Review: Cockatoo Island

On the last weekend of the spring school holidays I took the family for a sleepover. A sleepover with a twist; we went glamping on Cockatoo Island.

Hubby and the girls at the accommodation office on Cockatoo Island

Hubby and the girls at the accommodation office on Cockatoo Island

View of the tents on Cockatoo Island. Our tent was near the water. What a wonderful view!

View of the tents on Cockatoo Island. Our tent was near the water. What a wonderful view!

I was so excited and so were the kids. I was looking forward to exploring what the island had to offer, relaxing at a cafe and later at our tent with a glass of wine watching the sun set and the boats go by. Some of this happened but not the way I had envisioned.

Getting to Cockatoo Island

As the name suggests it is an island and the only way there is by boat or ferry. We were lucky to park the car where hubby works so that saved with money for parking for the weekend, and then walked around the corner to the ferry. We had to take the ferry to one stop due to low tide and then get a bus to the next place to get the ferry all the way to Cockatoo Island. This was great for the girls as they loved the fact that we took a car, ferry, bus and then finally ferry again. A big adventure just to get there.

Cockatoo Island Wharf, Cockatoo Island. Sydney Harbour.

Cockatoo Island Wharf, Cockatoo Island. Sydney Harbour.

The girls on the wharf waiting for our ferry back to the city.

The girls on the wharf waiting for our ferry back to the city.

What did we pack?

If you are staying on the island you need to make sure you bring everything you need with you. This is why I decided on glamping as it means we are not carrying too much with us.

We took the following with us:

  • Change of clothes for everyone. Basically just a shirt, shorts and other essentials
  • We all had one pair of shoes, however since it was 34 degrees for nearly both days we were there a pair of thongs could have come in handy
  • Food for dinner, we had a BBQ that we organised ourselves
  • Plates, cups, forks, knives, spoons and so on.
  • Weet-Bix for the twins and 5ooml of milk that was in a cool bag (kids are fussy and having breakfast for them was essential. Hubby and I waited till the cafe was open and had a bacon and egg roll)
View of the buildings and cranes on Cockatoo Island

View of the buildings and cranes on Cockatoo Island

 What can you do on Cockatoo Island?

  • Explore the island
  • Get a tour by a guide or do a self guided tour
  • Learn about the buildings and the history
  • Kids can collect clues and colour in a book that you can get from the vistors centre
  • Relax with a nice drink and watch the stunning harbour view
  • Have a lovely BBQ
  • Camp and stay over on the island

 

 What did we do?

After we arrived we organised our ice for our esky and then made sure we had wine for the evening. Silly to have to race to do this but the place to purchase wine closes at 4pm and we had a 2pm check-in. Once this was organised we relaxed a bit in our wonderful tent.

The tent and amenities that were provided were wonderful. The glamping tent came with camp beds, linen, towels, toiletries – soap, shampoo, conditioner and the like. It was a huge tent and I am glad I did not have to carry it or put it up. It was good to have it there and ready for us when we arrived.

After we sorted ourselves out we then went off to explore the island. We did get the self-guided tour (headphones that when you enter a number it tells you about a certain area or building), we just explored and had some fun. It was a hot day and the kids had fun running around and looking at the wonderful view.

The beautiful sunset that we saw on Sunday the 5th of October while on Cockatoo Island.

The beautiful sunset that we saw on Sunday the 5th of October while on Cockatoo Island.

 

I wore my Fitbit Flex and I did the following steps:

  • 17,480 Steps on Sunday (this was the hottest day and of course we did the most walking! The twins met a friend in the tent next to ours and ran around so they must have done well over 20,000 steps as they were running around like mad people)
  • 9,987  Steps on Monday

So as you can see you do a lot of walking! So make sure to wear comfortable shoes.

What did we eat?

I went shopping and got some sausages, chops (otherwise known as roast beef on the bone), and some nice bits of steak for a BBQ. We also purchased some fresh bread rolls, salad and and drinks to take with us. I froze the drinks so that they would stay colder longer. This was a good help especially with a very hot day that I did not expect.  The island has a wonderful kitchen facility for all that stay and we used this area to cook and eat our BBQ feast. Since we made friends with our neighbours we ended up having dinner with them as well. It was a nice evening.

BBQ, Kitchen and eating area for those who camp on Cockatoo Island.

BBQ, Kitchen and eating area for those who camp on Cockatoo Island.

Before I went to Cockatoo Island, I did some research and realised that the pizza place on the island closed at 3pm to families…YES silly really. The weekend we visited, it was the October long weekend, the start of daylight savings and also still school holidays. So why close a place where families can eat and enjoy the island from your cafe/restaurant. I was told when I emailed before our visit that the owner has it as an adults only area after 3pm and if we wanted to come back during the weekday, not school holidays or the weekends it will be fine. I did mention that we were visiting on the weekend and due to school holidays that being there on a weekday would not be possible. I also explained that we were there for a family outing so having children with us was a given.

This is why we chose to take food for a BBQ for our dinner on the Sunday evening.

