19 December 2017

2017: A year & word in review

These past 6 months have flown by! One minute I was taking Cherub to her first day of school, and the next I am watching her perform in her Kindy Christmas concert! The days seriously go by faster when you no longer have littlies at home.

This year I chose "Nourish" as my guiding word. While I spent the first half of the year indulging a little in my art, I nourished the spare time I had on my hands. Since August I have had my mind focussed on getting my business up & running, so haven't spent as much time as I like creating or taking care of my health & fitness. At this stage, I am still unsure on what my guiding word will be for the new year, but I know I need to include getting fit and focussing on my health (both mental & physical) so I am a healthy Mumma to my girls.

So what's been happening this year?

Well we've celebrated a few firsts this year with Cherub starting school, me starting a business, Popette dancing in her first dance festival and performing in the choir for the first time.

We have gone on some lovely camping trips to Dubbo and the Grampians, done lots of bushwalks or just gone exploring around our area.

I wrote about some of the lovely places you should visit at Kangaroo Island, shared 5 tips on ways to nourish yourself, and took the time to appreciate the little things.

In April, I shared a print I created, and wrote about being enough - something we often forget as mothers/wives/daughters/sisters/friends.

I remembered the days of yesterday and today, and wrote a letter to my girls.

Shared some ideas on how to declutter, along with some art I have been creating.

I had moments when I found parenting hard, felt like I was failing, and tried to lead by example.

I've also had moments when I've remembered to be grateful, and enjoyed time with my girls.

So as it turns out it's been a pretty busy year...thank you to all of you who read and comment on my blog, it's much appreciated.

I would like to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! I hope you have a relaxing Christmas day wherever you are, and get to spend it with the ones who make you happy, whether that's with your family, relatives or a bunch of friends.

I will be taking a well earned rest over the school holidays, and be back in the new year.


12 December 2017

Thinking of you: A letter to Dad

It's hard to believe that tomorrow marks 5 years since you passed away. While it has gone by quickly, it also hasn't in some ways. While I love Christmas, and doing Christmassy things with the girls, it's a bittersweet time.  When the anniversary arrives it brings that sad reminder that you are no longer here with us and another Christmas around the corner, but without you sharing it with us. 

I wish you were here to see your two granddaughters growing up. You would be so very proud of them. They are such sweet girls Dad. I am so lucky to have them both, but so wish they had a Poppy in their life. 

You wouldn't believe it but my little premmie, Popette, is nearly taller than me! She's such a cheeky girl. She loves playing the piano, dancing, and writing stories. Cherub is now at school and such a little smarty. She loves playing with her My Little Ponies, riding on her scooter and being creative like her Mummy. Even though they were little when you died, we talk of you often and miss you very much. 

Mum misses you terribly. This time of year is always hard on her.  What I miss most is seeing you both together, and her being happy.

I miss you and wish we had more time together. I miss catching up with you and Mum over a meal, playing a game of cards together, going on picnics, outings or just a cuddle. It's not the same without you. I don't know why I didn't get more photos of you and I together. The last photo I have of you, me and Mum is on my 39th birthday when you came over for lunch. I guess it's not something we worried about at the time.

The rose we planted in memory of you (which is your favourite, Mr Lincoln) is in full bloom again, and has been a lovely way to remember you and your love of the garden.

You are loved Dad, but definitely not forgotten. xxx

05 December 2017

Christmas is on its way

Can you believe it's less than 3 weeks until Christmas! The end of the year has gone by just as fast as the beginning of the year.

Today we had Cherub's Kindy Christmas concert at school. Unfortunately Hubby couldn't make it so I took Mum along so she could see her youngest granddaughter perform. It was such a wonderful performance, with Cherub very excited to be singing the christmas carols and songs, they had been practising hard all term!

Our house is starting to look all things Christmassy with the girls decorating the Christmas tree, the girls are so excited about Christmas and love taking turns in checking the pockets of the advent calendar every morning to see what sort of activity or treat is installed for them. Cherub has 'helped' me wrap some Christmas presents, but I still have laybys I need to get out, and a few presents to buy. I'm hoping to get it all done before the mad rush begins!

We have a week and a half left of the school term, then we are on holidays! I think I'm more excited about having a break from the school run then Christmas! No uniforms, school lunches or homework to worry about for 6 weeks, bliss!!

At Christmas time I love to bake shortbread and gingerbread. I have been baking the same shortbread for the past 11 years, so am hoping to get my bake on and make some batches of my shortbread for family, friends & teachers...here's the recipe if you would like to try it. 😊

What has your lead up to Christmas been like?

