December 2016Life Love and Hiccups: December 2016

Thursday, 29 December 2016

12 Rituals and Traditions to Ring In The New Year

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New Years Sparkler







I don't think I have ever looked forward to a new year like I have this coming one.

I'm not alone right?

According to numerology 2016 is the 9th universal year in nine year cycle.

Back in 2008 we started this nine year cycle and how we started it back then, could reflect how we are feeling right now at the end of it.

I can't really remember what I was doing this time back in 2008 but I do know this year has been a hell of a rollercoaster and the past few months have felt particularly crazy around the world and we have all probably added to the frenzy with our eagerness to finish this cycle and end this bloody year once and for all.

If you believe in numerology or if you are superstitious in anyway, then I need to tell you that now would be a good time to set your intentions for the next nine years.

According to numerology experts, it is important that we begin the next cycle by forgiving the past, letting go of any grudges, fears or worries and start 2017 and the next nine years with an open heart.

If all that sounds like gobblty gook, that's OK too... my hubby typically just rolls his eyes at me and says 'yes dear' when I rabbit on about this, because regardless, a new year is a fresh new start, a brand spanking new notebook waiting for you to fill each page with your dreams and adventures.

Personally, I freaking love the start of a new year.

The delicious promise of new beginnings and because I am ridiculously superstitious then of course I have a whole load of rituals and traditions that I follow to make sure that our next 9 years run as smoothly as humanly possible.

I thought I would share some of them with you guys, you know in case you too are also SO COMPLETELY OVER how this past year has led you to feel and you want to start a fresh with a clean slate.

1.CLEAN & DECLUTTER
Yep sorry guys, but we need to snap out of our silly season food comas and get off the couch. Arm yourself with some boxes and bags and start decluttering.

Clothes, toys, knick knacks... anything that no longer serves you purpose or you don't seriously love... get rid of it and donate it. Then start cleaning and keep going until your curtains and cushions are washed, fresh sheets on the bed and every surface dust free.

I know I know, it sounds a little obsessive... and truth be told that is probably the OCD in me coming to the surface because I do love an excuse for a good clean, however, this is one clean you want to put a little extra effort into.

2. TAKE A PHOTO
Get out from behind the camera and get it front of it instead.

Take some photos of you and your family and your besties so that you can look back on them throughout the year and feel grateful for having those people in your life.

For those of us who see the new year as an opportunity to lose weight or get fit, it's a good way to see how far we have come when we look back on them next year.

3. SAY YOU ARE SORRY & MAKE PEACE
If you have been holding any grudges or harbouring any ill feeling towards someone or a situation, then now is the time to let it go because you really don't want to take that shit into the new year with you.

Phone them up or write them a letter, you can even pen a letter to someone who has passed away then burn it releasing what ever it is you are holding on to.

Say you are sorry for whatever part you played in the situation, no matter how big or small, and then put it behind you and move on feeling lighter and free.

4. END THE YEAR HOW YOU WANT TO START IT
Surround yourself with your most special people.

Eat good food, toast to each other and tell each one of those people how awesome they are and how much they mean to you.

Celebrate seeing yet another year close, no matter how sucky that year might have been and end the year with love and laughter because THAT'S what you want in your new year right?

Right!

5. MAKE A LIST
Before the year ends, take a little quiet time for yourself to sit and make a list of all that you want to achieve or have in your life over the next year.

I'm doing my list for the next nine year cycle so I'm gonna be needing a big fat gin to sit with as I think I'll be writing for a while.

There is so much I hope I hold for the next nine years, for me personally, my family, my business and the world and it is so important to be as specific as possible when you write what you wish for as the universe is listening and what you think feel and wish for is what the universe will ultimately deliver.

So on that note... don't hold back on wishing for lots of the good stuff in life. You deserve it.

6. START A GRATITUDE JAR
Now is a good time to create a special jar to capture good memories throughout the year.

Every time you experience something good in your life, good fortune, a win, a joyous moment, write it down and encourage your family to do so too.

Feel gratitude for everything you write and you will feel that gratitude three times over when you reread from your jar at the end of next year.

7. SHARE YOUR GRATITUDE
Speaking of gratitude, consider taking turns around the table at your final meal of the year to tell each other what is the one thing you are most grateful for from the year that has been.

Gratitude breeds more of the same and by saying it out loud you are telling the universe that you are ready to receive more reasons to feel grateful in the new year.


8. LET GO OF THE PAST
Take a moment to write down on a small piece of paper all the things you do not want to take into the new year with you, things like fears, worries, pain, heartache, grief and burden.

Encourage those with you on New Years to do the same too and then together set fire to the paper in a fireproof bowl or a fire pit and let the universe take care of those burdens for you.

Then, just like that, they are no longer yours to carry into the new year.

9. PUT SOMETHING GOLD IN YOUR DRINK
OK, I am not really sure where this one came from, but I do remember being told that if you put something gold (a ring or a trinket) into your glass that you will toast the new year with, it will bring you good fortune and prosperity.

I'm gonna go with it as I could sure do with a little good fortune and prosperity in 2017.

10. PLANT SOME FLOWER / WISH SEEDS
Plants some flower seeds with your kids and with each little seed they plant, tell them to make a wish for the new year. As they watch their flowers grow and then bloom throughout the year remind them that is their 'wishes' coming to life.

