Sunday, June 24, 2012

School holiday hijinks

It's school holidays in Queensland, and for my kids that means one thing: Fun.

Warm, winter sleep-ins. A trip to Sea World or Wet and Wild (because winter in Queensland is perfect for that type of thing). Doona day, wrapped up warmly, watching DVDs, and eating popcorn.

Target got the holidays off to a good start, by inviting us to experience their annual toy sale at a VIP event.

To be honest, there wasn't much that was VIP about it, at least at our local store, and the kids and I were almost run over in the stampede for bargain-priced toys.

I'm not quite sure why people were so impatient and rude, because there were plenty of toys and the sale runs for quite a while, items get restocked, and competitors price match anyway.

But I am grateful to Target, because they they sent the kids a $20 gift card each, so they could go mad at the sale. (They also sent me a $75 card which I was too stressed to spend on the night. To be honest, I was too busy keeping an eye on the kids, and avoiding being run over by eager toy buyers to look for anything for myself, but I'm hoping I can spend it later!).

The kids added their own pocket money to this - about $10 each - and had a ball adding up how much they could afford, and comparing value for money and that kind of thing. See? It was educational as well.

(I'm sure people waiting behind us didn't enjoy the sight of my children counting out their coins at the cash register, nor the time it took to count out how much they owed. But we didn't enjoy having trolleys pushed up our arses, so I figured we were probably about even.)

So thanks to Target, I have a $50 gift voucher for a lucky follower to spend during the school holidays.

Thanks to the lovely peeps at Sony Australia, I have two prizes of a double pass each to see Men In Black 3. We saw the movie a few weeks ago, and apart from instantly regretting taking the kids in about the first few minutes (you'll see why), it was a typical MIB experience and pretty much fun for all. Mr 11 rated it: 'The best movie ever. Or pretty much the best movie ever." And Miss 9 said it was: 'Awesome, with a happy ending.". For me, it was escapist nonsense which we could all enjoy. Perfect really.

The kind people at Lenard's have given me a $20 voucher, for one of you to spend at any of their stores.
I got to taste loads of their yummy food at the recent Blogger's Breakfast in Melbourne, and I wish I had one of their friendly chefs at home to cook for us all the time!

And finally, the lovely ladies at Nad's have given me a facial wand/eyebrow shaper and wipes - so you can get beauty salon looks at home. Having had my brows waxed publicly at the breakfast, I can vouch for how quick, easy, and painless, they are to use ... although I've not been game to wield the wand myself just yet. Especially after my Nad's DIY Brazillian Wax almost ended in disaster.

But let's not go there's school holidays after all!

To enter, please like my Facebook page, and then leave a comment below on what you'd most like to win.

How easy is that?

And now a few photos from our winter in Queensland so far ...

Some warming winter soup at our favourite local Asian restaurant Yum Yum Peking Duck, at Darra.

Missy Moo pours the tea ....

That's my girl ... Harmonie gets one of the ice dudes at Brisbane's Winter Festival to adjust her skates

My sk8ter kids

Show me the toys!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Winter moments

Sometimes my kids amaze me. In a good way.

Like, right now.

Miss 9 is lying on the couch, sucking on a revitalising lemonade and watching one of her favourite shows, Adventure Time with Fyn and Jake. (Don't judge us.)

Mr 11, is sitting on the floor beside her, chatting quietly, and carefully wrapping some of our precious collectables. They are a combination of things I collected long before children and marriage(s), and things we've collected together on our journey as a single parent family.

Chase offered to help me pack in preparation for our upcoming move (yes another one!) because neither he nor his sister wanted to give up Mummy Time to be babysat, (not that they are babies anymore).

Miss 9 isn't up to helping, having been the victim of one of our infamous family adventures going awry earlier in the day.

You see, the rugrats have been begging me to take them to the Brisbane Winter Festival ever since they had heard there would be an outdoor ice rink and actual snow for the occasion.

And when the weekend dawned, bright and sunny, even a Mumma On A Mission agreed it seemed unfair to spend the entire time toiling indoors, so we agreed a morning out would be Quality Family Time.

And so it was.

The festival, held at King George Square until July 1, features Australia's largest outdoor skating rink, and a small collection of food and drink huts. There's supposedly an Alpine Ski Hut as well, but it's really just a temporary bar/cafe set up beside the rink. Though apparently there are log fires when it's actually cold enough for them!

My favourite spot was the Lipton tea tent, where you could grab a seat, some shade (I'd forgotten how hot Brisbane can be during the day, even in winter!), and enjoy a free chai latte. All the while enjoying the ringside action, and photographing/videoing your loved ones on the ice.

Confession: I would have gone ice-skating too, but it was so darn expensive. $23 each for one 1-hour session for the kids, and the woman tried to charge me for an extra child. To be fair, it is cheaper 'off peak', which is not during child-friendly hours, or if you pre-purchase on the internet. But I'd had no internet the previous week, thanks to a dodgy deal which I will be changing once I move, so had been unable to pre-book. And the discount is not - to me - widely publicised..

