From the monthly archives: July 2013
Pocket money time!  This little guy is available from The Pig Pen via Etsy

Pocket money time! This little guy is available from The Pig Pen via Etsy

Happy Sunday!

Sunday to me means late breakfast, kids sport (hello soccer Mum & Dad), and time to clean up.

With four kids, two adults, a dog, not to mention two full-time jobs, one business (that’d be here folks), clean up at the end of the week means a lot of mess and chaos!

When the tribe were little, the lovely Big A would take all the bubs out for a few hours while I cleaned up solo.  Sounds very 1950s doesn’t it!  Despite being a little retro (in a housewifey way), it was a great way to get on top of things again, no litttlies underfoot, and Big A got a coffee. Win-win!

As the tribe have grown up a little, I have changed my tune.  I decided it was important for all of the kids (yep, boys and girls, though I think that should go without saying) should learn how to clean up, and how much effort goes into keeping the house clean. Hand in hand with my change in attitude towards cleaning (goodbye solo approach)  has  been the introduction of pocket-money.

Here’s my system, Sunday is ‘job jar’ day.  Every member of the tribe gets a jar with their name on it, and every job they do is worth money.  The amount depends on the job.  Cleaning the windows is a 50c job, while cleaning the table is 20c. Our key bits of cleaning kit are Method spray (no not a sponsored pots, but this stuff is all natural so no nasties), water, paper towel and baby wipes (which are awesome for cleaning and can remove anything off anything).

Two things about ‘job jar’ day constantly amaze me:

  1. The kids actually do a pretty good job, which means less cleaning for me to do by myself.  Windows are cleaner, bathroom is more sparkly, what’s not to like about that?
  2. The money they earn is then spent very carefully, because they worked hard to get it.  All of a sudden that $5 trashie (this is the latest thing for the boys, who knew ‘trash’ was so much fun!) is not looking as attractive.

Job jar money = a weeks pocket-money. Simple.

Do you have a system for pocket-money?  What is your going rate?

Enjoy xx

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A good time for boredom?

A good time for boredom?

We have just had school holidays here in (not so) Sunny Perth.

Depending on what you do and where you go on school holidays, that can mean anything from blissed out relaxation (ok that has NEVER happened in our house) right through sheer bloody chaos and mayhem (a little closer to the mark).

In our broader circle of friends, school holidays can also mean a flurry of play-dates, activities, holidays, kids club…WHEW!  Sounds exhausting right?

Things are a little more ‘old school in our house. The kids have access to a whole bunch of toys, games, books, craft gear, not to mention scooters, skate boards, swords (timber of course!) and light sabers.  Oh, and then there is our fabulous dress-up collection. Add to this that the lovely Big A and I do not see ourselves as Entertainment Directors on a cruise ship.

This lack of parental intervention means on a semi-regular basis, there are whiny moans of ‘I’m bored’…

Which for the most part I ignore.

Why?

Well,  because as a very smart lady I know once said (thanks Mum), how will kids ever learn to use their imagination unless you let them become bored?

You know what? It works a charm, over the weekend, the tribe got restless, and very BORED. I resisted the urge to come up with a fun activity, or take them out and about.

This is what they came up with… meet ‘Gary’, built over an afternoon by four little kidlets, with sand, weeds, quartz, bougainvillea and leaves.

Meet Gary! Street art born out of boredom...

Meet Gary! Street art born out of boredom…

Enjoy xx

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A fab party frock from my new collection for This Grand Life...

A fab party frock from my new collection for This Grand Life…

I am super excited about this. No surprise really as I tend to get super excited about a lot of things (that would be that Pollyanna streak).

Spurred on by my family and friends I am in the process of designing and making a collection of fab frocks, gorgeous gear for little boys, sweet teeny baby gear and some other lovely treasures.

I have thought about doing something like this for years, but with working (I have a career in science), raising my little tribe (as gorgeous and wonderful as they are, four kids takes up a LOT of time) and trying to be a half-way lovely partner (thanks for the patience Big A), well there was not a whole lot of time left. For me. Or for a new project.

Or so I thought!

A few months ago I made the decision to start making the time, because this was important to me.

Turns out it was pretty easy once I made the commitment.  I have cut down internet time, tv time and streamlined things on the home-front).

So today, I am happy to announce I am now well and truly into it, and have been busily designing, making, photographing…

Stay tuned, photos and details will be posted here and on my Facebook page (duck over to this side—–> of my page to click ‘like’).

Have you got a project on the go or are you still waiting for the ‘right’ time?

Enjoy xx

Bored? Time to become an idea engineer and get a project...

Bored? Time to become an idea engineer and get a project…

Today a friend lamented that their job was getting a little dull and just wasn’t satisfying anymore.

