2013Life Love and Hiccups: 2013
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Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Reflections & Promises

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It's been a year of change in these parts - both good & wonderful even, some not so great and some I am kind of indifferent to.

Everyone I speak to has very strong opinions about 2013. Some have not entirely enjoyed the ride but have battled through rejoicing in the opportunity to say sayonara 2013. Others have found the year to be cathartic for them and have embraced the topsy turviness that each month brought.

Whatever you feel about the year that has just been, I think we can agree that in general it has been a big one, and one that you wont forget in a hurry.

In the past 12 months I feel like I have discovered so many new personalities under my exterior. Emotions, strengths and cracks I didn't even know existed. I have made big decisions, life changing decisions and I still marvel that I had the balls to go through with some of the things I have.

In 2013 I turned 40 and much to my delight I didn't shrivel up like a dried out old pea, instead I bloomed in my own unique way and grew a quiet confidence that I didn't know I was capable of brewing. I ran away to Bali to ride a bike through paddy fields and soak up the serenity of such a magical place and I quit the corporate world after 20 years of working my guts out. I walked away from a well paid job to live a life less busy, only to find myself busier in many ways.

I had a major health scare that caused me to reevaluate life. I made a promise to never be complacent about my health again and when the dust settled I sort of, kind of, mostly went back to my old ways.

I found strength I didn't know I had, pushed it too far and lost it again. Finally I have come to a place of acceptance.

My children grew up and we celebrated milestones that induced tears of joy and pride and yet at other times the tears they induced were not of such a sweet kind. But they are here beside me facing a new year, strong and healthy and for that I am grateful with every atom of my being.

My beautiful husband has more grey hair, but it's sexy and I assure him I like it in a George Clooney LIKE it kind of way. He has worked hard to carry the load and fill the financial gap left by my mid life crisis and he has worked even harder to carry me when there were days I failed to find any strength.

We have argued, we have loved, we have cried and we have laughed. We have kicked the ass of 2013 together.

I don't make new year's resolutions anymore, cause I suck at sticking to them and always feel like a bit fat failure when I cave in.

This year I am making promises to myself, to try to give more focus to specific areas in my life. They aren't black and white, succeed or fail kind of situations, instead they are journeys or paths I have made the decision to include in the road map I have planned for 2014.

I will focus on slowing down, being more in the moment and not letting my worries dictate how I choose to live.
I will spend more time reconnecting with those who have been neglected with all the crazy busyness I allowed to build up.
I will try to give more time to the things that make my heart sing and less on the things I do purely out of obligation.
I will try to spend less and re purpose more.
I will work on being more respectful of my body and more nurturing of my soul.
I will allow myself to love more freely and be more open with showing that love.
I will write that God Damn book before the year ends.
I will try...

Everyone knows that journies mean adventure and adventure is not always a smooth ride, so I am facing the new year with a realistic expectation that there will surely be bumps, there will most definitely be annoying detours, but to balance it all out there will be those unexpected roads you accidentally take that are so wonderful that they steal every last bit of breathe from your lungs, but in a good way. The type of way where you feel that you can exist without anything as trivial as air and your soul sings to the heavens ....

"Holy Shitballs people, this... THIS is life".

I just want to take this opportunity to say thank you. Thank you for the love, the laughs, the support and the camaraderie. You have played a huge part in defining 2013 and how it will be remembered. For you my wish is that 2014 is full to the brim of everything you ever dreamt of. Stay happy and stay safe. See you next year!

Was 2013 a year to remember or a year to forget for you?
What's one memory from 2013 you would lock away safely and carry forward with you to the endless new years ahead of you?




Monday, 30 December 2013

Blissfully Distracted

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I didn't actually mean to take a break at all from blogging over the holidays, but it kinda just happened that way.

One minute it was Christmas Eve and I was all "yeah must get that Christmas blog message done yada yada yada" and the suddenly is was today and a girlfriend just asked me on the phone "how come you haven't been blogging lately?" and I was all "oh yeah, shit.... the blog!"

I kind of liken it to when you are lucky enough to go to bed at the normal time at night and wake up at lunchtime the next day. You wake up all disoriented and then you are all suddenly "oh Crap... the kids" but you go downstairs and find that they are alive and eating fried egg sandwiches with your hubby and so you say "Wow sorry I didn't mean to sleep that long" and he says "You must have needed it" ....

or something like that....

If you are lucky.

Subconsciously I must have known I needed a break and it has done me the world of good.

This Christmas came and went in a mad blur. The build up was insanely busy with kids finishing school and one finishing primary school, running my own business for the first time ever and all the usual stuff that goes on with preparing for Christmas.

I was being a cranky moody cow and kept saying to myself over and over again "It just doesn't feel like Christmas this year". I couldn't work out why it didn't feel like Christmas. We were doing all the usual stuff, the decorations were up and we were going through the motions. But now, after I have stopped for a while, I realise I was so damn busy trying to organise the perfect Christmas that I forgot to actually be there and in the moment and enjoy it.

