Thursday, June 26, 2014

A Miss 8 Update

Popps is now Miss 8.

It's been quite some time since we called her that nickname and it just feels wrong to keep using the term on here. We have other familiar names now, but they aren't really used outside our immediate family and friends and it also isn't right to use them here.

Miss 8 likes to dance. She takes classes in hip hop, jazz and tap and can't decide which she likes best. She likes to sing and has joined the school choir, she would also like to take singing lessons, but doesn't want to sing in front of people, probably ever.

Books are her other thing. She was blessed with the ability to learn words fast and to read through books at an alarming rate. I think she would like to run her own book club, but you need to be able to read a book a night to keep up with her pace and I can't keep it up myself.

This girl knows what clothes she will and won't wear and is very clear on it. No frills, no bows, no skirts, not dresses. There is to be nothing too girly and nothing that looks like boys clothes. They should not be too big and baggy or too short in the arms (which is currently every jumper she has). Clothes must be totally comfortable at all times, providing access to cartwheel and do middle splits in case the need should arise for such a thing. Shoes can be sneakers, runners, trainers or dance shoes.

She is funny and has lot of questions for anyone that will sit quietly enough to allow her to ask them and answer them properly. She can tell a great story. This girl has very little tolerance for injustice which can cause her much angst as she tries to work through why people act the way they do and why some people live with so little.

She also understands social media. How it works and what is appropriate and from this she has made her own request. No longer is her photo to be on Instagram or Facebook without her consent.

This will make my yearly instagram photo album a little less family focussed but it's a request I will obey. It will mean me being a bit more creative with how I collate our stories. This blog is my story and Miss 8 is a big part of that, she will remain in the discussion, but in a different way than when she was younger.

It's all just another part of growing up.

Monday, June 23, 2014

SORTED: 10 Great ideas for the Victorian July School Holidays

I really love school holidays. Possibly even more than the kids so I have collated a list of ten things to do these school holidays.

And there is a great giveaway to Sovereign Hill in there too so make sure you leave a comment to win a $207 family pass.


This is the first time that this holiday activity has been planned and Immy is the most excited person in the whole of Melbourne. She has long told us that when she grows up she is going to be a paediatric vet (not sure these exist but they do now). I have told her that the puppies are not for taking home, but she is coming up with ideas on how she can steal one and get it to the car.
Check the facebook page for details or just for cute puppies.


I wrote about it here, we are heading to a show and will have an afternoon out, maybe grabbing lunch in the city first. It's always a winner for kids, but wear warm clothes, it's cold in there.


The Christmas in July is happening again and we are heading back for another day. There is so much to see and do at Sovereign Hill that even after a full day there last year we are going back to see even more. More mines to explore, horses to see, history to soak up. This year they are also opening up til after dark for a special light show. I hope the bakery stays open too...I love pies on a cold winter night.

Want to check it out too? I hope so, because I have THREE family passes to give away, each is valued at $207 and valid for 12 months.  I know you will have such a great day, how could you not, there are raspberry drops, THE most amazing lollies ever invented. 


July holidays eastland

Eastland Shopping Centre is hosting a stack of FREE activities including some ice skating, even a bit of evening disco skating. So, well, get your disco skates on!


According to all childhood experts it is really important to allow your kids to be bored. To lie around and look at the ants and think 'this is boring'.

It's good for them. They might complain a bit at first, but if you ignore them long enough, they will find something to do.

Lake Mountain

It's only an hour and a bit from the city, take a day trip to the snow!

Pack the easiest and cheapest snow lunch ever: A thermos full of hot dogs, a bag of bread rolls and the tomato sauce. You won't need a blanket to sit on, but you could dine with a snow man. If there is no snow that day, take a bush walk around the area, it really is so beautiful.

Lego - FREE

Everything is Awesome...
Or it might be if you have kids who like to check out Lego. The Watergardens Shopping Centre has a Lego play space and some really great Lego constructions to check out. My favourite was THE LOVE BOAT. It's worth taking a look, especially if you remember watching the show.

Anakie Fairy Park.

I wrote all about it back in 2011. Have you been? Take the trip - but take a beanie and scarf it's cold in the winter.

Backyard Camping

Let the kids put up a tent in the backyard, grab a little firepit, (we have a little one like this) and sit around the fire for the evening. Cook damper on a stick or wrap potatoes in foil with a bit of butter and let them cook in the fire too. 

You might not camp out the whole night, but you have the choice, if it gets too outdoorsy for you, simply go inside, the brave will be rewarded with a starry night sky and maybe even the milky way if the city lights and smog don't ruin it.

