Wednesday, November 30, 2011


My little mate is struggling at the moment. We're all tired and needing a break. Everywhere we go is noisy and crowded in the lead up to the silly season. He's adjusting to the Supertrucker's new roster along with the rest of us and his Mum is quickly reaching the point of exhaustion.

All of this has meant an increase in meltdowns.

What is a meltdown?

A meltdown is NOT a typical toddler tantrum. The best way I can describe it is in comparison to a night terror. It is neurological in origin and he is unable to respond to other people when they happen. He just looks straight through us so any comforting we attempt is really more for our own benefit so we can feel we are doing something, than for his.

They happen more frequently during the night but are increasing during the day as well. I'm lucky in that they usually take place at home for us, but he has had the odd public meltdown as well. They can last anywhere from ten minutes to hours long and at their most violent include banging his head against walls or the floor, smacking himself on the ears and throwing himself against objects and windows. When they reach that level the best I can do is try and create a safe space for him with pillows and make sure he's not going to fly out a window.

They happen more frequently when he's tired or unwell. We've had things on every day for the past few weeks and will continue to do so for a while yet and this has had a clear impact on frequency. The best I can do is keep out routines as strict as possible and allow him downtime and solitude when he needs it.
I can see how this will become even harder as he gets bigger. He's already a tall and heavy boy for his age... I just hope that in becoming more verbal some frustration is alleviated and maybe he can avoid meltdown point sometimes as a result.

So if you see a Mum dealing with a 'horrible' screaming kid out in public this season stop a moment before you judge. Tantrums are an important part of child development in and of themselves. But maybe it's more than a 'spoiled kid' not getting what he wants.

Maybe the flicker of the flouro lights that you don't detect but that appears like strobe lighting to him is hurting his head.

Maybe someone walked too close and inadvertently touched him and he is sensitive to touch.

Maybe the endless Chritmas Carols are at a volume and pitch that drill into his brain and confuse his senses.

Maybe his Mum couldn't get a park where she usually does and this has thrown his own routines so out of whack that he's having trouble processing it.

Maybe he has autism. Maybe he doesn't. Either way a little bit of compassion goes a long way.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Posh Nosh

There is very little about my life that is posh. The fact that I even use the word posh probably tells you how unposh I am. So my definition of posh nosh and yours may be very different, but I'm sharing my nonposh posh nosh anyway.

Oooh presents!

A basket full of yummy!

I was lucky enough to receive this gorgeous hamper from Dairy Australia. My love of all things dairy is pretty well known. One word: cheese. Nom. Nom nom nom. So anyways my little kitchen helper will be very excited by the Junior Masterchef Cookie Kit on Christmas day... Almost as excited as I was by the Persian Feta!

We all know how important dairy food is in our diets I'm sure. In particular growing kids should be having three serves a day (mine would prefer 30 if I let them!) so this is a cute way to sneak one in.

You need:
Filo pastry
50g Australian butter
Punnet cherry tomatoes
Cheddar or tasty cheese
Semidried tomatoes
Super delicious feta cheese

* Preheat oven to 200 degrees C.
My little Masterchef demostrates.

* Melt butter.

* Cut 3 pastry sheets into quarters the brush each with some melted butter.

* Scrunch the buttered sheet into a nest shape and pop in muffin tin (make sure there's a little well in the middle).

* Bake for 20 minutes or until golden.

* Remove from oven and allow to cool (these nests will stay fresh in an airtight container for a day if you're planning a party).

For kids - top with grated tasty or cheddar cheese and a quarter cherry tomato.

For people with taste - top with semidried tomato and a dollop of feta.

Obviously you can top them with almost anything you like, but we loved these and my kids were all 'Ooh we're having a snack before dinner!' and I was all "Yes these are called canapés," and they were all "Can we have canapés instead of dinner?" and I was like "Um, no" and they said "Oh Muuuuuum we like caravans!" and I was like "So do I."

If you'd like to check out more great dairy rich recipes have a look over at The Dairy Kitchen.

Thanks to the Dairy Kitchen for a great, simple and in my world posh recipe. Extremely delicious. Now where's my wine?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sunday Shout Out

As promised in the Virgin Vlog I'm starting a Sunday Shout Out series to share some love from around the blogosphere. The linky will stay up for one more day so if you haven't linked up yet please do! I've wanted to do something like this for ages now but couldn't figure out how without seeming favouritist or exclusive so I'm stoked with how this has all panned out.

