Playing Each Day

My friend Juanita, from Wife Mumma Life, has been running an Activity and Photo Challenge in March.

I have done simple activities with the children, but it’s been nice looking for specific opportunities to participate in play, kind of gets us out of our comfort zone in a non stressful way. You can play too if you want, or feel free to follow our play on Instagram.

Day 1 – Painting.

The kids painted on an old door. (The other half of the door was being built in a tree above their heads as Jonty’s new treehouse!)

It started with two
And then there was four.
Before finally all five contributed!

Day 2 – Um. We had a really busy Sunday with church, a party and then tired kids sleeping while big kids went to look at motorbikes with Daddy. No time to play with string!

Day 3 – Water Play
This was delightful. I just loved the way the play progressed on this day. I hadn’t decided what to do according to the prompt, “Water”. But the kids wanted to play outside, I said they could then opened the door for them while talking on the phone and realised it was raining. I shut the door, but it was too late. Their hearts were set on the outdoors. We put raincoats on (so cute!) and headed out. I figured at that point that technically I could claim this as water play. But once we got to the sand pit, I saw a watering can. Perfect. I filled it up and gave it to Immy. She adored tipping the water into the sand.

Then one of the boys asked her to tip the water into the back of his truck. Which she happily did. The other boy that this was a great idea and before long there was a queue!

After finding a second watering can, they became happy filling the cans up over at the tap, and then traipsing over to the sandpit to empty it. I don’t know why the sandpit needed to be the empty spot!

I was a watering can short, so Jayden got a glass. He was hilarious carrying it over to the sandpit. I hadn’t prompted him, but he carried it oh so carefully so not a drop would spill. He had such a funny walk while he did it!

 Meanwhile Toby got bored (Typical of Toby) and started walking with the umbrella.

Their last play with water turned scientific as they watched carefully as they poured it down the slippery slide.

Day 4 – In the Kitchen
I had my doubts about what we could do this day. I had people coming around in the evening and a lot of cleaning up to do. Cooking with triplets is very time consuming and messy. It turned out, they loved their time in the kitchen, and I didn’t need to do a thing! We’ve had a dodgy oven that has been both burning things and leaving things raw. Not ideal. The electrician turned up to fix it (Huzzah!) and the triplets were rivtetted by the man fixing oven show.
I didn’t ask the fellow what he felt about being in-home triplet entertainment, but he had confessed that he himself was a triplet so I felt that it was only fair that since he made it to adulthood that he give back to the Higher Order Multiple community. (Us Triplet Mummys call ourselves HOMmies.) And so I allowed the triplets to sit watching him while they sucked on their lolipops.

Day 5 – Chalk. Another missed day. It’s a lot harder to do this when you have been out during the day – and don’t have any chalk and no time to visit the shops. Serious lack of planning!

Day 5 – Explore

I know it sounds really simple, but nothing is simple with triplets sometime, so our simple exploration was walking around our yard and pick

ing flowers on the way. The triplets normally are confined to a small fenced area, for obvious reasons. So when they get out in the larger garden, they love it. 

Although you have to be very careful. It really is easy to lose them in our very large block. But altogether, it was a lovely little walk with them.

I’m glad we did it too, I discovered that a little pineapple had ripened in our very over grown weed garden vegie patch. Mind you, a possum had got to it first, but when we got back in the house, the rest of us enjoyed it. Incredibly sweet and very yummy!

There’s plenty of days left. Do you think you would like to join in the #wmlplayeachdaychallenge ? I’m loving that the prompts just make me think a little more, and even though I’m doing very easy things which fit easily into our days it’s getting out of our comfort zone and rejoicing in the importance play has during childhood.

Continue Reading

Nugget & Fang

Children tend to be fascinated with certain creatures – dinosaurs, monsters, robots, fairies etc. In our family this week it is sharks!

We received a gifted box of books from Scholastic this week. One of the big favourites from the selection has been “Nugget & Fang”. Fang is responsible for the Shark love happening in the house now. Which is totally understandable, because quite frankly, Fang is very loveable sort of shark. His best friend is a little minnow called Nugget. And if you think it’s an unlikely combination, the other minnows in the ocean and Nugget’s school teacher’s would agree with you.

After enjoying a wonderful friendship with Fang, Nugget is surprised to learn at school that he should not be friends with sharks. To be precise and quote the book, “Nugget was shocked. (And apparently delicious.)”  I love it when books that appeal to children have dialogue that is also appealing to an adult’s sense of humour also. Makes story reading a little less mind numbing! Do I hear an Amen? (Thankfully there is such a wide range of delightfully written books these days, so it’s generally easier to avoid the mind numbing episodes! 🙂 )

Oh, while I’m sharing my personal favourite parts of this book, let me also show you my favourite illustration. To get ahead of the story, Fang is devastated when Nugget accepts the status quo and avoids being friends with a shark. Fang unsuccessfully tries to prove he’s not scary. But the minnows gain respect for him after he rescues them from a fishing net. Although they were very surprised – staring in disbelief! *giggle* Don’t you just love their shocked wide open eyes?

This book has been very timely arriving in our house. With the start of school this week, Jonty has been adjusting to a new grouping of friends. My son finds forming new friendships tricky, and unfortunately his close friends are in the class next door. Which means he can still play with them at lunchtime, but at this age level, there is a certain mysterious dynamic which makes most children naturally hang out with kids from their own class.

“Nugget and Fang” was a lovely starting point to talk with him – and Trent, who next week will start Kindy, so he will be making new friends soon. This book introduced concepts of having fun together with friends, being aware of our friends feelings, and not accepting stereotypes.

