Thursday, December 27, 2012

My 7 Top Tips for Cheap or Free School Holiday Fun

We are on a serious budget these holidays, but it doesn’t mean I don’t want to get out and about with my kids. For starters, the more time I am out of the house, the less time Lorelei has to trash it. I hate housework, and this toddler of mine demolishes the house daily. So a day spent somewhere else, is a good day. Also, Madeleine has been on school holidays since the first week of December, so she is already starting to get bored. Hehe – see this post for other “free boredom busters” for your tweens/teens.

I’ve been proactive and scoured the Internet and my local newspapers for free and cheap things to do with the kids these school holidays. I’ve put together a calendar for the date specific events, and a general list of idea’s for the other days when it seems good to get out. We won’t do everything on this list, but at least if the stars align and I want to get out, the idea’s are already there and there is nothing to stop us. We can be like good like Zhu Zhu pets and "GO GO GO!"

My tips for creating your own calendar of local activities to do:
  1. Check your local council, as well as surrounding council websites. They are a great place to start as they usually list both their own events and activities as well as are happy to provide links and details to other community groups.
  2. Check your local newspaper. You know that little free one that gets dropped off each week? There is always an events section in there are well, near the classified usually. Also pay attention to the ads, there might be vouchers for local attractions.
  3. Check your local clubs (RSL, Leagues, Workers, etc) websites. Often there are shows aimed towards kids with ticket prices that are very reasonable. We’ve found disco’s, family fun days, and great performances at some of our clubs.
  4. Facebook pages! A quick visit to the facebook page of a local attraction (pools, clubs, gyms, animal farms etc) can sometimes yield open days, or free times to visit.
  5. Shopadocket. Sometimes there are some good vouchers on the back – get 2 kids in for the price of 1 etc or adults at kids prices.
  6. Check your local shopping centre – there are often shows on during the school holidays that the kids will enjoy.
  7. Check the daily deals websites! After we lined up our desired activity list for the holidays, there were a few things we were happy to pay for if we could get a good price. After checking all of the daily deals sites (Groupon, Scoopon, Spreets, Livingsocial etc) we actually found a few of them on special and were able to buy tickets at half price. I also snagged a $5 all day Sydney CBD parking voucher, which will make our Darling Harbour day out much more affordable.
If you are prepared with this information NOW at the beginning of the school holidays, you are in the best position to take advantage of the free or cheap opportunities. Sometimes the activities I find might only take up an hour, but with a packed lunch and a trip to the park afterwards, we've had a great morning at no cost, and then the kids settle happily at home.

Here’s my school holiday calendar. You can find this seriously awesome, FREE downloadable year round calendar in a few different designs over at the talented Organised Housewife. If you aren't already reading her blog you are missing out on some great stuff.

Credit for Calendar layout:
As you can see, not all the days are filled in, but we have so many idea's and other things to do on my To-Do list that if we don't feel like staying at home, a day will be easily filled.

Are you prepared to beat the boredom these school holidays? Have you lined up some awesome stuff? Share in the comments with your state so that others can benefit!!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas from the Mummyhearts Household......And a Winner

Wrapping up today with Christmas wishes from my family to yours. Stay safe tomorrow, gorge yourself silly with delicious food, and fall into a Christmas night food coma. I know I will!

And for those Doctor Who fans who entered my

Doctor Who Mega Playset Giveaway

The winner is......................Yvette Bower!

Congratulations Yvette, have sent you an email for your details. 

Merry Christmas to all....and to all a goodnight!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Freshening up the finances

I know, who is thinking about their finances right now. ME! With the amount of money leaving the bank account on presents, I am always conscious of my finances at this time of year.

My home phone and Internet contract expired last month while I was in hospital, so I am a little behind. Normally I like to renegotiate contracts straight away, to make sure I am getting the best deal. And this month is no exception, I've made the move to another Internet provider today, who is going to give me the same amount of data usage, + greater home phone allowance for $30 cheaper than the old plan. Suh-weet.

