Friday, January 31, 2014

Memories of Madeleine #13 The Lucky Last

The lucky last.

You're weird kid. I like it. I like it alot.

I like that you fill your life with colour, you wear the craziest combinations and you call it your own. You are passionate, indignant, but sometimes you're a bit of wimp. Usually in the name of good manners. I like it. I like that you are more concerned with hurting someones feelings than standing up for your own.

You are an amazing big sister. Sometimes you kick them out of your room, but I still think it's amazing that you will share an ice block with them, make them laugh when they are grizzly, join in on the stupid little games we have to play to get your sister to go to the toilet or bed, and entertain your brother in the backseat on long car trips.

You are incredible. Sometimes you know what you want to be when you grow up, mostly you want to be everything. As long as you know you can be anything, I'm OK with that.

Sometimes you give up when something doesn't come easily. Mostly you are thrilled when hard work pays off. You are such a talented dancer, but you let the talent of others discourage you. Know that when you are on stage, it seems to me like the spotlight is on you only, because I can't take my eyes off you.

It blows me away how smart you are, I don't know how on earth I produced you. You are more practical than so many other kids, you make such grownup decisions sometimes, and I forget that you are still a young girl. Sometimes you make normal kid mistakes, and I wish I could remember that you are not the grownup in kids clothing that you sometimes seem to be.

I love that you are so excited about getting braces. I think it's hilarious, and I will remind you of this in a few months when you tell me you hate them. Or maybe you won't. Maybe you will still love them. I bet you are going to look adorable. You want glasses just as bad, but you've got perfect eyesight so far kiddo. I think its just as hilarious that you wear fake fashion glasses.

You know you are going to love Harry Styles till the day you die. I remember knowing I would love Taylor Hanson 4 eva. You are me all over in so many ways.

You're weird kid. Don't change.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Memories of Madeleine #12

Mummy Hearts Money is sharing 13 memories of my biggest little girl, in tribute to her 13th birthday this month. Most of these stories are "Have to be there" kind of memories, but I love them, they make me smile.

Way way back, as early as Kindergarten, I was hearing about Max.

"Max touches my hair Mummy" "He tries to follow me into the bathroom" "He has to ask why about everything" "He always wants to look at everything I'm doing" "My teacher says Max is just being curious".

That last phrase was the sticking one. As more and more stories about Max came home, the explanation was always that Max was just being curious. Sometimes Max did things differently to other kids, or he behaved in a way that seemed odd. Sometimes other kids picked on him, and while Maddy quite liked him she was a little disturbed that he seemed to "LIKE like" her.

Somehow or another they were in the same class most years and Max remained a constant in our lives. Through all the other ways that Maddy changed at school, new friends, new fashions, new games, new teachers, her appreciation for Max didn't change.

When year 6 finally rolled to and end and Maddy was going through all her Christmas cards, one in particular got pride of place. Max's card not only had his Christmas greetings but a note from his mother thanking her for her friendship. Maddy was tickled because only she and her best friend had this little extra special note along with a little gift, and like all tweens, she loved the specialness of being singled out.

I didn't get to see much of Max, but it occurs to me that if his mother felt the need to write a note like that, than Max must have had a bit of a rough time at school. I'm really really glad that Maddy is the kind of kid that will give the Maxes in life a chance, because some kids just walk a tougher road than others.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Memories of Madeleine #11

Mummy Hearts Money is sharing 13 memories of my biggest little girl, in tribute to her 13th birthday this month. Most of these stories are "Have to be there" kind of memories, but I love them, they make me smile.

The year Maddy started year 5 she started to take on more responsibility around the house. She made the transition from cleaning up her own messes in her bedroom and playroom, to also cleaning the toilet and bathroom each week as one of her standard chores.

At 10 years old she was more than old enough to take it on, but teaching her was still pretty funny. She was so grossed out by the idea of having to touch the toilet in any way, handling the sponge with thumb and fingertip as though it would explode if she squeezed it.

That first day there was heaps of laughter as she got into the room, and it took so long for her to get through, but every week she got faster and faster.

Truth is she was probably cleaning the bathroom better back then at 10 then she is now at 13. Back then she got into it determined to hunt down every speck of dirt and wipe it up whereas now she is seemingly blind to any marks or dirt and will insist the room is finished before a sponge has been squeezed.

Sometimes I really miss 10.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Memories of Madeleine #10

Mummy Hearts Money is sharing 13 memories of my biggest little girl, in tribute to her 13th birthday this month. Most of these stories are "Have to be there" kind of memories, but I love them, they make me smile.

When Maddy was in year 1, only 6 years old, she came home from school and solemnly told me she was going to compete in a Chinese speaking competition.

Just in case you missed the memo - our household is half Lebanese, half Australian. No Chinese in there anywhere.

But we had sent her to a school that taught Chinese as a second language, although for the majority of children that would mean 7 years of counting to 10, saying "Hello, my name is Madeleine", "Mum" and "Dad".

7 years of learning Mandarin and she couldn't even walk into a Macca's and order a happy meal. If you can't even do that no way could you let these kids loose in China on the basis of 7 years of classes. I digress.

Husband and I gamely enough paid the entry fee and turned up on the day to this competition with Maddy in her uniform representing her school (among others). She had been practising at home for days, and I could have recited her poem myself, although with no real understanding of what it means ("its about a stream Mummy, a stream trickling through a forest"). I was horrified to arrive at the competition though to realise that 99% of the kids entered appeared to be of a Chinese background. I had sort of assumed it was for beginners, but I guess it makes sense that the majority of children learning a second language would usually be picking it up at home from their parents. These other kids got up and rippled through their poems like the natives they almost were. I was so worried about my little girl, nervous as she stepped up for her turn, would her confidence be shaken? Would she scared now, like she was never scared before at home? Of course not.

