Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Transitioning from SAHM to WM

I've got all of 5 days of maternity leave left. 5 days after 19 months leave. I feel like I have to 'make the most of it' but there is just so much organising to do. This is my last maternity leave. No more kiddies for me. Back to reality.

I will only be working 2 days a week. It feels like it will take me the other 5 days a week to prepare for my couple of days at work. Another rejig. Another change in household routine. This time, it is me who is shaking things up.

My workplace offers reduced hours until my youngest kids go to school. So, for the next 3.5 years I can work part-time and then return to my full-time position. It is a pretty good deal (if I can last the distance in my current position).

To complete my transition from stay-at-home-Mum (SAHM) to working-Mum (WM), I have had to do the following:

  • Make-over - I have cut-off the Mummy pony tail and got myself a 'do'. It feels fabulous!
  • Shopping spree - I spoke of this before, but I have completed my spend and now have a new WM wardrobe. I look pretty hot, even if I do say so myself! {And the best bit is that my new knee-high boots make that fabulous clunking noise on the wooden floorboards when I walk. I feel like a school principal}
  • Arrange daycare for the kids - no mean feat
  • Organise the house - so that getting out of the house is possible
  • Rearrange the household routine
  • Wean the babies off the morning feeds
  • Practise getting out of bed earlier
  • Learn to shower at night
  • Get a train timetable
It is all a bit surreal. I am at the point where I just want it to happen so I can stop wondering how it is going to go.

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Plastic surgery warning

I got this via email today from my friend R. It made me giggle and I think you will agree it is not something we are aspiring to.


Plastic surgery - Butt Lift


(Friends don't let friends have this procedure.)

Most of you have heard of a small surgical procedure called a butt lift.

I wanted to show you how it turns out. Please, refrain from getting this procedure done.

You will regret it!

Please see photo below



{No offence to anyone who may be pictured in the photo or who knows the lady pictured}.

* Photo from: http://i108.photobucket.com/albums/n5/silveradohdk/Funny%20Joke%20Photos/ButtLift.jpg

Monday, 28 June 2010

A tale of two breast feeders

I didn't start out trying to be 'Mother Earth'. Time just went by and before too long I was doing a pretty good impersonation. Cloth nappies, baby wearing, co-sleeping and extended breast feeding. Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick.

The breast feeding snuck up on me this time. If you had have told me when the twins were born 18 months ago that I would still be feeding them now, I would have laughed at you. I really would have.

The first 3 weeks of tandem feeding newborn twins were about the most horrendous weeks of my life. They fed every three hours, around the clock for up to 40 minutes at a time. By the time managed to squeeze into my prison cell (aka twin feeding pillow), feed them, change their nappies, burp them, have a cuddle and settle them into their cots, it was time to start again. It was awful. Plain awful. It felt like one very long day with a few 'naps' thrown in. Ground hog day.


I am obviously not feeding in this pic but this is the 'prison cell'

The feeding settled at about 3 months. The frequency didn't change, just the length of time it took; down to about 20 minutes. They each found a 'side' that they preferred so we went with that.

By four months, the Minx was only feeding in the day. Dew Drop continued to night feed until he was about 15 months old (boys and boobs!).

By six months, they were down to four quick (5-10 minute) feeds a day (with Dew Drop having his additional night feeds, of course).

By eight months, they were mostly feeding alone (no longer fitting on the twin breast feeding pillow). They took turns on who went first. It was quite amicable, most of the time.

By twelve months, it was only three feeds per day.

By fifteen months, I dropped all the day feeds and fed them first thing in the morning, and before bed at night. They fought for pole position, so I often ended up tandem feeding them again. Breast feeding became some sort of competition between them and they would often 'eye each other off' to make sure the other wasn't getting a better deal.

I attempted to wean them at 16 months. It was a failed attempt. Both babies were terribly upset and incredibly difficult. Feeds were recommenced and life returned to normal.

I thought I would just wait until they were 'ready'.

And now, at eighteen months, I am returning to work. I really need to drop the morning feeds so I can get out of the house.

The weaning started this morning, and it went pretty well. Dew Drop howled for 30 minutes or more, but eventually settled with a bowl of cereal and a cup of milk. The Minx took it in her stride, insisting on lots of cuddles, but not at all demanding.

So I have officially started. They definitely seem more ready than a couple of months ago but it will be an interesting road ahead.

About two weeks until body freedom. Pretty much the first time since July 2004 when I first fell pregnant with Nugget. I wonder how my boobs have fared all this time...


Have you had the pleasure of trying to wean an unwilling toddler (or two)? Any tips for me?



* Thumbnail from http://blogs.urbanbaby.com/buzz/files/2009/07/breastfeeding.thumbnail.jpg

Saturday, 26 June 2010

50 things you should know about me

I thought I would try out the Blog This challenge this week. The boys have gone to the circus with their cousins and grandparents, the babies are asleep so I have a few minutes to pull together a list of:

50 things you should know about me
  1. I have been blessed with more children than I thought I would ever have.
  2. I cannot believe I am 37.
  3. I am the reason Nugget (5) has a terrible temper.
  4. I have to take responsibility for Doo Dah's (3) shorter-than-average leg-length.
  5. I thought my daughter (18months) looked like a monkey when she was born.
  6. I thought Dew Drop (18 months) looked like Benjamin Button. (And not the hot Brad Pitt bits)
  7. I know it isn't cool, but I still think Brad Pitt is seriously hot.
  8. I avoided things that my sisters were good at.
  9. I did not 'peak' in highschool.
  10. I have some amazing friends in my life, many since my uncool days at school.
  11. I got to marry the best guy I have ever met.
  12. I have red hair, without the red. Just bouncey and big.
  13. After many years of child-induced sleep deprivation, I just don't seem to need it like I used to.
  14. I swear too much. Way too much.
  15. I wish I could bake.
  16. I have always wanted a gap between my thighs and a crease below my butt.
  17. I don't believe in God.
  18. I have hairy big toes.
  19. I sometimes buy lollies for the kids and then eat them myself.
  20. I have a very steep and slippery driveway. I fell on it this morning and now my back hurts.
  21. I constantly lose my keys.
  22. I rant at my husband too much.
  23. I am secretly devouring the Twilight series.
  24. I wish someone else in my house would fold my washing.
  25. I can't remember the last time I shaved/waxed my legs.
  26. I can't seem to wean the twins off the breast.
  27. My organisation system that I diligently set up as part of the de-clutter fest is not working out that well.
  28. I used to speak German.
  29. I was 'green' way before it was cool.
  30. I am a feminist, but in a good way.
  31. I like to eat dry pasta.
  32. I drink beer. Lots of it sometimes.
  33. The typist at a hospital I once worked at said I had the 'worst handwriting' she had ever seen. With such stiff competition (Can anyone understand their doctor's writing?), I was pretty offended by this.
  34. I eat lots of fibre every day.
  35. I like my caffeine cold.
  36. I am a terrible shopper.
  37. I wear a lot of black.
  38. I wish I had more flair.
  39. I wish I had more patience.
  40. I relate to this: "Life is not about waiting out the storms. It is about learning to dance in the rain".
  41. I really want to find the time to take my children to swimming lessons.
  42. I can be neurotic.
  43. I need to have surgery to put my tummy back together after having the twins.
  44. I wish I could take better photos.
  45. I am a crappy correspondent.
  46. I am terrible at small-talk.
  47. I want to spend my 40th birthday trekking in Nepal.
  48. The bird-of-paradise is my favourite flower, followed closely by the hibiscus.
  49. I wish I had a pair of rose-coloured glasses.
  50. I spend as much time as possible in the bush.

Did you learn anything new about me today?


Why not do your own list of 50 at Blog This?

* Image from http://www.cairochronicles.com/kaddee/wp-content/uploads/2008/05/paradise.jpg

Friday, 25 June 2010

Would you like a poo sandwich?

When I was growing up, my Dad often said to me "Would you like a poo sandwich?". At the time, and for many years to come, I had no IDEA what he meant by this question. Why would I want a poo sandwich? Who eats poo sandwiches? I couldn't think of anything worse to eat.

Lately, I have come to understand the true meaning of this question.

Poo sandwiches represent the 'me too' factor found in many children with older siblings.

Child A is doing X and Child B pipes up, "Can I do it too?"

Child A is eating X and Child B pipes up, "Can I have some too?"

Child A is going to X and Child B pipes up, "Can I go too?"

You get the picture?

I was a serious "me too"-er as a child. I was Child C and I wanted what both Child A and Child B had. I was observant and nosey and I seemed to be able to keep tabs on everybody. Anything that was happening, I wanted to be in it.

I think it must have driven my parents crazy. So whenever I said "me too" {or something else that implied 'me too} my Dad would tempt me with a poo sandwich, something that was guaranteed not to create a 'me too' response.

I get it now.

I get it because I too have a 'me too' child.

Doo Dah wants to be in on everything. At the age of three he is right in the middle, between Nugget who is five and the twins who are 18 months old (today). He wants everything that Nugget wants AND anything the twins want. It is starting to drive me a bit crazy.

Don't you hate it when your kids turn out just like you and you have to acknowledge your own flaws? and the lessons your parents were trying to teach you all those years ago?

I find myself asking Doo Dah if he wants a poo sandwich a lot lately

Like me, he doesn't get it. But he will one day.


* Image from http://www.cackaloo.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/sandwich.jpg

Thursday, 24 June 2010

The cost of raising a Destructacon

The cost of raising children has been in the news on and off for years. It is hard to get a real idea because the figures are so varied.

At one end of the scale, it reportedly costs as much as $1 million for the joy of raising a child until they are 18 (e.g. Mark McKindle, social researcher, November 2009).

The middle of the road estimates are more around the half a million dollar mark. For instance, my sister did an article on it for Money online and her guy estimated it was $600 000.

The Australian government released some figures at the end of last year that it is exactly $384 543 per child (not sure what they included but it is a very precise figure don't you think?). Our new FEMALE Prime Minister (*air punch*) might have more to say about this in her pre-election spiel.

But the smallest figure I have seen is $1300 per year (a meagre $55, 000 for 2 kids until they are 21) reported on the Family Law website. Obviously there's a very frugal bunch of people in the Family law area.

I am no economist, but as you know, I have rather an interest in Money Matters. The cost of raising a child is clearly not an easy thing to estimate, and I may be speaking out of turn here, but I reckon I have worked out the reason for this discrepancy.

It is good ol' fashioned variation.

I know, don't be shocked. Amazingly, all families are not the same. Who knew? And, even within your own family, there is variety in expenses, from day to day, year to year, child to child.

Some week's they cost nothing. Other week's they cost a fortune.

If you want to "keep up with the Joneses" they will cost you more. If you just want to feed them and clothe them (in hand-me-downs) they cost less.

If you are under house arrest with illness for weeks, they cost a little. If you are managing them during school holidays, they cost more.

If you have a little Destructacon (not naming any names, Dew Drop), then in one week they could cost you an unexpected:
  • $143 for a new VW key
  • $169 for new frames for your prescription sunglasses
  • $200 for new sunglasses for your husband
  • $?? for a new mobile phone
  • $?? for a new twin stroller
I don't think the Family Law guys were taking the likes of Dew Drop into consideration in their estimate!