Other areas that offered food were all closing at about 3pm or 4pm… weird? Why did they not stay open to at least 7pm or 8pm or later… it was of course an island, people were staying there and they in turn could make more money. Strange if you ask me. You are stuck on an island where businesses could earn more if they stayed open and catered more for their customers.

Not sure if there is a reason for this but we could not understand it.

If you are thinking of staying on Cockatoo Island it is a wise idea to bring your own food if you have kids. Most likely places will not be open or if they are your child might not like what is on the menu. It is not like you can go down the shops to get what you need when you are in the middle of Sydney Harbour.

 

There is a fire pit and the ranger on the island lit it for the evening.

There is a fire pit and the ranger on the island lit it for the evening.

 

Things that need improvement

  • More family friendly businesses. Families with kids go to Cockatoo Island for something to do and they are prepared to spend when they are there, even more if you are staying on the Island. To not have venues happy to accept families was a major disappointment. I was so looking forward to sipping a cocktail while having dinner and looking at the harbour. This was not to be due to the fact the only place to do this did not cater for families. I spoke to other families and they said the same thing. Families with kids are being discriminated against and this is a big negative for a fantastic venue like Cockatoo Island.
  • Open longer and provide places for kids to be while parents are allowed to eat.
  • We tried to rent a boat to go around the island but when hubby tried to do this he was told to call a number to organise. He said that if he had known this we would have done it before we arrived. However the website said it can all be arranged from the island. We did call the person on the number we were given and the person called back and then found us to discuss renting a boat for all four of us. He took one look at the twins and realised they were tiny. He asked how old and we told him they were six. He said that it depends on life jackets for the kids as we all had to be safe. He came back with the smallest life jacket he had and tried it on one of the girls. It was too big and that meant we could not go on the boat. We understood this and don’t want to not be safe. However if we were able to organise this before we got to Cockatoo Island maybe we might have been able to rent the boat and have this experience. This also means that the money for the boat hire, about $100 was not earnt and this person lost out on the money. Better organisation would mean a better experience and more money in the businesses pockets. A win, win really.
  • Staff argued with us when we questioned why they took the lids off our bottles of wine when we purchased them (Having staff that don’t argue might be a good idea). You are not allowed to take alcohol on the island and we did not. You are only allowed to purchase it there and drink it in certain areas. The cafe/bar where you buy it, or say your tent or BBQ/Kitchen area. We made sure to purchase ice for our esky that was provided and not having any lids on bottles of wine made it hard to fit everything back into the esky. We were told that not having any lids on the wine is for our safety. Really why is not having a lid something that makes it safe?

    Not having a lid makes it more easily spilt, or drunken by other people that are not supposed to have it. Having a lid on a bottle of wine is from my understanding safer than not having a lid on it.

Cockatoo Island Promo Shot from their website. It shows a lid on a wine bottle although this is not allowed for your safety of course.

Cockatoo Island Promo Shot from their website. It shows a lid on a wine bottle although this is not allowed for your safety of course.

  • Seagulls are everywhere, and they are feral! I don’t know what can be done but they need to try and remove them or at least make it easier for the vistors to the island. When we were doing the clue finding with the kids we had to leave many areas as the seagulls were nesting and had eggs that they were protecting. They were getting rather upset and some were looking like they might attack. All they need is a kid to be attacked or something bad to happen and then there might be a major issue. We were fine and left them well alone, however the kids did point out that the island should be renamed, Seagull Island rather than Cockatoo Island.

As you will see the promo image from the Cockatoo Island website shows that you can sit at your tent with a nice glass of wine with a lid on the bottle no less. However when you get there for the same experience, lids were confiscated and the top of the bottle was stuffed with kitchen paper to make up for the missing lid.

 

Looking at the fire while the sun sets on Cockatoo Island

Looking at the fire while the sun sets on Cockatoo Island

What to pack if you wish to stay on Cockatoo Island

  • Food if you wish to have a BBQ or if you have kids with you
  • Lids for wine or anything that might have lids taken away from you
  • Cups, plates, knifes, forks, spoons, bowls,cups, glasses, and so on if you are bringing food
  • Change of clothes, change of shoes if it becomes cool. We just brought walking shoes and as it was hot did not have thongs or sandals
  • Hat
  • Suncream
  • Toilet paper. The ladies toilets were fine and always had adequate paper but hubby said the mens did not. So we were lucky to have some with us.
  • Note: there is no power for electrical items so make sure you charge your phone and devices ahead of time. My iPhone 4s died early into our first day there so that was not good but to be expected. It is an old phone that has a battery that is on its way out. I am hanging for the new iPhone.
  • Games for the kids. Card game, a ball or maybe a board game for something to do after you are back at your tent
Enjoying the fire and outdoors on Cockatoo Island

Enjoying the fire and outdoors on Cockatoo Island

Did we enjoy Cockatoo Island?

