More sunshine, less whine

Sunshine and the great outdoors are the allies of the exhausted parent.

Armed with a double shot almond milk latte, in a huge mug, the lads and I began carrying supplies out to the deck for a morning of mess and imagination. Because when you are outside, mess can wait, and it does not agitate.

 

Whilst my lads age range might mean that compatibility in play is sometimes elusive, there are some things that just win every time, like sensory play.  We have used rainbow rice, cloud dough,  play dough and water play again and again over many years (new batches of course!!).  These are simple, low or no cost activities that I enjoy as much as my kids do.  It is really important to know what you enjoy in terms of play as a parent. Yes, we play things that we don’t particularly enjoy, because the kids want us to join in. But when we find things we enjoy as much as they do, the play is different. And we can all feel the difference.

 

So this morning, we played with cloud dough, play dough and rice with plastic animals and duplo. And afterwards, those animals really needed a bath.

We brought the dolls house and peg dolls I made outside, and Asher showing Tobias how to create an avalanche of animals down the staircase.  

Then we made some necklaces with our animals. “More,  more, more” resulted in Tobias wearing a zoo.

 

 

Not one complaint. No bickering. No fussing. It really isn’t rocket science; kids (big and small) need to be outside.

 

And does the fact that there are things strewn across the deck concern me? Not one iota. But if this same mess was inside, I would be finding it very hard to leave the activities out for much longer.  The lads will go in and out all day, and these things will be utilised in endless ways, as their imagination leads.

Oh, and I got to have my coffee while it was hot.  And we filled the neighbourhood with bubbles. Everyone’s a winner.


Dear Mum. AKA “Instructions for caring for my toddler”

Dear Mum,

I am grateful to you for your willingness to care for Tobias while I go to work on Friday’s. I know you raised three children of your own, but that was back in the days of 4 hour schedules and the era where the parents called the shots. So much has changed.  I mean, almost 4 decades have passed and things are different now, Mum. Kids are too, you know. So I can help you learn the ropes, by writing you some instructions.

So here is the drill. I will write you a list, and this list should be kept out of reach of said toddler, because he will either eat it, paint it or poo on it. Then you are going to be in a world of trouble, because how will you know how to look after my toddler without the list?  The list will specify times, and methods that you will find will help you operate Tobias. If you skip instructions, he is likely to malfunction. Which in turn, leads to you (or I) doing the same.

So follow the list.

I have yet to finalise the list, but here is a rough draft.

DRAFT ONLY

  1. Tobias needs to drink. He has a sippy cup which needs to be within his reach. It also needs to be placed in his face, on regular intervals as he does not yet know the importance of hydration. So as his carer, you must be one step ahead at all times.
  2. Tobias needs to eat. He usually eats in his high chair, but these have changed a lot since you were doing the parenting thing, so I would suggest that you sit him at his table. Because I don’t want phone calls at work saying he is stuck in the high chair.  Whilst Tobias might not want to eat, it is imperative that he does, because he might not sleep well on an empty stomach (and we all know that not enough sleep is pretty much the worst thing ever). Sing to him, play trains (place the food on the spoon) going into the tunnel ( move food into his mouth). This usually works. You can mix it up a bit too, and you can go all retro on him if you like and do the plane thing that your generation loved so much.
  3. Tobias likes books. I don’t think there are any regulations for this instruction. Feel free to improvise.
  4. Fresh air is important (but not as important as you lot used to think with leaving us outside between meals, only allowed to come in to use the facilities).
  5. Bedtime routine – ok, this is the MOST IMPORTANT BIT. Don’t skip anything, do JUST AS THE LIST SAYS, otherwise the unthinkable may happen – he may miss a nap!!!!!!!
    1. All of the above.
    2. Nappy change – I bought those nappy pants for Friday’s, so you don’t             have to work around tabs and stuff. You know, you might put it on back the front or sideways, so always look at the picture.  The picture is what he will pee on.
    3. Sleeping bag – this is what modern parents refer to as a ‘sleep cue’. Tobias by now should be starting to get the message that it is time for sleep.
    4. Story time – reading on the couch – another sleep cue.
    5. Walk to the bedroom.
    6. Turn on the heater – to setting 1.
    7. Turn on the white noise on my old school pink radio you bought me when I was 12. Put it on FM, volume dial about 1/3 way around and off channel.
    8. Walk to cot.
    9. Rock, pat, sshhhhh shhhhh shhhhh.
    10. Place toddler into bed, feet pointing north, on his tummy.
    11. CRAP!! I FORGOT THE DUMMY – GO BACK TO NUMBER 5 (c) and insert here – both instruction AND dummy. (that was close – you may have needed to start number 5 all over again if we didn’t catch that one).
    12. Creep out of room, avoiding creaky floor boards (IDEA – do you want me to put bright dot stickers there so you know where to tread?).
    13. If he doesn’t settle, blow all of that and pick the kid up and cuddle him. Works a treat, every time.

