Tuesday, December 31, 2013

So Much To Blog About, So Little Time. December in Review

This has been an insanely busy month. A month full of things to blog about, that never end up being blogged about. So at the end of the month, when everyone is writing resolution posts, you get a wrap up instead. It's gold, you better appreciate it.

Let me recap - the month in review:

Miss 12 had her 13th birthday party (despite not turning 13 for another month, long story). It was all kinds of fun, and I took my first stab at a two tier cake (yay me for success, lets not look too close).


Post Concert with favourite
teacher

We had her dancing concert as well - which on it's own equals 3/4 of the month what with rehearsals, costume fittings, photo shoots, normal classes, sewing costumes, more sewing costumes, and hey, lets not stop sewing costumes just because the concert has started. If you are a dance mum, I would love to see your tweets, Instagrams and Facebook posts next year marked with #dancemum. Lets make it a thing. Because we are a breed of our own.
 


The two littlies had their daycare end of year party. Maddy wasn't there with us because, surprise, surprise, she was at dancing.

Don't worry Tebastian, I'll protect you from Santa
We've baked. Turns out Lorelei is awesome fun in the kitchen if you don't mind sticky little fingers going into EVERYTHING. See that birthday cake far above? Lets just not think about her contribution.


There have been Christmas lights. Some seriously beautiful new entries into the locality this year. This one at Erskine Park with "Snow" was our favourite this year. The owners sit outside and had a friendly chat with us, it was just lovely how much effort they went to as a first timer on the lights scene. 


This year was our first effort as well and it pretty much constituted 1 string of 200 across the front of the house. I had grander idea's but the other 600 went out the back on the pool decking to make it pretty for Maddy's party.

With all these parties I had to boycott my own company end of year party - way too much going on and between cake baking and costume sewing something had to give. 10 years and this is the first big bash I have missed. Oh well.

I started a new job and got 4 days in before going on annual leave. Feeling a little surplus to requirements at work as my main job is finding it hard to slot me in on my return from maternity leave, but I've dodged the bullet for a few months with a secondment to IT. Since I can't tell my left mouse button from my right this is proving interesting. I'm sure the experienced techy people I am working with are wondering what the hell I'm doing on their team, but I can only improve....right? In the meantime it's good resume building experience (and actually kind of fun....yes...IT....fun)

I'm important enough to have x2 laptops. Now to figure out what to do with them.
Then of course there was Christmas, and the kids rakes in a million gifts. Lorelei and Seb started out slow, getting quite upset when they were expected to abandon the first AMAZING gift from Santa in favour of opening another anonymous gift. Once they got on a roll though.....Lorelei had to be watched like a hawk after that as she was more than happy to open every present for everyone after that. My sticker labelling system had mixed results. On the one hand Lorelei was quite clear over who's present it was, and very generous in handing it over to the recipient, but still couldn't quite see afterwards that the contents of the parcel belonged to the recipient.

Lolly plays with the toy....Seb plays
with the box
"Look Mum! My drink bottle comes
with a fertaliser!" FILTER love, filter.

Post Boxing Day brings us on a road trip to Melbourne to visit my sister and family and Sebastian really came into his own. At 16 months he has taken a small handful of steps back home, just the kind from Mummy to Dad, but hasn't made any real effort to walk. The minute his little toes hit the plush carpet of their living room he was off and running and hasn't stopped since. Turns out it was all the hard surfaces in his life that were holding him back. We have all floor boards in our new home, his grandparents have all tiles, preschool has hard surfaces, none of them good for a little guy needing a soft surface to give him confidence to fall and get up again.



Isn't he a clever boy! He grew another tooth this week too, finally getting one up the top. Maybe we can get past all the tantrums now when he can't quite deal with something super yummy.

HUGE, massive month, and I could have written alot more. I probably will. In January.

See you all in January peeps! Have a wonderful New Year, filled with fireworks and resolutions.

Friday, December 27, 2013

A Christmas for Everyone

Christmas Day was a little surreal this year. It's the first time I can remember EVER not spending at least part of it with my own family.

One by one this year I found my family each dropping off the Christmas radar, someone's put out, someone made other plans at the last second, someone else isn't functioning too well, and another family is in another state altogether.

And yet the usual Christmas dinner that I host was still fun, but in a different way. Instead of my usual family, I had an eclectic group of peole that grew and grew from about midday Christmas Eve. I found found myself sitting down for dinner with Muslims, Catholics, & Jews in addition to my own Christian background. 

