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Townsville Families – The Hardings

The 2017 is zooming by. It’s hard to believe that we have already heard from four fantastic Townsville families. We hope that our Townsville readers have become inspired to head out to enjoy some of the excellent local public places and events. For our readers who are located elsewhere in Australia, we hope that you have enjoyed learning more about Townsville and the people who call it home. This week, unfortunately, marks the end of this series of blog posts, for now. To finish this series off with a bang, we have interviewed the head of the Harding household – Natalie!

Natalie is a full-time working mum, who just returned to work after finishing up her maternity leave. Her husband, William, also works full-time and the couple are just starting to grasp the concept of juggling the “9 to 5” with prep and day-care. With three beautiful boys under the age of five in the house, Natalie has a hard time keeping their bottomless tummies and her fridge full.
The Harding BoysWilliam is a runner who loves to spend time with his boys while getting active. Of a morning William barely has time to sit down after his run before one of the boys is asking to be taken out. Natalie and William’s oldest boy Henry, 5, takes after his Dad. Henry is a very reserved character who is intrigued by all that surrounds him. He would like to be a researcher when he grows up, so he is constantly collecting leaves, dirt and anything that looks interesting. Robert, 3, is an easy-going happy child. He will happily talk to anyone, always has to say “hello” and is full to the brim of charm. Much like his father, Robert loves getting active. He loves to run, ride his bike or scooter and, much to Natalie’s dismay, climb trees! Last but certainly not least is John, 1. John is a perfect mix of both his brothers; he has completely skipped the baby stage and wants to be doing everything his brothers are doing. He is always smothering them in cuddles instead of the other way around. Whether John is playing with them or not, he loves just being around his brothers. While the boys are all very different, the one thing they have in common is that they are on the go and never sit still from the moment they wake to when they pass out.

The Hardings are a Defence Family who first came to Townsville for work. The family lived in Sydney for a period of time, where two of the boys were born, before they chose to come back to Townsville. “Although we liked living in Sydney we knew we wanted to come back to Townsville. Having such active boys, and wanting to be outside all the time, the thought of being able to access places like the Strand, Riverway, parks and so many paths appealed to us. Also, having the weather to facilitate so many outdoor activities also helps”, said Natalie.

“We love everything about Townsville. I love how diverse our weekends can be without spending a lot or travelling too far. We will spend one weekend at the Museum of Tropical Queensland and Perc Tucker Regional Gallery. The following weekend at the Strand playing on the beach, the next weekend at Riverway on the bike paths. Then finish the month off at the Heritage Range Tea Rooms bushwalking and having a relaxing meal while the boys play”, said Natalie.

So how does this super mum do it all? Here are a few hints and tips that Natalie would like to share with you –

1. Think outside the box when trying to entertain kids, especially if you’re on a budget. Townsville has amazing parks spread all around – even in some random suburban streets. Park hopping is a fun way to fill in the weekend. Plus a great way to get kids looking and reading maps.

2. Life is so crazy and stressful. So much more seems to be expected from everyone; kids, parents and especially mums. Try (easier said than done) to slow down and spend as much time as you can with your children; they do grow up so quickly.

3. After being asked to sit for this blog, I realised we have no family photos! I have lots of images of the boys, lots of images of William and the boys and myself and the boys. However, not a single photo of all of us together. Make sure you take a family photo often.

With that, sadly our Townsville Family Series has drawn to a close. I would like to thank our five Townsville families for sharing so much with us and thank you for reading. If you would like to read more on a certain topic send me an email (johanna@entropy.com.au)!

Townsville Families – The Stephensons

The Stephenson FamilyIf you weren’t aware last month, we held an Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea event and raffle. We set out to raise $300 and with the support of our wonderful toy lovers we raised just over $1,000. The winner of this raffle was a local woman Kellie Stephenson who scored herself $500 worth of toys and a spot in this week’s family feature!

