Halfway Through A Childhood

Halfway Through a Childhood

Recently my eldest turned 9. He greeted his birthday with the usual youthful enthusiasm of a child who knows he is about to be showered with presents. After receiving his gifts and having his special pancakes with chocolate topping breakfast I took him off to his Saturday soccer match. He was delighted to be playing his favourite position of goalie for the first half. A perfect soccer birthday present.

9th Birthday Soccer Goalie

At the end of the game, while all the team munched on celebratory chocolate, the coach wished Jonty a happy 9th birthday then looked at me and said, “You know what this means Caitlin? He’s halfway to 18.”

This statistic pretty well made me gasp. Given that these first 9 years have effortlessly slid by, I’ve suddenly got a glimpse of how quickly my son’s childhood will be over.

But it’s not over yet. And we are determined to continue to make his childhood a tapestry of rich memories threaded together by strong and meaningful relationships.

By the birthday bonfire later that evening, I reflected on the first half a childhood my boy has experienced and what it’s been like mothering the first half of his childhood.

The moment that little man was born and I held him in my arms, I was enveloped in a vacuum of love. The feeling of him in my arms was like no other. The vacuum of love in those moments after his birth were thick.  There was nothing else in life that mattered in those moments apart from absorbing and transmitting sudden deep emotions. As I held him for the first time and the thickshake of emotions swirled around, I vaguely became aware of the midwife gasping, “Oh dear, he’s poo’d all over Mummy.” I didn’t respond, but I can remember feeling annoyed that she would distract my attention from this bundle that I was completely besotted with.  Poo is inconsequential when your life is being transformed.  Becoming a mother is a transformation. You are still yourself, but never again the same as before.

I realised later why she would make a comment, the poo was rather enormous, and black and sticky and was plastered all down the front of my hospital gown.  I didn’t realise at that moment how the poo was symbolic of what was in store for me in the years that followed. Lots and lots of poo.  But let’s not dwell on the drawbacks of motherhood.

Newborn Firstborn Son
The first moments of my son’s life.
Since those first moments of motherhood, every moment afterwards has been guided by love for my child. Of course the intensity of that initial fierce rush of emotions subsided, but never the amount of love I have for that boy.

And so his childhood began. My days were devoted to giving him a childhood that would set him up for life. The effects of a good or a bad childhood echo throughout the rest of a person’s life. The enormous responsibility of parenting can be a daunting task if you let it be.

So instead I started by focussing on learning one thing at a time and then doing each thing I knew to the best of my ability. Of course, I often failed. But gradually we traversed through the fields of childhood.

Such meadows of discovery!  From the moment he discovered his fingers and toes progressing to an awareness of the world around him – principally at first a bee mobile used to keep him occupied for hours. In fact, I would have to remove it for him to sleep. He couldn’t close his eyes as long as they dangled above him. (Little did I know it was the first glimpse into the later sleep habits of my little insomniac.)

Baby and Mobile
Jonty loved his wooden bee mobile.
Onwards he strolled through the meadows of discovery. Crawling becomes a vehicle to venture further and to make more exciting findings. First stop is normally the Tupperware cupboard, but so many places to go from there. Learning to walk is increased the pace. The ability to walk through the meadow of discovery and pick bouquets of adventure and excitement naturally only increased the thirst for further exploration and before long he was running.

I have many, many fond memories of childhood. Becoming a mother has made me more aware of the time in childhood that a person cannot actually remember of themselves. The baby and toddler years are precious years of passion.  Feelings are immediately expressed and hysterical giggles can morph into hysterical tears in a moment. Everything is a related to feelings and discovery.  And I learned that as a mother, you are most likely the person who most treasures the moments and experiences of what will become their forgotten years. Childhood amnesia is a part of every persons life. Grey misty memories of early ages can be obtained, but those who loved you most keep most of the moments close to their heart, and even if the stories are not all told, it adds a layer of complexity and beauty in that rich tapestry of love that surrounds a person.

Batman in hiding
Batman in hiding. Undercover in a hedge.
0.5 of childhood. The halfway point of riding bikes, climbing trees and jumping on the trampoline for hours.  A time when little regard is given for time. There is no realisation that time is in fact fleeting.  He has swam through the summer days and played hard during winter in the frosty outdoors with little regard to the cold. (“Please son, put a jacket on! I don’t care if you aren’t cold. I’m cold, so that means you have to put one on.”) Disregard for dirt and cleanliness and any food that features sprinkles is classified as gourmet.

Childhood is when the journey of education begins. When Mummy blinks back the tears as her little boy skips into Kindy and then plunges into school life.

