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

 

 

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

Whoa Studios..is totally Whoa!!!


Whoa studios is the new family entertainment place to be in Auckland.  You can find the studio’s in Henderson.

They put on amazing shows for the kids. So if you are heading to the studios, there is no entry fee to go into the grounds.  If the kids just want to play on the playground then you only buy a pass for that, or if you are seeing a show then you pay to the see the show. The general admission cost is $25 for the show, child ticket holders also receive complimentary pass to the playground.  If you don’t want to watch a show then you can pay $10 for a child over 3 for an all day access to the park.  Under 3’s are free with a paying sibling. Then you sit back and buy a coffee and relax.


The park is great and our girls loved the Whoa Web, which is New Zealand’s only crocheted play net.  We tried to convince them to go check out other parts of the playground but nope they didn’t want to!


So whilst the kids are playing you can grab a coffee from The Grounds Restaurant/Cafe. The Grounds Restaurant is owned and run by Executive Chef Ben Bailey, and it was great to see him in action in the kitchen.  I love that you can see all the way through the kitchen, and it was busy, lot’s of hands on deck.  The reason for this is because everything is made in house fresh everyday, including the array of ice creams which include vegan ice creams as well.


The idea behind the restaurant is based around family eating so you order a few dishes and share, now don’t be mistaken in thinking that because it says “family” you will find chicken nuggets and chips on the menu…oh no!  There is no trace of that sort of meals anywhere, which I was rather pleased about.  You can order kids bolognese, cheese toasties, chicken tenders, etc.  It’s homemade wholesome food.


There is also a lovely little toy store in there, where you can buy merchandise and other toys and great seating areas inside to relax in.


It’s a wonderful place and we will certainly be back again!

Ronell x

Let Kids Get Bored

School’s out which means we are probably going to hear, “Muuuummmm, I’m bored!” a lot. Well, we are day 3 into the holidays and it is fair to say I have heard it a few times today already.

I am all for going on trips and being out and about from time to time.  But the thing is, it is bloody exhausting and can be expensive too if you choose activities that you have to pay for.  I have said to my girls I am not employed by them as their school holiday project planner, where each day there needs to be an activity planned.  There are a few parents out there that feel their kids need to be entertained every day in some shape or form.  Not me!

I make sure we have a few days every week where we are at home with nothing planned, yes the girls moan like it’s the end of the world, but boredom in children sparks creativity and imagination.  I also take away any devices. If we are always creating scenarios/activities for them, then their brains are just not getting exercised at all!

Growing up, we never did much activities where my mum had to drive us somewhere in the school holidays.  The neighbourhood kids all got together and played, whether it was baseball in the back fields or riding bikes.  My brother and I used to set up these obstacle courses in our yard and race each other, the amount of games we used to come up with where endless with whatever we could find in the house or yard.

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You might think to yourself, “oh I’m such a lazy/bad parent”, especially when you see other families doing so much stuff with their kids, but, YOU ARE NOT because you are giving your children something priceless, the opportunity to be creative and learn with play.

Don’t get me wrong going out and doing things is great fun, but it doesn’t need to be everyday or all the time that your children become dependant on it.

So go forth parents and let them be bored!

Ronell x

Christmas Gifts – Save or Splurge

Christmas is such a magical time of year, there are fairy lights everywhere, christmas songs playing in the shopping malls, there are lot’s of parties to go to and great food.  But, it’s the season that also bleeds you dry, as in leaves you broke!  Unless you’re one of those super organised people and buy your gifts throughout the year and at the big mid year sales, then your’e good.  We all aim to do this however, not many of us are successful.

Lots of people tackle Christmas gifts differently, in my family for the adults we do a secret santa, which is so much fun and when you are part of a big family it is a good way of keeping costs down as well.  The kids however, get gifts from everyone, and I feel christmas gifts are more for the kids than the adults, in my opinion anyway. Adam and I usually buy something for each other as well, but again we keep to a budget.

So I would love to know what’s the deal with buying Xmas gifts in your family?  We usually get the girls one big present from us (Santa aint taking credit for that one), and a few small ones which are from Santa.  They also get a new set of pj’s each christmas.  My husband sometimes likes to do lots of small gifts so the girls have loads to open, but really sitting for over an hour unwrapping gifts!!!    I would rather buy a few things that are good quality, rather than ending up with a shit load of small gifts everywhere that get lost or broken over time.

Do you have a budget that you stick to you? Is there a certain number of gifts that you give out per child?  Besides your own children, what about your Christmas catch ups with your friends and if there is a big group of you, how do you tackle that?

We did this cool thing last year with our friends and their kids, each person buys a gift according to the number of kids you have, I have two girls so I bought two gifts.  There was a budget I think of $10 and everyone wraps the gifts (unlabeled) and places them on a table.  The kids then pick numbers from a hat, and that’s the order that they go up to the table and choose a gift.  They absolutely loved it and it was so much fun to watch them.

