DIY | Desktop Instagram Infinity Calendar + Giveaway!

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Instagram DIY CalendarNew Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Instagram DIY CalendarAhhhh yes.  I love photos. Photos, photos photos, all day long.

Every day. Photos.

Photos on my hard-drive, photos on my Instagram, Snapchat, FB……. wherever I can whack up some digital snaps I do.  We used to be ridiculously diligent about getting our precious snaps printed out but yeah, life.

So, to make it up to my Mum and our assorted Nana’s that love a hard copy picture, I’ve created a super-cute, super-easy project you can knock out in no time and wow your Mum with on Mother’s Day.

You’re welcome!

 

How to: Desktop Instagram Infinity Calendar

Step 1: Download and install both Printicular from Warehouse Stationery and Phonto (a text-on-photo app)

Step 2:  You will need 31 square photos, so resize your images using your native Apple or Android editing features first.  If you have ‘Save original photos’ selected in your Instagram app, you probably have all the images you need to get started!

Step 3:   

  • Open a photo in Phonto
  • Click the pencil icon to edit
  • Type the calendar number you’re working on and pick the font (I used Anton), select the size (I used 300)
  • Move the number around to the perfect spot and save the new image
  • Repeat 31 times!  Yay!

Step 4: Once you are ready to order;

  • Open Printicular
  • Select pick-up as you will need to head in-store to Warehouse Stationery to get the calendar bound
  • Select ‘local photos’ and upload your 31 images
  • Choose whatever size you want, I figured 5×5 was perfect for a desktop calenda
  • Select quantity and complete your order!

Step 5: Head into Warehouse Stationery to pick up your images and get your calendar wirebound

  • Wire-binding is quick, cheap ($4.49 per 31 page calendar) and looks great!
  • Specify you want your project bound along the top edge

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Instagram DIY Calendar

  • You will need to have 2 stiff cardboard covers added before binding to create the stand
  • Get the staff member to trim these down the sides with their whizzy guillotine but leave the bottom edge long

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Instagram DIY Calendar

Step 6: Create the stand by folding the 2 covers along the bottom edge of the photos and glueing together to make a flat edge

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Instagram DIY Calendar

Voila!  Infinity calendar ready to gift!

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Instagram DIY Calendar

If you’re not feeling the urge to make something yourself, check out my 3 favourite gift ideas available to order online and ready to personalize;

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Instagram DIY Calendar1.  Photo Blocks 2.  Photo Books 3.  Hard Phone Case $29.95

I’d love you guys to get creative and put all of those beautiful images stuck in your phones to use, so, we have a $100 Gift Card from Warehouse Stationery to give away!  Comment below with your pick of Gift Ideas 1, 2 or 3 (above).  

Competition closes 15th May 10pm.  NZ residents only.

This post was made possible thanks to Warehouse Stationery.

Recipe | Tuna & Chilli Mayo Stuffed Mushrooms + win $100 Briscoes Voucher

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Food Stuffed Mushrooms Recipe

Stuffed mushrooms make a super-easy, quick dinner that is one of our favourites.  It’s perfect for those nights when you don’t feel like cooking a ‘meaty’ meal with multiple sides and multiple pots and pans to wash – plus, it’s kind-of a little bit fancy. You could definitely use smaller, button mushrooms and recreate the dish as an appetizer or hors d’oeuvres for a party.

There are two staple food items in our house that are non-negotiable; one is Best Foods Mayonnaise.  There is no other brand that compares – Best Foods fans know what I mean lol.  After living in the States for years I was unable to ever convert back to ‘New Zealand’ style mayo and actually enjoy it.  It’s just not the same!

The other compulsory pantry staple we use at every meal (breakfast included!) is hot sauce.  Tuna, mayo and hot sauce go together like bacon and eggs, so it was a no-brainer to switch out my traditional Mayo in this recipe for Best Food’s new Spark of Chilli flavoured Mayonnaise.  The substitution worked perfectly and helped add a little more wow to this delicious recipe that just might find it’s way into your regular dinner rotation!  There are 4 new flavours in the Best Foods range; a spark of Chilli (which we’re using in this recipe), a touch of Garlic, a pinch of Mustard and a zing of Lemon – all bases covered if  you’re looking to amp up dinner time flavours.  Find them in all good supermarkets, RRP $5.49.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Food Stuffed Mushrooms Recipe

