It’s about the stories

Sun in autumn

People want to hear stories. Stories make reading more interesting. My day job involves writing for the web and a web review of our website has suggested showing rather than telling, ie use stories. Rather than tell people what a fabulous organisation we are, let’s show them.

You know how when you’re thinking about something you notice a lot more about it. Say, you’re looking to buy a certain type of car. You’ve never noticed those cars on the road before until you want one and you notice heaps of them.

So it’s happened to me with storytelling. I’ve been thinking about stories, and thinking about writing more here – I go through stages – and what do you know? I’m not alone. Let me share some other people who are also thinking about stories, or telling good ones.

Leah Peterson tells stories – hers and yours. She’s currently doing a series of interviews with bloggers. It’s interesting reading and a great way to find out about new bloggers.

Neil Kramer writes stories and he’s also just started an experiment where he chats with people and puts the transcript up on his website. I’m interested to see where this goes.

Karen Walrond tells stories and takes amazing photos. Maybe one day we will meet and she’ll take an amazing photo of me. I love how she captures portraits. She also wrote a recent post called These people are nothing like me. If you’re looking for other bloggers she’s shared some there.

Because the above three are based in the US, here are a couple of Australians who tell great stories too.

Kirsty Rice is an expat living in Qatar but she’s originally a local gal who grew up in the country like me and does a great job of sharing what it’s like to be living overseas.

Anna Spargo Ryan is originally from Adelaide (where I live) but now lives in Melbourne. She shares a lot about her life and she also includes some of her writing.

I know there’s loads of other writers out there who tell stories and do an amazing job but these are just five.

Please tell me yours.


Mother’s Day – with a silver lining


Last Sunday was Mother’s Day. What a bust. Like New Year’s Eve you build yourself up thinking it’s going to be a wonderful day and when it’s not you feel really let down.

I don’t think JJ even said happy Mother’s Day to me. I certainly didn’t get breakfast in bed and apart from a couple of good moments during the day I was glad when he finally went to bed.

I also think that Mother’s Day must be really hard for people who’ve lost their mums and for people who really want to be a mum. Like a slap in the face. Thinking like this about others certainly puts things in perspective – in retrospect.

Three days after mother’s day JJ showed me the poem he wrote for me that was still on the computer. I’ve now printed it out and put it up at work. He tells me I’m full of surprises like a treasure chest waiting to be opened. and I’m like a golden fish swimming in the ocean standing out like a colossal diamond in the room. I work in and out of the house faster than I can blink or eat cake – and some other wonderful things.

But it’s not that poem I want to share here. It’s another one he wrote at the end of last term that got read out at assembly because his teacher thought it was so good. I’ve been asking to see it since then but only just got it.

He said I can share it so here goes:

How to Treat Life

There are two ways to treat life

One with care

One with stupidity

Care comes with responsibility and compassion

You have to play sport and exercise instead of doing nothing

You also have to exercise your brain.

You need to be nice and caring for others

You have to take responsible risks

You should be open to learning

Choosing the people you can trust to help you

You strive to be someone they trust and look up to in a good way

You are to be yourself

Not the person other people want you to be

You need to stick to your dreams and accomplish them

Stupidity comes with no care or compassion

You don’t exercise yourself

You don’t exercise your brain

You treat others horribly

You don’t care about what might happen to yourself or others

You’re not open to learning

You bully others

You’re what “the cool kids” want you to be

You change what you are, but remember

You only have one life

International Blog Swap Day – Redpeffer from the UK

Today is International Blog Swap Day which means I’m hosting a UK blogger here today and she’s hosting me for the day. We’ve both written about the stages our kids are at. Read on for hers, and then click over to her blog for mine. Or read the lot linked up here.


Redpeffer I’m very excited to be writing this guest post for Jen. One of the things I have discovered about blogging is the fabulous online community that’s out there and it’s lovely to be able to expand this and meet fellow bloggers from the other side of the world. Thank you Jen for hosting my post.

I’m Iona and I blog at where I talk about my family, our experiences and activities as well as write the odd opinion or two. I love photography and am really enjoying how blogging has helped me to improve it and inspire me to continue.

My children are now 7 and 3 and we are lucky enough to have a girl and a boy. They are my inspiration, my frustration, my love and my fear all rolled into one. I’m sure most of you if not all will recognise these emotions!


