Saturday, 30 August 2014

35/52 - story writing and box-hiding


The folk behind Lily's beloved Lottie doll are running a story writing competition. When I mentioned it to Lily, she was super eager to write her own entry immediately and got right to work, creative juices flowing. Here is her beautiful tale...(her actual writing is pictured below).

'One day Lottie went to her Mum, she said 'Can I go to the forest'. She said 'Yes, but be careful'. She went out the door - skippity skip. She saw a row of mushrooms then fairies came to Lottie. 'Hello' she said. 'Hello' said the fairies, 'Do you want a flight?' 'Yes please' said Lottie doll. So the fairies took Lottie to fairy land. The food was delicious. Then Lottie said 'Good bye' they kissed her on the cheek and she took a photo. The End.

She asks me every day if she has won yet ;) 

If you have a budding writer who would like to enter too, click here! Lots of lovely Lottie related prizes :)


The boy in the box.

This darling boy was having a fine old time playing in this old box, then decided he wanted to surprise Dad. We had to call him first at work where I told him (as Eli instructed me) he had to 'hurry home to get a special delivery' 'It's not me!!!" Eli hollered in the background, just so Daddy would be sure not to suspect.

For 10 minutes, my little Tiger burrowed into the box in the middle of the backyard, calling and peeking out every 30 seconds. (Don't worry, he had plenty of air and supervision!!)

Finally Daddy arrived home, ready for his surprise delivery. He jiggled, lifted and prodded the box while the surprise giggled hysterically inside. Finally Daddy opened the box and received the gift of a thousand cuddles. A precious delivery indeed. 

He is just the sweetest. Every day he seems to get sweeter, how is that even possible?!


Little Boy Blue. My beautiful boy blue.

I meant to take a photo of you walking this week, but, alas, I didn't manage it. I did try but as soon as I get the camera out you launch at me before I can capture you. Much like you did (repeatedly) three milliseconds after this sweet photo. I will try harder next week, I may need back up!!?


We went to the big Lego exhibition. The kids absolutely loved it, though I think perhaps their father loved it most of all!! ;)

Ain't it grand to have kids to help justify revisiting all your childhood passions??

Project 52: A portrait of my family, once a week, every week, in 2014.

More highlights from the week that was...

I didn't get many shots of the big fancy displays at the Lego expo, as it was just so crowded, the light was awful and I was having too much fun exploring all the Lego worlds with the kids. But these three little pigs in the Fairyland exhibit won my heart :)

Lily took her camera and was very serious about getting each shot. Not the tongue poking out to help her concentrate, and E's poking out too in support ;)
Did I mention she was serious about getting the right shot!! :)

She asked one night this week if she could make dinner for us all by herself. 'Ummmm, yes' I said! So, she assembled the Black Bean and Quinoa wraps while I was able to take care of other chores. All the while she chatted and smiled and made fancy table settings and put out candles as well as diligently grating rice and carrots and so on. I think I could get used to this!!! What a gem xx

Caught up in a story of her own creation... 

I mean, come on!! What a wonderful tale. I'd give it first prize for sure... and I am only a weeny bit biased ;)
It's the phonetic spelling that charms me most. And the ending!! I love that she knew to gather evidence, haha.

I'm not too fussed about my own shoes, but can't get over my love for baby and kid's shoes. Miles' new kicks are just too cute!! I think he must share my passion as the first thing he says when he wakes from a sleep is 'shoes! shoes!' and points and waits till I get him all kitted out :)

My little copy-cat. He is so observant, eager to imitate everything he sees us do. After I had wiped him and then the tray down after a meal, he grabbed the cloth from the table and gave it a good old clean himself... perhaps my job was not up to scratch??
Mark had the toolkit out for another project and the kids were trying to name all the tools and were keen to put them to use, so I suggested they tighten the screws on this cart. They took their task very seriously!!

Thursday, 28 August 2014

how to get free babysitting for life // organise a babysitting swap with friends!

I don't know about you, but 'date nights' around here have always been pretty sparse and sporadic. As much as we would have liked otherwise, of course! As important as we know they are to keeping the marriage relationship strong, especially during these crazy years 'in the trenches' with young kids... the reality is it's just plain hard to make it work. Basically 'cos of those golden dollar signs!! For our family, on a single income, paying a babysitter is just not an option on any regular basis. Unless we want to spend our date sitting in the car in the driveway because we can't afford to go anywhere after paying the sitter ;) I know, I know, we could somehow cough up the cash and just make it work, but in reality it's just hard to spend that kind of money, and especially to then go out while thinking 'Are we having $100 worth of fun and romance yet??' Haha ;)

