Archive for Parenting & Pregnancy

 

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Backyard Activities: The Tinkering Project

14 October 2017

Shed Mess 2017

During the school holidays, we like to “force” our kids to be bored and to tinker.

We like to entertain them with directed, long term projects… to combat the ol’ screen obsession thing.

I don’t take any credit for this. This is all my husband’s doing. His brain is just bursting with these weird and wonderful ideas. I suspect these are the things he did as a kid? Which are far cooler than what I did as a kid (I played with Barbie dolls).

He takes the kids to the junkyard to pick up old computers and old microwaves to take apart.

He gives them some tools, then he walks away.

Liam Disassembling Project

We have a Messy Area in our backyard, which is, why yes, messy all the time.

My 8 year old started on “his” computer. He was pretty excited to get stuck into it.

Liam Disassembling Project

We let them work on their project for however long they want.

They can cut, poke, stab, pry, crack, smash, break… anything they want.

They can sort items, build something, connect something, try to put it back together, or just take it to pieces.

They are always FULL of interesting questions by the end of it.

Liam Disassembling Project

We (ie. my husband) are pretty good at answering their questions about computer parts, metals, electricity, connections, and how things work.

But we also let them watch YouTube videos on: How to take computers apart. How does a cooling fan work? Which metal conducts electricity better? How are alloy metals made? Etc etc.

(There is soooo much interesting/wacky/niche video content on the internet! It’s part scary and part fascinating.)

Shed Mess 2017

I think the kids enjoy it all. I wouldn’t say they LOOOOVED it.

I suspect they would rather be playing computer games.

But they can get pretty absorbed by it. And 2 hours can pass by quickly.

(Which is 2 hours NOT on a computer game.)

Shed Mess 2017

This is one of my older boys, cutting up an old bike.

They are harvesting bits of aluminium for another project (please don’t ask!)

It keeps their fingers and brains busy – it’s awesome!.


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Growing Up

19 September 2017

Work Uniform

Hi everyone!

Life doesn’t seem to stop around here.

Whether we like it or not, it’s just bam bam bam, milestone after milestone. We can’t seem to slow things down. Our kids just keep growing up! Anyway, it’s all good. We’ve had lots of great stuff happen to our little family. One of the biggest things for me, is this.

My oldest boy (yes, my first born son!) is now 14.5 years old and last week, he started his very first job.

He’s working at a cafe and he’s earning about $11 per hour.

He’s starting at the bottom; clearing tables, wiping bench tops, washing dishes and organising the drinks fridge.

He is absolutely loving the challenge, meeting new people, being in a new environment, having a bit of independence and earning money.

But it’s completely FREAKING ME OUT!

I feel so old. I’m a mum of a teenager, who goes to work?!?

I feel so nervous that my child is going out into the world. Hanging around other adults and older teenagers. Interacting with complete strangers.

I feel so unsure, because I never had a job when I was 14. (I was about 19 when I had my first job.)

I don’t know if this is a good idea or not? He’s going to be working for the rest of his life. Does he really need to start at 14?

I guess in the end, we decided that even though he is a really bright and well-rounded kid (good at school, very sporty, lots of friends, fun/happy personality) he, like most teenagers these days, still preferred to spend their spare time playing computer games and watching youtube haha.

He needed a hobby and going to work was an excellent hobby!

We’re making him do all the hard stuff himself, like applying for a Tax File Number, emailing his boss, checking his roster, managing his own schedule, setting up his bank account, checking his pay slips… all good life skills!

I guess I am proud and excited — but equally freaked out!!


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Multi-Dimensional Conversations

17 August 2017

The other day, I was driving in the car with my 8 year old.

He asked: “Mum, can you explain what the 4th dimension is?”

Hmmm. 

Then he went on to say, “I’ve been thinking about it for the last 2 nights and I seriously can’t work out the answer. And if you have time, can you tell me about the 5th too?”

I fumbled around talking about time and space (turns out I was kind of right!), point of locations such as x,y,z… and I tried to use a practical example, like when we saw the Shrek 4-D Movie at Universal Studios in Singapore (which is where I got things wrong).

When we got home, I pointed him to the wikipedia entry for both “Four Dimensional Space” and “Five Dimensional Space” and he was fascinated by the animations and shapes.

Haha – how weird and random! My kids crack me up!

Fifth Dimension
Photo from Wikipedia: Regular and semiregular polytopes in five dimensions (Displayed as orthogonal projections in each Coxeter plane of symmetry)


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Healing my tender heart

13 August 2017

Being a mum of three boys, one of my biggest heartaches is:

As my sons grow older, they will move out of home, find a girlfriend, get married, start their own families and… I’ll hardly ever see or talk to them!

I know it’s a pretty selfish thought. I know it’s a bit simplistic.

And I know they are supposed to grow up, leave the nest and start a new nest of their own. But ah, I’ll miss them.

I feel that, deep down, maybe if I had girls, maybe I’d have a closer bond with them in the future.

We’d go for spas together, get our nails done, talk about hairdressers, swap recipes, go shopping for dresses to wear to a wedding, have coffee and chat about all kinds of crap women talk about — just like my sister and I do with my own mum, right now.

Sometimes I look at my sons and I’m struck with a vision that I’ve lost them, even before they’re gone.

I think, what kind of person are you going to be in he future? What kind of relationship am I going to have with you? Are we going to like each other? Are we going to have anything in common??

Cafe dates with my boys

Tender heart aside, I decided to be a bit proactive about it.

If I want my boys to take me out for coffee and brunch in the future, I’m going to take them out for coffee and brunch NOW.

We sit at a cafe table – just one teenager and I – and we talk about all kinds of crap. I’m not exaggerating. It is utter, next level crap.