Recipe: Shortbread biscuits

150g plain flour
150g butter, softened
75g cornflour
75g caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla essence


Preheat oven to 170⁰ C.

Place softened butter and dry ingredients into a bowl and mix until ingredients are combined together.

I firstly soften the butter in the microwave for a few seconds so it is easier to combine with the other ingredients.

I make my dough by hand as I don't have a food processor, so it does take a while to blend. If you have a food processor, place all the ingredients into the processor and blend until the mixture holds together.

If you are making the dough by hand, combine ingredients with a wooden spoon or with your hand until the dough is quite smooth and you no longer see any crumbs.

On a floured benchtop, roll out half of the dough to approximately 1cm thick. If you roll them out too thin they will burn. The girls love using my cookie cutters and make various Christmas shapes!

Place biscuits 1/2 cm apart on a baking tray, then prick with a fork.

Finally, sprinkle with a little caster sugar before placing in the oven.

Bake shortbread for approximately 20 minutes or until very pale.

Note: I have had to adjust the cooking time, as I usually make a larger batch, which take approximately 40-45 minutes, and we had a few that were a little burned.

Cooking time will vary on the thickness you have made the biscuits.

Lastly enjoy!

14 November 2017

An update on business, life and the blog

I'm beginning to notice that working on my own as a sole trader is a lot of hard work, I am responsible for everything from developing my website (which finally launched!) to promoting my business, creating posts for my business's blog and social media accounts, keeping on top of new apps/programs, updating my skills to finding jobs and clients.

My website is now live

Finding clients has been the hardest thing, I am currently not affiliated with any virtual assistant agencies, so I have to promote my business and find clients on my own. I attended my first ever networking event a couple weeks ago. As an anxious introvert, I had to take myself out of my comfort zone and make myself attend. It happened to be a lovely morning, and I got to meet some nice people who like me are either starting their own business, or have been in business for years and dealing with similar issues as myself.

When you feel like your business isn't going anywhere or you are thinking of giving up...keep going...

I work from home, so I have multiple distractions (yes, I am talking to you coffee machine!), then there's the phone ringing (usually Mum wanting to know something), my mountain of washing that stares at me each time I go into the bathroom, but one thing I do miss is having someone to bounce ideas off.  I am thinking that I might need Santa to buy me a laptop for Christmas so I can do some co-working off site, and meet up with other likeminded business people!

The girls love that I have my own business and often ask me what I have been working on. Popette in particular, wants to assist me and often draws pictures of jam jars (my business name is JAM), and says "Mum you can use this on your website". 💗

I am looking forward to having a relaxing break over Christmas...can you believe it's only 6 weeks away!!! I have made a start on Christmas shopping, and hoping to have it finished before the mad rush at the shops begins!

Our weekends have been crazy lately. The girls had their end of year music concert a week ago, and played amazingly. I was super proud of both of them. Popette had been practicing her song so much at home, and performed it beautifully, and Cherub who has only been learning keyboard for a few weeks did a great job too!

Then on Saturday we had a bunch of Cherub's friends over for a belated birthday party for her. Cherub had turned 6 when we were away, since it wasn't such a nice day on her actual birthday, we thought she should have a little party at home with some of her school friends. With a My Little Pony theme she had a great time looking for Pinkie Pie's cutie mark (treasure hunt), then placing the cutie mark on Pinkie Pie, followed by some disco dancing, a game of statues, and finally pass the parcel. Popette was my big helper, and did a wonderful job gathering the group.

Hubby and I also celebrated our 21st wedding anniversary last week. Hubby got off work early, and took me to a resort in Leura for lunch, which was lovely, although we were then in a mad rush to school pickup.

On the blog

Not sure if you have noticed but I have made some changes to the blog. With the girls both getting older, and being able to understand what's being written about themselves online, I have decided to change up the topics on the blog.

You will still be able to read posts from the early years - stories on motherhood/birth stories/my pregnancies, Having a Premmie series, grateful and craft posts, but I have now added new menus - like "Travelling with Children" which allows you read all about of our adventures. From camping trips, road trips to bushwalking and places we have visited.

One of things we enjoy most as a family, is exploring our beautiful country and to see and experience nature. So I am thinking of adding a little less personal posts for the time being, and more of the exploring kind, as well as returning to my grateful and possibly art posts (but not so much kids craft).

I am still sorting out the menus and labelling, but if you find anything weird happening it would be great if you could let me know.