I honestly have no idea how much we spend on our kids each year. Pretty much everything we have I suppose. I think our family is definitely not a $1 million per child kinda family, but I don't think we can get away with $1300 per child, per year either. We're somewhere in the middle I suspect, and very dependent on the flow of money into our house.

How much do you think you spend on your kids annually?

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

It made my heart sing

We thought we'd try our luck at Mainly Music this morning. On the surface it wasn't much better than the first time we went. Same boring overheads. Same out-of-tune facilitators.

But, it was a morning of surprises. Of heart swelling moments.

I loved watching Dew Drop shake his tail feather with a look of pure joy on his face. A smile that lit up the whole place. A squeal of delight with each new song that was played. Watching other children dancing and copying their moves. Clapping with glee. Absolute confidence. Dancing like no-one was watching.

But I was.

And it made my heart sing.

I loved that the Minx was shy and wanted to sit on my lap. Searching my eyes for approval. Her eyes smiling when she received it. Happily looking on from the sidelines. Watching her twin brother. Smiling at him. Enjoying his joy. Content in her own skin, in her own way.

It made my heart swell.

And I loved that as we walked home, it started to rain. We had our rain gear on. Doo Dah wanted to scoot home in the rain. I took his umbrella and watched as his face tilted up to catch the rain drops on his cheeks. A smile over-ran his face. His mouth openned to taste a few drops too. He took off on the scooter, whooping for joy, catching yet more raindrops on his hands. Singing to himself. Laughing out loud.

I laughed out loud too.

Sometimes this parenting caper can be pretty fabulous.

* Image from http://www.abc.net.au/reslib/200702/r126771_456255.jpg

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

My top 6 reasons for using cloth nappies


The Modern Cloth Nappy (MCN) sparks much debate (and guilt) amongst my circle of friends. Everybody knows that we *should* be using MCN rather than disposables with our kids, but do we?

When Nugget was born, back in 2005, cloth nappies were on the radar, but not to the extent they are now. We tried using them with him, but it was a nightmare. I don't know if he wees more than most kids or just had a knack for weeing out of the nappies, but he was always wet. And so was his bed. We lasted about 6 weeks with him and I closed the door on that little environmental crusade.

The day that I found out we were expecting twins, I had been invited to a MCN party. While I had a LOT on my mind that evening, I went along and bought some Mandy Mac nappies. Doo Dah was still in nappies at that stage and I thought to myself "I might as well make the investment". I was so glad that I did. I have been using them ever since.

Here are my top six reasons for using cloth nappies:

1. Cloth saves you money: Once you make the initial investment (about $500 for a singleton), there's no more to pay. When you are on maternity leave for a long time (like I am) that weekly saving is really noticeable and appreciated. The first lot of nappies I bought in 2008 are still being used. Three kids for the price of one!

2. Cloth is better for our world: I don't need to rave on about this (although I could!). Disposable nappies can take up to 500 years to break down. Every one of them. Think about how many we use with each child (4-6 per day for 2-3 years!). That is an awful lot of waste. On my lazy weeks (when I use disposables), my Council bin fills right to the brim, but when use MCNs, it doesn't.

3. MCNs are easy to maintain: I know it is extra washing (but seriously when you do 1-2 loads a day anyway, what's one more?), but nowadays there is no soaking. If you get the right tools (e.g. I recommend the Little Squirt for cleaning), it is not difficult to rinse them off and whack them in a dry pale until washing day.

4. It is not all or nothing: I don't think you have to be a cloth nappy traditionalist. There is nothing wrong with going cloth in the day and disposables at night, or using a mixture of both during a day. Whatever gets you through I say. In recent weeks, when it has poured for days on end in Sydney and my cloth nappies were taking three days to dry on the clothes line, I picked up a packet of disposables and got on with it.

5. There is a nappy for all occasions: There are a LOT of different brands out there and you need to try a few that work for you. Some companies, like Baby Blossom have sampler packs (and host MCN parties, like the one I went to). I use a few brands: Mandy Mac and Green Kids. Mandy Mac's are cheap and cheerful (but not all-in-ones) and I use these at home. Greenkids are all-in-ones and handy when I am out and about.

6. MCNs are seriously cute:


What about you? Do you use cloth?

Monday, 21 June 2010

The June Chronicles - What's on your fridge?

Sister B, over at Maxabella loves, is doing a Linky on chronicling life through the fridge door. I am sure she was hoping to attract more creative types than me, but in the spirit of sisterhood, I am joining in.

I took these snaps this afternoon.

Two handmade "sea creature" themed magnets (by Doo Dah), our most recent 'smiley' chart for the boys and my ever-present Breastfeeding Association magnet.



Always the practical pig, my fridge contains our two week menu plan. While some people I know have a computer spread sheet with menus and shopping lists, I prefer the hand-written version. Behind that are Nugget's latest sight words. All held up by some cute magnetic pegs given to me by my oldest friend.




What fridge would be complete without an inspirational photo? A younger, much slimmer me. This has been up since I did my big WW journey earlier in the year. The idea was to remind myself that I was thin once. This photo is held up by a couple of cute, 'home-maker' magnets that Sister A gave me (I believe she bought them from a store called One Wise Owl).


 

And then there is the obligatory children's artwork collection. Nugget's latest fascination is bats. Here is a drawing he did of himself and Doo Dah (as bats). While you may be thinking, isn't he five? I can assure you that there has been a vast improvement in his drawing skills since starting school this year (he was scribbling in November). The magnet is one of four that I have - one for each of the children's initials.


 

And that is it. The June Chronicles is complete.