Firstly let's take a look at Natsukashii. I've known Kelly for a long time now (in interwebs time anyway). We first 'met' when we joined the same 'Due In' group at Essential Baby. We shared our first pregnancies online, those babies are now 8 years old! I love keeping up with her goings on, she is a wonderful writer who shares her life openly and honestly. Check it out, you won't be sorry.

Puddles and Gumboots is written by another fabulous Kate (there are a few of us floating around the blogosphere ;)) but this one has even MORE children than I do. Five to be precise. I love reading her tales of family life and she is just a gorgeous woman to know. Kate has a fantastic new linky that's just gone up this weekend called Making Magical Christmas Memories. I think it is a brilliant idea and I'm looking forward to linking up a Christmas craft activity later in the week.

Sara over at Tis The Life is a first time Mum to a gorgeous bubba girl blogging about this new chapter in her life. Her blog often reminds me of those early days, weeks and months with my eldest and it is always a lovely read. She's got a great giveaway running at the moment as well if you have a small baby yourself.

Tatum writes over at From Somewhere in my Imagination. Here's something awesome you need to know about her... this year she shaved her head to raise funds for cancer research. Yep, that haircut isn't just about being extremely cool. It takes a pretty dedicated and fabulous woman to shave their head for a cause in my humble opinion, and Tatum is both of those things. She is also great to read so head over and check her out!

Kristy is The Imperfect Mum (well aren't we all really?). Her posts are so encouraging and honest, and she creates some great conversation within the comments on her blog. Truly it feels a little more like a forum where Mums can chat and find support and celebrate and whinge. Kristy's openness is so heartwarming even when she's addressing a difficult topic. Pop over and show her some love.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Speaking in tongues

Parlez vous francais? Nah me neither. My high school French has gone the way of a lot of my other pre-children knowledge... I've forgotten where that is though.

Luckily (?) the chances of my jetting off to Paris are about as good as my getting four hours sleep in a row tonight. Possible, but extremely unlikely.

I am however learning a second language at the moment. It's a language where I recognize the letters but not always the words. A language made up of roman numerals and more acronyms than you could poke a stick at. A language based on science that affects your heart the most of all. A language where you think you've finally got it, then realize you've only covered the first couple of chapters of a book that could take your entire life to get through.

I'm a big fan of the acronym. I'm all about the LOL, the PMSL, the OMG and its cousin that includes an F. IKWYM when you ROFL at me and I've BTDT. But probably my most used acronym is a throwback to my TwiMum daze which says it all really. IKR?

These days however I'm just as likely to be talking about ASD, ID, IQ, ABA, CBT, OT & ST. With the occasional FML just to balance it out. I now know a bit about ODD, CD and AS as my big boy's formal diagnosis has been completed and that's where it has led.

So if you catch me speaking in tongues and are interested enough to want to know what it all means please pull me up and ask. The thing about my new language is that it isn't sexy. It isn't romantic. It's not even very nice on the ear. But it is the language of love for my sons, and that is why I will study it until I am word perfect.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thankful Thursday: Bloggers Brunch Edition

I had the great privilege of attending the Bloggers Brunch hosted by Kids Business last Friday for the second time.

There's been some chatter this week about the whole brand/blog thing and how both sides can improve their attitudes/expectations for a more rewarding experience on both sides. I think open discussion is always a good thing and I've enjoyed reading people's thoughts on the matter.

But of course the thing I am most thankful for was the chance to catch up with some beautiful bloggers. People who I chat with on Twitter. People who always ALWAYS have a virtual hug, words of support and even a well placed profanity (you know who you are) when I need it. People who are my friends.
The fairly rare chance to see these people in the flesh was fabulous. To squeeze the squeezy ones, chat with the chatty ones and smile at the smiley ones. Loved it! I'm only sad that I missed out on meeting a few in the busy-ness (and that one in particular didn't make it at the last minute... You know who you are too!).

I have to say the brands represented really appealed to me overall as well. I'm hoping to work with a few of these brands in future, but for the meantime I'd like to share what makes me thankful for each one.