It's always good to have a bit of change...what's the saying, a change is as good as a holiday!

07 November 2017

Exploring...Penrith & Blue Mountains

Today I thought I'd share pics of some of my families favourite places we like to visit in Penrith and the Blue Mountains.

On the weekends we often go bushwalking, take the girls for a ride on their bikes, or just like to explore.

Wentworth Falls & Leura Cascade Falls

We live in the Blue Mountains, and love being within the World Heritage Listed National Park. One thing we have been doing a lot of this year is bushwalking. During our last school holidays we took the girls on an outing to the beautiful Wentworth Falls, and Leura Cascade falls. They were great walks for kids and had amazing views and waterfalls. Be sure to check out the National Parks website before heading to the falls, as they are sometimes closed due to bad weather, or work being carried out.

L to R: Leura falls, views from Wentworth Falls
L to R: Leura cascade, Wentworth falls

Exploring Leura Cascades

Nepean River

There are some lovely paths to stroll along by the Nepean River in Penrith. We have taken the girls to the river quite a few times this year for either a leisurely "stroll and roll" with girls on their scooters or to stop for something to eat while enjoying the autumn leaves and fun in the playground. If you are really keen there is a Bridge to Bridge loop on the Great River walk which includes approximately 8km walking and the 7km loop. We have completed sections of the walk both with the girls and on our own, we still have to give the whole loop a go.

On one side you have houses overlooking the river, if you are in need of a coffee, you can stop by the Penrith Regional Gallery for a caffeine hit. On the other side, which is where we normally take the girls, you will find some playgrounds, picnic tables, and across from Tench Reserve is the Coffee Club to refuel you for the walk back.

Penrith Regatta Centre

The girls love to ride their bikes or scooters around the great big lake at the Regatta Centre. The centre has picnic tables, barbeques, and gym equipment sprawled out around the track. Its a lovely spot being next to the water with the Blue Mountains backdrop, although it pays to check their website for opening times as they are sometimes closed due to events being held, or can be busy with Parkrun and Triathlons.

Riding bikes and scooters around the lake

Do you enjoy exploring with the family? Have you been to anywhere in the Blue Mountains or Penrith that you really liked?

This post is in no way sponsored by any of the places that has been listed here, these are just some places we enjoy and which I wanted to share with my readers.

31 October 2017

Its been a while...hello!

I can't believe it's Halloween today! While we don't celebrate it in our house or have taken the girls trick or treating, the girls do love to create craft. Last week we made some drawings of scary haunted houses and ghosts. It made me remember (and miss) how much fun we used to have creating craft together, or spending days painting and drawing at the dining room table. Like the Masking Tape Mummies and Ghostly plates we made years ago.

Having Cherub start school this year has been hard for me, I thought I'd be fine, but can't believe how much I have been missing her, or both of them, especially when they return to school after school holidays.

I have been keeping myself busy with setting up my new virtual assistant business. Lately I have been working on my website (so close to being finished, hooray!) and have been advertising on Facebook and Instagram. Not sure how much of it is getting seen, as Facebook isn't all that friendly anymore when it comes to business pages. If you could pop over and follow me, I would be so grateful!

I miss my little blog. It's been a huge part of my life for the past 7 and a bit years. I have been wondering whether to keep it going, now that the kids are getting older. Just the other day, Popette asked me not to put up a photo on Facebook, as she didn't want it embarrassing her!! She's only 8!

Sorry it's been so quiet over here! Looking back at the last post I had written was just before our holiday.

We had a nice break away. Cherub particularly loved being on holidays for her birthday, but unfortunately our tent got damaged by high gale force winds which made it topple over and the poles snap...it wasn't the nicest gift for our birthday girl. 😢 We were all devastated as we were really looking forward to camping at the beautiful Grampians.

Our campsite (and tent before it got damaged) at Halls Gap in the Grampians, such a beautiful spot to take in
nature, sit back by the fire and look up at the stars!

From bottom left - Birthday girl opening her presents, cheeky visitors eating breakfast crumbs,
 mountains and a rainbow, exploring Venus Baths

Hubby was keen to take us all the way home, but thankfully I convinced him to stay put as we searched for alternatives. Thankfully we found a place that hired out camper trailers, so got to spend most of the week camping.

In the end we did lots of bushwalking, saw some beautiful waterfalls, amazing views, and lovely flowers, and animals.

L - Beehive Falls, setting up the camper trailer, Balconies lookout, Fish Pond falls, Boroka lookout with Cherub, Popette checking the temperature of the water at Silverband Falls.

