Thanks for stopping by. Mummy Mayhem is no longer updated. I now have a new, albeit smaller blog over at www.jodieansted.blogspot.com.au.

Drop by anytime. :)


Thursday, June 30, 2011

Soldier On...

I'm afraid I'm a little unwell at the moment. 

I'm not bedridden or anything, but I am feeling tired and rather drained with a lovely old head cold. I'd really like to be able to breathe from my nostrils again, you know?

It's so the norm, isn't it, that when your kids or your husband get sick, they get a little extra attention. More hugs. Sympathy. Some chicken soup lovingly prepared by you, perhaps. A sleep-in whilst you organise breakfast. A nice, hot cup of tea made for them.

A mother, however, soldiers on. We still cook, clean, ferry our children to school, help with homework, take them to soccer practice and swimming lessons. We don't actually have time to be sick, quite frankly.

Well, one thing I can do is take some time off from my blog, because it's not like the world is going to end if I'm not here for a few days. Right? ;)

No doubt, by next week - maybe even Sunday - I'll be feeling MUCH better, and my desire to blog will return. Right now, I just feel like snuggling up on my bed, with a nice up of tea (I've made myself) and read a little. A little rest time.

Until then, take care of yourself. Don't do anything I wouldn't do, okay? ;)


Monday, June 27, 2011

The Dreaded 'Night Terrors'

Do you have a child that suffers from 'night terrors'?

Night terrors occur in around 15% of all children, usually between the age of about 2 to 6 years of age. Kids experience them in different ways, but generally what occurs is that children cry out, show signs of fear and panic, are often incoherent, are usually inconsolable and can hallucinate, scream, sweat and breathe rapidly. They will appear awake (their eyes often wide open, but not always), but they are not. They probably won't recognise anyone around them.

When the 9yr old had his first night terror - around the age of 2 - Hubby and I had no idea what was going on. I'd read about night terrors before, but at the time, I just thought the 9yr old had woken from a bad dream. He was inconsolable in his bed, so we took him in to the lounge room in an attempt to distract him and calm him down. He sat with us on the couch - all the while crying - pointing to the floor. We took him to the floor, then he would point back to the couch. After around five minutes, I suddenly realised he was not awake. He was making no sense whatsoever, and didn't seem to even be aware it was us. It was only then that I twigged what was up.

"I think he's having a night terror," I said to Hubby. We took him back to bed, and sure enough, after lying him back down he was asleep again in no time at all.

Night terror over.

If you've never seen a night terror in action before, this video gives you an idea of what one can look like:

The 9yr old continued to have the odd night terror, but grew out of them pretty quickly.

The 7yr old started having them around the age of 3 or 4, and he would have them fairly regularly for the next couple of years. He would always 'wake' crying, sit up in bed mumbling incoherently, shaking and frantically searching with his hands for something in his bed. So regular were his night terrors, I became used to dealing with them, and eventually they would become shorter and shorter in duration. I would just speak calmly, saying, "Nothing's here, honey. You're home in bed. You're ok. Mummy's here," and he would calm and lie back down again - often in less than a minute - falling asleep fairly quickly.

I found with the 7yr old that the night terrors would often occur when he was too warm in bed, and certainly, studies have shown that night terrors often happen when a child has a fever.

In any case, he hasn't had a night terror in a long time now.

I thought perhaps the 4yr old (now 4 and a half), was going to be the first of all three boys to escape the dreaded night terrors, but it seems that won't be the case. The last two nights he has woken, crying, inconsolable and also talking incoherently. Night terrors for sure.

And so, once again, I will put on my calming voice, stroke my son's hair and tell him it's all ok and hope the night terror passes quickly. It's terrible to see your child upset, but it does make it easier knowing he/she won't remember the incident the next day.

Unfortunately though, you will. :(

Do you have a child that suffers night terrors? Do they occur often? How long do they last for? What do you do to calm your child?


Sunday, June 26, 2011

Whatever Happened to Old Fashioned Birthday Parties?

This morning as I prepared to take the 4yr old to a birthday party (breathe in, breathe out), the 9yr old enquired, "So, what sort of party is it?"

"What do you mean?" I asked incredulously. "It's a birthday party of course!"

He said, "Noooo. I mean what kind of birthday party is it?"

"Oh," I replied, realising what he was, in fact, asking, "You mean...what's the theme of the party, right?"

"Yes!" he answered with just a hint of frustration in his voice. I could almost hear him thinking, Geez, Mum...get with the programme already!

The old fashioned birthday party seems to be something of a rarity. Parties these days almost always have a theme or include an entertainer or are held at a centre that specialises in some form of entertainment for kids. Almost gone are the days of pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey, pass-the-parcel (actually, that continues to be a bit of a party favourite, although in my day there was only ONE winner - not everybody got a turn of unwrapping and receiving a gift) and the chocolate game. (Do you remember the chocolate game? I can't recall exactly how it went, but it had something to do with dressing up in silly clothes and trying to cut in to a large Dairy Milk chocolate bar with a knife and fork, and it was all done in a hurry.)

When friends of ours used to hold parties for their preschooler children, they would do the backyard thing, but would completely go out of their way to entertain the kids pretty much every second of the party. Dancing competitions, pass the parcel, treasure hunts...you name it, and all I could think at the time was, Surely these kids just want to play?

Today's party was fairly relaxed. In fact the only thing that set it apart from parties of yesteryear was the obligatory jumping castle in the backyard. (And let's face it, those things are worth their weight in GOLD.) But there was no petting zoo, hired entertainer, fancy-schmancy birthday cake...just essentially a handful of kids having some play time together.

I wondered, is it that kids have a higher expectation for their birthday parties and the parties they attend these days, or is it the parents that have set the precedence for more elaborate affairs? What would my 9yr old son think if I said, "Hey, how about next year for your birthday we just invite some kids to the local park and kick a soccer ball around and eat cake?" Would he go for it? Or would he think, What? My parents don't want to give me a real birthday party?

Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying, for example, colour-themed parties - something I don't really remember being a big deal when I was a kid - are terrible at all (actually, I rather like a colour-theme myself). Nor am I going to baulk at taking any of my sons to an indoor rock-climbing for a party (really...who actually wants 15 boys running around their backyard?). And Hubby and I have often taken the easy route ourselves when it comes to birthday celebrations.

When the 9yr old and 7yr old celebrated their 5th and 3rd birthdays, I organised a joint party at a fairly local indoor play centre (mostly attended by family friends and their kids). I did this because: a) I had a fairly newborn baby; and b) the thought of kids running around screaming in our backyard, and trying to get the house in order in preparation for the party scared the living bejeebies out of me. In my mind, it was money well spent. The kids had a great time. They were entertained by a very cool Michael Buble lookalike magician (therefore, the mums in attendance were also entertained), I got to sit and drink coffee with the adults and show off my new son, and we went home leaving all the mess behind.

When the 9yr old turned 7, we held his party at an indoor cricket centre, which had an adjacent outdoor oval. We paid something like $200 to hire a guy for a couple of hours to run through cricket and soccer with the kids, and the kids loved the automatic ball machine that bowled cricket balls to them. We simply provided drinks, chips and some birthday cake. It was easy and, once again, worth the cost.

When the 7yr old had his 6th birthday party, we took a bunch of kids in two cars with us to an outdoor mini putt-putt centre, where we all played a round of golf then drove the kids across the road to the local McDonald's for food and ice-cream cake. It was a long party, mostly taken up with traveling time (four hours in total), but easy-peasy and not wildly expensive.

The 9yr old celebrated his last birthday with a game of laser skirmish at a local centre. It was quick - in and out - and everything was taken care of. We just turned up.

Even parties that are held in people's homes are becoming more elaborate with themes, hand-made decorations, cupcakes adorned with luscious icing, flowers, etc - which I LOVE. I can't get enough seeing photos of such parties, and wish I could do something similar. But I am personally just not up for the task. I can't even think where to start in putting together a colour coordinated string of flags or making a castle-like birthday cake, for example. Streamers and balloons and a purchased cake is about as far as I go.

Even the older 'kids' these days are turning to themes for their parties. When I turned 21, almost every party was identical, except perhaps for the location. A bunch of kids got together to drink, dance to either a DJ or a bunch of records thrown on by whoever was closest to the record player at the time, and that was that. Talking to a young girl at a clothing store last week, she was trying to work out what 'theme' to have for her 21st. 1920s? Cocktail? She couldn't decide, but she knew she wanted an old-fashioned photo booth. At my 21st, a friend ran around taking snaps of my big night.

Whilst I'm definitely a fan of sports parties and cricket parties and ten-pin bowling parties, I also kinda miss the parties of my youth. They were no doubt a lot of work for my parents - especially my mother - who baked like crazy leading up to my birthday, but I certainly have fond memories of them.

Perhaps our kids are actually missing out by having too much, and they just don't realise it?

How about you? Do you go all out for your kids' birthday parties? Would you pay a party-planner to organise it for you, or is that taking it too far?


Friday, June 24, 2011

The Week That Was... Fever of the non-Bieber kind, Cooking Disasters & a BIG Toy for Me

What a week it's been...

Just when I thought the household was becoming illness free, the 4yr old woke with a fever one night this week, and it was all downhill from there. The 9yr old was next. He has only recently recovered from the dreaded lurgy, so this is a complete bummer. He missed his soccer gala day yesterday - which he wasn't too pleased about (they won. I haven't broken the news of this to him yet) - and he's missing a 'mufti day' at school today. (Although, he did decide he wasn't completely missing out, seeing that he's wearing mufti at home anyway. Upside.)

Therefore, our nights have not been interruption free, but at least we know it's not forever. *crosses fingers*

Yesterday, to break the boredom, I decided to bake a cake. I had intended to make an orange poppyseed cake, until the 9yr old announced his dislike for it. So instead, we attempted a kind of invention test - a la Masterchef - by changing the cake to a lemon one. I'm not someone who tends to do her own thing in the kitchen. I would prefer a recipe, and I measure. (No guessing for me.) And guess what? Yeah. It was a flop.

Actually, it didn't taste too bad, but when I turned it out it just broke up everywhere. A complete mess. Ah, well. Live and learn, hey?

The week in general has been challenging for various reasons, however there was a fabulous high point this week for me.

Take a look at what Toyota gave me to play with for a couple of weeks...

The Toyota Kluger

Niiiiiiice, hey? How cool is that?!

On Tuesday I drove down to Caringbah in Sydney's south to their Eastern Regional Office to do a bit of a car swap.  Oh, my lord. I seriously thought I was picking the car up from a dealership, but this place was HUGE! (The receptionist - who was terribly lovely - told me that 560 employees work there. Massive.)

Anyway, now I'm driving around in 'my' Kluger. I had great delight in calling Hubby as soon as I was on the road. "Hello!" I greeted him. "I'm on my bluetooth!"

"Good on you," was his reply.

He's super jealous, people.

The 4yr old in particular is so excited about the car. He keeps saying, "Can we go for a drive in the blue car today, Mum? Pleeeeease?"

Anyway, look out for some fun posts about my adventures with the car over the next couple of weeks. My pal, Jen, is joining me next week for a bit of a road trip, and I'm also planning a little guest post of some sort by Hubby, a la Top Gear.  ;)

Just in case you missed anything on the blog this week, I wrote about small acts of kindness, I admitted to something I've been in denial about for YEARS, and I talked about 'Duck Days'. Find out what they are.

Anyway, I'm signing off now. I can't stay in my pyjamas ALL day, you know. ;)

Have a great Friday & weekend all...

~image credit~

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Having a Duck Day

I'm having one of those weeks.

You know the ones I'm referring to, right? Where everything just doesn't go to plan? You feel like you can't get motivated, or when you do, you can't accomplish what you wanted to? Problems galore seem to take up your time - mostly everybody elses - and you find yourself stressing over every. little. thing?

Yep. That's the kinda week I'm having.

I was talking to someone yesterday about my week. She empathized with me. She has been experiencing much of the same this week too.

