Archive for Parenting & Pregnancy

 

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Shoes and 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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Liam Turns 6

9 April 2015

A happy birthday to my red-headed cutie-pie!

Liam - 6 Years Old


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Two wrongs don’t make a right!

23 March 2015

Nike Sneakers

I needed to buy my boys some new running shoes. So what did I do?

I took ALL THREE KIDS out to the shops with me, of course – what on earth was I thinking?!?!

The result?

Two Right Feet

When we got home, I realised that I had grabbed TWO RIGHT SHOES for Child 1.

For Child 2, we couldn’t find the exact brand/style/colour/size shoe of his liking, so he came away empty handed.

And for Child 3, I had grabbed a box with Size 11 shoes, but inside had Size 10 shoes?

Ugh.

Parent fail. Shopping fail. Whole day wasted.

(Shoes from RebelSport)


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Battlezone Outdoor Laser Tag

15 March 2015

My second boy, Sean turned 10 this week! For his birthday, he wanted to go paintballing with his friends. I replied with a BIG FAT NO!

Instead, I found a place that does outdoor laser tag games for kids in Perth, at a place called Battlezone Laser. It is designed to be safe for 5 to 65 year olds!

No paint, no projectiles, no pain. Just “lasers” and long range sensors built into the guns. The whole experience is supervised; it includes structured battle games; there’s a hotdog and soft drink at the end; and it’s all outdoors.

It sounded pretty good!

I organised 12 boys (all aged around 10) to join the party… and they were all beyond excited!!

Perth Battlezone Outdoor Laser Tag

On the day… we arrived at the venue, got into camouflaged army coveralls and hat, got our face painted and given a briefing.

My husband and I joined in too. I was a bit reluctant. I don’t like guns, or shooting, or war, or combat strategies, or coveralls, or anything military! So when it was time to put on the war paint, I drew love hearts on my face – just to annoy my boys haha.

There were quite a few other party groups there, and everyone was split into TWO big teams.

(They put my husband and I in separate teams, and I was instructed to hunt him down haha!)

Perth Battlezone Outdoor Laser Tag

The briefing went well. The structure, organisation and flow of events was just excellent.

The operators were so down-to-earth, friendly, humourous, and had complete control of the kids. I was impressed!

Perth Battlezone Outdoor Laser Tag

Next up, we had to choose our weapons and strap on our sensors.

Guns? I had no idea which was best. I just picked up a small, lightweight one. But the kids seemed to know all the names and specs of all the big ones, long ones, medium ones and small ones. Whatever.

Perth Battlezone Outdoor Laser Tag

The first game was set on a huge, grassy field. Each team was on either end of the field and the aim was simply to shoot as many players from the other team. There were random objects dotted all over the place; planks, tires, rusty barrels, broken farm equipment, and wooden palates, all great to hide behind.

At first I just found a shady spot and hid. But I got a bit bored… so I decided to just go for a run! Just to see how many kids could hit me. Answer = NONE! *fist pump*

Then I decided to use up my ammo and hunt my husband down. But I couldn’t find him.

The second game was set in a bushy area, with lots of trees and shrubs. I think we had to shoot a VIP player for 100 points. Then there was another game where we had to find hidden codes in the bushland. The kids were absolutely loving it.

Perth Battlezone Outdoor Laser Tag

At one point, during the last game, I was tired. It was hot and I wanted to sit and chill out for a bit.

The game involved all the kids running away from zombies… it was hilarious, thrilling and so much fun for the kids.

But my husband and I found a shady tree, hid and pretended to be zombies by simply shouting –  MUHAHAHAHA we’re zombies and we’re coming to get you!!

Perth Battlezone Outdoor Laser Tag

This was my view from under the shady tree. I spotted a little dragonfly while there were kids and zombies running all around me.

Eventually the siren sounded, indicating the end of the game session. I think we were on the field for 1 hour and a bit.

