Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Why can't I just do nothing?

Pre-kids I had no problems sitting around all day in my pyjamas, watching TV, reading, doing nothing or just generally ignoring the mess that was building up around me. Given, this was only in the school holidays or on the weekends as I worked as a teacher the rest of the time, but still, it didn't bother me.

These days, I just can't seem to sit still! I always seem to be doing a hundred different tasks at once and when I'm not I'm looking around thinking about everything that needs to be done. Sometimes I wish I could just take some time out and sit quietly to read but I just can't.

I honestly think it's having kids that has done this to me. I'm become used to having to rush around to get jobs done while the kids are happy or playing quietly and it's just become instinct to do this now. Kind of like getting used to eating fast because you have to attend to a baby (I am getting better at eating slower now lol!) Even when I'm home by myself or have Chris home to share the load I still get like this.

And another thing, I get antsy if the house isn't tidy or in order. I think this is because I'm home all the time so I see the mess and it's not pleasant to look at! It used to be my classroom that I was concerned about looking tidy and clean but now that I am a SAHM it's naturally transferred to home! I remember when both Chris and I were at work we'd come home and cook dinner and then leave all the dishes from the week's dinners until the weekend to clean up. Ewww, yuck! I couldn't imagine doing that now!

I think I must drive poor Chris mad. On the weekends when he is home I get a little stressed that things aren't exactly as I like them. Chris does lots of cooking on the weekends (which I am definately not complaining about!) but he doesn't clean up as he goes (and being a typical male doesn't notice that the kitchen looks like a bombsite!)

I'm trying to be less neurotic about stuff. I really am. And I am getting better at being more relaxed about things on the weekend, even I can't be during the week!

How about you? Do you find you are more 'house proud' since being at home more? Or has it worked the opposite way?

Oh, and for the record, I do still end up in pyjamas for half the day sometimes. Except usually it means that I have gotten the kids dressed, cleaned up the kitchen, hung out a load of washing, fixed the animals up, vacumned the floors, and so on before I've given a thought to getting myself dressed ;)

The up-side of not being pregnant right now

*We can get our new veggie garden built and plant it out with veggies.

*I can get lots more sewing done and lots more little creations for Esme made.

*I can look at starting up a business selling my creations.

*There's the option of me going back to work next year part time next year on a permanent basis (still have to discuss that with the school though!)

*If I do go back to work, this will mean we will have a little more money to play around with so can 'treat' ourselves a bit more!

*Hopefully this will mean that Esme is sleeping a little better and not breastfeeding so much at night ;)

*I can use the mooncup that I'm intending to purchase ;)

*The kids will be that little bit older by the time the next baby comes along, hopefully a little more independent so that we avoid the struggles we had with Jacob when Esme came along.

*I can enjoy watching my kids grow and learn new things while not feeling sick or tired from being pregnant or having a newborn!

*I can enjoy organising fun activities for my kids and playing with them (see my 'Tactile Tuesday' posts)

*I can enjoy some pampering and time for myself now that the kids are older.

*We can enjoy special family outings and holidays together!

Can you tell I am trying to convince myself?! Actually, I'm quite impressed with that long list so I'm feeling a little better already.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Mix & Mess

Today we had lots of fun making a BIG mess with rice and pulses! We started with four containers. One container of rice. One container of chickpeas. One container of barley and one container of soup mix. We also had various kitchen utensils, a funnel, cups and a water wheel.

It didn't take long for the kids to get stuck in to it! Esme started off with the kitchen utensils in the containers: stirring, mixing, scooping.

But the water wheel was the favourite of the day! The kids enjoyed experimenting with how things moved through it. Rice and chick peas needed a bit of a push to get through but barley and the soup mix went straight through. Jacob even experimented with putting the funnel at the top of the water wheel (it didn't really help anything move through any better ;))

Getting in to a BIG mess!! This is not an activity that should be conducted if you don't intend to vacumn afterwards. Esme started throwing everything around in the end so we had rice and pulses absolutely everywhere! It did however keep them entertained for ages so I can't really complain!

Luckily, Jacob happily used the vacumn to clean up after himself!

