Wednesday, June 30, 2010

plan b

It's a new month, and a new theme for my Photo A Day project.

And this month?

Each day brings a new set of routines and planned choices. And for the past three months, I've blogged about what happens during those days.

So instead of blogging about what I planned to do, I am going to let you know about the other option:

Plan B.

Hopefully this will open my mind to consider new things, be willing to change the routine, and put the spontaneity back into my very planned life (of course, the boys keep me on my toes). Instead of saying "No," I'll say "Yes," and see what happens...

Last month's theme What I learnt today and the previous month Things I love was inspired by my friend Kellie. I started this Photo A Day project as as a result of the very naughty/curious things my children were doing a few months' back, and wanted to capture it all. That's how 30 Days of Real Parenting and blogging once a day began. Friends like Jodi and Dannii have also joined in on the monthly challenges. I invite you too!

Is it just me, or are these challenges getting harder and harder?

Thanks so much for stopping by, and I hope you join me in the challenge!

lesson thirty | to stop and reflect is truly good

"Life goes by pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it." – Ferris Bueller

The thing I’ve learnt the most from taking a photo a day for the past three months, is that at the end of each day, you re-live it and remember the good things, the bad things, and the things you wished you could've changed.

You can look at the photos of the day and remember your kids’ tears, smiles, laughter or that beautiful thoughtful moment.

It’s also a nice way to watch your children grow and change (in the peace and quiet, while they sleep in their room).

Reflection is good for the soul, and not only reflecting, but writing it down. Taking photographs. And remembering.

Always remembering.

Thank you for joining me on my journey.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

lesson twenty nine | embrace happiness

"Most of the things we desire in life are expensive. But the truth is the things that really satisfy us are absolutely free... love, joy, laughter and good relations."

Perhaps it was because I was able to have a sleep-in until 9:30am (thanks to my darling hubby) that the day went swimmingly well (and partly because we did also go swimming).

Of course, no days are perfect when you have children, but today I enjoyed their company. Or perhaps I was awake enough to enjoy their company?

Their giggles while swimming in the pool.

Their smiles when they were splashing about.

Their funny faces when we were pulling our best ones.

The screams of delight when daddy threw them up in the air before bedtime.

I confess I didn't take any photos until it was bedtime, but this one suited today the best.

Monday, June 28, 2010

lesson twenty eight | love is more than enough

"When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace." – Jimi Hendrix

Daddy came home last night and there were three very excited people.

Two little boys and one grown up were delighted to see another face... and we missed him too.

Today was spent playing with Daddy, going to Bunnings with Daddy, eating with Daddy, and hanging around his feet. (It was a nice change from mine.)

Daddy also had some welcome home gifts up his sleeve.

The handle on the kitchen drawer was fixed, and so was the cupboard door in the boys' bedroom. Last minute winter vegetables were planted and the garden looks manicured again. It's amazing what happens when he's been away for a few days. Things fall apart and then he promptly puts it all back together.

I really missed my husband and am so glad he's home...

Sunday, June 27, 2010

lesson twenty seven | there's liberation in slothing

“Free your mind and let it all hang out, be yourselves, go there with positive energy if you have any in your body.” – Fred Durst

Today was one of those 'hang it all out' kind of days. The days where we wore pyjamas until before dinner, the house was a mess, and I didn't even care.

I figured that nobody wass coming over, and I didn't have to worry about what my husband thought (he should be home from his weekend away any minute now). We just slothed.

Yep, that's what we did.

I threw my list out the window today. Okay, not literally. But I made a conscious effort not to make a new one for the weekend on Friday. And it worked. I achieved nothing really special today, and I liked it.

We cooked what we wanted, ate when we felt like it, and today I just put aside the 'guiltometer' on just about everything.

It was so liberating that perhaps we might do it again sometime. In fact, there's a husband-free weekend coming up again soon...

Saturday, June 26, 2010

lesson twenty six | if you look for the good, it will always find you

“I am not afraid of tomorrow, for I have seen yesterday and I love today.” – William Allen White

It's been a week since I felt beaten by my kids, but the past few days I've had a new attitude. It's times like these I'm so glad I'm not sick too. At least someone in the house is patient (sometimes), cheery (mostly), and has a temperature under 38.5 degrees.

The past days have been fun-filled. With all the time spent at home, there's been the challenge of looking for new things to do, keeping things interesting, and being creative.

Having two sick boys at home means lots of physical touch and needing Mummy close by. So when I decided we needed an outing because the weather looked so fabulous, the boys placed my ugg boots into the bathtub and sucked water from an old soap bottle when I blowdried my hair; jumped on the bed in fits of giggles when I was getting dressed; at my feet when I made lunch; wanting lots of cuddles when I put on their shoes.

We finally piled into the car to find that by the time we arrived at our destination, it was pouring.

Thanks Melbourne.

Plan A: picnic, resulted in Plan B: cafe complete with roaring fire. This was a much more sensible idea. What on earth was I thinking being outdoors with sick kids?

Anyway, the lunch I packed was devoured... by Noah. Madison is obviously still sick. He's barely touched food since Wednesday... and puts himself to bed. What child does that?

