Friday, 29 January 2010

The Class of 2023

Nugget started school today. All four years and nine months of him. I was so proud! Apart from the fact that he looked absolutely gorgeous, positively scrumptious in his uniform, he handled himself so well.

Firstly, he posed for the one million paparazzi shots that the Geege and I and his grandparents inflicted on him. Then, he carried his own (gigantic) school bag. Then he settled into the classroom with ease, not a tear to be had and barely a backwards glance as we left .

I, on the other hand, had a few tears trying to decide what I could eat at the parent's morning tea but went only with a cup of tea because I didn't know the Points values of any of the other treats there, but that is a story for another post.

And finally, when I turned up to pick him up he said "I had the best day!" He even wanted to know if he can go tomorrow (Saturday). Alas! He has to wait for 3 more sleeps.

I know it is only day one, but to think of all the sleepless nights we had trying to work out whether to send him to school this year or not! And there he was, being all mature and capable, right before out eyes. Bless!

It really is an agonising process for parents whose children are born in the first half of the year (in NSW). The trend is definitely leaning towards NOT sending four year olds to school, but when you do the research, there are pro's and con's in both camps. We erred on the side of sending him, based on our assessment that he is academically and socially ready to go. Both the Geege and I are prepared to review the situation as the years progress and hold him back a year later on as needed, but for now we are happy with our choice.

When you think about it, the trend for "holding back" has really been the norm for many years. I mean, my birthday is May 21 and when I was at school I was the third youngest in my year. This occurred because of a switch interstate after my Kindy year and Mum swears she tried to get me to re-start from scratch when we entered the NSW system but they wouldn't have it. Mum also says there was discussion about repeating me in Year 6. But I didn't repeat and I ended up finishing school well above average.

My age did play havoc with me in Year 8 though. This is when I recall noticing the difference between my own level of maturity (read lack of breasts) and the level of my peers. This was the year I was "kicked off the seat" by my friends, only to regain my status later in the year. It was the ultimate year of teenage angst that had Sister A's cool and scary looking friend Vicki sticking up for me against the "toughies" who wanted to beat me up over something trivial that I said. I have not always been known for my tact, but Year 8 was the year my tactlessness was at its peak!

I pity those of you who are currently parenting Year 8 girls. You deserve a medal!

So my own experience tells me that it may not be smooth sailing for my first born. But we will be there with him 100% of the way, metaphorically guiding him through the school playground and picking him up if he gets beaten down.

I just hope that he is not the biggest dag (he was wearing one of those wide-brimmed hats today when many of the others were in caps. Cause for alarm?). I hope that he finds some nice little friends to hang out with to play his imaginary Ben 10, Transformers etc. games. I hope that he enjoys learning in the classroom and strives to do his best. I hope that he looks forward to school. But mostly, I hope that we haven't set him up to fail and have made the right decision.

But if today is anything to go on, he fits right in with the Class of 2023.

Did any of you send your kids to school on the young side? How is it working out?

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Three's a crowd?

I remember when I was pregnant with my third, before I found out I was having twins. The Geege and I had discussed having another baby and before we knew it, we were already pregnant. This didn't really enable us to have a lot of time to think about what it would be like or if we were ready or if our boys were ready for another sibling. It just happened.

Soon after we had done the pregnancy test and to our joy (horror?) it was positive, we had a family outing to the shops. I recall being in the food court and looking around at the other families. Everyone seemed to have 2 kids but very few had three. This scared me. It made me think that three kids might be too many?

I remember pointing this out to The Geege and him responding with some statistic about Australia being a negative growth country or something (scientific speak for we are no longer having lots of babies) followed by a question about why exactly are we having another child? (Little did he know :)

Well, I reckon the tides have been aturning in the last year! Three kids is the new norm in my local shopping centre, it seems.