And as crazy as it sounds, it’s feels so good for my soul.


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Digging Up Treasures

10 May 2017

Over the last few weekends, my husband and I have been sloooowly cleaning out our shed.

1 hour here. 2 hours there.

We have boxes and boxes of stuff that we have to sort through and to decide whether to THROW or KEEP.

We are not very good at throwing things away. We like to keep things.

So the whole process has been embarrassingly slow.

But…. we have turned up some good stuff! Behold!

Callum Drawing

These scrappy drawings were done by my oldest boy when he was about 7.

I had tucked them loose into a file full of HILARIOUS drawings he had done at home.

They were drawn on used copy paper from my husband’s office, so they were pretty scrappy.

Callum Drawing

Two questions come to mind.

Why was our 7 year old watching Indiana Jones??

And why did he not draw the Temple of Doom?

Haha I love these so much, but I don’t really know what to do with them.

Um, so I just tucked them back into the file for me to discover next time!


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14 Years

29 April 2017

Callum Turns 14 (2017)

My oldest boy turned 14 years old a few weeks ago!

It took me a while to post about it… because I went looking into my digital photo archives to find THE CUTEST POSSIBLE PHOTO I could find of him, and I ended up spending hours/days/weeks reminiscing about the good old days.

I finally found this photo and I decided: YUP this is the winner!

Funnily enough, it was a printed photo, so I had to carefully peel it off a cardboard backing and scan it. Who has time to do that these days?

Ironically, I didn’t even take the photo. It was taken by his kindergarten teacher when he was 6 years old. The teacher made all the kids sit in the sand pit, one by one, in the exact same spot, both hands on the exact same sand toys, and in the exact spot of shade — sit, smile, snap, done, next! Haha!

The fact that my first born has reached 14 years doesn’t really phase me.

He’s growing up to be an incredible and awesome young man, and I’m so so proud to be his mum. He has such interesting and strangely insightful opinions and perspectives, he has a great attitude, he’s full of funny stories, happy boyish talkative energy, crazy ideas, yet he’s so smart, focused, sensible, reasonable and reliable (most of the time).

He has definitely been an easy “first kid”. He’s definitely been a blessing to our lives. So as I look towards the rest of teenagedom: parties, driving, curfew, trust, part-time job, peer pressure, social media, exams… I’m not too worried.

The other day I was sorting through some old boxes in the shed. There was a folder full of my son’s old drawings, done when he was 4 or 5 years old. Squiggles, circles, faces, trees, apples, boats, Buzz Lightyear, pirates and more. I remember all of the drawings. All of our conversations.

I remember sitting at our wooden dinner table, with pencils spread out everywhere, there was a whole stack of white A4 paper and we drew and drew and drew and talked and laughed and ate fruit and I taught him numbers, shapes, colours, concepts… and NOW he’s editing video and learning algebra?!?!

Seriously. My mind was blown. Where did the time go?

That’s when it hit me. I choked up. I missed my little boy.

I missed his little round face. His giggles and grins. His cuddles. He’s obsession with trucks, lego and rhyming books.

I missed his little hands. And his little shoes.

He’s a lot bigger now, but he’ll always be my little boy!


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The Teenaged Pranks Begin

22 April 2017

After Easter Platter

I don’t know about you, but my pantry is still full of Easter Eggs. And since we’re off to another morning tea with family, the eggs make a nice decorative centre-piece.

Or maybe they are grapes wrapped up in Eater Egg wrappers….?

Welcome to my life of teenage pranks.

I heard it gets much worse.


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How Do You Spend Time with Your Teenaged Boys?

16 April 2017

When my kids were young, I used to have lots of special, quality one-on-one time with them.

We would go to the park, or a cool playground. We would go for an outing, visit the zoo, or a museum, or a city farm.

In fact, going to the shops to buy a smoothie used to be a really exciting adventure for them haha.

But not now!

My kids are growing older, and the way we spend quality time together is changing.

The gap between my interests and their interests is widening.

Sure we still go for walks, we still have outings, we still go out for a fancy lunch.

But how do you have special, quality one-on-one time with a teenaged boy (without spending a fortune)?

I’m not interested in go-karting, paint-balling, LAN gaming, building robots and watching youtube videos.

I AM interested in rock-climbing, tennis, swimming, running, cycling — however to tell the truth, I see these things as my “me time” activities. Precious moments where I – Karen – get to have some quiet time, meditating time, recharge time… getting fit, by myself.

During these school holidays, I’ve had to open up my precious “me time” to include my boys.

They come running and cycling with me.

It’s fun. But they talk too much.

I love it. But it gets a bit annoying too.

Next Gen Health Club

The other day I took one of my boys to my gym, where we played a game of squash (omg so much fun!), went for a swim, then ate sushi for lunch, while enjoying the cafe’s free wifi.

We spent 3 hours together and actually had fun.

It was so relaxing and chilled out too.

Next Gen Health Club

This is me after 20 laps of the gym’s pool. Stunning day for an outdoor swim!

My boy decided not to swim after all. He took a nap on the lounge chairs by the side of the pool.

Thank goodness I like sports and fitness, or I’d have nothing in common with my teenaged boys.

Might be time for me to build robots soon. I’d like my quiet runs back.


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Musical Rainbows

4 April 2017

Coloured Water

My 8 year old boy was bored one afternoon and – very randomly – helped himself to my food colouring and glass bottles.

I knew he was up to something, but I didn’t pay much attention to what was going on.

It was only when I started to hear a musical tink tink tink tink that I popped my head outside and saw what he had made.

Ah… half of me was annoyed that he was playing with glass bottles (omg what if they fell on the ground and smashed!) and making a huge stained mess on the bricks.

