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It's that time of the year again, yep that's right, the day you're left wondering what on earth you are  going to buy for your kids to give to their fathers on father's day?

I guess once your kids have reached a certain age they can sort that stuff out for themselves and it's really out of your hands, but with little ones I'm often left scratching my head.

We have an even bigger dilemma at our house in that it is also my husband's birthday at this time of year. Sometimes it actually falls on the same day - but we still have to celebrate both Fathers day and his Birthday at the same time. The conversation goes a little like this. "What do you think you would like for Fathers / your birthday this year?" to which he often replies (as he did again this year) "I don't know". So if you've got someone who can't even mention a few things that appeal to them, how are you supposed to get them something they might like?

One year I left my son in charge of the present buying and sent him off with some cash to the Fathers Day stall at school and being only six at the time he was very excited about having free reign. Unfortunately, he bought home a coffee mug with "The World's Best Grandfather" emblazoned across it ..... for his father.

So now we are back to the yearly dilemma of what to buy for someone who doesn't even know what he would like, even if he could buy it for himself. Sure you could go the usual socks and undies (hardly very inspiring) or a Bunning's voucher (not very personal).  Last year we thought we would give him an experience to remember, so we brought him a flight in a Tiger Moth (which he had actually said he would like) and then he developed claustrophobia and couldn't bring himself to get in the plane. So you see my dilemma. 

I like to be organised and I usually have presents on hand well before the date of an actual celebration, whatever the event is but sometimes my husband comes in a number of days before said event and claims to know what he wants now. Which drives me just a little bit crazy. The thing is, even though he often gets on my nerves he's a good Father. He loves them,  cuddles them, kisses them, reads them stories and tucks them in at night. So, it would be really nice to have something which reflects that. And then there's my father to buy for as well, who has now decided to go off on his last hoorah trip to Columbia (it is not my place to question why, just to wave him off at the airport).

I hope that you all find that perfect gift for the Father's in your life and that your children have a man in their lives who loves them as much as you do.

Cheers,

Lee


 
 
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Have you ever gotten into the middle of a really riveting discussion about Pokemon you could just not tear yourself away from? No, me neither. But, unfortunately that hasn't stopped me reluctantly being a part of such conversations.

The thing with kids is that you often have to show interest in things because they like them. As a parent I have developed ways in which to deal with such conversations which make it seem like I am interested without me actually having to listen to it. And the lesson is this, just say yes. I developed this technique over multiple story telling sessions involving the latest Pokemon and or Skylander characters (whatever, it doesn't really matter what it was) and I wanted to share it with you.

Now some of you might be horrified by my total lack of interest in my kid's latest interest. But, to you I say, perhaps you have more time or patience on your hands than I do, so good luck to you and you should tune out now.

It all started when I realised that discussions about Pokemon (or whatever) always involved an introductory story. Such as "Mum, you know the Pokemon character named ... " (I have no idea, I tuned out) to which I would reply (more often than not) "Ah, no". Then I would have to spend 20 minutes listening to a story which detailed that particular character and all its attributes before he then launched into another 20 minute story about what the character was up to (which was basically what he had wanted to tell me in the first place, before we got stuck on the back story). So from this I gleaned my new technique. Which goes more like this "Mum, you know the Pokemon character named ..." I would then reply "Yes" and then he would just tell me the one story and it made no difference to my in depth understanding of the character or it's motivation to do what it did. The result of this was that everyone was happy and nobody got hurt.

The only glitch with this technique was that my husband wasn't aware of it. So when we were all in an enclosed space such as the car and we got the inevitable "Dad you know the Pokemon character who...... " and his response was "No". I still had to endure the back story, the actual story and any other related stories once he got on his Pokemon bandwagon and had a captive audience. Obviously I have had to share the technique with his father and we have all gone back to the obligatory one story which is not too bad. The only downer in this story is that whilst I have to ask the 9 year old five (or more times) to set out his school clothes for the next day or feed the dog he must have heard me passing on this tip to his father. 

So the next time we were alone and my son said "Mum, you know the Pokemon ..." (you know the rest) and I said "Yes." My 9 year old came back with a wry smile and a "You don't really know do you Mum?" to which I thought for a moment and responded "Well, no. I just want this to be over". He looked at me for a moment and then started to laugh and told me the abridged version of the final story. Although a little white lie is sometimes good for a relationship (no I don't hate your new hair do - it's very fashionable, I just saw it in a magazine), honesty seems to be working alright sometimes too. I guess you have to choose your audience.  

