Excuses

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. This year has not been anything like I expected. It has not been a bad year. There’s been low points, but there has been many high points also. Busyness has simply been the main culprit for this year’s departure from my expectations. I have read online articles attacking our seeming addiction to being busy and that make me feel guilty. Truthfully, I’d love to be less busy, but do you know what? I think it’s impossible for me to do anything less right now. Honestly, I’ve searched for things to remove from my plate. Blogging, you may have noticed, to be one thing that has (hopefully temporarily) disappeared from the real life dining experience.

For the most part, there’s not much I can take away. Having young children, and a lot of them at that, just has certain responsibilities that need to be met. Those little mouths keep begging for food no matter how hard I try to avoid making dinner.  Although the little bodies certainly don’t demand to be dressed, (due to the childish delight in a good nudie run), eventually the little bodies need to be clothed, and therefore clothing that is required to be washed (and possibly ironed).

Apart from housework, I do have other reasons excuses that are keeping me busy. I’m going to list them for the record, since there is not too much here detailing the happenings of 2016.

  • Work. It finally occurred to me the other day that I really am a working mother. I hadn’t been giving myself credit for this because the majority of  my work is from home. I asked for an increased amount of work this year, and they certainly supplied me with it. It’s chewed up all the time I had planned to do more exciting stuff. But in return I got money. Money is good.
  • Toastmasters. Have you heard of Toastmasters? It’s an international group that develops communication and leadership skills. Primarily through developing public speaking skills. I joined two years ago, and have been loving it. (If anyone has a speaking gig, I’m your gal!) This year I’ve become the President of our club, which has taken a little bit more time, although thankfully we have a really experienced and committed executive which makes my job easier. It also takes a bit of time to write speeches and present them. But it’s paying dividends. Recently I won first place in our local area conference for a humorous speech. Yay!
  • Husband. The Accountant has set up his own firm. Free plug here. Here’s really busy working looooong hours. We are so proud of him and the clients keep trickling in, and he bends over backwards to give the best possible service. It does change the dynamics on the home front sometimes though.
  • Grandfather. My grandfather passed away in August. He had been suffering with dementia for years, but the finality of death is another issue to walk through. It also takes a bit of time helping prepare for a funeral, but it’s also an honour to remember and commemorate a man who was important to me as well.
  • Bushwalking. I’m proud to report from my New Year’s Resolutions the one that I’ve kept is monthly walks with our family. Alex and I are loving it. The kids not quite as much because they don’t deem it as playtime and they are jealous about Saturday playtime. Never mind, we drag them along nonetheless and once they are out in the great outdoors, they mostly forget to complain. (Until the final few hundred metres anyway.)
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Our September bushwalk was climbing Mt. Coolum. So proud of the kids efforts. Little champions!
  • Health. I’ve been terribly sick throughout the year. (And years prior to this as it turns out.) I started having regular (monthly that became almost weekly) labour-like abdominal pain and violent vomiting episodes we and finally discovered that I had been making a rock garden in my gall bladder. Within two days of seeing a surgeon these rocks were removed and became the talk of the hospital ward for their dazzling size. I was blessed that we got them just prior to bursting. In addition to that I have ongoing issues with scoliosis. The deterioration of my spine is becoming significant as I get older and is causing me quite a bit of pain. We’ve planned surgery early next year to prevent the curve from continuing to worsen in the future. That will be major. Gulp.
  • Reading. This one is purely recreational and enjoyable. But since I’ve got out of the routine of blogging, (and when I just can’t move because of my back) I’ve been picking up my beloved books a lot more. Not that I’ve ever stopped reading because of blogging, I just have read more this year. I think my favourite so far has been “The Golden Prince” by Rebecca Dean just for being a good enjoyable light read in a genre that I enjoy. (Historical Fiction) I also really enjoyed “The Dressmaker” by Rosalie Ham.
  • Dog. Our beloved labrador got sick in April. It was so emotionally draining watching him struggle and we thought we would have to put him down. In the end, he was able to have a simple surgical procedure that he responded to. But he may have had an underlying issue such as cancer. He wasn’t in huge amounts of pain, but he wasn’t completely OK. He died peacefully in his sleep about two weeks ago. The kids showed their remarkable resilience as we worked through the issues dealing with death and grief.
    bronco
  • School and Kindy. I’ve helped out at school and kindy a little bit. Not as much as I might have expected. (See all of the above.) But a bit of reading here, literacy there and an excursion thrown in here and there and your days tend to disappear!

Well that’s my excuses. Of course I could fill you in with school holiday activities, mini getaways and all the other types of things that fills our days, like making a birthday and a wedding cake last week, but I think this has been a good little catch up. What have you been doing in 2016?

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A hacker stole my blog and my mojo

This year is not turning out anything like expected.

I had goals, I had high ambitions! I had fantasised about this year and looked forward to this year! Oh the things I could do with the extra time I gained while the triplets were at Kindy!!! And one of the things I most looked forward to was blogging more. Those posts, constantly being written in my head would finally be there on the screen. Words dancing and being read by thousands! (I did tell you I fantasised about this year.)

But this has not been. And I am sad about this.

The little tale of woe starts with a fiend. Let’s tell this tale the old fashioned theatrical way. Every time you read the word, hacker I want you to yell “Boo”. You may hiss also if you wish.

I had been struggling to get back into the groove. Finally, I thought I had a plan and I re-entered the blogosphere triumphantly declaring to myself that I was back and you would hear from me at least weekly. I wrote a second blog. Yeah baby, starting is always good.

Then it appeared I dropped off the side of planet blog. Into dark, dark, oblivion.

Appearances aren’t always what they seem. The scandal is, I did not drop off the planet. I was pushed. By a hacker. (BOO, HISS!)

