May 2012Life Love and Hiccups: May 2012
Life Love and HiccupsLife Love and HiccupsLife Love and HiccupsLife Love and Hiccups

Thursday 31 May 2012

It's not just the Winners that are Grinners!

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If you were to meet me 5 years ago, you would have seen a very different person than the one you see today. I was incredibly competitive - in my career, in my hobbies and pretty much in everything really that I invested myself in. But to be truthful, I really didn't like who I saw in myself through the way I handled competition.

From the outside you probably wouldn't have noticed as I really wasn't much different to look at than what you would see today, except perhaps a little more frazzled from trying to hold it all together. It was what was going on inside my head that was causing the damage. The angst, the turmoil and the anxiety that came with me being competitive in my day to day life.

It was after I missed out on a job opportunity at work that I came to the realisation that I battle enough with the insecurities within myself, without exasperating it by comparing myself to others. When I compare, I doubt. I end up focusing on what skills I don't have, or where I am lacking within myself rather than focusing on all the wonderful things that I am. Comparison can take me from feeling on top of the world and totally loving life in one minute, to feeling empty and completely deflated the next. As a kid I never much fancied seesaws and as an adult, nothing much has changed there.

Having children opened me up to a whole new world of competitiveness and a lot of it came from other mums. My child is crawling - is yours? My son can say mama - can yours? My daughter can count to frigging 50 in 7 different languages - can yours? Not only did I want to throttle these woman who were making me feel inadequate as a parent, I wanted to slap them for making me feel like my own child was inferior to theirs. See .... there is a that dark side of my own personal competitiveness that I am talking about. It creates a beast in me that is damn near impossible to control.

Since I became a mum, I have changed. I am nothing at all like the woman I was pre children and for that I am glad. Those kids changed something in me and it cant be unchanged, and more to the point, I don't want it to be unchanged. I am comfortable with who I have become and I personally enjoy the lack of competitiveness I have chosen in my life.

With my own kids, I don't want to discourage them from being competitive - to a point. They need to understand about triumphs and heartache. But I want them to be able to isolate the joy of being part of something rather than just the winning. Their soccer or Rugby team may be get flogged in a competition, but they were a part of a combined effort and the experience of that is the prize in itself.

Even something like the recent Kidspot challenges would have totally sent the old me into a tail spin. However I have proven to myself that I can now participate in things like this without doubting myself or comparing myself to others. I can just enjoy being a part of something exciting without all my focus being on the finish line and I know the ride itself can be THE BEST part of it all.

What is right for me though should in no way be mistaken as a judgement upon anyone who enjoys the thrill of competition. There is no one size fits all when it comes to people and I believe there is a place in this world for all of us. Let's face it, the world would not function without those who are brave enough to be competitive. The incredible sportsmen and women who compete for a living, professionals who compete in their career, writers who compete in the world of publishing, and the individuals who compete to have their voice and their opinions heard - they inspire and they are brave enough to lead us. I admire them and I respect them, but after 39 years I can finally say, I just no longer need to be them.

I'm not naive - I  know this approach may not get me as far in life as my old competitive approach would, but I am more than ok with that. I also know this way may not be right for my children either, they need to make that choice for themselves. But I can tell you that these days I am more confident in myself and never have I doubted my own ability in anything, less than I do today.

For better or worse, I am who I am, and these days I am someone who wants to belong, not necessarily stand out. I am happy being a part of something rather than being the centre of it. I am not lazy nor am I a quitter, I'm just choosing to close my eyes and quietly enjoy the dance.

So be competitive..... or not! Just do what is right by you and don't be afraid of being judged for your choice. There is room for us all. Whatever makes you happy and allows you to smile, that's your winning style, so wear it proudly!

Have you ever found competitiveness lead you in a direction you didn't want to go?

How did you handle those Competitive mums who liked to brag about their 6mth old geniuses? Have you ever actually slapped one?

Have I just revealed too much about myself that you didn't really need to know... yet again?

Wednesday 30 May 2012

'Kidspot Ford Territory Top 50: A Woman's Perspective

Pin It So my friends we come to the final post in the Kidspot Ford Territory Top 50 Bloggers Challenge and it has been one hellava ride! Bahaha Get it...Ford Territory... ride...? Ok moving on!

Our final challenge is to review the Ford Territory Titanium AWD from a woman's perspective and this post is oh so bittersweet. It is bittersweet because I am going to tell you about all the wonderful things this gorgeous car has to offer, I am going to post photos of those fabulous features and then I am going to weep tears for this gorgeous car because our time has come to an end and I have to hand her back over.

