Back to School! How were the holidays……really?

The first Monday back to school after the holidays has come and gone and I’m reflecting a little on what we did, and didn’t do over the past two weeks.

Nix was sick for 10 days prior to the holidays so we were all out of whack after that and to be honest, the constant rain of the first week combined with both boys at home left me feeling less-than optimistic that we could steer the holiday ship in the right direction.

I had surprised myself (and Ethan!) with a teeny bit of forward-planning that saw E enrolled in a 2-day basketball camp each week.  He was stoked.  He was active, playing sport, socialising with other kids out of the house, learning and progressing and not sitting in front of a device, which is every parent’s nightmare right?

Right?

Ethan is a 12.5-year-old, hormone fuelled, sports-mad, go-go-go kid that desperately needed a break these holidays.  2 days each week of organized activity was all he needed as he recovered from another term that involved school days stretching from 7am-4.15, a basketball game, basketball training, two rugby practices and a rugby game each week.  As far as I was concerned, some screen time over the holidays was not going to cause him any irreparable damage.  I may have even encouraged a little bit of couch time if I’m honest.  I needed to give my kid a break and give myself a break from the ‘Mum guilt’ we are supposed to feel if we actively permit our children to relax by using their devices.

I’ve kissed that shit goodbye.

Our two boys are happy, healthy and active members of their respective sports-teams.  Motivation to participate, get moving and get outside is rife in our household – maybe somewhat lacking in my department right now but we’re not talking about ME lol!  As such, removing the negative shade I was throwing at Ethan every time he picked up his phone or iPad did not propel him into a square-eyed bender, all it did was simply improve communication between us and eliminate MUCH frustrated sighing and eye-rolling.

So, I gave my big boy a break.  He played some xBox, watched some Netflix, did whatever it is he does on his phone and when he wasn’t at basketball camp we had a pretty harmonious school holiday.  

Family activities aren’t always easy with an 8.5 year age gap between the boys, an impulsive, almost-made-it-to-the-ticket-counter movie visit didn’t work out as E was desperate to go, yet the thought of sitting in a loud, dark cinema immediately melted Nix into a puddle of tears.  In the middle of the mall.  Cue family breakdown and that terrible situation where you are torn between wanting to make both of your children happy and the inability to do so simultaneously ALL of the time.

The boys needed some time apart so Dave took Ethan and they headed off into the bush for a big walk and Nix and I collected rocks, dirt, leaves and sticks and headed down to the river to throw all the rocks, dirt, leaves and sticks into it.

Later that day the boys got their movie fix, but together-apart.  By that I mean, Nixon watched Charlotte’s Web on the Netflix app on our TV while Ethan snuggled with him on the couch, watching Okja (watch this Netflix Original guys!  It’s freaking amazing, topical and incredibly relevant) on his iPad with headphones.

Peace was restored and with zero guilt factor from me.

How did your school holidays play out guys?  Did you give your kids a break and let them self-regulate their device usage or did you keep them on a schedule?  

And, this question is pretty important, did you give yourself a break over the holidays?  Check out the image below for some innovative ways mums are managing to sneak in some ‘ME Time’ with their faves on Netflix – my new fave is Ozark, I’m calling it right here, this is the new Breaking Bad!

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Kids Device Time Netflix


If you’d like to get Netflix ready before the next school holidays, head over to FB and I’ll gift one of you a 3 month Netflix subscription!  Too easy xx

Competition Terms and Conditions here

Me and #MeTime

After a gorgeous, wonderful, fabulous, first-time-I’ve-ever-had-a-girls-trip, trip to Melbourne, I’ve been thinking a lot about this ‘me time’ business, as after four days without kids in tow, my cup was certainly running over with Me-time.

But what I’ve discovered is that ‘me time’ for one Mum is certainly not a one size fits all experience.  Time out from your daily routine, or simply modifying it in a way that revitalises us is undeniably important but, this can take an infinite number of forms.

For me, I have realised that ‘me time’ is not necessarily spent out of the house.  It’s not at a yoga or pilates class, it’s not getting a facial or massage (although believe me I wouldn’t say no to either lol) and it’s not having coffee or wine with girlfriends.

Though I may work from home, my job, my volunteer work at our rugby club, raising two really active, busy boys, maintaining a marriage and some semblance of order in our home means that I’m in and out, bustling all over Auckland each week.  My four days in Melbourne helped me realise that scheduling Me-time is actually as simple as just giving myself permission to simply be at home.