As the old theory goes, if you believe you will receive, so go ahead and believe hard with all your heart.

11. KISS SOMEONE AT MIDNIGHT
If you are single, fear not... we are not talking about big tongue pashes here because a kiss from a friend, a relative or even a child is just as magical.

Some cultures believe that the purity of a single kiss has the power to trap any evil or negativity around you in the year that has just ticked over, leaving you free of it in the year ahead. So go on... be kissing at the stroke of midnight.

12. SAY THANK YOU
If you live near the ocean or a body of water, on the last day of the year throw a bunch of flowers or petals into the water as a way of saying thank you to the universe for all your blessings and to ask for more good fortune and blessings to be returned to you in the new year.

It is easy to forget all the good stuff that happens when the emotions and angst of fear terror and grief flood you. But the good stuff is there... oh it is SO there.

You know how we as individuals like to be thanked and how when someone shows us they are grateful, we naturally want to do more for them... well the universe works the same way.

End the year focusing on the good that has been and give it all your energy to carry through to the new year.

Right, so it wasn't all that whackety whack was it?

Whatevs.

What about you guys?
Do you have any end of year traditions or rituals that you do?
Are you happy to see 2016 bugger off?



Thursday, 22 December 2016

Why I'm Just Not Really 'Feeling' It This Year

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 At the risk of sounding like a five foot four grinch with balyage hair in desperate need of a touch up, I am going to say it anyway...

I'm just not feeling all that Christmassy this year.

There.

I'm glad I got that off my chest.

Look, please don't get me wrong, because I am feeling joy and love and gratitude and all the things that should come wrapped up with a big shiny bow at this time of the year.

It's just that alongside that glittery package of Christmas joy under the tree, I stumbled upon another little package, one that you kinda want to ignore and leave there unopened... but I kinda sorta went and opened it anyway and inside it I found... sadness.

Normally at this time of the year I am busy immersing myself in all the decorations and the wrapping of gifts and I am instagramming the crap out of our Elf on the Shelf and his ridiculous antics and I'm blogging about Christmas and recipes and all sorts of Merry things.

But this year I haven't really felt like it and instead I have found myself wanting to withdraw from the world, to quietly wrap my arms around my family, to hug my husband hard and to tell my children how much I love them.

This year, more than ever before I have wanted to reach out to people privately to let them know that for what it is worth - I am thinking of them and that I am grateful for knowing them in any way that I do.

This year, I just haven't felt... I don't know... right? about blogging about Christmas when our world is crying.

I don't know if 'right' is really the word I am looking for, but I am struggling to come up with a better word to describe how I feel and how the idea of popping champagne and fussing over what to cook for Christmas dinner seems so insignificant when so many atrocities are playing out every minute in places like Aleppo and when I have friends who are mourning for loved ones who should be here... but no longer are.

Maybe 'guilt' is a better choice.

I don't know, and I guess it doesn't really matter what word I choose to use, but I just wanted to explain (in case you were wondering) why there has been a noticeable absence of Christmassy stuff here on the blog this year.

So there you have it, and this year instead, if it's ok. with you.. I am just going to excuse myself from the usual Christmas hype.

I am going to park the blog until after Christmas, and spend this time gathering my loved ones close and quietly relishing in my blessings and all I have to be grateful for.

Before I do though, I just wanted to wish you all with ALL my heart - the very Merriest of Christmases.

I hope it is one that creates the most incredible memories for you that will last a lifetime, one that makes your heart feel full to the brim

May you laugh... hard, may you love and be loved even harder, and may the new year bring some peace for you and me and for all of us around the world.

Merry Christmas you guys.

xx Sonia

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

WIN A Life Saving Gift For Your Best Furry Friend This Christmas

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Brought to you by Nuffnang and Bravecto

This Giveaway is now closed - thank you for entering.
First and Second Prize Winners - Shannon at MyTomorrow and Jo Taylor


What do a bag of potting mix and a kilo of chicken sausages have in common?

Nope this isn’t a dad joke and nor is it a trick question…

No, really!

Any guesses?





OK, I’ll break first.

A bag of potting mix and a kilo of chicken sausages were the two things I went out to get on two separate occasions, and on both occasions I came home with fur babies instead.

LOOK, I DON’T KNOW HOW IT HAPPENED EITHER???

I guess I just fell in love with these gorgeous dogs and I kind of got distracted from what I was supposed to be doing.

The potting mix was my first offence and in my defence I was in a wheelchair with a broken up leg and I may or may not have been somewhat emotional and not quite myself at the time.

I somehow persuaded my husband to take me in my wheelie mobile and our 3 year old and 8 month old to a gardening centre to get a bag of potting mix for… oh I don’t know, some sort of planting project I was obviously planning on getting the hubby to do whilst I sat in my wheelchair and supervised.

However, somewhere between the petunias and the potting mix I got lost and miraculously I was found sometime later in a pet store within the complex cuddling a 4month old white poodle.

He was a shaggy little thing… very un-poodleish like, but man that happy pup won me over all the same.

Between his puppy eyes and my puppy eyes, and three year old declaring “this is the most beautiful sheep ever” the husband wearing our 8 month old in a pouch on his front really didn’t stand a chance.

