Friday, November 21, 2014

The Scarecrow's Wedding

Julia Donaldson has done it again! The Scarecrow's Wife is another book that she has written that has a compelling and captivating storyline for children. We have enjoyed reading her newest book, The Scarecrow's Wife, which arrived on our doorstep with impeccable timing during the lead up to my sister's wedding.

My children were in wedding mode because we had been talking about Aunty Julienne and Uncle Matt's upcoming wedding at the time, so the Scarecrow's Wife slotted right into wondering about what happens at a wedding. We did need to explain that even though Aunty Julienne was having a wedding on a farm, there were not going to be scarecrows there. (I don't think my children would have been surprised if their attendants were a host of scarecrows.) When the cousins had come over for a sleepover, (my sister also has five children), The Scarecrow's Wedding was warmly accepted as an excellent bedtime story by my nieces and nephews and more wedding speculation continued.
Kids Reading The Scarecrows Wedding by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffer

My kids also loved the appearance of a tractor during the story, (machinery is one of my kids favourite aspects of farming),

and were likewise disappointed that Aunty Julienne was not going to be delivered to Uncle Matt on a tractor, which they thought was a stellar idea. Mind you, the wagon and Clydesdale horses were pretty impressive on the day!
A Country Wedding
One of the reasons The Scarecrow's Wedding is such an appealing book for children is the beautiful rhyme and rhythm (often repetitive phrases) that Julia Donaldson is renowned for. ("Let's have a wedding, the best wedding yet, A wedding that no one will ever forget.")

It's the tale of two simple scarecrows that fall in love. After Harry O'Hay's successful proposal to Betty O'Barley the two construct a list of what will be necessary for their wedding. They tick of each item, but while Harry is absent searching for the last item on the list the farmer makes a new scarecrow, Reginald Rake, who makes moves on Betty. He ends up putting her life in peril and Harry comes back, saves the day and they have the best wedding yet, and I think it is fair to assume that no one forgot it.

The Scarecrows Wedding being read by cousins
I would love to have a photo to show you of the nieces and nephews with their Aunty at the wedding, but I'm afraid we will have to wait for the family photos to come back from the official photographer. Unfortunately, I don't have high hopes for them. My children were not interested in looking at the camera during the quick family photo we had taken! It was far too busy a day to get other photos and unfortunately I didn't get any photos of my own kids before they were grubby, and then I didn't get any family photo with Alex and I and the kids. Sniff, sniff.

It was however a wonderful day, and just quietly, I think the bride and groom would say it surpassed even Harry and Betty's special day.

Have your children gone to or been involved in a wedding before? 

Linking with:

*This book was given to me from Scholastic Australia for the purpose of review. All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Visiting Dad at Work

Visiting Dad at work is something that brings my children great delight, and I think The Accountant kind of likes it when the children visit Daddy at work also. Alex is lucky that he has a lovely work environment and the staff at his office don't mind if the children pop in for a quick visit to see their Daddy in action on the odd occasion.

Visiting Dad at work can be beneficial for many reasons.
  • The children get a mental image of where Daddy is all day. "At Work" is an abstract concept for a child until they actually eyeball it for themselves.
  • Seeing the equipment Dad works with and where he physically works gives them a better understanding of Dad's job.
  • The children feel included in Daddy's life.
  • Daddy gets to show off his offspring to his colleagues. (And the child bring their own little sparkle into the workplace.)

