Tuesday, September 9, 2014

L'Oreal Make Up Tips

Mirror mirror on the wall is what most of us women look into every morning, and while we (once again, most of us anyway), are not so vain to query if we are the fairest of them all, we certainly want to look our best. I may not primp or preen like a peacock, (who has time for that when you're a mother?) but I certainly do have a beauty routine and I like to throw on some make up most day.

I like to wear make up, even if it's only a quick application of two or three things. I feel more confident knowing I look that bit better when I draw attention to my assets and hide my flaws. Make up should be not about covering yourself, but rather draw attention to your own natural beauty.

My youngest sister was once a make up artist for a leading cosmetics company, so I have been fortunate to receive several mini tutorials from her on make up appliance. Even still, it's easy to get in a rut and always do the same thing. During ProBlogger I was so excited to go to a presentation by the Australian branch of L'Oreal Paris. Eagerness to use cosmetics and try new techniques instantly emerged as I listened to Elsa Morgan, an industry leader artist who does make up for the ritzy magazines and for models strutting the runways of Melbourne, New York and Paris.

Rut. Out.

For many of us mothers, a make up regime is often one of those things that is neglected as we rush to care for children, run a household, not to mention commitments outside the home. I loved hearing Elsa encourage women to use the moments during your make up routine to slow down and make some time for yourself. (Even if it's a short make up application.) It is true that sometimes as mothers we rush so much that we don't pay attention and enjoy the small things in life. Enjoy the feeling of massaging moisturiser into your skin. Let it rest for a few moments before applying primer. (Would it be bad to admit, that I hadn't used primer before I went to this session? And I have to say, the L'Oreal Base Magique just glides on the skin. It really is such a nice experience, and it has the benefit of improving the smoothness of my foundation and accentuating my complexion. Win!)

I have always had good brows. I rarely pluck or wax them, and therefore I pretty well ignore them. I had been totally oblivious to the fact that brows are one of the in things to focus your attention on these days! A fuller brow makes the face look more youthful and can draw attention to the eyes. (Gone are the heavy plucking days of the 90's)

I definitely don't want my eyebrows looking like caterpillars, but I have started using the L'Oreal Superliner Brow Artist Shaper. It has a nifty little brush and two tips, a pencil tip (you should choose a colour about one or two shades darker then your brow).

Here are the how to tips on giving your brows wow!

Step 1:
Brush inner brow upward and outer brow up and outward.
Step 2:
Draw lightly from under brow working up and along the natural shape of your brows
Step 3:
Finish brow by tapering this soft line from the top of the arch toward the temples.
Step 4:
Set the shape with the wax tip. 

Afterwards there was a lip and brow bar, so I got the experts to give mine a little makeover.

Of all the lessons in make up we received, the thing that made me most excited was learning about winged eyes. I was trying to listen and watch very carefully, because it's a dramatic effect that I've often wanted to execute for special occasions. 

If you also want tips in achieving (or perfecting) this technique, this is what we learned.

Step 1:
Draw wing first by making a line from the end of the lash line out and slightly up a couple of cm toward end of brow
Step 2:
Draw back toward lash line from above this line to make a small triangle
Step 3:
Continue along the lash line, tapering as you go so the line creates a beautiful almond shape
Step 4:
Apply two coats of volume mascara, fan lashes outwards

Elsa also had some top tips to share:

  1. Use a highlighter pen to clean up and sharpen the feline flick
  2. To create a smokey winged eye, line the top and bottom lash lines with a black or brown pencil. Optional: add a kajal pencil or white kohl pencil to the waterline.
  3. Take a quad eyeshadow and blend over liner working into the socket and extending the shading out and up to visually open eye.
  4. Add highlighter to inner corners of eyes to add drama.
After I returned home, my brain was buzzing so much the next morning I woke up early and since there were no children around, I had a play around while I got ready for church. The extra effort seemed to pay off, I got compliments even with my very amateur efforts, and I'm looking forward to continuing to perfect the art!