Recently, I’ve noticed my 3 year old find his voice. This is wonderful to watch as he becomes his own little person. But it comes with a caveat-he now argues, fights and bickers with his big sister. This happens increasingly more often. He wants to express his own views, yet he also idolises her and wants to copy her. This inevitably leads to tension and conflict. He becomes frustrated. And at age 3 he has yet to learn how to control or manage this without it turning into a screaming and wailing fest of epic proportions.

When the arguments happen and I haven’t been there to witness them. I then get the ‘he did that’; or ‘she did this’ scenario. Both insist they are the ones hard done by. Both want the other told off. I know I’ve been guilty of assuming it was someone’s fault or telling them both off equally because it’s just easier to manage. Then you have both of them sulking and huffing as they both feel hard done by!

And I’ve noticed my soon to be 8 year old understandably wants her own space. She doesn’t want her 3 year old little bother following her everywhere like a shadow. She need’s to have time and space for her own activities and room for her special books and toys to be just for her and not shared. I totally understand that, but it can be hard to manage on a day to day basis. As a parent I’m constantly trying to accommodate two very different types of need and struggling to find that all elusive balancing act that sometimes feels so distant to be almost impossible to reach.

And as your child gets older, their problems can’t be so easily solved with a hug or a cuddle. Obviously they still help a little, but you find yourself having more complex conversations. Often these conversations don’t have conclusions either. At almost 8, my daughter is still at the age where she expects a definitive answer for most things and I’m trying to show her that most of life isn’t that simple. And then recently I discovered that her friends have been talking about relationships, kissing and even sex. They are in Year 3 (ages 7 and 8.) That shocked me. Fortunately, she doesn’t seem terribly interested in the whole thing, but now I know she is being exposed to it all, we have to think about what to say to her and how to say it. It all feels too early, she doesn’t have enough life experience to understand much of it. Where on earth do we start? Right now I haven’t started at all and am secretly hoping it will all somehow go away and re-appear when she’s older! That’s an effective parenting strategy isn’t it?!

We are as open as we feel appropriate with both our children, but it can be tricky working out what information to share and in what way. And don’t get me started on the whole friendship/relationship thing. I just want to wrap them both up in cotton wool but of course I know that this won’t help them be happy adults. My mum always said it got harder as we got older because she couldn’t solve everything for us, and now I know exactly what she means.

Thank you for reading, and please do pop by to say hello. I can be found on Twitter @Redpeffer, and my blog will take you to all my other social media profiles from the home page.

A renewed interest in crochet

Learning crochet

I used to crochet. I used to knit. I can’t remember when I last picked up a crochet hook, but stopping knitting was a bit more recent.

So when I got invited to a Nanna Skillz event put on by Yelp, I was pretty excited. I didn’t know what to expect but it involved dressing up, food, drink, nanna skills and croquet. How could I turn it down?

The dress code was white and I have an aversion to white, or it does to me. However, digging through my wardrobe, I found I have quite a bit of cream, including a cream crochet skirt with gold sparkles – an op shop purchase – and a beautiful vintage cardigan. I also dug up a cream crochet handbag that used to be my nana’s. Very appropriate I thought.

Crochet handbag and skirt

I had to drop my son off at a birthday party at a nearby indoor bowling place dressed like this when everyone else was a lot more casual. I just don’t care anymore but I would have been quite embarrassed a few years ago. When in doubt and a little bit nervous – strut. Surprisingly my son was okay with my getup until he saw the gold sparkles in the skirt.

It was a fun Sunday afternoon. I went by myself but caught up with people I’ve met on Twitter and in real life at other events. I love that Adelaide has a great Twitter community that extends into the meeting in person. I also met a few new people.

There was plenty of food to try and drinks to be had. I tasted cheese, salami, pickles, gnocchi, icecream, beer, whiskey and cofffee – all from locals. Luckily I hadn’t had time for a decent lunch prior.

The crochet ‘stall’ consisted of a couple of crochet rugs on the ground and some very helpful and patient crocheters. And once I put my glasses on I could actually see what I was doing better.

Now of course I’m all invigorated to try out crochet again. I’ve got some hooks and wool kicking around so I just might get cracking. I’ll have to relearn some more stitches and learn how to read patterns but I’m sure I can do that.

If I get good at it I wouldn’t mind making this crochet hat or this poncho.

crochet_hat_9 Fairy-Tale-Poncho-Collage

No wind and a kite festival. No it doesn’t work.

