Friday, 30 July 2010

Blog Bookmarks - Week Ending 30th July

I started this blog as a record of life, my thoughts and life's little lessons. Since entering the blogosphere, I have now accumulated more words of wisdom, interesting snippets and 'must-reads' to keep track of. It is a mind-field! Blog Bookmarks is a place to highlight some of my favourite finds for the week.

There have been a lot of really funny posts this week (well, ones that tickled my funnybone anyway). Angie from Like She's Somebody wrote about Wecantrememberyourdamnname-syndrome. I am a victim of it too, made all the worse by my father's tendency to give everyone silly nicknames that seem to block out the person's real name.

Mama Kat from Mama's Losin' It! did a brilliant piece on a recent trip to the hairdresser, stylised by some smashing '80s hair-cuts.

A Study in Contradictions posted a cute little rather smutty joke that had me giggling. It is a bit like a fart joke but that is about the level I am at these days.

And a blog that always makes me laugh is So Now What?. My favourite post from her this week was on losing her last sanctuary, the toilet. Check it out here.

But in addition to all the laughing, there has been learning too. Problogger did a great post on a topic close to my heart, spelling. If you want to work out when to use accept vs except or affect vs effect, that's the post to nip across to. I have to say it is timely as Sister B and I were just discussing the state of grammar in the blogosphere (well, I was moaning about it and she was scared that I was judging hers!).

Kelly at Messy Freckle introduced me to weheartit, a website dedicated to fantastic pictures (like tumblr or ffffound). I can't wait to borrow lovely pictures from there for use on my blog and I will be trying this out next week. You should too!

But before you do, check out this post by The Stockton Hotel on using proper credits for photos. I know that I should be properly crediting the sources of pictures that I use, but I am really bad at this. Not because  I want people to think the photos are mine (absolutely not that), but mainly because I am too lazy to actually *find* the source. I really need to life my game.

And finally this week, the girls over at Our Park Life have joined the writing team at We heart Life. It was there that I found this fabulous little post on beauty routines. A person needs to look after herself and Carly has written some dailies, weeklies and monthlies for us. Now, if I can just find the time...

What was your favourite post this week?

A page of multiple links

I've written a lot about my twins over the past 2 years or so.

Twin Pregnancy:
The Minx and Dew Drop were a wonderful surprise at our 13 week ultrasound. It took some getting used to but we eventually embraced our upcoming twins. We didn't find out what sex they were.

The pregnancy went fairly smoothly, although there was a little scare at 27 weeks.

We struggled to find a name for the babies. Wasn't it hard enough agreeing on one name? We had to come up with four! Two possible girl's names and two more boy's names. Because we already had two boys, our list of possibles was diminished, but we really couldn't imagine that they would be girls. In the end, it wasn't settled until after they were born.

By 33 weeks, I had finished work and was having a model pregnancy. The count down was on.

Twin Birth Story:
The babies were born at 36 weeks and five days gestation. It was our very own Christmas Story.

This forms an integral part of the whole story and has created a whole host of decisions about when to celebrate their birthday.

Early Daze...:
There wasn't much opportunity to blog for the first nine weeks due to extreme craziness of it all, but things finally started to settle after that. It wasn't before time, I can tell you that. I was exhausted beyond my wildest nightmare.

By three months, we were starting to see the sky again.

By six months, Dew Drop's sleeping issues started to drive me around the bend.

To this day the twins are still breast fed, although  I have been trying to wean them for ages. After a shaky start, it all got a lot easier. You can read about the whole breast feeding story.

The Blissful Period:
They were late to move, so there were many months of sitting and not crawling. Things seemed quite 'easy' (well, relatively anyway) at eight months.

They talked at 11 months, the Minx first "Jakey" (her twin brother's name) and then Dew Drop (two days later), "Mumma". My heart swelled.

On the move and other angst:
The Minx got on the move by 10.5 months. But not Dew Drop.

The angst set in. The 'human speed hump' behaviour of Dew Drop got me worried. When was he going to move? We would wait until Dew Drop was 364 days old before he would join the daily crawls up and down the hallway with his (much more accompliished) sister. I sighed with relief.

It wasn't until they were nearly 17 months old that they (finally) walked on their own. Two days apart. The Dew Drop (marginally) in the lead.

With the walking, came the fighting. And the biting. But the Minx wins the 'bite-offs'. She has all of her teeth, and Dew Drop isn't terribly well endowed in that department. Apparently it is normal for twins, but that doesn't help him in the loungeroom biting matches.

Other twin tales:
Throughout the past 19 months I have been twinspired *ahem* to write other bits and pieces about the amazing world of twins:
Are they twins? - the most common question we are asked when we leave the house
Is this 'big' family thing catching on?
Does being a twin magnet actually increase your chances of having twins?

So you see, ours is not a particularly unique story, although the fact that we already had 2 small boys to contend with, did complicate the picture somewhat.

You will also see that I don't mind talking about the multiples in my life. They may have been a surprise in the beginning, but I sure as anything wouldn't be sending either of them back. They are keepers.

Let me know if you want to know anything else about parenting multiples (keep scrolling down to comment).

* This is my Sneeze page for Day 17 of the 31DBBB Challenge from Problogger

Thanks to Lori from Radnom Ramblings of a Stay at Home Mum for Blog Yo' Blog Friday!

Thursday, 29 July 2010

The Great-Grandma Rule

Food choices are getting so much harder. With all the variety on the supermarket shelves, it isn't always easy to find the 'best' food for your body. Add to that a fussy kids or two or a person in the household requiring a specialised "diet" and your choices are exponentially trickier. Should we just stick to carrots?

Well, my mate Michael Pollan (who isn't really my mate but rather the author of Food Rules) gives us a new Mantra to stick by:

 "Don't eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn't recognise as food."

By this he means, that you should imagine yourself and your Great-grandmother, strolling the aisles of the supermarket together. What do you think she would be able to pick off the shelf and pop straight into the trolley, without explanation? A Go-GURT Portable Yoghurt tube? I don't think so.

There are literally thousands of products on our shelves that our ancestors would not even realise were food.

Why shouldn't we eat this stuff? Besides the chemical additives? The corn and soy derivatives they contain? Or the plastics in which they are packaged (some of which are probably toxic)?

Well, these foods are designed to make us want to eat more of them. You want to eat more, so you have to buy more. They push our evolutionary buttons - our innate preferences for sugar, fat and fat (ever seen a child have to try chocolate more than once before they accept it? How about brussel sprouts then? See, we a programmed to like the 'bad' stuff!)

These tastes are difficult to find in nature, but cheap and easy to process into our foods. We are getting way too many of them than is good for us.

Apply the "Great-Grandma Rule"* and most of this processed badness will stay out of your trolley.

According to Pollan, the sub-rules of  the Great-Grandma Rule are:
1. Avoid food products containing ingredients that no ordinary human would keep in the pantry
2. Avoid food products that contain high-fructose corn syrup
3. Avoid foods that have some form of sugar (or sweetener) listed among the top three ingredients
4. Avoid food products that contain more than five ingredients
5. Avoid food products containing ingredients that a third-grader cannot pronounce

The list goes on, but that is probably enough for now.

Go out and try this rule and let me know how it goes.