I have been spending a bit of time there of late, getting my first born ready for school (he starts Kindy tomorrow), and I really think there has been a 'third baby' boom. I have seen many a frazzled Mum dragging two kids along AND pushing a stroller. Lots of families with 3 girls or 3 boys. Lots of families with 3 little kids.

The nuclear family is being over-run with an extra child.

The pigeon pair is being squeezed out by a third wheel. I love it!

It is happening closer to home too. I have 3 mums from my original Mother's Group due with their third babies in the next month or so. From a group of 11 women, that makes 5 of us who have 3 or more kids. Pretty overwhelming stats to support my argument (albeit that my sample group is small).

I wish each of these mums well in mastering the juggling act that a larger family requires. A much younger me was heard to say on more than one occasion that "Children should never outnumber adults", quite possibly the catch cry of a child who came from a family of 6 where her parents juggled teenage crisis after crisis (often looking exhausted and overwhelmed in the process). If the younger me could see the older me now!

So, is three a crowd? or are we taking a step back in the right direction?

Personally, I think it is great for our society because larger families contribute a lot to the sense of community. In my experience, larger families breed people who are used to sharing and compromising and recycling. People who have a commitment to their family and support the notion of family as a whole. People who are able to maintain long lasting friendships through thick and thin. People who can give as well as they get. People who can laugh at themselves.

All of these attributes equate to a pretty good start to being a fine, upstanding citizen. What are your thoughts?

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Is 'busy' the new black?

I survived the Australia Day BBQ. Yay me! I did oveindulge a little, but I think I can bring it back by the end of the week. The good thing about a BBQ when you are dieting is that there are always plenty of salads. Usually you can count on a decent serve of green salad (only a Point or two if you have it with dressing) to bulk out your plate and just a little of the other salads for a taste. It felt good being so in control!

On the social front, I also did okay. As I predicted, few people really noticed my weight loss, but those who did made me feel good! It kind of kept the whole thing in the background, which is where I think it should be. You don't really want to be the bore counting other people's Points for them, do you? Is that what it takes to be a good weight watcher? I don't think so.

What I did notice though, is "busy" is the new black. People no longer answer the question "How are you?" with the standard "fine, thanks". I know that this hides a multitude of sins, but at least it is polite, and welcoming and well, positive.

Now the standard response is: "busy". Followed by a 'busy-off' competition of sorts about who is in fact the busiest or the person asking the question feels obligued to hear the woes of your life so the you can download some stress. It is crazy! There are only 24 hours in a day and we each fill them to the brim with the things that need doing.

When did busy become cool?

One of my New Year's resolutions was to try to ditch the word "busy" from my vocabulary (I have broken it regularly, but at least the thought is there!). Of course I am busy. I have four kids under five. So what? That is just the context of my existence. So when people asked me how I was going when I was at BBQ yesterday, I tried to answer something different: "I'm fine, thanks." It felt quite good too. As the conversation progressed, of course the details of life unfolded and the other person invariably commented on how "busy" I am, but at least it wasn't me!

So, how are you today? Busy?

Thursday, 21 January 2010

What a week!? Going down in more ways than one.

Still getting through the Weight Watchers challenge for

Another weigh in today (Gotta love Wednesdays).

I am down 1.6kg! {Weight loss total to date = 7.7kgs}.

My weightloss goal this week is to shed 0.2 to get me back into the 70s (kilos that is!) Yay!

It really has been an incredibly stressful week. The Minx has been wriggling out of her plaster cast daily, so I have spent time on 4 days this week in the Emergency department of a hospital.

I discovered another of life's equations - Waiting + boredom + vending machine = TEMPTATION.

My old eating habits have been creeping back in. You know the feeling of searching mindlessly around in the cupboard for food? Or just finding yourself with the fridge door open, looking? This has been happening a LOT this week.

On most occasions I have been able to check myself and walk away, but it does concern me that those habits haven't changed, especially in times of crisis. The old me is still alive and well, albeit in a slightly thinner form.

