Monday, 28 February 2011

52in52: Internet free weekend

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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...


 
I've lost my mojo a bit with the whole blogging thing of late. I am getting sporadic with my posts and can't seem to find the time to read as many posts as I would like. As I should.

 
I decided to use this as a opportunity to tick another thing off my 52in52 list. I have been internet free for the past 5 days. It has been quite liberating really.

 
Instead of blogging and commenting and googling and surfing I have:

  • Spent extra time with my husband and the kids.
  • Returned to some regular viewing on the TV and delved into the world of hospitals, polygamy, and other people's families.
  • Finished my third book for the year (Andre Agassi's "Open" and started my fourth ("Born to Run" by Christopher McDougall).
  • Contended with the piles of washing. My concerted effort to keep the household tidier and more organised means I can't seem to ignore them like I used to.
  • Exercised more. My weight loss efforts compell me to spend more time pounding the pavement but I have actually returned to my bike this week too. It brings back fond memories. Big Ride Al? 
All in all, less blogging has been a pretty great thing for me. I found that when the withdrawal wore off a bit, the pull back into the blogosphere got weaker.

You ought to try it some time.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Poor Erica Packer

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I read in the Sun Herald at the weekend that Erica Packer (model and wife of billionaire James Packer) is "revelling in motherhood".

She is barely seen without her two toddlers in tow (Jackson aged 1 and Indigo aged 2) although she is accompanied by their nanny.

She is often seen visiting her mansion in Vaucluse where her children are having swimming lessons (no doubt with Ian Thorpe as the instructor) where she escapes from her multi-million dollar 'fishbowl' in Bondi.

She cherishes her time with her family (let's face it James is the 3rd richest guy in Australia and is hardly likely to have a 9-5 schedule) but they find time at the weekends to relax aboard Z Sydney, their $20 million, 46m Mangusta 165 motor yacht, or at Erica's favourite place, Ellerston, the family's Hunter Valley estate, where James and Indigo bond over horse riding.

She leads such a 'normal' stay-at-home Mum life, doesn't she?

Monday, 21 February 2011

The Mummy hog

Dew Drop (two year old boy twin for those of you losing track of the kids) has an amazing ability to spend one on one time with me and/or the Geege.

I never really noticed before, but since one of my goals on my 52in52 list is to spend one hour with each child each week*, I have witnessed that he is a hog.

I don't know how he does it. I suspect the other kids could learn a trick or two, but Dew Drop always manages to swindle his way onto my lap, with a book in tow and have himself some quiet Mummy time. Or he quietly sits next to me and holds my hand. Or he asks me to watch him while he is riding his bike and the others are playing Lego or something. Or he keeps me company while I hang clothes on the line.

He has also got himself some chores to do. He 'helps' with the washing and pushes the button on the dishwasher. He puts clothes in the washing baskets. All because he is always there.

But it is not just me he hijacks. I have observed that once the Geege gets home of an evening, Dew Drop always manages to swindle his way onto his lap for a quick wrestle and a giggle.

He is good at it. I will grant him that.

Now that I have cottoned on, it makes me feel a bit bad. I so enjoy his company but I now know that he is accruing more individual parental time than the others.

Maybe he needs more and that is why he gets it?

Maybe he just likes it?

Is it unfair if he just takes it and the others don't really notice or seem to care?

Bloody Mummy hog has unleashed more Mummy guilt.


* Incidentally, I am going to revise this goal to 15 mins per day and at least one hour per week because I realised it isn't always attainable. An hour each? That is four hours. What are the others going to do while I spend my quality time? So 15 mins seems more reasonable, don't you think?

Saturday, 19 February 2011

52in52: The eye appointments

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...


The kids and I had a date with the behavioural optometrist last week.


Our first trip happened when Doo Dah was 10 months old and Nugget was two and a half. I had a few concerns about eye-turns (squints). Neither had particular problems in that arena, but they had to be rechecked after 12 months (when I was gigantically pregnant with the twins). 


We got a letter recommending another 'check up' about a year ago now. It sat on my fridge, beckoning me to take notice. I successfully ignored it for a long time but I finally did make the appointment and off we went.


It never occurred to me that we would walk out of the place with a child in glasses. We didn't, as it happens, but I realised as I was wrangling the twins while the boys were being assessed that this could be a life-changing day for us.


Doo Dah is "absolutely fine"  according to our lovely optometrist. 


Nugget however, is "borderline". His eyes tired during the assessment. The optometrist is concerned that it will effect his "enjoyment of reading". I assured her that there isn't a lot of enjoyment happening at this stage anyway! Skill, yes. Interest, no.