She told me a story about how someone had called her at work. She told them about her terrible day. The person said, "Oh, you're having a duck day."

"A duck day?" she replied. "What is that?"

"You know," the caller replied, "when people waddle in and shit all over your floor."

So, I'm having a duck day. A duck week, actually.

That's life I suppose.

How about you? Had any duck days yourself recently?

~image credit~

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A Snorer in Denial

Do you snore? I SO don't. *cough*

In my teenage years, after I would jump in to bed at night, I'd hear my parents' radio blaring from their bedroom. They'd listen to some suspense thriller type radio serial for a while (and admittedly, I would too - I got rather hooked), and then I'd hear them bid each other goodnight, kiss, and all would go quiet.

For about five minutes, that is.

Suddenly an almighty snore would erupt from my parent's room. I always thought it was my Dad who snore, but in actual fact, a lot of the times it was Mum. I don't know why, but I grew up thinking that snoring was a 'guy thing'. After all, aren't we ladies a little too delicate to make such a terrible noise?

When pregnant with my first son - as is the case with a lot of pregnant women with their organs pushed up around their neck - I started to snore. I knew this because I would wake myself with that sort of snort and blockage feeling in the back of my throat. 'Ah, it'll pass when the baby's born,' I would think, and happily roll over (as much as I physically could) and go back to sleep.

Three sons later, I find myself sleeping heavily most nights. When not woken by one of the kids crying out, or the sound of the dog's nails on the wooden floors, indicating he has had enough of sleeping on the floor in our bedroom and has headed off to see if he can find a comfy bed - or couch - to snooze on, I sleep pretty well, thank-you-very-much.

Except, that is, when I suddenly feel a prodding in my side by Hubby, and hear him whisper, "You're snoring!"

I was in denial about this semi-regular accusation from my husband for a long time. In defence, I almost always put it down to a potential cold. Even one I wasn't absolutely certain I had yet, but considered was probably coming down with soon. (Ahem.) And in actual fact, I truly was quite certain that it was really Hubby doing the snoring, and in his delirium after waking from said snoring he would then accuse me of being the snorer.

However, over time - even, curiously, when Hubby was away for work, or on a cycling holiday with his buddies (don't get me started) - I find myself waking with the same SNORT, GAG, COUGH I used to do back in the days when I was heavily pregnant, and in recent years....okay, weeks...I've come to admit defeat.

It is true, people. I am a snorer.

There. I said it. Sigh.

Do you snore? Does your partner? Does it drive you CRAZY? Have you or your partner done anything about it?

~image credit~

Monday, June 20, 2011

Small Acts of Kindness

When I was in primary school - perhaps Year 6 or Year 7 - my teacher organised for my classmates and I to make weekly visits to the local nursing home. 

We buddied up with an elderly person there, and spent an hour or so talking to them and then entertaining them all as a group with our singing.

My buddy was Mrs Napier. She was a gorgeous woman with grey hair who wore flowered dresses and spoke in soft tones. We had quite a rapport, and I took a real liking to her. At that age, I only had one living grandparent left who lived south of Perth - too far to visit with any regularity - and I think Mrs Napier acted as a surrogate grandparent.

I recall one day begging my teacher just minutes before we were due to visit the nursing home, to let me take a sugar basin I had found in one of the classrooms - stacked with a bunch of other miscellaneous items - to Mrs Napier, as I knew she'd love it. My teacher finally gave in to my pleas, and I presented it to Mrs Napier with pride. She was visibly happy and touched by my gift.

Eventually, the weekly visits stopped. A neighbour was working at the nursing home at the time, and she told me that Mrs Napier had asked after me a number of times. I had always planned to visit her myself - I missed our chats - but as time wore on, the urgency to do so seemed less and less, and I never did get back to visit Mrs Napier.

Not visiting Mrs Napier again is something I have regretted all my life. She probably didn't get a lot of visitors, and having a young girl show interest and keep her company must have been wonderful for her. We too easily forget that the elderly really cherish these small acts of kindness. Their days aren't filled with wiping runny noses, sports training and errands like ours are. Nor are they filled with bedtime stories, cuddles in bed and big long belly laughs.

Over the years, I've thought of Mrs Napier here and there - always with that familiar tinge of regret that I never got to see her again - and last week I was reminded of her.

The 4yr old is currently in to 'posting' letters. He has taken to drawing pictures, writing his name on them (and sometimes not), and then sealing said artworks in an envelope. He then insists on 'posting' his handiwork to the neighbours, and a letterbox of choice has been the elderly couple who live next door. To be honest, I didn't think much of it, but I had intended to warn my neighbours of the miscellaneous items suddenly appearing in their letterbox - I just hadn't gotten around to doing so.

Tuesday last week, I was walking down to school to collect my big boys when I found Mary, my elderly neighbour, standing at her mail box. She said, "Jodie, is it your little one that has been posting items in my letterbox to me?" I was immediately embarrassed, "Oh yes, Mary, it is. I'm sorry. I meant to warn you..." She cut me off, "Jodie, I just love his mail. I've kept every item he has sent. You don't know how much receiving the letters has made my day. I just love them."

Walking down to school after our conversation, my thoughts turned to Mrs Napier. Mary, although a mother to a number of children herself who receives fairly regular visitors, is probably a bit like Mrs Napier in that she doesn't have a lot to fill her days with. The small act of receiving some mail - pictures drawn by the hand of a young child - has filled her day with some happiness. Just as my visit used to for Mrs Napier.

I have decided that the 4yo should continue this practice. He should also start sending some items to his grandparents in Perth as well. It will most certainly make their day.

It's doing the little, simple things that can often make a big difference in someone's life.

Do your kids do anything similar for the older generation in your family? 

Image: We Heart It

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Week That Was... Cabin Fever (again), Sushi and a little Mag Mention

Fortunately, the sickness that invaded our home last week has gone. Pretty much, anyway.

