Road Trip the Stuart Highway with kids!

 

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I know, I know, road tripping with the kids sounds like a holiday from hell to some people. “Are we there yet” being shouted over and over, popcorn covering the back seats, umpteen toilet breaks and cries of “I’m booooored” interrupting “The Greatest Showman” soundtrack. However, if ever there was a trip we have done, that we could recommend to you, this would be it.

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If you get the pleasure of “are we nearly there yet” on the way to the supermarket, this is probably not the holiday for you YET! Some days we were smashing out 700km+ which is not a distance for the fussy traveller! There is no amount of iPad time that can fill that space, so be prepared to play games, sing, write journals, wildlife spot, and throw in a few obligatory arguments into the mix.

Travelling through the red centre of Australia, was not only a great big tick on the bucket list, it was without doubt the trip of a lifetime. Nothing could compare.

 Our top reasons to road trip with your gang

Family time – Yes this is a cert when you’re ‘trapped’ in a car or van with the family. This is the trip to do if you’d like to spend time together, lots of time. There are no kids clubs, it’s just you guys, a few dead kangaroos and the road ahead, but this is what makes it so perfect. As contrived as it sounds, we all learnt so much about each other. We had hours and hours to talk, sing our favourite songs, tell jokes, play games and really immerse ourselves in each other. Life gets in the way of these beautiful moments and a road trip is the perfect way to rekindle lost time. It’s amazing what you talk about when there are no emails distracting you and no YouTube on the tv.

Scenery – Driving through the centre of Australia is like being on a David Attenborough shoot. The dingo’s running past, the Emu looking up to see who is frantically waving out of the Campervan window. The colour of the earth changing so dramatically to that deep, warm red that is so quintessentially Australian was amazing. That same red earth that we soon learnt would be ingrained in our clothes, shoes and skin. Every now and again we would stop on the side of the road and Monty would hop out and find a pile of Kangaroo bones, or a half eaten eagle. The enchantment on his face at his latest haul of treasure to take back to school was priceless. The scenery is like nowhere else on earth, and we were right there, in the thick of it, treading the same ground as people have been for thousands of years, and it felt so magical.

Sightseeing – The beauty of road tripping the Stuart Highway is that you get to see places and speak to people you would never meet if you flew this route. The incredible salt lakes, the vastness of the outback, the eagles soaring above us as we sped up the only highway going North. Road tripping allowed us to follow the signs to places we hadn’t planned to visit, and stop at free camping sites because the scenery was particularly spectacular. Road tripping gives you the freedom to make your own way, in your own time, and stay the extra night if you fancy it.  This is one of the reasons it’s a great holiday when travelling with kids.

Adventure – As our journey went on, none of our excitement waned. I was sitting on the edge of my seat, watching the red earth fly by the van. The children were in the back, faces up against the windows, a live wildlife show, eyes wide and mouths open, shouting “dingo” or “eagle” every now and again! The view is like a movie set. The scenery, unbelievable.. This is the outback. The real outback.  It’s almost too beautiful to put into words. Driving the Stuart Highway is nothing less than epic. The adventure of scrambling through incredible gorges, tiptoeing across water holes, laying your hands on Uluru and looking at ancient aboriginal cave paintings. Free camping, building campfires, finding roadside treasures and footprints of creatures long gone. We loved lying in the red dirt at night, star gazing up at the most breathtaking skies you have ever seen. There is almost too much adventure out there to tell you about.

New Friendships – We stopped at every roadhouse along our journey.  They were all so different but each one had the same collection of people huddled around the fuel pumps.  The drivers of enormous trucks getting a much needed break after hours on the road. There were travellers, refuelling and stretching their legs, batting flies, eating a much needed piece of homemade cake, or sipping on a cold beer. The atmosphere at these roadhouses was awesome. Everyone is there on an adventure and trying desperately get some wifi. People chat to each other, you hear wonderful stories of what’s to come, and swap tips for your onward journeys. A regular servo turns into a hub of storytelling and the birthplace of new friendships.

Journals –  These books are so special. The hours the children spent in the back of the van drawing their surroundings, writing little scripts about what we had seen and sticking in leaflets and ticket stubs from the tours we’d been on. They are filled with adventures, stories and bursting with tales which we will all remember for years to come.  I can picture us holding these books in twenty years time, when our children have their own children, telling tales of the Dingo we saw, the mine we climbed in to, or the dreamtime tales from Uluru. To have pages and pages of aboriginal dot paintings that the children created after visiting Uluru, is such an incredible keepsake that we wouldn’t have got any where else.

New experiences & Noodling – Coober Pedy is a funny old town, almost a little like you have stepped back in time, but, by far the best hours we spent on our road trip were noodling in a barren patch of ground just off the high street. Noodling is sifting through the dumps left by the miners and specking is walking slowly along staring at the ground looking for any signs of colour. A very eager gentleman at our camp site told us that noodling was allowed as long as you don’t take a shovel, and showed us on the map where he had collected a jar full of tiny gems. The kids LOVED noodling. I was less enthusiastic, mainly because of the flies, and the fact that I couldn’t find a single sparkly stone. After an hour or so Monty had enough gems to give one to every kid in his class. I was panicking that we were about to give 22 kids our little fortune, but nevertheless he was adamant they weren’t for us!  Noodling is completely free, and one of the days the kids remember most about our trip.