Why? Seriously, why? It’s not like I had credit cards to steal on my site. It’s not like my site was a major intersection for internet traffic. No, it was just a tiny little cottage that I hung out with and a few people would come around and read and drink cups of tea with me on occasion. A pretty little place, but not terribly important. But the hacker (BOO, HISS) thought, “Oh, I am going to throw rocks at the window of the little cottage and see if they break.” They broke.
The hacker (BOO, HISS) thought, “I am going to spray paint the wall of this little cottage and pull up all the flowers.” And then the hacker changed the locks, barricaded the door, threw landmines inside the broken windows and all over what was once a pretty little garden and ran away.

Basically hacking is online vandalism. Pointless. A moments thrill for the hacker (BOO, HISS) and plenty of pain for the owner.

Tech is not my thing. Writing is my thing. The tech side of blogging. Not my favourite. I’m kind of clueless. So when I was shut out of my blog. I didn’t know how to get back in. When I got some help to open the door, we kept standing on landmines and the blog would shut down again. It happened so often that my web host disowned me. I got a phone call on Easter Saturday evening from my web host saying they didn’t like me and they weren’t going to host me anymore. Just like that. After two months of phone calls where they would “accidentally” hang up, I finally got a refund at least.

Luckily I had recognised my host was useless and was already in the process of moving hosts, so I had everything backed up and ready to go. I can’t believe I didn’t get to walk out in a huff.

Also, very luckily my little brother, who these days is in fact my big, very tall brother, had come to my rescue. He was my gallant knight in shinging armour (HOORAY!) coming to the rescue in this tale, and thanks to him and one of his skilled sidekicks, my little blog was restored and ready to proceed.

Except that darn hacker (BOO, HISS) had stolen my mojo. It is very difficult to locate stolen mojos.

We are now hitting the half way mark of the year. Can you believe it?

Here’s hoping my mojo is back and here to stay. (WILD APPLAUSE, CHEERS OF ENCOURAGEMENT.)

 

Postscript: As it turns out, by writing this post I’ve discovered another landmine. The hackers has taken away my ability to post photos on my blog. I’m emailing my brother immediately so he can gallop to my rescue. But in the meantime, I’m posting anyway, because it’s good for the mojo to post. Take that dastardly hacker.
Postscript of the Postscript: You can see one photo on the front page of my blog as it turns out. This one needed a caption – it’s the only one I could find before the kids wake up with my brother and I in the one frame. While I’ve been mojo-less we went to the zoo! That’s my immediate family. I’ve only got one brother, you can see why I’m the little sister now. 

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2016 Easter Books

Can you believe how quickly Easter is approaching? Granted, it is earlier than usual this year, which is shame, because that’s less time that can be devoted to consuming hot cross buns. Yes, yes, I’m a shameless hussy who eats hot cross buns in January. But back to the topic. It’s almost Easter!!! I realised with a shock this week that I should start doing some Easter-ish stuff with the kids. For starters, we always love reading Easter Books. This started today by reading two new Easter books that Scholastic* has released this year.  The triplets loved them, and we are now getting into the mood and perhaps will start some Easter craft this afternoon or tomorrow.

Both books have CD’s and the text from the book is sung by much loved Australian children entertainers.

Aussie Easter Hat Parade – Colin Buchanan and Simon Williams

An Aussie Easter Hat Parade Colin Buchanan and Simon Williams

True to Colin Buchanan style, this book was vey Aussie. All the Australian animals in the story strutted around in hats made from Australian flora and fauna. I can tell that after this we will be on the lookout more for Australian flowers. And why not, they are so unique and spectacular.

An Aussie Easter Hat Parade Colin Buchanan and Simon Williams

If you are having an Easter Hat Parade for children this year, this book is a really a must to read with them. It’s bright, colourful and fun. And add to that, it just makes you proud to be Aussie.

Egg Hunting We Will Go – Jay Laga’aia and Kim Fleming

Egg Hunting We Will Go Jay Laga'aia and Kim Flemming

This is a new Easter picture book based on the traditional rhyme, A Hunting We Will Go. I really loved the illustrations in this book. While the children were hunting for chocolate eggs they came across a range of other animals inside the eggs such as an owl, snake and crocodile. At a time when eggs are constantly on display, it was nice to discuss with the children the different animals who hatch from eggs. Just a little educational sidenote before we were distracted by chocolate eggs and the Easter bunny. And who said Easter fun wasn’t any less important then educational sidenotes anyway! (It’s only once a year after all!) I loved the marching rhythm of the music on this CD, and it’s going to be a fun way for the triplets to practice their cross motor skills as they listen to this book.

Egg Hunting We Will Go Jay Laga'aia and Kim Flemming

So – are you shocked at how quickly Easter is approaching? When do you start eating hot cross buns?

Linking with With Some Grace for Flog Yo Blog

*Scholastic gifted these books to me for review. All opinions are my own.

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International Women's Day

Today is International Women’s Day 2016. A day we celebrate the unique contributions that women make to our society and place value on the impact that women make in our world. 

This morning I stepped out of my comfort zone and was an MC at an International Womens Day Breakfast. It was a breakfast designed to recognise and honour women in leadership in our city and encourage young ladies who have been making a difference with their work and voluntary commitments.

MC at International Women's Day

What a pleasure the whole experience has been! Two weeks ago my friend Tanya let me know that she was starting to organise something for International Women’s Day. Along with a collection of women Tanya also asked me if we might be able to help, in any way. Oh my goodness, a group of women united together working together for a cause is a powerful thing indeed.  There was a facebook group messaging one another tossing around ideas and then accomplishing jobs. My phone has gone crazy for the last fortnight. Ding, ding, ding, in come messages with more ideas! Ding, ding, ding women were at work and posting what they had done to make it happen. From a venue being found, to crocheting roses and making lollie jars to highly organised run sheets. There were no egos, no hidden agendas, just a willingness to help.  The role I played was relatively small, but just being in the group was inspiring enough to spur you onto continued action.

