Thursday, November 28, 2013

Something You Don't Know About Me

Teenage Elise
It may surprise you to know that as a young teenager I was homeless. Or maybe not so homeless, maybe just....voluntarily displaced.

I have spent nights under bridges. Sleeping on strangers couches or floors. Patrolling the streets of Sydney and Kings Cross, and dozing in dark corners or under tree's. That's only a very small part of it, the majority was spent in the safety of youth refuges, and even boarding with people who I came across in life in a newspaper or through people who know people.

I have held the foreheads of people who violently vomit the disgusting concoctions they have purchased. I have called an ambulance for others who weren't so lucky. I have snuck into nightclubs using a fake ID, and walked in, tacitly ignored, to other clubs that could care less. I have had job offers to strip, and other, even less innocent offers to earn money.

For me at least, there was an element of voluntary displacement. I could have turned up back on close family doorsteps and been assured of a roof over my head. If I had reached out to friends of the family or extended family I feel sure that many would have taken me in. But a big part of my displacement was a disconnection from the relationships. Many of them were damaged and broken. And I think I understood deep down that the relationships were not just damaged, they were damaging.

There were alot of people in my life during those years who made such a huge difference. People who shaped the person I am today. I function. I hold down a job. I don't have any major dysfunctions such as alcoholism, drug abuse, violence or emotional abuse attachments. I try to be the person I want my daughter to be and I am happily in a marriage that defied all odds.

Glenn Sargeant Plumpton HS
Besides the awesome social workers I came across in refuges or on the streets, my teachers were the key. I landed at Plumpton High School in my second attempt at year 9, hoping to have a better run at it this time around. My principal at the time was Glenn Sargeant, you may have seen him on the ABC show Plumpton Babies.

He undertook to be my token adult in life. The person to sign absent and excursion notes, even my drivers license application w
hen the time came to get my L's. I don't remember him even calling me to account for the decisions I was making, if he had I may have run from him like I did from anyone else that tried to control my life. He just gave gentle input and guidance, and I respected him all the more.

My vice principal filled in my first tax return for me. My drama teacher (and his wife) let me sleep at their home one night so that I could easily make it to an excursion that everyone had to make their own way to. Another teacher gave me the supreme trust of babysitting her children, giving me exposure to normal family life, and a chance to earn some pocket money to supplement my government allowance.

These are just small specific examples that stick in my mind, but really, many of my teachers showed compassion, understanding, and empowered me to make my own choices.

I finished year 12. I may not have finished brilliantly, definitely I came in well under my capabilities, but I finished. I was a prefect, I participated in school activities, I wore and accessorised my uniform with pride.

I still got caught in the cycle of a teenage pregnancy. At the age of 19 I gave birth to Maddy, barely a year out of school. But against all expectations, Husband and I made a go of it, and determined to build bigger and better lives for ourselves and her.

Many of the people in my life probably never realised what a difference they made. But for every teenager that crosses your path, you need to be someone and something worth aspiring to. As my daughter enters her teenager years, this is what I want to remember. Both for her sake and for her friends. I need to be someone worth aspiring to be.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Decorate Your Home On A Budget

We lived in our old home for almost 10 years, and after all that time we had furniture purchased to suit the room, and accessories to match my beautiful bright coloured walls.

It was a real wrench when we made the decision to move into a rental earlier this year, and much as I love my new home, one thing grates.

The walls. The horrible, painted solid but not chosen by me, coloured walls. 2 of the kids have a deep plum feature wall, 1 has a bright blue feature wall, and the master has a grungy poop colour.

The only person happy is the blue loving tween. The rest of us are tolerating the walls.

Blech. And even worse, the main living room, the showcase room of my home, the room I welcome all guest into, has a brown feature wall. Brown.

Since all my accessories and furniture were bought to go with my lovely yellow walls with teal and blue accessories, I had a little problem. So we've had to do a real piece of work overhauling the room, but of course we had a budget to work with!

But this is more or less what we came up with, our inspiration for completing the room.

Here are my tips for accessorising a living room:

1. Couch covers can make a world of difference. So much cheaper than buying a new couch, a good couch cover can change the whole look of your furniture and tie it in better to the colours you are working with. And best of all, it can camouflage an old couch in bad condition to buy it a few more years, or protect a new couch during the toddler demolition years! Win/win. We chose a tan colour to neutralise our deep blue couches.