But did you also know that sometimes you can renegotiate your plans early? If you are going to be staying with the same provider, they will often let you change/upgrade/re contract early. In this case, our mobile contract is not due to expire till February, but we can renegotiate up to 3 months early. Which is worth it, because there is a plan $10 cheaper on the site that matches our current data and call allowance which suits us so we have locked in for that now too.

So total savings each month for tonight's endeavours is $40, or $480 per year. It's always worth being right on top of your contract expiry's, because every month you do not look for the best deal for you, is another month of potentially higher costs.

There's also often added benefits to signing new contracts with a company such as new free phones, free months access, or other goodies. Things that can be sold on eBay, gifted, or at the very least add value to your life.

Use your down time over the Christmas period to evaluate your contracts. Gas, electricity, phones, Internet, insurances, loans, etc.

What will I do with that $480 this year? It's all part of my master plan to stay on maternity leave till February 2014. $480 is more than a weeks mortgage payment for me, and we are still short 16 weeks mortgage payments to get us to February 2014. So 1 down, 15 to go!

What could you be doing with the savings on your contracts? A holiday? A new TV? More money to invest in your home or life?

Friday, December 21, 2012

Mum....I'm Bored

Maddy has been on holidays since the first week of December. And I have heard those words more times than I can count already.

The first time, I waited a few minutes and then I set her the task of emptying the dishwasher. Job got done, and she settled down to watching a movie.

Later the same day, when she wandered aimlessly through the lounge room claiming she had nothing to do, I got her to sort some laundry. Hehe.

Over the days that have passed, she has had so many chores assigned to her each time she looks vaguely bored. It's awesome. Everything is getting done, and so far she hasn't twigged.

But each time she has completed a chore, she suddenly finds something interesting to do afterwards. A puzzle, a previously abandoned craft activity, playing with her little sister, not to mention all the screen based distractions she owns.

I think it's a self preservation instinct that kids are born with. She may not have made the connection between boredom and housework consciously, but she definitely stops nagging me after a chore.

I'm wondering if I can get the windows washed this weekend if she's bored enough.

It's not really child labour is it? 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: How Summer Is Meant To Be

I'm getting the kids outside more as much as I can. We seem more content to sit and play together as a family outside.

Dinner outside = less squabling, and actual family talk time 
Even Sebastian joined us although he wasn't interested in  dinner

Maybe tomorrow night I'll add water. They didn't seem to care

Magnums for desert. So worth it.

Linking up with Trish from My Little Drummer Boys for Wordless Wednesday
My Little Drummer Boys

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Christmas Idea's for your Tween Girl

I have me a tween. She turns 12 next month, but every now and then I get a flash of her teenage self and boy am I SCARED!

She's going into high school next year, and thanks to the schools not so subtle hint, she is getting an iPad for Christmas. We were originally buying her a laptop but the school is moving towards iPads they tells us. I'm a little miffed, because we always told her that as a Christmas or Birthday present we would go HALVES. But we also have planned to buy her the laptop going into high school so it leaves us in the position of buying something that I consider the most awesome toy ever instead. Bah. Humbug!

I say that's the reason I'm miffed but really I'm spewing she's getting one before me! I would LOVE an iPad but funds just will not stretch right now.

So she is only getting a few little things under the tree as a surprise, but this year I feel like I have nailed some really nice things at a great price, so I'm sharing in case you are stuck!

1. Shambala Bracelet. I know a few teenage and pre-teen girls that have asked for these, and I was tickled to find them at Goldmark in the current catalogue for only $19.95.  I shopped around first, and found them ranging all the way up to $99.95 at the Gucci Store so it's a delicate and special little piece of bling that I know Maddy is going to LOVE.

2. One Direction Poster. Unless your daughter does not go into a sparkle eyed giggling gossip queen every time the band comes on the radio. In which case a poster of their favourite Pop Star. These posters are huge, and are so much more impressive than the ones they get out of magazines. I found mine for $12 at a local poster and prints store, so it wasn't a wallet breaker. If you really want to impress, they were $49.95 to get framed.

