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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Lah-Lah live in concert giveaway

If you have a young child then I'm pretty sure you'll already know all about Lah-Lah, right? If your house is like ours then it's on repeat more than a few times each week. Lah-Lah's Big Live Band are the next big thing in children's entertainment featuring Lah-Lah, Buzz the Bandleader with Lola double bass, Mister Saxaphone, Squeezy Sneezy the piano accordion and Tom Tom on the drums. Lah-Lah and her band introduce kids to the joy of music on their ABC KIDS show Lah-Lah Adventures where they go on fun adventures, meet guest musicians, guess secret sounds and sing songs.

I love Lah-Lah's Adventures because its such an interactive show for kids. It gets bub up and dancing every time she watches it, plus it teaches her to love music. The songs also help kids learn useful skills like how to brush their teeth, wash their hands and pack away toys {which is a blessing for us mums}.

Bub's been bopping along to their songs since she could first start attempting to dance. She's now got all the actions down pat and attempts to sing along to most of the songs. We do the actions to "brush your teeth" every night while she brushes her teeth and yesterday she actually helped me pack toys away because I started singing "pack away".

Lah-Lah's Big Live Band are currently on tour playing live shows around the country and are coming to QLD really soon. I have to admit I stalked their facebook page a few months ago waiting for the QLD shows to be announced because I knew bub would love to see them live. We were lucky enough to get really good seats for their Brisbane show and can't wait to go and see them next month. You too can see them live by purchasing tickets online or entering the giveaway below.


27 September - Sunshine Coast 
28 September - Tweed Heads
29 September - Gold Coast
30 September - Brisbane
1st October - Brisbane
2nd October - Brisbane


Thanks to Lah-Lah I have two tickets up for grabs for one lucky reader to see the band live in concert at either the Sunshine Coast, Tweed Heads or Gold Coast show*. Plus your little one will also win a deluxe dolly pack which includes a Lah-Lah doll, backpack, stripy socks, Big Live Band DVD and Shake it Like This CD. To enter simply follow the prompts in the rafflecopter widget below and leave me a comment letting me know which Lah-Lah song is your child's favourite and why?

Good Luck!

Toni x
Finding Myself Young: Win tickets to see Lah-Lah live in concert plus a deluxe dolly pack

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Terms & Conditions
Competition commences 12:00am August 27th 2015 and ends 12:00pm September 4th 2015. Entry is open to Australian residents only, excluding ACT. One reader will win 2 tickets to Lah-Lah's Sunshine Coast, Tweeds Heads OR Gold Coast live show {subject to availability} plus a deluxe dolly pack. Winner must be able to attend either the Sunshine Coast, Tweed Heads or Gold Coast show in order to claim prize. This competition is a game of skill and will be judged as such. All mandatory entry steps must be completed to constitute a valid entry. Incomplete entries will be deemed invalid and excluded from judging. Winner will have 72hrs to respond or prize will be redrawn. This competition is in no way endorsed, promoted or administered by Facebook.

Linking with Caroline, GraceKaz and Raychael
Monday, August 24, 2015

10 blogging tips from Problogger

For the past two years I've been watching on from afar at all the lucky bloggers attending Problogger each year wishing I was a part of it all. This year was finally my year. I finally indulged my fomo and packed my bags, left bub at home and went off on my own blogging adventure for the weekend. Amongst all the amazing food, networking, partying, and did I mention the amazing food, I actually managed to squeeze in quite a bit of learning as well. I learnt so much over the course of two days that my brain still has lots of processing to do, but these are my top 10 blogging tips from the 2015 Problogger conference.
Finding Myself Young: 10 blogging tips from Problogger


1. I am a glow stick
Without a doubt one of the most inspirational speeches of the entire weekend was from Jadah Sellner{of Simple Green Smoothies fame}. A lot of the points below were also touched on in her speech, but the biggest takeaway was the slide at the end. Its okay to be a glow stick - sometimes we need to break before we shine.
Its okay to be a glowstick, sometimes we need to break before we shine.
I doubt I could find a quote more relevant to me if I trawled through Pinterest for days. I've been broken many times throughout my life, and in many different ways, yet each time I put myself back together and soldier on. I don't know that I'm actually shining yet, but I very much relate to the metaphor that sometimes you have to be broken before you can shine. Sometimes just coming out of the situation that broke you is enough to make you shine brighter than you did before. 

2. Do your own thing
Don't fall into the trap of following what others do, just be yourself and do your own thing. Trying to copy what another person does will rarely work because you're not them. At the end of the day your readers come to read your blog because they love YOU. They like the way you do things, there's no need to be anyone else.

