Tuesday, 31 August 2010

A minute that nearly changed my life forever

The kids and I went to the beach on Saturday with a dear friend, K, and her three kids.

Two adults, seven kids, six and under. Water without a fence. You could ask, what were we thinking?

As soon as we did the short walk from K's house to the beach, the three older boys, including Nugget and Doo Dah, went racing for the sand. Their shoes were off in a jiffy, and they were dipping their toes in the icy water. Chasing the waves up and down the shoreline.

K and I, and the four little ones, set up a picnic at the top of the sand (not more than 20 metres from where the boys were playing). We were chatting and keeping an eye on all seven of the kids as we unpacked some handmade biscuits and had a drink.

It was another beautiful day in our gorgeous city. We breathed in the air and lapped up the sunshine and sat contently in each other's company, talking each other's ears off.

I commented to K that the boys were starting to get a bit wet and perhaps we should take off their long pants. So we did and then we went back to the picnic rug with the toddlers and they returned to playing at the water's edge.

I commented to K that Doo Dah was always going into the water a little deeper than the other two boys. I called out to him and he stepped back a bit.

K commented to me that the waves were 'big' and we noted they were coming in thick and fast.

K commented to me that one of the surfer's had caught a 'huge' one. We both looked at the three boys and in that split second we realised that Doo Dah was out deeper again and that the 'huge' wave was moments from reaching him. Neither K nor I spoke, but we were both on our feet and into the water within seconds (me still in my shoes and jeans).

The wave had knocked Doo Dah to the ground and he was dumped and had rolled at least 3 times before either K or I could reach him. We dragged him to his feet.

He coughed.

He was shaken and covered in sand.

He smiled at me and then cried as I whisked him from the water and up to the picnic area (where the three toddlers were all sitting, playing in the sand, eating yet another biscuit while the baby slept on in the pram).

We comforted Doo Dah, then got him changed and sent him back out. He was much more cautious (sensible in fact compared to the reckless behaviour before the incident), but he enjoyed the rest of the morning at the beach. We all did.

I had a niggly feeling the rest of the day. What if we hadn't seen it coming? What if we'd been a little late?

I know in my heart I would never be 'not watching', but these little happenings are a good reminder of how quickly things can change. How a tragedy can occur at any time. How important it is to be mindful and alert.

Doo Dah told the story to his Dad when he returned from work. He said something along the lines of "A great big wave came and knocked me over and I did the best rolling in the sand, didn't I Mum?".

I'm glad the incident hasn't scared him off the beach for life.

Do you remember being 'dumped' at the beach as a kid?

Monday, 30 August 2010

September = Swoop season

I was out having a run yesterday morning. I am in training for the Bridge Run on September 19th, so I have to drag myself out of bed and run three times a week.

I go okay.

Yesterday I managed a respectable 56 minutes for my 8.5 (ish) km run. I look (and feel) like Cliffy Young*, but the old legs get me there. My left knee is starting to remind me that I have a genetically inferior design (I have matching legs with my Dad who has had 2 knee replacements), but overall the training is going well and I hope to run the 9k in about an hour.

Yesterday I was reminded that spring is around the corner. It was a lovely warm morning; a blue sky with a touch of wind. The birds were chirping.

I am not a big fan of birds. They scare me. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the sound of their tweets and the colour of their plumage (and I don't mind eating a species or two, once cooked), but I can not stand the sound of their flapping wings.

I was hunted by a magpie when I was in my teens. Swooped. Pecked on the head. Hair removed for use in the nest I suspect the abhorrent bird was protecting. He drew blood and I found myself crawling across the ground, crying, trying to get away from his persistent swooping. Flap. Flap. Flap. Peck. Peck. The hunt went on for the duration of a large football field. It was really scary for me.

It did me in for life.

The magpies were out in force yesterday morning on my run. No swooping, but the sound of flapping overhead made me shudder. Spring is rapidly approaching and it is breeding season for the magpie.

I will have to map out my run carefully, avoiding magpie nests. It is a tough life for an Ornithophobic. Hey Dad!

* For those of you who are not from around here (or who entered the earth after 1983), Cliff Young was an Aussie farmer who won the Sydney to Melbourne ultra-marathon (875km) at the ripe old age of 61 years. Wearing gumboots. Without a wink of sleep. 7 days. He backed up the next year and came 7th. Needless to say, Cliffy invented 'the shuffle' that I am now perfecting!

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Blog Bookmarks - Week Ending 27th August

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.

Angie from On the Rocks and Straight Up wrote a corker of a post about her relationship with sleep. I wasn't expecting the Gray's Anatomy quote but it seems she actually has a case of insomnia and can therefore be forgiven! I empathise with her as I have a battle of that nature going on at the moment too. Her post made me laugh, as her writing frequently does.

This week I discovered Made by Joel. Joel is an artist and blogger and his stuff is truly awesome. Awesome! I thought I might have a go at making these paperclip puppets. I know it will mean a whole new direction for me and this blog, but I have truly been inspired by this chap. Maybe I won't have to cross out the word craft everytime I write it from now on?

Sarah over at Just Me talked about Living in 2010. It is cute and funny. Another funny lady is Cate from I'll think of a title later. She wrote about What women want in a man throughout different stages of life. I think at 43 a man who 'doesn't attend Star trek conventions' is a minimum requirement. I mean, 43! Do they really still do that shit at 43?

I am probably the last person on the planet to know but this thanks to Hotpants over at Handbags and Handguns, I discovered that Barney from How I met your mother (possibly my favourite comedy on TV) and his 'long-term partner David Burtka are expecting twins via a surrogate this October'. I had no idea 'Doogie Howser' was even gay, let alone in a 'long-term partnership' (if I think about it, my 'Gaydar' should have known better). I wish them luck with their twins.

Leo from ZenHabits wrote a Brief Guide to Life which is, as usual, full of tips for keeping life simple. He's into his dichotomies that Leo and that is all right with me.

Problogger's key post of the week for me was How-to-make-your-blog-addictive-like-world-of-warcraft was writen by The Blog Tyrant. While I have to admit I have NO IDEA what World of Warcraft is (showing my age and life stage here), this post has some great tips for getting people to come back to your blog for more.

What was your favourite post this week?

Friday, 27 August 2010

I am such a joiner!

This week I have been busy joining in Challenges all over the internet. Like I have time? Like I don't have enough to keep track of?

