When storytelling becomes lying, or maybe doesn’t 

Yesterday, my five year old told me about her day at preschool. 

‘We found a cat,’ she said. ‘It had a name tag on its collar, which said “Please look after this cat. Its parents have died.”‘

‘That’s sad,’ I said.

‘It’s okay, Mum. We will look after it. It’s a big white fluffy cat.’

A few days before, she told me the preschool had guinea pigs. 

‘How many?’ I asked. 

‘One for each child,’ she said. ‘We also have horses. One for each child. And snakes. One for each child.’

‘Can I see them?’ I asked.

‘No Mum. They are around the back. Adults aren’t allowed back there.’

The previous week, she’d told me some teenagers were getting married at her school. All the kids were invited, and they were allowed to eat fairy floss. 

‘No adults are invited though,’ she said. ‘The teenagers only like kids.’ Their parents had also died. 

I listen, and play along with her stories. I am never sure where the truth begins and ends. Maybe it doesn’t end, in her mind. And that’s okay, right? 

I remember my own stories at that age. Clearly. Some I remember more clearly than things that actually happened. In fact my reality and my imagination are kind of confused. Some imagined things feel like were real. 

Like the donkey. 

When I was about 9, my mum heard me telling someone we buried our pet donkey in the paddock. 

‘We never had a pet donkey,’ she said. 

But I was sure we had. For years, I’d been telling people about my pet donkey and about where it was buried. 

I was caught out a few times. Although never malicious, my storytelling was construed as lying on a couple of occasions. 

One day, when I was a bit older, my aunt was driving us home, and we couldn’t cross the causeway because there was water over the bridge. 

My aunt went to the house on the top of the hill and asked to use their phone to call my dad. 

The house had a beautiful cottage garden. When she returned to the car, I told my aunt that one day my dad had asked the owners if he could pick a bunch of flowers for my mum, and the owners said he could. So he did.

I strongly remember my family sitting around the dining room table laughing at my ‘fib’. 

I can’t remember why I told it. It wasn’t to cause harm though. I’ve never really had much reason to lie. I never did anything too naughty, and if I did, Mum and Dad were generally forgiving. 

I like to think my daughter’s stories are equally as harmless. 

The irony is she’s ridiculously honest about things that matter. 

Like that time she threw her good canvas shoes out the car window. She immediately confessed – she could have easily got away with it, as I had no idea. But she came right out with the truth. 

For now, in these innocent childhood days, I am enjoying – and in fact marvelling at the stories she tells. Some are so damn imaginative and original I can’t believe they came from her young head. 

I’m not sure what the psychologists say about this stage. But what do you think? Do your kids tell stories? And when do stories become something more sinister, like lying? 

See you at My Little Sunshine House…

Well, we’ve done it. We are here. And it was smooth sailing, thanks to Sarah at Castle Design, who did a smashing job, and was lovely to work with.

For those who follow me here, come and find me over the My Little Sunshine House blog. This will be my last post for Heart Mama.

Subscribe by email to the new blog, tell your friends, and connect on Twitter or Facebook. 

It’s been lovely having you here, reading my words, and following Heart Mama’s journey. I hope we won’t lose touch.

Zanni x


My Little Sunshine House



A change of the form or nature of a thing or person into a completely different one, by natural or supernatural means.

Last July, a little family lay in bed on a wintry morning, talking about family, teddy bears and sunshine houses in the sky. It was my birthday.

“Our little sunshine house,” said my daughter, then two.

I think about that phrase often. Ours is a sunshine house, filled with warmth, love, humour and kindness. Not every day is sunny, but even on a dull day, we see slithers of blue through the clouds.


As of today, Heart Mama will be weaving its cocoon. In the coming weeks, with help from Sarah at Castle Design, its metamorphosis will occur.

Bags are packed. Setting sail. Destination My Little Sunshine House.

It’s not that I don’t want to write a mum blog, or that I don’t believe parenting with heart is the most essential thing of all, but I want to create room for something new.

A journey through the blogosphere has led me to a place where the sun shines in, where I raise my children and where I write.

I know they say ‘find your niche’ and ‘focus is everything’, but I want My Little Sunshine House to be open to whatever thoughts come through the door.

The consistent – the niche – is my voice.

Will you come with me? You can visit the holding page and subscribe to receive notice of the website launch. Please come. I’ll be lonely without you. 


Linking with Essentially Jess for IBOT.

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Review: Lion vs Rabbit by Alex Latimer

My daughter and I have difficulties agreeing on a book to buy from the bookshop. Inspired by ABC Kids, she wants Peppa Pig or Giggle & Hoot. I want to buy the books shortlisted for Children’s Book Council of Australia awards.

We compromised on this one.

Lion vs Rabbit, Alex Latimer
Lion vs Rabbit, Alex Latimer

It was a good pick.

