Friday, 30 September 2011

The Weekend Rewind is snoozing this weekend

Thanks for stopping by. The Weekend Rewind is having a nap this weekend.

I am camping (in the rain) with the not so famous four and completely offline.

We will be back in business next week.

I hope to see you then x

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Getting comments on your blog

Image from here*
I noticed that with a couple of the recent Weekend Rewind topics (zero comments and most surprisingly successful post) there seems no rhyme or reason for why one post gets comments and another doesn't.

Obviously timing has something to do with it, as does the size of your readership (different to follower count), and the length of your posts (500 words or less) but at the end of the day, none of us really knows what will trigger a reader to comment or what makes a dud post. But how do we maximise the likelihood?

The blogging pro's would have us think about SEO. About writing engaging content. About asking something of your readers. About sharing the comment love. About having your own unique voice.

But me? I reckon it is more about luck. It just takes one brave soul (who isn't related to you!) to type something in the comment box and that instantly transforms the post from comment-less to comment-worthy.

Think about it. Do you comment more on blogs with lots of comments or ones with only a few (or none)? Do you comment on 'popular' blogs or any blog that pushes the right buttons? What types of bloggers comment on your blog?

With each comment you write, you have done a service. You have given the blogger a reason to keep blogging, to be sure, but you have also opened the door for others to follow. Your comment may in fact be the reason the next person leaves a note. You become integral to the success of the post. Feeling the pressure yet?

Like content on your blog, your comment content is equally important. You may think you can get away with 'great post'. But can you? Every comment you write is an opportunity to advertise your own blog, to draw other's into your lair community. You need to add something to the post when you comment. Even if 99 people before you have 'said it all'. Think about how your comment can stand out in the crowd.

Beyond that it is up to your community. Do you hang with commenting types? Do you fraternize with your folk? Do you reciprocate?

If you want people to comment on your blog, make sure you write good content absolutely, but take the time to interact with your readers (most if whom are bloggers just like you).

Commenters breed comments. What do you think about that?

* And when in doubt, add a picture of a highly comment worthy gentleman to stimulate conversation of another variety!

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

In the wrong job?

Image from here
So I boarded the train this afternoon and to my surprise there was an announcement over the PA. One that I could understand?!?

"Good afternoon passengers travelling on the City to blah, blah service and welcome to City Rail. Our next stop is Blah which we will arrive at in approximately 2 minutes. Sit back and enjoy the ride."

Hmmm, I thought.

We were approaching Blah when the PA screamed to life again, "We will soon be arriving at Blah. I trust that you have enjoyed your trip. Please take care to remove all of your possessions before alighting from the train. Thank you for choosing City Rail".

We had a guided tour all the way to Blah, Blah.

A pleasant change from the usual train journey but methinks the 'captain' may be in the wrong job.

Have you ever had actual customer service on the public transport system in your neck of the woods?

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

The seasonal changeover - to sell or not to sell?

Image from here
One of life's little chores when you have a brood is the changeover of clothes at the end of the season. It is part of the dreaded Fadmin and, for some reason, is always done by me at our house.

We have oodles of clothes in storage boxes in every nook and cranny of our house. They start in one child's drawers, are worn, outgrown, then stored in boxes until they are recalled for another child when he is ready.

It is a case of deja vu when Dew Drop gets decked out in an outfit that Doo Dah rocked last year, and Nugget the year before. We're lucky they all have the same colouring!

There are some occupational hazards though. Even though I think all my boys are totally different, they look remarkably similar at the same age, wearing the same things, so date-stamps on photos are a must at our place.

And because all the clothes are so similar in size, it is very easy to mix up the wardrobes of each of the boys. Poor Nugget donned a pair of size 3 shorts the other day. He didn't even notice, but when I looked over at him in his hot pants I suspected that something was amiss.

The twins are the end of the line. When they outgrow their clothes, we hand them on to friends, the multiple-birth clothing swap or an op-shop. It is such a feeling of joy being able to pass these clothes on to another family.

When you are done, you are done.

What do you do with your cast aways? Do you sell them or donate them? Have you ever had a garage sale? Was it worth the effort?

Monday, 26 September 2011

The move to the 'big' bed?

Image from here
We are contemplating moving Dew Drop and the Minx out of their cots into big people beds. We have been for a while truth be told, but there just hasn't been the catalyst so it hasn't happened just yet.

With Nugget he was all of 24 months. He was constantly climbing out of his cot and, after a few middle of the night falls, the decision was made. The big bed absolutely swamped him.

In hindsight he wasn't ready. He played 'how many times can I climb out of bed tonight' for months which lead to all manner of tactics to try to keep him in, such as returning him to bed each time (I think we peaked at 42 one night), sitting outside his door reading and playing policeman and, probably our parenting low, putting a latch up high on his door so he could see out but not get out (a Dr Spock suggestion).

