feedback on how she found the games, any that were particular favourites, those that were used for learning and development or others that are used for rewards or in any other ways.

I am keeping this treasure for one day simply to take a little look at all the games options. Though I might need it for two, Immy has been hanging out with the Little Pet Shop Game in the moments when she can get it out of the hands of Mr H as he tries to beat his own score  in a soccer game. 

So thank you EA Mobile for being the first people willing or crazy enough to trust in your own product to do well and take up one of my crazy ideas. You have made a number of people rather happy.

What do you think of using iPads in the classroom? 

Winter Countdown.

It's raining.


Yesterday marked the shortest day of the year which means we are now on the way to summer.

I struggle with the Melbourne winter every year and have been trying really hard not to whinge and complain about it.

Instead I am looking on the bright, sunny and warm side.

The countdown is on.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Blogs and boobs

This little space of mine can be a selfish place. I get to decide what you read. I get the invites to attend stuff or free washing powder in the mail (I know, you are just so so wishing that was you).

I have lovely readers, not a troll comment in nearly two years for one thing! I had a lovely reader recently send me a gorgeous lemongrass candle that she made me herself, in her own kitchen on a Saturday night, to help with the smoke stench!


I have met lovely bloggers along the way. Once upon a time I was hosting the Aussie Wordless Wednesday, but I couldn't keep up with it, so I contacted Trish to see if she could. She was so lovely, she said yes straight away and has run it really well ever since. I have met Trish a number of times and jealously read her trip around Australia last year with her husband and twin 5 year old boys.

Last week Trish went to the doctor and was told she had suspected breast cancer, they booked in surgery and today she had a double mastectomy.

I checked into Facebook to see how she was. She is sore, and still pretty worried, but in good hands. No doubt she has a tough few weeks ahead to recover and some further testing.

The next facebook update was from another friend who I met a year ago, M has been a great support (unpaid promoter!) for my blog, and her post was celebrating her health, three years on she is now a breast cancer survivor and the doctors are very happy with all her results.

On twitter those that know Trish have been lighting candles to wish her well.

I have too, my precious Mor candle in a tea cup and my lovely lemongrass one from my blog reader.

These candles this week, they are for you Trish, boob candles, for the boobs you no longer need and they are for M, for sharing the spark of life with everyone she meets and always having a positive attitude, it's infectious.

My best candles for the best of women.

Light your candles ladies, and give your boobs a good feel up. Use this guide if you need some help, there is even a video.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Brave enough for Brave?

Yesterday Popps and I headed with some friends to see Brave, the latest Disney Pixar flick.

In the cinema we settled in with our 3D glasses and listened to some bagpipes while watching some highland dancing. Popps was rather into it, I wouldn't have been surprised if she suggested it be the latest fad she attempts to have a go at.

Then we got into the movie. As an adult, it's a good film, for the animation and soundtrack alone, it is well worth it.

But it is also pretty scary. Regular readers would know I am pretty against pre school children watching violence even if it is in cartoon form. This film is not so full of violence for the sake of it. No one dies.

But for those of you who are in the more cautious box with me, I suggest reading a few reviews on what others thought about Brave, in relation to the ages of their children.

Popps spent most of the movie in my lap with her hands over her ears and eyes closed, asking me to tell her when bits were over.

Scary Beary
The short of it is, Merida the princess, is refusing to be wedded off by her parents to one of the other clans' eldest sons. Merida takes off on her amazing horse Angus and finds a witch who gives her a spell to change her fate. There is lots of talk about fate and destiny, this didn't sink in for Popps and she asked me what Merida was talking about, but the message is a good one for those that pick it up.

The spell turns Queen Elinor into a bear which is rather humourous for those that get the bits about the queen being concerned about her modesty. Without giving it all away, there is another rather scary bear involved, there are moments when the clans try and kill the Queen when she is a bear. There is sadness as Merida cries because it looks as though the Queen will remain a bear forever. In true Disney form there is a happy ending.

When we got home I was surprised to hear Popps tell Mr H and Immy that the movie was excellent and she loved it. I asked her if she would like to see it again, she said 'no way, never again'. The film didn't stay with her though, there was no further discussion about it, no bad dreams, so I think she did get the idea that all ended well, but she has no desire to watch it again.