Totally my own fault as I haven't yet figured out this work life balance thing and not having a guaranteed salary every month any more I was more anxious than ever about the cost of all the smaller details that come with Christmas.

This past week of not doing much has been good for the mind and good for my soul. I have spent literally hours staring off into space sorting through my mind and decluttering all the crap I have stored up there this past year.

I have existed in a dream like time of haze, knowing in the back of mind that stuff needs to be done, but not really caring enough to do more than just the bare necessities like feeding children and checking every now and then that I am still breathing.

I have had moments of cringing at how I have allowed life to get so busy again without me even realising it and I hate that my brain became so damn full that I couldn't even retain basic things like remembering what I needed to get by the time I arrived at the shops.

I have had some huge 'Aha!' moments this past week and I have realised just how wrong I had it all. Life, living, existence I mean. Busy busy is not living, and I cringe at how that has become my stock standard answer these days when people ask how I am.

Who gives Kentucky ducky how busy I am, everyone is busy in there own way. And you know what else? How flipping easy is it to just say "enough" and make some major life changes that would benefit not just the family but me.

As I was floating on my back in the pool a couple of days ago, eyes closed and my nostrils breathing in the sweet scent of the incense I have taken to burning so I can pretend I am in Bali, I realised that I don't take enough time for me and to do the things I love. All the things I like to do like crafting, and riding my bike, reading blogs and magazines and floating in the pool pretending I am in Bali.... I don't do enough of any of them anymore and that is one New Years Resolution or promise I have made to myself. To do more of what I love and to be more in the moment.

So there you go folks, that's where I have been and what I've been doing. I have been distracted, but in a blissful awakening kind of way.

How was your Christmas? Have you made any promises to yourself for the New Year?

Monday, 23 December 2013

Are We There Yet? Christmas That is.....

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We are at the pointy end of Christmas now, pointy as in the part where you are tempted to stick chopsticks in your eye if you have to look at one more roll of wrapping paper or try and find the end of one more roll of sticky tape.

I intended on having this post out this morning but I became waylaid with cleaning the house, washing windows, dusting skirting boards and disinfecting light switches because clearly Christmas is the same thing as the end of the world and Lord knows one can't face the end of the world with unfolded laundry.

I had all the best intentions for a quiet understated Christmas this year. You know cut right back on the presents and focus more on the togetherness, the laughing and joy as we prepare our meals and the celebration of Christmas itself.

I'd been fairly successful in following that plan.... sort of, kinda, until last night as I wrapped the last of the presents and had an attack of the 'Mum guilts' and headed straight back to the shops this morning to grab a few more bits and pieces.

I didn't mind so much as I needed some basil for the Christmas day Quinoa salad anyways.

After fighting for a parking space, competing with the other last minute punters for a spot in the self serve checkout, and locating a child I accidentally left behind in Just Jeans, we finally arrived home and I stashed the additional goodies to be wrapped later.

Exhausted but content with how organised I am, I treated myself to a cuppa and and sat down to write up my final Christmas To-Do-List. It was at that moment I realised F##K...... I forgot the flipping basil for the Christmas day Quinoa salad.

You know that feeling when you would rather have each of your toenails pulled slowly from every toe than face the shops again.... yep that times eleventy billion.

But I am nothing but a trooper and after forcing some hot bothered and arguing kids back into the sweltering car, we again went in search of car spot so we could rejoin the madness and mayhem at the shops.

Fortunately the basil Gods were looking down on me and presented me with a car space right at the door, which meant my kids were saved the embarrassment of watching Mummy curl up in the foetal position in front of the fruit & veg aisle whilst grabbing at strangers ankles and pleading "Are we there yet, Are we there yet?"..... or something like that.

I cursed the basil as I violently threw it in my basket, and collected my kids from where they were cooling down in the freezer cabinets, grabbed a bag of Malteasers and a New Weekly magazine which I intended on eating and reading whilst I am locked away with 'an upset tummy' in my bathroom later and plastered my face with my biggest 'I am usually very sane so please don't commit me today' smile for the checkout chick.

And so I am here now, typing this out and desperately hoping I find some extra Christmas spirit in the G&T (Mummy's Little Helper) I am clutching like my life depends on it.

Tomorrow will be better, I only need to face the fish markets at 4.30am and visit the shops to get the Quinoa I forgot for the Quinoa salad on Christmas.

Are we there yet?

How are you coping? Are you all ready for the big day?
Do you clean your house like it's the end of the world instead of Christmas too?




Send Yourself This Christmas
Creating Family Christmas Traditions

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Send Yourself This Christmas

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This post is brought to you by Australia Post's Video Stamp

Having your best friend move away is hard. It is even harder when you are 12, it's right before Christmas and you are about to start High school.

