Liam : 3 years and …a bit?

(Warning!! The following contains long, detailed, explicit, motherly adoration of a child.)
Liam is 3 years and 4 months

My little Liam is 3 years and 4 months.

He’s bright, eloquent, a bit particular about certain things, and yes, totally lovable!

The biggest change since my last update is his obsession with letters and numbers.

Writing out letters and numbers is a daily activity for us – only because he LOVES it so much. We sit down with a stack of paper and coloured pencils, and he writes the numbers from 1-20, and then he writes the alphabet from A-Z.

I help him a little, but it’s HIM who leads the activity. He tells ME what HE wants to do.

We started writing 1-10. But after memorising them so quickly, he has moved on to 1-20. Now we’re working on number order.

I scribble out worksheets with “puzzles” like 11, 12, 13, ___ and he fills in the missing number.

And he says brainy stuff like, “What is the number 1 and 8 again? Is that eighteen? Does that come after seventeen?”

Liam is 3 years and 4 months
Drawing of Bluey (his toy bunny) and Liam!

He has also memorised and recognised the whole alphabet, he can write every letter of the alphabet, and he knows the phonic sounds to all the letters!

He can spell out simple words by himself, just using the sounds of letters!

He prefers to write words of things his likes – Liam, Mum, Dad, Callum, Sean, Cat, Bluey (his bunny), Clock (because it’s got numbers on it), Pink (his favourite colour), Poh Poh (what he calls his grandmother).

His number and letter formations are still a bit wonky, but they are still legible.

Lots of other mums praise me and all the “work” that I do with him. But seriously, it’s all HIM, his own personal interest and his long-standing fixation with numbers and letters.

OK I guess I am active in Liam’s early childhood learning, and I sit down with him and do activities with him. But I was also very involved and very active with my other two children’s early learning too. In fact, I was probably more active with them… and they didn’t learn how to spell words and read until they were 6 years old.

Honestly, I’m just surprised and pleased by how advanced he seems to be. I don’t think he’s a one-in-a-million, crazy-smart, genius kid. I’m not going to push him into any hardcore academic programs.

I’m just going to continue with a bit of gentle pushing and encouragement here and there. And at the same time try to balance out his other developmental areas – such as social, emotional, and physical development.

And I need to do that, because….

Liam is 3 years and 4 months

Liam doesn’t like to go outside his comfort zone. He doesn’t like to try new things. He’s not very adventurous. He likes his routine. He likes thing to be predictable all the time. He likes to know that things are the same… and will be the same all the time.

But he gets bored with things being the same! And I can tell he wants to explore new things and have new experiences… but it is so hard for him to let go! He really fights it, he argues with me, negotiates for his way, tries to stall it, pretends to be disinterested, throws a tantrum.

I insist, I am firm, I try to convince him and I argue with him, and in the end I usually just force him to try it… and after we do the new thing, he is usually very happy.

For example, he likes that we buy our fruit from one particular fruit shop. If we go somewhere else to buy fruit, he gets really upset. And he will argue with me – for HOURS – about it.

Another example. He likes the numbers 2 and 4. And if my maths question doesn’t give him an answer where he can write a 2 or 4, he refuses to do the question. Or he’ll just write 24, rather than the actual answer and he’ll argue with me again!

Or, he likes to borrow 3 books from the library. And he wants to borrow the same 3 books again and again. If not, then more arguments!

Oh the list goes on and on. It drives me INSANE! He’s one funny kid.

After we do the new thing, I usually list out all the good (and maybe some not so good) things about the experience. Just so to help him mentally process and assess the experience or situation.

Like, “It was such a good thing that we borrowed these new books, so we could see these pictures that we’ve never seen before! Now we know what sunken treasure looks like!”

Liam is 3 years and 4 months

As I try to let my older children become more involved with more complicated tasks (for example, cooking dinner by themselves), I try to get Liam involved too.

I admit it’s really hard, especially since I’ve done the whole “toddlers helping mummy in the kitchen” thing TWICE already. I have very little patience left in me… and really, I just want the kids to play in a different room, while I whip up dinner in 30 minutes flat haha.

So in terms of being independent, following instructions to do jobs, helping to do housework… Liam is behind where my other two children were at the same age.

It’s definitely my fault, as I don’t follow up, insist, or expect him to do as much as his brothers. Unfortunately, he’s turning into a “typical” third child, who is the baby of the family, and not expected to do any hard work – oops!

