Sunday, March 12, 2017

Let Them Play

At Uni this semester I am studying a play subject in my education degree. It has been so thought provoking and created a lot of self reflection on myself as a Mother and how my husband and I enable our two children to play (key perk of being a studying Mum), so much so that I wanted to share some perspective with you so that you can also reflect.

Let me begin by sharing with you a scenario to set the scene. Chapter one, page two from my textbook "Play in the Early Years" by Marilyn Fleer:
Memories of being 6; I grew up on a farm. We had at our disposal in the paddock large fallen-down trees, which had been pushed together. These fallen trees, with their rough bark, broken branches and exposed roots, became our ships. Groups of boys and girls would congregate around these trees, naming their ships and collectively creating their adventures. These were genderless ships. We would jump from ship to ship, totally engrossed in our latest imaginary adventure. We imagined violent seas, storms encroaching upon our fleet, stealing each other's ships, being pirates and saving people from drowning. We created our imaginary world of ships. We controlled our imaginary world. We felt powerful. (Ella, 15 years).
Who can relate to that? Who had something along the lines of that kind of play experience as a child?

What play memories do you have from your childhood? This is important. Stop reading and think back to one that might be significant to you.

I was laying in bed with my husband when I was reading this and after my own quiet contemplation I asked my husband this same question. Between us we both mentioned often being unsupervised and being able to be outside until dark, involving nature such as climbing trees, playing with rocks, dirt and long grass and often involved (not really feeling like it at the time, but looking back) risks. My main memory was climbing the giant trees in the park we lived across the road from. When I think back I can still imagine the smell of the bark and the leaves.

When I think forward to my children, I am not sure I would allow them to play in the pile of old trees like in the textbook excerpt; even though I would have been allowed to as a child. I would be frightened my kids would be bitten by a snake. I am sure that my parents would have had this same fear and feelings of protection for me as a child but we were still allowed to do these things. Hell, my sister and I were even allowed to run through the cane fields (snake heaven!) in our neighbourhood unsupervised. 

Why do we stop our kids from engaging in this risky play today? I am genuinely curious, what changed through the generation? 

I am sure if we asked our parents the same question above "What significant play memory do you have from your childhood?" and even further our grandparents, the restrictions set by their parents would be less and less.

My husband who will probably kill me for mentioning this recently tried to stop the kids from playing under the bed simply because he didn't want them to hit their heads. I like to think I am not quite as over-protective as my husband but I do have to stop and question myself at times, why can't they do this, or why can't they do that? From there sometimes I will allow their requests but not without supervision just to be safe. I think we are taking this protective thing too far and we need to let them play. We are stopping them from being kids and playing. What will their play memories look like when they are adults and thinking back?

I don't have a whole lot of free time to continue this post with fear of falling behind (the joys of being a studying mum) but I felt passionately compelled to share these few words with you for two purposes.

1. I would LOVE LOVE LOVE for you to share with me your significant play memory from your childhood on my Facebook Page (click the link) The Mumma Next Door bonus points if you are from a different generation from myself (Mum, Nan I am looking at you) .

2. Secondly, I just want us all to have a think and reflect on our parenting and consider loosening the reigns a little and let the kids play, allow them to learn to watch their head under the bed, to strengthen those muscles, find their balance and smell the smells, and view the world from above that only climbing trees provides.

Let me know what you think.


Thursday, March 31, 2016

The two young girls at the supermarket

I was doing my weekly shop at Coles recently. It's my usual supermarket of choice, I go there at least twice a fortnight for our groceries so it is a rather mundane task. I am a stickler for routine so I know the aisles like the back of my hand and where all my usual products are so reaching for them is thoughtless. It's usually a peaceful part of my routine because I go alone, I purposefully choose that store because it's not usually busy and I can do the entire process without seeing anyone I know, I don't stop and talk to anyone or make much unnecessary contact with strangers. I just like to get in, get my shopping done and go home; but at the same time it's not a rushed experience either. Just quiet, in contrast to the rest of life being a parent.