Now I will be honest with you - I have NO IDEA when it comes to talking cars okay. I know how to drive one (though some may beg to differ), but when it comes to talking the official language - well truthfully, that's when my eyes glaze over and you totally lose me.

If you want to know all the official details so you can sell your other half on why you simply just HAVE to own one of these awesome machines - check out the official Ford site and then come back and attempt to translate it to me. Actually no need, as having just driven this car around for a month, both my hubby and I and the kids for that matter are all well and truly sold on all it has to offer.

So what I am going to focus on are the features that made me fall so madly in love with this car.

First of all, just look at it for crying out loud! Is this car hot or is this car sizzling hot! Not an actual question cause we all know its hot! The particular colour I have been driving around is called Havana and it is a sexy and totally luscious Mocha colour.

Whoever designed the Ford Territory was one very smart cookie and if it was a male, I bet he got very lucky with the loving from his wife *wink wink if you know what I mean* as this car has all the big and little bits and pieces that are important to women.

A place to hold my sunnies so there is no need to scrounge around in my bag looking for them.

10 cup holders in total I counted, but most importantly a double cup holder big enough to hold my beloved travel mug. In fact I counted at least 26 storage compartment of some sort in this car and I'm sure I didn't find them all.

Short ass adjustment, which in more technical terms is a 4 way power adjusted seat.
And Oh my God the luxury of leather seats was to die for. 
To be honest I thought they would be cold, but can I tell you, Toasty Baby, Toasty!

See this Touch screen panel - it is command Central. I can control everything from this panel and for a control freak like me (did I just admit to that on the internet?) it is pure joy.
Kids locked in the car - Check!
Lights on / off - Check!
Hand free Bluetooth Speaker Phone connection - Check!
iPod Integration to listen to my tunes - Check!
am / fm / cd player - Check!
Passenger and Driver Heating or aircon otherwise know as Climate Control - Check!
Inside AND outside temperature gauge - Check!
Satellite Navigation to keep me from getting lost - Check it off Babeeee!

The boot - even with the rear seats up, has plenty of room to fit in all of my shopping.

And with the back seats down, we had room to fit in all of the kids scooters and skaties and stuff, with heaps of space to spare.
In fact you can fold ALL the back seats down so you can fit in the bigger items that a trip to somewhere like IKEA might require you to transport.

Now when it comes to the kids, this car has things covered. There was plenty enough room for me to separate them if they were, you know, breathing too much of each others air!

They were kept well and truly entertained with the DVD entertainment system that comes with 2 wireless headphones if you want to drive in peace and quiet, and better yet - I had full control over it with my little remote control.

There are 3 of these charger thingies in this car, so there is no need for the kids to argue over who needs to charge their iPods the most urgently!

When I am traveling through my day, the most important thing to me is the safety of my kids. See those three little faces below? They are my world and I love that this car cares as much about their safety as I do.

There are driver air bags, passenger airbags AND curtain airbags. 
I may be a bit of a worrier when I am on the road, but knowing my family has all that protection in the event of a crash, calms me enough that I can actually just enjoy the ride.

The reverse camera and sonar sensor ensures you are well aware of anyone or anything that is behind you. This alone is so much peace of mind when you are anywhere at all where there are little munchkins running around.

Apart from all the features, this car is a dream to drive. From the Cruise Control to something really fancy called Electronic Power Assisted Steering (OMG See Maz - I really listened!) which basically means it is so easy to handle and incredibly easy to park for a car of its size. 

I am not even going to pretend that I have any idea about fuel consumption and all that stuff, but I can tell you that being a diesel powered car it puts off fewer carbon emissions than equivalent petrol fueled cars - that's gotta be a good thing for the planet right? Right! AND you get over 650kms out of a fill of this car. Now for me this is totally a good thing as I have this neurotic phobia about filling up cars, so the less often I have to nag my hubby to do it for me - the better for all of us and I can save my nagging for more pressing issues!

Did I mention the big boot room means that even the chicken sausages can come along for the ride.
Look at her would you - She is soooo enjoying her 5 minutes of fame!

As a mum and as a woman - this car just gets me, it gets us.
Heck, that is not to be sniffed at either, as that is something that men have been trying to figure out for like forever! Yet one car, one very special car has it all figured out - It knows what Women really want!

Kidspot and Ford, I cannot thank you enough for the privilege and the incredible opportunity to be a part of all this. This has been the most incredible experience and I'm not just talking about driving that gorgeous car either!