It was freezing cold, but at least we had an outing.

And if the past few days have gone well with sick kids, I wonder what tomorrow will bring?

I wait in nervous anticipation...

Friday, June 25, 2010

lesson twenty five | it's good to change the plan every now and then

"It is not how much you do, but how much love you put in the doing." – Mother Teresa

So, after a little vomiting, high temperatures and grumpy children, it was the rash that did it. Blood coloured 'freckles' on my son's face, and not disappearing when placed under drinking glass pressure was the prompt to call Nurse On Line and seek medical advice.

After a visit to the local Emergency department at a very late hour and more temperatures, the decision was made: We can't see anyone to share this sort of love.

Instead of visiting a friend for a play date this morning, we stayed home. Instead of enjoying comfort food at tonight's Food Club, we're staying home. Instead of heading out to lunch tomorrow, we're staying home.

It's not like I mind being at home all that time, it's just that with Darling Hubby away, it's nice to get out and about. Because weekends can be a little lonely without Daddy. And, well, it's easier if we have a plan. It gives the boys something to look forward to.

So, now that there's sick children that need to be cuddled and resting, the day's order and routine has gone out the window.

Television restrictions? Gone.

Dressed to impress? Gone.

Endless lounging about and doing nothing? Welcome home.

Now it's time to plan our days' events at home. Perhaps some DVDs, some baking, maybe a little cleaning...

On second thoughts, how about we go on the Non-Plan plan for the weekend?


That's what we'll do instead.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

lesson twenty four | a child's mind is like a giant sponge

“There are no seven wonders of the world in the eyes of a child. There are seven million.” – Walt Streightiff

The other day, I read this quote on the back of the sticky adhesive of a Libra Goodnight pad: "On average, a four-year-old child asks 437 questions a day."

Okay, you probably didn't need to know where I found the quote, but the point remains: The number is an average. Which means there are children who ask less than 437 questions. And there are children who ask more.

I would put my son Madison in the category of the latter. Someone's kid has to. Otherwise, how could Libra (or their marketing company's statistical data) have calculated that ridiculously high average?

Today, I broke down his questions into the following four categories:

1. Questions I know the answer to:
These are my favourite questions. These are the questions that make me sound all wise, all knowing, all very intelligent. These are the ones that I'm patient with, and spend time answering him in full detail. I want to make sure he gets the whole picture.

2. Questions I don't know the answer to:
If there are easy questions, there are also hard ones. And I don't like these questions for obvious reasons (see above). And then I say "That's a great question!", or "let's talk about that one later" (after Mummy has googled it so she can find out what the answer is before she tells you).

3. Questions that only have one answer (the one he doesn't like):
I think you all know what I'm talking about here. It doesn't need any explaining.

4. Questions that can't be answered:
Like today in the shopping centre, a lady walked past. Madison asks: “Who is that old lady?” Or the time we were at the pool change village and a man in a wheelchair rolls past: “Why is that man in a wheelchair?” A jogger runs past our house: "Why is that person running funny?" I simply can't answer these questions.

There are days when I relish in his sponge-like behaviour, and other times when I just want to bang my hand against the wall. But the questions are mostly good. Sometimes I see things in a whole new light. Like the time when he picked me a flower from the garden. When it had wilted, he asked: “Why is the flower sagging?” It broke my heart to tell him the flower had died because it had been picked. We just accept stuff (or it's been so long since we asked the same questions), but it was really sad for him. He wished he hadn't picked it. And then I had to explain that the flower would die later anyway if he hadn't picked it. He certainly did look puzzled at that stage.

But what amazes me the most is how many times the same questions are asked over and over. That's after I've tried answering it, avoiding it, approaching it differently... you name it. Some answers just don't make any sense.

At the end of today, he was clean, fed and ready for bed. I love story time. But it comes at the end of the day, I'm tired and all out of patience. And when there's a million questions during the story, I confess I'm less than enthusiastic.

But the last question I had to field today was this one: "Can Daddy read me a bedtime story tonight?"

And the rest is history...

This post was part of Weekend Rewind 26 February 2011 at Life in a Pink Fibro

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

lesson twenty three | travelling children means packing kitchen sink

“There are two classes of travel: first class, and with children.” – Robert Benchley

So, last night I packed my boys' bags for a day at Grandma and Grandpa's while I had my first 'full day' back at work. (I've been having half days until today.)

There was the baby bag: packed with two sets of clothes, 7 nappies, wipes, stockings, shoes, spare tops, singlets, jeans and drink bottle. We live in Melbourne so a hoodie, coat and bear beanie (complete with ears) were packed too. Noah still has a day sleep or two, so the sleeping bag is packed as well.

Then were was the backback: two sets of clothes, 3 pairs of big boy pants (we have such a good time at Grandma's, sometimes we forget to go), toothbrush, drink bottle, hoodie and bear beanie (also complete with ears).

I originally packed pyjamas, dressing gowns and slippers, but momentarily forgot my Mum-in-Law said she would drop the boys off at the office (perfect), so the night time items that didn't fit in the bags were put back into the bedroom. Pyjamas remained. A small bag of things also needed to go back to Mum.

