Saturday, September 29, 2012

The systems junkie strikes back!

There are two types of people in this world. This who go to party plan parties and those who host them. Actually three, because what about the party plan people themselves? Oh and I guess four because there are probably people who don't love party plan anything at all, but I don't think I know any of them.

Once upon a time and a couple of children ago, I was actually a party plan manager. It was an amazing time in my life that truly empowered me as a person, and because of that I will always be one to sing the praises of the concept.

I also figured out early on that when you host a party you usually get loads of awesome free stuff, or big discounts on what you wanted to order. I am a tightarse fan of discounts so I generally fall into the party host category.

I was invited to a different kind of party a while back. An Enjo party with a difference, in that the demonstrator was in fact Barb De Corti herself. If you don't know who that is, she is the woman responsible for bringing Enjo to Australia! It was a special party just for bloggers, but on the day I was unable to make it *insert sadface here*.

Oooh la la 
 However because the Enjo crew are very generous they sent me a huge bag of products to use. I've hosted Enjo parties myself in the past (surprised?) so have been very comfortable using the products and know how well they work. And I have to say I love cleaning without chemicals. Especially given I have a boy who licks all of the things.

Washed and ready to clean up my world!

My favourites are the kitchen and body products. I'm really wary of using sprays and chemical cleaners on surfaces that host food preparation, and I've found the cleaning mitt does an excellent job on our benches which are usually covered in a fine layer of flour or breadcrumbs.

Have you used Enjo products? Would you like to? I am very excited to be able to offer one reader a fantastic kitchen care range valued at $247 and comprising the following:

1 x Kitchen Glove - $49.00
1 x Kitchen Miracle - $44.00
1 x Kitchen Mini - $35.00
2 x Allpurpose Cloth - $70.00
1 x Marble Paste - $49.00

Oh and in case you didn't already know, the marble paste is AWESOME. Love it for putting sparkle back on my sink. Love.

You want it? Here's how!

1. Leave a comment telling me your least favourite household chore. This is a game of skill, be creative!

2. Click here to connect with the Kate Says Stuff and Enjo Facebook pages, and to register your email address.

Easy peasy! The competition will close at 5pm on Saturday October 6th and the winner will be contacted by email within 24 hours of that time.

Good luck and happy cleaning!!

Friday, September 28, 2012

#OperationMOVE - Sprint to the finish!

Can you believe we are approaching the end of September already?

Lucky we still have a few days left for those who are wanting to blast to the finish line and smash their totals!

So here's what is gonna happen. I've updated the tally up to last week as you can see below (I had to rejig the table, it was getting out of hand!).

Today I would like your total for the week, then on Monday I will have you check in on my Facebook Page with your final tallies so we can find the winners of the great RedBalloon prizes! Please be sure to check in there during the day as I will be contacting the winners on Tuesday.

Easy right? Right.

There is just one more thing you need to do for me though... and that is to think about your October target. How have you gone this month? Smashed it? Life got in the way? Use your results as a guide to your commitment for next month and remember to have faith in yourself!

I am upping the ante a lot for October, and setting myself a goal of 800 minutes. Because I am worth it!

Oh and because YOU are worth it, I'll be announcing a fabulous new RedBalloon prize on Monday as well, so watch this space!

So, as we move into the final days for September:

Let's bring this baby home with a bang!

#OperationMOVE is proudly sponsored by RedBalloon with thanks to Digital Parents Collective.  

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Thankful Thursday: the new boy.

By the time you read this, I will have survived a long road trip interstate with my sister and six children between us. Well I'll assume I've survived it anyway. We may be out of our minds, but we have good reason.

Because by now I will have met my precious new baby nephew <3

I adore newborns. I love having one myself, although those days are done for us now. I love holding them. I love the way they smell. I love their solemn little faces.

I love that the whole world lies before them, but all that matters is their parent's love.

It makes me sad that the little new boy is already a month old and I've not been able to get here sooner, but such is life with a family that spreads across the continent.

Instead I will be grateful that I have a car to drive over here. That we have a roof over our heads for the time we are staying. That I get to spend some bonus time with my other sister and nephews, and that I am blessed to have three sisters in the first place.

When we found out our little miss thing was a girl I was ecstatic, because I know full well the joy a sister can bring. I'm sure brothers do too, I just don't have any to know about it.

So forgive me if I'm brief, but there is a very small boy I need to gaze upon for as long as I can.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

You don't know me, but I am you.

This is a guest post by StitchSista.

Soon I will be 40, but inside I am only 19.
I am a mother, a daughter, a wife, a friend. Just like you.
Once upon a time I felt beautiful. Nowadays, on the outside I'm practically invisible. On the inside, I grow stronger daily.
Sometimes I lean left with my homebirthing, hippy la la ways. I breastfed all my babies until at least two or three. And even for awhile two at the same time.
I also love Aussie Rules passionately and think the boats (but not the people) should be stopped.
Classical music can move me to tears with its beauty, but I listened to Tool while birthing my son.
I've kissed both men and women in my life. I don't believe sexuality is a choice but rather a spectrum.
I love real food, and that includes animal flesh. But I would cry to see an animal hurt cruelly or needlessly.
A feminist and a humanist I will defend a womans right to do whatever she wants with her body, even if there is a baby inside.
Fiercely loyal I have ridiculously high expectations of people, especially myself. I fail daily.
I am an atheist who believes Jesus was a man who lived. If there is a god he or she is already in me.
The more I learn, the less I know. And I wish my thoughts were more original.
I believe that people are inherently good, and the bad ones weren't loved on enough. (Although truthfully, the brain is all chemistry and electricity and I can't be sure it's not faulty wiring.)
Every day right now is a slog, to get started, to keep going. But I have three children, so do it I must.
I love myself. I hate myself. Repeat.
One thing I know for sure is that I am not one thing, one opinion, one outfit, one tweet. Myriad thoughts and experiences make me, me. I bet you're the same.
So I don't know you, and you still don't really know me. But we are human, and so in the ways that count we are the same. I wonder how much better the world would be if we remembered that.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Would you drug your kid?