* NB: If your G-G was a terrible eater or cook, use someone else's for this task. Preferrably a Sicilian or French grandma.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Too much soup is, well, too much

I did five days of the seven day 'Kick Start' diet. I started out so enthusiastically last Saturday. Soup! I love soup!

But the soup did me in. Too much soup is, well, too much I guess.

The truth is that I ran out last night (I did get through two mammoth-sized pots of it) and I simply cannot even fathom making another batch of the stuff. The smell alone could send me to the nuthouse!

To make matters worse, I have never felt so damned hungry. Hungry to the point of shakiness and sweats! Tummy grumbles in meetings. Headaches in the evening. Horrible.

It is a terrible diet!

I weighed myself this morning and I did lose 1.5kgs. In five days (explains why I have been ready to eat the arm off a small baby! My body is practically eating itself.)

I will return to my sensible eating plan, but stay 'low-carb' (no bread, no white rice) for the next 2 days (in honour of the Kick Start). Back to the principles of Weight Watchers and "Food Rules" .

This experience just reinforces to me that the most enjoyable way to lose weight (did I just write 'enjoyable' and 'lose weight' in the same sentence?) is slowly.

Eat less + move more

There's no 'quick fix'.

Sad but true :(

What is the craziest 'diet' you have tried?

Having a conversation with an Australian

My final post in this series (I promise) focuses on the Art of Conversation in Australia, according to a cyncial, un-PC 17 year old girl (me) prior to her departure to Germany on Exchange in 1991. This is all tongue-in-cheek (in case you think I am horrible or down on my country) and was meant to show the Nowra RC guys just how idiosyncratic our Australian culture is.

It's easy to talk to an Australian. They've ALWAYS got something to say. Though books and editorials in our country may be informative, face to face communication ought to be vague and full of abstractions. This is something we can all learn to do. For example: an everyday conversation as only an Australian could have it:

"Not bad eh?"
"Could've been worse"
"My oath"
"Makes you wonder"
"You're not wrong there"
"Might change but"
"Pretty unlikely"
"You never know"
"Fair enough."

It makes sense somehow, but the big question is, what the hell are they talking about?

I take this opportunity to put forward some tried and true conversational topics which are always likely to find favour with Australians:

1. Movies you missed on TV - Describe in meandering detail the circumstances that led you to come home late and catch only the last 10 minutes of the movie under discussion. Lose interest once a person starts retelling the storyline.

2. Books - Never actually refer to books you have read as that could lead to a difference of opinion. You're better off finding books neither of you have read and discussing what you've heard about them.

3. Discussing or discovering common acquaintances could lead to blunders, so it is best to talk about people neither of you have ever met. Stars and politicians are alright, but cookery experts are even better.

4. Talking of what you'd do it you won the lottery is very acceptable, since it permits both of you to rave on endlessly without having to listen to the other person.

5. Finally the weather is a fabulous idea. With the ever-changing weather patterns - flooding a cyclones in Queensland (a northern state if you are not from around here), bushfires and raging heat in NSW (where I am from) and typically unpredictable weather patterns in South Australia and Victoria (Southern states in Australia), this topic has enough scope to ramble for days without running out of material, not to mention that Weather Watching is a great time passer.

Have you got any suggestions for my younger self on what we Aussies REALLY like talking about?

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

The Australian party etiquette guide

So yesterday we learnt about Asking Questions in Australia. Today I thought I would step you through what me, in all my 17 year old glory, describes as party etiquette. I have a very cynical view of the world (even back then) but even I can't remember where I got the ideas for this horrible party set-up!

Each party held by an Australian follows a basic set of rules:
1. If you throw a party, under no circumstances are you to introduce the guests to each other. The idea is to let people wander aimlessly, feeling left out.

2. You must never have enough food to go around.

3. If you are a guest and brought along a bottle of wine, make sure that you point out what a fine label it is but do NOT share it with anyone.

4. You must remember that men and women are two totally unique species and thus cannot intermix. Men must congregate around a keg of beer or barbeque at one side of the party and women must hover together and make salads in the kitchen.

5. Make sure you leave the party so drunk that you can't remember where you parked the car. Walk around town singing songs from beer commercials.

Does this set of rules apply to Australian parties of today (or is this just my 17 year old self having delusional thoughts again)?

Tune in tomorrow for a guide to Having a conversation with an Australian

Monday, 26 July 2010

Asking questions the Australian way

I found some of my bits and pieces (ie. my secret journal full of gossip and hot dates) from when I was a Rotary Exchange Student, back in 1991. I find it embarassing strange to come face-to-face with the younger me.

Amongst my things was a crumpled bit of paper with a speech I delivered to the RC of Nowra (my sponsoring Club) before I left on my journey to Germany. I was 17.

I found this speech rather amusing (if somewhat incorrect, possibly a bit racist and definitely NOT politically correct), and thought I would share some excerpts from it with you.

PART ONE - Asking Questions the Australian Way (today's post)
PART TWO - The Australian Party etiquette (tomorrow).
PART THREE - Having a Conversation with an Australian (Wednesday)

In Europe, in the States, or in South America, when you wish to find out something personal from someone, you simply attract their attention, look them in the eyes and say: "Now, what exactly was your father's mother's maiden name?"

The European will immediately launch into an elaborate family history of the past 20 years.

The American will recount all hardships his paternal grandmother had to endure during her early years on the Missouri {do you think I meant Mississippi?}.

South Americans will not only volunteer the maiden name but her other names as well, along with the names of all her famous lovers.

In Australia, ask the same question and you could be considered the rudest person on earth. Asking questions is one thing that a true Australian never does.

Don't get me wrong now. The Australian may want to know things of course - curiosity is no less a human trait in the "lucky country" than anywhere else. What a successfully moulded Australian would say when inquisitive is:
"I, um, understand from Joe Bloggs that your paternal grandmother was a Smith".

Confident that there are not more than 2 million names on any State's electoral role, resilient Australians will assume - quite correctly - that as long as they keep on trying, they must eventually guess the correct name.

Of course, the alternative is not to ask anything in the first place - which is seemingly what everyone has been doing all along around here!

While people generally ask questions because they want to know the answers. In Australia, you only ask questions when you don't.

Do you think Australians like to ask it straight or beat around the bush as my 17 year old self thought?

Friday, 23 July 2010

Blog Bookmarks - Week Ending 23rd July

I started this blog as a record of life, my thoughts and life's little lessons. Since entering the blogosphere, I have now accumulated more words of wisdom, interesting snippets and 'must-reads' to keep track of. It is a mind-field! Blog Bookmarks is a place to highlight some of my favourite finds for the week.

Well it has been a big week! So much to talk about, so I best get straight to it.

I read a fantastic guest post over at Zen Habits by a guy called Jeffrey Tang on the the clean-slate guide to simplicity. He talks about decluttering from a whole new perspective. Kind of backwards, where you put everything away and then take out what you need and then donate what you don't use.

I inadvertently did this once when I was cleaning up for the cleaner (as you do) and hid a heap of little things that were occupying available surfaces into a big tub. I highly recommend it! Note to self: find that stash of stuff and throw it out!