Just go!

Our kids are very used to road trips. I would say this is a must if you want to explore Australia by road! However you plan to road trip; caravan, car, campervan, bus, motorbike or even bicycle, (yes there were a few) get out there and see the magic of the Australian outback. It may seem like a mammoth feat with children but believe me, it was our greatest adventure yet, and I know it will be yours too.


This is not a cheap holiday.

We flew from Melbourne to Adelaide, where we hired a Britz campervan. The van came with everything we needed to be comfortable. We just had to stock up with food and hit the road.

When you weigh up the cost of the trip vs the experience it was totally worth it, but no, it wasn’t cheap! In fact it’s one of our most expensive trips to date and we were only away for 13 days. *Fuel is eye wateringly expensive in the outback.


Tips: 

  • Campsites were fairly reasonably priced, be prepared for some to be a lot more expensive than others.
  • Make sure you book you Uluru campsite first! It gets busy. **The IGA is amazing.
  • Free camping is FREEEE and super fun!
  • Take lots of pens, books, games and music to keep you entertained.
  • Be prepared for no wifi or phone signal. Download movies and games onto your devices, and tell your boss you aren’t contactable.
  • Stock up with plenty of food and drinks. Eating certainly passes the time and roadhouses aren’t cheap!
  • Take a decent camera, the pictures will be wonderful.
  • Pack warm clothes, it gets COLD out there
  • For anyone who suffers with nosebleeds.. Take tissues. The air is DRY! We learnt the hard way.
  • Take your first aid kit.
  • Prepare for the price of fuel!
  • Do a tour of Uluru. It’s worth the money!

“Tesco is ‘Smashing’ back to school!”

Smash Enterprises have only gone and created EVEN MORE bloomin’ awesome stuff for on the go eating in the UK!!!  We have been so thrilled with the products we’ve had from Smash so we were absolutely going to jump at the chance to tell all our UK friends about their newest range! Smash Enterprises are about to launch some super new products in Tesco, which you may like to check out.. ASAP…… Like NOW! Grab your bag, keys, water bottle (make it a Smash one), and hit Tesco’s please…

Wait till you see this…… **The caaaaat!!!! OMG!

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The end of the school year is a massive deal in the life of a kid and in the life of a parent too. That summer term is a killer! The most exhausting (and hot) term of the year, then they throw sports day in to the mix! Hellooooo! The children are tired, ready for a huge break, and in my case, I’m absolutely ready to throw all evidence of the school year in the bin, including the grumpy kids. The smelly lunch boxes and the disgusting pencil case *usually graffitied and full of pencil sharpening’s mixed with blu tac or slime. The little bits of rubbish, the scrunched up homework from week 7 and the reminder that for three weeks of the summer term your child lived on marmite sandwiches alone as the fruit is rotting in the bottom of the backpack. I have been known to open the bin and kiss goodbye to a whole heap of school paraphernalia only to regret not simply washing it come the new school year!

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This one comes with the lot!!

In all honestly, when it comes to my ‘back to school prep” I tend to leave it to the VERY last minute. Mostly because the summer holidays run away with me and I forget when term begins, but also because we all relax way too much and that relaxation turns our brains to jelly!

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Summer adventures…

However,  when I saw this new collection making it’s way into Tesco, I knew that it would definitely give me, and other UK Mums, the kick up the behind to get in early and sort out the lunch boxes for the new school year. If you’re the person in charge of school supplies in your home, this is where you can gain brownie points from your little darlings and take away the stress of “back to school”. Let’s be honest we all have a love/hate relationship with Back2School.

 

Not only have the clever Smash designers come up with some great new “only available in Tesco” designs, but they have kept those awesome features that us mums love about Smash products. The germ resistant liners, the nude food tubs to save us from the single use plastic and for those of us with older kids, the more funky styles that are so hard to come by. Anyone else have a fussy 10 yr old…? What a bizarre age that is! “I love glitter… I hate it, it’s so cool… it’s so uncool… oooh flowers…..!!”

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Holiday snacks

Tesco will be stocking a brand new range of awesome Smash products from Wednesday 25th July.. Yes, that was yesterday!!!! That means you need to grab your diary, NOW, cross out this afternoon’s play date, save swimming for another day, push the movies to tonight, and get to Tesco before they sell out. There truly is limited stock, it’s not a joke!

This Aussie style ‘lunch luggage’ is going to bounce out of the supermarket like a kangaroo chasing a wallaby, and you don’t want to be the only parent who forgot about the most ‘Smashing’ lunch boxes in town do you?

Show your kids your “Smash Attitude” and be one of the first parents in line for this new range.

Stationary that’s light years ahead of the rest!!

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Ever since I was a child I’ve had this almost obsessive craving for brand new stationary. Not sure if it was the newness, the smell, the thought that maybe with a brand new pad I could create a masterpiece. I would convince my parents to spend shed loads of money on new pens, notepads and all sorts of wonderful files and folders, under the premise of lots of hard work that term! Um… I would start off well.. I’d immaculately write my name on said items, then spend the rest of the year scribbling boys names and enormous love hearts all over them. Pretty sure “I love East17” was in amongst it. My kids are no different, however the stationary today is much cooler.

