Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Middle School; what's it all about?

I used to read books about kids in middle school and I had no idea what it was. We are used to primary school and secondary school. It's the way of things here in Australia. It's how our schools are run.

Well, most of them. But not the one we go to.

This year we started in Grade 5 and that means middle school. It's a big deal. Everything changes. No longer do you have a tub or a chair bag or containers of shared pencils on your table, instead, there are lockers and locks to navigate. There are classes and timetables and the requirement that you eat your food when you need to. There's no brain food or smart snack or nude food, it's time to get that stuff sorted all on your own.

Middle school is for kids aged from around 10-14, or years 5-8 for us. It means there is no moving to secondary school and being the smallest kids in a big massive place. It means you get to use the good stuff, the science labs, the bigger sports grounds, interschool sports and swimming carnival days. You have music festivals and big bands. It's not such a bad deal, but it can be overwhelming.

You also kick off the year with a bonus day camp. A day for everyone to get to know the new kids, or new kids to them, for teachers to get to know you better and to learn some extra skills about teamwork, resilience and gaining confidence.

The thing with middle school is that as a parent, you've gotta be getting things right. Especially if your kid tends to be the type that worries. If the note says bring roll-on insect repellent you DO NOT pack the pump spray. If it says pack suncream, it is NOT OK for you to pack the Peppa Pig one you found rolling around in your bag.

I learnt this the hard way. I also learnt that you should lay out the things you want to pack, check they are ok and allow time for your kid to pack the stuff they want. Because, hey, this is middle school, not kindergarten and they don't want you packing crap in their bags anymore. No, not even the spare hat or sunglasses or a couple of band aids for emergencies.

However, pencils and paper will forever be cool. And lip gloss. You can never have enough of that. And bucket hats, the ones that have not changed in a gazillion years.







We're just three weeks into our middle school days and we've got four years to go. I 've still got a lot to learn. I am still not even sure I like this whole concept. I think I do, but I am also still thinking I'd like to have these babes in primary school for two more years. Either way, this is where we're at. Let's hope as the term rolls on we grasp the fun and excitement of new things and the love of packing 48 bags a week for acro, swimming, guitar, library, sport...





Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Harry Potter Tween Clothing in action


Two girls doing gymnastics wearing Harry Potter tween wear



I have walked to every shop that sells clothes for kids over eight and stalked too many websites. Ask any parent of a kid aged 8-12 about buying clothes and most will tell you the same story, there is barely anything decent.  Finding clothes that suit the tween aged kid is tough. Finding clothes they want to wear that also allow them to be kids is close to impossible.

Thankfully, right now, Warner Bros. Consumer Products and Big W have released a new range, which has a few pieces that my kids couldn’t wait to get their hands on. We’ve been Harry Potter fans for a few years – We even had the best Harry Potter birthday party a couple of years ago so I was hoping they’d be happy to see these.  But to be honest, they are so fussy with clothing I wasn’t sure what they would think.

We were gifted a package of clothing from Warner Bros. Consumer Products, containing tees and track suits which arrived when we had visitors, so I let them all grab a few pieces and try them on. Not only did they love each item, they kept talking about how comfortable they all were.  

Because this is Melbourne we get the pleasure and pain of dealing with multiple weather situations every day. Luckily for us, this meant that we got to try out all the options in one day.

“They’re so comfortable” was the comment they repeated every time I asked for an opinion.


Girl wearing Harry Potter tshirt while sitting on a swing.


Miss 8 prefers the Harry Potter Raglan Tee teamed with her denim shorts, which is pretty much her summer uniform.

Miss 10 is often found lounging around in an armchair with a book or her iPad and likes to snuggle into her hoodie. Both of them have been grabbing the Harry Potter Track Pants each evening when they come in from playing outside.

These are a lightweight tracksuit material, perfect for the summer/autumn. For our friends in the lovely northern states they could be great for your winter (just don’t wear them in Melbourne in July!)  I also found the items very true to size/age range.  My kids are on the taller side, Miss 11 wears the size 12 and Miss 8 is wearing the size 8 in each item.

Tween Girl watching Ipad wearing Harry Potter tween wear


Finding something for your kids to wear is much tougher than it should be, but the Harry Potter tween range at Big W makes finding an outfit easier, and it’s also priced at a level that’s affordable.

The items we tried out include:

Harry Potter Track Pants - $19

Harry Potter Raglan Tee $15

Harry Potter Hoodie $25

Harry Potter Long-Sleeve Tee $15





The girls loved these items so much that I’d like to give some away, and the Warner Bros. Consumer Products team agreed that it would be great to share the love further.

If you’d like to win some for your own kids, pop over to my Instagram page, leave a comment and you’ll be in the draw to win.  Check out #WBPromotion for other chances to win some goodies too.





