Connect2mums Magazine Summer 2011

Page 1

connect2mums summer January 2011

australia & new zealand


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elcome to our first issue of connect2mums magazine for 2011! I love the promise a New Year brings, a new beginning and the chance to start all over again. A fresh year always has a certain kind of magic about it. So its not surprising that we absolutely loved putting together this new issue as we dreamt about the year ahead. I prefer to have new year’s dreams rather than new year’s resolutions because I believe our dreams are what take us where we’re going. For me looking back over the past 12 months feels surreal, many, many dreams which seemed impossible or unachievable when the year first started out have happened! Publishing a new book, having our own magazine, exhibiting at expos around Australia, holding a glamourous awards event, hosting conferences in Brisbane and Melbourne, building partnerships, appearing in national media, traveling and having the opportunity to meet Connect2mums members from all over the world have all been achieved in the last 12 months! This year has been amazing. Of course there have been set backs, challenges, obstacles and times when it seemed like it just wasn’t going to work out. But maybe this is all part of the plan, designed to test how much you want what you’re dreaming of, to see if you’ll give up or strive harder.

connect2mums magazine

Without dreams its easy to float aimlessly, with nothing to strive for, nothing to follow or go towards, no direction or ambition. The clearer your dreams are the more chance you have of reaching them sooner, so we’ve been dreaming in earnest over the last couple of weeks in preparation for the exciting year ahead.

Online Features Editor Claudette Betterridge

Wishing you a new year filled with love, laughter and a little magic too,

Peace & Katy xx

Editor’s image by Carolyn Bofinger

Cover image by Maureen Haynes of Life in Bloom Photography

Editorial Peace Mitchell & Katy Garner

Contributors Antonette Golikidis Jodie Maher Rhian Allen Susan Wallis Nadine Hall Cover Photography Maureen Haynes Life in Bloom Photography Advertising enquiries Contact us: 0422 624 100

Meet mums like you at connect2mums



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Ready for a road trip image by Mandy Ferry



Holidays with the Little Ones by Antonette Golikidis

It’s January, and no matter where you are in Australia, the sun’s rays are calling – It’s glorious summer time, and I’m just about ready to leave for a family holiday – I hope you are too! For the first time, I’m travelling from Melbourne with my two bubs – Alex, 5 and Antonio, 2, and my husband, Arthur, all the way to tropical Queensland…. and in between web searches, bookings and extensive planning into air freight logistics (think – prams, swim gear and more), I’ve discovered some great travel tips that I’d love to share!


In the Car:

“Book ground-floor accommodation, which makes access easier with a pram and luggage.”

“Give favourite toys, snacks and play music they normally enjoy at home.”


“Leave plenty of time to take extra long breaks and time your departure to an hour before their usual sleep time.”


“Have a pram or baby sling for getting around.”


For a driving holiday, I’ve taken advice from travelling guru – Catriona Rowntrey from Channel Nine’s Getaway (who, by the way, sent me a wonderful letter to say she enjoyed trying Little Innoscents!). She offers these tips, and more from her website:

Baby sling


Flying high image by Jo

On the Plane: When the plane climbs up in altitude or descends the pressure in the cabin changes... and for some little ones this can mean a lot of pain in the ears, from the tightening of their narrow ear canals. I’m told that this will not burst an ear drum, but anticipating any cries and distress from my babies still worries me… so here’s what you can do during take-off and landing to take some of the pressure off – literally!


Ensure your little one does not have a blocked or runny nose. Get them to blow their nose and use a vapour rub (Little Innoscents, $10.99) before takeoff.


Get your bub to drink their favourite popper/bottle continuously during take-off and landing – the swallowing motion will allow the pressure to equalize, faster.


. Get a new toy or a new book, to help

distract them.


If all that is to no avail hold your little one snugly and wait for their tears to stop – there’s not much you can do. Just try to stay calm – and know that once you land, their pain will ease away.



For the yummy mummy...

pores with too much make-up. For instant simple glamour brush on a mineral bronzer, on the face, neck and decolage, and slick on a layer of water proof mascara.

It wouldn’t be a holiday without a touch of fabulousness for mum, so here are my best skincare and beauty tips this holiday . Summer brights for the night – season. why not spice things up a little and try something different for the night? Gloss on a new lip colour or lipstick, in that No negotiations - Protect your bold colour you’ve always to try! face and body from wrinkles, skin cancer and free radical damage by applying sun block. Go for a 30SPF+, Imperfections be-gone – we all mineral (non-chemical barrier) sun have them – pesky beauty problems like block that’s Australian made, and don’t under eye darkness, pigmentation, zits forget that lips need protection too. and more. What’s good to know is that most can be managed with the right natural products. So, do your research, Less is more for the day – If ask companies for trial sizes, and make you’re going swimming, chasing little sure you pack your secret weapon with ones or having a big laugh you’ll you on your holiday, to stay stress free be sweating! So don’t clog up your and glamourous.





Antonette Golikidis Antonette Golikidis is the 2010 AusMumpreneur of the Year and the creator of the Little Innoscents Organic Skincare range for babies, children and the whole family. She is qualified in Aromatherapy, Remedial Massage Therapy and Health Sciences, and is passionate about natural health – her range this is 100% pure and made with Australian Certified Organic ingredients.


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New Year,


New You! By Rhian Allen

So the silly season is finally over and even new healthy regime can be easy to follow though you didn’t plan on it, you did over and stick to once you know what to do. indulge and the number on the scales is not one that you wanted to see… Firstly you need to establish why you want to lose weight and really think about Your muffin top is there, you feel it. Don’t just do it “just because it is a sluggish and your confidence is low but new year”, but write down your reasons all is not lost – and at the risk of sounding about how still carrying your baby weight extremely clichéd, 2011 can be your year makes you feel. Do you feel a lack of and there is nothing like kissing goodbye confidence when going out? Do you crave to bad feelings and health remorse than to fit into your old clothes? Do you want welcoming in a new level of positivity to have more energy to play with your and health focus that will take you to an kids? Do you want to look good naked? Do all time high – and without the caffeine! you want to have a healthy body inside and out? Do you want to look good for So now you have decided to put 2010 a special occasion? Or do you want to behind you, let’s focus on making 2011 slim down to prepare for baby number the year to transform yourself into a 2 or 3. When you have established your yummy mummy who is glowing with reasons have them close to hand at all health and confidence! time – whether that be in your wallet or on your fridge as you WILL have moments The key to successful and long term weight of weakness and remembering why you loss and being in your best health is a are doing this will really help your will combination of nutrition, food, exercise, power overcome your cravings. understanding your metabolism and having the right support and motivation - Then there is food and nutrition. At the and without all of these being taken care heart of healthy living and weight loss is of it is very easy to fall off the weight cellular nutrition and this is where our loss bandwagon after only a couple of cells are fully nourished so they work weeks and giving up on a “New Year, New to the best of their ability. If they are You” and deciding it is all too hard with not fully nourished then the whole body too little results. doesn’t work properly which leads to a poor immune system, poor digestion, poor However, contrary to popular belief it nutrient absorption, poor metabolism doesn’t have to be hard and adopting a and the inability to lose weight. But in



