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We're an American family living in Australia, where everything seems a little bit turned-upside-down.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Mum's Night Out with Cabernet & Canvas

As a busy mom of three, it's essential I get out of the house every now and then for a "Girls Night Out".  Unfortunately, it doesn't happen often enough.  

Last Friday, I attended a unique "Mum's Night Out" called Cabernet & Canvas.  

Finding friends to join me was too easy.  All it took was a mere mention of getting out with the girls, having a glass of wine (or two), sharing some nibbles, and letting our creative juices flow as we painted a "masterpiece".  Before I knew it, there were 6 of us!

I was relieved to hear that being artistic was not a prerequisite for the class, nor knowing how to paint a masterpiece.  Basically, all we had to do was show up on time, order what we wanted to eat and drink, and everything else was taken care of.  

The featured painting for our class was Monet's Water Lilies.  

As we arrived, we each found our easel with a blank canvas, a pallet of paint, a bundle of brushes, and an apron.

 After a brief introduction and some history about Monet's Water Lilies, we were ready to start.

 The artist, Samith Pich, walked us through painting our masterpiece, step by step. He did a terrific job teaching at our level, making it interesting and fun, with a little bit of humor added in to lighten the mood.

 Of course a little wine in one hand and the brushes in the other, also kept the mood light and fun.

 Step by step, we watched our lilly pads come to life on the canvas.

 Each artist had her own style, so it was fun to walk around the room and see the other paintings as we mingled.

The artist offered encouragement and instruction throughout the class.

There was never a dull moment, and the two hours was over before we knew it.  

In my opinion, my pallet was even more beautiful than my painting!

This was Cabernet & Canvas' first class exclusively for "Mums Night Out".  Classes are also available for private parties, date nights, and corporate functions.  Hopefully Mum's Night Out will become a regular event for Cabernet & Canvas, as it is a great event for us Mums to have our turn with the paint and brushes!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Maylands Waterland

The temp was a smoldering 46 degrees a couple of weeks ago, so I decided to take my crew to one of the many water parks Perth has to offer.  Although it's a little bit of a drive from where we live, I chose Maylands Waterland, because I wanted something simple and inexpensive.  There was even a voucher for one free entry in my KidzaBuzz book.

This was the deepest pool, with .75 metre depth.
If getting wet on a hot day is what you're looking for, then this is a great place to visit.  It is better for younger children age 6 and under.  I brought my 12 year old daughter, my 9 year old son, and my 3 year old son. The big kids had fun playing with their little brother, but without him there, they would have been lost. 

There was one larger splash pool, and three smaller, shallower pools. There was also a fountain to run through, and a winding stream with a "waterfall".  

Here's one of the splash pools that had a shade covering.
The grounds were clean and well kept with plenty of trash bins.  There were several benches and shaded picnic tables available, but it's a good idea to bring your own beach chairs and/or picnic blanket.  There was one section on the grass with a large shade sail where we set our "camp". 

The downhill,winding stream was a big hit with my boys.  Up and down the ankle deep "brook" they went, over and over again.

The pools were clean, and the three smaller splash pools had shade cover.

I found that most parents looked after their little ones.  However, there were a few incidents with unsupervised children.  The staff made an announcement that children under age 6 must have direct supervision at all times.  

Besides splash pools, there were several play structures and a miniature golf course ($3.50 per person) available in the park. We didn't play miniature golf when we visited because it was so hot, and there was very little shade in that area. 

Here's a couple of the shaded picnic tables with the miniature golf course in background.

As you can see, the grass areas are dry and worn down in some spots.  The grass and dirt inevitably ended up in the splash pools, but there was really no way to avoid it.  I saw the lifeguards sweeping out the pools while we were there.

Another not so great thing to keep in mind is the possibility of mosquitoes.  Maylands Waterland is near the banks of the Swan River, and apparently there has been a "mosquito breed out" warning for that area.   We were lucky, and didn't have a problem the day we visited.
There was a kiosk with a good selection of snacks including ice cream, candy, cold drinks and sausages.  Bringing your own food and drinks was also an option.  There were BBQ facilities available as well.

The kids had a great time, and we achieved our goal of keeping cool, all for about $10.  Maylands Waterland was a terrific way to spend a couple of hours on a hot, Perth morning.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Thoughts on Being a Mom, Author Unknown

Since the paper organizing class last week, I've been tossing and purging old papers.  I thought it might be nice to save one of my favorite "email chain" letters that circulates every now and then.  I'm getting rid of the paper copy I printed out, so I thought saving it here on my blog would be perfect.

I first received this story in an email from my own mom the year I first became a mom myself, in 2001.  Grab the tissues and enjoy!

