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Archive for January 2013


1. -Dare I say it?- No accidents in about three months… I think you’re toilet trained!! We’re still working on nights but we’re getting. Just seem to have the Murphy’s Law thing going on: if we put a happy on you, you stay dry, but if we leave it off, you wake up wet. Never mind, it’ll happen.

2. With Tiernan about to start school, you get to be one of the big kids at preschool this year, which I’m sure you’re going to enjoy. So far you have done a really good job of helping Neave settle in there. The teachers think you are a hoot and already rely on you as one of the mature kids, so that will be really good for your self-esteem. Gosh, I almost think you could start school now! With your great language and social skills, I think you’d be fine. In a year’s time, there’s no doubt you’ll be raring to go!

3. Sometimes you need to take a chill pill (and don’t we all?) But particularly when Tiernan is teasing you and you completely lose it. I know Tiernan is annoying, he annoys me, too. But I find your screaming just as irritating. Worse, even.

4. I think four year olds are the master tantrum-throwers. Tiernan’s tantrum-throwing prowess peaked at four, and yours looks set to do the same. At least, I certainly hope so; surely it can’t get worse???

5. You are really looking forward to starting dancing again soon, and I’m looking forward to watching continue to have heaps of fun, and develop new skills. Over the Christmas break you have been treating us to impromptu concerts every now and then, and your confidence, as well as your moves, have improved hugely since you started dancing. I just love watching you enjoy yourself so much.


6. The soccer season will be starting again soon, and we initially thought you weren’t going to play, because you said you didn’t want to. However, over the last few months you seem to have changed your mind, and have even asked your Dad to take you to the field to practice. I think it’s a great idea and hopefully we’ll get out there a few times before registration, just to make sure you really do want to! I hope you do decide to play, because I think it would be really great for you. We’ll see.

7. You have just started speech therapy for your pronounced lisp, and it’s going well so far. You are pretty keen to practice, most days, and the speech therapist is happy with your progress.

8. In two weeks we will find out whether you need to wear glasses for your astigmatism. It looks likely. I always hated wearing glasses as a kid, so I’m a bit bummed for you. But you actually seem quite keen at the moment, so maybe it won’t be that bad. There seem to be more kids wearing glasses these days than when I was young, so hopefully you won’t get teased as much as I did. Nevertheless, you will have to learn some resilience, which is a good thing, but I’m just sad that I have to think of this stuff already. It would be better if you were older, I guess.

9. Well, after holding off for so long before letting you have a Barbie, it pains me to announce that we now have no fewer than 7 in the house (as well as 2 Winx and 2 Monster High Dolls). How did that happen? Although, I will admit I have enjoyed watching all three of you playing with them together in the new doll house.

10. Like your brother, you have become quite independent. Each morning, you get up, take your nappy off and put undies on, go to the toilet, climb into my bed for a cuddle, then skip off to play for a while before returning to ask for breakfast. It’s great not having to talk you through each step any more, and that I don’t even have to ask you to do it in the first place. Now I’m looking forward to the day when I can get you guys to make me a cup of tea to have in bed of a morning!



I’ve been thinking for a while now that I should change the format of these ’10 things’ posts. At first it was easy to think of 20 different things, both good and bad, about each of the kids. But now I feel it is becoming a bit repetitive. So, I’m going to trial just one ’10 things’ list that includes both the good and the bad, in no particular order.


1. You are becoming more and more independent, wanting to make your own breakfast, pick out your own clothes, brush your own teeth, put on your own seat belt. It is so nice to see how just how capable you are. Of course, there are still times when you want me to do all of the above for you, but we’re getting there.

2. We have started reading chapter books with you and you have been really enthusiastic about it, wanting to read ‘just one more chapter’ every time we stop. I have been looking forward to sharing some of my favourite childhood books with you. So far we have read Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr Fox
, and now we are half-way through The BFG. I think we’ll try another author next but will have to think carefully: I’m sure I read other authors as a kid, but can’t seem to get past the wonderful Mr Dahl! And I think you’re too young for Paul Jennings just yet.