This particular trip was no different to any other. I had worked my way right through the store and had two aisles to go before I headed to the checkout. I don't usually make much eye contact with passerbyers. But in the corner of my eye two young school girls up ahead of me, not even facing my direction had caught my eye. They were wearing a high school uniform. I don't know why they stood out to me that day because I don't personally know anyone who attends the local high school these days. But without even a second glance I knew who these girls were. I could feel it. I took a discreet second look to confirm my suspicion and I knew I was definitely right. I know this sounds creepy but as I slowly finished off my grocery shopping completely aware of them and trying not to stare, I just watched them. They were with their Mother, they were quiet as they helped her with the groceries and so totally polite. Beautiful young women.

It was such an emotional experience for me. As weird as this seems... I just wanted to go up and hug the younger of them. But I resisted the urge because that would be completely freakish. They wouldn't remember me. Even their Mother didn't remember me. So I just quietly watched from a distance soaking them up for as long as possible before they loaded their trolley with their groceries at the checkout and left for the carpark.

The young girls were apart of a family who attended the child care center I had my first job as an educator at. Way back in the early days. When I was brand new to the industry. The younger girl was in my room and I cared for her right from when she was a baby through to maybe 3 years old. She was a part of a bigger family and I had a connection with her. Throughout my career as an Educator only a small handful of children really touch you quite this way. I wouldn't call them favourites because it's so different to that. It's a connection. Like a feeling you get that if something awful were to happen you would welcome them into your home without hesitation.

So this totally weird emotional experience I had in the shop that day was, I think a mixture of feelings. Feeling proud of the beautiful polite young women they had become, the feelings of seeing them both for the first time in so so so many years. I guess I never expected to ever see them again, and the fact that I recognised them even though they grew up and changed so much! And that feeling of wanting to go up and hug them but knowing they wouldn't know who I was and not being able to. So, I returned home that day feeling happy, sad, content, so many feelings. Feelings that I need to cherish my own children's childhood because they grow up just so fast! Above all else rewarding, that in some way as a Child Care Educator that I contributed to the people they are today, even if it was just the tiniest contribution but a contribution all the same.

I think it's these tiny encounters throughout life that makes anyone in that industry, child care or education which makes it all feel worth it.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Oven Baked Wrap Chips

I am ALWAYS on the lookout for some great non-food-wasting ideas. The recipes you can turn to when you need to use up a food right before it goes off and has to be thrown out.

My kids love wraps. I like to include them in Hannah's Kindy lunch at least once a week. Or we often have chicken strips with salad wraps for tea. So occasionally we don't use them all up and after a week or so of being opened I wonder how much longer they have before I should throw them out. 

A while ago, we went to a friends for an outdoor fire and camp oven dinner night and she had brought out these homemade wrap chips. They were delicious! As she was telling me about how she made them and I was reflecting on whether I should start making them at home... I was thinking, considering that a packet of say 6 wraps is usually around $4, it seems like an expensive way to have chips when you can buy them ready to eat for as low as $1.50 when on special. Despite the fact they were really yummy and probably a much healthier alternative. Yes I am a tight a$s! Ha ha ha.

So, after throwing a the remains of a packet or two of the wraps in the recent months I remembered the wrap chips. And figured, I am not buying the ingredients especially to make the chips and I would be throwing them out anyway... these would be a really great solution to use them up! So that is what we did today.

We laid the wrap out on the chopping board, sprayed it with some olive oil. My friends recipe called for coconut oil but this was all we had in our cupboard at the time. You can get these really awesome spray bottles from Coles. Grind some sea salt over the top and then repeat on the other side. Cut the wrap like you would a pizza and lay it on a baking tray. I baked them until they started to brown and turned crispy.

They were really yummy. Hannah enjoyed helping me make them and both the kids enjoyed eating them afterwards. I think they would be really great used with a dip too. We personally love olive dip at the moment!

A big hit in our house.

Do you have any great food saver ideas you can share?

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Back to school for the first time.

I have a confession to make! I have a feeling I am going to be one of the uncool school Mums. I am embarrassed to admit how much I have over thought preparing Hannah for Kindy and how over organised I am Scrape that! I don't think what I am is organised because i'm not, I think it is that every aspect has been so over thought and as a result I have gone way past what is necessary. Therefore I think I'm at the point where I'm at geeky uncool status. It's a pretty straight forward list of things she needs for the year.