She stood up on the podium with her little chin up in the air and delivered her poem perfectly. Admittedly I wouldn't know if she made mistakes, but it sounded wonderful. She had no concerns, nodded her chin as she finished, gave a stiff little bow and stepped down.

She didn't win that day. She didn't place either, but it didn't bother her. And we were so proud. That was probably the hardest thing I have ever had to let my kid do. Something I couldn't help her with in any way. I couldn't coach her, correct her mistakes, provide any guidance whatsoever. I could only support her with smiles and applause. She got plenty of it, and entered that competition a few more times over the years. She never quite placed, her accent I guess couldn't quite compete and that's OK. She really enjoyed learning Chines right up until she finished primary and start high school last year.

I just hope she enjoys learning Japanese just as much since that's her new schools chosen language.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Australia Day Weekend Shenanigans

What are Australia Day celebrations without a bare butt? Nothing I tell you. Every year there is one relative who just has to take things a little too far.

You may be thinking that alcohol was involved. You might be wrong.

Australia Day yumminess
We gathered today with extended family for a BBQ and a swim. It was actually Lorelei's first outing in big girl panties, except for preschool and Teta's we haven't been game to leave the house in knickers yet. She was doing fantastic, using the toilet when prompted, but eventually the time came when I realised we had a small mishap, and in the absence of any spare knickers (whoops!) she went into a nappy.

We were some of the last relo's to leave, I just can't help yacking on when I get a chance, and Husband suddenly realised that (once again) we had lost track of a toddler on the large sprawling property home we were visiting. He nipped off down the back of the yard to track her down and I blithely kept up Mummy duties with the toddler who was willing to stay where I could see him. It's luck of the draw.

I get the one who's behaving, Husband gets the one that's missing.

Suddenly a noise from the glass door to the house grabbed my attention and I realised I had a nudie toddler pressed up against the door dangling her unwanted nappy from her hand.

So lovely that my family who only see me once or twice every 25 years get to experience all the ins and outs of our family life. She didn't display the lovely manners that I've drilled into her. Nor much of her cute 2 year old wiles, instead ignoring most people and wandering around doing her own thing. She did however display her bare fanny.

It would be nice to say that I jumped up to deal with it, but I went into fits of giggles and made Husband deal with our streaker.

Happy Australia Day for tomorrow everyone.

(My cousin reproduced the watermelon masterpiece from a pinterest photo. There is no way in hell I could have reproduced that, the simple act of cutting up the watermelon would have had a kitchen bench covered in water, seeds, and pink goop, so I'm giving her a legit #nailedit)

Memories of Madeleine #9

Mummy Hearts Money is sharing 13 memories of my biggest little girl, in tribute to her 13th birthday this month. Most of these stories are "Have to be there" kind of memories, but I love them, they make me smile.

For years Madeleine would surprise us by sleepwalking. It wasn't often, maybe only a handful of times per year, but often enough that we needed to keep an eye on it. 

One night when she was about 7, she came from the back of the house up to the front lounge room where Husband and I were settled for the night watching some late night Law and Order. Used to finding any reason to be out of bed I questioned her sharply, only to have her ignore my words and instead turn her glazed yes towards me. Wandering over to where I sat on the floor cross legged, she turned, slightly bent, and started to pull her pajama pants down.

In a second I realised what was happening and leaped out the way, hustling her quickly down the other end to the bathroom. It was hard though, I was in fits of laughter and almost breathless with hysterics while trying to get her there as quick as possible.

We settled her back into bed, and the next day she had no idea. We never really told her too much about her sleep walking, she was such a susceptible kid we didn't want her playing up to it. But it's definitely a memory for the 18th birthday party.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Memories of Madeleine #8

Mummy Hearts Money is sharing 13 memories of my biggest little girl, in tribute to her 13th birthday this month. Most of these stories are "Have to be there" kind of memories, but I love them, they make me smile.

When Maddy was 5, she and my niece spent a year learning to do a tap dance duet together. The two little girls were the cutest thing in the world, and their poor tap teacher had the hardest time getting them to pay attention because all they wanted to do was tippy tap all around the room, holding each others hands and swinging around in circles.

The day came when they were finally ready to perform at their first eisteddfod - ready being a stretch, but how ready can x2 5 year olds be?

Their teacher waited with baited breathe at the back of the hall with us, these tiny little tappers were all on their own on that massive stage and I was torn between pride that they knew this cute little "Hey Mickey" dance, and terror that they would get scared on stage and I wouldn't be there to hug them.

At first the dance went really well, the 2 girls stomping around the stage and clunking their tapping feet around with a certain amount of coordination, but then the heart stopping unthinkable thing happened. One girl stopped dancing for a split second and looked at the other.

The other stopped in response. For what seemed like an eternity, but was in reality more like 20 seconds the two looked at each other, one shrugging at the other as if to say "I don't know what next, don't look at me?"

I nearly died At the back of that school hall, I started swinging my legs frantically, willing the girls to look at me and see me stomping around at the back and pick up their cues.

Finally Madeleine tentatively swung her leg, and her cousin picked up the cue picking up the step and running with it. Hundreds of parents breathed a collective sigh of relief for their cute little tappers.

Hilariously enough the girls not only scored stupidly high (sympathy vote) not only winning their section but also later getting a massive trophy for the 2nd best overall routine in the junior section.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Truzee's Baby Milestone Cards GIVEAWAY!

A few months back a great friend of mine gave birth to a little ball of blue eyes, blond haired, sunshine. Like me, her kids are many (MANY) moons apart, so she is starting from scratch with her newest wee one.