Hi, I am Caroline (Mrs Ceee Ceee on Twitter). I am a pom on an adventure in Melbourne. I love it here, but it is very far.
I am here with The Saint, the love of my life and my two boys. Boy Wonder is 11 and has Asperger's Syndrome. Cheeky Monkey is 8 and very cheeky. Together we are muddling through the challenges of being expats and having a unique person in our family.
I love: macarons, chocolate, Melbourne coffee, diamonds, hot air balloons, seahorses (the daddies have the babies don't you know), rabbits, rainbows, the smell of freshly washed children, my boys.
I dislike: two-faced people, fresh tomatoes (soup/paste/sauce is fine), the smell of dirty boys, bullies.
In my previous life I was a marketer, brand manager and salesperson. It seems like a very long time ago.

Image Source
When Boy Wonder was first diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome my first thought was "What are we going to do?".
We looked into programs helping children with ASD. Like most parents of children with Special Needs we search out therapies that we hope will make a difference to our child. We are all looking for 'The Magic Wand',  that we hope will change our lives for the better.
Recently my psychologist gently reminded me that no therapy would change BW's diagnosis. It would just give him skills to manage his condition better. She's right, of course. So, we continue to pursue support for BW through school and externally. Looking for skills that will help us all.
In the past few months, Boy Wonder has been tested to confirm what we all know. He is too high functioning to qualify for an aide.
Bittersweet news. On the one hand, I am excited at how bright and intelligent my boy is. On the other I am dismayed that the help he needs so badly in the classroom won't be available to him.
The results have also thrown us another curve ball.
It is highly likely that Boy Wonder has ADHD as well as Asperger's Syndrome. Again, this wasn't a huge shock, the idea of ADHD had been in the back of my mind for a year or two. Obviously, we are all coping fine, so another condition to deal with is great! (Imagine I am saying this in my very sarcastic voice).
Almost immediately, the subject of Ritalin and other medications were raised. Straightaway, The Saint and I take very different views. He is imagining a saner life for all of us, while I am worrying about turning my child into a spaced out, drugged up zombie who bears little or no resemblance to the bright, vivacious child I currently live with.
'Google' Ritalin and the potential minefield is there for all to see. Ritalin - the new party drug, side effects, scare stories. It's enough to send you mad.
I talk to Boy Wonder about how he feels during one of his excitable 'high' moments, or when he is excessively asking random questions. "How does your head feel right now", I ask.
"Busy and Fizzy" he replies.
How must that feel for him? It sounds exhausting to me.
I wander into my favourite territory. "What if ?"
What if it changes who he is?
What if it damages him permanently?
What if it leads to depression and psychosis later in life?
My list is never-ending.
So what to do? We are meeting with our fantastic pediatrician in a few weeks and I will listen to what he has to say.
Then we will decide.
What would you do? Does your child have ADHD? Do you medicate?
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Sunday, September 23, 2012

It's not you, it's me...

No really. REALLY. It isn't you at all.

It's just that I've been banging out carefully crafting writing posts here for a fair while now, and I've not really taken a break as such.

It's okay if you want to see other people. In fact I encourage it! I promise I won't feel jealous or sad or throw a tantie or anything.

But I'm taking some time off to finally meet my baby nephew, to spend time with my family and to have a bit of a rest. Truth be told, I've not been doing so great of late and I need to refocus and re-energize a little bit.

I have some fantastic guest posts lined up for while I'm away, as well as some awesome competitions. And you know I won't be able to resist the lure of Facebook or Twitter entirely. It's a break, not a break up ;) And of course Thankful Thursday and #OperationMOVE are scheduled to run as always, so don't be thinking you can slack off there either.

And when I come back refreshed and renewed I hope you will be waiting with open arms... because a change is as good as a holiday, but a holiday is even better.

Play nice!

Saturday, September 22, 2012


This is a guest post by my clever, beautiful and remarkable sister Kym. I cannot believe I have not yet gotten to squish this baby nephew of mine!!! Soon though, very very soon <3

My lovely husband and I welcomed a beautiful son into our lives a month ago... a miracle baby, who like all babies, is a screaming peeing pooping demanding hungry hungry hungry bundle of bliss. We are  completely in love with him but freely admit that this learning curve is a steep one! And we aren't totally new to babies, we have three nieces and four nephews and very honest sisters and brothers! But of course... when it happens to you...

Oh but he is lovely. He is so very very VERY cute (I am not biased, I swear it), and doted upon by the plethora of loving supporters who stood by us during our journey to this point, who cried with us when we thought he would never be possible, and who cried with us again when he came to be!