3. Write in your own voice
Be true to yourself and write the same way you speak in real life. Your blog should be like a conversation between friends. I already do this naturally, minus the swearing. I fear you would all up and leave if I swore as much as I do in real life. That's a lie I don't swear at all *cough* I just choked on my drink.

4. Be more confident
No matter how many followers I have on Facebook or how much interaction I get on the blog or social media, there's still a part of me that doesn't believe I'm good at all this. I still feel like a fraud {but I have no idea why}. I've learnt over the weekend that I really need to be more confident in my abilities and believe in what I do. I also need to learn to take it on board when people tell me I'm a good writer, instead of fobbing it off or making excuses. We all need to work on taking compliments better, people don't give them out for no reason.

5. Don't be afraid to fail
This is something I really need to get over. Even though I've been blogging now for over 3 and a half years there are still times when I don't do things I want to do, because I'm scared I'll fail. Times when I'm too worried about the judgement of others. I've decided next year is the year where I DO all the things I want to do and action all the ideas I have swirling around in my head. I already have something in the pipeline and I can't wait to share it with everyone.

6. There is not one magical way that works.
I think so many people go to conferences like Problogger in the hope of finding that one magical key tip that's going to change their lives and make them an overnight success. I'd even go further than that and say people were expecting a step by step list of how to be successful. I came away from Problogger with a list of notes on how I could try and make my blog better, but moreso with an overwhelming confirmation that there is not one magical way that works for every blogger. The key to success is to simply try, try and try again until you find what works for YOU. What works for you more than likely may not work for others. I honestly don't think there's a quick way to be a successful blogger because it takes a lot of time and effort to foster a loyal and engaged community of readers {they don't just appear overnight}.

7. There must be a pay off for your readers
As much as us bloggers can be a self indulgent bunch of people, because well der we write about ourselves all the time, our blog is not only for us. There has to be something in it for the readers. This isn't a new notion to me, its always floating around in the back of my subconcious. I always try to give my readers something from every post, whether it be inspiration, general advice, laughter or more obvious things like prizes from giveaways, but I'm not sure if I hit the mark all the time. I'm going to keep this more in the forefront of my mind as I write posts going forward and try where possible to offer more value to my readers.

8. Change lives
There was a lot of talk over the weekend about WHY you write. I primarily write to leave a footprint, but I've decided I don't want to just leave a footprint, I really do want to change lives. Not on a grand scale by creating world peace or anything like that, but I want to use the struggles I've been through to touch the hearts of others and let them know that they're not alone. To assure them that others have been on the same journey as them and come out the other side. Not only does it give a purpose to all the struggles I went through, but it also gives meaning to others at the same time.

That's why I've shared my journey with postnatal depression and why I'm actually grateful for going through that experience. Its why I share what it was like having a parent who committed suicide. Its why I also share bub's allergy issues for other parents who may have children dealing with the same issues and be feeling just as lost as I was in the beginning. By sharing our stories we can all grow and learn, and help each other.

9. Be more organised
I definitely need to be more organised, I'm sure we all do to some extent. I know this is something I really need to work on. I need to make better use of batch writing and my editorial calendar so that I'm not up at 10pm each night writing blog posts like a mad woman crazy sleep deprived mum the night before I publish them. I've started putting more effort into planning and jotting down ideas on actual paper as I have them, instead of storing them in the deep depths of my brain hoping I can find them again at a later date. Its my dream to one day be fully organised and have a proper office and know exactly what I'm doing one week to the next. I'm slowly trying to get there, but I'm not sure if I can really make huge changes with a 2yr old ruling the household at the moment. But we can all dream.

creative mess

10. You're nuts trying to blog with a 2yr old.
Ok so this one technically came from after the conference when I asked in a Facebook group exactly how I'm meant to find the time to be organised with blogging while I have a 2yr old climbing on me/screaming at me/throwing toys at me/trying to sit on my laptop... and there were generally two types of responses. Keep her occupied with tv or send her to daycare... or just give up because I'm crazy trying to blog with a 2yr old in the first place. Ok to be fair there were some relatively useful tips in there too, but the general consensus is that I'm nuts for blogging with a toddler on the loose and I have to say I don't entirely disagree with that, but I'll soldier on regardless because I'm a gluten for punishment its my passion.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Its ok to leave your children and do things for yourself

I attended Problogger {a big blogging conference} this past weekend on the Gold Coast and it was the first time I've been away from bub overnight ever. Literally since the day she was born. 

I never intended to be one of those parents who doesn't let their kids sleep over anywhere else, but its just ended up that way. Mum hasn't really had any interest in having her stay and T's mum lives in another state so the opportunity just hasn't come up. She also doesn't go to daycare because of her allergies so I'm used to spending all of my time with her. I was definitely more nervous about leaving her behind than I was about attending the conference.

