Thursday, 31 October 2013

I love awards! Do you?

Tonight I have been nominated for a reward by one of my new found friends of blogging! I love knowing that my blog is reaching thousands but also that people a generally interested in reading the things happening in our beautiful life. Steph passed this award on to me as the award motto is:

The Sunshine Award is a award given to bloggers by other bloggers who they think are "positively and creatively inspiring others in the blogosphere" (unknown)..

and because as a new blogger she has my support when it comes to navagating around the sometimes overwhelming blogsphere. So far she is doing an amazing job and her blog looks fabulous and also has great content! You can find her and her beautiful blog here..

Thanks Steph for this amazing opportunity!
Keep shining my friend!!


Here are the rules:
1. Acknowledge your nominating blogger
2. Provide 11 random facts about yourself.
3. Answer your nominating Blogger 11 questions that they provided for you.
4. Pick 11 Bloggers to nominate for this award.
5. Post 11 questions of your own for those 11 Bloggers to answer for you.

The Facts

1. Motherhood has been the most amazing experience of my life to date. While getting married and being baptised are also way up there I just love the every day challenges that comes with raising my kids. No day is ever the same. I love that..
2. I absolutely LOVE celebrating Christmas. Its one of the only times I will go all out! Christmas is bigger than birthdays in our home. Because we don't celebrate Christmas with family, I started our own family tradition a few years ago by creating our first advent calender. Since then every year we have our set traditions like our whipped cream fights and baking for our neighborhood, but also have a chance to create new and fun memories each year as the kids get older.
3. We don't do Santa. 
4. I am again addicted to Facebook.. 
5. At the moment I am reading The Hunger Games. But more than that, I'm actually enjoying it and find myself up late reading it. 
6. I am also crazy about Instagram.
7. I am about the only person I know that still quotes Disney movies.. I almost have all the childrens classics on video and watch them more than my kids. Lion king has to be my all time favorite!
8. US only giveaways still bug me.
9. I always look for the finer details in everything.
10. I'm looking at possibly getting the gastric band.
11. On the inside I am still 17yo.


My answers to Steph's nominated Questions

1. What is your favorite memory? Wow, I never thought I would actually have to think about this. Um, Feeling part of a family.. A church family and a foster family at the same time. I will never forget how good that felt.
2. What is your biggest fear? That if  I die while my kids are young, that they will be left with no one and nothing. There is not one person in this world who loves and knows them like I do. That is my biggest worry and most of the reason I blog. I want them to always have a peice of me and to remember all the good times we had together.. I want them to follow Jesus and keep our traditions. Nothing would make me prouder.
3. What is your favorite food? Chicken Parma, chips and Salad from the local pizza place. Delivered!
4. How long have you been blogging for? On and off since 2005.
5. If you could do anything what would you do? Drive.
6. What is your favorite holiday? One which is cheap and has meals included.
7. What helps you get out of writers block? To do lists.. scribbling notes as things happen.
8. What brings you the greatest joy as a parent? So much Joy.. But the biggest one is when my children play and get along together. Makes me smile. Or when they jump in my bed and I have two kids and two cats in bed with me. So Joyful.
9. What do you struggle with the most as a parent? Discipline Strategies.
10. What is your favorite way to de-stress? A phone call to my besty. Just being able to release my frustration and talk to someone who loves and understands me..
11. What is your number one blogging advice for new bloggers? Be you.. Bring your personality to your blog and don't hold back!

And my nominees are:

and one to make you grow!
SingleMumof1


Answer Honestly

  1. Last movie you watched
  2. A dinner you make most often
  3. Something your saving for
  4. Last party you went to
  5. Biggest lesson learned in your life to date
  6. Who was the last person you emailed
  7. Who you call on when you need a favor
  8. 3 things you love about your current job
  9. Last thing you brought off ebay
  10. What your to-do list looks like this week
  11. Happiness is..
I can't wait to hear your replies..
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Monday, 28 October 2013

Our Christmas Advent Calender for 2013!

Woo Hoo! What do you think guys? Pretty neat huh!! This year we have shaken things up a bit.. We have added a few extra Christmas games, kept a few favorites like sleeping under the tree and baking cookies for our neighbors.. And are even more excited to actually have a few family joining us in with us this year! 10 families have been invited to pick an activity to part take in and we're so excited to see which one they choose! This year is going to be the best! ..
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Sunday, 27 October 2013

Our Twins turned 2 today!

