Merry Christmas and a happy, bright and healthy 2018 to each and everyone one of you! Sending you all a huge, warm family hug xoxo
See you in the new year. Stay safe and filled with grace.
Sunday Reflections – Wisdom
Resplendent and unfading is wisdom, and she is readily perceived by those who love her, and found by those who seek her. She hastens to make herself known in anticipation of their desire; Whoever watches for her at dawn shall not be disappointed, for he shall find her sitting by his gate. For taking thought of wisdom is the perfection of prudence, and whoever for her sake keeps vigil shall quickly be free from care; because she makes her own rounds, seeking those worthy of her, and graciously appears to them in the ways, and meets them with all solicitude – Wisdom 6:12-16
I haven’t posted a Reflections post in a while, the ‘Love is Gentle’ post might have been the last one, which was ages ago and I always seem to get a lot of positive feedback about them from you all so I thought it’s way overdue for another one. That and I just want to journal some things that the kids have been asking – they’re at such an amazing age right now…I’m loving their sense of wonderment.
I’ve been really taking a leaf out of my kids’ books and reading a lot again and asking lots of questions.
Like in the parable this week, what are the twists? What do they mean? What if the five bridesmaids really did want to share but the oil wasn’t something that couldn’t be shared? So much symbolism…and when you seek out answers, everything all of a sudden seems so much more deeper and meaningful…and you wonder why you never asked certain questions before. My aunty gave the hubby and I a subscription to Dr Brant Pitre’s weekly explanation of readings as a Christmas present last year and it’s been a very insightful and interesting series.
“When you become an adult, do you stop being scared of nightmares?”, was a question our five year old asked us the other night.
“Why did God make us?”
“Why are there people in the world?”, are some other queries that our little boy has been pondering when he was only four.
And assuming that there is a God, what answer would you give your kid if they asked you that at the age of four? And what would your answer be if they were older?
Just recently he had his birthday party and asked if we could give some of his money to the poor, in the city…”the ones with no houses”. It’s so amazing that he notices, remembers, and makes connections.
I can’t get enough of his questions and his inquisitive nature right now. His curiosity sparks my own and I hope he always has the courage to seek out answers…to seek wisdom and to do good.
Hope this makes sense and if not it’s ok. As I said I kinda just want to journal some of these things the kids get up to and are interested in before they grow up and I forget!
What are some questions you’ve been asking recently? How do you know you’ve found the answer?
Roadtrips – Yarrawonga/Mulwala
With a spot of fishing along the Murray, an eerily beautiful lake of dead trees, fresh local produce, an unexpected cactus country and gorgeous vineyards including one with a castle, you’ll be sure to find some favourite new places for a wander.
Yarrawonga, Mulwala and Nurmurkah. When I hear these words, my mind wanders to a time of playful holidays, sleeping upstairs in the loft with family friends and swimming, playing tennis, squash and games all day every day. Ah, the childhood memories. Nearly every single holiday period, or at least that’s how I remember it, Mum and Papa would load up the car and whisk us off on another road trip adventure.
Now we get relive those days all over again with our own kids in tow! If you’re looking to get away to a relaxed, welcoming town, then look no further than Yarrawonga and its surrounds. With the sunny spring weekends popping up around the corner, below are some treasures to be found along the Murray river trail.
Murray Valley Resort – Murray Valley Highway, Yarrawonga
Yarrawonga is just over three hours drive from the Melbourne CBD up the Hume on M31 located along the Murray River, with its nearby neighbour town Mulwala just across the border in NSW. One of the main attractions in the area is Lake Mulwala where you can fish, swim and engage in some fun water sports or a relaxing cruise. The Murray Valley Resort we stayed at is close to all the local attractions.
The Murray Valley Resort is an old time favourite as it’s perfect for families. We stayed in what they call a General Apartment which had two sofa beds in front of the tv and a queen size bed in the downstairs bedroom and, upstairs it had two single beds. There are guest laundries available on site. The recreational facilities are well maintained and are all found within the resort grounds including:
– indoor and outdoor swimming pools and spas
– tennis courts (a kids size one and one for the adults!)
