Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Elf on the Shelf - Easy Peasy Ideas!

Last year The Elf on the Shelf joined our household. Our elf was named "Elvey" by the children and each day they would seek him out to find out where his new spot for the day was. For those who aren't familiar with The Elf on the Shelf, (it's a newish concept for most of us in Australia, even though it's firmly established in the US.), our elf, like all other Elves who sit on shelves, is a scout elf. He sits and watches the children all day and at night magically flies back to Santa where he tell Santa what's been happening in our household. (Oh yes, there were some naughty moments last year where I did point to the elf and then witnessed a miraculous behaviour shift.) There is a story book which arrives with the elf outlining all of this, and the book also makes it clear that to retain the elf's magic you cannot touch the elf. (Sheer brilliance, it's clear the author was familiar with children!)
Elf on the Shelf from Amazon

During December, we really had so much fun with Elvey. Mind you, I wasn't always creative with his placement, (Hello! I had two year old triplets!) There was some mornings that I was secretly hiding the elf behind my back and scampering through the house to shove the elf in a new spot for the day. Thanks to the innocence of childhood, my children were delighted to see him even if he was doing nothing exciting, the thrill of finding him was enough for them. Exhibit A & B below!

Trent discovering The Elf on the Shelf
Trent discovering The Elf on the Shelf was hanging from the fan.
Jonty discovering The Elf on the Shelf
Jonty looking at the elf simply sitting on a shelf!

Elf on the Shelf Hanging Underwear from the Ceiling Fan.
Elf on the shelf on a ceiling fan
 Oh yeah. That cheeky elf looked very comfy hanging in the kids pants. Trent was a little disgruntled, but happily saw the joke eventually.
Elf on the Shelf in undies

Sitting on a Shelf With Candy Canes looking Christmassy.

Hanging Out in the Bathroom and Plastering the place with Bows.
This was actually more complex then I expected! The bows just would not stay on and were dropping off everywhere! By the morning there was basically a pile of gift bows on the bench top.
 Elvey was hanging on the shower screen, but kindly offered the children the candy canes for a Christmas snack.

He also left a letter giving them some feedback!
Luckily the boys thought it was cool!

Hanging out with the Nativity crowd.

Getting spicy in the spice rack.
It took forever for the boys to find the elf this day, and the needed some substantial clues before they could locate him. Another example of how simplicity did not disappoint.

Hanging around Drawing
I gave my sister the honours of elf placement one night when she was visiting and this was what he ended up doing.

 Mixing it Up.
The elf on the shelf was in the playroom mixing an invisible something in the toy pots and pans this day. Trent 'wrote' (it was dictated) a letter to Santa and got us to put it on the Shelf with the Elf so he could deliver it to Santa when he flew back to the workshop that evening. (He got one thing on the list, Santa can't deliver everything it turns out!)

Checking out the Aussie Animals Cards
Turns out even elves can get sucked in by Woolworths brilliant marketing ploy.

Wise Old Elf on the Shelf
Once more Elvey is on a shelf. This time hanging with the owls.
Elf on the Shelf with owl

Reindeer Loving Elf
Last year I bought these gorgeous white reindeer from Coles. Elvey loved the little guys as well. Must have made him homesick for the reindeer back at the North Pole. So he fed them carrots. This was actually my favourite elf position that I did, even though the poor little guy needed to be roped in as well. It can be hazardous hanging on to a carrot that is more than your body weight.
Elf on the shelf feeding a reindeer.

Another morning Elvey was riding the reindeer. As you can see, the boys thought this was funny.
Elf on the Shelf riding a reindeer

Elf on the Shelf riding a reindeer

Toilet Paper Mischief
It seems that scout elves often end up creating mischief in the toilet. Trent was aghast. Personally, I  would not be hanging out in our loo if I were an elf. Trust me. Little boys have bad aim. Our WC is not always a pleasant place to be.
Elf on the Shelf in the toilet

Elf on the Shelf with toilet paper

In any case, The Elf on the Shelf was a lot of fun for our family last year and I'm looking at finding more places for Elvey to hide this year. It will be more fun for the triplets this year also I think.

I've got a Pinterest Board full of ideas of where Elvey can hang out - but would love to hear a suggestion if you have one! Have you heard of Elf on the Shelf? Do you have a scout elf at your home or do something similar? Are your kids starting to catch the Christmas spirit yet?

Linking with Essentially Jess

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?

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