After our experience with Nugget, we vowed Doo Dah would remain in his cot until he was at least 21 he outgrew it. He did too. He never tried to climb out so he was nearly three and a half when he was finally realised it was time and allowed to sleep in a proper bed. He was so excited to have his own bed that he slept contently from Day 1. It was a dream run.

And now we are dealing with two children, both of whom can climb out of their cots. There have been no accidents involved (we keep the sides of the cot down) but their daytime nap has morphed into a game of 'let's get in and out of the cots as many times as we can'. Let's just say not much resting is happening and we are all suffering by the end of the day.

I certainly have my reservations though. Especially with Dew Drop. He is still not sleeping well at night and I fear that if we move him into a bed we will be busily playing cat and mouse all night with him. I doubt the Minx would be too much trouble but with an eager playmate egging her on, anything is possible. I don't really want to be back using the Dr Spock method, nor do I fancy playing 'guard' outside their bedroom.

But they are getting way too big for their cots. They seem to take up the whole space so it must be getting hard to roll around freely in there.

Decisions, decisions...

When did you move your child/ren into beds? What was the catalyst for you?

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Only fat people use vending machines, 30 Day challenge: wrap

Image from here
I know I have been very quiet about the 30 Day Challenge. After a flying start, I fell off the wagon. Hard.

I don't know what happened exactly. For two weeks I was going along nicely. I planned my meals, shopped to the plan, and ate to the plan. I exercised every single day for 14 days straight. I was feeling wonderful and positive and even a little bit thinner, even if I was eating celery sticks.

And then, I went to a party, had a few too many drinks, missed a training session, backed-up with an indulgent BBQ, came down with a virus for a few days and that was it. I never went back to the program. Every day I tried to motivate myself and every day I kept telling myself, "I will do it tomorrow".

Tomorrow never came (surprised?) so I am here to confess say that at the conclusion of my 30 day challenge, I only lost a total of 1.4kgs. I am disappointed with myself, not only because I couldn't complete the task I set myself, but because I still have the bloody 5kgs to lose. Dull.

All is not lost. I have increased my regular exercise to three times a week. I ticked two things off my 52in52 list - exercise every day for 2 weeks and go without coke zero for a month. I increased my protein load at lunchtime. This has meant that I haven't been as peckish in the afternoons, so haven't found myself eyeing off snacks while waiting at the train station at 5pm. Have you noticed that only fat people use vending machines? It is never the tall, leggy blonde, let me tell you that for nothing.

So I have made some positive changes this month. Only not enough of them. I reckon if I could stop myself eating M&Ms and drinking bundies while watching the Rugby World Cup matches, I might be reporting a better outcome right about now.

I really think the planning is the way to win the battle of the bulge (which probably explains why I fall short all the time). Planning and just keeping on keeping on. I am back on the wagon tomorrow (for real).

But it isn't all about me. How did you go with your weight loss challenge?

Friday, 23 September 2011

Weekend Rewind - Something creative edition

Last week's Rewind was all about surprising posts. Ones that you wrote that you didn't expect to have the success they had. My favourite posts of the week were this one by Whoa Mumma and this one by InkPaperPen. 

Today is the last day of school for NSW Public school kids. The end of Term 3. I both love and loathe school holidays. I am always grateful* to have a break from the 'routine' of school life to be sure, but that privilege comes with the added bonus of another child to look after. And of course,there is the small issue of finding creative ways to amuse the children without going bankrupt in the process.

So I thought this week's Weekend Rewind might be all about sharing some creativity. Maybe it is a craft project (for Dummies please) that you have done with your kids? A fantastic outfit you pulled together? A piece of creative writing? A costume you made? A photograph you are particularly proud of? Anything, well, creative.

So if you are prepared to get started, the rules of this meme remain the same each week. All you have to do is become my friend, if we are not already acquainted, then link up a relevant post from your archives and get reading and commenting. The more comments the merrier. And don't forget to Tweet, Facebook and/or Stumble your favourites to share the joy with other readers. Try to add a link back to me in your posts so that  we can expand the reach of the Weekend Rewind.

I will show you mine to start us off... Artistic Flair

Now show us...

* I am linking this post to Maxabella Loves... grateful linky being hosted by the Lioness Lady while Sister B continues her rest. Pop over for a look.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

A lesson in SEO

Image from here
I must say the whole SEO thing is double dutch to me.

I'm not sure I understand the point. The only post of mine that has had gazillions of hits was this one. It used to have a picture of Magda from There's something about Mary (the draw card). Magda pulls a big crowd! Because of that post, my blog was getting lots of hits a day, all arriving with search terms such as "Magda", "Something about Mary", "crinkly old woman*", but it didn't change how many actual readers I had.

