Friday, 31 January 2014

New beginnings

I was at the gym this morning. One of the other punters asked me if I had children. IF I had children. It has been a long time since I have blended into a world that doesn't revolve around children.

My two little pre-schooler shadows officially started school this week and so I am now one of those women who operate independently during the day. Well, I will be for the next week, until I recommence my full-time job.

People keep asking me how I will cope working full-time with four children. I have no answer to this question. I don't even yet know that I will in fact cope. It will be a little mystery.

I am spending my one week of (mostly) child-free holidays sorting out the household systems. We have nailed the school routine, although my 'made in advance and frozen' sandwiches stuck together in the freezer to the point that they were inseparable on Day 1...

I think I have the grocery situation worked out now (minus the meal plan that it all hinges on...) but I have no solution to the piles of washing. Mountains. I can't keep on top of it now, when I only work three days, so I am baffled about how we will manage when I am out of the house every week day. I fear my weekends could become one long date with the washing machine, washing line and washing piles.

One last week to tighten the routines, catch up on the mandatory appointments (dentist, optometrist) and recharge before the new stage begins.

New beginnings. Never what you expect.

Any ideas for dealing with Mount Washmore?

Thursday, 30 January 2014

And then there were four...School children


Day One 2014.
Smooth as silk.
The twins slotted in like old pros.
An overwhelming sense of relief washed over me at about noon when I picked them up.
We did it!

How was your first day back? Anyone's little people start for the first time?

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Summer lovin' 2014

*The post is brought to you by Vivobarefoot kids who kindly supplied us with some fabulous wet shoes for Nugget and Doo Dah to enjoy the Summer. And they have.*



I love Summer. I love the long days of light, the clear skies and the endless opportunity to line dry the washing. I love the trips to the beach (excluding sandy crotch), fun at the park, and time in the garden. I love the fresh salads, cocktails and ginger beer. I love the fruit - berries, watermelon, pineapple; the freshly squeezed juice; the intoxicating joie de vie; the parties and BBQs and the amazing spiegeltent at the Sydney festival. I love the endless supply of animated flicks -Frozen, Cloudy with a chance of meatballs and Free birds, we've seen them all. I love the sandals and thongs, with painted toe nails on display. I love the lack of school lunches and the absence of routine. I love the early morning runs and the random long evening bush walks. I love cooling down in the spa after a long day in the sun. I love playing backyard cricket with the kids. I love falling asleep under the fan. I love light meals and drinks with ice. And ice blocks. I just love ice blocks.

Are you a Summer person? What are you lovin' about Summer?

Tuesday, 31 December 2013

2013


Ahhh. The sweet sound of the last day of the year has arrived. I love this day. I day to reflect and plan the next year. 2013 has been a mixed year for me. Highs and lows.

In January, I focused on health and I did a month of posts to get me in the mood. I was meant to be having a year about health without embarking on any diets. I can't say I achieved this (see below).

In February, I shared some frugal tips including my shortcuts. I always focus on my finances in February. It seems that if I get myself sorted in Feb, the rest of the year runs more smoothly. In 2014, I am trying out the Simple Savings daily money diary. I want to squirrel away 5K for a family trip to celebrate our ten year wedding anniversary. I'll let you know how I go.

It was all about parenting in March. Well, actually I got pretty bored with blogging in March. Somewhere between Nugget's broken arm which somehow seemed a punishment to me for complaining about trying to get him to practice his trombone, I lost my blogging mojo.

I didn't blog in April, but we celebrated Nugget's 8th birthday with a camping party. The Geege and I had ten children for an overnight camp at the Reserve down the road from our place. It was a crazy night and fortunately, a glitchless adventure. We also camped for the long weekend just outside of Milton. We managed to get nine children aged 3-9 to hike Pigeonhouse Mountain. It is still astonishing to me.

In May I had my 40th birthday. Apart from the fact that I am officially middle aged, turning 40 turned out to be a whole lot easier than turning 30 was for me. My sister hosted a party for me. The theme was "used to be cool". Just like me. I had the best night, danced until 3am surrounded by my peeps. I rekindled with the blog in May, but it turned out to be a cameo.

