A NEW BLOG!

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 Mummy Mayhem is no longer updated.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. :)

Jodie
xox

Friday, September 30, 2011

The Week That Was... School Holidays - Week 1

After sitting in the howling wind late Friday afternoon watching the nine-year-old at cricket training, the school holidays officially commenced. 


Saturday morning, Hubby took the nine-year-old to his cricket match (they won again - YES!), and even though it wasn't exactly gorgeous, sunny weather, I took the seven-year-old and four-year-old for a quick bike ride to the local cafe. As we arrived, the four-year-old rode his bike around a waiter who was carrying a bunch of boxes. The waiter didn't see him and swung around, hitting the four-year-old in the head. Ouch. Afterwards, though, as the four-year-old's tears gradually subsided, the waiter returned to our table with a plate filled with marshmallows, and all was forgiven and forgotten.

When the waitress then brought out their milkshakes, the four-year-old quickly started drinking his. I said, "Say thank you to the lady, please," and without removing his lips from the straw he muttered, "Mmm-moo." Sigh. 


Later, after we'd dodged the few raindrops that threatened to drench us on the way home, I knelt on the floor of the four-year-old's bedroom picking up some clothes I had just dropped there. Hubby came in and stood in the door way. I looked up to see these in his arms...



The fact that he'd bought me flowers at all was fabulous (I don't think he's bought me long stemmed red roses since....too long to remember), but even more amazing was that he had travelled to the local shopping centre to purchase them, which he usually avoids like the plague on weekends because it's so busy there.

You know how marriage, and in fact any relationship for that matter, has it's ebbs and flows? Sometimes it's good, sometimes a little more challenging? Well, right now, Hubby and I are in a very good place. Especially after the roses. ;)

Sunday it rained some more, and that's when the house got turned upside down. By Monday, I was over it, and initiated The Big Cleanup after we'd tackled the four-year-old's swimming lesson and the weekly food shopping (that's hell right there, people - food shopping with three boys).

On Tuesday, the sun finally shone, and the nine-year-old and seven-year-old had friends arrive for a play date. I dropped the four-year-old to daycare then drove the boys to Pirate's Mini Golf on the northern beaches.

The drive there made me realise I obviously need to clean out my car, as the boys spent time finding stuff in it to trade to each other. "Hey, do you wanna swap this dead weed for that stale corn chip?" Yup.

On arrival, I split my boys up with their friend (also brothers) so they could separately play 9 holes at a time. (That way, they wouldn't annoy each other.)

Can you imagine how many golf balls are in that water?


There's the 7yr old through the bushes. 


The 9yr old, who clearly needs new sandals, and his friend get ready to tackle hole 7. 

Then they came back to me - I was sitting in the centre of the premises in the sun drinking coffee and reading my book (aaaaahhh) - for some yummy muffins our guests' mother had baked (nom). (Thanks, Fiona.)



Whilst they played their second set of 9 holes, I thought I'd call my parents for a quick chat, and Mum said to me on answering the phone, "So, you want to speak to Dad, then?" I was all like, "Oh, yeah. I'll have a chat," but at the same time wondering why she didn't want to chat more to me first. Mum paused, and I suddenly realised why she had asked. "Oh God," I said, "Is it the 27th?" Yes, people. It was my Dad's birthday. I hadn't forgotten it per se, but I didn't realise the date either (damn school holidays). Thank goodness Mum answered the phone first.

Dad turned 86, but insists he's older. More like 90. I said, "Maybe you just feel ninety, Dad?" He loves it when I tease him.

After the boys finished their golf, I sent them off to buy icy poles, as the weather was so beautiful and warm. Then we headed back to our house for some lunch and play time before I dropped our guests home at 2pm. 

That afternoon, I cooked spaghetti bolognese before the big boys had their swimming lesson, then we collected the four-year-old and headed home for dinner. Except me. Because I headed out to dinner myself with a bunch of girlfriends. (More on that another time.) T'was a fun night!