What’s new?

Nothing’s really changed in my love of stationary, I buy a lot, and I manage to keep it tidy for a few days…. However, Big W have just got a brand new range of stationary which I’m certain will save me from scrawled memos and lost invoices forever!!! Yes, the clever peeps at ‘Smash’ have been at it again. This time they’re making the whole family fall in love with endless supplies of dreamy desk delights.

‘This new range is out of this world! ‘Imagine, Explore and Inspire’ your next ‘Master Plan’ (and your ‘Plan B’!) with our new Neo Galaxy Stationery Range.’- Smash

What do we love about this stationary in particular?

Apart from my inner magpie loving the “shinyness” of the Neo Galaxy range, I also love that they have thought of everything. The quality is great (there’s no way those folders are tearing under the pressure of NAPLAN, or the binders will buckle under the weight of all my endless paperwork) and the designs are suitable for all ages. The kids really loved the space designs, the colours and the stapler…. of course…. The sticky notes don’t curl up like other brands, ***HURRAH, and excuse me whilst we tear up over the incredibly cute little paper clips…..

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Yes, the Wilson’s have been checking out the new Neo Galaxy range of stationary, available from the 15th July in Big W… just in time for back to school, or even for you mamas out there whose home/work life needs some pimping.

Best things about this particular range?

It’s unisex! Yes, it’s purple, but in our house and many across the land, purple is super cool for one and all!

It’s funky no matter your age! The whole family like this range, which makes sharing a little tricky, but means we all have matchy, matchy coordinated workspaces.. Pretty sure I’m still the only one actually working here though!

I have styled the kids desks to show you why it’s definitely good for all…

So, bottom line is….. head down to your local Big W and get your hands on some of this Neo Galaxy stationary before it disappears in to a ‘black hole’ (or other people’s homes). You’ll be thrilled with it, and the kids will love you to infinity and beyond, I promise xx

Tell them you love them “to the moon and back” with a desk full of Neo Galaxy stationary!

Available in store at Big W from 15th July 2018

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Everyone LOVES a sticky note!!

OzPanto – British Expat fun at its best!!

 

SLEEPING BEAUTY A KNIGHT AVENGER’S TALE

Sleeping Beauty tells the story of Princess Aurora, who by a single prick of her finger is put to sleep for 100 years. Doomed by fate, only a Prince’s sweet kiss can break the spell and awaken the sleeping beauty. 

 

The Wilson’s rugged up and headed into Melbourne to the Comedy Theatre for opening night of Bonnie Lythgoe’s latest Oz Panto, Sleeping Beauty! What a fab family night out!

For all you British expats out there, you will be pleased to hear this is proper British panto… with a sprinkling of Oz! If you’re anything like me you’ll get all homesick this time of year. It feels like we should be celebrating all things Christmas but it’s June and not even remotely Christmassy! Having said that, this pantomime is absolutely the perfect ‘winter’ pick me up for the whole family! OzPanto is by no means a cheap imitation of panto; this is true, old fashioned pantomime with all the singing, dancing, cracking jokes and cheesy lines. It’s exactly what winter in Australia needs!

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Our faves:

Rhonda Burchmore plays the wicked fairy ‘Carabosse’. Rhonda stole the show with her terrfying presence, huge voice and her incredible legs. Yes I said it! Green eyed monster right here! Carabosse brought the theatre alive with “Boo’s” every time she stepped on to the stage, just as panto should be.

Kev Orkian as ‘Silly Billy’ made us all belly laugh. There were tears streaming down our cheeks at points throughout, and it was all down to his impeccable timing and hilarious stage presence.

The Dancers -Wow, the incredible dancers. The children were full of energy and super talented. Absolute stars in the making.


 

British Expats or Aussie this is a must see! For the Brits it will take you back to your childhood, and for the Aussies, it’s a wonderful introduction to the timeless art of British Pantomime.  Bonnie Lythgoe has brought the true magic of pantomime all the way to Australia for our families to enjoy, which means our expat kids aren’t missing out on what used to be a family tradition back home!

Grab your tickets now!

You’re guaranteed dazzling costumes, stunning sets, magic, breath taking special effects, side splitting comedy, and sensational musical numbers. A massive hit for all ages.

www.ozpanto.com


Melbourne

VENUE: Comedy Theatre, 240 Exhibition Street, Melbourne

DATES: Friday 29 June – Sunday 8 July

PRICES: VIP $89.95 / A Reserve $69.95 / B Reserve $59.95 Plus Family tickets available

BOOKINGSTicketmaster.com.au or 1300 11 10 11

 Sydney

VENUE:  State Theatre, 49 Market Street, Sydney

DATESFriday 13 July – Sunday 22 July

PRICES: from $52.95 to $97.95 plus Family tickets available

BOOKINGSTicketmaster.com.au or 1300 139 588

Hi Honey, I’m home- Forever

I opened Google this morning and it told me that there are 258 days remaining until the end of the year. Thanks Google, you’ve reminded me that all those things I have promised myself that I would get done in 2018 aren’t moving as fast as I’d like, and it’s woken me up to just how blinking fast this year is going!