3. iPad/iPod/iPhone/Laptop covers. There was an incredible fashion range out there! I had no idea. I was just going to get her a plain one from the electrical store, but I'm so glad I didn't! Browse the fashion and stationary stores for some great covers, all less than $20, many less than $10. Maddy is fluero mad at the moment and I was able to bag her a gold and multi coloured fluero iPad cover that I know she is going to love for $14 from Forever New.

4. A new handbag. Maddy has been carrying around the handbags she was attracted to as a younger girl, a little pretty decorated denim bag, a Minnie Mouse bag etc. Lately, I've noticed she doesn't like the carry them and has started putting her book or DS in my bag when we leave the car. So I've bought her a sweet little white handbag that is much older without being too much. There were heaps out there to choose from, and thanks to all the sales in store, you'd be hard pushed to lose more than $20. This little one cost me $17 from Equip.

5. Nailpolish. Maddy loves painting her nails while she is on holidays, so a few bright and funky colours to add to her little collection will be a hit. I picked up a 5 pack from Gloss for only $8.95.

Nothing on this list breaks the bank, but I know Maddy will love them, and I love having some surprises under the tree for her. Well, the iPad is actually a surprise, because she thinks Dad and I are still buying her a laptop instead, but it's not 100% a surprise.

If you had a preteen in your life you were struggling to buy for, I hope I've given you some idea's! I know how much easier my babies are to buy for right now.

Are you all finished your shopping? Or still have little bits and pieces left? I don't have much, but there is definately going to have to be another trip to the shops at some point.

Linking up with Essentially Jess for I Blog on Tuesdays

Friday, December 14, 2012

Doctor Who Mega Playset: A Review And Giveaway **Closed**

Do you have a Doctor Who fan in your life? I have HEAPS! My husband and older daughter, as well as half my nieces and nephews love the Doctor.

I have been agonising over a Christmas present idea for my incredibly hard to buy for teenage nephew, and finally thought I would start searching for something Doctorish. Within a few minutes of searching I hit the jackpot: a Tardis bathrobe!

 I know how much Maddy loves snuggling in the plush bathrobe I bought her this year, so I have no doubt that my nephew will love his new adults robe, and I know the awesome Tardis design is going to appeal to the Doctor nerd fan in him.

But the first website I found it on had it priced at over $100 plus expensive shipping, so as usual I got on my googling bandwagon to price this as a better price. The cheapest I could find anywhere would have me paying $90 to get it in from the US, which I was willing to do since I have the luxury of time on my hands for this particular gift - I won't be seeing my nephew till mid January. Not even eBay could help me do better.

Then, right when I was about to play my US order, I found They had my bathrobe for only $79.95! And on top of that, they are located in Australia offering FREE shipping at the moment! Can you give me a high five or what?

Just to make sure they had my robe in stock, I jumped on their facebook page. Within minutes of my posting the question, I had the answer. They had the stock. Oh I love it when business's use social media to service their customers. Minutes later, my order was placed, and paid for by Paypal.

The company is based in QLD, and they tell me that wherever possible, items are sent in Express Post satchels (as part of the free shipping!) within 1 business day - if you wanted to know if an item you are interested in can be sent by Express Post instead of normal post their service is so fast you will have your answer in plenty of time.

They don't just sell Dr Who merchandise either - there is plenty for the geek fanatic fan in your life no matter what they are a fan of. Some of my favourites:

Big Bang Theory Bazinga Bracelet$5.95
Harry Potter Sorting Hat $39.95

World of Warcraft Hearthstone Bracelet $12.95
Star Wars R2D2 Pepper Grinder $39.95

I was so impressed by their quick service and seriously AWESOME prices (20% cheaper than others!) that I contacted the company to see if I could share the joy. And the very lovely Haydn came back to me so quickly with the most AWESOME.PRIZE.EVER!

