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Another year down! And again, we can hardly believe how fast it has flown. For us Aussies, it means Summer fun begins with outdoor Christmas carols, lazy days at the beach and a long, long school holidays to fill with incredible activities to keep our kids from saying, “Mu-arm… we’re bored!”

The transition from school routine to holiday cruisy bliss can be a little daunting. So much time, so little money, so little energy, so many demands. Parents still have to balance the earning of the money, the household chores and the keeping the children happy and entertained. It’s a tough gig.

It comes down to the same old question of how much time ‘should’ a parent play with their kids, entertain them, how much time is ok for a parent to spend on their own stuff, and how much should they work/do the household boring duties. I don’t want to fake play; ie play because I think I should, I’d rather have quality, side-splitting fun times than be at their beck and call every moment of every day out of guilt. But at the same time I don’t want them to think that they’re not important or fun… = dilemma.

My answer? Plan fun stuff that all of us can genuinely enjoy together: swimming, movies, play dates with all our friends, cafes, op shops, shopping, cooking and family time with cousins/grandparents! This fills the guilt void and leaves them time to play on their own, or together at home, while mumma gets to blog or read or swing in the hammock. Good times.

Do you have any holiday advice for the likes of me and a coupla thousand other stay at home mummas?



History is relative. Yesterday is history, last week, year, decade… When does a place become historical?

On a recent holiday in the Hunter Valley we checked out the ‘Maitland Gaol’. This ‘historical’ place was closed in 1998, yep, a mere 13 years ago. Today it is  a laser tag backdrop, a party venue and a museum! A real money spinner considering how much you have to pay to get through the door and onto an audio tour!

There’s something untoward about this place. Unlike other historical sites. This is recent history and for me it felt a little too close to home. In this place lived the worst of the worst criminals in New South Wales. If you are a Sydney-sider, you would have heard of these ruthless people and the fact that barely 15 years ago they lived in this place, is a bit creepy.

Now, if you have plans to visit the gaol/jail, then here’s some advice. Be very selective about what parts of history you choose to listen to, especially if you have kids participating. I advise against listening to the shower rooms description. Here there were no cameras… say no more!

You may also want to avoid knowing who exactly lived here unless you’re into that! There are three sections to the jail: A Wing (housed the petty criminals, poor lost souls), B Wing (the slightly creepier crimes) and C Wing (the famous or deadly or both crims). Often they kept the last inmates separated from the rest as revenge was common.

In the visitor’s area there’s a kids section for those who had the pleasant task of bringing children to such a place. Here some crims painted cartoon murals of Disney characters and the like. Their signatures read something like this, Artists: Mark Pedswart (Armed Robbery) and David Ninklebackian (Murder). Eeeeek! It felt a bit wrong for a murderer to be painting such innocent pics! But perhaps I’m just sheltered!

My six year old found the whole experience very exciting! He loved locking his dad in a cell and pretending to be a guard. Thankfully he wasn’t interested in the real history of the place but had fun making up his own. It is an interesting place but in the end it made me feel a bit icky. The thought of all those men (and some women) living in such a confined space with all those issues, all that dark history made me feel very uncomfortable. And I was more than happy to walk out a free woman at the end of it all.

As the air crisps up in all its Autumn glory, as the easter eggs roll down the aisles of the local supermarket, Sydney gears up for the annual agricultural celebration, “The Sydney Royal Easter Show”.

Yesterday was the first day of this BIG event. Us city slickers crammed onto buses and trains to see how the other half of Australia lives. First to the fruit and vege displays. Onions, tomatoes, seeds, oversized pumpkins were all creatively grouped in various scenes, fiercely competing for best in show. I loved the cartoon one with the man stuck under the tractor, the snake about to pounce on an unsuspecting chick and the pig rolling around in the mud – all with goggly eyes! Very entertaining.

Off to the dog show and the up-close animals for the little ones to feed. Greedy sheep merged their way into the face of my four year old who defiantly held her hand up in the air waiting for the sheep to give in so she could give it to the little goat kid. Cos they’re cuter right?

Much pushing and shoving and holding up hands later we emerged from the baby animal petting place, washed our hands, downed a milk or two and headed to the rides!

Oh Easter Show, we love you but could you please not charge $4 per person to go down the giant slide? Talk about greedy sheep, who was the bright spark who thought of these ridiculous prices? Imagine the disappointment on tiny faces who can see all the rides but the poor, poor parents can only afford 2 or so rides. And one of the $5 rides ended up being a disaster as my four year old realised, halfway through, that the ride was far from fun and actually quite scary. After the drama, however, we shook ourselves off and headed for our last port of call.

Ah yes, the show bag arena, the pinnacle of the day. As we staggered with sore toes and jelly legs to the ends of the earth (massive room 4), the call of bags full of crappy toys and sugar rushes urged us on. On hands and knees we crawled through the crowds, straining to find an appropriate bag for girls and boys on budget. First you are struck in the face with the premium bags $22 for a Tinkerbell or My Little Pony numbers. Reeeeediccuuullouuus. Keep moving kids, there’s bound to be cheapies further in!

And there were, though you had to weave through the afternoon crowds to find the one. When the kids were bouncingly happy we started the final walk back through the crowds past the scary statue that came alive, through the gates and out towards our bus. By this time my four year old had lost the plot, demanding to be carried (didn’t want to go in the stroller for some reason) and on refusal of this proceeded to whinge and whine. Well, what is the show without a tantrum?

The sun descended over a crowd of tired bodies, full of sugar, memories, excitement and contentment. Bonds had been strengthened between cousins, fears overcome and animals fattened. The crowds were doable, the sun shone and ultimately everyone came out relatively unscathed! A successful day all round.

(Animal cruelty or innocent entertainment?)