What’s been happening: November 2014 edition.

I have no idea what to write about for this week, so I figure I’ll just tell you some of what I’ve been up to lately. We can pretend it’s my monthly newsletter without me actually having to put together a newsletter and then send it out. Just think of it as the kind of newsletter that hardly ever arrives on time, if at all, but when it does you know I have writer’s block ;)

Birthday fun.

Well, it was the Little Mister’s 3rd birthday earlier this month, so we threw him a little family party. His grandparents, most of the aunties and uncles (plus a couple of cousins) came along and fun was had. I may have over catered (we lived off party finger food for a few days – hell – there’s still some in the freezer), but I was glad to have a drama free cake situation (unlike last year) and I somehow pulled off a bit of a train theme (the Little Mister loves Thomas the Tank Engine).

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It was nothing crazy or over the top – just a bit of fun (thanks Pinterest)! I also made a ‘train’ of snacks that wound their way around our outdoor table (a Thomas train followed by a bunch of snack filled foil tray ‘carriages’ – bit tacky but lots of fun). Everyone chatted away to their hearts’ content and the Little Mister was having SO much fun that he didn’t even eat the chicken nuggets I got just for him (his favourite ‘sometimes’ food)!

I can’t let this go without thanking Sonia of Life Love Hiccups for having a Coles voucher giveaway just in time for me to win it and spend it on the party supplies! That $50 really made a difference – hello, free grocery money! Yippee.

The Little Mister was very spoilt this year, as he’d already celebrated at the joint mothers’ group 3rd birthday bash, then he had enjoyed morning tea with my grandparents (his great grandparents) on his actual birthday! He’s so lucky to have so many loving people in his life. Just as we are lucky to have him!

Nailed it?

I’ve been trying to figure out ways to save a little money, but keep up with my mental health promise to practice self care and maintenance (yes lots some of this includes beauty stuff). So I’ve gotten really amazing at using eBay after years of practically forgetting it existed. I decided that for the cost of about two fancy gel manicure appointments, I could buy just about everything I would need to do it at home forever (using reputable products of course)! My first attempt went pretty well, but I definitely need more practice! I have an LED lamp and everything (which I shall be using responsibly – sunscreen is a must – and sparingly to protect my skin). I’m no professional, but I have the internet and it is full of wonderful tutorials, tips and advice! I love the pampering you get at a salon, but I simply can’t afford it every time and it’s easy to do while the Little Mister sleeps, not so easy to do when you need babysitting each time!

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Uh oh.

I’ve been spending some time filling out enrolment forms for the Little Mister to start four year old kindy in 2016. It’s getting real. This kid is not getting any younger! I’ve been looking into sending him to a day care kindy one day a week for next year too. The Little Mister will be flying the coop (not really that much)! He’s getting so grown up! I think I’ll be a little emotional when I drop him off for the first time. Not crazy lady, overprotective helicopter emotional. But a little sentimental. OK, and a little bit nervous. Although, I’m sure I’ll start to enjoy some time out to get stuff done (efficiently). Maybe even on awesome days I might get to have a nap or just sit on my bum? Wishful thinking?

Cluck cluck. 

This month I will be attending two baby showers. Two weekends in a row! How fun! I’ve had to be very restrained when shopping for gifts. I always want to buy the whole baby store when I go in these days. I don’t get to visit these kinds of shops anymore, now that the Little Mister is a ‘big boy’. So then I get really clucky and almost lose my mind with the cuteness.

Waiting for December…

I’ve also been trying to restrain myself when it comes to the C word. Yes, that’s right. CHRISTMAS. It’s coming. It’s just over a month away now, I’m afraid. I started buying gifts last month. Yes. Last month. I always say I’ll do online shopping, but I never remember or get organised on time to allow for delivery time. So this year I was all over that sh*t. So proud. Where’s my medal? I totes deserve it. Except, getting so excited that early on has been quite testing. I want to do all the blogging and decorating and all the activities with the Little Mister NOW. NOW, DAMMIT. I feel like a little kid who starts asking their parents how many sleeps until Santa comes, like every day. I’ve decided that come December 1st, it’s gonna get so festive for real up in here. You may want to avert your eyes, if you exist a bit on the grinchy side of the Christmas spectrum haha. You’ve been warned!

I’ve been feeling really loved and supported by you guys, lately – so thanks! Some new followers on Facebook and lots of lovely comments here on the blog. You are awesome. So awesome. Give yourselves a hug and pretend it was me. That’s not weird. At all.

Now to end this, with some links to the stuff you might have missed this month :)

Thursday thoughts. I wrote this post on a Thursday, but it’s filled with inspiration that is good for me every day of the week.

How to play hide and seek with a 3 year old. Seriously. It’s the cutest thing you’ll ever do.

Three. A letter I wrote to the Little Mister for his birthday.

I support you: It’s your baby. Feed them however you need to. I wrote this for #ISupportYou week, and it’s one of the things I’m most proud of writing. It was spread far and wide and I’m so glad this message is getting out there. New parents need support, whatever they choose. It doesn’t matter if you breastfeed or bottle-feed. It’s all about the love, everyone. No buts. Put your buts away. Just love!

Let’s catch up – what have YOU been up to this month so far?

Have a wonderful weekend, everybody! x

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Thursday thoughts.