Another thing I realised this week is that I have been hiding. I really haven't engaged in my life this year. I have just distracted myself with other activities (like hospital visits!), while I busy myself with this weight loss journey. I'm not sure of the significance of this, except that I am a little concerned that once I re-enter my life, my resolve will disappear.

I think I am a little scared that no-one will notice that I have lost weight?

Or what if people say I look great and I lose my enthusiasm to continue?

The psychology of this is so complex. I am sure a professional would have a field day.

I must re-engage with my 'usual' life. You know, get out. See people. Eat with people.

I will have to tackle this this week as we are attending an Australia Day BBQ tomorrow with the old crew. Challenging on two levels - A) food choices and B) socialising. I shall keep you updated.

Pinkification of girls?

A friend of mine sent me a link to an article recently, called The Power of Pink.

It is about the prolific use of pink in little girl's lives - from clothes, to toys, to bedspreads, to lunchboxes, pink has become synonymous with 'girl'.

Historically, it hasn't always been this way. In fact, in early twentieth century, pink was for boys, and blue for girls.

How did we get to pretty pink princesses in such a relatively short time span?

I remember when the Minx was born, the fourth child and only girl. "Thank God you got a pink one" people would say. I was, of course, extremely happy to have had a little girl (a healthy one at that), but I didn't know how I was going to handle the pink thing. I wasn't sure about being a role model for another XX. You see, I am not exactly a "pink" kind of person. Female? Yes. Woman? Yes. Girly? Not exactly.

Raising a girl is a different kettle of fish to raising a boy. I have more experience with boys, but I certainly haven't mastered them yet. And now I have to learn to nurture a little girl too. In the day and age of pure pink. Urgh.

Lucky for me, these early years have been similar for both of the twins. There are definite gender-based differences between them, but they can still share clothes and toys, so I haven't had to do too much of the pink thing yet.

Having said that, I doubt very much that I ever will.

Firstly, the Minx looks fabulous in red, pastel blue and lime green and less fabulous in pink. I hope she realises that and wears clothes to suit her rather than ones that are "fashionable". That will be my message to her anyway.

Secondly, she comes from a family of campers and will spend much of her childhood in a tent. Pink or not, she will have to learn to enjoy the Great Outdoors and to cope with dirt under her nails. A princess she can be, but she will need to be flexible with it. Princess Dirt.

And lastly, with three big brothers there is little hope of her not learning how to "muck in" with the boys. This could be her best lesson in life. If she can learn to understand little boys and play with them, she is in for a good chance of understanding men. Let's face it, most of us women spend much of our time trying to get our heads around Menspeak. Maybe The Minx will be a natural at this.

Then she can translate for her Mum.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

The toddler fracture tale

I spent much of yesterday at Westmead Kids hospital.

My poor little daughter (1 year) started crawling strangely on Sunday after a tumble off the side of a low deck. She was otherwise happy, but the Monte Python silly-walk style crawl was consistently present all afternoon. I didn't think too much of it, but when she was still doing it the next day, I thought it best that I take her to a doctor.

The GP we saw was concerned and wanted me to get an x-ray of her leg. I tossed up all the options (private xray vs local hospital vs kids hospital) and thought that I should go straight to the hospital because when you are juggling 4 kids, the one stop shop seemed like a winner.

My M-i-l was happy to mind my 2 older boys (The Geege was still at work) and they ended up staying at her place for the night (phew!). So it was just me and the twins that went to Westmead Kids and we arrived at 4.45pm.

I hadn't eaten anything since lunch, so grabbed an enormous coke to keep me going. I had managed to scramble together some snacks for the babies, so I fed them on arrival and sat in the waiting lounge to be seen by a doctor. I was told it would take 1-2 hours.

The babies were unbelievably well behaved. They charmed everyone in the waiting room and I had more than one offer to adopt them if I ever got sick of them (not likely!).