When asked what tips Elsa had for mothers who find it difficult to find the time to apply make up, her advice was to find enjoyment and pleasure in the routine and investing in yourself. Her practical advice was to have the main things you need out on your counter ready to go. Elsa believes that one of the most time consuming aspects for many people when applying make up is searching through cosmetics bags and drawers for what they want. If it's all there ready to go you only need to pick it up and apply. You will be surprised how much time you will save.

One of the best parts of the evening was the goodie bag we came home with! So many treats, it's making experimenting so much fun!

Do you get in a make up rut? What techniques would you like to perfect or are there new routines you can begin? What are you top make up tips?

Today I'm linking with Essentially Jess for IBOT.

Pssst. Have you entered my giveaway of a baby hamper, perfect if you have a new little one or want to put away a gift for a new baby or a baby shower? No? Enter here

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Gifts for Newborns - Plus Giveaway!

A friend of mine had a baby the other day. The baby was rather early and weighed a petite 5lb1oz but is an absolutely gorgeous and healthy little man. Seeing pictures of him on Facebook made my mind wander back to my own newborns, particularly when the triplets were born since of course they were my smallest babies. (Read about the triplet's birth story)

Having a newborn in your life is such a special time of life. The long lingering moments you spend just staring at the new life lying before you. The awe as you contemplate that a tiny human was once nestled within someone's (or your own!) tummy. The snuggles as that precious bundle falls asleep on your chest. The wonder of siblings as they meet a person who will forever change their life.
Newborn Trent

It's also a tiring time for the family as late night feedings begin and the weariness of finding a rhythm with the newest addition to the family. And if there are cholic and reflux in the equation or other such newborn maladies, well life is all the more complex.

I love getting gifts for newborns. The mixture of a gift celebrating a new life beginning and comfort because life isn't easy makes giving at this time delightful.

Gifts I have given newborns include:

  • A special money box with a name engraved on it.
  • Fine china child's plate
  • Melamine Peter Rabbit gift set
  • Board books. (This is a good one for new parents who often do not have a library for the child yet.)
  • Clothing, but I'm always careful to do the math and make sure the size will be for the appropriate season.
  • Clothes in larger sizes (eg. size 1. Not only does it not matter what season it is if it's size 1, sometimes I buy the gift and then it takes me forever to give it away to the recipient, in which case, I know it's still going to fit by the time I finally do!)
Recently I was introduced to Angelic Baby Boutique a beautiful online baby boutique that has a stunning selection of gifts to give at baby showers, newborn babies and even first birthdays. The gifts include thoughtful and classy hampers and unique keepsakes.

As a special treat for Caitlin's Happy Heart readers, Angelic Baby Boutique is giving away a hamper to the value of $60 with product specially selected by Sylvia. You will have the choice of whether it will be made for a boy or girl.  

This would be just perfect if you know someone who is about to have, or has a new little bundle of joy in their lives. Or perhaps it is your own newborn child that you would love to spoil.

To enter, head over to Angelic Baby Boutique and tell me which baby gift you think is particularly special. I'd also love to hear why you think newborns are so special. It's not mandatory, but I would love it if you would also follow Caitlin's Happy Heart on Facebook.

1. Competition only open to Australian residents.
2. Competition is a game of skill and will entries will close on Friday September 12, 2014 at 8pm.
3. Prize will be mailed to either yourself or a recipient of your choice. Winners will be contacted by email. If there is no response by Monday 12am, a new winner will be selected.
4. An email address must be included with your entry.

PS. It seems that some people have difficulties leaving comments on my blog. Feel free to head to my Facebook page and leave a comment there...

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The ProBlogger De-Brief

I have been to ProBlogger! What an experience it has been! My head is buzzing with ideas and a determination to stay focussed and make this blogging thing work for me - and you, dear reader! There were a few messages that kept on reappearing over the conference, and making sure I am delivering a blog that has useful content that enhances my reader's life is a message I heard loud and clear!

I thought I would write this initial post-ProBlogger blog post outlining everything that happened while I was away.

I shared here about some of the planning process that it took just to leave the kids. This was actually made all the more difficult thanks to me getting horribly sick the week prior to ProBlogger and then I made the kids sick! (Normally it's the other way around!) Luckily most of the children didn't seem to get quite as sick as I was, but the week before I left we had fevers spiking intermitedly throughout the week, general unwellness and lots of grizzling.