3. Like most older siblings, you seem to think you are the boss of your sisters, and you don’t hesitate to order them around. Luckily, they’re not always very inclined to listen to you, but it does sometimes get you all in trouble. Especially when you try to give them ‘time out’!

4. Your favourite TV show at the moment is Horrible Histories, which is on at the very inconvenient time of 7pm at the moment. Although probably mildly inappropriate for your age (and Molly and Neave’s ages), we let you watch it because we like it, too. Besides, it’s educational. Sort of. Being holidays, your TV watching has crept up a bit, but soon we will be in ‘school mode’, and there will be some more limits in place. You’re quite accepting of this, and you seem to know what we mean when we say ‘that’s enough TV for one day, go outside.’

5. Speaking of ‘school mode’, it’s only 7 sleeps until you start big school! I’m so excited for you. You are going to love it. I’m also quite apprehensive about just how I’m going to manage to get you there by 9:00 each morning, and get you fed, clean and in bed at a decent time each night! Bedtime seems to have completely gone out the window these holidays, and you are often not in bed until 8:30 or later. I think I didn’t have a bedtime of 8:30 until I was at least 8 years old. So we will have to ponder that and get the new ‘routine’ happening, pronto.


6. We have been spending some really nice quality time together these holidays, and it has been lovely. We have shopped for your school things, seen a movie together, played games, had lunch at a cafe, chatted… all the things that we do anyway but are just a little more hectic when there are three of you in tow. You would think all this attention, centred on you, would have s positive effect on your behaviour, but not so! You have been extremely ratty and bratty lately, and, to be fair, so have your sisters. I don’t know if it’s the lack of routine, the late-ish nights, the extra time at home, or the hot weather, but all in all, I’m looking forward to the holidays ending. I love spending time with you, of course, but it will be good when you have some more stimulation again!

7. You had the opportunity to spend a day in Vacation Care, through the YMCA, which is where you will be going for Before and After School Care on the days I work. I enrolled you in a Parkour clinic, which you absolutely loved, and you got to meet some of the other kids that will be at YMCA with you once school starts. You had no trouble adapting to this new setting; the supervisors said you fit in with the other kids and were happy all day. While I already knew you were ready for school, it’s still nice to have this confirmed.

8. I think in the last ’10 things’ post I did for you, I said we had made really good progress with your stuttering. Well. After several weeks of not-so-regular practice (gulp), I have noticed a big increase in your stuttering again. I’m trying to sneak extra practices in again now, but you are a bit over it and it’s difficult to motivate you. I’m kinda dreading your next speech appointment.

9. We bought you lace-up school shoes for school and I think your teacher might hate us for it. We’ve been trying to get you to practice tying them up, with a special shoe-lace book we bought, but you’re really not all that keen. You wanted the lace-ups, though, not Velcro. Oh well!

10. When I tuck you into bed at night I always say “Goodnight gorgeous boy, I love you,” and you answer back, “Goodnight gorgeous Mum, I love you too.” Aww.


The kids got some new face paints for Christmas and, given the stormy weather, this afternoon seemed a good time to give them a go.

Molly and Neave both requested butterflies, and through the magic of google, we soon found a nice one for me to copy. Simplicity was the key, as I’m really not the world’s best face painter.

Here’s how Molly’s turned out:


I was quite pleased with it, but after running to the mirror to check it out, Molly declared she hated it!! The lines were a bit chunkier than the one I was copying, and the colours not as bright. However, after a few minutes she looked again and decided it was acceptable. Phew! Looks like Mummy needs some practice.

Next came Neave, and as usual, she wanted exactly the same as Molly. I got as far as the pink and purple base before she changed her mind and wanted a cat. Oh.


I thought I made a pretty good save, actually. Neave was happy, too.

Tiernan kept changing his mind between wanting Spiderman, Batman or Ben 10, so we just looked at a few images and he settled on, well, I’m not really sure what it’s supposed to be:


Some kind of gruesome zombie/skeleton thing I guess. Anyway, he has been running around, jumping out of hiding places and scaring us all afternoon since his ‘transformation’, so he’s pretty thrilled with the results, too.

All in all, a nice way to spend a rainy afternoon.

After Christmas, Tom, the kids and I settled in for what we thought was going to be our usual quiet New Year’s, spent at home doing nothing much.