For those looking for a film were the princess does not fall in love with a handsome prince to find her happiness, Princess Merida is sure to make you smile. She is a princess happy to fight custom and tradition who fights for the things she wants from life. She also believes in magic.

Brave is being released on Thursday in time for school holidays. I suggest thinking about what your kids like, what levels of scary they can tolerate before going to this one. I know many of the other people at the cinema have tweeted how much they and their kids loved the film.  If you are a blogger who attended, feel free to add your review in my comments for other people to get an idea of what you thought, especially if you have kids in the older primary years who I think this might be aimed at.

For the official preview take a look here, the scottish accents alone might be enough to encourage you to go along.

If you would like to take your kids to see this over the school holidays I have TEN double passes to give away.

To win a pass you need to leave a comment below telling me what the scariest movie you have ever seen was. Mr H will decide on the ten movies that he thinks rate the scariest, or the comment that makes him laugh most.

Tweeting this giveaway gives good luck, sharing it on Facebook makes your wishes come true.*

Fine Print:
1) Only Australian Residents
2) Comments open today Monday 18 June and close Friday 22 June at 8pm.
3) If I do not have a reply from you by Wednesday 27 June to confirm your postal details, then the prize will be given to someone else.
4)You need to follow this blog or my Facebook page to be included in the giveaway.

*This is not confirmed, it might be false, but you never know til you try.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

To have or to go

Getting out to see the things.
Decision making about funds in the household can often cause discussion and debate. Once the essentials are covered the choice of what to spend on or save for need to be agreed to as a couple.

As a couple Mr H and I always struggle on what I call the 'have or to go' problem.

He would rather have stuff.

I would rather go somewhere.

Right now he wants a surround sound system.

I would prefer a weekend to the snow.

He would like to renovate the bathroom.

I would rather flights to Singapore to stay with friends about to move there.

For his birthday he requests golf bags, bike gloves, (actually bike or golf anything) for my birthday I request tickets to the theatre or dinner somewhere we wouldn't usually go.

It can be the cause of much discussion.

Most times it doesn't really matter as we settle the argument by agreeing to save the money first and then decide between the choices.  But it seems this savings bit rarely happens (damn you new car fuel thingo and battery, damn you creche fees, damn you dentist bill and optometrist bill).

Are you a Have spender or a Go spender?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

And a half

I am a big fan of celebrating birthdays.

To me, life is too short not to celebrate the small things that come along. While some people decide that kids get a party every second year, here the Huey's get a party every year.

Not a bells and whistles, catered for, entertainers roaming style party. But there will be cake, candles and friends and family of some kind.

And maybe it's because we have both their birthday's around Christmas time and it is a long time between cakes, but we also celebrate their half birthday too.

Today Immy is officially three and a half.

This means she gets to pick what is for tea and we have cake for dessert.

She made her choice carefully and requested her utmost favourite dish that I have ever served.

Tonights tea is tinned spaghetti on toast with mud cake and ice-cream for dessert.

So tonight, everyone's a winner. Mum of the Year is all mine and all I have to do is eat cake.

Are you getting enough cake lately?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Another crazy harebrained scheme...but imagine if...

In Melbourne, the people we pay our water bills to made a bit of a boo boo.

One that scored them over $300million dollars.

There are now discussions about how everyone will get repaid their $177.00.

It could be over a few years, possibly up to five, so we would all get a few dollars off each bill for the next twenty bills or something.

Some of the people will be deceased, some will have moved house, or have been in share houses, some will be businesses. Most of us will not really notice when the dollars are returned as they won't really be returned. You still have to pay the water bill, though it'll have a couple of dollars less on it.

I can't help thinking of how a brave crazy thing to do would be to just say we are going to donate that money to the people of Melbourne and build a homeless shelter to cater for the needs of hundreds of people a year. Or we are going to buy the children's hospital 50 new beds.

Maybe the people of Melbourne would like a train to go to the airport. Now there's an idea to bring us up with the rest of the world.

Maybe we could buy a block of land in the city and build the best kids park in the world, for all ages and all abilities.

Maybe we could build about 1000 new public housing homes.