This morning Trent asked if we could do some shark craft. I love it when reading inspires kids to do real life activities and to pursue further knowledge and learning. I found some lovely ideas on Pinterest, check out my board, Kids activities to keep kidlets busy, busy, busy. After being inspired by several cute designs, I thought I could utilise our own supply and make paper plate fish and make a box shark.

3 Minnows

The kids love doing craft and embraced the project enthusiastically.

Before long, it was obvious that I needed to step back and support their interest and enhance their learning by following their lead. The triplets saw the scissors, and were instantly captivated. They received some scissors for Christmas and love using them. Two years old is not too young to introduce scissors, although they do need specific teaching on safety behaviour.

So the fish were lovingly ‘fringed’ with lots of snips. Which is excellent for their fine motor skill development, not to mention a really useful skill to develop. When the triplet’s finished their fish, they continued doing paper plate collage, in full armour with a circular saw, of course. Well if one is going to get creative, you may as well go full hog!

And there was a lot more scissor work afterwards too.

The younger children decided themselves to colour in the centre of the fish plates. Even if it didn’t appear like it, they were making the connection with the book and their artwork, and referred to the book throughout the morning.

See Jayden pointing at “Fang”? So cute.

Trent embarked on the project to make a shark out of a box.

Can you see all the logical components of the shark? Fin on top, flippers on the side, the front is a blue mouth with top and bottom teeth. There’s also a tail stuck on the back. I’m so proud of his focus and concentration during this project.

I had cut a paper plate in half and showed him to cut little triangles to make sharp teeth. That turned out to be a little complex for him, but he still enjoyed manipulating the scissors and cut out a shape that he jubliantly declared as a mouth. I was about to offer my cutting, that decidedly looked more sharkish, when I remembered, that this was HIS creation, and it didn’t need to be perfect, and the process is more important than the outcome. In a world of Pinterest and picture perfect children’s activities, craft and parties, it is easy to forget this. I love Pinterest and almost die of cuteness overload some days when I’m on it. I’m not against helping your child to produce picture perfect things either,

just so long it’s not every.single.time and that your child is regularly allowed to be master of his or her creativeness. If there is a combination of parent led craft and child led craft, hopefully the child will gain techniques and ideas during the parent led craft that they can implement during their independently directed art – and play for that matter.

OK, rant over. (Although feel free to re-read the paragraph over again if you need to! Yes, I’m passionate about the topic!)

Fang the Shark as made by Trent.

So, I had a lovely time watching Trent create. We also introduced new words such as fin, tail and flippers. We examined the pictures in the book of what the shark looked like and then Trent would go and include it on his box shark. The only problem when he was finished was that he couldn’t play with it until the glue dried. That was a bummer But once it was all dry, he had a lovely time swimming it around the house.

After all that hard work, a picnic morning tea in a cubby house was very much enjoyed.

Do you find it hard or easy to give children free reign in creative projects?

Linking With Some Grace

Continue Reading

Two Year Old Triplets are Tiring!

Having three two year olds is really not easy. To be truthful, I’m really struggling at the moment. They are gorgeous. They bring me such joy, but oh my goodness that joy is accompanied by bucket loads of stress.

I just need to have a little ‘rest’ session at the moment before I continue to work on the myriads of tasks crowding my head… So I thought I would write a blog, because as a Mummy blogger this blog also serves as a little bit of a diary at times, for myself and my family in future years.

So let me share with you, as way of example of how my life is progressing at the moment with a seven year old, four year old and three 27 month old children. (If you are pregnant or have young triplets, perhaps you shouldn’t read on. Denial is awesome.)

Today. It’s my day with no help. I look forward to these days, but once they are in progress, I often get into survival mode. Sometimes I feel like I’m just treading water and holding afloat a boat full of children. Objective: No one drowns.

(Just a little aside, I just looked down at my fingers while I typed, there is a huge slice taken out of the middle of my fingernail. I have no idea how or when this dent in my nail has happened.)

The morning started by waking relatively early, so I reached for my phone and started reading yesterday’s Bible In One Year entry since I was behind. Before long, Trent, our early bird, arrives at my bed. He wants to play games on my phone. I refuse. He comes and checks every five minutes if I am finished yet. Even still I manage to read yesterday and today’s reading and then set the timer for 15 minutes and let him play a game while I shower.

I had a quick shower, well I thought so, I had purposely shaved the previous night to save time in the morning, but before I was dressed, Alex appears asking why I was taking so long. I retort that I haven’t been long, and he mutters something that it feels like a long time when you are surrounded by screaming children. Welcome to my life buddy.

The kids played nicely for awhile after Alex left for work. I managed to eat my breakfast, give the kitchen a tidy (you can’t tell that now) and do a few other tasks. And then, in between nappy changing, I printed out some Australia Day colouring-in sheets to do with the kids to decorate the walls for our Australia Day party on Sunday.

We sat down to colour-in. Actually, we went to sit down, then I noticed that the table had not been wiped, there were crumbs everywhere. Immy was desperate to draw, as was Trent, I set her up on a plastic box while I wiped the table and him on another flat surface. Meanwhile, the other three who had been playing contentedly now came out and started to fight over Immy’s space. She was fierce defending her textas and I quickly dried the table with a tea-towel before setting the kids up there. Immy refused then to be moved from her box, but was having trouble with the boys who were still getting down from the table to steal her pens. Toby is into biting at the moment, so had to keep getting sent to time out. Once when I came back with him I noticed that all the lids had disappeared, so then I was crawling around searching for them. In the meantime, another box of pencils was tipped over. You might think colouring-in is a low key activity. In our house, it is not.

The only way to get the kids out of the colouring-in meltdown was to feed them. Unfortunately I haven’t been fruit shopping this week, so rice crackers had to suffice. They were all happy because we made home made slushies.  Of course the contents of one full cup was spilled.