Time ticked away and Dew Drop eventually reminded me that playing on the floor with toys and smiling at people at 8pm is not usually part of the bedtime routine by starting to grizzle up. He screamed his lungs out (I mean ear-pearcing) for 30 mins while I did laps of the hospital foyer trying to get him off to sleep (WW Bonus Points?). Funnily this was not the moment that people were offering to take them off my hands...

The Geege was calling me at this point trying to arrange to get a car to come over to the hospital to help me (we only have one car and he rides his bike to work), but I thought that was all too hard, and we wouldn't be much longer would we?

So Dew Drop went to sleep for a couple of hours, while the Minx (the patient) remained awake. She was delightfully delirious and we had lots of fun laughing and playing until we were (finally) seen by a doctor at 9.45pm. Yep. Five hours waiting!
It is really quite amazing to me that anyone should have to wait in an Emergency Department for five hours before even being examined or sent for tests or anything. Isn't our health care system meant to be one of the best in the world? Unbelievable.

I was lucky that my fellow waiters were pleasant and chatty and equally put out by the waiting they were participating in. They helped us pass the time. One of the women was doing Weight Watchers too (a new recruit to the meetings program in her local area), so we chatted about good food options for dinner from the hospital canteen. I got duped and had a Chicken Caesar wrap, which turned out to be about 8 Points (I kept the label off the box and looked it up this morning) and not at all filling. Luckily I had plenty of Points to spend - there wasn't much opportunity to eat whilst occupying twins in an Emergency department!

I spoke to my Mum at one stage to let her know what was going on (or wasn't as the case were) and she said "Can't they see you have two small babies? Surely babies are a priority?" I had to point out that most of the people waiting were with babies. How DO they prioritise one non-vomiting baby over another?

Anyway, we did eventually get seen (I did a little celebratory dance when they called our name which amused the nurse who came to collect us) and the Minx was diagnosed with a "toddler fracture to the tibia". A broken leg caused by a twisting injury. Poor little thing. So brave. She was incredibly good when they did the x-rays and put the plaster cast on. I was so proud of her.

The doctor was apologetic about how long we had waited with a baby girl with a broken leg. I think we may have had a higher priority had they taken the time to xray her sometime in the five hours prior to meeting with the doctor? Even with a letter from the GP REQUESTING an xray, we still had to wait 5 hours to get one. Incredible. You may be getting the message that the waiting was not kosher?

So, after all of that, we got home at midnight. The bubs went straight to sleep. I was exhausted. The irony of the situation started to become obvious. I am the mother of three boys and the first trip to the ED for a broken limb was because of my baby girl! Funny.

The Minx is doing well today, crawling around dragging her plaster along. I am bracing myself for the follow-up appointment at the orthopaedics clinic on Thursday morning at Westmead Kids. Surely if you have an appointment you don't have to wait for 5 hours???

* Weight loss update: Week 3 weigh in was yesterday. I lost another 1.1 kg! So that is 6.1kgs in three weeks. Unbelievable really, considering I am in no way starving myself. I am really happy and the success I am having is giving me motivation to go on. Even after my birthday blow-out last Monday I have still managed to lose weight. So great!

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Weight loss crossroad

I had my Week 2 weigh in on Monday as planned. I weigh another 1.5kgs less. I am pretty stoked with that!

The same day was my husband's birthday, and being the first day of a new week, I had no saved Points to use (they get cashed in at the end of each week). So I totally blew my daily allowance with a Chinese take away. There isn't much in the way of a low-Point Chinese meal it seems.

If anyone has any tips for how to plan for a function on Day 1 of the week, I would love to hear them?

This Day 1 blow out has sparked an interesting thought process for me, and an opportunity to help me realise why I am actually overweight. I am feeling overwhelmed by the restriction this day of over-eating has caused. I am stuck with a week of "catch-up". I have to have fewer Points each day to make up it. This is not very appealing to me and I am a little concerned that I may end up having a bingey week in protest!