Kindy Boy
A ‘big’ Kindy boy. (Wasn’t he little?)
Childhood. A time when life is taken for granted. Because that is the way it should be during this time. Too many childhoods have been ruined by selfish adults and by wickedness thrust upon a child’s innocence. My child trundles through childhood unaware that he is lucky. Unaware that there are dangers that others experience, but not him. Of course there are times when he has a glimpse of his own fortunate life. I can remember my boy staring at a picture of a little African boy. Skin clinging to ribs with nothing in between. Stark bareness all around. As he looked at the picture he peppered me with questions about where and why and then he sat staring at the picture, for at least half an hour. And then he began dreaming. Scheming of ways to help the helpless. In his imagination planes full of food and necessities were flying endlessly. Houses shipped across oceans. Inventions to find water. Machines to create happiness in far off villages. All impractical and childish, but visionaries only need a seed and the seed doesn’t need to be practical. Plant the seed, let it grow and practicalities will come in time. In the end all the dreams were reduced to a small donation from one little boy’s money box.

As he grows, so does his awareness of the outside world increase. The second half of Jonty’s childhood will not be the same as the first half of his childhood.  During the second half of the year we will continue to water that seed of awareness of those around him and those who live differently to him in the world. Early childhood is by nature egotistical.  He is becoming less self centred but compassion for others can also be learned, so it is our goal to continue to foster that in him as he grows into adulthood. It is my ambition that by his teens he will be able to focus energies outwardly rather than filling the status quo of a self centred teen.

We have started to share memories. He is no longer dependent on my memories to remember his own life. And so a major part of our role as parents is assisting the creation of memories. Giving our childhood experiences and learning opportunities that will later become the memories that shape their life. Giving them experiences that they are able to learn from and grow from. Not all memories necessarily need to be pleasant, but the main thing is that from the trials of life they grow to be a better person from it.

So on that 9th birthday, as we reached the halfway mark of childhood, the memory creation continued as children danced around the fire, twirling with glow sticks, making up games and hunting for more wood to throw on the pile. Hollering, whooping, no fear of darkness but pure childhood heaven.

Kids by a bonfire

9 years old, but still plenty of time for firsts.  On that night it was the first time they ate smores and then later settled down, after watching a movie for his first sleepover with a mate.

Movies during a sleepover

His cousins also slept over, but that wasn’t a first. All deposited in the good memory bank while blood ties and friendship bonds that keeps growing richer.  One of the greatest joys of motherhood is that I have become a childhood bliss creator. The currency of my payment is smiles and giggles, whoops of excitement and jumps up and down in ecstasy and anticipation.

Childhood. It’s a long term investment. A healthy happy childhood will keep paying dividends for a lifetime. 


What do you think are some of the delights and highlights of childhood?


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Sweet Elephant Review – Eye Spy and Mother's Corn Bubbles

I have recently discovered a very sweet children’s store online called Sweet Elephants. Over the weekend my children have had lots of fun playing with two products from Sweet Elephants. The Mother’s Corn Bubbles and an Eye Spy pack that we were sent for us to review. I am delighted to share about these products with you since my kids have really loved using them.

Eye Spy

Do you love it when your child is sitting still and deeply engrossed in a screen free activity? I certainly do, which is why I have immediately become a big fan of this toy.  (I have to say, I have been far more impressed by these little bags than I thought I would be.)

When we received our parcel from Sweet Elephants the Eye Spy Bag was wrapped up in brown paper and string. (How quaint!) The triplets loved opening ‘the present’, even if there was a little anxiety when one of the others had their turn as each waited anxiously to open it.

Package from Sweet Elephants

They were instantly captivated by holding the bag full of beads and searching for the little surprises that would appear in front of the clear panel.

It is actually a great manipulative for their age group, and they really had to concentrate, think, problem solve and use fine motor skills to work out how to get new objects to appear in the window.

I also had peace of mind that the triple stitching was safe and the little ‘beanbags’ wouldn’t escape.

Because it is a quiet activity, it’s a great tool to have for trips in the car and is also easy to throw in the handbag for periods when children need to be quiet like in waiting rooms or shopping. It also has the extra benefit of no meltdown when you take it off them, (unlike electronic games, iPads and phones)!On the weekend, I took it with me when we went to church. My 7 year old niece particularly loved it. She had never seen it before and picked it up. Because of the handy tag clipped onto the bag, she immediately knew she had to search for the things listed on the tag and she studiously became engrossed in making sure she found everything.

Eye Spy Bag is good for playing with during church

We went out to a restaurant afterwards and once again the eye spy bag became handy to give to children to keep them occupied. Mind you, it’s not necessarily a quiet activity if you have a two year old enthusiastically calling out the names of the objects he sees! Great for language development though! When the kids were finished with the bag, it was actually passed around the table and all the adults had a play! Even the men! One man commented that he would like to play with it in church, but commented that he would have to sit down the back so the pastor couldn’t see!