I ditched the picture a few months ago. I got sick of Magda and her bounce rates. The post remains my most popular post (by about 6000 hits) but I know that only a handful of people have really read it. The power of SEO.

Here is a list of current search terms that can land you at And then there were four:
“megan blandford"**
cleaning funny pictures
buy nothing new
100 books to read before you die
and then there was fever
bald worried
16 week my baby's chin looks so long on ultrasound***
197 x 148****

It is a strange mixture of the obvious and the random. If you work out
the code, don't forget to let us all know!

Do you work the SEO angle? What are the benefits for YOUR blog? What search
terms do we need to plug in to find your blog this week?

* I made that up!
** Hi Megan!
*** I am absolutely sure I have never been concerned about my babies' chins at a 16 week 
**** The mind boggles

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Family unplanning Part 2

I was thinking today that I would like another baby. Do not despair family! I don't *actually* want to have another pregnancy or newborn. I, in fact, have no intention of *having* another child I doubt my body could handle it, but I would really love for the Minx to have a sister. In an ideal world, I think all girls would have a sister.

This got me thinking about the other part of family planning that you just can't guarantee; the sex of your children. I know there are books available to help you 'plan' the sex of your child. And I know that people are creating 'designer' babies these days (I have my suspicions about Posh and Becks, you?), but for the average Joe, you get what you get.

Before I had children, I had no preconceptions about whether I would parent boys or girls. It didn't bother me. And when Doo Dah came along, my second boy in 20 months, it never occurred to me to 'want' a girl. I was lucky to have had two healthy babies. Two little brothers. They were my family. How could I want for anything else?

And then we decided to have a third child. When I was pregnant (with twins as it turned out), people always asked me, "Are you hoping for a girl?" At that point in time, the statistical likelihood of me having a girl was minuscule. I had convinced myself that I would be a Mum of sons (what's not to like about three little boys?). I always answered that I was hoping to get through the pregnancy. One day at a time.

And then we found out there were two. I was broken. I said to the Geege, "Oh God! I don't know if I can handle FOUR boys." He smiled, knowingly and said "We get what we get".

We deliberately didn't find out the sex of the babies during the pregnancy. I said I wanted a surprise but really I didn't want to have time to dwell on dream about my life with four boys before it was a reality. Once they were out I would love them no matter what. When they were in there, I was convinced that I could talk myself into a depression just imagining the testosterone levels in the house!

Fast forward three years and we are a family of six. Three little boys and one little girl. The Minx (Princess Dirt) goes okay, but oh how I wish she had another player in her camp. I see the boys 'gang up' on her and cringe just a little. She will always be a girl with brothers. I know plenty of friends who are. They are happy and well-rounded and amazing and interesting. But, they all wish they had a sister.

Did you try to influence the gender of your children? How did you do it? Would you consider having another child just so your daughter had a sister or son had a brother?

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Managing a 'tribe' of children. Or how do you do it?*

If I had a dollar for every time I heard the phrase “You’ve got your hands full”, I would be a rich woman. Walking the streets with my little family in tow is getting to be a health hazard. Lots of people ask me: “how do you do it?”. I just have to of course, but some days it is a real struggle just to get from breakfast to dinner (without throttling at least one child).

Over the last 5 years I have learnt a thing or two that makes being the Mum of three gorgeous boys and a fantastic girl a more enjoyable task. I am no expert, and there are many Mums out there with much more on their plates than me, but these things work for me so I thought I would share some of them with you.

1. As much as I rebelled against it at first, routine has made my life a lot easier. When children know what to expect, there is less questioning and more doing and that means that we all get through our daily chores in a more peaceful manner. Recently, I started a ‘Morning routine checklist’ for my Kindergarten-aged boy and that has made him more independent and created a less stressful environment for everybody. You should try using one if you don’t already.

2. I try to give attention to the children who are doing the right thing, rather than the ones who are not. I find this means that the kids don’t usually misbehave just to get my attention.

3. I am acutely aware that each child needs to spend time with me (or my husband) alone. I do this through a variety of means including incidental one on one time and planned one on one time. We stagger the kids’ bedtimes, make use of the daytime naps that the twins are still having and split activities at the weekend when both parents are around. I am also working on a few family ‘rituals’ around birthdays and other important days so that each child has input into family celebrations and ways to feel special.

4. I have had to lower my expectations about the state of the house. I know this is hard for many women, but it has really made my life a lot less stressful. I focus on the essentials of housework only (washing clothes, doing the dishes, cleaning the toilets –did I say I had 3 boys?- tidying up toys and a ‘hot spot’ declutter for 5 minutes a day). The floors and bathrooms get a good clean once a fortnight (by my cleaner who I scrimp and save to pay for) and the rest is done only when the mess drives me nuts.