Whenever I am feeling a bit “off”, be that anxious, a bit down or really frustrated, I like to find great quotes to fill my mind with and get myself headed in a better direction. I really think that our thoughts are powerful. They determine the energy we put out to other people and they can affect our health. Here are the things that are soothing me today…

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I’ve decided that whenever I am feeling conflicted or I find myself thinking negatively about people or circumstances, I am going to ask myself this question. Is this worrying/resentment etc good for my soul? Maybe not. I must remember to look after myself, rather than expend my energy on being annoyed or worried about other things or people that I ultimately have no control over.

I must do what is good for my soul and keep it healthy.

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I tend to be an over thinker. Which can be a good thing (it’s great for blogging and for having a greater understanding of myself and the people I meet) but sometimes I don’t know how to switch off. I can find myself worrying about the future or over thinking the past. I need to take a deep breath and be here in the ‘now’. Right now is good. Right now I am sitting at my dining table while my Little Mister plays, the sun is out and right here in my bubble of ‘now-ness’ everything is good. What a relief. I must remember to take life moment by moment when it starts getting away from me in my head.

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I must remember that those frustrating little hiccups in life do indeed pass eventually. That dreaded task you have to do will eventually be done with. That stressful deadline for whatever it is will come. And go. That miserable weather that’s getting you down will eventually make way for sunny days. That phase your toddler is going through will pass and that will probably be bittersweet so just go with it. It won’t last forever. Some things pass us by quicker than others, but most of those ‘every day’ type stresses will make way for better things. This quote really helps to put most things in perspective. I feel very fortunate that it applies to my life.

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Oh yes. Our brains can really play tricks on us. Sometimes we can let our inner voice be really mean. I am choosing to not believe every single thing my brain tells me. My brain can be a lying liar with its pants on f*cking fire sometimes. Especially when I’m anxious or angry. I need to always stop and ask myself – what evidence is there that the worst case scenario is actually happening or going to happen? Am I really as awful as my mind is telling me right now? Let’s be honest, probably not. Being able to recognise when this is occurring can be the difference between sanity and…the alternative! It can make the difference between positive and negative thinking.

I need to discriminate between true intuition and false thoughts that are destructive (and not good for my soul – see above).

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Unfortunately, there are people in this world who would rather squash your spirit so that they can feel better about themselves, rather than be inspired to raise themselves up and become better. It can be really helpful to recognise when this is happening. I have made a vow to myself to never lower myself to a level of behaviour that I am not OK with. It’s not worth it just to fit in, make your point or to make peace. The price your soul pays each time this happens is just too great. I am all for compromise, but it must go both ways for the betterment of a situation. NOT because someone wants to put me in my place or make themselves feel taller by standing on my shoulders. Those sorts of people get rather heavy after a while, don’t you think?

I will happily give somebody a hand up or support them as they make great changes, but it won’t come at the cost of my ability to live with who I am.

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Here’s a lovely one. As I look forward to Christmas (sorry to mention it before December haha), this is really important to me. I hope that I can show a generous spirit to those around me. The benefits of being generous of spirit are just too good to ignore! Putting all that positive energy and love out there is a beautiful thing. It’s not all about money or material things either. It’s about sharing your abundance, whatever that might be, with others. It could be a donation to charity or a thoughtful Christmas gift. But it can be as simple as a smile, a listening ear or great thought put into what we do for others. These things cost nothing to give.

I hope you all have a wonderful day.

How to play hide and seek with a 3 year old.

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Look behind you!

I just played the best game of hide and seek with the Little Mister. Here’s how each round tends to go…

His turn to hide. 

I count to ten slowly and loudly. The Little Mister has found his hiding spot already. I can hear him from that precise spot counting along loudly with me. If I pretend I can’t find him (in the same spot he hides every single time), he will just yell out, “I’M BEHIND THE [IKEA CIRCUS] TENT!”

I find him jumping up and down, arms everywhere, laughing his head off and being very conspicuous. He acts surprised that I’ve found him each time. Like, genuinely surprised. So of course I act surprised that he has hid there for the fiftieth time.

My turn to hide.

Me: “OK, Little Mister. Now you have to count to ten and then come and find me.”

Me again: “Hey! You have to close your eyes! For the whole time you’re counting! Um…maybe cover your eyes with your hands. OK, count!”

Little Mister: “1-2-3-2-COMING.”

I then run around like a mad chook with its head cut off looking for an emergency hiding spot, because the little monster didn’t count for long enough (although he does usually add another 2 – very considerate).

Once he finds me (after pestering his dad repeatedly to give my spot away), he will scream excitedly in my face.

Then we high five. Of course.

“Again??” he’ll ask.