Visit we play at Childhood 101 for more great play ideas!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Online community vs real community

Not long ago I used to be a member of an online forum. I say 'used to' but I'm still undecided about whether I'll go back or not. My thoughts at the moment are that I won't. I originally joined this forum in 2006, just after Jacob was born. I wasn't a regular poster though until just before getting pregnant with Esme. The forum is a breastfeeding/parenting one so it has been an invaluable support to me in my parenting journey. I ended up taking a break after I suffered my miscarriage/ectopic pregnancy as I seemed to be drawn to the pregnancy section and was finding it all too hard and emotional.

I found the forum to be incredibly supportive and felt that the people on it were there for me whenever I needed them. And I think a lot of other people on there feel this way too. However, since leaving the forum I feel like this was all a bit of an illusion. Sure, I have made a couple of good friends who I am still in contact with but the majority of the people (who I am also facebook friends with) seem to have simply forgotten all about me. No one contacts me. People post about get togethers on their facebook but I am not invited. The phrase 'out of sight out of mind' seems to ring true. I'm trying hard not to be bitter here but it's hard. These are people who I had contact with every day but yet suddenly I don't matter. because I'm not on the forum.

It's really made me realise that online community is no substitute for real community and that we really are all strangers no matter how much we can profess to care about someone. It's kind of a scary thought because there are so many people out there who use these online communities as their lifeline. People who suffer depression and mental illness. People who are the victims or abuse and violence. What is likely to happen to them when their only community is an online one? It's not like you can just go round and check on someone who you know online! People need real life friends. Friends who care about them and who can see what is going on (well, at least are more likely to see what is going on). I'm just glad I have discovered this now.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Family Fun Day at Healesville Sanctuary

We spent today at the Healesville Sanctuary for a family fun day organised for friends of the zoo members. Mum and Dad gave us membership to FOTZ as a Christmas present last year and it has been the best present ever! FOTZ membership entitles us to free entry at both the Melbourne Zoo, Healesville Sanctuary and Werribee Zoo. We've already been to the Zoo a few times and have been able to be involved in special activities there. It's great not feeling like you have to visit every part of the zoo in a day to get your money's worth!

It was kind of a chilly day to be out and about at Healesville today though! It was overcast, cold and rain ended up setting in about lunchtime. Nonetheless, we still managed to have an enjoyable day. There were organised activities for the kids (face painting, badge making and story telling) and a sausage sizzle lunch. Jacob was adamant that he didn't want his face painted though And then Esme aborted attempts to paint her face mid way through. Luckily, Daddy was brave enough to get his face painted (as you can see in the photos below!). We didn't actually get around to see many animals as we ended up leaving just after lunch but we still saw kangaroos, platypus, reptiles and emus. And we got to see the Birds of Prey show which Esme absolutely loved (Jacob, on the other hand, was a little concerned about the low swooping birds!) Here are some photos of our day.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Birthday Bargains

Yesterday I turned 31. It was a bit of an anti-climax after the big 30th celebrations last year but I still had an enjoyable day! I left both the kids at their grandparents yesterday afternoon (Jacob spent the whole day there) and headed off to Savers in Dandenong. For those that don't know, Savers is like a chain of op shops. And they are HUGE! I was overwhelmed with the sheer amount of stuff in the shop when I walked in yesterday. I only had time to look for myself (which was probably a good thing!) In the end, I came out with 2 short sleeved tops, a coat and an awesome pair of Levi jeans (and they look almost new!) for $25

Here's some photos of my finds:

I collected the kids from their grandparents on my way home, had a cupcake and candles for my birthday there (Jacob had helped make them) and then Mum and Dad brought take away up for dinner a bit later which was lovely - no cooking required by me!

And, seeing this is a birthday post, here's a picture of me and the kids with my cake...

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

To treat or not to treat?

Let me say first off that this post is not meant to offend! I respect that other people make different choices when it comes to what they feed their kids. This is just my take on things ;)

We choose to feed our kids a fairly healthy diet and we model this by eating healthily ourselves. We make sure the kids are eating at least 5 serves of vegies and 2 serves of fruit each day. They do occasionally have biscuits or cake but these are all homemade. We never give them processed or packaged food. Actually, I refuse to buy cakes and biscuits from the shop at all because I think I can make it cheaper myself at home (but that's another story altogether ;)) They think a cruskit or some dried fruit (or even a container of oat bran!) is a treat. Who am I to break this illusion?