Kellie is the head of the Stephenson’s home, mum to three gorgeous boys, wife to husband Corey, daughter of two amazing parents, sister and a friend. Kellie is the runner of the household, making sure everyone is organised, clothed, fed and healthy.  She works casually at a local university (James Cook University), helps her husband run their Concreting Business and runs her own business ‘Support Local Townsville’. How Kellie does it all I have no idea, however, she assures me that she likes to keep busy!

Corey, Kellie’s husband, is the ‘yin’ to her ‘yang’ as he brings the ‘zen’ to the family and helps restore the ‘crazy’. Together the couple has three boys: Zac, Brett and Will. Zac, eight, is head chief and the couple’s oldest child. Kellie describes him as a rule follower, who is a terrific big brother and helps to keeps the little ones occupied. The next in line is cheeky Brett, two, who is the Stephenson’s “spirited child”. Will is the youngest of the boys; he turns one next week and while being young is very serious. “He is an old soul who seems to take everything in, doesn’t give much away.  Makes you work for a smile, but I tell you what when he gives you one it is heart melting”, said Kellie.
Stephenson Family
Kellie and Corey lived in Charters Towers (a rural region of Townsville) for just over six years before they embarked on a journey of a lifetime. The couple sold everything and decided to travel around Australia. They fell pregnant with Brett while on their travels and came back to Townsville for his birth. During this time they fell in love with North Queensland all over again and decided to stop travelling ‘pull up stumps’ and make Townsville their permanent home.

“There is so much to do in Townsville and so many great locally owned businesses.  From the school holiday programs, the parks, the weather, we find that there is always something to do with the kids and there are always options that suit every budget (just look at the list of activities that Entropy organise).  Our Southern friends are very jealous of our winter lifestyle, and I love that kids can be outside and play every month of the year”, said Kellie.

So how does this super mum do it all? Here are a few hints and tips that Kellie would like to share with you –

  1. “My biggest tip to Mums in Townsville is you never have to feel alone. Being a very transient town with Defence and FIFO population, I have met a lot of mother’s that have expressed they feel alone because they move here not knowing anybody.  There are so many groups, activities, etc. that welcome all Mums, so don’t be afraid to put yourself out there.”
  2. “To mums across Australia, you are doing an amazing job. Speaking with different Mums from all walks of life through a blog my sister and I run ‘OMG I’m That Mum’ we come across so many Mums who feel judgement and criticism, I want to reassure you that you are doing a wonderful job.  It’s ok to have a rough day from time to time, nobody is perfect.  Trying your best is enough, you are enough. Let’s rally behind every Mum and instead of bringing other Mums down, raise them up and know that they are amazing, #lessjudgementmoresupport.”

To finish things off I have a tip/treat for our Townsville readers. If you aren’t already following Kellie’s ‘Support Local Townsville’ pages then you are missing out. Kellie does a fantastic job at unearthing local business and encouraging others to support the local economy. Her social media platforms are always full of fun and helpful treats for locals. I hope you enjoyed learning about another local family, I know the elves did! Until next week.

Townsville Families – The Roberts

The Robert Family (2)The elves are enjoying learning about local Townsville families, and they hope you are as well. Thus far we have talked to two unique families and picked up some super handy tips and this week is no different. This week we had the pleasure of talking to Meg from the Roberts family.

The Roberts Family is made up of Mum and Grandma (Meg), her four children, their partners and her five grandchildren. Meg’s children have all grown up with her youngest being twins now 28-years-old. However, with over 40 years of mothering experience, Meg has loads of phenomenal parenting advice to share with us.

Twins run heavily in Meg’s family, with her grandmother, cousin, daughter and self all being proud multiple birthing mothers. While running her own business and working as an Entropy Elf, on the weekends, Meg also lends a helping hand with her daughter’s brand new twins. Meg shares her home with her daughter (Elle), partner and their three children. Together they do a great job at raising the children. Elle’s partner spends every second week away for work, so Meg steps in to help out more on these weeks and has a “week off” when he is home.