International Women's Day Team

The event this morning was such a success with 150 guests including the mayor, councillors and council candidates in the upcoming local council elections, a police representative and school representatives.  We had two inspiring guest speakers and gave awards out to very deserving ladies who are making a difference in our community.

The theme for International Women’s Day 2016 has been #PledgeForParity . The definition of parity is “the state or condition of being equal, especially as regards status or pay.”  Sometimes it’s easy to overlook the divide that there is between the genders. Especially if you are a woman in the western world, where thanks to the efforts of women such a Emmeline Pankhurst, much parity for women has been achieved.

Did you know that the World Economic Forum estimated that if  current trends continue, global gender parity will not be achieved until 2133?  That’s 117 years away! What is more alarming is that in 2014 the forecast was that it would take 81 years to achieve parity. It’s alarming, that despite the great advancements gender equality and the achievements of women in social, economic, cultural and political contributions throughout the world, in some places, gender parity is actually going backwards.

Sometimes statistics like this can make me feel in despair.  Especially when you consider that much of the inequality between men and women happens far away from me in countries I’ve never visited, and possibly never will. How can I make a difference in the life of those women? Not everyone is called to campaign internationally for global rights. However, we can make a difference in our sphere of influence. We can become agents of change by creating a culture that promotes parity, that promotes respect and inclusivity. Individually we can create a corporate culture in our cities and countries that becomes the model and the inspiration for others.

Here are three simple ways to implement a #PledgeForParity to make a difference for women worldwide. I know these suggestions are simple. Creating change can often be simple. The real challenge is gathering enough momentum so that there are many people doing simple things so a change can occur.

Follow Your Passions

A powerful woman, the type of woman who creates change, is a woman who is following her passions. Whether a passion is for her work, her hobbies or interests or for causes, a passionate woman loves what she does and she will go the extra mile to achieve her goals.

If you have something you are passionate about, but have been afraid, decide today to start following your dreams. Don’t let gender stereotyping get in your way. If you need to break the gender barrier in doing so, good for you! Go girl! In the same way, don’t feel like you shouldn’t do something you enjoy because it is stereotypically a ‘women’s task’. Do things because you enjoy it or it fulfils your personal objectives. Don’t be influenced by other’s opinions!

This morning we listened to a 19 year old who spoke about her passion for trekking and climbing mountains. Alyssa Azar was the youngest person to cross the Kokoda Track as an 8 year old. At 10 she trekked to into the Mount Everest Base Camp, by 12 she had climbed the 10 highest peaks in Australia and at 14 she conquered Mt Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa. As a 15 year old she set her sights on climbing Mount Everest. She has attempted twice, but has been prevented by small things like avalanches caused by the Nepal earthquake. In three weeks time Alyssa is beginning her 3rd attempt at climbing Everest.

Alyssa Azar Everest

I have zero ambition to climb mountains, but when I was listening to this young lady talking about her passion, it inspired me to keep striving despite the obstacles. A passionate person can inspire irregardless of whether they are doing the same things. When you are around passionate people, you just want to become your best self. If you haven’t fully discovered your passion yet, manoeuvre yourself to be around passionate people. I can guarantee you that they will inspire you to discover your passion.

Train Our Boys (And Men!) to Stand Up for Women’s Issues

I mentioned this morning that I have four boys. There have been times when I have wondered why I do so much for females when I have so many sons. In fact, women’s issues are just as important to my sons as they are to my daughter. I have come to recognise that by me setting example for my boys on issues that need to be addressed for girls and women, they will grow to become men who speak out for women and create parity between the genders.

Children and Feminism
Breeding the next generation of feminists. #heforshe #allforshe

Women’s issues are also men’s issues. They are issues that men can either directly change or they can support women to change. Domestic violence against women is a men’s issue. Men are often the offenders, so it is men that need to stand up and put a halt to domestic violence. The sexualisation of women is a mens issue. It the men’s desire to gratify their sexual desires that entice women into degrading scenarios where they are no longer valued as a person, but rather their value becomes the sum of their parts. And when women are no longer valued, we do not have a climate or mutual respect and then we cannot have a society where women are empowered to pursue their dreams or make contributions in the workplace that only a confident strong woman can make. It’s all a cycle that keeps going around.

To stop the cycle of abuse or disparity, we need to be training our little men on how to value a woman.

Encourage Other Women

 The 2nd speaker this morning was Dr. Maree Toombs who is known as a leader in Indigenous health works at the University of Qld in Indigenous Health. She has actively improved the way people culturally work with Indigenous Australians.

Dr Maree Toombs

Dr. Toombs was inspiring to listen to as she spoke about parity and women’s opportunities. What made her message more powerful, was hearing her stories. Stories always make messages more meaningful. She had grown up in a small community and her mob is the Kamilaroi/Kooma people. She had not finished year 12 at school and struggled with literacy so after school she had been working in low paid jobs. One day her grandmother and aunty, who both had received an education, used homemade scones to lure her into talk to her, but when she arrived the ambushed her and were insistent that she needed to go to university. She did and after graduating as a teacher, (I was actually in her graduating class!), she worked teaching for awhile before returning to university and working her way up the ranks at two different universities.

I just love that it was two older women that were insistent that she needed to receive an education. They had confidence in her and new that with prompting she could discover her full potential. Women need women that push them to extend their vision.

Too often it is the opposite. Women often feel perform in front of others. Too often the dialogue that us women can engage in can leave us feeling indequate or guilty. We need to be cheering one another or, encouraging each other on and being authentic with one another. I have lost count of the amount of women who have been grateful they hear about my failures! I don’t think we need to talk about our misgivings all the time, but dropping the perfect facade goes along way to empowering women. When we all realise that we are flawed individuals doing the best we can do, somehow we become more efficient and effective.