Coles and Mix Apparel - the Coles in my town stocks the Mix clothing line and I will freely admit I've popped a few pieces in the trolley while I've been doing my shopping. As a rampant breastfeeder I have in the past spent big bucks on 'breastfeeding tops' only to find they don't sit nicely or just aren't that flattering. What has that to do with Mix? Well they have singlet tops in some lovely colours for only $6! Solution, layer the stretchy singlet under whatever on top and you can cover the belly if your a top lifting feeder. The singlets are easily stretchy enough to pull down for a feed and they wear really well.

I've also been trying out the Coles Comfy Bots nappies for my 3 year old boyo and have been impressed. They even see him through the night with no leaks and he is a heavy wetter. Great budget nappy option.

Eco Store - Did you know Eco Store is a carbon neutral business? I've used some of their products in the past and been impressed. Their baby sleepytime bath blend is just beautiful for little ones, the fragrance is delicious. This week I've been trying out their new bubble bath and it smells just as good! And as our grey water is all plumbed out onto our back lawn I don't need to worry about chemicals out there or on my children.

Megabloks - I have a small boy who likes order. Specifically he likes to make lines and towers. We've been using the Megabloks this week to help work on his colour naming as well and he really likes them. I also have a big girl who will be receiving a very cute Hello Kitty Megabloks set this Christmas! She will love it!

Logitech - I'm going to say upfront that generally techie stuff is a bit blah blah to me. But then I saw the ace iPad docks and keyboards that Logitech had on display and my interest was piqued. I had a great chat with them about some headphones that may be quite helpful for my small boy as well. Worth a look for sure.

I didn't get a chance to chat with the folks from Arnott's, but stay tuned because they've been awesome following up with me and I'll be sharing that shortly :)

I had a great time (despite the heat and the babygirl attempting to launch herself over my shoulder every five minutes!) and hope I'll have the opportunity again in the future. Thanks to Christie from Kids Business for a lovely morning, and to the most awesome of all bogues for taking care of my little mate for me so I could go!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Australia's Top {n=?} Bloggers! The Virgin Vlog

So like I said, if you're an Aussie Blogger then you can totally WIN this great competition!

In fact guess what, you are ALREADY a winner because you give your time to post things out onto the interwebs and entertain/inform/rant at people.

Hopefully we'll all discover some great new blogs as well. Link away and I'll be starting a Shout Out Sunday series this weekend to share the bloggy love <3

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Look at me! Look at me!

If you read a lot of blogs as I do, you may have been overwhelmed the past few days with requests for votes on your Twitter and Facebook feeds.

I felt very flattered when I received an email that someone had nominated my blog in the Circle of Moms top 25 Aussie bloggers thingy. That someone took the time to do so is really lovely and I'm grateful to that person, you put a big smile on my face!

I went and claimed my blog over there, and voted for all my faves while I was there.

Then my Twitter started going nuts with 'vote for me' type messages and my head started to spin. Suddenly I was feeling a sense of competition not dissimilar to the teen angst of highschool... That desire to be in the popular group, the 'in' crowd.

I don't much like that feeling.

I like the idea that you can vote for as many people as you want. I hope that all the other bloggers felt as lovely as I did when they found out they were nominated. I also hope that those of us who end up outside the top 25 are able to accept that without it hurting our (in some cases quite delicate) self esteem or blogging mojo.

When it comes to canvassing for votes though I'm going to say up front that spamming my social media feeds doesn't make me feel ace... It makes me feel like switching off. It's one thing to post and say hey guess what, this is lovely and exciting. Quite another to endlessly chase votes in my humble opinion. And I'm not entirely sure who it benefits?

So anyway, I'm sharing the link for the whole list. If you'd like to go and vote for your faves please do so, I have. There are some lovely Aussie blogs there and you might even find some great new ones you've not read before.

Possibly I'm being a bit OTT. I will freely admit I'm a bit fragile at the moment. But in honesty if ever I was to 'win' an award or similar I'd much prefer it to be because someone thought 'yeah I quite like that Kate Says Stuff blog, I'll throw a vote her way' than because I chased them into it. And I'm well aware that I'm not the most popular, funniest, most entertaining or cleverest writer out there and that's fine with me :)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Random observations from a rampant breastfeeder

* Some people do. not. cope with top down breastfeeding. Personally I'd rather be flashing a bit of cleavage that a squished up belly, especially considering the fact that even then I'm revealing less flesh than you'd see in a magazine or on TV any given day. But whatevs.