I don't normally think too much about our  various religious backgrounds but it made me smile to see us all come together for this holiday. 

Whatever your religious beliefs, I hope you are enjoying this break with people you care about. xx

Merry Christmas/Happy Hannukah/Eid Mubarak :) Whichever celebration works best for you.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas and All That

Despite a month of very little blogging (there was too much to blog about and no time to do it!) today you get x2 posts. But I had to get up at stupid o'clock to make it possible.

So while everyone in my home is enjoying a sleep in, I want to take the time to wish you and yours, a very, Merry, Christmas.

Im not clutching her hair as it looks. I'm holding bribery in my hand.


Hoping that there is plenty of alcohol and a safe environment to drink it. Also hoping that the reason you are consuming large quantities of alcohol is not due to the company you are keeping these holidays.

Hoping that Santa was wonderful to the kids and that they don't abandon their new goodies on Boxing Day in favour of returning to their i-Devices with an appreciation only for the 1 unoriginal Aunt (me) that bought them iTunes vouchers instead of a thoughtful gift.

Hoping that your holiday break, whether 2 days or more, is relaxing, fun, and above all SAFE.

Hoping that if 2013 was a little sad that 2014 bring you new and better things.

Hoping above all, that you continue to read my blog in 2014 because I liked having you.

Merry Christmas. xx

Christmas Spirit for the Toddler

All that is from Santa. For 3 kids. Shake your head. Go on.
Maybe you have that much for 1 kid lol. Maybe you think
that is overboard.
When Lorelei was born we made the deliberate decision to NOT buy another Santa sack. Most people we know have a Santa sack per child, but we had learnt over the years that we were buying Maddy way too much in an effort to fill the sack and also have plenty of gifts from Mum and Dad under the tree. There was also the issue that as Maddy got older, the presents got smaller in size and looked alot less impressive in the sack.

Even when Seb came along I stuck to my guns and we still only have 1 Santa sack. I was concerned this year though that we may have a problem with Miss 2.5year old claiming all the gifts meant for 1.5 year old Seb or her AND Seb as her own, which pretty much seems the way of it in our home at the moment. The last thing I want is tears and tantrums on Christmas Day because Lolly is a pretty grabby toddler these days but Seb is learning to stake his claim.

Before you shake your head at me for not teaching my child manners and allowing this kind of behaviours - I don't - but as with all things, coaching out the grabby gene is a work in progress. She's a toddler, it is what it is, as far as she is concerned everything is "Mine".

So what I've done to help Lolly get into the Christmas fun of handing out gifts and understand ownership a little better is create some photo sticker labels. Instead of just writing their name (she can't read yet) I've put their photo on each tag. So far this seems to be a great idea, because she has spotted a few under the tree and I've heard announcements like "Tebastian's present Mummy!" or "present for Lolali?" in response to the correct photo.



How did we do it?

Easiest tags ever. First I purchased a pack of Avery branded sticker labels from the stationary aisle at the supermarket (proper stationary store would probably give you more options). Avery has the template already made at their website, so it was a quick matter of choosing a Christmas label and uploading our photo's in place of their suggested address template.


I liked that it let me print only as many labels as I wanted so I didn't have to use the whole page.


This year I've labelled all our presents this way, as Lolly is far too young to realise and be suspicious that Mummy and Santa have the same MO. But in later years this might be something just for Santa. Or maybe just for Mummy, maybe Santa will use different coloured wrap for each child. Not sure yet.

Do you have a system for helping your kids tell apart who's present is who's?

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Best Nights Sleep Ever

This post was written in partnership with Sleepmaker, who are personally responsible for my comfortable nights sleep. I hold them fully acountable to it, and for the last 3 years they have been delivering.

Our bed is a favourite photo spot for us - our photographer
is Reflections by Louise - we love her work!
I was 19 when I had Maddy. I barely noticed the pregnancy and bounced blissfully through the 9 months going out dancing, to the gym and mostly wearing the same clothes as I had before I got pregnant. Truthfully, the pregnancy barely registered on my radar.

Fast forward 10 years to my pregnancy with Lorelei and it was a very different story. Besides the chronic 9 months worth of vomiting, I also had back pain. Horrible, keep me awake at night and give me no comfortable position to sleep in, back pain.

Work was awesome and gave me a special, extra comfortable, office chair to use. It made the long work days tolerable, but night times found me tossing and turning every night, suddenly feeling every last spring, lump and bump in our mattress.