Recipe | Tuna & Chilli Mayo Stuffed Mushrooms

Ingredients:
  • 10 x medium flat mushrooms
  • 180-200gm canned tuna in springwater (smoked chicken or salmon would work beautifully too!)
  • 100 gm chopped roasted red pepper
  • Chopped red onion to taste
  • 1/2 cup sweet corn kernels
  • 1/2 cup Best Foods Spark of Chilli flavoured Mayonnaise
  • Turci cold pressed garlic spray
  • Grated mozzarella
  • Salt and pepper
  • Sliced avocado
Method:
  • Drain tuna and add to mixing bowl with red pepper, red onion, sweetcorn and Spark of Chilli flavoured Mayonnaise.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Food Stuffed Mushrooms Recipe

  • Stir to combine
  • Snap stalks off mushrooms and arrange mushrooms on a baking tray.
  • Spray with Turci garlic spray for extra flavour and to prevent mushrooms from drying out
  • Spoon tuna and mayo mixture onto mushrooms
  • Top with grated cheese – Mozzarella works perfectly due to its mild flavour and gooey texture – YUM!

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Food Stuffed Mushrooms Recipe

  • Pop in oven for 15-20min at 180º until cheese is melted and golden

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Food Stuffed Mushrooms Recipe

  • Garnish with sliced avocado and salt and pepper
  • Serve with a chopped salad and extra Spark of Chilli flavoured Mayonnaise and Sriracha hot sauce for dipping

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Food Stuffed Mushrooms Recipe

For more meal inspo, check out the delicious recipes online now at www.bestfoods.co.nz.  

Term 2 > Keeping the School Inspo Rolling + win $100 Gift Card!

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Kids Stationery

The latest range of on-trend kids ‘Fashionery’ is in store now,  just in time to kick off Term 2!  Make sure to read to the end for your chance to win $100 to spend at Warehouse Stationery.

The end of the first school term leaves many little scholars a little worse for wear – I know my two boys are tired, they’re fighting off the first winter ills and for Ethan, the excitement of his new school has begun to fade……..the homework wars have begun after all!

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Kids StationeryIt’s not a rule-of-thumb in our house, but I generally treat the kids to a couple of small purchases over the holidays; little items that are fun, cute and inexpensive, that they will either use for art and craft or to play with.  I feel like I’m pulling the wool over Ethan’s eyes these holidays by killing two birds with one stone; a holiday treat combined with a little ‘motivation’ (in the form of super cool stationery) to get back to work in Term 2 lol.

The ‘Science Project’ is looming ::::::::sigh::::::::

Kids stationery is quite the crucial element in creating the ‘perfect’ (read: no excuses) environment within which to coax your children towards their homework, a battle I now dread every, single school day.  Like fashion, there are seasonal new releases within stationery – or ‘fashionery’ – ranges and Kookie have just launched their Geosaur range which is sure to capture the imagination of kids heading back to school over the next couple of weeks.

I’ve picked up some bits and pieces from the range that I’ll surprise E with before he heads back to school.  We’ve got some tentative routines around homework in place that I want to work on cementing in Term 2, so dedicating a certain notebook (I’ve picked the Kookie Geosaur Notebook) to brainstorming, as well as having his home stationery organised using the Square Stack box set should help.  Ethan’s class is given a theme for their fortnightly homework assignments.  I’m going to be keeping this front-and-centre in Term 2 using the rad Geosaur mini whiteboard to display the topic, a visual reminder to do his homework rather than the usual nagging/pleading one from me lol.New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Kids Stationery

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Kids StationeryMy favourite item from the range?

A freaking SPY pen!!!!  Dreams do come true!  It writes in invisible ink which can only be viewed via the UV light in the cap!  Genius!  Ethan loves this little gadget, guaranteed Top Secret fun.

Shop the Geosaur Range online now (the prices are amazing!) and comment below with your favourite item to be in to win  a $100 Gift Card from Warehouse Stationery!  Competition closes 22/5/16 10pm.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Kids Stationery

Kookie Geosaur Colour Pencils 24 Pack Blue $6.99Kookie Geosaur Stationery Set 7 pieces $7.99Kookie Geosaur Pencil Case/Pen Cup Green $6.99Kookie Geosaur Lunch Box Square Stack of 4 $12.99Kookie Geosaur Lockable Notebook Green $4.99Kookie Geosaur Spy Pen Purple $4.99Kookie Geosaur Bag Tag Green $3.99Kookie Geosaur Whiteboard Green $7.99Kookie World Globe Blue $19.99

This post was made possible thanks to Warehouse Stationery.