– a games room with computer games, pinball machines and table tennis
– a squash court
– an 18 hole mini golf course
– mountain bikes and fishing rods available to hire
– a playground for the kids
– 16 outdoor, undercover BBQ areas and
– the adults lounge where you can relax kid free
There are also organised activities like meet and greets, pancake mornings, tours of the Rutherglen region and Lake Mulwala which is all close-by.
Tip: One thing that surprised me was that as we were unloading all our bags and belongings from the car, there were little trolleys along the side of the building waiting to be used to help transport luggage from the carpark to your room. Don’t forget to use them if you need. How handy – it’s the little things! Make sure you to check out the week’s activities and sign up at reception to reserve your place – the kids loved the all you can eat pancake breakfast!
Another great place to stay is right on the waterfront of Lake Mulwala at the Ski Club Holiday Park. We stayed there one time when we went to teach dance at the local schools in the area and we absolutely loved it! The apartments were clean, spacious and right on the lake so we were able to chill outside and enjoy the view and also participate in some super fun water activities!
Rutherglen Farmers Market – Rutherglen Lions Park, Douglas street, Rutherglen
In search for some fresh, local produce and somewhere to shop for some goodies for the week ahead, we ventured out to Rutherglen. Just over half an hour’s drive from Yarrawonga, we visited the Rutherglen Farmers Market which is held on the second Sunday of every month and boy were we spoilt for choice. We left with armloads of; garlic and herb sausages from Grass Roots Beef – GMO-free, 100% grass-fed beef, marinated ribs from Rutherglen Berkshire, chill bacon jam and a big stick of chilli coated salami from Salami shack, jars of chilli chutney and chilli jam from Chilli Pepper Farm (we’ve been eating the chilli jam with everything from crackers, with meat and in our wraps!), a round flavoursome cherry pie from Greta Vale Orchard and some loaves of rye and fruit bread from Milawa Bread Artisan Bakers.
Tip: Bring with your own bags with you to help reduce waste. Have a chat with the friendly stallholders and learn something new. Try something you wouldn’t normally buy and perhaps learn a new recipe. I didn’t know I’d like chilli jam so much – we’ve been eating it with everything lately!
Various wineries in the Rutherglen region
Every time we have family and friends visiting from overseas, my parents taking them on road trips around the state…the 12 Apostles, Phillip Island, Maroondah Dam and various wineries are just some of the sights I remember spending childhood weekends wandering. I was only little but the wine tasting has continued on as something my parents love to do. After our morning pit stop at the market, we made our way to couple of the wineries in Rutherglen region.
All Saints Wine – 315 All Saints Road, Wahgunyah
The picturesque driveway superbly framed by strong, breathtaking English Elm trees ushers you into the view of the castle with its turrets and tower welcoming you to the expansive All Saints Wines estate established in 1864 by George Sutherland Smith and John Banks from Scotland. The majestic trees are some of the oldest in Australia planted around 1880 and the Chinese dormitories on the property which are over 100 years old are the last remaining of their type in Australia.
We enjoyed a wine tasting, a cheese platter picnic next to the duck pond complete with nosey chickens scuffling around, and the scene of the beautiful surrounds taking us back into a time in Australia’s pioneering history (along with the rows of vines, we visited the old Chinese dormitories where Chinese immigrants stayed while they worked in the vineyard in the 1860s and 1870s). The kids were in awe (or in shock) when I explained that the tin shed structure with the sunlight piercing through the little holes in the roof and walls was were the workers slept and ate.
Tip: To keep the kids occupied while you surrender to a glass or two, there is a little kids table complete with pictures of castles for them to colour in. We took home some bottles of the All Saints Estate Durif and the NV All Saints Estate Grand Tawny. There is also a bicycle trail to their sister vineyard, St Leonards, if you’re up for a ride.