Don't get me wrong I was scared of attending an event with 700 people, petrified even, but I thought my separation anxiety from bub would far outweigh any networking nerves. Even though I'm an introvert.

I expected to be checking my phone all the time for updates from home. I thought for sure I'd be the neurotic one calling home during all the breaks just to make sure everything was ok {i.e she wasn't dead - yep I am that paranoid at times}. I even second guessed going on more than a few occasions because I convinced myself something catastrophic would go wrong if I wasn't with her. My anxiety stems from dad dying when I was younger, not because I don't trust T, and I'm very aware of that so I pushed through it and went to the conference.

It turns out being away from her was actually a good thing. 2yrs without a break is a long time and I didn't realise just how much I needed a break until I took one. Being a mum is constantly exhausting, both physically and emotionally. Being able to switch off my "mum brain" for a few days and not be in a heightened state of awareness constantly was amazing. Although I was still busy, I wasn't having to continuously watch her or worry about her or entertain her. I could just be me, without my mum hat on, and that was kind of refreshing.

It was nice to remember what life was like before I had kids. Not that I attended conferences before kids, but just the simple things like only being responsible for myself, being able to spend time getting ready before I go out {actually getting to wear makeup and do my hair}, not needing to pack a nappy bag... etc etc. I'm sure you get the point. Being a mum has become my life and I kind of forgot what it was like to be me.

Instead of freaking out the whole time I thoroughly enjoyed my time out. So much so that I told Cate on the last day that I almost felt guilty for not feeling guilty about being away from her. Instead of causing me to have a breakdown, being away from her actually taught me quite a few good lessons.

The lessons I learnt from facing my separation anxiety.

We are separate people and its ok to be apart from each other. Sounds obvious right? The first few months of her life though it felt like we were constantly attached and I quickly established the notion that we couldn't function without each other {yes I realise that makes me sound somewhat crazy}. It was nice to realise that I can leave her with someone else and she'll be ok. We'll both be ok.

I am me as well as a mum. Like I said above, I feel like I've just morphed into a mum and its consumed who I am as a person, but being by myself made me realise the old Toni is still there. I just had to peel back the layers to find her.

Daddy is capable of looking after her {even if it is in his own unique way}. Yes he does things wrong different, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing + she survived.

I appreciate time with her more after being away from her. Not that I don't appreciate time with her anyway, but her cuddles are ten times more amazing when I haven't had them for a few days. Absence makes the heart grow fonder and all that other cliché jazz.

I'm not as neurotic as I think I am. I didn't stalk my phone for messages. I wasn't calling every break or even every day. I was actually a lot more calm about it than I ever expected to be. Besides once daddy texted me a photo of the spaghetti he'd cooked from scratch I realised he'd be fine. Who knew a photo of spaghetti could have the same effect as Valium?

Its so awesome to have a break from ABC Kids. It never even occurred to me before I left that going away for 3 days meant not having to listen to Curious George or Bing or Tom or Peppa on repeat a thousand times each day. It was the silver lining to an awesome weekend. Although I am back rocking it out to Lah-Lah around the lounge room again now.

I do remember how to "adult". Since I had bub 99% of my conversations with other people revolve around her, or parenting. So even when I'm talking to other adults its usually always revolved around kids. This weekend I had lots of conversation that didn't involve kids at all! I actually remembered how to have a conversation and not instinctively make it all about bub. That my friends is an achievement.

Coming back home its been abundantly clear that she's benefited from the time away from me too. Daddy has a totally different approach to parenting than me. He's the fly by the seat of your pants, have fun, do what you want kind of parent. Basically every kids dream, because he's a kid himself. She's clearly loved having late bed times, no day time naps, honey toast and frozen coke for 3 days... I'm just taking an out of sight out of mind approach to all this so I don't get caught up in how unhealthy she ate while I was away. Even with all the "bad food" I still think having that extra bit of freedom and nothing but fun for a weekend was good for her, plus I love the fact that her and T got time to bond together and make their own memories.

Perhaps I should make going away a regular thing?

Finding Myself Young: Sometimes the best way to overcome anxiety is to be scared of something and do it anyway.

Do/did you spend time away from your kids to do things just for you?

Toni x

Linking with Grace, Sonia & Kaz
Friday, August 7, 2015

Never too old for hugs

One of the best parts of being a mum, for me, has been the never-ending supply of cuddles. You can never go past a good hug can you? Having your arms wrapped around someone else and their's around you cant help but make you feel safe and secure, and most of all loved. And what better feeling is there than that?