There is just something about a personal challenge that makes me want to join in! I join Clubs too, but that is another story.

So here are the 3 (yes, three) challenges I will be busying myself with over the next 4 months.

1. Half of Jess is hosting 'Drop Dead Gorgeous by December'. It is all about weight loss and accountability and as you know, I'm all for that. I will send her my first update on Sunday. Click here for the details.

2. Science@home is helping people participate in the Carbon Futures challenge. This is about mapping your carbon footprint over a three week period. I couldn't help myself, so I joined up (it started on Monday 23.08) and now find myself doing daily quizzes about my water, electricity and transport use.

3. Kludgymom  is running a Back to School, Back to Blogging virtual course. It will start on September 12, so if you are keen to work on your blog, it might be something you are interested in too? She will be doing a different 'topic' every week for six weeks. There are assignments and pre-reading, so it could be a bit of a commitment. But I figure, what have I got to lose?

This will be keeping me pretty busy and will probably spill into the content of my blog at some point so I thought I may as well keep you all in the loop.

Are you a joiner? What 'Challenges' are you participating in at the moment?

PS: That is my best handwriting ever! So, desperate for a haircut (I look about 105 in this self-portrait. Ugh!)

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Reflections on the first 6 months of school

Nugget started Kindergarten this year. With all the 'back to school' activity in the Northern Hemisphere blogosphere, it has got me thinking about Nugget's first six months. He's been doing really well on the whole. Mastering most of the skills required to get through Kindy.

He has a gang that he seems to play with regularly. There was the stolen museli bar incident with his, now BFF, in the beginning, but otherwise no signs of social problems. We've had several playdates over the year and he seems to have picked a nice little group of kids to play with (don't get me started on some of the Mums though!).

His reading is coming along nicely. It still amazes me that kids can learn to read. One week they are looking at books with a big picture and a single word on a page (and it doesn't take a genius to have a good stab at those books!) and then 6 months later they are reading. Really reading. Books. Magazines. Sub-titles on the TV. Nothing is sacred.

His spelling is great. He is impulsive, like his mother, but when he stops and thinks about it he can spell most words. When he is wrong, his attempts make good phonetic sense (like bloo for blue), if only English were so simple!

He can add and subtract numbers and seems to enjoy doing so.

There are a few issues with his News topics, but he does participate and seems to get a kick out of being the centre of attention for all of the 2 minutes it must take him to exhaust his knowledge on the topic of the day.

And his writing, well, every kid has an Achilles heel don't they? It seems, Nugget has inherited my terrible handwriting. I think I have referred to it before? (Number 33 on the list)

We have been seeing an Occupational Therapist (OT) for about a term now. His progress is phenomenal, but he is still miles behind his class in terms of letter formation, cutting and other fine motor skills. I reckon he will get there, but for now we have a regular gig on a Thursday morning before school!

It was a pretty tough decision for us whether to send Nugget to school this year or not. In NSW kids must start school by the time they are 6 but can start school the year they turn five, provided that they do so before July 31. Nugget has his birthday in April, so he is borderline (the trend is usually to 'wait' if the child's birthday is much after February). He is young for his class, but certainly not the youngest.

So far I feel we have made the right choice for him.

He makes us proud every day.

How is your Kindy kid going?

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Weighing up the role of water

What's the deal with drinking water and weight loss?

Pretty much every 'diet' you read about stipulates that you must drink 6-8 glasses of water a day. It seems like a lot.

I don't mind drinking water. I can easily tuck into a litre or so a day, most of the time. 1.5L - 2L is a little out of my league though.

In the spirit of unlocking the science, I did a bit of a 'google' search on water and weight loss. Here are some of the facts that I discovered:

  • Your brain can't detect the difference between hunger and thirst. If you are 'peckish', have some water first and then see how you feel.
  • Dehydration causes water retention which causes bloating and can make you weigh a kilo or two more.
  • Water maximises weight loss because it allows your kidneys to function properly which means that your liver doesn't have to take over the role of processing fluids which means the liver can do what it is supposed to do, convert fat to energy (metabolise fat).
  • Water helps activate fibre in your body which means that toxins and fats are 'flushed' rather than stored
  • Water helps 'flush' toxins and fat in its own right
  • While your body can manage upwards of 20 Ls of fluids per day, your best bet is to drink slowly and frequently rather than ingest large quantities in fewer intervals. Stop about 3 hours before bed. You know why.
  • In the first few days when you increase your water intake and you are running to the toilet constantly, remember that this is a good thing. Your body is being released from 'survival mode' and excreting the fluid you have retained (in your ankles, hips and thighs), trusting that the water will keep coming. You will eventually reach 'breakthrough point' where all the flushing settles.
  • Drinking water can decrease your appetite.
  • 8 glasses is excessive for healthy and certainly not overtly ill people. Large intakes of fluid, equal to and greater than 8 × 8oz, are advisable however for the treatment or prevention of some diseases and certainly are called for under special circumstances, such as vigorous work and exercise, especially in hot climates. Some studies indicate that caffeinated drinks, alcohol and 'sports drinks' may be counted in the fluid count for the day.
  • Water has a positive impact on your skin.
I'm working on my water intake. How is yours?

1. http://theultimateweightlosssecret.com/healthy-eating/how-drinking-water-can-help-your-weight-loss/
2. http://www.shapeupshop.com/weightloss/water-weight-loss.html
3. http://ajpregu.physiology.org/cgi/content/full/283/5/R993

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Blogging 101 - Two habits I am cultivating

I'm still pretty new to blogging. I am by no means an expert, but I am a nerd, and what nerds do when they take up a new hobby is research. Sister B has been giving me schtick about my 'academic' approach to blogging. It is just me. I just like to know the 'why' behind things.

As far as I see it, the two big blogging habits that seem to be critical in growing your readership are:

1. Write about interesting stuff: If you read anything about blogging, you will know that focusing on content is critical. The idea is you 'find your niche', write killer content and your blog will grow.

The niche thing is hard for me. I don't fit snugly into the "Mummy Blogger" niche because I rarely share photos of my kids and I stray from the topic quite frequently.

And while I've got twins, I am not a typical "twin Mummy blogger" either because I have two singletons and their adventures feature too.

My family isn't big enough to fit in the "large family" blog niche.

My writing isn't accomplished enough to be a "writing blog".

I write about my struggles with weight, but I am not a "weight loss blogger".

I am frugal but I don't focus on it all the time.

