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My Stories

Little Helper- A universal Stroller Pram Attachment

March 19, 2017

I met Jodie at birthing class almost eight years ago when we were both due to have our first children and ended up in the same mothers group. Whilst the coffee catch-ups and beach walks often involved conversations about motherhood and what stage our babies were at, we also had a shared love of travel, particularly Europe. Jodie has recently moved to Italy with her young family after a recent health scare, which made her realise life is too short. So where am I going with this… I love when mums are doing things to help others and making their dreams a reality.

Jodie has just launched ‘Little Helper’. As per the old adage that “necessity is the mother of all inventions”, Jodie realized that with two small children, doing daily chores like going to the supermarket, was all the more difficult – can you relate!?

Her children always kept getting out of the harness in the supermarket trolley, trying to stand up and basically causing mischief! Fed-up with the inconvenience of the trolley, she decided to shop with her daughter using a pram/stroller instead. However, she quickly found two problems with this strategy, 1). didn’t have enough storage space to finish all her shopping, and 2). the pram/stroller would start to tip over once the shopping bags were attached.  The latter happened to me once with my son Sol and it was scary.

So Jodie, like many of us thought, “There has to be a better way.” After hours and hours of research, she discovered that there wasn’t a product that addressed this problem, so decided to make her own solution.

After four years of testing, dozens of improvements, and hundreds of trips to the supermarket – Little Helper was born. Jodie has just launched her kick starter campaign. I have personally pledged my support and pre-ordered so she can beigin to help families around the world. My kids are too big for a pram so if Little Helper does take off I will be giving mine away via an Instagram competition. I know the hard work that Jodie has put into this and I want my friend’s dream to become a reality. All the best Jodie, so proud of your achievements and I hope Little Helper is a huge success.

 

It’s called Little Helper and when it comes to shopping and it’s a really big help.

 

To Support Little Helper click here and pledge your support.

Holidays & Destinations My Stories

Dreaming of Sri Lanka

September 30, 2016

Many people are extremely surprised when I tell them that I’m half Sri Lankan. My mother was born there and immigrated to Australia when she was just six years old. Being fair skinned and blue eyed, she’s not what you expect for a Sri Lankan. That’s because she’s Sri Lankan Burgher, a group that date back to the 1500’s when the Dutch and Portuguese sailed to the tear drop that is Sri Lanka in the Indian Ocean) to trade spices. I grew-up in Melbourne’s Sri Lankan community, eating my grandmother’s curries and sniffing their friends’ cheeks when they visited. Yes, sniffing cheeks! Sri Lankans don’t air kiss we sniff cheeks, just like Italians kiss both cheeks. It’s a beautiful custom and my kids greet my Sri Lankan grandmother this way.

Sri Lanka was the first country that I ever visited outside of my birth country Australia. I distinctly recall being a seven year old boarding the Air Lanka (now Sri Lankan Airlines) flight, including the flight attendants’ warm smiles and the pattern on the traditional sari uniform. I think this was the moment my desire to be a flight attendant started.

To read more visit http://blog.expedia.com.au/follow-your-roots-dreaming-of-sri-lanka/

Holidays & Destinations My Stories

Family Road Trip in the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport

June 13, 2016

More recently, I have been focusing my attention on visiting places closer to home. Places on my doorstep that I have previously overlooked, as I have always been quick to board a flight overseas. It’s nice to stop and have time at home and appreciate what we have here.  Victoria has so many wonderful places to explore. From the Dandenong Ranges, Macedon Hill Country and The Great Ocean Road, we truly are spoilt for choice.

Recently Ben and I attended a Wine Food Farm Gate evening on Searoad Ferries where we were treated to some amazing food and wine produce from both the Mornington (my home) and Bellarine Peninsulas (on the opposite side of Port Phillip Bay). We were so impressed with the taste of the Bellarine that we decided there and then that we would take the kids over for a family weekend.

In perfect timing, Mitsubishi then coincidently contacted me asking if I would like to review their brand new Mitsubishi Pajero Sport and go on a family escape. Jumping at the opportunity, I couldn’t believe it when the shiny new Mitsubishi appeared in my driveway. The features that I first noticed were the keyless start and amazing all-round sensors that gave me a birds-eye view whilst reversing.

The weekend couldn’t arrive soon enough. The Pajero Sport truly is a car that makes you want to grab your family and head off on an adventure! We packed the kids, an esky of food & wine and an overnight bag in to the huge boot. When I say huge I mean the biggest boot I have ever seen!

