The Being Brave Book: A novel & guide about finding courage and strength by Sema Musson and Hester Leung.
I have recently enjoyed this delightful book with my 11-year-old daughter, who herself has moved schools and walked, in many ways, in the shoes of the main characters. Not only did it encourage us to discuss the power of positive thinking, but also started conversations on the importance of being determined, brave, honest, imaginative, and best of all, kind. Lessons that we could all take on board and talk to our children about a little more frequently.
‘Ellie and Alyssa have been best friends since pre-school. One chatty, one shy, one adventurous, the other considered, one Australian, one with Chinese heritage, both supportive and giving. It’s easy together. Then they change schools.’
Being Brave is a novel and personal development guide for young girls with themes on self-esteem and resilience. It’s the first novel/guide we have read and I’m glad we did!
We are all aware of the challenges children face while growing up, but it’s stories like this that teach us all how to put one foot in front of the other regardless of how big the climb! It’s an important read for youngsters as it confirms their feelings are not out of the ordinary, and therefore they’re not alone.
Please grab a copy and join Ellie and Alyssa on this important journey through the everyday pressures of school and family life in this all-Australian girls’ adventure story, where girls triumph and the main characters reflect Australia’s wonderful ethnic diversity.
Get a copy, cuddle up with your girl, and take some time out to enjoy the togetherness whilst learning some positive personal development tips!
Yes folks, picnic season is back on! (We’re in Melbourne, so picnic season is definitely a thing!) Everyone loves eating outdoors, especially us Mamas, as it means fresh air, fun times, and the birds get to clean up the crumbs! That’s why I’m hitting you up with this intel before you finish your Christmas shopping, or complete your back to school haul, and before the weeks and weeks of school holidays where lunches last aaaaalllll day!!
If you are a parent in Melbourne, you will have heard of the amazing gang at Friend in Me. If you haven’t, keep reading because you need to know about the wonderful work they are doing!
Friend In Me enhances social inclusion and spreads kindness in childhood in the effort to break the cycle of mental health conditions that derive from being ostracised from society. These guys deliver all the magic that is sadly missing from some children’s lives! Talk about AMAZING!!!
Friend in Me are on a mission to make sure that no child is left behind.
‘We want to children to be empowered to celebrate their uniqueness and have the confidence and the tools to build their tribe so they can go forth with life when they never thought possible. We are working and collaborating with organisations to have an impact on social change through our events and workshops.’ – Friend in Me
Friend In Me is having an end of year celebration at the iconic Melbourne Museum on Saturday, 14th December 2019 with some amazing acts including;
Headlining act by Harrison Craig winner of the second series of ‘The Voice’
Snow Queen Elsa
To join in all the fun at Melbourne Museum, in support of Friend in Me, you can purchase adult tickets for $30. All of the money will go directly to Friend In Me to make sure even more kids are supported! Kids are free (or gold coin donation).
**Tickets include free entry into the Museum after the event so you can all make a day of it.
We are so excited to tell you that the NGV Kids Summer Festival returns in 2020, and this year it’s inspired by the NGV’s summer program featuring KAWS: Companionship in the Age of Loneliness and Keith Haring | Jean Michel Basquiat: Crossing Lines. If you haven’t seen this exhibition yet, then you need to get to the NGV pronto!!
Running from Saturday 11 – Sunday 19 January this year’s summer program follows the theme of Party Time featuring hip-hop workshops, dance parties and hands-on art-inspired activities hosted in the NGV’s Great Hall. Now who could possibly turn that down?
Drawing on the emotive characters featured in KAWS: Companionship in the Age of Loneliness,kids can design a portrait using bright colours and expressions to explore identity and emotion. Taking inspiration from Keith Haring’s iconic New York subway chalk drawings, kids can share their own chalk art on an installation responding to the NGV’s Great Hall stain glass ceiling.
KAWS: PLAYTIME Relaxed Mornings will run from Monday-Friday during the Kids Summer Festival offering children with autism or disability a quiet and relaxed session in the free kids space.
During the January holidays, teens get the opportunity to master a new skill at a screen printing workshop at The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia.
Make sure you head to the NGV website and get hold of all the information, so that your little darlings don’t miss out on all this wonderful fun!