Many a tear has been shed these past few weeks after my son's best mate and his family made a massive lifestyle change and moved away.

I can remember myself at almost the exact same age hearing the news that my best friend was moving back to America and I can only liken the feeling to a kind of grief. Grief for the loss for all the plans and dreams you had made together, the end of the sleepovers and late night chats, the carefree days of meeting up wherever and whenever you wanted to see your buddy.

This has been one of the toughest things my boy has ever been through to date and all I can say is thank God for technology. The ability to Skype, call and Facetime whenever they want to speak makes the separation that much easier..... well not easier, but it sucks a little less for them if you know what I mean.

The hardest part for Kai was graduating from Primary School this past week, without his mate by his side.

On the night there was an incredibly moving video interview with the kids and seeing his friend on the video brought all the emotion to the surface again.

At the end of the night, Kai grabbed an extra copy of the video and wanted to send it to his mate with a special Christmas gift and a personal message via the world's first Video Stamp by Australia Post.

The video stamp allows you to not only send your gift this Christmas, but yourself too.... well at least a video of yourself, so it is almost as good as being able to give your best mate or your loved one the gift in person... almost...

I have to be honest, this video is a little gut wrenching to watch as a parent, but I have Kai's permission to share it with you as he thinks the whole video stamp thing is such a genius idea.


video




The video stamp is free in store with any purchase of Express Post or Express Courier International, and it is simple to use QR code scan-and-record technology.

Watch the video here to see more of how this fabulous idea works.



Christmas time is especially hard when you miss someone and I know a video can never replace being with them in person. But when distance is such an obstacle, sending a piece of yourself via a video stamp makes a gift to someone precious, even more special and may even make separation at Christmas a little easier to bear..

Are you away from a loved one this Christmas?
Who are you missing right now?

Friday, 20 December 2013

Creating Family Christmas Traditions

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This post is brought to you by New Idea Magazine

Christmas Traditions are so important to my family.

I totally blame my mother, or I give her credit for it, whichever way you would like to look at it, as she was the one that created the OCD traditionalist in me.

The way I see it, traditions are memories in the making. They act as a reminder of the importance we as a family place upon an occasion. I have such font memories of the traditions my parents created for my brother and I when we were kids and I know my boys look forward to our own traditions that we have created over the years.

From the moment I found out I was pregnant with Kai, I couldn't help but think about Christmas and the excitement of all the awesome things we would do as a family and the magic we would create for him.

From there and every year and every child after, we added to our traditions, we adapted them to suit us and we created new ones from ideas we heard or saw in magazines, TV or on the internet.

Today our list is huge, so much so that we literally HAVE to begin on the 1st day of December to fit them all in. It's a crazy time and the amount of planning that goes on behind the scenes to make each one of our traditional activities appear seamless to the kids, is a little crazy sometimes... but when we see the smiles on those boy's faces, OH MY it is soooooo worth it.



The New Idea Magazine is packed to the brim with fabulous ideas and recipes to make Christmas come alive in your home. To get everyone in the spirit of sharing the New Idea Family have come up with The New Idea Project which is all about new ideas for celebrating Christmas and sharing them with the wider community and they want you to be a part of it.

There are 3 main ways you can get involved.

1. Take the Facebook Challenge and each week answer the question they post on their Facebook page. This week they are asking for your number #1 tip for a good night's sleep during what can be very stressful holidays.
2. Take the Twitter Challenge and lighten the mood with your best Christmas cracker joke.
3. Take the Instagram Challenge and show how you relax in the stressful leadup to Christmas.

Each week the New Idea team will be sharing retweeting and regrammning their favourites and rewarding the best entries with double movie passes.

Make sure you hashtag your entries with #newideaproject and check out all the other awesome entries for some fabulous new ideas to make your Christmas even more fun.

I thought I would share some of our Christmas traditions we follow have in our family. They may be things that you do yourself or they could give you ideas for traditions you can introduce into your own family, and I would love LOVE you to share any traditions you have in your family with me in the comments.

Okay, here goes.

OUR TREE TRIMMING PARTY
This one starts on the 1st day of December. No matter what we have going on in the day, come the evening of the 1st we put the old Christmas tunes on rotation and we decorate the house. We dance, we eat and we act totally stupid and every year the kids take it in turns in putting the star on top of the tree.

ELF ON THE SHELF
Alfie our elf is a more recent tradition and this is the second year he has been with us. He arrives in time for the tree trimming party and he heralds the start of the Christmas festivities. Every morning the kids run around the house like loonies looking for Alfie to see what he has been up to whilst they were sleeping.

ADVENT CALENDAR
Also starting the 1st of the December is the advent calendar and each year I do something different. The boys have the most stunning felt calendars my mother made for each of them which are also hung up, but making one myself gives me a very good excuse to get all artsy fartsy. The calendar I make is a family one and includes both treats and family activities.