I initially thought that an hour game-play wouldn’t be enough time for my son and his friends to play (I mean they are all incredibly fit and athletic kids, who play basketball and football). But by the end of it, they were all very tired! They were hungry and thirsty and all very happy to sit down and chill out.

Everyone went back to the base camp, we unloaded our weapons, sensors and got undressed. We lined up patiently for a hotdog and drink, and we sat down at the picnic tables. There was no waiting. Everything was ready to go. I also brought my own chips, dips, cups, and some other party groups brought tablecloths, party plates, and a cake.

We had a debrief, a cheer and that was the end of the party! It was awesome!

For us, we piled back into 3 cars and everyone came back to our place for a swim and ice cream cake.

Best bits:
The flow of events were very simple and organised. The base camp was decorated well and had a very charming, helter-skelter feel to it. There was a very relaxed, fun and exciting atmosphere. The staff were super friendly and helpful. The kids (especially the boys) just loved the action and games. Great price per head. The length of time for briefing, game play, eating and debriefing was perfect. We didn’t feel rushed nor did it stretch on for too long.

Kid’s Feedback:
On the way home, we interviewed all the kids to ask them what they thought of the experience. They all rated it 8/10 or 9/10 or 10/10. But they all mentioned that the guns were a bit difficult to understand some times and they didn’t know whether they hit someone. There were 2 read outs, which were simple enough – one for lives left and one for ammunition. But sometimes the guns would bleep at us, or flash numbers – and we just had to go back to the team leader to try and understand it. Maybe some stickers stuck to the back of the gun might help?

Mum Feedback:
When we assembled on the playing field – about to start, with weapons in hand – the staff took photos of the whole group (all party groups), and individual photos of the birthday kids. They also took photos of lots of kids in action, which were then uploaded into a private gallery and viewable online, with a password and username. These were fantastic! However, I didn’t get a photo of just my son, with all his friends, dressed up together in their coveralls. I should have assembled them together and taken the photo at the base camp, after getting dressed (before splitting into groups and before the briefing began). Just a tip for the mums!

Being a mum of 3 boys, I am constantly looking for cool birthday party ideas. I have done indoor playground parties, gymnastic parties, trampoline parties, rollersakting parties, pool parties, swimming centre and water slide parties, and indoor laser tag parties.

As my kids grow older and reaching the pre-teen age group, I reckon that this outdoor laser tag is definitely a winner!

Thanks for having us Battlezone!

 


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The Slower Lifestyle?

24 November 2014

Basketball Feet

My husband and I once made a promise that we were NOT going to become parents who crammed our children’s lives with tonnes of extra curricular activities, soccer, football, cricket, hockey, tennis, swimming, gymnastics, martial arts, music, languages, and extra tuition.

We enrolled them into ONE thing per year – and that was it.

Our plan was to… um, spend time with our kids instead??

I have to be honest… the ambitious TIGER PARENT in me found this to be very difficult.

I felt an ENORMOUS sense that I was STARVING my kids from new and important experiences. I felt that my children had so much potential and given the right environment (and lessons), they would be able to flourish, grow, and develop so much more. I felt that everyone around me had their kids in 2 or 3 or 4 extra curricular activities, and that my kids were going to be behind their peers and lack the advantage they need to succeed. I had serious FOMO. Fear Of Missing Out!

Yes, yes I know that spending time with my kids is important. But really, how many times do my kids have to follow me to the grocery store to buy apples? How many times do I have to push them on a swing? How many times do I have to explain things about the world to them – mundane things like how traffic lights work, what are the rules for wishing wells, what’s a credit card? Surely they must get bored of me and need some other kind of stimulation?? Surely kids need to be pushed and challenged so they can learn and excel?!

Oh god. For the last 10 years, I have been in a constant internal struggle about whether we were doing the right thing. I felt like I was just stumbling along and making things up as I go. I felt like a very mediocre parent. I felt that this “slower lifestyle” that we chose was just a lazy cop out. Did we take the easy way out?