We are the sort of travellers who won’t usually visit the same place twice. Well, why would you? There’s a wide world out there, waiting to be explored! That was until we took the children to Tuscany and fell in love, not only with our surroundings but also the Tuscan people. They are renowned for being laid back life lovers, filling their days with hard work, and their evenings with great food, family, and impeccable wine. So, Tuscany drew us back and boy did we have a wonderful time again.
Tuscany is a wonderful destination for a family holiday, not just because of the splendid vistas and the impeccable wine, but also the huge variety of things to do and see. From outstanding cities and art galleries to pristine beaches and boat trips to incomparable museums and churches, Tuscany really does have it all.
Over the next few posts, I will fill you in on what we did on our latest adventure to Italy.
First stop San Casciano Val di Pesa.
San Casciano Val di Pesa – 15km Southwest of Florence
We stayed in San Casciano Val di Pesa for a few nights at the very start of our trip, as we were heading to a wedding at a nearby castle. Like all of Tuscany’s small towns, it is incredibly beautiful. This is a truly authentic Chianti town, and an easy trip to or from Florence by car, bus or train.
The medieval walled town of San Casciano Val di Pesa is very easy to get around on foot, with plenty of fashion boutiques, restaurants, cafes, churches and museums. Luckily for our Gelato loving kids, there was plenty of that on offer too! The play park could easily win a medal for having the best view of any park in Italy and is perfectly placed in close proximity to great cafes. Always a winner! There were a few market stalls dotted about the park selling local cheese, fruit and veg, and freshly caught seafood. There was another selling what can only be described as Nonna’s underwear which the children made a beeline for! We purchased some cheese but sadly had no space in the case for Nonna’s Knickers.
Top tip: Have a look online at the long list of events held here throughout the year, as it’s a busy little town with plenty to share with tourists! Market day (on a Monday) is definitely worth a peek!
Eating out in San Casciano Val di Pesa is easy! When we asked our B&B owners where we could eat a good lunch, we were told “here, everywhere is great”. They weren’t lying! We ate three meals out and each one was impeccable. Oh the tomatoes in Italy!!!!
The Wilson’s Top Picks in San Casciano Val di Pesa
STAY– B&B Art – This small B&B is traditionally Tuscan. The rooms are quaint tuscan style, spotlessly clean and have just the things you need in a room. (Yay for a decent hairdryer). Breakfast was an array of cured meats, cheeses, fruit, cereals, yoghurts and homemade croissant! Delish!
EAT– La Cantinetta del Nonno (Via IV Novembre, 18, 50026 San Casciano in Val di Pesa) Most definitely the best lasagne you’ll ever eat! Yes, quote me on that!
SEE –“Giuliano Ghelli” Museum of Sacred Art, located inside the Church of Santa Maria del Gesù (enter through the library on Via Lucardesi, 6). The museum hosts many religious-themed paintings from the 14th and 15th centuries, and is made up of a sacred art section, an archaeological section and a section dedicated to primitive dwellings. The museum hosts a rare piece from the Master of Cabestany, an anonymous sculptor active in the second half of the 12th century. It’s a sculpted column representing the birth and the Baptism of Christ, with plenty of details. His figures are peculiar: they have long faces, almond-shaped eyes and many are folded in drapery.
SPOT– Make a beeline for the piazza, and see if the kids can spot the majestic silver stag standing atop the Medieval town wall. This is a contemporary artwork by Mario Merz that represents the freedom of nature.
Top Tip: Coffee is always cheaper if you stand at the bar to drink it, plus, it’s a really local thing to do, so you’ll fit in like a gem!!
All in all Casciano in Val di Pesa is wonderful place to stop for a few days. If you are thinking of visiting Tuscany you can easily day trip to Florence and Sienna from Casciano in Val di Pesa, whilst also making the most of this historic town and it’s surroundings. If you’re travelling to Italy soon, have a wonderful time!
Getting to Casciano in Val di Pesa
Flights – We flew Royal Brunei from Melbourne to London (approx. $4,500 for us all), then British Airways, London Heathrow to Bologna (approx. £500 for us all). Flights to Italy were hard to come by as we left it fairly close to lift off before we booked. We checked our luggage in when we left Melbourne, and it went all the way through to Bologna which was awesome, and saved us the hassle of checking in again!
