Friday, February 28, 2014


Once upon a time I collected rubbers. I wish I could tell you it was wine and I have a collection of fine drops from around the world. But rubbers it is.

No idea why I did. I just liked them. Back then, in the 80s, little things like that were not as throw away as they are now. Popps gets rubbers in gift packs and party bags and for doing well in a project. If they are lost, used, broken she could not care less. They have no value to her at all.

My favourite rubbers were displayed on my window sill and the remainder were kept in an old cardboard box. It took ages to gather them, awaiting birthdays and Christmas.  My pocket money barely stretched to buy them after I had bought my bag of mixed lollies. The box they were kept in was decorated with some stickers I had found and had the most important words of all written on the outside.

Keep Out!

They were not for using, they were for looking at.

At the moment they are a bit grubby, no idea if I should give them a clean up, I just don't want to wreck them.

Last Christmas day, I unwrapped a gift from my 12 year old nephew, he was giggling as he gave me the carefully wrapped box.

No one realises it right now but he gave me a highly valuable gift. A real collectors item.

A hot pink gift box of fabulous Smiggle rubbers.

Lucky we were at my parent’s house. I was then able to spend the next week looking for the old box with Keep Out written on it.

My rubbers have been packed away in the back shed for a couple of decades!

Finally I found it. Underneath a Rubik's Rings and quite a few spider webs, 

What a box of happy memories.

Way before Toy Story made it famous I had written names on the sole of my Cabbage Patch Kid rubbers.

There are rubbers of records and typewriters. There is a cassette rubber, even in a tiny little cassette tape. It is the 80s in a box of rubbers.

There are a few from Tasmania, the only place we seemed to visit for a long time. 

It is amazing how the simple rubber can reflect a decade.

The new rubbers will remain in their box, not to be used, but in another two decades someone will open that box and say. “Smiggle, remember that shop and how we all loved that stationery”.

And if they don’t, they will at least have something pretty to wipe out their mistakes.

Have you got any rubbers from the 80s?

*Rubbers will always be rubbers, not erasers. 

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Week 8: Just keep swimming

The last 12 months I haven't taken the girls swimming as much as I would have liked to. 

Three hours in the pool today was great for all of us. One day I am going to get an underwater camera. The world looks and feels pretty good under the surface. 

This is Week 8 of my #MyFamilyandMe challenge. 

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Worry and Hope for the Big Wide World

The goings on in the world, they can really make me quite sad. The amount of evil that humankind inflicts upon itself. I will never understand how we do these things to each other.

I flicked onto one of those great photos from history links the other day, I really love them. But this one, as I flicked through the moments from the last 100 years, I thought, wow, that would never happen now.

This image is the least confronting, don't click if you are uncomfortable with more brutal images.

We would never sit by and let people be herded up and murdered, tortured, gassed, starved, placed in camps, bashed by camp guards, abused. No. The new world would never do that.

But we do. We do.

Then I got an email from UNICEF PR asking if I would share the story of the children in Syria right now. They want to share the story with the world so much. They need you to know the story. They want you to know what is happening. And that you can help.

I am happy to share this international story. So far from our own lives, but still so important. When the sadness of the world overwhelms me, I must always remember that there is hope.

My knowledge of Syria was limited, so the following was written for me by the team at UNICEF.

What part can you play to help the children of the Syria Crisis?

This March will mark the start of the fourth year of Syria’s turmoil. Protests began against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime back in March 2011, and one a half years later the situation had escalated so far as to be declared a civil war by the international Red Cross.

During the three years of conflict, United Nations estimates put the death toll in Syria at more than 100,000. More than two million refugees have fled Syria, and more than four million are displaced within Syria, three-quarters of which are women and children.

The UN stopped updating its Syrian death toll in July 2013, as it could no longer verify its information, while the number of Syrian refugees and displaced Syrians within their own country is feared to be much higher than official figures state, as it’s near impossible to track all movement within this war-torn country.

The children of Syria

It’s estimated that more than five million children have been affected by the Syria Crisis, and the threats they face in everyday life are numerous. From the violence of war, to the dangers and disease it brings, to the lack of access to safe drinking water and adequate nutrition.

Many of the children affected by the Crisis have witnessed or experienced horrific violence, leading to trauma and the increased chance of exposure to abuse. Large numbers have also been recruited into child labour, child militia, and early marriages.

With more than a third of all hospitals closed, it is also extremely difficult to access healthcare. Many of the children affected don’t have access to shelter, sanitation, clean water, food, medicine and the basics many of us take for granted.