Provide whooping cough vaccine again to new parents.

Build a couple of early learning centres for kids on the autism spectrum providing early intervention therapy they need.

Either way, the people of Melbourne have saved up $300 million in the public purse. We could see it returned in dribs and drabs and never do anything with it.

Or, a boo boo by Melbourne Water could turn into a big win for the people of Melbourne.

Dreaming I know. But Imagine!

What would you like to spend $300 million on in your city or location?

Poncho Love

Thirty years ago I had major envy.

My sister had the most beautiful green poncho. It was knitted and finished with two huge big pom poms hanging down the front.

Buy these from Etsy if you are looking for a poncho. This is not me and my sister. 
Usually I would get her clothes later on, but I don't recall ever getting to wear that poncho.

Woe is me and my lack of green poncho filled childhood (I am a middle child, it's a common theme).

Popps is currently in love with all things poncho and I am more than happy to buy them for her.

She has three so far and is keen to add to her collection.

I am checking online to see if there is anything else to add: 

I like the bright colours, arm holes and flower buttons for a little girl on this one;


Smart and Classic is also a style I like.
On Sale at Seed

The sleeves on this make it more user friendly for kids, but does not make a real poncho.

Witchery Kids

Hand knitted - love this one, one of those brief moments when I wish I could knit. I would wear this myself.


Perfect for our Melbourne winter and another I would wear.

My favourite. Etsy 

Do any of these take your fancy? Would you wear a poncho or do you think they are only for those under 8?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Stress Free Chooks, from the farm to my belly.

I don't cook chook much. Ten years ago I cooked myself a chicken fillet and gave myself food poisoning.

Thought. I. would. die.

But alas, I got over it and just feel edgy when cooking chicken. Defrost your chicken properly people!

But - I really wanted to share the story of Glenloth chooks with you. They are good. I know this because one of my Groupies has cooked them for me a few times. The Glenloth Chooks are a bit of alright.

I Glenloth girl sat in my freezer for a couple of weeks while I tried to work out how to cook her. Then Mrs Woog put out a tweet to see if anyone wanted to cook my PR chook for me and SegoviaSuz answered the call.

We got to work planning our families, dinner dates and a few extra Glenloth girls to join the party.

But why would I be so fussed about sharing a chook with you?

Let me count the ways.

1) The Glenloth girls live on a farm not far from where my family farms and the property is run by Grandpa and Grandma Milburn. They work hard to provide good chooks to the market and I would like to tell you more about them.

2) Glenloth chookies are REALLY free range. Not in a barn with a 2cm allocation of turning space.

3) The food fed to Glenloth chooks is also grown on the actual farm or by local farmers. Real chook food.

4) Grandpa and Grandma Milburn are out there looking after the girls every single day. Through floods, fires and horrible weather.

5) They care so much for the girls that they ensure they live a stress free life. Stress affects us all badly, even if you are feathered. Life for a Glenloth girl is like living in a day spa - stress free. Even when the end is nigh, they are not crammed into economy class and trucked off to slaughter. The end is managed at home too.

6) Grandpa Milburn has high standards. Rules are that the girls must be stunned before death. This means that Halal and Kosher requirements can not be met, but rules are rules and the girls come first.

7) When you have the chance to roam free and run around in the bush all day you burn off energy and become quite fit, this means the Glenloth chooks take a bit longer than other chooks to grow to full size.

8) They taste mighty fine.

Three PR girls sitting in a row

Sorry girls, not your best angle

I challenge you to eat a Glenloth Chook and not notice how much nicer it is then a hot chook from the stupormarket.

Just before serving time. Can you smell how good they were?

Thanks Segovia Suz for cooking up a feast for the Huey Clan this weekend.

Buy a GlenLoth Girl from here if you live in Victoria:

If you want to know more Glenloth Game

*I was not paid to write this post. I will always support Aussie grown and Australian farmers.

Friday, June 8, 2012

I am not afraid.

I am not afraid of a little craft mess.

I know that once I set up a messy bit of fun Immy will be thrilled for the next half hour.

Yes, I will then be cleaning it for another half hour after that, but I am most likely going to be cleaning anyway.