More play. More fights. More tantrums. More happy moments, more cute words and developing sentences. We read Immy’s favourite book, “Rawr” by Todd H. Doodler. Hopefully I will get the chance to tell you more about it, but if I don’t, keep an eye out for it. If you have a toddler who loves dinosaur, this book will be much loved. It’s so cute, and all the kids love it, not just my dino obsessed girl.

We made lunch. I couldn’t make the sandwiched quick enough. The triplets were literally standing at my knees begging for more and more and more. Thankfully it was soon time for their naps. Sigh of relief. I took the opportunity to have a quick check of Facebook. Wrote a Caitlin’s Happy Heart status. (Psst. Do you “like” me? If not come over to Caitlin’s Happy Heart and keep in touch, I love to connect with people!)

As I wrapped the computer time up, the two big boys came in asking to play Reading Eggs. Well, that means that Jonty plays it and Trent watches because he can’t participate because it’s linked to Jonty’s school account. But in any account, it’s a great educational game, so I said they could play it for half an hour.

In the meantime, I had my lovely sister and her man turned up. It was nice chatting to her, and we don’t get enough chances to do it during the week, so I don’t regret that at all, but it did mean that the jobs I was going to get done while the triplets slept and the boys played didn’t get accomplished. As my sister left, it started absolutely bucketing with rain. Our house, which is getting older, had two leaks with a lot of water pouring in, so then I was mopping up water, and shifting the unfortunate piano that was right underneath the largest crack in the roof. (I hope I didn’t undo the good work of my chiropractor from earlier in the week.)

Then I decided to do something with the big boys. Remember that facebook status I had written earlier? In it I declared that I needed the kids to go back to school so I could bake. But right then and there I decided to bake with them. They are going for a sleepover with their grandmother and cousins tomorrow night so I thought we would send a packet mix jelly slice with them for dessert. I had two boxes, so the boys made one each. It was very easy, except it had three stages, which made it more complex. Throughout the process, as is often the case when cooking with young kids, I had crumbs dropped everywhere, several near misses of catching licked fingers just before they went back into the cooking, tipped over chairs, and spills.

Towards the end of one of the slice stages, the triplets all emerged. Of course, when they saw the activity in the kitchen, they instantly wanted a part of the action. So I decided to bake ANZAC biscuits with them. I had wanted to make some for Australia Day. Cooking with two year old triplets is not for the faint hearted. But it is very cute, and I love seeing their enthusiasm. They love it all so much, like sniffing ingredients. (Go and see my Happyheart75 instagram video. I can’t seem to load it here.)

They also like pouring and stirring. The stirring will always end up with ingredients outside the bowl. By the time I stirred in the hot ingredients and had multiple hands diving to hold the hot saucepan and tears over who stood where, etc. I banished them all to watch ABC kids while I rolled and cooked the biscuits. (Notice a theme here on my alone days, electronic devices become my survival mechanism.) As I was finishing up the bikkies, I got the boys in to do the last stage of their slice, at which point Trent spilled a jug of half made jelly (you know, when it’s not stirred properly, but in the really sticky point…) so that was a joy to clean up.

I extracted the kids from the TV by serving the warm biscuits and momentarily everyone was silent and happy, until another drink was spilled. During the clean up Trent decided to have a meltdown over not receiving another biscuit. (I wanted enough for Australia Day in a few days time.) Between that and his initial refusal to help clean up after cooking, he now has a large chuck of his favourite toys residing on the top of our fridge as a direct consequence.

Favourite toys. (I still have some sELFies on the fridge that our Elf On The Shelf took. I know I should take them down, but they amuse me.)

The kitchen floor had started the morning sticky, and was already high on my to do list, was now feeling positively awful, but I realised that I really needed to get the children bathed. I did that, one at a time for the youngest four. By then I had barely enough time to get dinner ready. I had mince, and decided to use my new pressure cooker I got for Christmas to speed up the process and cook the potatoes in half the time for just a simple savoury mince. Simple savoury mince still requires lots of vegetable chopping, which always feels like more time than you anticipated. I was relieved when I finally had everything in the pan with the lid on.

At this point I retrieved my eldest, who I had allowed to play outdoors in the rain. He was soaking all over and filthy, on account of jumping in muddy puddles. (Peppa, I normally love you, but sometimes I rue the day you put dirty ideas in my children’s heads.)

Oh, and talking about puddles, Alex received a water cooler for Christmas. Which is a great gift, except the triplets are still in the training phase and are constantly overfilling and/or spilling. I have had a lot of soggy towels today. Still better than the first day we set it up. We went through 10L of water in one day. I kid you not.

The infamous water cooler. Complete with water drops due to a recent triplet visit.

By the time I got back to the kitchen I expected dinner to be made. Except it wasn’t. I hadn’t turned it on. Frustrating to the max. In the final minutes I could hear the inevitable sounds of tired children falling apart and I was literally pacing in front of the machine. At this point my husband told me before disappearing somewhere that he was leaving soon for futsal. I just fell apart and started bawling. The thought of doing dinner, teeth and bedtimes on my own for the five kids was just too overwhelming. I continued to howl throughout dishing up the meals. The big boys were concerned and wanted to know what was wrong, I had no good answer. We sat at the table, my eyes red and streaked and the triplets spent the first five minutes saying, “Mummy crying” over and over again. Bless them. I didn’t mean to be so dramatic. Alex offered to stay, but he was fully dressed ready to go, and I know how much it meant to him, so I didn’t want him to miss out. It all was pretty easy getting the kids to bed, thank goodness.