One more photo that I’d love to share with you on this special day. The women in my life that I love most. My two sisters and my mother. I’m one of their biggest cheerleaders, and obviously they are mine also. (After all they turned up to a breakfast at 6:30am when they all live an hour away just because they heard I was MC!) I’m proud to be related to these women that I admire greatly.

My Mum and sisters

What is your Pledge for Parity on this International Women’s Day? Do you think gender equality can be achieved in our lifetime?

Linking with Essentially Jess for IBOT.

 

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January/February Goal Report

Hello, hello, hello!

I am hoping this is me properly logged on and ready to blog in 2016 – let’s start with a goal report, eh?

I’m sorry I’ve been so erratic at blogging for the last several months. I don’t think I exactly lost my mojo –  I have been constantly composing blogs in my head, but the words remained trapped there as the rhythm of blogging had escaped me as homelife/mumlife/holidaylife/backtoschool life seem to crowd my days, snag my attention and tire me out plus a few ongoing health issues ensured I didn’t get my energy back.

But here I am! Fingers clicking away at the keyboard and writing within a quiet house, children temporarily evicted for Kindy and school. I was looking forward to the peace and solitude of having the house to myself, but since school has begun I haven’t had very many quiet mornings at home, instead I have had days crowded with appointments, people and commitments. In fact there has been only one quiet morning, but it was busy as I tried to rush around tidying as much as I could before I had to start Kindy pick ups. I had been warned how quickly this time passes, and indeed it does.

So, my plan was to update you each month this year on how I’m tracking with my goals for 2016. Well, due to failing goal 6, I’m going to combine the January and February posts into this one edition today.

  1. Declutter
    So, this is happening really slowly, and I haven’t really completed a room at this point in time. But I have been decluttering, and there are some living areas that are a lot more clear. I have got pockets of clutter everywhere in this home, so this project is going to take time before we have some great results, but I feel like I’m off to a sound start. I’ll give myself a C on the decluttering efforts.
  2. Cook New Food
    I am smashing this goal!!! A+ !  So far this year, we have done so much baking! I think I’ve kind of revised this goal to not just be cooking new food, although I’ve been doing this, but also cooking more from scratch. I’ve really avoided using the ready made packets and bottles a lot, and it kind of feels good to know that in the process we’re saving costs and cutting out a lot of nasty additives and preservatives that we might otherwise be consuming. Favourite meals the last two months have been salmon rissoles, creamy pasta (although this is an old fave), thai beef salad and a slow cooker massaman curry.  (Another go to recipe) I also made an awesome no knead bread. Truly revolutionary! So easy, no need for a bread machine and tasty! My kids are big bread fans and were really thrilled and can’t wait to have it even more during winter to go with soups.

    Thai Beef Salad
    Thai Beef Salad

    Favourite treats in the lunchboxes that we’ve baked have been delectable date pillow biscuits, apricot and chia bliss balls, fig and lemon bliss balls, condensed milk choc chip biscuits, banana bread, pear tea cake, pear crumble cake, (pears were on special!), a New York brownie cheesecake and yesterday Imogen, Trent and I got the cookie cutters out and whipped up a double batch of gingerbread bikkies. I also had a delightful evening baking with my friend Belinda when our bookclub didn’t show up so we cranked out cakes and biscuits for our family instead. I have to say, I kept getting distracted because I was talking so much (plus my kids were being naughty and not sleeping so I was also chasing them back into bed). Thank goodness Belinda was more switched on then I was, so everything turned out. But bake and chat with a friend. I was in my happy place!

  3. Create
    Another goal I’m happy with. I think this is deserving of an A in January, and maybe a B for February. In January I made some cute little sheet bags for the triplets to carry their sheets to Kindy in for rest time. I particularly love that I’ve used fabric that I used during their monthly photo shoots when they were babies!
    Tote bags
    In February, I’ve had one meet up with my friend Jodie where she cut out bunting and I worked on my crochet blanket. It was a very pleasant afternoon, since I was late arriving and didn’t make it before lunchtime on account of trying to catch up on the declutter goal before I left. (So the Accountant wouldn’t complain too much!) I’m looking forward to our next creating session!!!
  4. Theme Months
    Another F for fail here. Themes no. Spending time with the kids without themes. Yes. So only a technical failure, although I’d like to continue to try to be more specific with my triplet time on non-Kindy days. It’s easy to let them keep playing independently and get my own work done, which is fine, but I think we would all benefit from a little more concentrated Mum time.
  5. Explore the OutdoorsMonthly Family Bushwalk Challenge #monthlyfamilybushwalk (Join in!!!)
    This has been my favourite goal so far I think. We have now done two bushwalks in both months, and it is just delightful to spend time in the outdoors as a family. Plus exercise! Plus seeing our country! Plus bonding! Plus building stamina! Plus, plus, plus, the list continues.
    In January we explored Maiala National Park at Mt. Glorious. We were very proud of the four children (we were missing Jonty who was out on Grandad’s farm with his cousins) who walked the 4.3km return track to Greenes Fall. Not a bad way to start our challenge!

    Maiala National Park
    Maiala National Park

    Last weekend, our February exploration was Crows Nest Falls. We may need to repeat this one, either as a family or perhaps just the kids and I during a school holiday because we didn’t walk all the way to the falls because our little Miss got in the car with no shoes on. We drove around Crows Nest looking for shoes, but alas, it’s impossible to even find a pair of thongs in a sleepy country town after 12pm on a Saturday. We were able to walk quite comfortably to the Bottlebrush pool – Daddy had to carry the small girl a bit. She was quite happy to walk barefooted the way home though, in fact so did some of the boys as well. It was a hot day, so swimming at Crows Nest Falls was just lovely and refreshing, even despite The Accountant claiming he was attacked by a platypus. (He did get cut on his feet and legs by some animal, so who knows!) The kids also loved climbing on the plentiful supply of rocks. I can remember loving doing the same thing as a child. It’s lovely when history repeats itself.