“OK.”

~~~

I’ve never laughed so hard. I highly recommend hide and seek with a three year old. It’s fantastic for the inner child (yours) and the endorphins. And maybe one day it will be good for my child’s counting skills. But that might take a little while ;)

Three.

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Dear Little Mister,

Today you are 3. You are also the best little buddy I could ask for. I read somewhere that you should never call your son ‘buddy’ or ‘mate’, because then you are not setting the boundaries between parent and child firmly enough. Well, that’s crap. I know that you know I’m mum. I’m very clear about that!

BUT…you are my little buddy too. You make boring things interesting. You come with me everywhere I go (OK so it’s not ALWAYS ideal but I love ya). You keep me company, while I wait. For anything. You make me laugh. I love love love that you’re young enough to think of me as your best friend too. I shall cherish this for as long as it lasts (which I am sure is not long enough).

You’re a threenager now. That’s for sure. For the first time in your whole life, I’m finding my patience pushed, stretched and tested. You will scream ‘no’ fifty times to a lovely snack I’ve provided for you, then a few minutes later I’ll find you munching on that same thing when you think I’m not looking. What tantrum, Mum? You’ll boss me about, interrupt my adult conversations, look me straight in the eye as you do something I’ve just told you not to do…because you want to see what happens. Each growth spurt, each new development, you will spend days extra tired and…hangry. Really hangry. You’ll wake in the night all worried and bothered.

But damn it, you’re cute. This is a cute age. You’re definitely your own little person now! We have conversations. We walk alongside each other. We disagree on things, because you have your own opinions. Sure, they’re rarely based on fact or logic, but we’ll get to that. I assure you, little man, that Granny really is Nanna’s Mummy just as much as I am Nanna’s daughter…but for now we’ll just have to agree to disagree.

I love the way you snuggle in close to my neck when we hug. I love the way you are always looking out for everybody. I love that you are so friendly. I want to jump up and down with happiness when I see you saying please, thank you and sorry. You say each word with such sincerity. You really mean your manners. It means so much to me. I’d love to take all the credit but really, you are just one good little guy.

You’re sensitive. You take things to heart. You can be quite dramatic (gee I don’t know where you get it from). But you rarely hit out. I once witnessed you walking up to another toddler who had smacked you in the arm, saying firmly, “Ow. You hurt me.” with such impressive (for a 2 year old) articulation of your feelings. Sure, he hit you again for your troubles (intervention was necessary), but in that moment I have never been prouder of you. You stood up for yourself and you were not mean. I love you so much. Your communication skills impress me.

I love how you dance. I love how you sing. I love watching you play when you think I’m not watching. I love your wicked sense of humour. I love the unintentionally cute things you say every single day – you’ve never let me down with the hilarity. I love the way you laugh and the way you try to communicate with me with silly made up sounds. I love how observant you are (although it keeps me on my toes). You always know when I’ve done something with my hair, painted my nails a different colour or bought a new pair of shoes (the ladies like that). I melt when you think I’m beautiful and I laugh when you say my face is yucky because you don’t like my make up. Your honesty is fantastic (it’s lucky you’re cute)!

You’re always trying out something new. Lately you’ve been telling people to have a nice day. You sound like you work on the check outs at the supermarket, but at least you mean it haha.

For a while you wouldn’t let anyone call you anything but your first and last name. Your full name at all times. You’re slowly softening your stance and I secretly fist pump when I can sneak in a cute nickname. I totally called you ‘sweetie’ like five times yesterday and you didn’t even correct me. You’re slipping in your old age!

You like things a certain way and you are always trying to rearrange chairs or cushions or something. One day our couch is a boat in crocodile infested waters, another day you’ve built a barn filled with imaginary farm animals. You’re amazing with your Duplo now. So creative. I know because you show me every single creation you’ve ever made and I’m always being told (not asked) to fish around for all the stray pieces that have ended up under the couch.

You love playing outside. Any chance and you’re barrelling out of the sliding door, big red bubble car at the ready. You especially love time with your dad. You have taken to calling him ‘my daddy’ and it melts my heart. He’s not just any daddy, he’s your daddy.

You love to pretend to be a dog. That’s pretty funny. You call yourself Heidi-dog because that’s the name of our dog. You love her so much. I have photos of you pretending to be one of the dogs, waiting for your dad to throw a stick at the beach. Just letting you know in advance, before they come out at your 21st birthday.

Yesterday we were lined up at the council offices to pay a couple of bills. The queue was kind of long and you looked at me, confused. You asked me where everybody’s suitcases were. I had to explain that even though everyone was lined up, it wasn’t an airport (to the amusement of the lady in front of us). I could have eaten you right up at that moment. So freakin’ adorable. It’s those little moments that just make my day. If anyone ever asks if parenthood is worth the trouble, I say yes. Just for the silly little moments like that. They are priceless.

I love how well travelled you are. You have so many stamps in your passport and you’re only 3! Japan, Korea, Singapore. Even a couple of trips to Tasmania – that’s technically overseas, right? You’ve experienced stuff that some people take a lifetime to ever have a go at. Dude, you’ve sat in a genuine Japanese restaurant and have eaten real, honest to goodness gyoza dumplings and sushi. MADE BY JAPANESE PEOPLE IN JAPAN. You’ve napped at the Shibuya crossing like it’s no big deal. You’ve walked the streets of Korea. That is just so f*cking cool. Sorry for the swear words, but I figure by the time you read this, you’ll be old enough to handle it.