The morning I left my little girl was particularly out of sorts and had become very irrational. She needed a dummy and teddy, just for the 10 minute drive to drop me off! I did feel a little bit bad leaving behind unwell children, but it was also a bit of a pleasure. It had just been such an exhausting time!

The morning I left was busy, doing all the last minute pack, dropping things off at Kindy and doing a business card scramble! There were a whole heap of circumstances that had caused delays in my business card ordering process so I got the order away later than I had wanted and unfortunately they didn't arrive in time, so the morning of I quickly made up another design, sent it into my church and they printed them for me (our printer is a bit dodgy!) and I madly chopped them up to size before racing  out to meet my friend that I was travelling to the Coast with.

My travel partner and room mate was my friend Letitia, we've been friends since we were 8 years old at school! She isn't a blogger but just enjoyed having a few of days of quiet at the coast except for whenever she was out and about in the hotel being entertained by the parade of bloggers that were circulating around her. (Being surrounded by bloggers in bulk is quite an experience, as it turns out!)

Once we arrived at the Gold Coast, we checked in to the wonderful QT Hotel, I love it that you can sip free and fresh lemonade as you stand in line waiting to be checked in! It really is a wonderful hotel.

After relaxing in the room for a little bit, we went on a walk down the beach. It's just as well I got some exercise, because after that I did a lot of eating. Let me tell you, the food QT serves up is absolutely delicious!
On Thursday night I considered myself very fortunate to be invited to a networking event by L'Oreal Paris. The event was in the penthouse, which made me feel very important heading to the top floor. Any feelings of importance quickly melted when immediately on arrival I knocked over someone's champagne when in the crowded room I bumped the chair she'd left it on! Cringe! The rest of the evening was great. I'll share what I learned during that event later, because ladies, I'm sure you will be interested in some make-up tips from a leading Australian make-up artist! Already I've been trying out some new routines, it's so good to get out of the make-up rut that is easy to fall into when you are a busy mother.

After this was finished, laden with the most delightful goodie bag I have ever received, we made our way down to Bazaar for dinner with Tish and my blogging pals B Being Cool and The Crafty Mummy. Oh my, buffet with a difference. Delectable food, and not just your ordinary buffet fair either. Fresh seafood, baked whole fish, stews, grill, a wok station and amazing dessert bar to say the least!

We went off to bed with full tummies, ready for the big day ahead. And big day it was! For this debrief post, I'll quickly go through all the speakers I heard, (you may want to check out their pages in all their blogging glory!) and give a sentence (or two!) summing up the main thing I walked away with from each speaker.

Darren Rowse - ProBlogger - Mr. ProBlogger himself gave the opening address about how even though we feel ordinary, we can still do so many things in our blogs to execute extraordinary results.

Pat Flynn - Smart Passive Income - Talked about converting casual readers into a thriving community. It was all about how making the people who read your blog feel special and what to follow everything that you write and be where you hang out (ie. on social media.)

Christie Burnett - Childhood 101 - "The 5 W's for Finding Readers" I loved hearing from another parenting blogger and really hear how as a mother she gathers readers for her blog and what she does to  make her blog gain momentum.

Geraldine DeRuiter - Everywhereist - "Make Your Audience Fall in Love With You" - Man this woman, I fell in love with her when I read her blog for the first time a few days before the conference, and this was confirmed during her talk. She's funny, romantic and knows how to inspire you to write a better blog that everyone will love.

Nikki Parkinson - Styling You - "Build An Online Community That You Love" Lots of practical suggestions here and I walked away wanting to make sure the tone on my blog was clear and consistent.

Darren Rowse - Digital Photography School - "Introduction to Monetisation" It was great to hear some of the strategies that Darren employs to make money through his photography blog. I found it inspiring listening to the strategies he has used in order to make his blog successful.

Keynote: 5 in 50 - There was a collection of full time bloggers here that shared their insights into being successful on a blog. Basically I walked away from this knowing that to make your blog successful you need to be strategic, consistent, care for your readers and WORK HARD!

