Monthly Archives: October 2009

The Boy and The Bear

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With so many classic stories and poems about boys and bears you’d think I would understand.  But really, it hasn’t been until I have watched my own son form a friendship with his bear that I have begun to appreciate the relationship.  My little boy can’t go to sleep without “Fabbie” (long story, don’t ask)!  Fabbie is cuddled daily and sits on the table to watch his big mate have breakfast.  Fabbie is pushed around in trucks, strollers and shopping trolleys.  He never tires of peek-a-boo and will happily play hide-and-seek any where.  He understands the babble of a 13mth old perfectly, and is an excellent listener.  Fabbie has comforted my little boy through immunisations, teething, illness and sad days.  My son couldn’t ask for a better little friend really.

As I watch the boy and the bear shadow me around the house, or venture outside together, I can’t help but remember the start of the classic poem “Us Two” by A. A. Milne:

IMG_8351Wherever I am, there’s always Pooh,

There’s always Pooh and Me.

Whatever I do, he wants to do,

“Where are you going today?” says Pooh:

“Well that’s very odd ‘cos I was too.

Let’s go together,” says Pooh, says he.

“Let’s go together,” says Pooh.

Does your child have a special toy?  A toy that blurs the lines between reality and make-believe and could almost be considered a friend?  Or did you have one as a child yourself?  Anyone still have theirs…?

Playing Ladies

When I was a little girl I loved watching my mum dress up.  I still remember watching her paint her nails and smelling her perfume.  Now that I’m a mum with a daughter of my own, the cycle goes on.  Last week I dressed up for a hats and heels morning tea with my MOPS group.

My three year old’s eyes were wide as she surveyed my red toenails, and tried on my shoes.  But oh the look on her face when I added a feathery fascinator to my outfit!  “Mummy, please can I wear feathers too?”  How could I say no?!!  We found some pink and purple feathers in the craft box and I tucked them into her ponytail.

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If you ask me, there’s nothing wrong with little girls wanting to “play ladies” every now and then.  It’s good for their self esteem and helps them start to develop their own sense of style.  I’m happy for my daughter to try on my shoes and accessories.  At home.  In a healthy, play kind of way.

What I’m not happy about is the play becoming real too early.  As I watched my three year old clomp around in my heels I was reminded of another little three year old I’ve seen around the place lately.  Suri Cruise has been all over the glossies recently as a little fashionista complete with peeptoes and a latte cup.  Girl With A Satchel shared her thoughts on the issue last week from a journalist’s perspective (check out her post for the cover pic I’m talking about).  I thought it was worth sharing my thoughts here from a mothering perspective.

Don’t we want our little girls to stay little girls for as long as possible?  Three is still very, very young.  We’re talking about children who haven’t even started school yet.  In my opinion as a mother and primary school teacher, here is what I personally think is ok for little girls:

  • playing with dress ups – male and female clothes and accessories IMG_8346
  • playing ladies with Mummy or an Aunty – carefully trying on beads and shoes just for a little turn
  • wearing nice clothes for nice occasions and round-the-house clothes for play
  • wearing practical shoes that support little feet and growing bodies
  • having a no-colour lip balm for special days
  • having special hair clips and ribbons – this is age appropriate bling!
  • having a milkshake when Mum has a latte

Of course, I can’t tell you what’s right for you as you raise your daughter.  I can only share my own opinion.  But can I encourage you to think about where you will draw the line with your little girl?  Otherwise we will all have “teenagers” on our hands long before they reach puberty, and we just might miss out on one of the loveliest stages of raising daughters.

Busy Boxes (Mumblers)

IMG_8483I’m blogging over at Aussie Mums Network Mumblers today about busy boxes.  Having a few boxes set up indoors and out can make free play time with kids a breeze.  For ideas on different types of boxes, and what to put into them, head over to Mumblers.  There are photos of our indoor, outdoor and quiet time boxes in the article.  Here’s a snippet…

A Busy Box is a container filled with age appropriate items your child can use for activities.  Have you thought about setting up an outdoor box?  Or a quiet time box?  What about a special box to keep your toddler busy while you’re nursing their new sibling seven times a day…?!!  Here are some suggestions for setting up a variety of boxes…

Real Aussie Mum – October

A babywearing busy mama!

A babywearing busy mama!

Meet Rochelle Manners, mother of two gorgeous kids Julian and CoCo.  Rochelle started Wombat Books after self publishing her first book, and now publishes others under the Mostly for Mothers (for mums) and Even Before (for Christians) imprints.  Her latest anthology, Even Before You Were Born is a lovely collection of reflections on pregnancy and birth.  Ok, so I’m biased because I have two stories in the anthology!  The anthology will be launched next month and you will be able to buy signed copies here if you’re interested.

Here are Rochelle’s five faves, and her biggest struggle as she juggles motherhood and publishing:

1.  Favourite outing with your children – Visiting my mum and dads (the kids’ nanna and grandad’s) house. They have a huge yard, a trampoline and a pool we are looking forward to using in summer. Plus different and exciting toys and it is always a day trip as it is a bit of a drive.