We had a great time but some of the things that we expected made the trip for hubby and I not as great as we hoped. Just a little more work on what they offer from hours and accessibility for families to services, and customer service side would have made it fabulous. From my perspective, Cockatoo Island needs to think about who visits their island. It is most likely families who come for a day or stay over, that said they are there to have fun and spend money. It is hard to do this when you cannot due to businesses not catering for families who are prepared to spend when they are there. Think about returns that they have lost due to such silly decisions to close a venue off to families at 3pm.

I loved camping, being somewhere different and it was great as it was a holiday without having to go to far from  home.

Relaxing at our tent on Cockatoo Island

Relaxing at our tent on Cockatoo Island

The kids loved it and enjoyed racing around and exploring everything. It was the first time for the kids to go camping or really glamping. I did tell the kids that normally we would be camping in a sleeping bag not a bed setup with all the bed made for us.

We would definitely go back. Now we know what we need to do for our next stay or we could just do a day trip. Hubby would like to learn more about the buildings and one day we will go back to learn more.

Have you been to Cockatoo Island? Did you stay over? What did you think? Did you have fun?

Our tent when we were glamping on Cockatoo Island

Our tent when we were glamping on Cockatoo Island

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World Food Day 2014

Today is World Food Day. I just got back from the supermarket and of course can access nearly all foods that I need or want, budget permitting. Others around the world are not so lucky.

Did you know?

“Asia has the highest malnutrition rate of any region in the world. Millions of children born in Asia each year enter the world at a disadvantage compared to children elsewhere. They are born with the burden of malnutrition.”

I know that we are focusing on other countries but Australia has people who are hungry and going without as well. In many schools locally they make sure kids who have not eaten breakfast get food. They get donations from the local businesses and parents who can give to help. One great organisation that helps is The Foodbank.

Children who don’t have breakfast or eat at all cannot function well at school and are at risk of disease and sickness. The same goes for adults. We need to eat well to be well.

 

 

infographic_1_food_day

 

infographic_3_food_day

A while ago hubby and I were watching a documentary about houses and access to toilets and plumbing in India. It was shocking to see how the shacks in the slums had no access to running water, toilets, and the garbage piled up. Accessing clean fresh food was hard for the people we saw on the video. The film was about putting in plans to help make it better for the people. Having cleaner and safer facilities is a must to stay well. I showed the twins some of the video to illustrate how lucky we all were. We had access to fresh food, fresh water, no garbage near the house, adequate plumbing and so on. It is a pity that this is not fixed and these people are not considered a priority.

I also pointed out that when the kids get nice meals served to them, the kids on the documentary we saw don’t have this happen. They might not eat for days or if they do eat very little.

“1 in 8 people on the planet don’t know where there next meal is coming from” (Food Security Video – World Vision)

 

I am only going by the video we saw and it made me very grateful that I live in such a blessed country, I have family that helps me, and I have the means (financial) to feed and care for my family. Some people in Australia are finding it tough and I do understand.

We went through trying times and had to live off very little. We bought pastas and rice, and lived off mince or sausages as it was cheap. Some nights we did not eat due to not having enough to go round and needing petrol in the car to get to work. I do understand doing it tough. We did not have the twins then, but had a cat to look after. We made sure he got fed as it was not his fault we were hard up.

Our circumstances changed for the better and we have been mindful ever since to have a back up plan. Store a little away for a rainy day in case something bad happens again.

The video below shows how help from World Vision gave the Batsukh’s Family a brighter future.

What can you do?

You can purchase gifts for families in need. Why not give this instead of a Christmas Present? Make a family donation? How about a gift from your company or business?

Volunteer for Meals on Wheels or Your Local School

As said early. Kids who attend school might not have eaten breakfast or dinner. Why not find out what your local school is doing in regards to a breakfast program. Many families are embarrassed or upset to say anything. You might never know that someone is in need. It could be a simple loss of a job, sickness or death in the family that has caused issue. It is hard to know and you don’t need to know all the details. Just giving what you can by being there to help serve food, supply Weet-bix, eggs or bread is enough.

Many people who are finding it hard to eat and make ends meet are pensioners. The pension is not a lot and covering bills and food now days is a tough ask with no money. My mum used to help take meals and make meals for Meals On Wheels and it a great service. Some people might have accessibility issues and therefore find it hard to walk, get out of the house or have a disability. Having someone come to the house with cooked meals means they get the right nutrition, get some company for a bit and a little help while the person is there. It is a lovely thing to do for your community.

I hope that if I ever need help someone would be happy to pop in and give me a hand.

I am going to send a gift from the above list that World Vision have. It is great, and I think more people help families in need the more they will be able to feed their families. Well that is the hope.

I purchased the following to help families in need. I know it is a small gesture but it all helps.

  • Fast growing seeds x 1 – $10.00
  • Chickens & eggs x 1 – $10.00

Join the movement for nutrition for every child: www.onegoal.asia.

“The One Goal campaign is a partnership initiative of World Vision, the Asian Football Confederation, The Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), DSM, and the Asian Football Development Project that seeks to bring awareness to the issue of child malnutrition in Asia and powerfully inspire and mobilise the football community to take action to increase the number of children in Asia who survive and thrive.”

