Sunday, 20 December 2015

BEHR & CO. // a stylish giveaway for YOU (not the kids) this time!

I see you there, Mama, rushing around this December. Buying gifts for kids and partners and others, planning Christmas lunch, what to put in the Christmas stockings and all the rest....

Well, I feel like you deserve a little something, so I'm running a special giveaway just for YOU! Yep, a chance to win something truly gorgeous for your home. I am also thrilled to feature an amazing company run by a fabulously creative work-at-home-Mum - always nice to suport those, huh? She is offering an awesome giveaway to all my lovely readers and a discount code for anyone who can't wait to get shopping :)

Let's start at the beginning, shall we?? Do you have time for a little tale in the midst of Christmas present wrapping?? :)

Well, the lovely Breanne was one of the first non-family-and-friends person to start reading my little ol' blog, way back when I started back in 2012. Honestly, I couldn't believe anyone was reading it, haha. I'm not sure how she found me, but her comments were always so sweet and supportive :) Since then, it has been just fantastic to see Breanne begin her own journey of motherhood - she now has a sweet little boy! Aaaaand then just a year ago, in all her non-existent spare time, she put her incredible creativity to work and started up the homewares company BEHR&CO. It has thrilled me no end to see her products quickly gain popularity, as well they should because JUST LOOK. I've seen her wares featured everywhere from The Block to InStyle magazine... and now here, heehee! :) No surprise, because they are simply stunning products made from marble, brass and fabric, the kind of pieces you would display in your home foreveerrrrrrr, right? I love how everything is so contemporary yet classic in style. Breanne designs and sources the products from master artisans both here and in Italy....all while being a devoted mama. Just love that!

Breanne kindly sent me a stunning hexagon trivet cut from Italian Carrera marble (so lush, huh?) and a beautifully designed perfectly-slouchy little hexagon fabric pouch. I had fun pretending to be a stylist (ha!)... but really, with gorgeous homewares like these, you can't go too wrong, huh?? ;) But seriously... I will let these pieces speak for themselves, they don't need much dressing up!

What can't you put on a marble trivet?? Everything from a cheese spread to your favourite vase. Even mangoes look nice ;) Use the trivet in the kitchen or around the home for decor, it all works!
These pouches are so cute, sturdy and handy! Pop in a pot plant, or your scarves, or kid's toys - anything!
Three spunky little pouches, ready for the kids to store all kinds of treasures. LOVE all the fresh designs (by Breanne herself!!).... Lily is planning to use hers to store her many hair ties and head bands (easy to tote all over the house)!
I think I found a new home for our lovely treasures!

So, have a drool over some of the gorgeous products along with me and then, be sure to enter our giveaway to win a $100 voucher at BEHR & CO., so you can treat yourself to a special something this Christmas.... the hardest thing to do will be deciding what to get! The pouches? The marble coasters? The brass bookends!? So many lovely things, all made with the highest of standards and oodles of love.

Thanks Breanne for always so kindly supporting me, and I am just thrilled to be featuring YOU today! It makes me so happy to see you achieving such huge success, which will no doubt continue...

Ohhhhh, and if you want to do a little Christmas shopping for your loved ones (or yourself!), Breanne has generously offered a 15% discount code on ALL products, so take that up too! Just use the code LLL15OFF at checkout. Beautiful gifts that will be treasured (and last!) for always....


Want to WIN a $100 gift voucher to spend on whatever you love at BEHR&CO?

You have two chances to win! Enter both here and on my Facebook page to double your chances!!

To enter, just answer this simple question....

'What would you love to find under the Christmas tree this year?'

Just comment below with your answer!

Then click over to my Facebook page to enter there too... two entries means twice as likely to win!! :)

xx Kate

Terms and Conditions:
Giveaway is for one $100 voucher to BEHR&CO online store.
Entries welcome worldwide! 
Must leave a name and email address if using "anonymous" or a profile not linked to a way to contact you if you've won.
Winners will be deemed most creative/interesting response as chosen by me. This is a game of skill, not chance.
Entries open 7.30pm Sunday 20th December 2015 and close Wednesday 23rd December 2015 at 9pm AEST. 
Judges decision is final. Winners must respond within 24 hours or prize will be awarded to the runner up. Good luck!

These items were gifted to me for review. All opinions are 100% my own.

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

sibling kindness: a simple activity to foster positive relationships!