I wanted to give her something a little more special than a bundle of baby clothes, or a basket of baby toiletries. Those things are all so practical, and everyone else is going to be buying them. I know that much as those practical things are appreciated, sometimes it's the unique speciality item that never made it onto the baby registry that means so much.

Made in Ireland from recycled paper and a handcrafted box

That was my chance to purchase these cute Truzee Baby Milestone Cards. The website owner had brought them to my attention months earlier, and they've been sitting on my radar ever since. 

With the most beautiful illustrations and detail, the cards capture those funny little memories that you KNOW you will want to look back on one day.

The first time I played hide and seek.....
The first time I said I'm sorry......
The first time I said NO!.....

My lighting was terrible but the paper was a lovely pale blue
The gift box arrived wrapped in beautiful pale blue tissue paper, and tied with a satin ribbon. I loved this thoughtful little detail which mean that I COULD have mailed it straight to the recipient if I wasn't going to be seeing them and it would still be a gift and not just a parcel.

Needless to say my friend loved the cards. She tends to veer towards the quirky and one off items so these were a HUGE hit!

So now for the best part. I loved them so much I contacted Hilary at Green Envy Living to see if she would like to do a giveaway. And as the stars would have it, she said yes! So I have a pack of these so sweet Truzee Milestone Cards to give away to one Mummy Hearts Money reader.

Easy entry on via the Rafflecopter widget below! While you are entering head on over to Green Envy Living's Facebook page and tell Hilary I sent you :) Work at Home Mums needs love of love and liking on Facebook to help share the news.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Creating Functional Living Spaces for Kids

From time to time Mummy Hearts Money will write partnered posts. Especially when they fit well with what is going on in our lives, or is just a good fit overall for the blog. It's still my voice, my opinions, but my partners get me a little closer to going to blogging conferences and maybe getting my blog onto it's own domain. 
This week I partner with to consider how I need to improve our homes storage options for the kids.

Life was alot cleaner when I only had 1 kid. Alot more organised too. I could leave the house with less than 1.5-2 hours preparation and I didn't spend half of that time searching for shoes for everyone. And there was some possibility of having a clean house. I've forgotten now what a clean house looks like.

Previously, I've always subscribed to the public playroom method of storing kid items. We've always had a family room, and this room had the computer, shelving for all the toys, a TV, and basic seating. This is where we do most of our living, and its done in a space where I can supervise from the kitchen. Bedrooms were just for sleeping and getting dressed.

Now with a teen who needs her own space and 2 toddlers I am finding our family room is overwhelming and I can never get out of the house on time due to searching for bags, contents, and shoes. I need to revamp the house to add more effective organisation spaces and here are some of my thoughts.

The "Carly" bookcase....I may have accessorised a little to
make my point.
I'd like to introduce a personal toy box and shelving unit into each toddlers bedroom. Lorelei is going through a major "mine" phase, and even though I am all about sharing, I think we need to separate out some toys to allow Sebastian to have things of his own. Lorelei needs to know when she is playing with his things that HE is sharing with her and she can't prevent him from playing too. Likewise, part of having to share everything means having genuine ownership of a few things herself so we will put away some of her things in her room. This way the big, major purchases will stay in the family room, but some smaller or special items can go in their room.

The Mario F1 & Princess bookcases

Another way I could store belongings in their rooms are these super cute bookshelves that double as a playhouse. I can just see Barbie setting up her dream house on those shelves, or Matchbox cars racing along the shelf track.

Brunswick Hallway Table - once again, accessories are my own!

I'd also like to introduce a hall table to the room entryway. My idea is that I can store each child's school/daycare bag on the lower shelf, and have a drawer for the various paraphernalia that each kid leaves lying around throughout the week. Maddy's mobile and keys can go in her drawer, maybe also with her sunnies, pencil case, calculator etc, and for now Husband and I can use the other 2 drawers until the toddlers start school.

If I see things lying around I will have somewhere to put them away now. And hopefully (yeah right!) when I go to find them again that's where they'll be (cue hysterical laughter).

Ashleigh Coffee Table - currently on sale
In our front entry lounge room, we try to keep it clutter free. While we are actually pretty good at keeping kids clutter out of this space, anytime people come to visit we tend to sit in there and the kids gravitate to us, bringing an assortment of kidness with them. Right now we have a garden variety coffee table, just a low surface to put a drink on, but I'd like to introduce something with drawers, so that I can keep colouring in pencils and books tucked away along with a few small, non-noisy toys that can be pulled out when kids and visitors kids want to spend time with us in there. My logic is kind along the lines that if I keep a few less played with items in that room, my kids will hopefully prefer to play with them instead of dragging in other, messier or louder toys. There's nothing worse than when Lolly drags out the box of musical instruments to entertain all my visitors with. They pretend she's adorable but really they are dying to finish up and leave.

I know I am kidding myself if I think that adding a few new pieces of furniture is going to magically make us organised but it has to help. Right now I can never find anything, because everyone drops them down wherever they stand, and then they get moved all over the place as and when we need to.

If you are looking for some great furniture solutions, head over to and have a look around. With a sale currently running and free postage on some items, there are some really affordable solutions to be had.

While you are at it, check out their sister site Mummy Hearts Money also teamed up with to bring you an extra 10% discount. Details in this post.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Memories of Madeleine #7

Mummy Hearts Money is sharing 13 memories of my biggest little girl, in tribute to her 13th birthday this month. Most of these stories are "Have to be there" kind of memories, but I love them, they make me smile.

Until Maddy was about 5 I was a scrapbooker. I still scrapbook, but these days I do a digital version which I have printed in books instead of sitting down with scissors, stickers and glue to produce a masterpiece.