Eye Spy Bag at a restaurant with kids
Some iPhone snaps my sister took yesterday as the kids were playing. Can you see how interested Toby is as Jayden discovers the hidden objects?

I’m definitely thinking of getting another one or two for my children, the only hesitation I have is that some of the things inside the various bags overlap, so there won’t be as much interest for them when they swap bags.  I think it will be an excellent stocking stuffer and maybe even getting some to put away for gifts for others. I think I might buy some to put away for gifts also. They are a great first birthday present or gift for a toddler.  I think the Mummy will be very grateful for this gift as well as the child!  Older children like it as well, but I don’t think I’d give it as a present. Just have it available for them to use at the right time. My sister commented yesterday that she thought it would be a great product to have as a calming activity for ASD children or children that might be tense.

Mother’s Corn Bubbles

Bubbles are always fun for children. We also reviewed Mother’s Corn Stackable Bubbles.

Wow, these are really bubbles with a difference! You blow them and when the glistening rainbow colour starts to fade into a pearly white, you can catch the bubbles in your hand!

It actually makes the bubbles ideal for older and younger age groups. We didn’t get any nice photos catching the bubbles in our hand, it was all a bit fast paced with the triplets around! I will definitely get these out again when the older necies and nephews are around, I think they will all love playing with them.  It was funny that a host of bubbles got trapped in the trampoline net like bugs on a windshield!

We also found that the white bubbles would rest on the grass, get caught and be suspended in silvery spider webs and delicately sit on the branches of trees or on bushes of flowers.

The bubble blower is exceptionally well designed with a tray included and a place to stand the blower when not in use. The blower was easy for children to use and they couldn’t backwash into the pipe. It was also comforting to know that they are safe and eco friendly.

The blower great design also meant that when the children blew through it, there was an enormous supply a bubbles that they blew! There were a few squabbles over whose turn it was. Quite understandable really, because normally the children are too little to be able to blow bubbles properly, but with this product they were making hundreds of bubbles!

Mostly the children blew small bubbles.  Jonty started to learn that the more slowly you blew, the bigger the bubble would be.

We played with the bubbles on Saturday afternoon

and also Sunday afternoon. Daddy was giving rides on the motorbike, so the children were happy to blow and catch bubbles as they waited for their turn.

For those who saw my Facebook post during the week about The Accountant’s pride and joy, please note new tyres.

Learning how to get my camera off auto and onto manual is a goal of mine, just as so as I can find the time to learn! Photographing bubbles, even on auto was a lot of fun! When I do learn, I can’t wait to have a play photographing bubbles. I think there is a lot of room for creativity with bubbles and cameras. Mother’s Corn Bubbles are actually a really good choice for photographing bubbles also because the bubbles last longer than ordinary bubbles. I think I will recommend them to my sister to use at her wedding in a few months time.  The refill prices were quite reasonable also.

This is not a sponsored post, Sweet Elephants gave us these two products to review. Of course I was more then happy to do so after my children so obviously enjoyed them so much. They get a big thumbs up from us all!

As a special bonus for Caitlin’s Happy Heart readers, you will receive a 10% discount if you buy an Eye Spy Bag or Mother’s Corn Stackable Bubbles at Sweet Elephants if you enter the code iheart10 at the checkout.

We are linking with Eva today at Multi-Tasking Mummy

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Photos for Great Grandad – Wordless Wednesday

Sunday afternoon. Five happy children are scattered throughout the garden. Playing, exploring, enjoying the moment, celebrating the small things in life. Living their childhood. This will be a part of the collage of memories they reflect on as they grow older.

Mummy wanders around with her camera, capturing the little moments, a moment in time becomes still, forever a point of reflection and joy. She is thinking of her grandfather as she snaps. He is sick in bed, the unfortunate victim of a stroke and his days are fading. His great grand children brighten his long days, he loves them dearly. Photos of the children are tacked opposite his bed, it brightens his day.

I snap away. These photos are not quite right. Grandad is old school when it comes to photos. They should be looking straight at the camera. “What a shame,” he has said to me “they glanced away at the wrong time.” Back in his day photos were not taken for artistic interpretation. He doesn’t understand why we capture so many moments. He doesn’t think in the way of the digital camera where you can snap in gay abandon. “The old box brownie took a good photo” he tells me. “It’s around here somewhere in my boxes.”

Later that evening I choose photos for his wall. My five children, joining the other 6 great grandchildren on the wall. They are part of his present and are part of his legacy. In the meantime, their innocent smiles enjoying childhood cheer his tired spirit lacking in energy but never bereft of love.

