Thursday, June 25, 2015

Do yourself a favour... The Devil in the Marshalsea

cover of book The Devil in the Marshalsea

When you read a great book you just have to share it with everyone. My latest read I was reluctant to even start.

The Devil in the Marshalsea is my current book club book. I totally judge a book by its cover, I know I shouldn't but I do. This book is black and dark and falls in the crime/thriller section, these are the areas I usually avoid.

However it also hangs out in the historical section and that is an area that rarely fails me.

I started The Devil in the Marshalsea with little expectation. I hoped it wouldn't be too 'thriller', not to gory.

Lucky we had a lazy weekend because once I got started I barely stopped. On Sunday morning I kept reading until midday, forcing myself to stop. You know those people who are early to school pick up and sit in the car park for an hour? I now know what they are doing, they are reading great books, well, that is what I planned into my day.

Tom is the main character who is very down on his luck. He ends up in the debtors prison, and prison of any kind in 1725 wasn't a place you wanted to be. You can trust no one and believe nothing.

Tom can earn his freedom from the prison by finding out who murdered an inmate recently, but every time you think you might know where it's about to go the next twist and turn springs on you. You now how you think of those people that are not obvious and think you are clever enough to have the book sorted...and each time you are wrong!

I am not going to say too much more as you just don't want spoilers in this book.

I really was on edge as I read it, I felt anxious reading as I worried for Tom and how he'd cope with each new day. Yet, I couldn't stop reading, desperate to know which character would be next to help him out of his latest troubles.

Do yourself a favour and have a read of this one.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

It’s ok to play on social media with your kids.

I get lots of questions from parents about using social media. I don’t have all the answers. I don’t know anything about having a teenager and social media, but I know that giving your kid a device and deciding they are now old enough to just do what all the other kids are doing these days isn’t the best choice for most kids.

Lots of parents will say to me, “I don’t really do that social media thing”, which is fine, but guess what, you need to figure it out.

If the oldies are getting on facebook, you can check out a few apps, you can take a look at what the cool kids are playing with.

You could even have a family account on an app that your kids want to play with.

We have one on Instagram.  Mr H controls it, but the kids are allowed to put what they want on it. It’s a private account and they have six followers, but they follow a few interesting accounts. They can see their cousins photos and write comments on them. They can see beautiful photos from travel photographers and toursim accounts or nature photographers. Via our family instagram account our kids can see images from all over the world.

We talk about what kind of things you can put on instagram, like how it’s important to ask people first before you put them on. We make a big deal of not caring about who liked a photo or not, because they are sharing an image they like and want to keep for later, it’s not about everyone else. Sometimes we look at a hashtag and see what’s there.

Basically it’s a safe place for the kids to play, for us to show them how social can work and for them to make mistakes where no one will get upset.

Of course the nine year old has begged for her own account, but the answer here is no, she can do what she likes on the family account for a while yet.

The girls also get to use my little used Skype account. It’s been wonderful for Miss 6 to use. Her bestie has moved to America and she really misses her. The time differences are so great that they mainly only get to send messages, but she loves it so much. One weekend when they got to chat, she sat in her room and they talked about their new classes, their toys and silly stories. It was wonderful.

Kids don’t need their own social media accounts, but they can certainly benefit from the joys of social apps, and opening up an account that you all use together can be a safe place for little people to learn quite a lot, or, you might even learn a few things yourself.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Great marketing can protect our health. But...

If I started to sing Slip Slop Slap in the voice of a seagull with a lisp you would all probably sing along with me. That campaign started way back in 1981. I was 6 years old.

Back then,  I was sunburnt every time it was warm. At school there wasn’t a hat policy. No one had that expensive suncream stuff. We wore bikinis in the back yard, with maybe a singlet over the top. There wasn’t any SPF 50+ clothing or rashies or swimsuits.

Ten years later and my Dad, would often tell my sister and I we were foolish for sunbaking. He’d ask if we thought we would look good with big holes in our faces where the doctors might have to cut skin cancers out.

