Thursday, November 20, 2014

When is a tween not a tween?

Image from One Red Fly. Clothes for 3-14 year olds.


When a parent can't stand the term, yet uses it anyway.

A tween is a marketing dream. Or a marketer's dream.

Once including kids aged in the pre teenage years of 10-12, it seems to now have dropped to the 8-12 bracket.

It's a way to advertise to teen wannabes. To kids who are told they should no longer want to play with toys and instead they should be interested in smaller sized adult products. A tween is told not to play with toys so much, instead they should have some hot pink hair ties and a lip gloss, an iPod with a trendy cover. A tween girl begins to get messages from around the age of eight that she should be interested in non-kid things.

This is a very modern thing to do to our kids and as parents we seem to be blindly following the marketers wishes. It can be hard not to.

Don't bother popping into Bonds Kids to get your eight year old child an outfit. Kids apparently stop at size 7, but Bonds are not alone in this. Cotton On kids stops at size 8 - after that you need to go in the Teen range and your eight year old is encouraged to wear the same as a 14 year old might want to wear. Ask the parents of any kids wearing size 8 - 12 and most are struggling to find shops that cater to their needs. Children's boutiques more and more specialise in only newborn to 8 years - maybe this is because they just can't sell the older stuff. Maybe.

Search hard enough and you will find a brand that thinks kids are still kids, all messy hair and slouchy and busy doing their thing rather than reapplying their face.

This is more how I am happy for my kids to be. Just wearing clothes that let them do all the things they need to do.

Image from Missie Munster

Tweens were actually first referred to as those post the teen years - the people in their 20s, still working out what they wanted to do with their lives.

The "tweens" were defined by J.R.R. Tolkien thusly: "At that time Frodo was still in his tweens, as the hobbits called the irresponsible twenties between childhood and coming of age at thirty-three. 

That makes sense, even using the 'tw' from twenty. I like it. And really, if you have met any 'kids' in their early twenties lately, they really are pretty much tweens in the true sense of it and mostly still living with their parents.

Which leaves me with my own eight year old wannabe tween. She who begs for an Instagram account and sleep over parties but who can't safely cross a busy road on her own.

I am reluctant to use the term tween at all. Preferring to call things as they are, I like kids to be children and teenagers to be teenagers, but modern society is dragging me along. I am being forced to shop in teen shops for clothing.

As a marketer I am fully aware of the dollar benefits of segmenting to the tween market. It's a powerful one. Where kids have enormous power over the financial decisions of the family household.

Just check out any Smiggle store, jokingly referred to as crack for kids. How much Smiggle is enough? Filled with overpriced smelly textas that every kid wants, they are not too pricey that parents can't afford them, yet enough that not every kid gets them. They distinguish themselves from all the Crayola your kid has had for the last five years, making them so much cooler, adding in ipod speakers and slap bands to up the "I want it" factor.

I can't fight society and the influence it has on my kids. It is what it is and they live in a world surrounded by peers that have a big impact on them. But I can search for things that I think will provide them with entertainment, stuff they might 'play' with, while not even knowing. I have found most of these 'things' to be bigger outside things. Scooters, sneakers with wheels in them, kinetic sand, tennis racquets, trips to trampoline centres and roller skating rinks. Board games and card games and books are also great options.

And it's also important to note that society has made big progress in the advertising we do.

Do you remember Barbie and the Rockers...





Perhaps the tween market can actually become a great thing. With the right marketing teams pushing it the tween target audience could be sent messages about how great it is to be a child. That time when you can climb a tree without an adult's help. You can ride a bike without training wheels. You can spill popcorn all over the couch and not be the one who has to clean it up. The tween still lives in a time of fewer problems then teenagers, when at least their skin is not marked with pimples  and Impulse isn't sprayed every half hour.

The tween years might actually be the best ever. They just need a new campaign.



P.S I have a really fantastic list of things to giveaway at the moment. Please take a look and let me know which ones you would love to win. 