Do they need more? Do they need less? We’ve made so many boring, long-term, conservative decisions – to live in a city where the rest of our family lives, to live in only one suburb, to not move the kids from school to school, to live within walking distance from our school and parks. No big overseas holidays, no sudden career changes, no over spending, no gaming consoles, no ipods – we are pretty strict. Perhaps too strict?  Life has been quite boring. But in a good way. Stable, safe, secure.

I guess we wanted to keep life at a slow pace, with low stress and low tech.

But my, how things are starting to change.

Both my bigger kids have interests and hobbies now. One is almost in high school too! There are volunteer meetings to attend, excursion payments to arrange, health forms to fill out, sports uniforms to buy, fundraising activities to support, music concerts, presentation assemblies, parent orientations, parent and teacher meetings…

This weekend, I had to ferry my kids to 3 basketball games, and I stayed to watch 3 hours of basketball. (My husband had to work over the weekend). The first game was at 7:45am Saturday morning and the last game finished at 7pm on a Saturday night! All the way through the first game I was thinking – I HAVE SO MUCH WORK AND HOUSEWORK TO CATCH UP ON! WHY AM I DOING THIS? AFTER ALL WE TRIED TO CUT BACK, HOW DID PARENTHOOD END UP LIKE THIS?

So during the second game, I had to consciously put away my frustrations.  I sat back and just tried to chill out and organise my thoughts. Why am I so stressed?

I realised that I’m so glad that we chose a “slower lifestyle” for their early years, because now life seems to be stepping up a notch or two now. And since I spent so much time with them as younger kids, I am feel a bit happier to “let them go” and let them start exploring the world for themselves.

For my 11 and 9 year old, we’ve gone past all the intensive care stages with them (the newborn stage, the toddler stage, and the pre-primary stage). We’re at a stage where there’s a lot more guiding, supporting, creating positive environments, discussions, making clear rules and consequences (and sticking with the consequences, even though it hurts me more than it does them) and standing back. They’re learning about themselves, their strengths and weaknesses, their peers, their society, the world, and how they fit into it all. It’s a stage that is actually really exciting and rewarding.

So when I look at my kids now, I feel they’re off to a good start.

Even though they can be a pain in the arse most times, my kids are actually pretty great. I’m so pleased and proud of how they are growing up. I really like them! And I feel privileged that I got to be their parent!

I guess we did something right, right??

By the end of the second hour of basketball, as I sat on the bench with basketballs rolling at my feet, with another hour of a basketball game ahead of me, life and parenthood didn’t feel all that bad after all.

If only I could go back 10 years and reassure myself of that we were doing the right thing!


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A Little Update on Liam

19 November 2014

Liam at 5 1/2 Years

My little Liam is growing up!

He’s 5 ½ years old now and he just loves school! He loves being at school, playing with his friends, listening to teachers, following instructions, earning stamps on his “good-work” chart, doing craft, doing new things, and learning new things. His social skills have developed so well in the past year. He does have a reputation for talking WAY too much… but that is definitely better than him not talking enough, right?

He’s also quite a bright cookie and possibly quite advanced for his age.

For example, the other day I was helping my 9 year old do his homework, which involved classifying words into nouns, verb, adjectives and adverbs. Liam was SO interested in this that he too made himself a chart and started classifying words he knew. I went one step further to teach him about building sentences and clauses (oh my god!) and helped him create more complex and interesting sentences. He was SO excited. I could see it in his eyes. They grew wide and sparkly with wonder and amazement. I seriously could not believe we were doing this for fun??

Then we do this thing… where he recites the NATO phonetic alphabet (Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta…see more here) out loud, as fast as he can while I time him with my stopwatch. Again, we do this for FUN?? He does it in 45 seconds (and I can do it in 24 seconds)!

Er yeah, so I’m really happy with how Liam is coming along academically.