"Maybe glasses will help?" she suggested.


"Not unless they are absolutely necessary", I retorted. Having had glasses since the age of 16, I am well attuned to the 'joys' of being a  'four eyes'.


We agreed to have another look at things in six months. When he is half way through first grade and more ensconced in the world of reading. 


Here's hoping he has his father's eyes instead of his mother's and things remain steady and stable for a while longer.


It is funny the way the simplest things can change your life irrevocably; an ultrasound, a check-up, or a bad day on the road. When did you last have a nice reprieve?

Friday, 18 February 2011

The purchasing dilemma

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Last month I wrote a post about buying nothing new for a year.

My friend, Dancing in the Rain and I decided to take up the challenge and we kicked off on February 1. So far, so good, although the 'buying a present for a one year old' caused me a little bit of grief this week.

What the whole process has been teaching me about is the importance of thinking before you buy. I would have said that I wasn't an 'impulse' buyer before, but I can now tell you that I am/was. I would frequently have bought 'a little something' for the kids when I was at the shops. Or picked up a magazine or book from the store. Or a new pen or, well, something.

I have always had decisions to make when shopping. Is is Australian made? Is it environmentally packaged/friendly? Is it reasonably priced? Does it support local farmers? Is it reasonable for the diet?

The relative importance of each question varied depending on what was happening in my life. If dieting, the low fat factor was key. If on a tight budget, the cost was the prime motivator. But in some arenas (like cleaners) the 'greeness' of the product is king. Grocery shopping has always taken me a long time!

But now I have different decisions to make. Do I really need it? Can I get it used, second hand or hand made? Can I borrow it from someone?

Spending less money on new things has been a bit liberating thus far. It is all about 'repurposing' around our place at the moment, which is working out well. But when I really do need something? What then? I need to do some research on the alternatives of 'new'. I'd really like to know, what are your key questions when making a purchase? Do you have any tips for where to source second hand things?

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Weight loss marathon

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I have been a bit overweight since the late 1990s. I was never a 'skinny' kid, nothing skinny about my body shape, but I wasn't overweight. Activity kept me healthy. I didn't worry too much about food. I ate what I wanted.

Somewhere between my 300th and 400th packet of crisps starting and finishing my Honours thesis I jumped on the scales and discovered that I had 5-10kg to lose. I have been trying ever since.

I have had some wins, and some serious set-backs (twin pregnancy anyone?) but I have not been inside my 'healthy weight range' since 1999.

Not really one for a 'fad' diet, I have usually turned to Weight Watchers when I have felt out of control. I think I have started the program about four, five  six times. Always so close, and yet so far.

Last year, I blogged for Weight Watchers and Kidspot about my battle of the bulge after the birth of the twins 12 months prior (most of the entries can be found in the archives here). I lost 12 kilos in three months on the Weight Watchers Satisfaction plan. I got within 1.9kg of my healthy weight range.

And then I fell off the wagon.

In November last year, I returned to the Weight Watchers fold. I started to re-lose the 5kgs of weight I had lost at the beginning of the year and found again sometime during the winter. I was going really well, and then, well, holidays happened. I stopped going to Weight Watchers and slowly, gradually put back on the weight I had lost. Again.

Four weeks ago, I decided enough is enough and faced the scales at Weight Watchers. There is was again. Those same five kilos. Back on my bum and tum. Back in my life.

So, I made a commitment to myself then and there. This is my year. All the way to goal. And maintain. Maintain! Whatever it takes.

I am due for a weigh in tonight. All going well (i.e. if my scales and the WW scales are still in alignment) I will be back to the weight I was at the end of the Kidspot gig. Almost in the healthy weight range. Eyes on the prize. This time I am not giving in. Weight loss is a marathon, not a sprint. I am not going to run out of puff just shy of the finish line this time. I am getting over that line. Even if I have to crawl.

Has your weight loss journey been as bumpy as mine? Any tips for getting over the line?

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Love opens the prison

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"One cannot always tell what it is that keeps us shut in, confines us, seems to bury us, but still one feels certain barriers, certain gates, certain walls. Is all this imagination, fantasy? I do not think so. And then one asks: My God! Is it for long, is it for ever, is it for eternity? Do you know what frees one from this captivity? It is very deep serious affection. Being friends, being brothers, love, that is what opens the prison by supreme power, by some magic force."


- Vincent van Gogh, letter to his brother, July 1880

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Bling on Love: Happy V. Day

Happy Valentine's Day blog friends.

