everydaysparks

Stuff I see, which you might not.

Merry Christmas!

A very Merry Christmas to you and yours – I hope that you have a wonderful festive season, full of everyday sparks, and the time to enjoy being with your family and friends. And also some time to enjoy being by yourself, maybe to look back on the good things that happened in 2012 and look forward to the exciting adventures that await in 2013. I’ll be keeping an eye out for Christmas sparks today – we’re lucky to share our family lunch with seven little people plus grownups, so I’m sure there will be plenty of sparks around!

I came across this flash mob video this week and thought you might like it too. It is from earlier this year, but it feels very festive. It also makes me want to organise a flash mob in 2013, so if you’ve got any ideas – please let me know…

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Virtual friends, I need your help!

Greetings and Merry Christmas Eve to you and yours, virtual friends. Apologies that Everyday Sparks has become more like OnceAWeek Sparks in recent weeks – I’ve been without an internet connection and it’s the festive season and, like my running program, my regular blogging has fallen by the wayside. But I’m back now and, like a pesky old uncle at a Christmas lunch, I plan on hanging around. (And maybe stealing some of your turkey, drinking some sherry and regaling you with stories about the good old days.)

But in the meantime, I need your help. Not in the Ugandan-prince-send-money kinda way, or even the Sponsor-me-to-jump-on-a-pogo-stick-around-Australia kinda way, but in the easy Help-a-virtual-mate-via-Facebook kinda way. You see, Expedia (the travel website folk) are running a comp to find new bloggers from Australia and New Zealand to write for their site. If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ll know that I love to travel and write about the people, places and things that I discover along the way. So, a gig writing for Expedia Australia would be pretty much an ideal job for me!

My photo application

My photo application

To be in the running, I need to collect as many votes as I can by 31 December – which is where you and your Facebook friends come into the picture, I hope. It only takes a minute to vote for me via Facebook – the link is here (or search ‘Expedia Blogger Search’ on Facebook) and I’m in the ‘Lifestyle’ blog category: you can’t miss my bright green EverydaySparks avatar on the second row. And every vote counts, so please spread the word to your Facebook friends too!

Hope you don’t mind this cry for help on Christmas Eve – I’d really appreciate your support!

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It’s me, Aunty PANK

I do love a good acronym. Especially when it lumps a whole category of society under one blanket, as if they are identical. Like those young, urban, professional ‘YUPpies’ or those double-income, no kids ‘DINKs’ or, possibly my favourite, those pesky ‘KIPPERS’ – kids in parents’ pockets eroding retirement savings. Anyways, I was delighted to read in the Sydney Morning Herald on Saturday that there is a category just for me (and quite a few of my blog readers, that I know of) – I am a PANK. Professional aunt, no kids.

A proud PANK - last Christmas, my nieces and nephew made these giant gingerbread people.

A proud PANK – last Christmas, my nieces and nephew made these giant gingerbread people.

Apparently, we PANKs are “a high-earning and fast-growing group of women who advertisers have identified will be among the most generous gift givers this Christmas”. In fairness, as I’m not working full-time at the moment, I’m probably more of a SPANK these days (semi-professional aunt, no kids). Whatevs, according to a PR lady from a global firm that published a report The Power of the PANK, as quoted in the article, ”PANKs have time, income and a passion for purchasing for the kids in their lives. It’s a perfect marketing trifecta”. Oh, Leslie Gaines-Ross – if that is your real name – I am so much more than a perfect marketing trifecta.

Slurpee PANK

Slurpee PANK

I’m in good company – apparently that report stated that “one in five women in America are PANKs, with an average age of 36.” And we even have our own website: SavvyAuntie.com was developed by Melanie Notkin in 2008 for ”cool aunts” and ”any woman who loves a child-not-her-own”. Uh huh. I had a look at the website, in the name of research, and must confess that I couldn’t get past the homepage. To me, being an aunt is my favourite thing in the world and somehow, it is the thing that I am probably best at – without study or guidance or even good role models from childhood aunts. I don’t feel that I need a list of suggested “stuff to do” or things to “learn and share” or a place to connect with “people just like [me]”.

Cupcakes by PANK (the sheep and the chickens)

Cupcakes by PANK (the sheep and the chickens)

Different strokes for different folks, but as an aunt, I keep it pretty simple. I just show up, prepared to act like an idiot, and I tell stories, get down on the floor, give piggy back rides, spell words, play Wii games (badly), sing, dance, chase, colour in and generally pal around with the little people who are amongst my best friends in the whole wide world. They don’t care that I can’t sing or dance or juggle. They like that I’m silly and funny and able to help with their homework and rhyme words like Dr Seuss. I watch soccer and tennis and dancing, listen to singing and re-enactments of events at school, jump on the trampoline and play totem tennis. I share the excitement of a new toy, app, book, certificate or previously undiscovered ability. I am (mostly) still greeted like a rock star when I appear at the door or in the school playground (at pick up time, not to hang out at lunchtime), which doesn’t happen when I show up at the office or the dentist or the supermarket.

PANK breakfast - chocolate pancakes with melted marshmallow

PANK breakfast – chocolate pancakes with melted marshmallow

So, to the marketing gurus no doubt plotting on how to best target us PANKs and relieve us of our professional or semi-professional cash, just remember that there are lots of different types of aunts out there and most of the PANKs that I know are about the fun of spending time with our little friends, not about spending bundles of money on our little friends. That being said, my eldest niece becomes a teenager at the end of this month, and from then on, I suspect the rules of the game may change quite a bit…

For now though, let us PANKs, SPANKs, PLANKs and PRANKs of the world unite and say a big woohoo for Aunts. Woohoo!

(Oh, and the Sydney Morning Herald article about PANKs is here if you’d like to read it.)

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Inspiring stuff, Sydney

Hello. I’m back. Nice to be with you again. Thanks to those of you who asked OI, WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO YOUR BLOG? I appreciated the nudge and it’s really lovely to know that you noticed my absence. In truth, I’ve been home from my travels for a week and a half now, but I hadn’t really been inspired to get back to blogging. Maybe it was the cold that I picked up during my last days in NYC; maybe it was running around catching up with family, friends and work stuff; maybe it was getting through the shows that TiVo had thoughtfully recorded while I was away; maybe it was just a bit of a slump because the holiday is over & December is bearing down with all its festive fury (don’t get me wrong – I love love love the festive season, but there’s always so much going on).

Whatevs, I’m back now. And I owe the inspiration to Sydney. Yesterday was such a perfectly sunny summer’s day and as I wandered around the harbour, I was struck as I sometimes am by this pretty city, so thought I’d take some snaps and share the sunshine with you here.

No, I really do not miss catching a bus to work.

No, I really do not miss catching a bus to work.

Just for the calcium, I swear.

Just for the calcium, I swear.

As far as a view from public transport goes, it's not too bad.

As far as a view from public transport goes, it’s not too bad.

The bus stop. So to speak.

The bus stop. So to speak.

It is a pretty city.

It is a pretty city.

Best seat in town.

Best seat in town.

SydFlowers

And sometimes you even catch Cinderella just hangin' out, eating an apple.

And sometimes you even catch Cinderella just hangin’ out, eating an apple.

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