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Author: Kate Korber

I'm a passionate educator who loves helping teachers and parents understand how to engage our students in this digital world. I'm also a Mum who is learning to tackle the everyday challenges of being a parent of a our two year old Ella and new born son, Hudson!
The rookie school Mum

The rookie school Mum

Well, it’s been almost four weeks of Ella being at school, and myself being a rookie school Mum and I pleased to report we are still here and smiling. I tell you though, whilst I have been a teacher for 15 years, nothing prepares you for the roller coaster of juggling drop offs, pick ups, work and family life. We have done ‘double drop offs’ before, however there is a new level of stress when ‘school hours’ are thrown into the mix. Like all families, we have done everything we can to try to make the transition smooth, both for Ella and ourselves. Luckily, the best part of all has been the wonderful school and community that we have been welcomed into.

Both working in a school, and being a school Mum has given me a whole new perspective on how hard families work, to make it all work. Our saving grace has been the amazing support of our Mums and family. Honestly, I don’t know how we would do it without them! Me and Dan have had to be flexible with our work commitments as much as we can. Our timetable is a finely tuned piece of art, with drop offs and pick ups changing each day. I live my life by my calendar, and have even invested on installing a cork board / white board in our pantry, just so I can make sure that we keep on top of notes, dates, reminders and parties.school mum

That gets me onto another point. Information. My friend (who is also a fellow rookie school Mum) recently told me that she has never been and felt so informed in all of her life. As a teacher, I know and understand the frenetic stream of information that is constantly being shared with our community. School events, learning news, canteen, fundraisers, school photos…it goes on and on. It’s important that everyone knows what is going on, and often goes out to the community in various forms. Email, newsletter, sms, Facebook! However when you are on the other side of it, it can be cray cray! In a good way that is, but I’ve learned that when an email or newsletter comes out…the best thing you can do is get your calendar out then and there and make sure you take note, and send your hubby a calendar notification!

As a rookie school Mum, I’ve learned that your super power needs to be ‘organisation’. The night before means laying out their uniform, packing their lunch box – but not with everything as to keep some things fresh. Making sure that you have a routine. Check the school bag. Sign the notes. Check your emails each day, because there is sure to be a change of date somewhere. I’m yet to slip up…but I’m just waiting with bated breath!

Ella has been great so far. Seeing her smile has helped easy my worry! She’s met some gorgeous kids and made lots of friends. That said, mornings when I drop her off are still hard. For some reason, it is always the Mums who cop the tears. It’s not that she doesn’t like school, she just doesn’t want me to leave. Talk about pulling at my heart strings. If there is one piece of my ‘teaching’ advice I’ve been good at listening to is knowing how important it is to just leave. Give her to someone she feels safe with, and leave. Whilst my heart might be aching for her, I know it’s kinder for her own resilience. That and the fact that when I pick her up at 3.30 I see her smiling…I know she is ok.

Personally, it’s been wonderful to be supported by a fabulous group of parents who have been so welcoming. Coming into a school community can be daunting for anyone, and I’ve been so lucky to have had such lovely people share their happy experiences with me at the school and reassuring me when I’ve been worried about something.  There is something about school Mums and Dads sticking together, and pepping each other up when you are feeling down. It’s like an unspoken language that we all just ‘get’.

So as we find ourselves almost half way through term 1, I hope you are all feeling ok. It’s hard at times, but its also so exciting seeing our kids finding themselves belonging to a beautiful community.

Be a Valentine with Flowers for Everyone!

Be a Valentine with Flowers for Everyone!

Valentines Day is next week people! Next Week!! Whether you love the day or not…..one thing is for sure….everyone loves love. One of the best things I love about the day is being able to involve our children in the fun. Ella is probably the biggest lover of flowers on the planet, and Hudson….well he has been taught well by his Father in the past! Walking in the door with a beautiful bunch of flowers….giving them to the kids, who have then given them to me. It’s a little act of love that never gets old in my eyes.

One of the hardest parts about Valentines Day is getting to a store to purchase quality flowers. You have to line up and often end up with flowers that wilt over night! It is my pleasure therefore to share with you a fantastic Australian online store, who has put together a range of quality products for Valentines Day…that you can order online. Flowers for Everyone is just that. Flowers FOR everyone! Simply head to their website and choose your favourite gift, personalise with a little message and have them sent to your love, no matter where they are. Whether it’s flowers on their own, or add a candle, chocolate…or even a bottle of champagne!