BUT… we’ve been having trouble with his active side.

Both my husband and I are pretty sporty and active. And my other two boys (aged 11 and 9) are VERY sporty. They will zoom through their homework after school so they can head to the park to play football, basketball, soccer, hand ball, ride their bikes, go on their scooters, climb trees, or just run! I only have to say, “There’s 1 hour before dinner time, why don’t we go…” and they will zoom out the door, grab their hats, jump on their bikes and be on their way to the park. It’s easy to be active with my big boys.

But for Liam, it is a HUGE chore to get him outside. My shoes hurt, I can’t find my socks, I’m too tired, I have a scratch on my finger, it’s too sunny outside, I don’t want to put on sun cream, I have the wrong hat, my socks don’t match, waa waa waa. Most times the battle is soooooo difficult and emotionally draining, that I just skip my exercise for the day and stay home with him. It is definitely not a good thing for either of us.

But once the kid is ON a bike, or ON a scooter, or has decided that he’ll run through the park… he is absolutely fine! He is always happy as can be to be there!

We have recently signed him up to play in a basketball team, mainly because 6 of his closest friends were also in the team. But he doesn’t like it very much. He would much rather be at home doodling in his book, playing with Lego, organising his room, or working through an online learning program on the computer.

Because he doesn’t really enjoy being active, I find that he is much more drawn to being on a computer screen (playing educational computer games, maths, spelling and puzzle apps on the tablet) than my other 2 kids. I’m not sure if that’s because he’s the youngest of 3 kids and he’s been exposed to things at a younger age. Or it’s because of his personality. Or his age, as he is much younger than my two older kids after all. Or maybe it is his interest in computer games makes him less interested in being active?? Ugh, who can know?

He’s a great sleeper. He sleeps 7:30pm at night and wakes up at 6:30am. He gets very, very cranky after school (3pm) and I sometimes force him to have a nap for 1 hour, or at least make him lie down in his room with the curtains drawn. I find that makes him a much happier member of our family.

He is definitely the most “cuddly” and most “open to showing love and affection” of all my children. He loves cuddles, he absolutely adores me, and he seeks me and my husband out daily to give us a great big hug in the morning.

I hope he doesn’t grow out of that too soon!


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A Place to Step On Alpaca Poo

3 October 2014

My kids and I spent a whole day at the Perth Royal Show and we had a fantastic time!

OK. There were a few exceptions to our “fantastic time” – like the moment I almost yelled at a ride operator because I thought my 9 year old was stuck inside a dark, mirrored maze with strobe lighting and deafening music, possibly throwing up, having a seizure, laying on the floor overcome with sensory overload. He was in there for 20 minutes! I made the ride operator stop the ride, and go inside and rescue my kid. Of course, he was absolutely fine, he just took a long time to finish the maze game and I freaked out.

Also, the whole cost going to the show is always an expensive endeavor. So I made my kids work out a “Day Trip Itinerary” ON A BUDGET. They did a pretty good job. Except they suffered a bit of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)… and their plans ended up being ambitiously tiring. We were on our feet for 7-8 hours!

But, other than those exceptions, yes we had a grand old time enjoying the farm animals, the farm technology, the fire fighters, the wood choppers, the horse riders and the ALPACAS!

Perth Royal Show 2014

If only I could exude a presence this cool and happy, my life would be complete. It was so cute and adorable, that I didn’t even mind when I stood in its poo.

Perth Royal Show 2014

Look at her beautiful shiny coat. That horse brown is amazing.

Perth Royal Show 2014

My kids thought the animals and farm stuff were “fun and educational”… but my kids are a bunch of daredevils. They live for speed, height, fast drops, tight corners, g-forces. They’ll try anything new and exciting. So we made a bee line for the rides and games.

Perth Royal Show 2014

I wasn’t thrilled.

The noise, the frantic energy, the cost, the crowd, the blaring music… It all made me so aggro!

