Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Pizza Party for an 8th Birthday

It was my son's birthday last week. Birthdays are so exciting when you are a child. It is one of my great delights in motherhood making birthdays special for the children so that they will be some of the golden memories etched into the memoir of childhood. I find having the particular date gives me focus and ambition - kind of like a due date. I'm the type of person that needs the due date in order to do the work. Give me an open ended assignment and I cannot guarantee it will be achieved.

I had a bit of trouble this year trying to decide what to buy Jonty for his birthday. He has so many toys, and even though he plays with them constantly and is not the type of kid to neglect his toys, he really doesn't need any more. In the end, we decided to give him an experience. We have promised him a trip to Australia Zoo to celebrate his 8th year with his family. We're happy with the concept that it is a present to be enjoyed as a whole family, it encourages a sense of community rather then being focussed on self and fosters a feeling of belonging. We will make it special for him by paying extra for him to have an animal encounter. (Although one of the cheaper animals, although it would have been nice if we had a few hundred dollars spare to let him pat a tiger.) He will also be in charge of deciding the itinerary for the day and all decisions will be deferred to him. Unfortunately he is going to have to wait until September when soccer season is over before we do the trip to the Sunshine Coast for this special day, so we had a few gifts of a DVD, CD's and his first 'real' Bible. The kids gave him an Iron Man toy also.

This year Jonty had a Pizza Party. Strictly it was not a party. The Accountant was very clear about this. However, Jonty disregarded his father's restrictions with the secure knowledge that extended family always celebrate one another's birthdays. He also knew that this meant his five cousins would be showing up. Party. Right there. He also knows that his mother is amiable when it comes to inviting people around, so he politely asked months in advance if his best friend could come around on his birthday. Which I agree to. Fully knowing that because of the nature of the "Not Party" affair I would invite his best friend's whole family and not the child alone. (As a side note, it is most convenient when your children befriend your friend's children. This is the first year I have known Jonty's friend's family, and it makes life so much easier!) Once again knowing that I am a soft touch, he also requested that his kids church leaders come and since they are an absolutely awesome young married couple who have established a great relationship with Jonty and Trent. Let's just say that encouraging solid role models in my children's life is worth cooking an extra pizza for.

So, before we knew it with aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins, child friend plus sibling and grown up friends we had clocked up 12 kids and 15 adults invited to his 8th Birthday celebration. (Not Party!) The Accountant is not known for his culinary ability, except for making Pizza. In this family, pizza making is a Daddy domain. Last month after hearing the children declare that "Mummy can't cook pizza", I determined to show them that of course I could cook pizza. Thanks to an expired batch of expired yeast my efforts were sabotaged and Daddy still wears the golden pizza crown.

And so, Daddy was requested to make pizza for the crowd. The Accountant and I were up until late the night before getting everything ready so that when we returned from church we would have as little to do as possible. The Accountant made all the bases and loaded the pizzas, I did the chopping. It was actually a really nice evening chatting away to one another as we did this.
Pizza making in progress

After arriving home from church the next day, The Accountant made some more pizza dough up so that the children could roll their dough and create their own pizzas.

The triplets at work.
This was a great activity for the children and they were really excited and loaded it with veggies they may not have eaten if anyone else had put it on their pizza.
The birthday boy and Daddy

It did also create a bit of a late lunch because the kids pizzas went in the oven first, so it took quite some time before there was enough room to start cooking the pizzas for the adults.
One small girl watching her pizza being cooked.

I think it all worked in the end with everyone being patient. (Although there could have been a few hungry adults who were just being polite.)

The best thing about being a "Not Party" was that I didn't need to worry about party games, the kids just disappeared outside and were happy playing in the yard for hours. (Truthfully, the most stressful thing I find about children's parties are the children who demand entertainment and structure.) In fact I had a bowl full of lollies for the kids, that I didn't put out for them, they were just so busy that it didn't happen.

For those familiar with the Australian classic, the original Woman's Weekly Party Cakes book, Jonty chose the jelly pool out of that. In my children's cake making career, (now spanning 7 years starting at Jonty's first birthday), I have never completely followed a picture of any one cake. This year it was no different. When I was trying to think what figures to put swimming in the pool, I came up with the idea of having Lego characters. I bought a small box with a shark, jet ski and surfer, and ended up coming up with the idea of doing a beach rather then a pool.