Blink and you miss it – the last month that is.

We got his application done and submitted – finally. Now it’s the waiting game.

So the school holidays were clouded with his application deadline looming. We did, however, manage to fit a few things in like the kite festival. Unfortunately there was no wind the day we went so it was a bit of a fizzer.

But we caught up with some friends which is always good.


The lad got to go for a ride on the carousel, or the hurdy gurdy. Does anyone call it that anymore?


They don’t go faster if you try. He tried.

Go faster

Beach near sunset for a fly of a kite.


There was a bit of limited success and a bit of running up and down the beach to try and get the thing in the air.



But when all else fails, the ocean is there for the swimming and as it was probably pretty much the last decent swimming weather – why not?

Sunset swim at Semaphore

Not a shark

Application schmapplication. Ain’t nobody got time for that!

I want to look back at this time and say to myself, ‘see, it was all worth it.’ Why you ask? Because I’m helping my gorgeous (said with tongue firmly in cheek at this time) son to write an application for a high school he wants to go to and which would suit him.

Applicants have to write or prepare their own application answering selection criteria. Get your parents to help you it says! Faaarrrk. I’d rather write yet another job application and that’s saying something. Although things are looking good on the job front for me. More to come when I can say more!

Ever tried helping your child write an application when their attention span is bloody nought? Sure, he wrote down the bullet points that he wanted to address, but the devil’s in the detail isn’t it? I think we’ve finally done it though and it just needs a few other people to look at it because I’ve sure had enough.

And it’s not just that. Because he doesn’t want to go to his zoned high school there’s paperwork around that justifying the decision too.

It’s Easter long weekend for goodness sake and there’s lots I’d rather be doing than pinning the lad down to concentrate. He doesn’t get the consequences of this I don’t think. Sure he’s passionate about why he wants to go this high school but translating that to an application? Nah huh!

As this woman says: “Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That“. Have you seen it?

Phoenix is settling in


Our dog has truly made himself a part of our family. My son describes him as mischievous and that’s a pretty good word.

When we first got him he was really well behaved and I thought he was too good to be true for a one year old dog. But he obviously feels more comfortable with us so his true nature is gradually being revealed.

I was on the phone to mum one day, sitting out in the back room. Phoenix had been into JJ’s room and was sneaking one of his soft toys outside. He knew he shouldn’t be doing it by the look he gave me as he slinked past.

He’s also started taking dirty socks and JJ’s shoes to his bed, or outside where he can lick and sniff them. While he doesn’t actually chew the shoe he will get the insert out and chew on that so now JJ has to put his shoes away. Clean clothes hanging on the clothes drier are okay, it’s just the dirty clothes he likes.

We never used to let Monty on our beds, but somehow Phoenix accompanies JJ when he’s going to sleep and I get him out when I go to bed. No doubt one night I’ll forget and wake up to someone creeping around in the hallway, and freak out until I realise it’s the dog.

JJ likes me to give him a tickle and whenever we’re mucking around on the lounge room floor there’s inevitably a dog trying to muscle his way in to the fray as well. We’ve nicknamed him the attention seeker because when he does that I start patting him and am therefore distracted from the tickling my son duties.

We took him to the beach a few weeks ago and he had a great time biting the waves and running up and down the beach. He even came in the water because we were all in there. He had that wild look in his eyes like Monty used to get when she was swimming. I think it’s because he wasn’t too comfortable being out there but it was better than being left out. I’ve still got a scar from where Monty’s claws got too close to my hand so I avoided his mad paddling front legs.

He still gets car sick which is frustrating for us, and no doubt for him. I’ve tried the expensive tablets the vet prescribed and have am now trying ginger tablets as a cheaper alternative. I need to give one to him more than half an hour out from a car ride because the last time we tried that we’d nearly arrived at our destination and he started doing the madly licking his lips thing that he does before he’s about to be sick. Luckily I was able to pull over and get him out the car before he threw up. His ginger tablet and the piece of salami I’d wrapped it in was still evident which is how I know that half an hour isn’t long enough to digest something.

On the way home that night he was fine so I wonder if night time car rides are fine and day time ones are the ones that make him sick. I hope this is something he gets over. We can’t always go somewhere when it’s dark.

But we put up with this because we love him and couldn’t imagine our lives without him now.