Liam is 3 years and 4 months

Liam loves his 3 year old Kindergarten, but he HATES that I leave him.

He cries and shouts for hours in the morning about not wanting to go. He still kicks and screams and says all kinds of things emotional blackmail stuff like “You promised you won’t ever leave me anywhere where I might be far, far away from you.”

But the teachers say that the moment I walk away from the Kindergarten door and shut the gate (5 seconds) he’s perfectly fine and happy. They tell me that he is very involved with all the activities, he’s keen and interested in everything the teachers say, he plays very happily. They say he’s very smart, very bright, intelligent and very funny… (I’m sure that they say that to all the mums).

Anyway, I’m so, so glad that he’s blossoming in such a great environment.

Part of me is a little jealous, because when I try to do new activities with him – as I said – he just bosses me around, tells me what he wants to do and how I should GO AWAY because he just wants to do his own thing thank you very much.

(Let’s hope he’s not doing the same to his teachers!!)

I am really excited for him, for next year, when goes to 4 year old kindergarten. He’ll be in a structured learning environment – all day – surrounded by numbers and letters. He’ll absolutely LOVE it :)

Not to mention, I’LL love that he doesn’t nag me about being bored.

And I’ll love missing him all day, and then picking him up in the afternoon and hearing his beautiful little squeaky voice, bubbling with excitement, and watching his eyes sparkle as he tells me stories of his day.

I’m a Badass Brick Paver

A few weekends ago, my husband was out of town for a few days.

And whenever my husband leaves, I – SUDDENLY – discover things are going awry around the house.

It always happens. I need a handy-man 24/7.

That weekend, it had rained very hard, and the side of our house got flooded.

We have a crooked old brick path in that area, and it is also where we keep our  rubbish bins. You know, the big green ones on wheels? Anyway, the paving bricks on the path were already so loose. It was really difficult to wheel the bin out once a week for collection.

So when the path flooded, the ground washed away, and the brick path totally fell apart into a messed up jumble of rubble.

So what did I do?

I dragged the bin out of the middle of the mess, and I spent the morning RE-PAVING the BRICKS!

Paving

Ta da!

Haha don’t look too close. It’s a bit wonky. And the bricks don’t match. I don’t think I compacted the ground hard enough. I hope it doesn’t wash away in the next rain storm!

I was a bit embarrassed about it actually, and I didn’t dare tell anyone, because it was so uneven.

But my sons were very impressed, which made me feel a little better. And it was much better than it was before.

When my husband came back, I didn’t mention it to him, and it took him a week for him to realise I had done it!

He discovered it when he was putting the bin out one morning. He came back in with a very confused look on his face, like “Who fixed up the paving? My brother? The neighbour? Your dad?”

And I have to say….when I casually told him it was ME, I enjoyed the look of surprise – and disbelief – on his face IMMENSELY :)

2 Dress Trends To Try This Season

Gosh Celebrity Fashion asked me to check out their latest collection for review :)

I had a really good browse in the store and the best thing about it… is their fab collection of dresses. And their prices were good – low to middle of the range!

I found lots of pieces featuring new colours, cool trends and lovely, statement styles. They also have FREE  shipping Australia wide and hassle-free returns, which is nice. Of course, they also ship internationally.

I selected a few items, but these 2 dresses were my favourite of the lot.

Clothes by Gosh

The Peplum Dress

The peplum is one of this season’s hottest trends. A peplum is a little “skirt” that sits on the waist of a skirt, dress or along the bottom hem of a top. It’s fun, flirty and very feminine. You have to try it! It transforms your silhouette, accentuating the waist, making you look like you’ve got sexy curves, and a hot hourglass figure.

I really like the peplum style. As long as the peplum is not too ruffly, I think it really suits short and petite women.

You can even buy skirts or dresses with removable peplums. So you can wear it from day time to night time.

This white strapless dress is called the Shutterbug Peplum Dress by Keepsake. I LOVE the clean lines and minimal detail. It is polished, sexy, and a perfect party dress for a night out!

The fit was nice and snug on the waist. The length was great on me. The fabric felt nice. If anything, I didn’t have enough boob mass to fill the bust area to it’s *fullest potential*… ahem.

But it looked good on, so I would still wear it.

Clothes by Gosh

The Print Dress

Finding a nice print dress that works well for both work and play can be tricky, especially if you want to find something that is colourful but not TOO colourful!

