Lets Go Outside With Bianca Ebeling

We love the ingenuity and persistence of this local mum! When Bianca Ebeling learned that babies can't see anything other than high contrast (and she couldn't find a black and white baby book) she decided to write her own. Today, 'Lets Go Outside' is provided to every newborn in the Bendigo district to promote early literacy skills. Here's our chat:

Bianca, tell us about you, your family and your career.
I have lived all over the place – born in Melbourne, raised in Jindabyne (Snowy Mountains, NSW) for 8 years and then moved to Warsaw, Poland for 10 years. I came back to Australia to go to University in Canberra where I studied Finance. To celebrate completing the degree successfully a friend and I went on a tour to New Zealand – that is where I met my husband which ultimately led me to moving to Melbourne, and now we are here in Geelong.Since completing my degree I have always worked in Finance however outside of work I have always been (or tried to be) very creative. Publishing my own book ‘Let’s Go Outside’ has been very fulfilling on the creative side and I am constantly thinking about new ideas for my little business.

We have a gorgeous little boy who is now 17 months and it is simply a joy to watch him grow up and discover the world. We also have another little one on the way, due in May.

How are you connected to Geelong?
My husband and I moved to Geelong 4 years ago from Melbourne as we wanted to live in a more family friendly town that was beautiful and affordable yet still close to Melbourne. Geelong fit the bill perfectly. It is one of the best decisions we have ever made.

Tell us about Lets Go Outside - how did it come about? During my mother’s group we had a session with the local librarian (in Geelong West) who explained the developmental importance of black and white books for a baby between the age of 0-6 months. She explained the importance of reading to our little ones from the day they are born and what books are most appropriate for different age groups. Interestingly, babies up until the age of 6 months cannot see the pretty pastel colours that the world tends to associate with babies and parents surround their babies with. I experienced first-hand the benefits of black and white with my baby when he was younger with a black and white book from the local library but I also wish I could have purchased one in his very early days to have one permanently at home. The librarian also mentioned that these books are very hard to come by in Australia and I confirmed that by going to many stores in the region and not being able to find one. Many store holders didn’t even know what I was talking about regarding black and white. This is how this book came into fruition.

Let’s Go Outside is a black and white board book for babies aged 0-6 months. It has a range of pictures with an outdoors theme however there are no words so the sky is the limit for each parent/carer on what story they wish to tell their little one about the pictures. Some parents tell their baby what is on the page, whilst others might tell a story about a day at the beach, or if daddy proposed to mummy in a hot air balloon.
Some of the benefits I witnessed with the book and my little one were: it soothed and relaxed him when he was overstimulated and getting upset, it increased his tummy time significantly as he was so keen to lift his head to see the pictures, it provided him with a stimulating activity while I was cooking or doing some house chores, it aided our bond in those early weeks by just snuggling together and going through the book which captivated him.

How has it been received so far?
The book has been really positively received by maternal nurses, librarians, speech pathologists, hospitals, and of course new parents. Bendigo Health now give a copy of 'Let's Go Outside' to every newborn in their district to promote early literacy skills. I recently received an email from the Chief Speech Pathologist at Bendigo Hospital saying ”As a speech pathologist working in this area, your book provides all the elements I look for when recommending a starting point for parents with newborns. The black and white contrast stimulates baby’s visual focus and allows parents to share attention with their baby. The fact that there are no written words makes the book so much more accessible for parents and carers no matter what their own literacy levels. Anyone can ‘talk’ to the book. Shared attention and enjoyment with talking are the first steps to language and communication.”

Another mum has told me that her little one had mild flat head syndrome and through the use of this book she encouraged her baby to turn their head to the other side which reduced the flat head.

Can you share a tip for other mums: How are you juggling work/family?
Haha, I think I might need the tips for this one. I know I could definitely do better, but I think it all comes down to prioritisation. When I first had my baby, and in all honesty I wasn’t coping that well, a friend showed me a diagram of a triangle saying you can only pick 2 of the 3 options. The options were: clean house, your sanity, happy baby. It was something so simple, yet so effective. I felt like it gave me the right not to constantly try to be super mum (at which I was failing anyway) and by letting go of some things, it made everything easier and enjoyable again.
Also, if someone offers help, TAKE IT! It took me a while to learn that, but that is really what helps me juggle my work and family life now.

What is your favourite Geelong haunt?
We have recently reached the age with our son where he just loves playgrounds. We recently moved from Manifold Heights to Highton so we are having fun exploring our new area, however we used to always go to Sparrow Park in Geelong West where there is a fantastic playground, a park and BBQ facilities.

Finally, where can we buy Lets Go Outside, and the price?
Let’s go outside is available online at www.mylittlebookywooky.com for $15.00 with free postage Australia-wide. Alternatively you can purchase it at Paton Books (Pakington St, Newtown) and Grandma’s Bottom Drawer (Garden St, East Geelong).