Like all scrappers, I'm constantly on the lookout for a photo that will turn into a good layout, and I had these fabulous stickers to immortalise the "Terrible Two's." Problem was, the day before her 2nd birthday I realised I had never captured some of the spectacular tantrums Maddy was capable of throwing.

See that photo above? This photo is proof positive that Madeleine has been the biggest actress her whole life. I asked her to stand in the corner and show me her angry face and this is what she pulled out for me. 5 seconds later she was laughing, she thought it was so funny that we would pull angry faces at each other. 

She can pull it out and put it away just as easily these days I'm afraid.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Chit Chat with Hilary: Green Envy Living

I have a soft spot for small business, especially when its another Mum going out on their own as a one man show.

So when an email from Hilary at Green Envy Living hit my inbox a few months ago, I made a mental note that hers was a site worth visiting.

It took a little while, but the day came around that a very special friend of mine gave birth to a funny little man, and I knew I had found the perfect person to go shopping for at Green Envy Living.

Green Envy Living has an assortment of the most beautiful and unique items, perfect for gifts or as something special for yourself. I hate giving a garden variety gift, especially when its for a really special occasion like a wedding or birth of a little one, so I was very excited to find Hilary's website.

One of my favourites on the site has to be this fantastic wooden fruit block. See those holes? Kind of like a Chinese checkers board for fruit. It helps the fruit be stacked in a way that looks attractive but is also great for air flow.

What really caught my eye though was these cute little Truzee's Baby Milestone Gift cards. Forget documenting the first tooth and first step, Truzee's helps you to capture the memories that REALLY matter like:

"The first time I said 'NO'"!
"The first time I called you by your first name"
"The first time I drew all over something I shouldn't have with a pen"

Those are the memories that are funniest to recall, the ones you will tell your kids about for years to come and dredge up at the 18th birthday party. I love that the cards give you a chance to document these sweetest of memories on such beautiful cards, stored in a gorgeous keepsake box. My favourite thing about them though is that they are not mass produced, so they will stay an uncommon gift. A little bit special, a little bit sweet. The designer Angela Mahon has them made in her own home town in Ireland using recycled paper and hand made wooden boxes.

A little about Hilary

"I’m originally from Dublin, and from a very early age I developed an obsession with Australia!  My obsession generally involved school projects and large amounts of “Home and Away” and “Neighbours”.  I first traveled out to Australia at the tender age of 21 and travelled extensively around the country.  I came back out again when I was 26 and travelled some more, filling in the bits I missed!  However, it was while I was working as an Interior Designer back in Dublin that I met my Australian husband!

From then on life involved many trips back and forth from Ireland visiting family in Melbourne, Sydney and Wooli in NSW.  Australia was very much my home from home.  In July 2012, we decided to relocate permanently with our two small boys (6 months and 2 years) and the Sunshine Coast became our home!
However, it soon became evident that while the Sunshine Coast is glorious, it doesn’t have the same level of architectural practices that I would have previously been employed by as an Interior Designer.  Commuting to Brisbane was going to be difficult with childcare so it was becoming evident that I was going to have to set up something myself.  I needed something that I was passionate about, that I could use my skills and learn some more and that ultimately as a working mum, gave me some flexibility!

In January 2013, I set up Green Envy Living.  An online shop that specialised in boutique designers,  who are creative, innovative and sustainable.   I really admire when designers are also manufacturing in their country of origin.  Starting off, I stuck to what I knew best, Irish and UK boutique designers.  By doing this I wanted to introduce to Australia something fresh and new!

Moving forward in 2014, I’m very keen on building up my range of Australian Designers.  I already have the gorgeous Soy Tea Light Candle Sets, designed and made in Melbourne by the lovely Lisa Reynolds.  Several of my cushions are also designed and made by a local designer in Brisbane.  I really dislike the label designed in Australia, made in China and so my hunt has begun for beautiful Australian made and designed products.  It’s really exciting, there are some real gems out there and I hope to start launching them early in 2014!

I’m so delighted that the reception from Australian mums on the Baby Milestone Cards has been so positive.  They really are so charming, they’re not a massed produced item coming from China, they’re unique and produced with care."

I was so impressed with the quality of the Truzee's Baby Milestone cards that I bought that I contacted Hilary a little before Christmas to see if she would like to be profiled. Her product offering is so beautiful, I really wanted to get it in front of my readers. And Hilary is giving me the chance to give away a Truzee's Baby Milestone Card set to one of you! Watch the blog over the next few days to find out how you can win a set of these gorgeous cards for yourself. 

In the meantime, head over to Green Envy Living's Facebook page and tell Hilary I sent you. Business's like hers deserve all the likes and love we can give them.

Memories of Madeleine #6

Mummy Hearts Money is sharing 13 memories of my biggest little girl, in tribute to her 13th birthday this month. Most of these stories are "Have to be there" kind of memories, but I love them, they make me smile.

When Maddy was in Year 2, she was chosen to be Mary in the junior school Christmas pageant. This was a big deal.

Mary. Not sure if you know the good old Christmas story, but without Mary, there is no story. It's a pretty pivotal role. I think she may have even had a line.

Some lucky kid had the joy of being the stable door. That's right. The door. As the story goes, Joseph and his preggers wife are trotting about town, banging on doors and being turned about. When they reach the stable door, Joseph gave it a good hard bang, sending the poor door staggering back a few steps. At first they were turned away, but Joseph has a wife in labour for heavens sake, so he bangs again. Hard. Really hard. Well the stable door had had jack of his part and stuck his head around to tell Joseph off a little. A small argument ensued on stage with the door eventually pulling his head back in and getting back in part. Quietly.

