Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Travelling tips

We're packing up, ready to go on a family holiday for a couple of weeks. I didn't even think about how the kids were going to survive all the travelling until yesterday. I did a quick online search and found these two sites packed full of great travelling with kids ideas!

Here are some of the ideas I found that I'm going to try out:

Foil figurine making - take a roll of aluminium foil and give the kids challenges eg. make a robot out of foil

Car bingo - printable car bingo cards available at www.

Bubbles - that will be fun!

Tape/Post-Its - pass them to the back seat and let the kids go for it! I'm not expecting to be able to see much out of the back windows :o)

Pipe cleaner creatures - take a long some pipe cleaners so the kids can get creative.

Card games - don't forget the simple old-fashioned games like snap!

Trip journal - simple exercise books are perfect for your children to create memories in.

Have a wonderful trip! (oh, and please share your tips too!)

PS - these posts are going to become even more sporadic over the next few weeks. Have a great Christmas in the meantime - see you next year! xo

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

And here ends the first year..

GB5 finished Kindergarten this week. I can't believe she's already finished her first year at school! Looking back on the year, we've learned heaps and made a lot of changes.

Above: Isabella (GB5) graduating from preschool last year. Below: Graduating from Kindergarten last week.

What I would do differently if I had the chance...

I would be more involved in school. As a first time kindy parent and new to the school, I often felt that I had no idea what was going on during the whirlwind of Isabella's first year of school. Now I realise that if I'd joined the P&C, I would've had easy access to whatever answers I needed and would've been part of a pre-established support and social network. I'm planning to join next year.

What we did well...

Some of the different friendship difficulties that arose were quite trying at times. It's not breaking news that children can be nasty. I think we came through it well though, with most of her friendships intact and many important life lessons learned. Isabella has learnt tolerance and grace and even how to stand up for herself!

What I've learned...

I've found now that Isabella is a school girl, that her time at home is so much more enjoyable. I really enjoy weekends and holidays now because I'm able to enjoy having her home after missing her during the week.

I've also learned that my children aren't going to necessarily be the best and fastest at everything - perhaps not anything right now - and that's okay.

I've learned to push my children's limits and confidence levels and that as long as I'm there to help them process what might turn into a negative situation, they'll be okay.

I've learned that if a child is grumpy and naughty when I pick them up from school, it generally means they've had a bad day and they need to talk about it.

Mostly I've learned, not to judge by first impressions. We're all doing our best at this parenting thing.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

High maintenance child = Empty 'love tank'?

GB5 has been pretty high maintenance lately. Always wanting more, never happy with what she has, usually grumbling about something. This isn't her usual way. Normally, she's a happy, friendly little chick, who knows what she wants but is happy to compromise.

I've been going through the cycle; guilt, frustration, anger... then lastnight, after I had a good whinge about our regular standoffs, my husband worked out the problem - her 'love tank' isn't being filled ('love tank' is a term used by Gary Chapman when talking about feeling loved - a person who know's they're loved has a full 'love tank').

We've noticed that she jumps all over Matt when he gets home - without giving up - and is always nagging me to draw with her or read to her... we gradually realised that our little miss needed our time and undivided attention and that she wasn't getting enough. My initial reaction was something like, "Great, just add it to the bottom of my list. Like I have time to do anything else!" but it slowly dawned on me that if we could manage to show her just how special and appreciated she is, she'd probably become a lot easier to be around. Not to mention a much happier child!

We pulled out Gary Chapman's book The Five Love Languages and had a read through the children's section. We were having breakfast and I was reading it aloud to Matt. The next thing I know, GB5 sidles around the table and plops down next to me, "Keep reading mum - I love it!" How ironic. After I finished reading the section I asked her if she could remember times when she'd felt really loved by me. This is what she said: "Remember that time when I was sick and I couldn't go to the toilet so you carried me there? And when I was home from school and we just hung out?"


It breaks my heart to think that she hasn't been feeling loved or appreciated lately. With two younger kids and a hectic schedule, I can see now that she's fallen through the cracks. By the time she gets home from school, I'm exhausted and gearing up for the dinner/bath/bed slog.

After some discussion we decided that the extra half hour GB5 is awake after her brother and sister go to bed is going to be 'our time'. We've realised that we need to make something of those precious thirty minutes. Maybe read a book or do some drawing with her. Or just sit and chat about our day.

It will be interesting to see the results and if there are any changes in her behaviour.

Do you know what your children's love languages are? How do you make sure their little 'love tanks' are full?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

It would break a mother's heart

1500 mothers and 10 000 newborns die every day due to complications that could have been prevented just with the presence of a skilled birth attendant*.

This statistic is heartbreaking. As a mother, this is a subject that brings me to tears, more than I ever expected it would. I have three beautiful, healthy children but when I consider the complications we endured during their deliveries, I realise that if we weren't so blessed to live in Australia, I would've ended up as one of those statistics. More than likely, my children would have too. I retained products with all three and haemhorraged with two. It doesn't take much to kill you if you don't have the right medical support.

To put this into perspective, as Australians we have a one in 13 000 chance of suffering fatal birth complications. In Niger - the nation with the world's highest maternal death rate - women's chances of death are one in seven**. One in seven! Think about your girlfriends, sisters, mother... one in seven is a very high ratio. Some communities in countries with similar statistics won't name their children until they reach five. Why? It hurts less that way.