I really liked this Silk Dress by Honey and Beau. The print is so lovely – like a water themed oil painting by an Impressionist masters. The drapes and pleats are lovely too.

It features a tulip skirt, and a drape collar which have little drawstrings. On the left I loosened the drawstrings and the collar fell like silky ruffles on a deep V neckline. On the right I tightened the drawstrings and it gave the dress a higher and more modest neckline.

The website said that it was a “mini” dress. But for short ol’ me, the dress ended mid-thigh – which was perfect in my opinion!

Do check out the rest of the Honey and Beau items, as there are lots of nice stuff available!

Happy Shopping!

( See all my Daily Outfits here )

Check out more of my favourite online shops in my Women’s Online Fashion Shopping Guide.

Balayage at Head Studio

Last year, I was hankering to do something different with my hair – I wanted a balayage style, but I didn’t have time to research the style, research a salon, and organise some time away to get it done.

Finally for my birthday last week, I decided, yep, it’s time for a hair change.

Balayage (pronounced BAH-LAY-ARGHE) (as in garage or mirage) is a highlighting technique where the lightening agent is painted freehand onto the hair. It’s when there’s a gradient from dark roots to light tips.

Lots of people also call the effect ombre (pronounced OM-BRAY), which refers more to a two-tone colour change, and less of a slow gradual gradient effect. And you can use the word ombre to describe a colour tone change in clothing, accessories, textiles, painted surfaces.

Whatever you call it, done badly, it looks like bad regrowth. You could look like some scary rocker chick. Done superbly, your hair can look naturally highlighted, sun-kissed, full of depth and texture and fresh.

So first I did a bit of research.

This is what I DIDN’T want.

Balayage Hair

It might look cool on Drew Barrymore, but I didn’t want such a drastic gradient and I didn’t want my ends to be so blonde!

Balayage Hair

Here Rachel Bilson and Ashley Simpson have a slightly more gradient effect in their hair.

But I still didn’t want so much of my ends to be so light. And the gradient still wasn’t gradual enough.

Balayage Hair

This is what I wanted. I loved the balayage on Jessica Biel! A gradual highlight, touches of lightened hair tousled between dark and medium colour strands.

Balayage Hair

And same again in this picture of Lily Aldridge.

(All celebrity pictures were taken from all over the internet without owner’s permission – sorry!)

SO. I called the team from Head Studio, who have done my hair before (I published a review post about them here).

I knew they would do a great job, because they seem to be constantly winning hairdressing prizes, and they are always on the cutting edge (excuse the pun) of new hair styles and trends.

I asked them if I could write a blog feature about the whole process and they kindly offered me a complimentary balayage, for my review. I hoped like crazy that it would turn out ok!!

Balayage at Head Studio - July 2012

I walked upstairs and was greeted by one of their GORGEOUS salon rooms.

This photo was taken from the Head Studio website, because when I was there, it was actually was full of women getting their hair done (and understandably, no one wanted to have their picture taken while having hair treatment!).

Balayage at Head Studio - July 2012

So this is me at 11am, with my day-old washed hair. Long, straight, black – as it has been for a looooong time.

I was given a proper flat white coffee, a stack of fashion magazines and an orgasmic head massage. Ah I love them already.

Then I met my colourist, Ashley, who had a string of impressive national achievements.

We had an extensive chat about what I wanted. She provided me with an ipad FULL of example hair photos, celebrity hair dos, red carpet photos, fashion and style photos… and we even found the photos of Jessica Beil (pictured above) it was brilliant.

In terms of her technique, when she was working away… she didn’t seem bored, or treat me like I was just-another-head-with-hair-to-colour-today. She was so skilled and attentive to my hair, as if I was a work of art. She came across as a real and rare craftsman (or craftsperson?). She was just awesome.

Balayage at Head Studio - July 2012

As for me, I had no doubt the final look would look nice.

But I was sooo nervous. Hence the funny look on my face. The last time I lightened my hair significantly… I was 15! I had bleached my fringe all by myself and it looked pretty bad haha.

But now? What would it look like? Will it suit me? What if I hate it? What if it’s too light? What if I don’t get used to it?

I was finally led to the basins, where all the colour / toner / lightening agent (I have no idea!) was washed out, and I was given a conditioning hair treatment too.

I was led downstairs, my hair was blow dried, curled a bit and THIS WAS THE RESULT!