So, just over 100 days into 2018 and The Wilson’s are ten months off the end of our visa! Yes ten months!! I know!! I can almost see it sitting on the horizon, sarcastically beckoning me toward it.. Bastard!! It’s insane. Ten months left until we need to vacate the country. Well… we get 12 weeks after that date to officially get out before we become illegal immigrants, but yeah, we’re on a tick, tock, tick, tock,  countdown right now.

I guess like most families who came to Australia on a 457 visa, (before Mr Turnball abolished it.. Thanks Malc!) we kind of assumed four years away from home would be enough, and we’d be ready to go home. Or, if we weren’t ready to go, we would have at least put some plans in place to stay for a while longer…. Um…. *insert tumbleweed! We have no plans as yet; we have no contingency plan if we don’t get extended and I literally have no idea what we will do or where we will go…. (I can hear some of you muttering “this woman is insane”) Truthfully, this really only came up in conversation in the car this morning with just ten months to go.. ‘What the actual @£$%’ I hear you say!

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Bells Beach

I know! It seems a little irresponsible not to plan or prepare everyone for the possible big life change ahead, however I’m still in the ‘live for the moment’ stage, ‘running around in my underwear because I’m so excited to be here’ stage; and I can’t for the life of me snap out of it. I’m telling myself “hey, it may never happen, let’s just go to the beach and not think about it” and “ah well, if it’s gonna happen we may as well make the most of life in Oz and go out for dinner… and NOT talk about it”…   therefore allowing the thought to slip to the back of my mind for a while longer; because if you don’t talk about something it doesn’t happen right?

Potentially however, we have ten months left until we need to go! Ten months until our practically native Australian kids have to move again. *Truth: Every time we stay in a hotel Monty asks “how long are we living in this house Mum?” In ten months time, we may have our passports in hand, and be heading off to pastures new.. or old, back to our friends, my girl gang, who knows?

I just took a sip of water and glanced up at my friends faces smiling down on me from the last postcard they sent from the UK! A sudden gulp! Honestly, just over three years ago, whilst we were hugging, and wailing as they were waving us off on our adventure, I remember distinctly telling everyone (myself included) “it’s not forever, it’s only four years… If that!!”

However now, sitting here, the kids at school, friends round the corner, things planned, work life thriving… it’s hard to imagine leaving Australia. It’s hard to imagine going through all those goodbyes again, only this time with our new found friends.

The uncertainty of living on a visa and not being secure in the knowledge we can stay is a huge thing. Even though I push it to the back of my mind, it’s a big deal for any expat family.

Living life as an expat is such a treat. We get to explore,  see new things, and experience new adventures; but part of me wonders whether the time has come for us to be thinking about a ‘forever home’ for our family. A place that the children can say they’re “from”… A place that we can settle, properly settle in, put pictures up on the walls without worrying about the landlords reaction, plant what we like in the garden, paint the walls whatever colour we like, and design a space for our growing family. Somewhere we can stay and know that we’ll not be moving again. Part of me thinks that maybe the children need to be more settled. Maybe we all need it, but I don’t think any of us really want it!

Having said all that, the thought of having a ‘forever home‘ terrifies me. The thought of buying a house, moving in, and thinking “right that’s it, we’re here!” makes me come over all cold. I hear people saying “oh we’ve just bought our “forever home” and before I congratulate them, all I can think is ‘you poor, poor thing”. Forever stuck in one place seems so final..

Maybe I’m frightened to settle somewhere because it’s not in my nature. Maybe our family is supposed to keep moving. Maybe that’s what’s written in our stars! Maybe I’m scared to make life so static because it means long distance friendships are definitely a forever thing. It means guaranteed travelling to visit loved ones, rather than the comforting possibility of one day relocating to be closer. If we decide on a forever home, it means one way or another, we’re closing one door, and locking it tight and I don’t want to do that! I like the idea of being able to move when we want, go where we want, experience life somewhere else if we want to. I like the romantic idea that ‘one day’ we’ll go ‘home‘, but not just yet!!!

I suppose what I’m trying to say is that for this expat family and all the others out there, who maybe haven’t completely settled on a place to stay put, or signed their life away on a house because it’s in the right catchment for high school, or who don’t seem to have any life plans that include a particular location; we actually do have our forever home. We’re already living in it. Our forever home is right here, right now, and wherever we are together in the future. Our family is our forever home! It doesn’t have to be bricks and mortar, it doesn’t have to be staying in the same place for the rest of our days, we are in our forever home all the time, no matter where on the map that may be this year!! Our forever homes are dotted all over the world, wherever we want them to be, as long as we’re together.

You are my home

 

Olivia xxx

‘A ship is safe in harbour, but that’s not what ships are built for” – Unknown

 

ARE YOU AUSTRALIA’S BIGGEST (JUNIOR) LEGO FAN?

LEGOLAND Discovery Centre on are on the lookout for some mini LEGO® builders for an incredible, dream opportunity!! Yes, it could be one of your little ones…

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The search is underway to find Australia’s three biggest (yet littlest) LEGO® fans!

LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Melbourne has launched a competition to name its ‘Mini Model Builders’ for 2018.