The same mattress we had bought for $100 10 years earlier with my first skimpy tax return. $100 from some dodgy little factory on the side of the road that wasn't there the day before and was gone the day after. I don't even want to think about where my mattress came from but while it did the job for the first 10 years of our lives together, it was a nightmare once I became pregnant.

We mixed around the mattresses in our home a little and eventually I found a smidgen of relief sleeping on Maddy's newer, better quality, single bed mattress. So she slept on the foam one that came with her trundle, and I slept on her mattress on the floor next my queen size bed for a few months, but even that wasn't perfect. Not even a little bit impressed to find me sleeping on the floor and having to heave me up each morning Husband began a campaign to get me to agree to spend some money on a new mattress for the two of us. It wasn't easy, because with the prospect of unpaid maternity leave looming, I wasn't too keen to dip into the savings for a little comfort at night time, especially since I didn't think my mattress was that bad. Surely it was just the pregnancy, right? It was only a few more months, and then my back wouldn't ache so much. I could put up with lumps in the back when I wasn't pregnant, definitely.

Somehow or another, he dragged me into a bed shop one day and insisted on me having a lie down on a demo mattress.

Oh my god. All my protests went out the window, and suddenly I was more than happy to spend whatever it took to get one of these mattresses into my home. We spent a happy hour lying on mattresses, taking the various firmness's very seriously and generally enjoying ourselves in the store.

Who knew that mattresses came with a pillow top cushioning? Or that they could be soft, firm, or somewhere in between? Or that HEY, springs jutting out was not the way of things after all!

Eventually we settled on a plush, luxurious beast of a bed with a lovely soft pillowtop that was a previous years range and the last in stock, so was of course marked down significantly. Just the way I like it. I will say that our mattress purchase was over $1,000, although I can't remember exactly how much it was. I could never before have imagined spending that kind of money on myself for a mattress but it was the best money I ever spent.

Our Sleepmaker mattress came with a 10 year manufacturers warranty, which is exactly the kind of thing I love, but after a little chat with our sales rep we found out that in order to claim on the warranty at any time, we needed to have kept a mattress protector on it at all times in order to maintain a clean and hygienic bed. Fair enough, so a bamboo protector was thrown into the purchase for free as we paid cash overall.

Yet another photoshoot on our bed, why not? It's the most
comfortable place in the house!
That night was the best nights sleep I had in months. It took about 72 hours, but my back pain went away, only returning sometimes at the end of a long work day hunched over my desk. My only problem was that during my pregnancy, and for a few weeks of recovery after the c-section, I couldn't get out of the damn bed! It was so plush, soft, and high, that I was a bit like a turtle wriggling on its back trying to get up. Husband still had to pull me out for a little longer.

It's been almost 3 years since I bought that mattress. I am very fond of that mattress, and have not had an uncomfortable nights sleep since. I see no reason why we would ever claim on the warranty either, because each time I take off the protector to wash it, the mattress underneath looks perfect. I am never. EVER. Going back to a nasty roadside warehouse mattress again.

Sleepmaker helps provide you with the best mattress to suit you and your family’s needs. With a personalised mattress selector tool and a range of different mattress technologies available, Sleepmaker gives you the perfect night’s sleep.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Being An Individual

Miss 12 year old Maddy had a "Social" last week. We don't call them disco's anymore, "No Mum, it's a Social, get it straight."

Social I guess because our girls head over to the brother Catholic Boys school a few suburbs over to cluster in their lunch groups and stare at the opposite sex and giggle. A lot.

She only gets x2 of these a year which is GREAT. From my perspective anyway. Between spending all her free hours at dancing and an all girls school, the boy problem should hopefully be put off for a few years.

The days leading up to the event were painful a collaborative effort at finding just the right outfit. Her bedroom floor was littered with a million rejects, and she finally settled on a flashy pair of tights and her favourite blue top. No matter what, I thought she looked lovely, but I also thought she looked lovely in the dress, skirt and jeans she abandoned. My overall vote was for the dress. It's Summer and it's a Social. Seems like a good occasion for a dress to me.

When I picked Maddy up from the social I noticed most of the girls were wearing pretty dresses and skirts. But when I commented I got the worlds most dirty look and a voice dripping with disdain.

"Oh, I didn't WANT to look like everyone else Mum, I wanted to be an individual."