Wednesday the rain returned, and subsequently I couldn't get motivated (or perhaps it was because of the champagne I had consumed the night before?). I lazed around in bed mostly, only getting up every now and then to assist the boys with breakfast etc. Before I knew it, it was almost lunch time, and my friend, Jen was soon due to arrive with her three kids. 

A few weeks ago, I received an invitation from a PR company to attend a special "Mother & Daughter" event. Er...obviously the company didn't read the homepage of my blog, seeing that it clearly states I'm a mother to three boys. Not to worry though, I asked the PR co if I could send Jen and her daughter, Miss C, instead, and they were very happy to have them. (I'll be posting something on that soon.) Jen's two boys stayed with me, and to show their appreciation, Jen and Miss C: a) baked a cake for us to consume during their absence (it was NOM, and I could get used to this other people baking stuff for me kinda thing); and b) purchased these for me afterwards...



Love. Aren't I a lucky gal to receive so many flowers over the last couple of weeks?! (Thanks, Jen.)

Yesterday, I took the boys to a local indoor play centre in the morning (wet again!) which really should be called Hell on Earth during the school holidays; it's packed with older kids who run around like lunatics (including my own), causing all sorts of chaos. But the bonus? It has free WiFi and a cafe, so I was able to type up this post whilst sipping coffee and eating raison toast. ;) 

There's always an upside, people. 

Today we headed to the cinema to see Spy Kids 4, with the only saving grace at having to sit through such a movie was the fact that Jeremy Piven (Ari Gold from Entourage) played a key role(s).



He's all shades of amazingness, no?

I had planned to cheat and buy some Maltesers from Kmart or Coles beforehand, cos I'm a tight arse clever like that, but we were running late and instead I spent a small fortune on them and a bag full of lollies at the cinema on arrival, just making it in time for the main feature. (Which the kids enjoyed.)

Live and learn, people. Live and learn. 

How has your week been? Do you have kids on school holidays? What are you doing to keep busy?







Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Big Cleanup

The other day I wrote about The Big Mess that had occurred during the first weekend of the school holidays. 

The rain was partly to blame. When it's wet and miserable outside, the kids easily get bored.

However, there's no excuse as far as I'm concerned, because my boys know the rule: One toy/game at a time.

So, just to refresh your memory, here's a collection of the BEFORE shots of the house:



Messy, huh? Now, here are the AFTER photos, taken less than 1.5 hours later:

The formal lounge - back to normal (apart from a few finger prints on the glass table top).


The kitchen. The shop is closed. Phew.

The 4yr old's room. We can see his mat again!


The formal dining room is still Lego Central, but at least it's contained - and off the floor!

In truth, still a bit of work to do in the 7yo & 9yo's bedroom
(look at that bookshelf!), but a HUGE improvement.


The family room looking a little tidier now. 

The Lego remains in the formal dining room, but that's okay. It's school holidays, and having it out all the time means they can go build - at the table - any time they like. That's fine by me. However, I did make sure that nothing else was left on the table other than Lego, that pieces not on the sheet were placed back on it, and that all the pieces that had fallen on the floor were picked up.

The boys did pretty much all of it. I just helped the four-year-old with his bedroom, because he's still learning about organisation.

So, how did I achieve it? Here are the steps.

Step 1 - The Threat
Don't underestimate the advantage of using a good old fashioned threat with your kids, people.  Threatening the loss of an upcoming play date or missing out on a piece of freshly baked chocolate cake can work a treat.

For example, the nine-year-old and seven-year-old were having a play date the following day, and I threatened that if they didn't clean everything up, I would phone the mother of the two brothers coming and call it off. (This was risky. I couldn't call it off, because the mother was working the next day and had organised a sitter for the afternoon only. Sometimes, though, it pays to take risks.)

With the four-year-old, I threatened no Maltesers at the movie we are planning to see later this week. (The kid LOVES chocolate, and is easily bribed by it.)