  • Hat
  • Water bottle
  • Lunch box
  • Sheet (which they specified should be a towel with elastic attached across each corner) plus drawstring bag to put it in... small pillow optional
  • Spare change of clothes
  • and a bag to put it all in.

I have worked in daycare for over 6 years so I have seen my fair share of what works and what doesn't and how difficult it is when things aren't labelled. Cause lets face it 20 or so kids with 20 water bottles it is way too much for one person to be able to remember which belongs to who. But being on the other side... the parent side, it's just so different. There is a huge variety of options, styles, brands and functionalities. How do you work out which way to go for each and every thing?

I think my problem is that I don't cope great with change (something I learned about myself over the years) and my baby going off the Kindy, her first time out of my care for any longer then a few hours is a HUGE change! And it is very confronting! That this stage is coming to an end. The stage where you have your babies at home. That wonderful fulfilling, warm, fuzzy, sometimes-pull-your-hair-out stage where it's just us hanging out, being together. And now entering the next part of the rest of their life. Where they are that one more step towards independence, that one step closer to being out in the big wide world. And that moment where you feel like you wasted that 4 years, that you didn't make the most of it and that i'm not really ready to let that go. I know I can't control time and I think that is why I am over doing it all because I need to feel that sense of control over some part of this transition. That, and that I want this new experience for Hannah to be perfect and everything that she has hoped it would be.

So, let me confess that I brought her a $40 lunch box :-/ and thinking about it now I feel so ridiculous! And I am so so embarrassed to admit it! But to justify that, it was my one splurge out of everything we needed. Mostly everything else was pretty cheap. And it is pretty awesome! The Kindy requested not insulated, so I did a bunch of research and found that the Yumbox Original was really popular. And for good reason. The inner tray is removable and dishwasher safe and when the lid closes it actually has inbuilt seals that stop food from mixing and spilling preventing soggy sandwiches and the risk of losing lids and containers and less time opening things means more time for eating her lunch because she is a very slow eater. That... and it's pink and has pretty pictures and I know she will love it. 

Because of its small compartments It doesn't fit a whole sandwich in it's original state so that led me to look into all things Bento and how cute they can look if you have a couple of sandwich cutters, or even try some other great alternatives to sandwiches. There are a lot of options out there. 

So with the most embarrassing item on the list over and done with I will briefly touch on the other items I have lined up...

I got a cheap/not so cheap water bottle from the reject shop, Hannah chose a frozen straw type water bottle which was $7. It was a good choice cause it seems to hold a fair amount of water which is great. Then because she loved it so much she broke it a week out from Kindy starting so I went and bought another one. Now I have some spare parts up my sleeve.

Hannah picked out a cute little girls flower backpack from Big W for $15 in a great size to fit everything but isn't too big for her to carry. The front pocket seems to be just the right size for her lunchbox and it has a wet clothes section and a regular section and a pocket for her water bottle. 

I did think about getting her a personalised backpack, I wasn't going to mention it but I am bringing it up for the exact reason why I decided not to. I think it is an important message to share. Having your child's name visible on their backpack opens them up to stranger danger. A stranger can see what the child's name is and call out or approach them and spin whatever story they may need to coax them into their car. I believe the same rules should apply to their hats. No largely printed names on the front or outside of the hat. I opted for the Stuck On You label pack which included iron on labels and a bag tag which I will position to sit between the bag and Hannah's back when being worn and I also applied a label inside the bag for in case the tag is lost.

An amazingly talented friend Peta from A.E Handmade knocked up the required towel with elastic sheet for me because I am the world's worst sewer and I grabbed a cot flat sheet and a little pillow we already had at home that has a handle. Perfectly suited for the job. To throw it all in- my overthinking brain kicked in and I ordered a personalised drawstring bag from Harvey Norman.

And now I am getting to work labelling everything with the Stuck On you Labels I mentioned above. We also went and had a haircut and I have even given thought to the up and coming Head Lice situation which is inevitable. When I was at school we used to mix lavender oil and water in a spray bottle and apply it each morning which seemed to help keep them at bay. I don't know if it works but I am going to give it a try. Hannah and I both have long hair so prevention is definitely a better option for us than a cure.