I don't do craft.

With my 'not quite' niche, it becomes tricky coming up with appropriate content sometimes. Trying to 'entertain' readers who have been attracted to my blog for different reasons.

But in the end, I remind myself that it is my life. My posts. My blog. So I just write for me. And hope that you dig it too. Perhaps I am a "personal blogger"?

2. Build a Community: I have to say that I 'lurked' for the first couple of months I was blogging. I didn't find it terribly easy to find things to say about other people's posts. Not that I didn't find them interesting, I just didn't really trust that I would be interesting to them (and I had read that a comment is like a mini-ad for your own blog. Way too much pressure for a woman who isn't into 'small talk'.)

Then one day someone (who wasn't related to me!) made a comment on my blog. It made me feel great! Excited! Like, "Wow! Someone is actually reading this thing".

It was all I needed (along with a stage of the Problogger 31DBBB challenge that MADE me make 10 comments). Now what I do notice is, the days I find time to comment on blogs are the same days that I receive comments on my own. (I told you I am a nerd. I notice these things).

So I have learnt to comment more frequently and more strategically. Add to the post. Be humorous. Write a long comment if all the others are short, and vice versa. Write a question if you want the person to contact you, or respond.

I am still haphazard at best, but it sure has gotten a lot easier. I wonder if it will translate into real life and help me with my 'small talk' problem?

So I will continue to cultivate my Top 2 blogging habits and see where that takes me.

What about you? What blogging habits do you have that you could share with me?

Monday, 23 August 2010

Blog Bookmarks - The Blogging 101 Edition

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 am straying from the usual formula of my blog bookmarks post this week. In celebration of reaching 101 followers (thank you lovelies!), I am posting a Blogging 101 edition - Five of my own favourites:

 Meet my friend 'Flappy'

Are they twins?

Would you like a poo sandwich?

The fine art of friend stealing

Brendan Cowell - Two degrees of separation

If you are new to And then there were four, take a look at these posts from the archives, and don't forget to drop me a comment if you do!

 Regular Blog Bookmarks will be scheduled next Friday (I accidentally posted my Monday post on Friday afternoon, so this is out of sequence).

Tune in tomorrow for Blogging 101 - The wonderful world of blogging.

Friday, 20 August 2010

The low-down on twin prams

Since having the twins, we have had four different side-by-side twin prams. I know that sounds over the top, but they were mostly donated to us from friends (thanks!). We did make The Purchase earlier this year, and couldn't be happier with our current choice.

I thought I might put together a review of the four prams we have had. It might save someone else a lot of money and hassle, because in my way of thinking, a pram is an important purchase. You need to get it right because it can be the difference between sanity and a life of crazy.

To start with we were given the Valco Twin Runabout (with toddler seat). In its former life, it had already managed twin girls and their older brother, so was slightly worse for wear when it came into our life.

Having said that, this pram worked really well for us because Doo Dah was only just 2 when the twins came along. He still needed to be in a pram, so this large beauty accommdated all three of them. Tip: DO NOT take this anywhere near a shopping centre unless you want this to happen.

The good things about the Valco are that it is really sturdy and is a fabulous walking pram. You can literally pile kids onto the thing (Nugget would often ride on sun shade if he got tired coming back from the park), as long as you have the strength to push it! The extra wheels up front means that it doesn't 'tip' on hills, like some three wheeler single-prams do in my experience.

The down side for us was that it was very big to pack away. We have a big boot in the VW Caravelle but the Valco occupied a LOT of space (especially if you had to pack the toddler seat too). It is pretty heavy too, but I am yet to find a twin-pram that isn't heavy.

Our second pram was the Childcare Twin Rover (it is different from the current models available now). "The Big Rig" as it was affectionately named, was a hand-me-down from Sister B. Her first two children were only 16 months apart in age, so she found she needed a twin pram. The fact that her son grew and grew and grew meant that she couldn't hold onto this one for very long and so it came to us.

That is one of the downsides, it is pretty small. Well, the frame is big, but the seats are narrow and, somehow, closer together than other prams I have used (if that makes any sense). For a stroller, it has really big wheels on the front, which means it is better for walking than the average stroller, but it isn't as compact. A real hybrid.

On the upside, its closing mechanism is great (single handed so you can do it with a baby in your arms if you need to), it has good storage and it packs up very flat.

The third pram is the Maclaren Twin Triumph (different from the model currently available which is pictured here). While Ange and Brad seem happy with theirs, this stroller has been a nightmare to operate for us. The closing mechanism is ridiculous (I mean CRAZY), the sunshade is floppy and pretty useless most of the time (ours has a single shade that goes over the two children as opposed to the current model that has two separate shades) and, seeing as we broke one of the seat belt clasps very early in the piece and haven't been able to find a replacement, it has been painful to put babies into and out of.

The best bit of this pram has been the three handles (which I note isn't on the latest model!) because it is handy to be able to either hang shopping in the middle or have a 'brother' push the stroller with me. He can monopolise one handle while I still have the other two (and good steering). You can also have a child stand on the (small) shopping baskets (behind the shade) and still push behind them, fairly comfortably, which is helpful at times too.

The Maclaren has always been our 'leave it in the car pram' while the others we used for walking.

Sadly, the Maclaren is still in our lives (although it is about to die), but the Valco and Childcare have already been put out to pasture.

In January, we bought a very good second-hand Mountain Buggy Urban Twin stroller from our friends (and bought a kiddy-board attachment for the Doo Dah to ride) and, seriously, I am in love. This has been the BEST pram I have ever used. I will admit that the folding mechanism is a little strange, but I can not fault it in any other way. It is easy to push, sturdy, spacious, yet surprisingly compact through doors, has generous storage under the seats and a fabulous raincover and shadecloth. The babies are comfy on and off road. I think it is the bomb.

If I were to do it all again? I think I would just bite the bullet and get a Mountain Buggy upfront. Having said that, it is really expensive, and if I hadn't had the experience of the other prams to compare it to, I may never have known its true worth.  I doubt I would have realised that spending $1200+ on a pram would in fact be a great move. But I guess there is always EBay and other Second-hand options, so maybe I'd have been convinced?

If you are in the market, and living in Australia, this guide might also be helpful.

What pram do you use?

NB: I can't believe I cannot find a photo of the babies and Doo-Dah in the Valco pram or the Maclaren. I am hopeless!