Three little LEGO® lovers will receive the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be crowned the 2018 Mini Model Builders at LEGOLAND Discovery Centre. How awesome is that!!!!

The lucky winners will receive playground bragging rights (and a LEGO® trophy – of course!), plus some ‘bricktastic’ perks including VIP invites to preview events, exclusive one-on-one building classes with the Master Model Builder and a free birthday party hosting up to 20 of their friends OR a free school excursion for their class.

Their loot bag will also include a LEGOLAND Discovery Centre T-shirt, a personalised LEGO® badge and unlimited entry to the attraction for a year! OK OK I’m getting to the bit when I tell you how to enter your little LEGO® masters!!!

To be in the running,

Children aged between 4-12 years must create a 30 second video introducing themselves (and their most imaginative LEGO® creation) while answering two questions

1) “Why do you want to be LEGOLAND Discovery Centre’s Mini Model Builder?”

2) “What is your favourite thing about LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Melbourne?”.

EASY HEY!!!

With the help and permission of a parent or guardian, entrants must submit their video via the online entry form. Submissions will be evaluated based on creativity and enthusiasm and 36 finalists will be selected to compete in Australia’s first ‘LEGO® Masters’ event – a children’s LEGO® building competition that will be hosted at LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Melbourne on Saturday 21 April 2018*. The finalists will participate in a number of LEGO® challenges that will be judged by the attraction’s Master Model Builder and will see him eventually declare the three grand final winners as the 2018 Mini Model Builders. Love LEGO®? Apply here!

Applications will be accepted until 8th April 2018 (5pm EST) and shortlisted finalists will be contacted directly with an invitation to compete in the LEGO® Masters competition*.

For full terms and conditions, please click here!!!

 

*Note: All entrants must be available to attend the ‘LEGO® Masters’ event on Saturday 21 April to be eligible

EVERYTHING IS AWESOME!!!!


 

Ancient Oceans – Sealife Melbourne

Sealife Melbourne has a new ‘Must See’ holiday experience and we’re so excited!!

Kit Haselden Photography - www.kithaselden.com

Say a big “Hello” to this new interactive experience which allows you and the family to journey back in time, dive into Ancient Oceans and meet the pre-historic giants of the ocean. You will be taken on an adventure to discover more about the magnificent ancient creatures of the sea and get up close to some remarkable animals that have lived for millions of years. How awesome does that sound!!

You and the gang will come face-to-face with the living history of the oceans, including mysterious Mudskippers and phenomenal Pig-nosed Turtles. Seen one of those before?? No, me neither!!

Kit Haselden Photography - www.kithaselden.com‘Visit the Sealife Centre Melbourne and enter the magnificent underwater caves of these incredible creatures and be submerged into the ancient seas’

This exciting new display features immersive lighting projections creating animal silhouettes teamed with sub-aquatic animal sounds, engaging digital games and an awe-inspiring display featuring jaws of the pre-historic Megladon, the largest predator to have ever existed. Wow!!

Your little junior explorers will receive a map to guide them through the exhibit which encourages them to hunt for clues and collect stamps whilst learning fascinating facts about the ancient oceans. What a wonderful keepsake for them!

Kit Haselden Photography - www.kithaselden.com

After all that fun, you can put your feet up and watch the brand new 4D movie – Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs – an epic and thrilling sensory cinematic adventure in the pre-historic era of the mammoth ancient creatures.

I know where we’re headed this week!!! Happy holidays!


Experience: Ancient Oceans at Sea Life Melbourne – NEW EXHIBIT

Location: Sea Life Melbourne Corner of King Street and Flinders Street, Melbourne, VIC 3000

When: Now showing

Opening hours: Daily from 9.30am-6.00pm

Cost: Adults – from $33.60, Children – from $22.40 (Book online and save)

To find out more about Sea Life Melbourne’s new Ancient Oceans experience visit the website.

 

#sealifemelbourne #daysoutwithkids #schoolholidays #expatadventures #history #prehistoricseacreatures #teachthemwell #parentingfarfromhome #expatfamily

This Mumma is ‘Smash’ing ‘Back to School’

I know, it’s what, week three of the school holidays and we’re already thinking about getting our little darlings prepped and ready for another year! Another mammoth amount of time sitting in the classroom, reciting Haiku poetry and picking their noses. It seems as if no sooner have the holidays started we’re willing them to end.. Or is that just me?

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Bags are already packed… (kidding, it’d be rotten by February!)
  • School shoes purchased – CHECK
  • Name labels are on their way – CHECK
  • The stationary order has been delivered, opened and scattered around the house – CHECK
  • Mummy’s almost ready for a mini breakdown – CHECK

It can only mean one thing… It’s time to think about packed lunch paraphernalia!!

If you’re anything like me, you’ll be heading off soon to purchase new lunch boxes and drinks bottles before terms starts; I mean the kids couldn’t possibly start a new school year with an old lunchbox! Actually mine can’t because I made the rookie mistake (AGAIN) of buying ridiculously rubbish lunch boxes which are now disgusting inside and have broken zips so they definitely need replacing! That and we no longer think ‘Dinosaurs’ are cool! When will I learn?