Wind In The Willows

Last night we were lucky to attend the opening night of Wind In The Willows in Melbourne's Botanical Gardens. Our 3 year old twins are huge fans of the Monty Python movie, and we were certain that this would give them both a very memorable first theatre experience. We weren't wrong!
The show is nothing short of delightful. The first act is staged in front of the lake, where 'messing about in boats' could be demonstrated to great effect. The audience (who were designated 'rabbits') became part of the show via singing and clever questions-and-answers with the cast. The characters were larger-than-life, funny and very engaging. 

The second act was in the 'wild wood' - a short walk up the hill and behind some trees. The audience was happy to decamp to it - everyone was in high spirits, and keen to take part in the adventure. Half way through the act, the children of the audience were split up into big and little rabbits, where they took great joy in running through the wood, looking for the little otters. 
As a family, we loved it. It was quite obvious that all the other rabbits enjoyed it too. If you've got some time over the school holidays, it's well worth a trip up the highway to take part in this magical production. 

Location: The Royal Botanic Gardens, Enter via Gate F, Birdwood Avenue
Dates: 6-23 January, at 10.30am or 6pm. 
Cost: $25 per standard ticket, or $90 for a family of four. 
Good to know: Bring a picnic, a rug, hat and sunscreen. 
To book: Click Here


The Kitchen Garden Box

Got a little foodie in the family? Or would you like to start a family veggie garden, but don't have time? This lovely concept from local mum Kyrstie Barcak (also of the blog A Fresh Legacy) is just the trick - and it would make a fab Xmas present. We caught up with Kyrstie to hear more. 

Tell us about you and your family and your career.
Our family moved to Highton almost five years ago from Melbourne. 
I have a background working for large corporate organisations on large programs of change, such as a merger or the introduction of new technology. 
When I my second son was born I turned my passion for gardening and fresh food into my career. I started A Fresh Legacy, a food and garden blog to inspire and help families to start their own vegetable garden and enjoy fresh healthy food.

You’ve been blogging for a long time at A Fresh Legacy - tell us about it.
I believe that everyone can grow just one thing at home and have a positive impact on their lifestyle. I am passionate about helping and inspiring other families to experience this.
Growing fresh food at home has taken my family on a journey that has changed the way that we source, prepare, plan and enjoy our meals.
A Fresh Legacy has introduced me to an online community of vegetable gardeners and food lovers.  It has put me in contact with many of our region's wonderful local producers, farmers, organisations, brands and groups that I would not otherwise have had the chance to experience or to share with so many other people.   

How has it evolved over time?
A Fresh Legacy was launched in 2011 and mostly featured family based recipes. Since then I have become a little better at taking photographs of the recipes!
A Fresh Legacy has evolved as our family and life has. As we developed our backyard and vegetable gardening space I have shared that with my community.  I have been fortunate enough to create recipes for some of Australia’s leading food brands and have met some amazing people who have inspired, influenced and taught me a lot. 
As I have learned more about my community and what they are interested in and need help with I have modified the content focus a little. This year I have created and launched a product that allows me to share my knowledge in a tangible way, rather than it all being online. My first book, due for release in March 2016 will also do this.  These things have all evolved from A Fresh Legacy and the community that has grown around it.

What has been most challenging about fitting in A Fresh Legacy, family and other commitments?
I would happily garden, cook and write about both those things 24 hours a day.  It doesn’t seem like work to me. Gardening and cooking are part of our regular routine. Squeezing in the writing of my book in the last few months was a challenge. It involved late nights, full days on the weekends and my parents and in-laws assisted by visiting for periods of time and looking after the kids so I could focus on writing.

The other main challenge presents itself in Winter when I need to photograph a recipe. It gets dark early and artificial indoor light is not great for food photography. This means that when I am developing a recipe I need to organise the day around getting it cooked and photographed early in the day. Some things, such as fish, are not great when they are reheated and so the family does not always get the greatest meal by the time it is served after being photographed!

Tell us about your latest project.
I have just created and launched the Kitchen Garden Box. It is designed for busy mums to help them start their own family vegetable garden.
The Kitchen Garden Box includes certified organic seeds, growing notes, plant tags, recipes and a heap of additional resources including a year’s email support and bonus downloads. It is a complete fresh food experience from planting, growing, harvesting and cooking.
Spring is the best time of year to start your vegetable garden – I would love for more local families to start theirs and enjoy the fresh harvests on their meal tables. Join us and start yours this weekend! It is easier, and takes less time than you may think.

Where can we find you?
Website: http://afreshlegacy.net
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/A-Fresh-Legacy
Instagram: instagram.com/kyrstie_af