Finally my things: bag, breakfast, lunch, snacks, drink. Foggy outside: gloves, scarf, coat. I almost forgot the kids' daily schedule on our fridge that Mum asked for. Phew.

Dressed whining, tired child. Five trips to the car.

We're off.

A trip that usually takes 40-60 minutes took 25 minutes this morning. Left at 7:00am. So smug.

There was plenty of time to settle the boys, transfer the car seat, take out and put up the pram (complete with skateboard). One is dressed, changed, changed again, and both fed by loving grandparents. There's lots of time to make sure they're happy. Time to go.

I hopped in the car headed for work at 8:40am.

Then I realised something doesn't feel right. Something is missing. I looked around. The back car seat was empty, the boot was empty, the passenger seat was empty.

Where's my laptop?

How does a person forget their main work tool?

Oh, that's right.

I have just travelled with my children and just cannot remember everything.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

lesson twenty two | there's someone like you somewhere

"Our similarities bring us to a common ground; our differences allow us to be fascinated by each other.” – Tom Robbins

I am so blessed to have friends. From all over. Different from each other, and to me. From different worlds, different backgrounds, different cultures. Different ages, at different stages, our lives going in different places.

With each friend, they have something super special. But there's no-one I know who has walked a life similar to me.

Until recently.

Tuesday mornings for the past two years, we've become part of the Leisure & Aquatic Centre community. Every week as Madison improves his swimming skills, I become more familiar with the other families that frequent the centre. As time passes the occasional chats make us so more familiar with each other. And although we know all the kids' names, I think we're all a little guilty of forgetting each other's.

But there's this one girl's name I always remember. And our first chat about our boys with long hair, then another (on an entirely different topic), we've quickly discovered that we have quite a lot in common.

There's the simple statistics like: we're the same age, our husbands are the same age (there is a gap, shall we say?), we have boys, and we have two step kids (also the same age).

Then there's the lifestyle stuff: both vegetarian, both have travelled lots, both have married later, both have studied later, and lived in many different places. Our husbands' names are even the same.

Finally, we're both pretty good at talking. Which is why at 2:30pm today we were still sitting in the playground while the boys played happily.

Of course, we have many, many differences, but it's so great to talk with someone who knows what its like to have relationships with both the adult children and the young ones, talk vegetarian dinners and where we should send our boys to school.

But the thing I learnt today was that although we totally love our big extended families and our busy lives, we find ourselves a little bored.

Not bored like there's nothing to do. There's always something to do.

But bored like, If I Could Pay Someone To Clean My House I Would, bored.

Let's face it, with the Most Important Job In The World comes lots of mindless repetitive tasks. Perhaps that's why I can blog every day. While hanging out washing or doing the dishes, there's a whole bunch of time in which I have to think about stuff.

And it's cleaning up that mess, the toys or pantry staples four times a day that makes me think: "I am an intelligent woman. Why am I doing this?"

Now, I know if you're in the same boat as me, you are nodding your head in passionate agreement.

And realising that there's someone like you right here.

Monday, June 21, 2010

lesson twenty one | my children never cease to amaze me

“Love withers with predictability; its very essence is surprise and amazement. To make love a prisoner of the mundane is to take its passion and lose it forever.” – Leo F. Buscaglia

And just when I thought I knew my children, they both just amazed me today.

After my frustrating day on Friday some of my more 'experienced' friends (who have boys older than 4) gave me some good advice, that I have been taking on board more consiously.

"Give him a chance to be more independent. Give him choices. Give him opportunities to shine." Oh, they are wise women.

So, today was the day of continual amazement and wonder. Madison (who the advice was specifically for) wanted to help bath Noah. Instead of just saying that I would do it (for risk of rough behaviour which happens on an almost an hourly occurence), I slowly explained what he needed to do. Then I also made it clear that if he wants to help he must listen. He responded so well. At dinner time he wanted to feed Noah. So, I let him. Once again he beamed from ear to ear.

And then it was Noah's turn to shine. While in the bath, Madison was talking about blowing bubbles. With that, Noah popped his head under the water to blow bubbles. Every time Madison said, "Blow some bubbles Noah", he did it. And at dinner Madison said to Noah, "Shake your head Noah", and Noah did it.

Over and over again.

I was so amazed. These two have a whole life together that I know nothing about. I'm sure they talk to each other in the bedroom at night and plot against me!

But the most wonderful thing was taking the boys into the office today for an hour or two. Noah effortlessly fell asleep in the pram, while Madison played quietly (albeit with some very playful staff), but it wasn't embarrasing like I had to rush to get out of the office. Of course, there were comments about how good they both were, and I must confess to being a little bit proud of my well-behaved boys.

I'm sure tomorrow will be another day, but right now I think I'm also beaming from ear to ear.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

lesson twenty | guilt trip results in packed lunches

"Guilt once harbored in the conscious breast, intimidates the brave, degrades the great.” – Samuel Johnson

Today was the day of Jodi's 30th birthday party - a high tea in her Grandmother's backyard under a quaint patio surrounded by gorgeous manicured gardens. Jodi made bright coloured hanging pom poms, individual fudges and hand-made jewels for each guest wrapped around the handle of our very own teacup. There were glass jars filled with wafers, musks and marshmallows and more doilies that you could poke a stick at.

