Monday, 31 May 2010

Storage crisis


The thing about all this decluttering is that the house looks worse before it gets better. I've got stuff everywhere!


The worst of it is the storage of well-meaning hand-me-downs. Don't get me wrong! I love a hand-me-down. I have been fortunate enough to be suitably inundated with donations from others that I have rarely had to buy any clothes for my own children. As a third daughter, I lived in them myself and have no problem what-so-ever kitting my children out in recycled fashions. With the focus on environmentally friendliness, this is the ultimate contribution any family can make. Reuse. Recycle. Love it.


My sisters and I have all had our kids at around the same time (there are currently 9 kids aged between 6 and 17 months). I have been the lucky recipient of good timing because my first, a boy, was the third grandson and so the big cousins clothes came to me. When Sister A had a second boy a few weeks after I did (Doo Dah), Sister B's Maxi-Taxi's clothes came to Nugget (she had girls after Maxi) and Cousin J's went to his brother, Duke. Neat.


Doo Dah and Dew Drop are systematically giving Maxi-Taxi's originals another couple of goes too. The supplies dwindle as the children go on (especially the knees in pants as my children have all crawled for a long time), but there is plenty of usable stuff and with a couple of top-ups here and there, the kids are covered for each season. We even hand bits on to our friends R&G, for their little man. We definitely get our money's worth, that is for sure!


When I had the joy of a daughter, only a few months after Sister B's second daughter, I thought I would need to go shopping. Honestly, after all those years of blue, I was quite looking forward to making some girlie clothes purchases, but after years of maternity leave and part-time work, the budget has been very tight. As it happened, the Mother's Group Mums came to the rescue! The Minx has a whole host of willing female donaters.


Which leaves me one very lucky Mummy, albeit one with a serious storage problem. Sadly, as beggers cannot be choosers, you can't insist that people only donate the next season's sizes now can you? Instead, when you have a six week old daughter they off-load clothes for the first 3 years of her life.


I am perplexed as to how to handle this situation. There are only so many tubs of clothes that you can leave around the house. I am hoping my Cut the Clutter lady will have some ideas for me (I haven't got as far as the solution section yet). In the meantime, I have been on the internet and have come across a fun site for the larger family (http://www.lotsofkids.com/) which is where I got the above photo from. If you are in organisation hell and have a million and one children, perhaps the site will be of assistance to you. It is very American, but if you like to learn from others, there are families with seriously big families telling you how they get through their days. I am amazed!

Sunday, 30 May 2010

An awful lot of circus


We had the school trivia night last night. I think I told you about the whole circus theme? and my general disinterest in dressing up?

As a virgin 'school parent night out' reveller, I made a few notes to self:

1. Parents don't get out much.

2. Because parents don't get out much, perhaps they should re-think their alcohol consumption levels when they attend a school function?

3. School trivia is more about raising funds (via gold coin donations for answers) than about the trivia. It took us many rounds to catch onto this and subsequently we didn't fare too well.

4. Fancy dress costumes do not hide 'baby belly' very well.

5. Some women look good with beards.

6. Sneaking a little Apple Schnapps shot with the table next door wasn't a great idea after many beers and a few wines. Sore head.

7. Attending trivia night after a night out with the girls (that finished at 2am after several cocktails) isn't a good idea. I don't think I answered a single question that someone else couldn't have.

8. I don't like loud noise.

9. I can still correct grammar when I am half tanked.

10. I think the Music round was a good one to go for the double points.

11. People are good at remembering kiss scenes in movies.

12. There were NO Academy Award questions.

13. Geege and I need to learn more about the local Hornsby area. Definitely our worst round.

14. Parent's talk a LOT when they are drunk and you can learn all sorts of things.

15. Computer nerds don't always marry before they have children.

16. You can't drink when you have anti-anxiety medication so don't put your foot in it in front of your sober neighbour.

17. The glamour Mums look more glamourous on a Saturday night.

18. There is much fun to be had at the school trivia night.

Friday, 28 May 2010

Declutter fest 2010

The last time I got serious about home organisation was when we found out we were having twins. Needless to say that was a pretty crazy time, and changed things around and stored a LOT of stuff. I don't remember chucking much out though. It is a shame. It would have made my current situation a bit easier!