Drive – The drive from Bologna to Casciano in Val di Pesa is a little over two hours. We hired a car with Budget/Avis and collected it at Bologna airport. The whole process was painful. It took about 90 mins to collect the car, there were huge queues (make sure you get a ticket to be in line), not many staff, and it was all just a headache after such a long journey. They did the usual ‘upselling’ of all sorts of insurance this and insurance that, trying to baffle everyone stood at the counter, so beware! Make sure you know what you need and what you don’t so that you’re ready and armed with all the facts! Our friends hired with another company and got hit with a HUGE insurance add on which hadn’t been made clear at all! You have been warned!
Your little builders are invited to LEGOLAND® Discovery Centre on Wednesday 11th September for a fun and inspiring morning with Playgroup Victoria to celebrate 50 years of DUPLO® fun!
The Ultimate DUPLO Playgroup will take place from 8:30am-10am, giving families with kids aged 0-4 the opportunity to enjoy building activities, storytelling, a visit from Emmett from The LEGO Movie (YAY!!!!), and enjoy the arts and crafts in the centre’s new DUPLO Farm Adventure zone at a discounted rate.
Playgroup Victoria and LEGOLAND Discovery Centre are hosting the special event to mark 50 years since LEGO created DUPLO, the big bricks for small hands.
DUPLO was designed to inspire toddlers to unlock their full potential through interactive, creative and playful experiences.
According to the LEGO Play Well Report, 95% of parents believe play is essential for children’s well-being and is a vital educational tool.
LEGOLAND Discovery Centre supports the important role Playgroup Victoria plays in bringing young children, parents, families and communities together to learn and develop through informal play and social interaction.
“Participation in playgroup positively impacts so much of children’s development as well as parent’s capacity to engage with their children through play,” Danny Schwarz, Playgroup Victoria CEO.
“LEGO is a wonderful tool that allows children to practice their fine and gross motor skills. Moreover, it encourages them to create, be curious, be innovative, share, imagine and play – all which feeds into their greater understanding of the world and its concepts,” Sinead Halliday, Playgroup Victoria.
The new DUPLO Farm Adventure zone at LEGOLAND Discovery Centre is an interactive experience where toddlers can let their imaginations run wild. Behind the giant barn doors, children can explore a multi-level farmhouse where they can build with DUPLO and climb, crawl, slide and swing!
To purchase tickets to the special event, enter the promo code “ultimateplaygroup” at www.LEGOLANDDiscoveryCentre.com.au. Families can stay at LEGOLAND Discovery Centre after The Ultimate DUPLO Playgroup concludes.
As well as DUPLO Farm Adventure, LEGOLAND Discovery Centre is also home to two thrilling rides, a 4D cinema and 11 LEGO build and play zones to keep kids of all ages entertained!
What: The Ultimate DUPLO Playgroup
Where: LEGOLAND Discovery Centre, Chadtsone Shopping Centre, 1341 Dandenong Rd, Chadstone, VIC 3148
When: Wednesday 11th September from 08:30-10:00 (families can stay after the event)
Cost: $25 per adult; $20 per child 3yrs and over, free for children 2yrs and under
In 2018 fun legends, ReedPOP introduced Sydney to their most marvellous creation yet, Play World Australia. It was an event so large, so incredible, and oh so epic that the brand new, upcoming (even more amazing) event is going to blow you and your little ones away!
Presented by Nintendo, this 2 day event in Sydney, creates the most unique atmosphere for our littlest generation and allows them to play in a dynamic, fun and educational environment that is bound to get everyone excited!
Play World will light up Sydney’s ICC this October school holidays where, kids aged 4 to 12, can let their creativity and imagination run free. This is your chance to play with the latest games from Nintendo, go on a musical adventure with The Beanies, laugh until your belly hurts with The Listies, take part in drumming workshops and explore the world where kids’ imagination is the only limit.