Well, I guess that's awesome. We love her being an individual. Being an individual means she has been wearing x2 different socks to dancing lessons everyday for the last year and doesn't care at all.

But then she followed with:

"ALL my friends wore tights, we didn't want to look like everyone else."

Wait, all your friends wore tights? So you actually mean you wanted to dress just like your friends, not actually be different? I mean, that's OK too, but it's not quite the same thing as being an individual.

She groaned at me. "You don't even know what it means to be an individual Mum. OK?"

I guess not. My daughter, the individual. Just like her friends.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Rent V Buy: Tech for the Teen

This post has been written in partnership with Flexirent. As always, I jump at the opportunity to weave my life experiences into partnered posts.

Madeleine's school will be introducing an iPad digital textbook program in 2014. This means that Maddy won't have to carry heavy textbooks to and from school anymore, she won't even need to have them in her locker. She'll be able to carry them all around in the compact format of her iPad.  The cost of the textbooks in digital format is also significantly less (75%!) than buying them new, and works out about as well as buying them 2nd hand I thought (possibly better).

While at first I was a little sceptical,  imagining Maddy snapchatting and instagramming with friends instead of paying attention, the school has met my concerns by blocking social network sites and apps while the teenagers are logged onto the school network. With that concern out of the way, the only issue now is that the 16gb iPad we bought her for Christmas is actually too small for the school's requirements, and it would appear my 12 year old is going to be moving on to her 2nd iPad in as many years before I even get my first! We're thinking a household shuffle is in order, with an upgrade for Maddy and the smaller one can become a whole family item that the babies can play with, and I can use it for blogging as well as recipes.


While I purchased Maddy's iPad last year, a girlfriend of mine rented hers for her tween, a decision that I was fairly dismissive of at the time.

What was the point of renting technology when you could buy it instead?

With the prospect of another expensive purchase on the horizon, suddenly I am seeing the point. Whilst she would be able to simply upgrade her iPad to the one her teen needs next year, I am starting from scratch. With that in mind, I've explored the pro's and cons of renting, and wanted to share for those who will also be looking at significant tech purchases as their children enter high school.

Pro

Smaller manageable payment each month instead of a large upfront outlay. This can be a much more conveniant option than dipping into the emergency fund, or worse, putting it on the credit card.

Pro

iPad got dropped and the screen smashed? Before you kill your child, it can be returned for repairs and Flexirent will dispatch a replacement to you for up to 6 weeks while yours is repaired. Not such a big deal when the device is only a toy, a HUGE deal when its for school or work.

Pro

Teen outgrown the device and refuses to delete Minecraft needs more space for school apps? Or maybe you need a new model to cope with new software and apps. You are not stuck with an outdated device, although it's not an official benefit, Flexirent are very, well, flexible when it comes to renegotiating your needs. My girlfriend was able to return their x2 laptops they no longer needed, get a new iPad, and the new arrangement ended up being very favourable.

Pro

This doesn't apply so much to Miss almost 13, but if I were to bundle an iPad for ME to use at work, the monthly payment would be 100% tax deductible. I love legit tax deduction, so that caught my eye.

Con

At the end of the contract you don't own the device. I struggle a little with this, but I can see that while the kids are going through the interchangeable device years, this is probably actually a pro. There is the option to make an offer for the device if you are not wanting to enter a fresh agreement for a new device.

Con

I don't LOVE the idea of an ongoing monthly payment, even though Flexirent make it fairly convenient. I try to keep my monthly commitments down so that my disposable income is as high as possible.

While I'm sure there are many tween's who are very responsible with their tech, speaking as a mother who has just sold the remains of an iPod touch on eBay for $21 (sold for parts *sigh*), I'm suddenly seeing the benefits of unlimited repairs, the ability to renegotiate and upgrade when needed, and a small monthly payment instead of a large upfront winging its merry way into a cash register.

Flexirent provides technology for personal and business use. With a range of payment options available and a diverse selection of tools and gadgets, Flexirent can find an option to suit your needs.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Ho Ho Help

After last years disaster, I was determined that we would have a smooth running Santa photo day this year. As usual, I might as well have not bothered to set out a roster and timeline of events for the day.

Once again I decided to forgo the $30+ shots available in the shopping centre and get a freebie from Harvey Norman instead. Husband point blank refused to go up an hour early and line up for me, ignoring my insistence that the lines would be huge. He was mortified last year to be the only person in a line of 1 and nothing I could say would get him up there this year.