Of course some workplaces do not permit children to come into visit, so it's best to check first if it will be OK. If permission is granted, here are some tips that have worked for our family when visiting Daddy. (Same principles could be applied to those children who might be able to visit Mummy at work also!)
  • Don't visit too often. Make the event special so the children have a little bit of awe about the occasion. 
  • Keep the visits short, especially when the children are toddlers. Increase the time if you are able to as they get older. I just walk the triplets in, they say hello to everyone, walk in to Daddy's office, have a look and type on his calculator and off they go. If we are near Dad's workplace at the end of the day, I will on occasion drop a bigger boy off for up to an hour or so and he will sit doing drawing, some shredding (that's about as exciting as it gets in an accountant's office!) and playing on Dad's phone until it's time to go home. Then they also get a half hour to chat with Dad on the commute home also.
  • Remind the children on how to behave in an office/work site before they arrive. We also talk about how it is polite to greet other people in the office by looking in their eyes and saying hello clearly.
The last time we visited The Accountant was during the September school holidays. We had just been to a Colin Buchanan concert nearby, so we popped in to say hello. It was a great time to visit because Toowoomba was celebrating The Carnival of Flowers and the gardens at Alex's office had won 2nd prize in the Business Garden division. The gardens were spectacular!

After we finished at Daddy's office, we nipped over to the spectacular Laurel Bank Park for a picnic lunch.

There was an "under the sea" theme going on in the park floral display. We had gone up to the viewing platform to look at the display and then walked down for a closer look from the ground. As I was taking a photo of some of the children in front of the shark, I heard a collective gasp from the viewing platform above my head. See the cute seagulls in the forefront garden bed? My child was running through the flowers trampling the seagull. I was horrified. I grabbed him and tried to make the quickest exit possible.

It's not easy being obscure when you are trying to round up two year old triplets, a four and eight year old in front of a viewing platform full of people.

In the end our exit was anything but obscure. My garden trampling offender was already out of sorts because Mummy had been cranky at him for what he considered a lovely frolic, so when I refused to let him play in a dog's water bowl, he chucked an epic tantrum and Jonty and I ended up carrying him the rest of the way to the car. Yeah. Fun times. It was lucky we hadn't stayed at the office very long! I don't think two year old tantrums would have been useful while The Accountant counted numbers!

Do you (or would you?) take your children into the workplace? What do they love about it?

I'm linking with Essentially Jess

Monday, November 17, 2014

World Prematurity Day and the Importance of Gestation in Multiple Births

Today is World Prematurity Day 2014. Of course this makes me reflect when my three tiny triplet babies who were born just over three years ago at 34 weeks plus 1 day. How small they were and how big they have grown.
3 year old triplets
3 year old triplets
When you are expecting triplets, the expectation of a preemie birth is certainly on the radar. The thought of preemie babies was very overwhelming for me. I can remember being given a book on prematurity and choosing not to read it because it would only make me worry more than I needed to. I looked at a table in the book which charted the various route markers of what babies could do if they were born prematurely at the various number of weeks pregnant. (Something like chart linking gestation and survival) That became my route marker. I would pray and focus to get past each checkpoint. I figured that if they were micro-preemies, I knew where to locate the information and I would deal with each issue as it arose.

At 26 weeks I blogged about how I was relieved that I had reached an age where they were 'viable' if they were born. It might have been a slim chance of survival but it was a chance that for the previous 26 weeks had not existed at all for them.

When I was 27 weeks pregnant with the triplets I visited the special care nursery at the hospital I would be staying at. All of a sudden the thought of having premature babies, although still scary, became more of a reality to me, and having met some midwives and seen the babies sleeping in the nursery, it didn't quite seem as overwhelming to me.

At 31 weeks I was admitted into hospital overnight because I had started having contractions. Luckily the contractions subsided and I was able to go home. It was the only stay I had in hospital while I was pregnant with the triplets, and I was very grateful that I was not confined to bed rest in hospital like many multiple mothers are.

32 weeks was the greatest route marker during my pregnancy. Reaching this number meant that I now had the confidence that if I had to deliver my babies, I would not need to go to Brisbane because that babies now had a 95% survival rate, I cannot tell you what a relief this was.