Today there was a birthday in the house!
Matthias and Altius we're born on the 26th of October 2011 in Ballan, Victoria, Australia.. 
We first met our boys on the 13th of November when they were just three weeks old.. 
 They joined our family on the 3rd of December at 7pm..
Our beautiful cat's Altius and Matthias turned 2 today!
Take a trip down memory lane with us here on our blog..

Altius and Matthias have brought so much to our home. In two years we have recieved love and laughter from our furry family members but they have also brought out  the best out in my children's personalities. Matthias is such a snuggle puss. And while Altius likes to think of himself as Mr Independent, he is just a big mummies boy too..

This year for their birthdays we brought a few treats, sung happy birthday, wore them out with their new toys and gave them extra special attention. They're both just so beautiful, we love them to peices..

This years Pressies.
(: You can find photos of our big brave boys on Instagram using #Altiuscat or #Matthiascat :)
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Monday, 21 October 2013

10 Weekend Blessings..




10. A stereo in our bathroom. I don't know why I never thought of it before. Music that echoes and fills the house with our favorite radio station {Smooth FM} or music for when we shower or bathe. It truly is a blessing! 

9. Fresh cut lawns is at number nine for two reasons.. One is because the way the weathers been I have had to start cutting it every fortnight again. And two is because when I do, a feeling of great accomplishment runs through me. I fit in with my neighbours who have it done weekly or even a few times a week by their maintence guys.

8. Being able to stay connected with those I never want to lose contact with. Facebook, twitter and instagram now all have people I care about using them and I am so thankful to have a way to stay in touch, to encourage and to be encouraged. Most of these beautiful friends I consider to be my family.

7. A washing machine? Yes and not only a washing machine, but one which provides us with fresh clothing. I remember when I first moved here, having to hand wash and soak clothes. This weekend I got all of our bedding, clothing, towels, rugs and mats clean and smelling good! With a little help from Google I also learned how to get the tough spaghetti sauce stains out! I now actually enjoy washing and get a thrill when I hit the bottom of our laundry basket!
6. Baking and cooking as a family. Teaching them the basics for everyday living. Teaching them recipes I learned as a child, creating our own unique meals then praying thanks for all that we have. After showing them a video of starving children their ages in Africa the word "starving" is banned from use as it now carries a new meaning. We are so so blessed to have access to good nutritious food and don't ever want to take it for granted.

5. Our neighbourhood and community is absolutely amazing. This weekend the kids connected with 8-12 kids from around the area. We invited them into our backyard to play football as we could see them playing on the road close to a blind corner. On Saturday night 6 boys between the ages of 8-12 were teaching Jie how to kick a footy and were playing "mark is up". It was good to see my kids interacting with them, learning new things and having fun. Its awesome to be a part of a community which allows us to freely interact with mixed races and religions. So so blessed to be part of a community where our neighbours know our names and local businesses remember our "usual". This really is the lucky country!

4. Being blessed with dinner and a whole linen cupboard of linen! Towels, sheets, doona's plus doona covers and pillow cases, face washers etc. You name it.. We have it! Today I went through my stuff and two and a half bags are going to a friend who is really desperate for blankets. I'be been so blessed to now be able to help her! 

3. The gift of prayer. And a gift it is! Not just being able to pray, but to be able to pray with and for my children. Nevaeh and Jie's prayers are really starting to reflect who they are. I love listening to them as they thank they're heavenly Father for things that matter most to them. To pray for their friends and the family we never see anymore.. Its just beautiful. Prayer is another one of those things that we unite as a family and do together. I just love and treasure it so much!

2. Courage. Little word, massive meaning! This weekend I have had to be courageous. And even more than usual. I had to speak out to protect my children's exposure to alcoholism and drug use within our family. I have had it on my heart for quite sometime and I finally had enough courage to say it. Hardest thing, but I am so glad I did. I think it's been a massive wake up call to this person who thanked me for my honesty and integrity. I hope to see this person finally be all that they can be both for themselves and for my children to love and look up to!

1. Time to myself. Time to think, to plan, to study, to reflect on my children's individual needs. Time to shower, to worship, to enjoy my own company to read and to relax.. As much as I love being a Mum, I must say I have really started to enjoy loving the me I have become!




