Saturday, December 31, 2011

Bye bye 2011, don't let the door hit your bum on the way out!

Another year over, and a new one just about to begin.

2011 has been not at all the year I expected. It was meant to be a quiet year just cruising along with my family.

Instead we've been launched into the world of living with autism as our little mate continued showing more and more oddish behaviors and our big boy found the niceties of school life increasingly difficult.

It's been a year for too many illnesses and where we had an awesome night away at my BFF's planned for New Years Eve, instead we're staying home with two kids battling suspected scarlet fever. Nice one 2011. Well played.

Yep. 2011 has been challenging in a great number of ways, but there have been some amazing things as well.

I have a beautiful new nephew.

My baby sister had the most memorable wedding day in history.

Another sister is travelling the world as I type on her long overdue honeymoon and I am loving reading about it and seeing her photos.

My kids have grown bigger and stronger and funnier and dearer to me every day.

I've found a resilience in myself that wasn't there before. And a strength to stare down the system and a willingness to challenge its failings.

The supertrucker and I reached 13 years together. 13 years. More than a third of my life!

So 2011 it's been interesting. Thanks for the memories. Now away with you because I'm anticipating 2012 and I know it is going to be awesome.

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Thankful Thursday: 2011

This is the last Thankful Thursday for the year,and what a year it has been.

We've been challenged in many ways this year,but we have had a lot to be thankful for as well.

I'm thankful for the diagnoses of my sons as fitting the autism spectrum. I'm so glad we have a direction to take with both of them now and that I can better understand their needs and why they behave the way they do sometimes.

I'm thankful that my big girl had such a fantastic first year of school. She has thrived and blossomed and it is such a joy to me to see her reading and writing and loving all of it.

I'm thankful that my babygirl is growing up healthy and strong. She is truly the most delightful child imaginable and she fills my heart to bursting.

I'm thankful for the Supertrucker who works long and hard to support us. Truly he is an amazing man.

I am thankful for the enormous support I have received here and in my 'real' life through a very unusual year.

And I am thankful to you, for reading my rambles. Thankyou for taking the time to pop in, adding my blog to your reader, following me on Twitter or Facebook, commenting or just quietly reading along... Thankyou.

I have so much to be grateful for this year, and I am looking forward to a whole lot more awesomeness in the new year.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Cool Gelmat Review

As I mentioned in my great big huge mega fabulous and totally exciting giveaway post last week, we've been lucky enough to receive a Cool Gelmat to try out.

My little mate absolutely refuses to have the ceiling fan on at night when it's hot (but likes it when it's cold, go figure). He also insists on having the doona up to his chin due to his sensory issues. We co-sleep and I can tell you it gets very very warm!

We've been trialling the Cool Gelmat for a week or so now, and I have to say I'm very impressed. He got a bit thingy about it the first couple of nights so I used it myself (seeing as I have both his and the baby's body heat either side of me) and it's a funny sensation when you first lie on it... It feels cool against your skin but I've found that passes fairly quickly and then it is unnoticeable. I do feel it has made a difference to my own comfort when using it.

Once the little boy adjusted to having it in the bed I was able to slide it under him once he was dozy and he happily sleeps atop it now. It may be coincidence but he definitely does sleep better on the warm nights with it than without.

The Supertrucker has been using it during the day as well. Our house takes a while to heat up when it's hot but once it does it holds the heat, which can make sleeping during the day pretty uncomfortable. He's loving the Cool Gelmat and reckons we should get another one for him which is high praise indeed.

I've read it can be great for migraine sufferers as well. I don't particularly want to trial that theory but I am prone to migraines so I'm happy to have something new to try in my arsenal.

Overall we are all very happy with the Cool Gelmat and I would happily recommend it for children with sensory issues and hot sleepers.

If you'd like the chance to win one for yourself don't forget to go and enter my 100k giveaway!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas to all...

It's Christmas Eve!

I have four very excited children. Two of them are excited because it's nearly CHRISTMAS and what kid doesn't love that?

One of them is excited because there are lights and colours and both those things really float his boat.

The other is excited because all her big siblings are and it's infectious!

I'm looking forward to spending time with my family over the next couple of days, and taking the time to be grateful for all the blessings the year has brought us.

I'll have the last Thankful Thursday for the year going up this week but aside from that I'm taking some time off to enjoy the Summer holidays. Sleep ins (ha ha ha ha ha), long balmy evenings playing outside, staying in my pyjamas until lunchtime and all those awesome things you can do without the usual daily commitments.

