Book Review – The Golden Child by Wendy James

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This book is about looking into how bullying can effect a family but more so from the family of the bully rather than the other side.  Funnily enough I bought this book before I even watched 13 Reasons Why and so two heavy story lines in row.  This book is more around cyber bullying and the extent of it and off course the repercussions.

Beth and Dan have it all, a great life in America with their two girls, who are doing well in school, they seem to have it all.  Their girls are Lucy and Charlotte.  Lucy is the oldest daughter, she isn’t remotely close to being popular at school compared to her sister Charlotte who is the youngest.  Lucy does great at school, is truly the perfect child in the eyes of anyone really. Charlotte the younger, outspoken daughter, for her it’s all about being seen with the right crowd.

There has been a couple of bullying incidents involving Charlotte, the first saw the family leave America and head back home to Australia for a fresh start.  Off course Beth was a bit shocked at first but realised it was all an accident, and not intentional.  Soon they settled in Newcastle, they found a house and the girls started at a private all girls school.  It was all going well, Beth who is a blogger, found a job at a local politicians office, the girls were enjoying school, Charlotte was once again the popular girl, and Lucy was well Lucy, who throughout the book always seemed to be in the background.

Beth and Andi another mum from school, became friends in the hope of their daughters also becoming friends.  Andi’s daughter Sophie didn’t really have any friends, and wanted to fit in with everyone else.  The idea of being friends with Charlotte was beyond her wildest dreams!  She was ecstatic, except, Charlotte didn’t think being with Sophie was great for her reputation but their mum’s constantly had caught up forcing the girls together.

Then things once again went downhill, with Sophie being bullied over social media sites by lot’s of other kids in her school, including Charlotte.  In one of these post’s someone said to Sophie, “Why don’t you just go and kill yourself?”  Well, Sophie who was only 13 decided to try exactly that, she overdosed on sleeping pills.  Luckily she survived. But the incident, opened a can of worms.  Beth was beyond shocked, she was at the point were she believed she didn’t even know her own child, and she questioned herself as a parent where did she go wrong or where did she fail!  This not only effected their family but her friendship with Andi.

Sophie survived and had a new look on life, and she saw things a bit clearer now.  Slowly she started to notice things about her friends, including Charlotte and Lucy, and she put the pieces together.

Well the book bloody ended so abruptly, that I even asked my kindle WTF? Is that it? There is quite the twist at the end and I really wanted to know what happened next! But alas the book ended.

Happy reading!

Ronell x

 

Social Media Detox

I have been meaning to do this post for a while now and I’m not sure what has held me back but I am doing it now.  The whole thing might sound like I am just having a big rant and maybe I am.  I signed up to Facebook many years ago whilst living in Australia, and for me it was a great way to stay connected to my family and friends back home in South Africa.  However, over the years how we use social media has completely changed and I’m at the point where I am kinda getting over it.  To me it seems like now you have to disconnect to actually connect with people.  Make real connections.

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, you name it, it all just seems to have become a bit competitive.  At one stage I too was a social media addict and posted photos of everything and anything, like seriously who cares what I eat for dinner not many people to be honest.  I eat food just like everyone else.

People just seem so superficial now and that’s just my opinion, you can choose to agree or disagree that’s your choice.  When people post stuff now,  I don’t even know if it’s real, or is it just there so everyone else can think that their lives are just so amazing and awesome, compared to everyone else’s normal lives.  I think it has become a platform for people to show off a bit, look at my kids dressed in “Country Road” clothes or whatever designer wear, seriously I dress my kids in Warehouse, Kmart or Cotton on and even hand me downs, really whats the point dressing them up in expensive stuff when they grow so fast!

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If you look at your “friends” on Facebook, how many of them are truly your friends, and when was the last time you actually spoke to any of them?  I know there are some that I have not spoken to in years!  Every so often I go and do a clean out of who I actually share things with and now I am going to do an even bigger clean out, please don’t be offended if I remove you, it’s nothing personal, but if we haven’t engaged in a long time then it makes sense.

Here’s a great little video that you should watch!  Can We Auto-Correct Humanity?

I think there is definitely a place for Facebook, it can be very good for community pages, businesses, support groups, school groups.  Those are exceptionally useful.

Instagram holy moly, I mean there were days that I spent ages trying to bloody do a flat lay photo, or raid the house for black and white stuff so I could do a monochrome photo. It all has just become far to time consuming.  Again, these little tiles of square can sometimes get you feeling a bit down, because you look at other people’s feed’s and think wow look at the stuff they have or the places they go (admit it you feel that way too, it’s called being human), but then reality slaps you in the face, and reminds you once again, it’s all styled and edited.  We cannot go through life with everything being styled or in the perfect light, and don’t get me started about Instagram stories and Snapchat…for fucks sake, like seriously, how long do some of these people spend recording themselves talk???