For all that cultural experience, I secretly love that you think poo is a hilarious word. That when you fart, it sends you into so many giggles (the kind where you’ve lost control of your laughter). Toilet humour starts early, folks. Once you announced to complete strangers that you ‘done a wee’. So there’s that.

We’re working on toilet training. We’ve had some setbacks but I know you’ll let me know when you’re ready to go all the way with it. You’re a bright kid. I have faith. Eep! Next year is day care once a week, buddy. As much as I am ready for this stage, don’t think I’m not a little irrationally nervous!

I can’t wait to see what the year of 3 brings. As much as it can be bittersweet at times, I love watching you grow. Each new milestone is genuinely exciting.

I hope you have a fabulous day. I promise there will be cake.

Happy birthday, my ray of sunshine.

Love,

Mummy.

I support you: It’s your baby. Feed them however you need to.

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I am participating in the I Support You campaign (1st to 7th November) run by Mama By the Bay. This blog post is in aid of supporting all loving mothers NO MATTER HOW they feed their babies or what parenting choices they make. 

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Look, I’m just going to get straight to the point on the issue of feeding our babies. Despite how we feel when we have our first babies (I can’t speak for subsequent babies so I’ll stick to my own experiences – please feel free to add to the conversation if you have more than one), the way we feed them is not how we should define ourselves. Neither is the method by which your child is delivered. They are just facts on a timeline. Things that happened in our journey. A path we had to take (even if we chose it we did so because it was best for us and our babies). It does not define our child’s life. As I look at my almost 3 year old (how time flies!) I don’t fuss that he was mixed fed from day 1. I don’t care that he came to us via C-section. It’s just a memory now. It hasn’t determined the rest of his life. He sits at the dinner table with us, munching on whatever I make him (well mostly – he is a toddler after all). I have a scar, but I only notice it when it tingles after a couple of cocktails (true story – it’s weird). My Little Mister is funny, charming (most of the time), he is healthy and he is bright. Medically, all is quite well too. He has the immune system of …whatever only gets sick once a year (touch wood) and he is developing quite normally. While it took me time (about a year) to feel this way, I have NO regrets. None. Oh, except that I wish I didn’t worry so much what other people thought about my choices. THAT was the one thing I wasted time on. The one thing that kept me awake at night (even when my baby was sleeping).

Please allow me to do some very blunt myth busting in the name of supporting anyone who has ever had to feed a baby (it’s kind of a necessary task – you know, for keeping them alive and stuff)…

*ahem*

Brace yourselves.

Myth: “If you stop breastfeeding, you’re going to miss out on a special bonding experience with your baby.”

Um, no. No you’re not. While breastfeeding is a beautiful way to bond with your baby (I can attest to that), it is certainly not the only way. It is one of many gorgeous ways we connect with our children. If you cannot (or choose not to) breastfeed, you are not to buy into that BS, OK? You’re a loving mother who has many tricks up her sleeve. Cuddles while bottle feeding – lovely. Talking to your baby. Singing with them. Eye contact. Smiles. The gentle way you tend to them. Quality time getting to know each other. The love you have for them is pretty powerful stuff in itself. You really think your baby can’t feel that bond? How do we expect adopted babies to flourish in the loving arms of their new parents (a heads up: I’m proof)? How do we expect awesome new dads to connect so beautifully? They can’t breastfeed and that does not diminish the love. Have faith in yourself. If the love is there, you’re going to be just fine. Sorry to be a little feisty, but FFS. I hate that people perpetuate this kind of judgement.

Myth: “Feeding your baby formula is the easy way out. New mums give up too easily on breastfeeding.”

Look, I have not met one new mother who has found the decision easy. I know that for me, to give up breastfeeding was a huge decision. I tortured myself over it for a long time before I went through with it. I weighed up the pros, the cons. I was educated on the subject. I had a great support network. I could argue that for a lot of new mums it’s harder to give it up. We have to change our expectations of ourselves that we may have had since before we were even pregnant. We have to admit to ourselves that whatever the circumstances, our bodies may not understand what we’re asking (this can mean working through feelings that we’re failing – we’re not FYI). We have to face the judgement of others. We have to fight our inner critics (the worst ones of all). We have to do so much more work (sterilising/prepping/warming bottles), spend more money on formula and the extra bits and bobs that come with the job. You call that easier?? We are f*cking warriors too – don’t you forget that. All new mothers are.

Myth: “Formula babies are fatter than breastfed babies. It’s like you’re feeding your baby fast food.”

Some babies just need some extra help to thrive. I’m sorry, but a thriving baby is better than the alternative. Also? Some of the cutest, chubbiest babies I have EVER seen were breastfed. And they were gorgeous. And healthy. And they grew out of their Michelin Man features quickly enough. And that’s saying something, because the Little Mister was a chubby bub indeed! Was it the formula? Probably. But only because he was able to thrive, just like the other babies, despite my body’s challenges. He, just like the breastfed babies his age, has suddenly grown into a boy shape (eek – when did that happen?) and wouldn’t you know it? You look at him, then look at his little friends and *shock horror* you would not be able to tell the difference. I know some people argue about the long term effects, but formula has been fed to human babies for generations now and I would not be able to tell the difference when I look at my friends or even my friends’ parents. So many more environmental or genetic factors determine our health and our body shapes as we grow. Formula is the least of our worries!!

Myth: “Pick a side and stick to it. Breastfeeding or bottle feeding. Which one are you?”

