Friday, 29 June 2012

Weekend Rewind: Best headline edition

I had so much fun reacquainting myself with the Weekend Rewinders last week, that I thought we would have another session this week!

I heard about an artist this week who has the longest album titles imaginable. So long that I can't remember the name of the artist or the name of her latest album. That's a fail I think.

Anyway, it got me thinking about blog posts and their titles. I reckon I write some posts that fail because of the headlines I give them. I like to be a bit cryptic, which really doesn't work from an SEO perspective.

This week I want to learn more about how to attract a crowd through a headline. Some bloggers do it so well. Like a good glossy magazine, they drag me in even though I KNOW that Brad Pitt doesn't have a secret family or that Princess Kate is not pregnant. Mrs. Woogs is a master.

So if you want to play along, become my friend if we are not already acquainted and link up a post that has a great headline. Don't forget to pop around and comment on other posts too. If you want to you can tweet or Facebook your post and share the Weekend Rewind love around the blogosphere.

So here is my favourite, but not terribly effective, headline: How long 'til a rodent goes crisp?

Over to you...

Thursday, 28 June 2012

It's a twin thing: Comparison

One of the things we try not to do is compare our children. Each one has their strengths and weaknesses and these are acknowledged, but we try not to reference the other kids.

I must admit that I find this aspect of parenting pretty hard. I can't help myself. I compare. I may not articulate my thoughts, but I definitely think them.

The fact that the children are at different ages and stages makes it a bit easier not to make direct comparisons. For example, I honestly can't remember what level of reading Nugget was up to at this stage in his Kindy year. Like Doo Dah he cottoned on easily, but who is doing better? I wouldn't know. It is not important to me. And I am too disorganised to find old school reports or Little Athletics results to check. I am not interested enough.

But it is exceptionally hard when it comes to the twins not to compare them. Most of their early milestones were attained within days of each other. But it was hard not to notice, for example, that one wasn't yet crawling, when the other was swanning past us.

Recently I had Dew Drop's speech and language assessed. Dew Drop's communication skills are behind the Minx's. Honestly, I didn't know if she was advanced and he was fine, or he was delayed and she was fine, so I thought I would ease my mind to seek a Speech Pathologist's opinion.

Turns out he is absolutely fine. More than fine.

If I had have just looked at him (in isolation), I would have known that. If I hadn't compared him to his sister, I would have been able to see for myself that he is speaking and listening really well for a three and a half year old.

I wonder why I feel the need to compare the twins? Is it just that they have an age-matched peer operating next to them that makes comparison so easy? Or is it just me?

Monday, 25 June 2012

Thumb sucking

Image by Nugget. Minx doing her best bucky beaver face.
The Minx wouldn't take the dummy. She was a screamy baby who refused to be 'plugged'. It was a nightmare for us, until she 'found her thumb' at about six weeks. Then she slept. We praised her thumb sucking. Thumb sucking was the bomb.

Over the past few years her thumb habit hasn't been too bad. She would suck it in bed. Sometimes in front of the TV too. Her teeth have have a bit of a casualty, but overall, not too bad.

Lately, she has increased her usage. It seems every time I look at her, she has her thumb in her mouth. It is starting to drive me mad.

Now before I go on, I have a small confession to make. I am a thumb sucker. I am 39 years old and I still suck my thumb. Not consciously, you understand, but when I am stressed out, I suck my thumb. Not one of my most redeeming features, but a part of me nonetheless.

So it is a bit like the pot calling the kettle black for me to insist that the Minx curb her habit. But, I reckon I would do anything for her to kick it.

The other day, while visiting her cousin Badoo, the Minx commented on the Badoo's dummy.

"Maybe I could have one?" she asked.

I thought about it. Could I be mad? Could it work? Could she swap the thumb for the dum and then kick her  habit? Oh, the cogs they were a turning.

I bought her a dummy when next at the shops. The Geege told me I was crazy, but I thought it was worth a try. She insisted she have her dummy before bed. As I tucked her in with her dummy, her dolly, her 'sucky' blanket, I started to think that maybe I was creating a(nother) monster for myself. 

As I cruised past her bedroom an hour later and saw her with her thumb AND her dum in her mouth, as well as her sucky blanket, I knew I had officially made a huge mistake!

The dums have gone. The thumb is still there.

I clearly have NO IDEA what to do about kicking the thumb sucking habit. My parents tried everything with me to no avail. Anyone want to offer some friendly advice? Maybe there's hope for me yet???

Friday, 22 June 2012

Weekend Rewind: The party edition

We are all about pink (the Minx) and orange (the Dew Drop) party decorating, food and take-away bags this weekend at Casa Four. I feel like I have most of the plans for the twins' three and a half party (astute readers will remember they were born on Christmas Day*) but am looking for some last minute inspiration. So I thought, why not? Why the f@3k not?