5. While I have very limited ‘me’ time, I do exercise 3 times a week. Just 30-45 mins (usually running), which I do early in the morning before the children are awake. Honestly, I think this has been the difference between going insane and being fairly in control. Eating well is easier for me when I exercise. I have more energy. I am less tense. I am a nicer person to be around. It is totally worth making the effort.

So there you have it. My top five tips for managing a tribe. Well, that’s how I do it anyway.

What things do you find helpful for your family? Do you have any organisation tips that you could share with us (Note: I give no advice about organisation as this is definitely not my forte)?

*This post was first posted on A dose of Dannie in October 2010.

Monday, 19 September 2011

A week in the life... with the preschool mascot

Doo Dah had the pre-school mascot last week. 'Max' the puppet arrived in a little bag with a book of his recent adventures with other people's families. I felt a small moment of pressure when I scanned the calendar and realised we didn't have much on this week. This was magnified when I took a look in the 'book' and discovered all the creative pages the 'scrap-booking' Mums had put together!

What in the world were we going to photograph Max doing? How were we going to meet the current two page spread standard?

Doo Dah got right into it and everywhere we went for the first few days, Max had to come too. We snapped pics of him doing the school 'drop off', 'rock climbing' at Greg's shop, playing in the park, posting a letter and participating in the family night-time story-reading session.

As the week progressed, Doo Dah got more creative with detecting photo opportunities for Max (that was the thing I loved the most about hosting him). Doing the hurdles at Little Athletics on Saturday morning. Being a cheer-leader at swimming lessons. Having a 50c cone from Maccas after the crazy morning of sporting pursuits. His imagination went wild!

The week culminated in a trip to our local Festival. There was so much to do and see that the kids didn't know where to start!  Doo Dah and Max tackled the jumping castle, circus tent and playground. We took photos of them participating in the treasure hunt in the eco-garden, watching the Sponge-Bob Squarepants show and judging the 'scarecrow' contest (Max chose B1 and B2). It was an awesome day (accentuated by the most superb Spring weather).

Last night we diligently wrote up our 'week in the life'. Doo Dah chose three photos of Max and drew a portrait too. Our page was just as impressive as the others in the book (not bad for an uncrafty family!).

It was a fun project and an excellent opportunity to document some of the day-to-day of our life. Things that you usually take for granted.

Have you hosted the pre-school teddy? Did you feel pressured to have an extra fun week?

Sunday, 18 September 2011

52in52: Make sushi

Once a month, on their 'birthday number', the bigger kids get to choose what's for dinner (the twins will join on once they turn three). It has to be something homemade. I usually have to give them a list of options to select from (depending on what is in the fridge), but it is their chance to contribute to the family menu, and an opportunity for us to make them a little bit special.

They love it. It morphs from selecting dinner to "king of the household" in their minds so we have to reign them in, but it is a nice little family ritual.

For Nugget it is the 15th of the month and we invariably have fish and chips (he is sooooo predictable). Doo Dah gets the 17th. He comes up with a whole host of options, from broccoli soup to baked beans on toast to well, sushi.

I was rapt (excuse the pun) when he asked for sushi this weekend. It is on my 52in52 list to make sushi so I got stuck into it.

My attempt was passable for a first-timer. I made two different flavours - a vegetarian roll and one with (cooked) salmon. I preferred the salmon.

I learnt a lot about the fine art of sushi making (mostly via this website). Wet hands for the rice, dry hands for the nori. A delicate balance between rice and water when cooking the rice (mine was a little underdone in the end). A two centimetre margin at the end of the nori. You need less stuffing than you would think! And get Japanese soy sauce - the regular stuff is just a little bit wrong.

I strongly recommend you do this the night before a big clean however. There are little bits of (mostly squashed) rice turning up all over the place!

What do you think your child would select if it were his/her turn to choose the dinner menu?

Friday, 16 September 2011

Weekend Rewind - Most surprisingly successful post edition

Last week we rewound the posts that got absolutely no comment love the first time you aired them. They were posts we all thought were a bit comment worthy, but for some reason...crickets. I have to say that I enjoyed my weekend reading immensely. Sometimes it is just about timing, isn't it?

This week's Weekend Rewind is all about that post that you banged out in five minutes (or whatever), never expecting much and, for some reason, people liked it. You got comments; lots by your own standard. Sure the post was good but it was surprisingly more successful than you thought. Maybe it was a little bit cheeky? Maybe it was a little bit funny? Maybe it was a little bit controversial? Maybe you have no idea why?