DIY – A Winter Playroom without the Reno Budget

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger DIY Playroom

Our back door opens to a flat concrete patio complete with roof, the perfect spot to enclose for winter play with the addition of two sides of roll-up PVC blinds.  I can see it now……

That’s on the wish list.

A very rainy first weekend of the school holidays was a sign – it was time for action.

With no funds for an extension, a reno or just those roller blinds ( Lotto wth?), I figured I had to get creative with what we have.  Move over mower, it’s garage time.

We don’t actually use our garage for its intended purpose, that is, no car has ever been parked in there.  That would be weird right???  

Pro tip > If you’re thinking about checking the suitability of your own little concrete den for a playroom transformation, I’d totally recommend actually scoping out the space before hand.  

Not me.  I just dived right in and went shopping.

With Nixon.

In the pouring rain.

Once environmental factors had been taken under consideration (torrential rain!) it was obvious that this was going to be a one-stop-shop affair, so Nix and I headed to The Warehouse where I was pretty sure I could find most things on the Pinterest board that existed only in my head.

I was right thank goodness, we found everything we needed at #thewarehousenz…….and maybe some things we just ‘wanted’ oops!

Pro tip > It actually might help to curate a Playroom Pinterest board! I’ve made one for you to give you some inspo, check it out here!

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger DIY PlayroomStart from the ground up

You can’t hang out in your garage during winter on a concrete floor.  I wanted something thick, hardwearing and that didn’t look too out of place in a garage.  Jute is perfect for the job, helping to blur the lines between trying to put an indoor space in an external garage lol.  There were probably 5 rugs I was agonising over but I was so pumped at finding the large Jute rug one first, so I took it as a sign!

Furniture

I wanted two seating options, one for Nix and one for Big People.  I wasn’t planning on a Paw Patrol Moon Chair tbh, but if you saw his little face when he spotted it……..anyway, it’s in the garage, he loves it and I LOVE my styley, geometric beanbag.  Our wifi reaches to the garage so Dave and I have a comfy spot to sit and work while Nix paints and plays.

An easel has been on Nix’s wishlist for a while so I really couldn’t deny his artistic expression any longer (considering I was putting together a messy play area!).  It was another ‘AHA’ moment when I found the Kids Caboodle Whiteboard/Easel combo in the furniture department.  Many I’ve looked at are very lightweight and flimsy – Nix would knock these over in a flash, cue the end of painting!  There was also a matching shelving unit with lots of little coloured boxes for DVD and book storage which has been fully utilised already!

Add in a plastic kids table for arts and crafts and a heavy duty storage rack for ALL the toys I’m going to be moving out of the house and I was finished in the furniture department.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger DIY Playroom

Time to Decorate!New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger DIY Playroom

Let’s face it, it’s a garage, there’s only so much you can do!

I used a vintage sheet to cover up some ‘garage-y stuff’, hung some cahh-yoot Frozen bunting and whacked some nails in the beams to hang some banners I spotted in the Homewares department.  On trend and at the right price, these are perfect for any kids space.  Don’t forget a snuggly throw for watching movies or reading on the bean bag!

Add the Fun

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger DIY PlayroomNo messy playroom would be complete without Kinetic Sand, Paints, Markers and a BIG cardboard play shop that you can DRAW ON!!! Found on clearance for $10.48!!!!  How could you not??  Nix was freaking out when I assembled it, it’s definitely his favourite part of the whole playroom.

We were storing an entertainment unit and a little TV in the garage so I picked up a baby DVD player for $39 WHAAATT?!?  Couldn’t believe that one, cue #bargainfeeling!  So now on yucky days, one or both of the boys can head out to the garage and chill out with Doc McStuffins or Star Wars.

End result?  We freaking LOVE this little corner of the garage!  It’s so nice to have created a usable space without taking out another mortgage.  We’ve combined unused items we already owned with some key new pieces and a little re-organization and voila!  At least one corner of our garage is totally awesome and ready for school holiday fun.

If you’re looking to grab any of these playroom essentials, I shopped three main categories at The Warehouse for this little project;

Or, check out my Pinterest Board for all shopping details and please share if you decide to tackle a Bargain Playroom at your house!

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger DIY Playroom

This post was made possible by our friends at The Warehouse.