That adorable little ball of fluff was swiftly adopted, given the name Max and off I wheeled into the sunset with my new poodle on my lap and not a single bag of potting mix to be seen.

6 years later and back on two feet, I ventured out to grab some chicken sausages for dinner.

Once again I was distracted from my dinner mission by a fluffy little Groodle's face staring at me through a pet store window.

I stopped and I smiled at her, and she smiled back.

She told me her name was Milly and she was put on this earth to even out the 5 males to 1 female ratio at our home and she begged me to take her home so that she could fulfil her sole life’s purpose…

Ok, so she was sort of busy showing me how she could chew the head of a plastic chicken, but I know that was what she was totally thinking.

Would you believe it… once again I found myself walking out with an adorable little ball of fluff in my arms Milly and not a single chicken sausage for dinner.

Now, I would like to tell you that we all lived happily ever after - the hubby and I with our three boys and two beautiful fur babies Max and Milly… but I would kinda sorta be lying… like a lot.

Granted, these gorgeous dogs of ours have given us so much joy and unconditional love. They have kept our boys company when they’ve been sad, scared or lonely and they are always there beside us in a show of their unwavering camaraderie. But, much like us humans, they have too definitely have their own unique quirks.

Max is completely neurotic and so far beyond obsessed with me that I cannot even go to the loo without him coming too. He will literally begin to fret if I am gone for longer than 20 seconds. That said - he is extremely loyal and faithful and the most ferociously licky guard dog you ever will meet.

Milly is klutzy and playful, but she too went through her own difficult phase in which she developed a ‘thing’ for not only eating the house but everything in it too.

Oh, you think I am kidding don’t you?

Ummmm nope I’m not even!

Apart from the day she chowed down on the arm of a brand new couch arm (the day after it was delivered), we also once came home to find many an unpleasant surprise in those first few months.






In addition to the furniture replacement and household repairs, we have financially contributed to many a jolly veterinarian’s holiday funds.

I mean, the fact that Max ate a rat bait when we took him away with us to a family holiday in a Mudgee winery and we had to have his stomach pumped in a remote country vet clinic was probably a good sign of what to expect.

But then there was the time that we had to cancel another family holiday to pay for Milly’s dislocated knee and cruciate ligament surgery, just a mere 2 months after she came to live with us.

Speaking of holidays… there was that two week vacation at a resort in the Hunter Valley.

No, no… not for us.

Nope that fabulous vacay was at the luxurious doggy resort that Max and Milly went to stay at when we humans treated ourselves to Bali to celebrate my midlife crisis.

OK, so the Doggy resort may have been overkill, but the guilt I was feeling at leaving our babies behind could only be soothed by me knowing they were eating BBQ chicken dinners and being very well cared for in their luxury doggy Villas… and yes… the complimentary doggy limo transfers and nightly text messages and photos sent to us in Bali were such a fabulous extras that I simply couldn’t resist.

It turns out that these fur babies were always going to cost us much more than just our love, but hot dignity dang they are worth it because the love that they give back to us and our boys?

Money just can’t buy that kind of love.




Twice we have nearly lost our precious Max and Milly.

A few years back we had a particularly bad tick season here on the northern beaches and both of them were paralysed from tick poisoning within a month of each other… the month before Christmas time.

Aside from the gut wrenching realisation on both occasions that losing our beautiful dogs to the tick poisoning was highly possible, the vet bills very nearly crippled us. We are talking over a $1000 each you guys for their vet bills and hospital stays.

I don’t know about you guys, but that is some big bickies we are talking about.

Thankfully, unlike so many dogs and cats that die every year from tick bites, our beautiful pups were among the lucky ones and they survived and came home to spend Christmas with us - home where they belong, hogging the bed and claiming their spots on the family room couch.





WANT TO WIN A PRIZE THAT WILL BOTH PROTECT AND PAMPER YOUR BELOVED POOCH THIS CHRISTMAS?

The team behind Bravecto understand just how important our beloved family dogs are to us and so they are all about protecting them. Their oral dog chews are designed to not only taste good to our canine pals, they also deliver 3 months’ protection from fleas and 4 months paralysis tick protection in a single dose and cater for dogs of all weights and sizes.

Yep that’s peace of mind I tell you.

You can find out more about Bravecto or where to buy it by visiting their website here or pop on over to their Facebook here or their @bravectoau Instagram account.


Bravecto also want to make sure that not only are our fur babies very much a part of our Christmas, but they maybe even have something special wrapped under the tree for them this Christmas too. So, with that in mind, they have given me - 20 Bravecto Christmas Packs to give away to you guys.

But there is a catch you guys… of course there is. You… or your dogs have to entertain me, move me or melt me somehow to be in with a chance to win one of these prize packs.

Simply entertain me with a story about your family pup in the comments below. Share a photo them all dressed up, or tell me about something naughty or funny they got up to so I don’t feel so alone with my own doggy delinquents. Perhaps it’s a favourite memory with your furry best friend, a tale about how they got their name or how they came to be a part of your family. Just leave me a comment below to enter.

First and second prize will each win a $25 Coles Myer Gift voucher, 1 pack of Bravecto and a Bravecto Cooler Bag.

Eighteen Runners up, yep eighteen, will each win a pack of Bravecto suited to your dog’s weight and size.

OK you guys - shoot! Delight me with your doggy antics!

