Friday, August 31, 2012

#OperationMOVE - time to commit!

Last week I outlined my grand plans for world domination my idea to help us all feel a bit more awesome. I have been STOKED with the response, and clearly I'm not the only one who needs a bit of a nudge to keep moving too.

So tomorrow is Spring Day. YES! It is also the first day of the rest of your life. What are you going to do with it?

I asked you to think about how many minutes you will commit to yourself for the month of September, and I've done the same. My personal intention is 600 minutes, and with your support I know I can do it.

Today, I want you to leave a comment with your commitment to yourself. Next week I'll be putting up a table with all our details and I'll update it each week with minutes completed so we can all cheer each other on.

Flexibility. I'd like me some of that.

For those that meet their September goal (and please remember there aren't any medals for doing the most, your goal is YOUR OWN and based on your own personal circumstances), you will go in the draw to win one of two 5 class yoga passes with thanks to RedBalloon. Each pass is worth $60 and available nationally, how nice would it be to add some gorgeous yoga into your October minutes?

Because RedBalloon are awesome, they also have a special discount code for Operation Movers, so maybe you'd like to reward yourself at the end of each month too?

If you spend $129 or more on any RedBalloon experience (and I'm gonna be sharing some ace ones very soon) you can receive $30 off! Just go to RedBalloon and enter the promotional code REDYOGA12 at the checkout. The offer is valid until 31/12/12 and the voucher code can be used once per person. Full terms and conditions can be found here.

So nice one hey?

We have our own hashtag (because I'm a bit like that) #OperationMOVE so feel free to tweet how you are going! I'll be watching out and hopefully we can get a great healthy supportive conversation going on over there as well as Spring progresses.

Are you ready to commit? Hit me with your best shot! Or, you know, your minute commitment. Either/Or.

And while we're at it, for my bloggy friends we even have a button over there on the right! Feel free to pop it in your sidebar, or any posts you might be writing about your journey to a more active you!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Thankful Thursday: Spineless

Image Source
There are some issues that are very close to my heart. Issues on which I suspect I will never be swayed.

As I get older though, I find that my thoughts on any number of things continue to change and evolve. That where once I was convinced of my rightness, a huge grey area has crept in. I listen to the arguments for and against, and find myself wavering from my original position.

Possibly this makes me a little spineless. A bit wishy washy.

But I find that in fact I am happy to be a bit spineless.

I've watched people so deeply entrenched in their own dogma and militant standpoints that they alienate people they once purported to care for. They use their beliefs like a pointy stick with which to poke and prod others until they capitulate, either out of genuine agreement or just feeling so beaten down that they don't want to engage any further.

Deep seated belief is a fine thing, and holding firm to things that you truly believe in is admirable. But surely not at the expense of the self esteem of others? At what cost the need to be 'right' all the time?

This Thursday I am feeling thankful for my fence sitting ways. The past year with my Little Mate has opened my eyes to an awful lot of new realities, and I think opened my heart in a way it has not been before. I am happy to be wishy washy, if it means I am capable of suspending judgement and truly seeing what has always been there. I am thankful for the ability to understand that relationships mean a lot more to me than being 'right'. Especially when so often, there is no right... just different.

Fellow Thankful Thursday crew I need to apologise for my lack of commenting the past few weeks. My Little Mate has been having a very challenging time of late and where I once could comment everywhere I'm currently lucky to get around to read you all.

I am SO PROUD of our little community here, and how it has grown. I love that every week we put our gratitude out there on the internet and into the world. It is a powerful thing.

But I need to admit here that I may not make it around to comment again today, although of course I will be reading. And I'd like to ask for volunteers who might like to help pop around and show as many people some comment love as you can, while I wait for things to settle down a little more in my own life.

It is Thursday, and I am so thankful for your understanding <3

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Fix it.

When my Big Boy stacks his motorbike and hurts himself, I can give him cuddles and bandaids and sympathy and I can fix it.

