Love the ugly mugs (look closely)!

This morning on the way to drop tribe off at work, I was thinking about how easy it can be to drift through the days and never quite be present in the moment. Days can become a trudge, with every day feeling the same. Life can start to feel a little beige. One of my best tricks to keep life in technicolour is to make a conscious effort to be in the present. Back to this morning where I found myself in the midst of a couple of awesome moments, brief but tiny moments of love, happiness and fun:
  • Singing (very badly) along to the Miss L’s playlist on Spotify – a fantastic insight into an 8 year old’s mind.
  • Getting a giant hug and hearing Flashdance (now a super-cool 11) say ‘...love you Mum’ as I dropped him off.
  • Getting a delicious coffee from the tiny Coffee Shed (part a super cool Co-Op place in Sunny South Brisbane) and having chat to the ever lovely barista.
A very good start to the day. Any little moments of joy in your day? Enjoy xx
I love the way kid’s minds tick.
The recent furore over plastic bags, and bring your own, supermarkets back-flipping has been entertaining, frustrating and nonsensical, in equal measure.
Can adults remember to bring their bags?
Should supermarkets subsidise bags for people who forget?
Are thicker ‘reusable’ plastic bags different or any better than ‘single use’?
My 8 year old summed the whole debacle up well this week.
‘It’s not that hard to remember, if you forget your bags you are going to have to juggle all your groceries to the car and then your house. You’ll only want to do that once!’ she said laughing.
Spot on, my little friend, spot on!
 
DSCN2595 Several years ago, we had the fantastic idea to take the kids on a bushwalk. Not a huge trek, just a short walk along the coastline to see a lighthouse and take in the view. Not a huge deal. Right? Wrong!  Within 20 metres the whinging started. I'm hot, I'm tired, my shoes aren't working (shoes were fine, toddler logic was at work on that one)... On and on it went. To our credit we persevered and after what seemed like 14 hours we completed the 'trek'.  Arriving back at the car, both of us declared that bushwalking had been a fizzer. No time to take in the view, the glorious coastline. Just one enormous whinge-fest! Fast forward a few years, and we have taken a quantum leap forward. Over the weekend we visited the glorious Springbrook National  Park. Tucked up in the hinterland behind the Gold Coast, this spectacular park looks like it is straight out of Jurassic Park. Waterfalls, rainforest, sheer cliffs and brilliant tracks to explore, Springbrook promised a lot. I was less that sure we were up to it.  Sure we had no toddlers in tow, but we did have four kids (now 6 through to 11) to keep motivated and enthusiastic. Short story...it was brilliant! DSCN2669 All of us were blown away by the majesty of this place. All of us loved it, even with two kids tripping over, a grazed knee and some steep tricky tracks to contend with. DSCN2598 As we triumphantly finished the 2 hour (yep, 2 hours!) trek, I was brimming with pride at my little gangs efforts. DSCN2673 We are now a family that bushwalks again! Have you been bushwalking lately?  Share your favourite track! Enjoy xx
coloured pencils of different colors and text school holidays writtten in a green chalkboard I cannot believe that it is almost time for school to go back.  Summer holidays are so long, weeks and weeks of no school, trying to think of things to do, and sometimes (a lot of the time?) dealing with 'bored' kids. To help out a little, here are a couple of winners I have discovered over the years with my gang.
  1. Visit the Libraries in Brisbane. Don't worry if you aren't a member, it's super easy to join!  Check out the library in person or online for holiday activities, our local library has craft, lego, author (last holidays it was Roald Dahl) celebrations.  Best of all it's free!  Most libraries nowadays also lend DVDs, comics, and magazines as well, something for everyone!
  2. Check out your local National Parks, botanic gardens, bush reserves.  Nothing burns off excess energy and curbs cabin fever like a good run around, and some bushwalking.  Pack a backpack, water and first aid kit and you are good to go.  It's also worthwhile checking online first, as a lot of parks have special programs just for kids. Try National Parks Association and Find a National Park in Queensland for information/ ideas.
  3. Have a bake-off.  Split up into teams and have a baking competition, keep it fun though as things can get pretty competitive once the kids start to get into it!  Here are some recipe sites to try... Food to Love, Delicious
  4. Hold a crafter-noon with some friends, take turns with other parents and have a few of the kids friends over for a craft session. Lego/ brick making also works well.  This one works best outside/ on the verandah, and use recyclable material if you can, super cheap and easy to clean up.  Take a look here and My Poppet for ideas!
  5. Have a movie afternoon, make popcorn and snacks. Steer away from new releases and break out a classic like Back to the Future, Goonies, The Labyrinth.  Kids and grownups will love it!
Hopefully that will give you a little inspiration!  Feel free to post any great ideas that work for your gang too! Enjoy xx
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A cracking read...

