July 30, 2012

Travelling 'round the countryside #3

It all leads South, to the bottom of the country, where our travels came to an end in my lovely hometown of Adelaide.

With blue sea on one side & green rolling hills & vineyards on the other, it's easy to find beauty in Adelaide. And winter seems to have a charm all it's own, even as I keep my coat & scarf on inside cafes & shops (love-me some American heating!).

I left Adelaide 10 years ago, happy to fly away & see what could be found outside the familiar (turns out, what could be found was a boy who would lead me even further away). We return each year now and it's become a place of retreat & rest for us. There is much that holds my affection here, top of the list being the precious people I miss most. 


This city is all about time & no set plans. Time with mum, my sisters, brothers-in-law, & the littlies. Time to sit by the fire & read. Time to bake & break bread together. Time to play with Legos & watch local footy.

Oh, & did I mention the GINORMOUS bowl of Aussie chocolate?! Yes. More than a small village could consume. It wouldn't be Adelaide without it.

I'm thankful to end in this small, pretty city, even as I rail against it's slow traffic, odd store opening hours & under-aged mall rats! There's something good about home.

The finale in this little travel series are scenes from the road, coming soon...


July 26, 2012

Travelling 'round the countryside #2

Leaving the sparkling waterways of Sydney behind & revving our rental, we hit the highway for Melbourne.

I know it's not right to have favorites... But just between you & me, this edgy, gritty, pumping city has our hearts in a special way from the rest. 

Whether it's the amazing coffee, lane-way cafes, street art, endless stores of original design, live football, eclectic population or interesting architecture - Melbourne is hard to beat!

And surprisingly, wintertime is especially lovely. The city knows how to keep you warm as you wander the streets & the it is a hive of football activity, with fans in their team colors from all around Australia.

I have many good memories from visits here with family over the years, being that it was one of my Dad's top places for a weekend away with all of us, & the only real "bucket list" item he had. Continuing the tradition is good for the soul.

Next we shall move further South, to my lovely city of origin, Adelaide. Or RADelaide as the locals affectionately call it.

July 24, 2012

Travelling 'round the country side

While I continue to nap in the afternoons like a nanna, in a pathetic, drawn-out attempt to ward-off jet-lag, I shall take an easy blog route - look-backs! I'm excited to share our beloved homeland with you & glimpses of what made this most recent visit such a joy.

I shall start at the very beginning, because it's always a very good place to start... (thank you, Maria Von Trap.)

This city is truly a jewel! Blue water at every turn, winter sunshine, delectable cafes, beautiful design, green city parks and best of all, deeply cherished relationships. 

With last year & all it's difficulties just that bit further behind us, we found we could relax & enjoy Sydney more than the time before. There wasn't the desire to hide & avoid people or places, feeling uncomfortable in our own skin. Instead, we delighted in walking to breakfast, exploring new coffee spots, catching-up with dear friends & family, cuddling new babies & feeling once again like our old selves.

Sydney will always be Nate's hometown, and to me, a city I feel very lucky to have adopted along the way. It is a cosmopolitan city of the world & definitely worth a visit once in your lifetime!

Up next, mighty Melbourne.


July 21, 2012

Rain for Roots Give-away Winners

Thanks to everyone who stopped-by the blog & read the amazing Miss Sally's answers to my amateur interview questions. I was thrilled to share Sally's thoughts with you, along with news of the release of the delightful children's album, Rain for Roots.
Now, down to business, the pulling of names from a hat (or, more accurately, random.org). The lucky winners* of my first every give-away - a full album download of Big Stories For Little Ones - are.....

1. Jenny Lloyd
2. Christine Gough
3. Rachel Hollister

Congratulations! You are going to love these new tunes & the women who created them - when spin 1000 goes around you may even feel the urge to hug & kiss them!

Again, thank you for being a part of this little endeavor - it is a joy to share on the blog & meet the far-flung community of people who join-in.


{*keep an eye on your inbox for the download details.}

July 17, 2012

Nerf Battles

 {Place & time: Mum's Rec Room, Oakbank SA, July 2012} 

Don't let his rosey complexion & blonde locks fool you... Behind the dubious protective eye-gear - goggles from Big W - is a ruthless Nerf master.

Nate & I had to bring our A-game, loading-up the automatic 20-shooter's for all-out Nerf battles.

{admittedly, my a-game face needs some work}

The little dude hides-out behind the couch & waits until we are completely out of fire-power... (that's me, having a blurry, heroic Nerf-war moment}

Then with complete nonchalance, he stands-up & unloads a hail of Nerf bullets.

Sometimes completely disregarding the rule book & running a close-up, right-at-your-back attack. 
Kids can be cruel...

Granny has hit on an absolute winner with the Nerf guns.
I wouldn't be surprised if next Aussie visit there's a Nerf gun rack on the wall & camouflage attire.