But of course, the rest of me turned into mummy-mush!


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Holiday Life, Chilling with the kids

20 December 2016

Liam's New Gear Bike

Life has been awesome at the moment!

It’s the school holidays… there’s only a few days until Christmas… and I’ve been spending heaps of “One on One” time with each of my kids and loving every minute of it.

I’ve rediscovered how funny they are. Like really funny. We have all these weird and wonderful conversations. We talk crap. We have all these “in” jokes. We mock each other. And we love a good car karaoke.

They are just so enjoyable to hang around with, when they are by themselves.

And I love hanging out at home with them too.

Sounds really boring, I know. But we just do little jobs. Hang around. Fix things. Do things.

Then occasionally, we’ll go out on mini adventures — off to buy batteries, pick up some milk from the shops, sit in a cafe, taking them to birthday parties, bowling parties, sleep overs, playdates, dentist appointments, set up our above ground pool, go out for sushi lunch, out to watch a movie, out to get some last minute Christmas presents, out to visit a park and more.

Yes things can get chaotic and noisy. But it’s all chilled and easy!

Life with a 13yo, 11yo and 7yo is just brilliant!


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Off To High School Next Year

12 December 2016

Sean Year 6 Graduation 2016

My SECOND CHILD graduates from Primary School (Year 6) this week!

Which means he’s off to high school next year….aaaaaand yep, it’s freaking me out.

However, I am super duper proud of him! He’s worked so hard and done so well in his studies this year; his report was amazing (!!!) and he had great results for his individual sporting pursuits (running), and team sports like basketball and rugby.

He’s a very organised kid and he’s itching for change, growth and independence, which no doubt, high school will provide. I’m so excited for him :)

I love this kid!


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Life Blocks

7 November 2016

We’ve temporarily banned our kids from playing computer games, going on social media, youTube, and using any kind of digital device for the time being. They only get very limited use of the computer and tv.

My two big boys have been fine. They just go off to the park to play sport.

But my youngest – who is 7 years old – doesn’t like sport. And he is possibly the most obsessed (in a young kid who loves his heroes kind of way) with anything to do about computer games. He even admits that he can’t stop thinking about Mario Brothers, Minecraft and Pokemon Go, because it’s always in his mind.

Now part of me thinks it’s ABSOLUTELY FINE for a kid to love a subject so much that he can’t stop thinking about it. I’m like that too. But the problem is that, it dominates his mind so much that there’s little room for anything else.

He needs to work other areas of his brain!

Actually let me clarify that. He’s an extremely bright boy, top of his class, working well above his year level (no credit to me whatsoever) and he’s very advanced and exposed to a lot of things, due to him being the third child.

So I don’t have any concerns for his brain functions, learning, development etc. The only things I’m concerned about are… teaching him how to seek other areas for fun, enjoyment and happiness; helping him develop self-control and discipline; and helping him work on his social skills, imagination and creativity!

Anyway, he’s come up with a whole lot of very adorable and in a way, somewhat tragic, manifestations of his interests.

Liam's Life Blocks

He found some bits of wood from the shed and turned them into iPads? YouTube tablets?

I asked him about it and he told me they were 45 minute videos about 1) How Our Family Came To Be and 2) A David Attenborough style look at Australia… and he proceeded to narrate the script and describe his storyboard ideas to me, but I switched off after 60 seconds… OMG that boy can talk.

I do look at these and chuckle with delight. They say so much!

Hilarious. Cute. Tragic. Clever.


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Present from My 7 year Old

15 October 2016

Leaf Bedsheet

You’d be forgiven if you thought that this was a painting.

Or maybe you thought it was from some cheesey art filter app?

Valencia? Ludwig? Sierra? Nope.

My 7 year old boy just finds random stuff — beautiful stuff — that he thinks I’ll like.

Then he quietly takes my phone, finds a white surface (I’ve trained them well) and he takes a snap.

Then he quietly puts my phone back. Without telling me what he did.

I discover it weeks later.

And here it is straight from the phone.

(What a beautiful kid I have!)

(A bit naughty for using my phone without my permission though!)


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The Secret Lolly Stash

6 October 2016

Liam Dentist - Oct 2016

Ok so something funny happened recently.

(Not funny at the time though!)

My 7 year old came running to me crying and said he tasted blood in his mouth. I peered deep into his jaws and saw this HUGE blood blister on his gums, stretching above 3 of his back teeth.

I’m not doctor, but it looked like a seriously infected site to me. I booked an emergency dentist and went for an appointment at 7pm (!).

How long has he tasted blood? Apparently 3-4 days. He just didn’t tell me!

How long has he had pain in his mouth? 1-2 weeks. He just didn’t tell me!

How long has he NOT been brushing his teeth? 3 months apparently. And he definitely didn’t tell me about that.

UGH!

The result: One back tooth was 1/2 decayed and needed to be extracted. And 8 other teeth needed fillings.

What the???

Me! The mother with low-sugar recipes, no soft-drinks rules, no fizzy drinks, no juice, no lollies, no ice cream, no cakes and no sweet biscuits in the house.

Me! The mother with daily fruit and vegetable platters, who makes high-protein snacks like cheese and biscuits, nuts and healthy protein balls…

Me! After having significant orthodontic work done as a teenager, with top and bottom braces, dental surgery to extract teeth and all my wisdom teeth, having to wear a special head gear for 6 months — all to realign my teeth. I was adamant that my kids would look after THEIR teeth.

HO HO HO!

OH THE IRONY — I looked at the $2500 quote (to fix his baby teeth!) and laughed and cried.

So how did this happen to my child?

