Friday, 28 August 2015

My Tip For Surviving Bookweek's that time of the year again!

Don't get me wrong, I have no objection to children reading fact I think it's pretty damn awesome....and it keeps them quiet for hours!!!!

But the whole dress up as your favourite book character thing....yeah well that sucks for mums, big time.

And add to that the fact that I am talking about high school literacy day, dress up as a character from a book or movie, well then it sucks even more coz suggestions like Little Red Riding Hood or Winnie the Pooh just don't cut it in high's just totally embarrassing so I'm told, with an accompanying roll of the eyes!

So when you have had more than your fair share of high school literacy days and you are just totally over it here is my easy peasy tip to surviving yet another one....

Let your kids convince you that their normal clothes are actually a costume!  They will usually even provide photographic evidence to support their claim.

And voila, just like that you will have literacy day sorted.

The cargo pants that Miss 16 needs to take to Japan double as Hiro from Big Hero 6

The ripped boyfriend jeans that Miss 14 adores and fuddy duddy me hates teamed with a black t-shirt and you have Wayne from Wayne's time, excellent!!  

So how easy is this my friends!!!  

Okay, so nobody will know who they are dressed as, teachers will accuse them of just being in mufti and they won't be in the running for any best dressed prizes......but hey they got their new pants and they're happy, I had minimal involvement and I am's a bit of a win win don't you think !!

Oh but don't be feeling too cocky just yet coz chances are that there will be one teen for whom good old ordinary clothes just won't do for literacy day....oh no!!!

She and her group of friends will have some wild idea about what they are going to dress up as.  Tomorrow they will change their minds.  The next day they will change their minds back again!

So be prepared that with very short notice this teen will triumphantly announce that her group has finally agreed......they will be dressing up as various Dr Seuss characters but no, no, no....not Sally from Cat in A Hat in her pretty blue pinafore or Cindy Lou Who from How the Grinch Stole Christmas in her dainty pink dress....oh no!  We are talking Cat in A Hat, Thing 1 and Thing 2, Sam I Am.....yes Sam I Am people.

And so here is how you deal with making a Sam I Am costume with minimal expense and a even less enthusiasm!!

Firstly you head to the fabric shop with no real plan in place.  You see fluffy yellow fabric so grab a metre or two. You praise the heavens when you see a felt red hat in the party dress ups section.  And you grab some random stuff to formulate green eggs and ham.

Sticking with the no real plan in place philosophy you start to construct the costume. Having minimal sewing skills at best you need to keep this simple!!  

I got a dress that Miss 17 wears and laid it on the fabric.

I traced around the dress with a bit of leeway for a seam allowance.  Given that nobody in the house could find a tape measure I decided to wing it!  Once you're done cut out your fabric.

Once you've cut out the fabric pin your front and back together and start sewing!  I may have sewn over the seams twice......because I totally have no confidence in my sewing ability.....and because a costume malfunction....well embarrassing much !!!!

Cut the bottom of the costume to resemble a jagged edge and you're done!

Well done that is except Sam I Am isn't really Sam I Am without his green eggs and ham now is he!  For this I enlisted the help of a wonderful blog who had step by step instructions that even I could understand!!  Thank you Its Always Autumn !!

Because I don't know how to sew sleeves I opted for a sleeveless costume....Miss 17 on the other hand wanted sleeves....the compromise....a pair of yellow leg warmers worn as sleeves.....pretty sad hey!!   But there you have it....Sam I Am with minimal expense and minimal effort....seriously you don't want to look at the workmanship up close!!!

So there you have my easy peasy tips for surviving literacy day.  Stay tuned though because next week I have primary school dress ups for Book Week for Miss 11 and Miss 6.....ugh when will it end!!!!

Are you a fan of the book week dress ups?  Can we no longer be friends because you started work on the kids costumes months ago lol !!!!!

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Young Lives Lost Way Too Soon

On Sunday we heard the terrible news that there had been an horrific car accident in our local area overnight, two teens were dead and a third had been rushed to hospital.

It is news that sadly is heard way too often but what made this news hit home a little more was that Miss 17 had played soccer with one of the boys who had died.

We hadn't seen him for about two years since they played soccer, we didn't really know him other than for those two seasons that they were part of a team together, we didn't know his parents or his family other than in passing when dropping the kids to training or early morning games.

But still my heart ached for them.

My heart knows the pain of dealing with such a loss, albeit not as a parent, as it is nearing 12 years this September since my 21 year old nephew died in an accident.

I know that they will be all consumed with grief.  They will be wondering how the world around them can continue on when their son is gone.  Their sadness and pain will be so raw and cannot be put into words.