Thursday, November 13, 2014

The BIG Giving Giveaway 2014

Once again I am running my one and only Christmas giveaway post. The giveaway with a difference.

Each item mentioned in this post has happily agreed to provide me with a giveaway item to review. One to giveaway to a reader, AND a third item to giveaway to a charity/person of my choice this Christmas. That was the condition sent to every PR who asked me to write about their products this Christmas, just like last year, as soon as I asked for a third item to give to a charity, most companies decided not to continue. However - Social Media for social good, well it feels good, so I am not budging on my terms for this post.

There will be four prizes in total to win, so let's just get straight into it.

Prize One: Tickets to Disney Live: 




Win ONE family pass for Friday 9th Jan 2015, 1pm performance. IN MELBOURNE.

Tickets are Valued at $155/family pass (4 tickets).

For more details on Disney on Ice tickets around the country check here


Prize Two: Sparkly Warkly Pack




This is a gorgeous pack! It will include; 

1) Forever Clover Gift Pack

Remember swap cards. Of course you do. They were fantastic and they are on the way back. But of course they come with more of a twist and these ones have an entire book series to match them. We had some friends from school come over and play swap cards, we also swapped a few books around so that each of the girls could read about the Forever Clover girls. These are great books for girls aged around 6-9, particularly those that are happy to never read another book about fairies.  

Sandy Feet Australia sells bathers that are going to last more than one week of swimming lessons in designs that grown ups want to wear too. With a cut that keeps in mind that children (including girls) are active little beings the Sandy Feet Australia togs are not skimpy little numbers. The cross over back on the girls bikini and tankini stops them having to worry about straps falling off. You will be able to decide what you want from the store and it will be sent directly to you. My girls modelled their outfits over on Instagram too.

3. 'Lil Fairy Doors. 
We received a 'Lil Fairy Door. Just the one. It was instantly the cause of a fight as the girls discussed who would get to have the door in their room. Miss 8 is an excellent negotiator and tried every argument she had to get it in her room. In the end, it is in my room and will be used to bribe them for a few weeks until I get a new one from the online shop.

4) Milky Foot and Spotner
Have you tried the Milky Foot? If not, do your feet a favour and get them milky this summer. It's a small luxury for feet that spend their days running around after everyone else. When you can't indulge in a full on regular foot treatment, you can do a Milky Foot at home instead.  Spotner is a new cream that works on age spots. Thankfully age spots are not my biggest concern right now, but this 'pen' means you can just dab it on, not rub yet another cream all over you.

5) Little Live Pets Butterflies. 
Colourful and flappy, these butterflies are both a cute decoration for a room and something to play with. They flap differently depending on how much interaction they get. 

Prize Three: Tickets to Thriller Live




Want to see this fabulous new show?

I have a double pass worth $179.80 for Wednesday 28 January 2015.  
THIS IS FOR THE MELBOURNE SHOW
You and a friend could be off to the theatre for a sing and a dance.

For more information on where to see this show, check ticketmaster.


Prize Four:  Flippy Flappy Happy Pack





Prize Pack Four is filled with lots of little gems. If you win this pack you will receive. 

1) Thomas Track Master Set. 
This includes the Water Tower Starter Set and a Raceway Expansion Pack. 

2) DVD of Thomas the Tank Engine Movie, Tale of the Brave. This is a great movie that every little Thomas fan will enjoy. At 70 minutes long, it's more than the standard tv show version of Thomas, but not too long that little people can't sit through the whole thing. 

3) Evans and Hall
This online business was new to me, but Evans and Hall has some really really nice stuff. It is filled with stationery and classy products that are just a little bit different, just a little bit nicer than the other stuff you see, just a little bit better. This pack includes a box of Science Flash Cards. The cards are a delightful way for kids to learn and chat about the world around them, thick cards, stunning images. You will love them. 

4) DVD  - The trip to Italy
Mr H and I sat down the other night and watched this DVD. It's like a funny documentary. With two men, Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon, taking a road trip and eating their way around Italy, there are lots of little one liners in this film, but stay focused, it moves fast, when you think nothing is happening you miss another great line.