So if you are prepared to get started, the rules of this meme remain the same each week. All you have to do is become my friend, if we are not already acquainted, then link up a relevant post from your archives and get reading and commenting. The more comments the merrier. And don't forget to Tweet, Facebook and/or Stumble your favourites to share the joy with other readers. Try to add a link back to me in your posts so that  we can expand the reach of the Weekend Rewind.

I'll show you mine... The Homecoming.

Now show us yours

Thursday, 15 September 2011

The shared pillow - The perils of co-sleeping Part Two

Image from here
In addition to the starfish factor, the other thing that makes co-sleeping less enticing for this Mum is the pillow sharing. I loathe sharing my pillow! I have arguably the world's most comfortable pillow but if it gets even a whiff of someone else's head on it (with mine), it is just so wrong. Skewiff.

But last night was a breakthrough. After six and a half years of unintentional co-sleeping, I stumbled upon a solution to the whole pillow-sharing thing.

I have been suffering the 'twin sandwich' the past few nights. Both of them have been waking and due to many factors, sleep deprivation being the primary one, the Geege and I have been hosting them in bed with us. I end up with one under each armpit, and two additional heads on my pillow. Not happy!

So, last night, when I woke for a random toilet stop, I weaseled my arms out from under the twins' heads, slinked out of the bed, dodging Nugget who had taken up residence at the end of the bed. When I came to return to my little spot, the twins had rolled into it and Nugget had claimed a greater share of the bed, leaving me high and dry.

I had no choice but to sleep in Nugget's bed. On my own! A single bed has never seemed so roomy.

I happily slept through the rest of the night to be woken at dawn by not one, but two visitors wondering where their cosy armpit snuggle-beds had gone. In they jumped. Only, it wasn't so bad. You see, Nugget has a U-shaped pillow and I discovered that they are perfect for three heads. No change to the shape of the pillow! Bliss!

So while I could have done without the musical beds and the little shadows, the upshot of the world's worst night of sleep is the U-shaped pillow. I am so swapping with Nugget!

Have you discovered the usefulness of the U-shaped pillow (beyond breastfeeding and baby propping)? Should they be added to the list?

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Parenting: The Thin Pink Line Between Order and Chaos

Image from here

Today I have the delight of having one of my favourite bloggers guest posting. Karen is a recovering newborn baby addict. When she is not pregnant, she is building her writing career. Mama to 3 boys, aged 5, 3 and 1, she lives by the bay in Melbourne’s south.

She blogs at The Rhythm Method twice a week. Pop over and say hi.

It all began with a supermarket pregnancy test. One pink line divided the before and the after by which our lives would be split for the rest of time. We were to become parents, and had no idea of the chaos up ahead.

Our baby boy arrived healthy in June. Like many new parents, we had no idea but fumbled our way through the first 3 months, gained confidence in the next 6 months and by his first birthday, we had been lulled into a false sense of security. Time for another baby? Why not.

Why not, indeed. As soon as Boy 1 discovered his independence, I saw the next 17 years of my life unravel like a squiggly ball of wool. The hardest part was yet to come: the real challenge of parenting would be teaching this child how to be independent, while simultaneously teaching him how to be a part of a community. Teaching him how to behave when all he wants to do is be wild and rambunctious and act on his every impulse, including feeding an entire pumpkin to the dog (true story).  And all the while trying to keep his baby brother from being hugged to death.

My understanding of discipline was rudimentary. There seemed to be two schools: hard (smacking) or soft (never saying No). Our ideal form of discipline sat somewhere in the middle: we didn’t want to smack, but No would surely play a part in our strategy. Sound vague? Here’s the scary part: you kind of figure it out as you go along.

The reality is, questions of discipline don’t always come with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. Context and intent are also factors as children become older. In our house, some leniency is applied to young children who are sick, tired or in a bad mood.

Discipline also becomes more challenging the more children you have. Notions of fairness are frequently lost in the washing pile. “He hit me”, “She pushed me”: who do you discipline first? The hitter or the pusher? The older or the younger? Or do you just throw both of them in the baby jail until they’ve sobered up?  Quick! You’ve got 5 seconds to decide before the whole house falls down around you! If the older child – who should know better – is laying into the younger one, even if the younger one hit first, I would probably be harder on the older child. Is this the right answer? I don’t know, but I hope it teaches them both a lesson.

Life with children is often so busy and chaotic that some misdemeanours fall by the way side. Is it your job to be on the job of policing their behaviour every minute of every day? I would suggest some things have to go through to the keeper: if you put all misdemeanours in front of the court (such as not using your fork at the dinner table), you might find yourself acting as the Fun Police.