Rugby | Dear Rochelle and Eljae

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Rugby WeightFor 6 years now Ethan has played rugby for our local club.  We have lived, breathed and loved rugby each winter for each of those years and look forward to doing it all over again with Nixon – god help us!

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Rugby WeightE missed his first game ever as we prepared for my Dad’s funeral the next day.  Every freezing, wet Saturday since, I have sadly remembered that Dad never got to see how wonderfully perfect Ethan is for the game, or just how perfect the game is for him. 

The road to J1 has not been all tackles and tries however.  You’re probably aware by now that Dave and I knock out some spectacularly sized kids.  Epic, bouncing boys full of vim and vigour, boys literally BORN to get in the scrum and celebrate their imminent cauliflower ears with all the forwards that have gone before them.

Ethan is now the youngest member of his J1 team.  For those uninitiated in the terminology of Junior Club rugger, J1 is the last grade kids play in before they head off to play rugby at high school.  J1 is the catch-all, business end of one’s Junior Rugby Career.  Some kids will never play J1, it’s a tough grade full of big boys that know what they’re doing and want to put their growing testosterone reservoirs to the test each week.

Every season, for 6 years he has been the youngest member of his team.  Every year for 6 years he has had to move up a grade, never to spend more than one season honing his skills before he had to move up to play with the older, potentially bigger boys.

Why?  Ethan IS one of the bigger boys.  Not so much so that you would snigger (unless you’re his age and bad mannered as many of his school peers and team-mates have been or obviously a judgemental parent in Manurewa!), but, heavy enough that the annual pre-season weigh-ins have been fraught with tears and angst, worry and self-doubt and words of self-deprecation that I never imagined I would hear from my brilliant, smart, socially LOVED little boy. Those fucking scales and the heavy burden of conformity they represent are the one dark spot on a sport our family loves so much.

Get off your soapbox for a second, I can see you all getting riled up.  I’m not naive.   There are very reasonable and sensical safety reasons for a grading system in a contact sport to be based upon a combination of weight and age.  That is not what I’m taking issue with……..entirely.  What I am saying, is that every participant of said contact sport (whether as player or sideline expert aka Mum/Dad), should be aware of the social and mental implications of grading CHILDREN based upon their WEIGHT.

Stop for a second and imagine if a predominantly female sport was graded in such a way.  Would society even allow it?

I doubt it.

But my son, from the age of 5, has had to bravely get on a scale twice a season, in front of strangers AND his peers and be judged on his body before he is able to play the sport he loves.  His strong, powerful, absolutely magnificent body that’s also 3 kilos too heavy to be allowed to play rugby for his intermediate school. WTF.

Can you imagine what that feels like?  You are brand new at a school 5 times the size of the rural primary school you attended.  You figure out where and when the rugby weigh-ins are, steel yourself to get there on time (the Year 7 equivalent of navigating across Auckland at rush hour without a map when you’re from Finland), only to get on the scales and be told ‘too heavy’.

End of story.

I’m on the committee at our local rugby club.   During registration, every child must be weighed in.  Earlier this year I cried with a boy of 10 when he was informed that to play in the grade best suited to his age and ability, he would be ‘Red Socks’.  Aside from his size, he had a new identifying factor that would further alienate him from the rest of his insensitive peers – he would be wearing red socks every game to identify that he was an ‘overweight’ player, his official title “Special”.

No shit.  He’d probably known that most of his life.  As a veteran team manager, I’ve been there each season with boys and their families as weigh-in approaches.  Some boys diet (CHILDREN DIETING, think about that  p l e a s e?), some put their heads in the sand and say “well, it is what it is” and they bravely swallow the red socks and get on with it.  But for all it hurts.  I’m fighting tears as I type this because you just can’t imagine what it’s like to see your beloved son get on a scale with fear in his eyes, when he is actually the very best little boy he can be.  When he is just SO right for the position he plays in his team that you, your coach and any damn laymen that knows anything about rugby would agree.

Our national sport, that one that heaps adulation upon the big, the strong, the downright giant elite players, is totally fine with telling an 11 year old that he is 3 kilos to heavy to participate in his chosen sport at school.  What kind of kids do you want in the front row?  If it’s not Ethan and others like him than I think we’ve all been barking up the wrong tree for a while now and should move on to greco-wrestling or something with a little less mud and laundry.

