Category Archives: One Life…One Journey…

The Phenomenum of Colouring Books for Grown Ups.

If you’re like me, there is a strong attraction to stationery. Notebooks in pretty pastel colours, glittering mindfulness quotes emblazoned across the cover. Pens in every colour and point….and glorious gel pens. How many gel pens should a person have before one should say enough!

I must admit when the detailed adult colouring books hit the shelves I pounced. Another reason to purchase yet more colouring in pencils. Even Crayola got in on the act and came up with the adult version of colouring pencils….and yes I fell for the marketing and purchased a pack..the large pack. Before long I had a substantial collection of detailed colouring books.

The idea behind these colouring books was to provide us adults with a session of mindfulness. It’s no secret that mindfulness is the key in reducing stress levels. You also dont have to be a skilled ‘colourer-inn-a’. Theres nothing to lose. Study the image and the lines, select the colour and stay within the lines! The beauty of this activity is that it doesnt cost an arm and a leg. It can be taken anywhere. It can be done solo.

Like meditation, colouring allows us to switch off our minds and focus on the moment., experiencing a sense of relief and given a break from life’s issues. We are in the moment. The art of colouring requires repetition and attention to detail so we have to focus on the activity, rather than our worries.

We can also see the act of colouring brings out our inner child. A reminder of days when life was simple, carefree and our biggest problem was choosing the selection of mixed lollies. In addition to this, completing a page of colouring provides a sense of accomplishment and I think this applies at whatever age you are…..5 or 99! Our gratification continues our wave of happiness.

So, this adult colouring craze sweeping Australia and overseas… seems there are many good reasons to jump on board. Our lives are busier, it can be stressful and we could all do with a good does of a ‘feel good’ activity that takes us back to our childhood where there was no digital entertainment. Just a colouring book and another excuse to buy a pack of gel pens!

Check out my range of Colouring Books here


Beat the Worry Bug

Isn’t it incredible, that in a world where we have more money, more cures, more surveillance and more safety nets… We also have more anxiety than ever before? And our kids are feeling it! – Dr John Irvine.

Do you feel your child might be suffering from anxiety related issues? Use the “Anxiety Symptom Checklist” to identify symptoms of unhealthy anxiety.

Anxiety Symptom Checklist

  • Dry mouth and swallowing difficulties or hoarseness
  • Rapid  breathing and heartbeat
  • Twitching or trembling
  • Muscle tension and headache
  • Appetite changes
  • Sweating
  • Nausea, diarrhoea and weight loss
  • Sleeplessness
  • Hyperventilation
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Nightmares
  • Frequent urination
  • Memory problems
  • Constant seeking of attention and reassurance

If you recognise your child’s behaviour in the Anxiety Symptom Checklist, read the checklist below to help you find out what’s troubling your child.

What’s bugging my child?

  • First and foremost, take your child for a medical check-up. There are many medical disorders that have similar symptoms to anxiety, so talk to your doctor to rule out any medical causes. If you get the “all clear,” move to the other checks.
  • Do a parent self-check. If you’re an anxious person, then your little worrier may be copying your coping style.
  • Do a management check. Many panicky kids come from homes where parents reward their child’s anxiety by fixing it for them. The result is that kids don’t learn how to manage their problems, but rely more and more on a parent sorting it out for them.
  • Do a context check. Try to note where and when these anxieties are at their worst. Could it be in the morning before school or upon arriving home in the afternoon? Maybe it’s related to an unfamiliar location or activity?
  • Do a home environment check. Is the pace too fast? Is the family too busy? Is the morning routine chaotic? Is there too much going on after school? And don’t forget to take a look at what the kids are watching on TV and DVDs – some are quite scary.
  • Check for any attachment issues. Does the child feel safe and secure with you? Are you super critical of them or yourself? Can your family fix the problem when things inevitable go wrong?

These checklists have been adapted from renowned child psychologist Dr John Irvine’s new book Helping Young Worriers Beat the WorryBug. The book is an easy-to-read, practical and fun-filled guide of therapeutic ideas and activities aimed at parents and educators to help children develop strategies to effectively manage their emotions. It is available exclusively from Educational Experience at

10 Things You May Not Know About Me….

Do you ever wander what type of person is behind a business? What do they look like? Are they married? Where do they live? Do they like a wine….or two!

This is me..the unedited version…

country girl with a wine

Just a country girl with a wine and the latest Lee Kernaghan CD!