    Crows Nest Falls
    Crows Nest Falls

6. Blog more regularly 

Well, you all can give me a big fat F for January, and I think we could probably say for February as well, unless perhaps I can scrape two blogs this week, and then I might give myself a D. Hopefully this will be the turning point though!!!

So there’s a little bit of what has happening in my world. Of course sandwiched in there were rather important things like starting school and kindy. Also we had a trip to Bundy to celebrate a friend’s 40th and a visit to a shearing shed on Grandad’s farm out west, which was just great for the kids.

 

What’s been happening during the start of your year? Can you believe we are almost in our 3rd month? Do you love to bushwalk? Do you want to join our #monthlyfamilybushwalk challenge? Remember to instagram/facebook/tweet if you do and use the hashtag!!!

Linking with the ever lovely Jess at Essentially Jess for IBOT.

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What I Plan to do in 2016

Why hello there! You may be excused for thinking that I fell off the edge of the planet, but it’s quite OK folks, I still do exist.  It seems to be common for me to go quiet on the blog at the end of the year, and last year (now that 2015 is so last year), everything seemed even busier than normal. The last time I blogged, I was days away from turning 40. I had a wonderful 40th birthday, (I’d love to tell you about it sometime), and then school holidays and Christmas parties started, so the busyness we experienced trying to do end of year school things and organise a party, just didn’t stop. Especially since we were getting ready to travel to family over Christmas time.

Cutting 40th birthday cake
Cutting the cake at my 40th party.

We have just arrived home and are not quite unpacked after a lovely time away with family in Cairns and exploring far north Queensland. Fortunately the heat wasn’t as stifling as our last visit when I thought I was going to melt as quickly as Frosty the snowmen would if he were sitting next to a campfire. Unfortunately, the monsoonal rains started and we pretty much didn’t see blue skies the entire time we were there. Occasionally a blue sky would shyly peep through the rain clouds, but it would disappear quickly in favour of a torrential downpour.

Millaa Millaa Falls North Queensland
The kids and I at Millaa Millaa Falls North Queensland

Ironically, half an hour after we left Cairns, we were told that the blue skies returned, but we haven’t seen them, because it’s raining hard here at home now.

And so here, I sit in 2016, the rain beating on my tin roof, ready to begin 2016. I spent some time on our 23 hour drive home (Time increased thanks to taking the scenic route on the first day, it took the same amount of time to arrive in Cairns, mind you. But that time we didn’t plan to take the scenic route.) pondering my hopes, dreams and plans for 2016.  Hopefully I can share with you my progress at the year proceeds.

By the conclusion of last year, I just felt tired. It may have been that our family of seven had spent over a week living in someone else’s house and were sharing one room and the sofa, but I just felt so weary. 2015 wasn’t a bad year, but it has been challenging with my health. I have scoliosis and the bend in my spine is significantly increasing and I experience high levels of pain every day. I am aiming to get surgery in 2017 once all the children are in school. This makes my day to day quite exhausting, and combine this with my five spirited children and the pressures of my husband setting up his own accounting firm last year, I felt fatigued. I was quite contented to make my new year resolution “To Sleep” (and add a wish, to sleep pain free), and leave it at that.

Being the eternal optimist though, I think that 2016 is going to see some triumphs in our family, and for this I look forward to, and in anticipation, I’m rolling up my sleeves ready to do the hard work to make our dreams come true.

2016 is the year the triplets start Kindy. Of course I’m a little bit sad that they will not be with me five days a week anymore, but I’m quite excited by the possibilities of what I will be able to accomplish while they are out of the house also.

This year, I’m thinking I would like to break down my goals for the year into months. That way, each month is a new start and a chance to set goals to suit what is going on in the family. But roughly, here are the categories I am going to work on each month.

  1. Declutter
    After four years of triplets in the house and limited time to address problem issues and my own messy tendencies which only exasperate this problem, this year I want to declutter a zone each month in my house.
  2. Cook new food.
    I think we have a pretty varied menu in our family, however, I feel like with everyday cooking and baking, I’m in a bit of rut. I have my favourites that I pump out, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but this year, I’m aiming to increase some quick family meals and baking recipes into my repertoire. Hopefully this will help decrease the tendency to use jar and packet foods on nights that I have little time also. To add to this challenge, I’ve decided that I’m not going to buy any cooking books or magazines this year. I love buying these, but really, I have more than enough to step out of my comfort zone by just using the material that is already on my burgeoning bookshelves. I haven’t banned myself from using the internet or library if I really want to find a recipe though.
  3. Create
    A friend and I have decided that we are going to sew or do craft together on alternate Wednesdays this year. I can’t tell you how much I am looking forward to this. Each month, I’d love to have a finished project to show, or at least be able to tell of significant progress if it’s a larger project.
  4. Theme Months
    On the days that the triplets are home, I would love to be more focussed with our time together and make the most of this last chance we have to spend large chunks of time together before they begin full time schooling. The triplets love a theme, so I hope that we can work on a theme each month. I’m also hoping to do some fun number and letter work with them in preparation for Prep, especially since two of the triplets already seem to have a natural interest for letters and numbers.
  5. Explore the outdoors as a family
    During our holiday, there was a delightful moment when I realised that we had just completed a bushwalk – with the whole family! I have missed doing things like this because we have been so restricted in the last few years because it’s so hard with the triplets. After speaking with The Accountant, we have decided to set a family challenge to visit a national park, or do some other outdoor activity each month as a family. We recognise that these excursions might be reduced due to limited time during soccer season, but even still hopefully we can explore something that is closer to home.
  6. Blog more regularly.
    I will let you be the judge of whether I achieve this goal, but because I am not returning to teaching this year thanks to the shorter kindy days, if I’m going to make this blog work, this year is my year to do it. I think one regular feature I should do is a report back on how I am going with these above projects. I am hoping that this might be an interesting blog each month.