TERMS AND CONDITIONS & THE BORING BITS


Competition is open to Australian residents only and for full terms and consitions see here.


Competition is open now and closes at 12pm midday AEST on 6th January 2017. 


Monday, 19 December 2016

The Rose Gold Christmas I was GOING To Have

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I'm gong to confess - our house doesn't look anywhere near as Christmassy as it usually does at this time of the year. There are reasons why... which would require a whole other blog post that I totally plan on doing tomorrow.

However, if I was more organised AND I was feeling a little more like sprucing up the house, AND if I had the time to do a do-over for Christmas this year, I would be ging rose gold ALL the way baby!

I had all the best intentions to make this Christmas a rose gold one... I even had Pinterest boards all set up to inspire me.

Alas, all I can offer you apart from a shrug of he shoulders is some gorgeous rose gold Christmas inspiration that I may just get around to... next year!

What's your Christmas theme this year?
Do you change it up every year?


1. Rose Gold Leaf Garland 2. Rose Gold Christmas Wreath 3. Rose Gold Christmas Wrap and bells 4. Rose Gold Love Balloon 5. Rose Gold Christmas Ornaments 6. Rose Gold Mason Jars 7. Rose Gold DIY Christmas Tree 8. Rose Gold Christmas Reindeer



Sunday, 18 December 2016

The Surprising Wrap On Wraps

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Brought to you by Nuffnang and Helgas

I’m going to be honest… I have never really given a whole lot of thought to my salt intake or that of my families for that matter either.

I mean, we don’t really add much salt to our food at all… OK… except for maybe on our BBQ corn on the cob because mmmmm BBQ corn on the cob, but surely salt isn’t something that needs that much thought right?

Wrong!

So I have found out.





I have been doing some work with Helga’s to help spread the word about the ‘Wraps Unwrapped’ Report and according to the 2011-12 National Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey, the average daily intake of sodium from food amongst Australians aged 19 and over is 2,430.5mg which well exceeds the Suggest Dietary Target of four grams of salt (1,600mg of sodium per day)1.

It’s in so much of what we eat every day without us even adding any extra (hello again corn) and what this means is that when we eat something that doesn’t have added salt…it can taste kind of…bland. Often this leads to us adding some more salt and then we end up eating more salt that we should.

So what does Helga’s wraps have to do with all of this?

Well if you are like me, you might be regularly putting wraps into your kid’s lunch boxes. You think you are doing the right thing filling those wraps with healthy stuff like salad and protein and yet unknowingly we could be putting additional salt into our kid’s lunchbox too. Not to mention artificial preservatives to boot.

That’s because some wraps have a whole lot more salt than others and contain artificial preservatives. 

1.University of Newcastle, Wraps Unwrapped Report, October 2016


Goodman Fielder undertook an analysis in conjunction with Newcastle University to create an independent and publicly available analysis of 22 of Australia’s top selling brands of wraps. The Wraps Unwrapped report was commissioned to help us as consumers understand the differences between leading wrap brands.

Yeah, OK… so what does all that mean?

What they found was that 17 of the top 22 wraps contained artificial preservatives.

Holy moly, that means that even the ones that look healthy may not be all that they seem.

By swapping to a wrap with a lower level of salt than the market leader Mission Wraps Original2, like Helga's Traditional White Wraps, we can reduce the mg/100g of sodium we consume by 40% and skip the artificial preservatives altogether.

I made the Helga’s Spicy Chicken n’ Slaw Wraps for the kid’s school lunch and I was keen to see if they noticed the difference in taste from the reduced salt. I mean, let’s face it - kids can be super fussy little buggers!

The advice Susie Burrell has shared is to accustom ourselves to a gradual reduction in our usual salt intake and there are a number of ways to do that including; cooking your food in such a way that it will preserve its natural flavours, using fresh ingredients and adding herbs and spices to enhance the flavour.

The outcome?

Two thumbs up and declarations of the best lunch in a million years and a request to have it again tomorrow… and the next day… and the day after that.

Give this recipe a try with your kids. It’s kinda perfect for lunches and for a quick and easy dinner.

2. 350mg or 40% less sodium per 100g consumed when Mission Original Wraps (790mg sodium per 100g) is swapped for Helga’s Traditional White Wraps (430mg sodium per 100g)


For more information from one of Australia's leading dieticians, Susie Burrell, and to get her take on the better options available to us when it comes to lower salt and no artificial preservatives and what to look out for when you are reading the nutritional content and food labels on products, pop over to Helga’s Bakehouse on Facebook

What are your favourite wrap fillings?


Friday, 9 December 2016

Losing The Battle To Win The War and Other (Probably Too Deep For A Friday Afternoon) Stuff

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I had my first real "OMG it's nearly Christmas" hit this afternoon.

I think I've probably had a few of them already but I suspect I have been squishing those hits like annoying little flies because HELLO... clearly I am in DEnial!

How can it be?

We are two weeks out from Christmas and holy shitballs I have much to do!

Two of our boys have finished school for the year this week.

The man child had his last day of year nine yesterday... YEAR NINE??

Hand me the antifreeze because I can practically feel those wrinkles popping like veins on my skin's surface.

He celebrated by sleeping in until 12.30 today before asking me for a lift to the beach...

