Posts by: Kirsty
Hello folks!

It’s been a super busy time here, with school holidays and then back to school, exams, school sports finishing/starting…it’s all a little hectic really!

Whenever life gets a little too hectic, I always take the opportunity to stop, take a breath and refocus on our routines and see what’s working and what’s not working.

I thought I’d share a few of our ideas today – maybe you’re thinking of starting /stopping some things at your place?



Starting - Chef’s Tuesday is the newest addition to our family routine.  Here’s the lowdown, each week two of the kids select a recipe they would like to cook for dinner and then we have a family cooking session. This week, the kids choose Bacon & Zucchini Fritters and Beef Stir-fry with Garlic Rice.  My top tip?  Keep the recipes simple (try this fab magazine or grab the freebies from Coles, Woolworths or Aldi), sneak in lots of vegetables and try and shop for the ingredients together (great opportunity for real life maths – bonus!).

Stopping – Trying to solve everyone’s problems and overreacting to bad things.  Ok, this is a tough one, and one I’ve really had to work on.  With the aim of building grit and resistance in each of my kids, I have been trying to listen more, guide them to solve/ deal with issues in their lives, and have been encouraging more independence.  Here’s an example – so you find out that your kid didn’t get invited to a birthday party.  Your instinct may be to get super grumpy and feel put out (on your kids behalf). The downside? Your kid see your reaction and thinks ‘hang on, maybe this is a big deal – Mum/ Dad is really cranky, maybe I should be too?’. Not great right?  Instead, stay calm and model the resilience and confidence you’d like to see in your kid.  So you didn’t get invited to the party, that’s ok, maybe their parents could only invite a few kids, or maybe that’s just what they wanted to do. So, what are we going to do that weekend?  (Ahhh, the powers of distraction can also work a treat with this one).



Continuing - Daily exercise. All the experts agree, exercise is really good for you!  Our exercise can include going for a walk, getting the bikes or scooters out and heading out and about, heading to the boxing gym together or going for swim.  My top tips?  Make it fun, add in a scavenger hunt if interest is waning, make it a race (oh my goodness, my kids will compete for any reason!), try a new sport if you can, stay positive – remember it should be about effort and attitude – not ability.   One final tip – make sure everyone has comfortable exercising gear including decent runners/ sneakers.  Target, Big W, Kmart and Best & Less all have some great affordable gear (*not sponsored by the way, I just find kitting out four kids in clothes can get super expensive!).

Hopefully that's given you a little insight into what's working and not working in my world, and maybe also given you a little inspiration to take a look at your world and think about what's working/ not working for you.

Enjoy xx

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Perfect spot to get sand between your toes

I was chatting to a good friend about what makes Byron such a special place. Is it the beach? The gorgeous places to eat and drink? Is it the super-friendly and relaxed people you meet and who run the amazing businesses there? For me, it’s a combination of all of the above and why I always have a fab time in Byron whether I visit for a few hours or stay for a week.

Breakfast or Brunch? No matter what time you finally wake up, head to The Farm

The Farm - perfect for breakfast or brunch

If you are an early riser like me, Byron is a fab spot to get up early and head out for a walk along the beach.  Love a sleep in?  No worries, breakfast at most places seems to stretch out to become brunch. The Farm is a perfect spot to enjoy both.  The Farm is a firm fave of mine.

Go for a wander...

You can choose to takeaway delicious hot coffee and buttery pastries and head off for a stroll (let the kids run wild!) or dine in and enjoy the view.  If you choose to dine in, super friendly staff are always buzzing around, which means you can relax while you order from the locavore menu.

Pick up provisions for a picnic

A lot of the fresh produce comes directly from the small lot farmers who share the space and I think you can taste the difference!

Brunch at The Farm at its finest

The Farm

Time for a Sunday stroll – Bangalow & Newrybar

Gorgeous Newrybar

After enjoying a sleep in, big breakfast and a strong coffee, if you feel the need to walk it off or just go for a wander – take the short drive to beautiful Bangalow and Newrybar.  Nestled in the hinterland behind Byron, these two tiny villages are home to gorgeous homewares, more great cafes and some fab fashion. Some of my fave spots to visit/ eat in and around Bangalow and Newrybar are:

Henrix & Harlow

Newrybar Merchants

More of the gorgeous Newrybar Merchants

Shop

Bisque Hendrix & Harlow Island Luxe Driftlab For a beautiful collective of retailers head to Newrybar Merchants, home to Art Park, Shannon Fricke, The Book Room, Minimosh, Tigmi Trading, Beautiflora, Nikau, Fate & Fortune and firm fave The Society Inc.

