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Heading up the track to the farm

Heading up the track to the farm

One of the fabulous benefits of having children or spending time with kids is that you get a reminder of how much joy they get from the world.

Discovering new ideas. Exploring the world. Playing. Laughing at silly things. Living in the moment. Kids are masters are stopping to smell the roses. Slowing down and moving at their own pace. Adults are always searching for ways to relax, meditate, calm down. Most kids have got that in the bag.  Watch a small child playing with Lego, matchbox cars, playing a game of make-believe, and you can see they are fully immersed in the moment. My kids are staying at my family's farm this week.  I know already that they will spending their time, exploring, digging in the sandpit, catching frogs and generally having a grand old time.  There will be no structured plan, no to-do list. Just fun, sunshine and spending time together. Hope you are enjoying the sunshine, taking time to relax, and most importantly finding the time to have fun. Enjoy xx
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Frogs galore!  If you are looking...

Frogs galore! If you are looking...

                                        This week I spent a couple of hours flying on a plane to the far north of Queensland. During the two flights it took to get me to the tropical north, I read an interesting book; Focus (Daniel Goleman). One of the points that jumped out at me was how distracted and possibly disconnected we can all become in an age where technology and information is at our fingertips all the time. It was exacerbated by travelling with a whole bunch of adults with smart phones, tablets and laptops. Heads down missing the beautiful scenery as we arrived in Cairns. Missing the crazy chaos of Cairns airport filled to the brim with tourists and travellers. Missing the cloak of mist on the range in front of us and the slowing in pace since we left Brisbane. In my lifetime we have moved rapidly from landlines and letters to social media platforms and streaming. All day and all night you can access everything. All of the time. The advent of all of this new technology also brings new dilemmas as a member of our society and a parent. How much technology is too much? How much screen time should my kids have? Should babies be allowed to have access to technology? What about hand-writing? How can I prepare my kids for the future? How young is too young for owning a mobile/smart phone? I don’t have all of the answers to these big questions, but after reading about some of the pitfalls and potential benefits, I plan to be more mindful when I get home. In the meantime I plan to enjoy the sights of the far north while I am here, and leave my smart phone in my bag. Enjoy xx
InspiringCollageWowsers, the year seems to be flying by already. All of a sudden, we are gearing up for school, getting busy at work and getting set for the first of the gorgeous markets and fairs This Grand Life will be attending this year. Whew! It can all get a little overwhelming at times. Thinking time is virtually impossible to corral out of your day. Which can all combine to stifle your creativity.  Well, at least that’s what tends to happen in my neck of the woods. Here are a few things that have been inspiring me right now to think, create and start the year in a positive way.
  1. Reading: Wildwood – a glorious book, with fabulous illustrations, which I initially bought for Captain Jack (my 9 year old) and then when he got a little scared by the opening gambit about a murder of crows, I stepped in to read it first. You know, to check it wasn’t too scary. I am LOVING it…
  2. Creating: More gorgeous sundresses, super cute heart purses, some cuddly softies and boardies for super cool boys with some beautiful new fabric.
  3. Learning: French, brushing up on my French (can’t believe I have been back in Australia for nearly 3 years), such a beautiful quirky language.
  4. Teaching: Little L how to read. My littlest poppet starts school this year and is super keep to keep up with the big kids in the house. We have used Reading Eggs for years and all of my kids have loved it.  It’s also a great excuse to spend more time reading each night.
  5. Watching: Girls. Though it feels like a guilty pleasure, I am totally hooked. Oh the angst, the selfish choices, the dilemmas.
Hope you are having an inspirational start to 2015 too! Enjoy xx
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We are a family of book-lovers. Self-confessed book-worms who can all pass the time reading, poring over the pages of beautiful illustrations and talking about how our favourite characters reacted. So, it is no surprise then that we all have a wish list of books we would love to read over the Christmas break or, if we are super lucky, receive from Santa. Here is the tribes literary wish list for Christmas (sounds a lot like Dr Seuss!): Enjoy xx
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One of my poppets sketching to create her own masterpiece

