Monday, 30 May 2011

Following on from the no-plastic bag challenge...

Image from here
I can't believe how easy it has been to change my plastic bag habit. I was already half-way there admittedly, but by being a bit more aware, and a bit more organised, I have only let six bags of plastic enter the household. I am pretty happy with myself.

I have learnt a lot along the way. Things like, you actually don't need to line your bins with plastic bags. And you don't even need to use plastic wrap because there are better ways to wrap sandwiches and store food (you can even make your own if you are so inclined). And you can even move through life without a ziplock bag (although I haven't conquered that habit yet).

And because this challenge helped me with my decluttering uber-challenge, I thought I would follow up with another eco-friendly, space saving one.

This one comes from the G-Magazine Online blog and it is all about going paperless. Not entirely paperless but reducing disposable paper.

I start this challenge with the following habits in place:
  • About half of my bills are emailed (not posted)
  • We only use recycled toilet paper
  • We only use recycled printing paper
  • We only use recycled paper towel
  • We use the kid's paintings as gift wrap
  • I rarely buy magazines or newspapers - I tend to read online or at other people's places!
I am starting (as suggested) with:
  1. Changing as many of our bills to online
  2. Getting a 'no junk mail' sticker for our mailbox (have you noticed how much junk mail we get these days? My boys love the toy catalogues, but I figure I can subscribe to those online and just not get the rest of the stuff that gets loaded into our mailbox)
  3. Finding alternatives to using paper towels in the kitchen
  4. Ditching tissues in favour of handkerchiefs (once our current stash is finished)
  5. Cancelling the yellow pages directory and using online directories instead (I didn't know you could cancel them? Apparently you phone 1800 008 292).
So June is all about reducing the amount of paper that comes into the house. Are you ready to join me?

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Talking contraception

Image from here
I remember after I had my second son (my first was 20 months old) that I had a conversation with the attending obstetrician. This poor man had had to endure the lovely dottie disposable undies that my mother had purchased for me to save soiling my own quality undergarments so we had become fairly close.

The conversation went something like this.

Him: "So, have you thought about what contraception you are going to use? I mean, it's important that you start using some."

Me: "Um. Abstinence?" (laughs coyly).

Him: "I really don't think that is a long-term solution. You two are like rabbits aren't you? What have you used before, um, I mean before recent times".

Me: "The Pill. I didn't like it though, went off it and, well, discovered it was pretty effective afterall." (laughs)

Him: "Ah yes. Well, that isn't an option for breastfeeding mothers. Have you thought about a Mirena?"

Me: "No."

Him: "Well it's an IUD."

Me: (eyebrow raises sceptically)

Him: "It's not like the IUDs of the 1970s. It is an effective, low dose hormone inserted into the cervix..."

Me: (another eyebrow raise. Keep your hands off my cervix, mate).

Him:  (continuing)"You should think about it. You wouldn't want to have any more kids in a hurry now would you? I mean, um, you need to rest your body for awhile...blah, blah (tries to dig himself out of a hole)...It is certainly a better long-term option than abstinence or the dreaded condoms."

Clearly, with the birth of the twins two years later, I failed to take his advice about this modern IUD. But after two became four and numerous less than subtle hints to the Geege to go and 'take one for the team', I had to take contraception methods into my own hands (again).

I am into the third month of life with my new friend and apart from being a psycho b!tch approximately two weeks every month, there are no complaints!

Seriously, for me the low-dose hormone is inducing raging PMT most of the time.

It is working though. I am not pregnant (*does happy dance*) AND the Geege has mentioned having the 'snip' about three times in the last month.

Psycho wife or short day procedure rendering you infertile?

It seems an easy choice to me ;)

How are you managing contraception post-children? Have you used the Mirena and did it turn you psycho too?

PS: I am going to be away for the weekend. I hope you have a great weekend. I will be back Monday x

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Living on a budget

Image from here
Finances have been tight at our place. Suffice to say we are back on the budget and living a small existence.

It has been a good reminder that living within your means is the only way to live.

You have to be careful of every cent you spend. Want versus need? Can you delay the purchase? We aren't buying anything new this year anyway, so you think we'd be better placed than we are. *Sigh*

It is such a bore but it is the little changes that add up to make a difference.

Take your lunch to work.

Drink water from the tap (no more Coke Zero for me).