Itty Bitty Book Van

The last Saturday of the holidays will be an Itty Bitty Day. More specifically, it will be a day to visit the Itty Bitty Book Van at the Queen Victoria Market.

I already have a few books that I want to buy and as I am a total sucker for kids books I will find it hard to only pick a couple of others. If you haven't seen the Itty Bitty Book Van yet, you are missing out. Get to the market, buy a hot jam doughnut and sit down and read some books (not with the doughnut, eat that first, lick your fingers til they are clean).

What about you? If you want to win tickets to Sovereign Hill just leave me a comment about your school holidays - do you love them or hate them, plan them or just chillax the way through? 

Comments Open Monday 23 June 2014 and close Thursday 26 June at 8pm. 
PLEASE LEAVE ME AN EMAIL ADDRESS so I can contact the winner. 

Friday, June 20, 2014

The ordinary cake

It's in the ordinary that our lives pass us by. I love ordinary. Because in the ordinary is when the good stuff happens.

The unplanned, non strategic plan of family life.

Like me announcing at dinner that I really wished we had cake for dessert. I had been so busy at work that I only had time to consume a Chiko Roll, and as fantastic as that Chiko was, man was I still pretty hungry.

Miss 8 jumped up and said "I can make a cake".

No you can't I thought.

You won't be able to do it without my help.

But she did.

There was one egg that rolled a bit too fast and ended up smashed on the floor but the rest made it into the bowl.

There was me getting it out of the oven at the very end when she could smell it was ready.

She waited til it cooled, whacked it out on to the wire rack and then sliced it up.

Choc chips had been added to the recipe and they were warm and melty when we ate it.

The cake didn't stick to the bottom of the pan, it didn't sink in the middle, it didn't burn on the edges. It was exactly as it was meant to be.

It was an ordinary vanilla packet cake mix and in all the ordinary, we had perfection.

What are your kids up to this week?

Monday, June 16, 2014

That thing called writing

Some people think because I have a blog that I work in IT, because I know 'all that computer stuff'. Wrong. I pay people to do that and at work I rely on a highly trained IT department. 

Other people think that because you write on the internet and people read it then you are a writer. 

That's a big talking point in blog world. 

Are bloggers writers? 

Depends on how stuck up you are as to how you answer that. I say, anyone and everyone who wants to be is a writer. If you write a letter to your friend each month telling them all your news, maybe you are a writer. Perhaps you write a personal diary - BINGO - you are a writer. 

You might not be a good one, but that is always debatable, the receiver of your letter might be thrilled and wait eagerly for your monthly news. Your blog might be crap, but you still wrote it.

You can be a writer if you want. Doesn't mean you will be a good one. 

There are good writers. 
There are pleasant and entertaining writers.
But excellent writers, well they are much more difficult to find. 

However. Here I am, being included in the WHY I WRITE BLOG HOP. 

Emily at Have a laugh on Me has kindly asked me to join the bloggers who are writing about their own writing. I have been enjoying learning more about people with this topic so I am jumping on this cart with the rest of them.  All I have to do is answer a few questions. 

Let's Go.

What am I working on?

Where do I start? There are things I write for people because they ask for help getting their words right, a speech, a letter, a note. 

There are little cards, notes and letters that I might send to someone or leave for them somewhere.

There are very few blog posts that are released from my head this year. I don’t even really know why this is. 

I do know why I am not doing so many PR posts. You know why? Because oddly enough, while they can be my most favourite to write they also make me feel really anxious. I enjoy chatting with a brand, hearing about what they are doing, their plans for a product and working out if it is a match for me, then if so, how can I write about the product in a way that is interesting, entertaining and honest all at the same time. A promotional blog post is not like writing a media release. A media release follows a more structured style, they are for distributing information, but they are not the whole story, the journalist will do that part of the work.

The promo blog post needs to entertain and the brand wants lots of people to read it. But how many people is enough? I don’t know the answer, but it stresses me out as I always think it would be nice to have more. The joy of writing the post soon disappears when I get obsessed looking at the stats.

Helloooo helloo. Is anyone reading this?

I write a range of things for work. Patient stories are amazing to write up, they take a long time but I get to be a part of the lives of some pretty fabulous people for a few weeks and I learn so so much. This week I shared a story which received record numbers of hits. I was so happy for the family. You can read the story here.

How does my writing differ from others in it’s genre?

Mainly it differs because I am not a trained writer. 

I have no degree in journalism or English Lit. Nor am I an expert in anything. 