And that was all on the first day! More inspiration followed on day two!

Matthew Michalwicz - Life in half A Second - "From Ideas to Action" Set clear goals, get hungry to make them work and move beyond any fears to achieve these goals.

Shane Tilley - "Email Marketing Essentials and Innovation" Expect to see Caitlin's Happy Heart to start producing a newsletter soon guys! I just need to work out how to do it!

Chantelle Ellem - Fat Mum Slim - "Using Social Media to Grow Your Blog" - Ever so humble and modest Chantelle was just lovely to listen to and it was reassuring that with a bit of hard work you can make things work by implementing organically formed ideas.

Bron - Maxabella Loves - "Fitting It All In" - The moment I saw this title I knew this was the session above all else that I wanted to listen to. I was not wrong, this session was the highlight of the whole conference for me. The time factor is by far the biggest challenge I have with blogging and there were so many practical suggestions that I have come home ready to implement. Thank you from the bottom of my heart Bron!

In between all this inspirational stuff there was delicious food! The lunch, morning and afternoon tea included in the package was so very delicious - and QT once again injected a bit style and drama to every meal.
Yes, I'm a sweet tooth. This guys were sooooo delicious!

I also loved hanging out with Tish and another close friend who lives at the coast over brekky on Saturday morning.

On the Friday night there was a par-tay. The theme was "Ahoy!", it was a great excuse to dress in a nautical theme and chat with some lovely people.

All in all, I had a wonderful time at ProBlogger. I'm come away inspired and wanting to take my blog up a level. (Strap yourselves in people! I want to take you on a ride that leaves you doing fist pumps after each turn!) It also has left me soul searching the whole point of having a meaningful blog and where I fit in the blogging community. I've shared before about my Insecurities when blogging, and to certain extent, as inspired as I have been, the conference experience has accentuated my insecurities.

The conference was big and extremely crowded. I know there were plenty of people who were newbies there and who were there on their own. I was often on my own also, and it just felt so awkward. I'm halfway between being an introvert and an extrovert and I have to say, my extrovert was hiding all weekend. My extroverted personality more comes out with people I know, introducing myself and getting to know new people makes me feel nervous and awkward. Thankfully I got to meet some lovely people as well as 'meeting' some bloggers that I already knew online, but not in the flesh. Thank you for everyone I met there, sincerely, I loved meeting you and my smile when I spoke to you was genuine. However quite a few speakers talked about belonging to a 'tribe' or a group of bloggers that support each other. I don't really have a blogging tribe, and as I looked around, similar to feeling like a schoolgirl, I wasn't in 'a group'.

That's not to say it can't happen, and if anything over the conference I've come away with a renewed energy to keep persevering despite my imperfections. To be truthful, I've never felt like it before, but the week before the conference I would have given up blogging if it weren't for the fact that I had invested in my blog by going to ProBlogger. I was probably feeling depressed because I'm sick, and just can't shake this bug, but at the moment, blogging is feeling like work, and even though it's work that I love, I'm not being reimbursed for the time I spend on it and it has eaten into my family time recently. Which is not OK with me. Most of the time I'm OK with the blog being a labour of love, but lately it's been work that has been very hard to juggle in with family life and my other commitments.

In his closing address Darren Rowse quoted Jadah Sellner saying, "Take Imperfect Action". This is what I'm going to do right now. I will work out when to find the right time to blog with the triplets reaching a new stage of development. I'm going to keep putting one blogging foot in front of the other, learning as I go and hopefully in the process I can make life a little bit more useful, brighter and happier for my audience.

Do you ever feel like you aren't quite in a group? Who gives you support? Do you have different support networks for the various hats that you wear? (eg. motherhood, work, blogging if you are a blogger?) Any tips on finding new 'friends' without coming across like a try hard or a stalker?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Books for Dad

This is a post is produced in partnership with Bookworld.

It's Father's Day in Australia next weekend. So with 10 days to go, for me it's a time to be scratching my head wondering what on earth to get my father, father-in-law and my children's father! Why are men so hard to buy for?