Bake your own treats.

Turn your appliances off at the plug.

Use your washing machine, dish washer and dryer sparingly and always in the off-peak times.

Make your own cleanser, washing powder, shampoo and conditioner.

Read the newspaper online.

Use the library rather than buying books or magazines (blogs are a great alternative!)

Delay your haircuts.

Eat fresh food rather than processed food and cook from scratch rather than using ready-made meals.

Buy locally from markets.

Avoid library and video store fines.

Avoid using the car as much as possible - walk, cycle or take public transport.

What little tips do you have to stretch your dollar that bit further in a pay cycle?

Monday, 23 May 2011

Saying 'no'

Image from here
Life is pretty full for me. With the kids, work, the family business and running a couple of times a week, there isn't much room on my dance card.

I try to keep in touch with friends but if I am truthful, I often only manage an email, a quick text message or the dreaded Facebook. An actual phone call from me is a rarity these days!

When it comes to actually seeing people, I find child-friendly ways to meet up (parks, picnics, kid's parties, BBQs, beach adventures, camping trips, weekends away together) and this at least keeps my friendships ticking over. I love to spend time with the important people in my life, but many of them have as little space in their lives as I do, so it isn't easy.

Socialising with friends (without the kids in tow) has become a casualty in my life. It isn't that I don't want to, or that I like my friends any less, it is just that I don't really have time to go.  I often say 'no' to gatherings, events, or parties these days.

Going out at night isn't just about the time that you are present at the function. It is the time it takes to travel there and back (I live a fair hike from most of my friends) and to recover from the reduced sleep and extra alcohol consumed (I have never been one to shun a good time!).

Saying 'no' is not a popular choice. It is rarely accepted without a 'valid' reason (like a sick child or illness myself). "I don't want to" doesn't seem to cut it for most people but for me saying 'no' is often the only choice.

I don't know if it is a sign of growing up or growing apart, but I would rather be fresh for my family than party into the wee hours of the morn wishing I were 10 years younger (and looking less like a Nanna in my chosen ensemble that I purchased in the 1990s).

I miss seeing my friends and having an actual conversation more regularly. Saying 'no' has been a hard lesson for me to learn (I have always liked to be 'included') but it is the one thing that really helps me stay on top of all facets of my life. When I lose my mojo (even for a day), all hell breaks loose around here.

What about you? Do you say 'no' to social events? How does it make you feel? How do you manage to maintain relationships with people outside of your family?

Saturday, 21 May 2011

If it is good enough for Leo Babauta...

Image from here
Mr. Zen Habits and I have something in common. We were born in the same year. He had his 38th birthday last month and wrote this post to his children.
I thought I would take a leaf out of his book and pen some words of wisdom for my children.

