Wednesday, 22 January 2014


This seat's taken...
This week's travels have taken Frenchie and I on a short plane trip to my home town of Coffs Harbour (NSW Mid North Coast, Australia). It's just a one hour flight, and after the amount of travel i've done now with kids, I still managed to surprise flabbergahst myself at the amateur error I made on this journey.

I committed the greatest travel sin. What's the number one item you should make sure you don't leave home without? More important than your phone, your keys, the baby formula... more important than your husband... the NAPPIES!!!

And, of course, this is the fatal error I made, during the flight! I am fully aware that if I had realised prior to take off, I could have bought some. But mid air, in a teeny-tiny little Qantas-link twin engine puddle-jumper, these galleys are stocked for nuts, water, cookies and that's about it, no spare nappies. And I don't need to spell it out to you how it was that I came across this revelation.

So, after amateur hour passed, and we survived the flight without the nappy actually exploding, it was off to see Granny. This is where the real expert swooped in and reminded me how it is done.

Gone are the days when you could just throw the kids in the car, perhaps propped up on a phone book, seatbelt optional and hit the road with a cigarette in one hand and the cassette player pumped to full volume. Our parents' restrictions were, shall we say, loose.
Grandpa duties, under control.

It amazes me then, when I see grandparents (especially Grandfathers!) rock up to airports nowadays, with child seats accurately hired or bought and correctly installed, little umbrella prams ($25 from Target folks!!) and even the portable cot set up at home - seriously, those cots are insanely hard to work out - worse than assembling Ikea wardrobes!! But this is exactly what my folks managed to do. Wow.

But it was more than the logistics. These people are over 70 years of age. They have seen it all, and now, they've earned a darned good rest. Then along come the grand kids. Screaming, throwing tantrums, food and toys in every direction. Tightly wrapped in cotton wool, even tighter wrapped in new-age parenting rules and all the do's and don'ts of a modern over-regulated society. These kids are precocious, with shorter attention spans and bigger demands than ever. These are the kids that learn how to use iPhones and iPads before they can even spell the words. And we expect the Grandparents to nail the tasks in one! It's a phenomenal challenge we set them. And yet, I am immensely proud to say that the Grandparents in question took the challenge in their (double-hip-replacement) stride.
Not bad for 70! Go Granny!
As I said, it's about more than the logistics. Because while us new-parents swoop in, knowing all when it comes to routines, self-settling, immunisation reminder apps, how to change a nappy with one hand and the latest organic travel food puree sachets, these are the people who remind us of the bigger picture. That it doesn't matter if baby gets their hands dirty learning to feed themselves, that it's really lovely to just let baby go nappy-free and feel the air on their bums for the first time in months, that a little bit of sand in their diet might just work like extra fibre at the end of the day.

Grand parents are there to keep us grounded. And what a magnificent job they do of it. So, the next time you shudder at the thought of a trip to see yours, and all the stress it's going to bring to a disrupted routine and the lack of attention to detail, think again. Because it's this break from the detail that reminds us how quickly our children grow, how important it is to let them play and get dirty and how lucky we are to have our children spend time in the arms of our parents.

So, advice for Grandparents. Sure, give it a go being all hip and organised, all strapped in and fan dangled with the latest carseats and highchairs. But most importantly, keep reminding us of the more important details, of the beauty of sunshine on our babies' backs, of just sitting and playing on the floor, of letting them fall asleep in our arms, of letting them hold the spoon, of leaving the shoes behind. And for this, we thank you for your endless wisdom. It will stand the test of time, long after the iPhones have been replaced.
Look Mum...Granny gave me a 'sand-wich'! 

Wednesday, 15 January 2014


Two very significant events happened within our family this week. The first, our baby daughter Francesca learned to crawl. The excitement of this milestone was only slightly overshadowed by the fact that she learned to crawl on the skanky carpet of the Gate 19 Jetstar lounge of Sydney Domestic Terminal Departure Lounge while we were waiting for a one-hour-delayed flight to Queensland.

Crawl baby, crawl! 
For just the briefest moment I felt a twinge of guilt that such an exciting event happened in such a transient, soul-less location. But at the same moment, there's that level of excitement that no parent can deny, even when their child is crawling across dirt-trodden carpet, worn down by hundreds of thousands of weary, grotty travellers, across hair, belly button fluff, crumbs, dandruff, pavement scum... your child is crawling!!! So, for this, we thank you, Jetstar, for your delays and tardiness. For your lack of apologies and your sub-standard, overpriced services. Thank you. Without this delay, with scunjy carpet, we may not have been such a present and captive audience (among tens of other adoring fellow cheering passengers, might I add) for our tiny, eight month old daughter's first crawls.