The beauty of being a mother, is that even when it’s tough, you look over and see this and your heart feels refreshed. I was so glad the camera was handy to capture my beautiful daughter.

I left a little bit of time in between getting the triplets down and reading the boys stories where the big boys played in their room and I got the kitchen floor mopped finally and the slice cut and put into containers, so I felt good about that.

After bedtime, I have sat down here. I’ve got a giant to do list. Here are things in no particular order that are up the top of the list:

Cover (most) school books.
Buy last bits and pieces of school uniform
Mop and sweep floors
Tidy office and bedroom (they are both in appalling messes)
Organise a meal for a friend that I said I would deliver for Saturday night
Tackle enormous ironing pile
Tidy Kitchen (Although I’ve heard The Accountant out there since he’s got home, so I’m hoping that he has worked his magic and tidied it up. He’s good at that.)
Pack bags for the children’s sleepover.
Pack bags for Mummy and Daddy’s night away! (Hooray!)

The last item is the silver lining. It’s Alex and my 16th wedding anniversary tomorrow. We’re going to eat out and spend the night in Brissy. I’m looking forward to it. We’re returning to the same place that I went when I was 23 weeks pregnant. That will be a nice trip down memory lane of that time as well as remembering our wonderful wedding day. Last time we went to that hotel, I had started contractions the day before so we were very cautious and careful. I’m so grateful the babies didn’t arrive for another 11 weeks after that. It will be nice to be carefree this time!

Anyway, I have now been at the computer blogging for so long, (well done if you have managed to read right to the end!) that I don’t think I will get any of the to-do list tackled in this sacred time while the children sleep. Fingers crossed for productivity tomorrow!

Linking up with

Continue Reading

Screen Time Suspension

Don’t you love it? There’s 120 acres of property to roam outside our back door, motorbikes, dogs, swimming pool, etc. yet I constantly have children begging for indoor activities that requires eyes glued to screens. Jonty had some friends around on a weekend, and I walk in and find them like this.

In our house this week, there is a suspension, until further notice, of the children’s screen time activities. So this week, and possibly longer, the TV is not being turned on, DVD’s are not being played, the DS and Leap Pad is out of action, computer games are not allowed and playing games on phones are prohibited.

I am not against any of the above, but there have been addictive behaviours creeping in, and there has been a lot of discontent and unhappiness. It’s crazy that the joy the child gets from playing the safe little games and shows can totally disintegrate and be not so harmless once the device is turned off. Trent particularly has been very cantankerous and is constantly begging to play or watch something on a screen. When the privilege is denied, there is much weeping, wailing and the preschool equivalent of  gnashing teeth – normally in the form of a tantrum or incessant whining.

Already it has been so much calmer since Friday when I pronounced the no screen verdict. There was much mourning on Friday. Happily, Saturday was Trent’s birthday, and except for asking a few times, they had plenty of new toys to play with and a party so the transition was smoother.

The ban was temporarily lifted for half an hour yesterday. The piano tuner arrived and the triplets, who fancy themselves as pianists were fascinated and constantly trying to bash on the keyboard, so I had to take desperate measures to divert their attention. Good old Chuggington saved the day.

Of course, it’s more work for me at times. It’s often so convenient to let the kids watch ABC 2 while I get a few jobs done in the morning, or let Trent play my phone while the triplets sleep in the middle of the day while I answer some emails or do some other little job. We don’t have the TV on all day, so I haven’t found that we have increased the non-TV activities as much, we have always had imaginative play, outdoor time and craft activities during our day. Instead, I’m finding that Trent has got used to the idea and is finding his own way to occupy himself during the times when the grown ups are doing other things. At the moment he is colouring-in and before that he had been vacuuming.

I’ve been suprised that the triplets have happily adjusted to not having their daily fix of television viewing after the bath, as has been their tradition.

Peppa Pig’s assistance with after bath activities. The triplets rather like a spot of ABC 2 while they get their PJ’s on.

It would be tempting to have a complete shutdown and completely ban screens totally. Unfortunately, this is not the world we live in anymore. It is important that children learn self control with electronic devices, even if during these early days the self control is imposed. In time, the lesson will be learned. The challenge will be re-introducing the screens into the household, and yet maintaining harmony, contentment and encouraging the children to be motivated to find  off-screen activities on their own.

At the moment I’m considering a chart with time limits attached. Once the time is gone, the children should be able to see that it is over for the day and think of other things to do so that we don’t have the continual begging and negotiation for more electronic time.

So do you have little screen addicts at your home? What are some of your strategies to regulate screen behaviour? I love hearing other peoples strategies.

Continue Reading

The Triplet's 2nd Birthday Beach Party

On Monday our triplets turned 2 years old!

To celebrate we had a beach party. Sun, sand, water followed with balls, cupcakes, lollies, family and friends. Yep, by the conclusion of the day I had happy and tired children.

We didn’t have to pretend that we were having a beach party – we were really at the beach! It was a long weekend – the triplet’s birthday fell on Queensland’s Labour Day. We were staying at my family’s beach house in Bargara because I had a school reunion in Bundaberg on the Saturday night.

A beach party can be a perfect opportunity to keep things low key. Although, perhaps my mother would not agree with me, since she did a lot of the work while we were over at the beach with the kids! God bless her. (Love you Mum!) Unfortunately due to a severe lack of shortage in the fridge, I was unable to prepare the salads in advance. Although Mum looked pretty tired by the end of the day, I think she was happy to compromise to be salad chef if it meant not going to the beach. Mum hates the beach – particularly the sand! She always has. It would appear that little Imogen Jennifer – Mum’s namesake – didn’t inherit Grandma’s abhorrence of the sand. She loves it and spent the majority of her time at the beach building sandcastles!