We bought our house when we were pregnant with Nugget. Had we had a crystal ball we would have bought a bigger house, but things being what they were, we bought a three-bedder. Six people in a three-bedroom place is a tight squeeze by all accounts, but we have always loved our house and somehow we all fit in (for the moment). From the moment I walked into it with my m-i-l, I knew it was a happy place.

With my impending Return to Work, I need things to run a bit smoother around here. I am not a very organised person by nature. I have developed systems to help me cope with the amount of work that I need to do in a day, but ask anyone who knows me, my house borders on 'tip' most of the time. I become 'don't clean up for each other friends' very quickly with most people.

The only thing that saves me is the cleaner. She comes once a fortnight and is a 'reset button'.

So in dealing with the angst of getting ready to go to work, in addition to the daycare arrangements, before and after school care, new haircut, wardrobe update, change in shopping routine, I have decided to do a big de-clutter and reorganisation to assist with getting out of the house on time.

I have found a great tool - Cut the Clutter (pictured above). Sister B, the organised one, lent it to me ages ago. I dusted it off the bookshelf and have begun to get to work.

If you haven't seen this book and, like me, could do with a hand in this sort of thing, I can recommend this author. It is divided into sections on housekeeping skill sets  (like decluttering, organising your home, cleaning your home and planning your home). I have already learnt about my cluttering personality (I am not a true hoarder but do seem to dabble in both Sentimental hoarding and Deferring) and the need to declutter first, then organise, then buy organising stuff (I must say I always buy new things first, you know, tubs or paper holders and then they don't work out so am happy to try before I buy this time).

At this stage, I am in the middle of the declutter. One 'hot spot' at a time has made it managable with the juggle of the kids. I have already thrown out heaps and donated even more to charity. It feels great! The doors are closing properly, I am able to find things in drawers and I have only had to look for the car key once this week!

Having said that, there is still an awful lot of homeless stuff hanging in my hallway. I will get to it, but for the minute, it has nowhere else to be. The magnitude of the job does my head in a bit, but the reward at the end will be a better functioning household that is not crammed with stuff we just don't need. We aren't really spenders either. I can't even imagine what some people must have stuffed at the back of their cupboards.

Do you know what is in yours?

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Random thoughts...


Ever have those days when things don't make a lot of sense? You spend the day with a "what the?" expression on your face (not that I actually like that expression. Rove McManus has a lot to answer for if you ask me). You're so tired that your blinks get longer by the hour and you may just have had a Nanna nap on the couch while the kids had their lunch, but you can't be sure?

Today was one of those days for me. It seemed to go on forever and my brain was hurting from random thoughts that kept churning over and over in my head. I am on a de-cluttering rampage in preparation for my return to work (more on this at a later post) and wandering around the house has just not been the same.


Being a Thursday I have only three of the four kids at home. Nugget was at school. Today I had to arrange for another Mum to pick Nugget up for school (even though we live approximately 200m from the front gate) because of Doo Dah's leg issue, so my organising and arranging began even earlier than usual. I think my brain peaked at about 2pm, which was a shame because there was still a lot of day to deal with. Just getting through it was a testament to my parental stamina.


Sister B has a lot to say about Domestic Thought. The tiresome effort involved in keeping a household in order. Even if women now have a helping hand in the domestic duties (e.g. the Geege is a Master at dishwasher loading and unpacking, without even being asked these days :), very few of my friend's report any help with Domestic Thought. Who is it that changes the kids' wardrobes every season? Who is it that replaces the plastic sheet for the five-year old so that his mattress isn't soaking every morning? Who is it that organises the school lunches and ensures there is variety and stock for the whole week? I am sure if you are a woman and you are reading this, it would be you. Guys just don't seem to do Domestic Thought.


