Friday, 28 December 2012

The New Mem Fox: Review and Giveaway!




To me, books are a really big deal.

As far as I'm concerned, reading is the perfect past time. There is nothing better than losing yourself in a good book.

In fact, I haven't stopped reading since the moment I started!

I remember always getting books for birthdays and Christmas, and my favourite series growing up was Trixie Beldon. 

Remember those? Or am I just too old?

When my husband and I met, he hadn't read a book since high school, and was genuinely surprised when I told him I read in bed every night before going to sleep.

I was genuinely surprised he didn't!

Now he almost reads more than me! 

Almost.


We have tried to instil the same enthusiasm for books, into our children. 

Every time we get a new children's book, I can't wait to read it to them, and they get excited about it too.

And that was the case when the new Mem Fox book 'Good Night, Sleep Tight' arrived in the mail.

We sat down to read it straight away, and my boys giggled the whole way through it!







In the story, Bonnie and Ben's babysitter, Skinny Doug, when putting them to bed, starts to recite rhymes that his mother said to him. And they are the same rhymes that I grew up with as well!

Rhymes like Pat-A Cake, This Little Pig and It's Raining, It's Pouring to name a few!

It brought back memories of my mother rhyming with me, as she played with my fingers and toes.

Aaah, how time flies!

This book is very easy to read, and it flows really well. The illustrations by Judy Horacek are really light hearted and fun! My eldest son, who is learning to read, has been sitting reading it by himself and enjoying looking at the pictures. 

We all loved reading it!




Good Night, Sleep Tight is a definite winner in our house!



How would you like to be a winner!

I have a brand new book straight from the publisher to give to three lucky families, so if you would like to win a copy of this wonderful children's story, leave a comment below telling me of your favourite Mem Fox book, and why!


It's that easy!



Now for the fine print....

*Giveaway is for Australian residents only. (Sorry!)

*The closing date for entries is on January 11th, 2013, at 11.59pm.

*The decision will be made by me, and the most creative, original answers will win.

*The judges decision (mine) is final and no correspondence will be entered into.

*Winners will be notified by email, so please make sure your entry links me to a valid email address to contact you, if you are one of the lucky winners. 

*Winners will also be advertised on my Facebook page.

*The winners have 48 hours after being notified to contact me, after which I will choose a new winner.



Good luck!







           Tracey ♥





I was not paid for this post.
I was sent a book in the mail to review, and all opinions are my own.




Linking in with With Some Grace for 'Flog Yo Blog Friday'













Friday, 21 December 2012

The Year That Was 2012!



If you talk to anyone about how quickly this year has gone, everyone says the same. 

It has flown!

It feels like only yesterday that we were celebrating the beginning of 2012, and now we're about to do it all over again for 2013! 

Another line forms under my eyes just thinking about it.



See?

The trench in my brow gets deeper too!

Ugh!


However fast it may have gone, this has been an incredible year for our family. So today, I am joining in with the wonderful Grace from With Some Grace, for our 2012 highlights.

Here we go!


January:

Unfortunately the year didn't start off that wonderful for us, as it was the one year anniversary of the death of my brother. 

It was a very sad time, especially for my sister in law. But I try not to dwell on it. I know he's watching over us, and would want us to be happy, so I try to concentrate on that, even though it's not easy at times.

Following the bad however, came the good! 

I started my blog!

I had no idea what I was doing, as I knew very little about what a blog even was when the thought entered my head to start one, but I'm so glad I did.

I have (virtually) met some of the most amazing, supportive people, who I never would have crossed paths with, had I not become a part of a wonderful blogging community, and I'm so grateful for every one of you! Thank you for always being there with such lovely comments, and for making me feel like I belong.

I only hope that I get to meet you all in real life one day. You can expect a huge hug, so don't say you haven't been warned!!


February:

February was HUGE!

Not only did my oldest start school, but my youngest started kinder!






Whoa!

Due to my eldest having autism, I have been terrified of him starting school for years. The thought of how cruel kids can be at times to children who are 'different,' and the disturbing visual images of bullying playing over and over in head, only added to my fear.

But I needn't have worried.

The school has been amazing, and we were blessed with the most wonderful teacher and aide (which the school and I fought tooth and nail to get)! The children have also been so incredibly accepting, and my son has made some lovely friends, whom I hope he will remain friends with for many years to come. He has come almost completely out of his shell, which is just a delight to see, and the rest of our family can't believe the difference in him that his first year of school has made.