And don't forget - there's still a few more days left to win a great new album of tunes for your little Nerf king or queen! Check-out my previous blog & interview with Sally L-Jones for details.


{ Click here to see video of Nate under Nerf gun fire }

July 12, 2012

Rain for Roots – Sally’s Story

{this is more wordy than usual, but oh-so wonderfully worth it! Make a cuppa, find a comfy couch groove & enjoy...}
Last Sunday night my 3 year old niece came to visit. As the night drew dark & chilly she snuggled-up to Grandma for story time. Top of the book pile was one of Sally Lloyd-Jones’ books – “How to get a job” – a hilarious tale of employment advice for kids. From the kitchen I could hear Penny giggling & I happily mused that if Sally were here in person, she would have Penny giggling at all sorts of things. Sally’s stories are a natural extension of who she is - most wonderfully when she is writing about the greatest Story of all.
That same evening as Penny was leaving, all strapped-into her car seat, she started to loudly sing the words of an old hymn, which we had sung that morning in Church. “Holy Holy Holy”, her deep 3 year old voice sang, expressing great truth about God.
Story & song. Unselfconscious expression in laughter & lyric. The “least of these” coming to understand the might & love of her Creator, before being able to tie her own shoelaces.
Reflecting on this afterwards, Nate & I marveled at the importance of story & how it ignites our imagination, drawing us into something bigger than ourselves. And then further, the blessing of song, as it stirs-up a response before we even understand the magnitude of what we’re singing.
Little Penny is a child of God, and she has entered into the story! Songs will no doubt play a significant role in shaping her path, which is why finding the right ones matters.
These happenings & thoughts were perfect timing. At the top of my “to do” list this week was interviewing Sally Lloyd-Jones about her recent involvement with Rain for Roots - talented creators of children's music that wont make you want to poke your eye out as you cruise around in your parental-mobile. Hoorah!
{ "Rain For Roots is a collective of songwriters and friends who came together around a single vision to make new scripture songs for children. This band of four set out to make new, timeless songs about the old gospel Story. The album, 'Big Stories for Little Ones' is based on the poems of best-selling children's author, Sally Lloyd-Jones."  }
Separated by a giant ocean*, Sally & I were restricted to interview via email, which definitely curbed the amount of silliness & Yorkshire tea we could enjoy!
{ Myself, Sally & Nate - Nashville, December 2011 }
Alas, we made do & I have the great privilege of sharing Sally’s thoughts on story & song here at SFP, along with my first ever give-away! Ooo…
In a nutshell - which I know could be tricky given the question - why are you primarily drawn to writing for children?

A wise and wonderful editor of mine once told me that she believes there are two types of children's book writers: those who study children; and those who are children inside. I knew immediately which group I belong in! It just feels very natural for me to write for children. And I feel very fortunate: children are the best audience in the world--they will go with you anywhere, much further than adults will. It is an honor and a privilege to write for children--and also, of course, a great responsibility.

The Hug-A-Bible poems are beautifully simple in the truth they express, with the question & answer of "Who" woven through every one. Where did the idea / framework for Hug-A-Bible come from?

When retelling Bible Stories, you can either focus on what the story tells you about you--or what it tells you about God. I wanted children to know from the earliest age that there is a hero in the stories of the Bible--but it isn't Daniel or Moses or Noah or David. The Hero of every story is God. I want the focus off me and what I can do--and on God and what he can do.  

I know you often get to visit with & read to children, experiencing first hand their response to your stories. How has your idea of child-like faith been shaped by the little ones you write for? What do you learn from them?

I learn from them every day. I often think about how children are such great gift-experts. They know all about gifts. They don't need anyone to teach them. They know how to receive them. They expect to receive gifts. They don't mind asking for gifts. They are delighted with gifts. Even with the wrapping paper. I would like to be more like that with my Heavenly Father, the Giver of all good gifts. Expecting great things from him. Receiving whatever he gives me. Delighting in it. Even the wrapping paper. Especially the wrapping paper.

Now, I know you've entered into a brave new world, with Nashville's music scene! It's the same, but different from your own artistic outlet of writing. How have you found the whole experience?

My poor friends and family. I keep dropping into conversation whenever I can about having a "music agent" now and have I mentioned my "new music career" and what about my latest "lyrics" and have they seen my new "album." And then raving about The Ryman--and actually did they know "I've played the Ryman."

It's obnoxious. But I can't help it. I'm so over excited by the whole thing.

I love Nashville. I've been welcomed so warmly into the community and now I have all these wonderful new friends. It's been great to learn more about songwriting and discover that songwriters and children's picture book writers share more in common than I imagined. We are both, in our different ways, doing the same thing: distilling the story down into the simplest form. I've been fascinated with the interplay of words and music--and the way it echoes the interplay of words and pictures... and i can't wait to learn more. (Oh did I say? I played the Ryman.)