So give it a whirl, just say yes. 

Cheers, 

Lee 


 
 
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The outdoor garden area at Sugardough.
Here we are again and it's Monday already. The weekend always seems to pass so quickly and it's nice to not have to race kids from school pick up to after school activities. The weekend is our families chance to take a breather and try a few new things out. 

So here's the thing. Everyone that knows me well (oh, alright even people I don't know that well) know that I love cake. I mean what's not to like!!?? Don't answer that.... it was rhetorical anyway. I have my favourite places but I have also been known to drive across town to try a new one out. So when I read an article a few weeks ago in the Sunday paper about the top 5 cakes places in Melbourne, my first thought was .... What!! I've only been to one of these places, how can that possibly be? My second thought was, Challenge accepted!!

So after spending the morning organising everyone else's breakfasts, getting them dressed, packing bags with the multitude of things you have to take with you "just in case" when you are out and about with a toddler and a little bit of kid (and husband) wrangling and we were in the car on our way to Sugardough, Panificio Patisserie. It's located at 163 Lygon Street in Brunswick East (just in case you would like to pay them a visit yourself).

Once we finally arrived at our sweet destination we found that there was not a seat to be had. While our 9 year old and his toddler brother pressed their faces against the glass it was  hard to even see the cakes let alone move around the cafe, I've been in ensuites that were bigger. But, having said that once we did get a look at the cakes, they were amazing. The kids of course, picked their usual cupcakes - I don't think they even noticed anything else. I picked a couple of yummy treats to take home; a three layered vanilla cake and a chocolate brulee. We found a couple of seats outside for the kids to eat their cupcakes. You know, because there was no way they were going to last until we got home and when the kids were almost done, we realised there was a lovely little garden seating area out the back. Oh well, next time.

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My photo's really don't do these justice - but due to the difficult nature of food photogra.....oh, alright. I ate them.
Now even though this was an outing for cake we decided to stop in and visit a little deli on Lygon St which we had seen featured on Getaway and it was so worth the visit!! More cake which was of course, delightful. But the real reason we went there was the cheese. La Parisienne Pates is located at 290 Lygon St, Carlton and they had the most amazing selection of cheese and cold meats. I had to try the cheese which was shown on the episode of Getaway which made me want to go and visit in the first place.  You heat up the cheese in the little container it comes in and then dip crusty bread straight into it. Yum!
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The cheese comes like this.
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It's making my mouth water just looking at it.
I ended up taking a small portion of the cheese and putting it into a ramekin to heat up and eat. (You can only eat so much cheese in one sitting!)
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The cheese ready for dipping with the crusty baguette. Yum.


I love a lazy Sunday where you can just wander around with the family and try out a few new tasty treats. So we took our booty home and had a crusty baguette with cheese and olive salami for lunch with beautiful cakes for desert. It was like the best day ever!!

Hope the weekend with your family was just as nice.

Cheers,

Lee
 
 
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You realise how completely clueless you are when kids become a part of your life. When you're single your most pressing worry is what to wear out for drinks on a Friday night. Once you're married you begin to question whether you actually need to go out at all and when kids become part of your world you realise how many variable there are to so many questions which had never even crossed your mind before they arrived. 
 
Do I let the baby sleep with me? Do I let the baby sleep in my room? If I do that, when do I move the baby into its own room? When do I move the baby from a bassinette to a cot? Do I really need a bassinette at all (I've heard my grandmother say she kept my mum in an open drawer... how does that even work?) And we haven't even begun to talk about eating yet - these are only the sleep related questions!!

So today I wanted to tackle a big one. Well big in that it has a direct impact to your own quantity and quality of sleep after you have made your decision. (And I might add that once you have a baby you then realise how sleep deprivation is used as a form of torture - please I'll tell you everything you want to know, just let me have a sleep!) The big question is, when do you move a child from their cot to a bed?

With my first son (who is now 9 years old) it was all trial and error. Mostly error, we realised a little too late because once you have made your choice you have to live with it. There is no turning back!! So with my first child we moved him from cot to bed when he was two. Mostly because he was so tall and we felt that he would be swinging a leg over the side of the cot any day and we were worried he might fall and hurt himself. So he was duly moved into his big bed at two years and 2 weeks. The result of that move was that he was too young to "get" the rules and kept running from his bed to our room at all hours of the night because he could. (Please I'll give you all my secrets - just let me sleep!)