As soon as the kids got in they snuggled in the spacious back seats and were glued to the in-built DVD player that played through Bluetooth headphones. This meant a silent car ride, so much so that it felt like hubby and I were off on a child-free adventure! Haha we wish!

We drove to beautiful Sorrento and caught the Searoad Ferry across Port Phillip Bay to Queenscliff. It was a calm day and the kids were looking for dolphins (which you can often see in the bay) and playing in the onboard playground which was awesome! The journey was so quick and such a novelty for the kids.

Once in Queenscliff we had a wander around the main street and found a gorgeous cafe in a nursery called the Courtyard Cafe. The pumpkin soup was delish and the kids loved exploring the little paths in amongst the plants. After lunch we stopped off at the Scandinavian Ice Cream shop. Delicious and good old-fashioned customer service.

We then all piled back into the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport and headed to Scotchmans Hill Winery where we were made to feel at home. The kids were given some colouring sheets and pencils whilst the adults were provided a personal tasting of some amazing, affordable wines.

Our next stop was our Air BnB accommodation, a little two bedroom beach shack in Indented Head. It had a new kitchen, carpeting and open plan living and for only $75 per night was great value.

I settled in with some of our wine purchases and a cheese platter, while Ben took the kids for a walk to the beach and playground. They saw a ship wreck and found many beautiful shells.

Dinner was at the Port Arlington Grand Hotel, which was a five-minute drive away. The meals were great and the venue was warm, cosy and child friendly.

The next day took off from where the previous finished, full of adventure on the road.  For lunch we drove out to Jack Rabbit vineyard where the views across the Bay to the City were breathtaking. Baby lambs played in paddocks to our left and to our right there was beautiful autumn coloured vines. The whole experience from beginning to end at Jack Rabbit was flawless. Our welcoming was friendly and professional, the wine exquisite and the food absolutely delicious. I highly recommend Jack Rabbit for an amazing family lunch.

Before heading back to our side of the Bay we called in to Terindah Estate for a tasting of their highly rated wines.

With the DVD player back on, we navigated the dirt roads of the Bellarine, feeling very comfortable sitting up high in our Mitsubishi Pajero Sport. Back onboard the Searoad Ferry we spent much of the trip watching the sunset across the Bay.

The final small stretch of our journey was the hour drive home from Sorrento. Both kids fell asleep, which meant hubby and I had some time to ourselves once again, so we connected my phone to Apple Carplay and played my favourite music as we drove home. I loved driving the Mitsibishi Pajero and highly recommend it for family adventures. For more information on the Mitsibishi Pajero Sport please visit the showroom.

Home Life Melbourne My Stories

City Mini Break – Review of White Night Melbourne 2016

February 21, 2016

After traveling the world you can really come home and think like a tourist in your own city and make the most of what we have on our doorstep. We headed into the City for a little mini break last night to be close to the action of White Night Melbourne. We booked last minute and found a great deal on Expedia to stay  at the Melbourne Marriott in a room with two double beds. When we checked in my husband and I were given a glass of cold sparkling wine and our children little lolly bags. It was a really nice welcome. First impressions absolutely count and we were off to a great start.

We went up to our room and the kids were very excited, Especially Mr Three who explored every cupboard and switch! We had a nice view of Exhibition Street below and Miss Six was thrilled when she saw a horse and carriage go by below.

We put my son in the stroller and we walked with our daughter to Flinders Lane where we lucky enough to get a walk-in table at Fonda. Once up the stairs at the entrance we found the experince very child friendly.  We sat at the rear on picnic table style seating. Music was loud enough that children could be loud and blend in. Food was quick, fresh and really good value. Very yummy Mexican! Mr Three fell asleep and missed the whole experience. Thank god we had the stroller for him. Its so good for napping when you are on the go.

After dinner my son woke up and  we walked over to Birrarung Marr. The sun was setting and the colours in the sky were purple and pink while the city lights flickered on one by one.  Birrarung Marr had hot air balloon baskets shooting flames into the sky, There was great music playing in a brightly decorated circus style marque and lots of people lining up at food vans. My husband and daughter had a little dance before we walked along the river. I was hoping to see some floats and light installations but at 8.30 pm there was nothing to see on the water – it was beautiful all the same.  Federation Square/ Flinders Street Station precinct was packed with people expecting a light display on Melbourne’s iconic station, but unfortnately were no projections happening.  From there we headed around the corner where the Australian Centre for the Moving Image was brightly illumunated with colourful patterns that the kids loved.  We knew of some fantastic displays at the National Gallery of Victoria and Royal Exhibition Building, but as it was 10 pm we decided to not push the kids and head back to our hotel.