Straight from the tantrum throwing textbook

I had to laugh when the Minx threw herself on the floor last night. She lay on her tummy and kicked her legs and thumped her hands on the floor.

It was the first time I have witnessed her trying to 'get her own way'.

Where do they learn that stuff? It was straight out of a tantrum throwing textbook. Complete with intermittent pausing, with a quick glance over the shoulder to make sure someone was watching, and then a return to form.

All of my kids have been very accomplished tantrum throwers. Maybe it is genetic?

Sadly for the twins, I have become adept in ignoring the toddler tantrum, being amused by them even. I've had a lot of practise. I wonder if this will mean that this 'phase' will be short lived?

If it is anything like the other twin milestones, Dew Drop will have his first tantrum in the next couple of days.

Just another thing to look forward to in this crazy life of mine.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

The truth about Mary

I was at the supermarket last night and I picked up the latest New Idea magazine and flicked through it as I was waiting at the checkout (as you do). It featured Princess Mary of Denmark who is expecting twins in January, which is not news to most. I am excited for them! It is lovely news.

I really like Mary. I think she is poised and glamorous and, for a person not born into the life she leads, she is dealing remarkably well with the oppression, paparazzi and conservatism. She has mastered regal.

Even my love of Mary couldn't stop me from being irritated by the article about her expected "double miracles", as Frederick put it.

In an attempt to 'get a scoop', New Idea reported absolute drivel about the pregnancy.

Firstly, although Mary and Fred did not state that they know what the gender of the babies are, there was a little 'box' stating that the sonographer at the hospital was calling them Princess A and Princess B, so they drew a long bow from this and proclaimed them to be girls! How many weeks pregnant is she?

They very well could be female, but it being August, and the babies not being due until January, there is a fair chance that the parent's don't know the gender of the babies yet (unless she's had chromosomal testing, or the like). Mary and Fred may not know, but the Australian public does.

Secondly, the same little box stated that the 'girls' are identical babies. Now, I assume from this confident statement that there is only one sac present (which occurs in only about 30% of twin pregnancies), but I do not know if this is the case or not.

Incidentally, if there are two sacs there is no way to tell if the babies are identical or not in utero.

As I only skimmed the article, I don't know if Mary confirmed she is expecting monozygotic twins (aka identical), but the headline of the article would suggest so, so we shall continue.

The article went on to 'out' the last twins born into Frederick's family and stated something along the lines of "twins run in his family". This really gave me the shits.

Identical twins are seen as a 'random event' and are not known to 'run in families'.

The example they gave in the article was of a set of female twins born in 1972 from the wife of Frederick's cousin.


The known genetic aspect of twinning relates to fraternal (dizygotic twins) in which women in the family release more than one egg  (hyperovulation).

How New Idea made a connection between Frederick's male cousin's wife and the alleged identical twins that Princess Mary is carrying is completely beyond me! These two situations are interesting yes, but in no way related to each other. I wish these publications would do some research.

I suppose when even your own doctor can ask the question "Are they identical?" when you have had boy/girl twins, it may be asking too much for a journalist to have some understanding of the mechanism of twinning? But then, if it is your job to interview such big celebrities, you'd think you'd do your homework so you didn't look like a complete doofus (and annoy every twin Mum that reads your article)!

Photo credit: This comes from http://danishroyalwatchers.blogspot.com/ a blog dedicated to Mary and Fred and family.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

The busiest 3 hours in my week

I am beginning to really dread Tuesday afternoons. You see, while I work on both Mondays and Tuesdays, I am the 'it' girl for pick-ups on Tuesday afternoons.

The Geege manages the drop-offs and pick-ups on Mondays and the Tuesday morning drop offs, but it is up to me to get all the kids on Tuesdays.

The three youngest go to daycare.

My oldest goes to After School Care.

It is such a struggle.

I finish work by 1630 (I start before 0800). I live approximately a 30 minute train ride from work, with a 10-15 minute walk from my workplace to the train station and a 5 minute walk from the train to my car. There is also a 5-10 minute drive from my car to the Daycare. Add all of that up and I am on the move for just about an hour.

I have to collect the kids from Daycare by 1745 (at the latest) to be able to pick up Nugget from After School Care by 1800. There is no option for lateness. They close and go home.

From the minute I switch my computer off at work, I am racing. Racing towards the train station. Racing onto the train (hoping like mad that I don't miss the 1645 or I have to wait 12 minutes for the next one and it all falls apart). Racing off the train to my car. Racing through the traffic to the Daycare. Racing to strap in 3 deliriously happy but overtired kids into the car (after experiencing the only joy amongst all the racing, the squeal of three kids saying "Mummy" with bright eyes when I open the daycare door). Racing through the traffic to the school. Racing with the three kids in tow across the school grounds to the After School Care. Racing to sign Nugget out before the dreaded 6pm.

I take a small sigh at that point (and silently clap myself on the back for 'making it on time'.)

But my self-congratulations is short-lived, because it then begins again.

We race home. I slap some dinner on the kids' plates (usually left-overs from the night before). Wrestle with them to eat their dinner (see here how that usually goes). Complete the nightly production line of bathing, getting dressed for bed, reading bedtime stories and getting them into bed by 1930.

Another 1.5 hours of racing.

It is exhausting.

There is little wonder that I dread Tuesday afternoons, don't you think?

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Sister A a Top 50 Blogger! Vote for her!

I'm so proud of Sister A.

She has been nominated as a Kidspot Top 50 Bloggers. You can see the article here.

Please stop over to her blog: Life in a Pink Fibro and vote for her (there is a button on her side-bar). She could win a trip to Dunk Island. Now, take it from me, she deserves it!

I bet you'll just LOVE her blog! I would definitely read it, even if we weren't related :)

There's a band on every corner

I have always been into music. I've loved listening to it, playing it, going to gigs to watch it live and, of course, belting out a tune in the shower. I have never been very good at it, but I have loved it all the same.

In my youth, besides learning music at school, I was also in the Town Band. This involved playing at all the important 'town events' such as Anzac Day, the local Agricultural Show and Spring Festival. It also involved trips away and in an American Pie Band Camp sort of way, all sorts of shenanigans. Booze. Sex. Hypnosis. You name it, we tackled it. It was wonderful to belong to this crew. To add my own part to the overall score.