But I digress.

The kids were having a great time whizzing around the ice, which was rapidly resembling a lake under the relentless Brisbane sun.

They've been ice-skating a few times, having started in New Zealand, and it's only cost in Australia that prevents them doing it regularly, as they did there.

So there they were, showing off their moves, when next minute ... clunk! Harmonie went down backwards. Her big brother was quickly on the scene, helping the tearful little girl up, and assisting the rink guys to get her      into the first aid tent, which is where I headed to.

Luckily, she WAS okay, but we needed her to be checked out at first.

The nurse was great, but do you know how many people opened the tent flaps and stuck their heads in, even though there was a sign up saying a treatment was in progress and not to enter unless you were in need of first aid? Sheesh!

Harms was given ice from the rink for her head, a thorough examination, TLC, and diagnosed with a sore head and a bruised ego. No painkiller though. She was most upset that her skating session had been cut short - by the time we got out of there the session was over. There was no refund, but the nurse offered to take her skates back for us, which was nice.

Afterwards, Chase and Harmonie decided they were both in need of some comfort food before going home. And they found it in spades.

They enjoyed it in the Lipton tent, while I had another Chai Latte, and we oohed and aahed at the figure skaters.

Tummies full, we headed home, where Missy relaxed on the couch.

Here, her usually tormenting big brother waited on her every need, and helped pack while I worked. "It's just that I know what it's like to hurt yourself," he said, when I praised him in surprise. "And I promised I'd help you if you let me stay home."

And they didn't fight. Not once.

Overall, the kids loved the festival, although I was disappointed. There wasn't much to do apart from the ice-skating, and although admission was free, it was quite expensive, particularly factoring in food, drink and parking.

The promise of gourmet food and drink was all very well, but there wasn't much of that either. Nova 96.9 weren't there - apparently they are only there on special days - and the water on the ice was pretty much responsible for my daughter's fall. Even the nurse admitted it was dangerous but did not write it down as a cause of the fall, although he admitted the weather had made it hard for the ice to freeze.

There were few places to observe the skaters in comfort - particularly for the disabled. And the much-advertised snow only made short-lived, limited appearances, so that skaters lined up to experience it.

"It tasted like soap," complained Mr 11.

"I hardly got any," whined Miss 9.

It went off once during the session my kids were on the rink, which was confirmed by my son, who continued skating whilst checking in on us every few minutes.

I think the festival promises a lot, but delivers less. Anyone used to real snow and ice, would be bitterly disappointed. But for my kids like mine, it was a treat.

I just think that there should be more activities, more snow and ice, and more winter fun.

And less water, particularly on the ice!

(I will add photos when I have actual internet again ... sigh!)

Friday, June 1, 2012

Happily ever after?

Am I?

Happy I mean?

After all, that's the sub-title to my blog, and every now and then, I take a moment to take stock.

Heaven knows, there haven't been too many moments to just stop these past few months.

Life is always busy, but lately it's been crazily so. Some of it has been in a crazy-good way. Kind of fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants gear, but good all the same. And some of it has been bone-achingly awful.

But that's life, isn't it? And navigating our way through the crappy periods - and as I'm learning, helping our children to do the same - makes experiencing the sheer joy of the ecstasy life can bring, so much sweeter.

So yes. There have been moments of happiness. Of bliss. Of laughter. Lightness. Fun.

Back when I started writing this blog, I doubted I would ever really experience that again. Well outside of my life with my children.

And then my world of happy expanded. And the periods of happiness became longer and more frequent. More familiar. A part of my life. Surprise!

I don't know if I'll ever be happy all of the time.

Is anyone ever?

I think movies, books, the media, and perhaps the own fairytales in our minds have a lot to be responsible for when it comes to expectations. We expect the fairytale ending. We expect life to be perfect. But life has ways of throwing curveballs when we least expect it. Illness, injury, death, challenges, sadness, break-ups, stress, money problems, relationship hassles, all kinds of battles. Luckily there are good changes too. Love, cuddles, achievements, sex, strength, friendship, recovery and more.

So, for me, it's okay not to live happily ever after. At least not all of the time.

But if you can go after as much happiness as you can experience - and enjoy every moment of it when it's yours - now that's a realistic dream to follow.

Am I wrong? Am I cynical? More importantly, am I missing out?

Here are a few things that have made me happy recently ...

Cousins, kayaking

And leaping into life!

Fish and chips on the beach at Redcliffe, Qld

A pair of nice melons. (Taken at the recent Kingaroy Show, Qld).

A giant willy. (Also at the Kingaroy Show).

Sunset at my sister and brother-in-law's farm. 

And taking the time to savour it.


This post is part of Picklebums' Real Life Wednesday series. Pop over to visit her here.