Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Get out and do stuff: Melbourne Star

There are so many things you can just get out and do. Every day of the year there are people ready to entertain you or teach you or show you stuff.

If you think there is nothing more to see or do, act like a tourist. Go check out the tourist attractions in your town.

If you're in Melbourne, that might be Melbourne Star.

It sits there for all to see but so few of us actually get down there and take a trip around. At night is shines gorgeously and the kids love to be first to point out 'the big wheel', but we had never thought to actually go in and take a trip.

I wasn't sure what my kids would think of it but they really loved it and it's certainly got kids in mind.

Take the time to check out the signs along the way, there are some interesting facts and figures to read. Once onboard, the kids had a crossword to fill in, they needed to look out at the view to find the answers, like how many red squares on the top of the car park etc. At the end, they both won a little prize by completing the challenge.

Miss 7 was a bit nervous about the height. She preferred to stay towards the centre rather than near the windows and she mentioned a couple of times she was scared the door might open and she would fall out.

If you don't like heights, it might not be for you, but if you can fight the fear for a little bit, you'll be well rewarded.

Because the views are what you are after and if you go on a nice clear day you really will be seeing further than before. You'll see a long way and the audio speaker dude will fill you in on what you are looking at as you go.

Half an hour later you are back on the ground and if you have made the trip in with your kids, it's worth finishing off the day by taking them to play at the new park just near by. It's under the Bolte bridge and is great for kids that are tired of plastic slides and swings.

There is also plenty of space for running, picnics, cartwheels and handstands while you continue to enjoy the view of Melbourne.

Friday, January 15, 2016

A decade of parenting

Today marks the anniversary of me being a parent for an entire decade.

It's not a very long time.

It's quite a long time.

I was so organised for parenting. I read every book available before my babies arrived. The books tell you exactly what you need to know, as long as you read as many as you can. Sooner or later you'll get the answer you want to hear.

Having a baby knocks your brain about, and your heart. It does things to your body that you can see physically on the outside but it does even more to the bit that you can't.

Over the last decade I've learnt things that no book in the world will teach you.

Like, sounds.

Kids have certain sounds that require different parenting reactions. There is the loud bang that's followed by silence. This is a bad one. If a loud bang is instantly followed by crying and screaming, it's ice pack/band aid time, when it's silence, parents manage to run faster and breathe differently.

There are noises in the night. You can hear little tiny feet scampering around the house and you can instantly tell if it's just a child running to the toilet or if it's a child sleep walking in random places.

Parents can hear the sounds of a bad day at school in the silence of the car on the way home from pick up. Parents can hear the sound of 'I need help with something but I don't know how to tell you.' There is no chapter on learning this in the books, you have to teach yourself, you won't even know that you have. One day you just realise that you know these things.

When you have a tiny baby you know you're going to do EVERYTHING to protect that bundle from pain and suffering. And then along the way, some other persons shit kid utters the words to your beautiful child along the lines of "No! You CANT PLAY WITH US." Whatever age your kid is you want to stick chewy in that nasty kids hair and spit in their lunch. But you won't. You'll slowly realise that you can't keep the pain and suffering away forever. You can't live in a bubble where your kid never ever has to deal with the world. It's at these moments when you know you have to do something even harder. You have to prepare your kid for shit times. Because they are coming. It might be shit kids in the playground, it might be that your beautiful child is not going to be attending a party that every other kid got invited to or it might be Fluffy the bunny has gone missing. One day it's going to be the death of someone they knew and loved. The pain will come along for your kids and as a parent it will hurt your heart that you can't protect your child.

It will make you breathe differently.

Then you will learn about being a proud parent.

At first - YAY - I made a baby that cries and poos and looks cute in photos will be all you need. You'll be so proud that you got that baby out of you and that you're both still alive. Phew, what an effort. So proud. The world around you will be thrilled too. It's exciting to be a part of a new life. People will send cards and gifts and food. It's so amazing.

And then. Your baby will start to walk/talk/eat/roll/sleep/read and it will be better than any other baby that ever lived. No one will care. No one will be as proud as you. Only you will see what it took for your baby to achieve that thing, to ride that bike, to conquer that fear. But you will be proud of them. When they win that race, finish that novel, play the game, attend the concert, get invited to the party, make a friend, cook a meal, ace the test, you'll be so proud, they don't need anyone else to be.

There are moments you look at them and you're so proud for that brief moment, you'll take a deep breath and breathe a little bit slower.

No one tells you the stuff that you are going to learn either. All you read about is what you should be teaching your kids, like manners, kindness, reading and writing, to be a tennis star,  a Master chef, blah blah. No one says that your kids will end up bringing new people into your life, new friends and new interests. They don't tell you that you will learn to sew sequins on outfits and to braid hair in many styles. That you will learn about every highly contagious disease and know the best way to administer foul tasting medicine to toddlers. That you'll learn the name of every dinosaur and how to play minecraft. You'll build more lego and read more books, learn how to install a trampoline in the dark of night and how you can creep on your hands and knees to ensure a floor board doesn't creak.