LJ from With my own two hands writes a lovely blog about her journey to a simpler life. This week she posted some great tips on getting out in winter. It is so easy to hibernate when the sun leaves our skies to shine on our Northern hemisphere friends, and this post has motivated me to explore the winter with more vigour.

Over at Raising Children's Network they posted on preventing fights. It was an awesome reminder of ways to help my kids get along better (and save my own sanity. God knows it gets tested sometimes!). They talked about a whole host of tips including setting clear family rules, setting up routines, catching them being good, demonstrating how to get along, coaching our kids, cooling down fighting hot spots and letting kids work it out for themselves sometimes. They also did a post on developing routines that is worth a read. Good sensible parenting tips.

In a similar vein, is Planning with Kids's great tips on spending individual time with your children.  She suggests, staggered bedtimes, split family activities and scheduling individual play time (as well as the natural opportunities that occur throughout the day). As a mother of five, she offers great practical parenting ideas. Check her out (especially if you are a parent of a large(ish) family - her blog is indispensible).

Mrs Money taught me my latest green tip - sleeping naked (apparently it is a money saver too), Fat Mum Slim was back to her best with her for the love of blog post but my final bookmark this week goes to Mrs Woog from Woogsworld (who I imagined must be in her 50s because she calls herself Mrs. but who is actually another 1973 vintage) for her hysterical post: What I am yet to get.... Seriously. Read it. You will roll on the floor laughing. I did.

What was your favourite post this week?

Kick start diet

Oh man. I started the Kick-Start diet today. I just feel the need for a quick food routine change, and this is a 7 day plan aimed at "kick-starting" your metabolism (hence the name).  Join me if you dare!

Stage one is all about soup. I'm on my second bowl today. It tastes pretty good, but there is a distinct aroma (kind of minestrone but without the pasta or beans). I am starting to find the smell unappetising already. Maybe that's the trick? Cook food you just don't want to eat (or smell)?

I can't imagine how I will be after 7 days of the stuff.

Hopefully a few kilos lighter.

Who said it aint easy being green?

I was putting the bins out yesterday morning, as you do on a Thursday morning when you live in our area. The recycling bin was particularly empty this week, and the garbage bin overflowing. It got me thinking because usually the overflow is the other way around.

I was out of town last week, with the kids, and the Geege was home alone. It wasn't the status quo and subsequently the rubbish situation is all back to front.

I have concluded from this that I am the recycling Champion in this household.

There's so much a person can do to be a better recycler. I try to reduce the paper trail in the household. For example, we get the school to email the newsletter instead of getting those pesky bits of paper (I raised this at a P and C meeting and now the school is encouraging this with all the parents which is great). The kids also use the clean side of old bills, letters etc. for their drawing and painting experiences, rather than a new piece of paper.

I make sure all the little bits and pieces are properly disposed of in the correct bins. The kids ask me which bin to put their rubbish in (I love that they know there are options). We have a different bin for 'rubbish' and 'recycling' (if I were a different sort of Mum I would get the kids to design labels for each bin).

The kids sometimes get a 'reward' when the recycling bin fills up (usually this is the opportunity to make craft robots or space ships out of the 'dry' contents. They love it!). With a little imagination, a piece of rubbish can be transformed into a child’s masterpiece. Need some inspiration? Good Earth Art: Environmental Art for Kids by MaryAnn F. Kohl is full of great ideas for recycled kids crafts.

I recycle as much as I possibly can. I've taught the kids about the different types of recycling materials -paper, glass, aluminium cans, steel cans, and plastics. Our council bins list all of the appropriate plastic container numbers that they can recycle at the waste depot. I only realised that plastic containers have different numbers on them a couple of years ago and matching them to the sticker on the bin is a great teaching tool for the kids.

We also have a compost bin for our garden and vegetable waste. I have to admit that I am not great a using the compost we create (or taking care of it) but it is a great spot to 'dump' the potato peelings etc. The process of composting can be a fascinating science lesson for kids (we play 'spot the worm'). You can learn the simple art (and science) of composting at or checkout your local council website.

One of my goals for this year is to (finally) plant out our vegetable gardens (using our own compost) and grow me some vegies. The time is right for getting this process started but somehow I still haven't got around to it. I wish someone would write a daily blog about what I should do so that I could just follow their lead. Does anyone know of such a thing? Hint, Hint? Please...

Other strategies I try to use to reduce my environmental impact are:

1. Limit my washing (especially at the moment.) -  Do you wash clothes simply because they’re in the washing basket (or on the kids’ bedroom floor?) Don’t wash clothes that were barely worn.  It is easier sadi than done when the whole tribe dumps everything into the washing basket.

I am in the process of getting a new hamper and I intend to get the kids a separate basket for the ‘not so dirty’ clothes. Then I can decide if that load is really necessary. I don't have to tell you that reducing washing saves water, electricity and the detergent that is heavy on packaging materials.

I use “green” detergents and a front loader washing machine.

2. Reusable bags: I rarely leave home without them! Plastic bags are amongst the environment’s biggest menaces. They end up in landfills and our river systems, harming wildlife and break down into smaller, more toxic particles. By saying no to plastic bags and yes to cloth ones for groceries, household goods, etc., they reckon I save the earth from roughly 22,100 bags in my lifetime!

While I use standard "green bags" available from the local supermarket, you can make a fashion statement with your cloth bags. Check out for some cute designs for adults and kids.

It's amazing what the simple act of taking the bins out can bring to mind. Kermit the Frog got it all wrong. Nowadays it is easy being green.

Have you got any tips for teaching your kids about being 'green'?

Thursday, 22 July 2010

The very hungry washing machine

On Thursday, the washing machine started to drip.

On Friday, the repair man was asked to make the trip.

On Saturday, the man said the machine was broke.

On Sunday, the stench of the clothes pile made us choke.

On Monday, our neighbours' washing machines went into a spin.

On Tuesday, our washing machine was put in the bin!

On Wednesday, after research and reading of online buying guides and Choice websites and comparing of prices and checking for energy ratings and discussions with people and tossing up between front-loaders and top-loaders, a new washing machine was found.

And on Thursday, the replacement machine is homeward bound (free delivery too. Love love love online shopping!).


Wednesday, 21 July 2010

The Superfluous Nipple

I came across this blog called the superfluous nipple, as you do when you are scrolling through blogger. No posts have been written since January 2009, but I got hooked because the last post was about Lily Allen's Third Nipple. It seems she had a penchant for flashing her supernumerary back in 2009. Who knew?

Firstly I have to say that the phenomenon of third nipples is rather new to me. I had no idea that one in eighteen people is swanning around with extra nipples (some as many as 8!). Usually they occur along the "milk lines" of the body, with the most popular site being the armpit.

Sometimes called The Witches' mark, Devil's Mark, or Witches' teat, back in the Middle Ages, supernumerary nipples were considered a sign of a witch.  It was a seal of the Devil, given to witches upon initiation. This mark could be a scar, a mole, a birthmark, or superfluous nipple.
Nowadays, people are more accepting of this simple anomaly. As well as Lily Allen, there is a long list of other celebrities who reportedly have additional nipplage according the Superfluous Nipple (most have photographic evidence but others are a little less clear):
  • Mark Wahberg (has three)
  • Tilda Swinton (has three)
  • Bill Paxton (has three)
  • Tony Parker (Basketballer. He has apparently got 6)
  • Carrie Underwood (American Idol. Had three although she has had her's removed)
  • Zac Efron (who has 2 extras below his regular two)
  • Masuimi Max ('model' has four)
  • Brian Jones (Rolling Stone apparently has one on his thigh. An unusual place but apparently not out of the question. There is a photo on the blog site of a person with a nipple on the bottom of their foot. I kid you not.)
There are numerous fictional characters with third nipples including Krusty the Clown from The Simpsons and Chandler Bing from Friends (do you remember "Nubbin"?).