I went off to the library and borrowed every book I could on toddler sleeping, (sub titled - keeping them in their own bed) and we tried a number of the recommendations out. The only thing that worked for us (and keep in mind that this was almost a year later of broken sleeps and he had not slept well as a baby either... I don't believe I got an unbroken nights sleep for about three years) was threatening to tie his room shut. Yeah, I know, I can hear the horrified intakes of breath from here - but when you're that tied you go with what works.

Please note that we threatened to tie his door shut.  The theory goes that you tie a rope from a door across the hall to your toddler's door and then tie the other end to their door knob. So that they are able to open their door only a tiny smidge yet still can't get out. We did not ever actually do it. Fortunately the threat of it was enough.

Now we come to that point again. My two year old is tall enough to swing a leg over the side of the cot and just get out. So what am I going to do about it?? Well, at the moment I have him sleeping in a backward kids sleeping bag (you know the ones with the arms in them, not the ones you go camping with kids in ..... and it's backwards because he learnt how to undo the zip and strip it off - and sometimes the rest of his clothes (houdini anyone?)). So in this way he can't swing his leg over high enough to actually get out of the cot.

My plan this time (based on my previous experience) will see him sleeping in the cot until he can no longer actually fit in there and then I have no choice but to move him into his "big" bed. At which time we will make a big deal (as recommended by experts) about what a big boy he is and how exciting it is to move to a big boy bed.... and then I guess we get back on with the game of sleep Russian roulette!! 

I'll keep you posted.

Cheers,

Lee


 
 
For those of you who have never been to Melbourne (and even those of you who live here but don’t get out much) I have a treat for you today. I am going to take you on a visual tour of some of my favourite spots in Melbourne. 

Melbourne has to be one of the most people friendly cities in the world and there are lots of things to see and do but today I have focused on just a few. Enjoy.

You may notice from looking at the map that I only covered a really really small part of Melbourne on today's visual tour but there is just so much to take in I didn't want to overwhelm you on our first day out!!

If you have enjoyed the images please let me know and if you would prefer them as still images instead of a slide show let me know that too!! Next time, I think we will look at some more kid friendly places to go.

Cheers,

Lee
 
 
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I just had a message posted on my Facebook wall - 19 weeks until Christmas. Yep, that's right you heard it here. It's seems you never have enough time to get everything done and yet Christmas keeps barrelling on down on us.

Any minute now we will be complaining about Christmas Decorations up in stores and seriously why shouldn't we? December is the month of Christmas, so that logically is the month that decorations should actually go up. You can't tell me that if you started putting up Christmas decorations at your place in the first week of September, you're friends wouldn't start regarding you as a little quirky (at the very least). 

The thing is, I understand the importance of being prepared. I am not one of those people who find's joy in racing around in the days just before Christmas madly trying to purchase gifts. I get in early and by early I mean January  (if I spot something special I think someone will like) and I put it away in my present cupboard. This cupboard also stores birthday presents, mothers and fathers days presents .... you get the idea. So, the thing is I get in early. I like early because I like to be prepared. What I don't like is having Christmas rammed down my throat when we should be celebrating other events, milestones and occasions in our lives. Not suffering from a false sense that the year is almost over again... come on, we still have more than a few months left in this one!

Funnily enough, the thing that got me started on this theme was not Christmas decorations and the lunacy of when they go up but rather what to buy the kids for Christmas. I know that this has not been apparent so far in this post before this moment but stay with me and it will become clear.

So what in 2012, do you buy for kids? I came across another post on Facebook the other day where a mother asked whether she should purchase an ipad for her 2 year old. My response was of course, are you kidding me? I haven't even been able to justify the expense of purchasing one for myself - why would I purchase something so expensive for someone who can't even put their own pants on by themselves? (Pull them off yes - but that's a story for another day). I know for a fact my 2 year old doesn't care what is left at the end of his bed, in fact he would be ecstatic with a box. (ahhh, the simplicity of life when you can get excited over a box).