Back at the beautiful Marriott we had a wonderful rest in very comfy beds.  When we awoke we drove up to Queen Victoria Market and tried Frances Cafe on Franklin Street. Great food and service. After brunch we walked over to Flag Staff Gardens and the kids loved exploring a new park. The sun was shining and it was a great way to spend a Sunday.

I highly recommend White Night Melbourne, Fonda, Melbourne Marriott, Frances Cafe and Flag Staff Gardens. We were only one hour from home but it was a great change of scenery and mini break for my family.  I hope you have had a happy weekend with your family  too.

 

 

Note. This post is in no way sponsored.

Airports & Flights My Stories

Royal Flying Doctors Kids Club Launch

February 16, 2016

The Flying Doctors has been once again been voted as Australia’s most reputable charity for five years in a row and has been providing aero-medical assistance and primary health care services since 1928. RFDS Victoria delivers air and road patient transport, primary health care programs such as diabetes, mobile eye and dental care and rural women’s GP services, as well as raising funds for emergency retrieval across Australia.

The Royal Flying Doctor Service has now launched a traditional Kids Club to connect children with one of Australia’s most iconic organisations – it’s a free club which will feature birthday greetings, regular newsletters in the mail and activities to provide children with an insight into the important work that the Flying Doctors has provided since 1928.

It’s aimed at children aged between 5 – 12 years old, with all registrations before 24th March putting them in the draw to win an iPad and a Pilots pack. They can join here https://www.flyingdoctor.org.au/vic/flying-doctor-kids-club

I have just signed my six year old daughter Charlotte up. She knows about the Royal Flying Doctors as we always visit their stand at the Royal Melbourne Show and I have explained the wonderful work they do. It truly is an amazing organisation and we living in urban areas need to always think of those living in remote areas who do not have access to the same things we do. Charlotte is very excited that her membership certificate is on its way and that is exactly what club aims to do, bring back the joy of traditional mail and connection.

THE FLYING DOCTOR KIds Club features INCLUDE:

  • A certificate of membership for all members to show their friends
  • Annual birthday and Christmas cards in the mail from Flynn the Flyer
  • Regular newsletters in the mail featuring fun facts, activities and updates
  • A chance to win an iPad and Pilots Pack for one lucky winner who joins before 24 March 2016

Today the RFDS attends over 295,000 patients annually, or more than 800 every day, performs around 37,000 aeromedical evacuations and conducts about 15,000 healthcare clinics per year.

It took me 2 minutes to sign up Charlotte, If your children love aviation and receiving old fashioned mail  I suggest you sign them up.

Safe travels,

Jade

 

 

Airports & Flights Holidays & Destinations My Stories

Darwin

October 13, 2015

I have travelled to many countries outside of work with my family, but over the last couple of years I have got into a bit of a Bali rut, flying at least half a dozen times to this easy to get to, value for money and enchanting place.  However, this time we needed to mix it up a bit, after all, traveling is about experiencing new places,  I booked flights to a destination in my own country – Darwin.  I had never been before and it has always been on my list. After all, if you never never go, you’ll never never know, right? Here is my summary of our travels to our most northern capital:

 

PRE TRAVEL – I spoke to the kids about heading to a tropical destination and showed them Darwin on a map.  They voted for pool time and I wanted relaxation, so we chose Sky City Resort based on its amazing pool areas.  I also reached out to an ex-colleague who is a Darwin local and he gave me some great tips.  With newly purchased sun-smart swimwear for the kids, pool games and some poolside wear for me, we were all packed into one lightweight wheelie bag.  Finally, with flights booked and the car booked in at Andrew’s Airport Parking, we were ready to go.

AT THE AIRPORT – We arrived early (as I like to do) and by instruction of ground staff, we checked in our trusty travel stroller with our bags and swapped it for an airport one.  With time on our hands we were able to stop for a coffee and babycinno at the book shop, which serves the best coffee in Melbourne domestic departures, the give-away being the number of crew there.  One quick toilet stop and it was time to board.

FLIGHT  – The  QANTAS crew were fantastic, we were given pillows and blankets, plus activity packs for my kids.  The food on board included vegemite and cheese scrolls that were a hit with the kids. later into the flight the crew’s walkthrough with juice and biscuits was timed perfectly as the kids were becoming restless.  Content, the kids had a little doze, and before we knew it we were landing in Darwin.  On the return flight my daughter was sick. I had a sick bag ready for this. I always recommend you keep them open and near when you are travelling with kids. There is no warning, Just “mum, I’m going to be…”

TRANSPORT- We claimed our stroller from oversized baggage and our bag from the carousel and headed outside to a taxi rank. Being September, it was hot and dry with a lovely breeze.  When arriving somewhere new I always like to ask locals for tips and taxi drivers are a great source of information, so I asked away.  The driver was really laid back and full of local knowledge.  After I laughed off his first suggestion of the pubs in Mitchell Street he went onto suggest the markets and Crocosaurus Cove.  All up, the drive cost about $25 dollars – the local advice was free!