Jonty didn't care whether it was a beach or a pool, just so long it had chocolate biscuits on the side and jelly in the middle!
The shadow is a kids hand, this is the only photo I could get without a kids hand in it. They kept on pointing and trying to touch. Very popular cake!
So voila! A beach cake, blue icing on the outside since the ocean doesn't have edges like a pool, crushed up biscuit for the sand and Lego characters drifting around or lounging on sour strap towels. It was a little hard to take a photo of the cake unfortunately. Normally I would take a photo when I finished icing it, but because this cake wasn't finished until I put the jelly in just before serving, I had a crowd of children around the cake while we tried to take some pictures. I must say, jelly with cake is a huge hit with the kids!
See, look at the hands. They just couldn't help themselves! 

So, do you put limits on parties? Have you given your child non-toy presents? I'd love to hear how you make your children's birthdays special. Did you or your siblings ever have the jelly pool when you were a child? (My sister had it.)

I am linking up with Essentially Jess for I Blog On Tuesday.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Farewell Miss Rachael

*** I wrote most of this the week after Miss Rachael left. But then it became unfinished. It was Christmas time after all. This is one draft (Yes, I have a 'pile' of unfinished blogs) that I do want to complete. Miss Rachael was a valued part of our family while she worked here and we miss her dearly. I think that deserves a feature on my blog! (Not to mention she made me heart happy!)

Miss Rachael
On Thursday we said "Goodbye" to Miss Rachael. There were tears. Yes there was. Inevitable when you have had somebody who has just molded into your family for the past two years and made such a lasting contribution to it. Mind you, the actual farewell, there was only Miss Rachael and I with red eyes. The kids were wrapped up in their own egocentric kids world. Trent did have red eyes too.

Although his red eyes occurred when he opened his Christmas present from Miss Rachael and had seen a worm on the front cover of the book and declared he didn't like worms. Then he declared he only wanted green books. "Because green is his favourite colour", says he. Then the root of his dissatisfaction was truly revealed when he said that he only wants toys in presents. Specifically he wants a Gup X. We all know he wants a Gup X. It's all he can talk about.  Each day. Every day. All day. Thank goodness Target had them on special last week. Christmas may be ruined if a Gup X was not featured. In the meantime, we will be doing some intensive training over the next five days on present etiquette, gratefulness and polite behaviour. When he is old enough, I may include re-gifting in the training program. Not that he will need to regift, "Superworm" by Julia Donaldson and Axel Schiffer. I know he will enjoy that literature immensely, once he has got over his initial disappointment, (also caused by an extremely late night the previous evening), it's exactly the type of book Trent loves. Of course Miss Rachael knows this.

**Now that he has the Gup X in his possession and he is able to concentrate on other delights of life, "Superworm" has become a firm favourite. Of course Miss Rachael chose well!

It's all part of being an excellent In Home Carer. She knows the extensive list of 'likes' and 'don't likes' for each one of my children. She knows when they need to be pulled into line and when they need a cuddle.

We have been very blessed that in Australia, we are eligible to receive "In Home Care". Basically this entitles us to get in an "In Home Carer" (similar, but not the same as a nanny) in our home for 24 hours a week, (more if you work a certain amount of hours per week), to help with the children. We can then claim the CCB and CCR (Childcare Benefits and Childcare Rebate) off her wages. We qualify because we have three (or more, in our case four!) children who are below school age.

There are lot of practical implications of why it has been beneficial having Rachael in our home. I am able to pop out and run errands without children during the day, or take a child or a reduced number of children with me. Which makes life so much easier. There is someone playing with the children at the end of the day while I am making dinner, when they are normally doing the cranky pants routine. Which makes them less cranky and the early evening far more manageable. I've also been able to have her minding the kids while I use the computer to do my job, because sometimes, I'm just too exhausted in the evenings to work effectively. I've even been able to communicate with you via my blog having Miss Rachael around, because sometimes I need the opportunity to unwind, or catch up, and having her here means I can.

Rachael and I are actually quite similar in many ways. Which is incredibly reassuring when it is someone you entrusting your kids care too. Her reactions to my children, are often very similar to my own. Often incidences will arise, and I will leave Rachael deal with them, (which is necessary for her to build her own rapport and boundaries with the children), but when it's all over with, I'm often relieved that most of the time, she has handled it in the same way I would have. Such a comfort.