When my Big Girl is overtired and overwhelmed, I can lie in bed with her and draw butterflies on her face until she falls asleep. I can fix it.

When Little Miss Thing throws yet another tantrum because she is nearly two, I can sympathize and be there to calm and soothe her afterwards. I can fix it.

When my Little Mate wakes eight times a night, when he loses the plot trying to make me understand him, when he is overwhelmed by the world, when he lashes out at other people, when things do not go as fits his rigid schedules, when I cannot magic his beloved Nanna out of thin air... I can not fix it.

And some days I really wish I could.

Not him. He does not need fixing.

But sometimes maybe the world does.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Breastfeeding Wars

In an earlier time I have been what some would consider a 'breastfeeding nazi'. I never thought of myself that way, but I can see how the assumption was made. I have been very open about our breastfeeding history and I know full well that the choices we have made are not ones that many people are comfortable with, and that is okay.

This morning an article popped up in my Facebook feed that I found very upsetting. The short version is that a representative of the Australian Breastfeeding Association had made some very inflammatory and upsetting statements within the setting of a breastfeeding class for expectant parents.

Let's assume first up that the article has been written for maximum impact, by which I mean not that the statements were innaccurate but that the article has been written to receive exactly the kind of emotive reaction that I had.

I have long supported the ABA. I do not believe for one moment that these comments are indicative of the stance of the organisation, and in fact the counsellors I have known have been vocally and actively supportive of helping mothers transition to formula feeding where it is needed. It is so upsetting that the comments of this one person can tarnish the reputation of an organisation that exists to support mothers.

I have long ago realised though that even the least emotive language can cause extremely strong reactions when it comes to issues around mothering. The presentation of facts can be misconstrued where a person's individual circumstances do not allow them to take them as just that, facts rather than judgement. And I'm not sure who is to blame for this. Not the women themselves, I suspect the societal and cultural biases within this country.

If I were to feed my nearly 2 year old in public chances are I would garner some filthy looks. I've had it happen with my other children. I hear that for some women feeding their baby with a bottle receives the same kind of reception. We absolutely cannot win until as a society we learn to respect choice, even when that choice does not mirror our own preferences.

I believe all women deserve to be supported and aided in the quest to breastfeed. Not by midwives smacking a new baby against their breast (yep I've had that happen too, and I know I am not alone there either) but by experienced, qualified and sympathetic professionals who genuinely desire to help.

For some women, breastfeeding will not work out. Others may choose not to for personal reasons.

I've reached an impasse. I once believed that those who choose not to breastfeed should try harder, or should address their own issues around it. But how can I advocate for the right to bodily autonomy... the right to choose to birth at home or in the hospital or however else... how can I argue for the right for a woman to own her body without also respecting the right to choose not to breastfeed? I still believe a media that embraces lace covered artificially enhanced breasts rather than those being used to feed a baby has a lot to answer for, but at the end of the day who I am to judge any woman's choice for her own body?

I am horrified by the fear mongering approach this particular woman has taken. I am saddened deeply by what it does to the breastfeeding advocacy cause, because I am absolutely an advocate for breastfeeding support myself.

But most of all I am sad that yet again women are being pitted against each other. Being made to choose sides where no sides should be taken. Not being shown the respect and understanding that ALL mothers deserve, regardless of their individual choices.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Operation MOVE. Are you in?

Because moving makes you feel AWESOME.

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I plan to be buff by Summer. Because life is life, adhering to strict guidelines and plans just does not work for me, and I suspect I'm not the only one.

So I had this idea, and I'm wondering would you like to join me?

There are three months of Spring. My favourite season, oh glorious Spring.

My plan is to commit to a certain number of minutes exercise for each month of Spring. This isn't about calories or weight loss plans or anything like that, this is about moving more and feeling good. It is also about being held accountable because as the past months have proven I sometimes need someone to give me a bit of a push in order to keep moving.

My thought is that only you know the circumstances of your own life, therefore only you know what is actually possible. I want you to think about how many minutes you could exercise for in a month, then add a little bit.