ACCOMMODATION – When we arrived at SkyCity Darwin, the entrance was very understated and dated, but certainly tropical.  We were assisted with our bags and went to check in, which was manned by polite, but not overly friendly or effective staff, e.g. minimal explanation of the hotel’s facilities.  Fortunately, our experience improved with our room that boasted a view of the stunning beach, although unfortunately it was off-limits due to deadly jellyfish.  Lucky for us we had two amazing pools to choose from, an infinity and lagoon pool –kids were in heaven!  Dining options within the resort were limited to an average buffet (although the kids loved the chocolate fountain) and a really lovely Italian restaurant.  The Pistachio ice cream was delish.

MINDIL MARKET- Everyone tells you to check out Mindil Markets when you go to Darwin.  It certainly is a unique experience, but I am not sure it lived up to my heightened expectations.  The market is right on the beach, where you grab your food from the stalls and find a spot to eat on the sand.  I had fresh oysters and some Chinese food.  I was picturing it to be a bit more theatrical, with people cooking in front of you, flaming woks, multitude of fresh food smells, etc.  Unfortunately, most food was pre-made and sitting in bain-maries.  What was lost in the theatre of food was made up by the patrons who created a relaxed, eclectic vibe, with lots of backpackers intermingling with local, hi-vis wearing workers.  The convenience of being next to our accommodation was also a plus.

SUNSET- I love the sun so much that I named my son Sol (latin for sun).  Sunsets always mesmerise me and Darwin did not disappoint.  I have never seen a sunset so red and then so purple, which put it on par with my previous favourite in Jamaica with its oranges and reds.  Having this view from our hotel, restaurants and pool was pretty special.

CROCOSAURUS COVE – One day we headed into town, Mitchell Street reminded me a lot like Asia.  There were chain coffee shops in between rows of big open bars and pubs.  In the middle of all that was Crocosaurus Cove.  There we saw some of the largest saltwater crocodiles on the planet, with aquarium style viewing enabling you to see them up close, which was pretty mind boggling.  My children also had the unforgettable opportunity to hold a baby croc.  This is a must see and I would recommend going in the morning before it gets too hot.

 

Darwin was a great little holiday and I’m glad we had the chance to experience the Northern Territory and explore more of our wonderful country.  I would have liked to see more of the amazing surroundings, like Litchfield National Park, however traveling solo with the kids this time I opted to stay close to the hotel.  Overall, I believe it’s important to learn about other cultures, but it’s also vital to understand and experience your own country.  Also travelling domestically is so much easier and quicker than going though international procedures.  Although the total cost was a lot more expensive than Bali, I’m glad we did something different this time.

Home Life My Stories

Balancing Motherhood and working as a Flight Attendant

October 6, 2015

In this blog post I answer the question I get asked every time I tell someone I am a mother of two and an international flight attendant –‘How does that work?’

The truth is it’s a really great balance.

Being a shift worker means I have a bi-monthly roster that includes 3, 4 day trips. Approximately 14 hour flights each way. This means that I get a couple of days to myself each month (a 5 star hotel room to myself is bliss), and then get to spend the majority of my time at home, which is more than someone who works 9-5 would get to do. It is busy and tiring but I love my family and my job, so I make it work. I’m no different to all you mums out there – we do what we need to in order to keep our families healthy and happy.

Here are some insights into how I juggle everything and some tips that will hopefully help you going forward:

SUPPORT NETWORK is my number one tip. I am grateful to have an amazing network around me and I utilize it. My husband Ben is amazing – he works 9-5 in a busy job but still manages to be home every morning and night, running the house and getting the kids organised while I’m away. Big shout out to Ben! My mother-in-law Pam is also incredible, helping with school and creche drop offs and pick ups, along with after school activities.

If you don’t have a support network think about how you could build one. Start researching the crèches in your area well in advance and add your name to waiting lists. Also, join mother’s groups in your local area so you meet people in similar situations to your own. That way you can help each other out when you need it.