It was a beautiful sight.

Jodi was dressed by a local vintage store complete with jewellery by Tilly & Co (that's not a typo). She looked gorgeous and fulfilled the ideal 50s party girl.

And the high tea was a wonderful success, the food was amazing, and everyone had a wonderful time.

I, especially had a ball. I had the privilege of helping Jodi set up the patio beforehand, and make sure that the milk was always topped up and the water was hot. I was able to play 'hostess' (well, a little, anyway). The whole afternoon was a delight.

But it was the morning that was the problem. I went to the party alone. And left the kids with my husband.

I felt so... guilty.

You know, I packed lunches for the boys, had them dressed, fed, watered, and ensured that nappies were changed. Beds were made and everything was left so that there wasn't anything else left for my husband to do.

Now, it's not like my husband is incapable of looking after the children. In fact, he's wonderful. And more than capable.

It's just that I don't leave my kids very often. It feels strange.

And when a friend who reads my blog asked me what I'd learnt today, I told her about my self-produced guilt trip. Then she proceeded to tell me that I shouldn't feel badly. And then told me a funny little story about it being her husband's birthday today, which she forgot momentarily, and then she left for the party with a child who had a nappy that probably rivaled an atomic explosion.

Now, that was an honest admission. (And it did make me feel slightly better.)

And even though I enjoyed flitting around the tea party finishing conversations without constantly looking over my shoulder, I did feel like something was missing.

Perhaps I need to go out alone more often to quell the guilt. Or perhaps next time I'll just bring them so I can feel at home not finishing conversations...

Saturday, June 19, 2010

lesson nineteen | terrible two's are a myth

“A woman who can cope with the terrible twos can cope with anything” – Judith Clabes

I woke up this morning feeling beaten.

You know, I just wasn't my usual Pollyanna self. I couldn't get out of bed, I was grumpy, and every normal task was done with dread and loathing.

That was because I'd had an awful day on Friday with my four year old. I probably try to do too much as well, but I was dreading what today would bring.

Call me Mummy Naive, but I used to think if you gave your child plenty of positive affirmation and attention, then they would be happy and well-behaved. It used to work so well. But these days, I'm not sure what's gone wrong. I beat myself up that I've not been patient enough, I've not explained things clearly, I haven't been consistent, or that I just haven't done enough with him.

Then I watched my husband roll his eyes many times today and 'crack down' on him too. Then I wonder if we're being too hard on him.

And if I've been a little hard on myself.

It's the first time of transition for Madison. He is now a boy and perhaps we have new expectations. But I think he's challenging the boudaries in a whole new way too. Like on Friday, I don't think he did anything he was asked to do. It came with whingeing, whining, crying and there was plenty of the word, "no". I wanted to pull my hair out.

Now, I've always prided myself on not being the Nagging Fish Wife. But I've been listening to myself lately, and I confess, I don't like the new me.

Talking with an old friend today about my 4 year old was honest and refreshing. She has a five year old boy and she said that she asked herself many times "Who am I?" and "What have I turned into?" Ah, the challenges of motherhood. It's so nice to talk to those who have been there before me, and for me to know that this is normal behaviour. For both my child and I.

When Madison turned two, so many people said to me, "Ah, the terrible two's". I seriously wondered what on earth they were talking about. I mean, we had our moments, but nothing like the challenges we're having now. (Another friend calls them the F@*!en Four's.)

I say, "Cherish the Two's". There's more fun yet to come.

Friday, June 18, 2010

lesson eighteen | a list a day keeps the procrastinating away

"One of the secrets of getting more done is to make a TO DO List every day, keep it visible, and use it as a guide to action as you go through the day.” – Jean de La Fontaine

My Type A personality, says that I'm a list person. And not only do I write a list just about every day, I do today's list the day before.

Yes I do.

Each morning in that sacred time before the family wakes up, I go through yesterday's checklist for today in conjunction with my diary, update it, and then during the day, I work on the next day's checklist.

Am I a little insane? Yes, most likely.

Perhaps a little obsessive compulsive? Definitely.

And so the picture above is yesterday's checklist for today. Taken first thing in the day before things are crossed off. (Is it just me, or does that feeling of accomplishment happen when each item is addressed?)

Of course, I never achieve everything on my list. And many things are transfered from one day to the next, sometimes for days. And there are things that don't even make the list. Things like 'prepare and eat meals' and 'play with the kids'. I guess they usually happen in some informal way everyday. And then there's things that should be on the list, that aren't. Like 'get dressed' because, if I don't write this down, on days like today, it may not happen until after dinner time. Perhaps I should add that to my list too?

So, I've started this post at the beginning of day, and will finish it this afternoon... let's see how we go.

* * * * * * * * *

So, I'm still in my pyjamas, but the phone calls were made, the spreadsheets balance, the house is clean, dinner is prepared and the boys and I are about to head to the bath. I gave work the cold shoulder today, but feel good about the time I spent with Madison (although it didn't seem to quell the attitude issues I've had to deal with today). I guess I can't have everything ticked on a list, despite my willingness to try.