 

Perth Royal Show 2014

My older kids chose a couple of crazy, gravity defying, monstrous mechanical beasts to sit on.

I had to count to 10, meditate, think of calm blue oceans… anything, to silence THE UTTER TERROR EXPLODING IN MY BRAIN BECAUSE MY CHILDREN ARE GOING TO FALL AND DIIIIIEEEE!!!

Perth Royal Show 2014

After all that… I made my older kids sit with my younger boy – who is only 5 – as he rode on some “baby rides”.

Despite their humiliation, they were very cool about it. They are such good big brothers.

It also meant that I didn’t have to ride with my 5 year old, yay! I have successfully trained my older kids to look after my younger kid.

Perth Royal Show 2014

Here’s my little cute little Angry Bird, waiting at the train station at the end of the day.

Happy but exhausted!

 


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Geocaching – Real-Life Treasure Hunting

24 September 2014

GeoCaching

We’ve slipped on our gumboots and armed ourselves with a map and compass! My kids and I have recently discovered Geocaching!

What is it you ask? Because it sounds like professional mining exploration and… plain hard work :P

Geocaching is a real life, on-going treasure hunt that is happening all around the world and in your local park right now. It’s so much fun!

Basically, you download an app, sign up, turn on your location service, then you look for geocaches that are hidden in your area (or where ever you are in the world).

We were delighted to discover that there were hundreds (maybe thousands?) of geocaches hidden around our city, and at least 1 hidden in every park we visit frequently. Many are linked together with a theme, or a puzzle to solve. It’s kind of cool to know that there is a whole active community out there, making and leaving little treasure hunts for others to find.

Once you find a geocache using the coordinates and clues, you’re supposed to open up the cache, sign a log sheet (to prove that you found it) then use the app to log that you’ve found it and leave a message. Sometimes the caches are a little plastic container, a small box, or even a mint tint. My boys like to leave a little toy/surprise for the next person, usually the tiny head from a Lego man, which is their “signature”.

What I love most about this kind of treasure hunting is… that while we’re in a park, I can just log on and find out whether there is a geocache in the area. Then I can get my kids to “run off and try to look for it”. It occupies them for ages. It also gives us a great reason to visit new parks. And we are all thrilled beyond belief when we find one.

(However, a word of warning, it can get a bit addictive and frustrating at times! See how the container in the picture above has been carefuly camouflaged with tree bark?!)

Happy Caching!

 

 


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The Other Mummy

15 September 2014

The Other Mummy

To celebrate Children’s Book Week here in Australia, my eldest decided to dress up as a mummy for his school’s parade.

Of course, I had to help him with his outfit. It was 20 minutes before we had to leave for school and I was frantically trying to wrap him up in toilet paper and sticky tape. It was the stupidest idea ever. The toilet paper didn’t work because it kept tearing and falling apart. I was getting desperate and quite close to tearing up my old white bedsheets, so I could get a good wrap around my son.

But then I had an idea… I used kitchen paper towels with staples instead! I wrapped him up in 5 minutes flat!

If only the ancient Egyptians knew about staplers! And paper towels!

Getting him to school was also quite tricky. He had to lay down (almost) horizontally in the front passenger seat of the car. And he had to be absolutely still and quiet the whole time, because if he talked, his breath would soften the paper towel over his mouth and it would just fall apart. It was hilarious! He was a very well behaved, silent mummy!

I should have wrapped up my other two kids too.

I would have had a wonderfully quite morning! :P

 


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A Machine For Knocking Down Things

1 September 2014

Life has been going great for our family. I couldn’t be happier! We’ve all struck a wonderful balance of life, work, kids, school, fitness, friends, parties and creative projects.

But the most significant change to our routine is that we’ve amped up our involvement in our children’s learning and development, by extending what they learn in school. The only down side is that it’s really time consuming, but it’s fun and we think it’s worth it :)

My 11yo recently took up an extra-curricular unit in “engineering”. I say this loosely, because its unit outline had spun a tale about Minecraft (the computer game), mining, materials, building bridges, and engineering projects… so my son was sold on it.