The 7yo has a bit of a cough, and there was a moment last Tuesday (my 'day off' as Hubby likes to refer to it. Yeah, right) when my phone rang just as I'd sat down to a coffee at the local shopping centre (I was there to do the food shopping, Hubby!), to hear the school secretary on the other end. The 7yo had come downstairs from his classroom to announce he didn't feel too well. She was great though: she insisted he spend a little time in the sick room first, and - thankfully - he managed to recover, and I managed to finish my cappuccino. Phew.

The weekend, however, was fairly uneventful with the rain. (When will it ever end?!) Hubby took the 9yo and 4yo to the Museum of Contemporary Art on Sunday afternoon - we've often taken the kids to museums and art galleries in the past -  whilst the 7yo and I did a little food shopping and ate sushi together. (The only one of my three children who will touch the stuff.)

On Monday, the fact that the boys had spent the good part of a week cooped up at home started to show, with much screaming and silly (noisy) antics going on. I've since decided it must be a complete fallacy that the elderly lose their hearing with age....it's surely because they've spent the good part of their lives listening to screaming children. Gah!

Hubby, God love him, packed them all in to the car and took them to the local indoor swimming centre, allowing me some much needed quiet time.

Something pretty cool that happened this week was the (albeit brief) mention of Mummy Mayhem in the July issue of Madison Magazine (released this week)! The mention came in an article about Stacey of Sunny Mummy, which included an interesting read about blogs helping mums, mumpreneurs, etc. Something I'm sure the bloggers out there will particularly enjoy checking out -  so consider picking up a copy next time you're at the newsagent.

I've been cooking a lot of wintery type meals lately: soups, curries and the like. I made a really yummy Lamb Biryani the other night (Hubby LOVED it) which I posted on my recipe blog yesterday. I've neglected that blog for some time. There's just not enough hours in the day, I tell you. However, I do have a few recipes I want to post, so I'll make sure I do that soon. *crosses fingers*

On MM this week, I published some more How to Fake It - Tips for Housewives and this time we're learning about the Bathroom 'Quick Clean'. Next, I wrote a post about Giving Kids Choices, and there were some interesting comments on that one. I showed you how IKEA helped me to decorate my big boys' bedroom a couple of years ago, and I joined in a weekly photo meme this week, with this week's theme being 'Dads'.

I hope you enjoy your Friday, as well as your weekend. I'm hoping to film and post a new vlog next week. I was going to do it on Tuesday, but I felt too tired, and instead sat on the couch and watched Downton Abbey and ate leftover chocolate pudding. (So, yes, Hubby...last Tuesday really did feel like a 'day off'. For a change!) If you haven't watched an episode of DA yet, you are SERIOUSLY missing out. Best show on the tube in aaaaages. Yup. I'm totally hooked.

Catch you soon, ya'll.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Gallery: Dads

The very lovely Tara Cain over at Sticky Fingers holds a weekly photo gallery meme, with each week being a new theme. 

This week, the theme is Dads. I really wanted to join in this week because I have a photo I absolutely love of Hubby and our two big boys, taken when they were 3 and 18 months old.

We were perhaps slightly crazy back in 2005 when we decided to take our boys to Italy on holiday. Crazier still was the fact we flew via London, so that we could use our frequent flyer points. That made the trip even longer!

Still, once we were there, we had an absolute ball. We flew first to Milan, stayed there a few days, then drove to Tuscany where we stayed in a villa just outside Siena (and took a few day trips to Florence, perhaps one of my favourite places in the WORLD).

One afternoon we took a trip to a local monastery. As Hubby and the boys were walking down the pathway, I took the following pic:


Hubby and the boys hand in hand. I love it.

The following day we drove to Rome and spent a week there, which was fantastic. We dined at one of the most fabulous restaurants I've ever been to during our stay (and Hubby's mother and aunt were on hand to babysit), and I bought a fake Gucci bag on the streets of Rome that I still love to this day (and receive many compliments on)!

Truly great memories of a wonderful family holiday.

Thanks, Tara!

 Do you have a favourite photo of your husband/partner/dad that you love?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Decorating the Kids' Bedrooms - The Big Boys' Room

Out of all the rooms in the house, I had the most fun decorating my kids' bedrooms. 

I think kids' bedrooms are the easiest, because you have such a wide pallette of colours you can choose from. You can seriously go nuts if you want to...it doesn't really matter! More is more.

A couple of years ago, Hubby and I decided to buy the 7yr old and 9yr old (who share a room) bunk beds so we could incorporate some study space for them. Their bedroom is a fairly good size, but introducing the bunk beds really made a difference to what we could work with. Besides, they were thrilled to have the bunks...even if we were a little nervous about spills and thrills taking place on them. (Thankfully, we've only had one such incident - with the 7yr old falling backwards off the ladder one night. The ambulance was called and everything...but he was ok. Lesson learned.)

Hubby painted the walls fairly bright-ish yellow (Dulux: Seduction - not a very appropriate name for a kids' room, but a great colour nonetheless!).

We bought a bunk bed from a local bed store, then it was on to find a desk. IKEA was our first - and turns out, our only - stop. We've always loved IKEA around here. We have a bunch of stuff we've bought from them over the years. (In fact, we should be honorary shareholders by now. Where on earth is my dividend cheque?) They have such great, affordable pieces...especially for kids. You just can't go past their stuff.

For the boys' bedroom, we bought from IKEA:

- A desk 
- Art drawers
- Two chairs
- Two round floor rugs
- Two wall lamps
- A set of three pop-up baskets
- A set of drawers
- Wall shelf
- Plastic bin
- Some other misc items

We already had IKEA wardrobes and an IKEA (Billy) book case in their bedroom too. Both purchased just before the 9yr old was born! Even though they're not white, they actually fit in quite well.

Here's the room (this pic was taken a while back...it's not quite this neat and tidy these days, I'm afraid).

The boys share a double desk. We've since purchased a pin board 
from IKEA as well to place between their wall lamps. 

The bunks have a trundle underneath. We don't use it for an extra mattress, but as a handy storage space.
The art drawers are from IKEA (awesome storage for all the boys' paper), as are the pop-up baskets on top.