TIME TO MYSELF is so important. While my daughter is at school and son is at crèche I seize the free hours I have to myself by doing things I enjoy such as blogging, sleeping/ resting or treating myself to a massage or facial. If the sun is shining I have a rest in my hammock or spend time at my local beach. All of the above gives me more energy and clarity to be a better mum. I like to refer back to the safety demonstration on the plane when I talk about this. Look after yourself first before helping children. It is so true and as parents we can use that in all aspects of our life.

INVESTING in products and services that make my life easier and will help me in the long run. Something I believe is worth its weight in gold is a good mattress – mine is invaluable in ensuring I get a good rest before crewing a long haul flight or chasing around after small children. I am one of those people who needs a decent night sleep to get on with the day.

Also, recently I was introduced to the vacuum of vacuums – the Dyson DC50. Lets be honest, if the house is organised and looking tidy we are generally more relaxed. The Dyson is the smallest upright vacuum cleaner on the market and stores away really easily. It’s light to carry which is a god send as my body strength is just not the same after having kids and it makes vacuuming so much quicker. I’m not an engineer but it does lots of fancy stuff that my old one couldn’t do. Most importantly it sucks up large quantities of dust quickly, leaves my floors looking cleaner than they have ever looked and it’s super straightforward to empty when it’s full. It’s so easy to use that even our kids have been getting in on the action – they think it’s fun! I guess it’s the modern design? This leaves us more time to get out enjoy life. If you are in the fortunate position to do so I suggest you invest in the Dyson DC50. Definitely weigh up the cost of your time and energy. We also have assistance with our garden every now and then and a lovely house cleaner who comes to help out once a fortnight.

EATING WELL is important for me. Not only to get the vitamins and minerals I need to get through a long day with the kids (or a long shift at work), but also by adding variety in what I eat makes my day more interesting. Doing what I do for work means keeping hydrated is also critical, which I do by drinking a litre of coconut water on my drive to work. I also like to bookend my day with coffee at the start and wine at the end – everything in moderation right? Food is fuel and we mums must run on something other than love and sloppy kisses!

NOT COMPARING myself with others is my final tip. We all have our own things going on, be it diets, exercising, volunteering, etc. Do what you can, don’t get caught “keeping up with the Jones’”, it will only end in guilt and disappointment. For example, I am more of a jarmie than gym gear wearer at school drop-off – it saves time and is liberating not being like everyone else! I don’t get out of the car so nobody notices. Focus your energy instead on your family. Disconnect from toxic and draining conversations and people and try to keep positive. Don’t get caught up in any of the outstanding debates of breast over bottle, stay at home over working, etc. Walk to the beat of your own drum and do what is right for you and your family.

So this is how I balance motherhood and working as an international flight attendant. I hope you can take something out of what works for me and implement it in your life. The one measure I use for how successful I am at life’s juggling act is the happiness of my family and so far I am doing well!

How do you make it work? I would love to hear in my comments section.

Note. I was gifted a Dyson DC50 to review. My opinions expressed are 100% true.

Photography ( beach) Anya Maria Photography www.anyamaria.com.au

My Stories

The Beginning In Sri Lanka

July 14, 2015

When I was seven my parents had saved up, and I was given the opportunity to fly for the first time.  I boarded a flight to my mothers birth country, Sri Lanka.

I had grown up tasting my grandma’s delicious curries and had been immersed in the Sri Lankan culture to a small extent, but getting off that Air Lanka flight and stepping onto the stairs to walk down to the tarmac is a vivid memory that will stick with me forever. The air was so hot and thick, all I could compare it with was something I was familiar with, the butterfly cage at the Melbourne Zoo. There was a smell in the air, a little similar to my grandmas kitchen, but mixed with incense and coconut aroma’s.

That was just the beginning… Once inside the airport, the hustle and bustle of an asian country immersed my senses. The language, the colourful saris. I could see a glass wall with hundreds of people behind it. A fair lady with long skinny limbs waved her arms around frantically and had a huge smile that went from ear to ear. We walked on through into arrivals and the lady with the smile wrapped her arms around me and I instantly felt comforted. I felt so at home in a place I had never been and in absolute awe of what was happening.  A driver was waiting for us in a white van and we drove off into the night. I looked out the window and I couldn’t believe the confronting sights, people sleeping on concrete shop fronts, tin sheds that were unfinished or broken and made up majority of the infrastructure, dusty roads, piles of rubbish, and cows wandering around on the roads.

We then arrived at Swarna Road, Colombo 6 where my extended family lived. In the month that followed I made friends for life in that street and I was exposed to an amazing experience being part of that community. I guess that was the beginning in Sri Lanka, where my passion for international travel grew.