I love all these goals, and it’s really increased my anticipation for the year ahead.

Christmas Day 2015
A fun little snap taken on Christmas Day with Jonty, Imogen, Jayden and my nephews.

What did you do over Christmas? Do you have any resolutions/goals for 2016?

Linking for IBOT with Essentially Jess.

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Turning 40

40 years ago the year was 1975. The headlines were sensational! The Vietnam War had ended, AC/DC released their album, “High Voltage”, Margaret Thatcher was elected PM in England while meanwhile in Australia Gough Whitlam was sacked. As 1975 approached its conclusion I was born in an outback hospital in the town of Mt. Isa.

Newborn in 1975
Here I am – one week old with my very young parents! (3 months later I went to my mother’s 21st!)

And so, this weekend, I turn 40. Milestone birthdays often make you pause and realize that time disappears quickly and you’re getting older. Turning 40 is particularly distressing because it has the attached what I think consider an unattractive label of “middle aged”.

How could I be middle aged? For starters I intend to live until at least 100, so I couldn’t possibly be middle aged yet.  Perhaps I should ignore the label and heed the advice of Mark Twain. “Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”

When I think about it, there are so many reasons why I shouldn’t mind turning 40. 40 may be older, but it’s also wiser. I would say I now possess a smattering of wisdom. It’s very nice being wise. It means that I understand so much more about life. And perhaps sometimes it means I make a few less dumb decisions compared to when I plunged into life with the inexperience of youth.

Sometimes the only way to gain life experience is to laboriously Trudge. Through. Each. Step. – I’ve waded through difficult situations and hardships and have overcome what appears to be insurmountable odds and during these times I’ve developed and added depth to my character.

Then other times it feels like I’ve gained wisdom by cheating. How can something as valuable as life experience be obtained by simply hanging on for the ride of this crazy roller coaster called life?  The literal ride of your life zooms you through the exhilarating descent of childhood, twists you around in the heady spin of romance, it takes you on turns you didn’t expect and sometimes it makes you scream with terror. But it also makes you laugh and cheer, it makes your heart pump and your eyes twinkle.

Roller Coaster Rides
Earlier this year. Taking my five year old on his first ‘big’ roller coaster ride!

The rich memories and experiences of my 40 accumulated years and is not something I would be willing to trade for less candles on my cake this year.

Even the tough experiences like crashing my first car. That day I learned a hard lesson that it’s not worth going slightly over the speed limit because if a car coming the direction at an uncontrolled intersection is also exceeding the speed limit it won’t be good for you or the car at the collision point. And then the humiliation of that incident will continue when your sister gets a poster size picture of your written off car and displays it during her speech at your 21st. Sigh.

Or there’s the memory of the delight and intoxication of falling love and then the reality after the wedding bells stopped ringing and we had a humdinger of a scrap on our honeymoon over the necessity of purchasing nail polish. That was a moment of realization that it was going to take a lot patience, humility and forgiveness to make our marriage work.

Plane
Newlyweds. On our way to our Tasmanian honeymoon destination.

Or there’s the tender moment when my firstborn son was placed in my arms and the overwhelming strength of a mother’s love that surged as I stared at his gorgeous face. Within seconds the reality of motherhood became apparent as my son released his bowels all over me. But already I was completely a mother and discovered that love does not diminish when be plastered in this particular human’s poo.

Newborn child moments old
Jonty’s first moments. (The photo conveniently cuts out the poo I’m caked in!)

I can clearly remember the card my father received on his 40th birthday.  There was a mountain goat skipping up a hillside and the card read, “You’re 40! But you’re not over the hill yet!” But when you opened the card, the mountain goat was balancing precariously on the top of a very triangular mountain and the message continued, “You might be at the tippy, tippy top, but you’re definitely not over the hill.”

So here I am. 40. Am I now standing at the tippy tippy top rather than still prancing up the hill?

God only knows. But do you know what? I can’t change it if I’m at the mid point of my life. But my goodness, it’s been something special prancing up this hill called life. There’s glee at reaching the summit when you realize that the excitement of life continues whichever side of the mountain you are on.

Call me middle aged if you must. It might take me awhile to embrace that label.  Right now, it doesn’t bother me because dressed in my twirly party frock, the view from the tippy top of Mt. 40 is spectacular! And this mountain top experience makes me spread my arms in Sound of Music style and declare – Life is wonderful!!!

Life is pretty damn good at 40!
Turning 40? Pfft, why should that make me stop smiling?

Linking up today with Essentially Jess – I Blog On Tuesday.

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Christmas Books

Reading Christmas books has become a family tradition with my children in the lead up to Christmas. Last year we had a Book Advent with the children daily unwrapping Christmas books in December. This year we will definitely continue you this activity and Scholastic has gifted us two delightful books which are going to be a delightful addition to our Christmas read-a-long.

Santa Claus is Coming to Town and We're Going on a Santa Hunt

Both books have bonus CD’s, which always adds a bit of excitement for the kids!