Meg lived in New Guinea for work with her husband and daughter and decided to move back to Australia in the early 80’s to grow her family. When looking for a place to call home Meg and her husband agreed that anything south of Townsville would be too cold. Together they decided on settling here for its lovely tropical climate and the fact that it had all the facilities they required to raise a family.

So how does this super grandma do it all? Here are a few hints and tips that Meg would like to share with you –

  1. Enjoy your children. It is very easy to get caught up in providing for your children that you forget to stop and enjoy time with them. They grow up so incredibly quickly, make sure that you make time to appreciate them before they grow up and move out.
  2. [For those with or expecting twins] Accept that life is going to be pretty hectic with new or young twins around. Don’t be hard on yourself if you don’t get everything done every day.  But there is light at the end of the tunnel, the first year is crazy, but after that, it will be a bit easier (most of the time) because they have each other for company.

Next week we will focus on another local family and why they love Townsville. Thanks for reading and bye until then!

Townsville Families – The O’Donnells

The O'Donnell Family

There is no better way to learn about a city than from those who call it home. Therefore, to learn more about Townsville, we are asking some local families why they picked Townsville to raise their children. This week we had the pleasure to talk and learn from the beautiful and unique O’Donnell family.

The O’Donnell family is made up Mum (Sharon), Dad (David) and their seven children ageing from 9 to 18 years. Sharon is a 40-year-old mum who holds the impressive titles of full-time mum and full-time worker – talk about impressive. On top of this Sharon is an artist at heart who loves to create pottery!
Sharon PotteryThe O’Donnells are a blended family, with four boys from Sharon’s previous marriage and three children from (David’s). Along with being a blended family, the O’Donnells are also an international family. Sharon’s four boys are half Jamaican, and David’s daughter was adopted from the Philippines. Sharon describes her children as all being unique with different talents in different areas. “As you might expect blended families work differently to nuclear families. As the children come from two separate households, and two different ways of life you need to evolve to create a different way of parenting”, said Sharon.

Sharon parents were born in Townsville and migrated to Canada in the 1970’s. Ever since then Sharon has been back and forth describing herself as a “Professional International Mover”. Nowadays the O’Donnells are happy to call Townsville home. Townsville’s warm weather, Strand and family support are the major draw cards for the O’Donnells along with the cities family-friendly atmosphere. Together the family regularly frequent the Strand for exercise, leisure or both.

So how does this super mum do it all? Here are a few hints and tips that Sharon would like to share with you –

  • Always have a beach blanket in the boot of your car. You never know when you might spot a patch of grass or sand that family can enjoy a few hours of fun on.
  • To make mornings easier make school lunches the night before. This clears out the kitchen for the early morning rush. Also, wake up before the rest of the household (obviously were not talking to parents of two-year-olds) and enjoy a few moments to yourself.
  • There are heaps of fantastic local markets in Townsville. Get out of the house and support local artists.

Next week we will focus on another local family and why they love Townsville. Thanks for reading and bye for now.

Townsville Families – The Needhams

Needham

In the spirit of International Day of Families, which was last Monday, we have decided to delve into our local community and interview some of the families who call Townsville home. For those who are somewhat unfamiliar with Townsville, Townsville is a coastal city in Queensland north-east.

Considered the unofficial capital of North Queensland by locals, Townsville is surrounded by a myriad of natural wonders and relishes in over 300 days of sunshine each year! Currently, there are over 192,038 people living in Townsville, five of them being the adorable Needham family.

The Needham family is made up of Mum (Lesley), her three boys and her long-term foster child. Lesley is a 44-year-old single Mum who describes herself as a slightly quirky, boring introvert who owns her unique qualities “like as boss”! Having previously worked as a nurse Lesley had to give up her job to become a full-time carer to her children.

All three of Lesley’s boys are on the autism spectrum, and her long-term foster child has special needs. “The children’s early years were tough as we adjusted to life with autism, but through love, patience and early intervention the boys are now doing amazingly well.  We certainly aren’t your typical family, but we are a very happy household. We share a love of geeky things, chocolate, and being silly. The children range in ages from 8 – 13 so they are at a wonderful age to enjoy life with,” said Lesley.