In their bargain fashion, Epicloots are selling this baby for $79.95, but I found it quickly on other sites listed for anywhere from $90-$151! (Here in Australia as well as overseas). This set looks incredible, and I know my 12 year is going to flip when she finds out I didn't negotiate a "trial" for her as part of this review. Possibly the Husband as well.

If you'd like to go into the draw to win this incredible set, entry is EASY.

1. Like Epic Loots on Facebook. Let them know Mummyheartsmoney sent you!
2. Follow Epic Loots on Twitter
3. Follow Mummyheartsmoney in any way you like - Facebook, Twitter, Google Friends Connect, Networking Blogs........links to the right.
4. Leave me a comment letting me know that you've met points 1,2 & 3!

Make sure you have a way to be contacted in your comment or profile, this is a BRILLIANT prize and I would hate for it to be redrawn.

Terms and Conditions:
Competition is only open to Australian residents. Competition will run from 14/12/2012 till Midnight 23/12/2012 (AEST). One entry per person. Winner drawn by

Good luck! 
Aussie Giveaway Linky
Hosted by Three Lil Princesses

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Our family Christmas Photo....or...the day my toddler ate a tub of paint

This year, I was organised, I was smooth, and I had it all planned. There is nothing worse than making kids wait in line for a Santa photo, trying to keep them neat, clean, and in a good mood to smile at the fat man.

I sent hubby up an hour before the photo's opened to jump in line, and spent that time at home feeding and watering my offspring before getting them ready.

Lolly looked beautiful, like a little gold angel in her dress from Bardot Junior that will feature at any Christmas related gatherings this year. I set 11 year old Maddy the task of keeping an eye on her (not that difficult in a playroom filled with toys) while I packed the baby bag.

A few minutes before it was time to leave the house to join husband at the head of the photo queue, I went hunting for my suspiciously quiet toddler. Maddy was absorbed in a book, and looked at me with guilty eyes as I started the search through Lolly's hiding places.

Hmmm, no Lolly.

Finally I ran her to earth in my bedroom. Sitting on the floor covered in a pot of green paint that came from Spotlight via the fabulous Kidsbusiness Bloggers brunch that I had set aside to ponder it's Christmas uses. Lolly had found it. Turns out the pot of paint didn't come with a safety seal, and the lid was incredibly kid friendly. THANKS SPOTLIGHT lol!

Hubby was retrieved from the shop where he was quite embarrassed to be at the front of the line of 1. Yes 1. Turns out the Harvey Norman free photo isn't the drawcard that the $35+ Westfields photo's are and there was no line up. How was I supposed to know? Every year the local shopping centres always have massive lines on Saturdays, so I assumed that Harvey Norman (part of the shopping centre complex) would be the same!

The dress was thrown through the machine and has come out as good as new. So, OK, really thanks Spotlight, because the stuff washed out really well which I didn't expect. Not so well out of my carpet though which now has a faint lime sheen to it.

The end result a few hours later after no line at all (and a slightly incredulous Harvey Norman staff member who struggled to understand that I am genuinely enough of a tight arse to take the free package and not be shamed into buying at least the $10 package), we ended up with this.

I'm happy! Harvey Norman printed out 3 copies for us at no charge, one for us, and one for the Grandparents. 

Conclusion? Don't waste your money on expensive photos......and don't turn your back on your toddlers for a second!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Wordless Wednesday....The Tree Edition 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Decorating the tree 2012

Lolly's first year helping to decorate

Having a baby helping again added a new element of fun to mine and Maddy's old traditions

Maddy shows her sister her favourite ballerina decoration

Lolly loves taking the decorations off the tree! She kissed most of them
 Linking up with My Little Drummer Boys for Wordless Wednesday

My Little Drummer Boys

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Buying the Cow....

About a year ago, A Current Affair did a segment on purchasing bulk meat, Today Tonight also did one from memory, because groceries were the hot topic of the month with the big retailers trying all kinds of gimmicks to "save us money" and get them into their stores.