Although my youngest is still incredibly shy a lot of the time, his year at kinder has done wonders for him too! He has made a very close little friend who is going to school with him next year, and we found out yesterday that they are in the same grade together. I have no doubt that the school will bring out the best in him as well, and I couldn't be more excited for him.


March:

In March, I started the Photo A Day Challenge, and I have done it every day since! Every day!! I haven't missed a single one! And now it's just a normal part of my every day. My family (as in my mother and my sister) wonder how I have such time to waste, but they just don't get it. How can it possibly be a waste of time when it has reignited my passion for photography?! I can't get enough of it. I'm studying everything I can find on the subject at the moment, and actually hoping to do a course or some workshops next year. I don't know where it's going to lead me, but I intend on finding out. This is the closest I've felt to passion in a long time (except for my family of course), and I'm going to make the most of it!

Bring it on!

March was also the month my big boy lost his first two teeth, our first foster dog Poppy went to her forever home, and our second foster dog Meesha arrived.


April:

April was the month my baby turned five! He had his first proper birthday party with children from kinder and had a ball. 




So grown up! 

*Sigh*


May:


On the first of May I dropped sugar from my everyday diet, and it was the best thing I've ever done. It helped me to lose those few kilos that I just hadn't been able to shift before, and I still enjoy the yummy stuff on special occasions, so I don't feel like I'm denying myself anything. I feel healthier, and with all the research that's coming to the fore of late, I am also lessening my chances of diabetes, heart disease and cancer! What's not to love about that?


June:


In June, my hubby went to Germany for work, and it was the furthest we've been apart since we started dating eleven years ago. 




I managed, as my mum came to stay to help out, but I hated him being so far away. Hopefully he won't need to go that far away again in a hurry!


July:

In July, my big boy turned seven! I couldn't believe that it was a whole seven years ago that I first held him in my arms. It felt like only a moment has passed.



Here he is, so proud of his new big bike!

And I'm so incredibly proud of him.


August:


August was the month that our second foster dog Meesha left us to go to her forever home, and soon after, our third foster dog Roxy arrived.


September:


September saw me start the 20 Day Clean and Organise Your Home Challenge with The Organised Housewife.




Unfortunately I didn't finish it due to other commitments, but all the cupboards that I cleaned out at the time are still clean and organised, and as soon as I have a few minutes, I intend to get started on it once again. I still have all the emails with the tasks attached, so maybe that could be a New Year's resolution for me!

It was also the month I had my wee little bit of a meltdown and needed a bit of a break, and my gorgeous hubby turned 41.


October: 


In October I started re-decorating my son's bedroom. Unfortunately the job is ongoing, but it won't be long until it is finished now. He will be getting some new things for his room for Christmas, and then we should be almost done. I can't wait to show you the finished product! In fact, I just can't wait until the project is finished, full stop!


November:


November is pretty much a blur for me. I ran my first bloggy exercise challenge, The November 30/30 Challenge, and I don't think I've ever written so much in my life! Well, maybe at school, but that was a long time ago! On top of that I was exercising myself everyday, something else I wasn't used to, so by the end of the month I was completely exhausted.

It was worth it though!


December:

This has been an incredibly busy and also emotional month for me. I turned 43, which is a birthday I've dreaded for years and is something I will post about in the New Year. I have also had one child finish Prep (today in fact), and another finish kinder. Awww, my boys are growing up so fast!

I've also been flat out Christmas shopping and getting everything prepared for a wonderful Christmas with my family, as is everyone this month!

Lastly, our third foster dog Roxy has gone to her forever home, and will get to spend Christmas with her new family. It makes me so happy.


So that's it!

My highlights for 2012.

I'm really looking forward to 2013, and making it an even better year than this one.


Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas, and the very best for 2013 ♥



Image Source





          Tracey ♥











Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Awards, Awards And More Awards!



Way back when.....before I had my minor meltdown and needed a bloggy break, I was awarded the Liebster blog award by two lovely people:

and
Salwa from Salz Dummy Spit.

Thank you girls. This post has been a long time coming and I really appreciate the nominations.




Now, not so long ago, right before I started The November 30/30 Challenge, I was awarded another two awards, this time from:

Nikki from Phenomenal Woman 
and
Alexandra from Alive and Blogging.

And again, I thank you both.

Here is a little bit about the award.