Let's do it! Dust off an old party related post from your archives, link her up here, share some comment love with your fellow linkers and ye ol' Weekend Rewind will be officially in session**. I can't promise a weekly linky, but I can promise you will have fun if you choose to link here today.

I will get us started... Nipples aren't meant to be censored

Now it is your turn...

* Click this link if you want to see a photo of me the day before I gave birth to the twins! Scary stuff!
** I know. I thought it was dead and buried too. But maybe... just maybe, someone will play along.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Riding with kids

Image from here
I have been riding my bike with one or other of my children on the back for many years, on and off.

I was a competent bike rider before I had kids. I like it. I participated in one of the Bicycle NSW Big Rides with Sister A and some friends in the early noughties. It was a 600km commitment and no walk in the park. Why we had to choose the year they explored the Armidale region is beyond me. There was plenty of hill climbing during that week! But I digress...

On Saturday, I stacked my bike with the Minx on the back.

We were out having a family bike ride. Now that the boys have broken free from the chains of training wheels we can do these things. Dew Drop wanted to ride his bike (with trainers still on) and the Minx said she would go on my bike with me. This left the Geege walking along beside Dewie, assisting Doo Dah with the occasional start and generally keeping things rolling. He said he had no fun.

Nugget and the Minx and I had broken away from the pack. We were free spirits, cruising the streets, wind in our hair. And then, quite suddenly, Nugget stopped to 'wait for the others'. I failed to respond quickly enough and then got my foot stuck in the pedal cage during the commotion of trying to bring the bike to a halt.

The Minx and I crashed to the ground. She freaked and I tried to keep it together but my leg hurt and my fingers fumbled as I tried to remove the seat belt in her seat. Her helmet stayed snugly on her head. Not a bump or a bruise to be seen. The Geege rescued us.

I don't think I have crashed my bike since I was a child. My freshly 'grazed knee' fits beautifully over the scar that I have sported since my childhood falls. My bruised thigh only half as big as my bruised ego.

I realised, after we all returned to our bikes (the Minx took up residence on the Geege's shoulders for the rest of the journey) and the drama was over, that we had survived one of my worst bike-related fears (relatively) unscathed. I found some comfort in this.

The Minx spent the return trip (sitting on the Geege's shoulders) trying to convince me that I could take the child seat off my bike now because she wouldn't be needing it. Dewie said he would have a go, but when push came to shove, he didn't want to either.

The end of an era.

The beginning of another anxiety for the Minx? You would think I would have learnt...

Do you ride with your kids?

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

The burrow - The perils of co-sleeping (Part 5)

Image from here.
I like a bit of space when I sleep. Well, I used to. Before I became a Mum.

The cold winter nights have increased the regularity of the children's migration from their beds into ours.

Despite the three blankets on their beds, they claim that they are cold as they slink into our bed in the wee hours of the night. The Geege and I, drunk with sleep, too warm to consider venturing out to slot the kids back into their own beds, are our own worst enemies. And so they stay and we sleep. There were five in the bed, and the little one said*...

Nugget still takes up residence at the bottom of the bed. He is getting too tall now of course and his frozen feet burrow under our legs to defrost. But he is no trouble. Not really.

Dew Drop likes to sleep on the edge of the bed, while the Minx pops into the middle, between the Geege and I. And there they sleep.

There is pillow sharing.

And there is the burrow.

The kids 'follow the warmth', so when you turn over, they turn with you, burrowing into your back or front (in my case both, a twin sandwich of sorts). It is cute and cosy, right up until the bit where you need to change position and you are stuck. Wedged between two sleeping children; with nowhere to go, except to one of their unoccupied beds.

The burrow is a winter hazard and is in direct opposition to the star fish.

We need a bigger bed.

Have you experienced the burrow?

* Doo Dah still has nothing to do with any of this co-sleeping business. Thank God for Doo Dah :-)

Monday, 11 June 2012

Please check your breasts

Image via

Another friend of mine has been diagnosed with breast cancer.

She is a young woman in the prime of her life. A mother of two beautiful daughters. She has no family history of breast cancer. She has never smoked and drinks little alcohol. She eats well, isn't overweight, and lives a sustainable lifestyle. Damn it. She is the picture of health and the envy of her peers.

It isn't fair. She just has cancer. They don't know why.

She has already quietly triumphed through the first stage of her treatment. She is stoic and hopeful.

"They got it early" she told me, with only the hint of a quiver in her voice. "You did". I thought. "Clever you".

She has a good prognosis but it is still a tough road ahead.

She has become a breast cancer statistic.

One in eight women.

Have you checked your breasts lately?

Friday, 8 June 2012

The 12 rules of parenting

Image from here
As you know I have been doing research about parenting ferals.

I came across this book called "It's not that complicated- The Twelve Rules for Raising Happy, Self-Reliant Children" by Doug Peine. I opened the book and it was dedicated "To C, for her love and for her patience" so I borrowed it. I am a C. He dedicated it to me.