Then, when I was an Exchange Student in Germany, I hung out with a group of musos. They were the Strawberry Hellbellies and played Ska music. I had the best fun going to their gigs and being a 'rude girl' in my big boots, tartan skirt and very short hair. I helped them re-write their lyrics into English. They were my gang and I explored German culture through their artistic, green, and highly political lives. They have had a lasting effect on my psyche.

When I came back from Germany, I moved to the Big Smoke to go to university. My first boyfriend was 'in a band'. He was an awesome guitarist (no, really), and the band was lots of fun, in a 1990s, "white-boy-funk" sort of way. 

I was the full "band chick" and my friends and I spent many an hour on the dancefloor, singing along to the band. Wherever they went, I would go too (working around a hectic university schedule of course).

I spent much of the four years I was with him at music festivals, in pubs watching live music, or at Byron Bay in a recording studio. It was the best fun in a sex, drugs and rock'n'roll kinda way. Quite literally in this case.

I really miss seeing live music. The closest I come now is watching The Wiggles!

It is definitely not the same.

But my ears live happily ever after without the tinnitus.

Monday, 16 August 2010

Got any good, sustainable weight loss tips?

That is not me in the picture, in case you were wondering. The image comes from here.

If you know me IRL, you would know that I have always had issues with my weight. I've never been really huge (except when pregnant but that doesn't really count huh?) but I have rarely been inside my 'healthy weight range' either (not counting pre-23 years of age). For about 14 years I have been trying to lose 'about five kilos'.

I have written many blog posts dedicated to weightloss. Take a look at them when you have some time. They are full of things I have learnt along the way, as well as a whole lot of angst.

You will see that I've had some success with Weight Watchers (WW) (earlier this year) but the creep has started and I am now looking for 'sustainable' solutions (before I put back on all of the 12kgs I lost!).

If you look at my personality, tracking Points isn't a great match for me. I hate doing the same things everyday and I'm very 'slap dash' in my cooking style.

WW did teach me a lot about portion size and planning though, and I have managed to keep many of the habits I developed on the program.

While I did WW, I also started running. I found the C25K program, downloaded Robert Ullrey's podcasts and off I went. A friend did some of the training with me (which really helped me get started), but it was the thrill of accomplishment that kept me going. I have always loved exercise, well, in recent years bushwalking mostly, but it had been a long time since I could have called myself 'fit'.

C25K is an interval running program designed to get you from the 'couch' (C) to (2) running 5 kilometres (5K) in a nine-week period. It is do-able. I did it. It worked. I still run at least once a week but recently recommited to the 3x weekly training that the program suggests because I have entered the Blackmore's Bridge Run and will be running 9K on September 19th.

To me, running is a sustainable way to lose weight and keep it off. I dig it. I don't have to drive anywhere or pay any money to anyone. I just have to drag my sorry butt out of bed in the morning, don my thermals and go.

So that is what I have been doing again lately. It feels good. It clears my head and refreshes my body.

I am still struggling with the 'right' approach with my food issues. Mind you, after speaking to a dear, very thin, very fabulous friend the other day, I began to realise that I will always have food issues. She has the body anyone would 'die for' and she made a quip along the lines of "Doesn't anyone who eats have a problem with food? There's just so much choice out there". Indeed there is. She is obviously making pretty good choices, but how does she do it?

As you know I have been loving Food Rules and I think that is helping me buy better food for the family (particularly with our snacks as the meal-thing isn't a big problem for me - besides the quantity!).

I'd be interested in your thoughts and ideas on how to 'watch what you eat' without going on 'a diet'. I need something that isn't going to make me feel deprived because I need it to be my new way of eating for ever more.

Do you eat in moderation? Do you avoid certain foods? Do you have any ideas that might help a gal like me?

Friday, 13 August 2010

Blog Bookmarks - Week Ending 13th August

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, after last week's paucity of political banter in the blogosphere, I discovered I was just not looking hard enough. I found this blog by Grog and he has been doing a daily update on the Election 2010. He is good. A real find for this little bunny.

I really liked a post by The Mummy Autobiography on how her children make her feel. Really feel. My kids certainly do make me remember I am alive! The joy, the love, and the torture (aka sleep deprivation). They are all there on a whole new level once you have had children.

I found the twin-Mummy blogger world particularly interesting this week. One of my favourites, MandyE from Twin Trials and Triumphs did a post on labelling children which I found thought provoking. It is so easy to compare your kids when they are the same age. Really easy. I always find myself thinking "she's better with words, but he's more sociable" or "she's a better sleeper than he is" . Have you heard of the self-fulfilling prophecy MultipleMum? Stop right now!

And then, over at Multiples and More, they featured a family that made my situation (4 kids in 4 years) seem like a walk in the park. Kim from, Multiple-y Blessed, has two sets of twins and one other child. She gets a big thumbs up from me for not being the latest admission to her local mental health institution. Instead she is thriving and seemingly loving her life. Go Kim!

Something light-hearted: Jemikaan did the cutest post about kissing (featuring Iggle Piggle and Upsy Daisy from In the Night Garden).

And something deep: Melissa from The Things I'd Tell You reminded me that tragedy is all around us with her post called Reminder. Something as simple as changing a nappy can trigger memories that we'd rather forget. My heart goes out to her. What a brave, brave woman.

And the last Blog Bookmark (but not least this week), is from Megan from Writing Out Loud who wrote about her experiences camping with children. Now this is a topic close to my own heart. I now need to amend the post I did earlier in the year to include 'not taking white clothes'. An excellent observation Megan!

What was your favourite post this week?

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Musical memories

I love music.

I love that when you hear a song, it can transport you to another place, another time.

For instance, when I hear Ben Harper's Fire and Ice, I am taken straight back to The Beach House, doing our bridal waltz, in my wedding frock, as happy as can be.

When I hear Cold Play, I am at the Big Day Out, surrounded by people, singing along to the songs, being warmed by the sun, a few beers into the day.

And last night, when I heard Ben Folds Five's Narcolepsy, I was immediately returned to 1999, to a white 4WD covered in "bull dust", with a fairly dodgey sound system.

The Geege and I had been together for about 2 years and we set off on a 4WD trip around Australia. He planned it meticulously, I just went along for the ride. We took 8 months to cover about 20,000kms and 6 of the 7 states (sadly, we didn't set foot in Western Australia).