today’s hectic lifestyle we lead it can be hard to in take all the nutrition as not only is so much food processed within an inch of its life, but also as busy mums we just don’t have the time to eat properly at every meal and as such resort to unhealthy fast foods which are devoid of good nutrition.

mums don’t have the time, energy or inclination to sweat it out in the gym plus they have their little bubba’s to take care of. The good news is that steady weight loss can be achieved through steady exercise such as walking every day with your pram and doing exercises at home.

So hopefully from reading this you can And finally the exercise. If you enjoy the see that a New You in 2011 is more than gym and have the time to go then it is a achievable and that you can achieve your great way to burn extra calories but most pre pregnancy weight in 2011!

Rhian Allen Rhian is a mum of one and the founder and owner of www.losebabyweight. which has been created to help mums lose their baby weight in a safe and healthy way - without starvation, without boredom, without weight loss accellerants and without caffeine products. All plans encourage healthy weight loss through nutritional smoothies, healthy snacks and meals, low impact exercise, metabolism boosting tips and constant motivation. Breastfeeding safe plans are also available and all plans come with a 30 Day Money Back Guarantee and it is Rhian’s aim to help as many mums across Australia be as healthy as possible and feel fantastic after their baby’s are born.

Find out more about Rhian at



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Your child’s

FIRST DAY Summer holidays are upon us and our children have time to recharge their batteries, relax and play. For parents, enjoying time with our children and the hype of Christmas will soon be over and our thoughts will again return to getting our children ready for their new year of learning. For some children this will be a first – a first day at childcare, day at Kindy, day at Prep or even High School. This can be very exciting but also a little daunting for both children and parents. As a parent of two school age children and another in daycare, and a former teacher, I know how important it is to prepare your children for their first day, and to make it a fun and positive experience. There are a number of things you as a parent can do to make this first day in childcare, Kindy, Prep or High school, a smooth transition with as few bumps and tears as possible. Through my teaching and parenting experiences, talking with other mums, carers and parenting specialists, as well as discussions with teachers across all grade levels, I have put together some tips and advice to help your child’s first day experience to be a positive one. For those of you whose children are starting childcare or daycare for the first photo by Annabel Cliff Solitary Photographic

time, you may be the ones feeling slightly apprehensive. Be comforted that you have done your research, found a great centre or carer for your child, and they will be very happy.


A Family Daycare provider of over 15 years suggests the following tips for starting your child in care: •

Start the care earlier than you planned, giving you time to introduce your child to their new routine. Most centres and family day carers will allow the parent to bring the child along for a couple of visits where you can stay with them and play with some of the equipment and get your child accustomed to the routine.

Familiarise your child with the areas they will sleep, play, wash their hands, go to the toilet and eat their lunch.

Introduce your child to some of the other children

Let your child take a favourite toy or blanket to care for when they are sleeping so they have something familiar. 27

a teacher, I have experienced the first day for many new students and as a parent I have had two children start school. I have compiled some helpful tips to prepare your children for the start of their biggest childhood journey. •

Before school starts take your child to their school for a walk around. Show them where you will park in the mornings; where their classroom is; where the toilets are; where the office is; where they will eat their lunch; where the playground is (let them play for a little while to get the feel for it); where their siblings’ classrooms are (if they have some at the school); and where you will be waiting for them at the end of the day.

In the weeks leading up to the start of school, begin your school day routine. Get up at a reasonable hour, have breakfast, get the children to clean their teeth, and get dressed. Maybe eat morning tea and lunch around the time children will eat at school and get the children used to going to bed at a reasonable hour.

Label all of your children’s belongings. Show them where you have put their name and make sure that the children can recognise their own name. From experience, make sure you name each part of clothing, in particular hats and jumpers that come off during the day, in a number of places and not just on the tag. Some children will pull the tag off. Use a black Nikko pen.

Make sure your child can take off and put on their school clothes and shoes easily. Particularly for boys, don’t tie their shorts up, as when they go to the toilet they may not be

photo by Maureen Haynes Life in Bloom Photography •

There are also books available which tell the story of children going to childcare, which may be good to read to them prior to them starting. For Family Daycare there is a book called “Jessie goes to Family Day care.” On the first day where you leave them on their own, be positive and happy, settle them in, get them involved in an activity, say your goodbyes and leave. If they cry, rest assured they will soon stop. Go and have a coffee or treat yourself.


Too soon our children are all grown up and heading off to school for the first time. As 28


able to pull them down or tie them back up. Also buy them shoes with Velcro if you know they cannot tie shoe laces. Tying shoe laces is a skill and your child needs to be taught how to do it at home.

lunch box. •

Organise your morning routine - let your child know what they need to do in order to get ready for school. Perhaps do them a morning chart showing them to eat breakfast, brush their teeth, get dressed, put shoes on, pack bag etc.

Develop a good sleep routine. Young children do need a good night sleep, around 8 -10 hours, and in those first few weeks will be very tired.

- Do a practice run at home with their uniform on. •

Toileting can be a problem for those first timers at school.