Ha! I can vouch for that - I was there cheering & you "rocked" their socks off.

Connecting with the 5 amazing women behind Rain for Roots - Ellie, Katy, Flo, Alice & Sandra - I can't imagine a more friendly introduction to Music City. How has your time with Rain for Roots unfolded? What role have you played in the creation of the album?

What a wonderful uber talented group of women. I am honored they would put my words to music. Ellie, and Katy and Flo and Alice and Sandra first reached out to me about a year ago (not even!) when I was in Nashville and we had a lovely lunch together--and now we have an album together. (Did I mention I have an album? I played at the Ryman you know.) Their vision for creating good songs for children--and not dumbing anything down--resonated with me deeply because that's something I am passionate about too. They did all the hard work of writing the music and singing and arranging. I just got to lend them the words and listen and go along for the ride. It was so exciting!

What was the most surprising / enjoyable thing about hearing your words set to music?

The way it gives the poems new life. And makes you want to get up and dance!

Stories & music play a key role in the life of a child - imaginations are set afire by story & delightfully expressed through song - what do you most hope for this album in the life of a child?

That the music would stick with the children and the tune would bring back the words--and plant the truth deep in their hearts. What truth? Most of all that God loves them and won't ever stop loving them. Not because they're good--but because He is good.

That is good good news! And you're never too young for good news.

Lastly, and some might deem most importantly, Tea bag or tea pot? Tea pot.

Favorite brand? YORKSHIRE GOLD (how could you even ask that question??)
It's true, I should know better! I was taught by the Queen of tea, after all.

Biscuit or chocolate on the side? Chocolate biscuit (mcVities chocolate digestives)
Excellent choice!
Right, so, time for the GIVEAWAY! 3 lucky contestants will be walking away with…
{drum roll please}

A FREE full album download, courtesy of Rain for Roots! WOO!
To enter: please leave a comment below. Include your email address or twitter handle so I can contact you if you win.

To double your entry: share this link on Twitter or Facebook & leave another comment here to let me know. (Limit two entries per person, thank yup!)
Entries close Friday, July 20, at 10pm CST.
Winner will be chosen Saturday, July 21, via random.org. 
But, that's not all folks...
You also have the chance to purchase the album right NOW by jumping over to HERE.
Use the coupon code "PORTER" & receive 10% off.  

Yep. I've got you covered *wink*.

And should you find yourself with a purchased copy AND a free copy - gift it to a friend! They will thank you as they hit repeat for the 50th time on the way to the grocery store. 


[*me in Australia, Sally in America.] 

Check-out more exclusive Rain for Roots interviews!

Sandra's story: Life Edited
Ellie's story: Designs by Stephie
Flo's story: Nala Photography
Alice's story: The Musician & the Geek
Katy's story: If Stones Could Talk

July 10, 2012

A Lady Date

Miss P turns 4 next week & so it was essential that we lady date. The requirements weren't surprising - somewhere pink, with tea cups & cupcakes. Girlie stereotypes are alive & well in this family!

Miss P fittingly chose a Princess Buttercup cupcake, which she devoured & followed-up with a sugar crash several hours later.

Ah, the highs & lows of disproportionate icing.

With 1 girl to 3 boys in our family, Miss P carries the full weight of older female attention, & I'm pretty sure she doesn't mind one, single bit (check back with me about this when prom dress shopping & first dates roll-around...)

I'm pleased to report that lady dates - with their fancy pink necklaces & delicate china - don't always result in lady manners.

Marshmallow's rule & must be taken whole!

All kudos to my big sister Bel, for the pink-explosion-style cafe & for sharing her dear little girl with us. I can feel a yearly tradition developing.


{The Latest "Features Fav's" are bought to you by three Australian gems. Enjoy!}

July 2, 2012

Melbourne Monument: then & now

This is one of my all-time favorite Melbourne landmarks.
The Shrine of Remembrance.

I first came here as a little girl with my family and dad, a war history buff, told us stories & explained the meaning of what we were looking at... I remember then, as now, being quite overawed at the beauty of the place & it's perfect quietness, right in the heart of the city.


Placed at the entrance to the Botanic Garden's, the memorial for Victoria's WWI soldiers is a stone's throw from downtown Melbourne & has some of the most beautiful views of Melbourne, & a reverent interior for remembrance.



I'd been meaning to visit again over the years, during numerous Melbourne trips, & always missed the chance. This time we made a stop on our way out of town, to wander, remember & appreciate the then & now.



The Shrine of Remembrance will always be a favorite of mine... Along with the memories of that 1986 family holiday with my two big sisters, mum & dad. 




Note 1: Cabbage Patch kid clearly essential to the visit.
Note 2: Looking at the camera during photo's in need of practice