4) Milky Foot and Spotner
Just like in Pack Two, this will be added to pack four too! 



5)  Australia Post Shop
When you are heading to the post office to buy all your Christmas card stamps, take a look around what is on the shelves. There are heaps of toys and items for kids gifts. You know when you don't want to spend a lot but you also don't want to just buy more junk? This is what you need. The WoodWorx packs have great little options and both my girls did them WITH NO HELP. The book packs are excellent value, you will not get better priced books then these, I buy a few ever year. There are even slinkies! 


________________________________________________________________________________

Phew, that took a while to get through, but it is totally worth it. I have the most amazing pack of all these items that I am able to give away this Christmas to a family in need. And that feels good, it feels really good.

A huge thank you to all the businesses taking part above. Click on their links and take a look around.

________________________________________________________________________________


To enter to win one of the above prizes you need to do ONE thing. 

LEAVE A COMMENT on this blog post OR on a facebook post that links to this post (on my facebook page) You must also leave me an email address or a twitter handle or an instagram handle so that I can contact you. 

Simply tell me which prize you would like to win and why. Or, if you would like the prize to be a surprise for someone you know who might really need a little surprise, tell me that too. 

That's all. 




Comments Close on November 30.
Winners will be chosen by Team Huey and the decision will be final. 
No payment was received from any of the products in this list.





Monday, November 10, 2014

How I saved $100,000

I am a sucker for articles that might give me a bit of advice on how we can save a few dollars in the Huey household. I admit to reading a plethora of stories, tip sheets and lists on all the things I should change/do to make it easier to pay the bills and retire before I am 70.

Mostly those articles have stupid headings that make me click on the article and provide no real opportunities for me to save cash. Pretty much exactly like this post.

Those articles are always filled with silly ways to make money and none of them ever work.

I am not going to stop buying my lunch. Chances are I didn’t really want to eat dinner last night so I really don’t want it as left overs just to save $30 a week.

Buying in the July toy sales doesn’t help, it just means I buy twice a year. First in July when I think I am saving money and again in December when I realise the stuff from July is not something the kids are even interested in, the books have been read and the clothes outgrown.

I try and save up and use my loyalty points, but when I get that bonus $20 store card to spend, I just use it as an excuse to buy the more expensive cheese.

It has been useful reading those articles over the last 20 years and also attaining an Economics degree, because I realise that in the last three years I have saved over $100,000.

You can too, here is all you have to do and in three years time you will have not spent $100,000.

Stop buying Magazines. 



This is easy to do, just make sure you have a hairdresser that stocks the mags you like to read. I got all the above Frankie mags for free on my local Facebook Buy Swap and Sell page. Bargain.

SAVING OVER THREE YEARS: $360

Gifts for You

Leave really really good hints to your husband/partner/family about what you want for Christmas. This prevents you having to buy what you want after Christmas/birthday each year.

SAVING OVER THREE YEARS: $1200

Education


We were keen to attend the local Grammar school near us, but instead we took a good look at the local government funded primary. Of course the oval is not green, the home readers can be a bit shabby and the kids wear best and less hats rather than boaters. But. SAVINGS.

SAVINGS OVER THREE YEARS: $48,000
  

A NEW (to us) CAR.

When our old Mazda died I would have loved a spanky new fancy car. We went to look at some and I told Mr H all the things I wanted in my new wheels.  I then took the kids home and he wheeled and dealed with the car sales people until they just really wanted him to leave and never come back. The car is perfectly fine. But it ain’t spanky new, just new to us. We did this twice (we have a car each) in the last three years. Sometimes, I also walk the kids to school which saves us about $1.24. I admit, I don't do it often enough. Because - Unorganised.

SAVINGS OVER THREE YEARS: $40,000

Buy Less Food.

Using up ingredients. Just make up a recipe.

This tip is actually very useful if you want to stretch the fortnightly budget. Don’t go back to the shops because you think you need to do a weekly food shop. Take a really really good look in the freezer and pantry. 