Popette (who we nicknamed Lady Attenborough) made some mini documentaries. She's been loving Sir David Attenborough's  documentaries on TV lately, and would say "I wonder if David Attenborough has been here." 💗💗

These sort of holidays are our favourite. If it wasn't for the tent collapsing, it would have been a happier one, and a whole lot cheaper! But its not about how much money a holiday costs, for us its the memories that we make together exploring, having campfires and roasting marshmallows, seeing beauty in nature, and relaxing. We saw fields & fields of canola while travelling (I couldn't get enough photos, it's beautiful!) that the girls started a canola siren, so whenever we saw it, they'd go "woop woop woop", then it became an Emu siren, a Kangaroo siren, etc etc...crazies! 😂

Canola galore! So pretty!

Do you like camping? Have you had any bad experiences on holidays? What's the best camp spot you've visited?

20 September 2017

Time to relax

This weekend Cherub is turning 6!! How did that happen? It didn't feel that long ago when I was taking her to speech therapy appointments and practising her homework....now she's in Kindy reading her home readers to me! It really goes by too fast!

Mmm yummy cupcakes
Cherub was very excited today, as she took cupcakes her and Daddy made to school to share with her class and Kindy friends.

We've had a very busy few weeks with so many things happening at school - book parade, dance festival, walk-a-thon, and basketball gala day, so I am looking forward to a nice break. I also started my own little business in August so have been busy working on content for its website which I am hoping to launch in October.

L to R: Walking together at walk-a-thon, Popette getting ready for dance rehearsals,
Cherub finally riding her bike without training wheels, and book parade costumes.
I think it's finally caught up with me, as I have been ill for the past few days, I'm hoping I get over it quickly as we are on school holidays as of tomorrow and (hopefully! go away bug!) will be going camping for 10 days. Cherub is very excited as she gets to spend her birthday waking up in a tent! She keeps reminding me to not to forgot to pack her presents!!! As if! I can't wait to spend time with my Hubby and munchkins, and to sit back and relax, looking up at the stars, roasting marshmallows, bushwalking and enjoying the outdoors.
I hope you enjoy your break whatever you are doing! I'll be back after the holidays :)

12 September 2017

Being grateful: Spring

I am grateful for the sunny afternoons and that Springtime is finally here! Apart from allergies causing me to sneeze and my nose run, I love Spring, it's a beautiful time of year where I live in the Blue Mountains. We have some beautiful flowers budding in our front garden, and in the backyard our plum tree has bloomed like crazy attracting different birds. I am grateful for our back deck, which is a lovely spot for me to paint while watching the girls play in the sandpit or jump on the trampoline.

Its also a great spot to enjoy a coffee and watch the birds in our tree.

We have had some beautiful Rosellas, Lorikeets and King Parrots (not pictured) visit our yard this year.

While I love our logfire, its nice that winter has nearly left us. We enjoyed a delicious Father's day lunch together on our back deck, and can't wait for daylights saving, so we can have more dinners outdoors.

What's your favourite season? What are you grateful for?

08 September 2017

Taking one step at a time

I haven't written very much on the blog lately or been doing much of my art as I have been super busy getting a business up and running.

After 8.5 years as a full-time, stay-at-home parent, it's been hard finding a job, or returning to the career you once knew. I found myself doubting my abilities and my confidence was low, I wasn't sure if I could do the job as well as I used to.

For the past 8 months I have been searching for a flexible part-time job so I could still be there for my girls in the mornings and afternoons, and attend events at the school, but had no luck in finding anything that was local (nearly everything was in Sydney) or part-time (most company's ideas of part-time was 4-5 reduced hour days), which didn't work with me collecting the girls from school.

With all the jobs I looked at, I couldn't find anything that was close to being flexible full-time jobs, part-time jobs, or even job share jobs, that promoted a work/life balance, or the ability to work from home. I guess I was a little picky, as I could have just gone back to temping through an agency.

Love this quote.

Its taken me awhile, but I finally reassessed my skills, and had a big think about what it is that I want. I knew that I wanted to be there for the girls, have flexibility with my time and workloads, I wanted to be my own boss (as scary as it seems, as I need to find clients and network - as a little anxious introvert it's a big step out of my comfy comfort zone!) and be accountable if I fail, so in the end I decided to take the plunge and start my own virtual assistant business from my home office.

Starting my own business is such a huge learning curve. The whole idea that I am going to be my own boss and need to look after sourcing jobs scares me a little, but it also excites me.