As a teacher, I have to admit…there is nothing better than receiving flowers at work! Makes my heart sing! Get in early this week…or send your ‘loved one’ a little nudge!

 

 

 

To our Ella, on the night before you start school.

To our Ella, on the night before you start school.

To our dearest Ella

As much as I want to hold your hand, tightly in mine and keep you young forever, tomorrow I will let it go as you start your biggest adventure yet. Tomorrow we will kiss you and send you off as your start school.

I swear it was only yesterday that we brought you home, that we wrapped you lovingly in your cot, that we rocked you to sleep. I swear it was only yesterday that you spoke your first words (Dadda of course). When you took your first steps, when you slept through the night, when you met your brother for the first time. I swear it was only yesterday, but yet, here we are. A big girl, grown up before our eyes.

There are so many things that I hope and dream for you. So much that I could say. So much that I want you to know.

As a teacher

I hope that you continue your love of learning.

That your spark and curiosity flourish.

I hope learn for school to be a wonderful place

That your teacher will nurture you and guide you

That you see yourself as someone who can take risks

I hope that you learn to listen, and be listened to

I hope that your creative mind gets bigger and bigger

I hope that you feel proud of your achievements

I hope that you learn through your mistakes

That you know that not everyone is perfect

That mistakes are ok, more than ok!

That you are ‘smart’ in lots of ways

I hope you explore the world in all it’s glory

That you find your talents

That you learn to appreciate others

That you learn about yourself

 

As your Mother

I hope that you are happy

That you feel safe and secure

That you make beautiful friends whom you will cherish your whole life (like me)

That you experience success, and learn from failure

That you see yourself as important

I hope that you experience the joy of being part of something glorious

That you laugh, that you smile, that you grow

That you use your voice to make things happen

I hope you know how wonderful you are, and

How wonderful others can be

start school

Our darling Ella, tomorrow is the biggest day of your life yet.

I started this blog to remember the big milestones in our family, and tomorrow is one we will never forget!

You are so ready

Oh’ the places you’ll go sweet girl!

We love you.

Love Mum & Dad

xx00

Starting school essentials: for kids and their parents

Starting school essentials: for kids and their parents

Every year for as long as I can remember, the phrase ‘back to school’ has meant the setting up of classrooms, getting everything ready for the children I was going to teach, and the teachers I was helping to guide. This year, it not only means heading back to school for me, it means starting school for my Ella. I truly can’t believe it. It not only means getting her ready for school, but getting myself ready to be a school Mum. Far out! I’ve put together some of my ‘starting school’ essentials, some from my experience as a teacher, and some via the wise words of many school Mums before me. Advice and recommendations from those who’ve learned….

  1. Lunch Box Options

If ever there was a debate that brought out strong opinions from Mum and Dads far and wide, this is truly it. What I’ve discovered from many is the love for Bento Boxes. The Yum Box to be exact. You see, Ella is definitely a sandwich girl, but she is also (like me), somewhat of a bird. She eats lots of small things. The attraction of having less plastic wrapping was also something that I wanted to try, especially given that we teach our children about their roles in being responsible for our planet!

So I turned to Yvette from Little Bento Box – the perfect place to answer all of my Bento Questions. I didn’t quite realise the huge variety of options! According to Yvette, you need only answer two questions:  Are they a sandwich person or are they a nibbler? That way you’ll know how many compartments you need in your lunchbox!

We’ve chosen the Panino Yum Box as it has three compartments with one large enough for a sandwich. I have firstly been taken by the amazing quality, the sturdiness and fantastic features of the Panini. The beautiful illustrations on the inside make it somewhat of an experience in using it. I’ve been told by many friends that they have had their for years, and they really do last the distance. Coming in a range of colours, your little one can certainly make their lunch box, their own! Ella has chosen a bright pink Yum Box, and cannot wait to take it to school! Best of all, it is leak proof. Meaning that what ever I include, it will never leak into her bag!

We’ve also chosen a few other smaller snack boxes so that she can nibble on other things at play lunch. The Bento Two in Flamingo is perfect size for either your child’s first lunch box or for children who don’t have big appetites.  Its compact size makes it easy to pack when you are on the move. The removable divider allows you to add extra variety separating dry foods within the leakproof compartments.

Similarly, the Bento Large Freezable is a fantastic option if you want to send your little one to school with a little more to eat! I love that you can freeze it, in case there are things you want to make before hand!