With so much to explore from the minute you walk in, this high energy atmosphere entices you to the interactive and colourful exhibits inviting kids to laugh, play and dance all weekend long. Play World Australia gives kids the opportunity to learn and educate themselves on some crazy skills; from intricate coding with the experts from Code Camp to creating beautiful flower crowns with Sydney Flower School. Find some imagery from our 2018 event Here.
Where: International Convention Centre, Sydney, Darling Harbour, 2000
Play World Australia are proud to support Kids Helpline as the official charity partner, helping raise funds and awareness for the essential service they provide for young Australians. Kids Helpline is Australia’s only free, private and confidential 24/7 phone and online counselling service for young people ages 5 to 25. Find out more here
Let’s Laugh, Play, Sing and Dance Together on October 5th & 6th 2019!
I have two children at Primary school. I am “one of those mums” who hasn’t let either of them have a phone yet. Why would I? My son is 7, and my grade 6 daughter is 10. They’re never really in a situation where they need a phone. Not only that, I don’t want them to be able to access any form of social media without me being there. I don’t believe children under the age of 16 have anywhere near the right capabilities to understand or use social media in the right way! They’re still learning social etiquette in the playground for goodness sake, so why open up a whole other world where a simple “No!” can be completely misconstrued.
Aside to the misunderstandings that come about from a simple text message, smartphones and social media can have seriously detrimental effects on our children’s emotional wellbeing. Alongside increased stress and anxiety levels, children have been shown to have dramatic changes in how they see themselves and measure their self-worth. So why would Primary Schools allow mobile phones through the gates? Well, how the hell can they stop it? This week (three weeks after I wrote this article) it seems that the Victorian Government are finally taking steps to ban mobile phones in all Victorian schools. This has caused lots of chat, mostly from parents who are understandably concerned about their children being left without any way of contacting them.
Just like most primary schools, our school has a “no mobile phone” policy. It’s all very clear! When you come into school, you switch your phone off and hand it to your teacher, who locks it away until the end of the day. Or, you can hide it! You can leave it on, hide it in your bag and bring it out at school swimming when you and your mates want to make a TikTok video. Or you can sneak it into your bag when you go on grade 4 camp, and make Instagram stories of your mates being silly in their underwear. Come on, who cares who’s watching our 9 year olds running around half naked? Oh hell, let’s go the whole 9 yards and make some Instagram posts with our girlfriends in front of the mirror in the change rooms. Who cares that poor old Sally is nude in the background? Her mum won’t mind!!
It’s all good and well for primary aged child to have a phone so that parents know they’re safe when they’re walking home, however, when our children are at school, I think we’re allowed to expect that they are safe too, and not being subjected to all the nightmares of social media and the internet? It should go without saying that they aren’t being filmed for Instagram, or photographed for Snap Chat shouldn’t it?
I think as parents, we’re well within our rights to know that when the bell goes, and school begins, children are not uploading to their socials, taking photographs or subjecting other children knowingly or not, to any kind of online activity.
According to Bully Zero Australia Foundation, one in eight Australians experience cyberbullying.
It’s not about being paranoid; it’s about keeping our whole community safe.
Do we need to send primary aged children through metal detectors at the school gate? Probably not. Do we have an all-out ban on phones, and expect our children to walk home with no way of being contacted? No, absolutely not. Do we need to stop our most vulnerable children accessing the help they need through a device, no way! Therefore, the only way teachers can ever get a handle on mobile phone usage at school is by us parents taking control. Now!
We need to talk to our children about their devices and how they are using them. We need to make sure our children are being honest and using their phones in a safe and respectful way. We need to teach our children the importance of handing their devices to a member of staff, and absolutely make it their responsibility to do so. If they can’t be responsible enough to do that, they shouldn’t have a phone!
Mobile phones can take bullying out of the playground and into the home.
You only have to scroll apps like TikTok to see how many children (and I mean Primary aged) are using their devices in school time. It’s not only a worry for the safety of your own child, but for the children in the background who are completely oblivious to the fact they are “Insta famous”.
We mustn’t ever underestimate privacy. It’s supremely important when it comes to our very young children. “Private accounts “still reveal all sorts of information about a child, and do not stop online bullying!