Since coming home from our overseas trip to Scotland (in July), my son decided that he didn’t like his toothbrush for some random reason, he asked me for a new toothbrush, I said “No, there’s nothing wrong with your toothbrush.” and so he stopped brushing his teeth in the mornings and evenings. He told me that he did brush his teeth and I never actually checked to see if he did or not.

AND. He had a huge, secret stash of lollies under his bed, which he grazes on every day!!

SIGH.

Thankfully our regular family dentist was hooked up with our private health care provider, and turns out it’ll only cost us around $800 for the treatment.

And I suppose it’s a good thing that this didn’t happen to his adult teeth.

GRRR.

In terms of his consequence (although, I have no problems calling it HIS PUNISHMENT): My 7 year old boy now enjoys a complete BAN from any sugary items… which he has accepted surprisingly well. In fact, I’ve watched him decline offers of sugar treats very gracefully and maturely. He’s only allowed to have something sweet on special occasions. I haven’t set an end date on this ban, but I suspect it’ll be CHRISTMAS!

(However, someone gave him a chocolate bar the other day, and I saw him stash it in a NEW box, for AFTER his ban! What a cheeky little poo-head!)


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Shoes Vs Pokemon Craft

25 September 2016

Shoes Vs Pokemon Go

Ahhh this last week, my head has been exploding with fashion, fashion, fashion!

My desk, dinner table, coffee tables, dressing tables and chairs… are all heaped up and spilling over with my fashion crap haha!

So it was with much delight that I spotted my son’s latest craft work and added it to my flatlay.

You see, my youngest son has been REALLY NAUGHTY lately. And the other day, he did such an insane thing – he jumped with TWO feet on the family iPad screen, while looking at me with a smile. WHY? I have no idea. But I banned him from the iPad for 4 weeks.

(It pained ME more than him. But really, I should have just thrown the iPad in the bin.)

The upshot was that he rediscovered his love for craft.

(A bit sad right?)

Anyway, he made little POKEMON GO characters out of toilet rolls – Squirtle, Zubat and Charmander.

 

OMG they were so cute.

Do they make you want to say, “Awwwwww. What a gorgeous, clever, creative kid you are! Ok you can have your iPad back!”

Nope. It didn’t work for me either. He’s still got 3 more weeks to go.

As for my corner of the flatlay: Cadey Lee Heels by Schutz, Tassel Earrings by Mezi, and THE MOST AMAZING salt water spritz thing for my hair.

It’s called Original Mineral Surf Bomb Sea Salt Spray (from Sephora). It’s been around for ages, everybody raved about it years ago, it’s been elevated to cult status for many years and I only started to use it properly this week haha!

I curl my hair, spray it on my fresh curls, then I mess it all up — and I suddenly look like a movie star!! It’s freaking amazing!! I might do a dedicated blog post just for this spray!


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Shoes Vs Robots

15 September 2016

Robot and Shoes

I was laying out a few of my favourite things, getting them ready for me to wear: My Tory Burch Purse, my Charlotte Olympia Card Holder, my Chanel nail colour and my Tony Bianco Laced Shoes.

I walked into my dining room and saw my son’s robot, with its black wires dangling out, looking a bit like my black laced shoes.

I had a moment of amusement, thinking: My fashion items DEFINITELY do not represent the fullness and rich, variety of my life!

I picked up his robot, pushed my shoes aside and made some room on my board.

The result gave me a satisfied smile.

My son has been tinkering with our Lego Mindstorms robotics kit for a while and he is currently working on a “Rubix Cube Solver” in his spare time.

He has plastic tubs everywhere, overflowing with lego; sometimes they all take over the whole dining room.

It’s messy, chaotic, it drives me crazy, but ah, deep down I love it!


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Obsessed with Sneakers

6 September 2016

Adidas Flux, Nike Jordan Eclipse

(Me wearing Adidas ZX Flux, and my son wearing Nike Jordan Eclipse)

My boys and I share something in common – we’re crazy about sneakers.

It doesn’t help that their feet keep growing, so I HAVE to buy them FIVE PAIRS OF SHOES at a time *cries* : everyday sneakers for school, proper running sneakers, basketball sneakers, football boots and a pair of nice shoes for fancy events (ie. not sneakers).

I try to buy secondhand when I can, especially for football boots. But most times, I buy new on sale or from factory outlets. And I usually only buy new shoes after my boys have worn their shoes into the ground, and I can see their toes poking out of all the holes in the fabric.

Despite all that, feet grow and shoes need to be bought.

Unfortunately, these over-the-top SHOE BUYING SPREES are creating a culture of spend-happy, see-want-buy, money-grows-on-trees, instant-gratification attitude in my home, which I’m not too pleased about.

I feel obliged to teach them about…

“The difference between needs and wants”

“Not giving in to impulse and emotional decisions”

“Following trends vs. finding your own style”

“Practical vs. Appearance”

“Practicing delayed gratification”

“Work hard to save up for something worth saving for.”

But all those lessons and important life skills just FALL TO PIECES, because I currently have 6 pairs of running sneakers in my wardrobe, and I’m eyeing a new pair for summer. Hmm.

(Ok realistically, 2 are too old for running, so I use them for gardening and for bush hiking, another 1 is only good for walking as it’s a bit narrow at the toes for me, 1 is for the gym so I don’t like to get them muddy/dirty, and 2 are good for running, but 1 is starting to wear out a bit….. soooo I would like to have another one soon….)

And let’s not talk about ALL MY nice shoes for fancy events! Ha!

Oh well, I definitely can’t win this one.


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Styling banana cake with a bit of love

24 August 2016

Banana Cake Styling

I have been clashing with one of my boys these last few weeks. Lots of fighting, shouting, negativity. It’s been pretty bad, worse than usual.