* Even the strongest lactivist can feel uncomfortable about feeding older children in public (ask me how I know). It makes me sad that even after 8+ years feeding, including three rounds of tandem feeding I'm still socially conditioned to protect others from my freakiness.

* Warm weather makes your milk thinner and more hydrating for your small one. Less filling to encourage more frequent feeds. It also makes it squirtier if aforementioned small person pulls away very suddenly mid letdown!

* Breatfeeding while pregnant won't hurt the feeder, the mother or the developing baby. Seriously. I had an obstetrician try to tell me it would during my last pregnancy and couldn't believe someone in her position didn't know better!

* Breastfeeding can be the most rewarding, excruciating, bonding and boring experience. Sometimes all of the above in one feed.

* No one ever won any medals for breastfeeding (or birthing or any other parenting thing I'm aware of either). If they did I reckon I might have gotten one by now. If you've tried to breastfeed without success pat yourself on the back for trying. How lucky are we to live in an age where there is a safe alternative for parents and babies in need of it?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thankful Thursday: A babe is born

A word light and photo heavy Thankful Thursday today.

I met my divine two day old nephew yesterday. He was 9 pounds 15 at birth, a lovely chubby-cheeked sleepy baby boy. He is feeding beautifully, wee'd on me when I changed him and is just a dreamboat.

My sister is amazing. It was a quickish birth and she is relaxed and taking on life with two sons in her stride.
I love my sister and adore my nephews. Blessed.

Asleep all snuggled up to Mum <3

See that babygirl there? She's suddenly not a baby any more. Bittersweet.
Kicking back with the new big brother!

Ohai blue eyes!

Yep. He has a nose too!

My babygirl would sleep propped against my leg like this for hours of
an evening when she was new. Squishalicious.

We love you so much precious boy. Welcome to the world.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Rage against the machine.

When is early intervention not early intervention?

When there's up to an 18 month wait to access it.

Sounds like the punchline to a bad joke right? Wrong.

Our little mate was diagnosed with autism just over three months ago. Want to know what's happened since then?

After calling so many private speech pathologists I lost track and being put on any number of waiting lists (most 6-9 months in length) I lucked out and found one that could fit us in. We've had two sessions so far and not even gotten through the full assessment. But I'm not complaining because at least something is moving in that area.

Our Paediatrician referred us for early intervention services in our area. We've had correspondence with the outreach program that looks after us until a place becomes available for him. To access the services they provide (five councils merged programs, so this group is servicing an enormous municipality) I need to make a 90km round trip, and that's for maybe a special playgroup or parent meeting.

I know this because I went to an information session a couple of weeks ago. It was one of the most upsetting experiences of my life. I had both small kids with me because the supertrucker was away and had been told there would be someone there to help out with them so I could hear the information. That didn't happen, instead my boy ran wild, hurt his sister, hurt me and generally stimmed himself silly. None of the other parents had children there aside from one small baby and I suspect they heard as much of the session as I did. Not much.

When even the workers within a system are despairing you know things are pretty grim, and that's exactly how I felt. I cried my eyes out all the way home. There was talk of respite care and babysitting type services. I do not want a freaking babysitter I WANT SOMEONE TO HELP MY CHILD!

So the public sector is pretty much a load of horse shit. There's funding available that feels pretty tokenistic when access to services is either years away or privately run and even with the aid of the funding unbelievably and unreachably expensive.

I know our situation isn't typical. I am WELL AWARE that most people have fewer children or a partner who works regular hours (and I am also aware that we chose to have this many children and we would not change that so stick it up your jumper). I know that I am capable of martyring myself and if it weren't for my parents and friends pulling me up I could easily push myself into ill health both physically and mentally.

But honestly what does it take? The whole early intervention thing is available until the child starts school. So at an 18 month wait that would give him 6-18 months (depending on his readiness for schooling, and the reality is he's likely to attend a special school at least part time) of services.

This wouldn't be such an issue if the private waiting lists weren't so excessive as well. We would happily find the way to pay for private therapies but where do we start? What should he be doing and with who? It's a minefield of information and right now very little of it makes sense to me. Where we live makes access to a number of services even more restrictive, we do a 60km round trip for the speechie as it is. And I do not live in the country, but in a very large outer suburbanesque town.