The man makes sense, though he is a little American in his approach. It is an easy to follow book and the author acknowledges the challenges of parenting, but focuses on the rewards. He gives clear examples of his rules and anecdotes for when they might be useful.

So, I give you here, the answer to your oft asked question, how do I raise happy, self-reliant children? (you will have to read the book for the full explanation and strategies):

1. Never smack your child
2. Don't expect your child to make adult decisions
3. Don't hold a grudge
4. Mean what you say
5. Don't threaten punishments you are not prepared to follow through on
6. Admit when you are wrong
7. Structure your child's life so that he learns responsibility
8. Don't belittle your child
9. Praise your child over and over
10. Don't fight with your partner in front of your child
11. Read to your child every day
12. Let your child know you love her unconditionally

Apparently it is not that complicated. It is all about consistency. But we knew that, right?

This book got me thinking and reminded me that my Mummy tantrums are not helping my parenting. On those bad days when you wonder why you thought it was a good idea to 'ruin' your life by having kids, it will do you well to think about these rules. Particularly to Rule 3 above.

What do you think of Peine's rules?

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

What do you get when you cross an opinionated Mum with a State MP?

Image from here
I turned up at the P&C Committee meeting tonight. Our local Member was coming and I just had to hear what he had to say about all this Local schools, Local decisions business.

And so we did our P&C business, and then the politician was given the stage.He is a nice, young bloke. Articulate. Well versed in local issues and local concerns.

I just don't agree with him.

I don't think that decentralising the Education Department is the best option in the long run. I don't think the impact will be on the front-line staff. And certainly not in the short-term. I think it will be the middle management tiers that it will effect and this will be once the media focus is off the whole situation. I don't buy the spiel that there will be no change to overall funding. What government isn't trying to save money?

I have seen the same pattern in Health. They disbanded all the Area Health Services and introduced Local Health Districts, managed by Boards. It all looks good on paper; local people making local decisions, more input from the doctors and no clinical staff have been effected (some professions have seen enhancements). But it is now, a year on, that we are starting to realise that doctors are very good a medicine, but do not necessarily have the skill set to manage health services.

And there are the job cuts. Support services are being restructured. Positions are being culled.

The fact that the government has been busily changing industrial relations at the same time; tweaking 'displaced persons' policy, introducing voluntary redundancies etc. has made it much easier for positions to be deleted from the system. And positions are people. People who may have been working in the public health sector for many years. Dedicating themselves to making the health system the best it can be.

If they can do it in Health, they can do it in Education.

At the end of the day, I just want my children to get the best possible education that they can. Just like I want patients to have access to the best health care available.

It is politics that gets in the way.

So when our lovely, articulate young local MP spruiked his brand of politics at the P&C meeting, I had a few things to say. Just a few.

I love a good argument.

Do you shy away from conflict?

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

A post about a queue

Lego nerds with their creation
We spent much of Sunday queuing.

I hate queuing. I especially hate queuing with children. Is there no end to the pain?

But queued we did. Myself, Nugget and Doo Dah, along with Sister B and the tsunamis.

It all stems back to the Lego Club, and a little leaflet that Nugget received in his most recent pile of marketing material Membership paraphernalia. There was to be an exhibition of Lego creations at the Powerhouse Museum in early June.

"Can we go?" Nugget asked at the time.

"Of course we can go" I replied, immediately forgetting about it.

It came as a bit of shock to me that Nugget remembered about this Lego exhibition. But he did. When it ticked over to June, he reminded me that we had a date with the Lego creators. I had to take him. He insisted. So I dragged Sister B and her crew along too.

The queue stretched outside of the museum. It was a mile long. I swear. I sighed. I checked with Nugget that he really wanted to endure the world's longest queue. Nugget insisted we stay.

"Please can we?" he pleaded.

Do we have too?

It was a wet and cold day. What else can we do? Sister B and I brainstormed. Bowling? Darling Harbout? Movies? We almost tempted him with a trip to the movies, but there was nothing much on. He wanted to stay. And so we waited.

The other kids wanted to leave. Sister B and I spruiked about the importance of learning patience and commitment. We tried to make the best of a bad moment.

Finally we arrived at the coveted ticket counter, where we bought our passes. We skipped towards the exhibition, only getting lost once or twice.

I cannot begin to explain the level of disappointment we felt when we saw the exhibits. It is NOT that they weren't impressive, in their own way, it is just not what we were expecting. A bunch of Lego nerds* displaying their wares. We thought it would be fun. We thought it would be creative. We thought it would be hands on. Nope.

Nugget maintained his commitment. He said it was awesome. He said he loved it. We all know that he didn't. But we appreciate that he tried.

Have you ever waited a long time for something that wasn't worth it?

*Sister B insisted that I take photos of the nerds rather than the exhibits. She cracks herself up.
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