I'm enjoying his little quirks every day. He is a master escape artist - this was clear from about day three. I suspect his hands have a different brain to the rest of him and insist upon flying about, slapping him in the face, pulling on his cheeks, grabbing hold of everything, and upsetting him no end! Which we are assured is very normal. In a baby, anyway! So we wrapped him from the get go, and this worked fantastically! Until day three. Then his hands developed foresight. Every time we went to wrap, those arms shot straight up and with all the strength in his little body they would stay there and be almost impossible to pull down to his body for wrapping. Suddenly it was a challenge! And even when we managed to get him wrapped well, it wasn't long before we saw those delicate little fingers creeping out of the top of the wrap as though about to make a run for it (reminds me of Thing from the Addams Family). As soon as the hands were out, the arms followed, then flailing slapping *thunk* *tears*... oh those hands have so much to answer for!

And his feet! Oh good grief. The little gap between buttons on his onesies is just big enough for a foot to make an escape. He frogs his little legs up and those feet end up in all sorts of places - often down the same leg of his suit (freaked me right out the first time, I had no idea where his leg had gone for a moment in my sleepy haze and thought I must be dreaming as I gazed at the empty suit leg! Of course then I noticed the other leg was twice as fat).

Rogue Foot!
So, when my lovely and very supportive sister Kate (who, along with another sister is keeping me from falling into a messy puddle as I start to work out this mothering caper) asked if I wanted to try a swaddle bag/suit to review, I figured this would be right up my little son's alley.

I was sent the Love to Swaddle Up (original) by Love to Dream and I loved the promise it held. My son didn't love it right away though... his little rogue hands, while covered, were suddenly free enough to *thunk* *thunk* *thunk* his face all night long! We tried it again the next night however, and suddenly it was a different story. He started using his hands to suck on the suit, to touch his face more slowly, and he slept a whole lot better! Thank goodness, cos I was not keen on going back to wrapping!

The fabric is lovely and soft (we have t-shirt sheets on our bed and it reminds me of that). It's very stretchy but holds firm around his little (often engorged) tummy. The zipper is double ended so that you  can unzip from the bottom to change nappies - love it cos he doesn't like getting cold! The top zipper pull is covered so that it doesn't irritate his chin or neck, and I LOVE that he stays in it for feeds and those little hands no longer jump in front of his mouth just before it gets to the nipple. 

Muuuuuummmm... what the hell is this?!
Ohhhh wait.... ohhh yeah. Noice.
I'd love to tell you that he suddenly sleeps for hours at a time but he's just too hungry for that at the moment! But I have noticed that when he is asleep it is less fitful and disrupted. We have put those cheeky hands in their place at last!

So, while I have the floor, so to speak, I'd like to take advantage and ask this audience of mums three questions, purely for my own interest!

1. What is the best advice you were ever given as a mum?
2. What genius item or trick did you discover along the way?
3. For those with more than one child - what did you learn from your first that made life easier with subsequent babies? What changed?

Thanks for your collective wisdom in advance!

Your chance to win...

We are offering two lucky readers the chance to experience the benefits of the Love To Swaddle UP by winning an exclusive Love To Dream Gift Pack containing:

An Original Love To Swaddle UP
An Organic Beanie
An Extra Large wash bag to look after your swaddles

To enter please leave a comment addressing any or all of Kym's questions above. Because Mums have to stick together right?! 

This is a game of skill and chance will play no part in determining the winner. Entries close Saturday 6th October at 5pm and winners will be contacted by email within 24 hours, so make sure you leave a valid email address!

Good luck and sweet dreams.

Friday, September 21, 2012

#OperationMOVE - Moving with kids!

Pop quiz hot shots.

For those of you with children, how are you finding the time to move?

Is it a priority for you? Do you have set times to exercise? Do you leave the house or work around them? What is your very best tip for exercising with kids?

I am pretty restricted in that the majority of my exercise is done in the company of two small people. I am SO grateful for my treadmill which lives in the playroom, and less grateful for the fact that they have figured out that once I've started running I won't be stopping for a while, and they systematically trash the room as I helplessly look on. Cheeky buggers. Still it is a small price to pay to prioritise myself for a little while each day.

They know the routine now too, and once I hop off the treadie will wander out to the lounge with me for stretching. My small girl loves stretching with me. She loves sitting on top of me when I do floor stretches too which is less helpful.

Still it makes me happy that they are absorbing that exercise is just something that Mum does a fair bit, and is part of our daily routine. It feels like good role modelling or something.

So check in time! How are we all travelling this week?

If there's a blank space near your name and there shouldn't be, my apologies! Please be sure to let me know your updates! My total for week 3 is 196 minutes which is pretty awesome if I do say so myself! I'm well on track for my 600 minute total coming in at 514 so far. Gonna smash it!

So how about you? On track or need to do a little catch up?

Next week I'll be doing things a little differently... as we head towards end of October there will be a quick check in post next week with a final tally post going up on the 30th. Great time to start thinking about your October goal as well!!

I'm adding a linky for anyone who is keen to blog their #OperationMOVE activities and it would be great if people wanted to check in at those blogs and leave some comment love as well. We're all in this together right?!

You are welcome to grab the #OperationMOVE button over there on the right too.