Much to Mr W’s joy, that will be the last time I make that mistake! The clever clogs at Smash Enterprises have not only created some seriously eye catching designs (even I want in on these), but they’ve also come up with Blue IQ, a mould resistant lining which means when we “wipe” the insulated lunch boxes clean, they’re giving us a helping hand…. ***Cue angels singing a chorus of Hallelujah’s to all us mumma’s!….

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“Can I go back to school now mum?” – “Um, YESSS!’

The Wilson’s have been road testing some of these awesome products and I’m certain you will struggle to find anyone else making school lunch this funky, rubbish free, practical and totally kid proof!!  If that doesn’t excite you enough, the fact that they’re spill proof may just do it for you! (No more soggy sandwiches coming home uneaten! **does a little dance)

Rubbish Free Lunchbox

The Wilsons love anything that promotes “nude” (yes we do!) and we adore products that allow us to cut down on our waste! The kids are already loving packed lunches with their new lunch boxes, and I’m singing all the way to the dishwasher. Hurrah! Roll on 1st February when I’m really packing up and packing them off!

‘C’mon, say no to plastic wraps and foils and make every day a nude food day!’


 

The Wilson’s Reviews…..

★★★★★ “OH MUM, A LUNCHBOX I CAN DECORATE? IT’S THE BEST!!” POPPY- STICKER QUEEN – WILSONS OF OZ

★★★★ “I’M JUST LIKE A REAL ARMY MAN WITH THIS LUNCH” – MONTY- PACKED LUNCH AND PICNIC LOVER – WILSONS OF OZ

★★★★ “THIS YEAR IS GOING TO INCLUDE MY BEST LUNCHBOX CREATIONS YET ” – MRS W – WORST LUNCH CREATOR EVER – WILSONS OF OZ

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Yes, she’s kissing her lunch box! The Stick It Slimline is a hit in this house…

 Featured

Smash Lunch Box – Funky designs, detachable insulation, large capacity and the famous Sandwich Seatbelt. Available at selected Coles Supermarkets whilst stocks last – RRP $15

Nude Movers Rubbish Free Lunchbox – Eliminates the need for packaging. Three separate compartments, removable snack pods and dividers, and a ‘Sandwich Seatbelt’. Available at selected Coles supermarkets whilst stocks last RRP $12

Smash Stick it Slimline – Comes with stickers so the kids can personalise their lunch! Lined with Smash’s trademark ‘Blue IQ’ antimicrobial lining which inhibits the growth of uncontrolled bacteria, mould, and mildew. A strong durable zipper,(YAYYYY) and a soft handle for comfortable carrying. 100% free of BPA, phthalate and lead. Available at selected Coles supermarkets whilst stocks last RRP $12.50

You can find so many more Smash products at selected Coles stores whilst stocks last.

Check out the catalogue

Smash products can be purchased in these stores.

*Not all products are available at every store, so please check beforehand 

*Smash products sell out very quickly therefore some may not be available

*Not all Smash products are dishwasher recommended


 

We only review products that we love, we think are genuinely good quality and that we are comfortable recommending to our readers. All words are our own.

We hope you will love these products as much as us. 

#lunchbox #backtoschool #kids #parenting #expatmum #nudefood #reduce #reuse #smashenterprises #spillproof #school

Melbourne Zoo – Speaking for the ones without a voice!

By 9am, the car was loaded up with the kids and a picnic, and Monty had already informed us that he was most looking forward to the Lions eating his big sister. He has a talent for kickstarting a good day! We were heading to the zoo..

IMG_3399

Melbourne Zoo opened in 1862, is the oldest zoo in Australia and the world’s first carbon neutral zoo! I know.. Amazing right!!  It has been on our list of places to visit for a while, and last weekend we finally got there to see it in all its glory! It is a truly magnificent zoo, and the conservation work they’re doing is incredible. It’s a fantastic place for a fun day out, and to learn about a diverse range of animals and their delicate ecosystems.

“Our mission is to be the world’s leading zoo-based conservation organisation” – Melbourne Zoo 

Sometimes when you visit a zoo you get the impression that the animals are bored or unhappy. Not here! The kids agreed that they would quite like to live here as “all the creatures look so happy!!” *their bags are packed…

We had all day to explore so we handed the maps to the small people and let them decide how we were going to get round everything. They love map reading and being in charge so this worked perfectly; one map each and we were off. The zoo is split into different zones, and incredibly easy to navigate. Thank goodness.

We started at the Gorilla Forest which I was pretty pleased about. Seeing the Gorilla sitting there staring back at us, was magical. This huge magnificent creature who was almost as fascinated with us as we were with him.

Next we saw the Seal keeper presentation. Monty was so fascinated by the Wild Sea exhibition and the enormous glass tanks, he did a runner to explore some more. The rest of us had a hairy 10 minutes of thinking he’d gone all Free Willy on us and was letting the penguins out!! Thankfully Mr W had located him by the time the seal was teaching us all about the dangers of balloons for our marine friends.

The day rolled on, more wonderful enclosures, stunning animals, and the weather was beautiful as we zig zagged our way around the zoo.  Our route made it pretty obvious the kids were in charge!