Bookworld is making life a little bit simpler for us to buy a gift for book loving Dads with their Father's Day Lists.

My Dad is not so much the book type. I can remember Dad bragging as we grew up that he got through school reading only one book, and although that one book (apparently it was about a dog) was a memorable book for him and a good read, it never inspired him to read any other novels. So, books are out as a gift for my Dad. Unfortunately he's very hard to buy for, and even more so now that he has given up drinking, (we don't know why), but it's very inconvenient because at least if we were stuck, we could always give him a good bottle of shiraz.

My father-in-law, on the other hand loves books. I think I could click on any of Bookworld's 12 Dad categories and find a book that he would enjoy from Cooking Dad, to Crime Dad to Aussie Dad. Alex's Dad reads every night, and whenever we are on holidays with him, he spends a fair bit of his holiday reading as well. Which is cool for me, because I normally end up with a nice pile of books that he leaves behind!

I thought that since Alex is the son of such an avid book lover, and is definitely more academic than my Dad, I would be able to get him books as gifts. For the first several years I carefully chose titles that I thought he would enjoy. He would occasionally read the books or flick through the pages, but he was never really enthralled. I was going to give up on giving him books, when one Christmas I gave him Richard Branson's autobiography, "Like a Virgin". We were away at the beach, and it was first time I had ever seen Alex absolutely engrossed in a book. From then on, buying books for Alex has been easy, I just needed to get the formula right! One book a year, two at the most and the book needs to be a biography or autobiography about a business man or woman. Alex's devours them. The only other thing I see him read is the tax manual. Which, you may be interested to know, is what The Accountant considers light bed time reading. He will often be telling me about some new tax ruling as we are settling down for the night. I shouldn't complain, it puts me to sleep at least!

In the lead up to Father's Day, Bookworld is giving away a wonderful Dad's book pack to Caitlin's Happy Heart Readers.  (The titles are great, I've already written down the novels on my list to give the Dad-in-law!)

The books are: Favourites Gary Mehigan; No Safe House Linwood Barclay; Operation Mayhem Steve Heaney MC; The Heist Daniel Silva.

If you would like to give Dad these great books, head over to Bookworld and check out the Dad's List here. Then come back and tell me, what type of Dad is the Dad(s) you would be buying for and why he/they fits that category.

The winner will be announced next Wednesday the 3rd of September at 8pm on Facebook and on this post. You must leave an email address. If I cannot contact you by Friday 5 Sept. at 9am I will choose a new winner. This is a game of skill, so make sure you insert some creativity into your answer. I would also love it if you "like" Caitlin's Happy Heart on Facebook, although this is optional.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Lemon Drizzle Loaf

I do love baking with citrus and the zesty flavour of lemons is simply fresh and delicious when baking. Recently a friend posted a picture after she had picked lemons off her tree with her grandchildren.
homegrown lemons

(The little guy is Trent's mate - remember when they made Soft Playdough together?)  She asked if anyone wanted lemons, and I was happy to accept!

We had people coming over one night so I whipped up a double batch of this tasty Lemon Drizzle Loaf. By the time people were arriving it was still warm from the oven. The absolutely best way to eat baking. (When you don't have to ice it, anyway!) Mind you, the second loaf tasted wonderful as well and more then adequately serviced lunch boxes and made a yummy morning tea.

If you have some lemons to use, here is a recipe I can recommend.

Lemon Drizzle Loaf

175g Plain Flour
1 tbsp baking powder
175g butter, softened
175g caster sugar
3 eggs, beaten
1 egg yolk
finely grated rind of 1 lemon
2 tbsp lemon juice

85g icing sugar
3 tbsp lemon juice

1. Preheat oven 180deg. Grease loaf tin.
2. Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and yolk. Add sifted flour and baking powder and beat well until the mixture is smooth, then stir in the lemon rind and juice.
3. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth the surface. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until well risen, firm and golden brown.
4. Remove from the tin from the oven and transfer to a are rack. For the syrup, place the icing sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan and heat gently without boiling, stirring until the sugar dissolves.
5. Prick the top of the loaf several times with a skewer and spoon over the syrup. Leave to cool completely in the tin then turn out.