At the time, I was all fired up about the idea of buying my meat in bulk, but a little tentative on how to go about it. As I wrote about here recently, the timing coincided with my cancelling my annual Chrisco Hamper orders, and I started to channel the money that I used to direct debit to Chrisco over to an online savings account instead with the view that at the end of 2012 I would still enjoy the arrival of bulk meat and groceries.

Photo of my freezer just does not do
justice to how much meat is in there.
5 or 6 layers deep.
I started out by googling wholesale meat providers, and although I found a fair few matches locally, price wise it still didn't seem that great. Most of them have set prices that cater to the demographic, and I was seeing quotes of $12.99 per kilo and upwards. Still, $12.99 seems pretty good when you consider that some of the meat you will be eating is going to be damn good scotch fillet steaks, t-bones, etc which you can buy for upwards of $30 per kilo in your local butcher.

Instead of trying out these wholesale to the public places, I started doing my own butcher crawl of the local area. Trying out a different butcher each week, I would engage them in conversation about my idea of buying a carcass, and asking could they help me. I really was after 2 things:

1. A damn good price
2. A butcher who would separate all the meat for me still.

Number 2 was important. I really really hate handling meat. I often get Husband to dice/prepare meat the night before for me so that I can just toss it in the pan when the time comes.

Some butchers eyes gleamed, and they too quoted prices of $12.99 per kilo, from 8 butchers I was quoted anywhere from $8.99-12.99. It seemed to be the standard. And most wanted to just give me my meat stacked up in different types - Ie all the T-Bones together, all the mince together etc and had no interest in labelling it. I equally have no interest in spending hours at home trying measure out 1 kilo of mince into ziplock baggies so these butchers were scrapped off my list.

But finally last weekend I hit the jackpot. A friendly local butcher who owns his own business got right into the project with me. He thought it was a great idea, and even showed me how a little old lady customer of his gives him $5 a fortnight to keep in a tin for her to buy her a big Christmas Meat hamper each year. He promised to make sure my carcass wasn't too heavy, insisting that if it weighed more than 45 kilo's then all the extra weight would be in the bone and not the meat and he didn't want me ripped off. He not only promised to separate the meat, but spent 10 minutes with meat agreeing on all the quantities.
"Let's see" he says. "You don't want to waste a T-Bone on the kids, lets keep them in two's and maybe also have a couple of Rumps on their own". He was awesome. He even chunked and stripped alot of the meat for me for casseroles and stroganoff etc.

And true to his word, a 42.5 kilo carcass was waiting for me on Saturday, in two massive trays piled high with meat. 2 big bags full of bones sat on top for the dogs (which we don't actually have but we found homes for them).

The final price? $6.99 per kilo ($296!) and a shy suggestion from him that I might like to refer him to my friends. Damn straight I will! The meat was fabulous, the guys help invaluable, and I am thrilled by how much food is now in my freezer. I estimate my old Chrisco Meat Hampers were giving me less than a third of the value in meat.

If you have a chest freezer, can be disciplined enough to put the money aside, this is a great way to provide yourselves with months of meat for a fraction of the cost. Do your research talk to your local butchers, until you find yourself a community man keen to get involved.

Have you ever bought in bulk before? Did the savings stack up to your expectations?

Linking up for the first time ever with Essentially Jess for IBOT

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Junk in the Park

I fed my kids complete garbage sitting cross legged on the grass at a local park on Friday.

And it felt good.

When Maddy was born, we were very young parents. I was still a teenager, and we didn't really bother with cooking much back then. We ate out at cafes and restaurants, or bought takeaway most nights, or ate microwave meals.

When Maddy was a toddler, we were always getting takeaway and eating outdoors somewhere. It was fun, she could play on equipment, and it wasn't like life was so busy.