But truly, it was a very easy birthday party to pull together. Which was great, because when you are away from home, you really don’t want to spend your entire holiday doing party preparations. The schedule was simply have the guests arrive, allow the children to have a quick play and the triplet’s open their presents. Slap on swimwear and suncream, eat an ice-cream and walk across to the beach. After playing on the beach, we returned home, ate cheese and nibbles, drank wine (adults) and soft drink for the kids (and non-drinkers!) then had a BBQ lunch simply with steak and salad for the adults and the kids had sausages (and mainly opted out of the salad, rather having sausages on rolls). Dessert was the birthday cupcakes. Easy Peasy!

The triplets with myself and my two sisters.

It was also simple because we had a small guest list. Although anything with my family is not small, since my sister has a lot of kids also! My mother had come to babysit my children on Saturday night and my 2 sisters came, one stopping in on her way home from a holiday up north with the family and my baby sister and her boyfriend drove from our home town. Also, my best friend (since year one) came. Katrina, Kylie and I all have five kids apiece. Just because we are wonder-women. Kylie had her two eldest missing, so altogether there were 13 children. I’m fairly certain the neighbours are grateful we don’t live there every week. The children had a lovely time playing together.

I had a few games in my head that we might be able to play if we needed to. (In case you were interested, I thought we could do “Throw the thong” (Americans, please don’t gasp, in Australia, a thong is footwear, as opposed to the more raunchy thongs you have!) The person who threw the thong the longest distance would win. Sandcastle building competitions. And sand races. However, I didn’t need to do any of this. I was correct in assuming that the children would keep themselves occupied. Not only did the children stay busy, so did the men. We were hanging out in the bend between the ocean and a lagoon. There was a natural rock formation there, but at the start my brother-in-law started throwing rocks onto it to force the water to flow to a particular area to make it faster on the boogie boards.

Before long the other two men started to get involved in the project. By the end, they were so engrossed in their ‘work’ that they were carting huge boulders from all over the beach to ford their little part of the outgoing tide!

The kids also took interest in the project and used their boogie boards to cart rocks over to Uncle Adrian who was chief engineer. I think it’s safe to say, they spent a lot more time building the wall then they spent cannoning through the inlet!

Apart from this, there was lots of swimming.

Playing in the sand.

Squirting with water bottles.

Playing with balls.

Chatting mothers.

Boogie Board fun.

And just general beach fun!

The triplet’s were so tired by the time we got home that we actually gave them a sandwich and then let them blow out their candles and eat their cupcakes.

The boys are completely mesmerised by the candles. Immy is just struggling to stay awake.
They all thought the cake was particularly yummy.

So much so that when Toby stole Immy’s, she dissolved into a puddle of tears.

Which was pretty well an indication that it was naptime. They completely zonked out for a couple of hours. (They would have slept longer if their cousins and friends weren’t playing enthusiastically on the same premises, but the triplets were happy enough to rejoin the fun!)

In order to keep it simple, I had chosen cupcakes. Not that it turned out as simple as I planned, because the oven wouldn’t work. So I had to find a time that was convenient and drive to Kylie’s house to bake them. Only to discover the next day that I simply had been pressing the wrong combination of buttons, and in fact the oven did work. Oh my, oh my. (She blushes at her own stupidity.)

To keep with the beach theme, we had tiny teddies hanging out on the beach, stretched luxuriously on their beach towels (sour straps) under an umbrella. Complete with dolphin swimming in the water!

The party favour that the children took home was a ‘beach ball’. (Although for most it was just a ball, netball, soccer, basketball or otherwise.) The kids all had a play with them before they went home. They were so excited to get them!

But the best part of these favours (in my opinion, not the kids) was that they looked great as decorations! Especially hanging some beach spades and buckets up before we went to the beach.

I can’t believe I have three two year olds now! I am so incredibly blessed to have each one of them in my life. Happy Birthday Toby, Jayden and Imogen!

I’m linking with Essentially Jess today.

Continue Reading

Mummy's Tea Time Out

The triplets for the last fortnight have been absolutely beastly. It’s not their fault. They have caught colds, and it seems that they are teething. There has been relentless crying. And crying. And tantrums. And clingy behaviour. And crying. And crying. And wanting to be held constantly. Primarily by Mummy or Daddy. Did I mention there has been a lot of crying?
It truly has been exhausting. And I don’t know when it’s going to stop! But in the meantime, I’ve been trying to do as many varied activities as possible and lots of play to try and keep their little minds off their woes! For instance, this morning we made a special soft playdough. Kept their attention for 5-10 minutes. (More for the girl, less for the boys. In fact Toby, perhaps looked at it for 1 minute. Which is typical for him!)

 Before long this was happening. Again.

Yep. All three joined the refrain.

Jayden had got so dramatic that he had caught himself under the table. Not that it stopped him wailing at all. A rescue mission and consolation session was in order. Then I realised that Toby was missing.
Location. Kitchen. He had decided to mix himself up another batch of playdough. I keep forgetting that they cart stools around now. I shouldn’t, because open packages are dangerously messy.

By the time I got them down for their nap, I was exhausted. Trent had a little mate around, so I decided to do something I rarely do. Sit down and have a cup of tea. I’ve bought a new teapot recently, so I’ve been wanting to try it out. Since I was using a teapot (how la-di-da!) I thought I may as well make it an occasion, and use my Royal Albert tea cup. And of course one needs sugar and cream. And why not, I ask you, thrown in chocolate cake? I grabbed my Bible, and was all ready for the serenity of a few moments sipping tea and spending time with Jesus.