Maddy was adorable. When she spotted me hunched in the middle of the aisle with my camera she happily dropped out of part to give me a big grin. There may have even been a little wave. She was adorable and it was the first of many plays she was to be in over the years. The only time she's had a lead role though.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

13 Memories of Madeleine...Interrupted

Interrupting my Memories of Madeleine series this month because today was her actual birthday. We've already had her party, so today was mostly personal present exchanging, and just generally warm fuzzy. We gave her a Tiffany Necklace engraved with her initials, something just a little bit special for a very special birthday. She was over the moon. Otherwise the day was spent together at the Kids Business Bloggers BBQ getting her hair done, eyebrows waxed, and just generally checking out blogging opportunities.

Happy Birthday Princess!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Memories of Madeleine #5

Mummy Hearts Money is sharing 13 memories of my biggest little girl, in tribute to her 13th birthday this month. Most of these stories are "Have to be there" kind of memories, but I love them, they make me smile.

There are some people who may describe my parenting style with Madeleine as Helicopter parenting - always hovering to make sure nothing goes wrong in her life.

I prefer to think of it as leech parenting, never letting her out of my sight. Admittedly, this is working less well the older she gets. As she develops a strong, mature personality, so to does her tolerance for my involvement in her life get thinner.

After 10 years of being my only child, the one and only princess I could ever imagine having, little Lorelei came along, changing the dynamic of our family forever. Just as with Maddy, I was fiercely protective of Lolly, and when Madeleine wanted to hold our floppy little newborn, she needed to sit down to cradle her. I wasn't comfortable with her picking her up directly from the floor or bed, and definitely wasn't comfortable with her walking around while holding her.

After all, Lorelei was a fragile newborn, and Madeleine was my sweet little girl who didn't understand about the delicate nature of a newborns head or neck. This was explained time and time again, and despite Maddy's protests, she had to sit down to cuddle her baby sister.

One day I took advantage of Lolly's daytime nap to have one myself. Only hovering on the edge of sleep, I woke up when Lolly started to stir and went from drooling and groggy to alert and panicking in seconds.

Madeleine was standing next to the crib, holding her baby sister and jiggling her gently up and down. My heart in my mouth I started to tear across the room to snatch up my wee one before she could be dropped on her head, but Madeleine's self assurance stopped me. She was determined to let me have my nap, and wanted to make her little sister comfortable when she started to grizzle, so copied what she had seen me do.

Why would I want to stop that? In that second my little girl grew up, in my eyes at least. No longer did I see her as my little girl, barely past her toddler years, now I could see her as my big girl, only a few years away from high school and teenage years. She was so proud of herself and determined to prove that she was more than capable of giving comfort to her sister. 

I don't care how old she gets, how capable, how self assured. She will always be my little fat, roly poly baby.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Memories of Madeleine #4

Mummy Hearts Money is sharing 13 memories of my biggest little girl, in tribute to her 13th birthday this month. Most of these stories are "Have to be there" kind of memories, but I love them, they make me smile.

This Christmas just gone, Santa brought Madeleine (and me!) a Bobble bottle for Christmas. Never heard of a Bobble bottle? They are a good, hefty sized drink bottle with a changeable filter built into the pull top drinking spout. I've wanted one for a while, and I knew she would want one too when she saw it, so I slipped them both under the tree.

Sure enough as soon as she opened her Bobble bottle, Maddy let out a squeal.

"It's got a FERTALISER Mum! Awesome! Now my water can be FERTALISED!"

No sweetness. You just made my Christmas day, but no. While you're fertalising your water, I'll be filtering mine.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Memories of Madeleine #3

Mummy Hearts Money is sharing 13 memories of my biggest little girl, in tribute to her 13th birthday this month. Most of these stories are "Have to be there" kind of memories, but I love them, they make me smile.

A couple of months or so after she started daycare, I picked Maddy up one winter afternoon. As always, I was cutting it really close to closing time, but scraped in just in time and took my sandy 2 year old home for dinner.

About 10 minutes later, I got a phone call from one of the workers.

"Um, Elise, by any chance does Maddy have my keys?" A quick patdown of my toddler and a check of her bags and carseat didn't produce any keys, and I was happy to reassure her carers that she didn't klepto their keys. But some follow through questioning produced different results.

"Do you know where Charmaine's keys are bub?". My cherub nodded solemnly. At the other end of the phone, I could hear myself being put on speaker, as all the staff being held up by this delay gathered around to listen.

"Where are they?". She beamed with pride. "I HID them!" she chortled, "It's a SECRET". The staff were all starting to laugh, lots of renewed activity searching in 2 year old hiding places was happening. Apparently the previous search had been restricted to absent minded adult hiding places. Eventually I was able to coax out of her that she had hidden her beloved Charmaine's keys in a drawer in the baby room, and no one had thought to look there. Everyone had had to stay until the keys were found, because the centre couldn't be locked up without them.

I suspect no one put their keys down around Maddy anymore after that.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Memories of Madeleine #2

Mummy Hearts Money is sharing 13 memories of my biggest little girl, in tribute to her 13th birthday this month. Most of these stories are "Have to be there" kind of memories, but I love them, they make me smile.

I'm a bit of a stickler on a few things. Some may call it picky, others may call it nagging, I call it gentle direction.

One thing that is a particular bugbear for me is when people substitute 'ffff' for 'ttthh". I hate it. I really hate it. It sets my teeth on edge, and if I'm close enough to the person who does it, I correct them.

"I have something caught in my teef." TEETH. Yes, you do have something caught in your teeth.

"My daughter is free." No. She isn't. She's three. Say it with me. THREE.

You might be reading this and wanting to punch  me in the face. I wouldn't blame you. When I correct someone, sometimes I feel like punching me in the face too.