I should add that we are very blessed to have my parents living in town who are wonderful and involved, but we don't really like to ask them to babysit for us just because we happen to feel like going out to dinner. Just feels like too much of an imposition, if you know what I mean. And so.... we have our weekly cosy Friday 'date night in', which is lovely and often all we have energy for anyway... buuuuutt.... there is something nice (esp for a SAHM!!) about getting dressed up and heading out on the town with your beloved once in a while!! Amiright, ladies?! Just to have a complete conversation, hang out amongst grown ups, maybe even wear heels!? Time, glorious time, to focus on each other, and really talk. We all know how important it is to keep that relationship connection strong through these years when most conversations in the home surround topics like bath-time strategies and whose turn it is to read the bedtime stories. I'm happy to say even after almost a decade of marriage I still loooove spending time with Mark, just the two of us. But the chance to do so was few and far between. (insert sad face)

And so one day a year or two ago, I was flicking through a  magazine (yes, they still exist apparently) and read a brief mention about the idea of a babysitting swap between friends/parents. "Light bulb!" I had also heard of large group systems, with a bunch of parents swapping babysitting services and using some kind of token or points system and complex calendaring. But, it just always seemed too difficult to orchestrate and with so many people involved, I worried it would get too hard/ripe for issues to crop up, or just take too much time to maintain, especially amongst people who perhaps didn't know each other too well.

But it got me thinking. I wondered about simplifying it and scaling it back to just one other set of parents... and so I decided to chat with my lovely friend Amber (who doesn't have any family in town) and see if she was keen on the concept. Um... she sure was :) Let's be honest, most of our Saturday nights are spent just sitting on the couch these days, so why not just do it at a friend's house so at least they can go out and have some fun??

So, here are the basic principles we came up with for a successful, long running, non-burdensome 'babysitting swap' between friends....

  • Take turns having a date night (duh!). 
  • Sitter goes to the home of the couple getting to head out for the night.
  • Kids are fed, brushed/bathed, PJed and otherwise ready for bed. They are either in bed already or just need a quick bed time story and tuck in (The idea is not to make it a lot of work for the sitter/mama who has already been kid-caring all day!!). Usual start time is about 7pm.
  • Babysitter provided with TV remote, Wi-Fi password, cuppa and block of chocolate (essential!!) What more could you want?! :)
  • After each turn babysitting, we just book in the next session for the other person when it suits both parties.

As we are dear friends and there are just two of us, it is easy to keep things flexible. After one person has done babysitting, they just suggest the next night they would like to go out and we work it out between both our calendars - usually for a Saturday evening. We don't worry about things like curfews or tracking precise hours and we keep it flexible e.g. once we had an early outdoor movie session so Amber kindly started around 6pm instead, another time we had her kids sleep over here rather than me go there so they could have a whole night off and all the kids enjoyed a sleepover! 

We have been having roughly one date night a month each for about a year now!! It's awesome :) Seriously awesome!! SERIOUSLY AWESOME!! ;) 

(Ok, you get the idea about how much we are all loving this arrangement!)

The best thing? The date night is guilt free (because you are reciprocating the favour, so there is no guilt or pressure or rushing home) and also cost-free :) So you can splash out on dinner AND a movie, haha. 

It's also been such a blessing to give dear friends a regular night out they wouldn't otherwise get. And we are so grateful they do the same for us!! Yippee.

Now I know you might be thinking this is not a groundbreaking idea - 'Why thank you, Captain Obvious!'... ha. And I know lots of people already do something like this! It ain't original but it's one of those things that if you don't think of it... you just don't think of it! So if you, like me, just hadn't thought of this simple way to get more date nights with your beloved, then I hereby bequeath this concept to the interwebz ;)

You can make it work with a bigger group or more formal arrangements, but between two friends, this relaxed approach has been working well for us for over a year now. I just want to do a happy dance when I think about all the wonderful babysitting-cost-free, guilt-free date nights Mark and I have enjoyed that otherwise would not have happened! It's been such a blessing to our marriage :)

So..... if you would like more outings sans kids, grab a friend in a similar situation and suggest something like this. You can even share this post around on Facebook and whatnot, as a not-so-subtle hint to friends that you would be keen for a partner in this nifty plan.

Whatever way you do it - Date nights! Happy marriage! Happy kids! Helping friends! Win, win, win, win ;)

PS Editing to add another tweak on this plan I wanted to mention. After telling my lil' sister about this, she cleverly came up with a twist that is working so well for her. She teamed up with a friend who also has a toddler, and one day a week, one of them takes both toddlers from morning till after naptime - then the next week they swap. So one week she has a crazy day with two toddlers, but the next week she can bank on a blissful morning of peace and quiet to chill out or get some of that 'to-do' list checked off! Love it!! x

Monday, 25 August 2014

documenting delight for us

Georgia from the uber-charming Documenting Delight sweetly sent me some images she took of our clan during her family's recent visits with us. 