To Beth (Babymac), Danielle (Dannimezza), Jen (Lovely Living) and Katrina (Katrina From The Blog) - Thank you! It has been such an honour and joy to be a part of this with you guys. You are all the most amazing and inspiring women and such awesome ambassadors for the Australian Blogging Community.

And last but most certainly not least, to you my readers - Thank you Thank you Thank you! For all your support, your encouraging words and kindness and for putting up with my overexcited outbursts. YOU are the reason I was given this opportunity in the first place because as I have said before, Life Love and Hiccups is nothing without you!

So for your final opportunity to go in to the draw to win the $5000 big buckeroos, just click on over and cast your vote for your favourite blog and Good Luck ..... Seriously Good Luck! xxx

Monday 28 May 2012

Conversations In The Car: I Wanna Be a Farmer's Sister When I Grow Up!

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Some of the best conversations and by the best I really mean the most entertaining, take place in the car driving to one place or another. You may or may not recall me telling you a few months back about the discussion my boys and I had in the car when my son was worried that he had a baby in his testicle - Nope No Joke - that delightful banter led to the joy of giving the kids 'The Talk'. There is no doubt that in the car the kids come up with the most random things to talk about, especially if it just one on one and they don't have to compete to be heard.

Our seven year old Sammy is the King when it comes to random and this is a perfect example of his randomness in action. This conversation took place on the way to karate this Saturday morning and it was one of those convos that I think will always make me smile whenever I remember it or retell it to his future career guidance counselor or wife.

To get the full effect of this conversation, you have to imagine you are talking to a kid that is missing two front teeth, and therefore a full blown lisp is an essential prop!

Sam: Mum, how much do white coats cost?

Me: Ahhh what sort of white coat would you be talking about Monkey?

Sam: You know like the ones that scientist people wear?

Me: Ummm I not really sure two dogs, why do you ask?

Sam: Why did you just call me two dogs?

Me: It's just a figure of speech Sammy.

Sam: Mummm I'm seven, when you're talking to seven year olds, you shouldn't use such big words.

Me: Sorry Sam, I'll keep that in mind in future.

Sam: So anyway Mum you know how I want to be an animal doctor in a zoo when I grow up?

Me: yep?

Sam: Ive decided I don't really want to do all the operations and stuff, but I'm ok with being the man that makes up all their medicines. What's that job called?

Me: I believe that would be a Pharmacist mate.

Sam: A farmer what?

Me: A Pharmacist!

Sam: A farmer's sister?

Me: Yeah that's sort of it. You're gonna need to study hard at school if you want to do that job hun.

Sam: Really? Why? What do I need to be good at? And can you please talk a bit slower because I'm going to take notes.

Me: Well then it's probably a good idea to concentrate really hard at maths and science.

Sam: Ohhhh I can already count to 1000 by tens.

Me: That's a pretty good start.

Sam: Do you think I need to count higher than that?

Me: Possibly!

Sam: Like to 10 thousand?

Me: Maybe!

Sam: Like to 100 thousand?

Me: Perhaps!

Silence from the back seat...........

Sam: I think I might be one of those people that feed the seals their fish instead. Can I still wear a white coat if I want to?

I cack myself silly at funny conversations with kids.
Have you had any entertaining conversations with your mighty midgets you care to share?
What do you reckon is the average pay for a Farmers Sister?
Do you know where to buy a cheap white coat? I don't want to spend to much as it's gonna get totally fishy by the sound of it!

Saturday 26 May 2012

Movie Night Chipmunk Style, A Giveaway AND a Totally Weird Video Message From Me!

Pin It One our fave things to do in our house is Movie Night! For at least one precious hour or more, arguments are called to truce, the noise stops and we all pile up on the lounges to watch a movie and scoff some super buttery popcorn.

Now I will be honest with you - often I struggle with kids movies, cause more often than not the less than thrillng story lines, cheesy themes and sappy music tend to send me into a coma. I like a kids movie that appeals to the adults as much as the kids. Let's face it - we're the ones generally paying for the viewing pleasure so we need to be entertained too! Besides you get busted for playing on your iPad in the movie theater - trust me I have been humiliated when a teenage usher was instructed to ask me to turn it off!

My little guys love the Chipmunks movies and bless em - they drive us bonkers for weeks copying their catch phrases in annoyingly squeaky little voices. That being said, there is something weirdly kind of endearing about those hairy little dudes and who doesn't love to suck back some helium and pretend we have been Chipmunkified!