*Please note: I received the Harry Potter Tween clothing items to try and decided to write about them because I think my readers would be interested in them. The giveaway will be held on my Instagram page, items will be sent directly to the winner from Warner Bros. Consumer Products.  

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

On our Book Shelf: Tweens and Kids

What did ya get for Christmas?

I hope you got a book.

One of the best bits of every Christmas in this house includes the new books that we all get to read.

This year the presents were a great success.


For Tweens and Teens: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

Forget the movie, this book was rated 'THE BEST BOOK I'VE EVER READ' by Miss 10. It even got rated better than Harry Potter, which was something we didn't think would ever happen. This is the book that dragged her from her iPad, left her begging to not get ready for just five more minutes so she could read a few more pages.

Initially, we had suggested that it was a book best read in the day time as it might get a bit scary. However, while she admitted the thought of watching the movie could be a bit scary, the book does not provide the fearful, anxious inducing worry that some movies do.

This is just the first in this trilogy by Ransom Riggs, and we are heading straight to the shops with our Christmas money to buy the next ones.


For Primary School Kids: Hot Dog, by Anh Do



From the creator of Weirdo, we have a new series, starting with Hot Dog. As expected Miss 8 read it super quickly and then read it again. Then her cousin read it, then another kid and another, all in three day. Kids have become confident that books by Anh Do will provide them with an instant laugh, and an easy read that has some comic illustrations to entertain them. The newest book continues to provide exactly what they want.

Miss 8's review was 'it's a wonderful book, it's not very long, it could be longer, there are no people in it, but the cat dresses up a lot because his humans dress him up all the time. I think other kids will love this.'




 What's your favourite read this summer? 



Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Circus 1903






Things have changed at the circus over the last century. Well, just a little bit, but really not all that much, Circus 1903 shows a bit of a glimpse of circus life in 1903, with costumes, acts and entertainings similar to the old days.

But the circus will always be filled with people who do things with their bodies that the rest of us just will never ever manage to do. They bend, stretch, balance, throw, flip, twirl and bounce.

Our circus acts are now minus the animals, but that didn't stop the team at Circus 1903 from having an elephant on stage. With the clever clogs who make enormous puppets, they built a life-size elephant and the cutest baby elephant to run about on the stage with them.


Circus 1903 is filled with great acts that you expect the circus to have, with performers from all over the world. There aren't any clowns, which is a good thing for most of us, but there are lots of laughs.

A major highlight for me is just the Regent Theatre in Melbourne, rather than a big tent out in the middle of nowhere, instead you get to enjoy one of the most beautiful locations in Melbourne.

Your kids will love it, grown-ups will enjoy all the acts and it doesn't go for too long so the small ones are not out all night long.

The backdrop at the front of the theatre also makes for a really great photo shoot location, so make sure you snap a few pics of yourselves before you go in.



Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Strawberry forests forever




Last week the girls and I took a little drive just out of Melbourne to a place called the Strawberry Forest.

It's a new way to pick your own strawberries that doesn't include crawling around in the dirt to find them. Instead, they are grown vertically. Really, this just all seems so simple and normal that I am not sure why no one has been doing this for the last gazillion years. Or maybe they have, they just didn't invite the rest of us to come and pick them.

At the Strawberry Forest the berries are all organic and they look fantastic. There is a big sign begging people not to eat them as they pick them and I have to admit I was very very close to just testing them a few times. It was only my fear of being caught that stopped me!

The Strawberry Forest is located along one of the most beautiful roads I know, the Avenue of Honour in Bacchus Marsh. There are other fruit growing places along the road where you can stop and pick or purchase fruits depending on the season, one place also had an ice cream van which is a pretty good match to go with all those lovely strawberries.

If you're driving from Melbourne you might want to plan a lunch stop in Bacchus after you've picked your strawberries, as it doesn't take more than 10 minutes for three of you to pick 3kgs worth.

Prices per kilo change throughout the year, but currently they are $15 per kg. Check their Facebook page for details on open days, as the farmer closes to keep the farm looking spic and span.





Monday, January 2, 2017

New App for Kids 2017: Toca Life Vacation


Holiday time equals downtime for everyone and that means the kids might be using their devices more.

I much prefer my kids to be creating not consuming while the use their iPads, it's way too easy for them to just sit and watch rubbish that other people have uploaded.

Toca Life is the latest in the Toca Boca line of apps. I've been a fan of their stuff for awhile now. They are well known for making things gender and cultural neutral without resorting to animals.

With Toca Life Vacation kids can 'play' by moving things around and being the owner of their own vacation creation. Dress your characters, head to the airport, go to the beach or the hotel, check into your room, go to the ATM, head out for a meal. Whatever you end up doing, the child is in charge.

This is not a 'game'. You can't go out for mucking up, and you're not aiming for different levels, you just play.

You can also just reset and start all over again if you want to.