I don't remember getting much affection as a child so I made a decision long before I had kids that I'd be a really affectionate mum. When she was a baby I snuggled her as much as I could - babies seem to have that affect on people don't they? She used to sleep on me a lot during the day because it was where she was most content. Lots of people told me I was spoiling her and creating bad habits, but I didn't care. Personally I don't think you can spoil a baby, especially with love.

I don't think its had a negative effect at all. She's turned into a super affectionate toddler who loves her mummy {and daddy} cuddles. She constantly asks us for tuddles. In fact she's asked for about ten tuddles while I've been writing this already. Apart from making some things take longer because I have to stop and cuddle her, I don't think its a bad thing. And contrary to what people said, she's perfectly capable of sleeping by herself.

To be honest our cuddles benefit me just as much as they do her. Each time we cuddle I feel like I'm making up for what I missed out on as a child. I feel like by creating a strong bond with her I'm creating the relationship I always wanted with my own mum. I'm healing my heart piece by piece each time we hug. You're never too old for a hug.

Do you love a good hug too?

Toni x
Monday, August 3, 2015

Underwater World Mooloolaba

After throwing a huge first birthday party for bub last year I decided this year for her birthday we'd have a more low key approach. So this year there was no birthday party, but there was a very small family bbq. To be honest she wasn't really interested in opening her presents or aware of the fact that it was her birthday so I'm kind of glad I didn't go all out with a party again {we'll save that for when she's older and understands it all a bit better}. Of course we still wanted to do something a little out of the ordinary to mark the occasion so this year we decided to take her to Underwater World.

Queenslanders will know what I'm talking about, but it's been renamed to Underwater World SEA LIFE Mooloolaba {but it'll always just be Underwater World to me}. It's an aquarium but like a mini theme park, where you go when you don't want to do one of the proper theme parks {and if you have no interest in rides like me}. I remember going there a lot as a kid, but I hadn't been for a few years and a lot has changed.

The most well known part of Underwater World has always been the travelator that runs through the huge shark tanks. I loved going on it as a kid and seeing sharks and rays swimming above my head and feeling like I was in the tank. Even though I knew I was safe there was still always that little part of me that wondered what if the tank cracks. I always found it interesting watching the divers feeding the sharks.

The travelator is no longer a moving travelator its now a tunnel you just walk through under the tank - which is actually probably a good thing because we had the pram with us. It was still just as fascinating being under the tank though and watching all the sharks and rays. Bub loved it and even touched two sharks through the tank {she thought it was hilarious and wasn't scared at all - toddlers are fearless}.

She also had no fear of the huge shark jaw, even when I pointed out the huge teeth. She just touched them and said "ooooh teeeeeeeth".

Of course Underwater World has heaps and heaps of fish as well. She was so well behaved walking through all the fish displays going from one tank to another pointing and yelling "tish! tish!". I don't think she'd even said the word fish before we went there, but she won't stop saying it now. Every time we see a fish anywhere she gets all excited "look mum, tish!". She didn't have much interest in fish before, but now when we go past a pet shop she always wants to look at the tish.

The last part we looked at was seal island. We went underneath to the viewing area where you can see the seals swimming in the tank before the show and she was totally mesmerised. She loved leaning up against the glass and watching the seals swim past her. A couple of them came really close and by pure chance I got a really cute photo of her trying to touch one.

One of her favourite things was the fake seal statue in the seal show area, because you could press a button which made it burp and fart. Burping and farting are the coolest things ever if you're a 2 year old, even for girls {apparently}. See her face below, that pure joy was the result of a seal fart!

We got to the seal show pretty early to get a seat which in hindsight probably wasn't the best idea with a toddler who was almost ready for a nap. She didn't really want a bar of sitting in the same spot waiting for 15 minutes and got restless and grumpy. By the time the show actually started she was pretty overtired but she did really well and didn't have a huge meltdown, although she wasn't really interested in the actual show. Mummy and daddy liked it though.

After the seal show we left because it was clear bub had reached her limit and just wanted a nap. We went and had lunch and bub fell asleep before we even ordered, which kind of sucked because for the first time ever we were at a restaurant that had free kids meals and one she could've actually eaten. But the upside was we got to have a peaceful lunch, which pretty much never happens.

We had a really good day out at Underwater World and I'm glad she loved it because we have annual passes {they happened to be on sale the day I went online to buy tickets}. I can't wait to take her back. Next time we'll leave home a little earlier so we can get through all the sections before she gets too tired {it took us about 2hrs to go through all the sections}. When it gets a bit warmer we'll also stop and have a play at the beach afterwards {it was too cold this time + she fell asleep}. T and I had heaps of fun reliving our childhood memories and I'm glad we're creating the same memories for bub.

Have you ever been to Underwater World?

Toni x

Linking with Kirsty, AliciaEva & Holly