One of my poppets sketching to create her own masterpiece

In my part of the world it is school holidays, and for us that means less homework, less worrying about uniforms, hats and socks and more time for all members of our family to do the things they would really like to do. It can also mean hearing the words 'I'm bored' a lot more. Every day. On repeat. So I thought it was a great time to share some ideas that I have tried/ tested/ blatantly pinched from fab vacation care we have used/ borrowed from friends/read on a couple of great blogs:
  • Write up a list along with your kids of a list of easy activities/ ideas, then laminate it and stick it up in the kitchen/another high traffic area.  Some ideas to think about including: play heads up, build a Lego city, play with the kinetic sand, play a board game (guess who, monopoly), play a card game,  paint your nails, plan and put on a puppet show, go to the reading nook and read a good book, make icy poles for later, bake cookies, set up the lounge for a movie (popcorn, tickets, etc). When one of the kids says 'I'm bored' simply point to the list.
  • Try planning each week together, then write it up and pop it on the fridge.  Schedule in lunch, morning snacks, play in the park, free time.  The kids can then run the show! Kikki K has some great planners, and you can also get some printable ones here online.
  • Keep 'go bags' packed and ready to go. We have a tub for helmets and hats, a spot for scooter and bike parking, and a bag for beach/ pool.  After we get home, we clean out and repack- the bag. No more last-minute scrabble for goggles, towels and thongs...
  • Ask around! Whether you ask on Facebook, at the park, friends or family, ask and you will get new ideas, hot tips and even playdates.  Better yet offer to have some of the kids friends over and give your friends/ family a break and give your own kids someone new to play with. I am always amazed how adding an extra child or two to my bunch is less work rather than more.
  • Visit your local library, art gallery, museum, cultural centre, and then give the kids a sketchbook or notebook. Encourage them to document the day, copy the paintings, draw what they see.
Happy holidays! As always, enjoy xx
IMGP0604 I watched a brilliant episode of Q&A recently where the topic of social media and screen time surfaced. Over the years, since we began riding the wave of social media, I have often taken the time to reflect on my own use of technology and how I use social media. Which is useful in deciding boundaries for the kids and our family as a whole. It’s a tricky ocean of ideas, platforms and devices to navigate. I love the idea of connection, and the positive role technology can play in our lives. The advent of Skype was a godsend when we lived overseas. Our parents could see and talk to the kids each weekend, helping to bridge the huge distance between France and Australia. The flip side is that I see social media being used a tool for bullying, aggression and downright nasty behaviour. Typing derogatory words and sending threats, abuse and generally being a jerk is a lot easier in the comfort of your home rather than face-to-face with someone. We have even given this behaviour a cutesy name, ‘trolling’. Which conjures up an image of a fairy tale, rather than what it really is, antisocial behaviour and cowardice (check out this article in The Guardian). I can only think of a handful of people I know who behave like that face-to-face, and whilst some are praised for their bravery/ honesty, most are described as bullish and nasty. I wonder is this quick easy access to information, and the ability to rapidly seek out and find the answer anywhere anytime going to decrease our problem solving abilities? Are we having a detrimental impact on our ability to recall facts, describe situations and come up with ideas to solve problems? (Have a look at this article from Susan Greenfield) The proliferation of experts telling us via byte size articles with catchy titles how to parent, eat, live, exercise, sleep is overwhelming, even suffocating. Some of my favourite websites seem to want to provoke us into arguing with each with click-bait type headlines and reigniting the same battles (junk food in our tuckshops, critiquing parenting styles, etc). Does this all serve to distract us from learning, working through issues and focussing on the important stuff? I try to take a balanced and informed view. As a self-professed geek, I love a good scientific article, so I read a lot to try to get different opinions and perspectives. I also observe my kids, and try to reflect on our behaviour when life is going well, and when it goes pear-shaped. This is where I have landed. Setting limits on screen time, social media and technology is not a ‘set and forget’. As the world changes, and my children grow and learn, so should our approach. Different families have different dynamics. Kids are individuals; I have noticed some of mine are better at controlling their use of technology than others (have a look at this article about kids and technology). I believe one of the best things we can do as a community, as parents, partners and professionals is to discuss how we use technology in an open and non-judgemental way. Then keep talking and questioning and challenging what is going on around us. Do you talk about technology in your house? Have you set any limits? Enjoy xx
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Gorgeous finds at handmade markets...

Gorgeous finds at handmade markets...