Where would I be without a list? Well, firstly I wouldn't be completing my daily blog this moment, and perhaps would be surfing the internet instead, checking my emails and procrastinating. (I'm awfully good at the latter.) Secondly, I wouldn't have a routine (which I need so desperately), and finally, if I didn't have a list I don't think I'd be able to have a sense of satisfaction when I wondered what I did today.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

lesson seventeen | incentives can change everything

“There is no medicine like hope, no incentive so great, and no tonic so powerful as expectation of something better later.” – Orison Swett Marden

Today I went shopping with my gorgeous friend Sarah. It's her last two months in Melbourne, and it's our last minute effort to make sure she shops well. After all, we live in the Fashion Capital.

Melbourne was up to it usual tricks. And when it started hailing, instead of Plan A (shopping outside in Richmond), we opted for Plan B (heading to an indoor Factory Outlet).

And after yesterday's expectations 'issues', I had my ammunition ready.

The day was spelt out clearly, and the incentives were laid bare.

There was going to be a packed lunch to eat when we arrived, then lots of walking around, but a special treat at the end for good behaviour. And he could choose what it would be.

So, incentives for Madison, incentives for Mummies. (After all we were shopping...)

It was a win-win.

There was lots of walking, and stopping, and browsing. But the boy never wavered. He did ask a few times when he could have his treat, but when I answered that it would be soon, he was pretty happy with that. And even in the last shop we stopped at (albeit a kids store with toys in it, see picture above), things were getting a little testy. Madison even refused a jelly snake offered by a friend who worked in the store. He was so focused on his reward. Before now that would have been unheard of.

And I must admit I was impressed. My boy was awesome. So well behaved and just so... gorgeous. I could have eaten him.

And after what was considerably longer than any of us planned, we finished the day with a giant chocolate milkshake.

Tonight, here sits one very proud mum.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

lesson sixteen | expectations have a lot to answer for

“The best things in life are unexpected - because there were no expectations.” - Eli Khamarov

Every disappointment we ever had in our life is because we had an expectation.

We expected that present for Christmas (not the one we actually received). We wanted to go to a friend's place (but we ran out of time). We were going to have McDonalds for lunch (but ended up having a sandwich at home instead). We thought the holiday was going to be better (than it turned out to be). We thought our dream job would be more dreamy (but there's The Boss From Hell). We thought marriage would be romantic (than it really is). We thought parenthood was going to be easier, and our children were going to be exactly what we dreamed of (instead we ended up with the children that challenge us the most).

So today for instance, I had some expectations. Wednesday is the day I usually head to the office for my dress up day. As this didn't happen, it means that today is my 'bonus' day with the kids. And usually once all the jobs are done, the day is ours. I wanted to bake Anzac biscuits and Golden Syrup Fruit Cake with the boys, and then take them to the park near Daddy's work for a picnic lunch and play. I was hoping that Dad might join us during his lunch break too.

It turns out that my son Madison also had some expectations of his own.

So there was a fuss when we didn't go to the skateboard park. There was a fuss when we didn't go the playground near the skateboard park. There were tears when we had to eat our lunch before going on the playground at the different park. There was hysterics when Daddy went back to work and we had to leave the different park.

There was no end to the disappointment.

And then, there was this child with no expectations...

But I guess this will change sometime in the near future.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

lesson fifteen | television: teacher, mother, secret lover

"I find television to be very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go in the other room and read a book." – Groucho Marx

As part of my Photo A Day project, I take a photo on the day that I post to this blog. But the photo I am using today was taken last night. I sure hope you forgive me (and I'm not sure if this officially breaks the rules), but this is the topic I wanted to blog about tonight.

This is a picture of my husband playing checkers.

With me.

Not on the computer, or the iPhone against the computer. My husband's opponent is me.

And this came about because...?

Well, on Saturday night you saw that the People Who Live In My House were playing computer games on their iPhones. And Madison was one of them and he really wanted to learn how to play checkers. So instead of teaching him on the iPhone, we brought out the game board and taught him.

The old fashioned way.

He was a real trooper and stuck at it for about 15 minutes. I'd say that's good for any 4 year old. And my husband said he played really well.

That aside... after their game, I challenged my husband to a game. So once all the jobs were done, we played. And by 10pm we were still going.

It was so much fun.

And that's been how our life has been of late. The television has been turned off in the evenings, my husband has been reading or playing his guitar, while I blog, or mend clothes, or fold washing. It's been nice to sit and chat together in the silence. The children have gone to bed, and we connect. Emotionally.

If I had my way, I would ditch our television as it doesn't really have a place in my life. In my opinion, a whole lot more gets done, and I'd rather live a Real Life than watch a Fake One. Plus it would be one less thing my child would ask for, and if it wasn't there, he wouldn't ask.

Also, television has proved that people will look at anything rather than each other. And it's an invention that permits you to be entertained in your living room by people you wouldn't have in your home.

Today, watching television often means fighting, violence and foul language - and that's just deciding who gets to hold the remote.

Now if only I could convince the rest of my family.