Now, my 9 year old is a different story altogether. He wants what every other 9 year old wants, the "latest thing". This year it's an ipod touch, Bionicles and Skylanders (if you have never heard of Skylanders, you are obviously not hanging with any boys between 5 and 10 - otherwise you'd be drowning in them). Funnily enough, "old school" items are also having a resurgence, such as skateboards and Lego (which has been made over for the 21st Century - read: boxed up, given a theme and is ridiculously expensive).

Now obviously he's not getting everything on his list but how do you choose which is the most appropriate item? Should you make purchases based on how educational the gift is, how much fun it is or do you just get them what they want most (that week) - how do you make your choice?? 

I think at the end of the day, I am most motivated by things which come in one or two large pieces. I am sick of picking small pieces of crap up from yesterdays "must have" disgarded toys so that I can vacuum the carpet.  Which is why it always amuses (no, irritates) me when that ad for Kmart toys comes on and the mum gleefully exclaims over a $25 toy "wow, look at all the pieces!" - are you kidding me? She should be getting excited about it coming in one full piece because it will be less to pick up when the kids are over it and keep leaving it laying around the house!

In fact I find Christmas decorations going up early less annoying than all the toys which come with a multitude of optional pieces (yeah - tech decks, I'm talking about you!) but only just.

So, how about you? Are you an early Christmas shopper or do you save it all to the last moment? What do you look for in a gift for kids? What do your kids just have to have this year? Good luck, give it a month

Cheers,

Lee

 
 
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So what kind of mother are you? If you didn't catch the article on A Current Affair the other night about Mummy Mafia's you could be forgiven for saying ... well how many categories are there?

According to the latest parenting "expert" (who has written a book), there are at least 80 different kinds on mums. One of those being the chardonnay mum - the mum who can't wait for 5 o'clock to hit, to pour herself a glass of wine. Perhaps it's just the crowd I hang with but that one title alone describes nearly every mum I know. I'm not talking about a throw down alcoholic binge, just a glass to take the edge off at the end of the day. So from where I'm sitting it would have been a very short book if I'd written it. But I digress, those are not the types of mum to which I am referring. What I am talking about comes more down to whether you allow fun in your house, how much of it and what type? 

In downtown Melbourne it has been raining pretty much on and off for the past few weeks. Yes, of course we do get that crack of sunlight which manages to break through every so often but those are few and far between. The significance of this is that there are lots of puddles about the place. So here is the dilemma that causes the great "fun" divide. Do you let your kids go out and jump in said puddles or do you rein them in to cleaner indoor activities so as not to create more unnecessary work for yourself??

You see I kinda get both sides. I am on the "there's your boots, go for it my friend" side of the fence. But I do have a little internal dialogue that goes something like this "it's ok, only his boots will get wet and they're waterproof anyway... OK, so now his pants are getting a little wet.. it's only the bottoms of them. No big deal. Oh, look his pants are pretty much wet to the crotch now. Calm down you can wash it, what does it matter? Oh, now his shirt is getting wet... and look there's mud..." I am sure I am not alone in this internal struggle of fun against dirt.  

At the end of the day, it didn't hurt anyone. It was free entertainment and he was having the most wonderful time, even if I did have to pour the muddy water out of his half full boots at the end.

Seriously, what can you do when you see that happy little face but grab a camera and let him go for it!! But, that's just my opinion and if I was honest I would have to say it has taken me a while to embrace this side, having a bit of an issue with dirt and yet more washing myself.

So which side of this issue do you fall on? I would love to know.

Happy Friday and enjoy your weekend.... it must be nearly 5 o'clock somewhere by now?

Cheers,

Lee
 
 
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When my husband is sick, the world stops. Well, his world does anyway. He lies on the lounge or goes to bed until he feels better. Which, is really what we all want to do when we're not feeling our best.

When  a mum feels sick, everything continues on as normal. Kids have to be taken to the bus stop, toddlers have to be dressed and fed, lunches and dinners have to be made. It all goes on...... and on.

I actually had a number of ideas for today's post floating around my head and then I woke up feeling rubbish. All I wanted to do was go back to bed and wake up when I felt better. But being a mum that is very rarely an option.

So, what do we do? Continue on as normal and wait (make that, count down the time) for nap time (theirs, not mine) - lucky for me, we still have one.....and race in to get in my own nap while there at it!

zzzzzzz

Lee

 
 
As I have mentioned in a previous post my number one priority as a parent is for my children to be safe, so you can image how very sad I felt for the parents of Olivia Penpraze when I watched the episode on Bullying on Sunday Night (channel 7 last night).