Firstly, it’s nobody’s damn business. You don’t owe any nosey parker an answer. Secondly, why can’t you have the best of both worlds when necessary? The Little Mister’s life began with mixed feeding. For the first 3 days he was exclusively on formula by default as I had no supply and he was in a hospital an hour’s drive away from me. The next 3 days I was stressed, on a heavy course of antibiotics (which no-one told me might interfere with my supply – this would have been so much more comforting for me to know) and getting stir crazy in the hospital. No milk! After a terrible first night with the Little Mister when he returned to me (he cried because he was essentially starving), a kindly midwife suggested formula top ups. She made it OK. There was no point starving him and distressing everybody involved. The first days of parenthood are hard enough! After I got home, with the help of some medication, I had some supply. It wasn’t awesome but it was enough for him to reap the benefits. I fed mostly on demand during the day but he had some top ups at night (I would breastfeed first and then offer him a little formula if he needed it). If we went out, I would pack some formula, because my boobs were super messy and unpredictable. I couldn’t rely on them as well as I might have liked to.

In my mind, he got the benefits of breast milk, but his diet was also supplemented to give him the amount that would help him grow and thrive. It was hard work to do both, but it was worth it. It was the right thing for us. And there was nothing wrong with that. There is no need to pick a side. What side? How about we all stay on the side of keeping our babies happy and healthy? However we need to in our unique circumstances? Yes please.

If you have a super hungry baby cluster feeding and crying for more when you have no more to give, what is the harm in supplementing his intake with formula? Gives your boobs a little more time to restock and helps your baby to feel satisfied and to keep the weight on in those important early days.

I know that we were lucky and there was no nipple confusion with the Little Mister – he was stoked to have anything and I am grateful. But seriously, if you’re struggling – like really struggling – anyway, what is the big effing deal? The worst that could happen? Your child wants a bottle over anything else? Read all of the above. It’s gonna be OK. I promise. Give yourself a break. You’re awesome. You care about your kid. A WHOLE LOT. You’re not failing. A lot of factors have to come together just right for exclusive breastfeeding to occur (your body has to come to the party, the baby has to learn how, and a whole lot of other things can affect your experience). Some women are lucky and others, not so much. It is NOT a reflection on your ability to parent. YOU ARE AMAZING no matter how you feed your child.

Newsflash: No-one is better than another person just because of how they feed.

I am making my stance clear here. I support you no matter how you feed your baby. Not in some kind of passive aggressive BS kind of way, where I say it because it’s the right thing to say, but then make little judgey comments here and there. I actually really mean it. I really really do.

We are all doing our best.

If you could write a message of support to new mothers, what would it be (doesn’t necessarily have to be about feeding)? Leave a comment – it might make all the difference to someone x

You might choose to spread the word via blog or social media yourself. Share my blog post, write your own (you can find ideas here), utilise Instagram, Twitter or Facebook. Use the hashtag #ISupportYou or #ISYWeek

x

Happy Hallowistmas.

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October can be a really confusing time. My supermarket actually has an aisle filled with both Halloween and Christmas items. This wasn’t always the case but as more and more Aussies seem to be embracing the Halloween spirit(s?), I’m feeling that the ‘holiday’ season is getting more jam packed towards the end of the year (not to mention the gazillion family birthdays we have)! This makes me thankful we don’t do Thanksgiving too! Ha. See what I did there? Although, I do like baking and pumpkins. Perhaps I am missing out haha.

Last time I blogged about Halloween I was pretty well up the duff. I think I only had a week or so before the Little Mister showed his face via emergency C-section (that’s pretty gory – now you have your last minute fancy dress idea – you’re welcome). Having gestational diabetes was a great excuse for being a trick or treat grinch! If I couldn’t have sweets, no-one else was either, dammit!

Look, I might not welcome the knocks at the door at this point in my life, but I do not have a problem with people celebrating. I would even happily attend a fancy dress party or take the opportunity to embarrass the Little Mister (photos for his 21st birthday anyone?). I’m just not a fan of door knocking at this point. Never say never (times are a’changing), but I like to lounge about on my couch watching Home and Away (my embarrassing guilty pleasure) after the Little Mister goes to bed, no bra, pants are optional. I am not staying dressed so I can share my precious treats – are you cray cray?! ;)

I feel like we’re rookies at this whole trick or treating game in Australia. As a Halloween grinch (sorry not sorry!) who has had one too many persistent and annoying knocks on the door for treats which I do not have, I think we could take a page out of the books of other countries who are better at this than us. There’s an etiquette, you see. We need to have a big, national meeting. Like a family meeting, but with around 23 million of our closest friends.

Some suggestions to those of us who are new to the Halloween game (thanks to google):

1. Be mindful that some young children may be sleeping and their parents might be freaking out (they likely haven’t slept properly in some months/years), so try not to knock like it’s a horror movie and your life depends on it. Perhaps try not to scream really loudly as you get closer to someone’s front door.

2. Don’t go to someone’s house more than once if they have not answered the door or have told you politely that they do not have any treats to give. Combining this with my #1 tip is a nightmare!

3. Have some pre-arranged signals to let others know if you’re taking part this Halloween. It can be as simple as simple decorations mean you’re happy to give treats, or your front outdoor light being off can mean you’re not participating (or you’re done for the night). Seriously, guys. We need to get together and coordinate this shit.

4. If you’re not a fan of your kids trick or treating at strangers’ houses and are planning to just hit your own street where you know the neighbours, give those neighbours a heads up so they can be ready. That would probably make it more enjoyable for all.