Campbells of Rutherglen – 4603 Murray Valley Highway
Another winery established by a family of Scottish heritage, Campbell Wines, had its first vine planted in 1870 by John Campbell who worked at the nearby gold mines during the rush which established the Rutherglen township. The Rutherglen region is well known for the robust reds and fortified wines, and at Campbells, delicate white wines were able to be made with their sophisticated cooling and fermentation equipment implemented in the 1970’s, a first for the region (see Campbells – Our History).
Tip: Have a chat to the friendly and knowledgeable staff while you sip through your wines. There are plenty of wine barrels big and small around the back that make for pretty photos. From this winery we brought home some bottles of the Durif, Tempranillo and The Empire (which I am currently sipping as I type!).
Belle’s Cafe – 76 Belmore street, Yarrawonga
When you’re trying to pick a cafe to eat at in a place far away from home, how do you decide which one to go to? There are so many to choose from along the main strip of the town. Our indecisiveness as we walked down Belmore street was met with my four year old son’s keen eye for kid-friendly cafes! After quickly looking through the front window and seeing a courtyard at the back, he exclaimed, “Let’s eat at this one!”. What a great choice! At Belle’s Cafe we were able to enjoy the sunshine amongst fruit trees and herbs growing next to our tables.
TIP: The Buffalo style calamari and the burger were pretty awesome. Or try the soup special of the day. And if it’s a nice day, dining outside in the backyard courtyard is a must!
Belmore street is the main shopping strip in Yarrawonga and there are some pretty little gems to be found. Whether you’re looking for some gorgeous decor for your home or stylish, trendy clothing for yourself or the family, you’re sure to find something to bring home with you.
TIP: Check out Blooms of Yarrawonga for loads of little treasure and also fresh blooms so pretty to look at. I ordered a bouquet of natives for my mum as it was her birthday while we were there. Blooms of Yarrawonga delivered the little surprise to her on time to the resort we were staying at. Five stars for prompt service with a smile!
Lake Mulwala is a man made lake and with it’s calm waters and wide open space it’s the perfect place to get into some jet skiing and water sports! Ghostly red river gums that can be found at the lake provides a serene and interesting backdrop for a family picnic or walk as the sun sets.
TIP: Along with water sports and playgrounds, check out Chinaman’s Island Walking track. It’s a 2km return walk from the Yarrawonga Yacht club car park.
This area known as the Sun Country is home to a quirky and fun loving, family owned Cactus Country. Just about a half hour drive from Yarrawonga this cactus wonderland draws you in and as soon as you drive into the property. Cheerful welcome signs makes you feel like you’re in for an adventure.
The family run business cares for over 3000 species of cacti that have been grown on the property for over 40 years. With 10 acres (and growing!) of giant, unique and enigmatic cacti to explore, you’ll be surprised at this gem of the place along the Murray. So many Insta photo opps and they even provide large colorful Mexican hats for you as props!
TIP: You need to check out their story here! I love reading about people’s stories and journeys. I find it so interesting to see how they start out. Make sure you check out the cafe selling souvenirs and plant to take home and cake and ice cream made from cactus!
Roadtripping with the fam has got to be one of my favourite past times.
What are some of your favourite destinations to explore? Please share in the comments below – we’d love to check them out!
Have a great rest of the week!
Fun & Functional – Trunki, a Kid’s Ultimate Travel Essential
Sun’s out, kids are out and it’s got me reminiscing about our holiday this time last year. It was our first trip taking Hannah overseas and the thought of going through airport queues and waiting in lines made me a little nervous. Not to mention thinking about what to pack, how to pack it and how we’d go with a single pram instead of double – Mr D and Little Miss H were 3 years old and 9 months back then so I was really thinking we’d need a double pram. But because we had this amazing little thing called a Trunki, traveling was a breeze! This little suitcase designed for kids truly did make the travel time as exciting as the destination itself!