There is also the issue of education. One in five schools in Syria have been damaged, destroyed, or are being used for other purposes. In countries around Syria, resources to educate refugees is stretched to the point many can no longer accept children wanting to attend.

More than three million children have left school in Syria, and thousands more have not enrolled despite reaching school age. This not only sets back the individual education and prospects of each child not attending school, it also risks Syria’s future.

What can you do for the children of Syria?

If you want to help the children affected by the Syria Crisis, you can donate to UNICEF Australia. UNICEF helps to provide the essentials these children need to survive, including food, clean toilets, medicine, schooling, trauma counselling, and shelter.

Your donation can make a world of difference to the children of Syria and their families.

·      $50 can buy clothes, blankets and other essentials for a family that had to flee their home and leave everything behind.
·      $80 can provide psychosocial support and trauma counselling for 14 children through community and school-based activities.
·      $100 can buy 122 exercise books and 1818 pencils to continue education for children who have suffered trauma.
·      $200 can buy 7500 high-energy biscuits to feed children who are suffering from malnutrition.

Visit the UNICEF website to find out more about the Syria Crisis, what UNICEF is doing to help, and what your donation would mean to the children affected by the Crisis.

Disclaimer: The idea of sharing a story like this and being paid for it makes me want to vomit in my own mouth. I refused any payment.  However a donation has been made by the PR agency to UNICEF for the Syrian Children on my behalf.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Dance Mum

I am starting my fourth year as a dance Mum. It has probably taken me this long to really accept what this means. I wish I accepted this part of my life and embraced it with a big bear hug two years ago, it would have made some events less stressful, I would have thrown myself at sequin sewing with more enthusiasm.

There seems to be a bit of a stigma around dance mums. It feels like we have all been swiped with the toddlers and tiaras brush and are seen as pushy, demanding, painting our babies in unnecessary make up and dressing them in hot pants, leading them to the path of eating/body disorders and nothing but sadness when they fail to be accepted into a prestigious dance academy.

Surprise! It’s nothing like that.

There are a stack of dance schools and they all run pretty differently. Some are relaxed, they run basic classes and encourage movement and fun to music. Others focus on ballet while others go more contemporary. Some have big concert gigs and others just let everyone sit around the edge of the hall in the last week to see the final performance. 

Where we go, dance is serious business.  

Even the curls are serious. 

And we love it.

We are not in the competition stream, the girls don’t do the extra classes, but they love it all the same and aspire to be one of those kids.

A few years back, during a jazz dance, Popps had a mini anxiety attack, when the parents were allowed in to see the class dance she took off out the side door and started to run home. She cried and cried, not wanting anyone to look at her. Her dance teacher went on to teach her techniques during the next year to help her cope with ‘people watching’.  Techniques that enabled her to perform at the concert. Skills for life.

Last year we started at a new school that fitted into our schedule more. Concerts became a big deal. A really big deal. The end of year concert is so popular that is sells out a town hall THREE TIMES in one weekend.  That means I am back stage, being a crazy dance mum for days. There are costume changes and hair styling requirements; there were zips breaking and me sewing them up side stage.  I became a hair spray wielding seamstress in one weekend.

I had a lipstick in one pocket and make up remover pads in the other.

I was pretty stressed. I certainly questioned how worthy all this was in the days prior. As I struggled with curling irons and last minute practise classes I wondered if gymnastics could be easier and why didn’t my girls like netball like I did?

And then they performed.

And this mini solo happened. 

Two years after the anxiety attack when she couldn’t perform in front of 12 people, Popps performed solo in front of a few hundred.

We signed up again for 2014, we have new tap shoes, ballet slippers and jazz shoes and I dropped a weeks wages at the dance shop for hip hop clothing and leotards.

Our walls are marked with footprints as handstands are practised. Our kitchen floor is in danger of permanent dents as Immy gets her tapping under control and Popps has already smashed her face and scored a fat lip while trying to teach herself an aerial of some kind.

This year I have it all under control. I can pack a dance bag with my eyes closed and I know the secrets to getting a bun done in five seconds, I can set curls and spray paint shoes between dances.

Dance is our thing. 

We shake our tails.

I am, proudly, a Dance Mum.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Week 7: Too busy Living

Did you think I forgot my challenge? Were you clicking back here all day yesterday to see if I had the My Family and Me link up working yet?

No. You were too busy living too.


Well, just to be sure, I want you to know that all is still under control. But we have been flat out with living lately. Parties to attend, movies to see, best friends to catch up with. There have been lunches (plenty of lunches) and work and school parent meetings and greetings with new parents. Plus hip hop classes and swimming and ballet and jazz and tap.