- Explain to your child how to ask to go to the toilet - all they need to do is either ask the teacher or raise their hand and ask. Teachers will A mother who’s child recently completed also let the children know what the his first year of school found visiting the classroom routine is about toileting. school, talking about school with him, - Explain to them that if they have practising eating a packed lunch and an accident to let the teacher know wearing his uniform and shoes before and that their teacher will not be school started really helped him adjust to school life. She felt both parents taking angry with them. him to school the first day gave him - Remind them to make sure they more confidence. He also used his Kindy redress themselves, flush and wash backpack which was familiar and gave their hands. him a sense of continuity and comfort. If your child is worried about possible School is a big step for our little ones. accidents or you think they might They leave us and spread their wings, have an accident, pack a spare learn many new things and grow into pair of underwear and shorts in a well rounded young people. The years of plastic bag in their school bag. Let primary school are somewhat protected them know it is there just in case, as our children have the same class and reassuring them. teacher each year, so when High school Lunches - Make sure you pack food that you know your child likes and will eat, as well as being healthy. It is important for a child to eat well while at school as it allows their brains and bodies to function better and not get tired.

- Make sure that you explain to them what foods they should eat for morning tea and what they should eat for lunch.


- It is also important that your child is able to unwrap and open all containers and packets within their

approaches our children may face the same trepidation as they did starting primary school.

High school begins a new phase

of their life. It requires our children to be more organised and independent. Multiple classes, numerous teachers, timetables and assessment plans are awaiting our children. In order to understand how best to prepare our children for high school, I asked Head of Special Education and high school teacher of over 35 years, Vicki Allen, her top tips for preparing ourselves


and our children for the first day at high school. •

Be involved in transition programs in the year prior to starting high school. These programs are run between the primary schools and high schools. Children visit and participate in high school activities over a number of days.

Be prepared for your child to be a little less confident in themselves as they have gone from being the eldest in primary school to the youngest in a school of much older children.

It is also very important for high school children to get a good night’s sleep and eat a healthy breakfast.

Lastly, if your child has any special needs or learning difficulties make sure you see someone straight away so they may get the support they need.

Have a map of the school and familiarise your child with it. If you haven’t already got one, you may be able to get a copy from the school’s website.

Get a copy of the school’s timetable Catherine Oehlman, parenting writer and – allowing children to see how the Blogger at gives her day is broken up. top tip for the first day as spending the last Go through the Policies and week of the holidays getting your child into Procedures Handbook with your the school routine. Help them wake up on child – looking at the differences time, have a good breakfast, get dressed, and be ready for the day. Also talk to your between high school and primary. child truthfully about what to expect at Be aware of how the tuckshop school, in a positive way. Children who operates. It is very different to are well prepared generally transition primary school. Maybe leave smoothly to school. tuckshop for a week or two until they are able to see how it works Parenting is a difficult job and we don’t and how much items cost. know all the answers. As you enter each Look out for the Term Assessment phase talk about it with your child, ask Planner – this outlines your child’s questions and be informed. Schools, assessments and due dates. Having teachers and other parents, particularly this will allow you to help your child those with older children at the school, organise their term and assessment are very approachable and willing to workload. answer questions. Above all, you know Be prepared for your child to be your child best, if you are positive about exhausted for the first month as their new journey, they will be comfortable they are constantly moving from and ready to enter this new phase with class to class and taking in lots of enthusiasm. new information.

Jodie Maher

Jodie is mum to three boys, a primary teacher and owner of Kids Learning is Fun. 32

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Nurture your baby’s skin Your baby’s skin is 5 times thinner than your own and is not yet fully developed. Our skin helps to keep water in and potential irritants out. At Nature Within we understand how fragile your baby’s skin is and this is why we developed our fragrance free skin care range, rich in natural and organic ingredients that are pure and gentle just like your baby.

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Taking the Sting Out of Summer Is your Eczema causing you to dread the summer months? not being able to go swimming or enjoy the beach because of the itching, burning and stinging, let alone the embarrassment of red, raw skin. Well, fear not with a few simple skincare tips you too can venture back into the water and start enjoying summer again. With summer just around the corner it's off with the hat and scarves and on with the togs. A favourite past time in Australia during the warm summer months is the beach and swimming. For those people lucky enough to not have eczema nothing is more fun and enjoyable than the sun, sand and surf. Unfortunately for people with eczema summer is a dreaded time of year. Some people find that their eczema actually improves in the warmer months with exposure to sunlight. Others find the sun, sand, surf or chlorine a recipe for disaster. Chlorine is extremely drying and even the healthiest of skin can suffer the effects of dry, irritated skin after a long cool dip in the swimming pool. What about the beach? While salt water solutions (saline) is commonly used to clean wounds and assist with healing it is also very drying and for some especially babies with eczema the sting of the salt water in skin cracks and the abrasiveness of sand can be particularly painful. This doesn't mean you have to miss out on the fun of sun, sand and surf. With a few simple tips you too can enjoy summer without eczema making it impossible:

Ten tips to enjoy summer: 1. Are you taking antihistamines or medications that may cause sun sensitivities? Always check with your pharmacist or Doctor before going out into the sun. 2. Always patch test your sunscreen twice before going in the sun. Sometimes a reaction may not occur initially from the first application of sunscreen so when a reaction does occur on the second application then usually the surf or pool water is blamed. 3. The sun is always strongest between the hours of 10am - 2pm so keep out of the sun during these times and ensure you slip on a shirt, slop on sunscreen and slap on a hat. 4. Dress in UV clothing before going in the sun these garments have been specifically How to patch test designed with SPF protection factors, the higher the number, the stronger the For children use a small area on protection. If possible choose light colours over dark e.g.: white instead of black as the upper back to shoulder, approx white doesn't absorb heat as much as black clothing. 3cms in size or 1 inch. 5. Before swimming apply a thick layer of emollient cream all over your body paying hands can't reach this area special attention to areas affected by eczema. Try to allow 30 minutes between applying Little and it will be easy for you to assess emollient and sunscreen. for a reaction. 6. Apply sunscreen, 30+ is a must (Cancer Council Classic Sun Cream is a very rich heavy cream) suitable for eczema prone skin or Sunsense Toddler Milk is recommended by Usually a reaction can occur the National Eczema Society these particular products contain Titanium Dioxide which straight after the application of the product but this isn't always the can sit on the skin and act as a barrier. The only downfall is because they have a heavy case. If a reaction doesn't occur base it can leave a white residue on the skin. continue applying the product a Ensure you apply your cream in downward, gentle strokes to avoid irritating the skin few times over a 24 hour period in and triggering the itch that is so common with eczema. case of a delayed reaction. 7. After swimming ensure you rinse yourself with plain water and a small amount of gentle bath wash or oil to remove any chlorine or salt water residue then pat your What to check for skin dry. Remember to choose products that do not contain fragrances. Usually the first signs of a reaction 8. Reapply emollient moisturiser to your skin and do this at least 4 times a day or more are redness, itching, burning, welts or blistering. If these symptoms if your skin needs it. should occur flush the skin 9. Even if your eczema is currently under control continue to apply emollient cream immediately with cold water and frequently to keep your skin barrier intact and lower the incidence of a flare up. 10. Always seek medical advice if skin is bleeding or weeping to ensure you don't develop discontinue using the product. Baby's should always be rinsed an infection. after a bath so all traces of bath wash are removed from the skin and reducing the chances of By following the above tips you too can enjoy the summer months without the sting. irritations occurring Nadine Hall is an Aromatherapist, Certified Infant Massage Instructor and mother of two. Natural ,Organic Baby Skincare Visit her website:




Under the Same Sun by Susan Wallis

No one enjoys being preached to, especially when we think we know enough about the subject area already. So I’m going to apologise in advance, because you might feel you’ve heard this all before.

Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency, so we can assume rash vests have been a part of surfing culture at least, for almost 20 years, and popular culture almost as long.

I don’t recall when I first became aware of sun protective clothing , or more specifically rash vests. Internet research unearthed that UPF labelling of clothing commenced in 1992 by ARPANSA, The Australian Radiation

Please do your children and yourself a favour. Next time you spend time outside enjoying the sun, protect your skin, and that of your children as though you were at the beach or the pool. It’s the same sun after all.

It’s pretty common these days to see people Think back to your childhood. If you were wearing rash vests at the beach or the pool, anything like me, you enjoyed laying about young kids in particular, and liberal use of on the beach sunscreen. The message is getting out there Or the in the backyard, sunbaking, without and kids are being better protected. sunscreen. We used to sunbake at lunchtime at school What about at the park, at home or in the and as I’m naturally olive I could get a ‘tan playground? All too often we see young line’ on my legs from socks or a skirt in about children, in singlet tops and babies in 20 minutes, a fact that used to amaze fellow bodysuits or onezies, precious, delicate classmates and I was quite proud of. skin exposed to the harsh sun. It is possible sunscreen has been applied, but unless it is I did discover sunscreen in the early 90’s, heavy zinc based cream it is a filter, not a and used a different SPF cream on different total barrier to the harsh rays of the sun. The areas depending on what level of protection majority of long term sun damage occurs in I thought I needed or to even out a tan. Do the first 18 years of a person’s life, and all it you remember when sunscreen wasn’t all 30 takes is one or two episodes of sunscreen or 50+? It seems crazy when I look back at to increase the chances of developing sun it, and I’m concerned about the damage I did related cancers in later years (I did warn you to my skin. I might sound like I’m preaching)

Susan Wallis

Susan is mum to two gorgeous girls and together with her friend Alison represents the Agoo children’s clothing range in Australia. Sunsafe style: London Jacket Size 2-8 $69.99 Go Glamour pants in Rose Size 2-8 $39.99


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Before I became a Mother By Peace Mitchell & Katy Garner

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Discover what’s best for you, your pregnancy, baby or child Adelaide 25 - 27 Mar 2011 Sydney 20 - 22 May 2011 Brisbane 24 - 26 Jun 2011 Perth 12 - 14 Aug 2011 Melbourne 21 - 23 Oct 2011



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Welcome to motherhood – an and plain toast or dry biscuits is adventure which can be at best for morning sickness. If you times overwhelming, exciting, find you’re hungrier throughout challenging and rewarding – the day, try having healthy snacks sometimes all on the same day! such as dried fruit or nuts on hand Pregnancy itself can be like this to nibble on. too, from the lows of morning sickness to the highs of feeling 3. Low impact exercises such as your baby kick for the first time. swimming are excellent for While your focus naturally will pregnancy. The sensation of be on your growing baby its weightlessness in water is lovely important to find time to look in those last few months and is after yourself too. also a great way to unwind after a busy day. 1. During your pregnancy try to do something for yourself at least 4. I found Yoga was an excellent way once a week, like going to the to prepare my body for birth. It movies, out to dinner, shopping or was also a really good opportunity sleeping in. When I was pregnant to spend time focusing on my I wanted to make the most of changing body and my unborn being able to do things when I baby. Find a pregnancy class or wanted to, because I knew that one that focuses on relaxation once the baby was born getting and stretching. out wouldn’t be as easy. 5. Aromatherapy oils are a great 2. Eating well during pregnancy will natural way to help you relax give you energy and will make one which is recommended for returning to your pre-pregnancy pregnancy is lavender, it can shape easier. Include plenty of help you sleep and is also good fresh fruit and vegetables in your for relieving headaches; however weekly shopping as well as eggs, there are some which should be milk and other dairy products. For avoided so always check. heartburn a glass of milk can help

6. There are a lot of things you need then found the first few weeks a to discuss with your partner. challenge I was unprepared for. Parenting is a big job and one that you’ll need to work together on 9. You can find plenty of information, as a team. Things you should talk books and DVD’s on baby care, about include: how you’re going recognising the tired signs and to manage a new baby, how a baby strategies for sleep and settling will affect your relationship, your at bookstores and your local beliefs on discipline, your ideas library and this will help you about returning to work, your to feel more confident and less expectations of each other overwhelmed during those early weeks. 7. Spending some quality time with your partner before the 10. If you’re lucky enough to baby arrives is a great idea. My have a friend with a young baby husband and I went for a weekend spend some time together, ask escape a month before our baby about what they’ve found the was due, we really enjoyed being most challenging and use this able to have some uninterrupted opportunity to become more time together as a couple. familiar with caring for a baby. I was so lucky that my sister had, 8. Spend some time learning about just had a baby before me. I was life with a new baby. With able to spend time looking after my first baby I focused on the my nephew and asking my sister pregnancy and labour reading about the challenges of life with every pregnancy guide I could a new baby, she gave me some get my hands on, unfortunately terrific advice and this helped me I overlooked thinking about the feel much more confident when reality of life with a new baby and my daughter came along.