Here are 5 reasons why we love our Trunki!:
I first saw these in the airport when we were dropping our parents off for one of their many traveling adventures. I remember seeing how happy this kid was being rolled around the winding queues and thought to myself that when I travel with kids I think I need to get one of those! Turns out they’re not only fun for the kids but for us parents too. Hashtag, Winning!
We used our Trunki as carry on and it fit nicely in the compartment above our seats on the plane. It’s carry on size meant that we could fit nappies, spare clothes, snacks, toys and activities all in one place. Our little 3 year old loved the fact that he had his own little suitcase that he even started packing it himself when we first bought it. Of course I went in when he wasn’t looking and re-packed it nice and neatly, rolling up the clothes and making sure I made use of the space.
BRIGHT COLOURS & PATTERNS
We love the cheerfully bright colours that the Trunki comes in and since its birth in 2006 there have been various different animals and themed Trunkis that have been released. My son wanted the orange tiger designed named Tipu pretending he was riding Tipu through the jungle – so many different uses! I think the bright yellow Bernard Bee one is super cute and of course you can’t go wrong with your own personalized version where you can pick your own colours and design it yourself! Daniel loves his Trunki so much that he even wanted to buy his little cousin Maddy one – we bought her the pink Trixie Trunki.
FORM AND FUNCTION
With its infamous appearance in the UK series, Dragon’s Den, creator Rob Law and his team of imagineers believe in making every journey just as enjoyable as the destination. With each year comes improvement in design and function. We love that our Trunki comes with a strap that you can either use to pull your child along or clip it onto the other side and use it as a handbag strap to carry the Trunki on your shoulder!
Horn-like handle bars is what our 3yo holds on to as he zooms around and the curved design makes the Trunki a comfortable seat when waiting around. It is also well-made and super sturdy.
RIDE ON BY
A suitcase that you can ride on – now that’s a winner for both the kids and us parents. One, we don’t have to strain ourselves having to carry all our luggage plus a tired, grumpy toddler and two, the kids have a tonne of fun whizzing through the terminal to the boarding gates.
Traveling home from Manila with two kids and a truckload of pasalubong (gifts).
Inside the Trunki there is a little elastic pocket to organize your things and also a strap or ‘seatbelt’ to hold your little toy travellers or clothes in place. The Trunki design has evolved through the years and built in stabilisers help to prevent Mr D from toppling over. The case is sturdy, solid and very well made. Rubber around the edges helps from little fingers getting hurt when closing and the wheels roll very smoothly. The Trunki even has a little key that you can use to lock your child’s all important treasures with.
The first trip we took the Trunki on was an overseas flight where we boarded a cruise that took us from Hong Kong to Xiamen to Okinawa then back to Hong Kong. From waiting in check in queues, flying through to the boarding gates like we were on a magic broom, then more walking through the cruiseline check in hall and boarding the ship, the Trunki made everything so much easier exploring the world with our then 3yo and 9 month old. Since then we’ve used the Trunki on road trips, sleepovers and weekend adventures, as well as a trip to the Philippines where it proved very useful as a seat when waiting around. I wouldn’t recommend using it on the streets and paths – it is much more useful on smooth surfaces like airports, hotels and boarding halls.
We love our Trunki and would highly recommend it to parents of children 3+ as a fun and functional travel essential. We’ve used it so many times and it still looks good as new!
If you’re interested in reading more about our travels and pick up some tips along the way check out my post about Our First Time Cruising, Traveling to the Philippines and our Ultimate Guide to Kidzania Manila.
What other travel essentials would you recommend when traveling with kids?
Have a great week and remember to enjoy the ride as much as the destination! xoxo
Touching down in Hong Kong with our two sleeping beauties!This is all the luggage we took (plus our handcarry bags) for 2 adults, 1 preschooler and 1 toddler when we went on a 9 day holiday Melbourne – Hong Kong – Xiamen, China – Okinawa, Japan – Hong Kong then back to Melbourne #travelinglight
All smiles as we depart for our first trip overseas as a family of four!
Our holiday to the Philippines earlier this year included a lot of domestic flights as well but travelling light was key to a fabulous holiday – that and the fact that we travelled with family as a party of 12 so many hands make light work!