There are society's dedicated to people with Third Nipples, and Facebook groups dedicated to those with superfluous nipples such as Triple Nipple and The Triple Nipple Group.

It almost makes me feel like I am missing out by only two.

Do you know anyone with a third nipple?

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

A piece of magic on the mountain

I went down the Coast to visit my parents and Sister A last week. I love getting away with the kids, but it inevitably results in sleepless nights and extra levels of stress. I was pleasantly surprised this visit that things went smoothly and I came home only as exhausted as I left, not more so (a pretty high achievement when you single parent four kids for a few days).

Thursday turned out to be a day that redefined magic for me.

Some of my old school mates and I convened at a gorgeous house on a mountain that one of us is house sitting. It was the most serene place. High on a hilltop, overlooking a beautiful green valley, surrounded by tall gum trees, a rock garden and a chock pen, and at least a kilometre in all directions away from the next living being, it was quiet, tranquil and peaceful. Absolutely magical.

The energy, joy and passion of the 9 kids present was not out of place in this fantastic setting. They could run, jump, wrestle, squeal and roll down hills to their heart's content. The vastness of the open spaces captured their sounds and dulled them to a hum. They added to the ambience. To the magic of the house on the mountain.

The gaggle of four dear school friends catching up on the last 6 months of newsflashes and life's little snippets added to the general hum too. There were tales of heartbreak, turmoil, and lost souls. These were counterbalanced by dreams and plans and celebrations. For each of us who felt overwhelmed, there was another with words of wisdom and empathy to offer.

There is nothing more fulfilling than being really connected to people. There is magic in that. There is extra magic when it happens at a venue like that.

There will be more shared days in the magical house on the mountain in the future. But in the meantime, I will draw on its tranquility when I need to. Everyone needs a quiet place to remember in restless, chaotic times. I have a new one. The magical house on the mountain.

Have you found a piece of magic in an unexpected place?

Monday, 19 July 2010

Blog Bookmarks - Week ending July 17

I started this blog as a record of life, my thoughts and life's little lessons. Since entering the blogosphere, I have now accumulated more words of wisdom, interesting snippets and 'must-reads' to keep track of. It is a mind-field! Blog Bookmarks is a place to highlight some of my favourite finds for the week.

I start with a fashion blog of sorts. Rather un-me to be into fashion, but you will see that this is fashion with a difference (and a green edge). Make Shift is "an art and research project that examines the relationships between 'making', 'clothing' and 'living'". The basic premise for the project is that for a period of one year Natalie Purschwitz (the researcher) will only wear things that she has made herself, including her clothes, socks, shoes, underwear, coats, jackets, hats, swimmers, and accessories. It is a fascinating site (she is one funky chick). It all wraps up on August 31st, 2010, so it is a good time to check out her site and watch her conclude her remarkable journey.

I've got a few friends who are into the Story bird thing. If you haven't yet heard of it (I can't believe anyone would be slower than me at cottoning on to things though), it is a collaborative storytelling website where you can make your own short, visual books and share them with family and friends. It is seriously cute. My friend Jaq from Jaqs Spot wrote this great read for her boys in her Taj and Toby series. It made me smile and I think you will like it too.

Life and Times of an Ordinary Girl wrote an interesting blog post for the AMB Blog Carnival on how we are being poisoned by the likes of MSG and diet coke. This kind of thing freaks me out. I can feel that DC is not doing me any good, and yet I persist. Perhaps I need to think a bit more about who is ruling this body and make some more enlightened choices about what I consume. Thanks Katiegirl for the reminder.

Choosing the sex of your baby has been hot in the media this week, thanks to the Aussie couple who went to Thailand to get themselves a little girl. I've heard of people wanting to choose the sex of their baby and changing their diet in the attempt to trick Mother Nature, but isn't gender selection going a bit far?  Being a Mum of three boys and a girl, I am lucky that I have it both ways. Would I feel different if I only had one sex of the other. Bern from So Now What? put it best when she said it is "personality" not "gender" that defines people.

Lastly, I end on a practical note. Suger Coat it put together a great tutorial on making a button for your blog. Buttons are really popular on the American Mummy Blogs and are starting to have more of a presence with Aussie Mummy Bloggers too. I'm not sure that it is "me" but I will know where to go if I want to try it.

What was your favourite post this week?

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Once a speech pathologist, always a speech pathologist?

Returning to work wasn't much of a decision for me. After four kids in less than four years and all the subsequent time-off that entails, the family financials have taken a battering. We were starting to really struggle. I had to take action.

The big decision came from the work options available. Should I return to my workplace? Or could I join the growing number of Mumpreneurs and work from home?

I looked into setting up a private speech pathology practice from home. It seemed like a reasonable option given that I worked as a Speech Pathologist for about 10 years.

Most of my work was in the acute hospital setting with neurological patients. I always worked in the public health setting because, quite frankly, that's where the 'good cases' were. (The fact that I strongly believe that people shouldn't have to pay for healthcare probably had something to do with it too).

I had my last job as a "speechie" in 2007, just after I returned from Doo Dah's maternity leave. Although I had always loved my job, I had worked my way through a Masters in Health Administration while I was having Nugget and Doo Dah and I wanted to pursue my interest and qualifications in that field. At that point I took on my current job as an Education and Training Consultant for the health service.
When I look back on it though, it wasn't only my new qualification that made me leave the profession. A part of me left speech pathology because I was totally bored with the workplace politics. Too many women (many in twin-sets) clustered together trying to get along. Sydney's speech pathology world seemed to be dominated (at the time) by a few women who I just didn't see eye-to-eye with. The direction of the profession wasn't clear to me. So I left.

When contemplating a return to speech pathology (albeit in the private sector from the comfort of my own home), I had to work through these demons a bit. Clarify for myself the reasons behind my exit and whether it was actually about the clinical work. Could I see myself seeing clients again? Could I face the day-to-day therapeutic relationship?

I decided it wasn't the job per se (I missed some aspects of it) and a teeny bit of me was actually really excited! Flexible hours. A change of scenery. A change of pace. Being my own boss. No politics.

I started to do some research (I am that sort of gal). I discovered there are some serious gaps in Speech Pathology services both in my local area and online. Great for me, not so great for the locals.

Many ideas brewed from my weeks dedicated to working out whether setting up a private speech pathology practice from home was a serious contender in my WAHM plans.

But mostly it was the questions that arose that were my undoing.

Could I really take money from people?

Could I see myself doing therapy with kids all day long and then having to deal with my own?

Could I seriously tackle long-term adult rehabiliation clients where I was their last hope (the public system couldn't help anymore)? Did I have anything to offer these people when I know that they really won't be getting any better anytime soon?