Junior rugby is a sport that, much like education in new Zealand, is skewed to the lowest common denominator – in this instance, it’s weight.  When I woke up this morning to see my Facebook feed awash with the viral post of Rochelle Mara, a mother from Manurewa eloquently sticking it to some asshat parents on the sideline of her son’s rugby game, the pain of every boy who didn’t fit the ‘mould’ in my teams over the past 6 years came rushing back.

Boys that are big, bigger than your son, bigger than your husband even!  These are EXACTLY the boys who should be playing rugby.  These are the boys whom we should be supporting and cheering on, the boys who should feel like they’ve found a home within their club, within their team and on that field.  Rugby should be welcoming these children and saying ‘you have a place here’, you belong and we want you.  Whether you’re 3kg’s too heavy or not.  

The system is what it is, and playing tackle can be dangerous if there is a huge weight disparity. I’m not arguing that point as I don’t have an alternative solution to ensure everyone can enjoy rugby safely, but there is no excuse for being an asshole! Boys bodies’ deserve as much respect as their female peers.

Eljae and Rochelle you two are rockstars, I don’t know what else to say but that I get it.  There are many of us that get it.  You will kick this season’s ass and be playing like a man possessed by the end of the season I’m sure.  And if you don’t?  Then massive ups for having the balls to get on that scale and get on the field.

Have some fucking manners people and remember to be human once in a while mmmmkay?

 

 

 

Personal Tech | The app that changes how you view skin health

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Melanoma AppIf you grew up in New Zealand like me, the Slip Slop Slap message became as much a part of summer as jandals and Coppertone.

So much so that we all pretty much tuned it out.

I was born in the late seventies to hardworking parents who lived for the weekends when we could all head to the beach or out on the boat.  Maximising our hours in the sun was our number one goal.  The only time I remember wearing sunscreen was when fluorescent zinc was in fashion for five minutes in the eighties lol.

I never saw my Dad, a marine engineer, apply sunscreen.

He died of melanoma at age 56.  Five years ago, nine months after diagnosis.

Since then, my job as a mother has a new onus – to protect my boys from ever getting sunburnt.  Ever.

The thing with melanoma is, there are often very visible signs that things are not as they should be.  The difficulty in diagnosis lies in monitoring visible changes in our skin with accurate record keeping and analysis.  This is both costly and very hard to implement.  

Until now.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Melanoma AppThis week I downloaded the SkinVision app.  It’s the first of its kind, a revolutionary tool native to our ever-present smartphones that provides simple to use,  instant melanoma risk assessment of any mole whilst creating an easy to use archive of photos.  I’ve created folders for every member of our family so I can snap suspect moles and archive the images for comparison each month (I’ve also set ongoing calendar reminders to take new images!).  Creating a routine is just as important for melanoma detection and prevention as it is with breast cancer.

To be clear though, SkinVision is not a diagnostic tool, it assesses the risk of skin lesions and provides recommendations based on analysis of the image procured from the app.  With an accuracy rate of roughly 80% for identifying melanoma skin cancer (www.stuff.co.nz, 6.4.16), SkinVision has positioned itself comfortably between the diagnosis rate of GP’s and dermatologists – a rate that sits very well with me.

I’ve had my skin mapped so am familiar with the process and was impressed with how similar the imaging from SkinVision was.  My skin is dodgy as – obviously there is a high chance that there is a genetic risk factor for melanoma in our family.  I’m covered in moles and there are more appearing all the time so having access to risk assessment technology that I trust is invaluable to both myself and our family.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Melanoma App

These are screen-grabs of my SkinVision app.  Unfortunately I have many, many high-risk moles, some of which are very small, so it would be super easy to overlook them.  See that ‘send to doctor’ button?  How cool is that!  No more procrastinating!

What you need to know about SkinVision

  • New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Melanoma AppSkinVision will help you spot a suspicious mole on yourself or on a family member or friend
  • It’s free to download (click here) and includes a 1 month trial period
  • Easy to manage archive of images for ongoing self monitoring
  • UV index included in app + tailored info around your personal risk and skin type
  • It does not diagnose melanoma.  It assesses the risk of each mole developing melanoma and makes recommendations based upon this risk (it has an 80% accuracy rate and has been downloaded over 50k times in New Zealand alone!)

For me the value in this app was only realised after I began to use it.  Discovering medium and high risk moles was the wake-up call that I needed to take ownership of my skin health and my family history with melanoma.