You will need to pay a few dollars for this one, it was AU$3.38 on 1 January, I prefer to pay for the apps and know that there are not going to be any adverts or in-app purchases to worry about. Once you have downloaded this one, you have everything you need.

You can get Toca Life Vacation from the app store.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Review: Museum Alive IMAX 3d


Girls in front of Museum Alive IMAX sign Melbourne
The sunniest day in Melbourne 2016: IMAX



We went to check out the latest at Melbourne IMAX this week and got to see David Attenborough's new feature, Museum Alive 3D.

WOW. It was fabulous.

It's a short film, less than 45 minutes from start to end and every moment is just lovely.

Walking through the British Natural History Museum, you might at first just sit back and admire the architecture of such a building and wish that there were many more like it around the world. So beautiful.

But soon you will be learning about some extinct animals, what we now about them, and what we don't, how they might have lived in millions of years ago, or even just centuries ago, like the Dodo bird. These animals are brought to life in a very talented way, making the animals seem extremely real.

Kids with an interest in anything related to animals, science, history, dinosaurs or cool stuff will really enjoy this one, and all adults will love it. You will certainly be disappointed in the short running time and wish that they could have shown you more around the Museum. (I have added it to my places I must visit one day list).

While Museum Alive 3D is something that you could take your kids too, please be aware that while the content is suitable, there are moments of suspense that might scare very small children, the Abominable Snowman does no harm, but the viewer isn't sure if he just might be feral. There are also a couple of loud bangs, children who are sensitive to loud noise may struggle at a couple of moments in this feature, these are not always scary noises, but dinosaurs stomp and creatures break out of glass cabinets, many children will not be fazed by this, but sensitive ears could be.



Museum Alive 3D is playing at IMAX right now in Melbourne, see it if you can.


Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Letter to the world: 2016

Dear World

I am eight.

Today I learnt to ride a bike. No training wheels.

I’ve had  heaps of bikes in the past but I just never wanted to ride them. Today I decided I would and in just a few spins of the car park I was hooning off on my new wheels.

2016 has been a pretty good year.

I travelled to Jakarta and had a holiday there. It was pretty different to Australia, they have a lot of people and a lot of cars and there is LOTS of sitting in your car. But the people were all really nice wherever we went. We swam heaps, we ate yummy food and I saw my cousins which is also really really good.


I got a new cousin. She is the cutest baby that ever was born and we all love love love her.

I also got glasses to wear at school, they are pretty cool.

I also went to Queensland and met some great friends there, the weather wasn’t great so we made really funny music.lys because 2016 has kind of been the year of making music videos for me. They are so easy and fun to do with your friends. We dress up, make up dances, and film them over and over again. Mum has my account on private and thinks more kids should have their accounts on private too, but my mum still locks down all our devices so we can’t access everything. It can be annoying but at least I don’t see anything scary on YouTube now that I only have YouTube Kids.




I am still asking for a puppy. And I will never stop asking. We go to the pet shop a bit to just hold the puppies but we never ever get to buy one. Parents can be disappointing sometimes.

This year at school I was in grade two. It’s not a bad year. Not too hard. But we did have to do learning the time and I really wasn’t a fan of that. Too many tricky questions. We had our first school camp and it was pretty good, I must admit it was more fun than I expected.

I also got Glandular Fever. Don’t ever add that to the list of things you want because it really isn't very nice. I don’t ever want to have panadol again, I had to take so much of it to keep my fever below 40 that it was like my main food.  I even had to have a blood test, it wasn’t really too bad, but the doctor said when kids are as sick as I was that day, the blood test is the least of their worries. I am not sure if that is true, I am not planning on another one anytime soon. But when you get that sick you do get to watch a lot of movies and that is a good thing if you are a movie buff like me. I really love to watch movies, all types, (not grown up ones with kissing in them) and I think I would like to be in a movie too. I just don't want to do acting and dancing classes where people tell you what to do all the time.





I am now thinking I will be a zoologist when I grow up. At the moment, my favourite colour is yellow and my favourite animal is a giraffe. I love to eat spaghetti bolognaise. I now rate them out of 10 whenever we go out because every place you go uses a different recipe. One meal, but you never know exactly how it's going to taste.

I don’t really have any advice for the world this year. But I think people should be more kind to each other.

Last week at school one of the kids in my class said to me, in her mean voice “You just keep trying to make bad things good”, I told her that was a good thing and she just screamed at me, “You’re doing it again.”  Luckily, her thoughts are not the boss of my thoughts so I could just walk away and talk to someone else.  That’s what mum said was the best thing, to always remember someone else’s thoughts are not mine and so I don’t have to agree with what they say.  You don’t have to either.

I gotta go make yellow cupcakes for my friends who are coming over today, so that’s it from me for 2016.


Immy.
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