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Gorgeous graphic from Red Tractor Designs



This morning before work/school drop off I had two conversations that really struck a chord with me. The first was with an amazing lady who has taught my children at the beautiful small school they attend here in sunny Brisbane, Australia. She’s a dynamo of a lady, fantastic teacher, and mother of a bunch of kids herself. She’s one of those people who is a ray of sunshine, and the kind of person that you feel kind of lucky to get to know let alone be the person to shape the minds of your kids.

I saw her whilst we were both grabbing a coffee at our local café before 7am. She had already dropped her kids to school and been to the gym and was off to school…at 7am.

We talked about teaching, how tricky it can be to squeeze in the curriculum, stay relevant, cater for individual needs, be innovative and also be inspiring for kids. She has years of experience under her belt, whilst my experience was limited to my ‘prac teaching’ experience a few years ago whilst studying a Graduate Diploma of Education.

I came away from our conversation thinking, wow, we are so lucky to have this wonderful lady as part of our school community and that I still think that teaching is a tough gig.

Once I arrived at school to drop my youngest daughter off at Before School Care, I had a brief but frustrating conversation with two other parents.

The conversation started with one of the parents commenting on seeing this wonderful teacher (who I had just spoken to) arriving at school in her gym gear, with a dress in her hand ready to get changed and prepare for the day.

The comment was something along the lines of ‘how nice it must be to have the time to exercise’ and how ‘easy it must be for this particular lady as she is a teacher and has teenagers’. I couldn’t help but feel a little incredulous and also defensive. I replied that I thought teaching was a tough gig, and that my brief stint highlighted to me how tough it can be, especially if you are also a parent. The response I got was underwhelming and came with a side-serve of eye roll, along with a comment about how nice it would be to have ‘all those holidays’.

I smiled, nodded and continued on my day, signing in my youngest daughter, dropping my sons to school and then heading to the hospital to spend the day juggling caring for my eldest daughter whilst also working remotely.
After giving the morning and those interactions some thought, here’s my take.

Working can be hard.

Working with children can be hard.

Working once you are a parent can be hard.

So it stands to reason surely, that working with children once you are a parent can also be hard.

Right?

It can be so easy to look across and form an opinion on how hard someone’s life/job/family/ situation is when you have not walked a mile in their shoes.

I will freely admit I am sometimes jealous of the amount of holidays teachers get each year. When you work full-time in most other professions, you only get four weeks annual leave a year. Once you have children this presents you with an impossible challenge – spread out your four weeks annual leave to care for your children during their 12-16 weeks of holidays. So unfair right?

Well, not quite when you look at the whole picture. My brief stint of teaching taught me this – teaching is hard, rewarding, gruelling (so much time on your feet! parents expectations! the assault on your senses!) and takes you away from your own kids…a lot.

I also came to the realisation that teachers need those holidays to plan, recover, relax and for some to spend time with their own children, connecting and having fun. How can I begrudge the great people who spend every day of the school term fostering the learning of my kids some time to recover, relax and plan for the next semester/year/subject/group of young minds they will be looking after?

On a related note, if you are there on the sidelines judging and thinking teaching is such a great deal…why not become a teacher? You know why a lot of people don’t? Most people don’t have the patience, resilience and passion to do that. Most people find out what teachers are paid, and think well that’s not enough for me. I know that I didn’t have the patience and right personality to become a teacher. Which makes me feel even more appreciative of the fantastic people who do.

It’s not just teachers, there are countless other professions who cop flak and yet these wonderful people still turn up day in and day out to work, helping others, contributing to society, supporting their families. They do this despite the criticism and judgment levelled at them.

I came away from my conversation with those parents thinking, I really hope that one day they can appreciate how hard teachers work and how life can be tricky for teachers too.

Until you’ve taught a class, worked a night shift, completed a swing as a FIFO (Fly-In-Fly-Out) worker, maybe save the judgement.

A little empathy can go a long way.

Enjoy xx
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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!
 
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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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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As a mum, I clearly remember the moment when my then 3-year-old decided to choose her own clothes, or should I say OUTFIT. It was an OUTFIT because it was accompanied by a demand in a VERY loud voice from my former happy-go-lucky toddler that from now on she would only wear party dresses and ballet shoes. No more sensible sandals or runners. No more jeans, no more shorts and certainly no more blue or black. Just pink. Maybe purple occasionally. Mostly just pink. Oh and sparkles. Lots of sparkles. For a navy-loving, black -wearing tomboy this was really harsh news! I loathed pink. Could not stand purple. And certainly was not a sparkles kind of person. In that moment, I chose to get a grip. This was not about me.  Or my taste. This was about the little person who right before my eyes was growing up. Into a little person with fave colours, a personal style (sparkles, pink and all) all of her own. With all of this in mind, I thought I'd share a couple of places and spaces we visit to foster the creative little spirits in our house (in case you're wondering, because I know I would be, this is NOT a sponsored post).
Fab finds for quirky kids...

Fab finds for quirky kids...

1. Who doesn't need a blazer?  My youngest son rocks his everywhere, the farmers markets, downstairs in the weekend, travelling... This one is available from Seed 2. A so very cool hat, in this case a Fedora! You can find this one here... 3. Perfect for rainy days, or any day really!  My littlest poppet is convinced that hers go with tutus, fairy dresses, pretty much anything!   You can find this pair at the super cool Oishi M 4. Just what you need to jazz up any outfit!   Perfect for boys or girls, you can find these over here... 5. Cool kicks are also on my youngest sons go to list for wardrobe. We love this pair, available from the always cool and fresh Kido. 6. Superheroes rock!  My boys have an ever-changing collection of superhero tees, and these come with a cape (naturally!) You can find them here at Kids That Rock. 7. Tutu.  Do I need to say anymore about this one?  Oh except that I would love to wear one to the office or school drop off. Just one.  With a tiara. This one is from one of our fave shops, Cotton On Kids. 8. A fab bag!  Just as important for kids. This one is so super cute I am tempted to nab it for myself.  Maybe to go with my tutu?  You can find it at Kido. 9. We love sharks!  Show your love for the giant guardians of the sea with these super cool boardies from Tiny People. Enjoy xx This post is part of a lovely linky link up and guest blog post with the fab folks at Kids That Rock, click here to take a look xx
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