We bought the drawers below from IKEA as well, as a temporary solution to a lack of drawer space, so they didn't match 100%, but kept with the blue and red theme I had going on. They have since been moved to the 4yr old's room, and have been replaced by some IKEA drawers that are the same colour as the bookshelf. (Larger - so they store more stuff for the big boys!)

These were very inexpensive. 

IKEA recently sent out to me their latest Children's IKEA brochure the other day (as well as a cute baby toy I passed on to my friend, Jen, for her nephew, a book, and a soft toy soccer ball that the 4yr old has been kicking around the place), and already I've made a note of some stuff to pick up.

Like this below for the 4yr old's drawers so I can arrange his various clothes in to it, and he can easily access them himself. (Yet another idea I got from Nicole Avery's book, Planning with Kids - although she uses some shoeboxes and old nappy boxes for the job, both of which I don't have currently available!):
The FABLER box - $9.99/set of 3

In actual fact, we're planning to move the 9yo in to his own room soon (currently the 4yo's bedroom - the 4yo will move in with the 7yo). The 9yo really loves to use the desk and has a thing about his own stuff, so we think this arrangement will work well. Especially as he'll no doubt have more homework next year (in year 5) requiring his undivided attention!

We're checking out a bed with study desk underneath it this time, because the 4yo's current room is smaller than the big boys' room. It also needs some wardrobes. When we get that sorted, I'll be sure to post about that as well! No doubt, we'll be heading back to IKEA for some more ideas. ;)

* Please note that even though IKEA sent me a few items, I needed no encouragement at all to write this post, as I've always loved IKEA! Besides, I only blog about what I love.

What are your kids' bedrooms like? Do your kids have a 'theme' to their room at all - whether it be a certain colour(s) or other theme?  

Top image: IKEA

Monday, June 13, 2011

Giving Kids Choices

Are you giving your kids a choice for their future?

My parents are in their eighties. When they were married in the 1940s, it wasn't unusual at that time for a wife to give up work and become a housewife after marriage. It was then hoped, not long after the 'I dos' were spoken, that the good news of a child's imminent arrival would be announced.

My own mother was no exception. She left her job at the local milk bar in country Western Australia when she married my father, and never looked back. Her dream was always to stay at home with her children, and she did. She never 'worked' another day in her life.

Growing up, I had the same dream. From as early on as I can remember, I wanted to get married, have children and become a stay at home mum. I'm still glad that was my decision. However, I can't help but wonder some times: was it really my choice?

I want to preface this post by saying I am not blaming my parents for anything. I believe they only wanted for me what they thought was best, and would make me happiest - because the same thing made them so happy: a family life. I also think, had I gone to them at some stage and said, "I want to start my own business," or, "I want to do a writing course when I finish school," that they would have supported that too.

It's just that, I don't recall my parents ever suggesting a career for my future. There was certainly never an expectation that I would go on to university or undertake any further education after I finished high school. In fact, when it came to schoolwork in general, my parents never placed any sort of pressure on me at all to excel. I was always told, "Just do your best."

Which sounds wonderful in a way, don't you think? These days, I think kids are placed under an enormous amount of pressure to succeed, and from a very early age. With the workforce being far more competitive, a good education is paramount.

However, whilst I have no desire to place my children under any sort of stress or anxiety about their future - especially at such a young age - I truly believe kids need a certain amount of encouragement and motivation to do well. They need to know what's expected of them (within reason). Although my husband can't recall being told either directly or indirectly that university was expected of him and his two brothers, it always seemed to him that going on to further education was a given (and all three boys did). He is very glad he did so.

In contrast, it was always assumed by my parents - as it was the case for them - that I would leave school, find a job, then eventually marry and have my own family. End of story. For me to have a career wasn't important, in their mind. They probably figured that, as a woman, I would eventually have someone to take care of me, just as my mother had. (And my father has done a terribly good job of looking after her and my sisters and I, just as my mother did an excellent job looking after all of us.) 

When my parents told me to just do my best, it didn't make me actually want to do my best at all. For me, it was almost as though they were giving me permission to take my foot off the pedal and sit back and see where life took me. With no expectations to produce a good report card, I had absolutely no reason - nor motivation or desire - to do well in school, no matter what my potential was. As far as I was concerned, my path in life was already set.

As it turned out, I am happy with my life. Being a SAHM is a dream 'job' for me. However, I do sometimes wonder, had there been an expectation for me to go on to university or TAFE, would I have, for example, perhaps pursued my writing? Pursued something else that would fulfil me alongside my role as a wife and mother?

That, I will never know.

However, what I do know for certain, is that if I had girls myself, I would never assume this future for them, as beautiful as it is. As I do with my boys now, if I had a daughter I would tell her the following: "Work hard. Always put 100% effort in. Do well in school, because if you do, you can then go on to further education and decide exactly what you want to do some day. You will have choices, and having choices means you can choose any job you want to. Doing a job you love is the greatest thing."

I want my boys to know they can do anything they want to when they grow up. That working hard will give them choices. I don't want to set a path for them per se, but I do want to help them to achieve whatever it is they want for their future, and be happy.

By giving them choices.

What's your thoughts on further education? Do you expect your children to study after high school? Were you expected to go to uni or TAFE as a kid? Do you think your parents modelled your future for you, whether unintentionally or not?

Image: We Heart It

Sunday, June 12, 2011

How to Fake It: Tips for Housewives - The Bathroom 'Quick Clean'

Last time, in my How to Fake It tips, we found out how to get the house in order in under fifteen minutes, in the case of the last minute visitor. 

In this instalment of the series, I'm going to give you the rundown on how to give your bathroom that super quick clean. You know - the clean you give it when you don't have enough time, or, quite frankly, can't be bothered and would rather spend your time watching Days of Our Lives or something. (God forbid, but I'm not judging.)

Now this clean - depending on the size of your bathroom, of course - should take no more than 20 minutes, and your bathroom will still sparkle! Well, probably more so in candlelight, but you'll get by. Guaranteed.

I'm going to mention some products in this that will help you with your quick bathroom clean. These are products I have discovered myself - they were not sent to me, this is not a sponsored post or anything - they are simply items I've used myself for years and think will make things quick for you.