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Maintaining a Child Friendly Lawn

Since moving into our new home, the children have really been enjoying the extra space to run around. In addition to having a lovely large home, we also have inherited a beautiful lawn for the children and dog to play on. Every day you will find them enjoying the great outdoors!

Daddy taking a brief break from setting up the trampoline.

I had the opportunity last week to talk to John Keleher, the President of Turf Australia, about how to maintain our lawn so it remains in a great condition for the children to play on. John shared a wealth of information about lawns, and I have since been giving The Accountant several helpful hints. The Accountant is a bit of a lawn lover, but our lawns are not immaculate, so he’s always keen to learn a few new things. Not being one to keep information to myself, I would love to share some tips on how to Maintain a Child Friendly Lawn.

1. Choose the right turf
Before you think about maintaining your lawn, you must make sure you have chosen the right grass. Our lawn is Kikuyu. John said this is a great choice for our area because it has become a naturalised turf in this region. This makes it very versatile, which makes it a great choice for tolerating a lot of wear and tear that will inevitably happen when one has children, dogs – and in our case – motorbikes! Which actually is a very good shout out for kikuyu, because it has been hardy enough to withstand the children having lots of rides on the new little TTR 50 motorbike! (Alex gives the kids rides around the yard on his bigger bike also.) My advice is that if your lawn is patchy or the grass cannot cope with vigorous use by children, find a turf that will suit your family life. Australian lawn concepts has some useful advice on choosing turf.

2. Soil and Water
Our lawn is looking a bit yellow at the moment thanks to a late frost.

John said that giving it a good soak with water at this time of year will really help spruce it back to lush green. We’re fortunate to live in an area with lovely rich red soil. Soil is the foundation to having a beautiful lawn. If the soil is not good, or the ground is rocky, it is advisable to get at least 150mm of good quality soil before you lay your turf. Once you do have a good soil below your lawn, then watering will be a lot more effective. Of course it will depend on your location as to how much water you can access. A simple way to see if your soil is too dry is the screwdriver test. If you can’t poke a screwdriver into the ground, it’s too dry. We have access to bore water, so we’re going to start giving the lawn a bit more water in preparation to summer. Then it will be a case of making sure the grass does not dry out over summer. The grass often does look stressed in the middle of the hot summer days, there’s not too much you can do about this. However, if first thing in the morning you notice your grass is looking withered and shrinking, this is a good indication that it needs more moisture.

3. Weeds and Fertiliser

We have weeds popping up everywhere in our garden right now. John suggested a trip to Bunnings to get some common weedkillers before it goes to seed. He said there are several good products on the market, just pick one and follow the instructions! Too easy! In future years, make sure you check the same trouble spots, it might take a few years to get on top of it.

I thought it was interesting that John said he wasn’t worried about clover, even though a lot of people hate it. It’s actually a legume, so it can be quite nutritious for the soil and it tends to die away in summer. I was actually quite happy to hear that because I’ve always been a little fond of clover, especially remembering the clover chains and head bands I used to make with my friends when we were girls!

Clover, dog, a lovely lawn to play on in a beautiful garden. The stuff that childhood is made of.

Spring is also a great time to get some fertiliser on the lawn. Then follow up with another dose of fertiliser prior to Christmas. That way it will be nice and green for Santa’s entrance to your home. Tell the kids that Santa loves green grass, and they will keen to have it fertilised! Who knows, maybe it will be nice enough for the reindeer to have a nibble! Also, at the beginning of winter give a little more of a fertiliser so that it has got a reserve to make it through the colder months.

The aim is to have a thick carpet of healthy grass. A thick carpet of grass discourages weeds and leaves a lush play area for the children.

4. Mowing
Regular mowing is critical to train the lawn so it tightens up into a thick mat. Use a sharp mower blade, especially at this time of the year. Don’t cut the grass too low, leave about one third of the grass leaf at this time of year.

There are more tips on caring for your lawn to be found on Turf Australia’s website. ALC also has an informative page on turf and lawn maintenance.

I hope that’s helpful for you. I know lawns can sometimes feel like hard work, but a little bit of care means that it’s so much nicer for the children to get outdoors. And I don’t know about you, but I would prefer my kids running outside on a soft lawn, playing make believe or sport knowing they are getting exercise, fresh air

and sunshine. Much better than being cooped up watching TV and playing electronic games. Plus a nice lawn can add extra value to your home! Turf Australia found 73% of real estate agents say buyers want a safe playing area for their children and Aussie home buyers are prepared to pay up to $75,668 more for a home with a lawn. Wowsers!