These are a few of her favourite things

The Minx is so tidy. It is surprising, given her genes, but true. She potters around, stashing things away and sorting things out. I know it is an age/stage thing, but she is definitely more into it than Dew Drop is.

When you get down to it though, those stereotypes about 'little girls' and 'little boys' are pretty true in our house. Here's a list of Minx's favourite things:
  • Shoes - she loves hers, mine and anyone else's. She wears them on her feet and her hands and strokes them when she is playing. It borders on obsession.
  • Make-up - she loves getting into my lipstick in the bathroom drawers. Honestly, none of my sons have done this. She hasn't quite got the hang of putting it on her lips just yet...
 
  • Cleaning - She definitely didn't get this urge from me! She rarely drops so much as a crumb during her meals, but she loves wiping down the boys' table after a meal and asks for a cloth. She puts her clothes in the dirty clothes basket (without being prompted). And the thing I love best? She will put her food scraps back on her plate, rather than dropping them randomly off the side of her high-chair like someone else we know (who will remain nameless, Dew Drop).
  • Telephones - she loves walking around the house pretending to talk on the telephone. She will use anything as a "hone" but is especially partial to my mobile.
  • Dolls - she loves playing with her 'babies' and carries them incessantly around the house.
She is a pretty typical girl, wouldn't you say?

It is wonderful to watch my little girl develop her own taste, style and interests. And, just like it is fantastic to have three gorgeous, healthy sons, it is very special to have a daughter.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

The Christmas Birthday Issue

The twins were born on Christmas day. It is your worst nightmare isn't it?

Their due date wasn't until January 17th so I didn't really think that I was in the danger zone. But as I was getting more and more pregnant, and quite frankly, bigger than any person should ever have to be, it was almost a relief to go into labour on Christmas morning. That is, until I realised the life-long ramifications of a birth on that day.

I have to say that I have spent many moments in the past year and a half pondering the Christmas Birthday Issue (CBI). I have friends and family with birthdays all around that time and I have interviewed each and every one of them, looking for advice. The CBI is a tricky one (and one that everyone has a spirited opinion on).

There seem to be 3 main schools of thought for overcoming the CBI.

The first option is that we can celebrate their birthdays on Christmas day; choose either morning or afternoon and 'switch' the day in the middle. They get to have all of their presents on one day, have a birthday cake and the Happy Birthday song and be surrounded by their family on their birthday. It makes sense. It is their birthday afterall.

I liked this idea best, in theory, so we tried it for their first birthday {Mum insisted}, and I have to say it was pretty awful. There we all were at 3pm (after their sleeps) singing 'Happy Birthday' half-tanked to two one-year-olds whilst wearing our Christmas hats. It sure didn't feel very birthday-like to me. And can you imagine trying to hold a party for them in future years? Who would be available on Christmas day? Nope. That isn't the way to go.

So, this year we are going to try out another option i.e. celebrating their birthday on June 25th. A half birthday. Originally this didn't appeal to me. But after the less than successful first birthday celebrations and complete inundation of gifts last December, the thought of separating birthdays and Christmas has become more attractive. They can have a whole day of festivities for themselves. And in the future when they want to have a party, a date in June will be a lot easier to arrange than Christmas time. I think it will be a winner.

We will be taking a cake to the Twin playgroup on Friday this week, along with a stash of party hats and games for the big 18 month olds. It should be fun.

The last option, should our 'half birthday' fail, is picking another date closer to their birthday. Anytime from November 25th, until the Big Day would suffice. There is a lot of competition at that time of year in our family though. Mum, my f-i-l, and Doo Dah all have birthdays in the month prior to Christmas, so it will be hard to find a date that works. Here's hoping option 2 works.

As I see it, if you can have 'Christmas in July', surely you can have 'Christmas Birthday in June'?

Friday, 18 June 2010

Just gave myself a facelift

Thanks to Lena at Simply Fabulous Blogger Templates for the cute new look. You can find her here.

I am in love with myself. What do you think?

The self confessed Twin-magnet

I am a twin magnet.

I haven't always been. The first time I remember being surrounded by twins in my life was when I was at high school. We had something like five sets of twins in our grade.

I was particularly friendly with one pair of identical girls. They were amazing girls and I quickly became interested in their closeness and connection. They were different to some of the other twins in our class, in that they had their own circles of friends, would have died rather than be seen in the same outfits, and played down their "twin-ness" {new word! You saw it hear first folks!}. But they were always there for each other. Whenever something happened to one or the other, from out of nowhere, her twin sister would arrive on the scene to assist. Like magic. Poof!

Those girls began my fascination with twins and throughout the years I have met many more sets who have fueled the intrigue. Uni. Work. Social scene. Even my husband's Dad is a twin. You name it, I have befriended a set of twins everywhere I have been. Like I say, I'm a twin magnet.

I blame this longitudinal "research" for giving me twins. I remember thinking when I was pregnant with the Minx and Dew Drop, 'if you just hadn't found twins so damned fascinating...".

I haven't read anywhere that being a twin-magnet will in fact cause you to have them yourself {an exclusive from MultipleMum!}. It seems the medical folk pay more credit to things like genetics, maternal age & number of previous pregnancies (all of which did not help my cause). But I reckon there is some credibility in my theory anyway.

Which brings me to today's observation. My children are twin magnets too.

Take Nugget. The first people he called his friends was a set of B/G friends. He met them at daycare and they have been fixtures in our lives ever since. I will never forget the first birthday party of theirs that we went to. This was before our twins were on the scene and we trotted along to the half Spiderman, half Princess themed party only to be overwhelmed with the number of other twins and triplets there. The birthday twins were part of a Twin Playgroup and all of their friends were multiples too. There were an awful lot of 'matching people' (as Nugget so innocently described them) running around the place. {Something I hadn't considered or expected before attending the party}.