An excerpt from ‘What I wish I knew before I became a mother’ by Peace Mitchell & Katy Garner $20.00 47

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What I wish I knew

Before I became a Mother By Peace Mitchell & Katy Garner


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SummeR ReadinG


New Releases


The Plantation by Di Morrissey

2 Archangels Consort by Nalini Singh


Room by Emma Donoghue



Shelly Beach Writers’ Club by June Loves

Fatal Judgment by Irene Hannon


The girl in the picture by Judith Young

6 The Dark Road to Darjeeling by Deanna Raybourn


Belle by Lesley Pearse 55


Author Interview:

Christine Darcas

We chat with Australian author of ‘Spinning Out’, Christine Darcas, about dancing, motherhood and life. How are you and your lead character Ginny similar?

and accessible. In New York, I was always aware of being a professional transplant ― I would be there only as long as I was We share some important circumstances working. Melbourne, however, is a place and interests. Both of us were born and where I’ve been more than happy to raise raised in the United States, worked in a family, work and generally settle. New York City and eventually moved to Melbourne. We both love to dance, although she has extensive ballet training (I hardly have any) and started dancing much earlier than I did. Also, we both have mothers who married young in the 1950s. I don’t have her psychological baggage, but I’ve carried one or two of the same suitcases ― enough for me to be able to relate to her character.

Ginny moves from New York to Melbourne, do you have a special attachment to these two cities? New York City and Melbourne are my two favourite cities in the world. New York has an extraordinary energy to it that I’ve never experienced anywhere else. Like Frank Sinatra sings, ‘It’s the city that never sleeps’ and I feel privileged to have spent my late 20s and early 30s working there. But Melbourne is also a very special place. It’s physically lovely, while being vibrant, determined, modern 56

Dance is a strong theme in this book, has dancing always been a part of your life? Yes and no. I took ballet when I was in prep and Year 1 and did a couple of years of figure skating in my early teens. I did attempt some jazz lessons after secondary school, but struggled with learning choreography in a group setting so gave that up. During this time, my youngest brother was becoming a serious dancer; while I was tripping through aerobics classes, he was jazzing his way to Broadway. His experiences kept me aware of dancing and the dance world. When I turned 41 years old, I tried a few private Latin American lessons and it clicked. That’s when I really fell in love with dancing for myself.

Motherhood is another strong theme in this story, how has motherhood impacted your life? Enormously! I have a daughter who is 18 and a son who is 16 who I absolutely adore. However, motherhood has been much more challenging than I ever imagined. I was raised to strive to have both a family and a career but, for a variety of reasons, the reality of getting that balance right escaped me and I ended up as a stay-athome mum. It was the right decision for me and I don’t regret it. But there was a period along the way when my dreams and sense of self became buried. Cheesy as it sounds, dancing helped me awaken from that. As the female in partnership dancing, you have to dance as a woman. It was something that I did for myself and that tapped into my feminine core.

What do you love best about writing? When it’s going well, writing is a wonderful, cathartic escape. It’s the creation of an alternative world where I can express a myriad of feelings through events that I steer. Real life has a tendency to be beyond my control, but my imagination and words are mine to play with!


Summer Reading In and Out of Step by Christine Knight “In and Out of Step” follows the story of Cassie, a teacher and dancer, working in a small coastal town in NSW. The story is fast paced and took a while to learn who all the characters were as they are complex and many. Cassie is trying to learn from her past mistakes in love and life and attempts to avoid relationships of any kind until she learns that the people around her are the ones who can help her to move forward.

Review by Jo Atkinson

You are my future by Amanda Cole The story itself I really enjoyed, a girl in the midst of a severe tragedy manages to catapult herself back in time through her overwhelming grief and in doing so allows herself to change the course of events. The unusual element to the story is that the character, Sierra, has both a past and present version and the story is told through both of their viewpoints which is where I had to occasionally remind myself which character’s dialogue I was reading, especially when they were interacting and having conversations with each other. Overall this was a really nice book to sit down and read and had nice short chapters so I managed to read it in between doing other things over only a couple of days. Review by Wendy Slack

Spinning Out by Christine Darcas I loved this book. From the first page I was hooked and by the third chapter I had laughed and cried and knew that I had found a truly great story. I was mesmerised and read the book in just a few days, feeling like I really knew the characters and could understand how they felt. The story follows Ginny from losing her job in New York through to finding a new home in Melbourne and then creating a new life for herself there. A girl reestablishing again and again after life changing events and finally finding her feet back where passion had always been. There were lots of endings and beginnings in this story but the theme throughout was one of following your heart and staying true to your dreams. I really enjoyed this book and would happily recommend it to anyone looking for a great story!


Review by Peace Mitchell

Our Reviews & Recommendations Saving Max by Antoniette van Heugten This is an excellent debut novel by an author whose subject of mental illness is very close to her heart. Antoniette van Heugten is a mother to two autistic children and also a former trial lawyer. This is a well written, fast paced, legal thriller. Seventeen year old Max is mentally ill and accused of murdering Jonas his fellow patient. Danielle is Max’s mother who also happens to be an attorney who tries to prove his innocence with so many twists and turns along the way. This book is about so many things. Most importantly it is about the enormous sacrifices we make as mothers and the lengths we would go to for our children. The author has successfully combined her personal and professional experience to create a thrilling drama. I look forward to reading Antoniette van Heugten again. Review by Vicky Stevens

Unearthly by Cynthia Hand Unearthly is a wonderful first novel for Cynthia Hand and although it is essentially a teen fiction, I found myself enveloped by the beautifully written story and wonderfully rounded characters. Clara thinks she is a normal teenager...but all that changes when she turns sixteen and her mother reveals a surprising secret - Clara is part angel! After receiving a frightening glimpse of her life purpose, Clara, her mother and younger brother Jeffrey, leave their home in California and move to Wyoming so she can fulfill her destiny. As she struggles with the confusion of her growing feelings for Christian, the boy she must save and Tucker, her best friends brother, Clara realises that to save her loved ones from the terrifying Black Wings (Fallen Angels) she will have to choose between destiny and love.The cliffhanger ending has left me wanting more and I can’t wait for the sequel.

Review by Lisa Timmings

Sweetgrass by Mary Alice Monroe Sweetgrass catapults the reader into the life long struggle of the Blakely dynasty that have owned and grown sweetgrass in South Carolina for 8 generations. Due to a tragic and life changing experience of Preston Blakely, the family patriarch, the family band together to save the heart and soul of the Blakely family’s legacy. The potential sale of the family estate is the catalyst for facing past demons, repairing broken relationships and to fight for what one thinks is right. Sweetgrass is for those that enjoy family conflict and drama, and can appreciate the emotion of family struggle and heart ache. It is a light and easy read which can transport the reader into the time and space of each character. It will hold the reader’s interest to the last page to find out what happens to the sweetgrass farm and the characters themselves.