  1. I don’t have a middle name. Something that used to irk me a lot when I was a child. Everyone had a middle name! Now, it’s pretty cool as it shortens the paperwork.
  2.  I love cats and I have 5 moggy’s. Each with their own ‘cat’titude and personality.
  3. I started running my own business with a children’s book Party Plan business called The Learning Ladder as therapy for Post Natal Depression.
  4. I married a farmer and live on a farm in regional SA. We have 2 daughters, Georgia 9 and Hayley 7.
  5. I am 44 years old. Born in 1974. The year the Credit Card was invented which says a lot…
  6. I really love reading! I have been reading novels since I was 8 years old, starting with The Famous Five by Enid Blyton. These days I favour James Patterson, Jodi Picoult and a bit of Stephen King.
  7. My stress relief is gardening. I have a massive garden and I love nothing more than heading out to get my hands dirty.
  8. I struggle with forgiveness as I tend to be a once bitten, twice shy. I find it hard to trust once that trust has been broken. I love deeply and I hurt deeply.
  9. I do not like board games or card games but I don’t mind the odd game of solitaire or sudoko on the ipad.
  10. I am doing what I love. Some days are just pure and utter crap. Some days I question my sanity. Most days I enjoy what  do.  7 years ago I registered my business and here I am with 700 products to my biz.
  11. ….and yes, I do like wine. Any wine but preferably a chilled Sauvignon Blanc……with cheese and crackers….

Raising a Highly Sensitive Child

My Sensitive Georgia…

From birth (which so didn’t go to plan by the way and was pretty much a nightmare from beginning to end)  Georgia has been demanding, highly emotional and very aware of her surroundings and the emotions of people around her.  She was what is commonly called a ‘hard baby’ and as I struggled so much with meeting her emotional demands (she constantly cried and was very unsettled) I felt like a very unfit mother and such a failure….hello PND.

Fixing her World…

Georgia is 9 now.  She is highly reactive to her surrounds, highly emotional and asks lots of questions to reassure herself. My heart breaks as I watch her struggle with anxiety and activities that other children her age do without even thinking, such as joining in on team sports.  I constantly try and ‘fix’ her world without becoming a helicopter mum. I did come to the point where I couldn’t do anymore  and was worrying I maybe doing more harm than good. I needed some direction and new strategies so I sought out professional help which was such an eye opener and helped tremendously.  I think at every session I cried. So yes, my HSC already has had a bout of therapy (aimed at kids) to help her work through some troubling thoughts.

One of the 15%…

Georgia is one of the fifteen percent born as a highly sensitive child. She thrives on routine and does not like changes. Her bedroom is her haven, neat as a pin and full of what is special to her. Easily overwhelmed by high levels of stimulation and the emotional distress of others, she is generally more mentally exhausted by the end of the day than her younger sister.

Georgia struggles with joining in a large group of people, she prefers her circle of close friends and family. Which is one of the reasons why I signed her up to calisthenics. A safe place where not only can she learn new skills, keep fit but also surround her with other girls her age who have similiar interests but without the pressure to form friendships as they’re all focusing on cartwheels, marching and spinning rods!

Time Out…

School days used to end in tears and anger as all of her pent up feelings, stress and anxiety as well as acting the dutiful calm student for 6 hours of the day were released. After her outburst we generally drove home in stony silence. She needs time every day after school to be on her own and recharge her batteries as being around people exhausts her. This is usually done with her head buried in her ipad, squelching her homemade slime or rolling around on the trampoline with her many cats!

It still makes my blood boil when people say to a quiet/shy/sensitive child ‘oh you’re not one of those shy kids are you?’ as if being shy is seen as a weakness and not socially accepted! Being sensitive is a wonderful trait, it is not an illness or a syndrome. Unfortunately, many sensitive children labelled as too shy, too quiet and too sensitive grow into adults (such as myself)  who believed they were not as socially normal as they’re confident, loud as life counterparts. Parents, teachers and such thought they were doing the right thing by trying to change them into someone they were not (hand held high here).

Handle with Care…

A highly sensitive child needs to have special care so their intense feelings and emotions are understood. Treat them carefully so they don’t feel anxious or a failure if something doesn’t work out. Highly sensitive children are highly creative, intuitive, possess surprising  wisdom and have buckets of empathy for others. All of which I see in Georgia every single day.

I am the first to admit I spend a little bit more time emotionally connecting with Georgia than I do with my other daughter, Hayley, who is more than happy to chatter away to her unicorns or to be quite frank, she prefers to spend time outside with her daddy ‘working’ the farm!