And then Doo Dah went to a local preschool earlier this year (for about five minutes - a story for another day). The first kids he started hanging around with? A set of B/G twins. Spooky. Not to mention the twins that he has befriended at the Twin Playgroup we attend on Fridays with our twins. He is actually starting to think that arriving in pairs is normal. I am expecting him to ask me anyday now where his twin is.

And obviously, the twins themselves are surrounded by twins. Twin twin-magnets.

So all of this has got me thinking that maybe I will be the grandmother of twins one day. Argh.

And then that has got me thinking, that maybe I am going to have to help my child through the first six weeks of their twins' lives one day. Argh Argh!! *tearing hair out*

And that has got me thinking that, it may be best to send them all off to the monastery now because, quite frankly, I am not ready for that. Even as a hypothetical.

* Photo is a more recent snap of our twins for any interested readers

Thursday, 17 June 2010

My new Lady-Crush

I was listening to the Conversation Hour on 702 this morning. I quite like a bit of 702 and, when they get a good guest on, the Conversation Hour is unmissable radio, in my opinion. The kids and I were on a road trip, of sorts, returning belongings that have been hanging at our place to their rightful homes. We toured 4 different homes in 3 different suburbs. House Arrest Solution #4.

Anyway, the guest this morning was Karen Hitchcock. She is an author, not one I had heard of until now, and my new definition of 'superwoman'. She was truly amazing. Her credentials that I gleaned from the interview:
  • She is a published author. Her book "Little White Slips" is a series of short stories that have been described as ""fresh and new and full of shocking beauty" by her friend and fellow author, Helen Garner.
  • She is a medical doctor - currently doing her advanced training in General Medicine at John Hunter.
  • She finished her PhD in creative writing last year.
  • She competes in triathlons - you know, the half Iron-Man version (not the mini ones that even I have done in my time)
  • She has twin daughters (who are now five but who were toddlers when she was doing her specialist medical examinations)
WTF?

How in the world can one woman do all of that? She says that it is a matter of balance. Everything is done part-time ... a few days during the week for writing days, a few days that are hospital days and a few days that are family days or used for long-ride days (All of which adds up to more than seven days a week, but Karen didn't seem to notice this.)

And the best thing? She seemed lovely in the interview. Personable. Funny. Humble. I think I am in love.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

The family uniform

Cousin D came up for a visit today {Bless him and the distraction from my house arrest!} and he pointed out to me that the kids were in a uniform, of sorts. Like me, they have the 'stay-at-home' trackie dacks and jumpers on. All of them. Except Dew Drop who was also sporting a denim jacket.

His observation made me giggle, just a little {before defending my intention for my kids to be comfy}. I don't think he was actually hassling me, rather just taking it all in. We live two very different lives, you see. His, is located in the inner-city in a Bachelor sort of set-up, with a high-paid job and a penchant for surfing and playing in a band. Mine, as you know, is suburban and full to the brim with kids.

Our day together was interspersed with his little observations (the way Nugget does this, or the way Doo Dah does that), which, quite frankly, made a very average day in the life, rather special.

It is not the first time I have considered the issue of matching clothes. When you have two people growing in your body at the same time and have no idea if they are going to be identical or fraternal twins, the matching people theme does come up. And matching clothes follows close behind in the thought train.

There are a lot of manifestations of this theme in our place, not just dressing the twins alike. We could go for matching outfits for all the brothers or perhaps, matching couple dressing or, my favourite by a long shot, matching mother-daughter outfits. Oh my! The possibilities...

Now, don't get me wrong, a bit of matching is rarely a bad thing. When I think about it, I am guilty of most of these combinations.

For instance, The Geege and I have been known to come out of our his 'n' her 'dressing rooms' (I'm kidding) in matching red T-shirts and fight over who will be changing before we go out in public (usually neither of us will so we just match for the day).

And my M-i-l is quite partial to purchasing matching tops or pants for the bigger boys, usually in different colours. Occasionally I have them wear them at the same time (e.g. when we go to her place) because she seems to love seeing them like that. Funnily, there are a lot of family photos of them in matching clothes because they are usually taken at her place by my talented s-i-l. Nugget and Doo Dah will give me stick about this in the future.

I'm even guilty of a bit of twin matching. When the bubs were born, I was given two of many little outfits (all in neutral colours) and I have to say in times of severe sleep deprivation, there were days when the same suit ended up on both babies. Matching outfits are terribly cute in the under 3 month bracket.

But I have to draw the line at mother-daughter dressing. I can honestly say, that I have not and will not participate in matching clothes with the Minx. Way too much for me. Some may say that the fact that we are both in trackie-dacks and jumpers today constitutes a matching outfit (and a breach of my statement above).

But this is not mother-daughter dressing. You know that it isn't. Mother-daughter outfits are much pinker or frillier or puffier or patterny and, well, much more the same that that. Think pageants. This sparkly shoes. Think the Duggans. It is that sort of matching I am not going for. If the Minx wants to cruise around in cargo pants and polatek fleeces, I'm all for that. I'm just not getting into her princess outfits in return.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

House Arrest tales - shopping spree

House Arrest Solution #3 - Shopping spree
I don't think I am talking out of turn when I say that I need some 'me' time. With a husband that works six days a week and 4 young children to look after on my own, who wouldn't? Add into the mix children with ill-health and you can imagine how much I crave some time out. The logistics of getting this time to myself is nightmarish to say the least, but after my first week of house arrest, I was prepared to go to the ends of the earth to make it happen. I would escape if I had to.