There is mourning for the loss of the person that he was and mourning for the loss of the person that he could have become, for all the things he will never get to do, for all the places he will never get to go.

They will ask 'why'.  Why was he there, why did he make that decision, why did this have to happen, why him?

Then a parents worst nightmare....planning their son's funeral.  This will give them some focus for the moment. They will put all of their energy into this. They will want everything to be perfect from the casket to the hymns to the flowers. They will want to give him the best farewell possible, it is the last thing that they can do for him.

There will be so many tears shed that day, his parents, his family, his girlfriend and his peers, their hearts will ache so much as they say their goodbyes. 

At the wake the stories and memories will pour out, there may even be a glimmer of happiness as everyone reminisces about the special times, the funny times.

After getting through all of this there will be so many firsts to get through without him.....the first Father's Day, the first Christmas, the first Easter, his next birthday, the first Mother's Day......but it is not only the firsts....the seconds and thirds and fourths....they all hurt....

There will be sad times ahead and constant reminders....his friends graduating from school, his friends celebrating their 18th's, his friends going to university or college, his friends graduating college, his friends getting married, his friends having never ends.

There will always be an empty place at the table, a person missing from family functions, a sense of loss, but eventually his parents will find ways to deal with their loss, maybe it will be regular visits to the cemetery or a special part of the house dedicated to his memory. They will eventually have happiness in their days but they will never again be the same people that they were before that fateful accident.

His poor girlfriend will feel sad, she will feel lonely, she will feel like she was left behind.  She will always have a special place in her heart for him.  But she is young and hopefully one day she will be able to have love and happiness in her life again.

There are so many lives changed by one moment in time, one defining moment.  

I hope that his death will not be in vain.  I hope that his friends now realize that they are not invincible, that bad things don't only happen to somebody else.  This shit is real and this shit is serious.  

RIP Josh xx

Monday, 24 August 2015

The Day That I Met Chantelle of Fat Mum Slim

Last week I had the most amazing news.....I was going to finally meet Chantelle of Fat Mum was going to be totes awesome!!!

It was the eve of the big day, all the prep had been done.....hubby would be working so I had made arrangements for Miss 16 and Miss 14 to stay home and do their homework (yeah I know, who was I kidding there!!) and Miss 11 and Miss 6 were spending the day at my sisters house.  Miss 17 was coming with me to the luncheon....because it was all about sharing the passion of photography with your children and she had just survived her year 12 trials and her major work deadline so a day out was well deserved!!

I stocked the fridge and the cupboards for Miss 16 and Miss 14 and I packed a bag full of snacks and goodies for Miss 11 and Miss 6, I packed drinks, I packed activity books, I packed colouring pencils.....I was all over this...totally awesome parenting!!!

The girls went to bed early and then it happened.....

Miss 6 vomited....EVERYWHERE.!!!!!

So instead of meticulously planning my outfit for the one day of the year that I actually had plans to go out and mingle with adult people  (okay so technically I only have one decent pair of casual pants and one pair of boots so really I was just choosing between two tops!!!) I was now doing loads of washing...the doona, the blankets, the sheets.....ugh I hate vomit!!

I went to bed needing a good nights sleep.....but instead I spent the night anticipating Miss 6's next vomit and running in to her at every sound as I was not going to be washing more sheets and blankets!!!

Morning came and I felt like crap....a few panadol was in order!  Miss 6 woke up and initially seemed a little better....oh yes thank heavens it was just a 12 hour thing and the day could go ahead as planned!  But as the morning progressed I could see that this was no 12  hour bug......queue mummy guilt!!!

As it does time was getting away that morning so I stuck to the plan and dropped Miss 11 and Miss 6 off to my sister while profusely apologizing for Miss 6 being sick and detailing instructions of medicines in the bag.

I've gotta say I was feeling like the worst mum ever....her poor little face as I may have exaggerated and told her I wouldn't be gone long!!

But Miss 17 and I were now free!!!  

We hit the motorway like Thelma and Louise and I could now start freaking out about driving to the city, having absolutely no idea where I was going and wondering where the heck I was going to be able to park the goddam Tarago!!!!

The planets must have been aligned because we made it without getting lost, on time and even pulled off a parking spot in the same street...trifecta!!

OMG and then we met Chantelle......!!!!

And do you want to hear my most profound first thought upon meeting she looks just like she does in her profile pic....holy shit thank god I only thought it in my head and didn't say it out loud!!!

So the day was an Olympus photography workshop for 15 lucky readers of Fat Mum Slim and their children and Rachel Devine was there awesome hey!  The venue was freaking amazing.....The Grounds Of Alexandria...if you haven't been there you totally must check it out....I haven't stopped raving to hubby about it since I got home!