I won’t go into an detail (because he reads my blog now and again, and my heart is a bit fragile) but basically, we’ve been having an awful time. I suspect that 20 years from now, when he looks back at his childhood, all he’ll be able to remember of his mother is me being this angry, frustrated, shouty, crazy person.

Anyway, to heal this mother-son relationship, I figure that since I’m the adult, I should do something to change the situation and bring about some positivity.

I’ve discovered he’s quite interested in my work. Photographing things, styling, visual branding, social media strategies, creating a branding voice, graphic design and Photoshopping; Not so much the fashion stuff for my blog, but my commercial/contract/freelance work.

So I talk to him about it… and to my complete surprise, he actually had some really clever ideas and feedback. And would you believe I like to bounce my ideas at him and get him involved with some of my styling.

The other day, I made a banana cake and cut up a whole lot of fruit for my kids to eat after school. I thought it was a nice opportunity for a pretty photo, BUT I was trying to prepare dinner at the same time, so I asked HIM to style up the banana cake.

I showed him a few photos of cake + fruit + flower styling as inspiration, by Floral & Fauna Cafe in Northbrdige. I did tell him to give it his own personal twist, but in the end, it did look quite similar to their styling.

Nonetheless, I was so so proud of his work!

But I think I was glowing more from the little bonding moment we had that afternoon and how it healed a little bit of my heart.

Banana Cake Styling


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When Plush Toys Get Annoying

17 August 2016

Liam's Plush Toys

My youngest boy loves his plush toys.

But I’m not talking about your typical teddy bear or rabbit. Hell no.

He’d have the whole cast of Star Wars 1,2,3,4,5,6 in plush if he had access to my credit card.

The reason for this story is that my boy’s favourite toy is this bomb.

The character is “Bob-omb” from the Super Mario video game, but my boy calls him “Bombie”.

It’s kind of cute and kind of weird.

He loves his Bombie. He loves it so much that he insists on taking it everywhere, and I’m CONSTANTLY SHOUTING at him…

“WHERE’D YOU PUT YOUR BOMB?? I TOLD YOU TO PUT IT IN THE BAG SO YOU DON’T FORGET IT!!”

“WILL YOU QUIT JUMPING AROUND OR THAT BOMB OF YOURS WILL FALL ON THE GROUND!!”

Obviously, this is so politically incorrect or socially sensitive or SOMETHING and it’s super annoying while out and about.

Can you imagine if we lost it in a shopping centre and I’m speaking to the lost and found people, trying to describe the toy without using the “B” word?

“Yeah it’s shaped like a bomb. BUT IT’S NOT A BOMB! It is. But it’s a TOY one. With legs! And big eyes!”

The upshot of this is Little Bombie has to stay on his bed – in his room – forever haha!


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Catching Up With The Kids

15 April 2016

Being a mum of three, it’s no surprise that my life pretty much revolves around my kids.

So what’s been happening in our household these last few weeks?

Elizabeth Quay March 2016

1. We’re going hiking!

We’ll be doing a bit of wet-weather mountain hiking soon, so I bought all my boys some waterproof, leather, hiking boots. Usually these kinds of boots can be $250 for a pair, but I found some for around $60 and had them shipped over from the UK. Hope they hold together!

We went for a long practice hike around Kings Park and I’m happy to say that there were NO BLISTERS. Phew.

 

2. My two older boys (11 and 13 years) play basketball for local teams.

One boy’s team reached their Grand Final Championships – and won!

The other boy represented his school in an Inter-School Basketball Championship and they won too!

I’m crazy proud that they play and love so many different kinds of sports. And I love it that they give it their best each time.

 

3. We had a medical emergency on the weekend (as you do!) 

One of my boys woke up with a crushing pain in his lower abdomen that caused him to shake, cry, was unable to urinate and it affected his breathing. He usually has a very high threshold for pain, so it was really unusual for us to see him curled up in a ball.

I went from… making fun of him “Bah, you probably have a fart coming!” to… RACING out to the doctor and literally packing our overnight bags, expecting for the worst – Kidney failure! Emergency surgery! Ruptured appendix! Ruptured bowels! Internal bleeding! Death! OMG!

HOURS LATER: After a dose of pandadol and close monitoring from the doctor, it turned out that he was just dehydrated?? What. The. Hell??

Yeah… I’m so happy and thankful that it was nothing worse. But that whole adventure took up the whole day. 8 hours! It tested my threshold for anxiety and panic. It made me cry. It turned our weekend plans upside down. Just because my kid forgot to drink water after his cross country run?! Ugh seriously?? So bloody annoying!

 

4. My boys are into coding and making their own games. Even the 7 year old.

Yes my boys are bright. Yes they are creative. Yes I appreciate the benefits of learning how to code, I’m aware of the new “cool” factor surrounding science and technology, and that computers are the way of the future…

But do they have to be so obsessed about it all? Do they have to be on a computer all the time? Do they have to regard American ‘YouTube Gamers’ like heroes? Surely there is more to science and technology than being a YouTube Star? Surely there are greater life goals for young boys??

So, quietly, I am not too pleased about my kid’s new computer-game making hobby.

But I shall shut my mouth and not say a word about it… and hopefully this craze will end soon!

 

5. They are cooking more family meals.

They are just making hamburgers, nachos, omelettes, bread and pizzas from scratch, baking scones and brownies.

Aside from the mess and the huge piles of dirty dishes… I’m pretty happy with that.

 

6. Another medical emergency involving brain-eating amoebas.

We were recently on holiday, swimming, kayaking, bush hiking and sand-boarding around Moore River in the small town of Guilderton. There was large amounts of warm, stagnant, fresh water and warning signs about the possible risk of amoeba meningitis.