Even beyond that we share similar interests, we both love reading and children's literature. Whenever I receive boxes of books in the mailbox from Scholastic, Miss Rachael is just excited as I am! We both love snuggling up with a child and immersing them in literature. We both blog, which has been very beneficial to me, because Miss Rachael is far more adept at computer usage than I am, which means she has also become my personal I.T. support and blog designer. (Didn't she do a great job making this page look pretty?) We both are not naturally sporty, which is a shame really, because neither of us naturally thinks to throw a ball with the kids or play cricket. But we recently identified this as our weakness and had been trying harder. We both also have a weakness for chocolate, which I count as proof of her excellent taste! We now are both teachers, which is why Miss Rachael is leaving us. We both like writing with fine point pens!

One area that we are not alike is that I am incredibly untidy person. She is not. I have been watching her very carefully to try and duplicate her methods. Because honestly, when left to my own devices, before I know it, a mess has formed. Then Rachael arrives and oh my goodness, within the hour it is so much more orderly. It's like a breath of fresh air! Admittedly, it is easier to restore order when there is two in the home, because the children can be distracted and dispersed. At the moment, it just feels like I am constantly putting out fires and have no time to do anything else when I am alone. But that's another story. However, even when I go out, I come home and my angelic Rachael has it feeling so very lovely. It's the most delightful feeling.

**The thing I most valued about Miss Rachael was how much she cared for my children, emotionally, physically and spiritually. The thing I actually miss most is her help around the house!

One of the most beautiful aspects of having Miss Rachael was she shared our faith. Miss Rachael was brought up in our family quite similar (but definitely different!) to my own. Her Christian walk resembled mine and her desire for God to be a living breathing part of her life is by far her greatest quality. Which also makes for a great nanny blending into a family with similar beliefs. Sharing about Jesus and teaching my children about him and how that should effect their words and actions was a natural extension of who she is. I loved it that she prayed with and for my kids, sang with them, read to them. She talked to them naturally about God and her theology was the same as ours.

Rachael has been teaching this year in a country school in a nearby country town. We miss her and the kids still talk about her. I know she's a great teacher and is passionate about her students. Thanks Rachael for all you mean to our family!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Why I Started A Blog

Just before we had children we lived for a year in London. I would often write letters back home describing our life. It's so disappointing I didn't know about blogging then! I wish I had kept a copy of these reports. I really enjoyed doing this so much.

I was supply teaching for the first few months in London - my goodness that was an experience and a half! In my head as I was experiencing all these crazy scenarios, I started dreaming up writing a fictional novel of a supply teacher living in London. I wanted to base it on the funny things that kept happening around me. I could never think of an original plot to base all these funny stories around, so I never did get started writing. I would be in a school watching things happen, and in my mind I would be constructing these ripper paragraphs and descriptions, but it went no further. I can't remember those words anymore, it still makes me sad that I didn't write them down.

A much younger 'us'. Christmas 2005, I was two months pregnant.

After we returned home and had our first child I found myself in a mother's group. We started that group as new Mums with our firstborns. The eldest child was 5 months, the youngest 3 days. We would meet weekly at one another's homes and chat about everything. Not only would we meet once a week and talk non-stop for several hours, we would also send long emails to one another throughout the week. (The writer in me loved that aspect of the group.) I loved that group as dearly as they were my own extended family. We were so different, we came from different backgrounds, had different beliefs and different opinions on how to raise children. The different personalities within the group was my favourite aspect of the group. If our mother's group was a play in a theatre, even the most hardened critic would have written that all the characters were extremely well developed, complex and interesting.

One of the other mothers was a high school English teacher. She was a far superior writer to me. I used to love reading her emails, they were so clever and funny.  Reminiscent when I was teaching in London, I started taking incidents that were happening during mother's group and writing it in my head as a scene played out during a novel. The English teacher and I were talking once and I broached the subject that our mother's group was an excellent springboard for a novel and asked if she would be interested in writing a fictional novel together. She was interested, and I thought we would make a really good team and that might be more successful then my London novel idea. We met one day and made up a cast of characters. We identified the endearing aspects of everyone's personality, mixed up these characteristics and gave them to fictional characters and mixed in some extra fictional qualities so that we weren't directly talking about any one person from our mother's group. Combine all the funny things that happen while you are parenting, I think it had the potential to be a good story. However once more, a plot was not created.