#OperationMOVE is proudly sponsored by RedBalloon with thanks to Digital Parents Collective.  

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Thankful Thursday: Roll On Holidays!

You know you've reached the end of term when the days start to drag on interminably. When you feel like you couldn't bear to make one more school lunch. When 4pm feels like it should be bed time.

This has been the first full term for my big kids at their new school. It has been a really positive term with lots of highlights, but we are all well and truly ready for a break.

A couple of weeks to enjoy mornings without stress or rush.

A long awaited road trip to finally meet my beautiful new nephew.

Days with nothing to do but just hang out and play and (hopefully) enjoy some sunshine together.

I cannot wait.

I know some people hate the school hols, and it always makes me a bit sad to read about it. Sure my kids can get cabin feverish and annoying at times too, but they spend so much time away from me and are growing up so quickly... I want to treasure these days while they last. I know all too well how fleeting they are.

So the countdown is on at my place, we have so much to look forward to over the holidays! I'm going to be taking a little break as well, and have some great guest posts lined up for you as well as some awesome giveaways happening... be sure to check in and see what's occurin'.

Are you counting down to the school holidays too?

Monday, September 17, 2012

I am a product of my society, and it is sad.

I was given an amazing gift recently. I spent a few hours with the amazing Ulyana having some photos taken for a project she is working on.

Sounds awesome right? It totally was. A fun and exciting experience even with my Little Mate (who was unwell) in tow. A dream come true in fact.

But here's the rub. I don't really like photos of myself these days.

I'm turning 36 in a month, and surprise surprise I look like a 36 year old.

Ulyana is a very talented artist, and the photos are stunning. And yet when I saw them my first reaction was to pick out my flaws. Those parts of me that, were I in a magazine spread, would have been photoshopped out.

There's something really wrong with that isn't there? I felt so beautiful at the time of the shoot. And the reaction when I shared a couple of the photos on Facebook and Twitter made me realise that in fact they are photos of a beautiful woman. That I am a beautiful woman. But it is sad that my first reaction was to pick myself to pieces.

Maybe it is because of the groundwork laid by my eating disordered history. Maybe it is because we so rarely see images of women that haven't been retouched in any way. Maybe it is because despite my age I feel like I am 24 inside, and it is a shock to me to see that I am not.

I don't know.

What I do know is that when I finally took my self-destructive blinkers off and looked at the photos as anyone else would, I was struck by the person that I saw.

This woman has four children. This woman does not get more than 6 hours broken sleep a night, on a good night. This woman is all things to four (well five) people all the time.

This woman needs to release the demons of her past, and remember that what her children see is all that truly matters. And her children think she is beautiful, even without the makeup.

Sometimes I need a reminder that life isn't a magazine cover, and that all I need to be is the best version of myself that I can, no matter how that looks.

I'm so grateful to Ulyana for the opportunity, and that I have photos of what a 35 year old me looks like. And you know, she looks pretty damned good when it comes down to it.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Like a slap in the face with a wet fish...

You know that thing where you KNOW your diet is a bit ordinary, but you don't think about it too much because you are busy and have a household to run and besides that you are totally doing exercise these days so surely it doesn't matter too much?

I am so guilty of this.

Here's the thing. I feed my children three nutritious meals every day, along with lots of healthy snacks. They are ALWAYS hungry so I have lots of fruit and chopped up veggies and stuff like that in the house. But somehow despite that I don't seem to eat breakfast myself very often (apparently coffee doesn't count as breakfast... what?!) and some days I skip other meals as well. I do make up for it in snacks any time after 4pm. Not necessarily the healthy snacks I feed my kids though.

I've been aware that I need to address this issue for a while now. Especially as I am moving more, my body needs more fuel and that fuel shouldn't REALLY be entirely processed sugars. So shocking I know.

I was given the opportunity to have my diet assessed by a qualified nutritionist at Diet For You recently and it took me a while to decide to do it, because sometimes it is nicer not to know right?

But I got brave and provided my food intake over a few days for analysis.

My BMI is healthy and towards the low end of the scale. Yep knew that. I'm in a healthy weight range for my height. Yay me.

But then...

Not really a surprise, but YIKES when I see it like that! The report has given me a real wake up call. It is all good and well to be exercising my butt off but if I'm living on saturated fat and sugar the benefits of moving are far less than if my diet was more appropriately balanced.

Since I got my report I have been determinedly eating home made muesli with lots of fibre and grains and nuts every morning. Along with my coffee. A woman has to function.

I've upped my water intake and have become far more aware of grabbing some fruit or veg to snack on before the chocolate.

I'm not gonna win any 'best diet ever' awards because bee sting buns are a thing. But I am going to remember that pie chart (mmmm pie) before I reach for the family block of chocolate from now on.

Are you like me? Do you do all the right things for your family but somehow not for yourself?

Diet for you would like to provide three of my readers with their own Diet Assessment Reports so they can fall over in shock become more aware of what might be lacking in their diets too.

To enter simply leave a comment telling me what your biggest foodie weakness is, and use the nifty widget below to register your entries.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
I received a personal diet analysis and admin fee for the purpose of this review as per our disclosure policy. I hope when you win your own nutritional analysis your pie charts look a little nicer than mine. Mmmm. Pie.

Friday, September 14, 2012

#OperationMOVE - Do you like to move it?