Review by Renae Strand


Summer Reading Sticks & Stones by Isla Evans This is the sequel to “Broken”, Maddie is a victim of domestic abuse and 6 years after she fled her marriage with her 2 kids, changed their names and moved away her husband finds them, and he’s not happy. I spent the first little while wanting to know what got Maddie to this point and what her history was, but as the story unfolds and you enter Maddie’s world, that doesn’t really matter any more. Although I was often frustrated with Maddie’s naive approach, I was with her all the way, and felt her frustration and grief as the husband who looks fabulous in a suit, manipulates her and the system to his own advantage. The husband is evil personified and so real that it’s scary. This is a book that is deeply disturbing, but absolutely compelling. I couldn’t put it down, wanting to see what happened next. This is a book which stays with you long after you’ve finished reading it. It’s a chilling glimpse into what goes on behind closed doors in Australian suburbs, and you desperately hope that this is more fiction than fact, though sadly this is probably not the case. Well worth the read. Review by Kris Barrett

The Essential ingredient - Love by Tracy Madden Tracy Madden’s debut novel ‘The essential ingredient’ is one woman’s journey to rebuild her life after the tragic death of her husband. The story is flavoured throughout with 3 of life’s great luxuries travel, fashion and beautiful food. What I loved about this book was that it is set in Queensland, so many of the books I have read this year have been set in Ireland or the UK or the US so anything with an Australian familiarity is always enjoyable. The author’s love of Queensland, food and all things Parisian come through stongly in this story as her delightful character Chilli Montogmery finds herself again. A must read for anyone who enjoys fine food, travel and a romantic story line. Review by Peace Mitchell

The Right Time – Dianne Blacklock The Right Time follows four sisters and their families and connections. Each sister has a different ‘life-changing’ event or decision to deal with. There is an engagement, a marriage break-up, an affair at a cross-roads and a marriage in need of some ‘spice.’ I don’t want to give anything away for anyone wanting to read the book, but there are character traits or circumstances that I can identify with throughout the book, which made me want to read faster and faster so I could see what happens. I also enjoyed the fact that it is set in Australia, so I can picture places and situations. Dianne Blacklock’s writing style is easy to read, but this doesn’t mean that it is elementary in any way. The descriptions are vivid and the details carefully included. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and although I didn’t want to put it down, I also didn’t want to reach the end.


Review by Ashleigh Hoyle

Our Reviews & Recommendations The Coffeeholic and the Café by Elizabeth Martin This is the first published novel by Elizabeth Martin and if this one is anything to go by, I can’t wait to read the next one. This engaging story of romance and adventure introduces us not only to its main characters, Claire, the Coffeeholic ; Maria, her employer and Bruce (aka Tom), the love interest, but also to the delightful scenery and atmosphere of Cairns and Tropical North Queensland, where it is set. Elizabeth’s descriptions are so vivid that on putting the book down I was surprised to find that I was in my own living room, not cupping a steaming mug of freshly brewed macchiato in a beachside café. The narrative thoroughly engages the reader in Claire’s life as we follow her journey from a broken relationship in Melbourne to the liberating independence she builds for herself in Cairns. A great read for anyone who loves a coffee with even more for those who appreciate the beauty of a great coffee shop. Review by Claudette Betterridge

Bereft by Chris Wolmersley Bereft is a heartwrenching tale of loss and love. Set in the Central Western NSW town of Flint, in 1919 this novel traverses 10 years of pain. After finding his sister murdered, Quinn flees in shock. For 10 years he travels finally enlisting in the army. At the end of the war he is pulled home in order to discover the truth of his sisters death and to clear his name. Quinn arrives home to find his mother in the grips of the influenza, and the town changed beyond his belief. Throughout the novel Quinn is helped by an orphan girl who is waiting for her brother to arrive home from war to look afer her. With her help Quinn is able to survive and discover the real perpetrators of his sisters death and bring them to justice. Womersley writes with a very descriptive quality wish sometimes makes it difficult to wade through to the necessary facts of the story, but once you are into the story it is compelling and sometimes difficult to put down. Review by Kristie Rue

Cocktails at Naptime by Gillian Martin & Emma Kaufmann “Cocktails at Naptime” takes a lighthearted approach to warning all who are game about the things a woman may go through physically and emotionally once that little bundle of joy arrives and the effect it may have on her relationships with others (as you can imagine, there are some hilarious in-law references). While the book is written in a very humorous style (I often found myself laughing out loud while reading alone on the couch) and is very entertaining, I still found it to be very informative and, well, re-assuring I guess. I think partly the fact that the authors can make such fun of what can in other contexts be very raw subjects, reminds me that I am not alone, that many mothers have gone before me, made the same mistakes and had the same doubts as I do. Also, between all the jokes there is some very real advice and I think sometimes it is easier to see the bigger picture when you take a step back and view something in a different light as “Cocktails at Naptime” forces you to. Review by Jen Muir


Summer Reading The paper garden by Molly Peacock This is a peculiar book, I’m not sure quite what I was expecting but this book is differnt to any other I have read. Deliciously quaint, I at first thought I wouldn’t enjoy it as it is quite wordy at times but as I read further I became more and more intrigued with the story and the heroine Mrs Delany. It is partly biography - the story of the life of Mrs Mary Delany who at 72 begins an innovative new form of artwork, yet also woven within the chapters we find snippets and fragments of the author’s own lifestory peeping through as well, comparing and contrasting the lives of these two women- one an artist the other a poet. The language alone transported me to another time and place where ladies wore corsets and gentlemen wore moustaches. A fascinating escape back in time to when life was simpler.