While I'm sure all parents would like their children to co-exist in never ending peaceful harmony, the reality is that the home is the stomping ground of learning to negotiate ever-complex and often challenging human relationships. And with that comes.... yes, conflict! If even we as adults struggle to always peacefully exist alongside other people, it should be no surprise that our little humans may take time, encouragement, example and proactive teaching to learn to do the same. So yes, kids tend to squabble as they learn these skills and work out how to work things out. But I believe we can do more than simply leave them their own devices all throughout childhood, we can come alongside to encourage and 'skill them up' to find a better way to sort things out  - both with their siblings and other relationships now and in the future!

Lately, the sibling squabbles between my kiddos (in particular the two who are still at home!) had been slowly rising to the point where I decided we needed a circuit breaker. Something to remind the kids how precious their relationship is and how much nicer it is for everyone (including Mama's ears, haha) when we choose words of kindness instead of words (and attitudes) of entitlement! So, I sat the little guys down and we had a chat. About respect and the power of kindness. About the blessing it is to have siblings who can also be best friends - and how best friends should treat each other! We love each other but we don't always remember to show it, right?? But things can change if we change our focus.

I realised that as well as working through 'conflict resolution' techniques with the kids (once again... yeah, it is never a one time thing!), that it would help them to have a more visual reminder of the cumulative effect of their words and actions. It was pretty early one morning when it was looking like 'one of those days', so I decided to grab a bunch of pom poms from the craft cupboard and a glass and a vase... I just grabbed whatever was close at hand! I told the kids that whenever they chose to show love and kindness to each other, we would transfer a pom pom from the little glass to the big vase. They loved the idea of course! It's not a ground breakingly original technique (I've seen variations floating around the net!) but at that moment, it felt like just what we needed.

It worked so effectively! There was no reward or prize needed at the end when the vase was filled. It was more about creating a visual example and reminder of the effects of kindness, a way to acknowledge kindness in a simple but concrete way.  It highlighted the acts of sibling kindness between them and reminded them how good it feels to be kind and to think of others first. All of a sudden, they were looking for ways to be kind instead of looking for ways to drive their sibling crazy, haha. All of a sudden, they were remembering how much they loved each other and seeking ways to serve and bless. Woohoo!

It was really effective as a 'circuit breaker'! The boys were super keen to go OTT with acts of kindness and love to each other, haha!! I felt like this was really healing to their relationship, (as well as my ears and heart!). I have to be honest, it also felt refreshing and like a circuit breaker to me, to focus on the good, and be looking for all the moments of sweetness and kindness instead of just focusing on the negative and how the bickering was driving me rather batty. It changed the whole tone of our day! :) It helped us all as a family focus on seeking and acknowledging positive interactions!

And you know what? Kindness begets kindness, so since that little circuit breaker, there has been a lot more kindness (focusing on others) and a lot less squabbling (usually focusing on self!). Of course, issues still arise and we are still working on working through them (that's another post on how we approach that?!) but it's sure nice for all involved to be dealing with quite a few less. It's been helpful and refreshing to focus on spotting (and being!) the good rather than feeling so overwhelmed by the negative.

Since that day last week, we have left the containers out and while we don't always remember to transfer those pom poms for every single act of kindness, the kindness continues even when the pompoms are forgotten... though the kids remember more than me to gleefully exclaim that they spotted a kindness and so we transfer another pom pom!

You know what? Life isn't all pom poms, but when you focus on them a little more, it's amazing how many more there suddenly are :) 

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

#highlightsreel // a father worth celebrating!

Harking back to September... when we celebrated Mark, a husband who is many awesome things - and right at the top of the list is 'Father'. So thankful for him and for three kids who are sooooo blessed to call him 'Daddy'.

As per our tradition, we celebrated Father's Day on the Saturday of the weekend, and Mark requested a relaxed family day, wandering around the lake in the Spring sunshine together. It was all kinds of delightful!

How have we made it through seven Father's Day's without buying him some daggy Dad socks? This year we amended that... and the kids had fun hiding the socks all over the house and leading Daddy on a sock-hunt.
This man, and his little clan :)  

Trying to look tough #failing ;)
She is all about the perfect gymnastic finishing flourish :)
Taking the stairs like a boss ;)
Leaping for joy!

My three men. Love, love, love them xx

An icypole is never so satisfying as when you buy it with your very own pocket money!

Thankful for this precious family, this beautiful city, this simple life of ours xx

Matchy matchy :)

Daddy watching over the boys digging into the awesome tool kit Eli got for his birthday :)

We love you, Mark, thank you for the irreplaceable role you play in our family! xx

Monday, 2 November 2015

Pocket Money // Choosing the Right 'Allowance Approach' for your Family!

Ah, pocket money!