We responded by spraying more Sun In or squirting lemon juice on our hair.

Throw in another twenty years and my nine year old has never ever been sunburnt like I was as a kid. It starts in crèche with sun smart policies where three year olds have little ‘suncream’ stations where they learn to apply it before they go out to play in the morning and afternoon. Because no teacher has time to reapply 25 kids three times a day.

Now as a grown up my daily moisturiser has SPF 15+ in it, so does my hand cream, I can even get shampoos and hair care with sun protection in them.

I have lightweight summer scarves to protect me from the sun.

Our babies have sunshades over the already tinted car windows and even their prams have sun protection covers.

The Slip Slop Slap marketing campaign has changed the thinking of millions of people and saved thousands of lives, crazy amounts of people really.

But, we are so sun smart that a new condition has started to occur for those of us in the Southern States. 

We are lacking Vitamin D. 

We don’t get enough sun in the winter time.

I couldn’t believe it. Mr H is always getting as much sun as he can and he came back with test results saying he is lacking in Vitamin D.

It’s pretty easy to happen. Work in an office, wear a hat, wear clothes, keep under cover when it’s raining, exercise in a gym,

But what happens without the BIG D anyway?

Well, Quite a lot.  We are more like plants than you think and we really need a stack of water and a hit of sun to make us grow strong bones. No sun is linked to a whole range of stuff best avoided, MS and diabetes among them! That's serious illness. Then there is your mental health too, sun = happy.

The kids also need it to make sure they have strong bones and teeth. All that brushing won’t help if their teeth are not even strong enough to hang around.

In the summer time you probably get the Vitamin D you need, but if you are in a colder climate, from May to September your body is probably not. If you have SPF in your facecream and hand cream, and wearing your winter woollies covering the rest of your body, then you are not getting a scrap of Vitamin D for over four months. Remember your body can’t store Vitamin D, so it doesn’t matter how much you got back on your January beach holiday, your bones need more.

I tell you ladies, we don’t want to be falling over on the dance floor of life and cracking bones just because we didn’t get enough sun shine.

So what to do?
Well, you could eat more fish but hardly anyone gets enough Vit D from food.
Instead, try a winter skin care regime, that simply means your make up or moisturiser has no SPF in it. (Unless you are going to the snow, then use your summer stuff, that glare will burn you like a marshmallow in a fire).

Get outside in the daytime, or sit by a big sunny window with your arms getting some sunshine. Walk your baby in the middle of the day and let them get some sun on them too.

I am in NO WAY suggesting you try and get enough sun to burn your skin. You don’t need to go that far, just 15 minutes of sun on your hands during the middle of the day is what you need. It might be just hanging out the washing.

If you live in a sunny place like Queensland, you don’t really need to read this so much, you probably get enough and sun protection is still your reality.

Lastly and importantly, remember I AM NOT A DOCTOR. THIS IS NOT MEDICAL ADVICE. You should always take the advice of your doctor. But next time you have to take a routine blood test, consider asking if they can check your Vitamin D (if they are not already) and make sure you are giving your body the sunshine it needs.

Better Health also tells you all the facts, and they are real doctor types.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The one thing I'd tell you if you are about to have surgery.

Last week I was walking from my car to the office. My office being an overcrowded box overflowing with marketing stuff that I seem to always accumulate, in the offices of a hospital. Around my hospital there are three other big hospitals and countless rooms of the best doctors you can hope to find.

Waiting at the lights, after just missing the green man, the lady beside me was walking two steps ahead of her husband before stopping right next to me. This couple were around 60 something years old. He was carrying the bigger bags, she had her handbag and her 'Important Things' bag. I call it this because I picture her at home that morning, after being awake most of the night, putting all those last little important things in it. The things she really had to have with her. Her medications. Her referral. Copies of her scans. It was a clear bag and I could see them all.