We learnt fab photography stuff, we ate amazing food and we photographed with the best Olympus cameras!

I called and texted the girls and my sister during the day and poor Miss 6 was really sick. She had been vomiting during the day and had even slept for two hours, woken up for half an hour and then slept for another hour.....I've gotta admit that in between feeling bad I did think 'oh well at least she hasn't been misbehaving!!!!!'

The workshop came to a close so I grabbed a gorgeous bunch of flowers from the florist for my wonderful sister and Miss 17 and I made our way home.  These flowers will totally make my sister forget the vomit won't they?!

Getting home took forever due to the traffic, we raced in to collect Miss 14 for a party which she was now late for and she didn't hold back letting us know, ran into my sisters with the flowers and scooped up poor Miss 6 and popped her in the car, dropped Miss 17 and Miss 11 to the church for a confirmation meeting, dropped Miss 14 to the party even later than planned and almost made it home before Miss 6 vomited again...thankfully into the container...which she then accidentally dropped two minutes from home........ouch I think reality was slapping me in the face!!!

But I still had the memories of a great day out and of meeting Chantelle.....though it was only when I thought about it later on that I realized that I have no photographic evidence of meeting her.....but hey there is a group photo floating around somewhere so it really did happen wasn't just some stalkerish fantasy okay....coz that would be kinda weird!!!  Chantelle is totally awesome by the way!!

I took heaps of photos with the amazing Olympus camera and will put my favourites together for my 10 on 10 Photography post in September.....but here are a few to tease you!!!

I think after all of that it will be a long time before I plan another day out.....I was exhausted for days!!

Miss 17 wrote a blog post about the day on the girls blog if you want to check it out...Mummy Daughter Day Out!

Linking up with Eva of Multitasking Mummy for Mummy Mondays!

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Our Finances Suck Part 10 - Coping With The Stress

So it's been a few weeks since I did a blog post in the Our Finances Suck Series, mainly because we have been busy, busy with an exchange student here for three weeks.

She has gone home now and I can breathe a small sigh of relief because we can return to toasted sandwiches for dinner!!

Financial stress can really take a toll on you so as part of this series I have the amazing Sasha, psychologist extraordinaire, who blogs over at From The Left Field sharing her words of wisdom on how to deal with all of stress that comes with financial worries....

"Money, money, money…. It can bring the best of times and the worst of times.  It’s awesome when you have money, but when you don’t? It makes you want to reach for the wine. Oh hang on, you don’t have any money for wine. Crap. Well, this sucks, doesn’t it?

It’s no wonder that money problems rate as one of the main causes for arguments in the household. It covers so many things, and impacts on us all in a big way. When you’re trying to juggle a family and make your dollars stretch, it can bring a ton of stress. Stress on you, stress on your partner, stress on your kids.

When we get into that money spiral, it can really impact on our wellbeing. And when we’re strung out, we’re not taking good care of ourselves. Which of course makes managing home and money even harder, and before we know it we’re going around in circles.

While sometimes there’s not much we can do about the money, there are things we can do for ourselves to help cope with any financial stress that might arise:

  • Self-talk is the key. If you’re constantly saying to yourself “this is too much!” “how are we going to survive?” “We’ve got no money!” “We won’t cope!”, then  of course you’re going to feel stressed! It’s one of the biggest things we need to keep in our minds- it’s not the situation that makes us feel a certain way, it’s how we think about the situation. If we can think about things in a more balanced way (not positive, because having no money really sucks!), then we’re going to feel calmer and more able to deal with the challenges that lie ahead.  Try reminding yourself of thoughts like “we will get through this”, “there’s ways we can cope”, “it’s not always going to be like this” and “we just need to take one step at a time” to help keep you on track.

  •  And while we’re looking at talking, outside of self-talk, talk to others too. We like talking! As the saying goes ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’. Sometimes just getting it off your chest, and bouncing some money issues off another person can help you feel better, and help you to gain some perspective also. Our brains have this wonderful way of screwing with us and making us fear things are much worse than they are. Support from those around us is very important when it comes to dealing with stress!

  • If you’re not a big talker- then write it down. It’s all about getting that stress out of your system. A handy little idea is a ‘good stuff’ book. A little pocket notebook you can keep with you, to record any little ‘wins’ you might have, or times where you overcame that stress. So that in moments of utter hair-tearing out panic, you can flip through and physically see and read all the evidence that shows you things are going to pan out
  • Shake it off! Get out and get moving. Or listen to Taylor Swift if that’s your thang. But that recommendation didn’t come from me. If you’re feeling the stress, exercise is your friend. It doesn’t have to mean a huge chunk of time out of your day, but just a quick walk, or jog, or even star jumps. Grab a short workout from YouTube and follow along. Jump on the kid’s trampoline- that is some therapeutic stuff right there.