Is your home turfed? If it is, what recommendations can you share about maintaining a lovely lawn? What is your favourite outdoor activity to do with the children on the lawn during the warmer months?

This post has been sponsored by Turf Australia.

Linking up with Essentially Jess

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Soft Playdough

I cam across a recipe for super soft playdough the other day while I was wasting time researching on Pinterest. It was one of those Pinterest moments where I thought, I’m going to do that as soon as I can. (As opposed to the 200 ideas that are still filed away for future use.) I shared here that the triplets have been very demanding of late, so I recognised that this would be an easy thing to make and play with. As it turned out, the triplets enjoyed it, but they weren’t in the mood at the time. (I’ll try again soon with them) Trent had his best friend around though, and the two of them had a fantastic time using this playdough.

It was a totally different sensory experience to normal playdough. The dough is really soft and smooth. It’s very moldable. It will stretch if you stretch it gently, but it also breaks apart easily. Even though it feels soft, it actually takes quite a bit of manipulation to play with. I could feel that the muscles in my fingers had received quite a workout playing with it. Which means it is a great activity for developing fine motor skills.

The recipe is super easy. It only has two ingredients – three if you put a few drops of food colouring in. Cornflour – and would you believe – Hair conditioner! As you can see below,  So it definitely isn’t edible playdough! The recipe advised 2 parts cornflour to 1 part conditioner, but to adjust the quantities if necessary. I certainly needed to add more cornflour. It was a little tricky to find the right consistency, having never seen it before. The first batch wasn’t as good as the second. I found it needed to be a little sticky as you finished mixing it in with a knife. Then you work it with your hands for a little bit and the stickiness goes away, to finish it off, I kneaded it on a bench sprinkled with cornflour, after that it no longer stuck to our hands very much and was still pliable. I used the cheapest ingredients I could find. The conditioner smelt like apples, so it was lovely to play with, and the playdough was soft on our hands and washed off easily.

But the best bit of all was playing!!!

Out came some playdough toys, and armed with two colours, the boys got stuck into playing. Pizza making was a big favourite. Even if mine kept getting flattened.

Then I started making a rocket. I was using lovely words like ‘cylinder’ and ‘cone’.

The boys were not so excited about the amazing learning opportunity I was presenting about the properties of 3 dimensional shapes. However they were very focussed on destroying my rocket ship before it even was completed. I had to go to extraordinary lengths to keep it safe!

Although it turned out that resistance was futile. Demolition was inevitable.

Once my rocket was obliterated, I started rolling playdough peas with my fingertips. Another excellent chance to develop fine motor skills. The boys weren’t too interested in that either, but wanted to squash my peas. This turned into an excellent training opportunity to teach self control and consideration. I explained to the boys, “I’m trying to roll a big pile of little peas with my fingers? Can you please not squash them?” There were a few squished at first, but I would say, “Oh dear, that makes me so frustrated because I’m trying to get a big pile. Can you please leave them so I can make a pile. Would you like to help me?” Eventually their hands would hover before they ceased and desisted! Excellent self control. The moment I asked for mushy peas they complied instantly!

Can you see yourself making and playing with this recipe? Let me know if you do!

Postscript: When we returned to play with this a few days later, the playdough was a lot harder and crumbly and we threw it out after that session, so it’s a bit of a one hit wonder. Although, perhaps different brands of conditioner might have greater success? I should also add, that it did crumble a little the first time, and was a little bit of messy play, but it did clean up OK, although I did hose the chairs off. It came out easily with water.

Today I’m linking up with Essentially Jess

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Construction Site Toddler Entertainment Service

Yesterday we went to one of the weekly playgroups we frequent. Playgroups are great, they give children heaps of social interaction, experiences, activity and conversation for us Mum’s as well. Afterwards we had a wander across the road to watch some construction that is happening. I have taken Trent across the road a few times when he has been on his own. Normally the triplet’s are pretty tired by the end of Playzone. However, this morning I had read a moving article about Not saying “Hurry Up”, so I decided to savour a moment and let the kids watch the roller and tip trucks. (Unfortunately the Excavator driver seemed to be having smoko.) They loved it. And it reminded me that watching a construction site in action can probably maintain a child’s attention (especially three one year olds) more than a Disney movie.

It’s all about cherishing the moment. It’s a unique position to be in when you are in a Stay At Home Mum. Sometimes we can be so busy rushing around trying to finish this and that and we forget the real reason we are staying at home is actually for our children, not to keep our house tidy, even though that needs to be attended to also.
Anyway, I hope there will be construction work to observe next time we go. It seems that we have potential site workers after all.
Nothing like getting dirty in style. Dump trucks and frilly skirts totally compliment one another.
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Children's Joke Books

We have received several books from Scholastic recently. Being an avid children’s literature lover, I find it as exciting as the children. Although, I can tell you that when a box arrived from Scholastic during the holidays, it was almost fever pitch excitement here as the box was eagerly opened and the new books examined and read.