I want to feel grateful but it's hard. I am thankful I have access to the internet and to the wisdom of other bloggers because without it I'd still be sitting here quietly weeping or banging my head against a wall.

It is utterly beyond me how people navigate this system cold. I literally have nightmares over this as I watch the days ebb away in the knowledge that every single day counts for him.

I know I'm getting a bit boring about this stuff. I've been made aware of that.

I'm not sorry. If you don't care or don't want to know then GO AWAY AND DON'T READ. It's that easy. Because as boring as it may be to some people this 'autism stuff' is taking up a ridiculous amount of my headspace.

I didn't ask for this. But guess what... neither did my son. And his needs and his happiness are what matter right now.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

If you could help kids with Autism in just a click would you do it?

There's an enormous ranty post coming about the nightmare that is navigating public services for children with autism in this country, and how 'Early Intervention' is no longer really early when you're staring down waiting lists that are years long.

But that's for another day. Today I'm asking a favour.

One of the therapy options we are considering for our little mate is called applied behavioural analysis (ABA). ABA is provided privately and can incur incredible costs to families that are already under pressure. Learning for Life is an organisation that co-ordinates services for families, and also raises funds to try and help take a little bit of that pressure off.

Their annual ball is being held this coming Friday at Leonda by the Yarra here in Melbourne.

Leonda have agreed to donate $1 for every Facebook liker, Twitter follower and LinkedIn connection they get until the end of November in support of Learning for Life.

Will you help? Simply click the following links, follow and 'like' then come tell me you've done it so I can say thankyou.

Leonda on Facebook

Leonda on Twitter

Leonda at LinkedIn

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Inspiring relationships

So there's been a lot of twaddle talk about some Kardashian woman of late and her Guiness Book world's shortest marriage attempt. Because I live under a rock am a busy Mama I will freely admit I really don't know what a Kardashian is or does, but I do know that some relationships are so inspiring they should be shared.

My maternal grandparents had that kind of relationship. I'm not going to hit you with a family history but I do want to tell you about some of the things I grew up witnessing as an example of marriage.

My grandparents were very affectionate. Not overtly so, but there were always gentle touches and loving glances that the eyes of my childhood would notice.

When my Grandma was pregnant and suffering morning sickness, Grandpa would bring her a cup of tea in bed and it was a tradition that continued. My family would roadtrip interstate to see them every year and in the mornings we would go and jump in bed with them and my Mum would bring the tea tray for them.

They would start the day with a bath together. This never really struck me as unusual until I was older, and now it seems to me like a beautiful way to connect at the start of the day.

My Grandpa had a stroke when I was in my twenties. He was heavily incapacitated and they needed to move from their country home to the city so he could access the necessary services.

It must have been such a challenging time for my Grandma, nursing her invalid husband who was unable to communicate for a long time. But I never heard her speak of it being burdensome. In fact even as she was dealing with issues many of us might find distasteful she did so with pride that she could afford him some dignity.

My Grandpa died three years later. At his funeral my Grandma was stoic and even upbeat. She knew he was at peace and that she'd join him again someday. To this day she speaks of him with such love and affection.

I've no doubt they had their disagreements, that their relationship had rocky patches as they always do... But to me they were and are an amazing example of how two people can grow together over time.

I'm grateful for the love of my grandparents.

What relationships inspire you?

Thankful Thursday: In for a penny...


Last week we took our big boy to have an assessment. He's been having some trouble with school again and after the small boy's diagnosis a few things kind of clicked into place.

Unlike the day of that assessment I did not cry this time. I went in unconvinced that the big boy fit the criteria for anything in particular, and walked out with the knowledge that he has high functioning Aspergers. We're still awaiting the final report in which our lovely psych will also address the possibility of moderate ADHD.

Being told that your child is not neurotypical is never going to be a pleasant thing, but after the shock and grief of our little man's autism diagnosis we've pretty much taken this one in our stride and I am grateful for that. In honesty I still have days where I drop my bundle entirely and weep buckets over the changes in both our boys and in our understanding of what's going on and I expect that may be a long term thing, but I am so thankful that generally I keep calm and carry on.