When I was contacted to ask if I would be interested in receiving a copy of the latest movie Alvin and The Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, I knew my boys would absolutely kill me if I said no.

So that my friends is how I came to spend Friday night curled up on the couch watching Alvin and his buddies create havoc on a cruise ship and end up marooned on a Tropical island where they find the island is not as deserted as they first thought.

I have to tell you, I actually didn't have to just pretend to watch this movie, I was totally there man and in the moment! It was full of enough cheesy one liners to keep me and hubby amused and the kids eyes well and truly fixed to the screen. Heck I am just going to come right out and admit I kind of liked the Chipmunks version of some of the more recent popular songs and judging by the way my kids kept jumping up to bust some moves along to the music - they more than a little liked it too.


I got a little over excited with the whole Chipmunk theme and decided I would make you guys a special little video ...... Go on, watch it! I know you totally want to see me humiliate myself on the internet!

Now if you know of any little Chipmunk fans, you are going to LOVE this giveaway, or at the very least the kids will - but you will so get the brownie points for being an awesome parent, relative or friend.

To celebrate the release of Alvin and The Chipmunks Chipwrecked's release on DVD this week, the guys from Splendid Communication have put together a very special pack for one lucky winner.

This pack contains both a Blue Ray and a Regular DVD copy of the Alvin and The Chipmunks Chipwrecked movie, A CD of The Sound Track, A gorgeous Alvin Fleecy Hoodie, an Alvin and a Brittany Figurine (see I even know their names) and a Pencil Case.

Terms and Conditions

  • The competition is open now and closes next Saturday 02/06/2012 at 8pm AEST.
  • One lucky winner will be selected by Random Org
  • This competition is only open to Australian Residents.
  • The winner will be announced here on this post and by email if you have an email address linked to your commenting profile.
To enter you just need to leave a comment on this post telling me what song you would like to hear the Chipmunks sing - just cause I want to cack at your answers and amuse my kids by walking around singing them like a chipmunk.

So Go for it and Good Luck! 



Claire Lenton-Cater
Would love for them to sing that 'sexy and i know it song... i mean come on..that would be hilarious!

* I received a Chipmunk pack for my boys in return for reviewing the movie and running this giveaway. The decision to humiliate myself by posting a video of me talking in a Chipmunk voice was totally my own doing!

Friday 25 May 2012

Yup I Work From Home - Wanna Come in and Have a Peek at My Office and My Day?

Pin It I haven't always had the privilege of working from home. Before I had my accident I used to drive at least an hour each way in the crappy head stressing traffic to the office and spend hours sitting in airports and on planes traveling the country. The accident changed so many things in my life and the ability to keep up that travel to and from work was just one of them. I tried, oh man did I try and when I failed miserably and could no longer hold it together anymore, I fell in one big messy heap.

Thankfully I work for a fabulous company who has supported me to no end. And amongst the many ways that they showed me that they were behind me, they gave me the gift of working from home.

Now I am not going to tell you it is always easy. At home there can be so many distractions and you have to be at least semi disciplined. It would be tempting to work in my PJs, catch up on some TV, crash on the couch for a while or lay by the pool in summer. But alas I have this little thing called a conscience and that voice in my head pretty much keeps me on the straight and narrow.

In actual fact I have to pull myself back in a lot of cases as I feel like I need to prove to everyone they made the right choice by allowing me to work from home so I tend to overcompensate and work the extra hours. My hubby and kids soon pull me into line and are quick to let me know I am cutting into their time.

I often get asked how do you work your day? How do you not get distracted? And the big one - How do you actually get anything done? I am pretty proud of the way I manage it and even though there are some downsides, there are a hell of a lot of pros on that list too.

So today I thought I would invite you into my office at home, show you around and share a few ways I manage things so I actually get stuff done.

First of all let me start by saying that my kids are all at preschool or Kindy, so my work from home scenario is NOWHERE near as tough as it would be for a mum (or dad) trying to work with kids at home.

I am lucky enough to have a dedicated room to use as an office and since I spend so many hours a day in this room, I decided before Christmas to give it a bit of a makeover.

The makeover involved fresh paint and after a huge amount of debating (with myself) I settled on  soothing grey called Tin Cat. Some new furniture from Officeworks and IKEA, a bit of prettying up and walah - I have a space I love to work in. Is it sad to say that I love my office? It's just so calm and cosy which is a good thing, cause as I said it is where I spend many hours a day.