38 things I have learned in my first 38 years:
  1. You will not be the best at everything. Use what talents you possess: the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best (Henry van Dyke). 
  2. Work with what you have.There are no guarantees in life.
  3. Try to stay in the moment whenever you can. You can learn from the past and plan for the future but the present is where you find happiness and truth.
  4. Finding people who 'get' you is pivotal to joy. You don't need to change for people (tweak, yes); you just need to be with people who like you, warts and all.
  5. Friends will come and go throughout your life. Swings and roundabouts. Appreciate them when they are there. If you miss them when they are gone, go and find them again.
  6. It is okay to fail; what isn't okay is not to try because you think you will.
  7. Find the patterns in life. It will help you try new things and tolerate people better. Travel will help with this.
  8. Everyone has something good about them. Everyone. Sometimes it is really hard to find but it will be there. Remember this when you are stuck with difficult people and they bore you senseless. Find the good. It will help.
  9. Becoming a parent will help you find the real meaning in life. My Mum told me that and I didn't get it until it happened to me.
  10. You will never be a 'grown up'. You will mature, yes, but it feels the same in here at 38 as it did at 5.
  11. Find work that interests you. Really interests you. You spend a lot of time at work and you should be doing something that makes you happy and contented most of the time.
  12. Learn to take care of yourself; to survive on your own. You will be alone for some of your life and you want to know you can manage.
  13. Open yourself to people. You will never really know someone else if you don't let them know you.
  14. Self-discipline isn't daggy or hard-core. It is a sign of maturity and will help you stay healthy.
  15. Bite your tongue sometimes. Just because. Even if you have something incredibly witty to offer, keep it to yourself. It is an important skill to have when talking to a sexist, racist, or homophobe so it is best to get some practise.
  16. Your ideas are always unique. Express them freely.
  17. Being friends with your family is cool.
  18. Your parents will always love you more than you love them. It is a fact of life. You hurt them a lot when you think you are just hurting them a little.
  19. If you "see dead people walking around like regular people". Come and see me. I can help you.
  20. Most things can be re-purposed. I am not suggesting you hoard 'just in case' but try to re-use stuff when you can.
  21. Look after your world.
  22. Look after your body.
  23. Do not 'google' your medical symptoms on the internet; it will always lead you to think you have cancer.
  24. Slip, slop, slap. You won't be biggest fashionista on the beach but you may save yourself from skin cancer and wrinkles.
  25. Do not wear your contact lenses longer than the recommended time. It will wreck your eyes and you won't be able to wear them again when you'd like to.
  26. There was life before the internet, Wii and even television. Go and explore the outside world. It is more beautiful and inspiring than anything made by us.
  27. Learning another language was the best thing I ever did for my world perspective. We are bound by the language we speak to see the world in a particular way. Learn new words; see the world differently. It is as simple as that.
  28. Dying isn't the worst thing that could happen to you; sometimes surviving is worse. No heroics for me please.
  29. You can always handle what life throws at you. Trust me. Sometimes when the chips are down and you think you just can't take any more, you do. You tackle something else and it frees you from the downward pressure of feeling burdened.
  30. Don't try to control things. 'Things' happily control themselves.
  31. If someone is throwing up in your Dad's veggie patch, they have a problem. It is called Bulimia and it takes a long time to get over. Try to get help for them.
  32. Don't exercise on a twisted ankle. It just gets worse and takes longer to heal.
  33. Laughing truly is the best medicine. There is usually a funny side to every tale. Look for it. It will resolve most of life's stresses.
  34. There are three types of people in the world. Those who think slipping on a banana peel is funny. Those who laugh because they know the bloke who slipped. And those who laugh because they put the banana peel down in the first place.
  35. If you have read and enjoyed a book, don't go and see the movie. It will always disappoint.
  36. Finding some space in life is the best thing you can do.
  37. No-one will ever walk into a room and know how you were delivered into the world, what your HSC score was or how many dollars you have in the bank.
  38. You can never have too many pens, post-it notes, hair-bands or bobby pins. No matter how hard you try, they will always go missing (maybe they are with all the single socks that don't make it our of the washing machine?).
Happy Birthday to me! So happy that the world did not self-destruct! We are having a pyjama day and enjoying the glorious weather.

And now it is your turn to offer your words of wisdom to my children. God knows we could do with a hand here. Drop them a line in the comments. xx

Friday, 20 May 2011

How would you like it to be your birthday tomorrow?

My brother just sent me an email that read: " In case of world destruction before then...Happy Birthday for tomorrow" with the following picture attached. *Sigh*

Image from here
Not being into the whole religious thing, I am not up to date with the latest interpretation of the bible.

Couldn't they have picked a different date for Judgement Day? How's a girl to enjoy her birthday?

So, in case of world destruction, it has been really nice knowing you all x

Thursday, 19 May 2011

52in52: I (finally) planted my veggie patch

Image from here - not my garden in case you were wondering
I am taking a leaf out of Kelly's book and setting myself something new to do each week in 2011. I am going to post about it each week on Saturday. I won't be doing this in any particular order, and will add the link to the post when it is complete. If I don't manage to acheive everything on the list, (highly likely) I will donate $5 for everything I missed to Oxfam for all the amazing work they do. So here goes...

We have been busy little beavers in the garden. We have managed to transform our neglected garden beds into a magnificent vegetable garden. I am so excited!

One weekend we weeded.

The next we topped up the soil, fertilised and mulched.

Then we purchased the seedlings. We have tried to grow vegetables from seeds before and the only thing that worked out were the radishes. We had a million of them - a glut, some would say. The rest of the garden? Nothing.

We bought strawberries, snow peas, broccoli, broccolini, dutch carrots and lettuce. The lovely lady at the local nursery assured me that they would all be a cynch to grow, although she spent a lot of time bantering about a bug that is particularly partial to the broccoli (I didn't catch all of it because Doo Dah and the twins had started pegging the little pebbles across the walkway by that stage and I was concerned that one of the older customers would go head over heels so I was trying to make a quick getaway).