We had the best time.
We camped everywhere we went (the fact that our tent never learned to put itself up was one of the reasons we eventually decided to head home).
We drove for miles on red-coloured dirt roads.
The Geege taught me about rock formations (he studied geology at uni).
We learnt about our country and its history and its indigenous people.
We did numerous multi-day bushwalks.
We met people from all over the globe.
We got acquainted with 'grey nomads' and followed the Dunlop K-26 footprint at every major attraction.
We learnt to cook on the open fire.
We gazed at the stars everynight.
We watched birds during the day.
We taught each other things about ourselves.
We didn't have a care in the world.
And by the end of it, we worked out that we were made for each other.

Thanks Ben Folds for the musical memory!

I love that about music.

What songs transport you to another place?

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Part-timers are the scurge of the workforce

I have been back at work for 6 weeks now (time flies doesn't it?). After my shaky start I have managed a perfect attendance record.

I am actually quite enjoying myself.

A number of my friends are Returning to Work at the moment. Many have to do it for financial reasons, some because they want to, but mostly, it seems the decision comes from workplace laws. They have to go back or else they won't have a job.

I work for the government, so it terms of 'family friendly' human resources management, I have a Best Practice employer. They offer 12 months maternity leave (with the option to extend for another 12 months), some of which is paid. They offer part-time hours on your return to work, until your child is at school. And they offer work-from-home options (provided it suits your job role and department).

I know I am lucky.

This flexibility has meant that after the twins were born I was able to have 18 months off. I now only work 2 days per week (and my full-time job is still open to me once Dew Drop and the Minx go to school). And I can work from home, sometimes, when it suits me. They also let me set my hours of work (I choose 8-1630 because that works for our family).

It is this flexibility that I hope will one day be available to all women in Australia (and other countries too). I know some of the larger corporates are living up to expectations in this arena, but lots of workplaces aren't. Like the situation one of my friend's finds herself in where she has been made redundant because her job role "can't be done part time". Why the bloody hell not, I ask?

It makes me shudder a little that in this technologically advanced world job-sharing is still shunned, part-timers are the scurge of the workplace and flexible work practices have to be begged for. 

What's up with that?

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Dinnertime debacle - please help!

There are only 3 rules around eating dinner at our place. You sit at the table, you don't play with toys and you must TRY everything on your plate. You'd think it would be pretty easy to have an amicable meal time, wouldn't you?

A typical nightly meal at our place goes something like this:

Nugget (5 years) sits at the table and picks at his food, all the while saying "I don't like it" and pulling out all the green coloured vegetables (except peas which he, thankfully could eat until the cows come home). Invariably he bargains with me over the number of mouthfuls he will ingest and, on a bad day, I end up feeding him (because of Mother's Guilt and his low BMI).

Doo Dah (3.5 years) rarely complains about the food and will eat pretty much anything but refuses to sit down at the table. He gets up umpteen times, races around the house in various stages of undress carrying food and dodging my advances and eventually I end up yelling at him and threatening to cut of his legs (not really but you know what I mean?).

Dew Drop (19 months) will eat everything and is quite pleasant about it. He is, however, the messiest eater in the world and manages to get his food all over himself, the table and the floor. He is also influenced by his nomadic older brother and, if my eyes stray for a minute from my watchtower, he has been known to race around the house giggling and dropping food ALL OVER THE PLACE! Argh

The Minx (19 months) sits, eats, smiles and then, cleans up after herself. She is the pin-up girl for fantastic dinner guests. More like her in my next life please!

All in all, it is an absolute debacle and is slowly driving me mad. Please, dear readers, I call upon you for advice and ideas on how to tame the beast that is our dinnertime. Surely there must be something I can do?

PS: If you could please come over and fold my washing (as seen in the background of the photo above) I'd be most appreciative?

Monday, 9 August 2010

The birth order debate - does it really matter?

I grew up being "the youngest" for six years, before my brother came along and usurped me. I'm not sure I ever really recovered and probably function more as a 'last born' than a middle child.

I married another 'youngest/third born' and we were never going to be happy with just two kids. If our parents had have thought like that, neither of us would have been here. We were going for three. We owed it to ourselves. The fact that we ended up with four children is a whole different story.

I've noticed lately that there is a theme amongst my children and those of my friend's. Look, I know Alfred Adler got there way before me, but I do think there is something in the the whole Birth Order theory.

The traditionalists would say that there are 3 (or 4) types of birth-order personalities. Usually the 'eldest/first born' is described as a leader and a high achiever (there are other, less flattering terms but I will leave them for now). The 'second born/middle child' tends to be a good listener and negotiator. The third born are the family entertainers and risk takers. The 'Only child', the fourth category, tend to be uber-firsts (just add "very" to typical descriptions of first-borns and you get the picture).

There is so much information out there about this theory and how it defines families and people. It isn't always about order per se, but the child's function in the family (so if the oldest child doesn't play their part for one reason or another, the next might step into their place and take on the traits of a 'first born'). Obviously there are other influential factors that change the 'typical' picture. Things like:
  • having a particularly critical parent (might make the eager to please first child into a rebel who doesn't want to do anything) or
  • gender (where a second born who is the opposite sex of their first born may also act as a leader) or
  • as is the case in my own family, a large age gap (where the child 'on the end' may be more like an 'only child' than a third or second born, leaving it open for the third born to still be the 'baby' of the family although she clearly is not. Just saying.), or
  • coming from a large family, (where due to depleted parental resources, birth order personalities can become mixed-up).
While I do agree with the general concepts of the BO theory, from my own, highly reputable social research, conducted from the comfort of my own loungeroom, my own personal theory is more about anxiety levels in first borns.

When I think about Nugget, he is many of the things a first born typically is, but he is mostly about the 'afraid of new things'. His younger, more social and braver brother, Doo Dah, approaches new situations with enthusiasm. Apparently unaware of the potential challenges of entering a room full of people, having others look at you, introducing yourself to new people or understanding the subtleties of the situation. He just goes in and makes himself at home.

Nugget, on the other hand, waits in the wings. He observes, he analyses, he dips his toe in and, eventually he gets right in there. Once he has deemed it safe. He rarely makes a social error (unlike Doo Dah) and seems to make friends easily. Kids like him.

At first I found this extremely hard. I am a group person. I love to entertain and, well, Nugget cramped my style a bit, while he was hanging off my leg, hiding under my skirt. I didn't really understand why he needed to hide and look before he revealed all his gorgeousness. Over time I have come to accept it. It is not so bad. I could probably learn a thing or two from him in actual fact (says the queen of foot-in-mouth-especially-after-a-couple-of-drinks).