A big hit from the selection has been:

My First Book of Jokes

RRP $9.99
Publication Date: July 2013
Source: Scholastic Australia

Joke books are a perennial favourite for kids. I can still remember my first joke book.

My favourite joke by far was:

Q. Ten cats were in a boat. One jumped out. How many were left?
A. None. They were all copy cats.

I think every time I saw my Dad I asked him that joke. Being a great Daddy, he laughed hysterically every time I asked him. (He should have learned from Mum, who stopped laughing, and therefore was no fun to share the joke with.) I don’t know how long I kept asking him, but it was not a short period. More like months rather than days or weeks.

About two years later. My sister discovered the same Dr. Seuss Joke Book on the shelf. Guess what her favourite joke was? Guess who laughed loudest at the joke? Yup, good ol’ Dad.

My brother was never much of a reader. In fact, you could say he despised reading as much as he despised school. However joke books have a magnetic pull. Even for reluctant readers. Especially when you have a hilarious joke about copy cats. Dad laughed long and loud. At 10 years old I really used to wonder how Dad could be so forgetful. After all, it was only lunch time, and he had a good chuckle over that joke at breakfast…

Needless to say, my youngest sister in due time also found the exact same book and without prompting came out to Dad with an extremely funny joke about cats jumping out of a boat. When she asked Dad the joke, there was a belly laugh, not only from Dad but Mum also. Over the next several weeks, the belly laugh might not have been there, but there was laughter everytime an excited little girl came up to her Daddy with shining eyes full of anticipation. By the ripe old age of 12, I could now detect the slight sigh that often proceeded the laughter. But Dad, bless his heart, (it brings tears to my eyes just remembering this) still laughed as heartily as the first little girl who had already asked him that same joke a million times.

Fast forward 20 years. A little granddaughter came out holding a battered and beaten up joke book. “Hey Grandad! 10 Cats were in a Boat…” So far 4 out of the 10 grandkids have discovered the old book. It also seems that there is a genetic predisposition to find the one joke funny. Now we are the parents we all join in the laughter. Although mostly we laugh at Dad’s fake laugh.

Scholastic’s My First Book of Jokes has the same appeal to young children as the tried and tested Dr. Seuss book. It has simple jokes that appeal to a child’s sense of humour, often relying on pun. The illustrations are entertaining, bright and colourful. It’s relatively short, so the kids don’t get overloaded and lose interest. There is a question on one page, and the answer is when you turn the page, so it gives the child a chance to guess for themselves first. I wish I had this book last year when Jonty had to bring a joke to school for Prep show and tell. I think it would have been very much appreciated by the preppies.

3 year old Trent’s favourite joke was:
Where do sick horses go?
To horsepital

7 year old Jonty’s favourite joke:
What do you call criminals robbing a jewellery store?

There is something precious as a parent hearing children laugh at jokes. I think it makes a joke book a pretty precious commodity. Not only are you buying your children literature that they will be motivated to read independently, you are buying their laughter to go along with it. And that is worth far more money then the price of a joke book. Great value I say!

Have you got a much loved family joke? Have your own kids discovered joke books? What are their favourites?

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My little ones have been learning about turtles. It’s been lots of fun.

This activity started it.

Can you remember doing this as a kid? I can! Jonty put the basket on his back one day and crept around the house proclaiming he was a turtle. Trent thought it was a wondrous idea and got his own basket. The played happily together for almost an hour. I swooped in occasionally as a seagull and tried to eat them, but alas for turtles they moved very quickly and all I could do was peck through their shell’s unconventional holes.

Random turtle sightings are common around these parts. (As are dirty socks left on lounge chairs. Thanks hon.)

The turtle game continued to be a favourite for Trent, even when Jonty was at school. Seagulls were soon considered boring and he begged me to various animals, his favourite: “Be a shark, be a shark” and “Be a squidgy, be a squidgy.” I have no idea how he heard of squids, but it became his favourite animal to prey on the Washing Basketted Turtles. (Co-incidentally the skid of screeching tyres is a “squid”, and squids are unchangeably “squidgies” in Trent Talk.)

I soon got tired of being the never ending enemy of the turtle, and quite frankly my supersonic ability (and resolve) to transform into different menacing animals was beginning to weaken. I startled myself with having a brilliant idea to turn this play into a learning activity. Because Trent was fixated on ‘squidgies’ and I was a very tired old squidgy, I encouraged him to come and research with me whether squids even liked eating turtles in the first place.