Okay, here's what you do:

Step 1: Tidy up
Get rid of all the clothes, dirty knickers, bath toys etc off the floor. Put them in the laundry basket, toy basket or bin...whatever. Just get rid of them.

Step 2: Vacuum
You want to do this step before you start throwing any water around, so vacuum your floor. I prefer the vacuum to the broom, because a) it doesn't throw any stray hairs or the like around - they all get sucked up. And if the shower recess isn't wet, you can even vacuum in there too. I do. ALL the time. Easy; and b) it's quicker than sweeping.

Step 3: Clean the toilet
Now, I actually think cleaning the toilet is a lot easier than people make it out to be. It doesn't take long to clean it properly, but in this case you want a super quick clean and you don't want to go down to the laundry to find all your stuff...so you simply grab some antibacterial wipes or the like and wipe that baby down. Use the toilet brush if you need to and FLUSH! Done.

Step 4: Clean the Shower Recess & Mirrors
Now, don't forget that in this instance, we only have a little time to spare, so we just want the shower recess to not look so...used. Firstly, you have to have a clean floor. If it was wet and you couldn't vacuum as per Step 2, make sure you clean out any loose hair or the like. (Whilst I LOVE my husband's hairy chest - woot-woo! - I'm not a fan of said hair on the shower recess floor. Doubt my guests want to see it either, you know?) I often use a little toilet paper to scoop up any hair or old pieces of soap, razor wrappings, then throw it all in the bin.

Next, if you have a glass shower recess, you want that glass clean, because that's the bit people will notice the most!

I've found the quickest and easiest way to clean glass well is with a Sabco glass & chrome cleaning mitt (pictured on the right). I've been using these mitts for years. Big fan. I guess they're like the poor man's version of Enjo products. (Quite frankly, I've used Enjo for the shower recess before too, and I don't see a big difference at all. Save your money, people.) You just wet it, wipe the glass down in a circular motion, then wipe the glass clean and dry with a soft towel - an old soft cloth nappy works brilliantly. I've bought my Sabco mitts in both Coles and Woolworths over the years. While you're at it, if you have any mirrors in your bathroom, use the same mitt for those. It'll clean them up perfectly.

Now, the tiles in the bathroom just require, in this instance, a 'spot clean'. I use a Sabco 'One Wipe Bathroom & Laundry Mitt'. Once again, wet it, wipe over the offending spots on the tiles then dry with a cloth. Quick as. If you have any build up of mould going on, then you might want to spot clean those with some Exit Mould or similar.

Now arrange the shampoo bottles etc on any shelves neatly. Now the shower recess looks clean!

Step 5: Clean the bath
Whether your bath is part of your shower recess, or separate, it's the same deal for both. Use the Sabco bathroom and laundry mitt to wipe over then dry with the cloth again. Easy.

Step 6: Clean the basin
As per Step 5 - clean your basin. You're almost done!

Step 7: The Quick Mop
I once trialled a cleaner for my house just after the 4yo was born, and was appalled to notice that his way of 'mopping' the bathroom floor was to simply spray it with a mixture of water and bleach, then use a damp mop to go over it. That's it?! (I was so discouraged after that, I never bothered employing someone to help with the cleaning. I just became a martyr instead. Ha!) I still don't agree with this practice - a good mop requires a bucket of water and bleach or similar and a real mop.

However...for a 'quick clean' it's more than suitable. You can always do the proper mop tomorrow. Or on the weekend. Or next week. Whatevs.

Sabco can help out here too. I love their microfibre mops (pictured left). They are easily removed because they velcro on to the mop base, so I often use them without the mop base (I don't mind getting down on my hands and knees to clean a floor - because I find a lot more dirt that way)! They're great for quick cleans and spot cleaning. So, spray your floor with a mixture of bleach and water (including the shower base/floor of your shower recess), then mop over with a fairly damp mop. No bucket required for this quick clean. ;) (You can throw the Sabco mop in the wash afterwards too. I love that part.)

Step 8: Dust
You're almost done. Using the cloth you've been using to dry everything with, go over any dusty (visible) surfaces. Your cloth is damp by now, so it'll pick up the dust.

Step 9: Give your bathroom that 'fresh' smell
Remember the lavender and water from the first How to Fake It? Same. Spray some lavender and water around, or even use a sprig of perfume. (Although, allowing your toddler in to the bathroom so they can help themselves to the bathroom cupboard and break your favourite bottle of perfume on to the floor is not a great alternative to this. On all levels. Trust me.)

Step 10: Make yourself a cuppa
'Cos you're finished, and you deserve it!

Hope you've enjoyed these tips. Be sure to catch the next How to Fake It instalment, coming soon to a blog near you!

Well, this one. Natch.

Image: We Heart It

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Week That Was...

This past week has been a mixed bag for me. Some definite highs and some definite lows. Oh, yeah.

Usually on a Friday I do my 'On Mummy Mayhem This Week', but typing this up last night, I suddenly decided to make it my weekly wrap up instead. Not just about what happened on my blog, but what's been happening in my life over the past week.

Why not? Let's throw caution to the wind and mix it up a bit!

I've been looking after sick kidlets for most of this week. The 9yo has had all but Tuesday off from school. The 7yo had Wednesday off and is home again today with the 9yo. The 4yo's fine. He's just his usual, challenging self, but at least he's had some extra company. (He and the 9yo built Lego for quite some time yesterday - quietly - which was nice.)

The boys aren't that ill that it's creating a lot of extra work or tugging at my heart strings as is usually the case when I see the boys unwell (it's mostly sore throats, feeling a little warm, having a bit of a cough, sniffly noses). However, as a consequence of their being home, I'm suffering a little cabin fever. (As is the dog. The poor dog is busting for a run.) Then again, the c-c-cold weather Sydney has been experiencing this week has made it far easier to be at home in the warmth of our heated home.

Both the big boys received awards at school on Monday, which was a high EXCEPT that the 9yo was home sick that day, and because the 9yo was home sick, I wasn't at the assembly for THE FIRST TIME THIS YEAR and, of course, missed out on seeing the 7yo get his much anticipated first award of the year. *sigh* (Thank God for Jen, my semi-official photographer, who took a pic of the 7yo - award in hand - and texted it to me.)