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Miracle Tonics Needed

Sick and want to just rest! Curl up and go to bed! Image from  Found on themetapicture.com

Sick and want to just rest! Curl up and go to bed! Image from Found on themetapicture.com

Do you have a miracle tonic to rid you of germs and to make your cold go away? I NEED IT NOW! SEND URGENTLY!

I now have filled my repeat for my antibiotics and have started them today. I feel terrible but I am trying to solider on.

Have you had periods like this? You feel like the walking dead. You aim to get things done but nothing happens. Well this is me, house is a mess, I am tired and still a lot to do.

Thank god I am not having guests over for dinner or to stay, then I would be rather panicked and of course madly cleaning.

I suppose for now I can do things when I can. I have tidied the kitchen and done nearly most of the laundry. However I have a load of clothes in the washing machine and we are due for another HUGE thunderstorm now, or as soon as I leave to pick the kids up from school the heavens will open up and crash down with heavy rain. It is predicted that today will be much worse than yesterday. Not looking forward to that.

How do you manage to do everything for you, the house and family when you are sick?

  • Do you fit in a much needed sleep when kids are at school or if you have time off from work? I managed to get some rest last week and think that helped. However I now feel like it is either getting worse or not going away! Would more sleep help????
  • I have taken my vitamins, especially vitamin c as this helps. However too much vitamin c can be bad as it can prove a disaster when you need to go to the bathroom. Yes not a good subject to discuss but if you have too much it is not good either.
  • I am taking yoghurt with all the good bacteria and Probiotics that put the good bacteria back into me. I know that having antiobiotics can zap this good bacteria out of you.

According to Wikipedia: “Gut flora have a continuous and dynamic effect on the host’s gut and systemic immune systems. The bacteria are key in promoting the early development of the gut’s mucosal immune system both in terms of its physical components and function and continue to play a role later in life in its operation. The bacteria stimulate the lymphoid tissue associated with the gut mucosa to produce antibodies to pathogens. The immune system recognizes and fights harmful bacteria, but leaves the helpful species alone, a tolerance developed in infancy”

Hate being not well! Image courtesy of marin at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Hate being not well! Image courtesy of marin at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I make sure to give the twins their yoghurts and Probiotics to help them keep well and stay healthy. I also added this to their meals when they were babies.

  • I make sure to have a shower to wake me up and start the day. Nothing is worse than being in clothes for too long. It makes you feel terrible. However if you are sick and really need to be in bed it might not be bad as long as you have a shower that night or the next day. It does help make you feel more alive and awake, but not for long.
  • A little bit of exercise or fresh air if you are well enough helps me a bit. I went for a brief walk today and it made me feel a little better.
  • Getting to bed earlier I think is helpful and I am trying to do this. It is easier when you are not well as you want to be in bed nearly all the time. I found it hard to get out of bed. If I did not have kids I might still be there.
  • I have been having LemSip  hot drinks and also alternating with cold and flu tabs from the chemist. Not sure if they are working and it seems nothing is at the moment.
  • I have no got a shortage of hankies. Yes I still use a hanky and think they are great, but not when you cannot find a clean one. I do have clean washing to sort through so maybe there are some in there that are available to be used.

I have given you some tips of what I am doing to try and stay well, shorten this illness and annoyance that has affected me. Do you have things that help you? Do you just have nice chicken noodle soup or honey in your tea?

Send in your cures now so that I can regain my energy and stop using the hankies like they are going out of fashion. Send in your miracle tonics to the blog or comment on the this blog post.

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Empower the Girl

Today we celebrate International Day of the Girl Child. Being a girl in some areas of the world mean, early marriage, having kids when you are still a child yourself and no education due to your gender. I cannot imagine what it would be like to have been married while I was still a child, to not have gone to school with my friends or to be able to follow my dreams like other children.

I am extremely lucky that I grew up in a country that values girls and women. Our society values education and there is law that prevents you being married as a child. You certainly cannot be married at seven years of age, which for some countries happens. How scary would it be for the little girl to find herself married to an older man, new life, early pregnancy and stuck in this situation with no way out.

GNB---Child-marriage-education-infographic---900px

As a mother to girls I find myself empowering them even at this young age. The twins early on saw roles that they thought only men could do and they said that is not for girls. Hubby and I were soon to nip this in the bud and told both kids that they can do anything they put their minds too. They are just as good as men or anyone for that matter. What ever their interest holds and they want to be good at they can do! Gender is irrelevant!

I make sure my girls have all sorts of experiences, toys and interactions that promote learning and development. I create craft, we build Lego, do puzzles, read books, explore nature, do science experiments, play games on the computer (educational ones), play doctors, the twins are very entrepreneurial and love to have a shop that sells very expensive items, and much more.

“Educated mothers are twice as likely to send their kids to school”

 “A child born to a literate mother is 50% more likely to survive past age 5″

 

Below is part of the film of “Girl Rising – Ethiopia Chapter”. It is about a better life for women and saying no to child brides. The photography and story is very moving.