These days they get a few more 'treats' than they used to. It was easy when Jacob was little because he didn't know that he was missing out on something. But now it's harder. He's seen other kids go straight for the sugary stuff at parties and other places and he has learnt to want these things. And of course Esme sees him eating this stuff so it's not really fair for her not to have some too. I wish we could have kept her away from that sort of stuff longer, but that's the way things go with number 2 :( That sounds like I'm letting them eat whatever they like at parties but it's not the case! I will either direct them to healthier options at a party or limit their intake of sugary stuff. Both the kids have never had juice (apart from the occasional mouthful) and soft drink not at all (and won't for as long I can manage it!!) But they understand when things are a 'treat' and they know they do not get them all the time.

The problem occurs when I go out with friends' and their children for coffee. I have a friend who orders her children milkshakes or babycinos. The kids ask for it as soon as we get in the cafe. Call me stingy, but I have never ordered my children a drink at a cafe. I refuse to pay money for some milk froth and don't like the thought of them drinking sugary milk. Also, I think it sets a precedent. Do it once and your children will forever be asking for it. A bit like buying your child a lolly from the supermarket for them being good. I don't want my children to expect to get something from being good. I don't want them to expect some sort of sugary treat when we go to a cafe. Although I do admit to letting them have a cake today so maybe I am a bit of a hypocrite? (In my defense, it's my birthday tomorrow so we all had something special lol)

Imaginary play - gender differences?

Today I caught Esme 'breastfeeding' her doll for the first time. It was very cute but unfortunately I was too slow to catch it on camera and of course kids never repeat something like this when you want them to ;) It got me to thinking about imaginary play though. Esme has always enjoyed playing with her 'dollies'. Right from very little (I can't remember the exact age but by at least 12 months she was playing with the dolls) she was interested in them. Now days she likes to cuddle them, make them walk, put them to bed and so on. She just loves them. And this imaginary play isn't just dolls, it extends to other things such as playing kitchens and so on.

Then I thought about Jacob. He was never really in to imaginary play at the same age as Esme. Granted, he didn't have many dolls but the opportunity for imagination play was there. He was just never interested. It's only been in the last year or so that the desire for imagination play has been there and now he enjoys making things with his blocks and train set and making all the people 'talk' and do things. So, I'm interested to know what other peoples experiences have been! IS it a gender difference or is it just a matter of different personalities (because everyone who knows Esme and Jacob will know just how different the two of them are!!)

Printing with vegies

Today we did some printing with vegies. A very simple and fun activity to do with the kids! All that was required was to cut up some vegies. I used orange, apple, onion, carrot, sweet potato and potato because I thought they would make interesting patterns for the kids. I cut a triangle and a square into the potato just for something different as well (Jacob was very taken with those ones!) This is a photo of the cut up vegies before we started our activity.

I poured some paint onto a sponge for the kids to dip the vegies into and let them loose on a big sheet of paper outside (making sure they were wearing their trusty puddlewear!)

Lots of different shapes were made by pressing the vegies on to the paper. We had circles from the carrot and orange, ovals from the sweet potato, stars from the apples and of course the triangle and the square from the potatoes. The onion made very pretty rings as well. It turned out to be a good educational activity for the kids! As we were doing the printing Jacob was telling me the shapes that were being made from each vegie.

As you can see, a nice big mess at the end of it all! But the kids enjoyed it (Esme also enjoyed upending the bucket of soapy water I had put out for the clean up all over herself too!!) and we now have some pretty wrapping paper ;)

Stay tuned for next week's tactile activity...

Visit We play at Childhood 101 for more great play ideas

Monday, June 21, 2010

Tactile Tuesday

I always have the best intentions to do lots of tactile stuff with the kids. In my work as a special education teacher pre-kids I used to do lots of this sort of stuff. I used to teach kids that were non verbal and had quite significant physical and intellectual disabilities so tactile experiences formed a lot of their educational experiences. And it used to be so fun! I just find, as a mother, I get stuck in a bit of a rut. There's always some excuse as to why I can't organise an activity for the kids. I'm tired. I've got other things to do. I don't want the kids to get messy. There's not enough time. Like I said, always an excuse!! So, I've officially declared Tuesday as our 'tactile activity' day and I'm committing to blogging about the activities we do each week. Hopefully that will keep me motivated to actually organise something each week!

Stay tuned tomorrow for my first 'Tactile Tuesday' blog post...