"The award is given to support and recognise up and coming bloggers who have less than 200 followers (on their blog) or likers (on their Facebook page). The word “Liebster” apparently has German origins and is reported to mean sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome. By following some basic rules (answer 11 questions set by your nominee, write 11 questions of your own and pass the award onto 11 other bloggers to answer) it enables readers to get to know new bloggers and connect with a wider audience."

Seeing as the girls have asked me different questions, I have chosen random questions from all to answer.


1. Did I eat breakfast today? 

Yes I did! Just my normal breakfast of oats. Quite boring really, but it's healthy and gets me through the morning.

2. What is your favourite past time and why?

Cross stitch. Because I can do it while I watch tv and just zone out.

3. What would be your ideal night out?

A lovely dinner, followed by a movie, or a dance if I'm out with my girlfriends. Unfortunately my hubby won't have a bar of the whole dancing thing.

4. Can you keep secrets?

Absolutely! Keeping people's confidences is very important to me. My friends know they can trust me, as much I need to be able to trust them.

5. If you could pass one law, what would it be?

Oscar's Law. Because puppy farming is disgusting and shameful, and needs to be stopped.

6. What is your favourite chore around the house?

I'm afraid I don't have one. I hate anything to do with cleaning.

7. If there was one thing you could banish from your life, what would it be?

Fear. Unfortunately, as I suffer from Panic Disorder, I tend to feel fear a lot.

8. Any siblings?

Yes, I have a younger sister. I did have a step-brother too, but we lost him nearly two years ago.

9. Do you have any pets and if so, what are they?

Yes, two! A dog Alaska, and a cat Lucy.

10. What is your favourite season and why?

Definitely autumn, because it's still warm but not as warm as summer (generally), and the colours of the leaves on the trees are just magnificent.

11. What did you want to be when you grew up?

First of all it was a Popstar!
 Once I became realistic, it was a Vet. 
Then once I became even more realistic, it was a Speech Pathologist.
I became none of these things.


So, I now pass the award on to these other deserving blogs:













And here are my questions....


1. What is your favourite colour?

2. Best book you ever read?

3. What is your 'houseworking' music of choice?

4. Do you have a habit that others would consider weird and if so, what?

5.  Are you messy, or a neat freak?

6. What is one word your friends would use to describe you?

7. When choosing a milkshake, what flavour do you always go for?

8. What is your favourite quote?

9. What is your favourite movie of all time?

10. What is your favourite Christmas tradition?

11. Do you prefer wine or spirits?


Enjoy everyone! I'll love reading your responses and learning more about you ♥







           Tracey ♥



Linking in with Essentially Jess and the others for IBOT







Friday, 7 December 2012

Some Christmas Wishes




The lovely Kirsty over at My Home Truths has tagged me for the Christmas wishes list that has been going around the blogosphere over the last week (started by the inspiring Jess over at Essentially Jess), and it got me thinking.

What would I want for Christmas if I could have absolutely anything in the whole wide world and money wasn't an option?


 Actually, money wouldn't even come in to it.


If I could have ANYTHING, it would be this.....



1. To have my Dad back.

I wrote a little bit about losing my Dad here

I would give anything to have him back. 

I was only a kid when he died, and I was so naive that I had no idea he was going to die. I mean, I knew he would die someday as we all would. But even riddled with cancer, and crying in agony some days, it still didn't occur to me that we would lose him.

Not even when my Mum wanted us to spend the day having family photos together. I wanted to go out with my friends as that was what I had planned, and had an almighty row with Mum as I refused to back down.

And so off I went.

Mum was so angry with me! She wouldn't even look at me as I was getting ready to go, and didn't say goodbye.

I didn't understand at the time why she was so determined for me to stay home. I mean, we could take the stupid photos any time, couldn't we?

A short time later, I understood.

I was the only one who didn't have a final photo of myself with him.

My Mum did. My sister did. Even my Auntie and Uncle did.

But not me.

Afterwards, I could have screamed at my mother "WHY DIDN'T YOU TELL ME?"

But I didn't. 

I knew she couldn't utter those words.

Not even to herself.

And I have had to live with my decision every day since.

To selfishly put my friends ahead of my family.

So, if I could have him back beside me?

I would have a photo taken with him every single day.



2. For Endangered wildlife to no longer be close to extinction.



So many beautiful, unique species are becoming endangered, and the list grows bigger every day. We are so close to losing these incredible animals forever in the wild, yet the reasons why keep occurring.

My wish is that poaching would end, and that solutions can be found to stop the deforestation of animal habitats. A way of living in harmony with these creatures must be found, or it will be forever to our detriment.