32 Weeks pregnant with triplets
32 Weeks pregnant with triplets

When you are considering life with premature babies you know that every single day in the womb counts. Getting to the end of yet another day and remaining pregnant is an accomplishment in itself. Everything is focussed on keeping those babies 'cooking' so that they can have the best chance possible when they are 'on the outside'.

When I was pregnant with my first two children. I never really stopped to consider exactly how much their lives were enriched by remaining in my womb. There is an assumption that the baby will stay there, and even though there is a concern that everything does stay healthy in there, it's not what you think about every single day.

If things had not gone so well for my triplets and they had been born much earlier, at least I had the time to contemplate beforehand the possibility of micro or moderate prematurity. Many families unexpectedly have a little baby arrive way too early and have to start coping with a new reality of a baby who is often very sick and fighting for life. It is a dramatic plunge into parenthood.

When it became apparent that it was the day the triplets were going to be born I was so relieved that we had reached the 34 week mark. There was still so much unknown about how they would go, and I was disappointed that I hadn't got them to the 35 week mark which was my personal goal. As they lifted each baby out of my womb, I was so delighted to see each tiny red life, fragile yet precious. It tore my heart that I was unable to touch them, that unlike my first two children they did not snuggle onto my chest and start breastfeeding immediately. The nurses lined up to show me the little children one by one after they were all wrapped up in their blankets and it was over far too quickly. I didn't get any photo with my children on their first day of life. It broke my heart. They were whisked away to the special care nursery and eventually I went to the ward feeling empty without them being with me. I ached for them and seeing them the next day seemed far too long.
premature triplets day one
Day 1 - My heart was just aching when the big boys went to meet their siblings and I was not able to be there with them and to see their reactions.

If I were to give advice to triplet mothers, I would tell them to discuss with their hospital beforehand what happens after you give birth to premature babies. (Especially if your hospital, like mine does not see many triplet births) I've seen many triplet Mums with babies younger than mine that had a photo with their parents before going to the nursery. I wish I knew this so I could have asked. While I was in the special care nursery, I saw a mother wheeled into the nursery to see her premature child before she went to the ward. This is also something I would have requested if I had known.

We were lucky during our babies first weeks. They remained healthy. It was a blessing, and I'm always grateful for the prayers that covered their start to life. In the end, premature birth was not the tumultuous time it could have been. Of course it's not the ideal, but I'm glad I had not worked myself up and been ultra worried about the experience, because I did not need too. If you are faced with the prospect of prematurity, I hope this is an encouragement to you that yes, they are so many complications that can happen, but things can go smoothly also with tiny little premature babies also. Remain positive for your children.

And for the parents with premature babies that keep needing to jump the hurdles with their children as they arrive. Keep giving your child love, they are small, but they are still fuelled by that love you give them as a parent. Never underestimate the importance of your role in their life, starting right from their first tiny day.

Have you any personal stories about prematurity about your own child, or a child you know?

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Night Lights for Children

Nighlights are so calming and invoke a sense of security for children at night. My Night Lights offer some of the best night lights I have seen with a spectacular range of 23 designs so there would be a design to suit any child.

Nighlights started for us when my firstborn was a baby. So I could see in the night when I came in to feed Jonty, I put a little touch lamp on the bookshelf. It soon became apparent that I would kick my toes and walk into walls just trying to get to the light so I added a little night light that was plugged into the power point next to the bookshelf.

As the need for night feeds and night nappy changes decreased, so did the necessity for the lamp. I kept the nightlight though so I could see my cherubs face while he was sleeping. You know so I could check he was breathing and everything. (First time mother remember.)

I did the same with my 2nd child since I kept the nursery basically the same configuration for the next child and moving my older son into a big boy bed in another room. By the time they were old enough to share a room, they both liked having a nightlight on during the evening. It never really bothered me, because it did still give light when I tucked them in at night.

One year Jonty asked for a lava lamp for his birthday, which he received. Since that point, they love having a lamp rather than the small night lights. I think they have just become used to having light in the room while they sleep. I don't know how a child's mind works. They say they are scared if you turn off the light, but then if they were allowed to play outside at night, they will run around with their cousins into every nook and cranny without fear.