2.  Favourite at-home activity with your children – My favourite or the kids?! I like drawing shapes and letters and trying to help him recognise them, but Julian’s attention span doesn’t last too long and he asks me to draw cars instead! So instead we end up playing cars (which baby CoCo likes doing too). I also like it now that CoCo is getting old enough to be fun to play with for Julian and they chase each other around the house (both crawling).

3.  Favourite family meal - Generally anything easy, but probably is Macaroni Chicken (sort of a pasta bake but nicer and using chicken and a chicken soup as a sauce).

4.  Favourite bedtime story/stories – My son likes all the stories where the animals or characters fall down, cry or yawn so it is pretty amusing when he asks for the “crying” books.

5.  Favourite way to wind down! – Catch up on work – ie my laptop is an addiction! I give myself too much to do, but I guess I enjoy it. Watching TV at the same time is fun too.

6.  Finally, what’s your biggest struggle as a mum? – My biggest struggle is probably balancing it all – work, homelife and the kids – and making sure I don’t feel guilty by ensuring I spend enough time with the kids and keep up with  my responsibilities. I am still learning, but am also fairly efficient at getting work done. It seems like there is always more to do and the kids really are patient when I work. Balancing and making it so I need to work less and can spend more time the kids is definitely worthwhile. (I am going to start on a book about that soon.)

How To Heal A Broken Wing

howtohealSometimes a book just captures your heart.  A couple of weeks ago we were delighted to find “How To Heal A Broken Wing” on the shelves at our local library.  This book was shortlisted by the Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) this year, and went on to win Book of the Year in the Early Childhood category.

Prominent Aussie author Bob Graham tells the story of Will, a young boy who nurses an injured pigeon back to health.  The book is light on text and heavy on visual literacy, which means much of the story is hidden in the illustrations.  At only three my daughter loves poring over the pages, asking questions about what is happening and pointing out new discoveries in the pictures.

Although the story appears simple, this is a book with depth.  As well as depth of illustration it has depth of theme and depth of characterisation.  It is not really a book about a pigeon, but rather a book about our current society, lack of empathy and detachment from the natural environment.  As a teacher I can see countless ways to explore this book with kids from three right through to seven or eight.  Children of different ages will get different aspects of this book, which is great if you’re reading aloud to your kids.

IMG_8374As I mentioned, this story has stolen my daughter’s heart.  We have read it over, and over, and over.  And then read it again.  When we did art at home this week she painted a bird with a broken wing.  (Her bird has red body, green beak/wings/eyes and is flying at you…)  When we did playdough she made items from the story.  Everywhere we have gone lately she has been on the lookout for injured birds.  And then one night this week she asked if she could pray about it.  Feeling like a gold-star Christian mum (I should have known right there…) we sat down together.  She prayed, “Dear God, please could a bird break its wing so that I can find it?  Amen.”

*sigh*  That wasn’t quite what I had in mind.  Needless to say we’ve had a bit more of a chat about it!!

If you are yet to discover the book at your library (probably because some three year old is so in love with it she can’t bear to return it…) just go and buy it.  It’s worth every penny.

A Juggling Act

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Everybody’s talking about it… this issue with keeping up the juggling act.  We’re all talking about it because we’re all struggling with it.  How do we keep all the balls in the air?  How do we juggle life as women, mothers, wives, employers, employees, bloggers…

Each of us is only one person, and there are only 24 hours in a day.  At the bare minimum we need to sleep for six of those hours (and you and I both know that eight would be better)!  Without stopping to eat we’d never get through the day, so there go another two hours.  With the hours left there are so many demands on our time.  I spend a lot of time with a lot of mums who confess that they often crash into bed at night, wondering how they’ll fit all the things they didn’t get around to doing today, into tomorrow’s schedule!  And I understand, because I’m as guilty of it as anyone.

Kate from Picklebums recently wrote about this Tricky problem, and in the same week a friend and MOPS (Mothers Of Pre Schoolers) leader posted this on facebook:

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As you can imagine she received many comments.  I started writing my list for you, but deleted it because quite frankly I’m embarrassed about how long it is.  Another mum from my church who has older kids than I do and is a little further along the road than me pointed me to this article by Keri Wyatt Kent.  In it she says,

A wise friend of mine puts it this way:
“I picture myself juggling a lot of balls. Sometimes, I drop a ball. In most cases, that’s not too big of a deal. But a few of the balls, like my husband and my kids, are glass balls. So I make sure I do whatever it takes not to shatter those balls.”

Some of the balls are rubber, and will bounce if we just give them a little push now and then. Some are lead and just weigh us down and we shouldn’t be trying to juggle them in the first place.

Sometimes we have to say “no” to opportunities, to requests that other people make. The discipline of saying no, and wisdom to know when to say it, is a great challenge.

When I read that I thought she was speaking to me.  My blog is a rubber ball.  It can bounce back from a few days offline, and nobody’s world would be shattered if I didn’t post for a month.  I think housework is a rubber ball too!  I know there are balls made of lead I need to just let go of.  They are not mine to juggle.  But my husband and my kids are my glass balls.  I can’t drop them.  Ever.  My precious kids need Mummy-time almost as much as they need food to eat, and my husband deserves the best of me, not what’s left of me at 11:30pm. I’m so glad I have this visual image now to remind me of the beauty and fragility of relationships.