“Girls with 8 years of education are 4 times less likely to be married as children”

Graca-Machel-DayGirl-empowering-girls

How Can You Help?

Why not sponsor a child, or give a gift of clean drinking water or bicycle for a girl. You can pick and make life better for a community and family in need.

What Do You Do To Empower Girls?

Do you have girls or know someone that does? What do you do to empower them to be what ever they wish to be? I make sure that I tell my girls they can do and be anything they wish. If they are interested in something I make sure to nurture this interest. I also make sure to give them well rounded experiences that are not gender specific, so this allows the girls to see that it does not matter if they are girls or boys in relation to activities, as long as they enjoy what they are doing that is the main thing in my book.

How are you celebrating the day of the girl child? Let us know.

#DayoftheGirl

#Endchildmarriage

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If The Strain Was Real Life

I love sy fi, drama and horror shows, but one that does the lot is the new show called “The Strain”. This show is not for kids and we watch it when we know the twins are asleep.

So what is The Strain?

The Strain follows Dr. Ephraim Goodweather and his team from the CDC (Centre for Disease Control) as they are tasked with investigating a mysterious viral outbreak. The virus affects all passengers on a Boeing 767-300ER that lands at JFK airport. It stops on the tarmac when it was supposed to be taxiing to their destination at the airport. The windows are all closed and all passengers appear to be dead or so it seems. Four passengers are found alive although affected by this weird and unexplainable virus.

On the plane it carried a large wooden box or more like a coffin. In this coffin was dirt and in the dirt was worms. The worms carry the infection and the infection morphs the body of the host (the people) into a vampire like creature.  Dr Ephraim Goodweather ends up teaming up with a man called Abraham Setrakian who has seen this virus before, when in a prison camp during world war II.  Abraham has devoted his life to eradicating this evil and hunting down the master that controls the vampires.

Below is the trailer for “The Strain”

 

Dr. Ephraim Goodweather has a son and he has to stay with him now at all times ( I won’t spoil things if you have not watched it yet), and it got me thinking. Before the whole group went underground to attack the vampires the son got an overview on how to use a sword, told to stay close, and what to do if something bad happened.

In this episode that hubby and I watched I suggested what would it be like if it was real life and how would we fare if we had the twins with us.

So we are all in the tunnel with the twins. And this is what would happen if it was real life:

  • Each child has a sword and has been told not to drop it. They drop it several times and wake the vampires. We risk life and limb and manage to escape without being infected.
  • One child falls over their own feet or object on the ground
  • Does not remember how to use the sword
  • Does not keep quiet
  • Does not stay close to mummy or daddy and gets into trouble. This would mean more sword action and more chance of infection
  • Starts singing and alerts the vampires to our location
  • Starts dancing and bumps into the wall or falls over a vampire
  • Gets scared and starts to cry and wants to be carried through the tunnel
  • Sword to heavy for child, you end up holding onto it plus all the other teddies they have decided they cannot carry (why are you always the packhorse!)
  • Child not listening to you and you end up having to raise your voice and then alerting the vampires to your presence
  • Child or children have a tantrum which of course does not help and makes the vampires turn on you
  • Afraid of the dark and stays still not helping you move through the tunnel
  • Looses their favourite toy and then has a HUGE MELTDOWN. Which means exiting the tunnel quick smart is an URGENT PRIORITY! Not sure if it will happen but we will try.

I am sure that we are safe from a vampire invasion and an infection like that of “The Strain” but looking at my list I think our minutes would be numbered and we would be infected in no time.

Do you look at television shows and wonder what it would be like if it was real life? Hubby and I had a big giggle about it, and I am glad it is all make believe. I would not be laughing if it was real, and glad it is just a television show.

What show do you watch that you have a list similar to mine. Let us know and we can all have a giggle. Send in your comments.

 

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WIN: Treat Yourself to Fresh Flowers

Friendly Days - Purple Chrysanthemums In Upright Black Presentation Box

Friendly Days – Purple Chrysanthemums In Upright Black Presentation Box

I like it when the weather starts to get warmer and my garden blooms with flowers. My garden starts to look so much happier. I also feel better as well. Does the weather and flowers help you feel better?

When I worked in the city I used to get fresh cut flowers from a street florist each week. Something bright and cheery for my desk. It definitely made working easier when I could look at a nice bunch of flowers. I loved all the varieties available and the way it changed my desk each week.

I also don’t wait for hubby to buy flowers, and on occasion he does, however I purchase a nice bunch for me. It puts a smile on my face and makes the house look more vibrant and happier with flowers.

Do you like to add colour to the house with a nice bright bunch flowers? What is your favourite flower to decorate with? Mine is a gerbera as they are bright and happy.

If you are like me then you will love this giveaway from my friends at Fresh Flowers. Yes it is something for you or a special someone. More about the giveaway soon, read on to find out more.

About Fresh Flowers

The team at Fresh Flowers believes that fresh cut flowers make people happier. I do agree with this, as it has worked for me.

Even Harvard University has shown that flowers are the perfect pick me up and can boost your mood. See you need some fresh cut flowers NOW! You know you do…. Some nice daisies, or roses?

