Mini Adventurer party

I like a party. I am not sure if I like too party but I like parties. Or the idea of them actually, or maybe I just like planning them. If I am completely honest, I like to design, scheme and prep for parties and that’s about it. But now I am old and don’t have the luxury of throwing parties for myself I live vicariously through my kid.

Last month said kid turned 4 and I don’t know if you know this but it’s kind of a big deal around here (or so we were told). I started planning and scheming in June by hoarding props (toilet rolls) and designing graphics. We settled on the theme of ‘mini adventurers’ based on the kiddo’s unwavering fascination with the natural world, dinosaurs and all that outdoor junk.

Little A’s birthday fell smack bang in the middle of school holidays and it’s hard to gently remind other busy parents of a party if you don’t see them for a week before. So I decided to employ a marketing technique (don’t hate on me I am sorry I am a design nerd and can’t turn it off) and create a memorable invite: Mini Adventurer passbook and binoculars in a little paper bag. Using the months worth of toilet rolls, Little A and I painted and glued them together to create crafty binoculars for each child – who were encouraged to bring them to the party to help explore!

I designed the party logo and supporting elements based on old school Scout badges and continued that idea through the party where kids ‘earned’ a badge after completing every game.

birthday party invite

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There is always the possibility that someone or something will rain on your parade. Nervous that I would make some sort of rookie school-mum party faux pas I consulted seasoned professionals, i.e. other school mums, to ensure that noses stayed firming in joint. With the stress of invitations done I focused on crafting large amounts of decorations never really thinking the thing that would ruin my parade was actually going to be rain. But there you have it, the week before the party it rained non-stop and I wanted to cry. Getting a metaphorical rigorous shoulder shake from SAH to pull myself together and get on with it – our chosen park had a band stand to give us cover (which my amazing mum turned up at 7.30am to morning of to secure) I did just that. I got on with it.

And although it did not rain once during the party, in fact it was glorious blue skies, it was winding as a – erm, a windy thing so I decided to forego putting up 90% of the decorations, which was a shame but I now have a large supply of decorations for next year.

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Effort was also exerted in the cake-making area. Baking the 5-layered cake over the space of a week, I watched a lot of you tube videos on crumb coating and smoothing butter cream frosting to get the look just right. Although I wasn’t entirely happy with the cake batter colour or the cream cheese frosting colour (neither was fluorescent enough for me) the over all affect was exactly what I had wanted. A mixture of adventure animals and tasty snacks adorned the towering beast of a cake. Although in my haste to clean the kitchen the night before the party I accidently threw out the fancy sparkly number 4 candle and I had to quickly retrieve four mis-matched candles from the junk draw in our kitchen.

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Party food was kept very simple with no lollies or soft drink, but loads of fruit, sandwiches, pretzels and popcorn – plus cold cuts and cheese for the adults.

We decided on three party games and encouraged the kids to play in the playground together when they weren’t participating in games or eating. We had an Expedition to find creatures (treasure hunt), a Dinosaur egg transport (egg and spoon race, well rubber ball and spoon), and a Mini adventure (obstacle course). We also had a table of craft for the kids to make animal puppets and masks.

Party bags contained a little custom pack of Crayola crayons and were big enough so craft projects and found animals/insect toys could be stashed inside as well.

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And the outcome? A complete and utter success. The birthday boy had the best day ever running around with his buddies – a close-knit group of kids at his Montessori school – playing games, earning badges and eating cake. In fact I’ve been asked by the kiddo about his next birthday party pretty much every week since!

I enjoyed the day too, remarkably as I was running around madly setting up, repairing binoculars, corralling kids to and from one game to the next… I even got to chat to other parents and some of the kids and it made my heart sing at how lucky we are to have such a gorgeous little community through our school.

Well hello there.

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I believe it’s convention to apologise for blog silence explaining the life has just been over the top busy and the blog fell by the way side. And while, yes that did happen there have been occasions when I did have time to blog I found I had nothing to say. That’s not entirely true, I have a lot to say but I’ve started to feel I need to be even more selective of what I put on my blog, as Little A grows I am mindful of his public digital-footprint. Even though it was never my intention to make him the focus of my blog – no this is still all about me me me.