From my family to yours no matter how you choose to celebrate (or not) the season, may the sun shine on you and your heart be filled with joy. Thankyou for reading, I'll be sharing some posts from the vault on my Facebook Page over the next couple of weeks so make sure to pop over there and join in the conversation.

And to all a good night!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Thankful Thursday

Here is what I am thankful for this Thursday, and in fact every Thursday and every other day of my life.

I'm so proud of these children. We've had a huge and challenging year, all of us. But they love each other so much and they fill my heart with joy. School holidays start this afternoon and I can not wait to just hang out with my kids.

That little boy simply adores his big brother.

That big boy finds it hard being the oldest, but he is so protective of his siblings.

That big girl is a delight. She is a beautiful, caring child.

That little girl is doted upon by her siblings and she loves them so much.

I am the luckiest Mum.


The interwebs have made me very thankful this morning.

My dear friend Marita from Stuff with Thing posted a video last night of her daughter Annie talking about the discrepancies in funding for children with autism

Annie is a beautiful girl. She also has Aspergers Syndrome. My big boy adores her. He has Aspergers Syndrome too. They were both diagnosed post 6 years of age and as such aren't eligible for funding support despite the the fact that autism is a lifelong diagnosis.

So why am I thankful? Firstly I am thankful that our small boy received his autism diagnosis when he did. The funding we have access to for him is used towards his therapies that will help him get through life.

Secondly I am thankful that the beautiful Kim over at Frog Ponds Rock has launched a post for donations to help get Annie an iPad like her sister Heidi (who has autism as well) received through the funding.

It is hard to have a sibling with autism as my big kids will tell you. It is harder still when you have two children with a diagnosis but only one has access to funding.

Please help make a wonderful girl's Christmas a little more special and donate if you can.


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Would 12WBT work for me?

I've watched a number of my tweeps over the past few months raving about the 12WBT with Michelle Bridges.

I've been inspired particularly by the efforts of Sarah who has come across as so motivated and driven, and who is clearly reaping the rewards of that.

Once upon a time I was a gym bunny. Loved it. Even qualified as an aerobics instructor. Then I had kids.
I'd have phases of walking a lot, but the past couple of years even that has been tricky as my little mate is my constant companion and can make or break any given situation pretty quickly. Add to that a cheeky babygirl (and the two bigger kids of course) and it can be a bit of a juggling act.

Here's why I'm thinking about it.

I'm not at all interested in losing weight, but I miss having muscle. I miss feeling strong.

I know full well having done nutrition courses in my fitness training how to eat well. That doesn't mean we always do it though.

So tell me 12WBTers, can it be done? Could I truly do the full program bearing in mind I can't go to a gym or anything? I'd need to do it all at home in random grabs of time between child juggling as I don't have care for the little two and the boy is very Clingy McClingster.

I want to feel driven again. I run on an average of 4-5 hours broken sleep per night at the moment. That may or may not change as it's the 3yo with autism who wakes, not the baby. I'm tired of feeling tired and run down. I want to be a better, stronger me for these kids.

Sell it to me people. Tell me how this could work for me.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

A little bloggy milestone and a great big giveaway!

When I started blogging here back in February I had no inkling what this year would hold.

I thought I might have one of those fabbo household organisation type blogs because that stuff totally floats my boat. And lots of recipes because I love to cook. And of course a heap of gratitude posts because that is how I live my life.

And I was ALL OVER the review and giveaway stuff that was starting to pop up.

I had no idea that a large proportion of my posts would be about autism. If you'd told me then that a simple diagnosis would shake me to the core and tear my heart to pieces, then just as those pieces started repairing another diagnosis would push me to the very brink of sound mental health I may not have believed you.

If you'd suggested I might bare the depths of my despair, my distress, my confusion for all the world to see I may have laughed you off.

But here we are, and I am so incredibly grateful that the universe provided exactly what I needed when I needed it... a loving and supportive community during one of the most challenging times of my life.

Anyway enough of the emo kid, because I'm celebrating!

This little blog of mine has reached a milestone you see. It has just ticked over 100 000 pageviews, can you believe it? I'm amazed and thrilled and so happy! I love the community that exists here. I love all your comments and I love the dialogues that they create. I'm a happy little blogger today.

So to celebrate I've been planning something to say thankyou to YOU! I've been chatting with some of my favourite brands over the past week or so and they have generously provided some awesome prizes for my 100K Giveaway! (Meanwhile I totally wish I could give away $100K but that just ain't gonna happen, at least not until George finally Tattses me outta here!).