How many points should a two year old have?
The second significant event to happen to our family this week is our eldest daughter Isabella (age two-and-a-half) received her first frequent flyer mileage status points update. Again, I met this milestone with a moment of pause and trepidation before celebration. How many two and a half year olds have mileage status point updates? (And a blog dedicated to them for that matter?!) And would it be morally wrong for a mother to claim her daughter's mileage points for upgrades before she is old enough to claim them herself???

But, I guess upon reflection, of both these milestones in the past week, the old reinforcement comes that keeps us trucking, together, across the skies year after year. If we had been at home, with one or both of us travelling solo then we would have missed these precious moments, however skunjy and fraught with angst, they would have just passed us by as a team unit.

So, for that, I thank you Jetstar. I thank you Sydney Domestic Terminal. I thank you Qantas Frequent Flyer. And most of all, I thank you, my husband Steven, for keeping us together as a family, across the skies, rain, hail or shine. And let's face it, a family-load of mileage points is better than none!
Team Jacobs, rain, hail or shine. 


Saturday, 11 January 2014


Has anyone seen the kids?
We have just returned home from a ten day holiday at Port Douglas (Far North Queensland) where we hired a small private villa for the four of us, plus another family with a two year old. It was one of those trips that could either be a very, very good idea... or a seriously fatal mistake.

Braving the elements at bath time 
Thankfully, due to the amazing friends we have, it was a brilliant trip. Although, it wasn't without several adventures and dare I say it, a handful more incredibly helpful tricks of the trade gained along the way.

This was officially our first "group holiday". In some ways travelling with another family (including the flights) was a fantastic experiment. The kids kept each other entertained. Between four parents we were able to tag team for a couple of nice dinners out. And eight hands were definitely better than four when it came to getting all the routine kid things done in a foreign environment, like bath time!

The inflight creche!
In other ways however, it was tricky at times. The kids wanted to do the same stuff at the same time, such as sitting together on the plane (Steven drew the short straw for the outbound flight and created something of a creche!) And as you can imagine, tantrums broke out if parents attempted different rules for different kids, like who was allowed to eat a meal in front of the TV or who was allowed to go swimming or not etc.

But, I guess that's the thing about being away from home - you break some rules, you allow certain habits to slide and you compromise with what's a priority to you in order to get through the holiday in one piece. And in my experience, breaking the rules on a trip hasn't made it at all difficult for us to re-instate our usual rules the second we get back through the door at home.

Frenchie's first stinger suit experience!
But speaking of 'surviving' the trip... it has to be said that this trip was one of the most challenging for us with kids, for several very real, very scary reasons. The first was the fact you couldn't swim at the beach. At all. If you're not familiar with The Great Barrier Reef, then you'll be amazed to know that a particular breed of jelly fish contaminate the oceans of Far North Queensland in the summer months and a sting can be fatal, especially for kids. We did do a day trip out on the reef to an island called Low Isles and there they allow you to swim, but only if clad in a 'stinger suit' that thankfully is no longer a bright blue smurf-colour, but now more of a James Bond black. And they make them for kids - although as you can see below, they aren't exactly a great fit on infants!

The second hazard, and it's a significant one, was that our villa was located directly next door to a crocodile infested creek. Seriously. In fact, almost every water-way was crocodile infested. And there were signs up everywhere telling you so. It was only after I had been pushing my two-year-old Isabella on the local playground swing that i noticed a sign in front of the equipment saying "Achtung! Crocodiles inhabit this area. An attack could be fatal".

Crocodiles inhabit this area. Seriously, that's the sign!
And to think I am usually dealing with such concerns as applying enough sunscreen and did I remember the favourite pink drink bottle? In a strange way, it helped put my usual dilemmas in their place.

But the mother of all dangerous elements came when the two large birds we had seen nesting in our backyard all week began behaving very strangely and we discovered the reason why. A large, brown, aggressive snake had been casing the yard in search of the bird's egg. And he won. We googled the snake after having got a close look at it through the window (I HATE snakes!!!) and after consulting the local reptile park experts, we are almost certain it was a coastal Taipan, common to the region. No big deal - just the world's third most dangerous snake. In our back yard. A long haul flight with a screaming child is never going to be so scary again.

And so, we passed the week in one piece, just. The kids are still bests. The parents are all still laughing (and breathing). And a few new lessons were learned in terms of breaking the rules, compromising with other families, teaching our kids about the genuine dangers of the world and I even managed to almost finish a magazine after ten days!! Can't wait for our next group holiday!
We survived the trip!