Actually I think he sort of mumbled something at me that kind of sounded something like "canIpleasehavealifttothebeachmumitstoohottowalk"... but I couldn't really be sure.

In any case, I hope he has a nice afternoon at the beach because that is where I dropped him.

Flynn had his last day of school today too.

Like LAST last day at his current school.

Yup, after a long week of sleepless nights and pillow discussions, lists of pros and cons and moments of self doubt, we finally made the big decision to pull him out of the school he is at and move him to another.

Our decision wasn't because of any other kids, or families or any particular incident, although that's not to say that the events of this year weren't a part of what led us to the point of making the decision that we did.

But we have made peace with that now and with everyone involved and although I know it is not necessarily a solution that would work for everyone's circumstances, I would encourage you that if you feel that there is even a small chance that you think it may help -  consider reaching out to the other family if you find yourself in a situation like we did, and see if you can work together to make it all right.

You may just find that you can save yourself a whole lot of heartache if you do and resolution will come much faster for everyone than it would if left in the hands of people who are not as emotionally invested in it as you are.

But even once a situation is resolved, there can still be a nagging feeling that just won't go away. It's kind of like a niggling sense of disappointment, a deep loss of trust, or you may even find that you are left with a complete lack of faith in an organisation and it's procedures and try as you might you can't get that trust back.

Oh heck, you can try shouting about it.

You can also get really pissed off and demand meetings and explanations and all kinds of solutions...

But sometimes, there is nothing that one can do or say that will make much of a difference to an institution's way of thinking and so, like we have, you might find yourself coming to the conclusion that it is perhaps better to lose the battle in order to win the war.

For us, the war is only ever about protecting those we love most - our children.

As with all of you guys with your kids and families, their happiness and wellbeing is our reason for breathing... right?

And so for the sake of seeing ALL of our boys happy and healthy both physically and mentally, we decided to pull the plug and start our youngest afresh at a new school elsewhere next year.

We have spent nine years at our current school, and two of our kids had a fabulous time there.

Our middle son is finishing up year six there next week anyway and heading off to high school and with that came an opportunity for new beginnings.

We have made life long friendships with other families, there have been teachers who have both inspired and delighted us and we have loads of good memories from that school that we will take with us.

But schools aren't a one size fits all kind of thing, and just because it was once 'the right' place for two of our boys, doesn't necessarily mean it was going to be right for all three of them.

Schools change, people come and go and sometimes the leadership changes too. Sometimes those changes can contribute to a feeling that what was once a place you enjoyed being at, is not really the case anymore... and so you have a choice.

You can huff and puff and stay and as you try to get past it you continue to build resentment, or you can move on.

I reckon life is far too short to resent anything or anyone, and so we shall move on.

As simple as that.

We are moving on.

Flynn is super excited about his new school, "They do SO MUCH SPORT THERE MUM" was the first thing he said/ shouted at/to me after our interviews and "I already know so many people that go there" was another.

Admittedly, he went through a few moments of sheer panic (as did I) because... you know... there are still lots of new people to meet and all that.

Some tears were shed... BIG time...

He shed a few too.

But today he is smiling again and as any mother will agree - Oh boy do us parents LIVE for those smiles!

Have a fabulous weekend you guys.

May EVERY day be filled with the biggest goofiest happiest smiles humanly possible.

Has Christmas hit you in the face yet or are you still in denial?



Thursday, 8 December 2016

Twenty TOTALLY AWESOME Gifts For The Kids This Christmas!

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Brought to you by Nuffnang and Macquarie Centre

I’m not even kidding when I tell you that I seriously struggle when it comes to figuring out what to buy our boys and my nieces for Christmas.

It doesn’t help that I ALWAYS imagined myself with girls and that I would be shopping for all the things that I would have wanted for myself as a little girl and yet here I am trying to come up with ideas for three boys who are all very different to each other in the things that they like.

I typically start my Christmas lists in June and by the time November / December comes around those lists look more like a page full of crossed out scribble than a list of gift ideas because trends come and go and something my kids are utterly obsessed with one month is SOOOOO ridiculously uncool by the next.

The struggle is real you guys.


When the gang at Macquarie Centre in Ryde invited me on a shopping trip to put together a suggested gift guide for kids aged 5-14, I swung between sheer exhilaration because HELLO great love of mine… SHOPPING, but then moments later I was all “Holy Cheeseballs” how the heck am I going to be able to make any suggestions for anyone else if I can’t even figure out what to put on the list for my own children?

And then there is my morbid fear of busy parking lots.

Do not underestimate this fear of mine.

Shopping generally involves having to go into big car parks and that alone is enough to get the heart palpitations going and it’s a legitimate fear you guys, one that has a proper name got with it too - 

Linecostraphobitis; someone who has a fear of parking lots.

See!

OK, so when you finish laughing at me, I’ll have you know that I have been known to have meltdowns in shopping centre car parks after losing my car.
I know you are probably thinking - “what kind of moron LOSES their car?” right?

Well this moron who gets distracted by bright shiny lights and forgets to look where she is parked loses her car and then finds herself walking around in circles with purple hands because her shopping bags are cutting off the circulation to her arms and nice caring people see that she is panicking and stop to help help her and that makes her cry because sympathy always makes her cry and so she ends up sobbing big fat tears on some poor kind stranger who wishes they never stopped to offer her help.