Yes! Amoebas that eat your brains! Holy crap! They enter through your eyes, ears or mouth, so you’re not supposed to submerge your face and head underwater. You can be sure that we took a lot of care whilst doing all our water activities.

We were all good, until we decided to go for one last sand boarding session.

While coming down a slope, one of my sons crashed, tumbled down and got his head buried in the sand. He staggered blindly towards some people who helped him wash his face and eyes – IN THE RIVER WATER! OH MY GOD!

On the car ride home, there was still sand stuck in his eyes, causing him a lot of pain.

Over the hour, his eyes became more and more red, puffy and inflamed. His face turned red too. OMG I was FREAKING TERRIFIED about the amoebic meningitis, I was literally trembling with horror and going through wave after wave of panic attacks. I tried SO hard to be calm about it on the outside.

We went straight to the doctor. Antibiotic eye wash. Pain relief. Dark sunglasses. Rest. A cry (me). 12 hour sleep (him).

After all that and another check up with the doctor, all was good. No need to go to hospital. Life goes on.

I’m sure life will get even more dramatic once they all become proper teenagers!


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Liam Turns 7!

16 March 2016

My youngest little boy, Liam turned 7 the other day!

We held a kids party (with pool and bouncy castle) for him, so leading up to it, there was lots to prepare. We spent a week cleaning the house and moving furniture out of the way.

And on the day of the party, I woke up to Liam’s To Do list. The kid loves lists!

Liam Turns 7

The other exciting thing was… we engaged the help of Organised Chaos Kids Party Hire, who specialise in themed party packages that are super affordable and stress free.

The business is owned by lovely (and talented!) friends of mine; they offer the CUTEST Frozen themes, Superhero themes, dinosaur themes, mermaid, construction, pirate and car themes, and they are all soooooooo adorable that I wanted to have more babies just so I could choose the “Garden Escape Party“!!

Liam Turns 7

We invited 10 kids to the party, and Liam chose the “Chaos Wars Party” package. He loves Star Wars at the moment.

I assumed that I would have to borrow a larger car to fit all the hire gear, but it turned out that the whole package was really compact and it fit into my car just fine. It was very convenient.

Liam was so excited when the box arrived. I pretty much sat back and let him organise everything! Ok not really. But with the supplied instructions, photos of the set up, it was all very easy to understand and put together.

Organised Chaos Party Hire

Ta da! It was soooooo cute!

One of my friends is an ex-graphic designer, so their included sign boards are specially made to add that personal touch to the party.

All the seat covers are handmade, using hardy materials. The table cover was a good quality vinyl fabric (not a cheap plastic table cloth) that withstood many spills and was easy to wipe down.

Liam Turns 7

All the kids WOWED when they saw the setting.

The figurines, the Darth Vader and Yoda heads, and the light sabres looked amazing as table decorations to set the scene.

The pack also came with balloons and paper ball lanterns (that looked like planets) so we hung them up, with a whole lot of streamers I had from previous parties.

Liam Turns 7

I loved that all the little bits and pieces were all included in the package – I didn’t have to do any party shopping at all!

I also loved that $5 of each party package hired goes to Heartkids WA, as the Organised Chaos team have a special connection with the charity.

Liam Turns 7

As for the rest of the party, the kids had a blast playing in the pool and the bouncy castle.

They just ran around like crazy kids!

Liam Turns 7

Then, without having to ask them, my two bigger boys, snuck off, dressed up in costume, pranced around entertaining everyone and led the party kids through some party games!

They are such wonderful and creative big brothers when they want to be :)

Oh and my Darth Vader boy didn’t have a red light saber, so he decided to use “The Sauce” (*roll eyes*).  Liam Turns 7

I’m not sure what the kids were playing here, but my big boys had the Star Wars Imperial March Song blasting in the background and it was just hilarious watching the kids march around!

Liam Turns 7

I set up a separate table (using my own cheap plastic table cloth!) to hold the cake and presents.

Before food time, I decided to remove ALL the figurines and light savers from the kid’s table, because I knew that the kids would start fighting with them and I didn’t want them to get damaged. I placed the whole lot on the cake table and they were great as props for photos.

Overall it was one of my easiest kid’s party yet!

We all had such a great time (except my husband, who got a bit of a headache after!) and I’m so thankful to all of my son’s friends who could join in to celebrate his special day.

Also big heartfelt thank you to Organised Chaos for sponsoring us with a party package.

Do check out their super cute website or Facebook page.


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A Calculator Doesn’t Talk Back

4 March 2016

Without trying to sound like an annoyingly proud parent, I wanted to share a mind-boggling moment I had with my 6 year old, Liam. Oh what the heck, this is obviously an annoying proud parent story, so feel free to roll your eyes.

Highlighters

After school, I took Liam to a stationery shop to buy some highlighters for school.

We walked over to the highlighter section and looked at our options.

We could buy them individually for $1.70 each, or in packs of 6 for $8.95. He needed to buy four.

At this point, my brain went into shutdown.

It was 3:10pm, I had been a bit sick all week, I was hungry, I needed a nap, I needed to get home to cook dinner and I was very low on patience.

Cannot. Compute. Maths. Cannot work out the best price/value for highlighters.

So I asked my son, “What’s 4 times 1.7?”

He replied, “What’s 3.4 times 2?”

(My son talks like that. Using riddles. And smart-ass backchat. It is quite annoying.)

“That’s not what I said. I said 4 times 1.7.”

“Yeah well, if you just tell me what is 3.4 times 2… you’d realise that the answer was 6.8.”