This tale has the traditional features of a book about contest. Think Hare & The Tortoise. Big mean lion scares all the other animals. Animals advertise for someone to bring lion down to size. Moose, bear and tiger apply, but is rabbit who saves the day, out-witting the lion with cunning and intelligence.

Like all good books on our book shelf, when I get to the end, I am asked to read it again. And again. And again. Until my powers of negotiation win out.

Why do kids have such good taste in children’s literature?

Lion vs Rabbit is published by Picture Corgi

What books are your children loving at the moment?

Incidental creativity

I try, I really do. But I am hopeless doing craft activities with my three-year-old. She’s great at it, but I get frustrated, impatient, picky and bossy.

I am not made for playing. Even cutting out paper hearts ends in tears.

But, I don’t want this fact to diminish my daughter’s creativity. She is bursting with ideas and creative juice, so I leave a few ingredients mess around to inspire her creativity.

A roll of butcher’s paper, $10 from the office shop.

Buckets full of pencils and things.

View from the craft table (on a good day)
View from the craft table (on a good day)

Boxes full of scrap paper…and things.

Coat hangers.

Coat Hanger, 2012



Doll in Boot on Boot, 2013


Gaffa tape.

Pig with Tape and Doll, 2012
Pig with Tape and Doll, 2012

You know, things to inspire creativity.

And it’s not just lazy parenting. It’s called Incidental Creativity. If it’s not already a movement, I am starting it right here right now, and it is on the far end of the spectrum from helicopter parenting.

Doing craft activities with children is great, in theory. It engages your child and gives you an opportunity to bond. But for parents like me, who get all funny at the craft table, Incidental Creativity solves all your problems.

Children need space for creativity. Physical and temporal space. They need down time to potter away with inanimate objects and create strange sculptures.

Box on Box, 2013
Box on Box with Child, 2013

My own childhood was spent roaming paddocks, sitting in trees, telling myself stories. Maybe my creativity was borne in the boughs of that old olive tree. And look at me now – I have a blog!
blank mauveLinking with Essentially Jess for IBOT.


Nourishing baby food

The first time round, we did it all wrong.

We have created a toddler that sits on our backs during dinner. We have to feed her morsels when she is playing so she gets enough carbs. We rely way too heavily on car trips and television. And far too heavily on salmon hand rolls. What would our life be like without sushi?

It started with a whole avocado at five point five months, and descended into back climbing, television eating, plain salmon hand rolling.

This is the primary reason for having a second child. So we can get it right-er.

This time, I am following Jude Blereau’s book Wholefood for Children. Because I have an inbuilt inability to read recipes, I use the term “follow” loosely. But it’s a great reference. This book has taught me that babies like highly nutritious food. Like brains and liver. They also like food that taste good – presumably not like brains and liver, and more like pear with coconut oil.


My baby concoctions taste delicious. This, and the fact that I am actually preparing food for Baby breakfast, lunch and dinner put me in the running for having a three-year-old who eats healthily without fuss.

As long as she doesn’t pick up any tricks from her older sister.

So, I have two little jars. While I am making the family breakfast, I boil up two pots – one with half a chopped beetroot and a few slivers of ginger, the other with half a chopped pear and one chopped carrot. Then I whizz up half the carrot with the pear with 1 tsp of coconut oil. Jar it. The second whizz has the rest of the carrot, beetroot and ginger.

Delicious yum yum
Delicious yum yum for babies

Freaking delicious. Really. This is baby food I would actually eat.

My two little jars easily last two days.

Another combo I try when there is no time to cook and whizz is to mush banana with a tablespoon of homemade yoghurt. Again, yum. And Baby loves it. See?

Beetroot face
Beetroot face

The discovery of stars

How to Catch a Star. Oliver Jeffers.
How to Catch a Star. Oliver Jeffers.

I have been feeling a little estranged from my older daughter lately. I’ve been working more, and spare time is spent driving to markets or hanging out with friends. Usually, we read books together at night – our special time, nestled in together on the marshmallow couch. But lately Baby has been waking up for a feed at exactly that time.

You would think I would cherish every moment of down time with my older daughter, desperate for a piece of her. But the truth is, when we have down time, I get frustrated more than normal by her three-year-old demands and ways. The whingeing grates more than normal, and the screeches are intolerable. I am short, sharp and heavy with her, my patience like a short wick.

So quickly, we snowball into a mess. Like this afternoon, sleep-deprived Baby hangs asleep in a sling on my front, while I cut out shapes with older daughter. I am trying to be crafty, but I am failing miserably. Why do I bother?

“They are diamonds.”

“I don’t want diamonds. I want diamonds after.

“Do you want hearts?”

“I want diamonds AFTER!”

“Do you want circles?”