I hope this helps you Mum, and that you feel confident to care for a Tobias for 3 hours. If you have any questions, re-read the list. If you still have questions, then maybe I need to add more dot points to help you out. Again, THIS IS A DRAFT ONLY.

Regards,

Your Daughter (your third child).

Sprucing up: Bathroom Edition

I love sprucing things up. I get a real kick out of reclaiming discarded furniture and revamping it so it can be enjoyed once again. There is something deeply satisfying to me about painting over an offensive wall colour with a shade that changes the mood of a room. Finding ways to recreate a space on a minimal budget is something I have done for many years, and now we are doing it on a larger scale in our ‘new’ 1974 home.  We have been here for 9 months now, and despite being utterly sleep deprived juggling three busy lads, we have managed to make a number of changes which make this 1974 beast feel like a home that fits who we are. I will be sharing the revamping journey of our home over the coming months as we, bit by bit, wall by wall, room by room, begin to transform our home, the frugal way!

To give you an idea of what we are working with, here are a few ‘before’ photos:

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Can you guess why all of the brown was starting to do my head in? I felt like I was living on the set of a bad 1970s Australian sitcom.

But the reasons we purchased this home trump the brown-ness of it. The view, location, space and configuration were the selling points for us.

195 Carella Street, Howrah, Tas 7018

Taking a long shower is supposed to be relaxing. Do you think you could relax in that bathroom? Our original, 1974 bathroom has been quite the talking point for our friends, and incredibly, a number of them were disappointed when we painted over the tiles!

After ripping up the floor tiles, replacing some rotting boards, painting them with paint suitable for wet areas, we started to see that this budget update might really work.

The tiles were primed and painted over using White Knight tile paint, in Stone Jug and Pebble Grey.  The shower base was primed and painted with a laminate paint, and it feels relaxing, clean and fresh.

Matt installed the new vanity which he found on sale at Bunnings, and I picked up the blind from Freedom reduced from $220 to $50.  The grand total for the bathroom revamp was $700.

Quick & Thrifty redos

Uni starts again next week, so I am cramming in a few quick projects before I have my head stuck in books for a few months.

I paid $1 for a few off cuts of fabric from the op shop yesterday, and recovered a boring lamp and a few canvases I had around home. I still have more than half of it left. On a roll, I remembered I had a $1 doily and stitched it onto a footstool I purchased for $5 from the tip shop a few months ago. I had recovered it with black fabric given to me already, but the doily made it complete, and made me smile. The lads aren’t so sure about doilies…it is an ongoing discussion around here – The Great Doily Debate. I think you can see who is winning. Three v One, yet I still manage to have doily dominion.

These few makeovers cost next to nothing, and we have a few new splashes of colour and another seat (or footstool!) in our living space.

What do you have around the house that you could tweak so you love it and use it once again?

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Feeling cushy

Tonight it felt good to start and finish a project in an hour. I whipped up a few cushion covers using thrift shop items: a pillow case, off-cut fabric and zips. I paid around $1 for the supplies I used.

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I am thinking some napkins might be next on the list of straight line sewing projects for me.

Creative urge splurge…soon

I want to plan our 2014 holiday (because we are taking the lads overseas).

I want to redecorate our bedroom (thanks to Kirstie’s Vintage Home).

I want to recover a chair (because I have cute boys with messy hands).