“Is that THE answer? 4 times 1.7? Stop messing with me!”

“Duh mum.”

“Don’t duh mum me! I’m the one paying for your highlighters -”

“OKok! Sorry sorry! 6 highlighters would be 10 something, so let’s just buy 4.”

Sheesh. What the hell? He’s a human calculator! The kid is 6!


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Gaaaahh! Kids!

16 February 2016

Towel Floor

Yes yes, parenting is incredible. Being a parent is amazing blah blah blah.

But sometimes parenting is shitty.

LIKE REALLY SHITTY.

Sometimes my kids make me sooo00000oo fuuuuuuuuriously mad that I’m constantly screaming and shouting at them. I turn into this monster I can’t recognise. Angry shit comes out of my mouth and I hate myself for it.

Why do I even have to SAY things like:

…Don’t throw knives at the kitchen door!!!!

…Don’t walk through the house with muddy shoes!!!!

…Don’t draw on the furniture with permanent markers!!!!

…What are you THINKING when you do things like that????

It feels like a part of me dies when I have to say things a hundred times over. Again and again and again and again. All day I’m chasing them around the house being a horrible, shouty, nagging mother.

…Put your plates away.

…Pick up after yourself.

…Don’t leave your towels on the floor.

…Don’t eat straight from the cereal box!

…Don’t leave your school bag in the doorway!

…Don’t leave your shoes lying around in the hall!

…Is it so hard to rinse your own cup and put it on the dish rack!?

So it’s time to set some CONSEQUENCES right?

Big consequences. So that they’ll learn to focus on their actions, right?

Like “ZERO screen-time for a WEEK!” How’s that for a consequence?

Problem is that they rack up 4 weeks worth of ZERO SCREEN-TIME… and now what? Who has to enforce it? That’s right! Us!

Sometimes I can’t see the end of the tunnel. Each day is a slow, painful slog through bickering, fights, rules, discipline, homework, moods, shouting, tantrums, tears.

Sometimes, I just need a break.

Or a hug.

Sometimes, I just need one thing to make me smile.

Usually, it’s just enough to see me through the day.

Usually, it all turns good again.

And usually… it all becomes incredible again.


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Underwater

25 January 2016

Underwater Camera at Mandurah

It is often quite mesmerising to see the results of a kid with a camera.

Perhaps even more so when they are playing underwater.

Underwater Camera at Mandurah

These little people you created. You get to see how they see the world.

Full of weird and wonderful things.

Underwater Camera at Mandurah

To them, it’s just a moment. A snap. It just looks kind of cool.

But to me, it’s magical.

Underwater Camera at Mandurah

They mess around and experiment. They try to copy images they’ve seen on TV.

They have crazy ideas – big ideas – uninhibited by rules.

Underwater Camera at Mandurah

We were in the holiday resort pool for hours. Day after day.

We took hundreds of photos. Silly photos. Happy photos. Hilarious experimental photos.

We took photos of bubbles, tiles, feet, hands, bums, smiles, eyes, mouths and each other.

It was such a great way to record our summer holiday!

(Photos taken with a Nikon Coolpix AW100)


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Jetties and Boys

15 January 2016

Mandurah Little Jetty

Jetties make me nervous. Big ones, little ones; it’s the whole idea of leaning over the edge, tipping your weight just a little too far, too late to go back and falling that gets me.

Being a mother of pushy-shovey-jumpy boys for the last 12 years, you’d think that I’d be somewhat more relaxed about being on a jetty with them? Nope!

We were in Mandurah recently, taking a walk along the Mandjar Bay Foreshore and Dolphin Quay, when we came across a little jetty. It was tiny. But it was a still about 2m above the water.

Mandurah Little Jetty

My boys couldn’t contain themselves. Walked right up to the edge. Hooked their elbows on a post and leaned out as far as possible.

Found another post and spun themselves until they were dizzy and walked funny.

Lay flat as a pancake and dangled their heads over the edge.

Found a ladder and took turns to climb down. Of course! That’s what ladders are for!

Mandurah Little Jetty

If you ever see me out with all of my kids, you’ll notice that I have a constant pained expression on my face – as if something bad could happen at any time.

My loving expression only happens when I tuck them into bed each night and plant a kiss on their forehead. My job for the day is done.


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School Carnival Sky

7 November 2015

School Carnival Sky

It was my children’s School Sports Carnival the other day.

Walking around in the sunshine, covered in suncream, wearing big sunglasses and a big floppy hat;

Plodding across the soft, green grass in my flip flops;

Surrounded by the sounds of happy, active kids;

I was struck with quiet happiness, satisfaction and contentment.

I guess it was a feeling of fulfilment.

I love being a parent. I love having kids. I love being reminded of my own happy childhood.

Gosh I’m going to miss this noise when my kids grow up!


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Are my kids too old to plant flowers?

4 September 2015

Ah… with school, homework, sports, and so many after-school activities, it feels like my husband and I are doing less and less hands-on projects with our kids these days.

I used to do so much with my two older kids! And I feel that my youngest boy has missed out on so much.

Maybe they are growing up. Maybe in my head, I’ve moved on. So maybe I’m trying to teach them to have more independence. Maybe they are growing up in a world where they prefer a much more sophisticated level of engagement?

Ugh,whatever it is, I feel that it’s now a lot trickier to engage my kids in these hands-on projects.

I mean, my kids play a video game where they plant a garden (with sunflowers, pea shooters, rolling walnuts, cherry bombs) that defends their home from waves of skateboard riding zombies. How do we compete with that?!?

But they are still kids!

Our kids! So who else are going to convince them to do these quaint projects with us?! (Whilst enduring a certain amount of whinging and crappy attitude haha.)