Imagine, if people actually didn’t spend hours looking at themselves talk all day about what they are doing, and how they wish their hair was straighter or had more body, or about them getting their eyebrows feathered.  They will be astounded at the amount of spare time they have up their sleeves, try it people you might be surprised.

The worst one is when people are out walking/exercising and they are videoing themselves talking for such a long time and I think to myself, have they ever thought what they look like to onlookers, here they are walking holding a phone out in front of them talking!  It’s fucking hilarious and ridiculous.  I am so sick of seeing people constantly going on about all the packages that are arriving at their doorsteps, I got a few things given to me to promote by brands, but I am so glad I don’t get a shit load of stuff, because quite frankly I can’t be arsed. There are some people who spend all day running from one PR event to another, it’s just crazy to me, but hey they love it and so that’s their thing.

It sort of all came to me when I was at Adele’s concert and I was standing there in the rain and spending so much time taking videos of her singing, and I am watching her through my phone screen.  I thought to myself like seriously what the hell is wrong with me, I didn’t pay $150 to watch Adele through my phone screen.  I put my phone away and was completely present, and I sang and danced with my daughter for the rest of the time.

I have slowly stopped posting much on Instagram and yes I might have lost some followers but I am at the point now where I don’t really care, I don’t post much on my private Facebook account now either, because I want my life to be mine, and not for everyone else to have a look in on.

Instead now I spend more time reading, listening to music, and dancing it out with my girls!

Happy detoxing!

Ronell x

 

 

 

My view on 13 Reason’s Why! 

There has been a lot of hype around this new show on Netflix and there’s probably a 100 articles and views on it so I’m gonna pile mine on too.

We binge watched the whole season in a few days luckily the kids were away so we literally watched it for an entire day!!! As a parent it grips you even more.

It is quite confronting with the incidents that happen in the show like rape, drugs, alcohol and suicide.

It just goes to show how one small lie or rumour at the beginning starts a whole ripple effect in the main characters life who is Hannah. The whole time watching the show the thing I was thinking about the most is how oblivious the parents where to what was going on in each of their kids lives.

Some of the kids had great relationships with their parents but even so the parents didn’t pick up on the deep issues that their kids faced. I know kids especially teenagers are pretty clever when it comes to hiding things and putting on a show that everything’s fine, so if they do that and still have good relationships with their parents, how do we as parents find out if anything more serious is going on?

Off course you can’t interrogate them which will just make things worse. I suppose it just comes down to being open with them, being present when they do actually talk to you and try to pick up on any cues they may give you that something is wrong.

It was also interesting to see how the kids involved responded to everything once they found out how their behaviour added to the situation. Almost everyone one of them deflected the blame, only a couple actually stood up to the other kids and accepted how their actions together with everyone else’s contributed to Hannah taking her life.

Now the show got a lot of backlash from people everywhere, going on about it being to graphic, it shouldn’t be on TV and it’s so full on, the usual PC bullshit in my eyes.  The thing is we don’t live in the dark ages, we know that this sort of thing happens and we should be talking about it and helping people rather than pretending it doesn’t happen. I watched an interview on TV with the main characters and they said, that their main purpose of this show is to get people talking about mental illness and I think they have achieved it, because everyone is talking about it and is more aware of it.

Unfortunately, bullying these days in school start’s much earlier than high school.  Last year personally for our family we went through a tough year with our oldest daughter at school having the worst year and she was only 10.  Kids can be very mean and I have seen it and experienced it.  So for me watching this show I learnt a few more things.  Since our experiences last year, we have all become more open with each other and I am glad that my daughter knows she can come to me about anything, because she knows that we will always help her no matter what.

Selena Gomez who is one of the executive producer’s of the show has confirmed that the show will be returning for season 2 next year!  It will pick up in the aftermath of Hannah Baker’s death and the start of the characters’ complicated journeys toward healing and recovery.

No parent or child should go through this, so yes I would encourage, especially parents to watch this show, whether you want to watch it with your teenagers that’s your call, but definitely watch it.

Ronell x

 

I’ve Travelled The World Through Books

I have not physically travelled to a lot of places around the world, but I was transported globally through the many books I have read.  From Dublin, Ireland, to New York, out to the country in Texas, and down under in Australia (disclaimer: I did actually live in Oz for a few years!) and off course Europe.  I can name a few places, and through these books I could smell, taste and get a glimpse of being there and experiencing everything it has to offer.