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Tuesday, 15 October 2013

5 Ways to Improve Readership

Today I was asked "How did you get your readership up?" And while I could give you the short, by engaging in blog hops answer.. My long term followers who have gotten to know me over the years would think I'm sick as I never give just one sentence answers. If someone asks me a question, it is because they want to learn something they have never learned before. How could I not give them the knowledge of a subject I too once wondered about?

When checking out a new blog I look for 5 things..


  1. Blog design
  2. Blog layout
  3. Blog content
  4. The follow button
  5. Blog Hops

Seems simple enough right? Well then why do people still have it all so wrong? Ask yourself this.. What do you look for when looking at blogs to follow? For me it's these four elements on the page. Let me explain..

Blog Design.
I don't know how many times I have clicked on a page only to click the back arrow button on the top of my screen. Some blogs are just so boring and full of crap. The pages have way too many links and ads and buttons and decorations and words and just crap everywhere. How many times has this happened to you where your really excited that you have possibly found a blog with great content but navigating through the design of the blog is not worth the trouble. Confessions of a blogger right? What about those hideous pop up windows people make pop up at you while your reading or even when you first click on the page. Now they really bug me. If you want readership, you need to provide a space they would like to come back to. Simple.

Some examples of good and bad designs.. 
Saffron Threads - Simple yet effective..
Chitika Ad Network - Um.. Great example.

The Blog Writer.
The first thing I want to know when checking out a blog is a little bit about the person writing it. Are they real, what their interests include and where they're from. I love blogs like {this one} which gives me all the info I will ever need about the person and their blog. Whether it be on the sidebar or a page of its own it needs to be there. Readers want to know who you are. Including your name.

Blog Content.
I myself look for personality posts. Things I can relate to such as motherhood and family orientation. I love seeing home recipes, families engaging with one another, the highs and the lows. To gain readership sometimes it means opening your heart a little bit. "Safe" posts are not what people want to read. I want the real stuff. Get personal and add personality to your blog. Show me who you are. Readers also want the easy way to find things.. Label your posts. A simple list of labels at the bottom of your blog can have readers staying longer and wanting to get to know you more.

The Follow button.
I think every blog should have a easy way to follow for people who want to follow and follow quickly. I notice that the newer blogs don't have GFC making it difficult to follow without having to go the long way round. (see this post). It's not easy enough. If I were a newer blogger, and didn't have the GFC option, I would either create a facebook page or twitter account purely for my blog updates. But don't be fooled by those awesome looking buttons on blog side bars. Most buttons take you away from the blog and onto a new site which is never a good thing. I recently clicked a facebook button on a blog and was navigated away from the blog to the facebook website. I liked the FB page but then saw that I had new notifications my attention was then elsewhere. Did I go back to that blog after I checked my notifications? Nope. So simplify it for your readers, don't give them an option to leave your page unless it's through another window. Grab a Facebook and twitter badge so your readers can follow you with just one click without going anywhere if you can. But those of you who have GFC. Use it! It's the simplest way..


Blog Hops. 
Lastly, I just want to say that Blog hops are the best way to gain followers. Simplify how you want people to follow you and I can guarantee your numbers will improve! I got my first 200 followers simply from blog hops alone. Engage in the blog hops, link up, comment and meet new faces. I don't follow people who just want a follow back.. If I like the content and enjoy the space I will hit that follow button for updates. Anyone can have followers, but genuine readership is becoming rarer and rarer..

Good luck guys, and enjoy the journey!
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Monday, 7 October 2013

How to follow blogs with Blogger..

Today a new friend (Stephanie) from one of my networks, new to blogging asked the question of how to follow blogs using blogger. I thought that because I ran through it with her today that other may be asking the same question. So here is a run-though - how-to!! with a few screen shots to show you how it works! 

To follow people you have two options.. Your first option (and the easiest way) is by joining their site. All you do is click "Join this site" and you'll receive all the updates of your desired blog via your dashboard which I'll explain more later..

The second option, which is a bit fiddly but if you really like the blog it's worth the muck around.. First you copy the blog your interested in followings url (website address above the page) as shown here..

To copy, click on the area, then right click the area and select copy. Then return to your dashboard which can always be found at http://www.blogger.com/home and scroll down to where you see the "Add" button..

Click on that, right click in the box and select "paste". The url (website address) should appear..