Now I think all that is left to do is pre make some lunchbox fillers for the freezer.

Please don't pick on me!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Craft day it is!

The buzz of Christmas and New Year's is over but the beginning of all things 2016 has yet to start. The novelty of all the Christmas presents has started to wear off and we are home from holidays and getting back into our regular routine of things. Ben has resumed work, nightshift in fact meaning added pressure to keep the kids as quiet as possible and I am still trying to catch up on sleep and rebuild my energy levels after a particularly hectic couple of months so leaving the house is being avoided as much as possible. But lazy days in are not as welcomed by the girls as they are by me and cabin fever is creeping in. It is mid summer so it is scalding hot outside and I am starting to run out of ideas to entertain the kids.

Today, my strategy of choice was a craft day. I reorganised the girls desk and included some drawers to contain all of their art supplies; and when I began to think about where we should actually start I remembered the Artine Stix that were sent out to us recently. Perfect, something new to explore and try out. We decided to pull out some giant colouring in pages that I keep for rainy days and I let the girls go for it.

Knowing full well that colouring only lasts so long; but there is so many things they can do with this set. Colour, build, play. So while they were busy I decided to do some research. I went straight to the website and found some great pages including the Play Inspiration page where you can learn from other Artline Stix "inventors" or upload pictures of your own creation and it could become the "featured creation". Or you can even join the Artline Stix Play Club for games, competitions and freebies. Click here to go to the registration form.

It also includes a step by step guide to build a bunch of different things and downloadable, printable colouring pages. Perfect!

So, armed with all my findings I returned to the girls determined to make craft time span out as long a possible. Hannah was particularly interested in having a go at building with the pens and their connector parts. She was trying to build a "long wiggly snake".

Both girls really enjoyed craft time today and it kept them quiet and entertained for quite a while so I say it was a success. We enjoyed exploring the Artline Stix pens. I really loved the Brush Markers, they are lovely to use specially for colouring. If you would like more information about these products check our their website or if you would like to know more about our opinions or have any questions please feel free to post a comment. I'd love to know if you have used them before or if you have done any great crafty projects lately that we can try.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

My Chemical Free Toolkit

For all of those who don't already know, I am a Norwex consultant and I absolutely adore their products and being able to provide a lovely clean chemical free home for my family.

Being a consultant means that I was able to get most of my personal giant wishlist for free or discounted which has allowed me to get a substantial amount of their products.

Being the festive season we were entertaining on Friday night which I made a garlic prawn topper for our BBQ steaks. The garlic prawn sauce is a little temperamental and easily boils over if you don't keep a close eye on it which happened to be the result on this occasion even after the many many times I have prepared it! So the next day I was trying to clean the glass stove top which our new house has.

As I began the task first trying my Norwex Kitchen Cloth and then when that didn't seem to lift the baked on marks, I reached for the more heavy duty Norwex Kitchen Scrub Cloth. It helped but still needed that little bit more. ( I know I did a really good job of it!!) So, I needed to really get some elbow grease into it and reached for the Norwex Cleaning Paste which finally did the trick. I won't bore you with all the details but it made me think about something that was said in one of my Uni subjects which I am completing to be a Teacher of all things. Where as teachers we need to provide students with a toolkit of strategies and resources they can access to help them solve problems and learn.

For some reason I related this to my Norwex collection and how it is so useful to have a "toolkit" of different strategies and resources (products) that I can access when I have a problem. If the first option I select doesn't seem to tackle the job I have a range of other options at my fingertips that I can try until I find one that solves the problem. Just like the garlic sauce on the glass stove top, this is relevant to all around our home. I find because of this I'm saving so much time not having to persevere with a solution that isn't really right for the job.

So I was wondering, do you have any problem areas around your home that you are looking for a better chemical free solution for? I would love a challenge and you never know... Norwex might change your life too!