The Prizes

1. From a beautiful blogger who has been an amazing support to me this year. Love you Denyse!
Denyse Whelan  B.Ed M.Ed
former K-6 School Principal now an Education Specialist.
She is very experienced and now uses that knowledge to guide & counsel parents, advise businesses & brands, and speak to groups about matters relating to: schooling, education, schools
Denyse has double degrees in Education. She has been in education for 40 years.

Her full bio & contact details are on her website:
Subscribe to her monthly newsletter to be informed & up to date.

Denyse congratulates Kate on her blog’s achievements and joins in the celebrations with a prize pack valued at $40 ($1 for each year of Denyse’s Education Career). 

4 Pack – Classic Picture Books by Allison Lester – Australian author
CD Rom – PC Security Software
20 6X4 in – Photo Print Paper
1 Notebook & 3 coloured pens
iTunes Gift Card for $20.00
(degree pictured, and apple shape, not included….) 

2. Cars 2 BluRay & DVD plus soundtrack - RRP $70

You all know I have a little Cars fan at my place. Actually I have a few of them! We were lucky enough to receive an extra set of these when we attended the Cars 2 event a few months ago. I've been saving them for a special occasion... and here it is!

3. Vanchi Supersized Muslin Wrap - RRP $24.95

I'm still loving all over my gorgeous Vanchi Joplin Barrel Bag nearly 6 months on. It is truly the most versatile nappy bag I have ever owned (and I've owned a few!). The wonderful people at Vanchi have contributed a new release supersized muslin wrap for one of you, perfect for the warmer months.

Tired of wraps that don't fit your baby? VANCHI’s Pure Muslin wraps have got your baby covered! A fantastic gift for sleepless parents!

Why Mums Prefer VANCHI Pure Muslin Super Sized Baby Wraps:

Biggest muslin wrap on the market 180 x 110cm. Guaranteed to outgrow your baby, not the other way around!
Beautifully presented in a cylindrical shaped organza gift bag with VANCHI ribbon
Lightweight, supersoft, breathable, machine washable, durable & stretchy 100% pure cotton muslin
Allows baby’s body temperature to adjust naturally to prevent overheating
Swaddled babies sleep better & longer while helping reduce the risk of SIDS by keeping them on their back while sleeping
Versatile by design: They can be used as a swaddle, light weight blanket, nursing privacy cover, stroller cover and more.
Addictive: Impossible to stop at one!

4. Bump, Baby & Beyond - $100 Gift Voucher

For me there is nothing glamorous about pregnancy. I'm not one of those gorgeous glowing types you see with a basketball up their jumper. I'm more the side of a truck with cankles to match type. That said I wish I'd seen Bump, Baby & Beyond's range of maternity wear when I was pregnant because I think I would have at least felt a little more attractive! They have some beautiful and very affordable products for pregnancy right through to kidswear. And best of all if you don't live close to one of their stores you can shop safely and securely at their website.

You can also find them on Facebook and Twitter.

Bump, Baby & Beyond have generously donated a $100 voucher for one lucky reader!

5. Garnier Miracle Perfector BB Cream - 3 sets valued at $83.70

I've been raving about the Garnier BB cream online and off for a few months now. It is a staple in my skincare routine and I can't see that changing any time soon. I love the level of moisture for my skin and the coverage it provides my uneven skintone. Love. It.

So I contacted the ace people at Garnier and asked if I could share a little more BB love around in case there is anyone out there who hasn't tried it yet. They're a fantastic group and have provided me three sets to give away, each includes the fair and medium toned creams.

I can't speak highly enough of this product, I hope you will love it too!

6. Escargot Kids - $100 Voucher

Escargot are new kids on the fashion block with a beautiful range of clothing for babies and children. I am in big love with the Baby Lulu One Piece, so gorgeous! Currently stocking Summer clothing and swimwear this is going to be a brand to watch.

You can find Escargot Kids on Facebook as well to keep up to date with new stock and promotions.

Escargot Kids are generously giving one reader a $100 voucher to use at their website!

7. Inner-B Menu Planning Pack valued at $26.90

You might remember my review of the Inner-B Mum Organiser a while back. I mentioned then that I've been using the Inner-B Magnetic Weekly Planner for quite a while now. It sits at the top of my fridge and is my go to many times a day to keep track of our week as well as jotting down notes and to-do lists down the side.