The unit turned out to be great. The projects were interesting and broad enough to let imaginations run wild.

One of the projects was “Knock down a small statue (made out of paper boxes) by any means, as long as it involves a chemical reaction.”

Inspired by Mythbusters (the TV show), countless amounts of YouTube videos, and my husband’s help… my son came up with the idea of triggering a big, kicking leg with a small chemical reaction “trigger”.

The whole process took about 4 weeks of sketching ideas, testing, building, more testing, visits to the hardware store and lots of tweaking. We also had lots of exploding coke bottles!

A Machine For Knocking Down Things

Here are both my big boys testing the effectiveness of coke + mentos, coke + bicarb soda, coke + Alka-Seltzer (effervescent antacid). Then swapping the coke for vinegar. And then water.

They settled on brown vinegar and bicarb soda, because it had much more “grunt”.  I’m not sure if that is a proper engineering term, or something they picked up from my husband.

So then they had to work out how much brown vinegar and bicarb soda was needed to get a good “explosion”.

They made SUCH A HORRIBLE MESS. Bicarb soda was sprinkled everywhere. They got vinegar sprayed in their hair, clothes, roof of the patio and the outdoor furniture set. They just opened packets of this and bottles of that, and tossed it on the ground so my whole backyard looked like a dump!

I literally had to hide in the house, because 1) I wanted to give them some independence, 2) I didn’t want vinegar in my clothes.

So this is the final “Knocking Things Down Machine”.

A Machine For Knocking Down Things

My boy set up the box statue to knock over.

I love the star shaped sunglasses.

A Machine For Knocking Down Things

A small bottle was filled with brown vinegar. Bicarb soda was wrapped in a little paper capsule. The capsule was popped into the bottle. The paper wrapping slowed down the reaction to give my son time to get the lid screwed on.

A bit of garden reticulation piping with a tap was screwed onto the bottle. And a balloon was attached to the end of the pipe.

A Machine For Knocking Down Things

The balloon portion of the contraption was placed under a lever.

The tap was opened to let the gas (and froth) blow up the balloon.

(The balloon blew up very quickly!)

A Machine For Knocking Down Things
The growing balloon lifted up the lever.

Other side of the lever had a string attached to it.

The lever pulled the string.

A Machine For Knocking Down Things

The string changed direction through a pulley.

The string pulled out a little peg – made from a texta marker.

The peg held up a swinging pendulum “leg” (the horizontal bit of wood in the photo above), with a “foot” attached to it.

A Machine For Knocking Down Things

The peg came out, the “leg” swung and the “foot” kicked the statue over!

A Machine For Knocking Down Things

This was what the whole contraption looked like from a far. Actually I think this was an earlier version because there isn’t a foot attached to the swinging leg in this photo?

It wasn’t exactly a fine example of carpentry. My husband, who helped my son considerably, was appalled by how ugly, dodgy and wobbly it was.

The thing was so big that we thought we might have had to hire a trailer to take it to school. How embarrassing!! But we managed to borrow an SUV and fit it in the trunk, phew.

Anyway, it worked! It fitted the brief. It totally knocked the socks off his teacher and classmates! My son also seemed to like the feeling of hard work that led to achievement and going “over and beyond” expectations.

You know, my 11yo is great at school, but he hadn’t really found that “spark” that made him REALLY interested in ANY subject. He just cruised along, in middle gear, preferring to play football, computer games or read a book.

But I’m quite excited to know that we might have now planted a seed of some kind. Who knows what it might lead to.

You know how you hear from highly successful or highly driven people and how they often describe a “defining moment” in their life or career. Well my hope is that as parents, we manage to fill our children’s lives with MANY of those defining moments, however subtle or outstanding.