The final steps, the planning and the planting, were completed by the Geege and his helpers this week.

One vegetable patch planted, watered and ready to produce succulent seasonal vegetables. Direct from the backyard to my plate. I LOVE the sound of that.

So we just have the small tasks of trying to keep the seedlings alive, helping them to grow and keeping the possums out of the veggie patch (we all know how friendly they are around these parts) and we might just get to eat some home-grown veggies before winter is over!

If you have any suggestions for helping this black thumb keep her veggies alive, please do not hesitate to write them in the comments below.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Opportunity knocks...

Image from here
Something came over my desk this week that has opened up an opportunity for me. It awoke an old feeling that I haven't been acquainted with for some time; ambition.

I had settled into thinking that my life needs to sit on hold for awhile; while we grow the kids a bit.

Until they can look after themselves, I need to be readily available and that means maintaining the status quo. Just getting through it. Staying in touch but not necessarily moving forward.

But then, this opportunity came aknocking from out of the blue. I felt the fire in my belly begin to burn. I felt the small rush of excitement you get when you get to try something new. I saw a way out of the status quo.

Maybe I can tackle something for myself?

Maybe I can move forward without interupting the family?

Maybe I could make this opportunity into something?


How do you know when you are really ready for a new challenge? How do you know that moving forward won't create more problems than it is worth?

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

I am officially a Superwoman!

Image from here
I have joked a lot about the joys of parenting twins. Double the trouble has been my personal experience. Those little blighters get up to more mischief than either of my older boys ever did. Be it writing on walls, ripping up books, defiant behaviour or whinging their parents ears off, Dew Drop and the Minx are a force to be reckoned with.

I have often been told you only get given in life what you are capable of dealing with. When it came to the early days with the twins, this theory came very close to being very bloody wrong. I was a basket case. I felt like I needed super powers just to get through another 3 hour cycle: feed, sleep, play… surely it can’t be three hours already?!?

Everyone kept telling me I was doing such a ‘great job’. I couldn’t see it. I was surviving at best. My mantras were “It is what it is”; “Whatever it takes”; “Just get through it”. Not exactly the attitude of an in control, thriving mother. Nothing terribly inspiring there!

I was delighted to read an article recently called Superwomen: Moms of Twins May Live Longer. I was intrigued. Superwoman? Who me?

The article talks about research on Multiple Mums from the 1800s in Utah (to capture only naturally occurring twins) and reports that we twin Mums live longer, not because changing twice the number of nappies a day makes us tough, but because we are in fact tougher to begin with.

It comes down to a natural selection of sorts, where healthy Mums take twice the chance to hand on their super genes. Ah yes. Super genes. That’s what I have!

Twin mums were also found to have more kids overall than those without twins (more than just one extra people, something statistically significant), recover more quickly between pregnancies and have longer reproductive spans. I am sincerely hoping that because I started later that my reproductive span remains at a tight 3 years and 8 months!

We twin Mums are exceptional people doing exceptional things for the good of Humankind (that was my thought, not one expressed by the researchers).

So here’s cheers to all the Mums of Multiples out there. You are officially superwomen! Wear your war wounds with pride. You earned them!

I think all Mums are pretty super. What do you think of this research?

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Help me to win a New Ford Territory for a Year and $5,000.

And yes, they always wear Superhero outfits when driving. Just in case you were wondering.

When I was a little girl, my parents would take the whole family out for a ‘drive’. We would all pile into the van, click on our seat belts and take off on a given Sunday afternoon.

Those were the days when the logistics of stacking four children into a car seat were still ahead of us.

Those were the days when paying $1.57 at the petrol pump was just a futuristic nightmare that no-one really believed would happen.

Those were the days when technology was only as advanced as a cassette deck and Donkey Kong.

Before too long the inevitable pestering would begin from the four of us in the back:

“Where are we going?”
“Are we there yet?”
“I’m bored”.
“Mum, she hit me!”
“I’m hungry”.
“I want Jimmy Barnes*”.

Mum and Dad would exchange the ‘parent glance’, try to ignore the chaos that was gathering intensity and volume in the back of the van and produce the standard answer:  “We’re going for a drive. Nowhere in particular. Just for a drive. Try and enjoy the scenery.”