I LOVE that it has enough spaces for larger families... we even have a column free that I use to plan our dinners for the week.

If you're a bit of a systems junkie too and looking for a great addition to your planning tools for next year then this one is for you. Inner-B are donating a Magnetic Planner along with a weekly menu notepad to help you stay organised when it comes to meals. Hooray!

8. Cool Gelmat RRP $79

One of the challenges we've faced this year is our little mate's increased sensitivity to so many things. At the moment as the weather warms up one of those sensitivities is the need to have covers on at night and his refusal to have a fan on. This makes for some pretty uncomfortable sleeping conditions and we all know how precious sleep (both his and mine) really is.

I read a great review of the Cool Gelmat over at Stuff With Thing recently and had a bit of a hallelujah moment. And it's not just great for kids with sensory issues either, I reckon it would be perfect for those 'hot' sleepers (my big girl is one, has been since birth) and I've heard they are brilliant for migraine sufferers as well.

I'll be providing a full review here soon as we're lucky enough to be receiving one to try out ourselves. In the meantime you can win a pillow sized Cool Gelmat to try out yourself.

You can find their Facebook page here to keep up with all the news as well.

9. Sabco Cleaning Products - RRP $80

So you know by now that I'm a person who needs to clean. Let's consider it cheap therapy yes? But cleaning is not fun unless you have the right tools, and Sabco want to make sure you do!

Sabco are donating a Super Swish Spray Mop and a Super Swish Xtra Flat Mop, as well as a Delicate Surface Microfibre Cloth, a 2 in 1 Kitchen and Dish Sponge and a 2 in 1 Window Chamois Cloth. Truly you will have NO excuse to put off the cleaning any more!

Here's something I didn't know about Sabco until recently... through their strong relationship with Dualware and Yooralla they help support the employment of people with disabilities diffabilities. Acceptance and support of those who face greater challenges is a subject very close to my heart and I'm very happy to have discovered this about the company.

Make sure to check out their Facebook page for tips, ideas and even the occasional giveaway!


So how's that for an awesome haul? You want in right? Right!

Entry is easy, simply use the form below and leave a comment telling me what you'd like to see more of on the blog next year. Systems junkie stuff? Recipes? Competitions and reviews? Less promotion and more personal? Or vice versa? 

Good luck!

How Foxtel Changed My Life

Way back in the late 90's I was a poor but happy Uni student who needed another job to help fund my drunken debauchery lifestyle. A friend told me she had heard that Foxtel were hiring for the call centre in Moonee Ponds and so I went and got myself a part time job there.

A few weeks into training we got to spend some time on the floor double-jacking with other call centre staff. We approached the section we were working with and I stopped in my tracks. There was this guy at the end... I turned to my friend and said "See that guy? I'm gonna marry him."

Despite the fact that I should have been allocated to someone else the stars aligned and I pulled up a chair next to him. In between calls we shared niceties. He mentioned his wife. Oh. And that he was separated, the divorce would be final quite soon. Oh really? SUCH a shame!

I walked away with no idea when or if I'd see him again, but my hopes were high.

A couple of weeks later at the Christmas party we hooked up, I moved in with him shortly after and the rest, as they say, is history.

That Christmas party was 13 years ago today. It feels like a lifetime. It feels like a minute.

I barely recognise the people we were then but I do know that while marriage, 4 children, 9 moves, 2 mortgages, heartbreak, great joy and everything in between have taken their toll on us I love that man as much today as I ever have, and I am grateful to have him in my life.

Also, I love it when I'm right.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Things I Know About Tradition

I'm linking up with Shaefrum Yay For Home who is hosting her Things I Know linky for the last time.

For many many years now my sister and I have done a 'train day' in December. Some years other sisters have joined us too. Train day is all about seeing the Myer windows, the light show in the Crown atrium and whatever other city Christmassy things tickle our fancy.

This year, for the first time since my big two were very small, there will be no train day.

This year we have children ranging in age from 8 years to just one month old. Six of them between us.

This year I have a son who is unable to cope with changes well, and who freaks out at crowds. The idea of taking him on a train and through the busy city seems terribly cruel.

So despite my sadness that our long tradition has been broken, today I gave the big kids the day off school and we headed to the zoo with my sister and her small boys. We'd gone on our 'train day' last year (which funny enough involved no trains) and it felt like a nice thing to do on such a beautiful sunny Melbourne day.