I had to cancel a much anticipated catch up with a fellow blogger today (due to aforementioned illness), however, that worked out ok because her child is sick too. Which, of course, is not good - but you know what I mean. I didn't feel so bad about having to cancel.

I received an interesting, not so pleasant email this week (which I won't go in to details about here), but then I got a REALLY great email from someone else about a little something I might get to have fun with and blog about here some time soon, so that worked out well. (Can't give you any details yet, but I'll certainly keep you posted. Let's just say it might provide me with another Jen & Jode's Big Adventures post!)

For all of the lows this week though, a definite high that pretty much cancels them all out anyway, was my night out with Jen on Wednesday (the post I just linked to above). I'm still on a high after that night!

So this week was filled with some highs and some lows. That's just the way life goes... (Far out. I should turn that in to a song. How poetic of me.)

This week on the blog... I was grateful for rain. I shared five ways I think you can get a little more organised. I told you what my latest obsession is. I shared some great products I love at the mo, and I gave you all the details about my fab night out with Jen to see Mary Poppins! (I can't stop linking to this one, huh? LOVED it!)

This week, I also had a post over at Kleenex Mums published on arguing in front of the kids. I ask: is it ever ok to argue in front of your kids? Pop on over there and tell me your thoughts on that.

Well, that was the week that was. Enjoy your Friday and weekend all!

Image: We Heart It

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Jen & Jode's Big Adventures: Mary Poppins

My friend Jen and I get up to mischief occasionally. We do. 

We're like Gwyneth and Madonna, Oprah and Gale (without the rumours, thankyouverymuch), Paris and Nicole. Wait. No, I don't think we're anything like Paris and Nicole actually. (Thank goodness for that.)

Hubby, however, likes to refer to us as Jen and Jode. As in, Kath and Kim. Okay, then...

In any case, we get out and about together, and last night was a goodie.

I was very fortunate to receive an invitation to see Mary Poppins at the Sydney Premiere Capitol Theatre and with a plus one...Jen got herself an invitation too. (You might wonder why I didn't ask Hubby. Well, to be honest, Hubby doesn't get musicals. He always asks, "Where's the music coming from, hey? I don't get it. One minute they're walking around, next thing, music comes on and they're singing." He's a realist, people.)

Jen and Jode...just minutes before the show began.

Anyway, Hubby missed out BIG time, because the show was one of the most flawless, fabulous, visually amazing productions (the sets were incredible) I've ever seen. Seriously, from start to finish, your eyes just want to take in everything. There is so much colour, movement, energy...I can't believe the cast do this so many times a week.  You'd never know it, because it's fresh from start to finish.

And the cast...BRILLIANT.

Verity Hunt-Ballard plays the lead role of Mary Poppins. Now of course, with everyone's mind on Julie Andrews making the role so famous, you can imagine there's going to be a few comparisons made. Jen and I were unanimous on this: she was fantastic. Brilliant. She brought such a fun cheekiness to the role. Her singing was amazing, and her timing perfect. I know I sound like I'm gushing...but I don't care.

Verity in her role as Mary Poppins
I predict BIG things for this gal. Huge.

She was also lovely to meet in real life.

Doesn't she look so different out of character? Gorgeous in both.

Yup. Jen and I, as well as a bunch of other bloggers, got to have a drink with some of the cast after the show. Then we made them stand around chatting to us before wrestling them in to a photo. Actually, they were very obliging. Jen and I felt sorry for them, to be honest. Like the last  thing you'd feel like doing after you've been jumping around singing and dancing for couple of hours is to go rub shoulders with people you don't know! (BTW - In my usual, confused fashion, I was telling all the bloggers the room we had to meet in after the show was called "The Drake". It was, in actual fact, "The Peacock" room. Still...I was almost there. They are both birds.)

A bit of a crowd favourite was the gorgeous, Matt Lee who played the role of Bert. Man, can he sing and dance. When he launched in to a tap routine in the second half of the show, girls were screaming. Seriously. They LOVE him. Of course, you may know him from the tv show, So You Think You Can Dance - which he tells me is not being produced this year. Whaaaat?! What's up with that Channel 10??!!!

The guy's bio in the program is so long. He has done so much. One can only image what he can achieve for hereon. He was magnificent in the role of Bert. He has such energy and charisma. (Ok I'm gushing again!!! Bite me.)

Impressive, huh?

And here's me cosying up to Matt. Seriously...could I have gotten any closer?! (We do match beautifully  in our black and white though, don't you think?)

My hair is not on fire. That's a light, people.

Bit of a funny story with this shot. Jen was snapping away, but she kept getting blurred shots. Finally, she got this one...which is not 100% clear, but I kinda like it because it hides a few wrinkles. ;) Then I was taking pics of her and Matt and having the same problem. Then I finally realised what the problem was: I didn't have the flash turned on. (You should have seen some of the other bloggers with their fancy cameras. Impressive. I was a total amateur with my tiny little Canon point and shoot with the flash turned off.)

So Matt's smile no doubt hides a bit of, 'Will you hurry up and TAKE THE PICTURE ALREADY!!'

All of the cast were amazing. Philip Quast was fabulous as George Banks. Marina Prior plays the role of Winifred Banks, but was MIA last night. However, the girl who moved in to the role was incredibly good - I think it was Sarah Bakker. Fab voice.

Judi Connelli played Miss Andrew, Debra Byrne played Bird Woman, Sally-Anne Upton was fantastic as Mrs Brill. David Henry was Admiral Boom/Bank Chairman and Christopher Rickerby played Robertson Ay - he was hilarious!

Truly amazing were the children who played Jane Banks and Michael Banks. The role is actually shared between five boys and five girls who alternate night/day performances (although they always have another set of kids out the back in case something happens mid-performance). The girl who played Jane last night was Lexie Duncan (a Year 6 student at a local public school to me), and Michael Banks was played by Cameron Holmes. (I'm pretty sure I've got that right!) I can't tell you how impressive these kids were. They took on singing, dancing, acting AND an accent. Their timing was brilliant.