What is back there?

Twice a year I try and do the $21 a week food challenge. Except we call it the $75 a week food challenge and I try and do it for three weeks in a row. Our usual food bill is closer to $250 a week, so we save $175 a week for 3 weeks = $525. It is also worth doing before you are going on holidays, moving house, or just need to clean out the fridge.  If you can do this twice a year, that’s $1050.

SAVINGS OVER THREE YEARS: $3150

Holidays.

If you can't get away on a holiday, get away to a new park, climb some tress and pretend you are somewhere far far away.

If you want to save lots of cash to pay off your credit card/mortgage/uni fees then you don’t get to take a European holiday. No white Christmas in Salzberg for us. No skiing in Japan. No lazing about over the waters in Tahiti.  But that doesn’t mean you need to stay home all the time. Get on to the super cheap airfares email deals. 

Here’s a hot tip…the Jetstar deals are really good, but the website always crashes and you never get the flights – unless you use the app, which seems to not crash.  Another way to save is to explore your own area. By driving 3-4 hours away you can find some excellent places that you might never have been to before. Grab a cabin, or check out Stayz for a house. Take an esky filled with food to save on basic costs (we never eat out for breakfast on holidays, it’s weet bix or toast for everyone). You can also make it a three day stay rather than a week.  We still holiday every year in some capacity, but let’s just say there are not many stamps in the passports.

SAVINGS OVER THREE YEARS by not going to Europe: $30,000           


TOTAL SAVINGS OVER THREE YEARS: $122,710.


WOW. I am such a great saver and I didn’t even realise it. Now to find out where the money all went.

What are your best tips for saving cash that you never had in the first place? 






Friday, November 7, 2014

Living an Unorganised Life



Organised? That's not me. I am never organised. Never will be. The only thing that makes me better now than years ago is that I acknowledge that being organised is not my strength.

Also, I no longer see it as such a problem.

We don't meal plan around here.

I don't have days designated to house cleaning and grocery shopping.

School uniforms are not always ironed and ready for the next day either.

Mr H works shift work so we can't even organise our social events properly as we just never know when he will be working. It can also make my own social nights a bit hit and miss too. I could just say no to everything, but thankfully I have herded up some great friends who understand I need to be flexible.

When I went to see a movie recently, there was a risk that Mr H would be called out for work. He suggested that I would have to leave the movie and come home to look after the kids.

Do you know how often I get out to see a movie? That would be close to never. The thought of having to leave it (possibly) was simply just annoying. So I found an emergency solution, where the kids would be dropped at my friends and I would pick them up from there afterwards, even though it was a (shock, horror) SCHOOL NIGHT.

We go on randomly announced bike rides to parks and bushwalks in far off places. Just taking water bottles and jumpers and working the rest up as we go.

My washing pile overflows, so I just have a stash of extra school uniforms/dance uniforms/spare clothes in the cupboard that gets us all through to the weekend. I have fruit and vegetables delivered to my door each week to ensure we keep the scurvy at bay and there is always a meal on the table each evening.

Christmas is not always wrapped and ready to go weeks beforehand either. I am a late night wrapper, choosing to pour a drink and sit on the floor surrounded by paper and scissors, sticky and notes and smelling the good whiff of the Christmas tree. It still gets done just as well.

Socially, we check local papers and flyers and facebook pages and we always have something to attend, something to do, some place to be if we want to entertain ourselves, but we don't schedule them in weeks in advance.

Yes, some (ok, all) of our cupboards could be rearranged to look more pleasing. But the secret is to close the door, walk away and not really think about it.

Living an organised life is probably wonderful. You could save heaps of cash on your meal planning and buying in sales and getting good deals.

But it just doesn't work for us. Still, we get everything done, live a pretty calm life, get to everything we need to do and have clean clothes each morning.

Being organised is not for everyone, but could you cope with a life less planned? 

Monday, November 3, 2014

On our Book Shelf: November 2014

Last week I worked my first (and only) day at my new job at the Itty Book Book Van.