My work day starts as soon as the kids and my hubby leave for school and work, which is normally about 8.15am. Before the kids actually leave for school and I am officially on the clock, I try to get some of the domestic stuff out of the way so it doesnt niggle at me during the day.

The kitchen is cleaned up from breakfast, beds are made and I try to chuck a load of washing on.  As weird as it sounds, my OCD brain also needs to have the house in order - something to do with cluttered space equals cluttered brain. So the order part involves me walking around with a basket and picking up everything that is out of place. The basket is then left to deal with later.

Then armed with a cuppa its time to get stuck in.

I work full time as a Business Development Manager, but I cram my working hours into four days a week instead of five. Four hefty 10 hour days, but the pay off is I have one day a week (Fridays) to do Drs Appointments, errands and all the running around stuff life requires us to do, without having to take time out during work hours or cutting into our weekends.

The flip side of a busy four day work week, is I need to be super organised and have a plan of what I need to achieve on any given day. So the first thing I do every morning is write a list of what needs to be done. Things don't always run to plan though, and in my business you do have to be flexible, but I find that I am way less stressed if I have a clear vision of what I need to get done.

Once the day is mapped out it is down to business.

I like to break the day up into structured segments so I make appointments with myself. These appoinments ensure I lock away time to be spent specifically on a focused task be it phone calls, emails and working on projects.

Depending if I have phones conferences or not I like to make my phone calls in the morning. I find people are generally in better moods early in the day, before they are worn down by what their day chucks at them. Lengthy complicated emails and project work - I prefer to do in the afternoon, as for me I find it is when I am at my peak. My brain is well and truly warmed up and I am totally in the work zone.

It does get a little lonely sometimes and occaisionally I miss the buzz of an office environment and having people to coffee with. It can also hard when friends want to catch up for lunch or invite me to something and I have to turn them down, becasue I do find that people often think that if you work from home, you can kind of do what you want, when you want. I don't really know, but if you owned your own business, I could imagine you could maybe be a bit more flexible with your time. In my case, I have to treat each work day just as I would if I was back in the corporate office which means that on work days its all about getting the work done.

Mid morning I do like to duck outside for a mid morning coffee and sun gaze. That 10 minutes is precious and so peaceful. With no one around, I do nothing but sit there and think quiet thoughts to myself. If I have nothing particular to think about, I drink my coffee and take a peek at what is going on in the world of instagram and Facebook.

At the moment in Sydney it is cold and with weather like that, I really don't mind being indoors tucked away in my little ladycave. I have a blanket to wrap around my legs like an old duck and yes, I even have a hot water bottle too! Laugh away if you must but I tell ya I am Toaaaassty!

As I mentioned my office is my Ladycave and outside of work hours it is where I blog and paint and get my crafty on. So I tend to spend way more time in here than just work hours. Its my own special space and I like to deck it out with things that make me smile.

Normally I don't take a proper lunch break as I prefer to just power through my work so I can finish as close to 6pm as possible. If I gave myself too much time in the day, I would just need to make up the hours at night time so I find having a set knock off time keeps me focused and makes sure I am finished in time to get stuck into the homework duty and spend some time with the kids before dinner. That being said I do take 15 minutes though to throw some more washing on, deal with that basket of stuff from the morning that needs putting away and grab myself something to eat. If there is enough time I like to have another peek at Facebook or Instagram he he.

The rest of the afternoon is spent head down and bum up. This is where one of the advantages of working from home comes into play as I get so much more done than I ever did when I had the distractions of an office environment to lead me astray.

I know I have a clear run at work now until the kids and the hubby arrive home at 3pm. I am very fortunate that my husband works around school hours, so he car pools with friends and is always available to juggle after school playdates and activities. He is also one of those hands on guys that folds the washing, irons and gets dinner on. Yes I am a very lucky gal and I probably do not thank him nearly enough for what he does for me and the kids.

For a short time when the family arrives home, chaos erupts and the kids all pile into my office for hello cuddles and to tell me about their day before they get changed and head off to whatever activities they have on for the afternoon.

Dosed up with a mid afternoon cuppa I am now on the home run and I merrily work away until its quitting time which is usually between 6 and 6.30pm. The biggest perk is I don't have to battle the traffic again to get home. I pack up, switch off, shut the door and join the rest of the family for the night.

Alright if you have fallen asleep on me, its totally OK and I forgive you - some of you may think it's probably one of the most boring posts I have ever written. But this my friends is where I disappear to every Monday to Thursday and I hope it answers some of those questions I frequently get asked about working from home.

