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One year on

One year on

Today is a day that a year ago, I couldn’t imagine coming. A year ago today, we lost our darling Dad. Suddenly. The pendulum swung, in a moment. In those few weeks following Dad’s passing I searched for answers. For someone to give me a reason why it was ‘his time’. I learned so much in that time, but most of all, I learned that searching for answers that don’t come is hard. It’s really hard. So I stopped after a while. There was no point, and it was not helpful. It’s hard on the brain to try to rationalise loss, particularly when your loved one wasn’t really ill. Whilst my Dad did have a heart condition, it was managed and he was in great shape. That moment of receiving the call, was the first time in my life where I really felt out of control. I tried to slam on the breaks and stop time. The problem is, time doesn’t stop. The sun rises, the sun sets. People get up, go to work, come home, go to sleep. Life moves on. However it is really hard for those who are left behind, wanting the world to realise that there is now a huge hole in the world. A loss that cannot be described.

I’ve found it better to simply focus on the positive. To try to laugh and smile when I think of him. To talk about him. To see his presence through everything he has left. It doesn’t bring him back, but it keeps his memory alive.

It’s been a really hard year for my family. I felt in those early days, that we simply didn’t know ‘how’ to be a family without our Dad. We have, however found our way and whilst we are still grieving each day, we have continued to laugh, continued to smile. We have stuck in there for each other. Each of us has grieved in our own way. Each of us dealing with our own feelings and trying to look out for each other. Dad would be so proud. So proud of each of us, and especially our Mum.

So this day, one year on we continue to celebrate the memory of our beautiful Dad. It’s hard because I won’t be there with my family. I WILL be with my own, flying home from our family holiday. I will toast to him on the plane. I take comfort knowing however that there will be many friends and family, celebrating and commemorating with my Mum, my brother and sisters. As my Dad would want, they will be having a Crownie which should be ‘free and compulsory’.

There are so many things I miss about Dad. When my siblings and I had to write down our love for Dad in his eulogy, surprisingly we found it easy. It was easy to come up with a million things that we adored about him. Like his infectious laugh. The kind that made him almost pass out from not being able to breathe. His clumsiness. His funny language that he made up (long story). Singing in the kitchen. His obsession with North Melbourne. His love for us all.

Dad…..a year on we still love and adore you and will continue to keep your memory alive each day. This poem was used at the end of the mass booklet at his funeral. The words speak so true to me. Now and always.

We do not need a special day to bring you to our minds.

The days we do not think of you are very hard to find.

Each mornign when we awake we know that you are gone.

And no one knows the heartache as we try to carry on

Our heart still aches with sadness and sectret tears still flow.

What it means to lose you no one will ever know.

Our thoughts are awlays with you, your place no one can fill.

In life we loved your dearly; in death we love you still.

There will always be heartache, and often a silent tear.

But alwyas a previous memory of the days when you were here.

If tears would make a staircase, and heartaches make a lane,

We’d walk to  the path to heaven and bring you home again.

We hold you close within our heartsl and there you will remain,

To walk with us throughout our lives until we meet again.

Our family chain is broken now, and nothing seems the same,

But as God calls us one by one, the chain will link again


(aka Snake as Dad would call me)

Celebrating Winter in beautiful Ballarat

Celebrating Winter in beautiful Ballarat

This weekend we escaped the city and headed to beautiful Ballarat. Known for none other than being the gold epicentre of Victoria, the region has this year decided to embrace the cold and welcome us all with their huge Winter Festival. I’ve been to Ballarat countless times as a teacher, but this was my first time as a Mum with Ella and Hudson. Given the fact that we are in the thick of packing, moving and renovating, my Hubby stayed home and we took Mum (aka Nanna) along for the ride. As guest of Ballarat Tourism we were lucky enough to be heading up the freeway to experience a jam packed couple of days, with the best of Ballarat on offer. I was keen to see how the town would capture the imagination of my little ones, and have them experience the wonder of this beautiful old town.