We found all sorts of information like a giant squids eyes were the size of basketballs! (This interested me more than Trent.) I also concluded that squids weren’t all that fond of turtles. Which stopped Trent asking for a squidgy to eat him for one day. (I’ll take it.)

We made a squid mask. You’d never tell that is what it was, but anyway…. it didn’t really matter since Trent ran around the house roaring in it.

We did some turtle craft. It’s only simple. But I think there is a tendency to get carried away that things need to be worthy of Pinterest these days or not bother at all. It’s not true! You can check out other turtle craft ideas, which I’d like to do, but haven’t had a chance to do (it can be difficult convincing boys to sit down and do craft sometimes!) on my Pinterest Board. Just simplify them if you have to!

We watched a video on hatchlings. (Watch it here)

I printed some turtle pages for the boys to colour in here.

It took a bit longer, but I also ordered some cheap little books on The Book Depository. I loved doing this, and will do it more often as learning opportunities arise. If I was to scan bookstores for books on a certain topic, I’m sure it would not be so easy or cheap. Plus one of the books is at Jonty’s reading level, so that made it ideal. We also visited the library and borrowed books on turtles.

In Bargara where we go to holiday regularly, loggerhead turtles lay eggs and hatchlings scurry to the beach after they hatch. I really wanted to visit Mon Repos at Easter, but unfortunately turtle season ended early this year. It’s definitely on our to do list with the kids.

All of this activity has just been gradually implemented over the weeks. It’s been fantastic. I’m eager to pick up on the next thing the kids are interested in and turn it into a learning experience as well. Not only do the children discover more about their world, but they learn auxiliary skills such as fine motor during craft, they learn how to research, they boost their creative play, develop a love of books and most importantly it fosters a love of learning.

Apparantly turtles can be scary too.

Do your kids play with the washing baskets? What do they pretend they are?

Oh, and would you mind going over and voting for me please?

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Favourite Books

I   L.O.V.E.  children’s books. I loved them when I was a child, I loved them as a teacher and I love them as a parent. There is something comforting in reading a book designed for children and oh the romance of the words and ideas, and the stories that dance around in your head long after the book is put down. Love, love, LOVE them.

I hope Immy one day will read some of my old childhood novels that I have packed away. (I don’t think my taste in literature will be as appealing to the boys.) The Little Women books, Anne of Green Gables, delightful Enid Blyton stories, gazillions of books from the Trixie Belden series, antique copies of my great aunt’s What Katie Did and What Katie Did Next books. There is one series that I hope all my children will love as passionately as I did. The Chronicles of Narnia. I have lost count the number of times I have read those books.

I thought it may interest you to know the favourite reading material in our household right now. If you have children with corresponding ages, perhaps you may even pick up a few new books to keep in your radar.


Last year, Jonty developed a love for espionage, which is why he had a Spy Party for his sixth birthday. It was no surprise then, when he was introduced to the Zac Powers series, he loved them. Zac Power is young boy who is a spy. He gets whisked away on secret missions, equipped with a wealth of spy gadgets and machinery to help him on his adventures. Every little boys dream. There is a huge amount of these books, written for differing literacy levels. Jonty isn’t quite at the level where he can independently read them, but I look forward to seeing his nose stuck in a book when he can, and I think these books will remain favourites for quite some time.

Jonty really loves non-fiction books. He is most enthusiastic about obtaining information of poisonous or dangerous animals as well as machinery and cars. The Eye Spy or Where’s ____ books are also popular choices. I personally get bored to tears trying to find inconsequential characters in a jungle of illustrations, to the point that I now say these books are to be read with Daddy.

I love reading books to Trent. He is so enthusiastic to hear the stories. He snuggles on my lap, examines the illustrations closely, participates in the text and when it’s all over, he loves starting at the beginning again. (Of course, that last point is only endearing if it’s a book that I also enjoy!) 
One of Trent’s favourite books at the moment is “The Unexpected Crocodile” by Kim Kane and Sara Acton.

I actually have no idea why he likes this book. I’m quite pleased he does, because there is so much humour within the text that amuses me. But I don’t think he picks it up at all. It would appear that perhaps to have a crocodile who eats people maybe all you need to keep a three year old entertained, regardless of the additional content within the book.

It’s all about a story of a crocodile who invites himself to a dinner party at Peggy’s house with the Dawson family, all wearing sea blue gumboots. Over the course of the evening, but before dessert, the crocodile eat the guests.

“Do you always eat the guests?” asked Peggy’s mother. “It’s a terrible habit.”
The crocodile shrugged. “Not usually, but tonight I had a dreadful craving for Dawsons. It must be the weather.”