We would drive and drive; meandering to destination unknown for what seemed like an eternity.

Eventually we would stop, visit a cultural or tourist attraction in our local area or grab a bite to eat somewhere or find ourselves at a beach. There was always somewhere different to explore. And we always got to experience it together, away from the pull of everyday life.

I have to say that I never really got it as a kid. Why would you just get in the car and drive aimlessly? I would think. We must be going somewhere? Why do we all have to come? Why can’t I listen to Barnesy? We better not be going to another graveyard for one of Dad’s genealogy projects!

As an adult, and now parent, I get the whole ‘just going for a drive’ thing. The freedom. The break in routine. The brush with nature. The sense of community and being part of the busy without actually being busy. The adventure of finding new places and doing new things. The simple pleasure of spending time together and creating memories. I get it.

Sometimes, when we are feeling brave enough (and rich enough!), my husband and I venture out for a drive with our four kids. Just because. We strap them all into their car seats and drive off. Into the world. Away from the mundane and ‘normal’.

We rarely have a plan. And we rarely get far before too many ‘parent glances’ have been exchanged and the kids’ banter and relentless requests for a DVD have sent us more than a little nutty. But we always have fun, wherever we land. Family time together, away from the rest of the world. Making memories. It is a beautiful thing. A cross-generational ritual even.

* True story! There’s no accounting for taste, but I was a big fan. Truth be told, we all were. JB’s indecipherable lyrics were the soundtrack to many family road trips over the years.

Do you have memories of driving trips with your family? Good? Bad? Ugly? And what about now? Are you taking the kids out for a drive regularly? Do tell!

This post is my entry for the Kidspot Top 50 Bloggers competition, sponsored by the new Ford Territory. A post with the prompt “Drive”. The prize is $5000 and the use of a new Ford Territory for a year. Now that could be handy after the death of poor Cyril. Thanks to Kidspot and Ford for giving me this wonderful opportunity and for supporting Australian blogging.

If you like this post, please take the time write a comment below and vote for me. Don’t forget to share the post with your friends. And thank you, as always, for reading my blog and supporting me.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

The no plastic bag challenge

At the beginning of May, I set myself the task of allowing no additional plastic bags into this household. For someone who identifies as being pretty green (light green if you will, thanks Sunny), I am encumbered with an enormous stash of plastic bags in my cupboard.

I *think* that I use reusable bags at the supermarket.

I *think* that I say ‘no’ to plastic when I pick up a few little things at the local stores.

And yet. Here I am sporting a gigantic pile of plastic bags. Bags that are taking up space that should be available for other things.

I do have a huge collection of re-usable bags too. I have sure bought my fair share of those over the years! (Mostly when I forgot to bring some but didn’t want plastic bags). But with the whole Buy nothing new for a year thing that I am doing, I don’t have a choice about buying new re-usable bags, so I reckon I am getting lumbered with more plastic.

More plastic because I am disorganised.

They say it takes 30 days to change a habit, so I am endeavouring to teach myself to remember the ‘green’ bags.

I have to say that it has been very eye-opening.

I haven’t had any difficulty at the supermarket. On the one occasion I spontaneously shopped after my soccer match sans bags, I just loaded the groceries directly into my car, grabbed and packed the bags at home and then lugged them up the stairs. Annoying, yes, but doable.

It has been the incidental plastic bags that have snuck in: Two were delivered with my fruit and vegetable box (to keep lettuce and celery fresh); my half-dozen bacon and cheese rolls for playgroup were housed in another.

So even when I have been consciously avoiding plastic bags for 13 days, I have a tally of three new ones in the house.

On the plus side, my stash is diminishing (albeit slowly) – another notch in my decluttering belt. I am also realising that there are many things I could do better to move from ‘light green’ to green. I am currently gathering ideas on what to use for bin liners, ‘wet bags’ and ‘nappy’ bags instead of re-used plastic bags, because I am not going to have any of those available soon!

My next task will be overcoming my love of the zip-lock bag. But one thing at a time.

So tell me, how have you managed to reduce/eliminate your use of plastic bags? Any suggestions for bin-liners? Nappy disposal? or Holding wet clothes when out and about?

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Concentration styles in children

Image from here
I went to this fascinating presentation by Andrew Fuller on Building Resilience in Children, hosted at our school a couple of weeks ago.