This week I've had Popette performing in her first school dance festival, which has been very exciting, while fighting a cold I've been completing a job for my first client! Hurray!

I've also been writing like crazy, doing lots of research on 'what it means to be a virtual assistant', listening to courses about becoming a VA, comparing the competition and the services they provide to what I want to offer....so so much to do. But I'm trying not to put too much pressure on myself, and taking one step at a time.

I'm slowly launching my business, first through social media outlets like LinkedIn and Facebook, while I continue working on content for my website which I still need to develop.

If you would like to follow me on Facebook, I can be found at JAM Business Support Services.

Do you run your own business? Do you have any advice for a new startup / small business?

15 August 2017

When you feel like you are failing...don't give up

Why do I feel as though the past 8 1/2 years haven't accounted for much? Is it because they don't hand out degrees for parenting? There's no shiny award handed out once you have passed the newborn/baby years, toddler tantrum years, preschooler years.

Hubby and I joked the other day that if parenting was a university course, you would start off with your Bachelor's degree over 4 years part-time for the newborn-toddler years, then you move on to the Graduate Certificate for the Preschool to Kindergarten years, then a Masters for primary, then PhD for the high school/teenage years, cause by the time they are teenagers, and you know teenagers, they know everything!

With Cherub starting Kindergarten this year, I had it on my "to-do" list to get back to the workforce once she's settled in at school. Well it's now halfway through Term 3, and I still haven't found a job.

After spending the past 8 1/2 years as a stay-at-home Mum, I have been questioning my abilities and procrastinating (such a time waster!) about whether to start my own business. My confidence levels have been quite low, and I had been feeling frustrated and confused with what I should do with returning to work.

I have been told, "Oh you just need to upskill yourself ", "Do a course", "Become a VA", "Just go for it!"

I know it sounds like I am making up excuses, but it's a terrible feeling to think that you used to be bloody good at your job before having kids, then wham 8 years later you are unsure if you can do that job again and you doubt your abilities. I am sure the knowledge is locked away in my brain somewhere!

While there's been heaps of jobs I could have applied for, most were full-time and far from home. I want to have the flexibility of being able to still help out at the girl's school, be there in the mornings and afternoons for them, and have the ability to attend special events, so with that in mind I have decided to start up my own home business. The fear of not knowing if I can do it or not, is still their in the back of my mind, but I know if I don't give it a go, I'll be kicking myself for it. I also know, that I won't be happy if I just settle on any job, and find that I don't enjoy it and could be doing something else.

So I guess what I am trying to say is if you are finding yourself doubting yourself or abilities or worried that you can't do something like start your own business or setup an Etsy shop (another thing I am working on) because you've been told "there's no money in it", or "my friend tried that and it didn't work", stop it. Don't give up too easily on your ideas or yourself, if you don't give your idea a go, you will never know if you can make something out of it.

08 August 2017

Parenting is hard

Parenting has moments when its just hard, not hardwork when you have to get the washing machine on, make lunches for the kids, get the youngest down for a nap, clean up the breakfast dishes then finally have a shower! Well, it is hardwork but its not what I am talking about.

Its sort of like when you have a newborn, and you go through those sleep deprived days and nights, late night feeds, or getting up to your little one who has been crying for hours with undiagnosed reflux - yep that certainly is hard.

Its when you see those sweet faces who still have a tiny resemblance of the tiny baby they were getting older. {They are growing up so fast!}

Popette and Cherub on the weekend

Its when you hear them tell you something (you possibly already knew) for the first time and hear the excitement in their voice. {They are learning so much!}

Its when you watch them, with confidence, try something new and smash it. {They are needing me less!}

Cherub learning the keyboard

Its when you hear them talk about an Adult issue or join a conversation and come up with a great solution. {They blow you away with how smart and clever they've become}

Its when you grab their hand or cuddle them close that you realise their not your little babies anymore. {They are nearly as tall as me!!}

Having a play at a park over the holidays

Its when you say to them "See you later. Have a good day. I love you!" as they head off to class all ready to learn more. {They are becoming independent, smart, clever girls}

Its that feeling of not having them with you. Its having a quiet house to return to, which years before you craved. Its having peace and quiet you had wished for repeatedly so you can enjoy a book, shower or coffee without being interrupted, suddenly feels too quiet, and you miss the happy cheerful voices.

Its hard to see them turn another year older when all you want is to stop time and keep them as sweet, innocent, little girls.

Its hard to watch them be excited about growing up when you yourself are growing old, and all you want to do is savour each day you have together.

Parenting is hard.