Lemon Drizzle Loaf Cake

Linking with Essentially Jess for IBOT.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

How to Read a Bedtime Story When Mummy has a Cold - 3 Excellent Sing-A-Long Books.

Over the past week I have been feeling horribly ill. I started with tonsillitis and a huge infection in my thumb. I got antibiotics for that, but probably because my immune system was so compromised by the end of the week I picked up one of the dastardly flu viruses that is going around. I've been very miserable.

I had our In Home Carer around one day, fortunately on my worst day so I spent four hours sleeping. Grandma came and helped out another day. Luckily I have a wonderful husband who really helps out when this sort of thing happens, so often when he has arrived home, I've crawled back into bed and let him feed the kids, read stories and put them to bed.

Except on that day I was at my worst. Alex was out that evening. Thank goodness I had slept earlier. Dinner had been made, so we got through that. Teeth were brushed. And then the kids all lined up with books. I had no voice, yet I knew that refusing a story would be a break in routine which would result in a bedtime strike. Since there are no toddler unions to negotiate with, generally all propositions and countered by a mass toddler drop to the floor followed by flailing limbs, voracious crying, not matter how reasonably the proposition has been presented and also has the unfortunate knock on effect of making said toddlers even less likely to sleep.

In a stroke of brilliance I remembered that Scholastic had gifted me some excellent story/song books that also had audio recordings on CD's. The toddlers (and small humans) were appeased! All I had to do was hold the book up and turn the pages. Going the extra mile, I sometimes pointed dramatically to the words, pulled funny faces and moved to the music. (Just enough to ensure my aching head didn't topple off my shoulders.)

In the end it was a perfectly lovely story time, and the kids trotted happily off to bed once we were finished. I think I am going to leave a few stories aside so they aren't as familiar to the kids should an occasion like this arise again.

In case you would like to have your own stash of audible books that will be your larynx saviour if you ever fall victim to a cold or flu, here's some of my recommendations.

The Hokey Pokey

Kids Book - Hokey Pokey

This was a good one to start with, and my kids didn't get too hyped because they didn't feel like dancing anyway, but I think if they weren't tired the playful illustrations would encourage them to join in with the actions. (Generally my boys are the non-dancing breed of Aussie male.) It's the classic song with an Aussie twist as various Aussie animals do the Hokey Pokey. Sung by the ever captivating Colin Buchanan, (We are huge Colin fans in this household.), it is fun, toe tapping and makes you want to put your whole self in, because that's what it's all about.

I will not be putting this one aside, I can see us using it quite a bit, and it will be useful for playgroup as well. Kindy and early years school teachers, you will also get a lot of use out of it. Plus there is a instrumental recording at the end, so you can even use it as an item if you need to!

Juicy, Juicy Green Grass.
Music and story book

The triplets have been loving this CD and often have it in the background on repeat as they are doing craft. Sung by Peter Combe, the original 'King of Kids' in Australian children's music for over 20 years. (You know the song, "Wash Your Face in Orange Juice"? That's his. he even has 3 Arias, 7 Gold and 2 Platinum Albums. I'm now wondering why I didn't have anything of his in the house before now!)

There are four catchy tunes on the CD, Juicy Juicy Green Grass, (you'll keep singing it all day), The Silly Postman, Tadpole Blues and Red Says Stop. Danielle Mc Donald's quirky illustrations really bring the songs to life.

My Daddy Ate An Apple
My Daddy Ate An Apple Music and storybook

If you have boys, they will love this book. Quite simply because it has a gross ending. Daddy zebra ate an apple with a worm inside. The illustrations by Scott Tulloch are hilarious as we listen to the song describe Daddy feeling more and more worse for the wear and much is tried to make him better. In a spectacular explosion in full graphic detail Daddy pooped the fat worm out. You guessed it. The kids love that page!

Trent took the book to Kindy once and the teacher had to have a full discussion about bodily functions afterwards. I maybe should have thought that one through a bit more before I sent it in!
Sing-a-long story books for children
You can't say I didn't warn you!