Could our little house cope with another small business operating from its already overstretched dining room?

What would I do if the kids were sick? No-one would pay me unless I was face-to-face with them.

Life is about timing.

There is a time and a place for everything. It didn't feel like it is my time to set up my own practice. I haven't ruled it out in the future, but for now, I think being an employee is the way to go.

After 2 weeks back at work, I think I have made the right choice. A little piece of me would love the enjoyment of a challenging client to sink my teeth into (not literally), but most of me is happy to be settling back into the world of education and training.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Love a good male voice

I love a good male voice. It doesn't matter what he is talking about or what he looks like, if he has a great voice, I'm listening.

I have been lucky enough to be exposed to two quality voices this week (and it is only Tuesday!).

The first I encountered at work. I am pleased to report that I actually attended both of my scheduled days of work this week (well done Team L). Week 2 back on the job and I was booked to do a 2 day training session about Auditing Management Processes. Needlesstosay, I wasn't overly excited about it, but being early days back at work, I wasn't able to swindle my way out of it (what excuse could I use? I was too snowed under? I don't think so).

Anyway, I arrived at the training venue and there was a middle-aged man standing at the front of the room. He was the trainer. He was non-descript. An accountant type with a stripey shirt and grey slacks. Hmph I thought. This is going to be fun. Not.

When he opened his mouth to speak, things changed for me. He had the most wonderful voice! Deep. Smooth. Easy-listening. The way the radio DJs used to be (nowadays the radio is full of people with 'constriction' and other 'contemporary voice markers' that it can be painful for a speech pathologist like myself to listen to).

I sat up to listen to this engaging voice. The middle-aged man suddenly had 'sparkly eyes' and a mischeivious grin. His personality shone through his voice and he became someone interesting to me.

He was a marvellous trainer. He littered his training with case studies and evidence of his experience in the field. He was funny and interactive and he really listened to the class, who were only too willing to contribute. He had the whole room eating out of his palm. We all agreed that he had somehow made auditing fun.

The power of the voice.

My second male voice of the week is Phil Liggett's. He is the British cycling commentator who covers the Tour de France. Let me just say that I absolutely love the Tour de France. I watch it routinely, even though it is on from 10pm-1am. I can thank the Tour de France for the dark circles under my eyes at the moment (well, it is certainly a contributing factor). I can't just watch the highlights; I'm in for the night.

Phil's commentary is a big drawcard for the Tour. His love for the sport is contagious. He uses a mix of colourful descriptions, statistics, and quotable quotes - "The little man with the big heart" - in his commentary and is genuinely a fountain of knowledge on the topic of cycling.

But it is his voice that is magical. It is deep, smooth, steady, and clear. It is a dream to listen to. His voice transcends him from his middle-aged, Englishman status. His voice keeps people like me from switching off the TV. It draws you in and makes you want to hear more. He could be talking about anything and I'd still be listening.

The power of the voice.

Do you love a good voice? Whose voice pushes your buttons?

The human voice is the organ of the soul - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Meet a younger me!

A couple of weeks ago I did a post where I introduced you to an a computer generated older me. 20 years on I am looking pretty scary (I think you will agree). But when you think about it, back in 1990 I would have found the me of today scary.

Look honey. In 20 years you are going to have had 4 kids. This is going to take its toll on your body. You are going to look permanently pregnant, carry a few extra kilos, and your boobs will be closer to your belly button than your armpits. You will have a few greys, your skin will bare the beginnings of wrinkles and you'll still get the odd pimple too. I know, pimples and wrinkles at the same time. It doesn't seem fair, does it? Don't cry... really it will be fine.

Lucky for us, ageing is a slow process and you get become acquainted with it on a day to day basis.

I don't have a photo on hand from 20 years ago (that was the year I finished high school). That would require scanning and pdf production and things that I simply do not have time for (read have no idea how to do). Thanks to the wonders of Facebook, an old friend scanned this photo of me from 1997 (the year I met the Geege) and I am sure she won't mind me sharing it with you. I am 24 in this photo.

I have spoken before about a dear friend of mine, L, who had a penchant for fancy dress parties in the 1990s. Well, this photo is taken at one of his parties (a Bond Themed party). The frock in the photo is the one I referred to in my earlier post. Whatever the theme, that frock could be transformed to fit. I got it for about 50c from an op-shop and it was a true bargain (although made of some itchy, plastic material that was unkind to my skin and, in hindsight, WAY too short).

Honestly, I don't remember much of the specifics of the night (this is common for me in the 1990s). I remember the disco ball, the packed back yard, the 'glamorous couples', drinking champagne from a plastic cup (noice!) and being there with lots of friends. It is a happy memory.

My favourite part of the night was having an absolute blast dancing in the loungeroom of L's house. We often had a 'dag dancing' competition which gave us an excuse to produce some pretty terrible dance moves all in the name of fun. My dag dancing was pretty spectacular it has to be said.

1997 was a great year in my life. Love. Happiness. Friendship.

“Good friends are like stars.... You don't always see them, but you know they are always there” - Anon.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Blog Bookmarks - Week ending July 10

Once you start blogging, it generates a life of its own. Firstly there is writing. Then there is reading others' blogs. Then there is commenting. Then there is the 'marketing' of your own posts. The blogging 'lessons' from some of the Blog Masters to integrate. Forums to participate in. The linking of old posts with the new ones.

It could be a full-time job (and is for some).

I started this blog as a record of life, my thoughts and life's little lessons. Since entering the blogosphere, I have now accumulated more words of wisdom, interesting snippets and 'must-reads' to keep track of. It is a mind-field!

Ingenue Mom (whose blog I love reading) does this fabulous post called "A Little Weekend Reading" each week where she highlights some of her favourite finds for the week.

I am taking a leaf out of her book.

MultipleMum's Blog Bookmarks

To honour Cameron, the lady behind the inspiration, check out her latest A Little Weekend Reading post for some of her favourite finds for the week. In this post she refers to Enjoying the Small Things's post on her daughter which brought tears to my eyes. I went on to read about Nella's birth story and seriously found myself blubbering at the computer. The strength of people in times of trouble never fails to amaze me. Nella is a lucky girl to have such a warm, strong Mum.

Sad, but true, both of my sisters' blogs are on my 'must-read' list. Even if they weren't my sisters, I'd still be loving their work. 

Sister A's blog is a daily highlight for me. Last week my favourite post was We need to talk about Kevin. Expecting her to launch into a political rant about our former Prime Minister (who was recently usurped by a red-headed woman by the name of Julia) I was surprised. That's Sister A for you. Expect the unexpected.

Sister B does an awesome Friday weekly post on the the things she learnt this week. It is a fantastic idea and extremely well-executed. She has a quirky sense of humour and a truly unique take on the world. I've learnt a thing or two from these posts (last week I learnt the inspiration for the term 'Brazilian' - it is not what you think).
Mummy Mayhem has a 'hot' or 'not' segment each week at her blog. It is so 'Year 8' that I love it. Each week she selects a 'male celebrity' and we get to vote on his 'sex appeal'. Join the fun! This week Tom Cruise went under the microscope. It is a resounding 'NOT' from me.

I simply loved OurParkLife's trip down memory lane with their post on Sweet Valley High. If you remember reading these books back in the day, this post will be a welcome reminder of the shenanigans of identical twins, Jessica and Elizabeth.