01 August 2017

Leading by example

I have been trying not to yell at my girls, it can be hard somedays, especially when I've asked them what feels like a hundred times to hurry up and get dressed for school, then I start being Mrs Shouts-a-lot and try to get them moving, otherwise we end up being late.

I know yelling isn't the answer, and I hate seeing my girls get upset with me, or worse become ignorant and no longer listen to me when I ask them to do something. Popette who is 8, acts like a teenager. She answers back, and has my 'don't even think of it look' down pat! I've been worrying myself silly (I am such a worrier!) that she's been doing 'the look' at the kids at school and answering back at them, resulting in kids not wanting to play with her. I would love to be a fly on the wall at lunchtime to see who she plays with, and what she gets up to. I just hope she's not being left out.

I can't stand people who are cruel on purpose, or say damaging and hurtful things to get someone upset or trick a person into thinking they were liked, when it was all just a joke.

Hubby and I are trying to get our girls to understand that this sort of behaviour isn't how a good friend behaves, and that they need to be nice to their friends.

Sometimes I experience problems with Popette opening up about her friends. It scares me, as I don't know what she is experiencing. When I try to broach the subject with her, she'll say "Mum I don't want to talk about it", "or it upsets me to talk about it Mum". 

Popette is such a sensitive girl, and can be a little unsure of herself. On a number of occasions she has said to me that she's "a loser". 

Just the other day, I was helping out in Popette's class for reading. I was with Popette and two of her friends playing a maths game. Popette was coming last, and moaned out loud "I'm coming last, I'm such a loser!" Usually I can tell when she's joking, but I knew she wasn't. I said to her, that that wasn't a nice thing to say about herself, and she wasn't a loser. But then one of her friends spoke up, and said, "If you keep saying you are a loser, then you'll believe it".

Popette then got out of her silly mood, and enjoyed the rest of the game. 

It's the negative talk such as that, that can become hurtful and cruel to our kids, and make them start thinking that they're not good enough.

As parents I think we need to recognise our kids attributes, even when they are struggling to find it in them themselves. While Popette can be a little grumpy, and answers back, I know she has a good heart. She is a thoughtful, loving, sweet person. She is definitely not a loser.

I know I have moments when I think I am failing terribly, and I feel sorry for myself. Thankfully, I understand my feelings and thoughts and can do something about it, but as parents we need to ensure our kids understand their feelings and thoughts, that they are enough. They are important.

We should love them, encourage them, protect them, nurture them and help them to be strong, happy, adventurous, confident, amazing little people.

25 July 2017

Bushwalking with kids

It's hard to believe it's been 7 months since our family road tripped to Victoria and South Australia. Being together discovering new places, having campfires and stargazing, exploring little towns or beaches, and going on adventures through the bush and national parks was amazing. The girls loved exploring, and finding little discoveries together. We made lots of wonderful memories. Hubby and I are missing that time together, and can't wait to get away for a trip like that again.

Even my art has been inspired by our little trips away
For the time being we have been exploring our own backyard so to speak, by taking the girls on nature walks throughout the Blue Mountains and visiting some lovely waterfalls.

We have found quite a few Kid-friendly bushwalking trails which weren't too long last weekend. We still have a lot to see, but I thought I'd share with you some nice little walks and spots we've found so far.

Cherub exploring a little cave near the waterfall
Cataract Falls - is an easy 800m walk located within the Waterfalls loop (or circuit) in Lawson. We had tried to visit Cataract Falls before but the path was closed due to work being carried out, so it might be worth checking with the Tourist Information centre at Glenbrook, before venturing out to the waterfalls. Especially, if there's been a huge downpour, as sometimes they'll close the tracks.

Cataract Falls

There are a few steep steps, and steep drops going down into the bush, so we made sure the kids were careful walking down the track. Some of the paths can be quite slippery, so it's worth wearing good walking shoes. Thankfully, there was some railings to hold onto, where there wasn't we stayed close to the rock side. It's such a beautiful tranquil spot.

Wentworth Falls Lake - is a lovely place for picnics by the lake with lots of ducks swimming around. There are paths where kids can ride their bikes, a playground and barbeques. We went for a round trip walk around Wentworth Falls lake. It was an easy-medium walk, and took us approximately 1 hour. There is a little path for most of the way, then the path goes offroad walking up through side streets of Wentworth Falls, with views overlooking the lake, park and playground. Cherub got a little tired towards the end, as their was some slight hills, so needed Daddy to give her a lift. But it was a lovely way to see the lake, and see some nature. The girls spotted some honeyeaters, and finches.

