Tuesday, April 28, 2015

What do you do for a big birthday celebration when you are a grown up?

Remember once upon a time when you imagined being really really old. Like when you might turn 40. You might have thought about how enormous your party might be if you got THAT old.  You would of course have heaps of money by then, especially compared to when you were 21, at uni and had to rely on your parents for the entire party that you wanted.

This year I am turning 40.

I have had so many ideas of what I might like to do to celebrate such a big event. The idea of not celebrating is not possible. I know some people decide to secretly let the big birthday events slide by, but I just can't. Life is too short not to sing badly and ask your friends to join you for food every few years.

But now the event is nearly here, I just can not decide on what to do.

Should I host a big party at home and invite every friend and family I have? Or a fancy restaurant perhaps with a few really close friends? Then there is the option to take a trip away, I could grab the husband and kids and go somewhere we would all have a nice break away, maybe even a weekend with some close girlfriends?

Perhaps I just make it a big festival and do all these things? But even if I did, which restaurant, where do we holiday and who wants to come away for a weekend with me?

Being a grown up means you have to be serious much much more. There are more bills to pay, kids with teeth that need to be straightened and cheap beer is no longer my preferred bevvie of choice. But then again, you only get one life, you only turn 40 once and you can't party when your gone.

What did you do for your last big bash? Do you celebrate your own birthday? Wanna come to my party?

Sunday, April 19, 2015


So I went camping.


I don't know who I am anymore. I don't even like camping, and when I say camping, I don't mean in a nice park with shower facilities and power. No, no, no. I went real camping, I am the next Bear Grylls at this rate.

Why do I do this to myself? Same reason I do pretty much everything else these days.

For my kids.

They just love it. Every single minute of it. They don't even complain all that much about the smell of the drop toilet.

I asked them what they love about camping so much and they couldn't even tell me. They weren't sure if it was just doing what they wanted, riding bikes, Easter egg hunts, playing in the bush, sitting up late around the fire, sleeping altogether in the tent, sleeping in sleeping bags or catching yabbies.

They also loved making iMovies.

We had no wifi or phone coverage but they still had their ipads and I am so glad they did. We didn't ration screen time at all and just let them do what they wanted and the iDevices really came in very handy.

Making an iMovie with your cousins requires a lot of work. You all need to negotiate about the story, the characters, who is playing which part and who gets to do the filming. You need to learn about how the sun impacts upon the picture and change scenes when required. It takes hours of playing together to get a few minutes of the story and it provides a beautiful recollection for everyone afterwards.

As we sat around the fire each night, Arabella was asking where certain constellations were. We tried to point them out until someone brought out their phone and showed us the SkyView app. It's fantastic and if you are out in a beautiful starry night (we had a full red moon too), you will love the way that this app 'draws' the images for you of the stars right above you.

The kids spent time each night riding bikes by torch light, they put their head torches on and ride in the bush, add a few glow sticks to your wheels and it's a fun sight. But when the torch batteries go flat, heading to the drop toilet in darkness isn't just grab a phone and use the torch. If you don't already use it, the torch on your smart phone is just as handy as the clock/alarm.

You can also use an iDevice to take lots of photos of all the things you are doing, like all the ones in this post.

Bush camping can be fun (and filthy and lots of work for parents) it's not something I plan on doing every holidays, and I do struggle with it a bit. But if you go camping with your kids don't think you can't take technology with you, new stuff is exciting and wonderful and can provide you with extra special memories of your time away.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Inspiring stuff: Plumpy'Nut

“I am hungry.”

How many times does a Mum hear that in a week? How many times are our kids really hungry? None. It’s usually just a few hours since they last ate, at the most. Still, we race about preparing a variety of offerings to ensure they get the food to keep them strong, growing and healthy. It’s our most basic yet essential job. I can’t really even imagine not being able to find food for my kids.

But, when I was being introduced to CARE and hearing of some of the stories from the team who are out working around the world we also started talking about Plumpy’Nut.

I had never heard of it and it’s not available in Australia, the CARE team had gone to some effort to arrange a few packets for us to check out.

“Would you like to try it?” they asked.

“Not really” I replied, “but I will.”

It has a smooth consistency, a peanut butter with extra sugar taste. They are certainly not jumping on the IQS bandwagon.

I seemed to be more interested in Plumpy’Nut then everyone else.

I just find the story of how things come to be really interesting.  I wanted to know who invented it, why did they invent it, how did such a product come to be?

Plumpy’Nut is a squishy peanut butter paste in a packet. But it’s really a development that is changing famines and emergency situations like never before.

Be it from drought, natural disaster or war situations there are times in our world that children in the MILLIONS are just dying due to lack of food, and as much as we want to send them some fruit and vegetables, the reality is that we can’t. Fresh foods, milks, and powders all have other problems. They perish, there is no water to add to them, the packaging spoils or they need some form of preparation. In an emergency you don’t have a sippy cup or a bowl and spoon to serve up something, there are no bottles for babies and even if there were nothing gets sterilised.  There are no fridges and the heat can destroy many foods. Sacks of rice or wheat can’t fix the hunger.

People keep starving. Children keep dying.

Then Plumpy’Nut gets invented in 1996 by a French Paediatrician and a food processing engineer, they even base the idea on Nutella…but they omit the chocolate and throw in some important vitamins and minerals instead. The business of Nutriset begins.

Nutriset package Plumpy’Nut in such a way that you simply rip the top corner off and kids just sit and suck on the packet throughout the day. No preparation required.

It doesn’t need to be in the fridge and it has a shelf life of two years.

Even more useful is that health workers can give it to parents to feed their kids without needing to put the kids in to hospital situations.

Being able to feed your kids makes Mums happy.

Plumpy’Nut is cheap, it’s tasty to kids, it’s transportable and convenient. It stops babies from dying, and they can start eating it from 6 months old.

The whole thing is just brilliant.

I get inspired by people who invent things when no one else was even working on it. Or perhaps they were, but they still didn’t come up with this answer. The rest of the world was throwing research, development and marketing into the latest chocolate bar or kids cereal for the developed world. They wouldn’t have considered the RUTF market was worth their time. That’s the Ready to Use Therapeutic Food business, for those not in the biz!

The World Health Organisation started using Plumpy’Nut in Niger in 2006 and the results were amazing. They now say that over 2,000,000 children have been saved from dying of malnutrition. Far out! Maybe it’s just me, but I can’t help to think how amazing this basic food product is.

It doesn’t need swanky marketing campaigns and jingles to sell it, there is no fancy coloured design to make it attractive to kids to encourage them to choose it. The packet just uses three little pictures to show you how to eat it. Just knead the paste, tear off the top corner, and suck. Done. Your meal is served.

These days Nutriset have lots of other big business issues to deal with, they have competitors wanting in on the action and legal cases about patents. They try and make the products in countries where it is most needed and have a number of factories in Africa, but still others are fighting them to have the recipe and the rights to make similar stuff.  This is what happens when you invent something remarkable, everyone else wants to ride your coat tails.

But that’s just a side story. The real story, is babies on the verge of death slowly getting the nutrients they need to ensure they grow. Not much more inspiring then that. Is there?

P.S If you want to throw some support to CARE Australia who provide Plumpy'Nut in emergency situations, head this way.