Georgia, like me, will be highly sensitive all her life. There is no ‘cure’ for this and why should there be? Like most labels given out, hsc  just want to be accepted for who they are.

The book The Highly Sensitive Child by Elaine Aron is the follow up to the author’s internationally best-selling personal development guide The Highly Sensitive Person

It is the first and only book for parents of highly sensitive children.

It provides parents with insights and information so they can understand High Sensitivity, and help their highly sensitive child thrive in the world.

It is important for these children to be understood so they can be helped to avoid the common traps of shyness and withdrawal that many highly sensitive fall into as they develop.

Contains questionnaire for parents to find out if their child has the traits common in highly sensitive children.

Discusses HSC’s at different ages – infant, toddler, school-age and adolescent.…

Cheap Wooden Toys…..would you buy them?

If you’re like me and you have young kids, well you probably have become quite familiar with toy shops. Whether they be the mainstream ones in shopping centres or the little boutique ones tucked away in country towns. You may also have noticed the extraordinary price difference between the larger stores bringing out their own brands of wooden toys and actual wooden toy brands such as Grimm’s or I’m Toy.

 Image result for le toy van

If you are concerned about the manufacturing, ethics, sustainability and above all, safety behind the toys you buy, well,  the cheaper wooden toys would certainly be waving a red flag! As this is a topic I constantly hear whispered about I decided to dig deeper and do a little research into why they are cheaper….and boy oh boy you may just very well never buy that cheap wooden rainbow again!

Inexpensive wooden toys are manufactured from cheap, mass produced MDF and plywood. Both common woods and both bonded together with toxic glues and other adhesive materials, including the toxic chemical Formaldehyde, a known carcinogenic. Top it off with a shiny coating of some toxic paint and voila! You have a toy that is anything but natural and safe! Many of these cheaper toys are made in mass production in poor quality control Chinese factories where quantities reign supreme, regardless of the toxins belching into the air.

Image result for stacking rainbow

Unfortunately, these manufacturers are very clever at making people believe they are purchasing a natural wooden toy. The packaging looks natural with eco friendly cardboard and pictures of trees giving us the impression we are buying a natural toy. They are stacked up on the shelves of trusted mainstream department stores here in Australia so they have to be safe…right?

The ‘real’ wooden toy companies are deeply committed to producing quality safe wooden toys. They choose sustainable wood sources as well as safer water, soy and vegetable based paints, adhesives and coatings. These companies have nothing to hide. Their websites and packaging proudly display the many awards and certificates they have obtained over the years. They do cost more to manufacture and thus the higher shelf price. They are constantly testing for safety and quality and seeking ways to lessen the stress on the environment and our planet.

Image result for stacking rainbow

Some points to remember the next time you are reaching for those attractively packaged cheap wooden toys:

Cheap wooden toys are made from plywood, MDF or chipboard – these woods contain Formaldehyde (poison that your children will be playing with and most probably sucking on).  They do declare that the amount of toxin is well within the safe zone but still, would you want your child sucking on any amount of formaldehyde? Some good brands do use plywood but they have passed numerous and rigorous safety standard tests.

The cheaper wooden toys will have no website with safety and environmental standards, no tests to show they have passed safety tests and no certificates or awards.

Study the packaging and read the small print carefully – manufacturers are very good at pointing out what they think you need to know and very deceptive at covering up what they need to hide.

Remember this the next time you stand within earshot of me and whisper to your shopping partner, I know where we can get wooden toys so much cheaper………



Autism Awareness Month

Brightly colored handprints arranged in a seamless tile; colors represent autism awareness.

APRIL is Autism Awareness Month. So, what better time to launch a Sensory Range for Special Needs Children.  Many of my products already cater to special needs children but it felt fitting that I dedicate an entire category to this range as there is such a growing  desire to locate these toys easily.

Sensory products help fulfill the sensory needs of children with Autism, ADHD, Aspergers and Sensory Processing Disorder. Sensory products strongly stimulate at least one of the 5 fundamental sensory mechanisms in our bodies. Visual, taste, feel, hear and smell. Children with autism and other sensory disorders, in particular,  may lack one or more of these senses or they are delayed. They can greatly benefit from a range of sensory toys and activities. By meeting their sensory processing needs, they will feel calm, focused and organised.

On a much more personal note, I would like to introduce you to my gorgeous nephew, Bailey.