I can’t tell you how to cook or clean your house, I don’t care how you choose to raise your kids, as long as you love them, feed them and look after them, so I am not going to give you parenting tips. I am not a landscape gardener or personal trainer nor am I fashionista or interior designer, so I guess you just get me. Just an average person living in the burbs who likes to talk and when there is no one to talk to, I talk out a blog post and just like that, I am blogging, a person writing/talking on the internet.

Why do I write?


I don’t so much write as talk. I like to talk. Heaps.

But I don’t really like public speaking so instead of talking up in front of people, I just blog it instead.

How does my writing process work?

My writing process is very very structured.

That’s a lie.

It’s not and I have no writing process. No blog planner, no schedule of ideas. 

Things happen, ideas bounce within my head, I open the laptop and the words spill out. 

That’s it.

The last part of this conversation is to find three more people to participate in the Why I Write Blog Hop.

I am going to choose the following three people and invite them to join in if they want to, no pressure. I have chosen them because I know they all live VERY different lives, but they are all fascinating and they all give good blog. 

Tiff from Three Ring Circus 

Toushka from Toushka Lee

What have you been writing lately?

Monday, June 9, 2014

Do you censor the books your kids read?

I had a bit of a parenting dilemma this week and my readers are often great help with these things.

The background is this;
Popps is now in Grade 2 and a keen reader. I try not to choose her books for her too much as I don’t always pick the right ones and really, it’s just annoying if other people choose your books for you all the time.

At school she is encouraged to choose books that will extend her further than Wimpy Kid and Dork Diaries and last week she chose a book called Chloe.

I heard about Chloe because Popps was fascinated with the book. Each night she started telling me about what was happening and how interesting this book was. “You just won’t believe this story,” she said.

Each night I was a bit concerned about what else might be coming in this book.

I was also trying to be open-minded and accept that books are ideal for learning the lives of other people in your society. Books are a unique vessel to teach us all to broaden our thinking, to consider situations from all angles, especially the ones that might make us feel uncomfortable.

I just wasn’t sure if I wanted to censor this one.

I read the entire book myself to be able to help me decide.

It is an interesting book for a junior primary school level and covers issues relating to child abuse, adoption, foster care, neglect of children, violent husbands, drug addicts and alcoholics.

These are not something that we would usually discuss around the dinner table and as far as I know Popps has no friends who would know much about these issues (though of course it is a possibility).

As she had read a third of the book already, I expected that she would probably want to read the rest, and wasn’t sure where I stood on preventing her from reading a book just because the content was awful.

However, once I had finished the book, I decided to compromise and told her she could read the book, but she was to read it at home rather than school so she could ask me questions if she needed to. I also told her it was a day time book, not a before sleep time book. She asked if there were any scary bits and I told her exactly what happens, and the part I thought she would be uncomfortable with, which is when a violent drunken father smashes in the door to steal his toddler back, and 13 year old Chloe is home alone with the baby and needs to save him from this scary man.

In this instance, Popps has decided not to read the rest of the book herself but asked me to tell her the rest of the story, which I did.

The parenting dilemma is, should we censor what our children read? If so, to what extent? I would like to throw out all the Captain Underpants books that don’t even spell words correctly. I’d like to have a limit on how many Wimpy Kids books can be read in one month and while I enjoy many Dr Seuss books I would like to have Go Dog Go removed from the house for awhile.

Books can teach us everything, but are there some that we need to wait to read?

Let me know what you think?

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Disney on Ice: Treasure Trove

They're Back. 

Winter Holidays are not far away and that means the Disney On Ice Team are back in town. 

We have been the last few years and the girls just love it so we are heading back again this year. Rather than just princesses this year it is Disney on Ice presents Treasure Trove, where they are covering the last 50 years of the best animated films. I think the Lion King part will be my favourite.

The show is playing all over Australia at different venues and because I have readers all over Australia in different States, I have tickets to give away all over the place too.

Check it out.

There are FOUR tickets for each of the following events to give to the one person. So you can take yourself and three other people.

Tickets are for the following shows: 

1 x family pass Wollongong Friday 13th June 7pm
1 x family pass Newcastle Friday 20th June 7pm
1 x family pass Brisbane Saturday 28th June 6pm1 x family pass Melbourne Sunday 6th July 5pm
1 x family pass Sydney Friday 11th July 7pm

Now, it's time to ask you three questions: 

1. Do you want to see Disney On Ice, Treasure Trove?  
If yes, keep reading.

2. Are you available to attend one of the venues and dates in the list above? 
If yes, keep reading.

If No, then quickly leave one because this giveaway closes on Sunday 8 June 2014.

Please, please, please leave me an email address to allow me to contact you if you win. 

Check the website for all futher details about Disney on Ice presents Treasure Trove