And finally, I end on a classic.

One of the biggest blogs in the entire world is Zen Habits. I have been poking around in it for weeks and I have barely touched the sides! The creator, Leo Babauta, is a father of six, a writer, a vegan, a runner, an ex-smoker, and an organisation convert (already interested aren't you!). This blog is insane. Start here if you want to take a look at the site, but be warned... you could lose days of your life in there!

What was your favourite post this week?

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Our Stellar Behaviour Management Plan

The Geege and I are a good team. When it comes to parenting, we naturally fall into a synchronous stride with our style, goals and disciplinary tactics with the kids. We've never really had to talk about 'things' - we just feel the same way about them instinctively.

I have been losing the plot a bit lately. I could hand out a list of excuses, but it doesn't change the fact that I am doing some serious ranting and I should be more responsible.

I wake with my cranky pants on and they seem to get stuck on me all day, like a pair of size 8 jeans I tried to squeeze into that are now causing me circulation problems. I can't ignore the situation, but I can't seem to snap out of it either.

The kids are copping the brunt of my second adolescence. I hate that I am grumpy. I hate that they don't understand why I have become a yelling machine. I hate that my husband feels the need to give me a time-out.

I had trouble falling asleep last night because I was reflecting on my recent bad behaviour. I snuck into the kids' rooms and kissed them on the cheek, told them I loved them and promised to do better today. They slept through my confession, but I lifted enough Mother's Guilt to sleep soundly afterwards. My Catholic upbringing comes out at the most inopportune moments.

I used to be able to discipline the kids without threats, shouting matches and endless time-outs.

Where has my copy of our stellar behaviour management plan gone?

Let me step my way through it...

1. The Groundwork - Our kids are taught boundaries. What is okay in different situations, personal space, how to deal with disappointment etc. They don't always 'get it right' but they do seem to understand that when environments change, so too can the rules. Simple ideas are "inside and outside toys/games/voices", "best behaviour" situations, not touching babies' faces, listening to others etc. These boundaries help us to show the kids 'right' and 'wrong' and help them to understand why they are being disciplined.

2. Stick to the plan - If we say it will happen, it does. "I will throw out the next toy that you put into your mouth". *Toss*

3. Use of 'Cranky Mummy/Daddy voice' - When we want the kids to know that the tone of the situation has changed (ie the joke has gone too far), we make a distinct change in the tone of our voice when we ask them to stop. Mine is called "Cranky Mummy" and you often hear the boys talking amongst themselves about the arrival of Cranky Mummy.

4. 1-2-3 - Three chances until a consquence. Or three counts to stop doing something and listen. Or three counts to come to us to get your clothes on. You get the picture.

5. Consequences of actions - If they purposefully hurt someone, or defy us, there is always a consequence (like they get roused on, have to give a toy to a sibling, get time-out etc)

6. The thinking spot - If someone does something that requires some time-out to think and reflect on what they did, or why they did it, they get sent to the thinking spot. This can be used to calm down a crazed child or to diffuse a conflict. Following a period in the thinking spot (length of time depends on child's age), a discussion is had (i.e. a teaching opportunity) and an apology is sought (where appropriate).

7. Holding - Sometimes kids need connection, rather than space. In these situations, we sit them on our lap and hug them to help them calm down. We pat them, soothe them, rub their arm to help them feel our presence and our love for them. This strategy is very effective, we find, and is a much gentler way to parent. Note to self - more of this tomorrow.

8. Modelling - The best way to help your children learn to behave is to model good behaviour. Show them how it is done. Talk to them about how you will behave in a particular situation and what the expectations are. Show them what to do if you get it wrong. Apologise for your own misbehaviour.

9. Focus on the good behaviour - Kids love to be told they are doing a good job. We try to reward the child who is displaying good behaviour. The more attention available for good behaviour, the more of it you will see. It is hard when everyone is running amock but it IS possible (and desirable). On some days the thing you hear most from us is: "What good blah so-n-so is doing! Thank you for that".

10. Get them to work as a team - If the kids have a common goal ie. a treat for afternoon tea after they finish cleaning up, they are more likely to put the effort in, work together and get the job done (without bickering) if it is a "one in, all in" approach.

There is a gentler parent in there. She's just caught in her cranky pants and can't seem to find her way out.

This has been helpful for me and I hope for you too. I WILL do better tomorrow.

I'd love to know how you manage discipline at your place.

Friday, 9 July 2010

Eat what stands on one leg

I am gradually making my way through Food Rules by Michael Pollan. It is a great little book, packed with simple rules about what foods to eat and how to eat well.

Last week I posted about the S-Policy. My friend Roz commented on her 80/20 rule at the end of the post. I realised then that my 50/50 rule of crap/good food ratio probably does need to improve...

So, I had a pretty good go at not eating Sweets, Seconds or Snacks, except on days that begin with S this week (All of them. Sonday, Suesday, Sednesday, Sursday...) I may have to go to the bottom of the class for my effort.

This week's lesson is an old Chinese Proverb.

p.55 "Eating what stands on one leg [mushrooms and plant foods] is better than eating what stands on two legs [fowl], which is better than eating what stands on four legs [cows, pigs and other mammals]."

This is a great summary of traditional wisdom regarding the relative health-benefits of different categories of food. It does however, inexplicably omit the very healthful and entirely legless fish.

I'm already doing pretty well with this rule. I was a vegetarian for many years. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (yawn) will do that to you. I have gradually re-introduced poultry and other meats (although I still can't do beef or lamb), but I am still pretty reliant on vegetables (especially mushrooms). Most of my cook-books are vegetarian and, thankfully, all of my kids love pulses and legumes. We do meat-free at least 3 times a week in our house.

But like the Chinese proverb, I often leave fish out of my diet. I just don't think of it, and when I do, I have no idea how to cook it.

I eat fish when I dine out.

But with four little kids, dining out is a pretty rare occurence. Note to self: cook at least one meal per week with seafood.

Does tinned tuna count?

How do you stack up with this food rule?

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Our family gene pool - Mendel would have a field day

Did you wonder what your kids would be like when you were pregnant? The Geege and I did. We had a 'worse-case-scenario' (WCS) baby. He/she would have my thighs, my skin, The Geege's hairiness, The Geege's lips, my red-headed genes... you get the picture.

None of our kids turned out like anything I could have ever imagined. They even surpassed our 'best-case-scenario' (BCS) imaginings, even though many of our least desirable features got a guernsey (sorry about that kids). Sappy I know, but true.

The wonders of genetics have never ceased to amaze me. Mendel and those sweet-peas always intrigued me, even at school when, quite frankly you'd think I was absent most of the time given the degree of knowledge retention.

The more children you have, the more interesting the family genetics lesson gets, I've found. Not only do you find your features or that of your partner/parents/siblings but you see Child A's features in Child B. You start to realise that The Geege has Big B, Little B brown eyes, rather than 'BB' because we have only one child with brown eyes (and other equally earth-shattering snippets).

Having twins was a real lottery in terms of genetics. Would they be identical? If not, would they look alike? Like our other kids? Could we have the ultimate nightmare of WCS and BCS in the same birth? (Not to mention would they both be boys? But that is a post for another day...)