We were meant to get engaged on Feb 14th, 2004, but I hadn't realised the significance of the date of our planned canyoning trip and, true to form, had a 'better offer' for a party or something on Valentine's Day. The Geege very amicably agreed to go on our trip the weekend before. And so the 7th it was.

Dear Geege packed all of my favourite foods into his backpack (along with our lilos, wetsuits etc.) and two piccolos of champagne (precariously wrapped in a teatowel so as not to clink or break) and we had the most wonderful picnic. It was very romantic and just perfect for us.

I didn't wear an engagement ring (just a 'space saver' one we got in a lolly wrapper). I just wanted one ring so I waited until our wedding day before I got to wear the ring we picked out.

I was so excited at the prospect. Not really being one for having a 'rock', I really love the butterfly design on the ring and the 40 little diamonds sparkle from all angles. It is perfect for me.



Are you a solitaire kinda gal/guy? Why not show off your bling and participate in Maxabella loves... and Gifts of Serendipity's
Maxabella loves...

Thursday, 10 February 2011

A desperate attempt to weigh less

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You know that maybe you are a little desperate for a win on the scales when prior to the weigh in you:

1. Have a 'last chance work out'.
2. Avoid drinking for 2 hours.
3. Go to the loo more than once.
4. Delay your dinner until 'after'.
5. Remove your belt.
6. Change your shoes to the lightest ones in your wardrobe.

Desperate.

A loss, but perhaps not well deserved.

How did you go this week?

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

The real essentials of toddler wrangling

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When I was having my first child, I acquired a list of stuff that I would need. Cot, x number of baby wraps, 1000 newborn nappies, baby monitor etc. You know the sort of list. Being a bit frugal I didn't get ALL the things on the list but, I did get a fair stash of 'essential baby gear'. Turns out I got a whole lot of stuff I simply never used (baby bottles anyone?).

With the benefit of hindsight, I think parenting books have it all wrong. The focus is too narrow. It is all about the 'first year' and conquering all things rash, tooth, and wind related, and all the paraphernalia that goes with that.

But in the end, that first year goes past, you have no control over how it unfolds and each little person breaks at least one of the 'rules'. The first year is about survival. No amount of gear will make it better.

I reckon the real essential equipment list should be for toddler wrangling. My list is a whole lot different than the ones you read about in a book. These are the tools that make parenthood a little bit sweeter and a little bit easier in my experience. I don't claim to be a guru and this list is anything but 'green' but for me, I cannot live without...

1. Paper towel - I go through at least one roll of the stuff per week. It is great for spills, hands, and noses (if you are desperate). I am beside myself if I run out of it!

2. Baby wipes - Apart from their obvious job, wipes are the best cleaner-uper-ers around. They fix up clothes, couches, and can even polish a school shoe (if you are desperate). You need to keep them away from toddlers though because they simply LOVE to take each one out of the packet and throw it on the floor. Such a great game! Not!

3. DVD player - Oh. I know I am not being at all PC here, but the DVD player is a must. Pop on a bit of Wiggles for 15 minutes for your two year olds and you are guaranteed the best giggle ever. They dance, they sing and they stare with an amazing amount of concentration.

4. Kids scissors - Hand a child a piece of paper and a pair of kids scissors (the almost blunt kind if we are sticking with the toddler age group) and you have guaranteed hours of entertainment. I am not claiming a tidy home at the end of it, but they will be occupied/stimulated and building their fine motor skills at the same time. Win:win.

5. Storage containers - When you have a lot of kids you end up with a LOT of stuff, so storage becomes a real issue. Storage boxes are awesome. They keep toys orderly, contain the endless hand-me-downs, house left-overs and snacks in children's lunch boxes,  enable kids to do the whole stacking/stashing thing as they pull out ALL the contents and stash it back in (if you are lucky) and make a fantastic 'boat' or 'car' for pretend play. Storage boxes of all shapes and sizes are a must.

6. Bubble mixture - Forget the fancy toys that make noises (No. Really. FORGET the noisy toys. Kids make ENOUGH noise all by themselves) and grab some bubbles. Kids LOVE bubbles. They will keep kids happy for hours and are so portable and easy to use (even better when they can blow their own bubbles). Bubbles are the bomb.

7. Packet of balloons - Kid + balloon = squeals of laughter + chasing balloon all over the place. Sheer delight for about 50c. I can't live without them.

8. Sense of humour - Children equate to sleep deprivation, well, at least where I come from. Sleep deprivation can result in some very cranky moments so I reckon being mindful of the 'funnier' sides of situations is extremely important. Keeping things light helps keep the mood of the household more upbeat and reduces the overall stress of multiple child wrangling. I don't go anywhere without mine.