At Wentworth Falls lake, the playground, views from the top, a tired Cherub getting a lift

Queen Victoria Lookout (Wentworth Falls) - is located near the Conservation Hut (which is a nice cafe with a woodfire for those misty days!) at Wentworth Falls. It's a 30 minute medium grade walk with over 300 steps. Going down was fairly easy, but as some steps were steep we made sure the kids held onto our hands or stayed close to us. My eldest was quite enthusiastic walking back up the steps, and was seen at the top of the staircase doing star jumps! Poor Mummy on the other hand was puffing & panting on the way up! If you are looking for a cheap workout, bushwalking certainly does that! However the views are spectacular, and worth the climb.

Do you like bushwalking? Have you been to any nice spots lately?

Please note, this is not a sponsored post.

20 June 2017

Getting through the clutter - ideas in getting your child to help

There are days when negative thoughts and the mess of the house gets on top of me.

The clutter in our house has been doing my head in for a while now. I try and get myself motivated and do a big clean up, but it seems once the girls are home from school and require food, drinks, or want to do craft or play with their toys, the mess returns again!! It drives me crazy.

My mantra at the moment!
I started decluttering (or minimalising) with a friend who is having a Facebook game where each day you are supposed to get rid of (or donate/recycle) a number of items...yesterday was my first day and I managed to get rid of 15 items. Today its 16 items! I mentioned the game to my girls who are excited to help Mummy!

I know if I can get on top of it, I'll have more time for myself and the girls. I will be less stressed (and less of a snappy Mum), or worried about having people over (lately I have been inviting people over, but letting them know there is a mess beforehand), and I will feel more calm when their is more free space and less mess.

Tidying up has become such a chore though, especially in getting the girls to tidy up after themselves.

Over the past few years I have been trying different things with the girls.

Making a list

Popette whinges when I ask her to tidy her room, she's like most 8 year olds I guess, and will spend a total of 5 minutes tidying then comes out announcing her room is tidy!...hahaha. She wants me to help her clean up her room, which usually consists of her looking at things and me doing the work. So now what I do is tell her a list of things to do or write them down for her, which she can easily follow.

Break it down into small jobs

I still help Cherub (5 1/2) clean up her room. The other night I mentioned that she needed to pick up her toys before bed, she had so much stuff on the floor I kept treading on her toys and was worried I may break something.

If I break down what she has to do (ie. Pick up all your teddies and put them in the box) she seems to be able to do it without too much help.

Creating a job board

Our magnetic job board which is on the fridge
We have resumed the girls jobs board, where they get a tick for each thing they do...for example, brushing teeth (twice a day - gets 1 tick), put their dirty clothes in the laundry basket (1 tick), packing up their toys/books and putting them away (1 tick), putting their clean clothes away (1 tick) etc.

When they get a large amount of ticks (total is up to Hubby & I to decide) they get $2 each. And a further $2 if they have brushed their teeth all week (an incentive to get them brushing!) $4 pocket money is pretty good I think!! We introduced a "second chance" tick, mainly for Popette who doesn't drink her water at school. To get her drinking her water, I said I'll rub a tick off the board, so if she hasn't drank her water or brush her teeth one day, she gets a "second chance", but it can only be used once!

Giving them a toy bag or basket

Another idea I am thinking of is to have a tote bag (it could be a Woolies green bag or basket) with their name on it, ie. "Cherub's things" which she then uses to collect her toys from the lounge room floor and takes it into her room.

Cherub doesn't play with just one thing at a time, she seems to play 2-3 different things, so at the moment we have her lego blocks, duplo blocks, teddies with plastic food, and monster trucks scattered throughout the lounge room. She always tells me, "but I'm tired"..."I want you to do it/help me", "There's too much..." etc...and the toys stay there another night. I'm hoping by having a bag it will help her carry it in her room, and not be so overwhelming for her.

Making it a game

A friend once mentioned make tidying up a game, see how quickly they can pick up their toys off the floor and if they can beat you or a timer.

Do you have tips or tricks in getting your kids to tidy their room and pack up after themselves?

06 June 2017

Nourish update

This year I chose Nourish for my guiding word, as we are now halfway through the year (scary!) I thought I'd give you a little update on how I'm going.

With both of my girls in school I find myself with a lot of time on my hands, so I have been nourishing my creativity a lot! I have been learning and trying new techniques with my painting, joined an online gouache course, sharing my artwork more on Instagram  and Facebook (which can be a little bit scary!), and more recently published an online portfolio (you can see it here) of my art & design.