Which reminded of  a fabulous life lesson I’d learnt years ago from a smart/ worldly mate.   

A little older and wiser than me, he had worked in a number of different jobs, traveled the world, and renovated a couple of houses. Throw in running a business and having a VERY active social life (every race day, charity ball, one serious social butterfly), and well he always seemed to be happy with his lot in life.

Despite always being super-busy he always had a ‘project’ on the go.

Which brings me to the life lesson he shared with me one day, well before I had the tribe, and when I worked a lot (you know crazy town hours). I had a teeny whinge over a coffee one day that I wasn’t feeling happy anymore with work. It just wasn’t satisfying.

He shrugged and gave me some great advice.

His advice went like this, never rely on only one aspect of your life to bring you satisfaction.  Like work. Kids. Partner.  Instead, regularly set yourself a project, and then work through it until it’s done. 

That’s it, pure and simple.

Think of one project, plan it, do and revel in the satisfaction you get when its done.

What do you think?  Do you take on projects?

Enjoy xx

 
Delving into online news and stories...

Delving into online news and stories…

This morning I struggled to get out of bed (partly the dodgy knee, partly just plain tired). Yep, I know not particularly newsworthy, but bear with me…

So I was lying there, and realised I was missing my usual Saturday morning routine, coffee, news/papers, keeping in touch with what’s going on.

Which I love.

Probably inherited from my Dad, a fellow newsy lover, I usually buy two or three papers each day on the weekend. To get my fill of what is going on.

Plus I read a lot online now. From news sites to websites, to my new fave blogs.

So back to this morning, no paper, and me still in bed. Craving some newsy goodness, and interesting stories, I clicked on Facebook, then through to some of my favourite blogs.

Fast forward an hour. Yep a whole hour of reading inspirational stories, laughing out loud, and getting a bit teary.

More powerful, more gritty, and more inspirational than anything I have read in the paper recently.

Here are the top three that made me laugh, smile and shed a tear:

  • First up Edenland. I have a bit of a blog-crush on Eden Riley. She is ballsy, honest and oh so vulnerable all at the same time. This piece about her tussles with mainstream media struck a chord this morning. Why does mainstream media often chase down the ‘sensationalist streak’ of a story? Oh, I’m not naive I know it sells more papers and all that. However, my self-confessed Pollyanna streak doesn’t want or need that. I am guessing a lot of folks feel the same way. Like me, maybe they want real stories, and musings and insights. Thank you Eden for giving me all that and a whole lot more!
  • Next up was Carly Findlay, who I also admire a whole lot. She’s smart, funny, and writes from her heart. This story made me teary. To picture Carly, in a cab suffering such vile treatment is beyond belief. Except it happened, and she wrote about it, bravely, honestly and with heart.
  • Woogs World and Mrs Woog. This is an oldie but a goldie! It’s all about a little adventure with Sonia Kluger (that’s Mrs Woogs car, yep even her car has a funny name). Mrs Woog is on holidays at the moment, but if you check in on her facebook page, she is still on fire in the funny stakes.

Have you got a fave blog or newsy website?

Enjoy xx

 
Ahhh, sunny Perth and the great outdoors!

Ahhh, sunny Perth and the great outdoors!

Following on from reminiscing about France, today I got to thinking about sunny Perth, and what makes it a special or unique place to live.

My little tribe (minus Little L ), Big A and I moved across here several years ago, almost on a whim.  At the time we were BUSY.  Life was chaotically, crazily chock-a-block full of kids, work, and all the stuff that goes along with it. We’d spent the past several years living/working in Sydney and Bris-Vegas, so we both thought, really how different can Perth be?