On the Fresh Flowers website you can organise your flowers by favourite flower, style, occasion or price. You can even take a quiz to help choose the right flowers for your special someone… great idea if you are stuck for ideas.

You can even pay with PayPal with Fresh Flowers. I love PayPal as it is quick and easy to use. Fresh Flowers offer flowers online to Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide. Same day delivery is available as long as you order before 1pm.

 

Now….. the giveaway

 

One Lucky Reader To WIN A Bouquet of Flowers

Fresh Flowers is kindly giving one Mummy to Twins reader the chance to WIN a Bouquet of Flowers. You get to choose from any of the Flowers under $66

How fabulous is this! Flowers for you or that special person.

20x Multi-Coloured Tulips In Bouquet

20x Multi-Coloured Tulips In Bouquet

Who to nominate for this feel good prize?

Have you done a big job lately and think a nice bunch of flowers would do the trick as a thank you?  Survived the school holidays and still have a smile on your face? A thank you for all your hard work running the house or looking after the kids? Why not nominate yourself? Tell us what amazing thing you have done that warrants a wonderful bunch of flowers.

Don’t want to nominate yourself, that is fine. Maybe you have a special someone that you would like to shower with colourful blooms? Say you love them, say you are thinking of them, wish them well, congratulate or just because. It does not matter. Let us know and tell us why this special person deserves this fabulous feel good gift.

How To Enter?

Fill out the Rafflecopter form, make sure you leave a blog comment (no comment no entry) with what bouquet you like from the flowers under $66 . Make sure you nominate yourself or someone else in the blog comment and tell us why you deserve or they deserve the flowers.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

12 Premium Red Roses In Black Presentation Box

12 Premium Red Roses In Black Presentation Box

By filling out your details you agree to be emailed news about the blog and sent our new newsletter . If you ever wish to unsubscribe you can do by clicking the button on managing the subscriptions on the right hand side of the blog.

When does the Giveaway end?

The giveaway ends at midnight on the 21st of October 2014.

Who can enter?

The giveaway is open to Australian Residents only.

Purple Phalaenopsis Orchid In Contemporary White Ceramic Pot

Purple Phalaenopsis Orchid In Contemporary White Ceramic Pot

Good luck everyone!

Note: This is a sponsored post. I love flowers, and would like to thank Fresh Flowers for this great giveaway.

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First Time Glamping

I have treated the family to an overnight getaway. I am so excited and for a while it was a mystery to hubby where we were going. However this did not last long as I needed to tell him due to logistics and how we got to our destination.

Where are we off to you ask?

We are going to be glamping on Cockatoo Island this October Long Weekend.  We are off this Sunday and back home on the holiday Monday. The twins have no idea where we are going and they will be so excited to find out that are staying on an island in a tent in Sydney Harbour! Cannot wait to see the kids faces.

The tents on Cockatoo Island

The tents on Cockatoo Island

Why Glamping?

I have been camping and know that you need to bring quite a bit of stuff with you. With two adults and two kids the things to pack would be extreme. It is just for one night and I wanted to make things easy on us. Especially me and hubby.

The tents are provided as well as the beds, linen, towels, pillows and a couple extra things. This cuts down on what we have to pack. Ideal really for a short getaway.

Why Cockatoo Island?

I wanted to go away but by the time you factored into plane fares, rental car and of course hotel stay it adds up for just a weekend away. Thousands of dollars for say a two day getaway. Nope not interested in spending that much. Cockatoo Island was reasonable in costs and the best thing is that we can drive to the city, park the car and get onto a ferry and be there easily. No extra payments for hire car, or flights. It is a holiday somewhere we have never been. It will be like we have travelled but we are still in the same city.

Cockatoo Island was cheap considering it has wonderful views and has a lot on offer, I wish I could have booked another night time did not let me (I wanted to do it on the long weekend and could only get Sunday night so that is great and happy with that. Was aiming for Saturday but that was full). There are tours that you can do yourself or have a guide, play tennis or just relax. There are also plenty for the kids to do. Check out the video below:

 

Cockatoo Island also offers great education programs for kids. Below is the video for Primary children but they also have a program for secondary students. This looks amazing and what a great place to make history and facts come to life. I cannot wait to experience it and share it with the kids.

More images and stories to come soon about our weekend away.

Have you been glamping? Did you glamp on Cockatoo Island? Was it for a night or longer? Let us know how it went. The school holidays are nearly over and we have had a jam packed two weeks. This is a perfect way to end the holidays and relax with the family before school resumes.

How were the holidays for you? Hope you are relaxed and have managed okay.

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Our Pet Worms

One of the girls got a worm farm for their birthday and the other an ant farm. Last Friday we started to set up the worm farm. The kids were very excited to do this earlier, however we needed one essential ingredient. WORMS! And I had none! Luckily I went to my Nana (the girls GG) and Aunty’s for lunch last Thursday, they had worms from the compost so we took some home with us. I hope the worms like the fact that they are now in the mountains.