If you are thinking about working from home and you have any questions - go ahead and throw them at me. I am more than happy to answer them..... if I can!

This week I am linking this post up with 
The Organised Housewife's - Love it, Like it, Link it!
Check out all the other fabulous posts this week over there.

Wednesday 23 May 2012

Another Fine Example of my Outstanding Parenting Skills!

Pin It I have done some pretty shonky things since I became mum - mostly for the good of my kids, sometimes more for the good of my sanity and sometime cause being a mum has got to have its perks. I still totally stand by my excuse that I thought the Hash pipe was a Genie Lamp, and I did not intentionally give all 3 of my children food poisoning. But in retrospect this time even with my own questionable standards, I think I may have sunk to a new low.

My seven year old has been late in losing his teeth and it is only just now that his chompers have started falling out.  Last week he lost his first front tooth and the gaping hole left behind meant that his other front tooth was suddenly very very loose as well. By Sunday night it was so loose the poor kid was struggling to eat and when he smiled it kind of hung with this awkward tilt - totally hillbilly style.

I tried to convince him to let me have a tug at it, but after my attempt last week to remove the first wobbly tooth didn't exactly go according to plan, he kindly declined my offer.

This wobbly tooth was really annoying him though and me too for that matter. Every time he spoke to us it kind of flapped with the breeze of his words like it had some life force of its own. WE and I stipulate WE as in he and I, were desperate for it to be gone.

The Hubstar and I tried to convince him again to let us have a go a it. He was not convinced.

We said he could stay up half an hour past his bed time.... Bumboh!

We offered him chocolate .... no go!

We tried telling him the tooth fairy pays double time for teeth collected on a Sunday night...  Still no give!

We said we'd pay him ten bucks on top of the double pay he would pick up from the tooth fairy if he let us pull it out...... BINGO!

Like two overexcited little kids my hubby and I raced around to find some string to perform our extraction before he changed his mind. WHAT?? They do this in movies and tv shows ALL the time!

Having seen this procedure performed by actors plenty of times, we felt we were very qualified to have a go ourselves, we have just never had the opportunity to actually do it. Oh the opportunities that kids bring us.

So in case you ever find yourself needing to perform a DIY tooth extraction, just follow these ten simple steps. Or call me and I'll totally come and do it for you!

Step 1. Double check that the child is really agreeing to this as a screaming child would really ruin the fun.

Step 2. Tie a length of string to the loose tooth.

Step 3. Show your child the $10 bucks and remind him of the tooth fairies generosity.

Step 4. Tie the other end of the string to the door.

Step 5. Untie the string from the door and calm down one slightly nervous child.

Step 6. Whilst telling the child he is not at all a wus for changing his mind, proceed to remove the string from the tooth and accidentally yank the tooth out in the process.

Step 7. Laugh at the shocked look on your child's face and then look on as he dissolves into fits of hysterical laughter and squeals of "Show me the MONEY!"

Step 8. Take photographic proof of the extraction for siblings to admire and reward with appropriate levels of admiration in the morning.

Step 9. Take photographic evidence of a happy toothless child to show to any authorities that may question your parenting ability in the morning.

Step 10. Pay up!!!

Have you ever had a game of 'Let's be dentists' at your house?
Ok then have you ever bribed your kids with cash?
What's the going rate for chompers in your house?

Monday 21 May 2012

Old Fashioned Hot Choccies you would Totally Shove your Kids out of the Way For!

Pin It There is something just so comforting and toe curling awesome about snuggling up on the couch on a cold night with a blanket, hot water bottle, a good movie and a steaming hot cup of Hot Choccie.

My kids happen to agree and as long as it has marshmallows, they are happy little campers.

I have tried all the instant Hot Chocolates and they are ok but it is the good old fashioned Hot Choccies that get me every time.

This is our family favourite best served with a family sized block of Cadburys. It's addictive - so don't say you haven't been warned.

Old Fashioned Hot Chocolate
  • Tip 1 Mug of milk for every lucky drinker into a saucepan.
  • Add 1 heaped Tablespoon of Cocoa per cup
  • Sugar to taste
  • A handful of Milk Chocolate buds
  • Whilst that is warming load a few little wooden skewers up with marshmallows.
  • Add a sprinkling of chocolate buds in the bottom of each mug
Once the mixture in the saucepan is starting to warm through, whisk for your life to create fabulous froth.

Pour the mixture into the mugs, distribute to all the eager takers and settle on the couch ready to defend your block of chocolate.


Have you got any family secret variations on this that I really should know about?
Am I the only one that licks my squares of chocolate so no one steals them?