I noticed her short, slow and deliberate breathing, the kind that usually suggests an anxious or upset mind. I could feel the self defence prickles growing from her as her husband suggested he carry the Important Things bag. He had no idea how she needed to be in control of that bag. It was like the bags gave her her calmness, her balance. His kindness was making her cranky. The kind of cranky you can only be with the people you love the most.

I don't know which of the hospitals she was going to, nor what medical needs she had. Those two things are irrelevant. I know she was going to have some kind of health need met and it was likely surgery of some kind that required a few nights in hospital.

I wanted to give her a hug and tell her I know how it feels to be walking into the hospital not knowing the answers yet. But I really wanted to say to her, "the nursing team are going to look after you". The staff are really really really going to look after you. Where you are going right now, the people there, they want to look after you and make you better.

Nurses are special types and they do understand how you feel. They are going to look after you. They are going to help you with the pain and they are going to be happy to answer your questions. They know you don't want to be there and they want to do what they can to get you home as soon as they can.

I know this, because they told me.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

July 2015: School Holidays for bigger kids

Now that I have kids that are not pre-schoolers, I am finding many activities advertised as holiday options are not really suitable. The ten minute craft activity at a shopping centre doesn’t do anything other than make us all wish we had stayed at home. School kids can pick an 'Eductainment' option from three days away and are not impressed by anything that attempts to be teaching them something. 

So here are a list of things that you might like to do these school holidays if you have school aged kids which are just simply fun, for all of you. 


This first one is actually a pre-holiday event, but I love a good fire. Plus, it’s winter, it’s cold and nothing beats a big massive fire. You should go,  celebrate that the long long cold nights are now officially starting to become shorter and warmer…even if it doesn’t feel that way.

Saturday 20 June. 

During the holidays there is also another event at the Collingwood Children’s Farm and chances are, your kids don’t get enough time these days to run around and get grubby. Go, be ipad free for a day and all sleep well that night.

Mansfield Lantern Festival

If you want to go to an entire festival to celebrate the longest night of the year, the Mansfield Lantern Festival looks like a fabulous event to go and check out. It's the first year this festival has been run so you will be the first to experience it. You get to make your own lanterns, check out the local markets, the foods and the fun. It really looks like a fun weekend. Mansfield is an easy drive from Melbourne...and there will probably be snow, so snuggle up.

All the details: Mansfield Lantern Festival.


Go to Royal Park. It’s such a great park and has the best climbing frames. It’s free.
Really you should just get in the car and go. Take towels. I wrote a bigger post about it a few weeks ago.

Chocolate Classes at Yarra Valley Chocolatier

I haven’t tried this one, but if you have a kid aged 6 -12, I think they would love this. Making chocolate at a real chocolate factory in the beautiful Yarra Valley. There are only four days that this class is available, so take a look early and book your kids in. It’s an adult free class, so I can only imagine that you will need to sit quietly somewhere with a great hot bevvie and a few chocolates to try until the kids finish what they are up to. So far it really sounds ok to me.

Details are here - let me know if you do go and can tell me what it’s like.

Sovereign Hill

A couple of years ago Sovereign Hill started the gorgeous Christmas in July festival for the winter holidays. Each year it has got bigger and better and this year looks like it will be really magical. There is no mistaking that Ballarat is cold. Believe me, I went to school there for 8 years and my chilblains have barely recovered twenty years later. So having a winter Christmas in July, even if it is fake snow, is just perfect, because you will be cold, there will be little having to pretend about how cold it is.  

You can easily do a Ballarat day trip from Melbourne, but I think it might be worth staying over for the night if you can manage to. It looks like the light show is going to be well worth it.

Head to the Beach!

We have long been groupies of Big4 Bellarine and we love it just as much in the winter. The indoor heated pool is cosy and warm and the nearby beaches are empty. You can run along them if that’s your thing, or rug up and just play on the sand. Surprisingly, the kids love the beach whether it is hot or not. Once you have enough sand in your gumboots for one day, just head back to the cabin, go for a bike ride, jump on those pelvic floor weakness alerting jumping pillows and have a lovely time.