We are firm about certain things in our house. We don’t hurt each other, emotionally or physically. We take turns. We say sorry (even the grown ups). We have inside and outside voices. The TV stays off between 8am and 5pm. Bedtime is between 7pm and 7.30pm. Mummy and Daddy are in charge, but the kids are offered some choices too. Above all, we try to create a loving environment so no matter what our boys get up to, come bedtime they know that despite having done the wrong thing, they are still loved and cherished and they get a chance to be better tomorrow. We know they are still human ‘works in progress’. Let’s face it, as parents we’re works in progress too.

Robin Barker, author of Baby Love and The Mighty Toddler describes discipline as “not about stopping bad behaviour so much as encouraging desirable behaviour”. In other words, parents should be focussing on good behaviour as much as bad: remembering to say ‘you’re playing beautifully with your brother today’, or ‘what a great job of packing up your toys’. I think this is a wonderfully productive, positive way to think of the dilemma: far more workable than “Smack or no smack?”

Discipline is a line that you draw as a parent. Probably best if you draw it in chalk, because you might find it needs fine tuning every now and then. It might also help to come to terms with chaos and focus on those discipline matters that really matter, because it will be a long time before life returns to the tidy, black and white order of life Before Children.

How is discipline dished up at your house? What do you find most challenging about challenging behaviours?

Thanks so much for stopping by Karen xx

Monday, 12 September 2011

A moral dilemma I heard about at lunchtime

Image from here
I had an interesting lunchtime discussion today.

You know the if-you-had-a-severely-disabled-child-requiring-24-hour-care, would you, could you apply for them to become a ward of the state?

And the if-your-partner-of-many-years, (-and-parent-of-your-children)-died, would you, could you date within the first six months of their passing?

And the if-you-got-divorced would you, could you put your children in boarding school so that you had more freedom to shag anything that walked?

Each scenario was precipitated by a real case study. There are some interesting people doing some interesting things out there IRL. I don't suppose you could really know *what* you would do in the scenarios until they were your reality.

My last moral dilemma post, caused quite a stir, I wonder if these 'based on real life' examples will rile you up as much?

So if you are feeling brave enough, tell us the circumstances that would allow you to answer 'yes' to one of the scenarios above.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Swimming lessons

Image from here
I love the water. I don't get much of a chance to swim these days, but I was a regular lap-swimmer for much of my 20s. I would really like my children to experience all of the things that being a safe swimmer brings you; boating, snorkelling, surfing, body surfing, boogie boarding, kayaking, canoeing, you get the picture?

To date I reckon we must have spent more than $1000 on swimming lessons for our two older boys (the twins haven't even started yet), but we have basically nothing to show for it.

Sure, they are getting in the water and putting their faces in, but it is still all about dog paddle. Barely a hint of actual swimming. We even have to do our lessons on a Saturday because the centre doesn't "do frogs after school".

They still freak out lack confidence in the water. They still take time to put their heads under the water (there are many ways to re-adjust their goggles while procrastinating it seems). They still haven't started to use their 'big arms'. They still can't really kick properly.

I certainly haven't been as diligent as I could have been (we are Spring/Summer swimmers), but you really start to wonder if there are kids who just don't learn?

Could Nugget and Doo Dah be the first?

What is your 'learn to swim' story with your kids? Have you got any suggestions for helping them learn to swim? Does it all 'just click' at some point? I don't think my blood pressure can stand many more near drownings at their lessons.

Friday, 9 September 2011

Weekend Rewind - The 'zero comment' edition

Have you got any posts in your archives that you think were pretty good, but that didn't receive a single comment? Maybe you were very new to blogging? Maybe the timing of the post was wrong? Maybe it just didn't reach the 'right' audience? Well, this week's Weekend Rewind is the place to give that post another spin.

So, link up your most underrated post for some new comment love. A post with no comments. How hard can that be to find in the archives?

So if you are prepared to get started, the rules of this meme remain the same each week. All you have to do is become my friend, if we are not already acquainted, then link up a relevant post from your archives and get reading and commenting. The more comments the merrier. And don't forget to Tweet, Facebook and/or Stumble your favourites to share the joy with other readers. Try to add a link back to me in your posts so that  we can expand the reach of the Weekend Rewind.

Here is mine... Climbing mountains

Now show us yours...

Thursday, 8 September 2011

52in52: Get Doo Dah ready for school

Image from here
This is Doo Dah's last year at pre-school. He has already been orientated to his school and is chomping at the bit to don his uniform and attend school.

It was quite overwhelming at the beginning of the year to look at Doo Dah and imagine he would be ready for school by 2012. He was so little and dependent and...well, little. I remember thinking the same thing about Nugget, but Doo Dah has had a lot less one on one time than Nugget got. He is the middle child. The wedge.