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Suddenly I’m back at high school

25 June 2014

Highschool Feet

The other day, my husband and I attended an orientation for my eldest son to go to high school!!

Yup. My son turns 12 next year and he’ll be in Grade 7, the first year of junior high school.

Sigh, my baby boy is all grown up!

I sat there, in the meeting room, holding a sample student’s timetable, thinking – I remember this.

I remember excitedly pouring over my new high school timetable. Comparing it with my girlfriend’s timetable. Groaning that PE class was first thing on Monday morning. Cheering that I had art class on Friday afternoons. Such great memories!

I hope he has a great time in high school.

And I hope I don’t FREAK OUT too much!


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Hi Eleven

4 June 2014

My eldest boy turned 11.

We had a fun-filled water-fight birthday party in our backyard with 12 of his closest friends. There was a soapy bouncy castle, a pool, water guns, water pumps, water balloons, a hose, pizza and soft drinks. They had so much fun!
Callum Turns 11

It was great to see kids being kids, even though they all looked like teenagers and most were taller than me!

You know, I never imagined myself as a mother to teenagers. I always saw myself as a mum rolling out playdough shapes and making paper craft on the dinner table. But I never imagined me taking my kids to exams, standing around for hours to watch them play sport, or setting up their email accounts and teaching them about avatars and appropriate online behaviour.

This teenager thing seems to be creeping up on me rather quickly. It’ll be here in no time at all.

Most people assume that I’m filled with dread and I’m reeling in denial. They assume I’m completely freaked out – my kids are growing up so fast! I’m getting so old! I remember when he was just a baby! Time is moving so fast!

However, a bigger part of me is just over all of that. I’m past all the shock and trauma. Yes, yes, life moves fast. Stop whinging about it and enjoy the journey!

I guess for me, I’m glowing with excitement.

He’s going to high school next year! He’ll tackle new friendships, new social settings, need to work harder at his studies. He’s going to be challenged by responsibility, independence, decision making and self-discipline.

He’s doing very well so far. He’s maturing into a fine young man – and I’m so so proud of him.

Here’s to a great and exciting year ahead… for me AND my first born child!


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Offerings of Peace and Manipulation

23 May 2014

My 5 year old Liam has been going through some behavioural issues lately.

Meaning, he’s been soooo UNBELIEVABLY naughty!

Hubby and I use “time out” as our method of discipline. So Liam gets removed from the room, the activity, the meal, the snack, the computer, the TV, the toys, whatever… and he has to sit in his room to cool down, until he shows me that his behaviour has changed. He’s usually pretty good at changing his behaviour, correcting the problem and saying sorry. In fact sometimes he’s so good at it, that it borders on manipulation.

What does he do while he’s waiting to come out?

THIS.

Peace Offerings by Liam

It’s called EMOTIONAL BLACKMAIL.

Can you see how his TEARS have smudged the texta lines in the second flower, and my hair?

He often draws the person who puts him into his room (ie: me) and he draws all my favourite objects, colours, love hearts, flowers, happy suns, and himself. Obviously, it’s a kind of love letter to me. But I’m sure he does this to make himself feel better and to prove that I still love him and he still loves me.

Peace Offerings by Liam

In fact he does *so* many of these drawings, that I am getting bored with them!

I now just throw away the identical and mediocre ones.

Is that bad of me? Can you believe it? I’m *this* close to being one of those mothers who say, “This love letter is not good enough! Draw me another one!”

Peace Offerings by Liam

Here you can see that his technique and penmanship is evolving. As is his access to a wider variety of drawing mediums. And his use of different fonts.

I receive about 2 or 3 of them a day. Depending on how naughty he is per day.

He just leaves them around for me to find. They get stuck on my fridge. Left on the kitchen counter. Slipped under my door. Put on my pillow. Stuffed into my shoe.

It’s adorable and all. But I actually have to force myself to ignore them… and focus on the “behavioural issue” first.