Winter is off peak time, so prices are good, check it out here 

Indoor Water Park  - WaterMarc

Next on our list of day visits is the swimming pool at Watermarc.

With a heated pool, slides, and playgrounds that you can use no matter how crap the weather is. It’s a public pool so you won’t go broke just to enter and you can stay for as long as your kids want to play in the water, which for me is likely to be all day long.  I will be packing my own bathers, swimming for a few hours and eating hot chips for lunch. It’s kind of my perfect day, which the kids will just have to cope with.
Details for Watermarc here


Disney On Ice presents Dare to Dream, and that it will be on at Hisense Arena from 2-6 July. 

This show is on every year and we have been for the last three. Every year the kids love it and last year Mr H came along too and really enjoyed it. He appreciated the fabulous skating skills of the actors and we all really enjoyed the show.

For 2015, Disney on Ice presents Dare to Dream! I am a bit of a dreamer type so I think this theme sounds like the best one so far.

It's a show filled with cute stuff, big life size mice who can skate on a thin piece of metal...I can't even stand up in ice skates, so I do think this is quite a thing.

 Plus...a horse, on ice skates! 

Tickets are available all over Australia and are on sale here for all the shows.

OR, just leave a comment on this blog post because I also have a family pass (that’s four tickets) for you to win right here. Entering could not be easier, just tell me one thing that you will be doing with the kids during July. 

TICKETS are for the show on FRIDAY 3 JULY, at 2.30pm, in MELBOURNE (HISENSE ARENA) you must be available to attend the show on this date. 

Comments Open Monday 1 July 2015 and close Sunday 14 June at 11.59pm

If this is still not enough suggestions, I had a few more last year too, you can read them in the post: Sorted: 10 Great Ideas for the Victorian July School Holidays.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Don’t be a candle snob.

This is a sponsored post

I have many times confessed to be a lover of candles and while I am not super proud of it, I am also a bit of a candle snob.  Or a smell snob as I once called it. 

Even in my bio, over there on the right hand top of this page (not if you are reading in email or on your phone) but it says ‘fan of good smells’. Because I love good smelly things. I can remember days by their smell, so powerful are they to me.

Last week Miss 9 asked if I could get her a thermos for school lunches, she loves soup, mainly pumpkin, and asked to take some to school. Of course I said yes and then I made some soup and added in a few sneaky vegetables. Including broccoli. I forgot, that broccoli is NOT a good smell to have in a school classroom.

The poor thing opened that soup thermos up and within seconds some kids with screwed up faces had asked “What is that smell????” it was instantly closed and she went hungry rather then stink out her classmates.  Because a stinky lunch can be hard to live down in Grade 3.

I have promised not to hide vegetables in her lunch again.

It’s different at home, because I had been sent a new candle to try from AirWick. I must admit I hadn’t tried them before. I hadn’t even looked at them. I thought AirWick was more bathroom clean smells, not living room smells.

But the candle I got was called Lemonade Stand and it’s really really nice. I had it burning in the kitchen and no one had complained about the stinky broccoli smell because it was hidden. This is one home fragrance that you want, especially when visitors drop by.

It’s not an awful bouquet of rose smell, or lily of the valley, or grandma’s posy. It’s light and citrus and fresh and modern.

It’s going to save Mr H a fortune! My candle habit had started to get a little

expensive, because the more of them you burn, the more of them you have to buy, and when you are being a candle snob, that doesn’t come with a supermarket price tag.

Good books and good smells are my weakness! 

One of the other AirWick candles is called Fluffy Linen which sounds like a smell I want! I am going to grab it this week, because the lemonade stand is not going to last long at my current burning rates!

Did you ever get sent to school with a stinky lunch?
What’s the best smell around your place these days?

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