 I urge you to try SkinVision, it costs nothing to download and will change the way you think about the risk we all face against melanoma.

I am SO happy to be able to offer SEVEN of you the chance to win a SkinVision annual plan!  To enter just leave me a comment below.  Competition closes 27.4.16.

Mother’s Day | Win Luxe Skincare from Royal Nectar

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Beauty

I introduced New Zealand made, Royal Nectar skin care in my Cruise Essentials post a couple of weeks ago and I’m still loving it.  The combination of bee venom and Manuka Honey is perfection and these three products deliver amazing results!  

My skin has been particularly oily lately so I’m being quite picky about which post-cleansing products I use each day, the Royal Nectar Moisturising Face Lift keeps making the cut guys!  It provides just the right amount of hydration that’s absorbed super quickly and without leaving any excess ‘slick’ on my skin.  This, paired with my favourite eye product, Bee Venom Eye Cream is getting my skin through a bit of a rough period of sleep deprivation (toddler) and the yearly seasonal transition to winter.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Beauty Cruise EssentialsThe full Royal Nectar range is available for purchase here or the Moisturising Face Lift, Original Face Mask and Bee Venom Eye Cream are included in the Royal Nectar Gift Pack RRP $189

Royal Nectar want to make someone’s Mother’s Day super special this year, so we have one Gift Pack to give away!  Enter via the widget below and cross your fingers, this is such a beautiful prize!

Book Review | Big Book of Love

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Book review

What’s not to love about the Big Book of Love by Catherine & Laurence Anholt?

This is the book every parent would love to write for their little ones.
It’s sweet, absolutely brimming with positivity and gratitude, it’s rhyming rhythm rolls easily off the tongue and the illustrations are perfectly whimsical whilst also chocka full of so much detail it’s easy to get lost discussing the pictures instead of reading!
There’s a cracking twist with a fearsome beast and friends who work together to keep each other safe.
Big Book of Love is actually the BEST bedtime story ever.  It checks all the boxes and Dave and I love reading it just as much as Nix loves to listen to it.
9/10

RRP $19.99 available from Whitcoulls and other book sellers

Parenting Fail: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday…………….Friday

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger
When one day of the week is just soooooo bad it’s best to just pretend it never happened.

Eventually though, enough days will pass and you’ll be able to look back and recall all of the stabby details without wanting to smash a hole in the wall.  Then, friends, it’s time to blog about it.

I should have realised that the gods had it in for me quite early on Thursday morning, but the first ordeal – getting Nixon in the truck for swimming lessons – arrived earlier than expected.  I had no chance to fully activate all of my (limited) faculties before the first tantrum hit.  We eventually gone on the road, 10 minutes late, with Nix still in his pajamas.  Zero fucks given at this point.  Was so close to packing it in and staying home but once we were on the motorway I prematurely gave myself a smug little pat on the back.

This moment of triumph was short-lived when I realised we had arrived at the pool with no towels.

WTF.

Towels borrowed, lesson complete, Nix and I were completing the god-awful changing room shuffle when the baby next to us power-spewed all over the floor.  A milk/chlorine power-spew.  After I acclimated to the smell I realised that no-one in the changing room had offered to help the poor spew-mum, in fact I’ve never seen the Mummy and bub duos vacate the changing rooms so quickly.  Women were literally running to their cars barefoot and braless!  

Nixon was quite entertained marvelling at the spew and narrating (at volume) the post-spew movements of his classmate so I stepped in, offered my assistance and went to get help with the cleanup.

We got back home and everything muddled along quite well until the after school shift began.  E came home in a particularly defiant mood that rapidly escalated into a full blown showdown complete with “I’m never talking to you again”, “You don’t want me to be happy”, “You don’t care about anything I do” and “You just say NO to everything!”.  I gave up and vacated to the yard with Nix where we spent the rest of the daylight hours jumping on the tramp and driving trucks in the dirt.  There’s actually no arguing reasoning with my angry tweenager right now.  He’s so pumped full of testosterone that anything you say in the throes of a discussion just translates to him as ‘I’m going to take away all of your shit and make your life as miserable as I can’.

The only technique I have for dealing with him is to let him cool off, think about what he’s said and occasionally he might apologise.  What’s got him on a knife-edge right now is the xBox game we ‘mutually’ removed from circulation a couple of weeks ago (catch up on that here).