A cracking read...

I just finished reading The Martian, in record time! It is a cracker of a read, and though heavy on the science and engineering (which I loved!), also tells a tale of resilience. Filled to the brim with humour and adversity, it made me think a lot about how reliant we can become on others. For our happiness, for comfort, for love, for inspiration. We are truly sociable creatures at times aren't we? In parallel, I think that it can sometimes be a bit of a trap to always be surrounded by others. Ask a busy professional, mother, volunteer, school teacher or friend, what is it that you crave? Alone time. Space. Quiet. Time to think, ponder, muse and let your mind wander. Some of my best ideas come to me when I am alone.  Whether it's walking, listening to music, lying in bed at night reading, alone time can give you the space you need to think. When was the last time you carved out a bit of the day to be alone? Enjoy xx
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One of our fave charts...stuck on the fridge!

One of our fave charts...stuck on the fridge!

Over a coffee with a lovely girlfriend this week, I started to think about the fab tips I have collected over 13 years of parenting. Each time I heard/saw/read a good tip over the years, I have trialled it and if it's a winner I have added it to our morning routine.  With four kids and two adults to get ready each day these save us all a lot of time and stress. So because I think you guys are my friends too, here are a few of my faves:
  • Bag drop stop - create a bag drop spot. Maybe it's near the front door, maybe it's a hat-rack, maybe it's a combo!  Whatever you decide, make it the kids job to drop their bag off/pick it up from there.  You can even add a lap-top charge station if you need to.  Add a spot for hats and shoes and you are ready to roll.  Here's some pics for ideas...
  • Uniform shop - put all of the school uniforms in one spot.  I wash then hang uniforms straight up on a coat hanger and onto a small cloths rack. We have a basket nearby for school socks.  We also keep sports/dance/swim bags here too - packed and ready to go.
  • Lunchbox production line - get the kids involved! Make it the kids job to place lunch boxes on the bench when they arrive home.  In the morning, have snacks in one container, fruit in a bowl,  and let the kids assemble their own lunch.  This helps each child to take responsibility for what in their lunchbox and you can chat about healthy choices at the same time...winning!  Here's some lunch-box inspiration.
  • Ban technology/ TV - no tv/iPad/phone/internet/devices until everyone is dressed and ready to go.  Stay firm on this one, let the kids know that technology is a no-go until there are dressed and ready.  Lead by example - no Facebook/ phones for adults either until you are ready too!
  • Breakfast all round. Make breakfast part of the morning routine, smoothies, toast, boiled eggs, cereal...whatever works with your crew!  Just make it simple, quick and as healthy as you can.  No breakfast equals grumpy kids (and grown-ups!).
I am sure you could add to the list!  What are your fave tips to get moving in the morning? Enjoy xx  
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22092014Kidsgrowingup

Moving quickly into the grown up world...

It's interesting how life can move along so quickly sometimes that we feel like everything is rushing by. You can find yourself wondering...when did that happen? I feel like this sense of life rushing by is magnified since I became a parent over a decade ago. Even writing the word 'decade' makes me wonder, where did the time go? The logical part of my brain knows that it's been 13 years, and that there has been a whole lot of living crammed into those years. Yet still I wonder where did the years go? This morning I watched my eldest daughter getting ready, with minimal help, keen for a chat with me about all the 'stuff' she has going on.  Her little sister on the other hand demanded help with her shoes, clothes and then forgot her school bag because she was too focussed on remembering her show and tell. Without me asking, my eldest poppet calmly helped her little sister, chatting to her as she helped her with her shoes, reminded her to pack her lunch and asked if she was excited about Kindy. I was admiring how my little baby was fast becoming a young woman, one with compassion and the empathy and desire to help others. She seemed to sense that I could use some help this morning, and helped me out in such a thoughtful well, I couldn't help but admire her. On a recent road trip with the kids, it dawned on me that they are no longer babies. All four have moved on from Babyville, entering the unknown land of young adulthood. I am always a little slow to accept these shifts or changes in my life when it comes to the kids. I tend to focus on where we are right now, and I truly loved having a houseful of tiny people raging around playing, laughing and generally having a blast. Then, in a blur we gave away our last high chair, said farewell our cots said hello to big school and learning to read and write. Over the years, whenever I watched the kids I would  notice they have a lot in common with me and with their Dad.  When they were little I would recognise a physical trait or expression (how cute, the little poppet has the toes as her Dad). Now I recognise emotions, reactions and personality traits. How the kids deal with stress, the unknown and change.  The good and the not so good. I am proud to see that my sons have inherited their fathers love of animals and kindness towards others, not so proud that they also seem to have inherited a love of computer games.  All of my kids are avid readers (super proud of passing that one on), they are also crazy-energetic bordering on hyperactive and prone to starting giant projects and leaving the mess everywhere (not so proud moment). For me, one upside of seeing yourself reflected in your kids is an opportunity to make some changes in how you respond to things. For me, I am trying to learn how to slow down, relax and do one project at a time. How about you?  Do you recognise yourself or your partner in your kids? Enjoy xx
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Fun in the sun at Underwood Park...