2. A handful of new bright cushion covers bring some blush into the room. We went with a few aqua colours that had scatterings of chocolate brown through them. Now I'm not living in a chocolate factory but the colours work together.

3. A new rug serves to hide that nasty rental carpet, and just like the cushions can introduce additional colours to the room. Rugs go on sale often, watch out for discounts as high as 50% off. Besides hiding the rental carpet it also PROTECTS the rental carpet, minimising the need for expensive carpet cleaning when you move.

4. When it comes to frames on shelving, less is more. A handful of interesting memories are much more of a topic starter with visitors than a smooshed in series of professional or school portraits.

5. But when it comes to pictures on walls, MORE is more! One big statement piece in a focal wall in the room gets everyone talking! Pick your favourite family picture and have it put on canvas big as life. Our canvas is almost as wide as our couch, and it looks great.

6. One or two accessories in your alternate colour finish off the room. A lamp, a vase, maybe a ceramic animal or two and the room is done.

No need to replace all the furniture or repaint the room, it's possible to stamp yourself on a rental without breaking the bank.

This post was sponsored by Nick Scali. For those of you that love a good giveaway, head to their Facebook page where they run a fan of the week promotion EVERY WEEK for your chance to win a $100 voucher. The opinions are my own but as always I jump at the chance to write about something new and earn some money towards #DPCON14

Monday, November 25, 2013

Off and Running!

My wee little preemie hit another milestone this week. Out of the blue, he decided it was time to let go of the furniture he has been puttering around on, and take those first few gorgeous steps.

It's crept up on us. He's mostly let go in moments of distraction, and wavered a little before sitting on his bottom. But finally he has found the fun of tottering into Mum and Dad's arms, and now this is a game we play for hours, much to the dismay of the 2 year old, who chooses those moments to generally be as cute and loud as she can in an effort to divert the attention.

We are getting her to help encourage Seb to walk which is pretty cute in itself.

Seb is 15 months old, a little older than the girls were when they walked, but still well within a "normal" (what is normal?) time frame. For a 7 week early preemie I am so thrilled with normal. I could not ask for more. I don't want him leaping hurdles, I am just so thankful he is fine.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Christmas Giveaway: 3D Deco Light


 Looking for something a little different in the night light range? Just want a piece of awesome for the man cave? New to Australia shores brings these fun and original 3D Light FX Deco Light lighting up the boring in our lives. Perfect for Christmas, the Deco Light is the ideal gift for young and old. Not only does it provide light for children who have outgrown a traditional night light, it’s also an entertaining and practical way to decorate a room.  

Deco Lights are available in a range of styles including superhero's, cars and even a butterfly!

All designs are cordless, battery operated and fitted with the highest quality energy-efficient LED lights so you’ll never have to change the bulb. The lights are cool to touch, making them completely safe to have around children. Easy to install with all fixtures included.

The crack sticker can be applied to any clean, smooth surface but can also be removed easily when the time comes to move kids from room to room or even to another house! The 3D Light FX website also comes with a video to support customers in safely removing the sticker and light without damaging the surface.

These lights are definitely a talking point, on or off, as your kids friends FREAK when they see a car breaking through the wall of your sons room or the Superhero smashing his way in.

To truly get the impact of just how awesome these lights look in the dark, you have to watch the video's available on the website. I umm'd and aah'd about this one until I pressed play, and then I was sold!

Whether it’s a spider man mask or a life size textured soccer ball with an explosive wall effect that catches your eye, this light trend will not implode your budget with prices ranging from $30 to $50

3DLightFX DECO LIGHTS are available from selected stores across Australia from November 2013. Stocked in EB Games, TARGET, Big W, DICK SMITH, Haris Scarf and Mr Toys for enquiries call 1300 366 320. For more information  visit 3D Light FX. 

Just in time for Christmas, Mummy Hearts Money has a Blue Classic Car Deco Light to giveaway to one MHM reader! The light can be personalised with all stickers included. If you would like to win a Classic Car, easy entry via rafflecopter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

**Mummy Hearts Money was provided goods for giveaway. No further compensation was recieved.**

Save Some Money and Don't Commit!

I'm not a fan of paying full price. Ever. I'll make use of reward/affiliate sites, discounts and vouchers to bring a price down, and look under every rock before giving up on the item rather than paying full price. These days everyone knows to use Google to search for discount codes before buying, but I have a few other tricks up my sleeve for getting discounts.