When hey presto, of course the two little amigos appeared. Hungry. The tea was left to infuse a bit longer while food was collected, and of course they were keen to join me at the table.

 It didn’t take long before they were scampering off into the garden. To catch monsters, snakes and a tiger I was informed. I’ve never felt so safe. Although I felt safer after they were given the strict instructions to never touch a real snake. Which they totally thought was unreasonable so they received the full Mummy lecture until their opinion changed.

Finally. It was time for my French Earl Grey tea and a moment of alone time.

And during this little interlude in my day, God blessed me. Right from the moment I opened my Bible and caught a glimpse of a little post it my fiance had stuck inside my Bible before I went overseas while we were engaged. Which brought a little more meaning to Psalm 103 as I read it. My heart has truly been satisfied with good things. And I am grateful. And even at that moment, drinking from my good china, I could feel my soul being refreshed, (I hope my youth too!) And I will praise the Lord and not forget the good things he has given to me. Despite the crying and the trials. I am blessed. I am loved. I am happy.

What good things have you felt blessed by recently?

Graced Simplicity

Continue Reading

Reading With One Year Olds

Something I have always been passionate about is writing and literacy. Therefore, I have always made it a priority to read with my children. I always start when they are babies. My babies were all very active, so I have even crawled around after them reading a book and shoving the book under their nose to look at the new illustration in between playing! I found once they were over 12 months old, it got even more fun reading to them because the children had a little more of an attention span and tend to interact even more with the books.

I have three one year olds at the moment and we have been enjoying reading, I thought I would share some of my top tips and book selection for reading within the 12-24 month age group. A lot of this advice can also be applied to babies younger than 12 months also.

1. Read With Animation and Expression.
You might revel in the drama or feel like a goose, but pretend you are an amateur actor as you are reading and use lots of animation and expression in your voice. If you aren’t used to reading like this, do it while no one else is around, and gauge how your child is so much more engaged with the story. You don’t necessarily have to do ‘voices’, sometimes I will to have a little fun, but sometimes I couldn’t be bothered, but I always read with expression. When I was at uni, a lecturer told us that Early Childhood educators should take particular note of how stories are read on Playschool. It’s true. If you read stories dramatically, pausing to create suspense or talking quickly to build momentum, the children will find it much more enjoyable. And importantly, when they start to read themselves, there’s a high likelihood that they will also use expression rather than the beginner reader drone.
2. Choose Books Appropriate For Their Age Group.
If you want your child to enjoy reading, choose the appropriate books. If you read books to your one year old that are to advanced for them, They will most likely lose interest very quickly. You will be fighting an uphill battle. Choose books that do not have lengthy text. Lots of bright illustrations or photos will keep your little one interested. Luckily there are a wealth of books available today that will maintain the interest of a 1 year old. Here are my top suggestions:
Board Books

There is a wide variety of board books, I’ll explain a few in detail below. Board books are excellent for the younger age group as they are so durable. It also makes it easy for children to learn important literacy practises like turning pages. I also teach my children, right from when they are babies, to respect books. That includes not eating them! There are a few bite marks here and there, but for the most part, my children were able to learn that “Books are for eyes, not for mouths.”
One board book that has been a recent favourite in our house is Possum Magic, Animals based on Julie Vivas’s illustrated animals in Mem Fox’s Possum Magic. Having very tactile children, I didn’t think this book would be such a hit, but it absolutely was, by every one year old in the house! They have read it over and over, and as you can see in the picture below, have examined the bright whimsical pictures in great detail.
This is a Scholastic book. It’s released this month at the RRP of $9.95. The triplet’s and I give it a big thumbs up!

Touch and Feel Books
If your children are very active like mine, the touch and feel books will have immediate appeal. It gives the child the opportunity to have tactile stimulation while they listen. We have a wide selection of board books. The “That’s Not My…” series is excellent. The story moves quickly aqnd it is repetitive, a key formula for success in early childhood literacy, and there’s plenty to touch and explore. The baby touch series is also wonderful. We have a few book featuring nursery rhymes. Nursery rhymes are great for developing literacy in children. They hold the child’s interest and the repetition and rhyming words are super for developing an awareness of words and flow. As I pointed out in my post about Mem Fox’s book, Good Night, Sleep Tight, children who learn at least six nursery rhymes by the age of four will normally be in the top reading group by the age of 8. We also have some board books with simplified versions of fairy tales. (See three little pigs below) This is a great introductory way to introduce children to these well loved classics. The Book Depository has a great selection of touch and feel fairy tales. See here.

Toby enjoying touch and feel books. Toby is the most active of the triplets, so touch and feel books are his favourite as he needs to do something with his hands and only has a short attention span.
Lift the Flap
Another good book selection is lift the flap books. The “Spot” (The Dog) books are great examples. I would recommend these books once your child is over 18 months, because even when made of sturdy paper, they do have a tendency to tear. Even the board book lift the flap books have cardboard flaps, so I normally reserve these books as books to be read with an adult. That way you can teach them how lift them gently and carefully and how to put them back down before turning the page. 
Jayden reading the Spot books. Toby reading a lift the flap board book from the “Peekaboo” series. (I bought them at a Learning Ladder party.) These book has been a favourite or all five kids.
Word Books
I’m not entirely sure what to call these books, but they are plentiful. These are the books that have a whole heap of photos with words next to them. When I first had kids I thought they were a bit pointless and boring. The reality is the kids love them and it is EXCELLENT for language development. You can get them on all manner of topics – fruit, body, babies, farms, animals, etc. My kids have a very battered and bruised one on farms (it’s also a flap book) that has been much loved. In the picture below Jayden is holding the current favourite. We have three in this series. (I got them cheap at QBD) Unfortunately they all tend to like the book with the picture of a tractor on it. So there are fisty cuffs in the pursuit of this book. There’s another book with some pictures of motorbikes which also catches Jayden’s interest. He is mad about motorbikes right now. Books with pages with fruit on it are always popular and pictures of babies. 