“I want diamonds AFTER!”

And so forth.

I didn’t understand what she meant. Instead, she screeched and baby woke up after twenty minutes. I yelled. I told her I was so mad at her, and she said: “You can’t be mad at me. I am crying. You can’t be mad at me for being sad.”

How true that is. How my little heart broke. Damn me for being so wretched.

After the adrenaline of screaming, I felt down. I was about to come crashing down on my self, criticise me, blame me etc. but then my daughter was so incredibly forgiving, I didn’t have the opportunity.

We ate spaghetti Bolognese, sitting on the grass in the backyard.

We showered together with baby.

We read together. Book after book after book.

We ended by reading How To Catch A Star.

“I want to catch a star,” she said. “But I can’t reach. I need a ladder.”

“You know, the book is imaginary,” I said. “You can’t really catch a star.”

“But I want to.”

It occurred to me that my daughter, with all her wisdom, intelligence, knowledge and imagination has never known stars. She has known songs about stars, and can recite books about stars, but she has never known stars.

I carried her into the night. She looked up.

“Stars!” she breathed. “They are so cute! They are so amazing! I love stars.”

I wish I could remember discovering stars for the first time. But I will remember this for my daughter instead. The night you discovered stars, your face lit up like one of them, and you wrapped your arms around my neck. You refused to go to bed, how amazed and overwhelmed you were.

One One Four Lismore

I love Lismore. I really do. Living there with a crying baby, on a hill, in the middle of summer was not my idea of happiness, but coming back to Lismore for a mooch is fun. The Melbourne in me, who craves good coffee and interesting back alley shops is satisfied by what Lismore offers.

We went for a mooch and a bulk food shopping day last Friday, and stumbled upon One One Four, a new hole-in-wall on Keen Street.


ImageImageI like what these guys are doing. Good coffee, yummy lunches and desserts. So, for just $10, you can get a regular coffee, a take-away or have-in meal, like stir-fry pork belly, or pork meatballs with noodles, and a ‘snack’ – a selection of brownies, smartie cookies, baklava…Increase to $12 for a large coffee. It’s more than even we can consume. And if you know us, you will know we always go for the extra large portion.

The food and coffee came our super quick, served on eco-friendly disposables, like banana palm plates with wooden cutlery. The coffee was Lavazza, but good.

In Melbourne fashion, we sat on crates in the arcade.

My godmother told me when I tree-changed from Melbourne, I could satisfy my cosmopolitan cravings by jumping on a plane. As it turns out, I don’t have cosmopolitan cravings. I like country life, yes, but I find that our region offers almost everything I miss about Melbourne. Except excellent Vietnamese. But maybe I just don’t know where to go.

I have the best hairdresser I have ever had, for instance. More on that in another post.

Lismore is one of those places you have to get to know to appreciate. One One Four is just one little Lismore secret I can reveal, for all those interested in coming to Lismore one day.

One One Four is at 114 Keen Street, Lismore

Linking with Essentially Jess for IBOT.

Review: How To Catch A Monster

I love the anticipation of opening a new children’s book for the first time. My little girl sits next to me, squeezed into my side, waiting for me to begin.

How To Catch A Monster by Christina Bollenbach

Lukas sat on the edge of his bed, waiting for the monster…

This is the story of a little boy facing his fears.

Monsters are timeless, aren’t they? Aspiring children’s book writers are told that children like  magic and monsters. It’s true. Among the books sent to us by Scholastic, which are published this year, this was the book that stood out for my little girl.

Monsters are an archetype which represent bad/evil. The monster lurks under many a child’s bed. It embodies their general fears. The concept of fear begins to emerge for preschool age children, as their fantasy world expands, and awareness of concepts like darkness, death, or pain develop.

Maybe, monsters under beds is a common theme because children fear being alone, as they lay in the dark, trying to sleep. Their fantasy hooks into an image they have seen, and the fictitious monster begins to seem real.

“Why does the monster have teeth?” my daughter asks, among a million other Why questions. I don’t know. Why do monsters have teeth? What I know is that monsters capture children’s imagination.

We read the book, and read the book again. And once more for good measure. We then set a monster trap, like Lukas does in the story. The box the books came in was perfect. We propped it up with a piece of wood, and instead of cookies, we put macadamia nuts out to tempt the monster.

In this book, Lukas takes control of his situation, and his fear. And when he does meet the monster, it’s is not as bad as he imagined. In fact, it’s rather friendly.

The illustrations in this book are beautiful. You can see more of Christina Bollenbach’s work here.

How to Catch a Monster is a really sweet book, and as far as I know, is no relationship to the Ryan Gosling movie How To Catch a Monster, featuring Christina Hendricks (not Bollenbach) due for release next year.

Do monsters live under the beds of your children? How do you address fear of monsters?