CHOOSING A NEW CHRISTMAS DECORATION
Every year each of the boys get to pick a decoration to add to our growing collection and we replace some of the old ones that carry no specific meaning to us. They actually decided themselves to stick with a theme each year and they choose matching or coordinating decorations and can I tell you - my little OCD heart so appreciates that they get me AND they choose colours that will match our red white and silver collection. Man I love those kids!

BAKING FOR THE NEIGHBOURS
This tradition does get me a little bit freaked out because as you know, baking and I aren't the best of pals. But the boys so look forward to getting down and dirty in the kitchen and baking up a load of treats to hand out to the neighbours. It's pretty much always the same things - brownies, rocky road, pistachio praline and butter cookies, but they are made with so much love and a sometimes overwhelming amount of enthusiasm.

SANTA'S LETTER
The official Santa letter is serious business and many a practise one is drafted before the final copies get grouped together and sealed into an envelope and personally handed in at the post office. The sitting down to write them, the colouring in and the trip to the post office are all very much a big part of the process and I melt at the way the older ones help the youngest dude write his letter.

CHRISTMAS LIGHTS PICNIC
About two weeks before the big day we head out for an evening picnic at the beach. Once it is dark enough, we make a quick pit stop for ice cream and then with the trusty Christmas music playing in the car and the kids piled high with pillows, we drive around and look at the awesome displays of Christmas lights around our area. I have to admit, this is one of my favourite traditions.

CHRISTMAS CRAFTS
This is the one and only time of the year I get over myself and my bizarre glitter fear and the boys and I get down to some serious Christmas Crafting. The Christmas music will be playing and we literally just sit for a couple of hours and work on Christmas projects together. Decorations, ornaments, cards, pictures for Santa - we do it all.

SANTA SPOTTING
About a week out from Christmas Eve we lie in the backyard or cuddle up on my bed if the weather is not ideal and we read a load of Christmas books. The kids only half listen to the stories as they are more intent on listening out for Santa doing his practice run fly by. If we listen really carefully most of the time we hear Santa's sleigh bells and a ho ho ho as someone... I mean Santa passes by the front of our house.

CHRISTMAS MOVIE MARATHON
This is yet another one of my absolute fave things to do because even at age 40 I still love me a good Christmas movie and I add to our collection every year. Popcorn, packets of reindeer noses and elf shakes are on the menu and we all snuggle up on the couch and work our way through as many movies as the kids can stay awake for.

THE BIG EVENT
Christmas Eve is all about the kids and my brother and I take it in turn in hosting a special Christmas Eve dinner at each other's house. Both of our families, our parents, and anyone else who doesn't have anyone to spend Christmas with is welcome and we get together for a feast and the officially hyping up of the kids. Often Santa will phone for a last minute check if everyone is being good and we finish early in the evening and head home with full bellies to attend to our Christmas Eve duties of preparing Santa and the reindeer's snacks, watching the Carols by Candlelight in Melbourne and some last minute Santa Spotting. We all meet up again on Christmas Day for lunch at my parent's house.


So there you go - an exhaustive list of our Christmas traditions and to be totally honest, there is still more. I told you I was a big time sucker for Christmas and a total traditionalist at heart.

So your turn now to start sharing your ideas and checking out everyone elses over at The New Idea Project and don't forget to hashtag your entries with #newideaproject

But first - tell me, What are some of the Christmas traditions you have in your family?

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Slumped, Slothed & Chilling Out

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I could think of a whole host of alternative titles for this post including, Totally Flipping Knackered, So Can't Be Arsed, School's Out - Make Your own Lunch and Hey Kids, it's The Holidays So Do Whatever The Hell You Please..... Just do it Quietly.

None of them seemed all that appropriate although every single one of them sum up how I'm feeling today. But then again if you also imagined me standing on a train track and a 12 carriage freight train knocking me over at 220kms an hour then that would kind of give you the same idea.

It's been a big week, actually it's been a BIG year and day 1 of the holidays couldn't have come sooner.

You know when you are hung over and you have that 'really desperate for sleep fuzzy head' feeling and you can see a whole lot of mess around you from your position on the couch but you just don't care enough to find the energy to actually get up and put it all away for the 50 millionth time... yep that. Except I'm not hung over on alcohol, just the year in general I think.




All the mad rushing around preparing for Christmas, taking kids to end of school functions, Christmas parties and sports get togethers, family functions, and tying up work for the year.... man it takes it out of you doesn't it?

December kind of reminds me of working my way through a massive pile of laundry. You soak and wash hang and dry and then finally you dump a shitload of clean washing onto the floor where it waits to be folded and put away. You are almost there, the washing is almost done, but you just need to find the motivation to get through the last bit and finish the job off.