Stop for a break at Harvest...

Eat

Our Corner Kitchen The Italian Diner Harvest Federal DOMA Café

The Rails

Time for a drink – fab spots for a drink or two, maybe just settle in for the afternoon

After all of that eating, shopping and walking if you are feeling a little parched head back to Byron for a cold drink or two.  For a laid-back afternoon under the trees, try starting with a Bloody Mary at The Treehouse.  My friend and I both settled in for some quality people-watching, savouring ours.  Order extra-hot if you're feeling game! Nestled next to the beach, and serving wood-fired pizzas, Treehouse is a perfect spot to relax for a couple of hours with a drink or two. Treehouse If a pub and a cold brew are more your scene, wander in to the Beach Hotel (fab views, live music, did I mention the view?), The Rails (The Railway Friendly Barl) or The Great Northern (for an old school pub, keep an eye out for the great bands playing here). The Beach Hotel The Rails (The Railway Friendly Bar) The Great Northern If you’re not a fan of pubs, Miss Margarita is a fab little spot near the beach serving a range of delicious drinks and Mexican food.

The name says it all...

Miss Margarita Whew!  That is one hefty list, but there are just so many great places to eat/drink/shop and relax! Have you got any firm faves in Byron? Enjoy xx  
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My mornings in Byron always start with a wander along the beach, taking in the headland, laughing at dogs frolicking in the waves and saying hello to other blissed out folk wandering along the sand. Doesn’t matter whether it’s wintery weather or mid-summer.  Getting sand between my toes is a must, and as soon as possible. Here are the finer details of Part 1 of the highlights from my recent mid-winter weekend:

Breakfast – Top Shop

If you are keen to see more of the town than just the main strip, take a walk to the super cool Top Shop, perched on a hill, nestled alongside the ocean.  Filled with local folk fresh from the surf, families and couples, you can follow my lead and settle in with a hot coffee and a delicious serve of avocado toast on the verandah or join the crowd sprawled out on blankets on the grass.  The vibe is relaxed and friendly complimented by quick service from the friendly crew.  My friend and I found our two sunny spots on the deck were also perfect for people watching (an absolute treat in Byron!) Link to Top Shop https://www.facebook.com/TopShopByronBay/

Stone & Wood Brewery Tour

Keen to do something a little different for the day and support a local business, next stop was a tour of local brewery Stone & Wood.  Started by three clever blokes (Jamie, Ross and Brad) Stone & Wood is nestled in an industrial estate on the outskirts of Byron.  My friend and I chose to walk to the Brewery - a comfortable 20 minute stroll from town along sunny walking track runs alongside a Teatree forest. Our tour started with a ‘welcome beer’ of our choice – on the advice of the super friendly staff we settled on a lighter style brew, ‘Garden Ale’.  The tour kicked off with a history of the business, the brewing process, and then a tour of where the magic happens.  I learnt that it’s all about the hops, and that ‘Galaxy Hops’ are the bomb (well at least that’s the case for Stone & Wood).  After our brewery tour, our little group settled in to the beer garden for a ‘tasting paddle’.  Turns out a tasting paddle is a platter of beer, starting with lighter styles and moving through to heavier brews.  Absolutely delicious and a brilliant way to spend a sunny afternoon with a beer-loving mate (or two!). Link to Stone & Wood  

Dinner & drinks with a view – Balcony Bar

After enjoying the laidback atmosphere of Stone & Wood, it was time to frock up and head out to dinner.  Byron has some many amazing places to chose from, it may seem a little overwhelming at first. High on my list were great atmosphere and seafood so Balcony Bar & Oyster Co was perfect.  Dinner kicked off with oysters (of course), followed by ceviche of Kingfish, steak tartare and finally free range lamb shoulder. Drinks were just as good, kicking off with cocktails and moving through the beer and wine list which made for a long and fantastic night. Our ever friendly waiter Adam made sure our glasses were never empty for long and helped us navigate the delicious menu. My only tip would be to make sure you book a table (go for the balcony). Link to Balcony Bar & Oyster Co Well, that’s a wrap on Part 1, I’ll post Part 2 next week. Have you got a fave spot in Byron? Share in the comments below if you do. Enjoy xx
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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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