In our case, The Minx threw a real spanner in the gene-pool works. Before she came along, I had won 3/3 in the 'colouring in competition'. But she looks like my husband's side of the family (except her thighs, which sadly are a lot like mine) and is all dark and tanned. Lucky for her.

So here they all are, aged 16 months.

Nugget (August, 2006)

(Doo Dah, April 2008)

Dew Drop (April, 2010)

The Minx (April, 2010)

Do you think they look alike? If so, what features? And what about your family? Have you got matching kids or ones who run the risk of being introduced to each other at university (like Sister B and I were several times!)?

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Money Matters #10 - Financial New Year's Resolutions 2010

The Smart Investor magazine, July 2010 recommends the following Financial NYRs:

  1. Keep your tax documents in order this year - you know you want to, but will you? Arrange a filing system for receipts, statements and shares information. Kikki K has some great products that can help you with this.
  2. Put assets in the right name - holding investments in the lower income earner's name may help to minimise tax.
  3. Review bank accounts, credit cards and home loans - Are you paying too much? Make sure you are getting the best deal possible. Websites such as Cannex are useful for this process.
  4. Review your insurance - Are your home, contents, life, income and car protected? Adequately protected? What about health insurance? Could you be doing better? Check iSelect for private health insurance options. Would packaging all/some of your insurances give you a better deal? It is time to find out.
  5. Review your super strategy - Saving in your super fund is tax effective if you adopt the right plan, but beware of contributing more than the specified limits. Are you investing at least 12% of your super? Maybe you should be.
Sounds good to me! Do you make Financial NYRs? What else do you recommend?

The school holiday project

Man. It is school holidays. With all the preparing for going back to work, EOFY for the business and household sickness, the holidays kind of snuck up on me. I am prepared this time though. I carefully scheduled the days, ensuring that we have time with friends, family and at home. Not too much, not too little, but just right (Thank you Goldilocks and the Three Little Bears).

The best laid plans are already coming unstuck.

Nugget was extremely tired by the end of Term 2. He was chucking tantrums with nauseating frequency (a sign that he is over-tired and over-stimulated). We managed this with a lot of trips to the Naughty Corner, many hugs and by descending into family survival mode. We only attended social engagements that were essential and did not make any specific plans ourselves. It suited us because of our grueling house arrest incident, and it is what Nugget needed to successfully see the term through (God help us when he is doing Year 12).

The Geege and I decided to ban TV for the last two weeks of term, as another strategy to deal with the increasing episodes of misbehaviour that we were dealing with. Managing a pair of TV addicts can be hard work and I have told you about my TV scheduling before. Two weeks without TV was going to be hard. Damned hard.

Needlesstosay the ban was excruciating (for all of us), but surprisingly, only for the first couple of days. After four days, the kids stopped asking for TV time. They just got on with things (blocks, Lego, puzzles, craft, you know, things). The household was relatively harmonious. Definitely less Ninja-fighting and alien-activity was sighted. Marvellous. I was truly amazed at the transformation (and reluctant to reinstate their privileges, but with the holidays coming up, and the Geege tied up at the store... I am not that much of a sucker for punishment!)

So the TV ban ended on Monday, and with it the family truce. The nagging commenced immediately so we have had a gradual reintroduction to previous scheduling levels. Except today, because I had made plans for half-day playdate with friends today but because the Dew Drop has been sick, we are reneging. Which means we are spending another day at home. Another cold, wet day. There is only so much Hide-n-Seek a family can play in a small house that has been the venue for the game on many occasions before, if you know what I mean?

The boys are glued to the box while I take a minute away. After an all-nighter and morning dealing with my whingey toddler, {he and his twin sister are taking a nap} I am truly exhausted. The TV is truly my saviour this morning.

I'd really love to know what YOU do with your kids on a cold, wet day when someone is sick? I'd LOVE some new ideas for games that we can play (18 months - 5 years).

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

A Working Mum's Survival Kit

It is meant to be my second day of work.  After all the RTW angst and my successful first day, here I am. Stuck at home with a sick child  At home, caring for my sick child (not mentioning any names, Dew Drop aka The Cling-on).  Not exactly what I had planned for myself today.

I have been wondering how other working women do it. You know, balance family commitments with work commitments. I need A Working Mum's Survival Kit!

Rather than reinvent the wheel, I searched high and low for some interesting articles/posts on managing life as a working Mum. I didn't find anything specific on dealing with the sick child when you are meant to be at work, mind you, but there was a whole lot of 'juggling' and 'balancing' going on (rather like a circus act).

Time seems to be the enemy of the Working Mum (WM). If you are a WM stretched to your limits, I have sad news for you. There are only 24 hours in a day. No, really. Trust me. I searched the internet and no-one proclaimed to know how to find the missing 25th hour.

The good news is that there are many ways to make the most of your time. Take up the fine arts of  "outsourcing", "screening calls" and "combining activities" (like your exercise with catching up with people for instance) to find more time, but remember, these strategies only give the illusion of more time.

Better organisation and prioritisation seem to be key factors to finding the elusive work/life balance. If you are looking to improve the balance in your stressed life, perhaps embracing your busyness, making the most of situations ("don't worry be happy" style) or being prepared (like a good Scout) may be strategies worth investing in. You need to become a multi-tasking specialist, and according to Amanda Alexander, you'll instinctively do this better than men do (she reveals a fun game of Survivor that you must read if you haven't already seen it!).

Whilst you are busily adjusting your schedule and seeking opportunities to free up some time, you need to remember to take care of yourself. You are the lynchpin of the family. If you go down, they all will. Do this in whatever way suits you. Exercise, eating a healthy diet, and taking time out seems to be one recipe to success.

Take time out. That old chestnut. Good in theory, I know, but we Mums don't always manage this reguarly enough, so when things get out of hand, try a 10-minute miracle for the frazzled Mum. This should put the mojo back into your day and the spring in your step (even if you are wearing high-heels which I don't advise).

The last piece of gear in your Working Mum's Survival Kit is the ability to take charge when things go wrong. Basically, take a step back and a deep breath. Re-evaluate. Look at things through different eyes. It is about 'attitude change'. Let's face it, life seems insurmountable some of the time, but it is the same life that you were breezing through and enjoying last week. It is all about attitude and the real cornerstone of success is learning to keep things in perspective.

If you still feel like you are failing, you are succumbing to a common misconception of the working Mum. This hilarious A-Z will show you that at least you are not alone!

* I am doing ProBlogger's 31 Days to a Better Blog. I started more than a month ago (sorry ProBlogger, it'll be more like 6 months to a better blog for me!) and have reached Day 7 -Writing a Link Post. Hence the links.

Monday, 5 July 2010

Juggling another hat

I went back to work today. It was a comparatively quiet day. No-one hanging off my legs. A trip to the toilet ON MY OWN. No screaming. No whingeing. Sigh.

Honestly, I was pretty bored. The girl who has been 'doing my job' for the past 19 months, was away sick today, so no handover for me. There is potential for my job to be both challenging and interesting. It used to be. Just not today.