The difference with the big boy is that he is old enough to understand he is different. He can verbalise a lot of the things that make him feel 'other', he knows that he reacts diferently in some situations but doesn't know what to do with that knowledge. It is a blessing that through this blog I met Marita and her beautiful girls as my big boy is quite besotted with Annie, and has developed an understanding of Aspergers through our talking about her. In fact he himself said that he thinks he is a lot like Annie sometimes, and the idea that in fact he is (we're not talking labels with him because people are people, rather some behaviours they have in common) is not a negative one for him..

I sometimes wonder if my foray back into blogging wasn't the universe preparing me for what this year would hold. Had I not started typing again around the start of the year I'd not have known the understanding and compassion of the many amazing Mamas who have walked this path before me. In particular Suz and Marita have held my hands every step of the way. They've known my grief and they've given me hope.

So today I'm thankful that whilst I have two children on the autism spectrum, I also have a wealth of support and love carrying me through the hard days and celebrating the victories with me. I am grateful for the diagnosis that will hopefully allow my big boy a little more support and compassion at school, and enable me to find my own compassion for him more readily with a better understanding of his needs.

Monday, November 7, 2011

A Babygirl is One

Dear Babygirl.

A year ago today at just after 11pm you were born into water in our family room. From the moment you began to emerge no one touched you but me. I scooped you up out of the water as you were born and held you to me, my beautiful baby daughter. Your Dad and biggest brother were the first to see you after me. Your big sister came in to meet you as soon as she heard your cry.

Your big brothers and sister think you are wonderful. They have adored you from the moment you entered their worlds. They love to play with you, to carry you around, to make you laugh. And you laugh very readily. You start the day happy and continue that way.

The psychic sonographer told me you would be an easy going and much doted upon baby. She was right. You take everything in your stride and whilst you are starting to show your frustration when you want something, and nappy change time is not something you love, you get over it so quickly and are giggling and babbling away in no time.

You have so many words already! You say Mummy and Daddy, you can name all your siblings, you chant 'happppyyyy happppyyyy' often and have just started asking for 'uppies' when you want to be held. 

You sing in the car, loving the sound of your voice changing with the bumps in the road. It is the sweetest sound.

You love moving. All the time. You have been crawling for ages and cruising furniture and have just started climbing up onto things as well. I think you will be walking properly very soon!

We spend most of our days at home with your little big brother. You chase him around the house and he loves playing with you. You get very excited when Daddy comes home from work and the big kids get home from school too.

You absolutely LOVE food. You drink water and milk from a sippy cup just like your brother and think you are very clever. I think you are too.

Dear baby the past year has flown by so fast. I can't believe my tiny newborn is so close to being a toddler already. You are a beautiful happy little soul and we are so blessed to have you.

I love you so much precious babygirl. To the moon and back.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Systems Junkie Series: Superb Spontaneity

It's the final day of the Systems Junkie Series, and now that you're all organised it's important to remember that sometimes all those systems just need to be ignored so you can take advantage of the moment. To finish up I have a guest post from the marvellous Miss Mandy on how she plans ahead for a spontaneous trip to the beach. Of course it doesn't take much to transfer this preparedness to the park, the zoo, or any other last minute family day out.

My kids love the beach.  

Pre-children I did not venture down there at all.

I'm making a conscious effort to embrace the beach, for my kids.  It's natural, it's free, and it’s fun.

I've spent the last two summers perfecting our beach going experience.
With 3 children under 6, we need want to pack quite a few things to make the beach fun, but baring that in mind we need to ensure we can get all our crap down to the beach and back again, as well as keeping tabs on the kids.  

This is a challenge, especially at home time, when everyone has had a great time and used up all their energy.

We limit ourselves to two 'containers'.

Container number 1 = Large Flexible Plastic Tub (with handles)

In this we store:

  • Sand Toys (which are for the beach only, they do not come out for the sand pit)
  • Beach Tent
  • Floaties

On the day we add:

  • Towels
  • Hats
  • Sunscreen
  • Toiletries (e.g. nappies / wipes etc)

Container number 2 = Esky / Cooler Bag

In this we pack:

  • Drinks
  • Snacks 
  • Ice Blocks

And somewhere amongst the two containers we'll off load our personal items such as money, keys, and camera (of course).

Last summer I purchased two beach chairs, the ones that are low to the ground, because I seriously want to be able to sit back and relax, and I needed a back rest!  Thankfully they fold up and are easy to throw over the shoulder.