Balayage at Head Studio - July 2012

OMG it was gorgeous!! I WAS SOOOO HAPPPY!

Like seriously, I was so thrilled that I jumped up and gave Ashley a big hug and squeal! I felt so lame, but haha I was completely over the moon!!

Balayage at Head Studio - July 2012

I feel like such a bimbo in saying this… but I TOTALLY LOVE MY HAIR!!

Gah it’s so pretty! Why didn’t I do this sooner!?!

Balayage at Head Studio - July 2012

She painted a bit of colour in small touches near my eyes and cheeks, to make the gradient more gradual. The colour is just perfect, the highlights are lovely, the loose curls are a perfect touch.

I think it really suits me, lifts my complexion, brightens my face and maybe makes me look YOUNGER? What do you think? Forever 25? Haha!

A BIG THANK YOU to the team at Head Studio.

They get 11 out of 10 from me… for customer satisfaction for the service, the final outcome and the overall experience.

I completely recommend these guys! Again!

Head Studio
64 King Street
Perth WA 6000
Phone: 08 9481 6464
Email: info@headstudio.com
Web: www.headstudio.com.au (includes prices and map)

How To Make Cake Pops

Cake Pops 2012

A few weeks ago, I made “cake pops” for my son’s birthday party. I received so many comments about them, that I thought I would write a blog post about how I made them.

Cake pops are basically cake balls on a stick, like a cupcake lollypop. There are a number of ways to make them, but I stumbled across some pans in my supermarket (Woolworths) for $30 and thought I would give them a go – considering how utterly bored I am from making cupcakes.

If you are interested, you can buy the exact cake pop pans from Amazon. Or you can just search for Bake Pop Pans.

You can also buy cute paper sticks to use, which make the cake pops look really nice. And they are very cheap.

Cake Pops 2012

Here are the pans, a top and a base.

They came with silicone clips, reusable cake pop sticks (which don’t look very nice) and instructions (which are a bit vague, if you’re a first time baker).

Cake Pops 2012

The instructions say to use a standard cake recipe, adding an extra egg and halving the amount of water / milk. I tried it, as instructed, and I wasn’t happy with the resulting cake.

I recommend you use your favourite cupcake recipe and follow it exactly, if you want a nice cake to eat. Here I used a vanilla cupcake recipe, which I will share on my blog soon.

Coat the pan with lots of melted butter (so they won’t stick to the pan!).

Fill the pans with the cupcake mixture, pop the top on, put on the silicone clips, and bake them just as you would cupcakes.

Cake Pops 2012

Here they are after 25 minutes,  in a lovely golden colour. You can see the yellow silicone clip on the left.

There’s a bit of over flow, which is a good sign that the cake has risen and has become a sphere.

Cake Pops 2012

Break off all the over flowing bits and feed any hungry children who may be circling the kitchen.

Lift the lid off, which should come off easily, thanks to the butter.

Cake Pops 2012

Pop them all out, and scrape off the little edge / seam of cake, to create a smooth ball.

Let them cool for a few minutes.

Cake Pops 2012

Use a stick to make a hole in all the balls. I call it pre-holing the balls ha!

Coat the end of each stick in a little bit of melted chocolate and push each stick into the cake balls. This is to make sure that the stick is STUCK onto the cake ball. You don’t want the cake to fall off the stick.

Lay the cake pops down and keep them in an air tight container. As you don’t want them to dry out while you prep all the decorations.

Cake Pops 2012

Now the fun part!

Dip them in melted chocolate and decorate away!

There are some REALLY cute ideas on the internet… but I’ve just gone for the simple: coat and sprinkle.

The first time I made the cake pops, I didn’t have anything to HOLD them.

So I found a lump of children’s play dough in my fridge and stuck them all in. Afterwards I realised that the playdough was PINK, so I covered it with foil to make it look a bit nicer.

Cake Pops 2012

The second time I made the cake pops, I made them upside down… which is sooo much more practical.

The great thing about these cake pops, that since they are coated in chocolate, they are very robust and almost unbreakable, so you can stack them into a container and they travel well.

I presented all these upside down cake pops on a large white platter with lots of coloured smarties. It looked fantastic!

Overall they are fairly simple to make. It’s also easy to make a large number of them at one time. So it’s great if you have lots of guests.

Best of all, they look great, and both kids and parents LOVE the novelty!