Of course there’s a limit to what schools can do about children who sneak their devices into the playground. Without bag searches, metal detectors or honesty, teachers are being blindsided every day. This is resulting in our children not having a completely safe environment in which to learn, away from the pressures of social media and the worst of the internet.
The village needs you!
Our primary school children don’t understand the dramatic implications of their online behaviour. They don’t see the harm in hiding their phone in their bag and taking the odd picture of their friends in the playground. We don’t need an all out ban, we need to teach our children the importance of honesty!
It’s our responsibility as parents, to keep our children safe, however, it’s also our responsibility to make sure the children around them are safe too.
It’s not our job to toughen our children up to face a cruel and heartless world. It’s our job to raise children who will make the world a little less cruel and heartless – L.R. Knost
Do your daughters play sport? Are you struggling to keep them engaged in sport as they get older. Well, it seems like you aren’t alone! We were invited to watch the Vixens play netball a few weeks ago and to witness the powerful launch of Suncorp Team Girls!
Suncorp recently revealed the shocking findings of the ‘2019 Australian Youth Confidence Report’, revealing more than half of parents are concerned about their daughter’s self-esteem. Hands up who can relate to this!
I was so shocked to learn that these findings coincide with 46% of Australian teen girls turning their back on sport by the age of 17, despite two-thirds acknowledging that sport can make them feel more confident. Why are our young women giving up on sport when they know it makes them feel great?
The national survey of over 1000 Australian parents and teenagers conducted as part of the Suncorp Team Girls initiative, also revealed that confidence and the perception of themselves is one of the most commonly discussed topics in their home.
“Our research tells us participation in team sport nurtures perseverance, resilience and confidence; essential skills teen girls need now and in the future. This, in turn, can have a real positive impact on their health and wellbeing, career prospects and financial security moving forwards,” Suncorp’s Executive General Manager Brand & Marketing, Mim Haysom
“We are Team Girls – hear us roar!”
In response to the new findings and to drive awareness of the plight that parents and young girls face, Suncorp has launched a new Team Girls Rally Cry to encourage and motivate young girls to embrace life confidently, on and off the court. Championing the cause and inspiring Australian girls to stay in the game, is Australian electronic music songstress, Thandi Phoenix, a rising star of an equally male-dominated scene.
Suncorp’s research draws a direct link for girls of all ages between being confident and achieving success in a range of life dimensions, including their work and social lives. The benefits of sports are widely recognised to have lifetime impacts, as sport is felt to build fundamental life skills like team building, leadership and resilience.
Suncorp Team Girls Ambassador Rebecca Sparrow – teen Agony Aunt, podcast host and author of ‘Game On! A Team Girls Guide to Getting Active’. offers her tips on what parents can do boost participation:
Encourage girls to try sports their friends are playing as they will be more willing to get involved. If your daughter’s friends are playing netball or hockey or AFL — talk to your daughter about joining their team for a season. Or start playing a new sport with a friend.
Become a fan. Get your daughter excited about the sport by following the national league and experiencing the excitement of a live game. Introduce your daughter to a terrific role model like netball’s Gabi Simpson and Gretel Tippett, AFL’s Tayla Harris and Moana Hope or cricket’s Ellyse Perry. Start following the players on social media.
Chill out. Many kids cringe at their parents’ sideline behaviour. Keep the focus on fun rather than form and leave the feedback to the coaches. The goal is for kids to have fun and be active.
Allow them to try different sports. Some kids take a while to find the sport which ignites them. Trying a few different sports is a great way to find the right fit.
If your daughter suddenly wants to quit her team sport, listen to her reasons and explore whether joining a less competitive team would be of interest.
“Sport actively builds that inner grit we all need to handle life.” Rebecca Sparrow
Key Findings of the ‘2019 Suncorp Australian Youth and Confidence Report’:
Only 55 per cent of Australian girls age 11-17 play sport in a typical week, compared to 69 per cent of boys of the same age
15-17-year-old girls are significantly more likely to be playing less sport (46 per cent) in the last 12 months or to have completely stopped, compared to 15-17 boys (30 per cent)
11-17-year-old girls are significantly less active (-1 hr 18 mins) than boys of the same age in a typical week
15% of girls don’t like playing sport because they don’t think they’re ‘any good’, a close second to ‘having too much schoolwork’
Two-thirds (67 per cent) of girls age 11-17 acknowledged that sport can make them feel confident or ‘good about themselves’
54% of boys aged 11 -17 feel confident as a result of playing team sport compared to 37 per cent of girls in the same age group
The findings highlight the importance of peers and loved ones to drive their confidence; 9 in 10 girls aged 11 – 17 admit to deriving confidence through support from friends and family
8 in 10 girls believe that it is important for girls to support one another.