This year the lava lamp broke and at just the right time My Night Light gifted our family with an adorable new nightlight. Don't be fooled by the racing car, this nighlight is the rolls royce of night lights. See the remote lying next to light? You can choose which colour it illuminates. There are three LED lights, which will give you a total of 13 colours to choose from, including white (as pictured here) There is a side lamp option which will give pure white at the brightest level. It will give a lighting bright enough to read a bedtime story. You do have the option of choosing 4 levels of brightness. The minimum brightness leaves only a gentle glow for the child to sleep soundly.  My tip is to set the minimum brightness once it's time to sleep and to take the remote out of the room. For the first few days the remote was definitely more exciting then sleeping! You can also set a timer to turn off after 1 hour, so if your child (hypothetically) comes out and complains there is no more light in the room, you could (hypothetically) deliver a lecture of why they should be already asleep.
Racing Car My Night Light

You can also choose a rainbow, which will gently cycle through the colours. (This is my boys favourite setting.)
My Night Light Racing Car

When the triplets were babies, the room configuration was so tight fitting all the cots in that I just didn't have a shelf where I could safely put a nightlight without the cord being a risk, so I learned to do what I needed to by putting the hall light on outside their room, although if I were changing a nappy by this light I had the unfortunate risk that I would wake the sleeping babies. (And man, it's not pleasant when you wake a sleeping triplet.) They became used to sleeping with the door shut tight in pitch black. It makes it interesting when we go on holiday and all the children are sleeping in the one room. The triplets don't settle down until it's completely dark, the big boys wail if we don't leave the door open!

We're thinking of splitting the triplets up and having them share a room with an older boy. I'm not sure how the lighting situation will work out, but if we need to get another light, I will certainly be considering a My Night Light light. There are so many cute designs from rockets (that was my fave for a boy, but I couldn't convince the big boys to choose it), owls (the triplets have had an owl theme happening since they were born, so I have a soft spot for them, although Immy would probably more likely choose a fairy these days. There are animals galore from Australian animals, fish, hippos, horse, giraffes etc. There are trains, fire trucks, dragons or toadstools and love hearts. I think most kids would find a nightlight on this site that they are going to love.

I would also consider the kids string lights for a fun touch in a room. (Once again, I'd be voting for the space theme.)

The prices aren't particularly cheap if you are comparing to something like a Kmart quality bedside lamp.  I honestly think they are good value for money, especially since they are so safe low heat LED's with a 12v low voltage power and made with resilient acrylic plastic. (Ours has hit the floor a few times and has been fine.)

I can help out with the price though! My Night Light is generously giving my readers a 10% discount. Enter the code happyheart at the checkout! Seriously though, head over and have a look, there are some wonderful light products there, ideal in the lead up to Christmas. (Plus there is also Christmas lights if you want to add some sparkle to your home at Christmas.)

My Night Light sleeping child
Fast asleep while the night light glows.

Does your child use a night light?

Linking With Essentially Jess for IBOT
* I was not paid to post this review, but gratefully received the nightlight I have pictured to trial.

Friday, October 31, 2014

October Update

Hello Everyone! I thought I would break the radio silence to just let you know that I am still around. October has produced so much life that I would blog about. Unfortunately living that life has left no time for blogging. It's always the way.

October has been intense. We started with a trip to beach and then it was the triplet's birthday. The triplets had a full on day playing with their new toys and then a few days later had a family ice-cream birthday party.

The triplets blowing the candles of their ice cream cakes.
 It is a commonplace for 3 year olds to produce challenging behaviour. If you thought that there was only terrible twos, be warned. (And possibly be very afraid.) No one warned me with my first child, and oh my, it was a shock to the system. I had hoped that the triplets would ignore this terrible three year old behaviour, but alas, there has been heavy duty behaviour management happening around these parts. Let me tell you, I am OVER crying, whinging, fights and tantrums. OVER it! I tell you.