2. Insulated Lunch Bags

In the 80s we went to school with a standard plastic lunch box. No matter the weather, the heat, we would eat the food, but sometimes it had melted or worst of all…gone off! These days, there are a variety of amazing insulated lunch bags that you can pair with your child’s lunch box to ensure that their food stays cool just at the right temperature. If you use a Yum Box, you also need to ensure that you choose an insulated bag that can hold both it, and other smaller ones and fruit such as bananas. We’ve chosen the Neoprene Animal Bag in the Unicorn design. It keeps your child’s lunch cold, zips up easily, has a nifty carry handle and is large enough to fit a few things!

 

3. Drink Bottle

Oh the endless options! Given Ella’s love for Disney, we’ve chosen the Disney Flip Top in the Minnie Design.   Made from Stainless Steel and BPA Free Plastic.

4. Sandwich stamps, cutters and picks

Such gorgeous way to bring a smile to your child’s face. Little Bento box have an extensive range of beautiful stamps : animals and words. If you have a plain eater like me, then they may just get them biting a few different options! You can also find a huge variety of animal and letter food picks. Again, to make your child’s lunch something extra special every now and then. There are also divine little letter and animal picks, and super cute soy sauce containers for sushi!

  1. Little Lunch Notes

My friends over at Sprout and Sparrow have created what can only be described as the sweetest addition to any lunch box. Notes sent with love. Notes for birthdays, notes for the first day of school, notes just…because. Notes you can write on yourself, to make your child feel as though you are giving them a warm cuddle when they open their lunch each day. Such a simple, beautiful thought. As a teacher I think this is a wonderful gesture to promote love between parent and child. AS a Mum…well…I just love it. NOTE!!! All Happy Ella After readers get an EXCLUSIVE 10% discount with the code ELLA10! To purchase head to their site here: https://www.sproutandsparrow.com.au/products/little-lunch-notes

6. Little Wuppy

A new school, teacher or classroom can cause anxiety for some children. They may feel overwhelmed, a little apprehensive, and may even suffer separation anxiety. Possibly one of the most beautiful and needed ideas is ‘Little Wuppy’. Designed by Linda a former primary school teacher from Melbourne, she created ‘little wuppy’ – a sausage dog worry puppy designed as an aid to help ease children’s worries.The special feature of the little wuppy® worry puppy is its heart. Children are encouraged to send their worries to the worry puppy by placing its heart against their own. And the heart on the worry catcher key ring ‘catches’ all their worries, so they don’t need to worry any more. As a sufferer of anxiety and panic attacks, she want to help empower children to manage their worries and seek comfort in times of need.

Children can hang one key ring on their pencil case, and one on their bag, so they can ‘catch’ all their worries while in the classroom.
They can also pop one in their pocket, or run their fingers across the wooden etching for tactile comfort.

They currently have a ‘back to school’ pack on offer which includes:

  • ONE little wuppy worry puppy
  • an adoption certificate
  • an information card (including welcome note, diagram and note to adults)
  • TWO little wuppy worry catcher key rings
  • a calico carry bag

7. Magic Words Resources

As a teacher, one of the best resources that you can use at the beginning of school is getting to know the Magic Words.  Magic Words are the most common words in English and are the most important words in learning to read. Magic 100 Words make up half of all the words in reading. Created by Marcella Reiter, she is an experienced Classroom Teacher, Education Consultant and Psychologist.

Magic Words began on the kitchen table when Marcella was playing games to teach her three young children how to read. Marcella researched and found the most important words in learning to read.  Using an old set of QANTAS (Australia’s National Airline) Playing Cards with the words stuck on the face, she began inventing fun and exciting ways to engage her children in playing card games with these 100 most important words. The aim was to play for short periods of time, often, so that the children would be able to remember the words automatically. They began calling these words the “Magic Words” because they were in every book, magazine and newspaper and just “magically” appeared in everything they read!

Starting with the Golden Words, there are dozens of activities you can to to improve your child’s recognition of these commonly used words. This product is NOT phonics based (ie. teaching specific sounds for various letters), however you can apply phonics awareness to help your child recognise these words in their reading.  You can purchase their products here: https://www.m100w.com.au/

I’ll be LIVE on my Instagram Stories TODAY at 10am AEDST talking about these awesome products, and answering any STARTING SCHOOL questions you may have. You may be a new Mum, or even a Mum whose had children at school for ages…and can help me! Hoping the above helps guide you in the right direction. One week to go!!!