I want to paint my office chair (because white is nice, but green might be fun).

I want to dust my camera off and take some photographs (because it makes my heart happy).

 

But I must study (because I have a Child and Adolescent Development exam in 10 days and I have a LOT of content to cover).

 

Multi-tasking has always been my way, yet I have managed to get things done in life despite my tendency to become easily distracted. But the past four months have shown me things about myself that I am quietly pleased to recongnise.  I have been more focused than I have ever been in my life. I have prioritised more efficiently, and I have delayed gratification like I never have before.

My creative urges are screaming out for attention, but they are being told to wait. Not to go away, but to take a seat and wait for me to finish what needs to be done.  At 11.10am on the 12th June, I will leave the exam room and these urges can have my full attention for five whole weeks.  Delaying gratification makes the gratification so much more…gratifying!!! Creative urge splurge coming up! (Be still my beating heart, get back to the books).

On that note, I best get back to what needs to be done 🙂

Mindful Mumma

Just for today I ignored the uni books and decided to be mindful only of motherhood. Things have been somewhat hectic in our house this year, and we are all feeling it a bit. So today I just needed to be in mummy mode. I cannot tell you how good it felt to do things around our home to make this week a bit more relaxing for our whole family. Things that are usually just done in auto pilot, were quite therapeutic for me today. Hanging washing out and putting the boys clothes away instead of leaving their “put away pile” for them after school made me smile. Grocery shopping so they have healthy, delicious food felt great. Cleaning the floors that were still showing the signs of Asher’s party, cleaning the toilet that is messy because I live with boys, tidying up the evidence of how much fun our kids have, planting some more herbs in our garden – it all felt great. The pile of uni books beside me tempt me, but today, I resist. Because today, I just had to get back to what it’s all about for me – being a mum is my greatest passion and joy. But there was a reason for this mindfulness.

It was so very deliberate.

Today was to be the due date for the little one we lost last October. I felt I needed to relfect on how blessed we are; to come back to the basics of what it means to care for, nurture, provide for and nourish our children. No doubt when they come home and see a sparkling clean house they won’t notice. But that’s okay.

A bit more about the gardening I did today: The boys gave me an oregano plant as part of my Mother’s Day gift, so today I went and got a Thyme plant to pop beside it in the garden, to remember ALL of our children. I also got an indoor plant. Plants seemed a fitting way to commemorate this day – because even though we never got to hold this one, we are changed. We have grown. We are so much more aware of the joys, because pain changed us. So something that is living and thriving seemed to me, the right way to honour our little one.

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Fort Frenzy

We are fast approaching the end of our first week of school holidays. They always go so fast! The weather is crazy; cold and gusty, but altogether cosy indoors, so what did we decide to do today? Why, we let our inner architect out to play and created an indoor fort, of course!

We used sheets, clamps, pegs and rope and the lads have been in there ever since, reading, watching ‘Spy Kids’ and making frequent requests for food. Their Dad is in there with them, showing no signs of coming out of this boy cave anytime soon… I have a feeling this may stay for a while.

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Frametastic Week

I’m lazing in bed this Sunday morning, listening to the giggles of my lads and the sounds of the coffee machine as Matt makes me a soy latte. It’s been a huge week! I’m struggling to work out the juggle with full time study, work, parenting, school involvement and everyday life necessities like cooking and cleaning. But I’m grateful I’ve got the opportunity to experiment with such a juggle, and I’m going to try and master this! It’s a short term juggle, just 8 intense months. I think I can… I think I can… I think I can…
I have attached a collage of the week gone.

We now have a new sponsor child, by the delightful name of Cloudi. Our Compassion sponsor child graduated to a new university program (which is a huge achievement and a cause of great celebration of the impact that sponsorship has on young lives and communities), so we have taken on a second child from Operation Uganda, as we know people on the ground and hear first hand of the wonderful things happening in these children’s lives. Check them out here.

The international cooking fun continues. More pics later on that tomorrow after our next experiment.

Asher had a free dress day at school and his class performed in the assembly. I was delighted to see him drumming, and totally loved how he wore his cap for the occasion!

And study. Lots of study, served with coffee.

Happy Sunday to you all x

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