But then I received a text from a friend, inviting us to come away for a few days with a whole bunch of other families, and I was like, “Yes way!”

So, with only a couple days’ notice, we bundled up some food and clothes and sheets and towels and swimmers, and made our way to Pittwater YHA, in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. Access to the site is by ferry only, and then walking. Up hill. Yep.

Without kids and luggage for five, it might have taken 15 minutes, but with those little mites and all their stuff it took closer to an hour. The trip up was equally taxing on mind and body, because with each laboured step, carrying 20kg on our backs and another 10kg in our arms, we also had to be motivational speakers, encouraging, wheedling, imploring our three children to just get their own little bodies to the top of the dratted hill. We only made it about three quarters of the way up before having to dump most of the stuff and carry the youngest up the rest of the way. Then Tom went back with a wheel barrow for the rest.

The journey up was such an ordeal that I was beginning to think it was all a huge mistake. What were we thinking, bringing three small kids out into the wilderness, where we would have to keep them entertained, and keep them safe, for four whole days? And obviously we knew nothing about camping, because we had definitely brought too much stuff! We were going to look like idiots at the top.

However, when we finally, finally made it, I began to change my mind. For starters, the view was just spectacular.


There was such a sense of tranquility about the place that I immediately started to feel better. The long hike was definitely worth it.

I found my friend and we were shown to our room, which was basic, hostel-style, with three sets of bunks. The kids straight away clamboured up and claimed a top bunk each (even Neave), and, too exhausted to argue, we let them at it. Having staked their claims, they took off outside and soon found some friends to play while we settled in.

Throughout the afternoon, a few more sweaty-faced families arrived, each shaking their heads and proclaiming they had brought too much and wasn’t that hill a stinker? It was good to know we weren’t alone.

Having spied a hammock hanging on the deck outside that just beckoned to me, I struck a deal with Tom: if I took the kids swimming that afternoon while he had a rest, then he could do something with them the next day while the hammock and I got acquainted. Deal.

Swimming, however, required walking back down the hill, and then turning off down another hill, about half way to the wharf. Despite this, getting the kids down to the water was easy. When we arrived, they swam and paddled in the warm water of the Hawkesbury river for a while. Then came the hard part: coaxing them back up the hill. It wasn’t as arduous as the first trip, but I still had to carry Neave most of the way, while encouraging Molly to keep walking and preventing Tiernan from poking anyone in the eye with the sticks and rocks he was collecting. But, we made it in the end.

By late afternoon, there were eight families at the site, with about 15 children, ranging in age from 1 to 9. Tiernan was right at home with a group of five boys, all aged five and about to start school. With one older boy of nearly seven as their ring leader, they got on like a house on fire and he was never bored the entire time we were away. Molly was just as happy to hang out with a group of slightly older girls, who were lovely and eager to include her. Neave hung around us mostly, but she did join in with the others on occasion, and also played nicely with a little girl who was about her age, every now and then.

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Once the kids were asleep that night we had the opportunity to chat a while with the other adults, and we met some really lovely people. I always find it very encouraging to meet other parents and discover that pretty much everyone is muddling along with the whole parenting thing, and really just trying to do their best. And their best is no better or worse than our best. Phew.

The next day, we attempted a walk along a fire trail in the bush, but after many tantrums and much screaming by both Molly and Neave, the girls and I bailed out while Tom and Tiernan continued. We figured to wallabies, goannas and other wildlife deserved their peace.


Later that afternoon it was Tom’s turn to go swimming with the kids while I enjoyed some hammock time, with my book and a cup of tea. I also started preparing our contribution to the communal New Year’s Feast that was scheduled for that evening. Our bags were so heavy because we had brought several tins of cannelleni beans and tomatoes for a baked bean dish, with bacon and maple syrup. It was super yummy, and well worth the effort of carrying them all that way. Dinner that night was just lovely, with a great selection of dishes made by each family. I think we were all pretty full by the end.

The kids enjoyed sparklers before being tucked into bed around nine, while the adults cleaned up, had pavlova and cheese cake for dessert, drank wine, and crashed by 11.