He wants it back.  And quite frankly I’m sick of hearing about it. So, this weekend we re-negotiated the terms of the game’s release and the situation is being ‘monitored’.  

Anyway.  Back to Thursday.  

Scene: Nixon and myself – good times – escaping yelling older son by playing in the garden.

Sun disappears, it gets cold.  It’s time for dinner.  Then it was all on.  Nixon wanted no part of;

  1. Coming inside
  2. Eating dinner
  3. Taking a shower
  4. Going to bed

Cue massive, violent, extremely vocal tantrum.  Outside.  Nixon is huge.  18+ kilograms of thrashing toddler-superhuman that wants nothing more than to exert his will over mine.  The only way I can safely move him in the state he was in without losing massive clumps of hair or an ear, is to hoist him under my arm and carry him face down like a canoe on my hip.  Leave him outside you say?  The volume of our youngest son is equal to his impressive bulk.  Our neighbours can’t (and shouldn’t have to) handle an un-muffled Nixon tanty that had the potential to go on for at least 30 minutes.  

So this went on and on and eventually resulted in a UFC-style knee to my jaw.  At speed.

Much like my exit to our bedroom where I shut the door and cried for an hour.  I had nothing left in the tank.

I can usually handle one of the boys giving me hell, but on that day, back-to-back tantrums at 11/10 on the meltdown scale just ruined me.  Now, as I read back over this post I think “pffttttt, it doesn’t even sound that bad.  You are a LAME mother Melissa”.

It was bad though.  And it placed me firmly at the end of my rope leaving Dave and my Mum to pick up the pieces, feed the boys and get Nixon ready for bed.  Failing to cope with my own kids left me with an all too familiar, despondent feeling that I was unable to shake for a couple of days.  

With some perspective, I’ve thought hard about some different tactics to employ with each of the boys but, they don’t call it The Witching Hour for nothing right?  Every day at 5pm I feel a little nervous…………….

Beauty Edit – New-to-Me Cruise Essentials

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Cruise Essentials

I took a LOT of new products with me to trial on our cruise last month and have been putting them through their paces ever since.  I was looking for time-savers, space-savers, multi-taskers or just downright awesomeness and I’ve whittled my holiday grab bag down to these faves.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Beauty Cruise EssentialsInstax Mini 8 RRP $129.99

Once I got the hang of how to use this wee camera (I didn’t read the instructions and didn’t take them with me lol) I was so stoked to have it on the cruise.  The exposure adjustment is absolutely necessary, but once you turn that dial it’s fairly hard to take a bad shot.  As it tends to over-expose I would pop my thumb over the flash if I wanted a touch more contrast.  Super fun, cute camera, the novelty factor of having prints to enjoy hasn’t worn off!

Royal Nectar Skincare Gift Pack RRP $189New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Beauty Cruise Essentials

Ok.  Every day.  I now use these New Zealand made skincare products every day!

Beautifully presented in a ready-to-wow gift box, Nelson Honey have created some superb products here.  Containing hero ingredients Manuka Honey and Bee Venom, the three Royal Nectar products I’ve been trialling are now permanent stars in my beauty routine.  I use the Moisturising Face Lift in the morning on cleansed skin and the Eye Cream morning and night.  I think I might be a tad addicted to the slight tingling feeling as the creams go on, but I KNOW I’m a addicted to the tight, firm results I’m seeing in my skin.  The Original Face Mask is quite cool, you can use it as a traditional face mask and wash off after 20 minutes or as a night cream – I alternate night creams between 3 products over the week and love using Royal Nectar in this way.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Beauty Cruise EssentialsSimple Micellar Wipes

I’m a massive fan of micellar water for removing makeup at the end of the day, but the weight and volume of a bottle is just not conducive to travelling.  This was the first time I had ever seen micellar water in wipes form and I’m so stoked about it!  There are some nights when I all but fall in to bed and spending time at the bathroom sink is not going to happen.  These wipes from Simple are now permanent residents in my bedside cabinet and get used more than I’d like to admit lol.