Life has been going on and at times I have wanted to come here and rant and rave about perceived slights, boo hoo work and general crud but it would have been self indulgent crap that would have done more harm than good.

Exciting things have happened and are going to happen.

I continue to put my heart and soul into my work. Running the up hill battle that is freelance design.

Little A is well and truly a preschooler and we are only now emerging from the fog that was the threenager stage where everything said or done or not done prompted earth shaking tantrums. As 4 rounds the corner in September our articulate, interested, interesting young man reemerges and it is sublime. Stories are told, questions are asked, hands are held, games are played, cuddles are had.

We got our first glimpse of spring on the weekend and were determined to revel in it. So we bundled into the car and headed to the National Park and hired a boat to row around Audley Weir. I took one for the team as I am definitely not a boat person and felt queasy within minutes of boarding the vessel – it didn’t help that I was told it was all in my head but my well-meaning fisherman SAH. Walking in his father’s footsteps Little A had taken a shine to a fancy fishing rod earlier in the morning so to placate him SAH crafted a homemade fishing rod for Little A to play with – with he did with gusto.

We rowed for an hour at vast expense while the boat house owners dreamt of returning home to their gold-plated beds. It was beautiful and a perfect way to spend a warm Spring-preview day.

Not willing to leave the area Little A insisted that we go for a bush walk and we wandered the park lands area while the kiddo ran around with sticks.

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I recently purchased a new camera for work and have been experimenting while trying to master it. So far so good. It’s an Olympus EM-5 Mark II – which is the model up from the camera Olympus sponsored me to use last year. Sadly no sponsorship for the new camera as I forked out my own hard won cash – but it was worth it.

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Konnichiwa!

One afternoon in September SAH called and asked ‘So, um do you want to go to Japan next month?’.

Wait, what?

Turns out SAH was being sent to Tokyo for a fancy packaging conference in October and the opportunity was too good for Little A and I to pass up. So we quickly booked plane tickets as I started scouring AirBNB for the perfect pad to make our home away from home for 10 days. I made contact with a few Tokyo-based designers organising visits to studios, making this work opportunity for me too.

Emails flew fast between my lovely freelance buddy and Japanophile, Shell (Kitty and Buck), while SAH and I excitedly listed the restaurants we’d go to and the shops we’d visit. Oh the time I would spend browsing craft stores and book shops, leaving no stone unturned… I can hear the parents who’ve travelled with their kids laughing from here.

As you can probably guess our romantic visions of cruising around Tokyo with our kid, being hip global travellers was completely deluded and reality was less than perfect. It took us a few days and some monumental melt downs (from all three of us) to find our rhythm and settle in to some understanding of international travel with a three-year-old.

Staying in the bohemian and oh-so-hip neighbourhood of Shimokitazawa – home of Hello Sandwich, dozens and dozens of very well stocked vintage stores, cafes, tiny trendy bars, and cool young persons night life – we faced a daily conflict: do we stay in Shimokita and explore every lane, alley, backstairs and nook; or do we go off and see the rest of Tokyo.

In the end we ventured outside of our neighbourhood most days, only to return in the afternoon and relax in the surrounds, wander, shop, eat and on one excellent afternoon indulge in delicious street food festival.

We learnt the hard way early on that life would be easier for all of us if we included kids activities in the day so one sunny afternoon we made the trek to the ‘local’ park. ‘Local’ because it was a 3.5km walk away with no direct public transport. Still when we arrived at Setagaya park we were rewarded with facilities that made our jaws drop. Free for small children to use and policed only by their very polite parents were peddle cars and an intricate track complete with working traffic lights. Along side this craziness was a small but packed skate park, decommissioned steam train kids were climbing all over and a sign that pointed us in the direction of a miniature steam train one could ride (but as the walk had taken so long we had missed its hours of operation).