Sister B's approach to this is man-training. I think that is too slow (except when you start with your male children from the get-go. Watch out Nugget, Doo Dah and Dew Drop. You WILL be man-trained in the fine art of DT). This is why I think all women need a wife. I know this sounds very Big Love of me, but it becomes more and more attractive the more children you have. I just struggle with the burden of all this Thought and the workload involved. You know when you find yourself telling your four kids, five and under that you are not their 'slave' that you are pushed. I say this so often that I now hear it repeated back to me. "Doo Dah, can you please grab me some wipes?" I asked today, and he responded with "I am not your slave, Mum." What the?


I have suggested, mostly jokingly but with a small amount of hope, to the Geege that we consider a wife. What the? he says. He knows me well enough to know that there really isn't room for another woman in this family. There are few women who could cope I think, but hats off to them. Community living has a lot going for it in the years of early parenting. I just need someone to help cook, clean, organise the house and its occupants? Perhaps a live-in Nanny will suffice?


I am just so tired. Tireder than I like to admit most of the time. Small additions, like a child that can't walk all of a sudden, just throw out the balance. Things are only just staying afloat because one unplanned thing makes EVERYTHING fall apart. An early night for me beckons. Tomorrow things will be better. Doo Dah will be walking properly, without a limp, and we will get Nugget off to school and then continue the day in a normal manner without the What the? moments and with a reduction in random thoughts.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

A post about legs...

They are up! On their legs that is. Walking. Both The Minx and Dew Drop have discovered the joys of getting around on their pins (I use that expression although there is nothing 'pinny' about either of the babies legs). All of this activity occurred last week, Dew Drop on Monday, The Minx on Wednesday. By all accounts this pleases me, who doesn't hate the crawling stage?, but is not without its downside (I am the perpetual pessimist afterall). Their gain is my loss on some levels. For instance, I lost 2 bets.


The first was because Dew Drop made it up first. He didn't crawl until age 364 days (about 6 weeks after the Minx) so I had her pegged to walk first. Wrong. Old 'Twin 1' did what twin ones are reported to do, reach milestones first. Good one, Dew Drop. A little sidebar here. The research reports that Twin 1s usually outperforms Twin 2s. Other research also reports that girls outperform boys in most developmental milestones. As my twins are b/g twins and my boy was the first one out (by three minutes) I have been quietly wondering which of these research results would ring true. Of course, neither is! My twins have interchanged the 'leader' role (if you can use the word 'leader' for a child who takes their first steps just shy of seventeen months?). Twins are also renowned for being later bloomers than singletons. ANYWAY... back to the second bet that I lost...


The second was that they walked before they started daycare. Filling out the forms a few short weeks ago, I had to confess to their lack of ambulation. I thought that they would still be crawling for sure when they turned up. But they had their first, rather unsuccessful day at daycare this week, in preparation for my return to work in July, and they were officially 'toddlers' there. Pheww. So much more to do when you can walk around.


It is remarkable how getting up and walking ages a person. All of a sudden the twins are toddlers! They look older, wiser and definitely taller. Bye, bye babies (she says all smug but with a heart that is melting on the inside. No more babies for me. Yay! Boo :( On a practical note, I am excited that I still have a couple of size one winter pants that have their knees intact! All are discoloured from months of cleaning my floorboards (I tried tying Enjo to their knees but they were not terribly compliant with this notion. Wonder why?) but some are not holey. I am thankful for this :) Their thighs will burst the seams now before they grow out of them, so it seems only fitting that they have a few clean, 'big kid' pants. My beautiful, clever babies/toddlers :)


The other legs I need to add to this post are Doo Dah's. He has done something to his left knee and cannot walk (the irony of it!). He has been crawling around the house today and is unable to weight bare. At all. The poor darling. No obvious pain when not trying to stand, but definite pain when he does. The doctor wants me to wait and see for the next 24 hours, hypothesising that it could be a viral inflammation. So we sit and wait and hope that he springs out of bed tomorrow morning.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Sometimes four is too many


We had a very tough night last night. I finally got to sleep at 4.18 (I know this because that is the time that Dew Drop fell asleep and I would have been 10 seconds after him). We had the team going for it at different times throughout the night. Sometimes 4 kids is too many for any parents to manage.