Before lunch we caught the Giraffe Keeper presentation which was fab. Giraffes are so graceful, and at Melbourne Zoo they seem so close. It was wonderful to see these majestic creatures. You can book a Giraffe Close Up when you visit and have a go at feeding them yourself!! I know my two would love this!

We spent about 5 hours winding our way through the animals. We saw every creature there was to see, we climbed the best climbing tree, we played on the grass, we picnicked, and the sun shone for our whole visit. It really was a perfect day out!

Highlights

The Butterfly House – the children were just bowled over that they could hold out their arms the butterflies would land on them. It was so lovely to see their little faces when their arms were full of butterflies!

The Palm Oil Supermarket- After visiting the beautiful Orang-utans we headed into the ‘supermarket,’ to learn about Palm Oil, and the devastating effect it is having on their habitat! We scanned every day items to see if they contained palm oil! This hands on, interactive display taught us so much, and it’s been talked about lots this week!

The Platypus-  This graceful, but cheeky looking creature, swimming around, really entertained us. How awesome are the Platypus?!

The Koalas – Hey, Koalas are always a bonus for us expats! They are so iconic, peacefully snoozing away in the trees. You have to look hard to find them!

The Elephants – We loved the way it felt as if we were in the jungle in Thailand when we visited the Elephants! Amazing animals! Poppy was confused as to why one of them had two trunks! She was mortified when I explained what the trunk at the back really was!

This is not a zoo created for us to stand and stare aimlessly at caged up miserable wildlife. This is a haven for saving species and teaching us all how we can make a difference, so that our children and our children’s children will know the true wonder of wildlife.

 

If we save our wild places, we will ultimately save ourselves – Steve Irwin


Don’t forget about Melbourne Zoo for the school holidays!!!

The What’s On page on the Melbourne Zoo website is full of fantastic activities coming up! *All Trolls fans need to check it out!!


FIGHTING EXTINCTION

Melbourne Zoo are a not-for-profit conservation organisation dedicated to fighting wildlife extinction. They do this through breeding and recovery programs for threatened species and by working with visitors and supporters to reduce threats facing endangered wildlife. You can get involved here!!

Opening Hours – 9am – 5pm every day of the year (Animal areas close from 4:30)

Location – Elliot Ave, Parkville, VIC 3052 Tel1300 966 784

Book Tickets Here!

 

Expat parenting when anxiety joins the party!

So the big questions on this expat mum’s mind today are: Do our children suffer from being moved around? Can mental health issues become exaggerated with life abroad? How do we, as expats deal with our emotions when we’re far from home?

Initially I thought we were giving the children a great opportunity to be immersed in a different culture; a different way of life, to experience another country; however, it is slowly becoming clear to me the longer we are away, we may have done the wrong thing. Not just because of the upheaval, or because of the country we’re in, but because parenting in difficult, emotional situations when you are far from help and home, is almost too much to bear! (Yes, it’s been a big week in the Wilson household). Sometimes you just need the familiarity of home to help you in times of need.

Frustration

You all know we love Australia, we are head over heels in love with Melbourne and we have beautiful friends here. No matter what though, expat life is not easy, and adding an anxious child into the mix means I worry that we’ve made a mistake taking her away from a stable, familiar life.

I love the Aussie competitive nature, the ballsy personalities, the ‘no holds barred’ attitude, the “if you don’t like it…TOUGH” way of dealing with things, but not when it comes to people’s emotions and especially those of my children. I can’t help but think that those personality traits that I love, become ones that I find loathsome when dealing with children struggling with anxiety.

Would I have moved abroad knowing that my child would be made to feel like a baby for being nervous or anxious?  Would I have left home only to feel alone and overly sensitive when dealing with such a fragile child? The answer is, I’m not sure I would have taken the risk.

Before we moved I hadn’t given our emotional well being much thought. I had assumed (naively) that the way emotions were treated would be fairly similar everywhere. I assumed that whatever happened we could deal with it together as a family. I guess I hadn’t recognised just how much my family and friends did for us; emotionally…

What I really have trouble with is the lack of compassion in everyday life. Is compassion disappearing across the world? Will our children slowly lose the ability to be compassionate if they are not receiving compassion at the time when they most need it.

My main bugbear with the lack of compassion today, is how anxiety is dealt with, and how as an expat family we are struggling to deal with it; mostly alone. Anxiety is very, very real. A lot of people assume the kid hiding in the back of the classroom is just being a baby, not pulling their weight and should be trying harder. They’re making the mornings awkward by crying at the door; not getting involved in classroom discussions because they’re lazy; they’re being difficult by not grasping what they’re being taught straight away. I’m not sure that the severity of how anxiety affects a child’s whole being, and how it can damage their health as well as their education is fully understood. It seems impossible for some to comprehend that the confident, popular child in the playground finds the thought of separating from their mother, so distressing it makes them physically sick! Like I say, it’s very, very real.

I vividly remember the headmaster at Poppy’s first primary school, coming out of the door as soon as he saw her in the morning, grabbing her tightly by the hand, a kind, warm smile on his face, leading her in to school. The tears and upset leaving me, turned into happy waves as Mr Miller took her straight to her friends. He took a small step to take a huge weight off her shoulders and eased her happily into her day, which from then on started with a smile. A small gesture with a huge impact.