Monday, June 14, 2010

lesson fourteen | no matter how cold it is, boys always want to play outside

"Of all the animals, the boy is the most unmanageable." – Plato

Although Melbourne is not exactly famous for its awesome weather, today turned out to be a beautiful sunshiney day. And it's been so welcomed after overcast, damp days that have hung in the sky like gloom and misery.

It's a long weekend and so we headed outside. Mainly because of the repetitive request of our eldest boy.

A picnic lunch on the grass, playing totem tennis and going around the garden paths on the scooter and cars.
In the chilly cold.

Boys just don't seem to feel the cold. Is it because they're having such a good time?

Sunday, June 13, 2010

lesson thirteen | a day of rest guarantees good things for the rest of the week

“Rest when you're weary. Refresh and renew yourself, your body, your mind, your spirit. Then get back to work.” – Ralph Marston

There's nothing better than taking a day 'off' during the week. A day where you don't think about anything else other than that day. A week off the pressures of life. To just enjoy.

Statistics say that you live longer if you do.

My theory is that we also function better too.

After having a restful day yesterday (including a nana nap), today was relaxing too. But I'm amazed and what was achieved.

By 4pm, I had prepared 3 cooked meals (which included yummy pancakes for breakfast), done all the washing and folding, completed all those little sewing jobs, washed walls, cleaned 2 prams and had a spotless kitchen.

In that time I'd also spent enjoyable time with most of my little family.

It was just one of those days where the kids played quietly, hubby and I could catch up over casual conversation (and guitar playing), while getting those little jobs finished. All in a semi-rested environment.

It was bliss. And the perfect way to finish a lovely weekend.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

lesson twelve | games are enjoyed by everyone

"I recently learned something quite interesting about video games. Many young people have developed incredible hand, eye, and brain coordination in playing these games. The air force believes these kids will be our outstanding pilots should they fly our jets." – Ronald Reagan

I had a serious blog entry all lined up for today, but just moments ago I captured this: our family playing computer games on their iPhones.

Just goes to show that there is something for everyone on these little machines. And it doesn't matter how old you are. Computer games are loved by just about everyone.

I'll save the serious entry for another night. But for now, it's time to make toasties and milo milkshakes while the boys are down at the fish n' chip shop.

Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, June 11, 2010

lesson eleven | every day is groundhog day

"What would you do if you were stuck in one place and every day was exactly the same?" – Phil Connors, Groundhog Day

I love the movie "Groundhog Day". It's a story about a grumpy weatherman who finds himself living the same day in perpetuity and has no idea how to reverse it. And it's the worst day of his life over, and over, and over again.

Like "Groundhog Day", there are lots of insignificant things that happen in my day, that also happen the next day, and the next day and the next...

Like opening all the curtains first thing in the morning. And closing them all again at night. Making every bed with all those pillows (probably 5 minutes in my day that I don't get back, but they look so awfully pretty). Changing nappies. Putting toys away. Picking up Noah and taking him out of the bathroom. Putting everything back into the bathroom cabinet drawer. Putting everything back that has been taken out of the bathroom cabinet cupboard. Asking Noah to stop playing with the toilet brush (what is it with the toilet brush?). Asking Noah to stop going into the bathroom. (Why doesn't anyone close the bathroom door?)


Picking up the tins and food packets that have been taken out of the pantry, moving things out of reach on the dining room table, moving everything 10cm in on every table surface in every room. Closing cupboards that have been opened by curious fingers.

Again. Again. And again.

To say that it tests and tries my patience is an understatement. And the simplest chores are the most frustrating.

Like getting dressed for example. I have chosen clothes. I have everything I need. But has the child stayed in close proximity to get dressed? Has the child taken his pyjamas off? Has the child done anything I have asked him?

I'm not perfect. In fact, I'm far from it. And just like in the movie, I change my tact, I change my response, I try to do avoid it, and sometimes I just give up (it hasn't been the first time that my children have worn pyjamas for the whole day).

Every time I am down or losing perspective, this is the movie that eases everything and makes me ask a simple question, "What is really important?".

And as a friend quoted 'Purple Butterfly': "Someday you'll look around and realise that all those little moments were really the big ones."

It couldn't be more true.

lesson ten | healthy is truly wealthy

“The first wealth is health.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Catching up with friends is awesome. To keep sane, I do it regularly.

Today was especially special. My boys got to hang out with my beautiful friends who also have boys. Today there was even one lovely girl. All the boys were running about, all the while Heli's Madeleine watched the madness. And her future choices :-)

But I digress...

During our morning tea which turned into a delicious lunch, we got talking about what we eat. What we can eat and what we can't. Allergies are everywhere I discover more and more. Heli is allergic to oranges, soy, strawberries, tomatoes and more. Meanwhile, Daniella has a fructose and gluten allergy. That means most fruits and most carbs.

Later that day, I was thinking how hard it must be for Heli and Ella to prepare every meal. To go out for dinner. And then I thought about how at the end of every day I prepare an egg free vegetarian meal which should lower cholesterol for my Darling Hubby. I try so hard not to whine.

Then I heard from a very old friend who I haven't caught up with for four years.

He has bowel cancer.

And liver cancer.

And after months of radiotherapy and chemotherapy, the doctors wanted to do more. He asked for his odds. And with more 'therapies' and surgery, he had a 5% survival rate.