On New Year’s Day, Tom and I bravely took the kids kayaking across the river to the beach for a picnic. I say bravely because it was the first time we have ever attempted such a thing, and solo kayaking a double kayak laden with one or two kids and baggage, across deep water, choc-a-block with yachts and jellyfish, was more than a little nerve-wracking. Did I mention none of the kids can swim? However, we all made it across safe and dry, and it was a lot if fun. I enjoyed the kayaking part most of all. A bit different to rowing, but using similar muscles and it was nice to be able to see where I was going for a change!. The kids had a great time at the beach, ‘catching’ jelly blubbers (the dead ones that washed ashore), and spying a massive goanna, on the prowl for food.

After an early dinner, we took the kids for a walk (up more hills) to the look out for some more stunning views.


The following day, it was time to say goodbye to our new friends, pack up our things, and head back down the hill for the last time. Like always, we didn’t leave quite enough time to comfortably make the ferry, so much of the trip was made at a frantic, scurrying run, laden as we were with bags, children, eskies, and food containers. At least they were empty this time. Miraculously, we somehow all got to the bottom in one piece, and in time for the ferry.

All in all, our surprise holiday was pretty great, and we are definitely hoping to be invited back next year. Although, to save our backs next time, we will have to either re-think our menu, or invest in some pack mules for the trip up the hill!

Just some pics of the lead-up to Christmas, as well as some of the aftermath!







Late November / early December last year, we took our young tribe away for our first holiday in about 18 months. It was long overdue.

Some of the highlights included exploring the local rainforest:


Swimming at the river, putt putt, eating lots of fish and chips:


Ice cream:


The light house and the beach:


Ten-pin bowling:


And enjoying our lovely resort, which I must say we were very, very, VERY pleased with. Our apartment was located right next to both the kids’ play area:


And the pool:

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I must admit that the trip was not without its upsets: tantrums, arguments, melt downs. But I’m willing to gloss over those and focus on the good stuff.

Like spotting a koala sleeping in a gum tree next to our apartment. (Sorry, not a great photo. If you squint at the fuzzy grey thing just above the fork in the tree, you can juuuuuuust see it!)


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This morning, something really wonderful happened. The kids woke up happy, I woke up happy. We hung around in my bed for a while. Then we got up and had breakfast together. After breakfast, Tiernan asked me to come and play with him, so I did. We played in Molly and Neave’s room, with their new dollhouse, which was being occupied on a short-term lease by Tiernan’s Green Lantern toy and a Transformer. Pretty soon, we were joined by Molly, Neave and 15 Barbies (and Monster Dolls, and Princesses, and Ponies, and Fairies, and Sylvanians…) The 20 or so house-mates all got dressed up together before going out for dinner. They peacefully negotiated who would car pool in the two available Barbie cars, and who would walk or fly. Everyone had a great time. They went back to the house to crash in the single bed (a little squishy, but warm, I’m assured), and after a good night’s sleep, they rose in the morning to do it all again.

At that point, I quietly slipped out of the game and watched my three children play happily together, without a single argument or any other intervention needed, for a good twenty minutes or so. Then I made myself a cuppa and sat down by myself for a few minutes, enjoying the peace and quiet. It was just sooooooo nice! Don’t get me wrong – this kind of thing is definitely not unheard of, in fact, it happens fairly frequently. However, it’s holidays, we have been spending a lot of time together lately, and, well… it’s starting to show! Since Tom returned to work after the Christmas / New Year break, it’s pretty much just been me and the kids all day, every day. Which is, ironically, exactly how I planned it – I purposely booked them in for fewer daycare days in January because I wanted to spend more time with them. Especially Tiernan, who is off to Big School. So, while I am enjoying having more time to play with the kids, and not having to rush here, there and everywhere, the boredom is definitely starting to kick in, for both me and the kids. And when they’re bored, they fight. All the time.

Which made this morning all the more lovely.

While I was sipping my tea in motherly bliss, I got to thinking about this here blog and how neglected it’s been the past few months. I do miss having the time and space to sit and write, so I am going to try to squeeze it in somewhere, along with the rowing, cycling, reading and playing I’ve been trying to pack into these holidays, too. It’ll be tough, but someone’s gotta do it.