Step 2 - The Plastic Garbage Bag
I've used this one before, and it's a winner. Get out a large, plastic garbage bag. Be sure to open it up in front of your kids and FLICK it open dramatically before saying, "See this bag? ANYTHING left out of place after the allocated cleaning time GOES IN HERE. Then it GOES IN THE BIN outside. Okay?!"

Of course, this works better if you've used this tactic before and you've followed through. I have. They quake in their tattered sneakers whenever I get it out. ;)

Step 3 - Put on the Timer
Telling your kids just to clean something up without a game plan is like an open invitation for extra play time during the cleaning process, and it will take hours. They'll pick up Lego and start building something with the odd pieces they've found under the couch. Or they'll start flicking through a comic book they started writing and illustrating, chuckling at their own jokes.

For the Family Room, for example, I gave them 20 minutes. I put the kitchen timer on. They raced around like crazy people moving stuff from the family room to their bedrooms and packing other items away that belong in there. We then went through the rooms, allocating 10 minutes here, 10 minutes there, then finally - 30 minutes for their bedrooms.

Done. And since then, they've been tidying after each project and tidying their bedrooms each day, with me saying things like, "See how quickly it gets done if your do a little every day?"

Now, if I can just teach the dog to do this, I'll really be ahead of the game...

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What strategies do you use to get your kids to tidy up? 







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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

My Recipe Box: Pancakes with Summer Fruits, Maple Syrup & Marscarpone


A delicious weekly ritual for our family these days is to have yummy pancakes on Sunday morning. The nine-year-old gets up and makes the batter, then Hubby or I cook the pancakes with him. Then we sit down as a family and eat!

For the recipe, head over to my recipe blog.

Tomorrow: I'll be updating how we got on after The Big Mess with The Big Cleanup. Stay tuned, people!





Monday, September 26, 2011

The Big Mess


Welcome to the school holidays.

School holidays - where routine for the most part, thankfully flies out the window and kids take over the house.

It would have to rain, of course, wouldn't it? The very first weekend of the two-week school holidays. After a week of brilliant, warm sunshine ...BAM! Down comes the rain.

I couldn't wait to ride my new bike on the weekend with the kids. Apart from a quick trip on Saturday morning to the local cafe with two of them (the nine-year-old was playing cricket again), that was it. We were pretty much house bound after that.

So, what happens when it's too wet to head outside? The kids get "creative" around the home. They suddenly rediscover all the crap stuff they have hidden away in toy boxes and storage containers and in the 'activities cupboard' (as we call it). Then, whilst Hubby and I are busy sleeping doing important stuff, they pull it all out and THROW IT AROUND THE HOUSE.

Behold...

The family room. DVDs on the floor. PJ pants, pillows (from cubby building),
Lego Bionicles, games...it all has to go.


The kitchen. The 7yo & 4yo made a 'shop' in the kitchen. This photo was actually taken after I had
moved some items. Cos, you know, I had to get to the fridge and pantry and all that. 


The worst room. The 7yo & 9yo's bedroom. Where do I start? See all the tissues on the floor?
Unused. I think the 4yo took them out. PJ pants, clothes, boxes, MORE Lego.
Books everywhere. To be honest, it wasn't great before the holidays. It got worse though.


The 4yo's bedroom. Lego, books, clothes.
The desk missing. It's in the kitchen. For the shop. Natch.



The formal lounge room. I guess it got too messy in the Family Room, so they figured
they'd move in here! Yes - that's the 7yo's bike in the front. There were cushions on my couch.
Where are they are now? ON THE FLOOR!


The formal dining room. Let's hope no one's coming to dinner any time soon,
because it's now Lego Central in here. *sigh* (Actually, it can stay for the hols, but
the pieces on the floor have to be picked up, & a few misc items put away.







So, what to do in such a situation, you're wondering. How on earth can I get my house back in order?

Stay tuned, people...I have me a plan...