My big girl who is a beautiful little person was terribly excited, and in the car on the way to the city decided that today would be called 'Zoomas', our Christmas day at the zoo. I love that!

We had a great day, and while it wasn't the day tradition would dictate it was fun and relaxed and my little mate coped extraordinarily well with it all.

I hope that next year when my babygirl is a little older and we may have more tools in the arsenal for helping the little mate our tradition might be resumed. But I'm so happy to have had a day with my kids and my nephews anyways.

Off on an adventure!

My boys <3 So excited! And as I tweeted during the day, the fact that the little mate
 is wearing shorts and a t-shirt is nothing short of a Zoomas miracle!

Oh this girl, she has my heart.

How cute are my big two? I know I'm biased but seriously these are some ace kids!

Four kids atop an elephant statue, happy for some and not at all for others ;)

My boys in the butterfly house.

In the glow of the underground seal display.

I love my babies. So. Very. Much.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Thankful Thursday: The Little Things

Yesterday my little mate had a speech therapy session. He spent the majority crying, hiding behind me and just generally freaking out. In the last ten minutes he finally seemed to 'get' the game we were playing (turn taking and waiting). By the end he was calling our speechie by her name and he even gave her a hug goodbye. Little breakthroughs that maybe I'd not even notice in the other kids fill my heart to bursting these days.

My bestie came to stay the night earlier in the week with her beautiful babygirl. My baby does not like other babies. I have no idea why. She was yelling at her and very touchy touchy most of the time, but when we popped them in the bath together they were hilarious! Splashing each other and giggling and just being the most gorgeous little people you could imagine. Loved it.

We got Foxtel installed this week. There's a whole post coming up about how Foxtel changed my life and it isn't for any of the reasons you may think. But I'm thankful that my big boy in particular loves docos and we can enjoy some together, and the the Supertrucker can watch all the cricket his heart desires. Lucky.

Rocky Road is delicious. So delicious. Just. Yum.

I'm not commenting on your posts until tonight because I'm at Ikea with my ace buddy and her spunky boyo. I love Ikea. I'm probably nomming on their cheap breakie as you read this. Yay.

So many little and not so little things making me happy this week.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Holy Shitwell

I have a small boy. He is speech delayed and gets things a little bit mixed up as he learns. His pronounciation of many words is not quite right, in other instances it is so far off that only I understand him. This can be really frustrating for both of us, and occasionally hilarious too.

He is a boy who is obsessed with Cars. I reckon he tells me about 'DaQuinn' at least 20 times a day. Along with 'Maner', 'Finmoo' and 'Holy Shitwell'.

He's a big fan of 'chockit' and I was reminded by my sister last week that when the big boy was the same age he was too, but he called it 'cholack'.

As much as I hope my little mate is able to one day speak as clearly and conversationally as his siblings, I know I will look back on these missayings fondly. He is such a funny little man.

Do your kids inadvertantly (or advertantly for that matter) swear at you?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Menu Monday: The Let's Get Festive Edition!

Well there's no more denying that Christmas is just around the corner. I've been practicing my festive eating skills and they are well honed for the upcoming feats of strength feasts. And if you don't celebrate Christmas there's always Festivus for the rest of us so polish up your aluminium pole, get your list of grievances ready and feast away.

I'm sharing a super easy recipe today. I dare you to just make one batch and not eat the whole lot.

Rocky Road

You will need:
- 200g milk chocolate
- 100g dark chocolate
- 25g butter
- nuts of choice (or omit, your call)
- 10 marshmallows
- glace cherries
- sweetened dried cranberries

* NB you can pretty much chop and change most of the fillings to your taste. I have a thing for glace cherries. It's a problem. Also you could totally use white chocolate and have that real white Christmas thing going on but I've not tried it myself.

Cut the marshmallows into quarters using kitchen scissors, then chop the cherries in half as well. Quantities are up to you depending on your own tastes but I tend to try to keep them pretty even.

I've used almond slivers because someone (I'm looking at you Supertrucker) ate all the peanuts. The almonds are very yummy but I LOVE the saltiness together with the chocolate.

You'll notice an abundance of pink marshmallows as well (still looking at you Supertrucker, and you too big boy!).

Break up the chocolate and pop in a microwave safe bowl together with the butter.

Nuke for 30 seconds then stir. Nuke a further 20 seconds and mix again. From there continue in 10 second increments being sure to really work the chocolate as it can look not as melted as it is and you don't want to burn it.

Combine your fillings with the chocolate then spread into a silicone or baking paper lined slice tin.