I had everyone dressed and shiny clean at a good time, and locked Madeleine in Lorelei in a room together, making sure that there was no liquid or food of any kind to be found in the room. Madeleine was given instructions to keep her sister clean, and threats promises of all kinds were made to ensure this would occur. I seem to recall issuing this instruction last year and finding my toddler covered head to toe in bright green paint 10 minutes later.

5 minutes before Santa was due I marched my clean and happy family proudly into an almost empty Harvey Norman only to find out that Santa arrived at 11. Not at 10.

FFS.

Do you know how hard it is to occupy a toddler and a baby for an hour without them getting mucky in some way? I normally cope with outings and long periods of waiting by throwing food at them as though they were desperate toddlers.

We took off for a walk to other shops in the complex, heading back at 10:45 to finally wait in line. A line that was now 40 families deep.

FFS.

Husband was carefully avoiding eye contact and pointing out the positive opportunity to look around the store. I took off with the kids and talked a salesman into putting a cartoon on the 50 or so TV's so that my kids could have their choice of various top notch surround sound, 3D, or simply ginormous for the next hour until our turn was finally up.

Lorelei took one look at the fat guy and burst into tears, scrambling up me like a monkey trying to get to bananas in her effort to get as far away as possible. Sebastian promptly started yanking away on his beard, determined to spoil the dreams of the 50 or so children waiting behind us, and Madeleine did us proud by sitting patiently with a sweet smile.

Ho Ho...Hurry Up
Once again the salesman seemed a little incredulous that we only wanted the free package and no amount of prompting shames me into upgrading to the $10 package, cheap as it is. It might have had something to do with our turning up in formal wear for our freebie, who knows?

Have you got your Santa photo yet? Winner or disaster? Freebie or Fancy?


Saturday, December 7, 2013

The Story Of My Life These Days

I promised myself I was not going to regale the Internet with stories of toilet training. There is nothing worse than the oversharenting that happens on a blog when the bloggers life gets consumed by the bowel movement s of their toddlers (in my opinion anyway!)

But.

Here's the thing.

It is consuming my life, and there is so much hilarity to be had, that I'm going to share one of my recent days anyway. Despite not wanting to oversharent. But there will be no pictures. I draw the line at pictures.

Warning. There may be poop.

Until a few weeks ago we were a doors shut kind of household. If I didn't want a baby in the room, the door was shut. It kept the babies and non-baby appropriate items safe from one another. This most definitely included the toilet and bathroom. A whole lot of effort went into teaching the then 10 year old to start shutting doors.

These days with 2 year old Lolly toilet training, I have to leave the toilet door open. Even though I try to be on hand each time she makes use of the room a closed door can be the difference between success and a puddle on the floor in front of the door.

When I heard 1 year old Sebastian yelling for help a few days ago I ran. Straight to the bathroom, because the kid has an obsession with the shower. Not there. No, he was next door in the toilet room, bum and legs in the air, kicking, with his head face down in the toilet.

Fortunately his head wasn't submerged in the toilet, he was actually rocking (planking style) on the edge of the toilet seat, unable to get a grip with either his hands or his too short legs to leverage in either direction. The yells were loud and he was quite indignant when I rescued him only to remove him from the scene of the crime. It was one thing for me to save him from drowning, another thing to prevent him from playing with the water at the bottom of the loo.

Settling him in his high chair next to me I continued with the dishes. Lorelei was occupied in her bedroom, and didn't make her usual loud announcement that there was anything else happening. Until I saw a little face peeping around the hall.

"Mumma, tum quick, it's disgusting!" Oh god help me.

Running down the hallway found a lovely big dump waiting for me in front of the toilet. A squished one. With little, brown coloured footprints down the hall way and back again. Ignoring the urge to let it fester for several hours till Daddy got home, I donned my toilet glove and picked up our treasure. Only to find before I could pop it in the toilet that the toilet was filled with a handful of the tiny, hard, My Little Ponies.

Aaargh. And of course only 1 hand was gloved and that hand was holding a TURD so my options were.....? Right, the ungloved hand went into the toilet to excavate it of anything plastic before disposing of my treasure.

FFS.

My hand has been sterilised using everything in the house short of alcohol but the ponies went by way of the bin.

And don't talk to me about using a potty instead so the toilet door can remain shut. Having a receptacle around the house on the floor that at any moment could be filled with wee or poop and abandoned is not a good idea with a crawler/climber on the loose.