How are the school holidays going for all you parents out there? Are you holding it together? Please tell me at least one room in your house looks as bad as this?!





Sunday, September 25, 2011

The BFF Catchup at Ginger & Spice

In my third post for Malaysia Kitchen Australia ('MKA'), I headed out to Ginger & Spice in Neutral Bay with one of my BFF's (and official MM photographer - and soon to be MM co-product reviewer), Jen. 

Even though Jen and I see each other most weekdays, and some weekends at school sports and the like, we don't often get a really good, long chat. We're always surrounded by kids, or at the very least the four-year-old who loves Jen and chats to her as if she's come over for coffee just so she can catch up on all his news. Sigh.


I had hoped to get my other BFF, Mardi, to join us. Can you believe she and Jen have never met, even though they were both at my 40th birthday party last year? I know! How ridiculous is that? (I was so caught up chatting to everyone, I didn't think to introduce them. My bad.) Unfortunately, Mardi couldn't make it (her hubby was already going out that night). Next time, Mard...next time!

Anyway, Jen and I headed off to Neutral Bay for a bit of a chin wag and some food.

Firstly, the restaurant had a surprisingly good feel to it. I was surprised, because the only photos I'd found on the Internet beforehand really didn't do it justice. As Jen said, if it were her local restaurant, she'd be pretty happy about it.



Here's what we ordered and ate in between non-stop (except for food hastily being shoved in our mouths) chatter:

Roti Prata - $7.80
Tasty, but dense and rather greasy. But we could forgive the greasiness because of the taste. :)



Curry Puffs - $10.80
Pretty tasty, and not too greasy. The sauce was yummy too.



Malay Satay - $12.80
We had the chicken satays which were yummy. I would have liked the satay to be a bit chunkier, but the flavours were really good. * Jen's fave dish of the night.



Serai - $18.80
Pan-fried chicken with lemon grass (you can also choose beef or prawn). This was really tasty and very moreish. A good choice for people who don't like spicy food as it was completely mild. In heat...not in flavour. *My fave dish of the night.









Chilli Prawns - $22.80
The prawns were cooked in a tomato and chilli sauce and were a mild heat. Although they were certainly nice, they were also probably our least fave of the night.



The service was good, and no one got testy with Jen and I when we were the last ones to leave! It should be noted that this restaurant accepts cash only, which they advised both when I booked and when we arrived (which a lot of restaurants don't do - that drives me nuts!).

I give it: 3 out of 5
Jen gives it: 3 out of 5

If you 'like' MKA's Malaysia Kitchen Insiders Facebook page, you can keep up with all the latest news on Malaysian food and Malaysian restaurants!

Do you and your BFF(s) head out for a meal together on occasion? Do you have a regular catch up - even if it doesn't involved food? 







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Saturday, September 24, 2011

My Recipe Box: Shortbread Biscuits

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If you feel like a doing little baking this weekend (or with the kids during the school holidays), and in particular would like something to have with a nice cup of tea, head over to Mummy Mayhem's Recipe Box for a yummy Shortbread Biscuits recipe.

Nom.






Friday, September 23, 2011

The Week That Was... A Surprisingly Great Birthday, What Made Me a Proud Mum & One-On-One Time


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Time to wrap up the past week...

I had a surprisingly fabulous birthday last weekend. 

FABULOUS.

I didn't expect much. After all, it was only my 41st birthday (*yawn*). Nothing spesh, right? But it felt all that and more. 

It started the day before my actual birthday with a dinner on Saturday night at one of our fave restaurants – The Bluewater Café at Manly Beach. The café has a selection of food for the kids, juice boxes and ice cream with topping. How can you go wrong? 

Then there was this, for Hubby and I:

Lamb & Haloumi skewers with cous cous salad for me.


Pork ribs and Roasted Kumera for Hubby.


Apple & berry crumble for dessert. Nom. 

The following morning, I woke to find this in the hallway:






Isn’t it divine? I asked Hubby if he had seen this post. He hadn’t. Amazing. 

