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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!

 

 

 

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!!!

 

Christmas Toy Review #2 & Giveaway!: Leap Frog Sweet Treats Cafe and Scoop & Learn Icecream Cart

Christmas Toy Review #2 & Giveaway!: Leap Frog Sweet Treats Cafe and Scoop & Learn Icecream Cart

This Christmas, I’m thinking laterally and looking for toys that give me bang for my buck. Two for one. Killing two birds with one stone you could say (even though that sounds terrible!). No, all jokes aside, I’m actually looking for toys that both of my kids can play with. Together. Toys that develop oral language, role play, imagination and working together. I’ve found that Ella and Huddy are now at an age where they actually can, for a small period of time, play together quite happily. Toys that encourage them to use their imagination and role play have been wonderful. They are also at an age where gender stereotypes have not REALLY set in, and so it’s a great time to encourage them to have fun no matter what they are playing with.

Leap Frog Sweet Treats Cafe

Recently we were asked my Leap Frog to review two of their new offerings; their Cafe set and Ice cream Cart. Leapfrog are known for developing toys that developing thinking. That encourage children to make decisions, to interact and be creative. So I was quick to say YES and get my kids involved. What’s even better is the fact that we are giving away a Cafe set to one lucky reader. Read on to learn more!

THE PRIZE

We are thrilled to be offering one lucky follower a  Sweet Treats Learning Café (for 2+ years), RRP $59.95.

See post below for more information about the product. Comp is open to Melbourne followers only who are able to pick up the prize from St Kilda. Comp Closes Monday 6th November at 8pm AEDST.

HOW TO ENTER

Simply head to our Facebook Post Here and leave a comment sharing your child’s favourite cafe treat and tag a friend!

*For a bonus entry , head to Instagram, follow us, like our Instagram Post for this giveaway and comment letting us know you have entered on FB.

Scoop & Learn Ice Cream Cart

(for 2+ years), RRP $79.95 Available for Christmas from Big W and selected toy retailers.

We’ve all grown up with the sound of Mr Whippy driving the streets, and this is seriously like having your own at home. The LeapFrog Scoop & Learn Ice Cream Cart lets your children create a variety of  tasty-looking ice cream combinations using four flavours of ice cream, three toppings and three syrup flavours. The magic scooper helps them scoop up the ice cream and toppings to build customer orders (ie. Mummy’s favourite flavours) and it will recognise the colours and flavours. Add toppings and syrup to complete the treat!

They also get to build memory and sequencing skills by choosing from six cute animal order cards and following the instructions. Playful phrases introduce colours, numbers, flavours and more while you explore the cart’s features and activity cards. The cutest part is the fact that it is mobile, and allows kids to move around whilst playing music.

This is a real winner in our house and I would highly recommend it for Christmas!

Sweet Treats Learning Café

(for 2+ years), RRP $59.95 Available for Christmas from Big W and selected toy retailers.

Weekends in Melbourne are not complete without a trip to our local cafe. With the sweet treats cafe, your kids can serve up learning with a double shot of fun! Fill cups, complete customer orders and serve tasty-looking pastries while learning numbers, shapes, colours and sizes; and running your own café. With four original songs, 10 touch points and 12 pieces including magic tilting cups, your little baristas will feel as though they really work in their own cafe!. Pick the right drink, choose the correct sized cup and set the right temperature. They’ll love learning about numbers, shapes, and colours, while developing listening and memory skills as they froth the milk, grind the beans and brew the coffee. Whether they’re hosting a tea party for their toys or role playing with friends, its espressos, hot chocolates and babycinos all round!

Another awesome toy that both my kids love playing with together, and with the whole family. It’s really compact and can easily be taken out for the day.

So be sure to enter our giveaway today!

 

A little day out at the Tesselaar Tulip Festival

A little day out at the Tesselaar Tulip Festival

Spring has well and truly sprung in Selvin! Yesterday, we had one of those glorious spring days as we headed to the Dandenong Ranges to check out the Tesselaar Tulip Festival. The Tesselaar Tulip Festival is in its 64th year making it one of Australia’s longest running festivals. A proud family tradition, the Tesselaar family has been opening their farm to the public since 1954. I’ve seen pictures and heard about the festival over the years, but this was our first time attending. I must admit, I was unsure about what to expect, but was literally gob smacked when we arrived. Not only are there fields and fields of glorious colour, but dozens of amazing sculptures, market stalls and things to see and visit. It is truly wonderful.

After the kids ran up and down the rows of tulips, and we took a bazillion photos, we took a tractor ride around the farm!

We then headed to the stage to check out the Trolls Show – part of childrens’ week that is on right now! One of our favourite and most surprising parts was the beautiful fairy garden. Ella was completely captivated by the story telling fairy, who mesmerised the children with her version of the three little pigs! The kids climbed amongst the magical trees and even rode their own rainbow!

Some of my tips would include:

  • Bring along a picnic and rug, and have lunch amongst the flowers!
  • Buy your tickets before the event to skip the huge queue when you arrive
  • Head to the face painting early as the line is also very long
  • Make sure you check out when the stage shows are on
  • Wear your gum boots! Whilst it was dry, this is a farm and this means dirt!
  • Bring a good camera….the photo ops are like no other!
  • Get the treasure hunt flyer when you arrive. The kids can find their way amongst the Wizard of Oz characters and get a special prize at the end!