We had a fantastic ski trip with the family and some of our friends in June-July. We did a little roadie, visiting some friends in Canberra on the way down. We stayed in some fabulous little huts just off the mountains, and had an easy commute to the slopes each morning. The kids took to skiing surprisingly easily (a couple of lessons and they were away) and had a wonderful time out on the slopes.

Personally I find skiing quite tedious. It just hurts in places I don't even notice the rest of my life. I like the IDEA of skiing but the reality is less than fun. Cold. Wet. Ouchy. Now that I have four additional converts in the family, I doubt I will be able to get away from going back. Although it could make for a lovely Daddy and kids holiday?

I tackled the Michelle Bridges program from July - September. I lost some weight, found it again, and have finished the year a few kegs down but in my usual state about myself. I doubt I will ever accept my body fate. I am back to thinking what I was thinking this time last year - whole foods. Food for life. No more diets! So I am going to try to slowly introduce whole foods in 2014 and I signed up to do a 50km walk in May, so between the two, I should be feeling better about things again.

After a quiet winter on the extra-curricular front, the kids commenced activities in Spring with a vengence. Nugget started cubs, Nugget and Doo Dah started Taekidokai, The Minx started ballet, and Dew Drop started OT and Physio! Busy. Everything was selected by its proximity to our house (all walking distance), and cost. The kids are happily ensconced in the activities and all children added swimming and Doo Dah added cricket once the Summer came along. I was so grateful when school holidays arrived so we can have a break from our activities!

In October, we bought nothing new again. It was great to reunite with our unbuying ways. I also cracked out the sewing machine that I bought for my 40th birthday. It was a frustrating experience; one that is yet to be repeated!

In November, we started getting the twins organised for school. They start in February. My last babies to fly the coup. It has been a very exciting time for them and a bittersweet one for me. Watch this space for an update once they get settled in.

And finally December. Always a ridiculous month for us with three children's birthdays and Christmas. We have had some wonderful celebrations with friends and family and have been thoroughly immersed in the festivities of the festive season.

I am looking forward to 2014. I hope to spend more time here again. Thanks to all of you who are still around after my less than friendly approach to blogging in 2013.

Happy new year!

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Christmas crafternoon version 2.013

I failed to sort the Advent calendar this year. I just bought one of the chocolate ones from the store*, but I have been keeping to the activities (on most days).

On Saturday we went to the local Carols in the Park. I just love a carol. My husband says I turn into my sisters when I sing carols. I belt them out like no one is listening. Sadly, I lack my sisters' singing talents, but it is the one night of the year that I simply don't care.

On Sunday the kids and I made their little trinkets for their classmates. As it is the twins last ever year at day care, they convinced me to help them make pressies for their friends too. We had about 60 to make in all. Last year we did made these reindeer noses, so I didn't want to do that again, even though they were easy and very popular with the recipients!

We were going to make these Christmas trees but a trial run for the children at the Thanksgiving weekend revealed that Aldi probably doesn't have enough white marshmellows for 60 of those!

Then I found these Christmas ornaments but I imagined the kids would get sick of threading beads and I would end up having to do them all. And I figured their families have enough home-made by children ornaments on their trees that they may not appreciate another from us.

So we did this instead: Christmas pencils with home-made gift tags. So simple.


All you need is some cardboard, some Christmas ribbon and some novelty Christmas pencils like the ones Dew Drop is holding up here. We got ours for 50c each from the $2 shop.

 
Grab a big piece of cardboard and measure up your gift tags. Cut them out. Distribute the correct number to each child and have them decorate them. We used Christmas sticks, textas, little squares of daycare paintings, and old Christmas cards to decorate ours. Punch a hole in each one.
 
Next you need to cut up the ribbons like Nugget is doing in this picture
 
And then you tie the gift tags onto the pencils with a little ribbon bow. So simple that the kids can do them on their own once you have done some preparation for them.
 
On Monday the kids handed out their Christmas trinkets, well, Nugget, Dew Drop and the Minx handed theirs out on Monday. Doo Dah still has his in his bag!
 
We'll pick up the Advent activities again on Thursday when we go to see the Christmas lights.
 