Being a Mom
— Author Unknown —


We are sitting at lunch one day when my daughter casually mentions that she and her husband are thinking of "starting a family."you think I should have a baby?"
"It will change your life," I say, carefully keeping my tone neutral.
"I know," she says, "no more sleeping in on weekends, no more spontaneous vacations ..."
But that is not what I meant at all. I look at my daughter, trying to decide what to tell her. I want her to know what she will never learn in childbirth classes.  I want to tell her that the physical wounds of child bearing will heal, but becoming a mother will leave her with an emotional wound so raw that she will forever be vulnerable.
I consider warning her that she will never again read a newspaper without asking, "What if that had been MY child?"  That every plane crash, every house fire will haunt her.  That when she sees pictures of starving children, she will wonder if anything could be worse than watching your child die.
I look at her carefully manicured nails and stylish suit and think that no matter how sophisticated she is, becoming a mother will reduce her to the primitive level of a bear protecting her cub.  That an urgent call of "Mom!" will cause her to drop a soufflĂ© or her best crystal without a moment's hesitation.  I feel that I should warn her that no matter how many years she has invested in her career, she will be professionally derailed by motherhood.  She might arrange for childcare, but one day she will be going into an important business meeting and she will think of her baby's sweet smell.  She will have to use every ounce of discipline to keep from running home, just to make sure her baby is all right.
I want my daughter to know that every day decisions will no longer be routine.  That a five year old boy's desire to go to the men's room rather than the women's at McDonald's will become a major dilemma.  That right there, in the midst of clattering trays and screaming children, issues of independence and gender identity will be weighed against the prospect that a child molester may be lurking in that restroom.  However decisive she may be at the office, she will second-guess herself constantly as a mother.
Looking at my attractive daughter, I want to assure her that eventually she will shed the pounds of pregnancy, but she will never feel the same about herself.  That her life, now so important, will be of less value to her once she has a child.  That she would give it up in moment to save her offspring, but will also begin to hope for more years-not to accomplish her own dreams, but to watch her child accomplish theirs.  I want her to know that a cesarean scar or shiny stretch marks will become badges of honor.  My daughter's relationship with her husband will change, but not in the way she thinks.  I wish she could understand how much more you can love a man who is careful to powder the baby or who never hesitates to play with his child.  I think she should know that she will fall in love with him again for reasons she would now find very unromantic.
I wish my daughter could sense the bond she will feel with women throughout history who have tried to stop war, prejudice and drunk driving.  I hope she will understand why I can think rationally about most issues, but become temporarily insane when I discuss the threat of nuclear war to my children's future.
I want to describe to my daughter the exhilaration of seeing your child learn to ride a bike.  I want to capture for her the belly laugh of a baby who is touching the soft fur of a dog or cat for the first time.  I want her to taste the joy that is so real it actually hurts.  My daughter's quizzical look makes me realize that tears have formed in my eyes.
"You'll never regret it," I finally say.  Then I reached across the table, squeezed my daughter's hand and offered a silent prayer for her, and for me, and for all the mere mortal women who stumble their way into this most wonderful of callings.  This blessed gift from God ... that of being a Mother.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Swim Lessons at the Beach $1/day

Swim lessons
At. The. Beach.

As if that isn't great enough?  They cost me only $1/lesson!  This mom happens to love the beach (in case you didn't know), and loves to swim, and requires her kids to love it too. So this perk of living on a continent surrounded by beautiful beaches may be the greatest thing I've discovered in Australia so far! Two weeks of pure bliss as far as I'm concerned!

The program is called VacSwim, and it's offered by the Department of Education here in Western Australia.  It's an amazing program started in 1919 with the premise that everyone should have access to quality swimming lessons.  Especially since pools and beaches are such a part of our lifestyle here in WA.

Programs are offered during October and Dec/January school holiday periods.

Some days the kids and I  ride our bikes to lessons.  They moan and groan a little bit, all except Hagen who gets a free ride and doesn't have to pedal.  But I just keep shouting, "pinch yourselves kids!  This is absolutely beautiful, and some day you will appreciate it!"

Here are just a few shots from our bike ride:

Beach Access

My little cuties!

My favorite kind of park!

This part of the bike path gets me every time... I live here!!!!!
Next week I'll bring my camera to the beach so you can see the kids in their cute little swim lesson caps.  

Until then,

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Getting Organized with Kikki.K

I'm an organized person by nature.  So why does my desk look like this?I have a million excuses, the most obvious being I would rather play with my kids than go through my pile of papers!  So when the opportunity came up for me to attend a paper organizing workshop at Kikki.K, I jumped on it.

In just two short hours, I learned what it would take to get my piles of papers looking like this.  

The workshop was more than just informative, it was enjoyable too.  The staff greeted me with smiles, and offered me sparkling water, orange juice, and cookies during the presentation.  The delightful workshop instructor, Carolyn, was an expert on organization. She presented the information in a clear, easy to follow manner.  She got to know a little something about each workshop attendee, and gave us tips throughout her talk that would be useful for each of our unique situations. 

Do you have one of these dreaded filing cabinets in your home? 

Our instructor, Carolyn, referred to filing cabinets as "Paper Graveyards".  Papers go in, and never come out again.  After hearing more about these "paper graveyards", I was convinced I needed to implement a new system of paper organization in our home, and get rid of our two very unattractive filing cabinets!  

To achieve this goal, I will use kikki.K's 6 station paper system, that will replace the inefficient,  time consuming, space hogging, money wasting system, we currently have in place in our home. The paper organization workshop taught me everything I need to know to get started, and to stay pile free!

 After the workshop, I browsed around the store for a while.  I had never been in Kikki.K before, and I felt like a kid in the candy shop!  There's just something about stationery items neatly organized on shelves that gets my heart beating.  Colorful notepads, books, calendars, and pens somehow make the tedious day to day tasks more fun!

This photobox is on my wishlist. What a simple way to organize and display photos.

The shop had a wide range of items to keep busy moms organized and happy.  Everything from calendars, recipe books, meal planners, to baby books.  It is a great place to go shopping for yourself, or if you are looking for the perfect gift.  

Kikki.K has other workshops too.  The next one I hope to attend is on Happiness.  The $40 workshop includes this lovely Happiness journal worth $39.95.  That means the workshop will only cost me $.05 to attend!  The one hour workshop will walk through how to use the journal to achieve Happiness.  Sounds like an hour well spent to me!

Contact Kikki.K at Karrinyup to find out more about upcoming workshops and events.  You can even drop them an email:

There are seven Kikki.K locations around Perth.  Click here to find your nearest location.