So for instance, I want to commit to at least three 45 minute sessions each week. 3 x 45 x 4 = 540 minutes. So I'm gonna add another 60 minutes (which is only an extra 15 minutes per week) and commit to 600 minutes of exercise for September.

For me, I want to run. I need to get back into it. But because I have lots of children challenging children a lot going on that may not always be possible. So some days I might blast some music and dance around with my kids. Because that is exercise too. Maybe I will take a walk around our property with my Little Mate. Guess what, still exercise. It counts!

The idea is to commit that time for yourself. Not competitive. Not restricted by ability level. Just saying "I am worth this time and effort." and feeling better about yourself for it.

I'm calling it Operation MOVE.

And because I sometimes need a little extrinsic motivation (maybe you do too?) I've been talking to the generous people at RedBalloon, who are offering some amazing prizes each month for those of you who want to join in. I have some really exciting RedBalloon experiences of my own to share in the next six months, and wanted you to be able to have some too!

So what say you? Do you want to be your very best self by Summer?

Here's what you need to do. Next Friday I will be sharing my own commitment, as well as detailing what you might win if you choose to take part.

During this week you need to work out how many minutes you will commit to. If you can commit to 100 minutes for September, that is excellent! Maybe you want to aim for 300, go you! This is about YOUR life and YOUR commitment, and we are here to support that.

Next week you can post your commitment on your own blog if you have one, or leave a message in the comments here. Each week we will update with how we are going towards our targets and how we are feeling about it all.

Are you in? Are you ready to MOVE?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Thankful Thursday: A change is as good as a holiday.

Actually let's be honest, unless it is a mind blowingly awesome change it's not gonna match a trip to Fiji. But I love reorganizing and decluttering and pretty sparkly happy things so this change is making me very happy.

The amazing Sharnee from Suck My Lolly has given me a makeover! I am besotted with my new look. The colours, the layout, it is giving me joy.

I do not like Winter (you may have gathered by now) and I feel like my new look is like a preview of Spring.

When I started this blog I had intentions of sunshine and lollipops. Then my kid got diagnosed with autism and life threw a series of unforeseen whammies at me and I had to realise that while my intentions were still positivity focused, some aspects of my life just cannot be fluffed over or rainbowed away.

That's life right? And I try hard to keep smiling even when I'm at my lowest but reality is reality.

That said, it will be easy to smile when I cast my eye over my lovely new look.

But enough about me, what do you think of me? ;p

For those that have a blog roll, I have a shiny new button over there on the right and I would so love you to add it!

And of course we have a brand spanking new Thankful Thursday button as well! Just over there, on the right. Please be sure to add it to your Thankful Thursday post today.

It is Thursday and I am thankful that even if Spring hasn't Sprung yet, I have colour and happiness in my life.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

When he says.

When he says 'what's the point?' I know the path we are heading down.

We've been there before, we will go there again.

Three words. Just three words. But they turn my laughter to silence, and cause me to think so hard about anything that comes out of my mouth in the dark times after.

What is the point? You get up, you do the same things every day, someone on your Facebook feed points out that your world is just a speck in the universe, like you don't even matter.

The point is there is life. The point is there is love and laughter and even if you are nothing in the world, to someone you are everything.

There is no point. There is just being. I will keep being, until he sees the point again.

Egg Free Chocolate Hedgehog Recipe (with Thermomix conversion)

Some people have egg allergies. Some people do not like the idea of uncooked egg in their food. Some people often forget to buy eggs when they need them.

I am the latter. But whichever camp you fall into it can be nifty to have an egg free recipe for something delicious anyway.

I've been craving chocolate hedgehog slice lately. No idea why, just have. So here you go.


1 packet Marie biscuits (around 200 grams)
100 grams butter
10 grams (or around 1 tablespoon) cocoa
110 grams castor sugar
150 grams condensed milk

Old School Assembly:

Pop the biscuits in a freezer bag, then put that inside another freezer bag then use a rolling pin to crush them up. Don't overdo it, you want nice chunks going on.