The words and music are by Craig Smith of "Wonky Donkey" fame. (Another book you should consider getting.)

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

How Does A Mother Plan to Go Away for a Conference?

You have the conference booked, accommodation sorted and transport arranged. What else does a mother need to plan in order to get away for a conference?

Next week I am going away to my first blogging conference. I cannot tell you how unbelievably excited I am. (Think a six year old on Christmas Eve. That type of excited.) It's a little bit ridiculous really. Because as a newbie I'm almost equal parts scared witless. (Think seven year old who is busting for the loo but too scared to ask the teacher. That type of scared.) I'm so very aware that there will be so many bloggers present with massive audiences, (Think grand stadium audiences hyped and waiting anxiously for every part of the performance), whereas my audience (thank you for reading), well, think small group snuggled by a fire in a living room chatting.

Anyway, gone are the days when I just pack a suitcase and slip out of town. Oh no, not when you are a mother, of five kids including two year old triplets no less. When we mothers leave town, (with or without kids) planning is required.

Here are some tips on how to plan that your household will continue to run as smoothly as possible without you. If you're interested, I've outlined in italics what I am personally doing so I can leave the house during ProBlogger. Feel free to skip the italics if you're in a hurry!

1. Organise Babysitter

  • Enlist help of friends or family members, or paid help such as a babysitter or a nanny temp.
  • Ensure there is someone with the children for all the necessary hours.
  • Organise any school/kindy/daycare etc. pick ups. or transport/supervision is arranged for extra-curricular activities. (eg. sports, dance class etc.)
I will be away for three days. Thankfully I have our In-Home Carer Stacey that we were able to re-schedule her normal hours so that she will be with the children from when Alex leaves for work until he gets home for the first two days. For a little while we thought that she would not be able to work then. I was then having to construct much more complicated plans in my head which involved conscripting Grandma and an Aunty to help as well as my husband taking a day off work. Thankfully, we didn't have to go down that path.  School drop offs and pick ups are already organised for those days also.

2. Leave the Pantry and Fridge Well Stocked
  • Enough bread and milk (or reminders if necessary of when it will need replacing if gone for a length of time.)
  • Food for snacks
  • Fruit
  • A menu plan for meals with pre-made meals or all ingredients purchased and easy to find. Don't forget to utilise take-away if that's going to make life easier for your family!
Thankfully, Stacey is familiar with our kitchen, so I will be able to leave the ingredients for her to prepare the first two evening meals and I won't need to make these meals in advance. On the Saturday evening I'm away, I'll leave Daddy make his speciality - pizza! The kids love it! If it's been a bit too hectic for him he has my full permission to serve the takeaway version!  To make it easier in the morning, I'll leave Jonty's school lunchbox packed and in the fridge. 

3.  Leave Clear Instructions and Prepare in for Outings 

  • Think about all the activities that you do that people may not know about and document them. Use dot points so information is easy to read at a glance. Write a paragraph under the point if more explanation is required.
  • Include a time line of the routine your child is used to if necessary.
  • Leave important contact numbers next to the phone. (eg. Doctor, neighbours, work numbers, you and your partner's mobile, an additional emergency contact etc.)
  • Think of any unusual event and leave instructions.
  • Talk through your expectations with your children before you leave. It will give them extra security and confidence also.
  • Leave out any letters from school, classes that apply during the time you are away.

Unfortunately Jonty has a special dress up day and performance at school on the Friday. I'm a bit gutted I'm going to missing this. We have his costume ready and I will leave clear instructions on what he needs to wear and I've already been discussing our plan with Jonty, so he will probably be reminding Daddy!  I've also organised to come in to watch the class during a practise of their item since I won't be there to see the real thing.

Another unfortunate thing is that soccer is a one hour drive away that week on the Saturday morning and begins at 9:00am! Poor Alex having to get all the kids in (and out) of the car by himself for that! Normally I would stay at home with the children rather than getting the triplets in the car that early. To help out with that, I'll pack the bag with spare clothes, snacks etc. All ready for him to grab on the way out the door. Alex isn't as worried about this as I am. He said it will only take ten minutes dress all the kids and go. I hope he amends his timing for that task by about 30 minutes!