Stop 1. Mercure Hotel Ballarat and Convention Centre

Literally a stones through away from Sovereign Hill, this sprawling complex is hospitality at its best. We were delighted to be welcomed by the team and found our way to a gorgeous two bedroom apartment. Perfect for families, it has everything you would want for a weekend stay. Full size lounge and dining, kitchen, upstairs with two large bedrooms (one with a King bed), Bathroom (including bath), seperate shower, washer and dryer. I must admit that we were delighted to be staying in an apartment, as the standard hotel room can sometimes insight cabin fever, and doesn’t really set the tone for a relaxing weekend. The apartments surround a beautiful enclosed garden with tables and chairs, ready for a gorgeous afternoon outside. A short walk away is a beautiful lake with ducks and fish to see. The main building overlooks this beautiful space and honestly is such a beautiful place to stay.

What makes it even more fabulous is the on sight restaurant Billy’s Bar and Bistro.  Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, there is nothing better than being able to eat and walk directly to your room. The food was delicious and my kids ate everything, which is saying something!

My Tips: Get an apartment with two bedrooms. You won’t regret it!

Mercure Hotel Ballarat

Stop 2. Sovereign Hill

Arguably Ballarat’s most well known tourist attraction, a Victorian child hood is not complete without a family visit to Sovereign Hill. Stepping back in time into our colonial Gold Rush history, children can experience what it truly meant to live in the early 1800’s. What’s wonderful is the fact that most of the town actually work or volunteer here at some stage during their life. Children and adults are not only dressed in iconic dress, but speak as though they are living 200 years ago! Whether your kids want to pan for gold (literally…..all my children could think about!), ride the old coach, see real gold being poured or purchasing some traditional boiled lollies from the best shop in the world, the kids are sure to have a ball.

It is extremely family friendly with all aspects covered. From wheelchair / pram access, to changing facilities, it’s all there.

Here are some of our favourite moments!

Found some!
Looking to strike it rich!

Waiting for the coach

Sovereign Hill
So much to see!
Sovereign Hill
The best lolly shop in the world!
Sovereign Hill
Main Street Fun
Sovereign Hill
Is this where people lived Mum? Where’s the toilet?
Sovereign Hill
Exploring with Nanna
Sovereign Hill
Arriving at Sovereign Hill! First time as a Mum, no heads to count as a teacher!

My Tips: If you are heading to the winter wonderlights then my tip would be head to Sovereign Hill around 1/2pm. Explore for a few hours then duck home for a rest!

Stop 3. Winter Wonderlights @ Sovereign Hill

After heading back to the hotel to change our clothes and have a bit of a rest, we headed back to Sovereign Hill at 6pm to see what is honestly the best lights spectacular I have ever seen. Winer Wonderlights celebrates all things Christmas in July. Making the most of our winter mid year, every part of the town is lit up in beautiful projections and fairy lights. Christmas music is playing, fires are lit and snow magically fills the air. The projections are truly mesmorising as you walk through the enchanting main street. Ella and Huddy literally tried to catch the snow falling. The upper street is littered with literally thousands of white fairy lights. The trees and houses are decorated beautifully and are a true inspiration for anyone wanting to create a bit of Griswold Christmas! My tip would be to arrive at 5.45 to watch the lights appear through dusk!

Sovereign Hill Winter wonderlights
Amazing projections
Sovereign Hill Winter wonderlights
The entire town is lit up with spectacular lights
Sovereign Hill Winter wonderlights
Twinkling fairy lights
Sovereign Hill Winter wonderlights
Hudson and the Nutcracker
Sovereign Hill Winter wonderlights
I see you!
Sovereign Hill Winter wonderlights
A night to remember

My Tips: Firstly rug up! Head over at about 5.45 to see dusk turn into darkness. I also bought my kids two little torches to help guide them through. They loved it!

Stop 4: Iceskating in town

Ballarat has really turned up the heat and embraced the cold! The whole town has so much to offer over the next month, with heaps of great activities. You can’t really celebrate snow without ice skating. Right in the heart of town, next to the Town Hall, you can find a Pop Up skate rink. What’s best is the little ones can get around on special ice shoes that help their little toes grip to the ice. I was actually super impressed by how Ella and Huddy went, even after falling!

After this we headed across the road to the ice slide and dome!