Don’t they look like two little old men? You can tell that Jayden has a better attention span then Toby! I can see them in their armchairs reading the papers together when they are 50!

Big Kid Books
Don’t feel you should only read board books to your toddler. There are plenty of books that are short enough to maintain a small child’s interest. And if you are holding the book while you are read, it normally remains safe.

A good example of a perfect big kids book that the triplets enjoyed reading is Ruth Paul’s My Dinosaur Dad. The text is full of descriptive words about Dads and has a cuddly finish. (Sorry for the spoiler)

Imogen reading  the end of “My Dinosaur Dad”.

 The illustrations are so bright and vivid. The kids love examining it. The pages are actually quite thick card, so now that the triplets are getting close to being two (Yikes!) I’m happy for them to start learning to turn paper pages with a book like this. It’s a good springboard for discussing what makes the child’s Dad special. The perfect book prior to Father’s Day. Trent and Jonty also loved this one, so they came up with their own words for Daddy – scratchy, fast, normal sized and cuddly.

The book was released by Scholastic NZ. It’s RRP is $15.99 and the publication date is Aug. 2013.

Wow – what HUGE dinosaurs!

3. Join in Read Aloud’s With Others
Now I’m going to contradict what I have said above! Yes, it’s so important to choose age appropriate books. However, don’t let that stop you! If you are reading a longer story with more complex themes to your older children and your 1 year old wanders over. Join the toddler in! You don’t want your younger child to think they are excluded from some reading experiences. If they lose interest, don’t press the issue too much since it’s advanced literature for a toddler. Sometimes, it’s got nothing to do with the literacy. Sometimes children just love the emotional security of hearing a grown-up read. Also, your 1 year old is probably going to be read longer stories in playgroup or other settings, so it’s good practice for them.

Miss Rachael with Trent, Toby and Immy reading a childhood classic, “The Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle. 

I hope this gives you some inspiration for reading with your babies and toddlers – especially your one year olds! Reading is such an important skill, and reading aloud can help your child learn to read years before they learn any letters!

What books do you recommend for toddlers? (Book types or titles)

** I have not been paid for this post. I was sent “My Dinosaur Dad” and “Possum Magic Animals” from Scholastic, but was under no obligation to write about them, but did so because they are awesome. All opinions are my own.

Continue Reading

Triplets Before Bed. Not So Sleepy.

On Saturday I blogged about how full on life is with triplets who are almost two, especially when they get into unsupervised painting projects. (See here)

To further illustrate how adorable this busyness is at the moment, may I present a video, taken straight from my iPhone of the triplets getting ready for bed.

The triplet’s are actually great at going to sleep at night. Even if it looks like they are wide awake here.

Their routine is that they eat dinner earlier than the rest of the family. Normally around 5:30. It just was easier  to do it earlier when they were younger and got tired and hungry sooner. It continues to be easier, so I’m in no hurry to move it while they are happy. It also allows them to have a bath after eating, since they make such a mess and not make our evening crowded with bathing, stories and family time after dinner.

After dinner, they have their baths and then are put to bed in their cots, with bottles, (yes, I know some would find this controversial, but it works for us), lights out, door shut tight. Thankfully, they don’t climb out of their cots at night, even though they will during daytime naps. They will most often go to sleep straight away, but sometimes you can hear little voices and movement for a few hours afterward. They used to all mess around with one another at bedtime, but since they have dropped down to only one daytime sleep, they are normally pretty tired these days and are well and truly ready for bed. And outdoor playtime just before dinner also helps tire out. Nothing like fresh air and activity to get little ones ready for bed!

What’s your bedtime routine? Do you have/had climbers?

Linking with Essentially Jess

Continue Reading

22 Month Old Triplets

Triplets at 22 months are full of energy. Lots and lots of energy. They seem to have reached a new level of development and are very keen to explore and always want something to do, but their concentration span is still limited. So during their waking hours life in our household proceeds at a frenetic pace.

Take for instance yesterday morning. I have photographic evidence documenting typical madness. The camera making the appearance because there was paint. Paint and toddlers always makes for good photos.

We now have a craft room. The craft room is out of bounds to the babies unless they are accompanied by an adult. They totally disregard this rule if the door is not shut. Normally the mess they make is throwing pencils around the room. Yesterday they discovered the paint stores. Actually, I should be specific. Imogen and Jayden discovered it. Toby was a good boy.

The culprits. I was in the middle of taking their clothes off when I had the bright idea to photograph their state. Why is it that of all the colours available, black had to be their favourite?

The scene of the crime. I am so glad that my beautiful purple formal dress had plastic over it.

The unrepentant duo. Kissing each other after a ‘job well done’. 

Of course the third party wanted to join them in the bath. At which point I realised that the reason he had been so quite is he had been creating a huge dirty nappy. It was a pleasure to give him a bath after it had been changed.

Trent getting in on the action. Photobombing is a popular sport for my boys and their cousins at the moment. They prefer the bomb to not be so subtle, they just shove their face in front of the lens.

Sometimes it can get really hectic with dressing the trio after their  bath. Such as in this picture. Jayden and Immy wanted to get out of the bath at the same time. Desperately. I got Jayden out, went and put Playschool on, got Immy out, started dressing her, she ran away and in the meantime Toby starts playing with the taps, so he was out too, so I just dressed them one by one in front of the television.

Later that afternoon, they had a debrief about the whole affair. I’m sure it was a debrief. It couldn’t possibly be a planning meeting about further exploits. Could it?