Stories telling of families torn apart by maternal mortality abound. To read the stories of two women who, until now were voiceless, click here. New Internationalist devoted a whole (heartbreaking) section of their March 2009 issue to the subject. Compassion has just launched a new arm Rescue Babies Now and features story after story of women and children saved through vital medical and practical intervention and education.

The reality is, as women and/or mothers we're the most likely group to feel for these women and their children, enough to want to do something about it. Realistically and unfortunately, most of us can't fly over and work in the fields for months on end or donate large amounts of money.

We must not feel powerless.

A real sense of empowerment came when I clicked on to Rescue Babies Now and saw the programs they have set up:

$100 ensures that a woman has access to a skilled attendant
during the birth of her child.

$63 can provide a Survival Specialist with a backpack filled with the supplies needed to care for mums and babies. Some items included are: First aid kit, scale, sanitation supplies, oral rehydration therapies, bible, age-appropriate toys, books, soap, towels, etc.

$52 ensures a child has access to all needed vaccinations up through their 4th birthday.

$44 provides a month worth of food and/or nutritional supplements to ensure that mums and babies are not malnourished
(although costs vary per country, $44 is the average amount needed to provide for the nutritional needs of one mum and one baby for one month).

In our household, we don't have much extra to give but this issue is really important to me as a mum and as a woman. I feel that I have a responsibility to my international 'sisters' to do the right thing by them and fight for their lives and those of their children.

If you'd like to support these women and their beautiful children, please visit my secure
fundraising page (I'm trying to raise enough money to supply professional maternal medical assistance to 10 women) or donate directly to Rescue Babies Now.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read about the sadness surrounding this topic. Even by just reading through this, you're helping alleviate the problem.


Monday, December 7, 2009

Nordegren vs Woods. A lesson learned.

The public demise of Tiger Woods' marriage has been horrible to watch. I feel so sad for his wife. I don't read glossies so I don't really know what's going on (although I doubt very much that the glossies do either.. ) but Elin Nordegren - aka Mrs Tiger Woods - has been publicly humiliated, what I would assume to be one of her greatest nightmares coming true, splashed over just about every media-seized surface in the western world.

What I've been reminded of as I've watched this heartbreaking story unfold, is that we put too much emphasis on how we look. Ms Nordegren is a beautiful woman who used to be a model. Even still, Tiger cheated. If you believe the tabloids, he cheated regularly, indiscretely and in excess, even though he was married to a stunningly beautiful woman.

As I said earlier, I don't know what's going on in their relationship and I'm not about to pretend to know - it's not even any of my business to know, or to have an opinion on it. But feeling insecure about (what we feel are) physical inadequacies, is not worth the emotional stress and pain it causes. We all have features that we're not happy with. Big, small, flat, round, straight, curly, black, brown - the grass isn't always greener! Physical perfection does not bring happiness - in marriage or otherwise.

There is so much pressure on women to look 'perfect'. In the movies, the beautiful girls always get the hot guys. The not so beautiful girls seem to usually fill the 'baddie' role. How about the 'ugly stepsisters'? What's with that?! What, they're bad because they're 'ugly'?

As a woman (and wife) sometimes I find myself caught in the trap. I feel like it's my 'duty' to look as good as possible, all the time. If I don't, I'm not doing a good enough job, I seem to tell myself. Where do these thoughts come from? I have no idea, but I have a feeling that I'm not alone.

Outer beauty is not enough to save a relationship. Sure, it's great to take care of ourselves and have a bit of fun along the way, but there's way too much priority put on outward appearances.

If a model's husband strays, this is proof enough for me - looks shouldn't be my priority. They're never going to be enough to build a strong, lasting relationship.

This You-Tube really puts this in perspective.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

My husband is great

It’s not really ‘in’ to brag about your husband – or even to say anything nice about him at all! That sux because he's actually one half of a very powerful union.

I’ve been inspired to speak more highly of my husband and tell others how I feel about him and what he does for our family. Malia at Blissfully Domestic encourages her readers to share their thoughts about their husbands. Happy thoughts. Examples of his care and encouragement. Maybe something little he did to brighten their day. No backhanded compliments. No teasing when they don’t quite get it right. After all, we’d be pretty cut if all the guys got together and laughed at us behind our back every time we locked our keys in the car or forgot to take the kids to swimming – wouldn’t we? I think so.

This 'bagging our husbands' trend is one I don’t want to follow so I’m going to put my positive thoughts out there, in cyberspace. Feel free to join me if you so desire.

You might think it's corny (and I've tried very hard not to be) but really, can it do any harm?

So here goes.

My husband is my best friend. He's the only person on this planet who can do so many amazing things in my life.

He's the only one who I can totally, honestly, be myself with. I have awesome friends and family who are such wonderful parts of my life but no one can do what he does.

He's the only one who can calm my nerves or quell my worries. He always seems to have the right words.

He makes me laugh like no one ever has or ever will. Just a sidewards glance or an off-handed comment can have me in peels of laughter. He has even started to laugh at my jokes - he's definitely the only one who can do that!

He's also a great father to our children. He's the only one who can truly make them feel secure, (especially at the notorious swimming lessons..) He's the best one at keeping them in line and helping them to truly understand respect.

There are so many great things I could write about my husband but I guess the most important thing is: He's the best one for me and I'll alway be grateful for him. xox