Due to busyness we never started writing. The stories were written and told in my head and were once again not being recorded. I realised that I was going to start losing these stories again. I decided to start a blog if only to keep some stories for future use. I didn't even know what a blog was really. I had only heard about blogs because one of the Mums had set up a blog for us to write about our babies and post pictures for one another. We hardly used it at all, and I still didn't even really understand what a blog was.  But it was enough that when I decided that I needed to start writing down some of my motherhood stories down, I remembered the blog and thought that this might be a good place to store the stories until I could finally work out a good plot!

I had no idea about the blogging community. When I began I had no idea about how wide and how far spread the blogging world is. But oh my goodness. Once people started reading this little space and commenting, I was hooked. Finally I not only was recording my words, I had an audience. My motivation to write was fueled and increased. I remember Kate from Killing a Fly With a Ukulele was the first blogger to make a comment on a post. I was ecstatic, I felt like a celebrity had come to visit my house! (I know this will make Kate smile!) Once I discovered there was a blogging world, I had asked people if they read blogs and to give me the addresses. A friend had directed me to Kate's, and I had loved her humorous recounts of motherhood and life, and had left several comments. I had no idea that it is common for bloggers to sprinkle comment love throughout the internet!

Being a part of the blogging community is a constant source of delight. It is a different friendship to the conventional friendships. When you read somebody's blog, you only get to know the aspects of themselves that they choose to reveal. (Although sometimes you can read between the lines.) It's a controlled space, and rightly so. But the friendships that develop are real as well. Sometimes people moan about people neglecting 'real life' face to face friendships. I would say that many of the relationships that have formatted digitally are real also. The format of friendship is just altered from the traditional.

I don't know whether I will ever write a fictional novel. For now, blogging is keeping me happy and satisfying my urge to write. I hardly have the time to blog, so to write a novel seems like a impossible task! The thought of trying to construct an original plot still does not feel tangible to me and I think I could make a lot of improvements to the craft of writing before I embark on such a project. But who knows, perhaps one day when life becomes slower some characters might wander into my mind and start telling me their story.

From the bottom of my heart, I thank you if you regularly read this space. You are the fuel for my fire. When I was at teacher's college, it was always highlighted that children need an audience as motivation to write in order for them to feel their writing is worthwhile. There are some people who write and keep it private, the process itself is all that is necessary for those, often introspective people. I am not one of those people. I thrive with an audience. Without my precious readers who read and comment, most of these words would not have been recorded. So thank you once again for being on this journey with me.

Chantelle Ellem once wrote a post at Fat Mum Slim about having three people (not necessarily actual people) in mind while you write your blog. I have "three" people in my mind that guide the direction of my blog. The first is a woman/mother who just needs encouragement to get through the daily grind, whether it be a funny story to lift her spirits, a motivational word or a thought to help readjust her mental headspace to make life more achievable and to ward off depressive thoughts. The second is a Multiple Mum, perhaps a pregnant higher order multiple mother, who is desperately trying to find some answers or hear some experiences of how another mother survived parenting multiples. The third 'person' is actually five people. My children. I dream that one day my children will read my blog and be grateful that there is a record of their life, their family, their world as they grew up. I hope that what I have shared about them isn't a source of embarrassment to them, but they rather view it as a record, and that they understand that some of the details of their personal story has helped the first two readers that I have talked about. I hope that their compassion for the first two readers will help cancel out any hesitation they may have about having parts of their life on public record. I have an image in my head that the week after I have left this earth and my children are grieving and wondering what my thoughts were, they will read this space and examine the images, and even have fond memories as  they look at the stories and pictures. I hope as they do, and even if tears blur the words at times, they will feel my love for my children and their father oozing out of every word. That the words will scroll past the screen and twist into their hearts, soothing their loss and reassuring them that there is part of me that they can connect with and that will never leave the world and it will be a solace to them until our Spirits are reunited in Heaven.

What power the written word can have. What comfort it can display. What laughter it may bring forth. What encouragement it can have. I will be forever thankful to God that he has given me this passion. Writing, for me, is a true gift from my Heavenly Father.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Sensory Play - An Oatmeal Dino Swamp

I have very loosely been following my friend Juanita's Play Each Day Challenge. If you scroll down you'll find the challenge on her Facebook Page, you should follow her Facebook page or Instagram page, her ideas for playing with kids are inspired, and her little boy is pretty cute as well!