One of the first cast members Jen and I chatted to was Troy Sussman who plays a character called Von Hussler. He was so nice, terribly informative and just fun to chat with. All the cast were great. Jen and I got the impression they were a tight bunch who really enjoy working together on the show.

Here are some shots from the show (not mine - I had the dud camera, remember?):

Mary Poppins makes statues come to life. She's so clever.

The sets were amazing, too. 

The performance of Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious was a stand out!

Here's a little on video of what you can expect from the show:

I think the kids would be so amazed to see it. Mary Poppins is on for a limited time only, so if you want to grab some tickets, you can call Ticketek on 1300 558 878 or visit www.marypoppinsthemusical.com.au for more info.

You won't regret it.

Thanks to Julie for the invitation and for arranging a top night, and to all the cast for being such good sports afterwards.

I hope to bring you more Jen and Jode adventures soon...!

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Stuff to Look Out For

Occasionally, I find stuff I want to share with my gorgeous readers. Sometimes I find it myself, other times people send me something to try out (yippee!). When I like it, you're sure to find it here in my 'Stuff to Look Out For' posts!

The Pop-Up Laundry Hamper
The first thing I want to share with you I found myself in Coles. It's something I should have included in my How To Tame the Laundry Beast post recently.

We have a space issue in our house. Our laundry is essentially a cupboard. Well, not really - but it may as well be, it's so small. I have a couple of laundry baskets, and seriously - I have no room for them as it is. So imagine my delight when I found the following at my local Coles:

The Evolve pop-up laundry hamper

I think the brand is Evolve (I couldn't find anything online to link to). It's a pop-up basket and from memory, costs around $10.

It's a great space saver!

It starts like this (well, actually a little smaller. I've never been very good at folding down the beach tent either):

It comes in a another little bag.

 Then opens to this, before being fully opened:

Easily tucked away in our laundry.

I have two. They're also great to store toys in that you've just picked up off the floor! (See my How to Fake It: Tips for Housewives for more info on that. ;) )

Yogi Bear - on DVD & Blu-ray
The boys were excited to receive the latest offering from Warner Bros Video: Yogi Bear. *Sigh* I have such fond memories of the old Yogi Bear cartoons I used to watch as a kid. The idea that a bear could talk...wait. Whaddya mean they don't really talk? Oh, man!

Of course, Yogi has come a long way since the 'old days' when I was a youngin'. This new version combines live action with computer animation. It's one of those 'save the day' kinda stories kids LOVE. The 4yo started watching the movie, with the big boys deciding they'd do something else. Until, that is, they walked past the tv. Next thing I knew they were all watching, laughing and enjoying. I had 80 minutes of 'me' time. (Score!) Thumbs up from the boys.

Here's a trailer your kids might like to watch:

Yogi Bear will be available on a 3D Blu-ray Pack, featuring a 2D hi-def copy of the film (RRP $49.95), Blu-ray Combo Pack, featuring a hi-def, a standard def and a digital copy of the film (RRP $44.95) and on a single disc DVD (RRP $39.95). You can also get it On Demand (RRP $5.50) and you can Download it as well (RRP $24.99)! How cool is that? Release date: 15 June.

Sukie - My First Novel
Here's something for the young, future writer in your life that I found online recently!

I discovered this Sukie - My First Novel book with 4 pencils set on hip hip hooray. It's a great website actually for finding something a little different for birthday parties and the like AND they're currently having a sale at the moment, so if you're quick, you can grab this - or many other gifts online for newborns through to 12 year olds - at a discounted price! Woot!

Sqwishies from Sqwishland
Forget Pokemons and Bakugans, people...there's a new craze in town...!

Sqwishies are the latest craze in the States, and they're hitting our stores. My boys were sent some 'capsules' of Sqwishies - which are basically little, soft, squishy (get it?) figurines (pets, if you will) that fit on to the ends of pencils. You can collect different types: regular, rare, ultra rare, crazy rare and the most sought after - Sqwabble. (The 9yo keeps talking about the Sqwishies 'evolving from' - just like in Pokemon!) You can collect them and also play online with them in a virtual setting at www.sqwishland.com. Kids can take care of their pet, feed it, play against others in what the company is calling a 'safe' environment.

My boys were absolutely THRILLED with the Sqwishies. They're already asking about where they can buy and collect more (they're available at selected stores like Australian National Geographic, Angus & Robertson, EB Games, and various airport and toy stores) and a pack of six in a capsule will only set you them back RRP $7.95). I love that they're small. All the Pokemon cards and Bakugans take up space!

To be honest, my boys found the virtual online world a little tricky to navigate. They're a little too impatient to read instructions, actually. We probably won't play them online, as we have a 'no computer games' rule during the week, and with pets that need feeding every few days, this won't suit us. But the boys won't care, because they'll just love collecting them. And at least, if I step on one, it won't hurt my feet!

We have always been a HUGE fan of LEGO DUPLO in this house. Over the years, the boys have accumulated a police station, dinosaurs, zoo animals & scenes, trucks and all sorts of LEGO DUPLO. It's so much fun, and even the bigger kids still enjoy playing with it. (But ssssh - don't tell them I told you that.)

With the release of the movie, Cars 2, comes the LEGO DUPLO inspired by the movie.
LEGO DUPLO Cars 2 Big Bentley RRP $69.99

Oh, and how the 4yr old LOVED the above set that arrived for him last week. When I woke up the morning after it arrived, he'd already found it and - with the help of his big brother - had it built already!

All the fave Cars characters here!

The 4yr old's having a great time here playing with his Cars

LEGO DUPLO have a great range of new products hitting the market. Here's a couple of them:
I LOVE this one...LEGO DUPLO Doctor's Clinic RRP $99.99
LEGO DUPLO Emergency Helicopter RRP $34.99

There's really not much else for me to say other than you seriously can't go wrong when it comes to Lego. You just can't. The kids will love it. See the full range of Cars 2 LEGO DUPLO HERE.

That's it for now. Hope you've found something you like here!