Melt the butter in the microwave or saucepan, then mix in the cocoa and sugar.

When they are well combined stir in the condensed milk. The mixture might look like it is separating a little bit... do not panic! It will be fine :)

Combine the crushed biscuits with the chocolate mixture then press firmly into a slice tray lined with baking paper.

Pop in the fridge to set for at least an hour.

Thermomix Option:

Put the biscuits in the bowl of the thermomix and run it for one second blasts at speed 4 until the biscuits are crushed. It is really easy to crush them up too finely so don't be tempted to just let it run!

Pop the crushed bickies aside, don't worry about cleaning out the bowl.

Put the butter in the thermomix bowl for 1 minute 40 seconds, 90 degrees speed 3.

Add the cocoa and sugar and mix for 10 seconds at speed 3.

Pour in the condensed milk and again run for 10 seconds at speed 3.

Pop the crushed biscuits pack in with the chocolate mixture, and combine for 15 seconds on reverse, speed soft (spoon setting).

Whack the mixture in a slice tray as above, pack firmly and set in the fridge for an hour.

Too easy right? Delicious too! You can ice the slice if that tickles your fancy, but we like it as is at our place.

Om nom nom nom. Enjoy!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Privilege and Ignorance

Recently I had to face up to a not very pleasant part of myself.

My child has autism. He looks just like other kids but he behaves very differently. He spends most of the week at my side and so I see only my son. I understand him better than other people do and I guess I underestimate the extent of his difference to other children as a result of that.

I went to visit a specialist school last week, where he will attend the new kinder next year. It was a challenging visit emotionally for me.

When we see disability on the television we tend to see the bright, happy child in a wheelchair on Sesame Street, or the chirpy little girl with prosthetic legs. And while I am glad to see disability represented at all, what we do not see often is that many are quite physically different again. And some not at all. And I have no excuse for the fact that I don't always know where to look or what to say. That in my want to be appropriate and inclusive possibly I am being condescending instead.

As it turns out, I have a disabled child. And these days people sometimes look at him in the same way, when his behaviour is noticeably different. And then I get the sympathy look or the 'you are doing a great job' conversation.

Whilst that is lovely and well meant, and far preferable to the nastiness we sometimes see, there is an implication that my child is a chore for me to manage. A job to be completed. And I am well aware that I have done the same thing in the past.

All the children I saw at the school are there because it is where they need to be. Some were physically challenged. Some were not. All have someone out there who loves them like I love my son, and who want them to lead a fulfilling life. In a heartbeat I suddenly saw that my son is the same, and that he is different.

And that I have been blind to so much for so long.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Thankful Thursday: Watch This Space

As you read this my sister is about to or has just had her baby boy.

I will be sharing a photo (with permission) as soon as I possibly can.

In the meantime I am so thankful for my new nephew. So thankful for my amazing brother-in-law who adores my sister and will be an amazing father. So thankful for my sister who I love so much and I am so proud of.

Edited to add: Here he is!! My beautiful new nephew Baby M, born this morning. Mum and babe both doing really well. Doting aunty Kate is doting.

New life. Could there be anything better to give thanks for?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The mother and the woman

Somewhere in that haze after the birth of my first child, something was lost. I'm sure it happens to many women... The early days with a newborn are so all consuming, but as the baby got older and more independent I began to wonder where the balance was between mother and self.

Obviously with four children that newborn stage has played out over and over for me. And I LOVE having a new baby in the house. I am excellent at parenting newborns and I feel confident in my ability to do so. The problem lies in that space of time where they get older and I occasionally catch myself wondering where I went.

I am a stay at home Mum. My husband is a linehaul truckie and is away more than half the week, so the bulk of the household chores fall to me by necessity. They can feel endless sometimes, because they are.

Some days the need to be all things to so many people whilst running a busy household is incredibly overwhelming. Sometimes I'll get my hair cut or something 'nice' for myself during the days my little two are at daycare, but it is a shallow attempt to address a deeper issue.