Andrew refers to resilience as the ability to overcome adversity and obstacles. Resilient children then, are able to persist with problems/learning and have a higher tolerance for "not knowing".

He spoke of many different facets for building resilience in children, such as fostering a sense of belonging (being part of a gang - your family) and learning positive values (being true friends rather than fair weather friends). You can read more about it here.
The presentation centred around overcoming anxiety for children. Andrew says, "the greatest inhibitor to learning is the fear that we will be exposed as inadequate. Rather than risking exposure many people give up, switch off, feign illness, play up, dumb themselves down and try to become as invisible as possible."
The building blocks for success in the classroom are threefold: 1. Persistence, 2. Concentration, 3. Memory.
Andrew focused on concentration during the presentation. Concentration is our ability to draw our energy towards a specific event which we can then attend to. There are two types of attention: diffuse (allows us to absorb information in an uncritical way without judging it) and narrow (focuses on specific details). Both types of attention are necessary for living and learning.

According to Andrew, people fall into different categories in relation to maintaining concentration. By learning how they show loss of concentration, we are able to help our children get back on track and learn.
The concentration styles he discussed, how they manifest in our children and what we can do about it are outlined below (what I took from his talk anyway). Andrew said that they begin to emerge at about the age of four.
1. Happy wanderers: visual distractibility- observant of irrelevant information; Use visual concepts to keep them on track

2. Frequent Flyers: space cadets whose ideas go zooming off to distant planets; Provide opportunity to brainstorm and then encouragement to pick a couple of realistic solutions – imagination time vs concentration time

3. The Spies: all the wrong sounds seems to be amplified in their minds; Auditory learners; help them to narrow their focus.

4. Finger Safari experts: tactile distractibility; Teach them to sequence; use of games, physical challenges

5. Amplifiers: turn up the volume on whatever is happening around them; Challenge them - vary their perspective in relation to the stimulus through shifting viewpoints

6. Star Trekkers: treat every event in their life as unique and unconnected to anything in the past; POTBO (Point out the bleeding obvious)

7. Social secretaries: Need things to be perfect; lost in details; Teach them to ‘have a go’. Give them time limits.

To read more about Andrew's work and some of his fantastic articles, check out his website.

Do you recognise any of your little people in Andrew's Concentration style guides? How do you manage concentration problems in your children? Share your tips in the comments.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Round Four: I am so over myself already

Image from here
I wrote last week that I was in the planning for change phase of the next round of my weight-loss journey. The final 5kgs and a couple I have lost before that found their way home. Well, I took the step forward and moved into action this last week.

I had a solid plan, a weight-loss buddy lined up, a commencement date and some goals set. I was ready. Ding, ding, ding. Round four.

But then, when the commencement date came, I was pretty half-arsed about it. Right from Day 1. I really don't know why?

I ate much better than I have been, but still too much (and I failed to write it all down).

I exercised a couple of times, but less than I should could have. Doing the Mother's Day Classic sure helped here both with motivation and execution of a hard training session*. That made me feel good.

The scales revealed how meagre my efforts have been. A loss of 200g. Hmmm... not really encouraging!

I take some comfort in the fact that it is a loss.

I remembered an old  lesson from this: that if you almost follow the program, you almost lose weight.

I am looking forward though and have made adjustments to the plan for Week 2 (which started on Sunday).

Take a deep breath and press on. It is a marathon, not a sprint. I want lasting habit change.

It isn't easy, but it has to be done.

How are your recent efforts?

* Thanks again to all of you who sponsored  me! Not only did we raise $145 for the Breast Cancer Network, the fact that I was 'doing it for you' kept me motivated during the 8km run and I managed to complete it in a time that exceeded my expectations. Yay! I reckon I will tackle the City to Surf in August next. Are you game?

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Mariah, Mariah, Mariah...

I have left it a few days but, nope, it still isn’t working for me. Mariah Carey! What were you thinking? Moroccan and Monroe? Are you serious?

I thought Princess Mary made a big enough gaff with her Prince Vince and Princess Jo! How can these celebrity multiple Mums be getting is so wrong?

She sort of followed the rules of naming twins. Sort of. She got the matching first letters (which also match herself which is a bit naff). She found something meaningful for her. Monroe is named after her idol (I think Marilyn would have been a better tribute. No?), and Moroccan after the room styling in her NYC apartment. Hmmm… Not sure I would want to be the one explaining that to my little boy.