I’m a real homebody by nature so after six weeks of travelling on and off, all I want to do right now is stay at home and catch up on my laundry, life, housework, (maybe some actual paid work lol), some Netflix and get back into some kind of ‘predictable’ routine.  Being at home with my people makes me happy, but also being home without my people is nice, ie “Dave get the kids out of here puhleeeease”.  Why?  Because I need to tidy the house and as yawny as that sounds, a tidy home allows me to relax, it reduces my stress and anxiety levels and allows me to be a better mum, wife and general good human.

And that’s the whole point of Me-time right?

Like everyone else in the world (ok maybe just everyone else I know!) I’m a Netflix junkie.  So over the past 10 days I’ve been combining ME-time with chore-time and have caught up on some of my fave shows – how good is it not to have to be chained to your TV to get a good binge-watch going on right?

Check out my favourite Me-time shows below and keep your eyes on  Netflix because the mid-year new releases are looking insane!

Riverdale

I lOVE that Riverdale episodes are released weekly, I’d only missed a couple of shows whilst we were in Bali so getting caught up on the Archie-action wasn’t too overwhelming – those crazy Blossoms, my gosh!  This show is getting more and more twisted and it’s soooo good!

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Travelblog Netflix StreamTeam riverdale

House of Cards

Season 5 premieres on May 30 and I’ve got a LOT of catching up to do.  Kevin Spacey is a genius.  That’s all that needs to be said about HOC and why you need to keep watching.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Travelblog Netflix StreamTeam House of Cards

Orange is the New Black

My ride-or-die.  OITNB I have been waiting……..

The Season 4 finale was an absolute cliffhanger!  I’ve been hanging out for Season 5 and it’s coming in June!

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Travelblog Netflix StreamTeam OITNB

The Barkley Marathons

If you’re looking for something different and a one-off watch, check out this doco, especially if you have an interest in running or eventing.  The most extreme, crazy ultra-marathon in the world, entry costs a mere $1.60 but don’t be fooled, there have only been 15 finishers in its 25 year + history.

This is an amazing watch that will both make you laugh and blow your mind at the extremes of human endurance and tenacity.  Totally engrossing.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Travelblog Netflix StreamTeam Barkley Marathons

 

 

 

 

School Holiday Must-see – The BFG + Take Home Talking Points

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Rotorua Travel Blog Family Dinosaur Craft

As a child I was a reader of epic proportions, one of those kids that parents and teachers love as I always had a book in my hand, never, EVER leaving home without one!  We all have our favourite authors and genres but I’m fairly certain that beloved author Roald Dahl is the undisputed KING of children’s fiction, invoking and inspiring a love of reading worldwide, setting alight the imaginations of both kids and adults and forging lifelong relationships with his brilliant, hilarious and sometimes tragic characters.

Sometimes those characters come alive on the big screen (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Fantastic Mr Fox are my faves!)………….and when they do, it’s an immediate immersion into one of Dahl’s magical world’s, crafted with care by the world’s finest filmmakers (Disney and Spielberg!) – there is no room for second-best when tasked with bringing the tales of our childhood to life.

Though it was written over 30 years ago, The BFG addresses themes that are still relevant today and carries with it important social messages that are sooooo worth having a think about and discussing with your kids before and after seeing the movie.

The BFG Talking points

  • Loyalty and friendship.  There are numerous times in the movie where the BFG displays his unwavering loyalty to Sophie.  The result is an unlikely friendship that accomplishes something wonderful to benefit the entire world!  
    Talk to kids about how sometimes, we can find dear friends when we’re not even looking for them and what can be achieved by working with others and sticking by their side through thick and thin.
  • Bullying.  Yes, even giants get bullied.  The BFG is considerably smaller, and less gross than the other giants – I mean he doesn’t eat human ‘beans’ after all!  
    Talk to kids about how being a little bit different from a majority can make an individual or a group a target for bullies.  Ask them who are the targets in their social groups?  How can they be supported and helped?  How can bullying be stopped?
  • Seeing past appearances.  Sophie’s reservations about befriending the BFG weren’t without merit (see their preferred diet above lol), plus, giants do look pretty freaky if we’re being honest!
    Talk to kids about how the BFG’s physical characteristics may have looked strange to Sophie initially, but she came to appreciate them.  Ask how the BFG’s size and large ears made positive contributions within the story, what can we discover about people if we close our eyes, forget about how we look and simply listen?  How can we celebrate our differences in our day to day life?
  • Bravery.  Both Sophie and the BFG have to be brave time and time again as they struggle to keep Sophie safe, implement their cunning plan and secure an audience with the queen!
    Discuss the ways in which each character showed bravery during the film, what else did they have to call on to keep being brave even if they were scared e.g. trust, self-belief, the greater good.  Are ‘normal’ people brave in our everyday lives?

 

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Rotorua Travel Blog Family Dinosaur Craft

WIN!