I know I am a different person to the one that existed before I had my children. It is impossible to be otherwise and that is a good thing. But sometimes I'd like to recapture a little of the spirit I once had. I know it is still in there, I'm just not sure how to find it.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Autistic Days

Most days run much like any other at our place. Our morning routine doesn't vary a great deal and aside from the two days a week the littles go to care the majority of the time we spend at home, my little two and me.

This is for two reasons. Firstly it is a decent drive to go anywhere anyway, and secondly my Little Mate doesn't love busy, new places.

But even on those home days, some are more 'autistic' than others. Usually my boy is happy to just potter around home doing his own thing. Other days he tumbles over the fine line between holding it together and losing the plot. Today has been a losing the plot day.

Even though we've done nothing out of the ordinary today, my boy has struggled to cope. He has been aggressive and teary. There have been numerous meltdowns and lots of screaming. It has been a very autistic day.

It is exhausting for everyone, days like this. But I need to take a moment and remember it is exhausting for him as well. The days where he struggles to make himself understood, where I do not respond the way he has anticipated, where his sister exerts her own independence. These days are hard for him too, and neither of us asked for this.

I also need to remember how lucky we are that often he is a gentle, loving child and that days like these are the exception not the rule.

Autism. Never boring.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

One year.

One year ago today I was told that my son had autism.

It would be a few weeks before we received the written report (which I still cannot read without tears), but our psychologist was very confident in her determination that he had autism and an intellectual disability.

One year on any feelings I once had that she was overstating have long disappeared.

When he was assessed, an awful lot rested on my own observations of his behaviour and his infancy. If he were to go through the process today it would be immediately obvious to anyone with experience that he is autistic. His behaviours are noticeably different to those of other children, the gap between his verbal ability and that of other kids his age has widened substantially. Where I once thought he may possibly be bordering on the edges of the spectrum, I now know he is firmly entrenched within it.

So many things have changed in the past year. There was a period of grieving and an inability to fully accept what it all meant for us. Then we had our older son assessed and diagnosed too. It was less of a shock by then, but still very challenging.

I am grateful we had the assessment early enough to start accessing help for our Little Mate quite early. One year on there is still no sign that he will be picked up for Early Intervention because the system is bullshit we haven't won the postcode lottery that is how it works apparently. But I am grateful that we've had access to the FACHSIA funding and he is able to see a speech pathologist and OT.

I am glad that this year has passed. Grateful to be past the initial kick in the guts.

My son is growing up, as children do. Sometimes we see great leaps in his abilities. Other times it feels like we are at a standstill or even moving backwards. Such is the nature of the disorder I am discovering.

But nothing changes the fact that he is my beautiful son. For a while I found it hard to see past his diagnosis. Now I see only him and know that autism is just a part of his genetic make up, along with his blue eyes and brown hair.

It gets better. It truly does.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Sometimes it is hard.

Sometimes I miss my husband so much. Especially on the weekend nightshifts. I remember when Saturday night meant dinner or going out or a party, rather than solo parenting and television.

Sometimes I think I am not doing a terribly stellar parenting job at all.

Sometimes I am so tired I don't know how I will make it through dinner, baths and bedtime by myself.

Sometimes I miss the relationship we used to have, where conversations didn't revolve around therapies, school, child care and discipline issues.

Sometimes I remember a life before children with my rose coloured glasses on.

Because sometimes it is hard.

But sometimes I look at my children and am in awe of the people we have created.

Sometimes I remember that this too shall pass, and in years to come I will look back on these days fondly as well.

Sometimes I could weep with gratitude for the sacrifices my husband makes to support our family.

Sometimes I know that one day it will be just us again, and we will appreciate it all the more for having had the particular challenges that we do.

Sometimes it is hard. Always it is worth it.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Thankful Thursday: The right to choose.


If nothing occurs earlier, something so exciting will be happening a week from today.