So there you have it. What items would you add to the list?

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Ink

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I have been noticing an abundance of tattoos of late. From sports stars to celebrities to the Mum's from Mother's Group, people are inking themselves left, right and centre.

I like tattoos. I don't have any myself. I have never wanted one. I don't think I trust myself to pick something that I would like forever. I can't get past the 'have it for life' or at least until you are willing to embrace the painful removal operation. But people do it all the time. More and more people it seems.

Tattoos are pop-cultural time markers. They can be chronologically dated. Like fashion and people's names. I mean, as easy as it is to place a Tracy, Kelly or Kylie as born in 1970s Australia, likewise with ink, its style can be a dead giveaway. Black rose, 1980s. Tribal design or Asian character, 1990s. Words/names & colour, the naughties.

And the where is as important as the what. Where on earth do you put a tattoo? All of the discrete body parts mean revealing your 'privates' to some dude in a tattoo parlour. All exposed parts mean it is on display all.the.time.

So do you go with the 'fadish locations' - the tramp stamp, the arm band, near your hip, on your wrist, on your ankle or foot - or the more hardcore - bicep, back, shoulder, calf, full or half sleeves? How do you pick where you want your tattoo to go?

I do like "OP"s. Other People's, that is. I admire a lovely arm displaying a Islander-inspired creation. I love a delicate and symbolic image on the shoulder blade. I am partial to a his 'n' hers combination when done tastefully. I even like watching a bit of Miami Ink on a slow night.


I embrace this form of body art that is migrating from the fringes of society to the mainstream. I like the individuality it gives people.
 
But I guess I just don't want one.
 
Do you have some ink? Where is it? What is it? And what was your inspiration?

Monday, 7 February 2011

52in52: The blog makeover reveal

Sorry I was closed over the weekend.

I know you will forgive me when you take a look around and see what has been happening.



The bird has been retired!

The exceptionally talented young lady from The Stockport Hotel worked busily over the past couple of days on my blog makeover.

It turns out I won the competition that Suger Coat it put together (thanks to you guys!) and I am now sporting a whole new vibe.

Same me. Different space.

Thanks x1,0000000 to The Stockport Hotel. I completely rate her patience and her skills. What a cool chick! You should visit her gorgeous blog to see more of her talent on display.

I still have a couple of tweaks to do here (like my signature and fixing up that blasted LinkWithin that has been kaput since I changed my blog address details) but I was so excited to show you that I just had to do the big reveal.

What do you think?

Oh and I have a button now  - so don't forget to grab it if you want a piece of me on your blog :)

Friday, 4 February 2011

A rant about gambling

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Did you know that you can bet on whether the first points of a rugby match will be scored by a penalty goal?

Or whether there will be a 'no ball' in the 8th over of a cricket match?

I was listening to the radio this morning and learned about all of my options in sports betting. It is outrageous!What the hell is happening in this country? Gambling has taken over.

I have never been a fan of gambling. It pissed me off in the 1990s when most the 'live music' venues replaced bands with poker machines. It is practically impossible to see a band play in a small venue in Sydney now. But if you want to throw a $20 into the pokies, you have a plethora of choices. What is that all about? I guess I am pissed off again, huh?

It used to be that the Melbourne Cup was the big day for betting in Australia. It probably still is, I know it is the only betting I do, but you can now 'have a punt' any day of the week, on any multitude of events. Dogs. Horses. Rugby. Cricket. Golf. Soccer. Basketball. Name your sporting competition. Local, national and international competitions, all within reach. Just a click of a button away.

You will be able to bet on your child's soccer match soon, the way things are going.

It is crazy. There is little wonder that Gamblers Anonymous has been created to help people who identify as having a gambling problem. It is so accessible. So acceptable. Another risk-taking behaviour gets the government's stamp of approval? Our government makes money (taxes) from gambling. It is in their interest to get a few more of us hooked. Gambling, smoking and alcohol. The government's big money spinners.

Families are torn apart by gambling. People lose their jobs, their houses, their families and their dignity.

Odds are (excuse the pun!) that some of you have been effected by this nasty past-time. I reckon it is time we took a stand against this. I sure do not want my children getting into it. There is too much at stake. I am going to boycott all things gambling henceforth. No more Melbourne Cup. No footy tipping. And no (extremely infrequent) games of blackjack.

What is your feeling about gambling?

Thursday, 3 February 2011

The twin epidemic

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Is it just me, or is the whole world having twins these days? Is two the new one? A sign of our increasing search for efficiency?