Some other interesting facts about the festival…

 

• This year there are over 900,000 tulips including 130 different tulip varieties on show. Set across 25 acres of gardens where visitors are encouraged to roam free, enjoying the wide open spaces.

• Well over a million spring flowering bulbs will be on display including tulips, daffodils, ranunculus and anemones.

• The garden display is planned over a year in advance, so before this year’s show has even begun, we will already be planning for 2018.

• They have have planted hundreds of blossom trees to add to their floral show including cherries, apples, pears, dogwoods, forest pansies and magnolias.

• Theesselaar Tulip Festival is home to the largest clog in the Southern Hemisphere, coming in at almost four metres long. It was carved by renowned chainsaw artist Robbie Bast.

• During the Festival, the staff wear costumes from the Dutch fishing village Volendam. This includes traditional Dutch farming shoes – clogs. Clogs have been worn in the Netherlands for hundreds of years (though they don’t often get around in them today). While wooden shoes might seem cumbersome, they are actually comfortable and light, being made out of poplar or willow. Clogs are waterproof and warm – perfect for a tulip farm!

To check out more information and purchase tickets head to their website here! The festival is on until October 10.

Silvers Circus Ticket Giveaway

Silvers Circus Ticket Giveaway

ROLL UP ROLL UP SILVERS CIRCUS IS HEADING TO MARIBYRNONG!

with all your favourite acts and more!!……..

Established in 1976, Silvers Circus provides world class family entertainment and fun.

Silvers Circus is a household name in Australia and after almost forty years on the road has evolved into one of the Top 10 Circuses of the World. Silvers maintains all the sparkle, glamour and death defying acts expected of Australia’s premier circus, dedicated to constant innovation and modernisation with extraordinary artists continually arriving from all parts of the world. Silvers circus presents a line up of stunning international artists, Las Vegas style illusions and captivating production techniques.

We are thrilled to be offering our followers the chance to see it with their family these Melbourne school holidays! We’re giving away:

3 X Family Passes (Two adults, Two children) to a Silvers Circus Performance in Maribyrnong these school holidays.

Session to be chosen by the winner. Tickets to be collected from box office prior to performance. 

HOW TO ENTER: Enter via the Facebook post HERE. Just comment on the Silvers Circus Post and tag a friend to be in the running. Comp Closes Thursday 21st September at 8.30pm. Winner chosen as random and notified via FB.

Silvers Circus

The 2 hour action packed show in the HEATED BIG TOP, featuring Ringmaster and Master of Illusion, Simon Tait includes:

  • Wheel of Steel. Two young men with nerves of Steel, Dominik Gasser and Merwyn Garcia run, jump, skip and flip through a routine of sheer physical ordacity, just as the apparatus they challenge defies description. Its wheels osolate and revolve from group level to dizzying heights. This spectacle will leave you chewing your nails and squirming in your seats! The Wheel of Steel…. (for strong constitutions only!!)
  • The Globe of Death. The world famous Phoenix Riders speed around inside a 3-1/2 meter diameter metal globe

on motorbikes, missing each other by mere millimetres.

  • Hoola Hoops. Up to 80 hoola hoops at once are managed while a balancing act is taking place upon a mobile mirror ball all at the same time
  • Clowns. Expect the unexpected. These acts are guaranteed to tickle the funny bone
  • The Roman Rings. A very unique act, which is performed with extreme strength and elegance. Little girls will be amazed by the beauty and grown men in awe of the control and physicality.
  • Ringmaster Simon Tait has over 25 years’ experience in circus and will mesmerise the audience with his celebrated illusions and audience repour.
  • Juggling Monchito. Meet the comedic stylings of the juggling Monchito! Ariel Barralle is a second generation circus performer from South America. In his years he has performed in several disciplines including trampoline, juggling, aerial straps plus performing with his family the traditional Argentinian dance of the Gauchos.
  • Agility, speed and precision is just some of what Yonas showcases here as he manoeuvres high above on unicycle after unicycle. Wheels are this mans thing and you will be surprised over and over again!
  • Cloud Swing. Madeline Bisby is a highly skilled aerial artist born and based in Australia. She combines stunning artistry with compelling elegance and beauty as she pushes the limits, and heights, on her edgy Cloudswing.

and with many more world class acts, Silvers Circus is guaranteed to tap into the nostalgia we all hold for a unique circus experience.

So Welcome to our world of spectacular family entertainment. There is no other circus like Silvers Circus.

For all show details visit – www.silverscircus.com.au

Hood Mamma Edit Coolness

Hood Mamma Edit Coolness

You may or may not have recently seen the amazing collaboration shoot that we did with Motherhood Melbourne recently. An amazing idea that celebrate all things Melbourne : bloggers, businesses and services. Holly from Motherhood Melbourne brought together the most amazing team to help shoot and showcase gorgeous clothing and accessories for Mums and their babes. It was such an honour to be part of this team, to help shine some love onto some up and coming businesses. Having my children be part of the day was so exciting, and seeing the results made my heart sing. It’s amazing what can happen when people come together to support one another!

✖️ The dream team ✖️
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BEHIND-THE-SCENES //
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HOOD MAMAS //
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MAMA THREADS ETC. //
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KIDS THREADS N’ TOYS
Here are my favourite snaps from the shoot, featuring some amazing threads from the above businesses!