As we were recovering from the triple birthday celebrations, it became apparent that my ailing grandfather was living his last days. We tried to spend as much time visiting him as we could afford and said our goodbyes. My wonderful loving and humble grandfather died on the 15th.
Holding my grandfather's hand the day before he died.

This meant that we had both a funeral and wedding in the same week. Grandad was laid to rest on the Tuesday and my sister was married on the Saturday. What a mixture of emotions last week was.

My sister had a truly unique wedding. A very bush wedding she was married under some trees in a paddock on my father's farm.
A country wedding Large Love sign
True Love in the country.

The reception was a country fair and then dinner in a marquee. It was so wonderful seeing my baby sister marry a man who completely adores her. He just fits into our family naturally and it seems like he has always been a part of the tribe. Currently the lucky couple is honeymooning in the Maldives. Hash tag: Winning!

A country wedding fair
With my siblings at my sister's wedding.
Since the wedding it has been having family as houseguests, airports run and trying to catch up on the household disarray that has occurred during the busyness. I don't think November is going to be as busy, how could it be? However, it's also going to be far from quiet also. Life keeps galloping away, but I'm holding the reins tight and enjoying the ride!

What has happened to you in October?

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Style It Project - Frocktober Mix White Dress

I'm a big fan of dresses - particularly in the warmer weather. What isn't to love? They are easy to slip on, cool to wear, they often cost less then buying an outfit with multiple layers (although of course layering dresses is fun too!) and most importantly, I find that dresses are flattering. Another little bonus is that dresses are uniquely feminine and I find that my husband and sons, even at this young age just love it when I wear a dress. I will often get comments like, "You look pretty Mummy" or "You look like a ballerina" and if they will point out something in the cupboard for me to wear, (yes my boys are interested at times in styling!), it will always be a dress.

It makes sense that in Frocktober the Style It Project with Kimba Likes and Redcliffe Style would feature a dress. I bought the dress on sale for $29 from my local Coles Mix section. (Yay for sales!) The dress isn't a perfect fit for me, it's snug on the waist and it's better suited for bigger busts, although the ties at the front can help pull it in and are helpful for those of us sporting a flat pack. I decided to keep it because for that price, I can afford to be forgiving and it's still looks nice, it's easy to launder and will be a great frock to wear casually throughout the summer.
The white easily leaves it open to being styled with colour, but except for a bit of colour in my sun hat, I kept it simple wearing this dress to the beach at Bargara recently teaming it with my Rare Rabbit chunky white geo beads. (My little splurge prior to going to ProBlogger, but I am finding so many occasions to wear them. You will keep seeing them on me this season, and probably beyond!)

 And best of all, for trips to the beach with the family - you can climb trees with your sons wearing this dress (the little bit of length helps there!)

Are you a fan of dresses? Why/Why Not?

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Triplet's 3rd Birthday - 3rd Birthday Toys

Three year old triplets! It has happened! Yesterday was the triplet's 3rd birthday so now there are three three year olds in our home. Can you believe it? It doesn't seem like that long ago I was in labour and then giving birth to triplets by caesarian.

The triplet's have been excited about the upcoming birthday. Imogen especially has been right onto it. The boys took a little bit longer to work out what a birthday was. While they were figuring that out, Immy was literally figuring out what she would wear on the special day. During a road trip last Friday night, I heard her musing aloud in the back, "On my birthday I'm going to wear a pretty pink dress." She actually received a fairy dress from Target and was very excited to put it on yesterday. (Until she had a little accident in it.)