When I was discussing this with some friends recently, they too found the same thing with their 'first borns'. 'Second borns' seemed to be more laid back than their earlier siblings and first borns seemed so uptight. And anxious. They are the ones with nightmares and 'tics' and stutters and sleeping issues and anal tendencies. Poor ol' first borns, the parenting guinea pigs, seem to worry about pleasing people.

I am certainly no expert on this topic. Just thinking aloud really.

What are your thoughts and experiences on birth order? Does it matter really?

Photo credit: http://img.timeinc.net/time/daily/2007/0710/a_wbirth_1029.jpg

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Blog Bookmarks - Week Ending 6th August

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.

Firstly, Good Golly Miss Holly said it best this week when she gave Giselle Bundchen her Testa del Pene award for Giselle's inappropriate comments about making breastfeeding a "worldwide law". Now I am all for breastfeeding, but Giselle, that is one of the least sensitive comments I have heard in a long time. The fact that this occurred during International Breast Feeding week makes it even more regretable if you ask me.

Not Drowning, Mothering  had her usual hilarious take on the matter.

I came across a few pieces I liked with a common theme of love.

1. Kylie from A Study in Contradictions wrote a post called love is about all the sweet things that the love in her life does to show her he loves her. It is really cute and made me smile.

2. Melissa from The Things I'd Tell You detailed the most tender moment between herself and her son that was so personal; filled with longing and love and heart-break. I was genuinely moved and shed a tear reading this aptly titled post.

3. A guest blogger on So Now What? posted a story about the cost of love. The demise of a love affair is never a pretty story but this is very well told and made me sad for the state of humanity.

Surprisingly, I couldn't find much to read this week about the upcoming Federal Election, but I did like the passion in the post by This Growing Life called decisions, decisions about why her vote is important. I am usually very politically active and the current trend of the polls frightens me. I may just have to put together an 'opinion post' this week (I am supposed to for my 31DBBB anyway). We'll see how brave I am feeling...

My favourite 'blog tip' post this week was on Problogger (surprise, surprise!). It was about building your blog's voice.

My favourite 'funny' of the week was by The Mummy Autobiography where she realises the only person, other than her husband who gets to see her naked is...her beautician.

What was your favourite post this week?

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Don't eat breakfast cereal that changes the colour of the milk

Michael Pollan, author of Food Rules, and the guy I have currently 'employed' to help make shopping, cooking and eating easier for my household, has 64 rules. You don't really need to remember them all because many lead you to leave the same types of foods out of your shopping trolley, but the rephrasing is helpful. Some just stick in my head better than others.

This week I am focussing on Rule 36, which is more of a policy than a rule.

"Don't eat breakfast cereal that changes the colour of the milk"

With this simple policy, you really won't have to spend too much time in the cereal aisle reading labels (with your "great-grandma" checking your every move). This makes the decision pretty easy.

It goes without saying really, because the ones that change the colour of your milk are highly processed and full of refined carbohydrates, as well as chemical additives.

I have to say that this isn't something I struggle with for me. I am the fibre queen, so my cereal is bland and raw and (sometimes) tasteless, but it serves its purpose, and for that I am grateful and continue to indulge daily.

It is the kids.

While I can get away with museli some of the time, what they really want to eat for breakfast is the dreaded Nutrigrain. It changes the milk ever so slightly to a dull shade of brown. It is probably not the worst cereal on the market, but it is far from the best. I have been working on alternatives for years, but I keep going back to it because it causes the least amount of grief in the mornings. I must do better.

How are you going in the breakfast department?

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

AMB Blog Carnival

Hey there. Still plowing through my book but wanted to fill you in on the latest. Go check out the Aussie Mummy Bloggers Blog Carnival over at Random Ramblings from a SAHM. You will find a piece of brilliance from yours truly along with a whole host of other bits of fabulousness from other equally talented Aussie Mum bloggers. Grab a coffee, click the link and snuggle into the night for some fine reads!

AMB blog carnival button

The reluctant 'Twilight' fan

I'm too busy finishing off "Breaking Dawn" to write much of a post today.

Although I have been a vampire fan from the days of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer and am more than a little in love with the True Blood storyline, I never thought I would be a 'Twilighter'.

Wasn't Stephanie Meyer writing for a bunch of teens?

It sure didn't start out that way either.

My first 'taste' came when I watched the "Twilight" movie on Foxtel Box Office (sometime last year). I thought it was terrible, but all the hype about the books meant that I had to get myself a copy to see what all the fuss was about. Clearly the movie didn't do it justice? There must be more to this?

I didn't think too much of the first novel either. It was an easy read, which, given that I had two young twins, was a plus, but I sure wasn't dying to read on.

As the third movie was being released, in May or June this year, the Mums at school were all discussing a 'girl's night out' to go watch it. I declined. One of the Mum's got me talking about it though. She was a big fan (of the books) and insisted that I try "New Moon". She brought it to school the next day, and I read it (you can't argue with her). I got hooked.

I don't know if it was Jacob, or the complexity of the Bella/Edward saga, but I suddenly decided I liked them. I polished New Moon off in a week or so, followed by "Eclipse" and, now I am in the middle of the fourth gripping book, "Breaking Dawn". I'm in. I'm loving it.

There are just three things I want to say about all this Twilight series buzz:
  • The movies are crap (I watched New Moon after I finished the book and it was extremely disappointing. They tell me Eclipse is MUCH better with the injection of a new Director, but really. I doubt I will see it.)
  • And Kristen Stewart. *cringe* Well, she's not my Bella. She is truly awful. Read this post for some excellent Kristen bagging.
  • I am impressed with the secrecy about the books. At over 600 pages into the final book, I still don't know what the end will bring. I've never heard boo about the plot. That's pretty cool considering how huge the marketing campaign has been for the series.
Well, I'm off now to finish the series. I promise I won't spoil it for you but I do recommend you tuck into this little teen fiction series. It is surprisingly gripping.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Spending individual time with the kids

I highlighted a post by Planning with Kids in one of my Blog Bookmarks last month. In the post she outlined how she manages to spend time with her kids on an individual basis. Now PlanningQueen has five children whose ages range from 11 to 1 (I think), so the fact that they each get individual time with Mum is no mean feat.

This post has had me thinking about my own parenting and how much time I actually manage to spend with my own children on an individual basis. In truth, I have to say, not much. I know that their whining, fighting, and general uncooperativeness are often cries for attention. It should be worth it to me to find time for each child. They deserve it.