Review by Peace Mitchell

A Darker Music by Maris Morton Mary Lanyon is the temporary housekeeper at Downe, Western Australia, a famous Merino stud. When she arrives, she discovers the owner’s wife, Clio, has been very sick and the house is a mess, dirty and filled with secrets. Mary’s recognises straight away that there are many puzzling questions needing answered. Though as an employed staff member, she doesn’t want to pry into the family’s problems, yet finds herself in the thick of the unravelling thread. Some things in our lives can eat away at us like a cancer, it’s so important to deal with our issues and move forward in life. If a writer was never allowed to write or a musician never allowed to play music. Our souls begin to die if we never feed the inner self, the very thing that gives us the most pleasure which creates joy in our lives. Maris takes us on a journey to unravel the mysterious family tapestry of silence, blame, neglect, dysfunction and grief. Her words compel us to turn every page, hoping for some more information to piece the ‘Downe’ puzzle together. Morton draws us in with intriguing facts about the wool industry, fossils and wildflowers. Her descriptive prose intoxicates the senses with her vivid depiction of rural Western Australia. As she illustrates the timeless musical greats, I could imagine the string section tuning up, and her ability to portray the many meals served throughout the book will have you salivating. Review by Michelle Evans

Priceless by Nicole Richie When I opened my book parcel from connect2mums I was a little surprised, firstly I had no idea Nicole Richie was an author and secondly I thought oh dear does she have any literary talent? But Nicole’s book “Priceless” although not literary genius (I mean really who can be classed in that genre anyway) was entertaining, exactly what I look for in a “girlie” book.


In my thirst for learning I read far too many business books so when grabbing a book for bedtime reading it has to be far outside the realm of my own life and Priceless was just that. Outrageous glamour that gets taken away in a split second, revealing the true morals and values of the main character, Charlotte delivered a light hearted entertaining story. Not the “must read snippets during the day anytime I can type of book” but entertaining enough that I looked forward to curling up in bed to continue on Charlotte’s journey (yes sorry about that dear husband). On the whole I would recommend as a delightfully light read that can transport you into a faraway world of glamour, poverty and of course the Hollywood happy ending.

Review by Alycia Edgar


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Our Reviews & Recommendations Dyson Digital Slim Vacuum Cleaner If Angelina Jolie does housework, I bet she has one of these! The Digital Slim is the Ferrari of the vacuum world, sleek, smooth and ultra cool, housework just is more fun with one of these! Easy to assemble and easy to use and I found a whole host of new things I could do with this super gadget that my old cumbersome vacuum made tedious and difficult. The obvious number one advantage to the digital slim is that it’s cordless. That means you’re free to go wherever you want without being tied down to the distance between the power point and the end of your hose. For my house this is fantastic because normally I have to plug in and unplug numerous times to do the whole house. The cord tangling of my old vacuum is another thing that drove me crazy and often resulted in the heavy body part of the vacuum cleaner tipping itself over. There’s no chance of this happening with the beautiful digital slim. It’s also super compact so storage is not a problem, another huge advantage over my bulky old model vac, which needed to be dismantled to be put away each time. There’s a lot to love about this little gadget and I really liked its ability to get into tight corners, and under low furniture like my TV unit and the sofa lounge, spots where my old vac always had trouble reaching. It’s so light and easy to lift that cleaning cobwebs is really easy to do too, the attachments provided ensure you can get into the cornices

Dyson Digital Slim $469 easily without damaging the paintwork or marking the walls too. Cleaning the car is another fantastic use of this handy tool. The other thing I really love is that it’s easy to clean. The ‘floor tool’ opens easily so that you can clean the bristles inside and untangle any hair or string that has got caught up in there. The dust catcher bit is also really easy to clean. The only drawback I can see is that you probably can’t do a whole house all at once. The power pack gives you about 15 minutes max of vacuuming time and as the dust catcher bit is quite small you probably would need to empty after that long too. But it’s convenience in enabling you to vacuum small and hard to reach spaces quickly and easily and the fact it is cordless, certainly outweigh this disadvantage.

Review by Peace Mitchell 65

Motorola T505 I love this gadget. The Motorola T505 was so easy to pair with my Apple iPhone (3G) and I was able to start using it straight away. I have not used a hands free device in my car before and I found it to have great call clarity and to be very user friendly. The unit is stylish, quite unobtrusive and looks great in the car. Incoming calls have the number of the caller announced so you don’t need to take your eyes off the road to see who is calling and answering the call is so easy. I would definitely recommend this device to anyone thinking of buying a hands free device.

Motorola T505 companion $119.99

Review by Sheryl O’Loughlin

BlueSim Phone The BlueSim phone has great call quality with good clarity. It is a great accessory for your mobile phone where you don’t have a land line. My friends told me that the audio was very good and better than the mobile. I found the BlueSim fairly easy to set up and started using it as soon as I received it. I paired it with my Apple iPhone (3g) . The handsfree is loud and clear and the music streaming is quite ok if you like a bit of background music. I would like to see the phone design a little more streamlined and stylish to make it more visually appealing, but in spite of the appearance of the product, the BlueSim phone does deliver the features that you need.

The BlueSIM phone works with any Bluetooth enabled mobile phone. The BlueSIM phone connects to your mobile phone and allows you to make calls to and from your mobile through the handset. $299

Review by Sheryl O’Loughlin


Huawei U8150 IDEOS This android phone has all the features you need to stay in touch! For mums on the go you can check emails, drop in to your favourite sites, search the net, update your facebook page and with over 50000 apps to download you can keep your kids entertained with games and music too. It also has a built in camera, gps, weather updates and a host of other cool features. It’s light and compact and extra stylish coming in a range of colours including black, yellow, pinky purple or blue. At just $159 its a really affordable smartphone alterntive to the iphone. Highly recommended for busy mums! Review by Peace Mitchell Huawei IDEOS $159 Pre-paid phone for Terms & Conditions go to

AnyBook reader I’m passionate about literacy and children developing a love of reading from a young age so when I came across this fantastic product as a suggestion for our tech gadget feature I was immediately intrigued. The any book reader allows you to read stories aloud into the recorder and then your child can listen to the story again and again whenever they like. Ours arrived on the first day of the school holidays and I couldn’t have been more delighted! What a great way to keep the kids entertained. My 3 boys are all at various stages of reading ability, my eldest at 10 is fluent and is almost at the ‘Harry Potter’ ability age, my 7 year old has come in leaps and bounds with his reading this year and has just progressed past picture book stage and my youngest at 6 is reading very easy home reader style books. They work well together and I soon had my eldest choosing books and recording stories for the younger boys to listen to. He easily worked out how to record, playback and adjust the volume controls and use the added stickers to insert sound effects to the stories. A fun and adpatable learning tool for parents of emerging readers. Reveiw by Peace Mitchell Franklin Electronics - AnyBook Reader: $69.95