As it turned out, I squeezed in a quick trip to the shops on Sunday afternoon sans children. I won a gift voucher earlier in the year for my weight loss efforts, thanks to Kidspot.com and Weight Watchers. I have been putting off using it; waiting of course to lose the elusive 'last 5kgs'. But as my recent post reveals, I'm not going there any time soon. It was time to crack the top off the ol' plastic and slip out for some spending. Spruce up the old girl a bit before she has to return to work.

I am not much of a shopper. Prior to my trip at the weekend, I honestly cannot remember the last time I went to the shops for some retail therapy. Four kids and a tight budget cured me of that little affliction years ago. As a result of this my wardrobe is well, um, shall we say, tired. An unfashionable blast from the recent past.

Shopping is overwelming when you haven't done it in awhile. It took me some time to warm up. All those colours and lights and over-friendly sales assistants. It was almost too much for me. I was ready to leave after about 5 minutes of flicking aimlessly through some racks. But I found my stride and managed to bag myself a few bargains before the store closed and I was forced back out into the cold air of winter.

It wasn't a bad way to flit away an afternoon. I think I may have actually enjoyed it :) A heck of a lot more pleasant than being stuck at home with the HFM gang. That pleasure was all my husband's.

Monday, 14 June 2010

House Arrest tales - mittens and slugbox to the rescue

House Arrest Solution #1- Mittens:

It is a little late, but I found these mittens in the cupboard. I say a little late because the household tally for HFM has now reached three. Nugget is the latest victim. He is spot-less but has a nasty sore throat {and Manflu}. Doo Dah gets the gold star for his immune system, which seems to be fending off the disease beautifully (it is rare for adults to catch so the Geege and I don't really count here), but he milking the situation anyway.

Technically these mittens belong to the Minx but surely cute little kitten mittens extend their services to boys in times of trouble? With mittens can travel? What do you think? Can we take a trip to the park this afternoon if he promises to keep the mittens on?

House Arrest Solution #2 - Television bribes
When your attention span for any activity is about 15 minutes, there is A LOT you can do in a day. Play outside in the cubby house, kick balls, play with playdough, read stories, draw, play with lego and ride bikes. Been there, done that already today. And it is only noon. I am tempted to turn to our friend, the Slugbox. Our big boys can sit and watch TV for hours on end. They don't fight (they amicably take turns picking a show). They don't move (hence the nickname). It is every mother's dream (and nightmare) wrapped into one.

I have strict Slugbox scheduling. They can watch one hour in the mornings (usually when I am having a shower and getting stuff ready for the day) and one hour in the evenings (when I am getting dinner ready). TV on my terms. But when it is pouring with rain outside or when we are stuck at home for days on end, I have to say that my scheduling gets a little more relaxed... but that is the goal. I know I miss out on parent of the year with this schedule. The current NSW Health guidelines suggest only an hour a day, but when you have a household as crazy as ours and kids as interested in TV as ours, I feel like a saint for sticking to it.

After 7 days at home, I am getting some serious Slugbox pressure. The last couple of days I have been keeping a 'cross chart'. If either of the lads does something unsavoury (hits, kicks, punches - you get the picture) or doesn't listen to their parents then a cross gets put up on the chart. If they get 10 crosses, then they don't get any Slugbox at the scheduled times. I know this goes against all the 'positive parenting' rules but, trust me, I have been 'rewarding good behviour' for years with all sorts of fancy sticker charts, and I can't say I am a big fan of an express result with this method. They seem to learn good behaviour when they are ready in my experience.

Having them work as a team for this 'cross chart' has been surprisingly good though. They have been reminding each other to do the right thing because "we don't want to get a cross". So far we have managed to keep to the schedule AND the number of crosses has gone from 9 on Day One down to 3 yesterday. That is a lot less refereeing for me. Which is handy because I have my hands full being the household nurse.

* The photo of the TV was taken by Doo Dah. Taking random photos around the house was one of yesterday's activities.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

The Hand, Foot and Mouth extravaganza


Hand, Foot and Mouth (HFM). Sounds a bit like something I do all the time, but this little disease caused by the coxsakie virus (reminds me of another word I know...) is the cause of this ill-health going around at our place. {That and Sister B's son's nits that have made it into Nugget's perfectly formed ducktail, but that is another story}.

You may recall that I had the pleasure of the Minx's company on Tuesday, my non-child-free child-free day? Well, apparently she had HFM (without an obvious rash). I know this now because Dew Drop has developed a textbook case of it. It's a twin thing. Share and share alike. We went to the doctor's yesterday, just to confirm my suspicions, and his was so great a case, so fantastic a specimen, that my GP insisted that she show all the training doctors (we go to a GP Training Unit). You beauty Dew Drop!

Anyway.

The upside of this is that HFM is only a mild childhood illness. Nobody will need to be medicated or, god forbid, hospitalised. It is a quiet little, highly contagious nuisance. Any virus that doesn't come with vomiting and diarrhoea is fine with me. A bit of snot. A few blisters/non-itchy rash on the hands and feet and ulcers in the mouth. I can handle that. D&V, especially other people's, yuk!

The downside = house arrest. Quarantine for 7-10 days (until the blisters are gone). At least another week at home with no visitors. Another non-child-free child-free-day. Days of clingy children with runny noses looking for 'cuddles' and refusing to eat (the ulcers make mealtimes very interesting!).

And if I am REALLY lucky? Doo Dah and Nugget will also get the illness. A few days apart, just to drag out the experience for a few more weeks. And then my last few weeks of 'freedom' before RTW in July will be 'zap'. Gone. In the pop of a blister.

The joys of it all.

Friday, 11 June 2010

Nugget's news #2



It being a Friday, we have been preparing for another of Nugget's riverting news installments at school.

Today's topic for Nugget's News, kindly provided by his teacher, is "My Favourite Food".