I spent a large portion of our time in Tokyo dawdling, staring up at signs, stores, buildings anything that caught my eye, while following SAH as he pushed Little A in our stroller. Such was SAH’s dedication to pushing the stroller, that I jokingly said I was going to make a film entitled: ‘Man pushes stroller’. Turns out I wasn’t joking and in the end I created three videos that document our time in Tokyo and my view for a lot of the trip.

Here is one of them

I’ve come away inspired in more ways than I thought possible.

Travelling with a small child and the restrictions that come with it (no wild nights, solid hours on end of shopping, over crowded tourist spots) we needed to explore the city in different ways and all of it via public transport and on foot.

Slowly walking through the suburbs and we found life away from bright lights and obnoxious trucks playing the latest pop sensation on loud speaker (a way of advertising).Textures and patterns emerged and the realisation that everything has some form of illustration on it. Grimey concrete, sharp lines of repetitive box housing, clever street signs painted on the ground in narrow streets, pops of bright colour cutting through utilitarian hues, traditional sandwiched between the urban. This is the Tokyo we saw and loved.

Next post I will go into more detail on wheres and hows and even add our hard found tips on travelling with kids in Tokyo.

I am this person’s mum…

And that’s pretty rad.

After a luxurious 9.30 sleep in, we divided our mother’s day between our mums.

Lunch was with SAH’s parents at Pazar food collective (the new incarnation of La Lupita) for far too much good food. And at which Little A took a chunk out of his head on a low lying metal shelf. It shook us up and his hair was matted with blood, but it didn’t seem to slow him down at all.

Afternoon tea was at my parents for even more delicious food and a bit of homemade pizza, which Little A excitedly helped with. He was so proud. And so was I.

I have to tell you, I’ve had a couple of very good mother’s days in a row I think it’s my new favourite special date. Thank you family.

Pavement mumma

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This is my mum.

She is very clever. Like über, super-duper clever. In fact she is like this massive big floating being of supreme brainy smarts that it makes the rest of us look like plebs.

It must be a burden to be so smart, in fact I know it is as she is constantly hassled by myself and others to help with our work: ‘der, please help my wordy thing.’ ‘i don’t write good english head words not working’ and so on.

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She likes words and words like her, it’s such a perfect symbiosis that last year she finished her PhD. And next month she will don her cap and gown to receive the piece of paper that says: you are now officially Dr Smarty Pants.

My mum likes more than just words on paper, she likes words and marks and symbols and scribbles and splashes and scratchings and etchings on things like pavements, roads, walls, asphalt, grass, cobblestones, in fact anything beneath our feet.

You see my mum did her PhD on stuff on the ground. Well technical it’s a PhD in media and urban culture with the thesis title ‘Pavement graffiti: an exploration of roads and footways in words and pictures’. But my title Dr of Stuff on the Ground sounds much better don’t you think?

This is how she describes it: The project is an invitation to notice the hardscape – roadways, sidewalks, plazas and parking lots – and to read what is written on it. Prosaically functional though this pavement may be, it is at the same time monumental and grand. Stretched across the endless horizontal, it is a cultural marker that underpins our daily thoughts and activities. But graffiti on the pavement challenges its functional orderliness, upsets its familiar certainties and brings to it an element of charm.

But the way I see it she is documenting communication from the lowest graffiti scrawls abusing ex-lovers and friends, to sly advertisements and beyond. Council markings, cultural differences (look right!), hidden meanings in traffic accident markings, social activisim (rainbow zebra crossings?), inviting wet concrete, love letters, memorial plaques, and the general loveliness of concrete – textures, colours and shapes.

To read more you can visit her blog or read her PhD website 

You’re probably noticed it’s not your average topic to study for a whole bunch of years. She’s not an average lady and I have a lot to credit her with, including the hoarding gene she passed on (from her father).

Luckily she is creatively minded, so is one of the people I talk AT when I’m having a design-brain block. You know those days when you have a brief but can’t seem to coax the ideas out, so you need someone to dissect the brief and discuss options, talk design in general and say ‘erm, yes okay… maybe not that idea’ too.

It’s one of the things I miss most working on my own – being able to turn to the person next to you and bat ideas around. Mum graciously lets me text her WIPs, email her screenshots and listens to my endless drivel on the phone when I am lonely in my studio and the dogs’ conversation is just not cutting it.