Olivia was subjected to bullying over a prolonged period of time and in an effort to feel she was not alone started trying to connect with others on social media like Facebook and YouTube. How do you keep your children safe when people are then coming into your home and telling your child to kill themselves because they are a waste of space?

The hardest part about bullying is the sense of helplessness. Helplessness for the victim and also for the parents. You want to be able to be able to fix things for your children but you also want them to be able to solve problems for themselves. I really felt for Alex and his mother. Alex,  another victim of bullying was also featured in the Sunday Night episode and is in a new film called Bully in theatres in Australia on August 23rd.  His mother initially thinking he was exaggerating the severity of bullying on the school bus went to see the school after she saw footage of what her son had to endure each day. And you know what they did about it? Nothing. Even after they had viewed the footage. He was being choked, punched, stabbed with pencils and abused..... everyday and they did nothing.  

Now this is not an issue that he was ever going to be able to resolve on his own and he shouldn't have to. This is the time that the parents should be stepping in for him, and they did and nothing came of it. So, as a parent what do we do??

It's unfair to say it is all the schools fault because there are many good teachers who will do something about it and take action on your child's behalf, if they know about it. The biggest tips I got from watching Sunday Night were keep an eye on our kids, watch for any changes in their behaviour, look out for them withdrawing from things they love, keep communication channels open and let them know how much you love them always.

It still doesn't seem like enough though.
 
See ya,

Lee
 
 
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Melbourne arts precinct.
The special thing about relocating from one major city to another one (in a different state) is that you get to look at everything from a fresh viewpoint. You see and try things that people who have lived there their whole lives don't bother with because they feel like they will just get to it eventually (and don't).

Moving to Melbourne from Sydney was a very hard time for me. We left behind our friends, our family and our home to support my husband in his new position at work. When we first moved here we didn't know anyone and in fact I had only been to Melbourne once before and that was only a day visit for a mystery flight (which was nice .. but what can you tell about a place in a day!?)

One of the most difficult things about moving is that you have to find new people. Not just friends and some kind of a support network but all the other little things you take for granted. Like a new hairdresser, doctor, chiropractor and dentist. Not to mention trying to work out the subtle but important differences between one state and another ( I honestly didn't think there would be any) like wording. For example, when we got here my husband went to buy some fish and chips and when he got home he was complaining about how expensive it was. It turned out that he had bought seafood scallops instead of potato scallops - which are actually called potato cakes in Victoria and not scallops at all. And don't even get me started on castle. In New South Wales it is pronounced Car-sal, much like it is in that iconic Australian movie 'The Castle', in Victoria it sounds much more like the British Cass-sell. Only small things I know but it highlights you as an outsider if you are unaware.

I do have to say though that having kids is a bit of a blessing when trying to meet new people. It forces you to get out and meet new people if only for the sake of your children not being "nigel no friends". A lot of my Melbourne friendships have been made through kid connections.

The difficulty though is that you have to start telling your story again. Your old friends know who you are, what you like and pretty much what you're about. With new people the small talk starts, where are you from, how do you like it here.. that kind of stuff, until you find people with which you can make real connections.

Well, five years and a bit later and I do have new people. A doctor and chiropractor and a network of wonderful people I am happy to call my friends. I don't know that we will live here forever but I don't have any plans to go anywhere else either. I think once you make such a big move, nothing ever feels as permanent to you anymore. I mean, I never thought I would leave Sydney to start with. After I have been back to Sydney (which just happened recently), when speaking to people in Melbourne I refer to Sydney as home. As in, "at home we used to do this". Which annoys my Melbourne friends no end, who say ... "well actually, this is your home now,  this is where you live" . And it's true, Melbourne is home.

I am really enjoying living here. I love the cultural quality to living here. I love the artistic freedom. I love that Melbourne adds those little special touches to things. They keep old buildings because they are beautiful, they fill little alleyways with magical cake, coffee and book shops. They add sculptures to the side of the freeway because it adds interest to the horizon. For all those things I thank you Melbourne. Although I still miss "my old" friends, thank you for my wonderful people, the beautiful new friends I would never have met if I had stayed in one place. Thank you for your art galleries, museums, free tourist trams and funky little alleyways. But if you could turn the heat up a little bit right now, it would be perfect.

Cheers,

Lee