Friday, December 11, 2015

New house equals new home

We recently moved house AGAIN! Still in the same town. We just needed something bigger. To be quite honest our previous house had an exposed beam ceiling... which don't get me wrong was beautiful and a talking point when guests came by for the first time but whoever originally designed and built the house needs to be kicked in the knackers! Do not, I repeat... DO NOT build a house with an exposed beam ceiling in Central Queensland or anywhere that does not snow at least once a year! We suffered through two and a half summers in that sauna and even though it had a pretty big air conditioner, it barely took the edge off the heat which wasn't worth the electricity used to run it. Anyway the will to avoid another season of torture outweighed the strong reluctance to move house for the fifth time in 4 years!

Which brings me to our new house. It has a few minor downfalls as every house that you didn't build yourself has but it is a very big improvement for us. On top of all the advantages and perks we knew we were in for, I didn't really realise how much the house really contributes to a "home". I always believed that it was the people you share it with and potentially a woman's touch that could really make any house a home.

There really is only so much any woman can do to make a house a home in high 40 degree heat. In the new house I can actually handle being in the living area and kitchen in the middle of the day! I can bake! I can clean! I can potter about doing what it is that anyone does through the day like getting jobs done. It is still such a novelty for me. Unpacking has been a breeze and getting into the Christmas spirit is just so much more enjoyable!

Everyone just seems happy here. The entire family is thrilled to have an acre to spread out on. To explore and play but also not to have your neighbor's window two meters away from yours. And it has a huge big double glass doors with two large windows either side on the eastern wall of the living area over looking the large open back yard. The light is just so beautiful, so natural and lifting.

Through all the chaos, clutter and sorting of moving, it already feels more "us", more like a "home".

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Our Vintage Country Wedding

All of my friends have seen our hundreds and hundreds of wedding photos by now, but I wanted to write a post about our special day for those who might be wanting to source something similar for their big day, For all those who have already planned their wedding would know what a massive stressful, very time consuming task it is finding inspiration and sourcing every single detail let alone trying to find it in your budget and as a guest you see the day as a big picture and some of the smaller details may go unnoticed. So if you attended our wedding keep an eye out for the things you may have missed ;-)

For starters Pinterest was my very best friend (besides my amazing husband and my stunning bridesmaids) and you can check out my "Wedding Inspiration" board HERE. Having one just makes your vision clearer and keeps you on track as well as provide a visual image to show venders exactly what you are trying to achieve!

Okay... where to start? How about the invitations. I created them myself using a Word document drawing from two different examples on Pinterest. I printed them at our local office supply shop and my incredibly talented Maid of Honour cut them all out. I ordered the paper supplies from using kraft envelopes and Iceberg card and paper which gave a shimmer to the white background. We used to create a wedding website to offer our guests more information including accomodation and directions to the out of town ceremony. Hav8ing a wedding website proved to be well worth while. Our 60 guests visited our website 144 times and we had 381 pageviews with some RSVP'ing this way. We were able to make the website accessible only with a passcode to maintain privacy and gave our guests the passcode on the wedding website card with their invitations.

My dress, the bridesmaids dresses and the groomsmen's ties were bought & hired from Ferrari Formalware and Brides of Toowoomba. They were amazing to deal with. My wedding gown was a Angeline AN0201, the Bridesmaids wore Allura 1436 and the Groom and Groomsmen wore Sorrento- Baige all with R M Williams brown boots. The Bridesmaids wore flats given that the ceremony was in a paddock and the reception was in a garden. I however braved heels for the ceremony but "heel stoppers" were essential which I found on Ebay.

My heels were another Ebay purchase from this store. There are lots of nice ones to choose from. You might be able to find a gem yourself. I later changed into some Forever New flats. As the day unfolded I found out that My Maid of Honour and my Husband got together to leave me a little surprise note on the bottom of my heel, which of course left me in tears when I found it!

My sweet as sugar flower girls wore white Origami dresses from Myer and high top boots. Sourcing their boots was a nightmare! We ended up going through the US company Sheplers trying to get a pair each that matched in all three size scales (baby, toddler and kids)! And they still weren't quite right (I hope you didn't notice). Their flower crowns were by Avierley Boutique.