I vowed to spend some of this year getting him ready for school. Don't panic! This hasn't been about daily flashcards, I promise. His language skills and letter recognition are more than adequate for him to learn to read when he gets to school. But it did include trying to sort out the 'tonsillectomy or no tonsillectomy' question and seeing a paediatrician for his clumsiness and knock knees.

The paediatrician said he was fine, above average in most areas. A bit knocked kneed*, yes, but there is still time for that, with some hyper-extension thrown in for good measure (runs in the family). She suggested the clumsiness was due to lack of attention, but was a little concerned that he could spell his name aloud but not write it or draw anything. I mean *anything*. She asked him to draw a person and he did a squiggle. To be honest, I was a little shocked myself.

The paediatrician's input lead to a stint at the occupational therapist and a visit to the physiotherapist. The physio confirmed that his gross motor skills were normal, and his clumsiness is due to inattention rather than lack of skill. He might look a bit odd while running and climbing, but he is doing as well as his peers. She discharged us after the assessment.

The occupational therapist had a few more things to work on, so he joined in a little group. He went for five sessions and graduated from his 'school readiness' class today. He can now hold his pencil correctly (those OTs are Nazis about pencil grips!), write his own name correctly using proper letter formation, draw people and basic animals, cut out stuff, stick, colour-in and fold bits of paper to a satisfactory level to be considered ready for school.

He was so excited to receive his Certificate (the only boy in the class who has got the stamp of approval thus far I might add). He beamed in the back of the car all the way home. I was amazed at how far he has come in such a short period of time. He responded so well to the structure and breaking the tasks down into smaller steps (handy to have learnt so much about his preferred learning style before starting school too!).

So after nine months of visiting every health professional under the sun, the Doo Dah is officially ready for school. Now, if I can just get him to sit still long enough so I can work on his lisp...

Have you got a child starting school next year? Have you been doing anything to get him/her ready?

*Not sure if that is an official verb

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

The bridesmaid effect

Image from here. Not the dress in question.
Ever been to a party/wedding/event only to find that your outfit was being worn by someone else?

It hasn't happened directly to me, after all, you would have to be seriously happy in last year's fashions to dress like me. But it seems to happen a lot in our circle of friends. In fact, at my own wedding, one of our guests turned up in the same frock as my witness! It made for some funny photos.

At the weekend, whilst out and about, two friends created the bridesmaid effect with their fabulous outfit choice. Both, being stylish types, they had bought a new outfit for the event, sadly the same one. They were equally mortified to see the other swanning around in matching clothes. I made a quip about not getting the email about the 'uniform' that went down like a lead balloon. But what else can you say? It is a simple mistake.

I spent some time looking at how each of my friend's had accessorised their outfits and how, different shoes, jewels and hair styles really did a lot to create the illusion of a different dress. There is a lot to be learnt from that.

Have you ever been involved in an accidental bridesmaid moment? Tell me what it was like for you?

Monday, 5 September 2011

Buy nothing new for a year - the learning continues

Image from here
Another month has slipped by and it was a good one for our Buy Nothing New challenge (which I am rapidly wishing I had abbreviated to BNN ages ago now). Father's Day was completely home-made this year (if you don't count the Darrell Lea chocolates, which as a food, are allowable anyway). The Geege was completely chuffed with his stash including a money box, two paintings and a magnificent card.

Before we embarked on this journey, I was focused on what we would be giving up, but I didn't realise what we would gain. We have reconnected with the simple life that I remember having as a child and reduced our eco footprint. A lot of the challenge has been about learning to distinguish unnecessary from essential, wants from needs.

This month I went to a good friend's 40th birthday. She is stylish and takes great care of herself. She notices when I rock up in the same old, same old. She doesn't judge, but she notices, so I wanted a fresh look. To make the effort for her.

As I was preparing to "dress to impress", I realised  a brand new frock would have been perfect for such an evening! But no. I had to make do with what I had, so thanks to a borrowed pair of wedges, a hand-me-down hair straightener and a styling tip from Fox in Flats, I felt a million bucks (the fact that the Seduce pants I bought for my 30th fit me after 4 children had nothing to do with it ;).

I am a changed woman from the one who started this challenge.

And this month I can add that I have learnt to get a bit stylish using stuff that I own (which will work as long as I don't have to do too much of it with the same crowd!). 

There is still so much to learn and I am now beginning to worry that one year won't be long enough! I can't imagine where we will find the budget to reintroduce new things anyway. Some decisions just change your life forever.

So tell me, how to you 'scrub up' for a big night without breaking out the credit card?

Sunday, 4 September 2011

A welcoming post

Completely unrelated image from here
I am behind the eight ball tonight. I have all of the Weekend Rewind posts to visit, piles of washing to fold and a cleaner to clean up for. The Father's Day weekend has been busy and bright. I have definitely said goodbye to my winter slump.