I have been pruning the garden and watering. Lots of watering. I have a fern that I am hoping to bring back from the dead. It needs something, I am not sure what, but I figure water will be the best place to start.

Our autumn fruiting raspberry is starting to fruit, but it's first in, best eaten here as we all fight the birds to be the ones to eat the berries right from the bush.

Sometimes life and blogging don't mix, simply because life to too good to sit down and stop for. That, and that the TV has been good lately. Really good. I wish the INXS show went longer. Loved it. And while reality TV shows are not usually my thing, So You Think You Can Dance is fast becoming a must watch here, and while I would like to tell you it is because Popps loves everything dance and wants to watch it, I have to admit I really enjoy watching great dancers. Such a skill. Totally jealous of the way they can all move.

Here's my little gang. Just before they popped into the movies to see Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2. They loved it. I went for a cuppa with a friend then we all met up for a Pancake Parlour nursery tea.

The linky is back. Join in here or on instagram if you want to.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

A Walking Citronella Candle

When mozzie season hits us in Victoria I am always well prepared.

Over the last eight years I have fine tuned our mozzie bite prevention system and it pretty much works side by side with our sunsmart plan.

Popps is really a walking citronella candle for me. As long as she is close by, most other people will not be bitten. Certainly not me. By taking on the bulk of the insect attack, she protects the rest of us. But they attack her like the paparazzi on Schapelle Corby. It is nothing at all for her to get 20 or more bites in one day.

Once they have sucked her blood over and over she has a nice allergic reaction that has in the past required trips to the doctors, chemists getting her to guzzle Phenergan and one time, as a toddler, it wasn't sure if she had a sprained ankle or a bite, the bite was so lost in the swelling no one could tell.

These bites can really affect our holidays, especially if she is particularly uncomfortable, can't sleep or needs medical treatment, so it's essential that we do what we can to prevent the discomfort of bites and balance this with ensuring our family gets our fill of being outdoors as much as we can (all summer long!)

This brings me to our little pink bag.

It is filled and refilled all summer and makes it easy to ensure we always have what we need. The little pink bag is simply an old thermal lunch bag, but it is a great size and fits bottles standing up. It sits on the bench and goes with us in the car everywhere.

The main thing in the bag is always Aerogard and sunblock. But Aerogard needs reapplying, it has a smell and washes off. We also go through a few bottles of sun block each summer and there are always a few options in the bag.

Also included are anti-itch items, creams, lotions, potions, powders and medications.

There will be mozzie bands, mozzie stickers, and even little buzzers that you wear which keep bites away.

This summer we trialled a new product called Para'Kito - this is a velcro band with a natural 'pellet' that I placed around the kids ankles. They are totally weather/water/dirt proof so they can be worn all day long. Our holidays are spent in dams with yabbies, lakes, mountains, dirt roads and farms and the Para'Kito band survived all we put them through.

I also gave a new anti itch spray a try, it's called Ouch! spray. It is a totally natural product that is extremely transportable, the size of a credit card it's idea for any bag or first aid kit.

My favourite items in the little pink bag this year were the Neutrogena Wet Skin Kids. During the heat wave days I applied sun block every half an hour, this was the easiest and best I have found in years and will certainly be my first choice from now on. The only downfall was that we did go through the bottle pretty quickly, so have a few spare options as you may find this empties fast.

For mozzie protection I found the Mozzie band was the favourite for Popps to wear. They are best worn around the ankle and when they get wet they are dry pretty quickly, unlike the Para'Kito, which once wet is kind of soggy for awhile, especially if you wear it in the bath before bed, it's kind of like a strap of wet suit material. Instead I ended up attaching the Para'Kito to the kids beds and have noticed a big reduction in the number of mozzie bites we dealt with this summer (so far).

A few 'Mozzie bands' can be worth trying.

The Ouch Spray was a big winner. I really like this stuff. I am a sucker for decent packaging too and this product ticks all the boxes. Because no matter what I try, insects still swarm to Popps and attack her first. Ouch! works, it's natural, it's Australian made and it smells kind of good. I started spraying this on the kids for things just for a placebo effect, just like a band aid can fix most cuts, the Ouch! spray could cure nearly all at our place this summer. Ideally if all the prevention items kept her bite free you wouldn't need this, but you would be surprised at the times you might use it - like when swimming in the lake and you find you need to rip a leach off your child's arm!!

One last note: I also carry Phenergan in our little pink bag as there are just some days when only the big medications will do. If you have a child with similar allergies, please ensure you continue to carry any medications they may need for allergies. xx