  •   Look at your options. Problem solve it- what alternatives do you have at the moment? What can you control and what is out of your control? Mapping this out goes a long way to reducing stress.

You may have a few great tricks up your sleeve that you like to use also when it comes to stress- use whatever you need to. But remember that the money problems aren’t going to get any easier if you stay stressed. Best to get that stuff in check and then you’ll feel more able to manage financial issues.

If you’re really struggling, you might want to check out some free e-sites (e-couch, moodgym), there’s financial counsellors around who could help (could even be some free ones), and if the stress is just getting way too much, then it might be time to go and see your GP for a chat to see if there’s some options available. There are psychs around who bulk bill so it doesn’t cost you a cent.

After reading all the stress money can bring, I’m thinking that living a life of an eccentric hobo in a cave is sounding pretty good right now. If eating questionable berries ain’t your thing though, make sure you get that stress out!"

Financial stress really does do your head in!!  It is the first thing you think about when you wake up in the morning and the last thing on your mind at night.  

Sasha has some great tips here.....getting out of the house and going for a walk is something I do when I get the chance, as is trying to have positive thoughts, I know that this is just a particularly bad patch that we are going through and hubby is busy at work now so money should start coming in again soon so think positive, but also learn from what has caused your financial problems and try to find a solution....looking for some free financial advice is a great idea!

Thank you so much for sharing with us today Sasha, it has been a privelege to have you here.  Be sure to check out Sasha's blog over at From The Left Field....this gal is a wealth of information....and she's due to have a baby any day now....and who doesn't love stalking newborns...please tell me I'm not the only one!!!!

Linking up with Essentially Jess fir #IBOT

Monday, 10 August 2015

10 on 10 Photography Circle - August

For the past two and a half weeks we have been hosting a Japanese exchange student....hence the reason there have been no blog posts for the past few weeks....busy, busy!!!

So this months 10 on 10 Photography Circle is dedicated to our exchange student!!

Make sure you follow the link at the end to pop over to Steph's blog and follow the circle around until you are back to me!!

Through our local council there is a program where students from our sister city of Fujieda, Japan, come out here for three weeks....we host a student and then in September/October Miss 16 travels to Fujieda to spend three weeks with our exchange student and her family.

So for the weeks prior to our students arrival there were council meetings to attend and a whole lot of cleaning to be done!  Negotiations had to be made with Miss 14 to vacate her room and everyone was reminded to be on their best behaviour (that translates to hubby had to curb his swearing!!) 

Finally the day came and she arrived!!!

  Despite being an only child she has been fantastic with all the siblings, 
especially Miss 6!!  Origami lessons in full swing!

Breakfast on day one we introduced her to Vegemite!  She very politely said that 
it was delicious...but she is yet to ask for more!!!

There are a few functions we get to attend through the local council....welcome morning teas, dinner with the mayor.....and none other than a bush dance....yeehah!!

Showing them some local fun!

A spot of sightseeing....they were amazed by the views.....and I was freaking out that they were too close to the edge!!!!

We walked across the Harbour Bridge, did the pylon tour and then walked under
the bridge for some lunch!

The Blue Mountains blew their mind!  They loved the views despite the fact that it was 
still only about 2 degrees at 10am!!

She has loved learning to cook in the Thermomix....Anzac biscuits one day, 
beef stroganoff the next!!

She said that onesies were not a big thing in Japan so a trip to the onesie store was in was a sleepover with miss 16's friend and her exchange student all in their onesies!!

She turned sweet 16 while staying with us so a cupcake for breakfast to celebrate!!

I'll admit that I was really unsure about the whole exchange student thing.....for starters there are already seven of us in a tiny three bedroom house, then there were the potential language barriers and the fact that I love to put my pyjamas on at 4pm in winter!!

Our home is where we retreat after busy days and long hours of work for hubby.  It is where nobody seems to be able to put the toothpaste away or change a toilet roll, dishes never make it to the dishwasher without constant reminding and washing the sheets is not as regular as it should be!!  So yeah I was definitely a bit apprehensive about the whole thing.

But I'd have to say now that the whole experience has been totally amazing for our whole family.  We may have hit the jackpot because her English is brilliant and she fits in so well with the whole family so there are no awkward moments if Miss 16 is not around.  She laughs at hubby's lame jokes and she has graciously eaten every meal given to actual fact I am thinking of keeping her!!!

It has only been two and a half weeks but it is going to be hard to say goodbye to her at the end of this week!

And here's a sneaky 11th photo!!!

Make sure you check out Stephs photos of the beautiful Botanic Gardens by visiting her blog here and keep following your way around the circle!