My love for reading began at a very early age.  One memory that stands out to me is when I was around 11 or 12 and still in primary school.  It’s not a good memory but it always has stuck with me for some reason.  We were given a book to read and it was time for our group to come to the front of the class, and we all had to sit down with the teacher.  Anyway, my teacher had asked me, “When you read the book Ronell, did you see what you were reading in your mind, like watching a movie?”  Off course I saw every word that I read come to life, however I thought that wasn’t meant to happen when you read and that I was loosing my mind, so I said to the teacher, “no I didn’t see anything when I read”.  Well I got in a bit of trouble with the teacher and I was told off for being stupid and not being able to read properly.  I was by this stage to embarrassed to tell him the truth, so I just went with him thinking I couldn’t read properly.

I soon learnt that I was not loosing my mind and that’s exactly what is meant to happen when you read, so I read all the time like a crazy person, because for me it was like watching a movie.  When I was in high school, I used to be in my room for hours reading, and my mum used to scold me for being stuck in my room, because she thought I was checking out the boys walking by our house, but I was really reading.  I couldn’t afford to buy any books so I borrowed loads from the library and used to read my mum’s old books and my sister’s books that I could find.  I do remember reading a Danielle Steel book in high school (possibly not a good choice of book at that age).

When I started working I was ecstatic because I could finally buy books, and I read pretty fast so I was churning through the books.  I remember being swept away with Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind (I even bought the DVD’s based on the book and the sequel),  and then going back even further in time with Ken Follett.  Oh my gosh I could go on with all the different types of books that I have read.  A lot of people read to fall asleep, but when I read it’s the opposite, I get so absorbed into the book that I forget about time.  Once I got married, the love affair with reading continued (I actually don’t think this affair will ever end), except now we were running out of space to store these books, and they were not cheap either, so my husband bought me a kindle.  I love my kindle, but I miss real books especially the smell and feel of them, you know you love it too!

Now that I have kids of my own, I want to pass on that love of books to them, and I think I may have given them the book bug.  I buy them books over sweet treats and toys any day.  Every occasion that we celebrate there is always a book included in their gifts.

I would like to share with you the two most recent books I bought for the girls which are:

1.  Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls by Elena Favilli & Franesca Cavallo

I love this book!!!  I have bought one for each girl to have with them always.  This book reinvent’s fairy tales, inspiring girls with the stories of 100 heroic women.  These are real life stories.  I want my girls to know, that you don’t need to be a damsel in distress or wait for Prince Charming to always save you.  I want them to read this and know they can be strong, independent women when they grow up, and that no dream is unattainable. That whatever their passion is in life, to go for it and don’t let anyone tell them they can’t do it. The book has been illustrated by 60 women artists from every corner of the globe as well.  RRP $39.99

2.  Wonder by R.J Palacio

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This book has got some rave reviews, some of which are:

‘Has the power to move hearts and change minds’ – Guardian

It wreaks emotional havoc’ – Independent

‘Tremendously uplifting and a novel of all-too-rare power’ – Sunday Express

August Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school—until now. He’s about to start 5th grade at Beecher Prep, and if you’ve ever been the new kid then you know how hard that can be. The thing is Auggie’s just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he’s just like them, despite appearances? (insert from goodreads)

So that’s just a snippet of what the book is about and I liked it because it was different to your usual kids stories. RRP $22.99

I hope I didn’t bore you with my ramblings about reading, but like me I know that there are lots of other book lovers out there who share the same passion.  I currently have 3 books that I’m reading on the go!

Right I better stop now because I can go on forever about reading!  I would love to hear about how your love for reading began, if your’e a bookworm like me.

Happy reading!

Ronell x

 

 

Fo Guang Shan Buddhist Temple 

This morning we visited the Fo Guang Shan Buddhist Temple (North Island – NZ) in Flatbush.

Looking at it from the outside you don’t quite grasp the size of it until you enter. The temple occupies an area of 4 hectares. The temple was officially opened in 2007.


The courtyard was designed to look similar to farming fields and the grounds around the temple are just immaculate.


There is also a wishing bell that you can make a wish and say a little prayer then ring the bell.


Along the courtyard are trees where from their branches hang ribbons which you can purchase from the temple and write your wish/prayer on then hang them on the tree.


Also dotted around the zen gardens are these cute Buddha statues.



The Bell and the Drum are important Buddhist instruments. The bell is made of cast iron and weighs 3000kg, the Drum weighs 300kg. Both instruments are used daily to signify the start and the end of each day.