All it takes is a pat on the back to say “I understand and I’m here”, a smile, a wink, or a little note in their book asking if they need more help with something, rather than a scribbled message saying they’re just not good enough. Small changes, gentle persuasion and a warm hand would make the most incredible difference to an anxious child, far from home, and it’s so easy to do.

No matter the age of an anxious person, they should never be told they are “too old” to be behaving the way they are, or to “get on with it” like everyone else. The daily struggle, battling with their demons and their insecurities would be enough to stop a grown man go to work let alone a small child face school. The fact that some children even get to school is a huge achievement. If only we could create more compassion and a deeper understanding of what so many children and adults are going through, we could go a long way to helping sufferers of anxiety realise their potential, and believe in what they can achieve.

So for us, as an expat family, maybe the experience of mixing raised emotions with expatriate life will turn out to be a great big learning curve for us all, but one thing is for sure, we will be approaching every day with compassion, together, one step at a time, wherever we are in the world.

“Living with anxiety is like being followed by a voice. It knows all your insecurities and uses them against you. It gets to the point where it’s the loudest voice in the room. The only one you can hear”- Unknown

Anxiety


 

The truth about anxiety (taken from Kids Helpline)

High levels of chronic anxiety can reduce your child’s capacity to respond appropriately or effectively to stressful situations, or even normal routine activities. A highly anxious person for example may experience constant physical feelings of panic and may seek to avoid anything that might trigger their anxiety such as:

  • being alone
  • going to school
  • talking in front of a group

Anxiety symptoms may be overlooked especially if a child is quiet and compliant. As a result, they may not receive the help and support they need, which may lead to problems with anxiety in adolescence and adulthood. Anxiety commonly co-occurs with other disorders such as depression, eating disorders, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).


The Statistics (Taken from Youth Beyond Blue)

  • Around one in 35 young Australians aged 4-17 experience a depressive disorder.
    Breakdown: 2.8% of Australians aged 4-17 have experienced an affective disorder.  This is equivalent to 112,000 young people.
  • One in 20 (5%) of young people aged 12-17 years had experienced a major depressive disorder between 2013-14.  
  • One in fourteen young Australians (6.9%) aged 4-17 experienced an anxiety disorder in 2015. This is equivalent to approximately 278,000 young people.
    Breakdown: 6.9% of Australians aged 4-17 experienced an anxiety disorder in 2015. This is equivalent to 278,000 young people.
  • One in four young Australians currently has a mental health condition.
    Breakdown: 26.4% of Australians aged 16 to 24 currently have experienced a mental health disorder in the last 12 months.5This figure includes young people with a substance use disorder. This is equivalent to 750,000 young people today.
  • Suicide is the biggest killer of young Australians and accounts for the deaths of more young people than car accidents.
    Breakdown: 324 Australians (10.5 per 100,000) aged 15-24 dying by suicide in 2012. This compares to 198 (6.4 per 100,000) who died in car accidents (the second highest killer).
  • Evidence suggests three in four adult mental health conditions emerge by age 24 and half by age 14
    Breakdown: Half of all lifetime cases of mental health disorders start by age 14 years and three fourths by age 24 years.

Where to go for help 

**Your GP should always be your first point of call…

UK

No Panic: 0844 9674848 Youth Helpline 0330 606 1174 (for 13 to 20 year olds open Mon to Thurs 4pm-6pm)
Helpline for anxiety disorders, panic attacks etc. Provides advice, counselling, listening, befriending and can make referrals. Local self help groups and produces leaflets, audio and video cassettes.

OCD Action: 0845 390 6232.  Information and support for Obsessive Compulsive Disorders (OCDs) and related disorders including Body Dismorphic Disorder (BDD), Skin Picking (CSP), Trichotillomania (TTM) – compulsive hair pulling.

TOP UK (Triumph Over Phobia)The OCD and Phobia Charity: 01225 571740
UK registered charity which aims to help sufferers of phobias, obsessive compulsive disorder and other related anxiety to overcome their fears and become ex sufferers, run a network of self help therapy groups.

Australia

Headspace : 1800 650 890

Free online and telephone service that supports young people aged between 12 and 25 and their families going through a tough time.

Kids Helpline :1800 55 1800

A free, private and confidential, telephone and online counselling service specifically for young people aged between 5 and 25.

Useful Websites

  • www.calmclinic.com – information relating to anxiety, panic disorder, stress and depression
  • www.dailystrength.org – Online community support for anxiety, mental health, and health related conditions.
  • www.haveigotaproblem.com – free resource for mental health and addiction issues created and run by the Tasha Foundation.
  • www.healthyplace.com – Information and support for those suffering from anxiety (American site).
  • www.menheal.org.uk
    A website for all men who suffer from depression or anxiety from all round the world.
  • www.nomorepanic.co.uk – Information for sufferers of panic, anxiety, phobias and ocds. Includes chat room and message boards. Also information relating to insomnia.
  • www.patient.info – Self help guides under Mental Health leaflets on panic attacks, phobias,anxiety,stress, obsessional compulsive disorders, relaxation exercises.
  • www.stressbubbles.com – struggling with depression, anxiety, mental health, some great healing tips from someone who has suffered with these issues herself.