My mate Kim mentioned the other week that #OperationMOVE had given her an earworm.

Because I am a pain in the arse caring soul I thought I'd find the best version I possibly could and share it with all of you. Do you like to move it?

Go now. Grab your kid. Your partner. Your cat. Crank it up and MOVE.

You are welcome.

I'm loving the #OperationMOVE tweetstream, so fantastic to read your efforts each day! For those not on Twitter you are welcome to ping me on my Kate Says Stuff Facebook page at any time and let me know how you are doing as well. This is all about support and encouragement!

If you are looking for some ideas to help up your minutes, be sure to check out Crash Test Mummy's Crash Fit Program as well. Great way to add to your tally!

So it is check in time for week two of September.

This week I achieved a long term goal. I finally ran 5kms straight. It wasn't fast, it was very hard, but I did it and I am still grinning about it! I'm doing as much as I can now because I'm going on holidays later in the month, and for this week am stoked to add 185 minutes for this week. I'll be keeping a running tally so you can see how it is all adding up as we go.

If there is a blank next to your name I do apologise, I had some trouble tracking back through all the comments so please do let me know what number should be in that blank spot!

Don't forget to check out the lovely prizes from our Sponsors RedBalloon as well!

I'm adding a linky for anyone who is keen to blog their #OperationMOVE activities and it would be great if people wanted to check in at those blogs and leave some comment love as well. We're all in this together right?!

You are welcome to grab the #OperationMOVE button over there on the right too.

#OperationMOVE is proudly sponsored by RedBalloon with thanks to Digital Parents Collective.   

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Thankful Thursday: My Son

Four years ago today, I was preparing to meet our new baby boy. It was my last full day of that pregnancy, although I did not know it yet. I was tired, sore, impatient and over it all.

No one assumes upon falling pregnant that their child might be different. No one goes into the journey of conception with the idea that disability might play a role on their future.

With our Little Mate, we had a couple of years of 'normal' development (although with the benefit of hindsight there were already signs that something was not quite the same). It wasn't until he was well into his third year of life that things started to really seem amiss.

Disability in general was not something I'd had much experience of first hand. I considered myself a sympathetic person and thought I was very good at being inclusive. As it turns out, I had no idea how condescending sympathetic can sometimes be even with the best of intentions. For all my wanting to be seen to be a good and upstanding person, I had missed a key point; one that only becoming a mother made clear to me... the fact that people are people regardless of ability, and that they are lovable and loved. That labels mean nothing to a parent, and should mean nothing more than ways to get the help and support needed to anyone else as well.

Of course it is not that simple, nothing ever is.

But today on the eve of my beautiful boy's fourth birthday, I am grateful. I am grateful for the gift of him in our lives. I am grateful for his huge smile, for his glorious 'nuggles' and for his loving nature. I am grateful for the diagnosis that helps us care for him in the best way we can, and I am grateful for the fact that the past year has opened my eyes to a world I was fairly unaware of before.

I know that in many ways our challenges are so minor, although of course for us at times they can be all consuming. But even on the hardest of days, he is still my son. Simply that. I love him with every beat of my heart and I would do anything in my power to protect him. He is a child and to be cherished, just the same as every other child. Regardless of their differences.

To my darling boy, I hope you have a super fun birthday tomorrow. I cannot believe you will be four, the years are passing so quickly! You are tall and strong. You are funny and you love your brother and sisters so much. You amaze me every day with the things you can do, and with the things that you try so hard to do. Thankyou for sharing your world with me.

You will always be my baby no matter how many years have passed, and I love you. I loved you before you were born, I loved you the very minute I first saw your little-old-man baby face and I will love you every minute of my life. You make me want to be a better person. You make me want to make the world a better place for you. Thankyou my son.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Scaredy Cat from Ballarat.

For the last year or two, every time we have driven past the city my Big Boy has pointed at random skyscrapers and told me how much he wants to go to Eureka Skydeck. Every. Single. Time.

I have no idea where this has come from... but then he has also told me that my Mum (his beloved Nanna) has been there and went on 'The Edge' and she screamed, which is about the point that his story falls down because Nanna is not a screamer for starters. Besides which I asked her and she assured me she has never been there. When I told the boy that though he replied that she must have just forgotten. Mmm hmm. Okay whatever.

Anyway when RedBalloon gave me the opportunity to take my big two for an adventure I realised I could make my boyo's wish come true. I didn't think so hard about the fact that I have a fear of heights until later on. Whoops!

So we dropped the little two at child care and made our way to the city. The closer we got the more my stomach tied itself in knots, and I was not alone. My big girl told me she had butterflies as well, so I put on my super brave face and tried to convince her (and myself) that it would not be scary at all. She believed me at least.

I was so glad that our RedBalloon vouchers were prebooked as it meant once we had parked we just passed over our tickets and were ushered to the lifts without delay. The elevator goes up 88 floors in less than 30 seconds (did I mention I don't like elevators either?) so I didn't have time to panic any further... we were at the top in no time and my boy was bounding out of the lift.

As we stepped out of the elevator I was stopped in my tracks. Despite my stomach lurching over how high up we were, there was no denying that the view was spectacular.

Two awestruck kids... the girl even forgot about her butterflies!