We have been seriously sleep deprived for years. Nugget has always been a terrible sleeper and now, at five, he is still a regular in our bed at night. The good thing is that now he no longer wakes us, rather he just slides into the bottom of our bed, near our feet, and sleeps there. His kicking and murmuring usually wakes me up and so the battle back to his bed commences. Last night, while attempting to do his 'slink' maneouvre, he was caught because I was awake. When asked what he was doing sneaking into our room in the middle of the night he claimed he was scared of the dark (he sleeps in a room with Doo Dah and they have a light on). He chucked quite the tantrum at 3.30am but I stood my ground last night and he ended up back in his bed for the rest of the night. Our original horrendous sleeper is still a problem sleeper.


Doo Dah came along when Nugget was 20 months old (and still not sleeping through the night). Doo Dah was always an easy settler and a good day sleeper. He took his time to drop the night feeds and didn't sleep through the night much until after he was weaned (15 months) but he has been very little trouble since. He still has a dummy but self-settles and rarely wakes at night. While some might claim that this is not the definition of a 'good sleeper' by our standards he is great. The fact that the Geege and I didn't get a full night sleep for more than 16 months before and after he was born doesn't detract from this for me. Doo Dah is the one that usually sleeps through it all. But not last night. Last night he tried it on. He was woken by all the other antics going on in the house and then decided HE wanted Mummy or Daddy to help him go to sleep. His attempts were weak at best, but nonetheless, there I was at 4.05am soothing the Doo Dah. Sigh.


When the twins arrived I had little expectation of getting any sleep. It was however worse than your worst nightmare. They literally tag-teamed day and night for 6 weeks. I slept for approximately 1-2 hours at a time a few times a day. By the end of six weeks I was beginning to think up escape plans so that I could just leave it all behind. Thankfully, the Minx got it together and started to sleep. Peacefully. By four months she was a 'sleep through the night' baby and not a bit of trouble. Dew Drop, on the other hand, continued his 3 hourly cycle until 6 months of age. He still wakes regularly through the night (1-2 times mostly) and is a real handful. Usually we still manage okay because it is only one baby and we can take it in turns to deal with him if we have to. I no longer BF him at night but I imagine that once I finally wean the twins he may actually stop waking just to hang out with me? Last night however, both the Minx and Dew Drop had a shocker. They both screamed all night long. Nothing helped. No amount of cuddles would soothe them. I gave them both baby pain relief, eventually assuming that they must be teething? The Minx settled eventually (2am) but Dew Drop held on until 4.18am.


Last night was a four out of four kind of night. All of the bad sleeping patterns of the kids came to the fore. It is extremely difficult to deal with this when you have had no sleep yourself (the first scream (from the Mix) was at 12.20am and the Geege and I had gone to bed at 11pm). I am pretty exhausted today I have to say.


What about you? Did you sleep well?

Monday, 17 May 2010

Craft seems to be the topic of the week

I will just start this post with a statement.

I don't do craft.

There. I have said it. And I am okay with it. I have made my peace with my crappy artistic skills. Some background if you will...


I was first introduced to crafty goodness back at high-school by a well-meaning friend, M. She was a master at cross-stitch, knitting, sewing and all the other things that crafty types do. She entered, and won, many a local-Show craft category. I coverted her skills and when I visited her place at the weekends, she and her Mum offered me tuition in these things. I have to say that I rather enjoyed my short spell of cross stitch and sewing with M and her Mum, but I preferred (even then) to play Mah Zhong (sp?), which was our other weekend pursuit together. I haven't seen M in years (she lives in England now with her husband and three kids) but I have no doubt that she is still making lovely little things with the best of them. Me. Not so much.


My second foray into craft was through my group of uni friends. About 6 or 7 years ago we started a Stitch n Bitch group. The idea was that we get together, chat, eat and make hand-made goodies. It turned out that most of my friends had all these hidden talents, be it knitting, crocheting or cross stitch. Many a baby beanie, scarf and jumper have been the created through this SnB group! I have always been a bit sporadic with my attendance, but the fact that the very first scarf I began (back in the early noughties) is still the current craft project has little to do with my attendance rate. My alcohol consumption, rate of child production, and lack of skill yes, but lack of attendance, no. At this point I want to digress on two points. 1. Our SnB started before it was 'cool' and 2. Our friend A, whose own craft skills are not memorable began a fantastic online shop for amazing hand-made goodies for up and coming Australian artists (www.leeloo.com.au) and I'd like to think that our SnB group was a small part of the inspiration for this :)


And then there was my Mother's Group. They too are crafty types who knit, sew and make amazing things for their kids. After a couple of year's together, a monthly Craft night was established. I was invited to join in but I declined. By this stage I have realised I am not a crafty person and being in a group with crafty people does not a crafty person make. I just don't do craft.