Or else he’ll think that he can be as naughty as he wants… all he has to do is draw a cute picture for me and I’ll let him off!

So when he comes to me with big, teary, dopey, sorry eyes, and he hands me the cutest and most thoughtful picture I have ever seen, drawn with my favourite colours and omg his tears… I have to force myself to give him a BLANK look and say something like, “Ok, let’s talk about your behaviour. Do you think it was a good idea to spit on your brother?!?”

It’s very difficult to NOT crack a smile.

Bitter. Sweet. Boiling temper. Melted heart. This parenting thing is so bloody tricky.

Let’s just hope he doesn’t see this blog entry and finds out how much I totally love his drawings. Or else I’ll have no chance with his behaviour!


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The Frotes vs. The Veshterbls

28 April 2014

My little 5 year old drew this the other day.

froteveshterbl

Yes it is insanely cute, on so many levels.

Firstly, the spelling. Oh my, it’s so wrong, but so… confident, creative and unaware. It makes me NOT want to correct him and NOT force him to spell like the rest of us boring adults.

Secondly, just look at the expressions on the little characters! The frazzled strawberry! The grumpy banana! The electrocuted carrot! The eye popping out of the tomato!

And thirdly, yep, noodles and sliced bread are veshterbls.


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Liam Turns 5!

15 April 2014

My little chicken turned 5 years old and we had a kind of mini festival for him – celebrating his birthday over a few weeks, with lots of different groups of family and friends.

Liam Turns 5

For all his best friends from school, we threw him a huge party in our backyard.

We put up a bouncy castle, we had snacks and lots of play time. My older boys organised and lead some simple games for the kids, like relays, egg and spoon races, “What’s the Time Mr Wolf” chasey games. I was so proud of them, it was a fun party!

I made a two tiered cake, which Liam requested to be in the theme of Disney’s Lightning McQueen. I totally stole the idea and design off the internet, so I get no points for originality!

Liam Turns 5

I made two chocolate cakes. The bottom tier was 18cms in diameter and the top tier was 10cms.

(Unfortunately – as I found out at the end – the cake recipe I used was much too dry, stogey and it just didn’t taste very nice. Boo! So I have to find myself a new chocolate cake recipe for next time, and make sure I do a bit more testing.)

Liam Turns 5

I bought some white fondant, which I dyed, rolled out and moulded to make a desert & sky scenery for the base.

The fondant was too soft for my liking. It kept sagging and my moulded figures wouldn’t hold their shape. I had to constantly keep moving the cake in and out of the fridge to keep the fondant in place. I have to find a good quality fondant next time. From a proper cake shop! And stop buying supermarket brands!

Liam Turns 5

I made a checkered flag design for the top tier. I made some stars from yellow fondant. I printed out a Disney Cars logo and super imposed my son’s name in the middle. I decorated the cake with Cars characters which made the whole cake looks so lively and happy.

The result was awesome! I was really happy with the end result and Liam just LOVED the cake!

Happy Birthday Liam, we loved making a fuss of you!


day of week

To Stay In Luve

2 April 2014

My youngest son Liam turned five last week. As the baby in the family, he has gotten away with bad behavior for longer than anyone else. My fault, I have to admit… he is my LAST baby.

So, I have been going all “Tiger Mom meets Super Nanny” on him recently, to get him to stop his anti-social behavior. He is often sent to his room to ponder the error of his ways, and calm his red hair down.

Often, he emerges with a note he has written as a peace offering.

And this is my favorite one so far.

Scroll down to the bottom of the note, where I have translated it from Liam-speak into a human-readable form.

To Stay In Luve

“I need to remember not to kick, punch or hit my brothers. Especially, don’t say swear words. This will all help to maintain the love in our family.”

Well, he is getting the message, but obviously, I need to work with him on his spelling, letter formation, grammar an general neatness. Some lined paper wouldn’t hurt either.

Damn, I Luve that kid so much.