As you can imagine, he's ditched the chemo and radio and is on the 'greens' (as he put it). That's an organic vegan diet full of vegetable purees for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Potatoes at every meal (for the potassium) and a cocktail of natural drugs. He mentioned casually that he's keeping his local organic fruit and veg place in business.

Then tonight, my boys had their immunisations. That means I voluntarily let people stick needles into both arms of each of my children so that not only are they protected, but they are protecting the children around them. Nobody needs to die from the Flu (or many other previously deadly viruses) anymore. Despite all the horror stories I've read on immunisations.

It's been one 'health' of a day. And I learnt that without our health, what are we left with?

Wednesday, June 09, 2010


"You can learn many things from children. How much patience you have, for instance." – Franklin P. Jones

Today I had a lovely friend, her gorgeous girls and baby boy over for morning tea. She reads my blog and suggested that today I learn that it's okay to be in front of the camera (then she took a photo of me).

But today I have something else that I'd like to share. (Sorry Leanne, I'm feeling camera shy today!)

Before she came over I wanted to bake a raspberry, banana & coconut loaf. So with a half hour to spare, I grabbed all the ingredients from the pantry and started to prepare. And my boys, always loving to be part of whatever Mummy does, came over to 'help'. Their type of helping usually means eating the raw ingredients, but today Madison wanted to be helpful.

Really helpful.

But of course, I was in a hurry and just wanted to get the mixture into the oven so the house smelt all yummy when Leanne arrived.

I was starting to get stressed, when I stopped. And realised...

Why am I rushing this? He wants to learn. I should show him, teach him, empower him, and be patient. If I involve him, he'll stay interested in cooking and preparing food for eating for a lot longer. This opportunity may come and go and if it's not a positive experience, he won't want to help again.

So, then I let him sift the flours, and crack the eggs. And add the coconut milk and mix it all together.

And something that might have taken me a few minutes took a-a-a-ges.

But you know? He did a great job and was so proud of himself. We used lots of extra bowls (to make sure we didn't have egg shells in the mixture, and so we could do everything step by step).

The short term pain is worth the long term rewards.

I must make that my daily mantra.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

lesson eight | there’s always time for a cuddle

“I will not play tug o' war. I'd rather play hug o' war. Where everyone hugs instead of tugs, Where everyone giggles and rolls on the rug, Where everyone kisses, and everyone grins, and everyone cuddles, and everyone wins.” – Shel Silverstein

I've mentioned just once or twice before that Tuesday is Madison's favourite day. It's the day where he goes to swimming class.

Madison loves his teacher, Tracey.

No, really loves her.

If she's sick, the replacement teacher just isn't good enough. The first time Tracey wasn't there, he was so distressed. Just because he wanted Tracey.

Usually at the end of every class there's a High 5 for all the students for a job well done. But Madison just wanted to show Tracey just how much he loves her.

And look what I captured today.

Monday, June 07, 2010


"Enjoy your own life without comparing it with that of another.” – Marquis de Condorcet

If we're all honest with ourselves, at some stage in our lives there is someone or a group of someones who we look up to or admire. We wish we had their home, their friends, their clothes or their money. Perhaps even their lives.

When I was younger I wished to be more like A, or act more like B, perhaps look like C. A few weeks ago, I listened to someone's struggle with this very issue and their lack of peace with their life.

And as I was driving this morning to a new playgroup, I thought about the conversation again. How I wished there was more money to go around, how I wished we could finish our renovations, or even have a CD player in my car.

And when I looked in my rear vision mirror at my two boys smiling back at me in their little bear beanies, it was then that I realised that I have everything I could possibly want.

And that is a wonderful place to be.

Do you wish for somebody else's life? Or are you completely satisfied with your own?

Sunday, June 06, 2010

lesson six | my boys are going to eat me out of house and home

"One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating." - Luciano Pavarotti

As my stepmother nicely puts it, my son Madison is a hoover. He's got a great appetite, and it's been the same since he was first born.

I'm so glad.

Because I've heard stories about children who don't eat, barely eat, and are fussy eaters.

Then I had Noah, and I was sure he was going to be different. But he's not.

He's also a hoover.

And when Madison and Noah ate their lunch today, both had seconds, while Madison ate another whole sandwich.

And it's not so much of a learning experience, but more of a realisation.

Each of them eat twice as much as I do. (And let's just say, I don't eat like a bird.)

And as they get older, it's only going to get worse.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

lesson five | there is nothing more amazing than to admire the work of an artist

"The artist is a receptacle for emotions that come from all over the place: from the sky, from the earth, from a scrap of paper, from a passing shape, from a spider's web." - Pablo Picasso

Today I had the honour to support a new friend who has started showing her creations at The Substation Artists' Market. I'm not a brooch person, but let me tell you - she makes the most amazing brooches I've ever seen.

And not only did I get to see some of her stunning creations, but quickly discovered there were many other things for every one of my senses.

To hear the echo of a beautitfully old heritage-listed building filled with the sound of string instruments and smellling of fresh coffee and danishes, I knew this was going to be a great experience.