3. A permanent stop to animal cruelty.



Google 'animal cruelty' and you would be sickened by the images that come up.

I've never understood how anyone could hurt a defenceless animal, but regardless, it happens.

A lot.

You don't have to physically injure an animal to be cruel.

Not providing adequate food, shelter, warmth or love is also a form of cruelty.

So this Christmas, let's say NO to animal cruelty.



4. A happy, healthy family.



My hope is that these beautiful boys (all of them) get to live their dreams, and that we all live happy, healthy lives until we eventually die peacefully in our sleep at a ripe old age of 90+.

(Oh, and I hope that when it's time, I go first, as I think my hubby would cope far better than I would).

(Oh oh, and the next time I have a family portrait, the photographer tells me to fix my fringe)!



5. Have a little faerie around the place.



I wish I could have a little housework faerie that would clean my house why I was fast asleep, so that I could spend my days reading, writing and enjoying life with my family and friends.


Well, I can hope can't I?



I'm going to sneak in one more wish, as this is about having everything that I would want to wish for.


6. To have another baby.


But that is a post for another time.



Now it's my turn to pass on the joy to these beautiful people!  







Go forth and be wishful folks!






          Tracey





Linking in with Grace from With Some Grace for FYBF





Friday, 30 November 2012

The November 30/30 Challenge - Day 30. FOUR!



Welcome to Day Thirty of The November 30/30 Challenge.

The final activity I am going to highlight is Golf!


Did you know that Golf is the third most played leisure activity in Victoria?

I suppose it's not really surprising, considering the amount of people you see walking around a golf course on any given weekend.

Golf isn't really my thing, however I can definitely see it is a game of skill. 

Back in high school, I attempted golf. I say attempted because it took me 35 shots to get it into the first hole, after which I gave up. It probably didn't help that my friend and I were screaming with laughter by the end. It certainly wouldn't have helped my aim, anyway.

 My hubby's grandmother has played golf for years, and still plays three times a week even now. Guess how old she is!

Ninety Six!

Yep, no joke. 

She has been in the newspaper numerous times, and attests that playing golf and living a healthy lifestyle is what keeps her going strong.

Well, it has certainly worked for her!


Playing golf has a lot of benefits, some of which include:


Social interaction.

Burns calories.

Weight loss.

Strengthens and tones muscles.

Builds endurance.

Reduces stress.

Uses concentration.

Teaches imagination and creativity (how to get the ball out of a particular area, for example).

Works your vision.



I'll finish off with a great quote I read...

"The number of shots taken by an opponent who is out of sight is equal to the square root of the sum of the number of curses heard plus the number of swishes".  
~Michael Green, The Art of Coarse Golf, 1975


I think that suits me perfectly!



*******



Well, that's it!

This finishes The November 30/30 Challenge series.

I hope you have enjoyed it, and perhaps found a couple of new activities to try.

There could be something to add to your New Years Resolutions list for 2013!

Thank you to those who have participated, and I hope this challenge has motivated you to be more active.

It certainly has done for me.






           Tracey




Linking in with With Some Grace for FYBF






Thursday, 29 November 2012

The November 30/30 Challenge - Day 29. Can You Dig It?



Welcome to Day Twenty Nine of The November 30/30 Challenge.

The activity highlight of today is Volleyball!


 If you've never played Volleyball, it is a great team sport. 

I used to play indoor beach volleyball with my boyfriend at the time, my sister and some friends. I don't know where the idea actually came from, but we decided to form a team, played one season of competition and won the Final, and then never played again!

Strange really.

What is even stranger, is that I won 'Player of the Match' that day, even though I hit the Referee with the ball twice!

Both times in the head!

Oh ok, now I see....



All joking aside, whether you play normal volleyball or the beach variety, they provide pretty much the same kind of benefits. The only difference is, playing on the sand works the legs a bit more than on the hard court, especially the calves. 


Some other benefits include:


Burns calories.

Weight loss.

Strengthens and tones muscles.

Improves hand-eye co-ordination.

Develops reflexes.

Social interaction.

Reduces stress.

Develops teamwork.

Increases agility.



And don't worry, you don't have to wear the skimpy bathing suit to play. T shirt and shorts are fine.

Unless of course you want to wear the skimpy bathing suit, in which case go right ahead!







          Tracey







Wednesday, 28 November 2012

The November 30/30 Challenge - Day 28. Rollin, Rollin, Rollin....