But there is something so Posh and Becks-esque about it.

They say money can’t buy taste, and once again we see that ‘they’ are right.

I wish the Cannons all the best settling into the world of newborn twins. They may sleep again in the year 2017 if my experience is the norm.

So tell me, what do you think of Mariah’s name choices? What little nicknames will we give them? Humphrey and Norma are my choices…


Oh, and BTW, I was nominated in the Kidspot Top 50 Bloggers 2011! Please click on the picture to cast a vote for me :)

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Love is another name for mother

Image from here
There's nothing quite like having lots of children on Mother's Day.

So many little arms reaching up at you for cuddles.

So many puckered lips, planting kisses on your cheeks.

So many faces with sparkling eyes and big smiles, just for you.

So many voices saying "I love you".

I think I could just about be the luckiest Mum in town.

I hope you had a wonderful Mother's Day with your family. What did you get up to?

Friday, 6 May 2011

How to reduce your children's TV time

Image from here
Our kids watch TV. Some would say too much. They love it. They really do.

They come from a long list of TV watchers, so it seems that genetics may have something to do with it. Genetic predisposition and busy parents. And personal preferences. And rainy days in a small house. And keeping kids quiet while other's sleep in said small house. You know, a lot of reasons.

One TV and four children means that they have to learn to negotiate. Two are still into the Wiggles, Hi-5 and Play School. Two tend more towards Ben 10, Generation Rex and other equally boyish, violent cartoons.

I love hearing them work out how the scheduling will go while I cook dinner. Usually the 'babies' get about 10 minutes before the boys get to change the channel and watch 'their shows'.

Lately, I have been weaning them all.

Firstly, we instituted the 'activity hour' between 3.30 and 4.30pm where everyone spends the hour outside playing or gardening or hunting for bugs or kicking the ball around or going to the park (anything in the great outdoors). One hour usually stretches into two thereby eliminating the need for TV negotiations.

Next we introduced some 'bumps' on the way to the TV. When someone asks for TV time, they immediately get bombarded with other options for play - a board game, cars, Lego, bikes, craft activities (which are always set up, ready to go), watering the veggie patch, you get the idea?

Then, we started watching the news when the children's TV would have been on. Nothing bores them more than listening to someone tell the news. This usually leads them to playing Lego in their rooms, doing a puzzle or reading a book.

I haven't quite managed to deal with the 'down time' issue, when the older boys need to remain reasonably quiet while the younger two have a nap. Doo Dah has taken to watching a taped session of Masterchef during this time and I somehow feel that is 'better' than Ben 10. Is it? It feels like it could be!

We have been successful in reducing TV watching time significantly in our household using these three easy steps. But there is still aways to go. The ultimate goal would be getting rid of the television all together. We have tried it before. But I am the only householder in favour of that!

How do you keep your children's viewing to a minimum? What do you think is a reasonable amount of time in front of the TV for the 0-5 range?

Thursday, 5 May 2011

The homecoming

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People parent in pairs for a reason.

While he languishes under the heavy weight and noise of stay-at-home duties for four active children, she is off refreshing herself with adult company, a lunch of her very own and some peace and quiet aka work.

As she quietly re-enters the chaos at home, she notices the strain on her partner's face. His failing patience as he is asked the same question for the 400th time that day by one child, while another whinges that he is hungry and the other two are wrestling on the couch; tossing each other off, getting more and more brutal until it ends, inevitably, in tears. He mumbles "I told you so" under his breath, whilst feigning interest in the distressed child. He too is suffering sympathy fatigue.

He looks up to find her there. Looking on. Concerned for him. Worried that he has too much on his plate, with the kids, the business and all that. They exchange a kiss. He sighs.

She greets the children who look up meekly from their latest activity. They run to her. They hug her. They tell her they love her best. She looks at him. He looks disappointed. She tells him they tell her that they love Daddy more. Swings and roundabouts.

She wanders amongst the sea of toys, slowly picking them up as she catches up of the adventures of the household.

The eldest tells tales of school and the birth of a new baby brother for a friend.

The middle child says he didn't watch enough TV and thinks tomorrow should be a pyjamas day in front of the box (just for something different).

The two youngest seek permission to jump on the bed. He doesn't allow that. She does, from time to time. They know whose buttons to push.