My intentions are good, but, given the fact that I am at home alone with the kids much of the time, my follow-through isn't always great.

I know this is important for them. For building self-esteem. Keeping the channels of communication open between us. Enhancing our relationship through meaningful shared experiences. I've studied Psychology. I get it.

But I don't always do it.

What I do tend to do is pair them. "The twins" together, and "the big boys" together. The big boys and I will play games when the babies are sleeping. Or the babies and I will play games when the big boys are otherwise engaged. Not so much of one child at a time though.

What I am doing well:
About a year ago, we started to stagger the kids bedtimes, so that there is some time with less kids in the evening. The main reason we did this was to make the whole 'going to bed/going to sleep' routines more managable as our kids each share a room with one of their siblings and we were finding that the big boys (in particular) were keeping each other up.

The twins (19 months) get 'slotted' at 6.45pm.
Doo Dah (3.5 years) at 7.10pm
Nugget (5.25 years) at 7.30pm

So they are not actually on-their-own with us at night, but they get more attention from either parent for some time before going to bed. They like it. We like it. They are all in bed by 7.30pm. It works for us.

Natural opportunities:
Throughout the week, there is usually a snippet here or there where I find myself in the company of only one child e.g. with Doo Dah when Nugget is at school and the babies are sleeping or with Dew Drop when the Minx is asleep and Doo Dah is playing quietly in his room. This is an opportunity that I seize and engage him/her in quality conversation/play time so that we can maximise the fun and closeness of this little freebie.

Where I could improve:
The PlanningQueen talked of scheduling 1:1 playtime. She has a regular schedule at the weekend where each child gets 20 minutes of her time. They get to choose what they want to do with her and whether or not they want their siblings to participate.

You would need to set the ground rules first (like 'it has to be a house-based activity' if you are still the adult-in-charge of the rest of the gang), but they get to choose. It is their special time with you.

I love this idea and I could see that it would work well with our older boys, but I can't see the babies managing to patiently wait their turn (just yet. They are good but they are not THAT good). I reckon I will definitely give this a shot though once the babies are closer to 3, because I think my kids will love it!

The other area that is suggested is Split Family Activities. So when there are multiple things to do at the same time, you have to split up the family (you know like when one kid is invited to a party and the others aren't?).
This happens to us sometimes, but what we tend to do is one of us will take the twins and the other will take the boys (you see the pattern?).

I think we need to try to break out of our habit of 'pairs'. It is easy that way, but it is not the only way to do things. Who knows, by mixing things up a bit, we may just find a bit more time for each child on their own. That really would be a bonus.

What about you? How do you manage to spend time with your children individually?

Monday, 2 August 2010

Lollipop land - could this be hell?

We took the kids to one of those indoor play centres recently. You know the ones with all the balls and slides and bright lights and bright coloured plastic things everywhere. It is a child's paradise.

For this Mum, it could possibly be my definition of hell.

For one, there is the noise. Now, living in a small house with four young children means that I am partial to a bit (a LOT) of noise daily. It is the single most difficult thing about being a parent if you ask me. Children chatter. A lot. To themselves, to you, to anyone who will listen (or look like they are listening anyway). They speak loudly. They repeat themselves. They talk about inane things a lot of the time. They make noise, seemingly, for the sake of making noise.

Times that by about 100, and you can imagine the decibel rating at Lollipop Land. Hell.

Then there is the food. The cost is exorbitant. The food is plastic and tasteless and they WON'T LET YOU BRING YOUR OWN. Utter madness.

And then there is the General Public factor. I have to say I was pretty lucky at our recent visit, but I have met some pretty freaky types at those places before. You know the ones? Parents who go to those places to get away from their kids. They sit and gossip with their friends, or absorb themselves in their book or computer. They don't supervise their children and their kids get into everyone's faces and cause trouble. Those people's kids scare my kids. They scare me a little too.

So you see, lots of noise, bad food and terrible company, I wasn't exaggerating. It really could be hell..

Anyway, our kids had an absolute ball (as they do)!

My only survival tips for people are:
1. Go on a sunny day (it wasn't as packed as I remember those places being) and
2. Take two parents if you have kids in different age groups. The Geege managed the babies while I did regular checks with the boys on the giant slides. Much easier than racing between sections on your own (which I have done before).
3. Bring your credit card. Those places are seriously expensive! A definite 'sometimes' outing at our place.

What has your experience been like at these play centres?

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Going solo - I survived to tell the tale

The Geege went to the snow for a few days with his mate (a colleague). Geege owns Camp Hike Climb, a lightweight camping store, and claimed that they needed to do some 'product testing'. You know, 'get out in the field'.

I fully understand that when you work in a retail store that sells hiking gear and stuff, that you need to be up-to-date with the latest and greatest. You need to know that what you are saying to be true is actually fact. You can't rely solely on your impressive resume of hiking, biking and canyoning trips. Not when you clocked up most of your experience in the 1990s. It just aint right.

So I understand that he needed to go away and use some of the gear that he sells and get back into our, seemingly discarded, adventurous lifestyle. *Sigh* Life before kids really was a lot of fun!

I was a teeny bit jealous (well, a lot jealous) of his plans. But it wasn't the 'being left behind' thing that was the hardest. It just sucks a little that his snow-shoe trip meant I had to fly solo with the kids for four days! Four whole days. Just me, and them.

As far as it goes, the experience was less painful that I thought it would be. There were no major dramas to speak of, just the relentlessness of parenting (24 hours a day) and no-one to off-load some of the responsibility to.

The fact that I had booked in lots of visitors and activities for the kids meant that we were always busy and the days weren't too long. There were the usual mishaps - twins waking at night at the same time, one twin pooing on the floor of the bathroom while I was undressing the other, Dew Drop put his tooth through his bottom lip (with the horror scene of blood that comes with lip splits), a fall from the slippery dip, spilt milk, bikes being driven over siblings toes, wet beds, kids in my bed, and a mountain of washing after playing in the backyard after fresh rain. All in a day's work. Or a few days as the case was.

I counted them as I put them into bed tonight. One, two, three, four. Check. All alive. All fed. All happy to kiss me goodnight (I can't have been too much of a monster then can I?).

I've done my job. And survived to tell the tale.

My hat goes off to all the single parents out there tonight. You guys are my heroes!

What is the longest time you have been left to parent alone? Got any tips for us young players?
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