On Saturday the prompt was messy play. I filled my largest saucepan and made a completely full saucepan full of porridge. Which incidentally, is very handy if you've had a busy day and didn't have time for lunch. You can eat the kids craft before you give it to them! (Not that I had time to finish eating, if you look closely there's a little bit of milk in the tray because I ended up tipping my bowl full back in the mix!)

I thought that an oatmeal swamp would be nice and gooey for plastic dinosaurs to have a good old stomp around in. It turned out I was right, dinosaurs love wallowing in porridge!

I cleared a hole before they started and tipped some colour water into the middle so they had a water hole to drink from. As soon as the children were allowed to play, (Bloggers children learn that they need to wait for photos to be taken before they are allowed to play. It's a good lesson for them in self control!) those dinosaurs headed straight for the water hole. But oh no, they didn't want to drink there! Swimming is what dinosaurs like to do in ponds.

Before long those dinosaurs were splashing and dive bombing with gay abandon.

The price was heavy, the pond disappeared and the swamp turned blue. Imogen was distraught and wept over the dinosaurs unruly behaviour.

The beauty of letting children play with oatmeal in winter is it is absolutely delightful for dry skin and leaves it ever so soft.

It is also very safe for taste testing. Funnily enough Jayden will not eat porridge for breakfast, but somehow he thought it was delicious when eaten off dinosaur feet. He started using the dino like a spoon at one stage.

At first the dog was happy to just chill next to the kids while they played. But he is a labrador, and before long he too noticed it was edible! At this point, every stray flick of porridge was promptly cleaned up by the canine cleaning crew. Excellent service.

Before long it was time to go inside. It was straight to the bath.

Once they were undressed, they had one last sensory experience. I let them stand and smooth the oatmeal with their feet and between their toes. The boys loved doing it. Immy, not so much.

I even had a try!

The dinosaurs were sent to the bath to be cleaned also. They tried to get back into the swamp. The swamp needed to be relocated.

It was a really fun activity on a Saturday afternoon! Thanks for the inspiration Wife Mumma Life!

Friday, July 4, 2014

Why I Write (Blog Hop)

My lovely bloggy friend Rebecca from The Plumbette asked if I would join the current blog hop,"Why I Write" that is doing the rounds at the moment, .  I was flattered that Bec thought of me and I was keen to participate, writing is certainly one of my passions. Plus, it resembled a cyber chain mail and I was always a sucker for chain mail when I was a teen, (fun ones, not the pesky ones). I once even did a chain mail underwear swap! Well almost. You were supposed to send the next name on the list a new pair of undies with tags on it. If everyone did it you would get 7 new pairs of undies! I sent a pair away, but then just couldn't bring it upon myself to send people a letter asking for knickers, as much as I liked freebies!

Of course a blog hop is far more respectable then that!

OK. Let's change the topic and start answering the questions.

What Am I Working On?
Well. Nothing except what I'm writing at this very moment! Which is generally the way I work with my blog. I was writing articles for a teens magazine, (Check out Bella if you know any teenage girls, it's a gorgeous magazine that's uplifting and without smut.) For some reason that work seems to have dried up the last couple of issues, (they must be getting some fabulous new writers), so for now my only writing outlet is my blog. I've explained how time is always an issue at this stage of life and it's really hard finding the time to write. (See my little vent here) So generally I write then publish. I pretty well never have anything written in advance.

How Does My Writing Differ From Others?
My writing is different because I am different. My writing is me in print. I have no grand illusions that I am a super star writer. I often admire others eloquence and their ability to craft words into enchanting sentences that linger in your mind. I think I can make the mundane sound interesting enough, and I am assured by people that they like reading my work, so I am happy. I am an extremely open and honest person, so I am proud my blog reads like this. Sometimes people applaude my blog because it is so honest and they say there is not enough honesty in the blogosphere. I think there is a lot of raw emotive blog posts out there that people really identify with, but I'm happy that there are people making connections with what I've written also. I hope that when people read my work they feel accepted, they hear the friendly tone and they leave encouraged either with something to think about or they feel a bit happier and amused. (Sometimes even both?)

Why Do I Write?
I am a storyteller. Writing is my preferred medium to tell those stories. (Although if you know me, you will also know I'm quite fond of talking about my stories as well!)