When Madeleine was a just a little thing of 3, once she has gotten past natural little girl lisping, I would start to correct her if she used the sound "ffff" incorrectly. Not in a mean way, just helping her say the word right because when you're just little you have no way of knowing which way is right until you are told.  Sometimes I would need to direct her chin so that she was looking at me, while I repeated the word with emphasis on the "ttthh". She never got in trouble or anything, it was a little correction, she would repeat herself and the conversation would continue.

One day in our beat up old Ford wagon, I noticed that the roof lining of the car was collapsing, the adhesive had given way in the Summer heat. As I laughed and held it up while buckling her into her seat, I told Maddy that the roof was falling, just like the sky in Chicken Little. She gravely grasped my chin, and turned it towards her, looking me intently in the eyes.

"It's rooTH Mummy. Say it with me. ROOTH. TTTHHH, not FFFF."

I stopped correcting her for a little while. Touche baby.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Taking Back The Night.....How Thats Working Out

It doesn't matter how tired she is, she hangs in there
I didn't set many goals for myself this year, but reclaiming my evenings was one of them. While Sebastian's a pretty good sleeper (he has his moments) Lorelei was taking hours each night to settle.

Hours of active, present, parenting.

It was sometimes midnight before she fell asleep, and with a 5:30 start the next day on work days, my best parenting skills clock off a few hours earlier than that.

This year our goal has been to get her settled and sleeping better at night time. So far we've got some wins. Definitely more wins on our side of the tally sheet than on Lorelei's. But damn, we are nowhere near where I really need us to be.

Each night, without fail, 8pm sees her bathed, book read, massage given, drink bottled supplied and blanky in hand, in bed. Doesn't mean she is even a little inclined to go to sleep but we are committed to a regular bedtime again. Honestly, I think she needs to be in bed earlier than that given how early we start our day, but 8pm works seeing how we don't get home each day till 6pm.

We make sure her daytime naps no longer exceed 1.5 hours, and in fact we are completely eradicating them if possible. Fair enough preschool wants the nap (with 20 2 years olds in a room I'd be hanging out for nap time too) but we make sure we are not travelling anywhere more than 5 minutes away after 2pm each day, otherwise Lolly is guaranteed to fall asleep.

No matter what else we have on each night we make sure we follow the same routine, at the moment we are avoiding socialising because our busy lives in the last quarter of 2013 is partly what led to the horrible sleep habits we have right now.

And most of all we are wearing this kid out. We make sure she gets up early. We take her for a swim most evenings, as well as what she gets up to during the day. It's not always great for her behaviour during the day because is obviously overtired, but I pray hope that its a case of short term pain for long term gain.

In order to keep Lorelei in her bed I used to have to stay in the room. Now I say goodnight and tell her she has to stay in bed and leave the room.

And she gets straight out of bed and comes down the hall to find me. I take her back to bed, lots of firm parenting, sometimes she has a tantrum, sometimes she tells me off (I don't like chew mumma), but eventually she stays in bed.

Tonight she was asleep before 9pm and only got out of bed once. That's a first. But I've noticed she drops off a little earlier each night, so we are getting there.

I've watched TV this last week. I've packed bags the night before, and made lunches. I've even showered! Alone! We are nowhere near where I want to be, but I'm realising now that the problems we were having before was partly because we had given in.

I'm reclaiming my nights and it feels good. On a related note, I met the mother tonight in HIMYM. I'm finally catching up on seasons 6, 7, 8. and almost caught up to season 9! AND I had a cappuccino and didn't have to share the froth. Small wins.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Choosing a Bed To Last the Distance

From time to time Mummy Hearts Money will write partnered posts, especially when the opportunities tie in so beautifully with where we are at and what we are up to. This is a partnered post with who came out of nowhere right when we were starting to think about Maddy's next bed.

When Maddy was a wee tot of 2, we did lots of window shopping before finally settling on her big girl bed, the bed that would see her through to her teen years.

It's an exciting time and we definately put lots of thought into it.We ended up getting her this bed, and we (and she!) were in love with it. We put a decent amount of money into this bed, thinking it would last at LEAST 10 years.

Only a few short years later though, and we updated the bed to a trundle day bed. There were so many factors we didn't think about when buying her bed, things that would have meant we could make a better, long term decision. We found that due to the layout of Maddy's room, we either had to block her window with this high bed, block the door so it only partially opened, or she had to squeeze in between the ladder and wardrobe to climb the bed. The trundle/daybed fit nicely under the window, and we didn't have the same issues with blocking the door or built ins.

Hot Tip

Take the measurements of the bed you are interested in and use masking tape to put an accurate outline on the floor of the room where you plan to put it.

Do you still have good access to wardrobes, doors, windows? Will a ladder be easy to get to, and will other features of the bed (such as trundle or cupboards) be usable in that configuration?

Things to Consider?

The Mars Midi Sleeper, currently on sale for $799
A Captains Bunk (like the one we got Maddy) gives you an all in one design with storage, a desk, a cubby crawl space underneath, but can take up a huge amount of space once you allow for the ladder, the desk to be pulled out and doors to be opened. This is a great option if the room configuration allows for it.

The Royal Princess Carriage bed -alas not on sale but still
Will this bed need to be handed down to a sibling at a later date, or is this only meant for one special little cherub? A pink carriage bed might be your little princess's dream, but it's possible your little dragon slayer had something else in mind. A nuetral colour and style that will work with all kids of accessories might be the way to go if more than one child will eventually use this bed.

The Stanley Bunk separate into twin beds. The Celeste Double Bunk gives plenty of space for everyone!
Will more than one child be sharing the room? Instead of twin singles, think about getting a bunk. These days, it's even possible to get bunks with a double down the bottom so that an older child can have some extra space while sharing with a younger sibling. And if the kids will get their own rooms down the track, think about getting a bunk that can separate into twin singles later on - no need for new beds!