How do you manage the lead up to Christmas?
 
* I have regretted it ever since. The kids leap out of bed, take their dose of sugar and bounce off the walls all morning.


Wednesday, 4 December 2013

My little prince

I was relayed a little story at the weekend that made me smile. I hope it does you too.

We were away for our annual Thanksgiving weekend with friends. I know you may think this a touch odd, being Australian and all, but it is a tradition with our group of friends. One that our American friend started.

This weekend we were down at Berry, in a beautiful house, having a delightful time in the perfect weather, gorging on a mountain of rich and tasty food. There were 14 children, fewer adults and the echo of laughter, happiness and good times everywhere. As far as weekends of this magnitude go, pretty bloody perfect.

So, I was talking to the cousin of our hosts, a young woman of 18 who looked a little startled most if the weekend. She managed the chaos pretty well for a first timer.

She said to me that she had witnessed a little romance in the air. Let me backtrack a bit to say that the 14 children are all aged under nine and the adults have all been married a decade, give or take. Suitably intrigued and imagining scandal of gigantic proportions, I said "oh yes."

Fortunately she continued. " I was brushing (let's call her Pretty Girl)'s hair this morning and she said to me: Cousin, do you know Dew Drop?. I responded by saying 'I think so'. I could only vaguely remember which of your sons is which to be honest. So, Pretty Girl went on. "He's so handsome. He looks like a prince. I am a little princess. We go together. I think we should get married"

And that is how true romance is born. Nothing too scandalous, much to my bitter disappointment. Just a little girl arranging her own marriage at the age of five!

I repeated the story to her Mum later that night. We giggled and giggled.

Are your children busily arranging their own marriages too?

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Left off the list

Image from here
My friend told me she got into another spot of trouble with a couple of Mum's from school over her daughter's birthday party. It seems her daughter left a girl from her current class, and one from her previous 'gang' off the invitation list.

Her daughter did this on purpose. She didn't want to include the two girls. Nobody wants to raise a mean daughter but isn't it her prerogative to invite who she wants? I'm not saying that what she did was right, but it is what it is.

So, both Mums emailed my friend. They were polite about it but they emailed my friend! It seems they wanted her to tweak the invite list to include their children. Two Mums did this. I can barely believe that one mother would.

When one of my children did not get invited to a child from school's party he really wanted to go to earlier this year, he begged me to call the Mum and get him an invite. He threatened to gate crash the party. I told him that people can choose to invite who they want to their party and if you aren't invited you have to respect their wishes. I know he was disappointed and hurt. But he learnt a lesson. You can't always get what you want.

When you have a birthday party for your child, do you invite the whole class?

When you do Christmas trinkets for your children's friends, do you make one for everyone?

We usually only invite the children's friends to a party but include everyone in the trinkets circle.

So what did my friend do in response to the emails I hear you ask? She invited the two girls of course. And apologised. And said it was an oversight. And she had a word to her daughter about being a 'mean girl'.

She is much nicer than I would have been.

What do you reckon? What would you have done?


Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Generation X Parents - At it again

Image from here
I was speaking to a friend yesterday about the joys of being a Gen X parent.

Recently she moved house and her children have changed schools. She is currently on her 'best behaviour', trying to fit in with the new school crowd. You know how it is.

Anyway, she received a group email from another Grade 1 school Mum which went something along the lines of:

I don't want to name names or anything but there is a child in class who is telling all the other kids that Santa is not real. I really want this to stop because it is distressing my child.

WTF!?! Can you believe this meddling Mum?

Kids have been finding out about Santa and pretending not to know for ever haven't they? And parents have been pretending not to know that their kids are pretending so that everyone can continue to enjoy the Christmas gift giving experience.

I've said it before but I will say it again. Gen X are turning out to be crappy parents. Kids need disappointment, failure and other negative experiences so they can grow and develop resilience. Why do we feel the need to wrap our children in cotton wool?

My friend was worried that it was her child who was doing the myth busting. She asked me how I would respond to the email.

'Honestly', I said. 'I'd delete it. Let Princess Control Freak deal with her own issues'.
 
How would you respond to an email like this?
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