We were in for a teeny culture shock…

  • When we arrived in sunny Perth there was no Sunday trading. Well, except for ‘tourist areas’ and ‘electrical goods stores’. We were not really sure why this was in place. At the time though, it seemed completely, utterly inconvenient.  I mean, when was I supposed to do my grocery shopping?  Supermarkets opened late one night per week, Thursdays. That’s it. Then after a few months, it didn’t seem to matter so much, because it meant Sunday could then be all about the fabulous great outdoors, and spending time with family and friends. Which leads me to the next one.
  • The great outdoors. Sunny Perth is blessed with beautiful beaches, a huge bushland park right next to the CBD, a stunning river – complete with a bucketload of parks and playgrounds overlooking that beautiful vistas. It’s very easy to forget about shopping and supermarkets when you can spend all day at a beautiful beach or park just relaxing and enjoying the fresh air.  Or you could be a little more active and take up a sport, cycling, learn to sail, learn to wind/kite/regular surf. Then you can take part in your new sport/hobby a lot because it is sunny, most of the time. Which leads me to the weather (bear with me, I promise it’s interesting).
  • Sunny Perth is sunny, a lot. In summer, when it gets REALLY hot, there is a convenient wind that comes in around mid-afternoon that even has its own name, ‘The Fremantle Doctor’ or ‘The Doctor’ and takes the edge of the heat, so that you can relax again, and enjoy all those gorgeous beaches and parks.
  • There are a lot of people who are from somewhere else, bucket-loads of expats, interstaters (that would be us!).
  • People from Western Australia (WA) think it is perfectly reasonable for WA to be considered separately from the rest of Australia. You know, because it is so unique, and so special.  They belief this with all their heart.  Which I think is both reasonable and downright brilliant.  Western Australians are an incredibly parochial bunch, and are fearsomely proud of how amazingly awesome Western Australia is, not to mention the WA produce (fruit from the magnificent Ord, milk, ‘Harvey’ beef, the list goes on).
  • Last, but definitely not least, our dear sweet Little L is from Perth.   The youngest member of our tribe was born here, which goes to show you we thought Perth felt like a true home.

Have you ever been to Perth?  It’s a little different now by the way, for starters we have Sunday trading. You know what though, we still don’t go shopping on a Sunday, there’s way too much to do to be cooped up buying groceries! Plus I have just discovered online shopping

Enjoy xx

 
From left to right: delish cheese/fromage selection, the tribe sees snow - 1st time, yummy gateau, the horse/cheval meat butcher

From left to right: delish cheese/fromage selection, the tribe sees snow – 1st time, yummy gateaux, the horse/cheval meat butcher

In 2010, I embarked on a fabulous adventure with the lovely Big A and my little tribe to live and work in France.

With a bucket-load of trepidation, mixed with sheer unbridled excitement, we packed up and jumped on a plane to Paris (ok, with four kids and 19 pieces of luggage, it was more like ambling on board the plane).

Arriving in the thick of winter (snow fell on our first day), the kids were super excited!

Big A and I were super petrified. 

It was, without a doubt, the most monumental case of culture shock either of us had ever experienced. Oh, and add to that a language barrier…

What struck me most, and what I have been thinking about today (realising we needed more milk – read on I’ll explain), is the little things that made France a unique place to live. Here are a couple of my faves:

  • Fresh milk is really hard to find.  UHT or long life milk is the go-to milk, in fact there was a whole aisle at my trusty local French supermarket dedicated to it. So with four kids, we usually got a case (12 cartons), which also meant we rarely ran out of milk.
  • Fresh bread, however is available everywhere.  Our local boulangerie (bakery) was two minutes walk from our house. Sliced bread, also known as ‘American Bread’, on the other hand, is a lot harder to find.  The go-to bread is a baguette, and it is just called a baguette, not a ‘French Stick’, because well, you are in France. It would be like calling a loaf of bread in Australia ‘Australian Loaf’. Add to this the bread/ baguette is super fresh, and no preservatives are used. Which means you buy daily, because by the end of the following day your crusty soft delicious bread is hard as a rock. Not even Charlie the Wonderdog would eat the ‘stale’ bread.
  • Speaking of Charlie the Wonderdog, the French love dogs. More than children.  More than other people. For example, when Charlie the Wonderdog got spooked on Bastille Day and ran away. Cue neighbourhood search, loads of ‘Chien Perdu’ (that’s lost dog), and in the end a very kind stranger coming to our door to tell us (in French) that her friend had found our dog, taken her to a vet, who had fed her, groomed her and looked after our beloved pooch overnight.  For the sum total of about $25 AUD. Only in France!
  • On the canine train of thought, people don’t pick up after their dog.  Yes, I mean the poo.  They just leave it right where it, um, lands.  Which would be a problem except for the  helpful man on a scooter with a vacuum cleaner on the back who sucks it all up.  Yep, the poo, into the poo vacuum cleaner.  Then there is another crew who come around with a water truck (recycled water)  and wash the streets (the gorgeous cobblestone streets – more about those another day).
  • French ladies really do look glamorous, all the time.  Well it certainly felt that way in our little village. Gorgeous trench coats, fab boots, a scarf (perfectly tied ‘of course’, or ‘bien sur’), the list goes on. Which meant I started to up my game, even to head to the local marché (the fruit and veg market). Beautiful scarf…check! Blazer…check! Soft leather boots…check! 

Now back in sunny Oz, I miss all the quirky little things that made France, well, France.  Well, except for the dog poo.  

What makes the place you live in unique or special?

Enjoy xx

 
Do you need to choose one career? For life?

Do you need to choose one career? For life?