You always need to look for the perks of a job, in this case there were many but one of the main ones was that I got to read heaps of new children's books. Shoppers were keen to know what I thought about certain books and I really enjoyed talking about them with both the kids and the adults they dragged into the van.

The van holds books that are old favourites and fabulously new.

These were my top three recommendations:

1) The Story Machine by Tom McLaughlin. 

This was new to me and I loved it all. Elliott finds a typewriter. Imagine not knowing what a typewriter is? My kids didn't. Elliott learns to use the typewriter in a way most adults wouldn't have thought of. The illustrations work among the text in a beautiful way. This is a must add book to anyone in love with children's literature. Adults will happily read it over and over again to a child who enjoys re reading favourite stories.


2) All Through the Year.



We have had this for close to two years and it is still a favourite at bedtime. Children pick up different things over time, noticing the seasons, the festivals, the flow of their year. Illustrations that seem so simple are actually quite engaging and provide just enough for little eyes to see without giving the entire picture that can be filled in with your imagination.
I find this a perfect book for the child you don't know what to buy for.

3) Doll House Book




The reality is that this is a drawing book, not a reading book and there are not even any prompts. However I still really liked this one. It encourages kids to draw any type of building. It's a dollhouse for some or a barn or a farm. It could be the inside of a room or the outside of a dwelling. It's for your own stories, and really they are probably the most important. For adults, it's also a much more convenient way to hold on to some of your kids artwork.



Away from the van I have recently finished the books The Five People you Meet in Heaven and For One More Day. Both written by Mitch Albom. They are not new books and I don't know why they haven't crossed my path before. You might know Mitch Albom from his more popular book Tuesdays with Morrie. Both books are written in a simple conversational dialogue, as though you are just chatting with the characters. Both are fictional accounts of life after death. I am rather fascinated with the possibilities of what heaven may or may not look like and I enjoyed reading about just what might be. Because really. You just don't know.


What are you reading right now?







Monday, October 27, 2014

Should I get Acrylic Nails?

If you have ever considered getting some fake nails placed on your hands there are a couple of things that you should consider.




Last week I was happily sitting at the hairdresser content in the knowledge that the mullet I seemed to have accidentally grown was being chopped and styled to something less bogan.

As I sat playing on Facebook and Instagram and reading magazines about how I too could be 45 kilos less in just three days, a message jumped out at my from facebook. Was anyone free in an hour to have their nails done? The Nail training school needed more hand models.

Sure. Free false nails, sounds good to me.

I was the lucky hands that got to sit about for a couple of hours and leave with new hands.

As a person who has the awful habit of picking at my nails, I left thinking how wonderful they looked.

Not only that, but the lady who did them was so nice, we chatted for a couple of hours and she was really good at the whole nail caper. It was a nice way to waste an afternoon.... and free.

But. No one told me about fake nails.

I tried to send a text message and check my work emails and I couldn't use my phone.

I am a social media manager who spends HOURS on a device each day, it is not good if you can't use your hands to do this.

The next day I had an accreditation meeting with big wig sorts who needed to be shown things online. I COULD NOT TYPE properly.

With fake nails you can't pick things up properly off the bench.

You can not get stickers off anything.

It was then suggested by my fellow colleagues (nurses in a hospital) that acrylic nails are not really what they want, as they are  really bad for infections.

Great. My nails are not only annoying but also can spread disease.

I decided that I wanted to remove the acrylic nails.

Have you ever tried to do this?  It's nearly impossible and comes with a big list of things to not to do as you risk ripping off the actual nail bed from your fingers.

I have been soaking my hands in chemicals to try and get these plastic suckers off, but so far, no luck. These babies are stuck on good and proper.

So if you are asking yourself the question: Should I get my acrylic nails done.

I suggest you ask yourself the following questions first.

Do you need to use your smart phone often?

Do you care about having infections in your nails?

Do you prefer to spend your nights doing things other than soaking your nails in paint stripper?

Do you like to be able to pick up small things with your fingers?