Now all that is left is to follow! So you guessed it! Click follow!

When following blogs, the updates of the blogs you now follow will all come up on your dashboard as people write new posts.. You can follow as many blog as you like and all blogs you follow will be listed on the left hand side of your blogger dashboard..

I hope I have covered all questions you may have had in regards to following new blogs using blogger. If not please just send me another quick reply and I'll do my best to answer your questions.

If you would like to ask me another run-through - how-to question please email me at:

mrsmelissaannebaker@gmail.com

Only too happy to help!
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Sunday, 6 October 2013

School Holidays: Day 16

Today, the last day of the September school holidays has been and gone.. Next school holidays we will be celebrating Christmas. The kids are all tucked up in bed and I'm sitting here with a cuppa tea beside me all ready for a brand new semester of school. This morning I had really nothing planned except that the kids needed to clean up their rooms. BORING! But as the day went on I had a great idea. One I think we may do every school holidays seeing as it went so well. I got the kids to bring out their toy boxes and our community toy box which usually stays in the lounge room for when our friends visit. I got them to tip them out and gave them each 2 plastic bags. One for rubbish and the other for toys that they no longer wanted. Everything that was their would go into their toy boxes. The kids actually had fun doing it. Finding hidden treasures they hardly ever play with and putting them aside for after..



Once they had finished, the floor was completely bare and their toy boxes half of what they were. The bags of things they didn't want were then swapped with each other to go through and see if they wanted to add anything to their boxes. Then they individually tipped out their toy boxes once more to see what they wanted to share with their friends who come over. Nevaeh was very generous while Jie is at an age where he likes having his own things and being in control of things (just like his mama..). The rule still remains in our home that we always have a choice to share with the exception of the community toy box which must be shared. I've found that by having that choice, it gives them a chance to be responsible for their things as well as an openness to actually want to share instead of being forced.. I just love it when they do. Makes me proud to know that it comes from their heart and not from my mouth!

While the kids were busy doing their thing, I made muffins in preparation for the week to come. Beetroot and mint scent filled the air as I whisked all the ingredients together. They turned out beautifully and the kids tried and loved them. The mint had them both saying how they tasted like toothpaste. As you can tell, we don't eat a lot of mint but sometimes it's good to have something just a little bit different. Check them out!


I'm actually looking forward to going back to school and so are the kids..
Are yours?.. 

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School Holidays: Day 14 part 3!

So guess who has just started using YouTube? Me thats who! Only because I blogger wouldnt let me download these videos through their player. For those of you who like to network please feel free to follow my youtube page but honestly, I wont be posting too much on there and most will be added to my blog here anyway.

So the last part of our day last Friday was dinner at Southbank before some bollywood style dancing.. 



One of the beautiful girls had Nevaeh up on stage with her and I just couldn't help but seize the moment and grab out my phone and capture these videos of my little girls first time on stage. 

Look at her go!!


It was a massive day for us all eventually getting home at around 10pm.
Completely and utterly exhausted! 
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Saturday, 5 October 2013

School Holidays: Day 14 part 2!

Which way?
 Which way?..
 WOW! I wonder whats up there..
 Incredible..
  Look! There's Tiger Land!!
 The people look like ants..
 I can squish the cars with my little finger..
 Spectacular..
 Sensational..
 Look! a worm..
 Is that a boat?..
 I can see the mountains..
 Maybe the flash was not a great idea..
 I can see Flemington Racecourse!
 Zoooooooom..
 Where does the water finish and sky start?..
 Looking down to where we just were.. (zoomed in)

For those thinking of going and need per-swaying here are some facts and figures for you!!

  • Skydeck 88 is the highest public vantage point in the southern hemisphere.
  • Eureka is 984.3ft / 300 meters in height.
  • The top of the tower can flex up to 600mm in high winds.
  • Two 300,000 litre water tanks on levels 90 & 91 prevent any excess swaying.
  • The lifts travel at more than 9 metres per second making them the fastest in the southern hemisphere.
  • 3,680 stairs - 92 storeys - 52,000 square meter windows.
  • The glass on Eureka's top 10 levels is 24 carat gold plated.
  • Eureka used 110,000 tonnes of concrete and weighs 200,000 tonnes.
  • Eureka's white horizontal lines represent the linear markings on a surveyors measuring staff
Still not convinced?