Ballarat Winter Festival
Ice Skating for the first time

Ballarat Winter Festival
Was super impressed by this one’s efforts!

Next was a stop at the Winter Forest. Another dazzling tunnel of lights that the kids adored!

Ballarat Winter Festival
Winter Forest

My Tips: Prepurchase your tickets here!

Stop 5: Ballarat Wildlife Park

This wildlife park was the most surprising part of our trip. I’ve been to a few zoos in my time, but honestly, this one is up there with the best. Featuring Australian Wildlife, this wildlife park is just beautiful. Kangaroos and Emus roam freely and children are encouraged to feed and pat them with care. Dingos, reptiles, Koalas, penguins, Tassie devils just to name a few. Nestled on a sprawling estate, the unique feature of being so close to the animals captivated my children. A treat was being able to toast marshmallows by the fire. I honestly was so surprised and would tell any family to make sure that they stop by whilst in Ballarat!

Ballarat Wildlife Park
Toasting Marshmallows

Ballarat Wildlife Park
Feeding the Kangaroos

My Tip: Allow a couple of hours to explore as it is AMAZING!

Stop 6: Kitteltys Cafe

We finished our trip with a visit to this gorgeous cafe in the centre of town, right out front of the Ballarat Gallery. Welcoming us with love and warmth we feasted on scones, vegetable tarts and milkshakes. This beautiful cafe is clearly a local favourite and is adorned with unique crockery, old fashioned spoons and gorgeous table ware. With loads of local produce for sale, it was the perfect way to round out our trip!

Honestly, there is nothing better than escaping the city for a weekend, and you will be blown away by the sheer variety of things to do in Ballarat. Experience their Winter Festival from July 1-3! For more information, visit their Tourism Information Site here!





Review & Giveaway: Itchy Baby Co

Review & Giveaway: Itchy Baby Co

*Please note that whilst this is a sponsored post, all opinions and findings are my own.

If you have a child that suffers from allergies and skin irritations, then you know the heartache that comes with trying to ease your child’s pain and discomfort when it flares up. My Ella, with her Irish red hair and milky white skin, unfortunately suffered her first Eczema break out in her first summer, when sun cream was applied to her arms and neck. In the common ‘sweat spots’ her skin quickly becomes dry, scratchy and irritated. Often advancing quickly into red and raw sores that can be so painful. I quickly learned that particular brands of sun cream were her enemy, as were soap based cleansers. We have medicated cream on stand by for times when it gets particularly bad, but I’ve always kept my eye out for gentle products that help protect and nourish her fragile skin, particularly in her elbow areas.

So when I was approached by the Itchy Baby Company to try their range, I was excited to hear about their similar, back story. Developed in Australia by a pharmacist mum , Julia Simmonds, her son’s eczema is the reason behind itchy baby co. She ‘had hit rock bottom’. Admitted to hospital with her toddler’s infected eczema covering more than 75% of his little body. Despite having tried product after product, countless visits to the doctor and listening to anyone who had any advice to give, here she was. Felling guilty, helpless and utterly desperate to help her little boy.

Itchy Baby Co

Itchy Baby Co

Itchy Baby Co

Itchy Baby Co

Eczema is so challenging and we deal with it every day through the emotional heartache and practical problems it throws our way. Julia’s product range contains only the goodness of natural ingredients to nourish and hydrate your child’s skin without any chemicals or irritants.

I was lucky enough to try the following products from their range:

  • Natural Oatmeal bath soak
  • Natural Oatmeal bath soak with goats milk
  • NAtrual Oatemal Bath Soad with goats milk and organic coconut
  • Natural Oatmeal moisturise with organic coconut
  • Natural Scalp Oil

I’ve been using the bath soak in the bath with both my children each night. I’ve followed this with using the moisturiser on Ella’s skin. I’ve noticed that the areas, particularly on the inside of her elbows have remained clear and free of any irritation. Ella would sometimes wake in the night with irritated and itchy skin, and this has not happened at all during the last fortnight. IT’s been wonderful and I would so far recommend the range to anyone!