“We’re Going on a Santa Hunt” has a recording by popular children’s entertainer Jay Laga’aia which is going to make the triplets excited because they have been a big fan of Jay since watching him at a Kindy Counts concert earlier in the year. Jay has such a calm soothing voice, yet somehow still manages to get children excited at the same time. This book is written in the style of “We’re Going On A Bear Hunt”, which is a big hit in our family, especially when we act it out. The morning the children open this story I am going to have a Santa Hunt ready and waiting. My plan is to string some tinsel from trees to mimic swinging from tinsel trees, we will do some ninja jumping, ride pretend trains and reindeer sleds before squeezing down a “chimney” (I’m still trying to work out what this will be – it’s a pity I don’t have a play tunnel at home.) Of course we won’t bump into the real Santa like Laine Mitchell and Louis Shea’s crew did! We’ll save meeting Santa during a shop visit!

We're Going on a Santa Hunt

“Santa Claus is Coming to Town” has a CD included with this much loved song sung by Human Nature from their  platinum selling record, “The Christmas Album”.  I always was a bit of a fan of a boy band, and having an excuse to listen to male vocals crooning while hanging out with a storybook and your children – I call that a win! The vibrant illustrations of cute animals getting ready for Christmas by Nathaniel Eckstrom are delightful. But let’s face it – any book that promotes good behaviour – once again #winning! I for one, am a parent who will milk anticipation of the naughty and nice list during December!!! (Not as a threat mind you – I prefer to focus on it as an incentive!)


Santa Claus is Coming to Town

 

Are you getting any Christmas reading ready for your children? Have you got any ideas for me on what I can construct (it has to be simple!) for my children to imagine they are crawling down a chimney?

 

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Garden Party Attire for the Whole Family

Garden Party Attire for the Whole Family

Your whole family has been invited to a garden party. But how do you dress everyone in garden party attire for the whole family?

Well, let me give you some hints. The Accountant is hosting a garden party in my honour for upcoming 40th birthday and I am planning the family wardrobe at the moment.

Garden Party Attire is a dress code that indicates a more relaxed event, but you do need to ascertain what the standard will be somewhat based on the venue. A wedding in some formal gardens would indicate a more dressy event reminiscent of cocktail wear. Or you have know that it is going to be very informal and casual, in which case good casual would be appropriate. Generally though Garden Party Attire should be comfortable and appropriate for the outdoors while being classy and maintaining a little sophistication. Because of the outdoor location garden party attire also lends itself to be practical, hats and sunglasses and comfortable shoes that don’t sink into the grass are often appropriate. The colour palate often utilise lighter colours such as whites, creams and pastels.

Women’s Garden Party Attire

I love, love, love this dress! In fact, it would have been my ‘birthday dress’ if it didn’t sell out in my size when I went to order it. (I delayed because I wanted to look locally first.) If you are in the market for a gorgeous floral dress, you’re in luck, they’ve got in more stock, but be quick, Leina Broughton is very boutique with limited stock. (I’m looking for an excuse to buy some of her clothing now I’ve discovered the label!) I just love the floral print and the 50’s cut. I think a garden party is a wonderful excuse to wear a fascinator or a hat. It’s optional to wear headgear at most garden parties, but in my opinon there’s not nearly enough excuses to wear adornments on your head these days. If your fascinator offers more style than shade, don’t forget to include SPF in your make up routine. The great thing about wearing florals is you normally have plenty of colours to choose accessories. I’ve decided to go peach fascinator and bag with this dress and sapphire jewellery to pick out the beautiful blue and then keep the fabulous shoes neutral. Shoes at a garden party should be flat or have wedges to avoid heels sinking into the grass.

Mrs. Fun and Floral
Leina Broughton “Tilly” dress – $279; Gregory Ladner Fascinator $70, Mini Saffiano Handbag $255 – David Jones; Earrings $39, Sapphire Pendant $79.90, Ring $49 – Prouds; Diana Ferrari Wedges $129.95 – Myer.

Men’s Garden Party Attire

So, I have started to imagine away here and construct an outfit that The Accountant would look totally sexy in if he were to ignore the price tags. (If he saw the price tags his grumpy face would totally wipe away all signs of sexy.) I know my Accountant is very practical when it comes to skin care so he will be cranking out his trusty Sportscraft trilby and sunnies for the occasion, but this Kenji little number is a nice little piece. If I had the spare cash, I would splurge on a new pair of Ray Bans for my man. Chinos are a great option for a garden party. Relaxed and comfortable yet still have a light colour to suit the outdoors.Tan accessories are a great option for the lighter colours. I also love the look of a crisp white trouser with a navy blazer for a garden party menswear. To be truthful, I’m not sure if The Accountant will even bother with a jacket. He gets hot very easily, so the reality is he won’t be wearing it the majority of the time, so it’s not very practical buying a new one for the occasion right now. (Unless he finds a terrific sale. Fingers crossed!) If the event isn’t highly formal, I think this is perfectly acceptable. In fact, some garden parties you could even get away with short sleeved shirts. Men’s accessories that you might like to consider are bow ties, neck ties, vests, braces and of course the dapper pocket handkerchief.

Mr. Classy and Relaxed
Kenji Hat – $14.95 (on sale); Ray Bans $215.96 (on sale); Pierre Cardin jacket – $299 and shirt $55.96 (on sale); Daniel Wellington watch – $209.25; Diesel belt – $59; Hush Puppy slip ons – $150. All can be purchased at Myer.

 

Boys Garden Party Attire
With four boys myself I have plenty of experience dressing little men. Outdoors in the Australian sun a hat is a must. Trilbys are always stylish, which often boys don’t care about. But I would bet this one will stay on little male heads because, well sharks. Totally cool. I also would keep boys in short sleeves. Let’s face it, they will be running around and you don’t want them to overheat in long sleeves. A nice chino pant would look nice, but for summer weather I would probably dress boys in a nice pair of tailored shorts. My party is two days before summer, I think my boys will be howling if they need to wear pants, so I’ll be on the lock out for some nice shorts I think, and even then I will probably have to justify why they shouldn’t be allowed to wear boardies.
Little Master of Fun
Boys trilby ($15), aztec shirt($18) and stretch chinos($20) from Target. Shoes ($30) Mathers.