5. Don’t disrespect anyone. If you’re not a fan of Halloween, there’s no need to bitch about it constantly or verbally attack those who choose to celebrate respectfully. If you are a trick or treater, be nice to those who choose not to participate. Yay – everyone’s happy!

Despite my own Halloween grinch status, I hope that everyone who celebrates has a wonderful time and stays safe this Halloween!  I do enjoy looking at the creative costume photos in my social media feeds very much ;)

Got any tips to add to the list to make Halloween more enjoyable for all?

How to stay (relatively) sane on the internet.

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The internet can be an amazing forum/resource for parents (especially those of us who are new to the game), because it can offer us support groups online, and gives us a connection to other people, even when we’re stuck at home feeling a little isolated.

On the flip side, it can be a nightmare! There is information out there that is very dubious. There are people everywhere who think that having an opinion and a keyboard qualifies them to insult, degrade and fight (dirty ugly fighting) with those who have a different opinion and a keyboard too. There is a flood of articles thrown at us daily on how to do this, how to do that. It can make your head spin. It can make you feel worse.

Yeah, yeah. You’ve probably read these ‘how to have a good time on the internet without being a douche bag’ guides and tips a million times over and I have debated with myself over whether to even bother. BUT I think it bears repeating sometimes. At least here is my own personal spin on it all. These are the things I try to do. The things that help me to stay sane.

Stop reading if it makes you feel icky.

It’s that simple. You know that sinking feeling you get when you read something that makes you feel bad about yourself? Or perhaps you read something that makes you feel anxious because it makes you feel judged and makes you question everything you do? Sometimes it’s our own sensitivities or insecurities on a given day, other times it’s because the writer is inciting these feelings. It really doesn’t matter. If you feel icky, you need to take a moment. Y’know? Perhaps reading that thing isn’t the best thing for your mental health right now. Take a break.

If something you read makes you see red, if it makes you so angry that all you can think is four letter words towards the writer/website/Facebook page, that is a lot of negativity to be bathing yourself in. Scroll past. Unfollow. Do what it takes to not willingly return to such material. You don’t need that in your life! It’s wasted energy we could be using to better our own lives or the lives of those we care about. I mean, you could have been using that time to laugh at videos of Jimmy Fallon’s lip synching battles on YouTube, instead of reading about that writer who hates SAHMs/working mums/breastfeeding mums/bottle feeding mums/school mums/funny mums/serious mums/mums who are pretty and fit/mums who are overweight/mums who…you get the idea. Don’t buy into the hate-fest.

If the writer doesn’t write in a way that shows you the respect (you can respect people even if they do not share your opinion), do not give them the time of day. They haven’t earned it.

Do not bite the click-bait. 

Ever read those provocative headlines? The spiel before a link to an article, which is designed to entice readers into clicking and giving a website a lot of traffic? Some of it is just blatantly designed to get us hate-reading by inciting an outrage within us, which makes us say, “WHO WOULD SAY THAT HORRIBLE THING? I MUST KNOW.”

It’s so tempting. SO tempting. I’m trying harder to resist. I want to read things because I want to learn something, not because the website has tried to suck me in for negative reasons.

“WHAT THIS MUM DID NEXT WILL HAVE YOU OUTRAGED.”
“THIS WRITER HATES CHILDREN AND HERE’S WHY…”

You know the kind. If a website is resorting to that kind of manipulation, that says a lot. It also says a lot that it’s probably, sadly, working. I want to try harder to not be a part of the problem. If I know I’ll be angry when I read it, that’s not a good space to be in. I don’t need the virtual drama cluttering my head.

Keep it classy. 

Often people use the old, “it’s my freedom of speech” excuse for being a**holes. Yes. We are all entitled to our opinions. We are allowed to disagree with other people on an unlimited range of topics. But in my mind we have a responsibility in how we express them. You don’t need to attack somebody else’s character, belittle them, wish awful things on them or enter into a week long commenting argument with them to make your point. Try to be eloquent. Make your point in a way that might actually get through to the other person. Calling them fifty names probably won’t help the situation. If you are truly passionate about telling someone else what you need to say, then make sure your communication is effective. It ceases to be effective if you are insulting somebody. All they will see is the insults and not the message. You’re better than that. And that goes for passive aggressive comments disguised as constructive feedback. Come on. We’re not stupid. That doesn’t count as taking the high road! It’s not genuine. Just LET IT GO.

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And? If you’ve shown all the class you can show and the recipient doesn’t want to understand or refuses to reciprocate? LET IT GO. They’re just strangers on the internet who disappear when you turn off your computer (or click unfollow). You don’t need to win them over to know that you’re an awesome person.

Yay! :) You are, by the way.

We can pick our battles too. People power definitely has a place (advocating for the equal rights of all people is important), but sometimes silence can be a dignified response – it can be all something deserves.

Think critically. 

Where is this information coming from? What are the interests of those publishing it? What are their motives? Are they a reliable source? Are they using reliable sources? This helps me to sort the junk from the stuff I might want to be paying attention to. I know not to get my knickers in a knot over stuff that has little credibility. I won’t be taking their advice to heart, that’s for sure.

Also? This includes reading all of the article/blog post carefully. Dissect the writer’s intentions. Where are they coming from? What are they really saying? Read it a couple of times if you have to and carefully consider your own response. If the writer explicitly says, I don’t agree with ‘a’ but I do understand why some people do, then don’t rant at the writer about how they are agreeing with ‘a’ and how wrong they are. It will undermine your credibility if other readers can see that you haven’t taken your time to understand what the writer is saying.