That's me today lounging around trying to find that last bit of motivation. I'm relieved that I am almost there and the formalities of the year are almost done but I just need a day to sloth and build up the energy to finish the Christmas prep and tie things up for the year.

The 1st day of the school holidays is the perfect day for doing that and by that I mean nothing..... nothing much at all.



Skateboards lay scattered over the front lawn, wet towels are all over the floor and the house needs a vacuum.

But it's not gonna happen today.

It's 5 O'clock and the breakfast dishes are still sitting by the sink, the kids are going back and forth between the pool and the playstation and we are having God Damn toasties for dinner.

You seriously need a day like this at this time of the year, don't you. One where you just put your feet up and do nothing much but read magazines, fill out birthdays and important dates in a new diary with pretty pens and watch really corny Christmas movies.



Whatcha doing?

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

15 Minutes to Sanity (& an Invite to video tour Carnage in my Home)

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I dream about one day owning a home as white and clean and ... white as the gorgeous houses above. But but as you will see in the video of my home down lower in this post, dark furniture is my friend or at least whilst I am attempting to house train 3 young boys.

Being an anal retentive neat freak, the whole white and uncluttered look brings such a sense of calm to my soul. No seriously I am not exaggerating - my soul literally throws it's head back, raises arms to the air and sings an operatic "ahhhhhHHHHHhhhhhHHHHHH" when it cops and eyeful of homes like the ones in those pics.

Just ask my family how stressed I get when the house is in chaos and they will tell you that I get all twitchy and weird.

I've told you before about how I cannot sit down and relax or at least pretend to relax with a magazine unless some sort of order reigns on at the least the lower level of the house. Upstairs? Meh out of sight out of mind and all that.

The carnage that 3 boys, 2 dogs and a husband can create in a house within half an hour of getting home from work and school is freaking unbelievable. No bull, it's a gift they have and it makes me shudder and get all cold and clammy just thinking about it.

So I have developed this thing called the 15 minute clean routine because YES I am THAT much of an obsessive nut job, and if it were possible to trademark such a thing I would probably call it the '15 Minutes to Sanity' something or other.

It basically involves me running around like a mad woman for 15 minutes at eleventy million miles an hour.

But there is method to my madness.

No really.


Have a look for yourself at the carnage my kids create when they get home from school, and admire my awesome stealth like Ninja cleaning routine. Oh and make sure you keep an eye out for my moronic dogs, one of whom sneezes and smacks his head against the wall and the other who does some weird random flip thing.

You'll see why they fit in so well with this family.




See, now you're nodding your head whilst muttering to yourself "Man that chick has got it going on!". Either that of you have just confirmed to yourself that yes, that Life Love and Hiccups blogger is indeed as much of a nut job as you suspected.

Whatever.

You do what works for you and for me, well I like to take as many shortcuts as I can to get the job done as quickly and painlessly as possible. Buckets to collect junk that's lying around, an egg timer to keep me on track, child labour (jokes...kinda) and the Dettol Floor Cleaning System I have been road-testing. Man I could kiss that contraption. Anythings that allows me to quickly clean up the dirt, food, drink and Lord knows what that my human and fur family members insist on coating our floor in .... well, I wanna marry it.

Not really. But I do love it.

The Dettol Floor Cleaning System Starter Kit and Refill Floor Wipes are available in all well stocked supermarkets.

*always read the label and use only as directed*

What's your Ninja cleaning secret?

image credits: (clockwise from top left) 1. analogdialog, 2. Norsk Drom, 3. Stylizimo, 4. Decordots

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Beautiful Gestures

Pin It This time of the year with out a doubt brings out the looney in all of us... OK some of us.

It's a mad rush to get everything ready for Christmas, to buy and wrap the presents, unwrap and wrap them again because you forgot to check what batteries you need and all the other stuff that goes with the whole show!

The kids are finishing school for the year, there are parties and catch ups. The roads are clogged with impatient A**holes and don't even get me started on the pusherinerers in the checkout lines who will run over your toes with 50 tonne trolleys rather than let you and your lone pack of cupcake patties and Betty Crocker icing get ahead of them.....

But then there are those moments that make you go ahhhh. The things you see and hear around you and the heartfelt gestures from beautiful people that brings balance to the chaos.

I have been blessed with quite a few of those this week including two very special parcels that arrived in the mail from two beautiful souls I have never actually met in real life.

Rachael from Hip Brown Home sent me the most divine wall hanging.... would you just look at this stunning artwork that is now proudly hanging in my office that will remind me everyday of the gorgeous people this blogging caper has connected me to - especially Rachael.



And then the gorgeous Dee from The Old Fat Hen and the beautiful Christmas baubles she made us with every member of my family's name on them including the dogs. How thoughtful is that!!!