Step #1. Become a full customer of a site, by either filling in profiles, starting a purchase and providing details, or joining a newsletter. Each site is different, but the key is to make sure they have your details and are tracking your site movements.

Step #2. Anytime there is something I am interested in on a website, I spend some time browsing before adding what I am interested in to my cart (and there might be quite a few things).

Step #3. Go through the checkout process all the way to point of commitment, and then stop. Just before you commit.

Exit your browser and give it 24 hours. Many websites are tracking your movements and now consider you a hot lead. Often I will receive an email from the site within a few hours offering a discount code, the items I am interested marked down specifically, or free shipping, anything to entice me to come back and commit.

OO is one that I use this trick successfully with, and Dealsdirect, and it never ceases to tickle me to have the discount code arrive. This works especially well when the item I am interested in is on sale, and landing free shipping makes the price even better!

Identity Direct is another I found had a similar tactic recently. After completing their cart process with some personalised books I was interested in, I tried to close my browser down only to have a pop up chat window appear offering me a free shipping code to complete the transaction. Annoyingly enough they only let you use one code at a time, however the free shipping code gave me a greater discount than the sale code I had been playing with beforehand.

Always try and use multiple codes before completing a purchase anywhere. You never know when the discounts can be used in tandem and the savings made even greater. The old don't commit trick is best used in the very first hours of a sale, to enable time for automatic discount offers to arrive before the sale ends.

Have you got any tricks for getting discounts for your online shopping?

Monday, November 18, 2013

Mummy Hearts Money Goes 3D!

Our TV that is, not the website.  This is a bit of a long post (brace yourself!) to give you an idea of the process we go through before making a major purchase.

Husband and I have long wanted and lusted after a 3D Smart TV. We don't like to lead the pack when it comes to technology, because we have learnt the hard way that prices on electronics and devices drop very quickly and there is a lot of money to be saved if you don't mind not having the newest and best gadget out there. (I just had my free with contract iPhone 4S delivered last month, to the amusement of some of my colleagues who are sporting the latest 5 whatever model).

Last years model was someones awesome gift back then. It hasn't stopped being awesome just because something new came along.

We promised ourselves way back in January that this was our year to get our dream TV though, this technology is right up our alley as we love to watch movies in 3D at the cinema's with 12 year old Maddy, and we are already users of various media boxes that enable media and Internet browsing on the TV.

We loved watching Harry Potter on 3D source
We tend to buy our electronics and appliances through The Good Guys. They always beat the lowest price that I find, (both online and in store prices), and we love that they keep a record of our purchases that make claiming on warranties so much easier. You can even claim without your original receipt which is something we have made use of a few times. We've never had an issue claiming on warranty through The Good Guys either, everything is fixed fairly quickly and with good communication.

Extended warranties are your best friend. Protect your major purchase with an additional warranty that could save you big dollars in repairs down the track.

Once Christmas was out of the way last year I started purchasing a $50 Good Guys gift card each pay and putting it aside towards the TV fund. In doing it this way we have lost out on approximately $19 that we would have earnt in interest by banking the money, but this keeps our eye on the prize and we don't get distracted throughout the year by other financial wants that might arise (holidays being the most likely to distract!)

We headed in on Sunday to check out the final day of an advertised TV clearance, with enough vouchers stored up to cover the cost of a good TV. Husband originally had his heart set on a Samsung, and even though I don't specially mind either way he convinced me we really want LCD this time around and not plasma. Side by side I could see that LCD seems to be sharper somehow, although I'm not sure I could tell the difference if I just had an LCD TV on its own.

We had lots of questions for the sales staff and were in store almost 90 minutes researching but in the end made a decision that was within our budget that made us both happy. We watched some examples of normal TV converted to 3D in store and the results are a lot of fun. I've read some bad reviews of this aspect of 3D TV, with most professional reviewers predicting that 3D will die a slow death, but we thought it looked pretty cool. We love taking Maddy to see 3D versions of our favourite movies at IMAX, but with 2 little ones in the house these days it's not as easy to do. We're hoping this will give us back some of that fun together via Saturday night movie night at home. The 3D results of a converted program or movie are good, but of course the best results are had watching a movie that was made for 3D, as that's when things really jump out of the screen at you.

Don't rush the purchase. Ask your questions, and don't be embarrassed to ask for time to think about it. And then ask some more. Don't leave the store with any outstanding questions.