It's possible you'll sit up hours and hours of the night helping your child to breathe.

Sometimes, you might even hear that moment when your child can't breathe and you'll learn the tips to help a child with whooping cough or croup or asthma to catch that next breath.

A decade ago no one told me any of the fears I'd conquer just because I had no other choice but to do so.

It's surprising how much parenting you do in a decade, it's surprising you even get a chance to breathe.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

The Givers and the Keepers

There are two types of people.

The Givers: those who find it easy to give to others.

The Keepers: those who feel that when they give something away they are the lesser for it, that in giving away they lose out on something.

This second group can feel this way with all sorts of objects.

Some don't want to give things to the op shop, just in case they might need it themselves in seven years. They worry about who might receive the goods they donate. There is the worry that any financial donation they give will be used up in administration or swallowed up by some dodgy charity group. These are reasonable concerns because charity groups do have expenses and some groups (not mentioning Shane Warne Foundation here) do find ways to spend millions of dollars on swanky events rather than the people they are meant to support. It's possible that your op shop donations might even go to someone with a drug addiction, or to a person who has no job, even if you don't like people with a drug addiction or people who have no job.

But the problem is the Keepers are missing out by not being more generous. If you think of how great it feels when you de clutter a wardrobe, or a kitchen drawer or a work space. How nice it is to know someone else can benefit from items you are no longer using?

Giving to other people feels good. Knowing that stuff you once loved and used but no longer need can make someone else happy is a great feeling.

Freeing the space you live in to only have the things you really love gives you more space, less to clean, and new spots to fill with new treasures you find.

Donating money to things like research helps come up with cures for diseases that your children might one day get. Imagine knowing that you don't have to worry about your daughters getting cervical cancer because there is a vaccine that they will get in high school which will decrease the possibility to a very very low chance? When it comes to research there will never be enough money so every dollar really does help.

Giving a little bit of what you have to people who don't have much will not make you sad or lonely or destitute. It's likely to make you smile. Smiling makes you happy. Being happier makes you healthier and being healthier makes your life better.

I am not writing this post as a request for money. This is not asking for you to do anything, other than to consider how you feel at the idea of giving away something that is yours.

I am also not suggesting that you leave all the money in your Will to the local dog shelter or that you fill every coin shaking can with every dollar you have. It's just a post to suggest that next time you are asked to buy a chocolate, that you don't feel as though you will be the lesser for buying one. If you are cleaning out a shed or a cupboard and sorting through things you haven't used in a long time, don't think about how you might (probably never) use it in the future, think about how good it will be for you to make space for something else.

And remember that giving comes in so many forms, including your time and your heart and your skills. Being able to teach someone a skill that you have (languages, music, to drive, to cook) is donating your valuable time. Perhaps you can call an elderly person who lives alone or drive someone to a scary medical appointment and sit with them in the waiting room.

Even if you're already a Giver, most of us might be able to give just a teeny tiny bit more. I am sure I can, I just need to remind myself that I'll likely gain so much more from the giving than the not giving.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Three Apps for Primary School Kids - January 2016

It's time for some new apps on all the new devices that some kids got for Christmas.

I spend a lot of time checking out the apps my kids use and I am constantly surprised at how pathetic so many of them are. There are very few that really get used and even fewer that allow kids to think, to be creative, to use their heads.

When I am looking for an app that I want to recommend I am looking for apps that are not just about consumption.

I don't want my kids (or yours) to sit and just consume other people's crap. I want them to create their own stuff, crap or masterpiece, who cares, it's all theirs. My kids don't connect with other people on their devices (I lock that stuff down, big time) but some apps do allow you to connect with people outside -that's up to you what you want your kids to be able to do.


If your kids watched Pitch Perfect and loved it, if they are into singing or if they like to perform, this is a fun app for them to sing and make their own songs. They muck around with the sounds, film themselves singing/dancing and changing songs around. It's pretty fun. Then you can delete it and do it all again.

Currently free, but this is for a limited time.

Agent A

I love this app!

It's not for little kids as they might not be able to work out some of the clues - but then again if they spend enough time on it you will be surprised at what they figure out all on their own. Never underestimate the skills of little people. I am even thinking of downloading this on my own device so I can solve the crime without the kids trying to grab the ipad out of my hands while I 'help' them. In Agent A, there is a mystery to be solved, there are clues to find and things to work out. Everything needs investigating, remembering, rethinking until you have saved Agent A. I am still working on that bit!

Cost: $4.49 - but totally worth buying, no adverts and we have had no negative things on this one.

My First Dog.

This app is not really all that amazing - unless you are 7 years old and love everything about puppies and you want one and no one will get you one, and it says PUPPIES!! AND THEY ARE SO CUTE.

It's your job to get a puppy, look after it, train it and all that stuff.

This app is free, it's possible it might end up having in app purchases, but again - SWITCH THAT STUFF OFF.

And if you are reading this online or on your phone and wish you had an easier way of reading or commenting you could download the Clairey Hewitt APP!  it's free, so click over and download me.