Go Healthy Go Magnesium Sleep RRP $32.90mummy-blog-new-zealand-mummy-blogger-mommy-parenting-beauty-go-healthy-review

I never would have thought to pack magnesium to take on the cruise, but when you’re being rocked to a peaceful sleep (with the fear of being woken by your toddler removed!) why not make sleep even better?  I’m a magnesium convert and take it every night before bed.  This sleep variant includes two types of magnesium to help both get you to sleep and keep  you asleep.  I’m having a terrible time with foot pain from running at the moment and I’m finding this magnesium supplement much better than the lower dose I was taking prior.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Beauty Cruise EssentialsVO5 Give me Texture Tousled Style Spray RRP $7.99

I’ve not quite made peace with my wavy, curly hair but this range of products from VO5 is helping me ………..  somewhat.  Our itinerary on the cruise was so hectic that there simply wasn’t time to blow dry and straighten my hair for the multiple engagements we were due to attend over the four days.  I  gave in to my kinky hair and just scrunched some Tousled Style Spray into my damp hair, twisted it in sections and left it at that!  No frizz and easy styling.

TRESemmé Instant Refresh Dry Shampoo RRP $14.49New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Beauty Cruise Essentials

I only wash my hair every 3 days as styling a big, boofy afro isn’t high on my list of priorities – it should be but it’s not.  Having dry shampoo on hand is essential for getting one-more-wear out of my hair when event schedules do not align with my hair washing routine (FYI, I’m well aware of how ridiculous that sounds but I really, really don’t like washing my hair!).  Instant Refresh does double duty for me as it absorbs oil and provides some oomph – in a good way!  I will never be without this product, my schedule can be so up and down I always need little back-up beauty secrets (that actually work) to help me out in a pinch.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Beauty Cruise EssentialsSimple Skincare Regeneration Age Resisting Day Cream SPF15 50ml RRP $20.49

Not joking here, I was surprised by how good this moisturiser is.  It’s light, non-oily, readily absorbed with all-day hydration and it has a built in sunscreen.  This was the only standard facial moisturiser I took on the cruise and I love it, a supermarket gem!

Smashbox Bronze Lights Bronzer – Deep Matte RRP $58New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Beauty Cruise Essentials

I hadn’t worn bronzer in years before the cruise.  When the Kardashians and all of their associated ‘contouring’ came along I ditched the bronze compact and opted for the easy-to-operate trio of contour, bronzer and highlighter pencils.  How I’ve missed swiping on that instant glow that only comes from a great powder!  And this is a seriously GREAT powder.  Not too fine, it doesn’t over-coat your brush leaving you looking like you’ve been roasting in the sunbed, ew.  This was another Cruise Newbie that has sneaked into my everyday rotation, LOVE.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Beauty Cruise EssentialsNeutrogena Beach Defence SPF 50 RRP $24.99

You’ll notice that there’s two sunscreens in my selection.  I usually use a high end sunscreen on our faces (usually always protected with hats as well) and a more affordable brand on the rest of our bodies where I can reapply with as much vim and vigour as I like without stressing about the price.  The smell of this lotion is a major win, but more than that is it’s amazing absorption rate.  I have never, ever used a sunscreen that literally sinks into your skin within seconds, leaving no greasy residue.  Love it.  No sunburn either, YAY!

Dermalogica Protection 50 Sport Sunscreen RRP $56New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Beauty Cruise Essentials

My FAVE sunscreen!  Dermalogica’s broad spectrum spf 50 offering goes on just like one of their amaze facial moisturisers – light and full of hydrating magic!  If I had to use one sunscreen for the rest of my life it would be this one.  I trust it on my skin and that of my kids.  Water-resistant and it lasts the sweat test too as I wear it while running. 

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Beauty Cruise EssentialsCollection Lasting Perfection Ultimate Wear Concealer RRP $15

Collection is a huge UK brand that launched in NZ a couple of year ago.  This concealer in Warm/Medium is the first product I’ve tried from the range and it’s really, really good!  I use it two ways; the standard way, covering up spots and discolouration – over my BB cream and under my powder, plus, I’ve been mixing it on my hand then blending with a colour corrector and using under my eyes.  Does a great job in both areas and I’ll be continuing to use it everyday.

Berlei Balance Seamfree Crop Top RRP $49.95New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Beauty Cruise Essentials

Don’t be fooled into thinking you may just spend your cruise vacay laying around the pool. I mean, you should def maximise your time in the sun but I’m sure you’ll be easily tempted into a quick workout in the gym or on deck or you may want to make the most of your shore days by exploring on foot.  The latest, strappy crop from Berlei is super soft and pretty, perfectly designed to maximise comfort and keep you active whilst on-board.  With removable inserts and a one-piece knit construction, I love this design.  Not enough support for me to run in, but perfect for ‘active-wear’ activities!