My sister will be meeting her baby boy. Her miracle baby.

I'm a big fan of choice.

I chose to have three of my babies in the hospital. I chose to have the fourth at home. I am grateful to have had the ability, the health and the choice to do so in each instance.

My choices are not the same as your choices maybe.

For various reasons my sister is likely to have her baby via Cesarean Section. It may not be her first choice, but it looks to be the best one for her own health and that of her baby.

I am grateful that the choice exists for her. Even though some decisions may be out of her hands, she has time to prepare for it all as best she can. I am thankful for the care she has received so far, and for that they both will receive once my nephew is born. SO thankful.

Sometimes well meaning people will make suggestions based on their own ideas and value systems. The problem with that can be the unspoken implications... the undercurrent of trying to change someone's mind to suit your own agenda.

Imagine if instead of seeing issues through the haze of our own opinion, we could simply support other women even if their choices were in complete opposition to our own. Just imagine...

This Thursday I am thankful for the choices I have made. I am thankful for the choices my sister has made. I am thankful that above all, my nephew and sister will be cared for no matter what happens.

I am thankful to live in a country where such choices exist.

Friday, August 3, 2012

I'm gonna be buff by Summer. How about you?

Earlier this year I did something totally radical. I learned to run.

Radical because in all my 35 years I had never thought myself capable of running. Even as a child I was the one picked last for teams in sport, my lack of coordination evident even at that time.

So I slowly worked my way up to running 4.5kms and was patiently awaiting my medal (which surely must have been lost in the post). Then we sold our house. We packed and cleaned and sorted, and then we moved to the country. And in the busyness of it all I had no time to run, and then I injured my already dodgy back in the move.

It is nearly three months since we settled here, and despite my best excuses I cannot make them any more. My back is not perfect, I still have pain often, but it is as good as it ever gets. My bigs are settled at school. My littles are attending daycare two days a week. We have routine again and it is time to get off my arse find some motivation and get back on the treadmill.

Here's the thing about running. I do not love it while I am doing it, but I DO love how I feel when I'm done. I need the exercise and I deserve to put myself first a little bit too. More than that, my kids deserve a Mum who can keep up with them.

This week I have re-started the C25K yet again at week 3. This time I have a plan.

Rather than beat myself up if I miss a session, I will stick to the program and run the three days each week. If I want to do extra in between I can, but I will not be beholden to it like I was when I was doing 12WBT. That is the path to guilt and failure for me, which is daft when I am doing this for myself.

I will complete the program, and I WILL run 5kms by the time Spring is establishing itself and the days are getting warmer.

By then I should be able to leave the house without freezing to death (I am looking forward to that!) and my plan is that after daycare drop on those two days, I will head to the lake and run around it. It is a 6km run, and I have never run outdoors before. It seems like a bit of a pipe dream to be honest, but then I'd have said that about running at all at the start of this year.

Every year I think I'd love to be fit and looking my best by Summer. Every year I sloth through Winter and do nothing to help that happen. I turn 36 in a few months. If I don't do this now, I never will.

So there you have it. I am going to do it. If anyone else would like to set some goals and share them here, on Facebook or Twitter I would LOVE to hear it. I have a cunning plan coming together that I will share in the next week, to help inspire us to get moving... Stay tuned!

Are you gonna be the best version of yourself come Summer? How are you going to get there? Walking? Running? Gym?

Are you in?

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Thankful Thursday: 9 Years

9 years ago at 1.43pm I became a mother.

9 years ago the whole world shifted on its axis, and I would never be the same person I was before.

9 years ago I learned what it meant to love someone so fiercely you would do anything for them.

9 years ago I was the luckiest woman alive. I still am.

9 years ago, my son was born.

9 years on, I still count my blessings every single day.

Happy Birthday Big Boy. I love you.

PS Remember the presents I was giving away last week? We have our winners!
Connie Morgan has won the Grown Up Bundle, and the Kids Bundle goes to Sonia Mediero! 
Congratulations and please email me :)