Refrigerate for 2 hours or more.

Cut up and eat. Nom nom nom.

How does Menu Monday work? It's a monthly(ish) meme where you can link up an old or new recipe post, just make sure you include a link back here so everyone can find each other. 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Sunday Shout Out

It's that time of the week again :)

Meet Marita. She is Mum to two beautiful girls (my big two adore them). Her girls are funny, loving, caring and gorgeous. They are also on the autism spectrum. Marita blogs about life as she knows it and is an amazing woman. She's also a very dear friend to me and I count my blessings that I met her when I did.

Becky is one of the very first bloggers I started chatting to on Twitter when I waded back into the blogosphere earlier this year. We were lamenting the fact that we weren't at AusBlogCon and from that day she has always looked out for me. I had the pleasure of meeting her at a blogger's brunch midyear and she is just as caring and wonderful in real life. She blogs about family life and also has a review blog which is well worth checking out if you're a bit of a comping fan like me.

Bright and Precious is a fabulous blog written by a fabulous woman. Deb and I have something a little unusual in common... Our babies were born on the same day. Not only that they were both born at home with the same midwives attending. Awesome yes? I love reading Deb's thoughts on so many aspects of family life and parenting and I think you will too.

Veronica over at Mixed Gems is a bit of a gem herself. I love that her posts so often give me pause for thought and her images are just beautiful. She has young children and I find myself nodding along at many of her posts and remembering the world when my big two were small. Go pop her on your reading list.

Dannie blogs about family life with her husband and daughter. If you have older children and are too emo over it prefer not to read about the very little people then this is a great blog for you. Dannie often has great giveaways running so it's worth checking back in regularly!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Things I Know about Vaccinations

It's been a fair while since I last knew stuff on Friday with Yay for Home but as she's wrapping up the meme and moving it on after next week I thought I'd best jump on board for the last couple at her place.


This week I know:

Vaccinations aren't like ear piercings. Jabbing a one year old in both legs at the same time is no kinder than doing one at a time, especially when an arm is going to be jabbed as well. It is going to suck no matter what you do.

A stressed out nurse who finds giving injections to babies hurts her heart probably shouldn't be giving injections to babies.

Ushering the Mummy, small boy and screaming baby into the tiny waiting area so the baby can 'leave the hurting space' is not really helpful. Especially when the Mummy is wearing a dress and the best way to calm the baby is to give her a feed. I've done my bit for public breastfeeding today, I'm surprised Facebook didn't pop up and label me obscene!

An iPhone with a couple of episodes of In the Night Garden on it is a GODSEND when you are spending time in a doctors surgery and a small boy is stimmy stimmy stimmy.

When the nurse looks funny at your son who doesn't respond to her (inane) questions or look at her, and her response to 'He has autism' is a funny look at you as well, it is awesome when the trainee nurse comments that her little cousin is also autistic and wonderful.

Vaccinations aren't fun for anyone. I'm glad they're done with for another six months.

What do you know this week?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Thankful Thursday: the daughter edition

I'm very aware of the fact that I spend a lot of time writing (and talking) about my sons and the challenges they face. So this Thankful Thursday is all about my beautiful daughters.

My big girl is 6. She's nearing the end of her first year at school and she has loved it. Her teacher has been wonderful and she is just thriving in the school environment.

She has curls in her hair and green eyes. She's got the gappy grin going on at the moment and is stoked that her teeth are falling out!

My big girl is as tough as nails. She's lean and wiry and doesn't put up with much from anyone. She can be bossy and manipulative. I love that she's so strong. She's had to be in many ways, but I know it will stand her in good stead for the future.

My girl is optimistic. She's quick to see the silver lining when things don't go her way and she is incredibly helpful and understanding.

I love my big girl so much. I am so blessed to have her and I am thankful for her every single day.

My babygirl just turned one last month. She is an easy going little soul although she's pretty awesome at tantrumming already. I guess you need to get that skill down early in a household as noisy and busy as ours. It's very hard not to laugh when she pounds the floor with her little fists, it is terribly cute!

My sweet daughter has just recently started wrapping her arms around my neck when I pick her up. It is the most delicious feeling in the whole world. She waves (at herself) and says "Hi" and "Bye" endlessly. She does have lots of other words too. For a baby her diction is excellent, especially when she says "Daddy Daddy Daddy". She calls me Mummy, I don't remember the others adding the 'my' quite this young. It is so lovely.