These out of the blue surprises seriously made my heart swell in the big old gushy way it loves so much. So thank you guys, the two of you more than make up for all the A**holes in the world and their argy bargy shopping trolleys antics, and you remind me yet again just how much awesomeness exists in the blogosphere.

How are you surviving the pre-Christmas mayhem?

Monday, 16 December 2013

And So The Next Chapter Begins

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I am a bit of a sooky la la this week and I make no apologies for my sentimental gushiness.

It doesn't seem that long ago that this little boy, and my husband and I walked into school together for the first time. It certainly doesn't feel like it was 7 years ago *sigh* how quickly time flies.

I was a blubbering mess that day, 7 months pregnant, over the top hormonal and not at all thrilled to be handing my precious first born over to someone else's care.

I can remember him holding my hand tight that day and I held his even tighter.

I fussed over him, breathing in every last detail until finally we parents were asked to leave so that our children could begin their journey.

He seemed so little, too little even to be out in the world on his own without me by his side and for those first few months I used to clock watch for the six hours a day he was at school and every minute seemed to tick by so slowly.

When he came home from school, I would ply him with dozens of questions... "What did you do today? Who did you eat lunch with? Who did you play with?" Not much has changed really, I still ask him all those questions.

With each year that has passed and each milestone we have ticked off, I have watched this little boy of mine mature into a not so little boy.

Through the highs and the lows we have laughed and we have cried. I have hugged him with pride and screamed at him in frustration. We have fought over homework and sight words, assignments and rules. I have admired the grace in which he has carried himself and been inspired beyond words by his kindness, courage and determination.

As we come to the end of this chapter, the end of his primary years, I can't help but feel bittersweet and wish that time would slow down enough for me to soak up even more of every single moment.

It has happened too fast, these years have just flown by and I can remember so vividly sitting with my Dad on his back deck and encouraging Kai to take his first steps. I can still hear my Dad say to me "Don't wish your little boy away Squirt, they grow up quick enough on their own".

Dad was right, this little boy of mine has grown up quickly and on Wednesday, with his chin up high and his heart full of the most awesome memories, he will proudly walk out of his school and leave behind his Primary years.

And once again just as it was 7 years ago, I will be the blubbering mess trailing along beside him desperate to fuss over him and even more desperate to absorb every last detail of this significant milestone and lock it away safely in my heart.

Walk tall my boy, you have done us proud.


Where are you guys at with your children's school journey?
Are you just beginning, midway or ending / done and dusted?
Any advice for a newbie High School Mum?

Sunday, 15 December 2013

The FINAL Christmas Giveaway

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***THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED***
CONGRATULATIONS TO ROB
"Hi Sonja, every second year I volunteer at Sacred Heart to do Christmas lunch - and this is my turn - really looking forward to it, its a great event and great people to work with. My wife is Latvian and we celebrate Christmas eve as the special night where we are having our 8 at our special dinner Christmas eve sitting down with family and parents. Then on Christmas Day, I do Christmas morning with the kids and we have a special breakfast with everyone on our deck after opening presents. Then I'll head off for a few hours and back around 5 to spend it with more family. I love it as not too much running around. Great question and been interesting to read what everyone gets up to. Happy Christmas to your and your family!"

Holy Smokes Batman, this has been one hellava big month for Giveaways and I still have one more. This is the final giveaway for the year so we are only going to run this one for a short time and I will pick a winner next Saturday morning as I would like to try and get most of these goodies to the winner in time for Christmas.

I am always so grateful to all the companies that offer up prizes for you guys, and I get genuinely pee my pants kind of excited when I am offered something you are going to love .... like EVERYTHING in today's pot of goodies.

Let's not waste another moment shall we, we'll just dive right on in.

ASUS MEMO PAD



This is one cool little gadget - it's the ASUS Memo Pad - Yeah Baby! The yeah baby is not technically part of the product name, I added that bit :) 

This is one funky Ultra light and super thin 7-inch tablet with a 10 hour battery life and dual speakers for stereo sound - which makes it perfect for watching movies on whilst you are sitting in bed. 

There are front and rear cameras so that you can be behind the camera taking pics or out in front taking selfies. It also has a whole load of other stuff that I have no idea about ... I mean if you are techy and all that you will totally understand what a  Display IPS 1280X800 HD and has a quad-core CPU,  16GB storage and a microSD card slot for adding up to 32GB more is.... right?

What I can tell you is that the graphics on this little dude are awesome, you can video, take and edit photos (the pixels per inch is even better than the iPad mini),  listen to music and play on Social media, read blogs and search the internet. Priorities people.

The Memo Pad runs on Android 4.2 OS which is the fastest and smoothest version of Android and at $199 RRP from Harvey Norman and other authorised ASUS dealers and this is the perfect touch pad for the kids so they don't keep stealing yours.

You can read more about the ASUS Memo Pad here and I have one sleek black one to give away to one lucky winner!!