4. Shopping for the Conference

  • Think about what new items you will need to buy for the conference. eg. clothing, stationary, technology.
  • Think about your long term uses for purchases, try not to spend too much money for just one occasion.
  • Organise a shopping to fit into your schedule. Leave enough time to complete comfortably! 

I was relieved to read Emily from Have A Laugh On Me when she said nobody really minds what you wear unless you're a style blogger. It took the pressure off a little, but I still want to look good! (And perhaps I'm a somewhat of a wannabe style blogger!) I've been sneaking time when I can to find a new outfit or accessory or two. Of course, now I'm finding what I want online and it's too late to get it from overseas, so I'm having to shop the old fashioned way! (Although I did find some good nautical jewellery on Etsy for the Ahoy! party on Saturday night.)  As always, shopping with kids is always done in small allotments of time, I've also been plagued with indecision, which doesn't work well with small allotments of time. On Sunday I was in town with a free half hour and went back to get something, and of course it was sold out. Just as well there was another one in a different colour, not first choice, but hey!

5. Packing

  • Leave enough time so that you won't be rushed and forget things. (If you are a last minute packer like I am, start earlier in the evening rather than later!)
  • Remember to pack all tickets and documentation, and cords for phones, laptops etc. Include equipment necessary for re-charging.
  • Pack at least one extra outfit to use in an case of emergency!

I suspect that because I'm so excited, I may even start packing earlier then my usual night before pack! However, I don't like to pack clothes too far in advance to minimise creasing. I certainly will open a suitcase soon and start throwing in things I don't really need and don't want to forget. Or put in post-it reminders of things I'm likely to forget!

6. Mental Preparation

  •  Beforehand go with a clear expectation of what you would like to achieve by the end of this conference. Have an action list if necessary if there are things you need to do to achieve your goals.
  • Arrange any meetings with people you would like to connect with.
  • Book restaurants (or day spa!) in advance if there is a likelihood that it will be busy.
  • Read blogs or other information that will give you an idea of what to expect.
  • Arrange a time to check-in and call home to check on the kids and get a mental plan if necessary on how not to worry about them. (Leaving a planned house should help with the knowledge that they are going to have a good time while you are away!)
  • Give yourself a pep talk on why you are worthy of attending the conference and hold your head high! Refuse to let negativity into your thinking.
Much earlier in the year I read my first blog post that made me start thinking about how I needed to prepare. There has been a few more I've read since then, if you haven't seen them. Check them out!

And then there are the posts that inspired me to go by my two local blogging buddies. Last year I was watching all the #pbevent hashtags wishing I was there after I knew these two were there. I then would tell myself I wasn't good enough to go to something like this for a couple of years, and then suddenly I just decided to get out of my comfort zone and booked it this year! It is a comfort that I'll be hanging with these gals though and they aren't newbies and know some people, so hopefully that will decrease some potentially awkward moments.

My biggest area that I have needed to prepare myself is the pep talk. I am very aware of my blogging inadequacies and my time constraints in making the improvements I require to keep moving forward. I need to tell myself that even baby steps forward are better then remaining stationary! Going to a conference is a lot more then a baby step for me.  It's an acknowledgement that I'm spending money and investing time into this thing to make it work! I'm determined that I'm going to do everything in my power to make this a really worthwhile experience! I owe that to my friends and family who will be covering for me, and I owe it to myself! I'm looking forward to learning as much as possible, embracing all the experiences, (I'm talking down my introvert anxiety about being around so many new people and going to a party!) and making connections with people that will be meaningful. Expect to see big things coming from Caitlin's Happy Heart in the future!

A Mother Prepares to go away for a Conference (ProBlogger)
My hubby and I stayed overnight at QT last year, which is where the ProBlogger conference and where I'll be staying. I'm so looking forward to being there again. It's the most 'fun' hotel I've ever stayed at!

Are you going to ProBlogger? Have you been in preparation mode yet?
How do you plan if you are leaving the family for a few nights?

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