I write because I enjoy it. I have always enjoyed writing. When I was in primary school, I would live for the creative writing lessons. During those lessons, I would write and write pages upon pages. I would concoct all types of stories - mystery, drama, adventure, fantasy. In high school English was hands down my favourite subject. I loved writing short stories. I also developed a real love for critical literacy and analysing literature. I have also loved reading, and I actually found a lot of enjoyment writing my English assignments on whatever novel or play we were studying. I used to keep diaries a lot in my teenage years also. I found one recently. What an experience it is to read your teenage words. It was a mixture of sweet memories combined with cringeworthy reflections.

When I left school, for a few years my writing outlet was writing plays that were performed by a drama group that I lead during my youth group days. Then I started teaching and for several years didn't have time to write apart from update emails to family and friends.

One day I started blogging as a way to record the moments I was experiencing in motherhood. I actually just started writing about all the details leading up to beginning my blog, but it is getting far too long, so I've copied them into another blog post and will finish it another day and share it with you next Tuesday. It is enough to say that this little blog has become an immense source of enjoyment for me. I am constantly thinking up posts in my head and when I press publish I experience a surge of endorphins. I eagerly come back and check whether I have received comments and check how many readers were attracted to that post. I find blogging so motivating because you are able to receive feedback on what you have written and the blogging community is simply lovely.

How Does My Writing Process Work?
Constantly my mind is buzzing with sentences, phrases and whole paragraphs about things I would like to say. (I need to get better at jotting these thoughts down as I go) As soon as I'm able, I will sit down and type away. Sometimes I will write out an outline of what I want to say, and maybe a sentence or two that I don't want to forget. Normally I just write based on my mental outline and as I write sometimes it changes direction, other times it gains clarity. While I am writing I pause a lot and think of the right word. When I talk, I often um and ah and can't think of the word I want to use. When I write and I can't think of the word I want, I stop, close my eyes and think until it suddenly appears. This is why I believe I write better than I speak. I also obsess on the flow of a sentence, often going back and backspacing. I am always re-reading as I write and often change words so it is not too repetitive. When I am finished, I like to let what I have written sit for awhile, overnight is ideal. Then I come back and edit. Sometimes the changes are small, sometimes they are dramatic. If I have made a lot of changes, I will leave it sit for awhile again if possible and then come back to it fresh. It is a constant source of consternation with me that even with this editing process and my slow writing method, I am a shocking proofreader! I don't know how many times I will feel embarrassed as I read an old blog post and discover typos, grammar and punctuation mistakes. My mother sent me a message last week asking if she can get into my blog and fix my mistakes for me because she finds them every time I post! I immediately gave her access, because Lord knows I need the help, but first the Lord will have to help her work out how to find her way around the back end of a blog! Sincere apologies to anyone who notices the errors!

Where Do I Write?
Do you want the honest truth? I spent several hours this morning cleaning up my office to take this photo!
My office is very reflective of me. My passion for travel, my children, a glimpse into my own childhood, (some ornaments from when I was a girl) and Jonty's picture of our family, triplet paintings and Trent's kindy craft. 

Of all the areas where I am messy, my desk and office space has always been the worst. One of the highlights for Alex when we moved house last year is that he does not need to share an office with me anymore. We are now a two study family. I don't blame him.

My space has been particularly bad since we moved in. I never properly moved into this space. I had chucked a whole heap of photos up on the shelf above my computer to get them out of the way, and they have stayed that way for a whole year until today. The very long desk I work at has been completely littered with piles of junk. So long I could access the keyboard, I was OK to work at it. I can't say that I've been feeling comfortable in here though and have been desperately trying to tidy it, but would only get so far and then mess it up again. So tonight, it's just a pleasure working here. (So long I ignore the washing basket in the lounge room that has a whole pile of things that still need to be put away, and believe me, the next thing that needs sorting out is the office cupboard. So I still don't feel officially 'moved in'.) Perhaps another day I shall show you before and after pictures, but for now, this is where I work at my computer.

We did have a lap top that I used to write from on a lounge chair or at the dining room table, but I much prefer working at a desk. It's better for my posture and I'm not as distracted by the TV when I work.

Who Is Next?
I am only nominating one blogger, and she has already written her reasons why she writes! It seems that this blog hop has pretty well done the rounds with those who are willing to participate in my circles.

So, let me introduce you to Eva from the Multitasking Mummy.

Eva is a Mummy to one 2 year old boy and blogs at The Multitasking Mummy about her personal and parenting experiences in the hope that other Mums will find it both reassuring and relatable. Eva loves writing and has recently begun her freelance writing career as well as working on a second blog where she will share her knowledge on all things Social Media and Blogging. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys spending time with her family, pottering in the garden, reading magazines and enjoying red wine.