At 13, Maddy looks like she is getting a little too big for her standard single daybed/trundle. The time has definately come for us to consider getting her something a little bigger, and although we considered a king single, it makes more sense to get her a double. I'm guessing that in about 5 years (or less!) she would outgrow a king single and want something bigger, so we may as well postpone the day that she will need to buy a queensize and get  her a double now. Hopefully this decision will buy us more than 5 years out of her next bed.

Danni Double Bed, something to see her to her early adult years
And tempted as I am by the gorgeous princess carriage bed, Lorelei can upgrade from the toddler bed to Maddy's lovely daybed, which should do her for at least 10 years. And Sebastian? When the time comes for him to come out of his cot, he will go into Lorelei's walnut toddler bed for a few years. By planning smart, you can make each bed purchase stretch well beyond it's initial owner.

And here's the best part. Not only is bedsonline (the source of all those lovely beds above except for Maddys captains bunk) having an awesome sale, but they have given Mummy Hearts Money an exclusive code to offer my readers for and additional 10% off! If you were wanting to upgrade/change around the bedrooms in your home, now is the time to do it!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Memories of Madeleine #1

My big girl turns 13 this month. I have to face the breath taking reality that my life changing baby is THIRTEEN, a teenager, a young woman, 5 years away from finishing school, 2 years away from getting her first job, 3 years till she gets her did this happen?

I started this blog when she was 10, a lovely girl still playing with her toys and having Mummy plait her hair for school each day. I've held back on writing about her over the years, because I really feel she needs to grow and make mistakes without the possible publicity on my blog hanging over her head. But because she was such a big girl when I started, I also haven't had a chance to share much of the hilarity and fun that has been her life so far.

This month, in honour of her 13th birthday, I will be sharing 13 of my favourite Madeleine memories.

Madeleine Memory #1

A few weeks into Kindergarten, I picked up my grotty, enthusiastic 5 year old from after school care. As usual she was bubbling over with the days events, desperate to share everything as quickly as possible. Walking out the door together, I noticed my little grubber scraping her feet as she walked. Why? The shoelaces in her lovely, brand new shoes were gone. Nowhere to be seen. What the?

"What happened to your shoelaces?!?" I exclaimed. She glanced down casually at her feet and did a double take.

"They're gone!" she cried in horror. "Where did my shoelaces go?!"

I know she 100% had shoelaces in her shoes when I dropped her off that morning. And how anyone, even my child, could possibly not notice that her laces were gone while she dragged her shoes around the school is beyond my knowledge. Not even the after school care people or her teacher could shed any light on this one. Those shoe laces just "disappeared" according to Madeleine, and to this day it is still one of life's mysteries.

Stay tuned for Madeleine Memory #2.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Will You Be One of The Grudge Workforce?

From time to time, Mummy Hearts Money will write partnered posts that are aligned with my (and hopefully your!) interests. Superannuation is heavily on my mind these days, and so I bring to you my thoughts on Super, in partnership with Clime.

Current research shows that a huge portion of the Baby Boomer generation do not expect to be able to retire at 65. Many will eventually become pensioners, with little support from their superannuation and will live a smaller life than prior to retirement.

Now in my early 30's, it would be very easy to dismiss this reality as being a different generations problem. But the fact is, most people are not on track to achieve the retirement they want for themselves. I don't want to live a small life. I don't want my retirement to be a time of sacrifice, struggle, or dependency on my children.

"And in the end it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years." Abraham Lincoln

For me retirement equals freedom. Freedom to do whatever I want, whether that means travelling, relaxing, caring for grandkids, pursuing hobbies, or even working for the joy of doing something I love. It does not means working for the sake of earning an income.

Following our Make Me Rich journey in 2012 (which is by no means finished), Husband and I are committed to making extra contributions to our superannuation. In fact, with my return to full time work this week, we are increasing our contributions starting our very next pay cycle. Moving forward, we are determined that with every pay rise Husband gets, 100% of the increase will go towards superannuation, and we will absorb life's inflation. 

Something else we are exploring, along with a few family members and friends, is a Self Managed Super Fund. Many people I know are starting to enter this exciting yet scary market, using the funds from their superannuation to purchase investment properties. While I think I would keep my regular superannuation fund for the security of having it looked after by someone else along with the corresponding insurances that make me feel just a little more protected, I'm fascinated by the idea of having a property portfolio as part of my retirement plan. Before I really consider this path though, I would want to take a workshop, and understand what professional services are out there to support me and stop me squandering our biggest asset besides our home!

More than anything else, I want to find that balance in life. A balance that means living a full life with the kids today, but not sacrificing a full life with my family tomorrow. For me that means careful planning and commitment to increasing our financial wealth. Pay by pay, year by year, we take smaller steps closer to that magical day of financial freedom.

Don't live a retirement of regrets. Make sure you can live the life you want by taking control of your future today.

Do you make additional contributions to your super? Have you explored Self Managed Super Funds? What do you think?

Clime is an Australian fund manager that offers self-managed super funds (or SMSF), managed funds, and stock valuations. Dedicated to providing value for its clients, Clime can help you reach your financial goals.

Friday, January 3, 2014

My Melbourne Wanderings: The Wind In The Willows

Riverside with Head Chief Rabbit & Weasel
This evening we took the kids out to the Royal Botanical Gardens to see The Wind In The Willows. Normally I would never take the littlies to a play, but this was perfect for them.