Planting Flowers

My husband enlisted our 6 year old to make a flower garden.

He was quite reluctant to start. My son, that is.

They took a trip to the shops and bought a bag of soil, seeds and fertiliser. My husband taught him about soil consistency, compost, drainage, planting seeds… all that good stuff.

Planting Flowers

They cleaned up a whole stack of old pots and set to work.

Planting Flowers

In a world of instant gratification and success, growing flowers doesn’t rate very highly!

You prep for hours. Then the act of planting seeds takes a grand total of 2 minutes. And all you have to show for it all is a bunch of dirty pots. It’s admittedly rather anti-climatic haha!

Oh well.

My son enjoyed the attention, he enjoyed being outside and getting his hands dirty.

So I guess it was 3 hours well spent?

Parenting satisfaction rating: Unsure!


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Gift Wrapped With Times Tables

26 August 2015

On the weekend you might have seen my post about Liam’s 7x Timetables on my Instagram feed (@karenlycheng)?

Well the back story is…

7 x Table Gift

Liam was going to a friend’s birthday party – a girl’s 7th birthday – and we BOTH had no idea what to get her.

I am terrible at buying gifts for girls; What do they want? What do they play with? Is jewellery and makeup acceptable? For a 7 year old? Maybe not? Is a crafty present too lame? Are books too boring? Does it have to be pink? Do girls even play with Barbies now?

So we went to the shops and after a good hour, we picked out a huge FROZEN craft box, with stickers, colouring-in pads, marker pens, glitter glues, sequins etc. What a win! I was very proud of my/our choice. We also bought wrapping paper, but I told my 6 year old that he had to make a nice card.

Liam didn’t want to make a card, so he whinged, moaned, groaned, stomped his foot and procrastinated about it ALL WEEK… until the morning of the party.

(I found it really strange, because usually he loves making birthday cards. He has a little drawing table all set up with paper, markers, pencils, glue…)

Anyway, as always we were in a rush that morning, so I asked my 12 year old boy to wrap the present and Liam HAD TO MAKE A CARD!

Liam asked, “Can I just write her name on the wrapping paper??”

NO!! YOU’RE NOT ALLOWED TO WRITE ON THE BOX WITH A PERMANENT MARKER! THAT’S LAZY! MAKE A DAMN CARD! I’M GOING TO HAVE A SHOWER, WHEN I GET OUT YOU NEED TO HAVE MADE A CARD OR YOU’RE NOT GOING TO THE PARTY! AND IT HAS TO BE A REALLY NICE OR CLEVER CARD! I DON’T WANT TO SEE A HALF-ARSE SCRIBBLED ONE! NEAT HANDWRITING! NICE MESSAGE! DO YOU UNDERSTAND? AND DON’T WRITE ON THE WRAPPING PAPER!

(Too harsh? Haha oh well. Welcome to my mornings!)

When I got out of the shower, I yelled at all 3 kids to get into the car, grab their sports bag, get a drink bottle, no you can’t go barefoot, why are you taking a basketball to the bowling party, why are are you asking me about dinner, did you go to the toilet…??

Then I noticed Liam’s “card”.

He wrote on the damn wrapping paper! UGHH!

He actually DID make a card. A nice one too. He sticky-taped it to the other side of the box, wrote instructions on the box, an extra birthday message on the box, and the 7 times tables?? Why? Because it was her 7th birthday?

Oh my god, it was sooo cute and geeky and sweet and weird. My heart was bursting with pride and love, yet I was so pissed off that he had done EXACTLY what I told him NOT to do!!

I was too rushed to scold or punish him.

I quickly took a snap and zoomed out the door.

I had no idea what to do about my predicament, so I just decided to…um, not mention it ever again HAHA!

(Oh and share it with the internet…)


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Our Weekly Sports Schedule

13 August 2015

Remember how I mentioned we used to have a slow lifestyle?

Well things have gotten a bit crazy over the last few months.

Life is not-so-slow now.

My two big boys play football and basketball. Once a week, they will each have one basketball training and one football training session, and then one basketball match and one football match each. So each boy plays about 5 hours of sport.

My youngest boy only plays football, so with a training session and a game, it’s only 2 hours a week for him.

They also learn music at home and we sit down and do extended learning and tuition with our kids too.

Is that too much? I have no idea.

For me, it doesn’t feel like a lot of work. I don’t feel THAT stretched. I feel like I’m doing the comfortable minimum for us. It feels good to keep the kids a little occupied and busy during the school term.

Sports Schedule

I like to show my friends our crazy Weekly Sports Schedule to scare them, but really it’s not that bad.

I LIKE having this structure to my week, because I can easily fit things around it and we can get so much done.

Each week, we manage to fit in an occassional date night, dinners with friends or family, a Friday night movie with kids, evening walk in the parks, play dates for the kids, maybe a sleepover, lots of errands, lots of weekly homework, lots of free playtime, lots of goof-off time like watching MythBusters and science documentaries, while eating snacks after dinner, board games, lego making, computer games, mucking around with our robotics set, plus I fit in all my exercise workouts and runs too.

Slow or fast, it works for us. Our lives are happy, full, well-rounded and completely satisfying at the moment!

xxx


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Golfing With Dad

12 July 2015

Golfing With Dad

Aww I managed to snap this cute photo the other day!

We headed out to the driving range for some quality family time.

The kids have played mini golf before, but they have never played GOLF – in other words, they have never had the opportunity to “hit the ball as hard as they can”.

Young children, long clubs, buckets of rock hard balls, and 2-storey building with no fencing…? Such a bad combination maybe?

You wouldn’t think it, but it was such a fun and relaxing thing to do on a beautiful and sunny morning!




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