Do you like to avoid possible cancer causing chemicals leaking into your body?


If you answered YES to any of the above questions, then you should NOT be getting acrylic nails. No matter how good they look.

I need to go and soak for another hour now...how are your nails looking?

Do you have any tips on removing fake nails (painlessly)?


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

I have a new job

Do you want to come and meet me at my new job? I would love for you to come along and say hello. 

No, I haven't resigned from my usual day job, instead I am starting work for the very fabulous Itty Bitty Book Van! 



This Sunday, October 26 2014,  the van is headed to the gorgeous gardens of the Werribee Mansion for International Children's Week festivities. With thousands expected to hit the lawn to indulge in lots of fun and entertainment, more hands are needed in the van and those hands shall be mine. 


These lawns will be filled with picnics and happy kids and families.


I can't wait. 

It's no secret that I love children's books. We have many hundreds of our own and I have borrowed many more from the library over that last eight years. But there are always more new books to read and share with both little people and with big people who enjoy the illustrations and the craft of a well told story. 

There are so many things to do at the mansion this Sunday. Nearly all of it is free too. 


Will you be there? 

Want me to read you a story? 

Do you love kids books as much as me?


Monday, October 20, 2014

Two Years of a Dead Dad.

Last year on this day it was the first anniversary of my Dad's death.

I never wrote about it. Looking back at my posts in October last year, I busied myself with Frocktober. I made myself so so so busy saying yes to everything. I thought I knew exactly what to do and how to deal with things.

"Don't allow any quiet moments in your brain, just fill every waking moment with tasks and the grief will not be a guest in your heart." These are the things I told myself. It worked. For awhile anyway.

The anniversary came and went and nothing happened. Dad was still dead. We were all still sad.

So here we are at year two. Dad is still dead, confirming he was not Jesus, as he has not risen from the dead. We miss him. Fuck I miss him. If I could just call him once a year that would be ok. If I could bargain with some God to just allow that at least. Even if it was a limited number of years that I got to do that. Even just one call. Let's face it, I am desperate, I will take a text message if that's all God is handing out.

Immy asked me last month if I would cut my leg off if I could see Poppy again.

Yes, I said. I would cut both my legs off.

"Wow" she said. "You know then you would have no legs?" I told her I could live with anything if it just meant we got him back.

"Would you kill yourself to let Poppy come back?" asked Miss 8.

"No." I said. "That would not really help."

As children they understand death in different ways, but these concepts change for them as they grow.

Immy has cried more. "I miss his cuddles and tickles and it's not fair that I didn't get more years with him."

Miss 8 has wished he was here to remind her of his card tricks and all the maths tricks he could do with a box of matches. He had a knack of entertaining small children at dinner tables, he played paddocks on napkins and asked them riddles appropriate for their age. He knew all the good knock knock jokes. Of course I saw the tricks many times, but I have forgotten them, I always did. She feels ripped off that she won't get to work them out. I feel ripped off too, because I know how much he wanted to live.

In my head, I have to constantly remind myself that the crap day, the shit day of remembrance is the 20th, because to me it was the 19th, the last day I saw him and hugged him goodbye. He wore a thick wool jumper that day. It was cold in Melbourne.

Throughout this year, I have silently questioned my blog and its future. I have given it substantial less time and attention than ever before. But you know what I have found also? I use my blog to check back on things we did, images of the kids and comments. It's indulgent, but personal blogging is a very self indulging hobby.

I like writing our stories and I really like it when I stumble across an old post I wrote and see my Dad has left a comment on it.



One day, Immy and Miss 8 will know that Poppy read every single story about them that I wrote. But it won't be enough.

And here we all are.

Living anyway.

Happy, most of the time.

I work hard to keep myself from being smothered by that heavy, dark blanket that sometimes floats above my head threatening to fall from the sky and pin me down. I see it much less than I did last year.

Cheers Dad. I hope the wine is good where you are, the music is upbeat, the sun is shining and the company is engaging. Give me a call when you can (text if you have to).



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