I asked Nugget yesterday what he was going to talk about. I was genuinely interested in the answer as Nugget is not really a 'foodie' (an anomaly in our family) and therefore he doesn't really talk about food much, or request it. He's fussy but has enough of a repertoire for it to be manageable (if you know what I mean?).

Me: "So, what IS your favourite food, Nug?"

Nugget: "That's easy. Chips."

Me: "Chips? What sort of chips?"

Nugget: "Not fish 'n' chips but the ones Nanny gives me".

The ones Nanny gives him? Methinks.

Me: "You mean cold ones? From a packet? Crispy ones?"

Nugget: "Yes."

Me: "And they are your favourite food? You can't have had them very often?"

Nugget: "Whenever I go to Nanny's and you are not there."

Hmmm. Methinks. Nugget's News uncovers a family secret.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Stay at home Dad: Now that's the life!

When I was little I wanted to be a Dad. Not in a Crying Game sort of way but even back then I realised that Mum's do all the domestic work. Dad's got to go out to work and had someone to 'look after them'. I liked the idea of being able to be the one who had the 'ultimate no' but who didn't have to have the squabbles. Or the one who got to play uninhibitedly with their kids without having part of their brain thinking about how they were going to get the stains out of the kids' clothes as they rolled in the puddles. Dad's have a great role. I wanted to be one.

Since becoming a Mum, I realise there is no better role in the world. You are the centre of your child's universe and there is no-one more loved or needed (my kids are 5 and under. I am sure this changes with time). But there is still a bit of me that wants to be the Dad. For example, last night as I was patiently trying to get the kids to eat their dinner and sit at the table and not speak with their mouths full and take their toys away from the table and not poke each other in the eyes with their forks while simultaneously cleaning up the kitchen after preparing the meal with one sick child on my hip, Daddy arrived home. "Daddy!" a chorus cried out and four little people ran to the door to welcome home the Geege. Eyes bright. Excited.

It's a good gig that.

I met up with a friend of Geege's yesterday, at the Pirate Ship playground. He is a Stay At Home Dad (SAHD) with a 2 year old daughter (and a working wife who is 6 months pregnant with #2). He is a very Zen kind of chap; the sort who does Yoga and Vipassana (silent meditation retreat) and speaks in a quiet, soothing voice. He is doing a great job raising his daughter. She is sociable and happy and intelligent. A joy to be around. 

Anyway, he and I spoke yesterday about the joys of parenting. He was so positive. So happy in his role. Recounting stories of what could only be described as domestic bliss. Not a bad word to say.

Not a bad word. Was it an act? or is he really digging the whole Mr. Mum thing?

I know when the Geege did the SAHD thing 2 days a week, he did it under duress. He found it hard and draining (see here).

Not a bad word. I felt rather intrigued and inspired.

Upon reflection of my conversation with my husband's friend, I realised a couple of things that I learnt from this capable SAHD. Firstly, he takes time for himself. His daughter goes to daycare 2 days a week. He works one of them and has the other for himself. To do whatever he likes. Definitely a good thing to do, if you can.

Secondly, he doesn't do the housework and he isn't responsible for the domestic thought. His wife still 'runs the house' as he put it. He just gets to look after his daughter (no mean feat) and himself and cook a few meals. That would certainly make it a more managable job, don't you think? Somehow, he still gets to be in the Dad role, but he is the primary carer. The best of both world's I think, perhaps my ULTIMATE role.

The SAHD. That is what I am coming back as in my next life.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Climbing mountains

Image from here

I write another blog, for the Geege's business . Recently I did a post on The Wonderous Mt. Everest, not because I know a lot about it, but because there has been a lot happening there this climbing season. If you are not really into the great outdoors, I can understand that this fact will have slipped you by (and if you are, sorry for the repetition).


The whole, Climbing Mt Everest thing, has never been on my list. All that snow and wind and cold. Brrrr. I am developing frost bite just thinking about it. But it seems that there are many who do want to climb it. Increasingly more people each year are taking up the challenge. Despite the cold and the cost (upwards of $65 000), Base Camp is getting crowded. It beats me.

This year, the news from Everest sparked my interest on two occasions; one a 'high', the other a 'low' (sorry for the mountain pun).

Firstly, this American chap became the youngest person in history to climb it. At the tender age of 13, he and his Dad safely made the trip. I don't know how I feel about this. I mean, good on him and hooray that he made it. But WTF? Why do parents allow a 13 year old to climb Mt Everest? How does he get the idea and be permitted to do it? Obviously his parents are Mountaineering types. But 13? Thir-teen. Is it just me or is this a strange extra-curricular activity for a young lad?

And then this twenty-something motivational speaker British bloke perished on the mountain. Just three days later. He made it to the summit, but had nothing left in the tank (figuratively - I have no idea what state his oxygen tank was in) to make it back down. His friends/climbing companions had to leave him on the mountain. To die. Alone.

Now I have watched Touching the Void. I've thought about this ethical conundrum before. It must be very difficult to leave someone out there, knowing they won't be coming back, even if they are dying.

But you have to. It has to be every person for themselves in those extreme conditions. Evolution in motion. Survival of the fittest. I feel for the man's family and for his, probably traumatised climbing mates, but I know that if it were me, I'd have wanted to be left, so that the rest could survive.

What do you think? Do you think you could leave a man behind?

Do you reckon you have what it takes to climb Mt Everest? Mothering gives you the tenacity I think. But there is too much to lose.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Not today!

Today was meant to be the second installment of my 'child free Tuesdays'. The kids have all started daycare in preparation for my Return to Work and I was meant to be swanning around town, pram free, BROWSING in shops, having long lunches and getting my hair cut and a pedicure. You know, recharging my batteries.