The sales guy told us we'll need to buy a blu ray player in order to watch made for 3D movies, but what he couldn't tell us was whether we could buy digital versions of 3D movies. We got rid of our DVDs a long time ago and we love the convenience of having all our movies on hard drive to scroll through on the TV. Hoping we can but we'll have to put some research into it once the TV is in use.

We were considering 3 TV's at one point, a Sony, an LG, and a Samsung but quickly knocked out the Sony when we found out that the 3D viewing glasses are battery operated. While I'm sure there are various viewing benefits, we didn't like the weight, and since we are pretty awful at keeping our Wii remotes charged, it's not likely we would be any better with the glasses. The Samsung and the LG use lighter weight plastic glasses, although not the daggy old red and green lensed things we used growing up! The glasses are much slicker and more comfortable.

That left us with the LG and the Samsung, only about $30 different in price and seemingly much of a muchness. Husband was quite keen on the Samsung, it's a brand he favours, but in the end we went with the LG for 4 reasons.

First reason being that we could buy universal glasses. Not all brands seem to be compatible with universal glasses, and since the TV (and most others we saw) only come with 4 glasses, we will need to buy more eventually to accommodate not only our own family but a few spares for visitors. This is the kind of gadget we are pretty good at sourcing from overseas electrical sites, so we can see some potential savings in additional and replacements there. Also loving the clip on 3D lenses we have found that I can attach to my regular prescription glasses!

Universal glasses seem to run as cheap as
$1.50 online

The second reason was that the LG TV comes with Magic Remote compatibility. It's not a standard inclusion with this model, but if we are interested (and we think we are) it's essentially a smart remote to go with a smart TV. It will act as a hand held computer mouse, is kind of the best way to describe it, and also has voice functionality. We haven't bought it, we want to research complimentary brands first, but it's definitely something we have our eye on.

The third reason is that the LG comes with a smart version of the Skylanders Battlegrounds pack. We will download the game straight to the TV with no need for a console, and the portal and playing figures (3) will be mailed to us. Although we have a Skylanders set already, we plan to keep the Wii in a different room to this TV, and since Skylanders is one of our favourite games this is a nice little bonus. We are also curious about whether we can sell off/giveaway our existing Skylanders game and portal and just use this new one when it arrives.

The fourth and final reason is the dual play gaming option. I'm a little fuzzy on the details, but we can purchase additional gaming glasses, that when worn by 2 players simultaneously actually split the screen so that each player sees only his own gaming screen even though both will be shown on the screen playing against one another. So if you have a game that splits the screen in two while you play a competitor, it will enhance the playing. We're not a huge gaming family, although I suspect hubby would play a lot more if we weren't so busy and I saw his eyes light up at this feature. Like the magic remote, I think this is something we may explore down the track.

The model we have bought is 50LA6230. It's a 50", which is a leap up from our old TV which is 42". To be honest I always felt our old TV was huge, and more than big enough for us, but for the price range we were shopping in ($1100-$1300) the 50" TVs were much more cost effective than the 42". The price was already very good at $1289 but (and I kid you not), I pointed out to our sales rep that I had found it online for $1288. (Thank you iPhone for instantaneous cost comparisons). He did give me the hairy eyeball for a second to see if I was serious about the $1, but came to the party with $1270 instead. What we've found with The Good Guys is that when a price has been dropped ridiculously to price match as standard store pricing (which we understand The Good Guys do at least daily), the reps are not really in a position to do the "less for cash" thing. But if you can find it cheaper somewhere, they will drop to keep in line with the lowest price guarantee. So it ended up being an $18 saving, and since Bing Lee and JB Hifi are both offering the TV for well over $1300, we're pretty happy with that price.

Here's the biggest tip of all for buying your electricals and devices. Buy 4-5 weeks out from Christmas from The Good Guys, and then keep an eye on the sales that follow everywhere else.

The Good Guys offer a 30 day lowest price guarantee which we've taken advantage of before. If anywhere else has our TV at a lower price over the next 30 days, we can (and will!) go back to The Good Guys for a 120% refund of the difference. We did it last year when we bought Maddy's school/Christmas iPad. About 2 weeks after we bought it, Target had a 1 day unannounced sale that included a discount of about $50 on the iPad so back I went for the difference.