One of the reasons this story amuses me so much is that it highlights the ludicrous tendency of parents to try to copy, compare and compete with one another. To the extent that Peggy’s mother ends up being jealous that the crocodile didn’t choose to eat Peggy.

“What’s so special about the Dawsons?” Peggy’s mother asked. “Peggy’s a much stronger swimmer, and she always hangs up her goggles. It’s terribly puzzling.”
“Perhaps it was the gumboots?” suggested Peggy.
“They were a nice shade of blue,” said Peggy’s mother. “I’ll nip down and get us some in the morning.
And she did.

This could be a very useful book for those who follow the trend to use their children (and what they wear) as status symbols. Although for the lesson to be learned, it would be dependent on hoity toity parents being humble enough to learn from a man eating crocodile. The man in question being eaten being Mr. Dawson, who remarked after the croc consumed his wife:

“Now look here, that wasn’t sporting of you,” said Mr. Dawson.
“Look at the time!” said the crocodile and he ate Mr Dawson too.

Trent still adores Good Night, Sleep Tight. It is a big favourite for multiple readings. The Gruffalo is another popular choice in this house.

The Triplets  

Typical of children of their age, it can be hard to get the triplets to sit still and listen to stories. They do love books though, especially Immy. Unfortunately the boys preferred interaction with books is still to rip them out of the bookshelf and leave them in a huge pile.

However, the top favourite is always the touch and feel board books. The “That’s Not My …” has always been a perennial favourite for my five kiddos. They are also are really starting to get into the word plus picture books, which is great for not only developing a love of literacy, but is invaluable speech development also.

So, are you familiar with any of these books? What are your child’s current favourite books?

Today I’m linking with Kelly’s Korner

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Introducing My Family.

Hi there! I’m loving the new look on my blog, are you? The amazing Miss Rachael has given Caitlin’s Happy Heart a facelift, which is very much appreciated because it has been frustrating me that it hasn’t been quite looking completely like me, but I’m too time poor and technologically challenged to do anything about it! Anyway, let me know what you like about it, or even feel free to give constructive criticism if you are feeling brave and see an area that could be improved. And if you are really enthusiastic, feel free to put my new shiny button on your page as one of your blog friends!

With the new blog look, I thought this would be a nice time to do something that The Accountant and I have discussed. That is to start using the children’s real names in this blog. We love our children’s names and would prefer to use them. Plus the little boys names were given when they were so young, they didn’t quite seem right as time has went by. Also, we want people we know to think of and use our children’s actual names, not their blog pseudo names. Another thing, that many of you noticed, is that I often slipped up and would mention a child’s name from time to time because it just wasn’t natural to use the pseudo names.

So, may I introduce you to my five wonderful children?

My six year old firstborn child. I called him J Boy on the blog because we often call him Jonty Boy. Full of energy and life. Jonty has a very strong will which makes him a very driven and determined person. I’m proud of him for being extremely polite and for his excellent conversational skills. He is really a delight to chat to!  His preferred time to have in depth conversations is at bed time.

My three year old big boy. I called him T-Star on the blog because we call him Trentster. When he smiles, it’s like a burst of sunshine. Trent is our early bird, often appearing at our bedside at ungodly hours, annoying us by repeatedly telling us “It’s wake up time now. It’s morning. Wake up. It’s wake up time.” (Repeat x50) Trent loves being around people and is a very enthusiastic friend to have. Especially if it involves roaring loudly.
The oldest one year old in our family. (By a matter of seconds.) I called him Joey on the blog after a Joey kangaroo. Toby, the blue triplet, is a little go-getter. Very active, the other two babies have learned to run away from him, or scream loudly, because he has a habit of stealing toys. Toby is the most enthusiastic child outdoors, and will get grubby the quickest. Most times he makes sure that he will be dirty by rolling and rubbing himself  in the dirt.

The red triplet. Jayden is very gregarious. He loves people and will often be waiting to catch anyone’s eye and laugh and smile and babble away. I called him Chook on the blog, because that is an Aussie way of saying chicken. He is also the triplet most likely to keep the other two awake at night by keeping a party like atmosphere in the crib(s). He can also be very sensitive and cuddly.
My only girl. I called her Missy on the blog, because this is what I call her sometimes, I also call her Miss Mouse and Miss Im. Others call her Immy or Imogen. Imogen is already a little chatterbug with an impressive repetoire of words and phrases for a one year old. She is feisty and will put the boys in their place if necessary. She loves shoes (makes her mother’s heart swell with pride) yet can still make impressive engine noises for toy cars. (Just to equal up Daddy’s pride.)  
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