The Wind in The Willows is an outdoor play, and all visitors are encouraged to bring a picnic blanket and dinner to enjoy while watching. Despite the Gardens being enormous, we found the play quickly enough thanks to the numerous signs and settled the kids in front of a tree so that we weren't blocking anyone if the toddlers wanted to sit in the pram to watch.

The main "stage" area being a long section of lakeside, the audience wasn't more than half a dozen families deep at any point despite having a good crowd, so it was easy for everyone to see. As a couple of characters warmed up the crowd, my kids were all drawn in, even 12 year old Madeleine who was initially a little doubtful that she would be interested.

The characters costumes, makeup, and personalities were all huge, plenty of singing and audience participation giving us lots of laughs. My kids loved waggling their ears, wiggling noses, and crying out "Windy Willows". All three cheered and booed throughout the night, finding it hysterical when Head Chief Rabbit Roscoe Mathers helped himself to various picnic baskets.

Maddy got a good laugh at references to "Justin Beaver", "Miley Cyprus" Tree's, and, over in that "One Direction". At one stage the actors took all the kids off for a good run around the park searching for Portly, the missing little Otter child, giving the grownups a chance to stretch our legs and just generally enjoy some lighter, adult humour while the stouts and weasels took over Toad Hall. There was some surprise in the audience when an actor helped himself to a swig of wine from a picnic basket, but mostly giggles.

Meet and greet with the innocent Mole character!

Be prepared to pack up and move 20 meters to a slightly different location, away from Ratty's "River" and towards "Toad Hall". We had just started to unpack dinner when it became time to move, but fortunately we were able to just throw it all the pram when Head Chief Rabbit made the call to us all to move. Either keep your food easily transported, eat early on, or wait till you are really settled at Toad Hall.

Toad Hall, after our relocation
Parking was pretty easy with plenty of street parking available - $2 per hour till 6:30pm then free from then (watch out for the 1/2 hour spaces that cost a little more).
Price Tag
At $90 for a family of 4 or $25 per person, this event doesn't come cheap but in comparison to other live theatre family events is pretty affordable. Given that the little ones can walk around, work off the fidgets, and you can BYO (actually must BYO) the dinner and snacks this is probably a format of live performance I prefer. Tickets are available online at Ticketmaster or The Australian Shakespeare Company. Tickets can also be purchased at the Box Office which opens 1 hour prior to the event however tickets are not guaranteed. Babies under 12 months do not require a ticket, all other children pay the standard ticket price of $25.
Making The Most
If you've never been to the Royal Botanical Gardens in Melbourne (Birdwood Avenue, Gate F) before make sure you head in early to have a look around first. Beautiful gardens, plenty of open lawn, HEAPS to look at makes it a worthwhile outing first. There was no charge to enter, look around and generally waste time, but I suspect there are additional activities that can be done in the park for a small cover charge.
Keep An Eye On
Tamalyn Davies as the young otter Portly, she was so cute, completely into her part and lots of fun to watch. Andrew Dunne as Mr Toad is fascinating too - all the actors had brilliant little animalistic mannerisms, but somehow everything about Andrew Dunne screamed obnoxious frog.

Andrew Dunne as Mr Toad
The Wind in The Willows will be running in both the Sydney and Melbourne Royal Botanic Gardens for its 27th season until January 25th 2014. Definitely a good one to take the whole family to, especially if like me your kids cover all ages. 

My family was gifted tickets to see the show, but as you would expect my thoughts and research into the show are my own.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

What Does 2014 Look Like?

I'm not making big, strict, formal resolutions this year. Normally I set clear financial and family goals, designed to see us through a 12 month period. Those goals are usually career related, budget, investments, child development, travel, everything really, and they are so mapped out and specific.

This year though sees us in a period of uncertainty.

Uncertain about my employment with a finance company that can't quite seem to find an Elise sized hole to fit me into upon my return from maternity leave.

Uncertain about whether we have the financial stability to buy another house, home or investment.

Uncertain about what hours I will end up working, how that affects the kids routines and commitments, and how we juggle our responsibilities as a family.

The real world starts for me again on Monday. I go back full time to my seconded job in IT, a loaner, a learner, and because of it all, a bit of a loner. 10 years with one company and I still sit quietly by myself for lunch most days. When I am settled in a division I make deeper ties, but right now I am at a loose end, friendly but not friends. It's lonely. And to be honest, having so many people putting effort into not having me work for them is making me feel very unsure of myself, a little valueless. I want to focus on this opportunity I have in IT, because it's something I always wanted, but the way it came about does not inspire confidence. It almost feels like I was thrown a bone, as though it was recognised that without this lifeline I may not still be employed.

The babies start 3 days of preschool, up from their prior 1 day. Lolly used to go full time back in the days pre-Sebastian so I know she will be fine, but I'm not sure about Seb. He hates it when I leave him there, but I really hope being there more days will give him a better chance to bond with his teachers.

My goals this year are simple.

Regain my career, whatever that means. March sees the end of my secondment and I will settle myself somehow. Come what may, employment or redundancy, I will take what comes and make something new of it. Maybe I have a future with IT? Maybe I will get my old job back as Team Manager, form new relationships and learn new products, maybe the time has come that my company will say good bye to me. Who knows? But this years goal is to define that somehow.

Reclaim my evenings. Lorelei can take me 2 hours or more each night to put to bed, there is no time each night for me to unwind, blog, do the dishes or prepare for the next day. By the time I'm finished with her, all I want to do is collapse in bed. Sleep re-training is in order, and I fully intend to be sitting down with my husband for the occasional TV program in the evening this year.

That's all. Later in the year I will revisit financial goals and everything that entails, but for now these are the only things that feel like they matter. If I can get these back in order maybe my life will feel back on track.

Do you bother with goals or resolutions?