   PETER ALEXANDER KIDS PYJAMAS

Who doesn't love Peter Alexander PJs? I mean seriously, how could you not!! And now you can deck the kids out in the cutest jammies with the Peter Jnr range and the whole family can be totally styling come zzzzz time.

With Super heroes and kombis, flamingos and floral, there is a design that every little munchkin will love and refuse to take off until you have to hold them down and physically peel them off them.... okay maybe that's just my kids. But trust me ok - have a look through the range on the Peter Alexander website here and I challenge you to not go all oooooo and ohhhhhhh on us.

Not only are these PJs super comfy and the top notch quality you expect from Peter Alexander, they just look so damn cute on the little squids.

The gorgeous gang from Peter Alexander have offered up a set of boy and girl PJs to the lucky winner of this giveaway. So totally milk the parental brownie points when these threads arrive in your letter box.

IKEA SOFT TOYS

The IKEA foundation has a long history of supporting global children's charities and organisations like UNICEF and the Clinton Foundation and they donate ten's of millions of Euros from their profit to charity every year. They support these organisations so that children in the world's poorest communities still have the possibility of a better future for themselves and their families.

IKEA believes that no matter what the circumstances are, every child deserves a place to call home, an education and medical care. So with that being said, every time you buy a soft toy or kid's book from IKEA between now and January 4th 2014, IKEA will donate a percentage of the sale towards children's education in Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe.

To learn more about the IKEA Foundation visit their website here.

I have a collection of adorable IKEA kids soft toys to send to the lucky winner of this month's giveaway.

PEPPERMINT BARK FROM POTTERY BARN


I have tired many a version of Peppermint Bark and I have seen a zillion and one imitations on Pinterest, but nothing and I mean NOTHING compares to the original Peppermint Bark from Williams-Sonoma. 

This stuff is everything you could imagine from looking at the picture... and more. Dark choc, white choc and crushed peppermint candy - it is the ultimate Christmas Indulgence.

You know how you are supposed to take a hostess gift when you go to someones house for dinner to say thank you? Well this is the gift you don't actually hand over, you just wait until after dinner and then you crack this baby open, plonk it on the table and say Oh I brought you a little gift ... and then shove everyone out of the way and dive in to snag yourself a chunk.

No jokes... okay maybe I might not be QUITE so in your face about insisting we eat it like STRAIGHT after dinner, but trust me... I would not be leaving your house until you share this with me.

If you are ANYwhere near a Pottery Barn or Williams Sonoma store, get there quickly and get yourself some of this before Christmas. Stuff the hostess gift, just eat it all for yourself! Their Peppermint Bark is only available in store so if you are geographically challenged, you will just have to make do with checking out all the other gorgeous Christmas decorations and goodies online here.

I have a tin of Peppermint Bark for the lucky winner to share (or not) with loved ones this Christmas.... you lucky bugger!



So there you have it - the final batch of goodies for my December Giveaways and the winner takes all.
As per usual, entering is super easy, just leave me a comment and tell me; 


How are you going to spend Christmas this year?

Once you have done that, just follow the prompts in the Rafflecopter widget below and Bob's your Uncle's cousin - you are in the running to grab yourself all of this loot.

The Competition is open now and closes on Saturday 21st December at 7am AEST. It is open to Australian residents only sorry. Its a short one this time as I would like to try and get your goodies to you in time for Christmas if at all possible (excluding the Peter Alexander Prize which will be sent direct from the PR company).


a Rafflecopter giveaway

The winner will be announced right here on this blog post and will also be contacted by email. For full terms and conditions, please see the Rafflecopter widget.



Friday, 13 December 2013

Win a Year's Subscription To Your Favourite Magazine

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***THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED***
CONGRATULATIONS TO MELISSA PULLI

Here's a weird and wonderful fact about me that you totally need to know (not!).... I read magazines backwards.

I have absolutely NO idea why but when I pick a magazine up I flick through it starting from the back. Once I have been all the way through I then go back and read the articles that grabbed my attention in the initial flick through and THEN once I have devoured those, I start at the beginning and work my way through every page again.

Often I stop and stare at a page of a house or a room for ages and in my mind I am in that room and I am rearranging furniture or moving my own furniture into the room. Then when I am finished playing that very mature game I stare back and forth between the page and my own real life room and think about how I can redecorate my own place.

It's about that point that my husband does the Harry Holt in case he is asked to move anything, build anything or paint anything.

He knows me well.

As much as I adore the online world of websites and blogs and online catalogues, my heart lies with the good old fashioned (if you want to call it that) magazine.

It's the smell, the feel of crisp clean untouched pages (because I will totally bite the fingers off anyone who turns the pages of my new magazine before me). It's the whole experience and indulgent joy of curling up on a chair with a cuppa or a caprioska and losing myself for a while.