Whew.

But when I went to the Macquarie Centre, this happened… 

That there would be Valet Parking folks.

Can you hear the angels singing? Can you?
Ten bucks and you can drive up to the door, have someone help you out of your car and park it for you and when you are done and dusted and all shopped out, they bring your car back to the entrance for you and they then load all of your shopping into the car whilst your collapse into the drivers seat plum tuckered out.
No more hunting for lost cars.
Oh I can’t even.

Look, I am not one to generally fall for the bells and whistles, well not that much anyway… however for a measly ten bucks for the luxury of valet parking, I do hope that you will forgive me for the stars in my eyes and the blood flowing freely in my arms.


 Ok so onto the gift suggestions for our marvellous munchkins… you have shopping to do right?

Well I'll have you know that I happen to think I have done more than alright with this list you guys, but hey…you can be the judge of that!




A: Classical Acoustic Guitar from Mall Music $179 B: Mini Marquee Letter Lights from Typo $9.99

C: Boys Summer Hat from H&M $14.99 D: Beach Sounds Radio from Sunny Life $64.95

E: Toucan Bag from Sunny Life $26.95 F: Pop Handset for iPhones from Mr & Mrs Jones $20.95

G: Beach Flyer from Mr & Mrs Jones $15.40 H: Sky High Clock Projector from Smuggle $36.95

I: Flamingo Lunch Box from Sunny Life $24.95 

J: Beats Solo Wireless Headphones from JB HiFi $399

K: Ripley’s Believe It Or Not from Dymocks $24.99 L: Yellow Ukulele from Mall Music $34.95

M: Sequins Pencil Case from Typo $10 

 N: Day of the Dead Skull Money Money box from Mr & Mrs Jones $10

O: Watermelon Pool Float from Sunny Life $39.95 P: Book Light from Smiggle $11.95

Q: Barbie Fashionistas from Target $9.99 R: Boy’s Board Shorts from H&M $19.95 

S: Boys Tank Tee from Target $10 T: Remote Control Ferrari from Kid Stuff $99

For any of our Sydney readers, can I suggest that you get your luverly behinds over to Macquarie Centre because they have everything you need under the one roof to nail ALL of your Christmas shopping in one hit.

That’s a BIG win at this time of the year you guys… BIG win.

If you are looking for gift ideas for the family, then check out all of the Macquarie Centre gift guides here. - some of my fellow bloggers and I have got you covered for suggestions for boys, girls, beauty lovers, foodies, tech heads and yep… even us Linecostraphobitics.


Have you done your Christmas Shopping yet?
Any suggestion on what to buy the hubby?


Friday, 2 December 2016

From A Bully's Side Of The Fence

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This is the last post I am going to write about this whole subject for now.

This is the last of what I have to say before I put it to rest and we wait to see if resolution comes for us.

I think emotions are running extremely high in so many areas of this topic and on so many fronts and that is completely understandable.

The words 'Bully' and 'Bullying' will naturally evoke extreme reactions from those who stand on both sides of the fence.

But that is the point isn't it?!

There is always the other side of the fence that we should be considering and standing on both sides are real people with real feelings and the capacity to hurt and be hurt, and as much as I have given attention to the side of the fence that we are standing on right at this moment, I think the other side deserves equal attention too.

I believe this, because I have also stood on that other side too.

I once was the bully.

I did tell you I am far from perfect!

I will live with that regret of once bullying someone, for the rest of my life. I don't hide it, I've spoken about it before, and whilst this is in no way an attempt to defend a bully  - ever - I will tell this story because i hope that it might just help us to understand what it can be like on both sides and maybe even help to stop the cycle somewhat.

If I am completely honest, writing and reliving this is also helping me to try to understand why this is happening now and to continue to find some compassion for the ones behind our own situation we are in.

There is a very good reason I am so passionate about bullying, because I have felt for myself the heartache from both sides and I want with all my heart for it to STOP!!

Many of you already know my story, and how as a child I grew up wearing bars on my leg and crutches and how I was in an out of hospital until I was 15 yada yada.

I was a prime target for kids who were looking for someone to pick on, someone they could be mean to and to tease so they could make themselves look tough in front of their friends or feel better about themselves.

I was bullied all through my primary school years and part of my high school years too, and there were points in my life where suicide seemed like the easiest solution. Eventually, I did tuck into a bottle of sleeping pills in an attempt to make it all go away... fortunately my attempts failed and I am here to tell the story.

But what happened after that is I changed.

I developed this awful tough exterior and in order to try and hide my vulnerability, I became the mean girl and for a while I lashed at out one girl in particular.

She hadn't done anything wrong. In actual fact, she was a REALLY NICE girl who did not in a million years deserve to be the target for my hatred against the world and my revenge for everyone who had ever made me hurt.

But she was.

And I was so mean to her for a while and whilst it was never physical I did say awful things to her in the hope that maybe others would see my actions and become scared of me and therefore stop being mean to me.

I feel sick talking about this, it brings back so much shame and pain.

It is such an awful thing that I did and fortunately I had the chance to say sorry to her a few years later. I am so incredibly grateful to this day for that chance to say sorry, because even though I know it will never erase the pain I caused or ease the remorse I feel for my behaviour, I am grateful that she was there for me to say sorry to because... all too often kids just aren't there anymore.