Girl’s favourite sports include dance (24 per cent), swimming (18 per cent), netball (16 per cent), basketball, soccer and gym (all 10 per cent)
If you are struggling to keep your daughter in sport, have a read of the ultimate guide for parents to teach your teens and tweens about the benefits of playing sports.
Are you Ryan McNaught super fans? I’m pretty sure he is Australia’s new favourite human since the awesome Channel 9 LEGO® Masters aired on our screens!! Well, you’ll be glad to know he’s back and this time it’s LEGO® building that we can all enjoy, close up!
IMMERSE YOURSELF IN HISTORY DURING THIS BRAND-NEW INTERACTIVE EXPERIENCE CREATED BY THE LEGO® MASTERS JUDGE, RYAN ‘THE BRICKMAN’ MCNAUGHT
With this brand new exhibition at ScienceWorks Melbourne about to land, we can all discover the history of the world’s greatest cities and create our own cities of the future!! Brickman Cities powered by LEGO® CITY takes over ScienceWorks Melbourne from Saturday 15th June to Sunday 4th August 2019 and we are so excited!!
This new interactive LEGO® CITY experience from Ryan ‘The Brickman’ McNaught and his expert team, Brickman Cities powered by LEGO® CITY, sounds incredible. If, like me, you thought there was no way he could beat his Wonders of the World exhibition, or his ‘Brickman Awesome’ think again!!!! Showcasing the life and architecture of five of the world’s most iconic cities – Dubai, London, New York, Sydney and Tokyo – from castles and forts to massive skyscrapers, we can all trace each city’s evolution all the way from 1000AD to today in a fun, educational and immersive way. Talk about THE BEST HISTORY LESSON EVER!!!!
Tickets to Brickman Cities powered by LEGO® CITY are on sale NOW!
Brickman’s fourth LEGO® brick experience, Brickman Cities powered by LEGO® CITY has been exclusively curated and built by Ryan ‘The Brickman’ McNaught and his expert team. Did you know that McNaught is the only LEGO® Certified Professional in the Southern Hemisphere, and one of just 14 in the world??? (We also know him as the official judge of Channel Nine’s new blockbuster reality series, LEGO® Masters… So he’s practically been in our homes…. which totally makes him family doesn’t it??)
“Brickman Cities brings to life the rich histories of the world’s greatest cities like never before and I hope visitors will find it both informative and fun. I can’t wait to see young LEGO® enthusiasts take what they have learnt and use their imagination to create their own LEGO® CITY of tomorrow,” Ryan McNaught.
I am most looking forward to seeing the 3m x 4m scale model of Lower Manhattan, built entirely in white LEGO® pieces with 3D stories of New York projected directly onto them. Using cutting-edge technology of UHD 4K projectors, visitors are taken on a journey from the First People’s villages right through to present day. Amaaaaazing!!! You’ll find me there, all day!
“Using 3D technology adds a whole new dimension to the LEGO® experience which I never thought would be possible! It’s very cool to see how it enriches the stories we are trying to tell through this experience,” Ryan McNaught.
Don’t panic, all your budding builders (including your husband) will be able to build their vision of a LEGO® CITY of tomorrow in the interactive master build zone, home to half a million LEGO® bricks!! Hurrah for some hands on time!
It took the team more than 1,900 hours to create this exhibition.
1 million LEGO® bricks were needed to build Brickman Cities powered by LEGO® CITY.
Ryan ‘The Brickman’ McNaught and the creative team spent a further 250 hours developing sophisticated 3D projections to bring the hero city of New York to life.
Don’t miss out on travelling through time in this immersive, educational and imaginative world of Brickman Cities powered by LEGO® CITY.