I’m thrilled to be able offer one of my readers the chance to win their own chance to experience the Itchy Baby Co range. Thanks to Itchy Baby Co, I am giving away an amazing prize pack including:

1 x Natural Oatmeal Bath Soak ($14)

1 x Natural Oatmeal Bath Soak with goats milk ($16)

1 x Natural Oatmeal Bath Soak with goats milk & organic coconut ($16)

1 x Natural Oatmeal Moisturiser with organic coconut ($21)

1 x Natural Scalp Oil ($18)

Total Value of product: $85



  1. Head to Instagram
  2. like the image for the blog post, follow @happyellaafter & @itchybabyco
  3. List which product from their range you would love to try most, and how it would help your family.
  4. Tag a friend (no comp accounts please)

One winner will be chosen on (date to be advised)

To view their range and shop, head to :

Comp is open 8pm Thurs 18th April AEST and closes on Sunday 21st April at 9pm AEST. No comp accounts please. Australian residents only.

This giveaway is not sponsored, endorsed or administered by Instagram. By entering you are releasing Instagram of any and all responsibility and agree to the terms of use.


Please note: For best results we recommend bathing in itchy baby co. bath soak every day and applying our itchy baby co. moisturiser immediately after the bath, while the skin is still damp. Our moisturiser can be used as often as needed throughout the day. · It is important you patch test itchy baby co. products first for allergies. Although they develop their products without irritants everyone’s skin can respond differently to natural products.

Losing Dad : Six months on

Losing Dad : Six months on

It’s been six months today since we lost Dad. Six months feels so long, and yet it feels as raw as ever. It’s such a long time to not hear someone’s voice or see them smile.  I’m writing this today because I find it helpful to write it down. Helpful to share how I’m feeling with others. Sometimes I receive messages from others, sometimes total strangers, who have walked this path too. T Sometimes I get messages from people who have read my posts and they say it has helped them. To feel as though they are in this with someone else. That they are not alone. People sometimes ask me why I write this blog. I write for many reasons. Today I’m writing because I feel proud of our family for getting through a really, really hard time.

These last six months have taught me a great deal. When Dad passed away it was the first time in my life that I truly felt like this was a problem that  I couldn’t fix it. I couldn’t find an answer, a solution. I couldn’t see how it would be ok. Losing your Dad, especially when you are so close has effected me in so many ways. It’s made me grow up even more, and yet it’s made me feel as though I’m a kid again. No matter how old you are, when you lose your Dad, you are taken back to those childhood times where you truly just thought he would be here to protect you forever. These six months have taught me that we truly never really grow up. Grief knows no age. It knows not maturity. It makes you face your fears, stand up to the challenge and stand up to the plate. And yet it can strip away everything that has made you feel all grown up, and leave you wanting your Dad like you did when you were five years old.

losing dad six months on

These last six months have taught me that grief takes time to overcome. A really long time. IT has taught me to see life through a new lens. A new reality where we need to both remember, cherish and lean on our wonderful memories, and yet at the same time, create new ones to help us see that life can bring us all happiness again. That it WILL be ok. Whilst we often feel at a loss to fill the giant void in our life, that we have enough love around us to help us feel whole. One day we will. I know it. Sometimes you feel at an utter loss which direction to take. In the end I’ve learnt that it doesn’t really matter. Just try your best to keep going and be happy.

These last six months have taught me how loved my Dad truly was. Not only by his family, including his beautiful Grandchildren, who only this morning spoke about their darling ‘Pa’ after looking at pictures on our fridge. A double edged sword, these moments bring me both tremendous relief to know that they remember him, and yet I feel a sense of pain that they won’ know him more. I’ve learnt from people, far and wide, familiar and unfamiliar, that he left his ‘mark’ on their lives. Ironically.

I’ve learnt the power of positivity. Of smiling through the pain. Of the need to let yourself cry when you need it, but the feeling of joy rush through your body when you laugh and allow yourself to really smile.

So with the ticking of the clock, and the dawn of a new day, today we will toast to our Dad. With a crownie tonight: free and compulsory as he would say.

Dad we are doing ok. We miss you more than words could ever describe. However we’ve got each others’ back, just like I know you would want. You’d be so proud, especially of Mum. We all are.