I don't know when we grew up. We did though. Takeaway is a rarity in our home now. And usually its planned - Chinese night or something, but we don't just pick up pizza's or Macca's very often. Meals are planned around life activities, bedtimes, budgets, nutrition and variety etc. And so they should be! Maddy is almost 12, we have a hungry toddler and newborn with formula needs, but even with inflation, my weekly food budget is $100 less each week than it was 10 years ago.

But even so. We found ourselves out and about with nothing organised for dinner, so we grabbed an $8 pizza, some burger and drink freebies from Hungry Jacks (please tell me I am not the only tight arse taking complete advantage of their IPhone app, its always good for a free slushie for Maddy on a hot day) and a $1 thickshake. We were headed home, when I spotted a park and made Hubby pull in.

He didn't think twice. Like me, he remembered lazy evenings spent at parks with a toddler Maddy. The girls wolfed down their greasy dinner, wiping sticky fingers on the grass, and raced off to play on the equipment. 

Our only mistake was giving Lolly a try of the Strawberry thickshake. She's only had water, milk and watery juice to drink before then and the thickshake pretty much rocked her world. Once she sipped it, she claimed it, and there was no getting it off her again. Hubby and I had to share Maddy's disgusting blue slushie with her instead.

We need to do this more often. Careers, kids activities, life in general took away these quiet, cheap evenings that my kids enjoyed so much. I'm going to make sure that there is time sometimes to sit cross legged on the grass. Sometimes dinner doesn't need to be a balanced meal at home, sometimes it can just be fun junk in the park.

Did you grow up and not notice like me? Take the time to eat at the park sometimes?

Friday, December 7, 2012

Chrisco Hampers: How does the value stack up?

Like thousands of other Australians, at this time of year I have always had a whooping big Chrisco Hamper delivery, boxes and boxes filled with groceries and goodies that we love.
I love the excess of $1,000 turning up all at once. I love that the hampers are always filled with brands and goodies that I might not buy often throughout the year, but that are luxuries for our home. I love freeing up my usual grocery money to spend on Christmas foods and presents since my cupboards are usually straining with food by now.
But last year, the meat that arrived really wasn't that good (sorry Chrisco) and to my irritation I found myself casseroling all of the meat on the steaks because they were too tough to eat. 
It occurred to me that maybe this year instead of buying Chrisco meat hampers, I would instead put the meat money aside in a separate bank account and take the plunge at buying a whole carcass from an independent butcher, and see if there was better quality and value to be had that way.
And since I was going to cancel that much of my order, maybe it was also worth cancelling the grocery hampers and seeing if I could pull some better value by buying the products myself. Since I cancelled my order late last year, I have been transferring my $20 every week to an ING account kept sacred for the purpose, and now I find myself with $1,000+ to spend on groceries. The meat order is placed (and I will write a separate post about how that went).

This week, I set off with the 2012 catalogue for Chrisco to my local grocery shops to see how I would go replicating one of my favourite hampers.

Image taken from 2012 Chrisco Christmas Catalogue - Breakfast Hamper

I completed a clean cost comparison between what Chrisco says the Breakfast Hamper is worth, and what the shelf price at Coles says the hamper should be worth. I didn't take into account all the specials that Coles had on many of the products. And I was shocked at the difference. I was expecting to see that Chrisco does not pass along their bulk buy costs in the hamper absolutely. Maybe even a small markup. But the outcome is a whopping 31% difference. The Chrisco 2012 Christmas Hamper Catalogue tells us the hamper is worth $184.60, whereas standard retail shelf prices at a mainstream grocery store tells us the hamper is worth only $125.79.

**Imported Nescafe Coffee sourced from & Kelloggs Fruit Loops sourced from These specific products/quantities were not available at Coles.

I cannot believe I have been paying such a massive premium on my hampers all these years. I cannot believe how much of my money I have been throwing away. Hundreds of dollars every year, without a clue.