Be it paint, play dough (home made and staining the bench top) window textas, footpath chalk, gluing, sticking, cutting. I shall not be afraid.

But I have many friends that say this sort of stuff is for kinder only.

Are you scared of craft?

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The house of stiffies

Pinterest Image
Genetics are said to be responsible for much more than we currently know. 

I am happy to play my part and provide some new evidence to the research and confirm that hamstrings actually also get handed down when genes are being mucked about with in the womb.

Mr H can barely sit on the floor to play lego. FiL Huey often laughs that he has never been able to sit with his legs crossed, even as a child. I myself have a fear of yoga classes as my hamstrings act like a piece of wood and do not stretch, bend or mould no matter which way I try to breathe.

Watching the little Hueys at dance class last week it become very clear that they have been burdened with the Curse of the Stiffie Hamstring. 

The touch your toes exercise was only completed with some major bending of knees.

The splits seem a very distant goal. 

Might be time to start doing some home stretches. 

For those of you blessed with elastic hammies - you don't know how lucky you are.

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Swear Bear

Sometimes I am nothing more than a swearing machine.

Not at work. Not around my kids. Not even in anger or in heated discussions.

But Clairey the Sweary Bear visits whenever I have a weekend away.

While some mums may sneak out and have a cigarette, drink the extra glass of wine, order another coffee or splurge on expensive magazines during a weekend away from the kids, it seems my gutter mouth takes hold and the opportunity of using swear words is too much for me.

I can't hold back.

Problem is, most of my weekends away in the last year or two are blog related, the people at these events don't know me all that well personally, so they may get the impression that swearing is a daily thing for me.

Not good. Not ideal.

By the time a weekend is over I am all sworn out. Returning home with no need to use my gutter trap mouth til the next time.

Apologies to those I travel with, for previous and future outings.

A bigger effort will be made from now on not to blast everyone with my poor habits.

What do you do when you flee the kids? Anyone else like to swear more than usual? Anyone?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, June 1, 2012

Engaging Mum Bloggers - a nocturnal pursuit!

There are lots of brands who are just starting to think about how they can use social media to promote their brand or product. Many are paying big bucks for PR firms to do it for them. But you really can do this yourself.

I recently attended a blogging event at Big 4 Bellarine. It was deemed a highly successful event by the 40 women who attended and provided months of tweets and blog posts that would have reached tens of thousands of readers and potential customers.

The event was run by Sophie Bone. I interviewed Sophie to get the behind the scenes information on working with bloggers or using social media to promote your business. 

Q 1) What made you consider using social media and bloggers as part of your promotional strategy?

Four things. 
1.            Personal challenge (never used twitter)
2.            Intrigue (what is everybody doing on there!)
3.            Dogged determination (because someone told me I couldn’t do it!)
4.            Apathy surrounding traditional methods of advertising to Mums (randomly applying pink to anything you are pitching)

The concept evolved after hearing about a series of Blogger events being held for the big brands in Melbourne. I enquired about involvement but retracted my interest based on three factors:

The event was cost prohibitive given that the return was questionable.
Me handing out a brochure and expecting a blog post didn’t make sense.
I wanted the bloggers to come to my property and experience the product.

From that point, I was more determined than ever, to create the event myself without the aid of a PR agency – so I opened a Twitter account.

Q 2) What was the most difficult part of organising such a large event with bloggers without a PR agency?

It wasn’t really a very large event. 40 people is a very manageable number to work with. It’s important to be able to reach everybody and listen to their stories over the time you have with them. I wouldn’t say it was difficult either because really, it was fabulous fun! 

What I would say is, that it was an incredibly labour intensive campaign because Twitter never sleeps (and neither do some Mum bloggers it seems)! Because of the external influences that impact on their lives such as children, school drop offs and professional pursuits, often the most interactive time with Mum bloggers is from 8pm until verrrry late!  Also, such is the amount of information moving through that particular communication channel, you need to very carefully plan how you will keep the dialogue going over a fairly long lead time until the event.

For me, using a PR agency may have diluted the relationship between the bloggers and I. It was very important for me, that it was never considered a blatant ‘brand bullying’ exercise but rather an event that sounded like fun, that ticked enough boxes (sleepover, massage, dinner, drinks and a decent latte) for 40 women to extricate themselves from their homes and children, to come to me!