The TV is hidden away at the moment waiting for Christmas day. Although the babies won't get much use out of it for a few years, we think Maddy will be pretty happy to see, and we can't wait to have a play!

Do you negotiate on the price or just go with the flow? And would you go back for the difference if they price dropped elsewhere?

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Third Person

Out of the blue this week, Lorelei started talking in the third person. It took me a few days to figure it out, because at the same time she started referring to herself in an unexpected way.

"Mummy, your baby wants a drink."

Really? 1 year old Sebastian wants a drink and you noticed?

"Your baby is cold. Pick up your baby and give a hug".

Huh? Seriously. Huh?

It took me days to catch on, because I kept thinking she was talking about Seb, and the things she was saying were a little weird.

We're not sure sure why she started calling herself my baby, although we've got a few theories. It's only to me that she refers to herself that way, with Husband she still talks in the first person, which sort of makes sense because I actually call her "my baby". As in "Come here, my baby", "bedtime, my baby", and "I love you, my baby". It's a term of endearment, although I realise at 2 it might sound a little strange to others.

It could also be a part and parcel of why she is taking so long to sleep at night right now. I spend easily 2 hours each night with her, settling her to sleep, and I have a feeling both the extended settling time and the new "your baby" 3rd person is her reaching out for a little more attention.

With a high maintenance 12 year old absorbing alot of negative attention right now, and a 1 year old who naturally sidetracks me because he still needs alot of hands on care, I'm not surprised she is looking for ways to get my focus on just her.

She can be my baby as long as she wants. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

FFS Friday: The No Sleep Edition

I'm ready to die. Or kill someone. Maybe both.

My toddler has the shittiest sleeping habits ever FFS. At night I spend easily 2 hours or more getting her to fall asleep, only to have her wake sometimes at stupid o'clock ready to start the day.

And because she is the most evil toddler God ever put on this earth, as long as she is awake, I am awake. I'd waken to find her cooking a playdoh pie in the oven, or cutting off her sisters hair otherwise FFS.

Each night we do the bath, book, massage, bed thing together and she is actually quite responsive. Snuggly, sleepy, relaxed. But once the lights go out, the kids revs up like a Chihuahua on steroids FFS.

She chatters, tosses, turns, kicks, plays with anything (body, pillow, drink bottle), and is generally wide awake FFS

And if you try to leave her to it to self settle she would still be going on at midnight FFS. Coming out of her room, playing out of bed, playing in the bathroom, climbing into 1 year old Sebastian's cot FFS

And so instead I stay with her each night as the only way of getting her to settle eventually. 2 hours each night, eaten up FFS

If I try to delegate the task to Husband occasionally he falls asleep almost straight away, leaving the toddler to her own nefarious devices FFS

It's not that I mind a little cuddle and one on one time with my littlest girl. But I am going to bed after midnight every night once the evenings wind down activities are out of the way FFS

And some nights the little psycho sweetie is awake again at 3, 4 o'clock FFS

Wide, functioning, awake. Chattering, playing, wanting breakfast awake FFS.

I sort of impose a lie down rule as I doze next to her, but the reality is we are both awake until the alarms go off at 5:30 FFS

Functioning on less than 3 hours sleep I get up to start the mornings routine, a routine that doesn't really allow for a toddler underfoot. If I want to get out the door on time when she is awake, I need to be getting up at 5am FFS

And because she is hyper and loud in the mornings, Sebastian usually wakes up demanding attention too FFS

To add insult to injury, once she is in the car on the way to daycare or Teta's for the day she falls back to a deep sleep, prepared to sleep now for 3-4 hours FFS

And of course she is distraught and tantrummy at being woken at the other end, unable to cope as you would expect from a 2 year old operating on 5 hours night sleep FFS

Got settling suggestions for me? Resettling suggestions? More than open to them. As I suck back my second cup of coffee for the morning already. Because I can see already this is going to be a 6 cup+ kind of day.

Dear Baby G

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

So Heres The Thing.....#DPCON14

Back in 2012 I had the fun of going to my first ever blogging conference only a few months after starting up my blog.

The good Lord only knows how I managed it, but I was actually sponsored to go by the killer peeps over at Lasoo, a website I use ALL THE TIME. I approached them completely randomly, and almost passed out when I got a phone call to say they would foot the bill. They didn't care that I was a teeny blog with only a few followers, and they didn't even stipulate any return gratification.