He has Autism and Global Developmental Delay. Bailey is 10 years old. He was diagnosed at age 2 and since then, his immediate family with the support of us, the extended family, have used and tried many intervention methods too numerous to list here.

Bailey loves many of my wooden toys, one in particular being the Lock Activity Box by MamageniusOriginal Lock Box. It has 10 different latches, locks and doors and gives him hours, and I mean hours, of pure engagement and calmness.

I hope you enjoy the Special Needs Sensory range as much as I have in researching and putting it together. This will be a growing range and I invite anyone to contact me if they wish to see a particular product included that I don’t stock. I would also love to hear your stories and any feedback you may have.




Why I chose to re brand….

I undertook a re brand and survived!

For 3 years I lived, ate, breathed Ladybug Crossing. I was synonymous with it. People saw me or my logo and knew who I was, what I sold, they knew who they were dealing with. I had built this teeny tiny interest into a pretty much solid work at home business.
My logo and business name was everywhere! Facebook, website, flyers, market advertising and the 1000’s of business cards I had given out.
……all GONE!

But why would I re brand? Why would I take the risk? People wont know me. They will look for Ladybug Crossing and not find her. I will lose my gorgeous repeat customers. What on earth am I thinking?

Here’s what happened in the beginning…….

I have always loved wooden toys….always…..I would find derelict treasures of wooden toys in secondhand shops and buy them. There is just something about a wooden toy and the way it looks when it is battered with age, as if it could tell a story or two about it’s previous owner!
I found a supplier, just one. I found a market, just one. I attended. It was outside in 40 degrees. I bought an umbrella for shade on the way there.
I loved it!!
I made $25. However, from the reaction I received from nearly all of the people who walked past my tiny, heat baked stall inspired me to create Ladybug Crossing. There was a niche out there for quality wooden toys and it needed to be filled. People WERE fed up with the mass produced, expensive plastic toys that chewed through batteries and most often than not, ended up at St Vinnies or broken. There was no love in those toys.

I found another supplier, then another. I found a graphic designer. Branding of Ladybug Crossing was done but very quickly as I needed to get back out there!
The business grew to an extent I had never anticipated or expected. It was time for a color re brand and then the website was launched.
It was all working!

….and I LOVED it!

Business was still growing but now I was beginning to separate myself from what seemed a childhood dream of playing ‘shop’. It no longer felt professional. There was this widening gap and when that happened it was time to do some serious rethinking. It is almost impossible to work on, let alone grow a business when you lose that mojo.
I loved wooden toys, I loved the market scene, I loved filling customer orders knowing I was selling them a quality product so what was going on here?

I took a long look at my name and logo. Hmmmmm…nowhere did it give the indication of what my business was about, unless the tagline was there too. I was bored with it too.
OK, so that was the awesome first revelation but oh oh… I need a new name! One that had wood and toys in it and one that had not already been assigned to other wooden toy businesses across the globe. Ohhhhhhhh shit…………….I was stuck. So the whole fandangled re brand thingy was shelved for 3 months as the new name was the MOST important part of the entire process.

As fate would have it, a lass who sells succulents inspired me and the new name just rolled into my mind….
I couldn’t help but feel so awfully proud and I knew I was then on the right track.

There was never going to be the perfect time to launch a re brand. The graphic design and admin side of things were scooting along beautifully behind the scenes. When Carmen from Ink Pink Design sent through the final logo proofs and I opened them I just about levitated out of the chair! Amazing! Carmen had hit it spot on. Just between you, me and the other 703 subscribers I thought the first proof looked like it had a dead rabbit stretched out around it! However, Carmen adjusted a few things and presto, the logo was born along with the whole re branding theme. I fell in love and I realised then how much I had fallen out of love with my old logo and branding.

Now for Facebook…..the biggie. It takes almost two weeks for Facebook to approve a business name change and as I found out they give you absolutely no warning when the name will change.
At 3.12pm on a Thursday afternoon, up popped Wild Woodland Toys. Oh, goodbye Ladybug Crossing. Then, the emails and comments started, the mobile was bleeping out texts. Um, that was bad timing. i need to do the school run and I have a rather cantankerous 3 year old by my side. So, I did what I do when it all gets too much. I removed myself from all social media and communications and had a day of down time.

You see, not only was I rejoicing in the launch I was also grieving. Ladybug Crossing and I had been partners for so long. I had spent many many hours, many many dollars and so much love building it up……and I dumped it for a new and better model.
It has been the hardest and most rewarding business project I have ever undertaken and the journey is not over yet.