Sydney celebrations with Netflix

Sydney celebrations with Netflix

This past long weekend, we escaped the chaos that is the Melbourne Cup Carnival and headed north to Sydney. We were lucky enough to be guests of Netflix, who held a Christmas celebration for their blogging Stream Team. I’ve felt very privileged to have been a member of this team for almost two years, as we test out and share the fantastic variety of films and television shows that Netflix provide. If you’ve been a follower of Happy Ella After, you will know that I’m a big fan. Some of the best features for families include:

  1. On demand : No waiting around for your (or your child’s) favourite show to be on. Watch it when you like!
  2. Profiles: You can create personalised profiles for each member of your family. Netflix will remember what you’ve watched, and you can even stop and pause your shows and go back to the point you’ve finished once the kids are in bed! They even suggest shows for you, based on your interests and things you’ve watched.
  3. Search function: the search function for kids is fantastic. You can find what your kids want based on the characters that appear. Easy peasy.
  4. Updates: they are forever adding new titles and series. Many of them are exclusive to netflix!
  5. Anywhere, anytime: You can watch Netflix on your TV, your iPad, your phone, your laptop!

So last weekend we headed to Sy-da-ney to catch up with some fellow bloggers and their families to have some fun… here are some shots…








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It was so much for to head north for the weekend and just enjoy being with my little family. We actually extended the day and headed to Bondi afterwards to make it a real mini break. I’ve never been to Bondi (no really, I haven’t) and I have to say that it was fantastic. Stay tuned next week for a family friendly review of this iconic city!

Thanks to the entire team for having us!

If you want to know more about Netflix, please head to the link here. 


Losing Dad: Two months on

Losing Dad: Two months on

This weekend will mark two months since losing Dad. To be honest, if feels like two decades since I last saw him. The intense pain has started to ease in some ways, and yet in others it is actually worse. It’s worse because two months on, it is starting to feel real. The world that stopped momentarily in dismay to digest the news that Dad had been taken so suddenly has been replaced by a reality that everything and everyone still carries on, and yet we feel so left behind.  Time ticks over, people go back to work, the flowers wilt. It’s a harsh reality for us at the moment as we try to rationalise his absence. It’s impossible. The calmness of a steady world, rhythmically moving from day to night, night to day is far from the reality of our chaotic world, hit like a tornado. Everything is the same, and yet everything is so different.

It’s left me feeling lost about many things, big things in life. Is there really a heaven? Where DO we all go? People say that in times of great loss you really cling to your faith. In some ways this is true, and in others it leaves you questioning the very essence of what you believe. I’ve prayed. Day in day out. I’ve gone to church and lit candles. I’ve looked for signs. I’ve waited for him to come to me in my dreams. But nothing has brought me comfort. Not really. I’m left wondering about the meaning of life when someone can so suddenly be erased. How the world can simply delete the presence of such a magnificent man in so many ways, and yet he is everywhere. How can we ever reconcile this is a destination that is a little beyond our understanding right now. I’m hopeful that we will get there one day.

What has indeed helped and brought great comfort is the support of family and friends. What I’ve come to know about people who are dealing with intense grief. What we all need is different. Some need space. Others need to be close to others. I’m of the later kind. Phone calls, messages, cards, food, hugs and more hugs. Flowers sent two months later from a friend, just so I would know that my family, and more importantly, My Dad are ever present in their thoughts. A simple gesture with profound meaning and impact.

losing dad

I’m holding on desperately to the sound of his voice. The image of his hands. His somewhat aged and disfigured fingers after suffering years of arthritis. Yet still so precious. You feel like stopping everyone in the street, to make sure they know / knew about this wonderful human being. What he did, how he lived life. I’ve covered my fridge in photos so that he is ever present in my childrens’ lives and thoughts. I just miss him. His ability to make anyone smile, just by walking into the room. The laughter that he infused in my children. The way he called me Katie. There are yet a handful of people who do that, and I wish I could hear it one last time.

losing dad

So two months on I think that as a family, we are doing remarkably well. We are doing our best. We have amazing people around us. It’s tremendously hard to transform and reshape your family unit. To try to fill in the vast void that is left both physically and emotionally. As a friend who recently also passed away said each and every day, hug your loved ones. There is so much truth in that it hurts. I know that one day I will be able to look at the thousands of photos and simply smile without feeling a lump in my throat. I’m not sure when that will be, but I know it will happen.