Sunday 20 May 2012

Kidspot Ford Territory Top 50: Childhood

Pin It When I first saw the prompt for this next post in the Kidspot Ford Territory Top 50 challenge - to write about a childhood road trip, I had visions of how this post would ideally play out. In my vision I was sitting curled up on my couch with my laptop, smiling wistfully as my fingers translated my memories into words.

I would pause as I closed my eyes and in my mind I was shuffling through a dusty old attic looking for a pretty little box I had lovingly stored away many years ago.

After some searching, I find what I was looking for -  a little box dusty and yellowed with age, but I can still make out the childish scrawl of the label -  Childhood Road Trips.

I reach in and pull out a postcard, it is just one among many in there. And as I gaze at it my eyes begin to mist over with nostalgia. A gentle breeze blows through carrying the sweet sounds of laughing children and it reminds me of my own brother and I as we giggled our way through the hours of our journey, safely buckled into the back seat of my parents car.

Oh Crap who am I kidding!

The cyclonic wind is whipping that damn dust into a frenzy and as I cough and splutter and gasp for air, I can hear the sound of my own sweet children as they melodically scream at each other, arguing over tech decks, the last packet of Cheetos and who's turn it is to hold the remote control.

So this post is not going to be all pretty and fluffy after all. And whilst there isn't many Hallmark moments in my story, I have a feeling that there are at least a few of you out there who will find a familiarity in my words that remind you of your own early childhood road trips.

When I was a wee one my parents used to take my brother and I camping at a a little place on the South Coast of New South Wales called Lake Conjola. We would spend our holidays swimming, bike riding, fishing, playing cards and just generally having a good old time. It was almost the picture of perfect family bliss. The drive there? Yeahhhh Not so much!

We didn't have a beautiful Ford Territory with a built in DVD player and sound system for entertainment, so my brother and I had to amuse ourselves with tormenting each other, attempted murder and generally just making the whole trip a miserable exercise in family togetherness.

I would do the old fake cry "Oh he just hit me" and he would counteract with the all time favourite "MUMMM She's looking at me again". I would ferociously protect my stash of Minties and peppermint life savers and he would be all "She's breathing my air".

We had boundaries that weren't to be crossed. Pillows would clearly mark out his space and mine, and any arm, hand or finger that dared to cross that line were fair game for punishment. Eye contact was a dangerous game of chicken and for my own safety I dared not look out the window on his side of the car.

Mum and Dad resorted to leaving for the trip at 3am in the morning in the vain hope that we could be gently persuaded to leave our beds and settle into our seats in the car all warmly wrapped in blankets and with pillows to lull us back to sleep. They held onto the hope that this would give them at least a couple of hours head start on the trip before the silence would turn into the usual bickering.

When that plan didn't work they turned to the assistance of the 80s equivalent of Travel Calm to knock us out.

Hey don't judge them, it was for our own safety and for everyone else on the road too. It worked and with us kids peacefully sedated we would reach our campsite with barely a whisper. Unfortunately for my parents, it also meant we woke from our slumber tired and cranky and unwilling to get out of the car and help set up the tent.


OK we weren't exactly the squeaky clean Partridge family but the lazy days swimming and bike riding around the camp grounds were enough to wipe any memory of the dreaded road trip from our minds, at least until it was time to go home.

So I don't actually have a lot of memories of the road trips themselves from when I was a child, not anywhere near enough to fill a whole post. But I do have very fond memories of the actual holidays and one of the things I looked forward to when I became a mum was for my hubby and I to take our kids on our own road trip.

We wanted to create our own family memories that our children would remember from their childhood, and recently we had the chance to do just that.

After hours of meticulous planning, we loaded the car up with blankets and pillow pets, personal bags of Minties, Mentos and Pez (cause life savers are so last year) iPods, iPads and DVD players.

At 3am we gently woke our 3 little boys from their sleep and moved them to the car and embarked on our 10 hour drive to QLD.

A couple of hours into the trip I recall looking into the back seat where my little angels were peacefully snoozing and with a considerable degree of smugness I decided we must be so much better at this road tripping gig than my parents were.

As we arrived at the obligatory Maccas stop for brekkie (cause every genuine road trip has a Maccas stop right?) we woke the little guys expecting sleepy smiles. Instead we were met with tired cranky stares that were dark enough to quickly wipe any smidgen of smugness off my face. If not for full bladders and the promise of a thick shake for breakfast we would not have been able to coax them out of the car.