Since I got pregnant with my twins (and instantly became more aware of and interested in the world of multiples) there seems to have been a lot of celebrities having multiples. Here are the ones I remember...

Princess Mary has just had twins last month. Hers are the first 'famous' set of twins born in 2011, but Mum-to-be Mariah Carey is due to join her. Apparently she is expecting boy/girl twins later this year.

Both Celine Dion and  Neil Patrick Harris became 'twin parents' (not together. lol) in October 2010. Celine had two boys and NPH a pigeon pair.

Sarah Jessica Parker's girls were born in June 2009, albeit by gestational carrier surrogate. They were closely followed by Ange and Brad's Knox and Vivienne, Roger Federer's girls and Molly Ringwald's boy/girl set in July 2009.

Charlie Sheen's wife at the time (whose name escapes me?) popped out twin boys in March, 2009. They called them Bob and Max. 'Nuff said.

Lisa Marie Presley, Ricky Martin and Rebecca Romijn had their babies in 2008 (like me). Lisa Marie had two girls, Finley and Harper as did Rebecca, who named her pair Dolly and Charlie. Ricky Martin's were both boys, named Matteo and Valentino, born in August 2008 via surrogate Mum.

Of course there was already a long list of Multiple Mums and Dads, like Patrick Demspey, JLo, Marcia Cross, Geena Davis, and Julia Roberts, to name a few, before I ever joined the fraternity. I never thought I would be a 'twin Mum' but it has been a surprisingly rewarding experience.

Double the trouble, double the blessings.

So, who have I forgotten? What are your thoughts on the 'twin epidemic'?

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Cyclone Yasi


My thoughts are with my North Queensland relatives and friends tonight. I want them to be safe, but there's this bloody big cyclone on its way right now. Here's hoping Yasi's bark is bigger than his bite. x

The composite class

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School started back on Monday. Nugget has progressed to first grade. If all of the school years go as quickly as kindergarten did, we will be celebrating his high-school graduation in no time!

Our school wasn't 100% sure of the number of children it was expecting at the end of last year and warned us that the kids wouldn't be put into their classes until a day or two into term. Day one went by and they stuck to their old classes and Nugget thought that was just great.

Nugget came home from school today to reveal that he has been placed in a K/1 composite class.

It was my biggest dread. We were told last year that there was a good chance that they would create 2 kindy classes, 2 first grade classes and a composite class. I thought to myself at the time that I hoped Nugget wouldn't be in the K/1 class. But alas, he is.

I don't know how they choose who goes in to a mixed class and who doesn't (maybe one of the many 'teacher bloggers' around the place could help me out with this?).

I hoped Nugget would be spared because he is so young (probably younger than some of the Kindies in his class).

I hoped Nugget would not be included because he had such a fine start to school that I didn't really want first grade to be tricky or for him to 'get lost' if he is struggling.

I hoped Nugget wouldn't be in K/1 because he is a quiet, reserved boy and I am afraid he won't speak up.

I hoped Nugget wouldn't go into the composite class because there is a smaller cohort of children for him to befriend and I don't want him to be an 'outsider' in his own school grade.

Life never goes to plan as you hope, does it?

Have you experienced the 'composite' class with your children? What are your thoughts? Please tell...

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Cyril's woes

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One of our cars broke down last night.

I didn't own a car until about 10 years ago. I walked most places I needed to go or I took public transport.

But as the Geege and I moved further and further from the city, the public transport network got less reliable and less useful and we had to get a car.

And then, when we started our family, we had to have two cars. It was hard for a greenie like me.

One of our cars is the big family wagon. It has a sliding door (and there goes any possibility of me ever being perceived as cool), 8 seats and 4 car seats. I feel a bit like a bus driver when I get into it, but it does the job, fits lots of gear in and drives 1000kms per fill (diesel).

Our other car is a relic from my single days. My very first car. I bought it new, with my first ever bank loan. It made me feel like a grown up.

It is small and blue and has the engine the size of a lawn mower. I bought it because it had a 'cute face' and would be gentle on the environment. But after nine years of service, the little fella popped into 3rd gear last night and refused to get out. I don't know if it is the clutch or the gear box. All I can tell you is: it is not looking good.

I have many fond memories of my car and I hope that it won't have to go to the car graveyard. It will probably cost more than it is worth to get it fixed, but we will see.

I know there are more pressing issues in the world as you read this post, but if you could spare a little thought for poor Cyril the Sirion, we might just get him back on the road. Thanks.

What was the first car you ever bought? Do you still have a soft spot for it?
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