I was exhausted by the end of the evening last night. New toys are so exciting, but when there are three different sets of toys and three three year olds, fights are inevitable. Learning how to share and how to be gracious is such an important life skill, but oh my, it's a wearying lesson to teach! Most of my morning talking through fights and meltdowns and building toys that kept falling down and apart,  (I'm sure The Accountant would not agree,  but I was wishing I had spent triple the price and bought some toys that were more sturdy. Honestly, quality can be such an issue these days!)

For their birthday they didn't receive anything particularly extravagant. They each received two presents. I had bought a very large bucket of mobilo and split it into two boxes for Toby and Jayden. The older two boys have spent hours playing with mobilo at Kindy, so I thought the next two would probably love it too. The big boys were very excited that it was in the house and built all types of contraptions which the little boys played with happily. The little boys haven't quite worked out how to clip it all together, and it is a bit hard for their little fingers, but I'm sure they will get the technique down very soon.
Triplet 3rd birthday present - mobilo
Playing with the mobilo.

Toby, who is mad about drumming, got a Wiggles drum kit. Hopefully he will stop emptying the Ikea buckets of toys and turning them all upside down and banging away with kitchen utensils now! It was a big hit yesterday and there were lots of fights over it. But every spare moment he could, Toby was clicking the sticks together in his intro and then banging away. I have to admit I had a headache at the end of the day, although I don't think I can solely blame the drums.
3rd Birthday Drum Kit for Triplet
Drum away Toby!

Jayden got  a marble run. These are great for creativity, problem solving, science and, as it turns out, learning about gentleness and patience, because the silly thing was very easy to knock over and fall to pieces.
Triplet's Marble Run Third Birthday
Opps, over and out.

Once again, they were unable to construct it at this point, but I have no doubt that throughout their third year they will be able to piece it together to make runs. In the meantime, they loved being mesmerised by the marbles rolling down the various tracks.
Triplets third birthday marble run
Ready to go!

In addition to her dress, Imogen received two Lottie dolls. I had first seen these on Instagram and I loved Kelly's review of the dolls on Be A Fun Mum. I really loved that they were dolls that would fit inside Imogen's dolls house, yet the dolls looked like girls rather than adults, they had flat feet to walk in and no boobs! Plus their clothing and accessories were modest and super cute! I couldn't get any in Toowoomba, but luckily I was able to pick two dolls up on a recent visit to Brisbane. Immy was thrilled with them and immediately wanted to undress them, it may take a little while for her to get used to putting such tiny clothing back on the dolls though!
triplet girls third birthday
Miss Im with her dolly.

Her other present was an ice-cream stacking game. They are having a small little ice-cream party on Sunday for lunch so I thought this game that I picked out of the Kindy Scholastic book club would be good to play then. I really liked playing it with the triplet's yesterday. It comes with sounds and teaches following instructions and listening skills as you need to listen to the pre-recorded voice telling the player what colour or how many scoops to pile high. It also requires patience, motor skills, carefulness and turn taking.
triplets ice cream party
Stacking the ice creams

In the evening the triplet's had chosen (influenced by their big brothers) pizza for dinner. I would have liked to let them make their own pizza again, but with such a busy day playing hard and having only arrived home the evening before, it was a relief that Daddy picked up pizza from the shop. I made some  wonky cupcakes so they could blow out some candles.
Triplets with birthday candles

Nanny and Uncle Peter had come over for dinner, I suspect they too went home with a headache. It was lots of fun, but oh so noisy. I think we need to do a little more work on demure table manners.
Triplets 3rd Birthday cake
I was taking a photo of Immy here, but hasn't Toby done the cutest photo bomb?

So today, we are off to playgroup where they can share their marble cupcakes (I thought it was fitting to do three colours for the three children who are turning three) with their friends. When we come home again, I'm sure it will be more lessons in playing nicely. It's hard work, but it is so worthwhile to learn multiple lessons through play. Buying gifts that the children can grow into also means that they will get a lot of value and use out of them. I look forward to seeing how they develop and get better at using them.

What type of games/toys do you like to give as birthday presents?

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