They are sorta similar to shots I have recently shared... well, similar, but just a thousand times better of course!!! :) So, I thought they deserved their very own post.

So grateful for these beautiful photos! She has some serious talent, this lady - as well as being all round delightful :)

Our six cuties in onesies :)

Our attempt at six kids in Slugs'N'Snails tights and gumboots. The babies were not so thrilled at our grand plan! 

She captured the sparkle in his eyes :)


A blossoming friendship x

Who is this beautiful young woman? Sigh....

Just me and my boy xx

Sunday, 24 August 2014

34/52 - forest, sew, walk


For her birthday I had put together a little sewing kit (with the help of dear Amber!). This week, she announced she wanted to learn to sew... and she wanted to start with sewing a dress for her doll. Ahem! With my own sewing skills being non-existent somewhat limited, I suggested we start with some basic stitching using the embroidery hoop and thread. 

We had such a sweet time together. She was so eager to learn, so patient with her errors and so keen to continue. She sometimes struggles to persevere with learning new things that can't be mastered instantly, so I was pleased to see her take on an attitude of understanding that the process takes time. She persevered cheerfully, the goal of her handiwork luring her on. With gentle and minimal guidance (I am getting a bit better at biting my tongue, haha), she stitched and unstitched and de-tangled... and at the end she declared 'I love sewing!'.


He takes bush walking very seriously ;)

After a hectic few weeks, we had a hankering for a little outdoorsy family time. So, we headed off for an easy hike through a near by ridge. Goodness me, it was wonderful. Felt so nourishing and refreshing, to stroll through the pine forest together on a sunny morning, exploring, exclaiming, and simply enjoying. 

This guy? My little warrior had the time of his life :) 


He (finally!) decided to get walking this week... and the whole family has been cheering him on!

Oh, it's great to have a new walker in the house :) Baby no more, it's official, we have a toddler.

I will never forget the response of Lily and Eli when M took his first proper steps. They looked at each other in utter joy, screamed with excitement and threw themselves into each others arms for a huge rolling embrace of pure happiness. It was like they knew only a fellow sibling could understand and match their joy. They simply adore this little brother. How blessed Miles is to be so cherished by his brother and sister. How blessed I am to witness such bonds blossom :) I pray they will always cheer each other on through any new steps in life!


He was so happy, tramping through the woods with his family.

Love sharing family life with this guy, he makes everything better x

Project 52: A portrait of my family, once a week, every week, in 2014.

More highlights from the week that was...

Yes, they really think they rule the roost!
Examining a caterpillar as the walk commences...

A fire went through in recent times, leaving a fascinating mix of new growth and charcoal remains. Some burnt
pinecones made some handy charcoal sticks!
The only acceptable form of graffiti in the bush!

She was desperately hoping to see a wombat.  We saw all kinds of animal droppings, so thanks to my iPhone we looked up all the different types to identify what animals were around. Koala, kangaroo, possum but sadly, no signs of wombats (actual animal OR droppings - which by the way are cube shaped??). It was fun to investigate anyway. Um yes, this is the parenting life by the way!! The things you find yourself doing, haha ;) It's all glamour.

My three men. Hand in hand. Sigh. Love them all!

Oh, Tiger, why you gotta be so cute???
Eli's bush-walking supplies. Drink bottle. Pinecone. Half eaten apple which he would take bites of every few minutes. Be prepared and all that ;)

Miles wanted to do his own bushwalking!
Heading back. Such a wonderful. refreshing little outing with my tribe. We gotta do this more!
One girl's trash is another girl's treasure! A friend left this on her curb in the rain, no longer wanted. Lily spotted it and was happy to take it home. We dried and cleaned it and she has been lovingly caring for her baby in it. Who doesn't want a retro vintage cot?? I love it too :) She made a baby mobile. added a burp cloth to the side and even wrote baby care instructions to stick on the back. Little Mama :)

Scaling the bedhead. His favourite activity.

Her supplies.
Sitting in the afternoon sun together for a little one-on-one time was really special. She loved it, so did I :)

I may be calling for back-up soon. I really know nothing about sewing, and she wants to know a lot!!!
Her first sewing attempt - her idea! No random practice stitches, she wanted to do a flower first off! She has added quite a bit to this scene as the days progress, but she was sooooo very pleased with her first flower. So sweet :)

Celebrating 'Book Week' like every other Primary school child across Australia - by dressing up as a favourite book character for the school parade. I was relieved when she said she wanted to be Cinderella and pulled a dress from the dress up box. All the home-made-from-scratch outfits are amazing, but I am fine to avoid it this year. Plenty of school years ahead, we must pace ourselves!! ;)

Eli asked to dress up too and made his own book. Love it!!!

So much love/smothering!!
Checking out the Lego display... soooooo very tempting ;)

Little Doll :) You will always be my baby xx