After living in Townsville on-and-off in her early adult life, Lesley decided when her children were small to move back to Townsville. Townsville’s calm and family-friendly vibes coupled with its large array of free family activities and outdoor play areas is what ultimately brought Lesley and her family back. Her boys also love that in Townsville it is warm enough to go swimming nearly the entire year long.

So how does this super mum do it all? Here are a few hints and tips that Lesley would like to share with you –

  1. Always try to have a round of sandwiches, cake slices and poppers frozen in the freezer. If you want to do an impromptu outing, you can just grab them out and go. It certainly saves the wallet and stress.
  2. Keep a few little toys hidden away ready as gifts in case someone is having a bad day or is sick.
  3. Make a printed photo book for each of your children outlining all the skills and things that they need to learn before they become adults. In the book, include everything from cooking skills, cleaning skills, to general life skills – such as opening a bank account. Then every now and then pick something from the list and focus on learning that skill.

Next week we will focus on another local family and why they love Townsville. Thanks for reading bye until then!

AQUA – the power of colour

AQUAThe elves have noticed a trend occurring in Elf HQ – AQUA. This gorgeous colour seems to have overtaken the rest and is our most popular colour for 2017. Being neither masculine nor feminine aqua is tickling the fancy of boys and girls all around Australia.

This trend is most notable in our range of Micro Scooters with our Aqua Mini and Maxi Scooters consistently scootin’ out the door. Currently, parents seem to be moving away from the “blue for boys and pink for girls” way of thinking, and this is reflected in an increased number of sales in aqua, purple and green.

Admittedly, the increased number of sales in aqua might be attributed to the release of the Disney film Frozen and increased popularity of mermaids. However, the consistent strength of aqua throughout the end of 2016 and the first four months of 2017, reflects more than just a generation obsessed with these two fads. Aqua, unlike like bold red or electric blue, is easy to coordinate with. As you see below anything from a pirate themed Nutcase Helmet to a pure floral design looks brilliant with aqua.

Aqua match

Our range of Aqua products extends further than just scooters with watches, games, ride ons, musical instruments and more. If you’re aqua obsessed, you have stumbled across the right website click here to have a look around!

The Cherry Tree Hall loved by Elf Gaby

Gaby-WordPressMoving on from Elf Bec and Hape Rail this week we are focusing our lovely Elf Gaby. Elf Gaby is our beautiful and bubbly eStore Manager. Gaby has the mammoth task of making sure that our eStore customers are happy and that all parcels arrive ASAP (easier said than done)! So what is Elf Gaby’s favourite item? Well for those who know her it will be no surprise that it is the Le Toy Van Cherry Tree Hall.

Elf Gaby is the proud godmother of three beautiful children who she likes to spoil rotten. Being very generous in nature, Elf Gaby seems to enjoy giving more than receiving. From observation she appears to have bought almost every item we stock – I over exaggerate, however, only slightly. One of her favourite toy that she has ever gifted is the Le Toy Van Cherry Tree Hall to her goddaughter.

“The WOW factor of this doll house put it at the top of my ‘must buy’ list. The size of the house along with the fine detailing that all Le Toy Van houses have is what makes this such a fantastic item. The educational benefits of doll houses also impacted my decision to pick this product for my goddaughter, and I am very happy to say it’s her prized possession,” said Elf Gaby.

Doll houses do a brilliant job at engaging children’s imaginations and encouraging them to investigate the world around them. In the safety of their imagination, children explore dialogue and language that helps them develop emotional, social and intellectual skills. Not to mention all the benefits of collaborative play.

“A benefit that is not reaped from the child but friends and family is the add-ons that go with the Le Toy Van dollhouses. Buying for children can be tough; doll houses with furniture sets make an awesome collaborative gift that can be a whole family affair. I did this when gifting the Cherry Tree Hall, I bought the house, and my mum bought a few furniture sets”, said Elf Gaby. Accessories also increase the play value of doll houses. By adding a new doll or furniture children start to interact with the doll house in new ways, extending the interest and life of the toy.