Have empathy. 

You might not agree with the writer or what they do might not feel right for you, but if you put yourself in their shoes for a minute, you might understand their intentions and be able to give constructive feedback. Also, it’s not always somebody’s fault if they do not ‘know better’. They might be struggling or simply not have certain tools to work with. You can’t always know the whole story in a few hundred words. You can either be a helping force or a negative, judgemental one. How would you like to be spoken to if you’d had the courage to put it all out there?

Come at it with a positive approach.

Proofread! 

Lastly, if you are a blogger or a commenter, re-read your comment/blog post before clicking ‘post’ or ‘publish’. I try to re-read everything I write – more so if I know I’m commenting on a contentious issue. I make sure I’m not letting my emotive response overtake my message. I make sure I haven’t insulted anyone. I make sure that I’ve said it in a way that it can be read easily (I am a waffler and I am sorry haha). I remind myself that I am saying something in a public manner. This has saved me many a time. I’ve even written comments and then deleted them when I realised I was not offering something relevant or helpful to a discussion. It reassures me that I won’t write a knee jerk response before I can calm down and think about it rationally. I only want to write things that will let me sleep at night!! There is nothing worse than saying that silly thing and then feeling haunted by it (or worse feeling the backlash over something you didn’t really mean to say because you didn’t think it out).

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I know I am not perfect so I don’t mean to preach. I am just passing on the stuff I’m working on. ‘Working on’ being the operative words. I mostly just hope that I’ve made a space where my readers feel free from all the crap out there.

I feel like parents in blog land and on social networks need to band together more. Have a supportive, nurturing approach, not a shaming, judgemental one. We have such great opportunities to build online communities and to learn so much from each other. Let’s not waste them with ‘mummy wars’ (just that term makes me want to spew a little in my mouth). Let’s not fall for the tricks of those bigger websites (who shall remain nameless) that rejoice when we go into a frenzy. We are seriously better than that. We are amazing people from all walks of life. Let’s not lose perspective.

And did I mention that you’re absolutely gorgeous and you’re doing great stuff? ;)

Do you have anything to add to my list of tips? What do you think? 

Fake it ’til you bake it.

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I didn’t really care for baking until I got pregnant with the Little Mister back in 2011. When the urge hit, I went a little bit nuts (I’m really not joking). Luckily my joy for it has since evened out and now I like doing it regularly. It can be a cost effective way to fill out Mr Unprepared’s work lunches and to provide the Little Mister with interesting enough snacks. It is also the way that I pad out the end of the pay period (when the cupboard and fridge are looking a bit bare). I find ways to throw as many random ingredients into a muffin or some other such thing as I can. Everyone thinks I’ve done something special for them (yay – baked goods), but all I’ve really done is scraped some weird stuff together so we don’t have to go back to the supermarket any sooner than we have to!

(and yes I do love love love online grocery shopping but sometimes I forget to order it ahead of time or can’t be bothered which is probably the most lazy – or tired if I’m kind to myself – a person can possibly be)

But make no mistake. I am not actually that awesome at it! I am never going to be on Masterchef and I honestly do not really know what I’m doing most of the time! I am not spending hours studying the art of whatever it is that people who can cook real good study (and I’m not even going to apologise for that poorly constructed sentence). I’m a total fake and I don’t care if everyone knows it.

It can be hard to find time to gather ingredients and it can be difficult to then create something with them, with a demanding toddler (who as much as I love his enthusiasm is not always as helpful as he – bless his heart – thinks he is).

*whispers* Sometimes? Sometimes I use *gasp* PACKET MIX. Yeah. Those cupcakes on Instagram? PACKET MIX. My secret? Raid the cake decorating section of the baking aisle in any major supermarket *OMG*.

Seriously. No-one cares. THEY TASTE LIKE CAKE.

Another tip? Have a baking kit. Once I started to keep one, shit got so much easier. I can bake almost any time I have a chance, instead of thinking, “WHAT? This recipe requires FLOUR? What kind of f*ckery is this?”

Here’s what I keep in it (always replenishing stocks):

  • Self raising flour
  • Plain flour
  • Caster sugar
  • Icing mix/icing sugar
  • Brown sugar
  • Baking soda
  • Vanilla extract
  • Cocoa
  • Patty cases
  • Measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons

Well, those are the basics, anyhow. It sounds like a lot, but if you go to the shops just the once, to begin with, the hard part is done! I’ve slowly added some extra bits and pieces (piping bag with nozzles or choc chips and sprinkles etc), but those simple things can get you a long way if you have some eggs, butter and milk in the fridge (don’t even get me started on how awesome and magical and versatile eggs are)! I know a lot of you are looking at this thinking, Kez. This is hardly revolutionary. I mean, who doesn’t have these things? Well, all you people who can probably bake better than me, until recently, I did not have these things. Ever. Every single attempt to bake was either thwarted from the get go or involved a time consuming, inconvenient special visit to the supermarket. It made it all a BIG DEAL. So tiring, really.

Now I just google recipes that have the ingredients I have to work with (e.g. a banana and a lemon or something equally weird) and get started! The other day it was canned corn kernels, store bought salsa dip and grated cheese!! WTF? I find that taste.com.au is an awesome resource (and no this is not a sponsored post – it is just my honest and independent opinion).