You know when you fall off the diet bike and feel like it might be time to have a couple (of hundred) Tim -Tams (insert your own favourite here) to think through what you might need to do next? I am feeling like that.

So here I am at the crossroad.

I can give in to my desire to binge...


I can forget the day and move forward...

Two days have passed since the Chinese meal and, so far I have not binged! I seem to have taken the road less travelled.

I am kind of proud of myself for sticking at it, even though there is a very real possibility that I will work very hard this week and not lose weight. (I will have to face that opportunity to emotional eat when it happens!)

So what is my plan? I managed to save 4 Points on Tuesday. Today I had my normal daily total but I was thinking that if I get back out walking (once this rainy weather clears) I could claw back some Points with exercise too. I reckon I could still drop some weight this week if I try really hard.

I just have to let go of the Chinese incident (if I were working for a tabloid it would be known as Chinagate). And not take the easy, "foodie" response that I am comfortable with.

So I checked out WW website ( and it is full of handy hints on "Managing your Thoughts". I think I need to spend some quality time in that part of the website!

Emotional eating be gone, damn it!

The plan of attack for the rest of the week is: plan what I eat, exercise three times this week and eat less (sound familiar).

You know, I am not so sure the Chinese meal was worth all this angst!

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Happy holidays with 4 kids

You now the feeling when you have a holiday and then you need another (solo) holiday to recover from your family holiday? Kids and holidays usually don't mix in my opinion.

Having said that, I just got back from a mini-break at the family holiday house and I have to say that I feel rather relaxed. Rested even. I don't know how that happened! Usually we go away for a few days and it is living hell. Crazy kids on a sugar rush fighting with each other and resisting all parental instructions. This time it was great! I mean, really fun.

Firstly, Nugget caught a fish when we went fishing, so this added excitement and a frenzy of activity looking at how fish breathe and swim and how to take their scales off. The kids asked so many questions about rivers and fish that the afternoon was taken up having a spontaneous mini-lesson (I have to say it felt a bit hippy home-school but we did go with it anyway).

Then, both Nugget and Doo-Dah learnt to swim with their bubbles on. This really is a miracle as they have both been literally clinging to us in the pool for the last few years. It was only Christmas that I got them out of the little spa at the end of the pool and into the actual pool! This revelation meant that it was close supervision only in the pool which meant that it actually felt like we had a swim ourselves. Awesome.

And lastly, we took all four of the kids (and Grandpa) out on the speed boat for a morning. The boys got to drive the boat with Grandpa and the babies had their first moment on the river. The wind blew our hair and the water lapped on the boat. It was terrific! A taste of freedom and adventure. And quite an achievement!

So you see. A holiday with four kids can actually work. Surprising but true. I have no idea why it was all so do-able this time, when other holidays have been so stressful. Just lucky I suppose.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Short and not so sweet

Well the household has been full of sick people since New Year.

It all started with my niece who was vomiting all night on NYE and, since we spent the night at their place, spread rapidly through our household afterwards.

The first one of our clan to go down was #3, the Dew Drop. Then #2, Doo Dah, followed by #1, Nugget, and myself and The Geege succumbed yesterday.

#4, The Minx, is yet to have her turn, so I still have that to look forward to. Not an awful lot of fun.

I did manage to weigh in yesterday for my Weight Watchers experience. I think I had a vomit-assisted number as I was down a staggering 3.5kg! Pretty stoked with that but feel it may be a false reading, given all that is going on in my body at the moment. Will have to see how it goes next week.

The Weight Watchers online program has been surprisingly easy to follow. I like how easy it is to plan meals and look Points up. You can even create recipes (i.e. type in your favourite recipes) and the program calculates the Points for you. Too easy.

I am going away for a few days with the family. I am looking forward to some co-parenting and the opportunity to do some swimming and walking sans children. Bliss! I hope to have an internet connection, but may not, so if I don't log in again until Sunday, good luck fellow Weight Watchers. I hope you have an excellent week.
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