Welcome to Day Twenty Eight of The November 30/30 Challenge.

Today's activity highlight is Roller Skating!


Roller Skating used to be my favourite past time. I was fifteen years old and every Saturday night, one of my best friends and I would go off to Caribbean Rollerama, and skate the night away. It was the highlight of my week, and my mother knew it. It was how she got me to do everything.

"Clean your room Tracey, or you won't be going skating this week."

"Tracey, please wash the dishes like I asked you to, or there will be no skating."

"If you hit your sister like that again, there will be no roller skating for a month!"

(Didn't matter that she'd hit me first).


It meant everything to me. If there was a reason I couldn't go, it felt like the world was ending.

And of course it had absolutely nothing to do with the spunky teenage boys that went there too :)


Now at the time, the last thing on my mind was the exercise I was doing. But the activity that I had unconsciously chosen was a really healthy one, and provided some great benefits!

They include:


Burns calories.

Works all major muscle groups.

Reduces stress.

Low impact on joints.

Strengthens and tones muscles.

Weight loss.

Cardiovascular workout.



So how about giving roller skating a try?

Go on. You know you want to!







          Tracey







Tuesday, 27 November 2012

The November 30/30 Challenge - Day 27. Happy Trails...



Welcome to Day Twenty Seven of The November 30/30 Challenge.

The activity highlight of today is Mountain Biking!


Now, I know we've already talked about cycling, and although Mountain Biking and Cycling are technically both 'riding a bike,' Mountain Biking is in a league of its own.

As you know, I am no adventure junkie, so the picture above is too far out of my comfort zone, however riding a bike along a mountain trail, hearing the birds and smelling the scents, is something I could most definitely do. As long as easy does it.

My husband and his family however, are the opposite.

Although my hubby hasn't gone for a while, he is really into mountain biking, and used to go with a group of guys every Saturday morning and some Thursday nights. Both of my sister in laws are really into adventure races and so do a lot of mountain biking, as well as running, kayaking and swimming. In fact, my sister in law Deanna, is Australia's Number One women adventure racer, and has just completed the American 'World's Toughest Mudder' where she came 3rd overall and second female!

She's a machine.


And, my parents in law are also into mountain biking and have started doing the odd adventure race, and they're in their seventies!

My hubby's fam are amazing, they really are!


Hmmm, and I had to create this challenge to make myself get into exercising again.

Embarrassing much?


Anyway, if you already like cycling, perhaps mountain biking could be the next step for you. 


The benefits of Mountain Biking include:


Seeing some great scenery.

Low impact on the body.

Increases strength.

Burns calories.

Also works core and upper body.

Increases endurance.

Reduces stress.

Social interaction (if you ride with friends).

Decreases risk of heart disease.



There are Mountain Biking associations popping up all over the place, so look for one in your local area. They will be able to provide you with information about tracks, equipment and might even be able to hook you up with people to ride with.


Just make sure you remember to start off nice and easy!






          Tracey






Linking in with Jess for IBOT







Monday, 26 November 2012

The November 30/30 Challenge - Day 26. No Sweat!



Welcome to Day Twenty Six of The November 30/30 Challenge.

The activity highlight of today is Water Aerobics!


Believe it or not, but I used to do water aerobics! 

Yes, even though I'm not a fan of the water!

Back before I started body sculpting, I was trying to improve my fitness and tone my body. I didn't yet know what the gym could and would offer me, and had heard that swimming and exercising in water was excellent for fitness.

So a few times a week, I would head down to my local swimming pool after work, to do some laps and a water aerobics class.

I still can't quite believe it was me, actually!

I didn't do it for long, as they stopped holding the water aerobics class of an evening, and I wasn't able to go during the day. But had they continued, I think I would have too, as I really enjoyed it.

Don't make the mistake of thinking water aerobics is just for grannies! 

It is a tough workout, as the water provides a lot of resistance, and it is suitable for all fitness levels. Also, as being in the water is gentler on joints, it is great for rehabilitating from an injury!


Some of the other great benefits of Water Aerobics are:


Burns calories.

Weight loss.

Improves muscle strength and tone.

Increases flexibility.

Increases lung capacity.

Increases endurance.

The water keeps you cool while exercising.



So if you're the opposite of me, and don't feel like a fish out of water when you're in the water, grab your cosi, and head off to your nearest swim centre!

They're sure to have a class to suit you!







          Tracey














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