The good news is, that I am guest posting over at Diminishing Lucy's (due to pop up miraculously at the crack of dawn tomorrow). It is all about putting the 'me' in dieting. Pop over and take a look.

Guest posting is much harder than posting for yourself. It feels more like a 'writing gig' and I had a lot of trouble finding my 'voice'. Great practise if you are wanting to crack into the paid writing market, or just a challenge if, like me, you do this blogging caper for fun.

Anyway, if you are visiting from Lucy's blog, thanks a million for taking the time. You might like to read more about my long and bumpy weight loss journey here, or find out more about how I manage my four children here, or join the easiest linky in the world, the Weekend Rewind each Friday night (10pm EST) where you can air posts from your archives for some new comment love.

If I can get on top of this Fadmin, I reckon I will be back with a vengeance this week with a 52in52 update, the Buy Nothing New for a Year September check in and other tales from the trenches.

How was your weekend? Did you spoil all the father's in your life?

Friday, 2 September 2011

Weekend Rewind - Parenting tips edition

Last week's Rewind was a trip down memory lane. We visited ourselves the same day last year and found all sorts of treasures. While Glen was busily finding his alter ego, A Farmer's Wife was falling off the wagon and Naomi was fighting through her third trimester. Thanks to everyone who joined in and shared the comment love.

This week we have had a busy time parenting our four children. We've had school orientation, appointments with the OT and PT, vomits, a trip to the principal's office and had to do some planning for childcare for 2012. It is tiring stuff this parenting caper. So for the theme for the Weekend Rewind this week, I thought I would draw on the collective brain to brush up on my parenting skills. I want you to post an oldie but goodie with a healthy dose of parenting tips. It may be a "how to" post, or a "what I learnt" post, or a cute story, or philosophical piece. You don't need to be a parent to participate, anything that will assist the development of parenting skills would be great too. I will leave it up to you.

So if you are prepared to get started, the rules of this meme remain the same each week. All you have to do is become my friend, if we are not already acquainted, then link up a relevant post from your archives and get reading and commenting. The more comments the merrier. And don't forget to Tweet, Facebook and/or Stumble your favourites to share the joy with other readers. Try to add a link back to me in your posts so that  we can expand the reach of the Weekend Rewind.

To get you started, here is mine...Would you like a poo sandwich?

Now show us yours...

PS: Happy Father's day to all the Dads!

Thursday, 1 September 2011

A visit to the principal's office

Image from here
Nugget has been out of sorts the past few days. A bit cranky. A bit grumpy. A bit punchy.

He's a boy with a long history of temper tantrums and poor sleep, and he is miserable to be around when he is angry. But he has been tracking well these past few months, so the return of Agro Nugget hasn't gone unnoticed. The younger kids have been riling him. They know he will bite if they bait him, so they do and all hell breaks loose.

Apart from telling him to pull his socks up, I have left him. Something has clearly set off this mood change and I knew he would tell me eventually what is bothering him.

I wasn't expecting what I heard.

When I picked him up from after-school care on Tuesday, he grumped at me straight away. I asked him if he was tired or had had a hard day. He grumped. He asked what was for dinner. I told him it was spaghetti bolognaise leftovers, thinking, 'He much be starving..., that's why he is so grumpy".

He cracked it. "I don't like leftovers. I won't eat it. I want something else", like a little spoilt brat. I told him that was the menu and he could choose to eat it or go hungry and ignored his outburst. We walked along in silence. And then I asked him what was wrong.

He said "I had to go to the principal's office", through clenched teeth (doing some fine ventriloquism).

"Did you?" I said. "What for?"

"My friend and I walked too slowly coming back from assembly".

"Oh." I said. (Thinking: I bet there is more to it than that, son)

"But the principal wasn't there. So we just went back to class".

"Oh". I said. "That was a lucky escape. Anything else?"

"Huh? No. That is it."

"Well what did you learn?"

"Not to walk slowly after assembly?" he said, rather tentatively.

"Yes, that." I said, "And it is important to tell your Mum and Dad what is happening. There's no need to worry. We love you always."

He grabbed my hand, clearly relieved that the load was off his mind, and said, "I don't really hate leftovers. Let's go home because I am starving."

It is funny what will keep them up at night. You never know what is going on in their minds, do you? I did far worse than that at primary school to find myself face to face with the principal. I get it. But it goes against his goody-goody nature to be in trouble with authority. He loves mischief but isn't usually the instigator. He just likes 'fun' friends. One day we will have to have 'that' talk, but for now, I think the threat of another trip to the principal will keep him on the straight and narrow. His behaviour has had a full 180 since he made his 'confession'.

How do your children react when they are keeping something from you?
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