Now don’t forget teacher gifts and something for the class!!!  So you can see how slowly all this starts to add up!!  But in saying that I do love giving gifts, I would rather give a gift than get one myself.  One year for my daughters class I put together little lolly bags, which was great to do, and who can resist packing maltesers! I also got a personalised gift for the teacher from Identity Direct.

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Just to put it out there we are mid way through November and I have not done any Christmas shopping at all!  I will be the crazy lady running around the mall.  Here are just a couple of websites to help with finding some cool gifts.

Mighty Ape

Fish Pond

The Book Depository

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Shut the front door

For Keeps

Crave Home

Have fun shopping!

Ronell x

 

Meet Charlie – Our Elf on the Shelf Christmas Tradition

First of all I needed to make sure there were no kids around when writing this post, or else the secret is out!!!

The story behind Elf on the Shelf, when you purchase your elf, you can choose either a girl or a boy, and since our household has a lot of girls we thought we even it out and chose a boy, and you can choose an elf with either light skin or dark skin.  Our Elf arrived with a book which explains what his job as a scout elf is, and the kids get to name the elf as well. Our elf is called Charlie Shera.

The Elf is sent from the North Pole to help Santa Claus manage his naughty and nice lists. Each day the elf keeps an eye on the children and then at night he returns to Santa to report back on what he has seen during the day, which helps Santa make his naughty and nice list.

Each morning, the elf returns and is usually in a different place each time. My girls love to wake up and race around the house looking for Charlie each morning.

It’s great because I often remind the children that Charlie is watching and if they are bad, he is going to tell Santa all about it!

The first year it was all gun’s blazing, I even brought out Charlie a few days before 1/12, I had so many ideas as to what to do with him each night so the kids can try and find him in the morning.  Here’s a snippet of Charlie’s first year with us.

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The thing with traditions is it’s something that when you start, you have to keep doing it each year after, so that it sticks.  By the second year the novelty for Adam and I dropped a little because we used to forget each night, and then at about 9pm we would be like, “shit!!! we need to find a place for Charlie!”.  Then off course we are scrambling around the house trying to figure out something funny to do, and at that time at night, not a lot of inspiration is happening.

Below are some photos of what Charlie got up to during his second year with us!

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With Christmas almost upon, Charlie will surely be making an appearance this year, however I’m thinking after about day 3 he just might have a Dr’s certificate with him, putting him off all Elf duties for a bit!!!

I would love to hear about any Christmas traditions that you have started as a family, and if you do have your own Elf on the Shelf, then please help me with some inspiration!

Ronell x

Schools & No Parking Zones

I’m sure there are many schools here in New Zealand that probably face this issue on a daily basis, I know for sure here on the North Shore it is quite a common problem.  We have parents/caregivers every day parking in areas that are clearly marked “No Parking”, but they still feel the need to park there.  Whenever I speak to parents I always hear, “oh maybe they are foreign and don’t understand”, this could be the case maybe for some, but if you are told then learn from it, don’t be a repeat offender.

We have had the council parking wardens who come to our school from time to time and issue tickets, but from what I am told they can’t come everyday because they have to go to so many schools.  I reckon the council need’s to give me one of those ticket machines, and just watch me hand those tickets out.  We have many incidents where parent’s are told to drive along, and not only do they become abusive to the other parent but on occasions to the teacher on duty.  Seriously, what the hell is wrong with people?  Last term I rang and complained to the council advising them we need more wardens more regularly as people are just not listening.

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The signs are clearly not that hard to read, surely?  Another area, being the drop off zone is a problem, some parents obviously don’t know time, 2 mins is not 10 mins!!!  Drop and go people, if not drive further down and park!

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So here is my letter to the “Ignorant Parent”….

Dear Ignorant Parent, 

I have two very precious girls aged 5 & 10, who walk to school everyday and love it.  They want to be independent like big girls and walk by themselves without me.  But you see, every time they leave home, my heart goes with them.  You are probably wondering why, well I have seen you “the ignorant parent” at school drop off’s and pick up’s doing 3 point turns and U turns into private driveways across the footpaths that my girls walk on.  There have been so many incidents were kids were almost run over.  I as a parent would hate to get a call to say my child has been in an accident, nor would you want to get that same call about your child.  We all want our kids to be safe, and being part of a close-knit community (as many are), we should all be looking out for each others children and protecting them, not endangering them because you are too lazy to get off your arse and walk a few extra metres to the school gates.

Do you think the rules don’t apply to you?  Are you above the rules and better than the rest of us? Well here’s the thing YOU ARE NOT!!!  My oldest daughter has just begun her duty as a road patroller, which is a big deal for the kids and quite nerve wrecking too, and when you park in areas that is clearly No Parking, the kids can’t see past the blind corner, so how are they to safely help hundred’s of kids cross the road?

So the next time you decide to illegally park or do dangerous turns, think about your own child for a second and then maybe the rest of our children will be safe!  Just remember, we will all be watching you!

If there is a school somewhere that you know of or your kid’s school and they have this problem under control please share this with me as I would love to learn about way’s that we can overcome this issue.

Ronell x