Thanks for being so rad mum.

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And just to even this out, she is sucker for her grandkids, only watches depressing movies and gets hives in suburbia.

Do you have an awesome family too? And when was the last time you looked down and took notice of what you were walking past?

RELATED POSTS (get it!?)
This is my showbiz dad
This is my extended family

(All photos taken at family gatherings over the years)

Our Family

I love my family.

I like to think I have a few types of family that are all equally important to me. There is the family I was born into, the family I made with SAH and Little A (bub), the family I married into and the family SAH and I chose.

Part of our chosen family are two special people who made a family of their own this year with the addition of their little girl B.

Tanya and Anthony have been close friends of ours for years. They were bridesmaid of awesome and best man (respectively) at our wedding; we’ve been on holidays together; shared love and support over many a flat white; helped each other move; feverishly scoured markets together (and been exceedingly jealous of one another’s scores at times); shared pasty glue together (well Tan and I have, back when she was a burlesque star and I was a ring-in) and just plain ol’ shared our lives with each other. Boy this is soppy!

Now we both have little families it makes my heart swell even more as I watch them come together and know that our kids will grow up together.

We may not see each other every day, but Little A will know that Tan and Ant and B are part of his tribe. And I like that.

Snow bunny

This past week I have been carving up powder in Perisher, translation: I have been cautiously skiing up and down the easy slopes at the snow with my father and sister, Ursula.

I can’t remember the exact year I was last at the snow but it was some time ago, so it was with much trepidation that I buckled up those uncomfortable boots and snapped on the skis. I had visions of stacking in a grand fashion on my first run and spending the rest of the 5-day trip in traction. Fortunately I seem to be fitter that I thought, lugging around a 15kg toddler must be fabulous weight training, and along with somehow remembering the technical moves I not only made it down the mountain unscathed on my first run, but for the rest of the trip I only fell twice and thanks to the fluffy snow cover the tumbles were soft and quite fun.

Ursula and I explored the slopes, she on her snowboard and me trying hard to not resemble a robot. We squealed as the falling snow was whipped up into a blizzard by the wind and stung our cheeks. And laughed as we took turns following each other’s trail down the mountain, then told each other how brave to other was when we accidently found ourselves on a black run (expert scary slope) and took it very, very… very slowly, one curve at a time. Then laughing again as we followed our father’s slow but steady trail on the front valley.

It was not all fun and games, as I threw a tantrum on Wednesday and called it a day mid-morning. Tired and sick I made my way back to where we were staying solo and crawled into bed. When I immerged later that evening I could barely swallow and was in an immense amount of pain, so it was decided that we would cut our trip a day short and return home the following afternoon.

When we woke on our last morning, we found it had been snowing all night so Ursula and I raced out to take some photos – you will see that the sun rose as we shot and the photos of Urs are much bluer pre-sun rise.

We managed to get in a few runs before we returned to pack the car and head home.

When I returned home I was shocked to see just how big my child really is, he is huge! He’s a toddler not the little baby in my head. And he chatted away happily  in semi-understandable baby-talk telling me of the adventures he and his dad had gotten up to while I was gone.

I missed my boys.

This was my first holiday or any length of time away from the Bub. And I have to say it wasn’t the fear of injury that made the trip a little hard for me; it was the fact that I desperately missed my kid. But I needed the time away and was glad to have soldiered on, even if I did get struck down with laryngitis and got a little teary mid-way through the trip. I am grateful for my father inviting me along.

SNH took the role of single parent and played house with Bub, which is a role reversal as he has enjoyed 2 fishing trips this year, while I held the fort alone with Bub and the dogs to keep me company in his absence – so it was high time I got the hell out of the house!

{I had a} Happy Mother’s Day

This year was the second year I have been fortunate to celebrate Mother’s Day and it was gloriously spent with my family.

My first Mother’s Day wasn’t exactly the ceremonious back-pat I was expecting, due to SAH having to go away on business. And while I was a little disappointed I couldn’t tell him no – Hello!? Business class trip to Milan? Yeah, no babe you have to stay home and worship me like mother earth, as I am Gia incarnate, my body unfurled and I produced your heir. Now feed me chocolates!