Grief is the price we pay for love. As hard as that reality is, we wouldn’t therefore want it any other way.


Losing Dad, finding Hope

Losing Dad, finding Hope

Three weeks on from losing our beautiful Dad, things are really only now becoming real. He really did pass away. Suddenly. He really isn’t coming back. I can’t believe I’m even writing this. Only four months ago I wrote about losing my Nan, after 93 years. A long and happy life. My Dad’s life was incredibly happy. However it was cut too short. Dad passed away in his sleep, something everyone ‘wants’ to do. Except when it’s 30 years too early. It’s as though he has vanished, the world has deleted him. And yet he is still here. Every where, in every thing, every thought. Dad would hate this. He would hate to see his family suffering, asking why, living this reality each day. And yet I also know that Dad would be wanting us to live our lives. To be happy. To make the most of each and every day. After all, that is what he did.

losing dad

At Dad’s funeral, we included this beautiful poem in his mass booklet….

He is Gone – A Poem by David Harkins

You can shed tears that he is gone,

Or you can smile because he lived,

You can close your eyes and pray that he will come back,

Or you can open your eyes and see all that he has left.


Your heart can be empty because you can’t see him

Or you can be full of the love that you shared,

You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday,

Or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday.


You can remember him and only that he is gone

Or you can cherish his memory and let it live on,

You can cry and close your mind be empty and turn your back,

Or you can do what he would want: smile, open your eyes,

love and go on.

IMG_4840This was my Dad. Mark Patrick Sherlock. It’s hard to put into words a description of a Father who gave you the life of your dreams. He was not only the most amazing Dad, but he was a person we all wanted to be. Loving, kind, hard working, generous. Dad was a people person. It was actually very hard to find a photo of my Dad on his own. He smiled from ear to ear in each and every one. Dad created a life for us, that I hope I can create for my children. He epitomised happiness. He loved his job and worked with the RSL for over 30 years caring for those who have returned after serving for their country. He loved our Mum. Adored her. He gave her a ‘double kiss’ each time he said goodbye, and each time he came home. He travelled a great deal, and not matter where he was in the world, he would text Mum wishing her a good night…’don’t let the bed bugs bite’.

losing dad

When you lose your Dad, especially so suddenly you feel vulnerable. Bare. Exposed. The person who you knew would always protect you is no longer there. You have to grow up in an instant. You have to consider yourself an adult, who now has to rise to the occasion and ‘be’ the person they wanted you to be. Strong, brave, hopeful. Finding hope is hard at times like this. I hope we all can. I know we will with time.

As Fathers’ Day approaches, I’m feeling sad, scared, numb. I’m also feeling incredibly reflective, and so proud of the life he gave me, and the life he lived. Not everyone is able to say that their Father truly is their hero. I’m blessed that I can. My beautiful husband told me that he wants our children to love him the way we loved our Dad. Already I can see that they do, and my Dad would be proud of him.

So three weeks on after losing Dad, I am searching for hope. I’m searching for the things that can bring us comfort. The love of family and friends. The blessings of my children. The messages and memories shared from near and far. I hope they keep coming, they help more than you know. Grief is exhausting. People ask you how you are, but you don’t know how you are, or what to say. You know that people don’t know what to say either. You just put one foot in front of the other, and do your best. People say it gets easier with time. I hope so. I know it will. In the mean time we are surrounded by incredible support. In my previous post I talked about it ‘taking a village to raise a parent’. Well it also takes a village to help you when you lose one.

My fridge is covered in photos of our family. Of my Dad’s smile and his love of life. I want to keep him ever present in our thoughts and in our reality. He may not be here in body, but he is most definitely here in spirit. He is still my Dad. Always and forever. This brings me hope and a smile. We can close our eyes and pray that he will come back, or we can open our eyes and see all that he has left. A life of memories and love.

losing dad


losing dad