View of the Yarra

And the other direction, gee I wonder who took this photo!
Arts centre on the right too <3

A very different view of a Melbourne icon... that tiny green dome around the
middle is Flinders Street Station!
We gave over our tickets for 'The Edge' experience and picked up a pager for when our turn came. It came far too quickly for my liking. Just as I'd adjusted a little and forced myself within a metre of the windows 'beep beep beep'!

We were given cloth slippers to put over our shoes then allowed into the glass box, at which point my heart was absolutely racing. I clung to the rail with one hand and my daughter with the other as my boy figured out where he wanted to stand. The door slid shut and the opaque glass box started sliding out from the building.

As it slid to a halt there was a clunk sound then suddenly the glass walls, floor and ceiling cleared and we could see through to the cars below, the sky above and the city stretching out forever.

I'd love to tell you that I was so overwhelmed by the view that I enjoyed every second, but the truth is that I was so white knuckled and my teeth were clenched so hard that I had my work cut out to say to the kids 'Ohhh isn't it lovely, how amazing!'. I think I was far less convincing this time, but they were both utterly enthralled and loved it a lot more than I did!

Least convincing 'I'm not freaking out' smile ever.
Of course as soon as we were back in the building my son wanted to do it again, but I needed a wander to calm my nerves so we looked around some more. In many of the windows there are these kaleidoscope type thingies on poles with the name of the landmark which you will see through them. We spent ages look at all of these and I regaled my enthralled children with stories of city adventures from my younger days. Well, I did regale... but enthralled may be a bit of a stretch.

Earned these!
Watching the world go by from on high.
Melbourne landmarks...
... through the kaleidoscope
We spent the better part of an hour gazing, and I think it is fair to say that my boy's expectations were met and then some. Once I realised that the likelihood of the building being blown over was remarkably slim I really enjoyed it as well. I'm so grateful for the opportunity to have a day with my big kids doing something really special.

We headed back down to earth both literally and figuratively, having had one of those experiences that memories are made of. I'm so thankful to RedBalloon for the opportunity to do something my son had desired for so long, and the chance for my big girl and I to be super brave and proud of ourselves as well.

If you'd like to test your limits or do something amazing for someone you love too, RedBalloon have a special offer for you:

Offer: Spend $129 or more on any RedBalloon experience, and receive $30 off. 
To redeem:  Visit and enter the promotional code REDMUM08 at the checkout to receive your discount. 
Terms and Conditions: Offer valid until 31/12/13. Promotional Code can only be used once per person. All purchases are subject to Red Balloon T&Cs, for full details see:

Thanks to the team at Digital Parents Collective for inviting me to be a part of the RedBalloon Experience Program. I will be sharing my awesome experiences with you over the next 6 months. Stay tuned!  As always, all opinions are my own however the experiences are complimentary. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Two steps forward...

Just one of the kids <3
I've not written about our child care adventures for a while.

This past week, my Little Mate has gotten his bag out (along with his sister's) the night before and spent ages talking to me about seeing 'Rellie' who is his carer. He has been excited and tells me over and over again about how 'Mummy go Mummy's car go bye bye (Little Mate) no cry'. We rehearse me saying goodbye many times.

Some mornings the reality is still hard and he cries as I walk out the door, but more often he is happily waving me goodbye so long as all the steps in his rigid schedule of events once we get there go to plan.

I sign them in, we put their bags in a locker, we take Little Miss Thing to the toddler room where she happily runs off to play with her friends, we put the coats in the right place then we walk into the Kinder room where he launches himself at Rellie as soon as he sees her.

It is such a blessing to see him so happy there now. Last session when I picked him up Rellie told me that he had been 'just one of the kids' that day. He had asked to put on a dress from the dress up box. He had played in the cubby with another child. He had eaten lunch (although he still won't sit at the tables with the other kids) where beforehand he was not eating there at all. My boy is coping, and even thriving in that environment.

As tends to happen I am discovering, the effort required of him at child care means a huge increase in self stimulatory behaviours at home. To be honest I have had a really REALLY hard time of late as he lapses into gibberish more and more often. His temper is short, he is physically aggressive with me and the other kids and if things do not pan out as he expects them to the meltdowns are longer and louder and more violent than they have been in the past.

During his night wakings he often spews forth streams of nonsense interspersed with random words related to child care, which tells me that even in his sleep he is so busy processing everything from his days there. On the very bad nights I lay there and wonder if it is worth it... I am exhausted and his increased need for me to be with him constantly can be quite wearing.

BUT when I hear that he has achieved something new all that exhaustion falls aside. He completed a pasting for the first time ever last week. Such a small thing for any other kid... but a huge leap for him (and one that took over an hour of one on one direction, help and supervision from his carer). That he is learning, that he is growing... We still see periods of regression and maybe that will be the way of things always (as it is with all kids really). There are periods where I just want to weep for how hard it can be not just for him, not just for me, but for our whole family...

But his smiling face wipes all that away. He will turn four this week, my son. And four may not look like we imagined it would when he was born, but gosh it looks pretty amazing anyway. He is changing constantly as children do, and I am so privileged to watch it happen.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Embarassing Tickle.

This post is sponsored by Bisolvon Dry Honey Lime Pastilles.

When I was in Year 11, our exams were held in the big hall on our school grounds.

Row upon row of single desks and chairs, and a foreboding silence as hundreds of girls madly filled page after page with the contents of their head, hoping that they’d paid attention and wishing they had studied more.