Is there such a thing as a career for life or only having one career any longer?

Or have times have changed?

I think times have changed, and society has started to move on. Despite this, there are still some of us who are still a little attached to the idea that we need to choose the right career right away.

No second chances. 

No changing tact.

Don’t even get me started on exams.

Whenever I read about the pressure of final exams, I think what’s the big deal?

I mean do we really still believe that one lot of exams is the be all and end all?

That how you perform during that one period of your life sets the course for the next six to seven decades?

Think about that for a moment.

Six to seven decades, 60 or 70 years.  Life is no longer a matter of choosing a job, then working hard at that one job for 30-40 years, then retiring.

Society has moved on.

Did you know it’s now more common to have several careers, parallel careers, portfolio careers, there’s now a bespoke or ‘choose-your-own’  tailored approach.

It’s the approach I have adopted, science-based corporate career, freelance writing, and now design (yes, one quirky, This Grand Life online store coming your way). So that would make me a Mother/Partner/Scientist/Writer/Designer/Business Owner.

Everyone has the right to choose or not. Love maths and being creative? No problem, do a commerce/arts degree, then take your pick!

How about you? Have chosen a career and stuck with it?  Or are you more of a ‘choose your own adventure type’?  Or did life step in the way of your grand plans, and take you on a different path?

Enjoy xx

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Thank you Birdsnest  - love the hand-written note!

Thank you Birdsnest – love the hand-written note!

Ok, so call me a late bloomer, but I have only recently embraced the concept of shopping online.  Starting with books (I love Book Depository), I moved onto t-shirts (Threadless), and that was pretty much it.

Then I hit a speed bump in the form of a dodgy knee, and I needed to give the online retail world another shot, at least temporarily.

My two big dilemmas (and yes, well aware these are first world problems), were groceries to feed the tribe, and a quick wardrobe update (skirts and dresses only with a dodgy (ok slightly fat and swollen) knee.

Enter Woolworths for the grocery part, and well, I am sold!  I placed my order while sitting on the couch, and then right on time my entire order turned up the following night, including delivery to the kitchen (thank you kind delivery man).  Winner!  And in case you’re wondering this is NOT a sponsored post. I was just blown away with the simplicity and ease of online grocery shopping. So, I am converted (albeit temporarily).

Moving on to my wardrobe dilemma. So the dodgy knee means I can’t drive or walk far. Being a mum of four kids mean even if I could, with tribe in tow, nobody is having fun, let alone making great wardrobe choices.

Enter Birdsnest

I have been a fan on Facebook for a while now and love the daily styled outfits, but the furthest I got filling my cart/ wish-list and then signing off (does anyone else window shop online?).    

Now it was time for the real online shopping deal.  After about an hour of browsing (again on my comfy couch), I picked a couple of ‘dodgy knee’ friendly selections, and hit checkout. 

This afternoon, right on time, my gorgeous hand-wrapped purchases were delivered right to my front door, including a sweet hand-written note from Alex, one of the Birdsnest girls. Easy peasy, and oh so beautifully delivered!

While I will always love a gorgeous bricks and mortar store, I am now a huge fan of online shopping, especially when my life gets busy and sometimes a little complicated/crazy. Next up I am going to try fresh fruit and veg ( thinking of trying Aussie Farmers)

Have you embraced online shopping?

Enjoy xx

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Feeling blessed and grateful (and thanks for the gorgeous flowers)

Feeling blessed and grateful (and thanks for the gorgeous flowers)

For the past two weeks, I have been laid up, literally.

Finally succumbing to age, sport, and possibly a little too much dancing in my 20’s, my right knee finally packed it in.

So I was left with the prospect of a knee reconstruction with four kids, and a full-time job to juggle. No easy feat!

I was more than a little bit panicked about how we would cope as a family.

School drop-offs?

My job that I love? 

Washing?

Keeping a somewhat clean house?

Enter my lovely family and friends.

Before I even had time to imagine just how tough things could get, my lovely family and friends stepped in. My mum came to stay and help with the kids (even as a 30-something I love having my Mum around, plus she’s awesome with my tribe), my lovely friends helped out with school drop-offs, my workmates wished me a speedy recovery and stepped up to look after our team. 

All in all, I was overwhelmed by the generosity of my loved ones.  In the days that followed the big operation, I even received flowers, chocolates, and trashy mags (who doesn’t love an NW or Womens Weekly when they are under the weather!). Thank you to everyone who wished me well, and sent their love. It meant the world to me!

Now back on my feet, and in the rehab stage of events, I find myself sitting here on this sunny Sunday feeling grateful and truly blessed.

What makes you feel grateful or blessed?

Enjoy xx

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