Kids aren't on this earth very long before they become aware that there is all this wonderful 'stuff' out there and this other thing called 'money' helps you get it. Pretty soon, they connect the dots and start wanting the latter in order to get the former ;) Even if they are pretty oblivious to the wonders of consumerism, it seems that introducing them to financial concepts early just makes sense. Letting kids learn how to 'steward' money while they are young means the risks are lower and they can trial and error with a little parental oversight.

The minute you start thinking about pocket money, (whether because the kids are begging for their own cash, or because you want them to have some), pretty quickly you are faced with a myriad of choices about it. Is the cash a gift or do you tie it to chores? On what basis do you give it or withhold it? What age to start? Do you decide how they spend it or let them have free reign? And of course... HOW MUCH?!!

Pocket money, along with open family discussions around money and finances, allows you to share your family values around money. Though they may not even be intentional, we *all* place some sort of value system around money and spending. And trust me, over time kids are picking up our family values around money - whether we are conscious of it or not! Just think about the sort of money-spending-habits you observed or learnt from your own parents, for example - whether good or bad!? So, it's worth stopping for a second and thinking about what our values around money are, and what lessons we want to pass on to our kids. Like it or not, money affects our life in many ways - whether we choose to highly 'value' it or not, we still have to deal with it! 'Financial literacy' and our perspective on money and spending has a huge impact on how we interact with cash. So, if you are launching into pocket money, it is a chance to consider how to instill the values that are important to *your* family.

Note/Disclaimer! Our kids are only 7, 5 and 2, so we are still in the verrrrry early days of our (expensive) journey with pocket money! To be honest, I felt so overwhelmed at first - so many choices and values and strategies we would like to build in and consider! Then I realised we were best to just start off simply. Our system can (and I'm sure will) change and evolve over time. This post is about how we decided to kick things off - I thought I would share our thought process as to how we got to our starting point - as maybe it will help you too!

I'll give an overview of the main points people might consider with pocket money, and where we personally landed for now. There are a hundred 'right' ways to do pocket money, so feel free to use these just as prompts for your own family discussions and planning - different approaches work for different families :)

This trio of gorgeous kids piggybanks are helping our kids watch their savings grow, right before their very eyes! :)

WHY give pocket money?

Before all the detailed questions comes this key one - what is our goal in giving pocket money? It's not just about the ability to buy 'stuff' is it? As mentioned above, for our family it's about helping our kids learn about the value we place on money. How and why we use it. For our family, money is a tool by which we can bless and serve others, care for ourselves and take care of responsibilities, both now and in the future. 

The management of it, (saving, giving, spending) are ways we apply these values. Pocket money is given to our kids as part of sharing in our family’s wealth and as an introduction to financial literacy. We hope for our kids to learn that money itself has no value, it's not a treasure to seek or store up for it's own sake, but a tool to be used - wisely and generously.

What AGE do you start?

Pick a number, any number! We decided that in our home, pocket money would start when the child starts kindergarten (in Canberra, Australia, that is about 5-6 years old). We find that is about the age when kids start to really understand the value and numerical concept of money, and start being more exposed to the 'outside world' and stuff they want! Before then, we feel they are not really mature enough to manage much cash - and it's ok for them to have a milestone age to look forward if they are hanging out for their own money! Besides, younger kids usually somehow have a few coins floating around so they feel sufficiently cashed up for a few treats till they hit school age! Especially if you have a generous Grandad like ours do... he empties his pockets of change every time he sees them!! Those coins gets eagerly counted then put straight into the kids piggybank until spending time rolls around.

Counting those coins!!

Tie the $$ to CHORES or is it a GIFT?

This is a toughie. I know many parents choose to tie the allowance to chores around the house, under the principle that in 'real life', we need to work to get money so they want their kids to understand that principle early. Getting their pocket money is dependent on completing whatever chores are set around the house within whatever time frame, so kids learn to be responsible and 'get the job done - and in a timely manner' in order to earn their cash. I can really see the sense in this! However, other parents are reluctant to take this approach as they feel everyone in the family should pitch in on chores because that's just what families do - and Mama don't get paid to do the laundry now, does she?! ;)

I can definitely see wisdom on both sides, but we have decided to go with the second approach. The kids have household tasks they need to complete independently of their pocket money. They are members of the household and need to contribute to its upkeep as they are physically able to. We feel strongly that our house is kept running through a contribution of all family members - that is part of the responsibility (and blessing!) of family! So we don't want to get in a habit of paying for them to do chores, or for them to start expecting a cash payment for clearing their plate from the dinner table!! ;)

Even though I appreciate the messages of both approaches, the value of household contribution felt more important to us. We, as the parents, give our kids pocket money as a gift and a blessing. It is a privilege we gift to them as members of our family (and yes, one we can choose to withhold if we decide to for whatever reason, e.g. behavioural, though we have not felt the need to do this so far).