To see and admire hand-knitted sleeves, ceramics, hand-made designed shirts, jewellery, paintings, cards and herbal teas was just beautiful.

Today, I learnt that it is truly wonderful to admire the work of an artist.

Friday, June 04, 2010

lesson four | late to bed early to rise achieves results, sleep optional

"To know much sleep less." — Anonymous

Never has my desk been more organised, my days been more planned or my house been so clean and tidy. There's been time to bake, and I even have lots of time to enjoy, play and learn with my boys.

But I have a confession.

It makes me so tired.

Let me explain...

With the boys' changing their afternoon routines, I decided to change mine. Madison and Noah both used to have an afternoon sleep at the same time. But now Noah has merged his two sleeps into one while Madison has suddenly discovered he doesn't needs a sleep after all. Let's just say, Quiet Time isn't as quiet as it was.

So instead of getting frustrated every afternoon expecting both of them to go down to sleep, I just now get up earlier and work quietly in my office.

It had been working like a dream. Before the household rises at around 7am, I've already worked an hour or two. The house is completely quiet, and there's time to focus on my 'desk' jobs. And then when the afternoon comes, we're free, and I'm not thinking about when I need to get all that work done.

My original theory was to turn my day around so I'm not up late doing things. But that side of the plan hasn't exactly worked. So, instead of going to bed at 10:30pm like I hoped, more jobs have crept in, and I'm still hitting the pillow around midnight, sometimes later.

And even though the boys now sleep through, 4-5 hours of sleep a night for me just isn't working.

Which is a shame, because if I didn't need sleep so much, I'd be getting so much work done.

lesson three | having a mini-break puts things into perspective

"Being a parent is so hard, and I have full-time help. How do the mothers without nannies do it?" - Charlotte York

Being only a few lines short of finishing today's blog posting, I had to rush off to a hairdressing appointment. The boys were fed and ready for bed, while DH arrived home with only a moment to spare before I had to go.

My hairdresser was flat out when I arrived, but I was child-free. I was happy to drink my cuppa and read a magazine. After all, I hadn't read any fashion magazine for months. As the apologies flowed for the wait, there were also some comments about seeing me on my own and not recognising me without my boys. After all, they're always with me.

After my haircut, I realised that I had no pressing appointments to rush home to. The shopping was done, and I didn't need to buy a thing. So I walked around the shops, mindlessly.

It was wonderful.

And I realised it has been so long since I went shopping on my own without rushing around with errands to do, or prepare for birthdays, or anything.

I could just browse.

Then I decided to see a movie too. And as I sat in the cinema surrounded by packs of women watching SATC*, there was a scene that I could relate to at that moment.

It was the scene between Charlotte and Miranda and their heartfelt (and funny) discussion about the difficulties of being mothers. Being a mother is hard. Guilt becomes our middle name if we lose our cool with our kids, or if we're not with them every minute of the day. And the big one: we beat ourselves up over not loving every minute of motherhood. Children can drive us absolutely crazy.

By the time the movie ended, I was excited to go home and see my family. But I realised that having a little mini-break always makes me miss my family and want to be with them. I might feel like I'm going bonkers at times, but I love them to bits.

Nothing like a bit of fresh perspective.

*Okay, okay. You know I'm not a fan of Sex and the City. I missed the whole SATC crazyness as it all happened when we lived in a developing country and in remote West Australia. But when I queued up at the cinema, I confess I hadn't heard of any of the other movies showing. And I did see the first movie with my SATC obsessed step-daughter Leah (and it was a little funny).

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

lesson two | celebrate every achievement

"Life isn't a matter of milestones, but of moments." - Rose Kennedy

Today my baby walked to me.

Not once, not twice, but over and over.

I think I can officially say He's Walking.

And although I knew it was coming, there's nothing like the excitement that you have when your child reaches a significant milestone.

There's cheering, lots of cuddles, and there's the encouragement to do it again.

Even though I'd seen it before, it was the first time for Noah. And that made it worth celebrating.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

lesson one | you can dance to anything

"Dance like no one is watching. Sing like no one is listening. Love like you've never been hurt and live like it's heaven on Earth." — Mark Twain

When my son asks if we can "dance by holding hands and spinning around", there's no dedicated time put aside, and there's usually no music playing.

Dancing can happen anytime in our house. To a song that's sung out loud, hummed or even whispered. It's so sporadic.

For example, this afternoon Madison was watching Fireman Sam. The theme music started up and that was all he needed to get up and dance.

"Mummy, can you please come and dance with me?" is the invitation. And I don't hesitate. Because it will all be over in a moment.

learn something new every day

It's a new month, and a new theme for my Photo A Day project.

What a beautiful way to celebrate winter.

Last month's theme: Things I love was inspired by my friend Kellie (and this month too). And it looks as though more people are inspired (pop over to Jodi and Dannii's blogs). So, of you're looking for a photo project, please join us.

This has grown from the April challenge: Being A Real Mum, and the May challenge: Things I Love.

And the challenge?

There's a saying that goes something like this: "You learn something new everyday".

So, What I learnt today is the June Challenge. I seriously cannot believe I'm doing A Photo A Day Challenge for the third month in a row... but here we go!

Thanks so much for stopping by.