And so with bladders emptied, legs stretched and tummies filled with a totally nutritious breakfast, the smiles once again reappeared and we confidently returned to the car and set off again.

As our kids sat quietly in their seats listening to their iPods, my husband and I held hands and smiled serenely at each other. We needed no words, with just a look we were silently praising each other for our awesome parenting and holiday making skills.

And then it started, albeit very subtly at first.

9 year old: "Can you please stop tapping my chair - its annoying me".

5 year old: "Well you're leaning on my chair and I don't like it!"

7 year old: "Can you both be quiet, I can't concentrate on my music"

Dad: "QUIET..... please!"

A few moments of blissful silence..........................

5 year old: "Stop moving around so much you're disturbing my Puppy (Pillow Pet)"

9 year old: "Well you're breathing too loudly"


OMG it was like someone walked over my grave. A shiver ran down my spine and memories of trips to Conjola flashed before my eyes.

Determined to save this trip before it got stuck in a downward spin we tried distracting them with games of the modern day Eye Spy - Spotto.

"Who can spot a yellow car?" - SPOTTO! "

"Who can spot some roadkill?" "Eeeeewwww SPOTTO!"

But as we ventured further into the country side, the game of Spotto was quickly forgotten with the appearance of the first paddock of cows.

Suddenly the windows were down and 3 over excited little city boys were hanging out the windows screaming out "Moooooooo" and "BEEF BEEF BEEF"! Yup we are a classy bunch!

Whilst it was noisy, we decide to ignore the bemused look of the truckies and other cars as they drove past, and we allowed the kids to revel in their game of calling out to the livestock things like:

"We'll give you twenty bucks for your back leg" and  

"Helllllooooo Dinner" followed by fits of uncontrollable giggles.

It bought us about 10 minutes of distraction.

As we drove through a small town about 7 hours into the trip, with a 1kg bag of Minties all but a memory, at least 3 full loops of a Bruno Mars CD played and clear boundaries laid out with the help of some pillow pets, I instructed my hubby to pull in to the next town.
I resisted the urge to find a chemist and medicate them and decided instead to find a Dan Murphys and medicate myself.

Not long after we had continued on our way, the back seat banter took a turn for the worse and the dreaded car sickness set in. The patience tank hit empty and triggered a droning chorus of "Are we there yet?", "Are we NEARLY there yet" and "EXACTLY HOW much longer?" that carried on for at least 20 kms as they hovered their mouths over their sick bags. The same sick bags I had recently and rather brilliantly pinched from the hospital waiting room.

I attempted to bribed them with a game of "Whoever can stay quietest for the longest gets $10 bucks". That kinda backfired and I somehow ended up $30 bucks lighter and in debt for a couple of packets of Ninjagos.

FINALLY we reached our destination.

5 Weary travellers checked in to our hotel and 2 headed straight for the mini bar. (That would be us adults in case you were looking for DOCs number).

When I rang my parents that night to tell them we had arrived safely, I vaguely remember throwing a couple of "Sorrys" into the conversation. From their end there was probably a lot of confusion over my left field apologies, from my point it was all about guilt and remorse and a desperate bargaining plea to the universe to remove the karmic punishment that was being inflicted upon me by my kids on this road trip. Punishment which I presume was the course of justice in play for all the misery my brother and I had inflicted upon my own parents, shattering their visions of wonderful family road trips.

It's a legacy I tell ya - passed from one generation to the next.

When it came time to begin our journey home, we made a quick pit stop to visit Terry White. After explaining to the nice pharmacist that my children suffered from chronic car sickness (I may have over exaggerated a little) I gratefully accepted a little packet of silence in a pill - Travel calm.

In my defense the kids didn't get sick the whole way and my husband and I arrived home with our nervous system undamaged and our sanity reasonably in tact.

Whoever wrote the quote "Its not about the destination, it's all about the journey", clearly has never been road tripping with little kids before.

Either that or they own a Ford Territory with a built in DVD player and Entertainment system and a Bulk packet of Travel Calm.


Have you checked out last weeks awesome entries from the Top 5? The post challenge was "A Day in My Life". If you missed out, you can check them out here.

With only a couple of weeks to go in the challenges, I know we would all love you to vote for your favorites and earn yourself a chance to win the $5000 buckeroos up for grabs!

So tell me - Do you have fond or feral memories of road tripping as a kid?
Any hints to keep kids entertained on long drives?
Have you ever tried Maccas hash browns dipped in chocolate thick shakes or am I the last to know about this delicacy?