Today I wandered across to both Woolies and Coles to actually buy my own version of the hamper. Taking advantage of their catalogue specials I bought bigger quantities of all our favourite cereals, spreads, juices, and used the difference to buy extra items to bulk out the cupboard even more. My cupboard is overflowing with pancake shakes, cereal, syrups, spreads of all kinds, crumpets, raison toast, baked beans, spaghetti's, you name it, its in there. And I spent less, but got so many more products. All of the cereals were bought in the much larger sizes, but the unit price of each item was less than the standard RRP for the smaller quantities.
I wanted to pay special attention to this particular hamper, so I haven't even begun to buy some of the other products we would normally have gotten in a hamper, but I'll be back to the stores to buy more soon. Am going to do an Aldi run as well for frozen goods, because the stuff is such great value and we love the taste so there will be even more value to be had there when I do.

If like me you love the excess of food at Christmas, I cannot encourage you enough to make the change in 2013 to self service your own hampers. Set up a dedicated bank account  have the money transferred there routinely, and buy the food yourself. Don't keep paying a massive premium for someone else to do the work for you.

Are you a hamper buyer? Will you keep buying now, or make a change?

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Getting back to reality

After 5 weeks in hospital I was finally released on Tuesday. It would be nice to say that I am a healthy little Vegemite with a clean bill of health, but I still have a gazillion follow up appointments and the prospect of bowel surgery in February ahead of me. I still don't have a diagnosis, but they are treating me for Crohn's Disease and so far I seem to be responding.

This is my reality now: A million tablets to choke down each day. Hopefully this is just the short term treatment run because I HATE swallowing tablets.
Husband had yesterday off so that I could take it a bit easy and also help the run all the little tasks that were already lined up for the day before we knew I would be out. I ran us both ragged with all the errands that have been building up and itching at me in hospital, but I can't begin to say how much I ENJOYED them.
Yesterdays temperature was stunning. Beautiful sunny day with a nice breeze to offset it. Husband couldn't understand how much I love just walking around the outdoor mall but I haven't been outside properly in weeks so it was just so damn nice.
My little newborn boy Seb is not such a newborn anymore. I've had 2 nights to get to know him again, and he is an adorable, solemn little owl until his face creases up into big gummy smiles. I hurt so much that I missed the transition from newborn to infant, but I'm loving getting to know him again.
Little 18 month Lolly didn't seem to miss me so much while I was in hospital. Sucks to say, but she had good care, loving grandparents, father and sister looking after her, so while she was always happy to see me on her little visits, she didn't really pine for my absence. Which I guess is a good thing, although the ego in me might have been more gratified if she had.
But today I sent her off for her preschool day with her hair in two cute pigtails (they only fit in one before I went to hospital), after having her trot around the house after me as though I was never gone. My inquisitive little toddler has been showing me all her new baby tricks (dear lord she can climb on the dining room chairs now) and I seem to fit seamlessly back into her little world as though I was never gone.
It's my big girl, my almost but not quite 12 year old who has missed me most. While in hospital she has alternated between being heartbreakingly grownup about the reality of a sick mother, helping her father with the kids and house, trying to be more independent, trying to understand why mum can't be pulling the strings of her life, and being angry at me for being sick.
She never said so, but at times in burst out in angry words, or naughty inexplicable behaviour, sullenness or stubbornness, traits that are really not that normal for her. She even shouted at me on the phone one night that I clearly didn't love her since I was supporting Dad in his insistence of normal bedtimes in my absence. For all that she is a big girl, she is still my little girl, and she has been hurting while I've been away.
Of all my kids, she can't seem to get enough of having me home. When I smear the tomato sauce on her sandwich the way she likes, fussed with her hair for school, wake her up by crawling into bed for snuggles in the morning, all this she laps up. I didn't realise it was these things that she would miss most, but I guess those are the things that creative memories and feelings and responses in their lives. My best memories of childhood are little things too, so I shouldn't have been surprised.
Today my reality is that I am on my own for the first with Seb, with so much housework to start getting into. Husband and Maddy kept up with the basics, but the house looks like a bomb site with anything that has been put down somewhere in the last 5 weeks pretty much staying there while the two of them vacuumed or cleaned around it.