RESTRICT spending or give FREE reign?

Another dilemma! Again, there seem to be two main camps on this one. One approach is to let kids loose with their money, let them do what they want and learn young to either crash and burn or spend wisely! The other approach is to help them be more disciplined with their money from Day One. This approach might mean deciding for them or with them how to spend their money, eg splitting into saving, spending and giving in various proportions. Again, I definitely see the benefits of both approaches! With money comes independence - a privilege to have at a young age!

For now, we have decided to start off with the 'free reign' approach. This is working well because it lets us learn the kids innate spending habits and while they are earning so little, there is not too much damage they can do with it, haha. It also leaves them free to be generous as they see fit which is a principle we personally will always hold to, in that we believe giving should come from the heart, not compulsion. For example, Lily decided recently on her own to give $1 of her money to the collection for the disadvantaged, at church, rather than her usual 50 cents. Or when she chooses to buy gifts for others out of her own money - last year she spent ALL of it on a Christmas gift for her teacher (like, over $30!!!). It is wonderful to see generosity pour out of a child's heart :)

While now it is an interesting experiment to give them this freedom, I think at some point we will introduce more guidelines, encouraging them when they are a little older to think through percentages to save, to spend, to give. While for now 'free reign' is working well, I think it's also a good thing to introduce the thought process and discipline of money management while they are still in the home! While it gives a bit less freedom, they do get to learn how savings can accumulate, how to be disciplined in setting money aside for others and so on.

How to TRACK it?

We had a few failed attempts at trying to introduce pocket money!! The intention was there but the follow through was lacking - and the kids were just as forgetful about it as their parents, haha! Plus we rarely have that much cash around the house. Yes, yes, slackers ;) Then one day I thought to myself... in this day and age - I bet there is an app for that! And you betcha there is an app for that! Heaps! So I went hunting. The best two I found were KiddyBank (it has sliding scales to set for giving, saving etc - and you can even set an interest rate for their savings!!!!) and RoosterBank which lets older kids log in and check what money they have, and also has an easy way to divide up their money for saving, spending, giving. With both, you can also add in extra amounts like birthday money and payment for big chores, etc.

I've tried both and currently use KiddyBank as it's super easy and quick to set up and use (no registration). It has lots of more advanced ways to use it (even emailing spreadsheets to your teens!!) but we just use the basic tracking elements for now. The great thing with an app is that when we are out and about, if the kids want to get something, I can easily check my phone to find out their balance, and deduct what they spend without having to remember to do it later. Let's be honest, we are heading into a cashless society so not a bad thing to get used to this ;) The app helps me remember how to track the bulk of their pocket money, but of course all kids love counting coins too, and still end up with some of the 'real stuff' to fill their piggybanks with!


That one is very much up to you and your budget! We decided to set the bar low (very low!) as we figure we can always go up but it's not so easy to come down, haha ;) With three kids and many years of pocket money ahead, we kept it basic for now - they don't really need much, after all. Some people use a general guide of $1 per year of the child (eg $5 for a 5 year old), but that seemed a little high for us! ;) Partly this is because our kids don't seem to really want for much - they don't watch TV commercials and rarely go to the shops, so they don't seem to really ask for toys and junk... though they certainly do want an iPad haha, and are making half-hearted attempts to save for one! ;)

As they hit closer to the teen years, I can see us taking the approach where we significantly raise the pocket money while also giving them more responsibility to use it for things like paying for the school canteen, gifts, outings with friends, clothes etc. I can see a lot of benefits in this approach because they get to learn to budget for real life expenses early, while still being able to use our guidance.

It's wonderful to see children's financial independence emerge. When we are out somewhere special, I love to see the kid's pride when they want an ice cream and decide to buy it for themselves (with our approval). Suddenly they take an interest in which one is the most and least expensive because they are on their own dime! ;) It's fascinating to see them struggle between the instant gratification of spending a little money a lot, versus delaying gratification by saving up for a bigger or more special item. Of course, this is often highly emotional processing, especially when they realise they can't buy something because they already spent all their cash!

Sooooo, that's my wrap up on pocket money! There are lots of variables to consider, and it can take some thinking through to find an approach that feels right for your family - hopefully this post might give you some starting points for discussion!