What are you juggling in your life?

PS – No judgemental comments.  Especially about the 6hrs sleep thing, ok?  We’re all just doing our best and trying to work things out…

Lost for Words

I had the BEST time at the Connect2Mums Seminar on the Gold Coast over the weekend.  Meeting so many people in real life for the first time, even though I already call them friends, was amazing.  On Saturday afternoon I had the privilege of presenting a workshop on blogging, and loved being able to share what I’ve learnt with many other mums.  (Yes, I’ll upload my handouts for you ASAP.)

On Saturday evening we all frocked up for the big awards night.  We stepped out in heels and worked the red purple carpet for the photographer.  I was so excited because I already knew I would be receiving the Best Parenting Resource award for this blog.  What I didn’t know, was that I would be announced as the Top AusMumpreneur for 2009!

I am very, very rarely lost for words.

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Receiving my awards from Paula Kuhnemann, founder of Connect2Mums

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Category Winners

Seedpods

IMG_8334We had a much needed day at home today.  We had time to just be.  Kids need that, and mums do too.  We spent the morning in the backyard making nature collections together, and discovered that half of the collection tray was taken up with interesting seedpods.

It was a wonderfully spontaneous way of talking about life (at a three year old level).  “A tree grows big and strong.  The tree grows seedpods with little seeds inside.  The wind carries the seeds down to the ground.  The little seed grows into a new tree, big and strong…”

We spent time talking about each one.  Some of them still had seeds in them, some of them had little holes where the seeds would have been.  Some seedpods were huge, and filled with hundreds of seeds.  Some only contained a single seed.  Some were so tiny it was hard to believe there were seeds inside them!

Without doubt though the best part of the morning was talking about how the seeds move around in the wind.  Sure, some fall straight down and land under the tree they came from, but many others are so light and delicate that the slightest breeze carries them away, like the African Tulip seeds (top of seed photo).  We also found seeds from trees not in our yard!  How did they get here?!  Both of my kids were delighted when I showed them how the Tipuana Tipu seeds (at the bottom of our seed photo) spin and whirl like helicopter blades when tossed into the air.  These seedpods are everywhere at the moment, so if you see one on your travels be sure to show your kids how they fly.  They’re better than any paper plane you could fold and will entertain your kids for ages.  Even my twelve month old got the giggles over these!

Before a gardening guru says it, I know… both of the species I mentioned are introduced and not ones we actually want to encourage to germinate in our gardens!!  You have to admit that they have fascinating and highly effective methods of seed dispersal though, which is why they are fast becoming recognised as “weeds”.  This would make a great discussion if you have older kids.

To make sure we don’t add to the weed-problem we’ll just use the seeds for craft :)

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Yes, I'm in the backyard with my iphone, and laptop, and camera!

Yes, I'm in the backyard with my iphone, and laptop, and camera!

I was stoked last week to discover I’d won a writing comp over on Karen’s blog… Miscellaneous Adventures of an Aussie Mum.  And yes, I’ll admit to doing a little happy dance when the sponsors contacted me to organise delivery of my prize – an iphone.

I think as parents we all have a responsibility to keep up with current technology.  If we don’t, our kids will be living in a world we can’t participate in, can’t contact them in and worst of all, can’t keep them safe in.  One day my kids will want to be on facebook, and twitter, and whatever the next thing is, and that’s ok with me because I’ll be there already.  Well, I’ll try to be!

Sometimes I cringe because at only 31 I already feel like just as I get my head around some aspect of technology it all changes, or upgrades, or is replaced by something better.  What will I be like at dealing with current technology in twenty years time?!  Despite this, I know I can’t stick my head in the sand and pretend that social networking sites, and phones that can do things we’ve never imagined don’t exist.  Why?  Because I’m a mum.  And if those things are going to be part of my children’s world as they grow up, those things are going to be part of my world too.

So about my new iphone. My three year old can play games on it already.  My twelve month old isn’t quite there yet – I need to get him one of these (hehehe).  My hubby is already dabbling in augmented reality and coding for iphones!!

And me?

Yesterday iworked out how to answer it when it rang.  And imanaged to send and receive txts.  If only icould work out how to import my old contacts list!  This weekend I’ll be at a seminar iwould love to tweet from, but ithink istill have a bit to learn before then.  Anyone got any advice to share on iphones?  Most of all ican’t find the function that turns my iphone into a little housecleaning robot…

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Speaking of winning things, want to win this gorgeous book?

Ready Or Not! (Parenting Aus)

PArectangleIf you have a child starting school (or kindy or similar) in 2010, now is the time to start preparing them.  But what about preparing yourself?  Are you ready to deal with the changes?  Do you know what to expect?  Over at Parenting Australia this week I’m sharing some thoughts on school readiness… for parents!  If you’re interested in preparing yourself to deal with goodbyes, dramas, teachers, routines and more, head over and read this article.  Often the case is that school is coming – whether you’re ready or not.