 

Local Legend: Tracy from Love my Pantry

Local Legend: Tracy from Love my Pantry

Pantries. They are the centre of our homes. Whether you’ve got a small pantry cupboard, or a large butler’s space….if you are like me then you need, crave, want some order amongst all of the cereals, baking products, snacks and spices. Problem is, pantries are often the most cluttered, disorganised spaces in our home. With food coming in and out at an exponential rate, unless someone is putting things back in the right spot, then it quickly ends up looking like a rubbish heap. Even if you’ve invested in the most expensive tupperware! As I’ve gotten older I swooned over the amazing, organised, ordered pantry spaces that have graced many a pinterest board. There is nothing like seeing your food neatly ordered in lovely looking jars, labelled, easily at reach. The problem is, turning a pile of cereal boxes, opened packets of pasta and snacks into something that resembles the above, is a task that is well beyond the limits of time and patience for most people!

Step in Tracy from Love My Pantry. Quite simply, everyone needs Tracy in their life. No jokes, she is like an angel from heaven. You know those jobs you have that feel really important, that you really need to get some, some day, but they are never a priority? Tracey makes those jobs happen. Literally. Last year, after we moved into our home, I was lucky enough to have Tracy come to my home to weave her pantry magic. Essentially she comes to your home, assesses the state (or chaos) or your Pantry, cupboards, linen closet, toy room storage etc….removes everything, then reorganises, repacks, rearranges and sorts everything back in the most ordered, decluttered way. Tracy turns your once cluttered pantry into a storage space fit for any Pinterest account!

She uses clever storage tubs to help you categorise and organise your food items. Whether there be baking goods, spices, or snacks for the kids. She is your woman! Tracy is a local Mum who turned her everyday love of all things organised into a booming business of her own. After a few months, she had clearly struck a nerve, with people all over Melbourne begging her to help them! This is what she did with my new pantry!

MY DRAWERS BEFORE….

Love My Pantry

MY DRAWERS AFTER…

MY PANTRY BEFORE…

MY PANTRY AFTER…

This is her story…

1. Tell us a bit about your business, your dream, your story
I started my business just over 2 years ago. As a housewarming present for my brother & sister in law I thought I would do a Pantry makeover. While I was doing this my sister in law said. “You are in your element you really should do this as a job”
I thought for a moment. Don’t be silly. Who would want this? Later that day I decided to give it a go. I put a post of Facebook in a mum’s & baby group giving away 5 free Pantry makeovers. The response was insane with so many mum’s commenting “yes please!”
“Pick me”. It’s grown very organically through word of mouth from very happy customers. All my clients are overwhelmed with how amazing they say it makes them feel. It’s a very rewarding job for me also as it makes me feel great too knowing what a difference it makes for busy mums. I now help in any areas in the home not just the pantry.
2.Magic: What is the most magical thing that has happened to you as a small business owner?
I would say the most magical thing that has happened for me as a small business owner would have to be all the amazing messages I get from my followers saying they absolutely love my Instagram page. It makes them feel calm! Many of them say they need me in their lives. For me this is very humbling. I’ve had clients call me the pantry queen & also the pantry goddess.  It really is an amazing feeling. Never thought it would make such an impact in so many people lives.
3. Mayhem: What has been your greatest challenge, moment of mayhem?
The greatest challenge for me is right now trying to work out how to scale my business so it’s not just me. I get enquiries from all over Australia and I would love to be able to help everyone. I’ve been looking into employing other organisers and also franchising but I’m not sure which way to go.
4. Milestone: What has been your greatest achievement, milestone?
My greatest achievement so far would be all the press I received when Mamamia Aus interviewed me and wrote such a great article about me & Love My Pantry. Also reaching 10K Instagram followers was a really big milestone and I’ve started to notice other businesses taking me more seriously and asking for collaborations.
5.Pay it Forward: Who do you love? What small business are you lusting over right now?
 I really love seeing pictures of interiors & architecture. I was a graphic designer for many years before having my 4 kids. I just decided I no longer wanted to sit in front of a computer anymore. I follow Dotandpop and love everything about them. Simple decluttered spaces.

To see more of Tracy’s amazing transformations, and to contact her to have her come and help you in your home, especially as we all head back to school and start a new year, head to her Instagram Page here:

https://www.instagram.com/lovemypantry/?hl=en

Reliving my 80s childhood with the Looney Tunes & Cotton on Kids

Reliving my 80s childhood with the Looney Tunes & Cotton on Kids

Growing up as a kid in the 1980s was so much fun. I have so many memories of racing home from school, turning the telly on to watch Looney Tunes cartoons as we stuffed our faces with vegemite on toast. Much like our parents reminisced about their own upbringing, our own children are growing up in a time that is very different from ours. Some things change, but I love the fact that there are so many parts of my childhood that are making a comeback. From retro 80s toys and games, to the much loved stories that we treasured. I’ve loved seeing some of my favourite brands do some epic collaborations, and the recent range of kids wear from Cotton On kids for girls and boys is no different. With school starting in a couple of weeks, their range includes funky pieces of clothing and cool accessories including drink bottles, lunch boxes, caps and bag tags!