Sadie Black Cafe – 31 Perth Ave, Albion
What does a mum, retired principal, behavioural consultant and teacher have in common? Apparently a love for ongoing learning, new cafes and a good chat. As I sit soaking up the sun’s warm rays, friendly conversation amongst four strangers opens up and illustrates what good coffee in a relaxed setting can create – good morning vibes.
Along a strip of local shops including the Polish deli, Mitko, known for their donuts and smallgoods, the arrival of newly opened Sadie Black Cafe in Melbourne’s western suburb of Albion has been long awaited by the locals. And by locals I don’t just mean those living walking distance away, but also from the surrounding suburbs. Along with well-loved places such as Eating Station and Go West, Sadie Black adds another gem to the cafe culture brewing in the West.
p style=”text-align: center;”>So nice meeting new people, I ended up leaving the cafe over an hour later…but not before finishing this yummy stack of pancakes!
One way to keep Little Miss H occupied is to give her pen and paper.
Albion is approximately 13kms from Melbourne’s CBD. Weatherboard and Californian bungalows in need of some tlc can be found on comfortable sized lots, and with scenic parts of Kororoit creek in the area, you can see why there’s been a steady interest in this area of town.
My smooth almond latte wakes me up and my berry compote-covered pancakes are beautifully presented. The serving size is very generous yet Little Miss H and I manage to polish it off nicely. Indulging in fluffy pancakes and full of berries, bananas and creme fraiche, we almost lick the plate clean!
A cute little courtyard out the back and lovely hanging indoor plants suspended from the roof had Little Miss H intrigued as this mama sat listening to stories about the evolution of the area from 40 years ago.
It was an inspiring morning being in the company of such passionate teachers, and with my own background in learning and development maybe our passion for helping families and the youth will bring us together again in a venture that involves ongoing learning – such an unexpected morning delight.
It was late in spring and the buds still refused to open. Tightly wrapped up in themselves, they were as hard as stones.
The wind shook them. The hail beat them. The frost squeezed them in a fist of iron.
All three shouted, “Open up! Open up!”
Instead of opening up, the buds reinforced their shells, and retreated even more deeply into themselves.
Then along came the sun.
It issued no threats and made no demands.
It just created a more friendly climate.
And what happened?
Almost overnight the buds began to soften and expand.
Then their shells cracked, and they burst out.
If you love, you are gentle.
And there are certain tasks which only gentleness can accomplish.
Excerpt from the weekly parish bulletin published by the local parish.
When it rains, it definitely pours and the past couple of weeks have been one of those times where so many things were going on, I just had to take some time out.
I didn’t want to leave you without any posts to read though, so as always when I’m feeling that it’s all getting a bit to hectic and busy, I stop reflect and read. With a cup of hot chamomile see in one hand and some dark chocolate with almonds in the other. Today I was reading through the parish bulletin and loved the above excerpt from it.
So many forceful and violent things are happening around the world and we need to be reminded that gentleness and love is powerful.
It’s the most powerful way to help create change and leave a positive impact.
I will always strive to be that sunshine…to create that friendly climate…we are all human…we are all family. Life is short – sprinkle kindness everywhere.
Have a great week everyone and thanks for stopping by!
What act of kindness or change in attitude will you be engaging in this week?
It’s been a tough few days…weeks…actually a tough few months…and while I rarely post on here about the relationship, health and general life events that sometimes make me feel blue, I thought I’d take a moment to acknowledge the mysterious ways in which He works. It’s just amazing. I’ve learnt so much about life through death these past few weeks and am so grateful for the people who have been there for us.
Life has been overwhelming lately but note to self – things truly do happen for a reason.
Here’s to a new chapter in our lives, one where we live simply, love whole heartedly and always forgive. Witnessing a family come together in celebration and reflection during the hardest of times has strengthened my faith even more of the importance of being in the company of, and cherishing loved ones.
It takes a village not only to raise a child, but us adults too.