Another tip? Keep it frickin’ simple. Stay the f*ck away from recipes with ingredients you’ve never heard of or will never use again. Stop reading that recipe when it starts talking about doing weird things with the ingredients that you do not know how to do and cannot learn that day. I mean, I admire those who like a challenge, but for anyone like me who just needs to put something on the table to avoid mutiny, just stick to what you can handle! Use what you’ve already got. Trust me. People will think you are way more awesome than you feel you really are. Don’t make it more stressful than it has to be! There are HEAPS of really tasty recipes out there that I just know you’ll be able to handle. Also…Siri is a gun at converting things like farenheit to celcius, so don’t worry if that awesome recipe from an American blog/website/Pinterest sounds scary with all its weird numbers and measurements ;)

I do love learning new things here and there. It gives me a sense of accomplishment to master a new skill. I just don’t always have the time for it and I’m so OK with that.

Fake it ’til you bake it.

Or buy it from the shops. No judgement here haha.

How are you at cooking/baking? What’s your favourite thing to make? Or are you the buy it at the shops type? x

I have an announcement.

*drum roll*

You may not know this, but this week we added another member to our family! A gorgeous puppy. I’ve never seen the puppy and the Little Mister in the same room for some reason, but I know they’d love each other if they ever met.

This furry member of the family entered our lives last Tuesday. I thought it might just be a one day thing at first, but he seems really happy with us and he’s stuck around.

The crazy thing? This puppy (who the Little Mister has named after one of our other dogs – original) is the most obedient and well trained creature I’ve ever had the pleasure of raising (even easier than a toddler).

This puppy can roll over, sit, stay, lie down, fetch and shake hands on cue. This puppy follows me around faithfully. Enjoys head scratches and tummy scratches. Wags his tail when he’s happy. He’s even partially toilet trained (my other dogs certainly were not when they arrived). He doesn’t have fleas or allergen inducing fur. He’s the perfect pet.

He jumps a little bit and he pants a bit, which is a bit of an annoying sound, but he’s just delightful. It’s really funny when he gives Mr Unprepared loving licks to the face.

Yep. That little puppy is indeed the Little Mister’s alter ego. He’s been pretending since last week. It’s hilarious but I admire his commitment to his character (and he’s an adorable and easy going doggie). Also, a new actual puppy? Ain’t nobody got time for that! ;)

World Mental Health Day: My promise.

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I have a confession. I am an appointment putter-offer. I find ways to procrastinate when it comes to my health and well-being. I am by no means a martyr (trust me), but I just let time get away from me. I support my husband in making the appointments he needs to and I will always have the Little Mister’s back. I just can’t seem to be as motivated to do it for myself. I don’t say this with any smug pride about putting everyone else first. It really isn’t a great thing. I admire those who remember themselves and make sh*t happen. I know that for my family to function, I need to function!

I often wait too long. Whether it’s for me-time like beauty maintenance or for regular health checks (skin, lady things etc), I always wait until I’ve lost the plot before I make those calls and commit to those times. I always wait until the fatigue, anxiety, resentment or lack of confidence in myself have gotten on top of me. I always seem to wait until I’ve snapped at someone or had a mini meltdown. Because that’s healthy.

Sure, sometimes circumstances might mean that it’s impossible to do these things at the optimum time for my sanity, but I need to try harder, that’s for sure.

Sometimes I get annoyed at Mr Unprepared because he just decides on what he needs to do for himself – socialise, make appointments etc – and then he does them. Not a bloody care in the world! No guilt! I get so jealous. SO JEALOUS. But I need to take his lead more. I need to stop telling myself it’s too hard. I need to stop talking myself out of everything. I need to stop getting so ridiculously guilty about asking someone else to take care of the Little Mister for a few hours here and there. I need to be a bit more honey badger (honey badger don’t give a sh*t) and put myself first when I need it. Before the meltdown. It’s called maintenance and that’s perfectly justifiable and why haven’t I ever thought of it this way before??

Yesterday I took the whole morning to myself. I used a spa voucher from my sister and brother in law to get my nails done. It was glorious. I got to soak my feet in a petal filled tub and everything. There was peaceful music playing. I could talk to the beauty therapist without being interrupted. I could also just sit back and say nothing and soak up the quiet. QUIET. I got to leave the spa with the fingernails (and toe-nails) of a chick who looks like she’s got her sh*t together. Hell, my nails are so hot right now. I could almost be the next Pinterest nail model (if there was such a thing). I am THAT on trend. And while I am not easily sucked into the superficial, there is a bit of a thrill about that. Just a reassurance that I haven’t totally lost touch! Cool stuff doesn’t have to just be for everybody else to enjoy!

I am so glad that even though the voucher still had about six months left on it, I got on with it. I booked it (a big step for me haha). I was so grateful for such a gift. I also got to feel even more guilt free because I didn’t have to pay anything – so basically it was perfect! Awesome! Also, my parents stepped up and took the Little Mister when my brother was feeling ill and couldn’t (although it is always SO appreciated that he’s willing to do that for me)! Thanks, family.

Today is World Mental Health Day. Last night I visited the website and made a mental health promise to myself (they have a really cool Promise Wall which you should really check out and post your own promise too). I had only 140 characters to work with, but basically I called myself out on all of the above. I will look after myself. Maintain instead of fall apart (physically and mentally).

I chatted with Mr Unprepared about my promise last night. He told me that he has my back. Always good to hear.

I am lucky to have the support network and resources in my life that I do. I need to utilise these sometimes.

What promise would you make for yourself and your mental health? Leave a comment!