Read the reason why Eva writes here.

Linking with

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Potty Training Triplets - Update

Potty training triplets is not for the faint hearted. It seems that my mantra during these days is, "You can wash your hands with soap." I say this to myself constantly as I encounter all types of undesirable outcomes and my hands often come into contact with all sorts of elements and germs. Oh my, the germs. Best not to think about them for too long. Although it is very necessary to think about them because the triplets certainly do not think about the wealth of virus, germs and diseases that can be associated with toilets and all areas within its vicinity. I am not a germaphobic my heart is so often quivering as I see them enthusiastically embrace the toilet bowl and put their hands in regions that hands should not be.

When I started potty training I thought I would follow the triplets progress here on the blog. Then my blog got broken and I lost the momentum. So, I will give you an update of what has been happening in the month or two since.

Firstly. My success story. The girl.

I'm so proud of Imogen. She was pretty well potty trained during the day within the first month. A lot of people had said that she would be easier to potty train. I made no assumptions. My sister has three daughters and two sons, and her sons have been far easier to potty train then the daughters. I'm very happy for her that she fulfilled the stereotypical prophecy and is confident going to the potty, and in fact now she favours the big toilet. Go girl power!

It was obvious right from the start that she had excellent bladder control. Initially Immy found the whole concept of the toilet abhorrent. Therefore, she was holding on for hours at a time until she had a nappy put on her or until she just couldn't hold on anymore and then the currents would gush. I had stopped her sleeping in nappies during the day so she wouldn't be waiting for them, but she was still holding on.

The first time we had a waterfall in the potty she looked at me, completely disgusted as it happened and then gave me the cold shoulder for about an hour afterwards. I had been sitting watching a TV show with her while she sat on the pot, stroking her back because she desperately needed to go, but didn't want to do it and didn't want to sit still enough for it to happen. When it did happen her looks and actions communicated very clearly, "That was so disgusting. I can't believe you made me do that. Peeing into a nappy is so much more civilised."
During the 'Make Imogen Relax So She Does a Wee' period. Big brother Trent was very caring. He's stroking her back for her while she grudgingly watched TV.

The breakthrough moment came when I started dishing up bribes. We now have potty lollies situated in our pantry. They are housed in this particularly stunning one of it's kind art on a jar. Made by eldest when he was in Kindy. Despite it's looks, it isn't anything sinister. It's a self portrait, and at the time, he was keen on including bones in all drawings of people. The poor love also worked out at a later stage of his development that his arms don't grow out the sides of his head.

It turns out that children will do amazing things for an M&M, not the least of which includes peeing in a potty. After the first day of potty lollies, Imogen was up bright and early, parked her potty at my feet while I worked on the computer and sat there for almost an hour until a wee was produced!
OK, so it was first thing in the morning, she still had bed hair and breakfast on her face.

Within a day or so, she had worked out what the feeling was and knew when to head to the potty. By the end of the week she was taking herself to the toilet to wee and poo. Champion child. She still does love her nappies which she wears at nights. She is known to immediately do a wee in them when she gets it on after bath time, which is a little disappointing, but hey, I haven't had to clean up any dirty pants for over a month now of hers, so I can easily forgive her transgressions.
Proud big brother again.

The boys on the other hand. Well, it is discouraging work to say the least. They also love receiving potty lollies. They will go to the toilet most of the time when asked, and are very good at peeing on demand in order to receive chocolate. However they hardly ever take themselves to the toilet and will happily wee all over their clothes and remain that way until discovered sopping wet and smelly. Never, ever have they done a poo in the potty. Which means that I have cleaned countless dirty pants. And my boys are great at dirtying said pants many times a day. And to gross you out further, they mostly don't produce the lumps that you just drop into the toilet. There pants are more likely the take into the backyard, put in a garden bed and hose down with a high power hose. Come springtime, our garden is going to be positively blooming with all the organic fertiliser I am dosing it with.

On Saturday I declared that I was giving up and putting them back in nappies. They have worn nappies the previous two days, but really it didn't have anything to do with my declaration, we were just out of the house both days, and I only take the boys out of the house in pants for short trips. For obvious reasons. Imogen always leaves the house in pants now, because when she needs to go she asks. The boys don't and while I clean them up, there needs to be someone else around to watch the other two. Also, ever since they were newborns, the identical boys mostly toilet in sync. So while I'm cleaning one up, the other is normally waiting dirty or wet, so it's a very time consuming process while out and leaves me spending far too much in public bathrooms, which are one of the least desirable places to hang out in.