They end their lives to escape the torment and the sorrys are never heard.

Every bullying situation is different, I know that much. I also know that Bullying the Bully back is NOT the answer either, nor is telling our kids to toughen up 'cause it's just a part of childhood.

PLEASE!

REALLY?

It is not a normal part of childhood nor is it a normal part of life.

It is not normal to bully or be bullied and there is ALWAYS a reason why it is happening and that reason needs to be understood.

You can't toughen up someone who has been damaged. It just doesn't work that way. Sure, you can put a band aid on it, but we all know band aids aren't made to last.

When you tell a child to toughen up and put up with the bullying, you are at risk of them toughening up too much, like I did, and then they may actually become a bully at some stage themselves... also like I did.

Telling a child to toughen up is about as useless as ignoring the problem in the first place. It's only going to perpetuate a problem and feed the cycle.

The bully themselves and the one being bullied, both need to be supported and THAT is what I am talking about when I speak of finding compassion.

Believe me I know it is hard.

It is SO HARD to not be angry at the other kid and even at their family too I guess... but I think anger is probably a bit of a waste of energy.

If you are angry at a situation, by all means shout about it... but don't shout for revenge... SHOUT FOR CHANGE.

You will often hear people say "Oh it must be the parent's fault, it must be the way they are parenting and that's why the child is behaving the way that he or she is.

I beg to differ though, because even though sometimes that absolutely may be the case, it is not ALWAYS that way.

My parents were the most supportive and compassionate two people and yet at one stage their daughter was either being bullied or doing the bullying.

They did not have any control in me being bullied, nor did they play a part in me being mean to that other girl.

My own experiences did.

When I was bullied as a kid, very few people apart from my brother and a few close friends were brave enough to stick up for me because they were scared they would become the targets and so I toughened up like everyone told me to... except I toughened up too far.

I get why people are scared of standing up to it too.

I really do.

I mean, why make your own life difficult or risk friendships by getting yourself involved in something if you don't have to right?

Well... because... we can make a difference, that's why.

By speaking up about what is happening to you, or to your kids or to your friends, or calling out bad behaviour when you see it, you ARE helping to stop the cycle.

Don't be scared into staying quiet. Fight for a resolution for EVERYONE involved and keep fighting until you get it.

I am angry at myself that I have allowed nearly a whole year to go by before I really flipped my lid and upped the shouting.

I do think parents can play a very big part in how a situation is handled.

I know all the bullying policies and procedures say do not approach the other parents, and often it's for good reason too I guess, especially when emotions are running high.I suppose it is also hard to approach other parents if you don't even know them let alone contact them out of the blue to tell them what their child is doing.

But on a few occasions over the years when I have heard either from my kids or someone else that one of my kid's have stupidly done something to someone else, it has been awful and uncomfortable and confronting and embarrassing but regardless... I have made myself pick up the phone to talk to the other parents, to hear the other side of the story and to say "I am so sorry, how can we fix this?"

I don't know... maybe I am optimisitic, but I kinda reckon there could possibly be some merit in going direct to a parent rather than counting on school procedures and policies and a whole load of other people to get involved.

Whilst I understand the need for procedures, procedures can take time... often a loooong time and sometimes time is not a luxury.

I can't help but wonder if our situation would have gone on for as long as it has if we hadn't followed the procedures and dealt with it parent to parent instead?

I don't know. I guess I'm really not qualified to answer that.

But I am someone who has stood on both sides of the fence and knows the shame and the pain of both sides and maybe something good could come of that?

I also know that because of my experience on boths sides of the fence,  I will NEVER stop shouting and saying NO to bullying.

Have you ever sorted out a situation with your kids for yourself or have you had to involve the school? How did it go for you?
Have you ever stood on both sides of the fence?



Thursday, 1 December 2016

Why I am Sorry But Not Really All THAT Sorry

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OK so first of all I want to say thank you. 

Thank you for all the beautiful support and messages and emails we have received after my post yesterday about the bullying situation we have found ourselves in this past year with our youngest son.

I understand it must have been very confronting for those who read it and who know us or our son or the community we are in. It may also have been confronting for some who had their own personal experiences come back to flood them.

I have spent the best part of today speaking to experts who we have been referred to about this, dealing with our own situation and reading through all the emails of personal stories I have been sent by readers.

I have to tell you that I am so incredibly humbled that so many of you chose to share with me and my family your own private stories about yourself and your children, but at the same time I am so beyond horrified that so many of you and sadly I really have to put a heavy emphasis on the 'SO MANY OF YOU' part, have been affected by bullying either personally or through your children... at school, at work, in social circles and online.

What is wrong with mankind???

I mean SERIOUSLY? 

What the FUCK is wrong with us??

My post from yesterday was shared by someone with the leaders of our school and I am OK with that - although today I have been politely reminded and warned about the risk of defamation. 

I'm also OK with that too. 

I have not and would not name or defame anyone. That is not in my nature to do so, however I did share with you all a very personal story that is about as raw as it can get for me... and for that I am not sorry.

I won't go into full details (for obvious reasons) of where we are at with our situation, but... I can tell you that we are working with the school towards what we hope will be the most positive resolution for all who are involved.