Instead, I am stuck at home with a (very) febrile little girl.


You know you need a break when your 17 month old daughter wakes up with a raging temperature and the first thing you think is "Oh God. It's Tuesday. NOT TODAY!" The poor thing is viral-ridden and feeling very sorry for herself (and hence stuck to me, whining, teary and sad). I do feel sorry for her and have been doting on her, but inside there is still a bit of me that is thinking "Why today?". Tomorrow would have been a much better day to contract a virus. AFTER my child-free day. When I am fresh and re-invigorated. Not today!


It could be worse I hear you say. You could have 2 sick kids. Or 3. Or, God forbid, even 4. Or you could have a sick child and 2-3 other kids to deal with as well. It could be worse. I know that. But it is what it is. I'm just not that good at sharing my rare 'me time'.


Her twin brother went off to Daycare this morning with his big brother. Doo Dah promised to 'keep an eye on him' for me (Bless!).  Dew Drop looked like he had lost a leg. Looking back over his shoulder as he was whisked into the car by his Dad. He hasn't been away from the Minx for more than an hour or two before. I, reluctantly, told the Daycare to call me if he was missing the Minx too much (you have got to wonder?). So far, so good.


She's in having a sleep at the moment (although not terribly peacefully). A small window of peace. A moment to myself. I will savour it. It isn't much, but it will have to do. Recharge batteries. You know you want to.

Monday, 7 June 2010

Money Matters #9 - Join the Club

I realise that I haven't written one of my Money Magazine inspired financial entries for some time. Since just before the twins arrived in fact. I wonder why? This post must be a sign that things are starting to get easier around here. Either that or I am looking to escape... As always, I write this kind of post so that I can archive the information without having to keep the magazines. I just tossed a whole pile of old magazines when I de-cluttered my bookshelf last week (all containing valuable "I'll look at that again later" articles). I decided I don't have time to look at them, so they are gone.

 

 
Last month's magazine ( I have a subscription again so please beware!) has dragged the little capitalist out of me once again. The theme of the magazine was getting rich with family and friends. I'm not really into that sort of thing, although a younger me was willing to try it. Ask my sisters and brother about our pact to buy property in Melbourne in the mid-90s (when I got back from my year living there and decided it would be a great place to buy). Shame I was the only one who could't come up with the $10K we agreed to. It would have been a great investment for all of us. I watched on, miserably, as Melbourne property prices soared, without our piece in the pie.

 

 
Any hoo.

 

 
The magazine contained an article by Susan Hely on Investment Clubs that I want to share. I like the idea of an Investment Club, more as a hobby than a money-making venture. Have you thought about it? A bit of competition for the book club? or stitch 'n' b*tch?

Setting up a club. How? Why?
  • You need like-minded friends, with similar money goals - the secret to success is to share an investment philosophy with your team. Apparently Investment Clubs usually have a life-span of about 18 months due to conflict between short term and long term investments! If you want yours to last, you need to really match the people at the get-go, and try not to take disagreement with the group personally.
  • A major advantage is that you can start with a small amount of money.
  • By sharing the costs, you keep expenses at a minimum and you also share the risks.
  • It is a great way to learn about investing - the sooner you start the more you will learn. There are plenty of lessons in volatile markets!
  • You don't need prior experience.
  • Pooling resources provides greater investment choices and means you can develop a diversified portfolio much sooner than you would be able to manage on your own.
  • Every member contributes an agreed amount up front, and tops it up every month with a regular contribution e.g. start with $250 each and contribute another $50-$70 a month and by the end of the year you will have contributed at least $800. If you have 10 in the Club, that's a kitty of $8000, but a monthly investment that is within most people's reach.
  • Anywhere from 4-12 members is ideal for administration and meetings (share the hosting duties). Everyone should have a role and have to report on their work at each meeting e.g Chairperson, Secretary, Treasurer, as well as electronic trading of shares, researching shares and managed funds, and much more.
  • The Australian Securities Exchange has lots of information about how to set up a club or you can look at http://www.themoneyclub.com.au/.



Rules for operation
  • You can write your own Club rules - it works a bit like a Book Club in that sense.
  • You could get experts to come and speak to the group - stock brokers, financial planners or fund managers.
  • You would usually meet monthly.
  • You all decide what you invest in, shares or managed funds or low-cost exchange-traded funds, or all three. Or you can invest in property. Or even art.
  • You could buy blue-chip companies and sit or be a bit more risky and trade in and out of markets. Combining the two different approaches may create problems.
  • Don't be afraid to sell when the investment reaches your agreed level
  • Every member should have the right to vito a decision that they disagree with on ethical grounds.
  • Try to keep some balance in your investments, between low and high-risk shares and between industries and sectors
  • Reinvest all profits and dividends
  • Reassess your strategy annually to see where you are going (rebalance to your agreed level of diversification too)
  • One tricky aspect is paying out a departing member and determining the buy-in of a new member- set this out in your rules/partnership agreement at the beginning
Tax implications
  • Most Clubs operate as a Partnership. You can get a proforma partnership agreement from http://www.asx.com.au/ as well as taxation guidelines. You also need to register a business name (cost is less than $200) and hire a solicitor to draw up the Partership agreement (variable cost).
What do you reckon? Is an investment club for you?

More Money Matters?

#8 - Kids Birthday Parties
#7 - Cutting Petrol Costs
#6 - Saving at the Supermarket
#5 - 5 Ways to Make Extra Money
#4 - 10 Simple Money Saving Tips for 2008
#3 - Get Set for 2008
#2 - Valuable Lessons to Teach your Children
#1 - Investing on a Low or Single Income
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