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Belgrave Lantern Parade

Every year for the Winter Solstice, the local community art society run a lantern parade. It's a huge event. The main street is closed off for a couple of hours and hundreds of people come with their lanterns to join in the procession. There's a real community spirit involved with the whole event. This was our first year to go as a family. It was a fun evening watching all the beautiful lanterns that individuals and community groups had put together for the event. However, I think I got more out of it than the kids did. Jacob was more excited by the train trip to the event than the actual thing! I guess that's the way it goes with kids though ;) Here's a collection of photos from the evening...

Yummy chocolate treats

Last night we had a pamper night for our ABA group. It was a lovely evening of fun and friendship. We were pampered with lovely massages and hand treatments. And what a perfect excuse to eat some yummy chocolate treats! Above is a photo of the things we made: chocolate truffles, Baileys chocolate fudge and chocolate mice. I say 'we' but actually Chris did most of the making. I only decorated the chocolate mice although that took me a while so I do think I made a contribution to the effort ;) For those of you that are interested I will share the recipes - they are all very easy to make really and taste so yum! Thank you to my sister-in-law for the recipe for the chocolate mice!

Chocolate Truffles

225gms dark chocolate
3/4 cup cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon Creme De Menthe
Cocoa (for coating)

1. Place the chopped chocolate in a medium sized stainless steel bowl. Set aside.
2. Heat the cream and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil.
3. Immediately pour the boiling cream over the chocolate and allow to stand for 5 minutes.
4. Stir with a whisk until smooth. If desired, add the liqueur.
5. Cover and place in the refrigerator until the truffle mixture is firm (this will take several hours or overnight).
6. Place your coatings for the truffles on a plate. Remove the truffle mixture from the refrigerator. With your hands, melon baller or small spoon form the chocolate into round ball Immediately roll the truffle in the coating and place on a parchment lined baking sheet or tray. Cover and place in the refrigerator until firm.

Baileys Chocolate Fudge

one tin sweetened condensed milk
100gms butter, cubed
1 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons glucose syrup
150gms dark chocolate, finely chopped
1/4 cup Baileys

1. Line a 20cm square cake tin with baking paper
2. Combine the condensed milk, butter, sugar and glucose syrup in a saucepan. Stir over medium-low heat for 3 minutes or until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium-high and cook, stirring constantly, for 10-15 minutes or until mixture thickens, turns a caramel colour and leaves the side of pan. Remove from heat.
3. Add the chocolate and liqueur, and stir until chocolate melts and mixture is smooth. Pour into prepared tin and smooth the surface. Set aside for 1 hour to cool. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for one hour until firm. Cut up when firm.

Chocolate Mice

150gm dark chocolate
1/3 cup cream
1 cup (125g) chocolate ripple biscuits
Silver balls, licorice, pink balls and flaked almond to decorate


1. Melt the chocolate and the cream together in a saucepan
2. Crush the chocolate biscuits until fine
3. Mix the crushed biscuits into the chocolate mix, refrigerate for no more than an hour, to firm up. If left for too long, it is really hard to dig the mixture out.
4. Roll small amounts of the mixture into balls, tapering one end to look like a nose.
5. Add thin licorice straps for a tail (pushed into the back end a fair way so it doesn’t fall out), two flaked almonds for ears, two silver balls for eyes and a single pink ball on the tapered end to make a nose
6. Refrigerate overnight


Friday, June 18, 2010

Do you like to baby wear?

I wrote this poem some time ago, as an entry for a competition. I meant to share it here a while ago but forgot all about it until today. So here is my baby wearing poem...inspired by Dr Seuss (just in case you can't tell!)

Do you like to baby wear?
We do! We do! We like it here.

I have done it on a bus,
It didn’t cause a lot of fuss.
No heavy prams to lift or fold,
On my back I like to hold.

Would you, could you, on a train?
What would you think about a plane?
I have done it in these places.
’cause for a pram there’s not much spaces!

I have done it at some rallies,
About homebirth mamas and pregnant bellies.
Cradled to my chest I need not worry,
About my daughter amongst the flurry.

What about on holiday,
It really is the only way.
Pram wheels won’t get stuck,
On all that sand and muck.

I have done it at the shops,
Waiting in line it is just tops!
In the sling, I can feed my baby,
And she’ll go to sleep, maybe!

Really, there’s no other way,
To baby wearing we say ok!