My dream job would be to create and sell my artwork, but at the moment it's baby steps, as I continue working on my skills and building up my portfolio and work. I'm hoping to get to the point of adding an online store to my portfolio (either sell through an online store like Etsy or via my website), and maybe take on freelance or commission work.

I am slowly but surely finding a better balance with making time for myself vs housework, as well as taking the time to enjoy the little things more, like enjoying the warmth of the sunshine while sitting on the back deck while I paint, while remembering to be grateful.

With my health and fitness, I have been trying to get my body moving more. I have been taking a few walks along the river with my family as well as on my own or with a friend. Getting out of the (cold) house, and enjoying the sunshine and fresh air, really helps my mindset too, and gives me the extra boost I need to get through the day.

I am continuing my search for a part-time job, but finding it difficult in finding something that offers the hours I require and that is close to home. Hopefully something will turn up soon.

How's progress with your guiding word going? Are you still working towards a guiding word/new year's resolution or have you given up?

09 May 2017

We have only Today


I get breakfast ready, make your lunches, pack your bags, warn you a hundred or so times (maybe not but it feels like it) to hurry and get dressed or I'll turn the TV off.

We walk hand-in-hand to and from school me listening to your happy, excited voices tell me about your day, who you played with, what you learnt and what exciting things are happening at school.

When you get home I get you a snack, and help you with your homework, listen to you read, watch you conquer new things...you are learning more and more...it only feels like yesterday you were learning to talk.

We sometimes kick the ball, play a game or paint together before dinner. 

We laugh and make up silly songs and stories, play Wii games together, go for nature walks, visit friends, talk about holidays we've been on or want to take together, have campfires in our backyard, ride scooters and blow bubbles.


You were going to preschool/daycare, we played in the park, we went for walks while you rode your bike, trike or was pushed in the pram, you'd ask me to make something special or played blocks with you, we went to music class, listened to stories at the library, played with friends at playgroup and enjoyed baking or making craft together. 

You had a day nap, asked me in excited little voice "Is Daddy going to be home soon" squealing when he walked through the door, got excited when Daddy yelled out "It's bath time" and hurriedly crawled down the hallway to the inviting bath, went for rides on Daddy's strong shoulders, listened to us read you bedtime stories, had 'sandwhich cuddles' so tight I was worried I'd hurt you.

You were taking your first steps, saying your first words, giving me big smiles and giggles when I made you laugh, you rolled on the floor, kicked your legs about in the bath, enjoyed listening to Daddy sing to you, giggled and cried a lot, and loved me as much as I loved you! 

To my gorgeous girls:

I did all the things a Mumma does while watching you both grow into sweet little girls.
I know today doesn't last long, but if I think back to yesterday it went by just as quickly.
I am ensuring I cherish each and every day with you both.
I love you both so so much and so grateful that I am your Mumma.

02 May 2017

A visual update

Well we are back to it! We had a nice couple weeks rest over the school holidays. Hubby had two weeks off work (1 and a half weeks with the girls and the rest of the week with me) Apart from a bad reflux attack which resulted in a 4hr visit to the ER one Sunday night, it was lovely to spend a few days together by ourselves. We got some painting done in the house while the girls were at school, its nice to freshen up the place. It's been years since we've done any painting, so I had forgotten how sore my arms and shoulders were going to be afterwards!

We went camping at Dubbo and Coonabarabran for 3 nights over the holidays enjoying the sunshine during the day and star gazed at night. We were lucky enough to see a couple shooting stars (or meteors to be more technical) while at Dubbo.

Here are a few photos of our camping trip.

Mine and Cherub's favourite...Giraffes seems such placid animals...

until one walked right up to the Safari truck we were on (he seemed friendly enough), and you hear the person on the other end of the CB say "Get out of there!!"

So nice seeing Hippo's playing together - when I say playing, it was what the Adults were telling the children, it was you know that sort of playing!! 
We loved these guys
Having a wrestle
Lovely old fella enjoying the sun, while his young played together....now Mum was busy having alone time!! (I can understand that!)

Enjoying a little snack with the Zebras...more placid animals (you just can't see the electrified fence to keep them in!)

A view of the Warrumbungles National Park
We checked out the telescope at Siding Springs observatory
We took the girls star gazing at a local Observatory in Coonabarabran and saw Jupiter

Coonabarabran on a Thursday night!

Driving to the Warrumbungles National Park - I love the long stretch of road with the mountain backdrop!
Have you been to Dubbo Zoo? Does your family like camping?