So it was interesting this week as craft has entered my world again, in a few different ways.

Firstly, when my friend A came over for a playdate with her kids on Saturday. She was commenting on the fact that she would like to be able to make things. She wants to learn to be a crafty type. She needs a creative outlet. We had an in-depth conversation about this (why? what's it all about? what type of craft? what will she do with the craft?) and it turns out that she is just like me. Likes other people's craft, can't do it herself and thinks she should be able to to. My advice to her was this. Make peace with yourself and find your 'thing'. She is a reader and a writer, so I suggested she start with those. Not everyone has to be able to make stuff. There are other ways.

And then, on Sunday, I went to my nephew's 6th birthday party. Sister B had made the most wonderful decorations, cakes and party games. Sister B loves hosting parties and she is brilliant at it. Well-organised, awesome themes (this time a Monster party), fantastic food (often with the same theme) and lots of party-games. This year she had also out-done herself. She had sewn these Monster 'softies' for each of the kids as a prize in the Treasure Hunt game. 25 little Monsters. They were amazing! Sister B does craft in a big way! Other Mums were standing around the party, Oohing and Aahing over Sister B's creations saying they wish they had time to do such things. I oohed and aahed too, but had no desire to recreate. I was just happy that my four kids got to take them home. Something special that Auntie B made. They won't get that from Mum, but that is okay with me.

Friday, 14 May 2010

$9 for a block of cheese?!

I did my fortnightly grocery shop last night. I say 'fortnightly' as though I do it every two weeks. I think it has been at least 8 weeks since I went to the shops without 3 or more children in my trolley, so needlesstosay, I was in for a big, pantry filling shop.


Supermarket shopping is a pleasure for me. I love food and I love people watching and you can do both of those things concurrently at the local. Late at night is always the best for a quick shop and the place is usually full of interesting characters, including the night-fill staff! Last night was a little light on 'entertainment'. Apart from a couple of 17 year old stoners getting magnums, I pretty much had the place to myself (apart from the people who were being paid to be there). This had its advantages, no waiting at the check-out springs to mind, and disadvantages...


Observations of a focussed shopper:

1. I cannot believe how expensive cheese has become. It is absolutely astounding! Good ol' cheese costs at least $6 for 500g. When did it move into 'luxury' items. Our local had a big special on Gouda, 1kg for $9. That's right, $9 for a block of cheese on special. Unbelievable.

2. Those two for one deals cost you a lot more money. Don't do it unless you really NEED 2 of something, otherwise you just fork out an extra few dollars on an item that you won't use for another month or two.

3. Buying in bulk isn't always going to save you. Take Nutrigrain. The 560g box is $1.00 per 100g and the bigger box is $0.99 per 100g. Obviously get the larger one if you need it, but don't think you are necessarily taking home a bargain. I think it is called 'unit pricing' and it is handy.

4. As much as it nearly killed me to spend $20 on Dishwashing tablets (they were $7 off their usual price), I got 58 of them for that. That is almost 2 months worth for $5 more than a month's supply. That was a pretty good deal.

5. Lastly, don't go to the shops when you are thirsty. I think I got about 16L of different drinking fluids last night!

Monday, 10 May 2010

Some days...

I got sick again on Saturday. Funnily enough I was babysitting at my sister's again (refer here for an earlier babysitting tale) and I started having pains in the tum. Anyway, to cut a long story short, I ended up in bed on Mother's Day. Not a good day in bed, rather a necessary one. The Geege had to work, so I had to manage the kids from the horizontal position.