This year I made the commitment to a Year of Ethical Fashion (check it out here). As part of this, I have been exploring and supporting all things handmade.  Alongside the design and production of my range for This Grand Life, I am a huge fan of handmade.  I am happy to chat about, promote and support other artists and designers. It is (for the most part) a big supportive crafty community.  The support and love of artistic endeavours in all forms is one of my favourite things about the creative community. As one of my lovely sisters put it, 'oh, you've found your people!'. She is spot on!  This year I have taken my family along to some of my favourite markets: Perth Upmarket,  Market Girl, The Finders Keepers, The Mummy Tree Markets, Brisstyle and the Rock a Buy Markets. We have found fabulous handmade puppets, sand art, gorgeous hand-made clothes, eaten delicious cupcakes, sipped tea and throughly enjoyed ourselves along the way. With Christmas coming up fast, why not make your own commitment to buy something handmade this year? Enjoy xx
Hello Spring!  The first day of the month feels like a fresh start in a lot of ways. It's the first day of Spring and sunny Bris-Vegas is being true to form, the days feel warmer and brighter already. The kids are well and truly into the swing of things at school. I am now unpacked, settled and well, also appear to be wearing the same thing day in day out. Well, at least it feels that way! Skinny jeans and top, plus boots. The main reason for my 'uniform' is that it's easy to throw on jeans and a top and be out the door super quick. No easy feat when you also need to get four kids out the door in some semblance of order before lunchtime. So, it was perfect timing to read about the gorgeous Fox in Flats Style Dare for September! I signed up in a flash... Here's the lowdown...
Fox in Flats Style Dare

Fox in Flats Style Dare

  Want to join in?  You can follow up over on Instagram and Facebook...come on, you know it's going to be fun! Enjoy xx
The glorious south-west, we miss you WA!

The glorious south-west, we miss you WA!

This week marked one month since our epic trek across the country to make Brisbane our home. Ok, maybe epic is overstating it, but this time last month as I geared up for the last week in my office, I felt overwhelmed. I was staring down the barrel of packing, cleaning and winding up our lives in one house, while planning, packing and getting set for our lives all the way across the country. In one week. Saying goodbye to friends, colleagues and the lives we had made for ourselves in sunny Perth. We donated, sold, gave away and gifted over half of what we owned. Simplifying our lives as we prepared to head East. As we embarked on what turned out to be a huge clean up, I found myself realising how much had happened, how much had changed since we moved to sunny Perth in 2008. I began to realise our kids weren't babies anymore, we were now a family with no pets (how we miss our girls), and that it was a good time, the right time to be closer to family. As I mopped the floor one last time, while the kids burned off their nerves/ excitement, I took the time to think about all the great times we had exploring sunny Perth, and looked forward to finding new places to explore, hang out and have fun in Brisbane. Now, here we are.  Almost unpacked, getting settled, seeing a lot more of our lovely family and beginning to discover all the fab places we can go in Brisbane. Yes, it was a pretty epic move in hindsight, but I know now we made the right decision. Have you ever made an epic move? Enjoy xx
The Signature of All Things, unexpectedly good!

The Signature of All Things, unexpectedly good!

The past few weeks have been frantically busy as we packed and moved across the country to sunny Queensland. Now that the dust has settled (well almost), I have found time to read again. I picked an unexpectedly good book at the airport (I can never resist a good airport novel) on my way to Melbourne and thought I would share my thoughts on it with you as I left my lovely book club ladies in sunny Perth. Boo to that! Back to the book... The Signature of All Things caught my eye for two reasons, the first being that it is written by Elizabeth Gilbert (remember Eat, Pray, Love?, same lady!). I am happy to admit I loved Eat, Pray, Love. I have re-read it four or five times now, and still enjoy it. The second reason was that it told the tale of a woman. That's right, a heroine. A little rare at times! I got caught up in the story straight away, and without giving away the plot to you, I can tell you that it was an interesting, frustrating and a fascinating tale of adventure all rolled into one.  Maybe it was because I was on a plane and in a hotel for long stretches of time, but I found myself getting totally immersed into the world of Alma Whittaker and her tale of adventure, tragedy and love.  Well worth the read, especially if you are a lucky enough soul to be part of a book club.  Loads of interesting fodder to chat about (oh and heads up, there's a few raunchy bits, so maybe not one for your great-grandmother, unless she is very cool and open-minded!). The other book I have been trawling through is Jamie Durie's Outdoor Kids. We are now lucky enough to have a huge sprawling yard in sunny Queensland, and it is filled to the brim with tropical plants, succulents, and places to explore.  That's the upside, the downside is years of neglect I suspect. I have been trying to thing of ways to spruce it up without breaking the bank and making sure that it is a still a great place for the kids to play and explore. Enter Jamie and his practical wisdom. We have started documenting our progress so will keep you posted! So, there you are, two very different books (though with a common thread of botany) I would highly recommend. What are you reading at the moment? Enjoy xx
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