Even as a baby blogger with only 6 months under my belt I got so much out of the conference. This time around, more than 2 years later, I expect to come out as the Blogosphere Shakespeare, an expert in my field and the most fascinating writer of my day.

Or maybe not. Maybe I'll just come away with a better understanding of my readers, myself, and my industry. Regardless, we'll all see an improvement in my content.

So here's the thing. Now that I've worked with a few brands, done a few giveaways, attended a few events, I have a better idea of the value I have to offer. If you are a business interested in sponsoring Money Hearts Money to attend A CRUISE OMG MY FIRST CRUISE Digital Parents Conference, I can offer....well just about anything you want, including but not limited to:

-Tattooing your brand on my forehead
- An introduction post about your service/products
- 3 months side bar advertising
- Have your logo imprinted on the left breast of my bikini
- Ongoing byline in the disclosure of all posts about the lead up and execution of the event (I can promise a fair few!)
- My soul
- Series of topical posts sponsored by yourself in the byline
- Wear branded clothing or make use of branded stationary in conference events.

But wait! There's more! Mummy Hearts Money isn't selfish, there are sponsorship opportunities for more than one company! I don't just need a ticket, I can make real good use of the following too:

-Clothing. I actually have none, thanks to constant and ongoing weight changes. In 9 months I have dropped 5 dress sizes and fluctuated up and down between them thanks so some niggling health problems. Feel free to dress me and be confident that I will photobomb every blogger I come near so that your garments appear on dozens of Instagram and Facebook feeds. Just don't dress me till the last second because who knows what size I will be then.
-Technology. Seriously I actually have none. Mummy Hearts Money is written almost 100% on my home desktop PC, shared with Husband and the 12 year old. Last time I watched with envy as bloggers tapped idly away on tablets and used awesome camera's.
- Luggage. I have a rolly bag, with 1 wheel broken that I will happily use. But if there is a luggage company out there that thinks I should be really be rolling something a little more schmick......well I agree.
- Insurance. I don't do anything without insurance! Insuring the trip, insuring myself.....and seeing as how there will be hundreds of bloggers on this trip, don't you think it would be a good thing if someone like me was telling them how awesome your insurance product is?

Husband asked me to insert an additional request for home help for him for the 3 days I would be away. Don't panic potential sponsors, I told him to stop kidding himself. It's enough that there are plenty of you hoping to outfit, insure and gadget me up without looking after him too.

If you are dying to sponsor Mummy Hearts Money and would like to talk turkey about the nitty gritty of what I can do for you, please contact me at, and rest assured your email will be more important than my household chores, Big Bang Theory time, and Farmville. Unfortunately the kids have to take priority though. 


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Tips for Dance Mums

Most adorable tapper ever.
Maddy age 5.
Madeleine is finishing up her 10th year of dancing and Lorelei will be starting next year. We've been on tour 3 times with our studio, sold hundreds of boxes of chocolate, worn through our first pair of pointe shoes, and laddered countless pairs of stockings.

Dancing can be expensive, it can be time consuming, it can be cliquey, and it can be exhausting. But it's also alot of fun and for the most part our main adult group of friends come from the wonderful families we have connected with through dancing. There is something about sewing sequins on tutu's at 2 in the morning that just bonds you with another mother, and I know Husband feels the same about the other fathers he is now friends with thanks to the numerous BBQ's he has manned.

My top tips for making the most out of your dancing experience and keeping costs down:

Husband can do the Gangnam Style with
the best of them. Father/Daughter dance.
-Participate. In every possible way. Backstage helper, fundraising organiser, doing a Mummy's or Daddy's class (did you know I can tap? Although not very well), anything that gets you involved helps to make your studio a community and makes you an integral part of it.
-Get out of the car and sit in the waiting area with other parents. Stay off the smart phone and talk to the other families. Through building our dancing network we found other mums at the same primary school who were willing to help out with some car pooling. Often we have arrangements in place for one mum to drive kids to class, and another to drop some home. These will be the people who have your back if you are running late to pick up your dancer, and will also be keeping an eye on them when class is not in session.
-Buy your shoes second hand. In Term 2 eBay is full of second hand sporting goods, from kids that gave it a whirl and don't want to continue. Tap and Jazz shoes tend to follow very predictable sizing, although you may still want to get your ballet shoes fitted
-Buy your dance gear over sea's. Dance gear is quite expensive in Australia, especially for stockings. We tend to pool together with other families to get a shipment of stocking from Hong Kong which end up being a 3rd of the price. Google is your best friend!
-Open a dedicated dancing bank account and transfer an amount to it each pay to accumulate for end of year costumes. It's easy enough to pay for one costume, but once your child is doing a range of dances the end of year bill can be a shock!
-Barter your services for discounts or tuition. Most studio's are in need of a lick of paint, someone to make collections calls, man the office, sew costumes, the needs are endless. And while many dance principals may not be able to afford to pay for these services, they are in a position to barter. What can you do that would be valuable to your studio?