It is hard enough wrangling four young kids at the best of times and yesterday was not one of those. I made a bee-line to my M-i-l's at about midday to get some help. The kids were great. Better than great really. They cope so well with all that gets thrown at them. The fact that as I was trying to get them all ready to get over to my in-laws place, dressing them, packing bags and port-a-cots, directing them to put their breakfast dishes in the sink and PJs in their rooms, I was mumbling all sorts of nasties under my breath (what sort of MD is this? why do I have so many children? why can't my 16 month old twins dress themselves?). They cope well with a cranky-pants Mum. I wish they didn't have to, but it is just the way it is.

Mother's Day is a good day to reflect on your experiences as a mother. I have had many wonderful times with the kids (cue trips to the park, kicking balls, giggling and wrestling in the sunshine) and some absolute shockers. The balance lies squarely in the court of the best thing I have ever done, but some days...

Some days.

Some days I dream of the things I would do if the Geege and I hadn't had kids. I imagine the career that I would have (much further along than the stalled one that I will be returning to in July). I imagine the trips that we would be having. How I miss travelling! The regular Sunday brunches. The leisurely shopping. The newspapers. Sigh. Our pre-kids world was so very nice. And this one is so bloody hard.

Some days.

I think all parents do it tough. I think some of us do it tougher. I don't know if it is the amount of kids that we have (four) or the fact that they are so close together (3 years and 8 months between the lot) or the fact that we have twins or 3 sons or lots of kids in a small house or lots of kids and a small business. Whatever it is, days like yesterday, when you are parenting from your bed, wishing like hell that all the kids would go and find another family to live with so you could just get some sleep... fortunately those days are few and far between.

Fortunately most days are punctuated with 'I love you" Mums, and cuddles, and smiles that would light up a room that are just for you. Most days you get to watch four little people grow and learn and explore all the delights this world has to offer. Most days, being a Mum is the best thing in the world. Most days.

*image from gstaticimage.com

Friday, 7 May 2010

Nugget's news

It's Friday. Nugget's News day. I dread Nugget's News because it is like pulling teeth trying to get him to engage in the process. he has no interest whatsoever. In the end it is always hysterical what he comes up with. He takes broken toys, any of the Ben 10 toys or an old book from when he was a baby. He never has anything to say about any of these things, he just wants to show the class. Riveting stuff Nugget.


We have taken to giving him prompts (you know, who? what? where? when? why?). It seems to be working in that he now has something to say, but his choice of topic is remains rather banal. Does he really think people want to see the old wrapper from his Ben 10 yoghurt treat?


I think this is a problem for a lot of the children in his class because this term the teachers have given us a topic to prepare each fortnight. I think it is a bit of self preservation (can you imagine sitting through a week of news about yoghurt wrappers?) for the teachers, but it is supposed to help the parents (I think) who struggle to come up with things to report each week. The other week in the fortnight continues in the Choose your own Adventure style of news, so we still have to generate our own stuff every two weeks.


Nugget's News today was a freestyle variety and I was dreading what he would come up with. Dirty sox? A ripped out picture of Lego from the a catalogue perhaps? Pleasantly, he wanted to talk about our weekend to the Capital. Last weekend we went to Canberra for The Geege's Outdoor Trade Show (he runs Camp Hike Climb, a camping store in Hornsby NSW). We dragged my parents along for the weekend, to give us a hand with the kids, so there were 8 of us to move around. It was lots of fun actually, and surprisingly simple to get about. Canberra gets a pretty bad wrap as a boring place, but it is not. Not one bit of boring was had by us. Anyway, I digress...


Nugget wanted to tell his friends about all the fun we had while visiting Canberra, but he couldn't quite remember all that we did. He wanted to put his version of events and wasn't happy to leave things out but only three days worth of stuff would stick. In the end I gave him a post-it with the following on it to remind him (I doubt he could read the words but it seemed to do the trick):

Our trip to Canberra by Nugget

Day 1 - War memorial = helicopter, submarine

Day 2 - Questacon = weather and water

Day 3 - Telstra Tower

Day 4 - Gruffalo

Back to Hornsby.



And that pretty much sums up the weekend :)



Have you got any tips for Mums struggling with News day?

* image from gstaticimages.com
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