 

Girls Garden Party Attire
Little girls frolicking around a flower filled garden in a pretty dress is rather idyllic, don’t you think?  This little tule dress is gorgeous, I know my little girl would adore it, although you would have to be careful with tulle if she was playing outside for too long because it tears easily. Cotton dresses would also be a cool and practical choice. A garden party is perfect opportunity for your little darling to not only find a beautiful little floral dress but also to use some cute little accessories that girls often like to tote like sunglasses and handbags. It’s also a lovely opportunity for your girl to wear a wreath of flowers in her hair, although I would still pack a hat and swap it before there was too much sun on her sweet little countenance.
Miss Pretty as a Poppy - Little Girl's Garden Party outfit
Dress – Myer ($50); Floral Woodland Crown – Etsy ($80); Handbag – Seed Heritage ($40); Hat ($15), Sunglasses ($17) and Necklace ($10 on sale) – Pumpkin Patch; Ballet Flats ($12) – Target.

Garden Party Attire for Baby

Of course you could bring a baby to any event dressed in nothing but a bonds gro-suit and bubba would look completely adorable! However, if you are bringing a baby along to a garden party and what an excuse to buy some adorable clothes – happy days! There are plenty of pretty floral dresses that would be ideal for a baby girl. Baby boys can wear shirt and shorts or a cute romper or dungaree. Don’t forget the hat to shade babies fair skin!

Garden Babies
Girls Smock Dress and Rompers $49.99, Boys Cap $10 – Pumpkin Patch; Girls Hat $10, Boys Shirt & Vest $25, Shorts $15 – Target.

When taking the family to a garden party always dress take the venue and the weather into account and then dress accordingly. Be guided by florals and lighter coloured clothing. Once you get there, don’t forget to take a family snapshot at the beginning of the event of everyone looking ship shape and stylish! (Before the kids start running around playing games and getting flushed and rumpled!) Have fun!!!

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Introducing Baby Triplets to Solids

Introducing Solids to Triplets

This post is brought to you by Heinz Infant.

Starting babies on solids can be a big decision. I found when I was starting solids with the triplets, I needed advance planning and be mentally ready to begin. Factors that can influence your decision when to introduce solids include:

  • Appears hungry after milk feeds.
  • Watches closely and appears to want to eat your food.
  • Can open mouth for a spoon.
  • Is old enough to sit up with an unsupported neck.

Every child is different, so there isn’t a necessarily right or wrong time to start solids. Generally solids are started in between 4-6 months old.

Heinz has produced this helpful info-graphic detailing some hints on introducing babies to solids.

IntroducingBabyToSolids_HeinzInfant

My triplets didn’t completely start eating solids until they were 6 months. We had tried to feed them solids at 4 and 5 months and they weren’t interested.  To be truthful, this kind of suited me. I knew it would be more work once solids started, (and it was), so the lazy mum in me was happy let them gum Heinz teething rusks until they were a soggy mess and prolong the inevitable.

triplets eating rusks

Their first meals were Farex rice cereal. All my five babies started on Farex baby rice cereal and loved it. For the first couple of months Farex was always their breakfast. My babies liked the various Farex flavours and I would also mix some pureed fruit, vegies or juice in it to introduce different flavours.

Feeding triplets solids 6 months

 

Feeding baby triplets solids is a lot of work. I liked to give them home made food as much as possible. It would take so much time to steam the food and puree it!  A box of vegetables would be gone within a few days! There’s something very fulfilling blitzing freshly cooked vegetables and fruits to make nutritious food for your baby. It can be exhausting as well. Sometimes you just have to give yourself a break, so for the hard days I always had a supply of Heinz baby food jars in my cupboard. It wasn’t quite as economical as making my own food, but I knew that it was still good value and nutritious for my babies. I also liked that Heinz sources Australian products where possible and manufactures the food in rural Victoria. Mostly I like that Heinz Infant food is natural with all the good stuff. The food is steamed and heat sealed so it doesn’t need the nasty additives and preservatives.

I tended to also use commercial food instead of homemade food when we were out. Personally I felt that the jars or pouches of baby food were easy to carry and store. My babies didn’t mind eating straight from the jar also and so I didn’t need to even heat it up when we were out and once they were finished I didn’t need to cart around dirty dishes. I tried not to take it personally when the triplets used to bounce up and down in excitement when they saw the Heinz jars. They got far more excited compared to when they saw their ‘ordinary’ home made food!

Triplets in highchairs

Tips for multiple birth mothers when introducing solids to your baby.

  • Wait for a time which is convenient for you to begin so you don’t feel pressured to introduce a new routine
  • Take cues whether to feed babies separately or together. (When mine were little we often fed separately because they were too impatient to wait patiently for the next spoonful!)
  • Use only one spoon and bowl when feeding the babies together. (It makes feeding quicker and easier. Let’s face it, they already have one another’s germs!
  • Give the babies rusks or finger foods on their highchair so they can nibble between mouthfuls. (When you are feeding their sibling.)
  • Have a face washer ready to make clean up easy at the end. (Or a warm bath ready after dinner!)
  • Use store bought food if you need a break or need to create extra time to spend some quality time with your family.
  • Be prepared to get messy! (Them and you!) Wipe down splatter after meals. There may have been a few occasions where I had puree vegetables stuck to the walls!

Here is a video of me feeding 10 month old triplets. They all have qukes (mini cucumbers) from Grandad’s farm to keep them occupied in between mouthfuls. Not that it distracted Toby who was obviously very hungry. Obviously if you make more noise, you will also get more food when you are a triplet!

 

You might like to also check out an earlier detailed post I wrote about feeding triplets solids

What do you like to feed your baby when introducing solids?

Linking to Essentially Jess.

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