Twitter, despite being limited to 140 characters, really defines a personality very quickly if you are engaging with people regularly. Like people you meet, strangers you sit at a dinner table with at a dinner party, there are some that are definitely going to resonate more with you because of:

  Their turn of phrase
  Their sense of humour
  What they don’t say
  How they present opinions

If you offload all of the above to a PR agency, there is a very real possibility that it could create a discord between your audience, you and thirdly, your brand voice. You need to be alongside every detail, quip, whim and innuendo every minute of every day until the event is over……….and not even then does the monitoring stop. 

Q 3) Would you recommend other businesses get involved with Social Media and blogger outreach?

Yes, if you are totally:

  Focused on attention to minuscule detail
  Committed to seeing through what you promise and being open to change as you carefully monitor online conversations beyond your control
  On board the concept that bloggers are professionals at what they do and that they don’t owe you anything 

Q 4) What advice do you have for other service related business for working within social media?

Research like a fiend! 

Religiously monitor conversations outside of your event to get a feel for 4 key things:

An appropriate tweet tone and a sense of humour (which will be variable depending on which blogger you are conversing with) Bloggers all have their own persona – shy, irreverent, bold, subtle. 
Feedback on blogger events they are attending – this dovetails nicely into the event you will run and enables you to avoid making the same mistakes 
Topics that cause friction / tension and why (listen to how bloggers feel – they are not afraid to voice opinions and if they are relevant to your event and how you will massage what you offer, then soak up that information)

Don’t create an event, create an experience. Mine focused on 4 elements:

Fun – the Great Race (flying foxes, changing babies nappies blindfolded, kicking football goals in wigs, swimming amongst hundreds of rubber duckies), teams, bloggers finding their team online, lollies, music playlist predominantly 80s
Intrigue – sending a blindfold in the mail with a clue relating to the Great Race, a map of the property with a massage appointment card dangling from the unit it would be in
Surprise – heaters on, on return from dinner, delivery of a midnight snack and water with a note, newspapers waiting on doorstep before dawn
Elegance – beautiful stationery, flowers, very high quality meat cuts and food ingredients, wax seals, use of letters in the post, tea-lights
Stagger your contact / content – plan it across the 2 months in the lead up to the event. 

Don’t be a pest!

Never saturate a particular channel of communication. Use a number of them:
- Post – for the touchy feely, clues, treats
- Email – for important details – times, places, addresses etc.
- Twitter – for chit chat and keeping up!

Follow relevant hashtags where many of your invitees take part – always trying to gauge:
- Tolerances
- Opinions
- Humour

Be at the end of your @mentions pretty much at all times in the lead up to the event: if the bloggers are talking to you then respond, be conversant, be cheeky, be engaging. 

Ask somebody for the heads up on Twitter etiquette. There is a code of conduct (which I had no idea about) surrounding Retweets (RT), Modified Tweets, (MT) and thanking people for the honour. There is etiquette surrounding when you can buy into a conversation between a group that you have not been @mentioned in on. 

Be candid about:
- Lack of Twitter knowledge (when to retweet etc.)
- Mistakes you make (tweeting a DM)
- Butting in on a conversation

Be lavish, spare no detail and show unbridled generosity. I am a firm believer in the simple strategy that “What comes around, goes around”. Your generosity will come back to you. If you skimp on it, then expect others’ generosity to be skeletal too.

Speak to someone who has done it! I would be happy to talk with anyone who was thinking about doing it. 

Q 5) During your presentation about Big 4 Bellarine you shared some personal stories of your own life and answered questions openly about the financials of the business. Considering the sharing of information is usually the basis of a successful blog, will we be seeing 'Sophie Bone's Blog' anytime soon?

Only days ago, I determinedly typed in Word Press and set up an account. I called the blog “ilovebellarine’, wrote one post, pressed publish, giggled and then haven’t returned.  To be fair however, my background was as an English teacher and then as a copywriter, so I do love words! Maybe I’ll pop back there one day in secret and type a little story. 

Big 4 Bellarine is on Facebook and Twitter