I come from a long line of magazine junkies. My Mum, Brother, Sister in law and I have all invested large sums of money over the years to our favourite publications and many a Drs waiting room is chocka block full of pre-loved mags courtesy of us.... except for the ones I cut up, because yes, clearly I am 8 as I still love to cut out pictures of magazines and stick them into a scrapbook and I know there is nothing worse than reading an awesome article only to find a big square has been cut out of the ending because someone wanted the picture or recipe on the other side of the page.

Take a stroll through our house and you will find piles of magazines placed literally everywhere, you know -just in case I feel the urgent need to stop right there and the for a little browse. But um the Home Beautiful pile next to the toilet TOTALLY belongs to my hubby.... *ahem*.



With so many gorgeous mags to choose from these days, it can get kinda expensive if you insist on buying them all, so we have this arrangement going on in our family where for birthdays and Christmas - my Mum and Sister in Law and I buy each other magazine subscriptions.

I'm telling you - it's the gift that keeps on giving because when you finish reading your mag you play swapsies and hand it on to the next person and they give you the latest copy of their subscription. And then you stash them around your house like me until your family members are begging for them back and refuse to give you anymore until you hand them over.... with or without the bits cut out.



Seriously though - magazine subscriptions are the perfect gift for pretty much everyone, even the person you beat your head against the wall trying to figure out what to buy.

Think about it... if you buy them a subscription to a magazine they love (or *cough cough* you love) a new gift arrives in their letter box from you every month or so and they are reminded of how awesome you are all over again.

FOR the WIN people!

Magshop is an online magazine subscription store for Australia's Top Publications. They've got sackfulls of titles with something to suit everyone, from interior addicts to hardcore gamers, wannabe chefs or golf enthusiasts ... although why anyone would feel the need to read a magazine about golf when there are literally hours of the game taking up space on my TV channels that could be used for something far more appealing like Revenge or Vanderpump Rules is beyond me.

Here's a little inside tip for you at no extra charge - if you buy someone a magazine subscription this Christmas from magshop, you are also entered to win one of 10 Hawaiian holidays - Aloha Baby, they can enjoy that magazine whilst you are sunning yourself in Honolulu Honey!


Alright let's cut to the chase shall we. I have a 1 year subscription to your favourite magazine to giveaway courtesy of the fabulous folk at Magshop.

All you need to do is leave me a comment telling me in 25 words or less;
 What's your favourite type of magazine?

Just follow the prompts in the Rafflecopter widget below and Bam, you are in with one mighty big chance to be putting feet up and lapping up some serious reading time.

This competition is only open to Aussies sorry and the competition is open now and closes December 27th at 7pm AEST.
Prizings to be sent mid Jan due to break
The prizing must of Bauer Publications ONLY


See the Rafflecopter widget for the full terms and conditions. Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Decorating The Christmas Table - And Another Christmas Giveaway

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***THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED***
CONGRATULATIONS TO

A: Why does Santa take his camera everywhere with him?
Q: Because he love's to take ELFIES!

This post is brought to you by Target

THIS is one of the parts of Christmas that I get most excited about - the gathering of my friends and my family to celebrate Christmas throughout the month of December.

The decoration of the table is high on my list of priority, way higher than the food and almost as high as the cocktail list. You see I figure so long as the table looks amazing, the cocktails taste good and the company is fabulous then everyone will excuse my crap cooking.

Yes that really is how my mind works.

Besides, its the creating part I enjoy the most and so I figure out a table design or a theme if you will, and I stick with the magic formula for every get together from then until Christmas.

I might mix it up a tiny bit with different flowers or moving this thing here and that thing there, but the underlying theme and the elements all remain the same... it's easier that way and one less thing for me to stress about when we have people coming over.

I have gone low key this year, simple silver, white, wood grain and a small splash of red.

The statement pieces on the table bring the bling and provide pops of silver from the reindeer and trees and the lanterns. The wreath is the centre piece and I have scattered fairy lights all over the table to make it sparkle when the sun disappears for the night. All the major pieces are from Target including the gorgeous lanterns which I totally freaked out my fellow shoppers with my squealing when I spied them.

The napkins, table wear and glasses are all simple and understated so that the rest of the decorations, the drinks and (hopefully) the food I serve are the stars of the show.

Last night we had our first Christmassy dinner for the year so it was the first run of the table decorating theme. It truly came alive after dark with the twinkle lights and we got that first real whiff of Christmas in the air.





So, do you likey? Would you fancy winning a $90 Gift voucher for Target so you can add the finishing touches to your Christmas table?

All you need to do is tell us a corny Christmas joke and my kids will pick a winner. I am presuming they will go with whoever makes them laugh the loudest so a heads up - the cornier the better!

The competition is open now and closes 19/12/13 at 7pm AEST

Follow the Rafflecopter prompts below to validate your entry and Good luck!

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