Stay tuned for more news from Elf HQ!

2017 Melbourne: Toy, Hobby and Licensing Fair – Day Four

Today marks the last day of the 2017 Toy, Hobby and Licensing Fair and if there is anything but coffee pumping through my veins I will be surprised. The last day of Toy Fair is traditionally always shorter; finishing up at 3pm. Originally I thought this sounded like a nice treat for our weary bodies; however, I was wrong. Most of the day was spent running around like a chicken with no head on double-checking that we had seen absolutely everything.

We started the day off with a little bit of magic at the Heebie Jeebies stand where we were shown how the Contact Juggling Ball works. This item will arrive in store shortly.

Not long after that, we became the magicians putting Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty to the test. The range has loads of different types of putty that are all unique. Elf Bec and I especially loved the UV phantom putty that glows and changes colour under a black light – exciting!


Here are a few more snaps from today. The first is me trying out the Slackers Ninja Line – it’s an awesome product, that I hope it makes its way to Entropy. On the right-hand side, we have Elf Bec and Teresa holding their favourite Kaloo items, an Oogi Pilla and a lovely display of Playforever items.
17176203_10155924529774447_383235693_oWhile the Toy Fair has come to a close, we will continue to share more videos and images from the event on our social media channels. Lastly, thanks for following our adventure we hope you enjoyed hearing about our 2017 Toy Fair experience.

2017 Melbourne: Toy, Hobby and Licensing Fair – Day Three

Just when I thought that we had almost conquered the toy fair challenge I realised that we weren’t even close. Today was day three of the Toy, Hobby and Licensing Fair and it was another whirlwind day. After a breakfast that more resembled a dessert, and with artificial energy pumping through our veins (coffee) we hit the stalls with a keen eye for something new.

Elf Bec and I made our journey through the maze of stalls while Chief Poobah headed off on her own mission. Luckily, I managed to capture a few of the best moments of today on video and have them here for you.

Modern Brands once again had an amazing Sylvanian Families display. I know that many of you have a deep seeded love for this brand. Therefore, I knew that photos wouldn’t be enough – I hope you enjoy this video.

Excitingly I got try out the Wobbel Board. This is one seriously cool product that astoundingly manages to handle my body weight with ease. While I only tried two different ways of playing with the Wobbel Board, you can imagine that the opportunities are endless. We cannot wait to have this product instore, and from the responses received on Facebook and Instagram neither can you!

Tomorrow is the last day of the fair and our last opportunity to sniff out some great products. Remember, if you want to see something in particular on our shelves let us know. You can contact me via Facebook, Instagram or email (johanna@entropy.com.au). I don’t bite, well not normally, and would love to hear from you!

2017 Melbourne: Toy, Hobby and Licensing Fair – Day Two

Day two of the Toy, Hobby Licensing Fair is done and dusted. Elf Bec and I are feeling rather tired while Chief Poobah continues at a phenomenal pace. After a delicious and breakfast, we hit the ground running with meeting-after-meeting with different suppliers. As a picture is worth a thousand words and my tired brain is not willing to work I will let my astounding photography skills do the talking.

Day 2 - Toy Fair 2017First and foremost we have an elfie selfie. On the bottom left-hand side is Mike Reeves and Elf Bec. Mike is the Creative Director of Indigo Jamm – we have an exclusive interview coming later in the year. Next is Chief Poobah with a Gotz doll and last but not least we have Bec with two natural rubber squeakers by Tikiri.

We also took a few videos – because who could resist.

Here is Elf Bec testing out a new Magformer item called The Walking Robot Car Set. It features a power block, walking block and a watch style controller.

Here we see Bec and I playing a game called By The Book. The set includes 40 challenge cards, 12 different shaped books, 2 shelves, 1 cat and 1 level. The game is played by flipping a challenge card, selecting the books required and making the two shelves balance.

That’s all I have to report on today, stay tuned for more tomorrow!