ViViFi WiFi hotspot I love new techie gadgets and ViViFi on the super fast 4g Vividwireless network did not disappoint. After receiving it, I simply inserted the battery into the smooth palm shaped device, and charged it for 3 hours.

vividwireless ViViFi Wi-Fi Hotspot $99

Connection to any of the 6 devices I road tested, was simple and very easy to do. Each device found the ViViFi and all that was required was to enter your password, located on the back. The speed of this little device proved to be robust. We had up to 5 devices connected at once and downloads maintained a high speed connection. The 6 devices that we connected were an iPhone 4 & 3, a 3G network Nokia phone, a laptop, iPad, iPod touch and the Xbox 360. Battery life is impressive; we managed to get between 5 and 6 hours out of every 3 hour charge depending on how many devices we had connected. The ViViFi WiFi hotspot has many uses in today’s world where most gadgets are able to connect to the Internet. Where ever you go you have a connection. I found it invaluable to use whilst out and about. I have a dongle that I use for my laptop but it does not compare to the speed and ease provided by the ViViFi WiFi hotspot modem. One major benefit we found was actually in our home. We already have a wireless modem located on the top level of our house with several laptops, iPad etc, connecting with no problems, but we always have difficulty with Xbox live. It has constant dropouts and lags, which drives my boys crazy and has them moving furniture to obtain and keep a solid connection. The Xbox is located on the lower level of our house, but we also have laptops on that level that do not have the same problem. So the boys loved the ViViFi which could be easily placed beside the Xbox. I highly recommend this product and see it as the next generation of internet connection. Review by Vicki Frittmann


NoHands Look mum no hands! The Nohands is a new and innovative invention to use with mobiles, ipods and all small tech gadgets. It enables you to attach your phone, mp3, remote control and other small devices to walls, glass, plastics, your car or your benchtop so you can talk hands free wherever you go or keep your phone away from sticky little fingers. The sticky part is easy to remove and importantly leaves no damage or marks. A very convenient little gadget.

Review by Peace Mitchell Nohands $18

Your shape for X-Box Kinect by Unisoft This game is fun, exciting and a good way to get into shape. When you start the program set up you’re asked to do a fitness test to set up your profile. Your profile will track your progress, check your statistics (calories, scores, goals), customise goals and create your own personal challenges. The program is very user friendly and easy to use and explains each step very well. Once your profile is set up, there are different exercise programs you can use. These are from personal trainer to gym games (a fun way to get fit) or class programs. I have had a lot fun trying out all the different training sessions and can see me using this program most days to mix up my exercise routine in the comfort of my own home. The program would be good for any fitness level.

Review by Nicole Golland

Your Shape: Fitness Evolved game - $89.95


meet our review team Michelle Evans Michelle is married with 4 children. She writes to inspire, take people on a journey and escape their world. Writing brings joy to her soul.

Wendy Slack Wendy lives in Adelaide and is currently a work at home mum with an 11 month old boy and a little business selling leather baby shoes. Wendy and her husband have been together for over 6 years and love to travel recently taking their son, at just 7 months of age on his first international trip, to Thailand.

Vicky Stevens Vicky is an avid book reader who loves a glass of wine with friends. At 37 yrs she is a first time mum to 10mth old Madeline who is the happiest little baby she knows!

Kris Barrett

Kris is mum to 2 gorgeous kids and owner of Allergy Friendly Foods. She started her business 5 years ago after her son was diagnosed with multiple food intolerances and she found it difficult to feed him. She now imports a fabulous range of allergy free foods from the US and NZ and is very passionate about what she does. She believes she has the best job in the world, and loves being able to bring a smile to kids (and their mums) who have food allergies as they enjoy safe, yummy and 'no nasties' foods.

Ashleigh Hoyle Ash is a designer and owner of Mm is for me, she is mum to William (3), and has a little one on the way. Ash and her family live on a strawberry farm in Queensland. Ash loves to read, and can’t be without a book, even if she falls into bed and only gets to read half a page before her eyes close!

Kristie Rue

Kristie is a single mum of one from Sydney. She loves reading and spending time loosing herself in other worlds, and due to recovering from a foot injury over the past 15 months she has had a lot of time to indulge in her passion and developing her son’s passion for reading as well.

Renae Strand

I am a stay at home mum of two young boys who are 3 and 1. The joy of playing in the dirt, mud and other messy activities allows for my kids to explore and grow. I like to encourage my children to explore through play no matter the mess; however I like to keep my house clean. This has lead to the invention of Mud Pie Kids. Mud Pie Kids allows for parents to buy a range of items to help their kids to either get dirty or to stay clean.


Nicole Golland

Nicole is a mother of three beautiful children :- 2 boys and a girl.She’s also the owner of Lopees Organic Cottons Reusable Envelopes. Nicole is passionate about environmental sustainability and her interests include exercise, reading, her children and enjoying life to the fullest.

Alycia Edgar

Alycia is an accountant who works with small businesses on the operational side of their business. She is also a mum to twin girls and loves lattes, reading and twitter. and

Sheryl O’Loughlin

Sheryl is an accountant and mother of three, she also has 5 grandchildren whom she adores. She enjoys reading, travel and shopping!

Vicki Frittmann Vicki is the owner of Lunalei a funky online children’s clothing store specialising in designer alternative and rock fashion for kids. She loves listening to music and spending time with her husband and three children.

Lisa Timmings

Lisa is a mother, writer, designer, seamstress and business woman with four beautiful children, one with Aspergers Syndrome. Lisa and her family moved from Sydney to the Gold Coast 7 years ago to give them a better life style and are so glad they did. While working part time, Lisa is also currently working towards a diploma in writing and runs a fledgling handmade kidswear business. There are never enough hours in the day but when she does get some down time, she loves to read and browse the internet.

Jen Muir

Jen lives in Singleton, NSW with her husband and beautiful 2 year old daughter. Jen is also expecting herr second child in June, and the family are all getting very excited about the whole experience. Jen loves spending time outside, especially gardening at home, and surfing when she finds time to hit the beach. She also enjoys collecting antiques, baking, and reading, and has a passion for shopping that is dangerous! To keep herself even busier, she works from home as the Australian/New Zealand rep for Servane Barrau Designs, liaising between retailers and the designer herself.

Jo Atkinson

Jo is a mother of 3 beautiful children and lives in Brisbane. She enjoys cooking, reading and interior design.


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