I've decided I want to have Day One again when I am so snowed under with work that the thought of a leisurely day a work is a distant memory. Then, my day meandering through the company intranet site, reacquainting myself with people, policies and procedures and doing a quick update on e-learning will seem anything but boring. But when you are used to doing as many things in a day as I am, all that TIME seemed like overkill. Imagine. Time to actually think. To process. To sit and contemplate. Sigh.

Going back to work is the equivalent of adding another ball to juggle. Another hat to wear. I'm used to wearing multiple hats (they don't call me MultipleMum for nothing). Apart from being a Mum to four little kids and, now working 2 days a week, here are some of the other 'important' things I tackle on a day-to-day basis:
  • My husband's books - #1 sucker for punishment. When he started Camp Hike Climb (CHC), I put my hand up to 'help out' with the book-keeping. Something I could "do from home" when the "kids went to bed". This is quite an ordeal. LOTS of MYOB (my least favourite past-time) and even payroll. I seriously cannot believe I volunteered for this. A very bad choice.
  • Online marketing for CHC - a bit of FB (join our fan page if you haven't already) and writing a blog for the website (with a few other random tasks here and there)
  • Website data entry - I am chief product loader for the CHC website. We have 380+ products on the site and a mere 700+ to go. Groan. It is a time consuming, labourious task, but sadly, someone has to do it and when you have a start-up business, often that someone is your SAH (unpaid) wife.
  • Membership Secretary for our local Multiple Births Association - which involves keeping a database, attending monthly meetings and a few other bits and pieces. Must less work than my previous role on the Club Committee - Newsletter Editor.
  • Domestic duties (which really do take a pretty low place in the priority order for me).
The reality is though, that as I sat on the platform waiting for the train this morning at the crack of dawn (looking like no-one would suspect that I was/am a SAHM in my fabulous boots, I might add), reading Eclipse, I was already wondering what the crew at home were up to. I TRIED not to, but it is just habit.

I really am excited by this new stage of my life- tackling my career again, bringing some money into the household, being a 'person' again. My mind has the opportunity to travel far and learn new and innovative things (two whole days a week) about grown up topics, but my heart will never be very far from home. There's nothing more important to me than my family. Nothing more beautiful than when those 3 sets of blue and 1 pair of brown eyes stare up at me innocently. Nothing better than when they all raced to the door when I arrived home this evening. Honestly, what could be better?

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Meet an older me!

Me in 20 years time. Oh.My.God. That's bloody scary.

Friday, 2 July 2010

The S-Policy

Have you heard of Michael Pollan (MP)? He is the international bestselling author of In defence of Food (BTW I couldn't have written a book by that title because it would have taken me 10 years to decide whether it was defence or defense. I am generally good with grammar but that and effect/affect often have me stumped). I digress...

Anyway, this Mr Pollan writes really simple and great books about food. Not recipes. Not straight dieting. Just good sense about what to eat and why. He is a strong advocate for eating food. Real food.

I think I have mentioned that I have been thinking a lot about the family's diet lately. We eat good meals, but I have been a little heavy handed with the refined sugar snacks lately with the kids. I want to learn to bake and commit to making more things from scratch (I draw the line at home made pasta or yoghurt though). I was at the bookshop, looking for inspiration (as you do) and I picked up MP's book, Food Rules - An eater's manual (2009) this week. It is just what I need at the moment. A small book packed full of pearls of wisdom.

I thought I would share my favourite thus far:

Treat treats as treats.
" There is nothing wrong with special occasion foods, as long as every day is not a special occasion. This is another case where the outsourcing of our food preparation to corporations has gotten us into trouble: It's made formerly expensive or time-consuming foods...easy and readily accessible. Frying chicken is so much trouble that people didnt use to make it unless they had guests...The amount of work involved kept the frequency of indulgence in check. These special occasion foods offer some of the great pleasures of life, so we shouldn't deprive ourselves of them, but the sense of occasion needs to be restored. One way is to start making these foods yourself; if you bake dessert yourself, you won't go to that much trouble everyday. Another is to limit your consumption of such foods to weekends or social occasions. Some people follow a so-called S policy: no snacks, no seconds, no sweets - except on days that begin with the letter S"

See. Simple, sensible advice.

Love it.

I had a beautician once (yes. I actually used to have time for such things) who said to me that I should be diligent with diet and exercise during the week and live freely at the weekend (a similar idea to MP's).

Have you got any such advice that you live by?

* I got the image from Michael Pollan's blog:

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Toothy pegs. Wherefore art thou?

Dew Drop has cracked a couple of teeth this week. It is a good thing (although the corresponding sleeplessness not so much).

I was starting to get a little worried about the bald mouth situation. At the ripe ol' age of 18 months he was sporting all of 6 teeth. 4 incisors up top, 2 down the bottom.  The Minx, his handy age-matched peer, had 12. I was starting to get visuals of him being a toothless wonder forever. Add that to his rather unfortunate hairline, and it wasn't looking too pretty for Dew Drop!

And then, out of the blue, two teeth erupt. Another incisor in the lower jaw, and a molar.

Being a speech pathologist, I do know a thing or two about teeth, but I have been doing a bit of research lately and I thought I would share some poignant points. Obviously, teeth eruption dates are different for everyone (like growth patterns), but there are some general trends to be observed:
  • The first baby teeth to erupt are usually the lower two front incisors (mandibular central incisors) at about 6 months of age. They are followed by the 4 upper front teeth.
  • The remainder of a child's teeth will appear periodically until all 20 baby teeth have come in at about 2 1/2 years of age. The emergence order varies considerably (you must be familiar with the 'vampire babies' who have only lateral incisors (the fangs)? This is not uncommon, so do not panic!)
  • The last teeth to emerge are the top two molars (maxillary second molars at about 30 months).
  • The complete set of baby teeth are in the mouth from 2 years to 5 3/4 or 6 years of age (when no permanent teeth are present). The permanents start showing up at about 6 {Note to self - I have about 9 months to perfect my 'tooth fairy' routine for Nugget}
  • Shortly after a child's 4th birthday, their jaw and facial bones will begin to grow creating spaces between their teeth. Don't freak out! This is normal.
  • A good rule of thumb concerning baby teeth is that for every 6 months, approximately 4 teeth will erupt. So, if your child is 12 months, you should expect 8 teeth (Hmm...Dew Drop fails this test).
  • Teeth in both jaws tend to erupt in pairs - one on the right, one on the left (Hmm...Dew Drop fails this test too). They are usually within two weeks of each other (and usually no more than 50 days according to Hughes et al, 2007) ( Dew Drop still has time!)
  • Lower teeth usually erupt before the upper teeth, with the left tending to precede the right.
  • Boys/girls tend to get baby teeth around the same time, although girls are quicker than boys with their permanent teeth.
  • This chart shows the general pattern expected -

  • And the statistic that saves the day, as far as Dew Drop goes, is that according to the Adelaide research group headed up by Hughes, twins tend to follow the same pattern as singletons, but their teeth emergence is 2 months later than the 1984 Australian gold standard research paper by Hitchcock et al. Pheww... he is still within the normal limits.

Now if he can just start getting the left and right pairing sorted (he has another 2 weeks), I can stop worrying that he will need false teeth.

Can you imagine it? Baby dentures? I hope they look a bit more authentic than the baby's dummy pictured above. 

* Toothy dummy photo from

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