Our talented hair dresser was Shell from Beauty and the Barber in Toowoomba and our Makeup artist was Bek from Bek's Beauty and Spa in Emerald. Bek used Youngblood makeup and I found the Loreal Colour Riche Nude Collection lipsticks which I fell in love with. In the end between the 3 of us (the Bridesmaids and I) brought over 10 of the lipsticks in that collection! Looking back I think the colour choice was perfect and they lasted well. Bek also applied fake lashes to finish the look.

My hair piece was a lace flower and Swarovski clip from the HanaandRiver store on Etsy.

I wore a breathtaking  Ivory Venice Lace Garter which I sourced from the The Little White Dress Etsy store. I was going to keep these pictures private but this garter is just way too beautiful not to show off!

The girls got ready in a room at the Emerald Inn and wore the most beautiful robes that my thoughtful Maid of Honour organised for us.

Flowers! All our bouquets were done by Spoilt in Emerald. My bouquet was Ranunculus, David Austins, Peonies, Garden roses and Asters. In shades of pink and white. The bouquet also included artificial anemones as they were unavailable in Australia at the time. The Bridesmaids bouquets were fluffy disbuds, carnations, asters and garden roses, in shades of pink and white. The Groom and Groomsmen buttonholes were white spray roses and baby's breath and the flower girl's posies were white gyp and pink carnations.

Our wedding car was a black Chrysler 300C SRT8.

We created a bunch of rustic signs from a pallet to help direct our guests to the property the in Comet the ceremony was held on.

I walked down the aisle to an acoustic instrumental version of Give Me Love by Ed Sheeran. Our celebrant was Cynthia Munro from Emerald. We hired a gumtree arbour which we dressed up with artificial flowers, greenery and chiffon and signing set from Just Married in Emerald.

Our very talented Photographer was Katrina from My Little Miracle Photography who took some absolutely beautiful pictures of us all.

The reception was held in the gardens at the Capricornian restaurant in Emerald which looked breathtaking in the evening.

Our seating chart was an old nine frame window which my incredible Maid of Honour did the sign writing on it for me! She did an AMAZING job because it was everything I had hoped it would be! We decided to assign tables but not seats so guests could sit where they liked at the tables. I felt like it worked really well.

I made up the centerpieces from Chicken Tonight Jars and decorated them with Jar Wraps found on Ebay and I ordered bulk artificial silk Peonies from an AliExpress store. My Nan generously allowed me to borrow some of her crocheted doilies and the tea light candle holders were from small baby food jars with a twine bow. The table numbers were 8 Merci Number Luminaries in white with LED candles. They were custom made by Mason Rabbits Paperie On Etsy. We also created a wedding photo app through instead of placing disposable cameras on each table. I added a little card which I made and printed at our local printing store. Our favours were a single Ferrero Rocher with a pearl white shimmer Thank You butterfly attached.

Our bridal table also included B & T marque lights from purchased from Spotlight and a fairy light curtain draped overhead.

Our cake was made by Di from Cakes2Di4 in Toowoomba and was inspired by the Adriano Zumbo's V8 cake. Our cake table tablecloth was a champagne sequin table cloth ordered through another AliExpress store. Our cake cutting song was Holding On to You by Miranda Lambert.

As we have been living together for some time now and the bulk of our guests were travelling from out of town we decided to go with a wishing well. So our card/wishing well included a vintage looking letterbox to place the cards in which I found on Ebay and was decorated with a wooden XOXO bunting and L O V E tea light candle holders from Woolworths around Valentine's Day and four pink bud vases which I made out of stubbies that I painted Matte white.

Ben chose our bridal entrance song which was Point At You by Justine Moore and he also chose our first dance song which was Love Your Love The Most by Eric Church. We chose not to have a DJ or band for our wedding and opted to have our Ipods being controlled by one of our close friends.

For entertainment and also for our guest book we had a photo booth by Emerald Photobooths. It was a huge huge hit! Guests filtered through it many times throughout the night, and only a small few people didn't go in and sign the guest book.

Weeks later now reflecting back on our day, to us it was perfect! We are so happy with how everything flowed and worked together. We couldn't have asked for more!

 Did you attend our wedding? Was there any details you didn't notice or something that drew your eye?

If you have any questions about anything from our wedding I would be happy to share with you my DIY tips or direct you to where I got something from.