Currently viewing the tag: "family"

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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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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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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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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2014 review As I said farewell to 2014, and welcomed the new year in, I reflected on all the big stuff we had been though here at This Grand Life. Here's what my wrap-up of 2014 looks like...
  • Our littlest poppet started at big school, and it was bitter sweet. She looked so tiny yet so grown up all at the same time. I loved hearing all about sport, God Class (religion) and all the new things she was learning with her new friends. Then because of the next point, we get to do it all over again.
  • We packed up and moved across the country to sunny Qld. Well, the kids and I did.  My lovely kind husband then spent the last half of the year working in Perth while we were in Bris-Vegas. So many big changes to take on board!  New school, back to day-care for the littlest poppet (very indignant that she was ready for 'big school'), new job for me... the list goes one and on. Amongst it all though we have thrived in the sunshine and being closer to our families.
  • Saying goodbye to Charlie the Wonderdog.  I had written a post, which maybe I will publish someday, though maybe I won't (I can't quite get the words right).  My beautiful furry friend had been with me for 14 years from when it was just me, then as my family expanded to include my husband, a sweet Newfoundland (Ellie) and our four lovely kidlets.  I still miss her sweet face each day.
  • Finally, finally, finally being a family again as the lovely Big A moved from Perth to Brissy.  Thank you to our lovely friends in Perth for lending him a room, inviting him over for dinner and generally making a tough time a whole lot easier.
  • Being able to focus more time and energy on my creative business. The move to the sunshine state, coupled with setting up a little studio and finding a lovely creative community to be part of have all meant that I  had the time and energy to design and create gorgeous frocks, boardies and super cute gear. All designed and hand-made by me.  I was part of some brilliant artisan and hand-made markets, which were the creative highlight of my year.  I really do get a buzz just from being around such talented creative folk.
  • Continuing to write and think, and question what is going on around me.  When I can, I find the time to publish here. I hope you have enjoyed reading it too!
So that is our year in review. Sort of rambling and rocketing along, filled with love, loss and fun. What does your year in review look like?  Feel free to post and have a chat. Enjoy xx  
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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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Our neighbourhood this morning…(photos from from the kids)

Our neighbourhood this morning…(photos from from the kids)

Hello and happy Sunday! We kicked our day off with walking Charlie the Wonderdog and a family breakfast. The kids decided to take photos along the way (including the Mini-Fashionista who is starting her own blog these holidays - there is a LOT of planning going on right now!), which meant it was more of a Sunday meander rather than a walk. Not even a stroll, just a slow amble (including Charlie the Wonderdog, who enjoyed having the time to sniff and explore). At first I started to felt annoyed, like we should be moving faster, getting there quickly, and was focussed on where we were heading. Then I noticed that the kids were lost in a world of bugs, flowers, lanterns, and generally exploring.  The photo montage above is our neighbourhood, through their eyes. Brilliant stuff! I hadn't even noticed just how pretty, flowery, and green the streets nearby really are. Along the way the kids talked about where the 'barky dogs' lived, where the spooky house was, and stopped regularly to check out a bug, tree, or flower. It reminded me of our Sunday walks when the kids were all toddlers. The 5 minute walk to the local coffee shop in Sydney would take about half an hour, sometimes more, depending on how many ants, snails, and flowers were along the way. Do you take Sunday strolls? Do your kids and fur kids take their time? Enjoy xx
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From this morning, brothers and sisters making plans for the day….

From this morning, brothers and sisters making plans for the day….

Today I have been thinking about how fab it is to have brothers and sisters.  My own combo is a big brother and two little sisters. Over the years, these cool folk have stuck by me and joined me for the ride through moving houses, building a house, bust ups, having babies, surviving B&S balls, heading off to music festivals, concerts, once in a lifetime gigs (Pearl Jam with my sis would have to be top of the list), venting about stuff that's annoying us, dealing with losing people we love and a whole stack more. It's a sort of companionship that's built up over decades, loads of shared experience, fun, tears and conquering fears.  It's also about getting over yourself, any fights, arguments or differences of opinion fall by the wayside and we move on. Together as one big crazy/ chaotic family. It's solid gold really. I missed my brother and my sisters this year at Christmas (they are on the East Coast and we are West Coast), maybe that's why I was thinking about them this morning on my way to get a coffee with the tribe.  I watched my own little tribe having fun together this morning as they planned their day, where they could ride their bikes, how many times could they go swimming, and laughing at the morning cartoons. Golden times. My brother and sisters and I know each other so well now that we can spend months, years apart, and then when we see each other again, the time passed evaporates and we pick up where we left off. I know they think about me, and want them to know I am always thinking about them too.  I am already saving and planning for our next trip across Australia to see everyone. Do you have brothers or sisters? Enjoy xx
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So very true!

So very true!

Happy Friday Folks!  I thought I'd take the time to think about what I am grateful for today (the fab print about is available here on Etsy via West Sheridan):
  • Getting the chance to spend some Q-time with the little folk in my life (and also at the same time expanding my knowledge of dinosaurs, Zelfs - more about those tomorrow, and Lego)
  • Having a lovely supportive partner in life who a rock of encouragement and support this year while I pursue my somewhat lofty creative/ career dreams
  • Being in good health and having a lovely family
What are you feeling grateful for today? Enjoy xx
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