I don't ever expect everyone to agree with me and I am in no way at all perfect. Therefore I was not surprised to receive some emails amongst the messages that disagreed with me writing about our experience and even condemning me for talking about this experience of ours on social media i.e. this blog.

In one of those messages I was told that I have acted irresponsibly because my post provoked comments from people that could be considered inconsiderate and hurtful to the other parties involved and to our school community. I was told that perhaps I did not put any thought into how my blog post would affect other families who have children who have been the offender in a bullying incident.

Ummmm

Ok, so...

I would like to respectfully address those concerns in this way if I may.

For the record, please let it be known that;

I do not condone bullying in any shape or form - on or offline. 

I do not condone bullying the bully and I do not condone anyone being bullied into being silent. 

I do not use the word bullying lightly... AT ALL.

If I have offended anyone who has been a bully or is the parent of a bully or anyone who is concerned about the reputation of 'somewhere' where 'something' may have taken place... I am sorry. 

Kind of...

In all honesty, I'm not that sorry because I have learnt from my own experience that the times when I have felt the most confronted and uncomfortable are the times when I have instigated the most positive change - both as a parent and as an individual. 

I am genuinely sorry if anyone felt any discomfort reading my post, but just as we have been forced into a situation where we have to try and dig deep for compassion and forgiveness, I too hope that those who are responsible for this type of behaviour or who know of this kind of behaviour happening, will also dig deep for compassion and empathy.

This is how we all learn and grow from experiences... including shared experiences. 

Whilst I understand social media in this day and age is far too often used the wrong way, it is also pretty much unavoidable but it can be put to good use too. It can be used as a platform to share, to connect, to be comforted and to raise awareness and positive change.

I read some of the emails to my husband last night and we found ourselves so upset at the trauma bullying can have on people's lives. I do not believe that we hear enough about the personal stories of the trauma and impact bullying can have on people and their families. Often we don't even know it is happening before it is too late and we can't do anything to help.

We should never become desensitised to the effects of bullying at any age and it should never be swept under the carpet.

I do not condone physical retaliation in any form as an answer against bullying. I don't actually condone physical violence for ANYTHING.

My family and I live by the principles of respect, compassion and empathy and these are the principles we also try to teach our children... however, that said I WILL NOT and CANNOT turn my head away and be silent about something that is wrong because I am fearful that it may upset someone else.

I do not believe in naming and shaming or public crucifixion. 

I have not and would not ever name people or places in a personal recount and I do not condone attacks taking place on people in forums and comment sections. I do not believe that has ever happened here on this blog but, please by all means, correct me if I am wrong and I will address it immediately.

I do not believe in asking people to ever take sides for or against anything. 

We are all free humans with free will and I suspect you will form your own opinions that either compliment or contradict my own and you know what - that is your undeniable right to do so and respect to you for that. We do not have to agree on everything.

I generally write about subjects of a personal nature on my blog given it is a personal blog. 

I write about the good and the bad and I write from the heart to connect with others who may see themselves or their situation in my words.

I choose to share our family's stories with the permission of my family and because we believe or hope that it could possibly help someone else or another family who may read it. 

My blog is written by me. 

There is no alias I hide behind, there are no ghost writers and I do not write anonymously. 

I do not write to create conflict or controversy or to cause distress to others... ha, on the contrary. Anyone who knows me or has read my blog for long enough knows that I am about as non controversial, non confrontational as they come... unless I feel the need to stand up and say enough and then I will do so in a very loud and proud voice.

I not only genuinely care about people, I care hard and I care with every single bit of my being and often that hurts and that in itself can be a hard cross to bear.

I write in my voice as I would speak to you in person. 

I write when I am happy, I write when I am angry and I write when I am sad. I write when I have hot angry tears streaming down my face as I do right now.

I write as I am.

I am not a literacy expert and I do not have formal writing qualifications, heck about the only thing I AM an expert in is relentless unforgiving worry. 

This blog reflects my opinion, my experiences, my passions and my stories and I stand behind each and every word that I write and I do not 'slam out posts on a whim'.

I also happen to be very VERY passionate about Suicide prevention for people of all ages, I am vocal about Depression and Mental Health Awareness in both adults AND children, Bullying, and Human Rights. These are all subjects I care passionately about and therefore they will come up from time to time on this blog. 

No one's life is all sunshine and lollipops and I am not going to even begin to pretend that mine is or ever has been. I try to keep it as real as you and I are and that is why I write about life, love and all the hiccups in between. 

I am of the belief that every voice helps to create awareness for a cause. 

I believe that there are always two sides to a story.

I believe that every experience that we share with each other, both good and bad, generates empathy and compassion and that every person who is brave enough to tell their story or to stand up for someone should not only be encouraged and certainly not silenced, they should also be applauded. 

Support breeds courage and compassion breeds love.

Courage and love are what we need to learn for ourselves and to teach our children... it is after all how we will all survive in this world that has become what it is today.

xx Sonia

Again, I will reiterate the following;

I have no expertise whatsoever with dealing this kind of thing but I do know that bullying of any kind anywhere is not ok and you and your child DO NOT have to put up with it.

If you find yourself in a similar situation I urge you to speak to your school immediately and whatever authorities you have to to ensure that the appropriate action is taken and your child is safe. Do not feel pressured to brush this under the carpet you guys... PLEASE!!!


Kids Helpline is also there to support you and your child - 1800 55 1800.