She is so bright this girl of mine. I watch her as she cruises furniture, tries to post things in the DVD player, figures out how things work. It fills my heart and I know that no matter what life throws her way she will not only cope, she will thrive.

I love this babygirl so much. I am so blessed to have her and I am thankful for her every single day.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The ghosts of Christmas Past

Two years ago we'd moved into our new house. We were all settled and by the time Christmas came around our three kids were firmly entrenched and happy in our home. Our one year old baby boy was commando crawling (we called him the wounded soldier as he dragged one leg all the time, great for polishing floorboards with his wondersuits) and was a happy little chappy chasing his big siblings around.

He babbled a bit, had no really clear words yet but we figured the big kids did enough talking for all of them.

On Christmas day my mother-in-law came for lunch and we had a lovely relaxed day together.

Last Christmas that boy was two. He had a brand new baby sister and was coping really well with the changes that brought. He still slept fairly well of a night and was fascinated with her.

He was, we thought, a late talker. He had lots of words but maybe not as many as the others at that age. But he was a boy and the third child and everyone knows kids with older siblings are often able to have their needs met without verbalizing.

He smiled a lot, a huge toothy grin. He looked people in the eye and was openly loving and affectionate. I couldn't believe my luck in this gorgeous happy little bloke, so relaxed and easy going.

On Christmas day my parents and mother-in-law came over for lunch. We had a beautiful day full of joy and laughter. The baby was passed around and loved all over and the three big kids played with their new toys.

This Christmas will be a little different, because our boy is a lot different. More so by the day right now.
This year our boy has less language than he did last Christmas. He rarely looks people in the eye and hides his face when he meets new people. If he looks at you and talks to you, truly you are one of the chosen few.

This year the busy-ness of shopping centres is too much for my son. This year he spends at least part of every single day shutting himself away and gazing into space, occasionally moving his mouth in odd ways or looking out the corners of his eyes. This year he has meltdowns that put any toddler tantrum you've ever seen to shame. This year he has moments when he seems to not even see me, to not even know me when I am right in front of him.

This year my boy wakes every one to two hours overnight. On a good night I can resettle him in about ten minutes each waking. On a bad night we have up to an hour of screams that would break your heart. This year I take painkillers too often of a morning to try and stave off the ever present exhaustion headache.

This year my heart aches a little for the innocence of last Christmas. For our boy as he was then. Because when I really think about the year that has passed the extent of his regression is blindingly obvious.
This Christmas it is a little harder to smile. To think of anything but this all encompassing autism that is never more than a second from my thoughts. This Christmas is about surviving with my mental health intact.

But next Christmas may be different again. I live in hope. Next year will see lots of appointments and therapy and new situations for all of us. Next Christmas my little boy will be four. And no matter where he is on his autism journey he will be loved.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Yummies in your Tummies

I have a confession to make. I was recently given the chance to try the new Lunch Slices by Vita-Weat. I said yes in the knowledge that my kids aren't big fans of anything grainy or seedy or vaguely healthy looking. That's actually WHY I said yes. Because I thought I'd get to gobble them all up myself. I'm a bit greedy like that.

As it turns out I was wrong. When my big girl saw me opening the pack of soy, linseed and sesame slices she was all over me. "They look like squished bread! You could make a sandwich out of them! You could squish them and make worms come out!" (yes, she knows that particular trick already).

Because I am a hungry greedy thoughtful Mum I pointed out the seeds to her. But she was not to be deterred. At that point the big boy wandered in so of course he needed a 'squished crunchy sandwich' too.

Lo and behold, despite the seeds and the evident healthiness they both really enjoyed them. So much so they wanted another. And one for school please. Because everybody knows that bread sandwiches are SO last term.

And so my plan to have a secret stash of noms for me (and the Supertrucker if he was lucky) failed but on the (very big) upside my kids are eating something that has seeds and wholegrains and ENJOYING it. Maybe the key is to try and put them off everything from now on and watch them flock to it?

Would you like a chance to reverse psychology your kids? Or to enjoy some delicious Lunch Slices all for yourself? I'm loving them open sandwich style with a smear of cranberry, a slice of roast turkey and brie. Oh yes. Yum.

One reader will receive a great hamper from Arnott's including the new Vita-Weat Lunch Slices and some seriously awesome gourmet toppings as well.

To enter simply use the form below and leave me a comment telling me how your kids last foiled your grand plans!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Some days...

Some days you wake up as exhausted as you were when you went to bed.