Worm Farm ready to set up

Worm Farm ready to set up

What you need

  • Dirt
  • Of course worms
  • A clean table to set up the farm

I got the dirt from our backyard and found a few extra worms also, so that was a bonus. One worm that we got from my aunty was huge and the girls have called him “The King”

Checking out the worm farm. Very happy kids!

Checking out the worm farm. Very happy kids!

I followed the instructions for the worm kit however I left one thing out. The privacy screens. Who knew worms needed privacy? The reason the kit has it is you can take off the plastic edges of the farm to see what the worms are doing. Without the screens the worms get a lot of light that they don’t like. If they had the screens they would be spared the annoyance of having the light shone in their faces. I just now have images of worms not wanting to be next to each other and are upset that I left off the privacy screens.  I realised too late and the only way to fix it was to take all the dirt and worms out of the kit and start again.

So sorry worms, no privacy. You will just have to get along with your neighbours.

You might have noticed the yellow and red dirt or sand. It is so that when the worms build their tunnels you can see where they have gone. Easier to see if it is a different colour than just black dirt.

Make sure you wash your hands and any surfaces that you used to help create the worm farm.

Happy kids with their new worm farm.

Happy kids with their new worm farm.

One thing that was said after I completed the worm farm with the twins, “Thanks mummy we now have worms as pets!”

Gosh if the kids are happy with worms as pets, wait till they get a cat when they are a bit older. We are hoping to have a kitten for the kids when we have our new house. Maybe while we wait we could get the girls fish to look after. This might be a little better than pet worms? What do you think?

The girls are getting more involved in scientific exploration so that is why they got an ant farm and a worm farm. Along with it both kids got a magnifying glass as well, they have used it to investigate the garden and all that is miniature that needs to be explored.

Great links:

Have you set up a worm farm with your kids? How did it go? Were they fascinated? Let us know.

Now I need to find a whole bunch of ants for the ant farm. Send suggestions on how to collect some please! I have had a few so far but have not put it into action.

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Flexing with Fitbit

On my weekend in the city I purchased a new Fitbit Flex. I did have a Fitbit Zip but that died a long time ago. At first I thought it was simply a battery issue, however it seemed like it was an issue with the zip device itself. So I have been without a Fitbit or other device to help me in getting fit and slinky.

My new Fitbit Flex. I got pink as a change from black. I had a black Fitbit Zip. Plus the girls love pink!

My new Fitbit Flex. I got pink as a change from black. I had a black Fitbit Zip. Plus the girls love pink! Got it last Saturday while away in the city with hubby.

I was using my phone but due to having iPhone 4s the battery is not lasting and you can do one thing and it powers down, regardless if I have 70% battery power! I will get a new phone one day but have to wait currently. So imagine my excitement when I replaced my much loved Fitbit Zip with my new bright coloured (Yes it is pink!) Fitbit Flex.

The Flex is great. It is just like a bracelet or more like a watch band. You forget you are wearing it. It is much better than the Zip. The Zip I had to clip onto my bra, top of my t-shirt or put in my pocket. I was lucky that I never washed it and of course had to check that it was not in any clothes before I did the wash.

What does the Flex do?

  • Syncs to the Fitbit app by WiFi, either on your desktop computer or via your phone or tablet
  • Count your steps
  • Calories burned
  • Distance traveled
  • Hours slept
  • Quality of your sleep
  • You can add in your food and water consumed and much more
What the flex looks like when not on showing the dots for the steps.

What the flex looks like when not on showing the dots for the steps.

You can change the colour of the band for the Fitbit and make it more you. The Flex came with two bands, one bigger and one smaller. Surprisingly I fit into the smaller one and according to hubby I am the same as the twins. Have very skinny wrists. At least my wrists are skinny…. now for the rest of me!

I am still figuring all the Fitbit Flex out and it is still new. I am still learning about the alarms and the sleep modes…. I have yet to set up the alarm but need to figure out if I am doing something wrong. I might be as Sunday my Flex was in sleep mode for half the day and I had no idea what the dots were telling me. If your Flex has 2 dots on the left and 2 dots on the right that flash either side and keep doing so. You are in sleep mode. Double tap to get out of sleep mode. It should vibrate and show the dots to let you know you are no longer in sleep mode.

Close up of my Fitbit Flex. You tap it to show you the dots. The dots represent how many steps you have done. A full row of dots indicates you have completed your 10,00 steps or more! Half way shows that you have done at least 5,000.

Close up of my Fitbit Flex. You tap it to show you the dots. The dots represent how many steps you have done. A full row of dots indicates you have completed your 10,00 steps or more! Half way shows that you have done at least 5,000.

 

Yesterday I made it to just over 10,000 steps so that was a great achievement and today I have reached, 13, 676 steps so far. No wonder I am sitting here wanting to go to bed. I am so tired and all I have been doing is housework today.

I have done a record amount of laundry and it was helped with the fact it is hot and extremely windy. The washing has dried in no time and then I was off to do another load. Non stop all day! (It did help that the kids went to vacation care today! I was able to get a few things done)

 

As I write this I have done 13,676 steps.