I sat in my English exam and madly filled the pages along with them, trying to ignore a tickle in my throat.

The harder I tried to ignore it, the ticklier it got.

I swallowed and tried a little cough to clear my throat.

Ticklier still.

I covered my mouth, and coughed as quietly as I could in that silent room… tears started running down my cheeks from the effort of silencing that tickle. But it would not be silenced.

The students around me turned and stared. The supervising teacher on the stage glared at me and indicated to another teacher that maybe someone should come and talk to me.

Cough cough random sneeze cough, echoing around the room.

My nose was running at this stage too. A teacher took pity on me and supervised my way to the toilets so I could have a drink of water. Finally the tickle had met its match, as I was marched red faced and sore throated back to my seat to complete my exam.

I got a B on it from memory.

To this day in situations where silence is necessary, quite often that dry tickle cough will return. I’ve decided since that it is some sort of nervous reaction, and a very unpleasant one at that.

Meeting someone I respect? Tickle.
Trying to maintain a very serious conversation? Tickle cough.
About to step on stage for a public speaking gig? Tickle cough splutter.

At least these days I am well prepared, as I always have a packet of pastilles and a bottle of water with me. That embarrassing tickle has me well trained.

Bisolvon have a Facebook Page called I hate people coughing on my head, which is a good name because who doesn’t hate that?

I want to hear your dry cough catastrophes! I’m giving away three $50 iTunes cards (courtesy of Bisolvon).

To enter, please leave a comment telling me your own dry cough catastrophe. The three most creative and entertaining comments will score themselves an iTunes card, nice right?!

Are they as embarrassing as mine?

Terms and Conditions
Giveaway open to Australian residents only.
Employees or family of the Promoter are not eligible to enter.
Entries close 5pm (AEST) on Saturday 22nd September 2012.
Winners will be selected on the strength of their answers (game of skill) and no correspondence will be entered into.
Winners will be notified by 24/9/12.
Winners will be notified by email and announced at Kate Says Stuff.
Your entries may be shared via the Kate Says Stuff and I Hate Coughing Facebook Pages.
Any entries posted by the Promoter to Facebook will be accompanied by the first name you use to post your comment.

Good luck!!

* For more information about Bisolvon products visit or speak with your local pharmacist, doctor or nurse practitioner.

Always read the label. Use only as directed. If symptoms persist, see your healthcare professional.

Friday, September 7, 2012

#OperationMOVE - I'm a cheat!

Cheater cheater pumpkin eater.

We're a week in to #OperationMOVE and I have to confess I've been cheating.

But not in the way you might think...

I've been tweeting my exercise as I do it via the Runkeeper app, and you can't cheat that. But I've been doing a heap of incidental, quite heavy exercise and not tracking that at all.

This is our first Spring at our new property, and with Spring has come the need to get on top of a lot of yard work. Around 6 acres of it in fact. So the gorgeous sunny days earlier this week saw us outdoors for hours sawing and chopping and carrying (and admittedly riding the mower to the bonfire pile, but then lots of heavy lifting at that end too). I spent a lot of this week feeling absolutely stuffed truth be told! And while in fairness I think I could easily add at least a couple of hours worth to my total minutes for the week given that I worked up a sweat, had sore muscles for days and it was additional to my usual movement, I've not done so but I'm happy in the knowledge that I've moved even more than I'm claiming.

Here's the thing with cheating. I have no way of knowing if you actually do the minutes you tell me you do, and it kind of doesn't even matter because it isn't you would be cheating, it is yourself. The whole point here is to do something awesome to make you feel good, not to have the highest commitment number or the fastest running speed or anything like that. Some of us have injuries, some have challenging circumstances... We'll all do what we can and be proud of that yes?

Anyway, I've made this nifty little table (design geek I am not, sorry!) to keep track of our efforts.

What I've tried to do is use usernames where real names aren't immediately obvious in the assumption people use those usernames for privacy reasons. If you want me to change your handle please do let me know. Also if I've inadvertantly left you out I am very sorry and again, pull me up on it!

So time for the week one check in!

Personally, I've run three times since the start of September for a total of 126 minutes. I know checking in on a Friday won't give full totals for this first week for some but that's okay because it will balance out over the month. I'll update our table each week with progress totals so we can all go yeeha and woohoo for each other.

So how has your week been? Have you moved?!

It's not too late to join in by the way, anyone keen please feel free to add your commitment for the remainder of the month and jump on board. And don't forget we'll be giving away two great prizes at the end of the month thanks to RedBalloon!

#OperationMOVE is proudly sponsored by RedBalloon with thanks to Digital Parents Collective.   

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Thankful Thursday: Striking Teachers.

By which I mean teachers who strike, although both my big kids' teachers are quite striking as well.

In a life long ago, the one before parenthood, I was a teacher. I thought I would have returned to the classroom by now but life had other plans. These days I have other plans too, but I'm grateful for the experiences I had because without them I'd not be so confident in the direction I plan to take.

Anyway there was a teachers strike yesterday, and while I know it can be an inconvenience to parents I support and respect the rights of our teachers to fight for reasonable pay and conditions. And if anyone wants to have the 'teachers get great holidays' argument with me, click away now. Just saying.