Some days the overtired, grouchy children are just incapable of getting along.

Some days it's all too easy to yell back at them instead of being the grown up.

Some days the mundane repetitiveness of being a stay at home Mum is so blindingly boring you want to scream.

Some days the endless chores seem like too much to bear.

Some days you wish you could just run far away and be all. by. yourself.

Some days you wonder if this is all there is.

But then...

Some day the children will be grown and sleep through the night and you may miss those sleepy snuggles.

Some day those kids will be so protective and caring of each other it will melt your heart.

Some day you will remember to walk away rather than engage, and everyone will benefit from it.

Some day those children will grow up and move out and you will miss these days so much.

Some day you will have plenty of time to yourself, and you will miss those kids.

Some day you will know that this is all there is, and that you are truly blessed in your life.

Sunday Shout Out

Happy Sunday everyone! I have five more blogs to share with you today, hopefully you'll find something new and inspiring among them.

Welcome to Segovia. Suz is a beautiful blogger who has been an amazing to support to me over the past months. She has two gorgeous boys and blogs about them, about life, about lots of things. She also has a great giveaway running at the moment to win a Sabco cleaning set so do check it out!

The I Love You Song is Suz's second blog. Here she writes about life with a child on the autism spectrum. I found her (or she found me) shortly before our small boy's diagnosis. I have spent many an evening reading through her back posts... sharing her own journey of diagnosis, therapy , worry and joy. If you are travelling the ASD journey in your own family this is a fabulous resource. Her boy is now a couple of years post diagnosis and her blog gives me so much hope on the days when I am close to despair. I am truly blessed to have found Suz and her blogs and I am grateful for them every single day.

Birdy Num Num is written by Becci. Mama to three, wife to one and writer of interesting things. I've been enjoying reading about her delving into family history recently... makes me think I should maybe do the same some day. Becci also writes a bit about photography here and there along with sharing life with her (extremely cute) children. Go check it out!

I've known KatePickle for a lot of years now. Since her 8 year old twins were about six months old to be precise. She is one of my trusted circle. She's been there as both of our families have grown and grown. Our big kids played together when they were little kids, she's seen all the ups and downs of my life for the past 8ish years and she is one of the most amazing people you could ever want to meet.

She is also an awesome blogger. She shares her life on the Picklefarm, often has excellent free printables (check out the Christmas letter sets that my kids are currently loving), posts great recipes and openly shares the ups and downs of life as Mum to four children.

As well as all that she is an ace blog designer. See this page you're looking at? As in my one? That's a KatePickle design and I LOVE it!

Also Kate sorry for mangling your header ;)

Jess from Diary of a Stay at Home Mum is in some ways my absolute opposite. Many of our thoughts and ideas on parenting are very different and we're both very open about that. And guess what... it doesn't matter. I adore Jess, she's a great writer and I love reading about her family. Her vlogs are hilarious and she's always around Twitter for a chat and a virtual hug when I need it. Go and check her out. Now.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Christmas Craft - Easy Peasy Rubbishbag Wreaths

I have fond memories of spending many an end of year art lesson in primary school making these super easy wreaths. Many. So many I now wonder how the teacher got away with it!

Back then garbage bags were all that dark green colour, which worked well for this purpose but wasn't as pretty (or as fragrant given how many bin liners are scented these days).

You need:
Garbage bags (bin liners) in one or more colours of your choice.
Old school coat hangers

Simply cut the plastic bags into strips around 5cm wide. The easiest and quickest way I've found is to lay them flat in a pile and cut them with a rotary cutter, but scissors are fine too. They don't need to be perfectly even. I then open them out (so they are large loops) and cut into quarters so I end up with plenty of strips around 5 x 30cms.

Bend the coathanger into as close to a circle as you can manage.

Take strips and tie a knot in the middle around the coathanger.

Repeat many many times.

Even though it's repetitive my big kids love making these while half watching Christmas movies at the same time. You can use single or multiple colours in whatever order you like.

You want them to be pretty full so continue pushing the knots up tight together until you can't any more. Once you reach that stage you can fluff it out and trim to whatever size you like.

My biggles are hanging theirs on their bedroom doors. They're also cute gifts for family and friends. You can further decorate by winding around some tinsel and/or hanging a bauble in the middle as well.

Bet suited for children 5 and up (due to the plastic and ability to tie knots).

 I'm linking up with Kate over at Puddles and Gumboots for her Making Magical Christmas Memories Series. Go check it out for some great Christmas Craft ideas!