Do what I did and claim free tickets using your Coles fly buys points! You need not pay a thing! You wont regret it..
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School Holidays: Day 14 part 1!

As the school holidays are drawing to a close and finally the weather was on our side after the shocking wind we'd had for four days straight, I decided a sunny 26 degree day would be perfect weather to take the kids to the Melbourne Zoo. We left home at 9am and caught a bus to the city, from there we caught a train to Royal Park and excitedly talked about all our favorite animals, what they ate and were they lived. Walking toward the Zoo it became clear that we were in for an hour (plus) wait.. The line stretched on and on as we walked past a sea of frusterated faces. The kids became a bit niggly mainly due to the sun exposure and no shade and just after 12pm we walked into the Zoo!
 Once inside we found a nice little place to sit and eat lunch. This was also the perfect time for my famous "Expectations speech" to set clear guidelines about how we act at the zoo. It was also a great time to get our maps out, check out a few animals we really wanted to see and what ones we didn't. 
 The meer-cat family was the first thing we could all agree on. Nevaeh used her beautiful manners to get right to the front. From this moment, and from the amount of people around the enclosures I could see, I knew it was going to be a very long day and a day to really focus on keeping my patience as well as my eyes on both kids all the time.

 Around the next corner, there was a friendly giant we all were not expecting. I saw him first over a few trees and made a special effort to get the kids really very excited about whom awaited them.. Chewing on acacia leaves the Giraffe was a big hit with the kids.. They watched and wowed they're long necks! It also didn't take Nevaeh long to find a few black and white Zebra at the foot of them either. Zebra was one of the few animals she mentioned on the train over that she really wanted to see.

 Jie was in charge next, reading his map (up-side-down) to know exactly where to go he navigated us to his favorite animal. There is no second guessing his favorite for those who know him and have been in his room should know that his most beloved animal to own two walls of his room would be none other than the beautiful Tiegr..

The next thing to jump of the page at Nevaeh was the merry-go-round. Her and I watched Mary Poppins just two nights before so once she had her little eye on that, there was just no stopping her!!

I got a great little video of the kids on the couresel on my instagram. Your welcome to view it right this way.. It sure was a joy to watch both of my children on there for the first time..

After the kids got off of it we went to freshen up. Toilet runs, water bottle refills and a quick play on the playground before making our way to see the Butterflies. Walking in I had forgotten just how hot and humid that place was from the last time we visited. Beautiful butterflies everywhere but so many faces and sweaty bodies didnt make this visit all that exciting. Looking for a way out I promised the kids an icy pole.. No sooner I said it they were both looking for the exit..


With icy poles and smiley faces I got to choose the next destination. And the Elephants were my pick of the day. Knowing that not so long ago a baby elephant made news headlines I was just dying to check him out! He was cute but too popular so we opted for one of the other pretty ladies who had walked off to make her own fun. We followed her for a bit instead of joining the massive croud watching the baby cool off in the pool.. She was just magnificent..



From there we went to check out the newest addition to the Zoo.. Around the corner we were taken to a sandy area with a beach feel. With seals dancing under water, sting rays to see and touch to the marching penguines, this little fun pace had us all having fun!

Unfortunately we missed out on the seal show upstairs but the kids didn't seem to interested anyways so it was onto the apes for more fun in the sun..
Although only one photo was taken in this area we spent a significant amount of time fascinated with the orang-utangs. How they ate, and swung.. How they played and were so much like humans was an incredible sight to see. We just sat and watched for at least 20 minutes...

The last thing on our list of things to see were the frogs and the reptile house. Because the entry and exit were the same area, I allowed Jiedyn to take Nevaeh in by himself and show her around. They spend about 10 minutes of alone time until I went in to check on them and I saw Jiedyn guiding his sister and teaching her all he knew about snakes and lizards. It was a rare glimpse into how they interact when I am not around. Jie held her hand in some areas and reminded her to use her manners. I loved watching on as they made their way towards the crocodile enclosure together. I got a few photos from behind as they were busy looking...


Towards the end I got a few more photo's of Jie upon realizing that I didn't have very many so he posed with a croc and posed like a lizard.. Too much fun for my one and only son!

A family day was exactly what we all needed.. With school starting for each of us on Monday it was great to just enjoy each others company and to leave fresh in the kids minds as they go back!!

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