I love having our beach tub in the garage ready to go.  It helps us to be spontaneous at times, you know those days when it's hot and you think, 'love to go to the beach, nah it's all too hard' well most of it is ready to go. 

When it comes to snacks I'll always try and pack fruit.  This is when the ice packs come in handy.  I also use clip lock bags where possible to seal everything in a bid to stop sand getting in.  I'll sometimes buy a treat from the supermarket too.

When we do head to the beach we like to position ourselves close to the life saving club.  Not only is it logical for safety purposes, our real need is the public toilet.  When you're dealing with swimming nappies, potential number twos..... on a hot day........ OK OK, you get the drift.  At the end of the day kids like comfort, adults like things to be hassle free, a life saving club provide that.

Unfortunately here in Melbourne, we felt a bit ripped off last summer, it was pretty lousy.  We're crossing our fingers for some good quality beach time this coming summer, I mean look at us, we're all ready to go!

I think I'm pretty organised when it comes to preparing for the beach, do you have a really hot tip that I've missed?


A wife and mother to three, Mandy is what some would say a ‘control freak’ but she would say ‘organised’.  A pathological photo taker, she captures the day to day events of her family and shares her families stories, along with tips and advice on organizing, crafting and fun with kids at A Little Space Like Home.

You can also catch her on Twitter and Facebook.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Systems Junkie Series: Loving on your Laundry

I will confess that for all my domestic goddessery (is so a word), it is the laundry that I find most challenging to stay on top of. Not just because of the volume created by my little tribe, but because I just find it the most tedious of all jobs. So rather than bore you with my own laundry systems I have a lovely guest poster sharing their top tips today!


Kelly Exeter - 

Recently Kate put a call out on twitter looking for systems junkies when it comes to household chores. Now this is something I am ALL OVER!! Given I loathe most household chores I have developed systems all over the place to minimise the pain they inflict. 

I put my hand up to do a post on the systems I use in the laundry because once I started working from home, the laundry fairy (my husband) went on permanent strike and I was left to my own devices.

Here’s my top tips:

1. Wash like stuff together

Having my husband abandon laundry duties wasn’t all bad because his modus operandi was to just grab the stuff nearest the top of the basket, throw it in the washing machine and press “wash”. Now we only ever wash with cold water so running colours is not the issue here ... it is the fact that only one sock of a pair would make it into the wash ... or only my running top, but not the bottom ... or only the work pants but not the top. 
Wash ALL the socks and undies in one load together. Wash towels in one load together. You could even wash all the clothes from a given person together if one person in your house (like my husband!) throws everything in the wash after one wear. More on why this works well below.

2. Hang your socks on the line already paired up

Sounds too hard? Too anal? Sounds like it will make the hanging up experience take twice as long? Trust me it doesn’t and it will make your life immensely easier later in the process.

3. Fold socks and towels off the line

Have you ever looked at the sock basket, shuddered and decided to leave it for another time? Yep, me too. As mentioned above, what I now do is hang all socks already paired up on the line. Then I fold them straight off the line and into the basket. Sure beats ferreting around in a basket full of black dress socks trying to figure out which ones match up.
I do the same with towels, fold them straight off the line and into the basket.

4. Put those babies away!

Because you’ve washed ONLY sock and undies together, or ONLY towels together, now that they are all folded (straight off the line) and not mixed in with t-shirts and shorts and all other manner of other clothing, you can take them straight to where they live and put them away.

5. Separate the hangables and the foldables

If you’ve followed the steps above, then you should really only have tops and bottoms to fold now. Firstly, pull out anything that hangs up and ... hang it up.
This should reduce the pile RIGHT down. Then I usually quickly go through the pile and turn anything that is inside out, the right way. THEN I get folding and can knock a basket off pretty quickly. 

THEN I make sure to put everything away straight away because if I make the mistake of returning a basket of folded clothes to the laundry, by the time my husband has rifled through it looking for something ... it’s not so folded anymore! 

So there you go – this is process I use to keep my laundry under control. I hope you have found them useful but if you have any other ideas, please let me know! 

Kelly is a small business owner and professional lifehacker. She is
passionate about productivity on both a personal and professional basis and
you can find her writing about these topics here. You can also find Kelly on
twitter most days.

What's your best laundry tip for loving on your laundry?