Dancing is never going to win the #1 cheap after school activity slot. But there are ways to make it more affordable. What are your top tips for keeping the dancing costs down?

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels The Musical OR Hot Tips For Driving In the City

I took Maddy along to see Dirty Rotten Scoundrels last month. She was annoyed that she missed out on seeing Grease with me, so when tickets to DRS came up, I agreed to take her with me.

It was an adventure. I'm not a good city driver to start with. I usually cunningly find an excuse to car pool with someone else. I'll happily pay the tolls or the parking in exchange FOR NOT DRIVING IN THE CITY.

"Remember this, you're giving them what they want. Specifically what they want."

Husband is used to my hysterical phone calls, upset because I can't turn right BUT I NEED TO TURN RIGHT, or the street is one way BUT ITS THE WRONG WAY, or because the navigator is stupid and needs to SHUT UP BEFORE I THROW HER OUT THE WINDOW.

Driving in the city brings out the nasty adolescent in me. This was the 12 year olds first experience and much as I tried to stay calm and focused during a typically stressful still resulted in her patting me on the back and promising me it would be OK.

Before I get to the actual review of the show, here are my top tips for getting there:

-CHECK your stupid navigator and make sure she hasn't translated 108 King Street SYDNEY into 108 King Street NEWTOWN without telling you. It will save you alot of grief driving up and down King St NEWTOWN looking for the non-existent theatre.
-PREBOOK your parking at the venue at Wilson Parking for $15. Save $10 on the gate price. I assumed we would have plenty of time to park at a much further parking lot that's cheap and stroll down so didn't bother. For the convenience of parking right beneath the theatre at a reasonable price for city parking its worth prebooking.

"You know, I'm starting to think someone put alcohol in that Champagne."

Moving on to the Theatre Royal, it's a beautiful venue and the staff were just lovely. Not only did they give me wonderful directions for getting there from King St Newtown, but they were looking out for us to arrive.
We were a tiny bit late for the show, and staff were handling us with kid gloves as we picked up our tickets and were shown to our seat. We were in fabulous moods by then, the stress of city driving behind me, and Miss 12 and I were giggly and excited to be at a show together. Staff members pulled me aside in the intermission specially to ask if the show was making up for the drive, and to compliment us on being so happy and excited in the face of missing part of the beginning. They were so lovely and chatty, I haven't had such personal attention before at a theatre.

I didn't know what to expect from the show having never see the movie, but within minutes of sitting down Miss 12 and I were laughing away at the story line and the comedic actors they have playing the male leads. Tony Sheldon as Lawrence and Matt Hetherington as Freddy were fabulous, their timing was spot on and their facial expressions added so much punch to their lines.

"Relax my friend. We both know my intimate relationship with Lady Luck."

For anyone else who hasn't seen the movie, the storyline follows 2 con men as they race to see who can get the money off their mark, an heiress, in the quickest time. The show takes a funny twist as the heiress Christina turns the tables unexpectedly and cons them instead. 

John Wood (remember the police chief in Blue Heelers many moons ago) is a great addition to the company, reeling out a terrible french accent for his part as Andre, cohort to one of our con men.

"Now I want you to sit quietly and observe while I play her like a piano"

There was the occasional humorous but raunchy little scene that I probably didn't want Maddy seeing. At 12 these things no longer go over her head, and I realised after looking around the audience that she was the only child there. While she found it very funny, I would suggest this is a show to take Husband to, not the tween!

All in all a show worth seeing. Dirty Rotten Scoundrels run from October 2013 at the Theatre Royal Sydney.

Tickets can be purchased from Ticketmaster and Showbiz. As always, crosscheck your days and seating against both as often the pricing is different. You can find out more about the show here.

I wasn't paid for the opinions or experience in this post, however the tickets for Miss 12 and I were gifted. You can read more in my diclosure statement here.