Isn’t it great though, that you can be so incredibly busy and have so much to accomplish in maintaining a home, but God can be teaching you so much to develop your character at the same time. Patience really isn’t one of my strongest virtues, and I can be prone to panic. Having triplets is helping me to learn to stay calm, get things done, one bit (or person) at a time, deal with the most urgent need and working my way down the scale. It helps to remember that I am one person, and doing my best is absolutely good enough.

Today I’m linking up with Graced Simplicity

Graced Simplicity

Continue Reading

18 Month Triplets

I thought it must be time for a triplet update. My gorgeous ‘babies’ are 18 months!

They love drawing, but oh gosh, it’s such hard work! They start well, but before long there is squabbles happening, climbing on table, and Toby will always -ALWAYS- start pegging writing implements around the room.

OK, truthfully, I wrote that first line several weeks ago. You may have noticed that my blogging is very random at the moment. I never had the time to complete the rest of the post, so it is more accurate to say my babies “were” 18 months, up until Tuesday, when they clocked into the 19 month arena. I shall still update you on their 18 month happenings. Because 18 months is somewhat  of a milestone in my opinion.

To me 18 months often marks that period where a child leaves behind the baby days and fully embraces and looks no longer like a baby, but just a toddler. I’m pleased to say that my babies still look like babies. Hurrah! I’m now wondering whether that may be because they were 2 months premmie, maybe they will stay babyish for an extra 2 months?

In any case, I’m thrilled they still look babyish. I am cherishing this time while they are little, but looking forward to the next stage also. You would not believe how unbelievably fun it is in our house at the moment! There is mayhem and ruckus, cuddles and kisses, cheeky grins, chatter and laughter. Of course, there is also the other side of the coin, which would include screaming, crying and tantrums. You can be assured of one thing. There is never, I mean NEVER, a dull moment!

So, what do 18 month triplets do? Lots! They are really perfecting the art of climbing. I have shared that table dancing has long been an art form in this house. That has not changed. As much as I am trying to keep them to stay off the table, and there has been improvement, the table is still a platform for chubby legs to run along. It was especially funny not so long ago when all three were on the table and kept stealing their big brother’s lunch. Admittedly, it wasn’t funny for Trent. He was rather upset. OK, very upset. Poor child. If there ever was a reason to plead middle child syndrome, Trent has every reason to claim it. I just hope it has no long term ramifications. I try to get heaps of photos of him though. I’ve heard that middle children often have less photos taken of them then eldest and youngest. At least this is one way I can atone for his middle child neglect.

So in addition to table climbing, we have cot climbing – by the girl. Unfortunately Immy’s cot sides are lower than the boys. So the boys have not commenced attempts for freedom. Imogen however keeps climbing up the end of her cot, and then trying to get things off the shelves that are mounted on the wall above her cot. Which is annoying, because they are full of special trinkets that are supposed to be out of reach. This morning I found a broken helicopter propeller from a pewter money box. *Sniff, sniff* Imogen also climbs the screen door. Sometimes when she is sick of being outdoors, she tries to let herself inside. She’s never been able to do it, so we end up with a shrieking girl stuck to the screen door like a cat. It’s rather precarious opening a door with a child clawed to the outside too!

They are talking a lot better now. For awhile Imogen was by far the better talker. At the moment though it is my social bug Jayden who is now also the chatterbug. He is constantly delivering impressive words such as “gentle” and can amply communicate his desires with words such as “more”, “no no” and “tank ooo”. Immy also says these words, but not as often as Jayden at the moment. Toby remains a man of action, preferring to communicate by doing rather than saying. Although all three do talk, “Bronco” (our dog), “Woof woof”, “Bye Bye”, “Dadda”, “Mumma”, “No” are constantly used by all three. They are all obsessed with labelling whoever is crying, (be it each other or one of the older kids), as “Bubba”. It’s rather sweet. They will start saying, “Bubba, bubba” when someone is crying and come up and pat the sad persons back or head and give them a cuddle. Jayden and Toby tend to take it one step further and sit on the sad person while patting, or lie down on them to cuddle. This normally does not have a conciliatory effect, and because it is Imogen who must often receive this treatment, there results much high pitched shrieking and the noise increases a few decibels.

They all LOVE shoes! Imogen and Jayden will say “shoe” and ask for it to be put on their feet. Imogen particularly likes getting into her own shoes and insisting on wearing them when she is dressed. They all love putting on shoes that are larger than their own foot. It becomes a dilemma, because we often find it difficult to find a matching pair, as they get stomped around and deposited in the most unlikely spots. In fact this week we had a new In Home Carer start work for a 5 week stretch, and the poor lady had to go home with only one thong as we just could not find it’s mate anywhere! (Thankfully it appeared the next day, although we still do not know where it had been hidden, it was just a case of catching a toddler wearing it later the next day.) I have two gorgeous memories of little Miss Imogen. The first that I know is looked into my mind is her after church one Sunday, shrieking (Have you gathered that Imogen likes to do high pitched girly shrieks?) because her little blue ballet flat came off. She went charging up to Alex who was having his Sunday afternoon nap, she threw the the shoe in his face, lifted her leg up and continued wailing until Cinderella once again had two shoes, and off she toddled! The other memory is her in the hallway, a big brother’s shoe on one foot, and attempting to roller skate with a wooden toy car on the other foot.

Cuddling is also a popular past time. It warms the heart to watch them being affectionate to one another.

Anyway, that is a quick peek at life at the moment. Lots of love and laughter.
What do you think – do they still look like (bigger, admittedly) babies? Bre

ak it to me gently if you disagree…

Today I’m joining with:

Continue Reading