As she gradually declutters the loungeroom and dining room in readiness for the meal that he has prepared, she learns about the activities of the day (Lego, blocks, Snakes and Ladders and cars) the tension in the house gradually subsides. The noise levels return to a dull roar and the household members respond positively to the sense of space and clarity that the clear table and floor bring.

They sit and each their meal. They laugh. He and she drink wine. He says he loves her.

They are together and life is so much easier when they are together.

The players in this scene could easily be reversed. They both know the drill. One complements the other and provides energy when the other lacks it. They are a team. People parent in pairs for a reason.

This post goes out to all of you who do this parenting gig on your own. I can honestly say that you inspire me each and every day.
*Voting in the Sydney Writer's Centre Australia's Best Blog People's Choice Award finishes today at 5PM. If you haven't already, head over and cast your vote for my sister Maxabella Loves.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

The starfishes - the perils of co-sleeping

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How is it that someone so small can take up so much space?

My hat goes off to people who officially 'co-sleep' with their children. I say 'officially' because we unofficially do it. Barely a night goes by when one of the fabulous four doesn't weazel their way into our bed. One. Or two. Or three. But never four.

Doo Dah likes his own space.

Have you noticed? Having a child in your bed is akin to handing over 95% of the mattress space so that you and your usual bed partner squeeze onto the remaining 5%.

At which point you leave them to it and sleep on the couch.

As was the case last night for me. One twin horizontal across the bed, the other's head tucked so tightly under my husband's arm with his legs spread-eagled across the bed, leaving space for me, where? Exactly?

If I didn't love them so much, I reckon I would have put them out the front door last night with all the shenanigans that went on prior to us relenting and letting them into the bed.

What is their problem anyway? I sure don't need a special invitation to sleep.

Do you have bed-hogs at your place or are you one of the lucky ones whose kids stay put in their own beds? Are you an 'official' co-sleeper? How do you get them to co-operate?

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Planning for change

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I had another weight loss 'AHA' moment at work the other day.

I was presenting on the use of the Transtheoretical model for understanding the process of teaching insight through feedback (riveting stuff!) when it struck me.

Pre-contemplation -> contemplation -> planning-> action -> maintenance -> relapse

I am on the cycle.

My last trip from planning, through action, through maintenance to relapse took all of 6 weeks.

I think I am back planning at the moment. Ready to take action.

God it is boring. Like a rat caught in a wheel.

How do I get off the cycle once and for all?

Are you on a weight loss journey? Which stage are you at? How do you think we crack this thing?

Addit: Happy Birthday Life in a Pink Fibro :-)

Monday, 2 May 2011

Some recent things

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1. It is a sign of the times that Pippa Middleton's butt has an appreciation page on Facebook with more than 30,000 members.

2. No-one really does pomp and ceremony like the Brits.

3. Thank God for Jessica Marais's style and grace at the Logies in that gorgeous white frock. She is the prize rose of Australian TV if you ask me. Asher Keddie didn't look too shabby either ;)

4. Chrissie Swan was a stand out on Big Brother when she was a contestant (the only series I ever watched I might add in case you picked me as a fan) and her smile lit up the screen last night as she confessed to being a bag of "hormones with a hairstyle". I've never seen her show but I am going to check The Circle out!

5. The fact that Leo Babauta from just turned 38 makes me feel like I have an awful lot to accomplish in the next three weeks!

6. Speaking of turning 38, I am totally back on the final push to the finish line of my weight loss journey. Wish me luck as I drink litres of water, run the soles off my shoes and overdose on soup and salad as I kick my ass down to 70kg street!

7. I am still using honey facial cleanser and made Tammi's washing powder recipe and am loving the results. Frugal and eco-friendly. What's not to like about going "a la natural'? (pun intended)

8. My latest 30 day challenge is not bringing ANY new plastic bags into the house. I am pretty good when I go to the supermarket but even still, I have a cupboard full of the seagull killers. They make great bag liners but I reckon I have enough for a lifetime. I'd love you to join me if you want to?

9. If anyone knows how to get ink stains off leather couches, please share! Dew Drop is testing his inner-artist on media other than paper. Needless to say, I am not particularly happy with his latest choice! The walls were bad enough...

10. The only thing worse than a toddler is two of the blighters!

So, what is your thing?
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