The reason why I am hesitating, is the can go to the toilet for wees. They just need the prompting. It seems a shame to go back on all our hard work. Also, my in home carer, Miss Stacey, has been doing a great job with toilet training, and it feels like I would be giving up on her work too. (Sidenote: I'm grateful that she has also cleaned up her fair share of dirty pants also. One of the yuckiest jobs in the world.) To be truthful she's a lot better and reminding them to go to the toilet. Normally I am so busy doing other things I will forget. Either that, they will be really focussed on an activity, so I give them a bit longer before insisting on them doing the trip to the bathroom and the inevitable happens during that time.

Another reason for persisting with the pants and just putting up with cleaning dirty and wet pants is that triplets are all about equality. This is one of the reasons we have been potty training together. They are very good at looking at each other and demanding the same treatment. I'm afraid that if I start putting nappies on the others Immy could regress, because like I've said, she still loves her nappies. She may have meltdowns and stop going to the toilet in defiance to being the only kid in pants.

I have a feeling that come the warm weather the boys will go a lot better having no pants on. I think it will give them a better awareness of when they were going. That's the way it was with my 2nd son anyway. He would go to the toilet (he never used the potty, which was fine with me) if he had no pants on, but if he had pants on then he would always wet them.

And so, here I am today. They are still in the jammies and I'm trying to decide which way to go pants - nappies. Let me know what you think!

I thought I should include a photo of the triplets fully clothed. It does illustrate the triplets are all for equality though. Look at Immy checking out she had the same lunch as Jayden!

Linking up today with Essentially Jess for I Blog On Tuesday. (IBOT)

PS. If you are having trouble commenting, please feel free to copy that comment and leave it on my Facebook page, I love hearing the feedback.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Big Book of Aussie Dinosaurs

Dinosaurs are just one of those topics that immediately capture a child's interest. Large scary creatures (that can also looked friendly according to an artists depiction) certainly encourage imagination and curiosity. Scholastic sent the Big Book of Aussie Dinosaurs by Kel Richards and illustrated by Glen Singleton to review. My immediate reaction was one of delight, because I love that it is Australian.

Excuse my little models bed hair. Is any other mother of boys regularly guilty of not combing her kids hair?

My grandparents used to live in Hughenden, close to where the Muttaburrasaurus was found, so I was well aware of that dinosaur, but when I was reading this book to the kids, I was surprised just how many Aussie dinosaurs there were! We visited my grandfather in Hughenden when Jonty was very still a baby. The kids, especially my nephew who is older than Jonty, especially loved visiting the dinosaur museum there. After I read the book, I kind of wished my grandfather still lived there so we would have a convenient excuse to visit it again. I'm sure we will get there again someday, but not in the foreseeable future! You kind of need a reason to travel the many hours to outback Queensland.
My Grandfather with my niece and nephew and Muttaburrasaurus in 2007 - the kids look so small! 

Trent has been learning about dinosaurs at Kindy, so when I mentioned this book to his teacher, she was immediately excited, so Trent brought it in to share with his Kindy friends. (I have a feeling it's going to be on the teacher's list to obtain a Kindy copy for next year's class.) When he brought it home he said that his friends loved it because it had lots of funny pictures in it. Well done Glen Singleton - your vibrant illustrations are certainly loveable! In particular Trent told me that they laughed very loudly for a long time (see below) where a plant eater was squirting tomato sauce. I got him to pose with that picture and he said to say in my blog (so I will quote directly), "They likeded the piece when he put tomato sauce on. They laugheded." (I'm trying my best to get him to drop the double "d" sound at the end of words, although I'm tempted not to. It's so cute.

The favourite page.

I'm sure they learned a lot about dinosaurs as well as enjoying the illustrations. There are loads of pictures and facts on every page - and even a pronunciation guide to help kids say all those tricky dino names! They can find out which Aussie dinosaur was the biggest, or the fastest, or the hungriest - and everything else you never knew about the dinosaurs that roamed down under! There is even an Aussie Dinosaur Gallery at the end of the book!

If you have kids who loves dinosaurs, I'm pretty sure this is a book they will adore.

So, have you or your kids heard of the Muttaburrasaurus?


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