Next we visited the Pagoda.  The Pagoda at Fo Guang Shan is built like a memorial garden. This place is not only a place where loved ones are laid to rest but also a place where you can offer respect and remembrance. There is a big water feature at the entrance of this as water is the source of life.


After this we went and visited the art galleries within the temple. There was a great gallery especially for kids where they get to see how the Buddha grew up. It was really pretty and colourful.


In the photo above you will see little coloured papers pinned to the wall which kids have written their wishes on.

After all of that it was time for something to eat so we headed to the Water Drop Vegetable cafe. The cafe has beautiful rustic wooden furniture. Adam and I ordered the curried roti snack! It was delicious.


There are a few options for kids too. Miss K had some plain hot chips, Miss C had a muffin. There is also an array of tea available.

The temple is free to enter, there are a few donation boxes around the place where you can make a donation.

The only thing I would say is that if you are taking kids they need to be respectful of the temple and what it stands for. I have seen a few kids this morning that were running around and climbing on the statues and being extremely loud. It is not a playground, and there were people praying at the different shrines throughout the day.  So be mindful.

It was a great family outing today and we got a lot out of it.

Hope you visit it soon.

Ronell x

Art Like No Other

A couple of years back we visited Gibbs farm.  Gibbs Farm is privately owned and is located near the Kaipara Harbour, the biggest harbour in the Southern Hemisphere.  It is here at Gibb’s farm that a few artists get to showcase their sculptures on the 1000 acre farm.

The farm is only open monthly to the public by prior appointment, where you get to walk around and view each sculpture. There is no fee to enter the farm. They offer a few dates where they take bookings but be quick!  Spaces book out so you  need to book in advance.  We visited in Spring, and there was a lot of rain!!  The walk around the farm takes a good 3-4 hours, and trust me it is long, not sure how, but our girls managed to walk the whole way without complaining.  Until that time when Miss C needed to do a wee and there were no toilets near us, so we had to find a tree pretty quick smart!

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You can take younger children but the roads are a bit rough so not that great for strollers unless you have one of those heavy-duty 4×4 prams that can go off roading.  Even though the weather was pretty shit, it didn’t stop people visiting.  The only time the farm is closed is during the winter months.  There are plenty of animals about too, Ostrich, zebras, giraffes you name it.  The cool thing is you can get up close and personal with the giraffes and feed them.

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In summer it would be even more amazing, as you can pack a picnic and sit down anywhere really and soak it all in.  If you are going in wet weather, definitely pack a spare set of clothes to change into once you have finished your visit.

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Both our girls loved the freedom of exploring, and the sheer size of the sculptures where breath-taking!

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We had a great time visiting and it wore out the kids too…hooray!  If you would like more information on Gibbs Farm, click here.

To make a booking to visit, click here for the reservations form.

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Enjoy!

Ronell x

Book Review – My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella

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You know it’s a good book when you think about it every waking minute and try to work out when is the next time I get to read it.  At one stage I had it sitting in my recipe holder, so I read whilst I cooked!  Fair to say I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

Like Katie (Cat) everyone has this image of living the London or New York life, (I know you have thought about it!) thanks to Sex and the City, we all want to experience the NY life, drink Starbucks coffee and wear amazing clothes and hail a yellow cab.  Same with London, wrapping up in woolen coats, sitting in a corner cafe sipping a hot drink whilst it rained outside, all the while looking ever so professional, hair straight and tied back, black glasses (you possibly have perfect vision but still insist on wearing it for “the look”).

I know a lot of books I have read over time, I feel like I want to go to these places, well that is how it is for Katie.  Her dream was to work and live in London, she has an amazing Instagram account, of perfect photos showcasing her life in London, fancy restaurants, hot chocolates, food, buildings…..only thing is that was all a pretence.  Her IG account is what she aspired her London life to be,  but it was far from what her actual life living in London was.  It was hard, and not like the fantasy she had in mind.

I suppose this is a bit like real life, people always perfect IG feeds, but we will never really know who the real person is behind all of that.

When she finally hit’s rock bottom after loosing her job in London it was time to return home, back to the farm.  That’s where she is truly herself and only when she is herself, she starts to shine!  She becomes more confident in who she is as a person and over time realises she doesn’t need to pretend or have a fake persona.  This makes her stronger.

There were some really funny bits in the book too that makes you laugh out.  Off course there is a handsome guy thrown in the mix too.  In the end she just might get the life she always dreamed off however, it wasn’t a straight road getting there.

Hope you enjoy reading this as much as I did, I was actually a bit sad that the book ended!   After reading this book I know, I will always choose real over perfect!

Ah well, time to find another good read!

Ronell x