I LOVE my bike. Just like I wrote on Wednesday, I've been enjoying riding it so much this week, I haven't had time to blog. 

The next morning, the nine-year-old made his special pancake mixture, then Hubby cooked the pancakes and we ate outside underneath the umbrella, because the weather was PERFECT!

Delicious. Lovin' the summer fruits.

Later, I arrived home from taking the four-year-old to a friend’s birthday party (I know! Can you believe someone threw a party for their child on my birthday?!) to find these:

Awww....thanks, Hubby.

 Hubby then cooked a yummy dinner. (He was totally on a roll, right?) Chicken marinated with a bunch of fresh, yummy herbs, garlic and...other stuff (I don't know, you see, because I didn't cook it!). He cooked it on the BBQ.

T'was delicious!

 My parents sent some money, so I bought myself this lovely, Spring-inspired bag (to go with all the blue items I bought recently).

Lovin' all the flowers. 


And because I had some money left over, and David Jones had 30% off some jewellery this week, I also bought this ring.

Love. The metal looks plastic in this pic...much better in real life!

 My friend, Jen, bought me some lovely stuff for the desk I will eventually set up in our study. I'll probably be posting on that at some stage, then you can see it. (I love it.)

So, for a 41st birthday, I thought the whole thing was pretty special - thanks mostly to Hubby.

Thanks to everyone on Twitter and Facebook and on my 20th Anniversary of my 21st Birthday post for your birthday wishes!

*     *     *     *     *

On Saturday last weekend, Hubby took the four-year-old with him to the nine-year-old’s first cricket match of the season. I’m very proud of the nine-year-old. His team from previous years didn’t form again this year (most will start a new school next year, and will play for a school team, so therefore the matches will clash), so he opted to play with a bunch of kids he’d never met before on a Sunday (then double up in the new year). Something I doubt I’d have done at his age. (Turns out, there weren't enough players for a Sunday team, so he plays Saturday on a team that are okay with him leaving at the end of the year. Bonus for all of us!)


Anyway, according to Hubby, he played really well. His new team won the match by about sixty runs, and the nine-year-old retired not out, reaching close to his maximum runs allowed. Woot!

So proud of my boy. For giving something a shot and stepping out of his comfort zone, more than anything else. 

*     *      *     *     * 

Anyway, whilst they were all there, the seven-year-old and I got to spend some quality one-on-one time together. A very, very rare thing these days. We sat outside under the shade of the umbrella in the morning (obviously getting a lot of use this week), and drank coffee/bubbaccinos, and chatted. We looked up funny words in the Dictionary and tried to put them in sentences. He helped me tidy the house, took out the recycling and unloaded the dishwasher before packing away some toys in the family room. 

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Later, we headed to our local shopping centre so he could sell raffle tickets for the school's fundraiser, and afterwards we both enjoyed sushi, followed by a quick trip to Target before getting a special cupcake each to eat in secret together (sssssh - don't tell the other boys!). 

He said more than once, “Mummy, I love spending time together, just you and me without the other boys.” I loved it too.

*     *     *     *     *

On Wednesday, I was watching the four-year-old playing soccer during his weekly sport's class. He was laughing and smiling; he was having a great time with his little friend. 

I was suddenly overcome with emotion when I realised that there is just one more school term left before we'll have no more one-on-one days together and he heads off to big school. 



I partly blame the moving music that was playing on my iPod at the time for the impromptu tears that fell. 

The four-year-old has been lucky in one way, having so much Mum time these last few years. But I'm still certain we can do more this last school term than what we have been doing so far. 

And we will. In fact, we've already started (more on that later). 

*     *     *     *    *  

I only wrote a couple of posts this week, which I think I've pretty much linked to in this post. But you can check them out on my sidebar on the RHS. And over on my recipe blog, I wrote about The Art of Baking. (Tips welcomed!)

Have a great weekend, ya'll.