It’s alright, don’t feel bad for me as after rising at an appalling 5am (thanks Bub) I answered a knock at the door in my bedraggled state, sporting ginormous bed-hair and was surprised by a bunch of flowers SAH had organised to have made up and arranged by our talented florist friend, Lou. The bunch was so voluminous it was larger than the baby.

Astred Hicks Designcherry

Later that day Bub took me to lunch at Kitchen By Mike, where we ran into friends and were able to borrow some of their Mother’s Day joy.

This year, however SAH took all the planning into his own hands I just sat back and enjoyed the day.

I woke late to my little family nosily greeting me with gifts – 3 pairs of fabulously bright and patterned Happy Socks – and a card. Yes, little family, worship at the shrine of bed-head mamma. We then headed out the door with a rucksack packed with SAH assembled picnic and swimming togs, along with our new fancy 4-wheel drive Bugaboo pram (an incredible hard rubbish road side find from last month).

And where were we merry three off to? A spot of frolicking on the beach was in order as we caught the ferry from Cronulla to Bundeena.

We could hardly contain our little jumping bean Bub on the old wooden ferry that took us across Port Hacking. He was so excited by the wonderful experience and set about pointing out all the boats he could see (there were many). The trip was slow and mellow and as we travelled along a feeling of holiday relaxation washed over us.

The sun shone warm and the sky was clear as we chased Bub around the beach and sprinted after him as he attempted to swim fully clothed. We ate sandwiches on the rug, soaking up the warmth and occasionally batting away annoying off leash small fluffy dogs with no recall skills “Fluffy! Flufffffy!! Come here!” And later we paddled in the stream beside the beach.

In the evening, after a baby nap for Bub and a nana nap for me, we all headed to my parents house to celebrate again.

Once home and the Bub safely and soundly asleep, SAH produced the most delectable box of delicacies created by Gelato Messina, a limited edition Mother’s Day gelato bon bons. Which I savoured and pondered over, tasting each unique flavour, texture and ingredient… oh who am I kidding? I scoffed most of them making many appreciative noises while watching Dr Who – a perfect end to a perfect day.

How was your Mother’s Day?

Astred Hicks Designcherry

Astred Hicks Designcherry

Astred Hicks Designcherry

Astred Hicks Designcherry

Astred Hicks Designcherry

Astred Hicks Designcherry

Astred Hicks Designcherry

Astred Hicks Designcherry

Astred Hicks Designcherry

Festive Family

In the lead up to Christmas I had planned to take a family photo and use it as our Christmas cards. But this wasn’t going to be any ol’ Chrissy pic, O No! It was to be an awkward family photo with tragic matching outfits, big permed hair and strained expressions.

Well, it never happened. For one I was running out of time fast to stage such a photo, plus I hadn’t thrifted the perfect outfit yet. But mostly it didn’t happen because we went and had our photo taken professionally at Megan Morton’s studio The School instead.

After booking our spot (which happened to be the very first booking of their festive photo sessions, I may have been a little eager) I agonised over our collective outfits and which set we would stand in. You set this was no run of the mill Santa set-up the sets were styled by Megan Morton – Stylist extraordinaire! – and photographed by Maya Vidulich. So we had to look just right.

I settled on a yellow theme, after choosing one of my favourite dresses, an original early 60s wiggle dress with scarf tie detail. I put together Bub’s oufit, keeping it simple with baby-chinos, black and white stripes and yellow embellishments – scarf and awesome doggy badge, both of which I’d thrifted the week before. SAH looked after his own outfit using his sartorial nous.

The end result was pretty darned awesome. We had a blast at the photo shoot, although Bub decided he didn’t want to sit still for anyone so the photo is a great reminder of who he was at that point in time – a shuffle bum and kid-on-the-go!

Thank you Megan and Maya for giving us a wonderful keepsake that we will treasure.

Waiting for the set up with Megan

Photo c/o Megan Morton

Our festive family photo!

 
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