Writing those discussion prompts made me super excited to get our copy of The BFG out for a re-read with Ethan!  Roald Dahl was noted as saying The BFG was his personal favourite out of everything he’d written, have you read it yet?   Let me know if you’re a ‘movie first’ or a ‘book first’ kind of person in the comments below and you’re in the draw to win 2 x Double Movie Passes to see The BFG which is in cinemas from July 7th.

Watch the spellbinding trailer here and cross your fingers xx

Competition closes 25/7/16 @ 10pm, NZ residents only.

Mother’s Day Gift Inspo – Win The Dressmaker on DVD

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Dressmaker review

Ok guys, here’s a Mother’s Day idea all done and dusted for you;

  1. 1 x copy of The Dressmaker
  2. 1 x pretty gift bag or gift box
  3. A couple of treats for Mum to enjoy and pamper herself with while she watches this fabulous movie; think lush handcream, scrummy tea, her fave lipstick and something sweet.

Dave and I sat down and watched The Dressmaker on Friday night and fell in love with the film within the first 20 minutes.  Australian films done well deliver comedy gold and this is no exception.  Bone dry humor, stunning costumes, set and landscapes you have to see to believe and one of the most intimate, heartfelt characterisations and storylines 
I’ve enjoyed in a while.

Kate Winslet owns this movie.  Ran out of her tiny, rural town as a young girl and wrongly vilified, her character Tilly returns home with enough moxie to silence her critics once and for all – not without heady doses of romance, tragedy and drama of course!  Tilly has learned her trade as a Parisian Dressmaker and brings her talent, and her sewing machine, back home to breathe some life, style and va-va-va-voom into a very dull, 1950’s Australian community.  She eventually wins over her hard-as-nails Mum, who has remained in the town alone and ostracized in the years following Tilly’s departure. The Dressmaker is quirky and engaging, delivering scene after scene of inimtiable storytelling with an effortless, Aussie charisma.  

I struggle with movies, my micro-attention span and mega to-do-lists often conspire against me when I try to sit down and enjoy a film from start to finish.  I had no trouble settling in to watch The Dressmaker – the captivating cast and brilliant story make this film a guaranteed hit.  I’m adding the original novel by Rosalie Ham to my reading list so I can enjoy it all over again.

The Dressmaker is available now on DVD and Blu-Ray, plus, I have 3 copies on DVD to give away!

To enter, just leave me a comment below!  Competition closes 8th May 2016 @ 10pm, NZ residents only.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Dressmaker review

 

Ed Sheeran is a tricksy little hobbit

I have detested Ed Sheeran and his music for the entire length of his short ginger career.  He and his Lego house were the musical equivalent of standing on Lego City.  In bare feet.  In the dark, with no way of knowing which way the clear carpet lay.  Torturous I have found him.

But then came this song, and god damn it if I don’t LOVE it.

If lyrics of burning hobbits and dwarves is your thing, do you love this song as much as me?  It’s so dark.  Ethan’s advent gift yesterday was  a movie night with Dave and I to go and see The Hobbit II.  I was hanging out for the credits so I could listen to this song in loud, beautiful theatre sound.  The movie was frickin ace as well which helped pass the time until the credits rolled.

Watch | Partying in Rio: A Tilt-Shift Carnival Film

Take 5 minutes and 47 seconds and watch this beautiful film composed entirely of stills.  Over 160,000 of them in fact.  Some people must just ooze so much talent that they leave a slimy trail behind them don’t you think?

Partying in Rio: A Tilt-Shift Carnival Film by Film director and musician Jarbas Agnelli and photographer and filmmaker, Keith Loutit

The City of Samba from Jarbas Agnelli on Vimeo.

 

School Holidays #1 – How to Train Your Dragon

Ethan doesn’t often want to go to the movies, he has ten trillion better things to do but he wanted to see this movie.  Dave was away for the day on a fishing charter and I was the pre-req first trimester exhausted so a movie sounded just fine.  We met some friends at the mall and only then did I begin to think that maybe a 3D movie and morning sickness might not go so well together. Oh the trials…….

Anywho, I was a 3D  virgin and LOVED it!  So did Ethan who surprisingly kept his glasses on the entire time and sat transfixed every now and then reaching his hand out to try and grab whatever it was that seemed to be flying past his nose.  The story was cute and endearing, and refreshing because it was a genuine period piece.  Set in the time of vikings there were no modern references peppered throughout as is usual in animated films these days.  Ethan is 5 and was transfixed, there was nothing particularly scary or offensively loud which often puts him off movies.  Best of all the 3D didn’t give me motion sickness!

So a great movie, one we will def be watching again when it’s out on DVD.