As I said, we are at the starting gates, so would love for you to please share your pocket money approaches, lesssons and learnings in the comments, for my and other reader's benefits :)

xx Kate

Finlee & Me is one of Australia's best websites, full of quality goodies for babies, kids and parents! You can find out more about the excellent products they stock on their website, or follow them on Facebook or Instagram

Finlee &Me kindly gifted us these gorgeous kids piggybanks, which are clearly being put to good use! I've been looking for a quality piggybank for ages (where the kids could SEE the money and where it wasn't either too hard or too easy to get the money out - these tick those boxes and more, cos they are so cute too!). I love the design - fun and functional and look awesome in the bedroom of a toddler *or* a teen... Let's be honest, I'd have one in the loungeroom for my own savings, they are such a gorgeous, modern yet classic design! We love them - thanks, Finlee & Me! (All opinions 100% my own, of course!)

Thursday, 29 October 2015

#highlightsreel // chalk drawing on the trampoline

Flashing back to August, or thereabouts!

Blogging this year has been kinda sporadic, as real life priorities have been taking precedence (as well they should!). I've also been enjoying branching out a little, blogging about different topics and ideas, and blogging a little less about our daily family life. But today, when I scrolled back through my photo files, sorting and editing, I realised how much I miss this little ritual... reflecting back on moments already so quickly forgotten... simple moments that would likely be forgotten for good had I not happened to grab my camera. I've missed this little routine, a second glance at our simple days, a chance to see and feel those moments again, with new eyes and a grateful heart.

It's sweet for me to dive back in, and if you feel like swimming alongside, well, that'd be grand. It's been a while, huh? :)


An easy afternoon tea. 'Ants on a Log' - a classic! Celery, peanut butter, sultanas. Along with banana chips made in my Mum's old 80's dehydrator. So easy and so yummy!

Kinetic Sand always makes a fun morning, Sensory goodness!

This kid! He is soooo construction obsessed... this is how he went off to nap the other day. Love him :)
A simple play idea... chalk drawing on the trampoline! The unconventional surface made it seem oh-so-exciting to the boys :) It was a real 'full body' experience, haha... and all simply washed off in the next rain!

Chalky Knees
Made these super nourishing, super delicious 'Jellies' from Well Nourished. The kids love them, a great lunchbox filler, and full of goodness! (You can freeze too - and super easy to make!) 
That crazy day back in August when it was suddenly SNOWING!! Of course it melted as soon as it hit the ground but still... a little bit of magic!

(The face of a boy I just got up from rest/nap time so he could check out this wonder!)
National Book Week - Dress Up Day at school!
She chose to dress up as Milly Molly Mandy as we just finished the book.
Cute or what!
The latest bed time game is Dad (aka a fierce tiger/bear/monster) hides somewhere in the house and the kids creep around trying to find him, before he bursts out roaring at them!!! It is soooo funny to see them tiptoeing around the house in a little huddle, giggling but also partly terrified. Note, they send the youngest in to investigate first!! A second later they are all shrieking their heads off when Mark jumps up at them. He is such a fun Dad :)
Typing an email to Grandpa. She is all about letters and emails these days (my flourishing writer) and loves to send emails to Grandpa filled with her own special cheeky brand of humour.
Celebrating National Reading Hour (during Book Week) with some fun lights to make a special little Reading Nook!
Sibling Snuggles!

Mark went to Melbourne for a week to do some study. I told the big kids for a special treat they could take turns sleeping in my bed. Here is Lily, ready for our girls movie night in bed, armed with Roiibos tea and some cheeky chocolate!
The day after Mark left, all three kids came down with gastro (one by one!). Yes, it was a rather intense, busy week caring for all the poor kiddos! Thankfully I held off coming down with it till Mark got home ;)
Having fun, making bread rolls on a playdate at the lovely home of Kelly at Happy Whimsical Hearts
Quite a bit of flour, haha ;)
The whole world's a whirl when you are Eli!
I love these images! Just because they perfectly capture a regular ol' morning in our home. This must have been a Sunday. The kids unstacking the dishwasher, the sink area littered with dishes waiting to be loaded in, clean mugs piled on the bench for me to put away (the only cupboard the kids can't reach), remnants of breakfast still around, the day slowly commencing. And Eli, sweetly beaming, in a cape because... why not?! These are the everyday moments I treasure most of's a mess,, it's chaos, but it's ours and we are grateful for it :)

The face of a kid who is utterly adored. This boy is so well loved and well taken care of by his older siblings. Early one morning they asked if they could get him up and feed him breakfast, as they often like to do. I came out to find him set up with peanut butter toast and a drink of water - with twirly straw of course!! It's those little touches that make all the difference, right!? :)
She learnt to tie her shoelaces - and was rather pleased with herself! Now she eagerly wears laced shoes every day and also frequently offers to tie the laces of anyone else who might need her services!
Love stumbling across a little book worm :)