Fun in the sun at Underwood Park...

One of the first things I learnt as a fledgling parent, was that getting out and about in the sunshine is one of the best ways to burn off energy, clear your head and generally feel better about the world. Crabby toddler climbing the walls? Head out to the park and let them run free. Kids bickering and squabbling over absolutely nothing? Grab a frisbee or a footy and scoot down to your closest oval. So, once we figured out this little chestnut, we became huge fans of parks and playgrounds. As soon as cabin fever started to set in, we'd pack up and decamp to the nearest park. Within minutes we would all feel a little better. Looking back, I think we even chose our homes over the years based on proximity to a good coffee shop (or two) and to parks and gorgeous green spaces. So here we are now settling in to our new home town, sunny Bris-Vegas, and exploring new parks and places to play. So far, thanks to friends, super helpful websites (try Brisbane Kids and Kidspot)and exploring we have discovered a couple of gems...
  • the fantastic Underwood Park complete with flying fox, weirdly cool Spielart Funderwood timber playground, monorail...
  • the super sweet Enchanted Forest, which kept all four of the kids amused for a couple of hours. It's probably better suited to littlies with a  love of fairies, but my older kids still had a ball there.
  • our local park (you know the type, smallish, huge open grassy bit nearby, a couple of well-loved trees)
Do you have a fave local park?  Feel free to share! Enjoy xx
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Fab print (available here https://www.etsy.com/au/listing/63242982/feels-good-to-get-some-stuff-done-11-x)

Fab print (available here https://www.etsy.com/au/listing/63242982/feels-good-to-get-some-stuff-done-11-x)

Last week I got a fantastic piece of advice from a lecturer. It went like this... Most people, tend to put things off because they don't think they can get the job done, or are worried that when they are done, what they have created will be poorly made/ crafted/ be a little bit rubbish. His advice, just get into it. Prepare well for what you are about to do. Then role up your sleeves and get stuck in. Simple as that! Chances are that what you make, create, write or do will be just fine.  It may even be brilliant! You won't know though if you never get started. Though it doesn't feel that way does it. Sometimes, we put things off for a whole bunch of reasons, kids, illness, life getting in the way. Sometimes though, we just need to roll up our sleeves and get stuck in. What are you putting off? Enjoy xx
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Been successful lately?

Been successful lately?

Motivation is a tricky thing to nail down.  How do you get yourself motivated to get up, get moving, make a change, get started, and well, get on with things? Some of the challenges we try to tackle seem insurmountable at first. Giant mountains of stuff to tackle,  decisions to make, which options to choose, where to start... I thought I would share a trick I've been using for a few years now to get your motivational mojo flowing. This trick has helped me successfully complete my studies (with kids in tow),  design and create super cute items for my Etsy store whilst also juggling a full-time career, tackle giant mounds of folding/washing/mess that four kids generate. I call it the 20 minute rule. Pick the job you have been putting off. Let's take folding the washing - which tops my list as the worst household chore ever!  Get the basket/s out, pick a flat surface (dining table or folding trestle table works well), then set a timer. As soon as the timer goes off, get cracking. Only do that task, sort/fold/put away for 20 minutes. Don't try to do something else at the same time.  Just sort/fold/put away.  When the timer goes off, stop and check your progress.  Now you've made headway!  Do you want to do another 20 minutes? Or do something different? For me, nine times out of ten I am happy to keep going until it's done. I have tried this trick on studying, and it works just as well. Set up, ready, set a timer and go!  Read, highlight, take notes, start that assignment.  After 20 minutes I am usually in the zone so will keep going.  If I am not, then I have at least started and it's a lot easier next time to sit down and get into it. Ok, now, what is the job you are putting off?  Can you spare 20 minutes? Go! Enjoy xx    
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