Teaming up with Looney Tunes, Cotton on Kids is bringing my 80s childhood into the lives of my 21st century children! From Bugs Bunny to Sylvester, Tweety Bird and the iconic ‘That’s All Folks’ – I just love the fact that my kids are being introduced to a ‘new’ family of characters from an ‘old’ era. (I won’t use the word ‘old’ lightly ;-)).

Only problem is, my kids have no idea why we love them so much! We’ve been you tubing Bugs Bunny, and the Road Runner….the kids have adored watching their adventures. Laughing along with the hilarious cartoons, most of which have very little character voice overs.

Our adorable Looney Tunes samples have been provided by the team at Warner Bros. Consumer Products and Cotton On Kids. Some of my favourite pieces from the range include:

The beautifully embroided tees with characters and rainbows…

Cotton on Kids Looney Tunes

The cheeky Sylvester tee that suits our rebel Huddy perfectly…

The insanely cool ‘that’s all folks’ denim jacket. Possibly the best piece in the entire range!

The detail in the girls’ jeans…

What’s even cooler (literally) is the fact that you can bring the range back to school with the selection of drink bottles, and lunch boxes that are very generous in size. Perfect for fitting on a larger lunch box!

From Bugs Bunny to Tweetie Bird and Tasmanian Devil to Daffy Duck, there is something in this collection for every fashion forward kid! • The range is available in store at Cotton On Kids and online for a limited time only – get in quick or risk missing out! • The apparel range starts from infant sizing through to size 8. To get your hands on this gorgeous range, you can purchase everything online and in store now!

Smiggle Giveaway: Back to school with the Smiggle Squad

Smiggle Giveaway: Back to school with the Smiggle Squad

This time of year is always about back to school. This year, in our house…it’s about starting school! As a teacher, I’ve witnessed the rise of the uber cool Smiggle as the ‘must have’ items in every child’s school bag. From the most amazing sequinned pencil cases, to drink bottles with personalised letters. Smiggle is the source of everything cool for school.

When you join the Smiggle squad you get to kick start your year with a whole lot of fun and good dose of fabulousness! Smiggle has a range of colourful essentials that are bound to make heading back to school that bit cooler!

Need a unique backpack? They’ve got it!
Got a list of pens and pencils a mile long? They’ll sort it!
Want to go back with something no one else has seen before? You’ll find it at Smiggle!

Ella is literally falling over herself with excitement that she is finally able to choose some amazing products from Smiggle to help add to the thrill of starting school. She chose the most amazing lunch box, notebooks, drink bottle, pencil case and little bento boxes to fill with snacks.  Smiggle’s product range is enormous. Everything you need for school, homework or FUN can be found at Smiggle. Smiggle’s products are designed to inspire and develop creativity with original, fun and affordable stationery, accessories, gadgets and more, all in our bright fun, colours of pink, purple, green, blue and black.

Smiggle

 

But wait there’s (even) more…

THE PRIZE: 

We are thrilled to be combining forces with Smiggle to give one lucky child the following awesome products from their range to help them get ready for school!. All products come in pink.

1x Squad 330 Pencil Case $16.95

1x Squad Character Wallet $17.95

1x Squad Bus Pass $12.95

1x Squad Lanyard $8.95

1x Squad Rainbow Pen $5.95

Total Prize Value: $62.95

TO ENTER:

  1. Simply head to our Instagram feed here. Like the comp image, be following @happyellaafter and @smiggle, and tag two mates whose kids would love the prize!
  2. For an extra entry (but not compulsory) leave a comment on the blog post below with your favourite item that your child has loved from Smiggle

T&Cs:

Open to Australian Residents only. Comp is open from Thursday 11th January at 9am until Thursday 18th January at 9pm. One winner will be selected at random. This giveaway is in no way endorsed, supported or administered by Instagram or Facebook.

To check out just some of the huge range of goodies, gadgets and gizmos released especially for back to school! Everything is available from Smiggle stores nationally (and internationally!!) or online at www.smiggle.com.