Just in case you're interested, I did score a pair of baby legs for my effort. Unfortunately not the main prize which was an Ergo but the person who won was a good friend of mine so I was somewhat mollified!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Happy Birthday, Jacob!

Jacob turned four last Monday. It's hard to believe that our little boy is growing up so quickly! Although he kept reminding us how old he was going to be for weeks leading up to his birthday this year! 'Jacob's going to be four!' we heard numerous times complete with holding up four fingers.

We celebrated his birthday by sharing some birthday cupcakes and dinner with Nanna and Grandad the night before

Then on the Monday he got his present from us. A basket of felt vegies that Chris and I had made (which he absolutely loved!), some wooden food and a wooden microwave.

On the Sunday we had Nanna and Granddad come round and our good friends, Lisa, Andrew, Ella and Bethany. Chris made a wonderful Thomas cake which Jacob (and Esme) were very excited about!

The birthday celebrations went on for quite a while this year! Jacob also enjoyed celebrating his birthday at kinder too this year.

Winter Festival

Wattle tree, Wattle tree, will you lend me, pray,
a little glowing lantern to light me on my way?
My Summer friends have vanished from the paddocks and the lane
and I would fain go seeking till I find them once again.
Oh, lend me now a lantern that I may bear a light
to find the hidden pathway in the darkness of the night.

Last night we spent a magical night at Jacob's kinder celebrating the Winter Festival. We arrived at the kinder and were greeted by lanterns lighting up the entrance and the room. In the centre of the room was a spiral of vegetation with a candle burning in the middle. The children took turns walking into the centre of the spiral with a parent and lighting a special lantern that they had been making in kinder during the previous weeks while the rest of us sang or sat quietly. It was beautiful to see the kids smiling and their little faces lit by the glow of the candles only. The spiral of vegetation is to signify the shortening of the days in winter and then the lengthening as the season passes.

After all the kids had lit their lanterns we put on all our warm clothes and went for a walk with the lanterns to guide us. It really was beautiful, the path was marked by small jars with candles on either side to show us the way. After the walk, we returned to the kinder and shared a meal of pumpkin soup and bread together which the kids had helped to make earlier in the day.

For those that don't know about the Winter Festival, the Winter Festival is all about light. It's a sharing of the light and the lanterns are an outer manifestation of our inner warmth and light. This is what we need in winter; community warmth and a recognition of the light within us which warms us all.

Monday, June 7, 2010

The girl who never stops

Our little girl is always on the move. Seriously. If I weren't breastfeeding her, I don't think she would ever wind down and sleep! Yesterday she spent the day partying for Jacob's birthday and missed her sleep during the day. She was sitting at the computer with Daddy in the evening and he suddenly noticed that there were no annonying fingers trying to push buttons. She'd fallen asleep in his arms! She must have been pretty tired because she NEVER falls asleep in our arms! Chris laid her down on the couch and this is how she stayed:

Our little sleeping angel! We almost managed to put her in her pyjamas too without waking her up! Luckily she only woke a little and a quick breastfeed put her back to sleep. She was in bed by 6pm, that's got to be a record for her!!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A Steiner birthday

Today we celebrated Jacob's birthday at Kinder. Birthdays are a special occasion at Steiner kinder. It was so lovely to see all the little details that go into making the day special for the birthday child.

I made a simple cake for the children to share the night before (as well as my allergy cupcakes). When it come time for circle time, a special mat was laid out with the cake and some flowers. We then sang a song and said a little verse about Jacob and what he could do at each of his ages. Then Glenys, his kinder teacher, gave him a special cape and a crown to wear (Jacob refused to wear the cape though!) and lit a candle which they carried around the outside of the circle together. It was lovely to see Jacob's face, he was just beaming the whole time and all the other kids were smiling too.

We then lit the candles on the cake and sang happy birthday to him and then Jacob got to lead the kids over to wash hands and sit at the table for morning tea. We shared the cake, as well as the lovely apple crumble that the kids make each Tuesday morning.

At the conclusion of the morning session at kinder, the kids gathered together to share a story that Glenys told. Because it was Jacob's birthday, she told a special story about Jacob and how he had come to choose us as his parents. It was such a lovely story, all the kids were sitting there entranced as Glenys told it. I know I have said this a million times already, but I'm so glad we chose to send Jacob to Steiner Kinder. To see him grow and flourish under the care of his wonderful kinder teacher, and the style of teaching is just wonderful.

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