As I write this I have done 13,676 steps.

Why 10,000 steps?

“The Japanese first started using the 10,000 steps a day number, as part of a marketing campaign! (to help sell pedometers).  Since that initial campaign however, medical authorities around the world have agreed that 10,000 is a healthy number to aim for. The American Heart Association uses the 10,000 steps metric as a guideline to follow for improving health and decreasing risk of heart disease, the number one killer of men and women in America.” (http://blog.fitbit.com/the-magic-of-10000-steps/)

I like the idea of showing how much exercise you have done doing tasks around the house. As you can see by my 13,676 steps today with just doing housework I have moved a fair bit today!  I was going to go for a walk but it is very windy and of course I then blessed with hay fever so thought staying home would make more sense. I did more around the house, and still managed to do some exercise. So a win all round.

How Do You Add More Exercise to Your Day?

After kids it is hard to exercise or do things you used to. Interruptions and not having childcare sometimes makes you time next to impossible.

These are some things that I did when the twins were babies:

  • I managed to walk most places while they were in the pram. (Can’t now due to no pram and kids too big – I could take them with me, however to do this I would have to walk slow and I hate that so would rather wait to go for a walk on my own)
  • I would book them into care while I went for a swim/aqua aerobics or went to the gym
  • I did stretching with them, and a bit of yoga.
  • I played with them in the garden and in parks. Running around helps us all.
  • Dancing to music with the twins in the living room. We all still do this and of course this burns calories and is fun
  • Move more when you do simple chores, like walking around the house.
  • Stand up when you fold the clothes

I know it is hard to get going, but even a small amount of exercise can change your mood and make your day better. Little steps help to get started. It doesn’t matter how much you do, just as long as you can keep it up and don’t hurt yourself in one session. There is nothing worse than over doing it and then hurting yourself. As a mother and the primary care taker of the kids I cannot afford to hurt myself so I need to go a little step at a time.

I have been guilty of doing too much too soon so I know what that is like also. It is not fun and at the time I felt very silly that I did it. Now I just take my time and do things slowly.

Do you have a Fitbit? What type do you have? Do you love yours as much as I love my new flex?

What is your greatest tip that you would love to share? Let us know.

Note: This is not a sponsored post for Fitbit Flex. I just love it and had to share. It is making me want to do more and I thought it might be something my lovely readers are interested in as well. Keeping fit and healthy is something that I am interested in.

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Time Out Idea: Kids Sleep Over With Family

After the twins birthday party, I was asked by their Great Aunt if we would be happy for the kids to have a sleep over at their place. I said that sounded fine, checked with hubby and he thought that would be a nice idea. She mentioned that this will allow us to have a break and for her to catch up with the kids.

Little did I know was that it was not just one night that she was thinking about, in fact it would be two nights and we would have the ENTIRE weekend to ourselves. To make it even better, the kids are being dropped off some time on the Monday…Yes, they are coming home Monday so we get to do whatever we want on the whole weekend!

The kids bags are packed. Ready to go to their sleep over tomorrow.

The kids bags are packed. Ready to go to their sleep over tomorrow.

I did think she had mistaken this coming weekend for the October Long Weekend and had to check. She told us the dates, 27th and the 28th of Sept, so we booked a hotel in the city for us for the Saturday thinking it was just one night. It gets hard with hubby’s work being away on a Sunday so Saturday is still good enough for us.

This sudden weekend by ourselves took us by surprise and got me thinking… Do your kids have a sleep over at relatives? I do understand that if they are too young this might not be possible, but if they are older it might be a great idea.

Holidays are tough when you have to keep the kids entertained and seem like you are always on the go with no rest. Kids visiting with relatives is great as they can learn from them, catch up, have adventures and just have fun with other people. I have found that on the odd time that the twins have slept over their Great Aunt’s they have had a wonderful time.

Lillian especially has been so excited she has packed multiple bags with so many things ready for tomorrow. All their bags are packed with my help today. I am not sure exactly what they have packed, but I think there are many toys, a music box, their perfume, and other important items that must go with them. It was so cute that she raced off to get it all done and her sister then helped get all the extra bags. I wonder what their Great Aunt will find when they unpack?

So I put it to you…

Are you able to have the kids/child sleep over at a relatives? It does not have to be for the entire weekend, one night is ample at times. The kids are so looking forward to their “two night sleep over” as they are calling it. They are looking forward to having adventures and being on their own with family, without mummy and daddy. They are saying how big they are now they are six.

This was unexpected and not planned, but it is going to be lovely…. Me Time, Us Time, sleeping in…. No one asking me to make them breakfast, well at least not till Tuesday.

It might be something to think about organising for next holidays or just the weekend? Start small and I am sure you will love the extra YOU time. It is also a cheap idea of the kids going somewhere without breaking the bank (Assuming you are in the same state and not too far away. If you are not that close it might not be possible)

Let us know if your kids have regular sleep overs with family members? What are their favourite parts of the trip or getaway? Send in your comments.

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