I digress again. My little two had child care yesterday so my big kids and I had some rare time together. We had a most excellent adventure that I'll tell you about next week, but more than that the ability to have conversations without interruptions from smaller people, the decision to make an impromptu stop at Ikea without it destroying anyone's rigid schedule... It was just a blessing to spend the day with them.

We did a lot of kilometers. We talked. We sang. We held hands as we walked around. I was reminded yet again that these two carry a lot of responsibility that other kids their age don't understand. That they are growing up so quickly, my first pigeon pair.

I'm so thankful for my bonus time with them. They are remarkable children and I am so blessed.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

She Means Well - an anonymous guest post

She means well

Such a damning phrase.

We have a mum at school that is passionate about the environment. So passionate.

She means well.

More often than not you can find her somewhere at school going through the rubbish bins to make sure people are putting the right things in the right bins.

She means well.

God forbid you forgot to remove the hard plastic handles off the soft plastic bag before putting it in the soft plastics recycling bin. The hard plastic handles should have gone into regular recycling. That bag will be pulled out at assembly as demonstration of our unacceptable recycling behaviour.

She means well.

One memorable day she emptied the contents of the dumpster into the school principals office then took 2 hours of the principals time sorting out what could have been reused and what could have been recycled.

She means well.

The sustainability display in the school foyer has a small ziplock bag of glitter attached to it, glitter recovered from various rubbish bins around the school. Mute testament to our wasteful glitter usage.

She means well.

The photocopy room has boxes, paper printed on both sides to be shredded, colored paper printed on one side to be reused, plain paper printed on one side to be reused, using fresh sheets of printer paper is discouraged.

She means well.

The post school Christmas party clean up ran an hour over time as she emptied all the rubbish bins into the school oval and checked that the correct rubbish was in the correct bin.

She means well.

The recycling program is being pushed through new additions and changes coming faster than students and staff can keep up with.

Make a mistake, risk an hour long lecture on sustainability and recycling. 

She means well but her intense passion and policing of the rubbish is off putting and alienating. 

Recycling seems so hard, unachievable. 

Monday, September 3, 2012

If a picture is worth a thousand words...

Then it would take millions of pictures to express how very much I adore Spring.
It is my favourite and best.

Our trees are starting to bloom <3

My little two love to run screaming amongst the washing as I hang it. As you do.
It is cuter than it sounds.

Camellias and cyclamen... ohai colours in my garden <3

The third hardest working member of our household now that the sun is shining!

Wet washing hanging on the line, drying very quickly when the weather's fine.

Running out of doors. Our side paddock is 250m a lap. I know this because the back and house
paddocks were still too soggy to run in! #OperationMOVE just got more fun!

Ohhh the pretty flowers <3

Sunny days were just made for jumping!

Love my garden helpers.

There are about 6 different varieties of daffodils around our property, and even more
bulbs coming up at the moment that I don't recognise yet. LOVE surprises in the garden.
Cold drink at the end of a warm busy day? Sure, why not?
Is Spring your favourite season too?

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Shopping, kids, and other unfortunate combinations.

If there is one of these with a dodgy ankle breaking wheel you can bet that's
the one I will grab. Another reason to shop online ;) Image Source.

Apparently some people have children who happily walk next to them through the supermarket and helpfully pop things in the trolley with nary a whinge or demand for junk food.

I am not that person.

In fact, a supermarket shop with my little two can be nothing short of nightmarish, especially when my Little Mate either freaks our over the light/sound/people or spends the entire time reading every single price tag in the place. Do you KNOW how many of them there are? Loads. Hundreds. Thousands even.

So when I was asked if I would like to trial Coles Online delivery service I did not think twice about it. I was kind of surprised that they deliver all the way out where I live to be honest!

I've used a few different grocery delivery companies before, so am well familiar with the upsides of the concept. I can do my shopping at any time (although with Coles I need to plan a few days in advance as I can't book an order for the next day, I assume because I do live out the back of beyond!). I get to shop in my pyjamas and uggies with a vodka in my hand if I so choose and no one can see how much of a bogan I am. And the best thing is that I can leave the shopping to tend to children then come back as I am able, PLUS I tend to spend less even with the delivery charge because I don't have those dangerous confectionary/bakery aisles in my face. I find it much easier to budget than when I do a shop in store.

So the first order I placed was smooth sailing. It arrived within the delivery window and was delivered by about the nicest delivery guy I have ever met. He was extremely helpful, especially as I had two small people hanging off my legs and yelling. He was so courteous and it was an excellent experience.

Unfortunately my second order was not quite as simple. I'd ordered a delivery window for just after I'd dropped all the kids at school and child care. I had a LOT of work to get through and because I work from home thought it would be perfect to be able to get on with it while I waited for my order to arrive.

I got a call just as I was pulling in to the child care centre, letting me know that there had been a breakdown and my order could not be delivered until that evening which did not work for me at all. I did what any grown woman facing the loss of precious child free time would do and threw a massive tantrum.

The woman who called me from Coles Online was lovely, and very understanding. She let me know my credit card would be refunded and because it was a Friday they rushed through the refund and kept in touch with me at each stage so I was aware what was happening. I did appreciate their follow through like that, especially after I had a big hissy fit on Twitter about it all. And of course I realised later that had I elected to pay by EFTPOS upon delivery some of that stress could have been avoided, but then the thing with breakdowns is that they can't be anticipated. I'm married to a Supertrucker, so believe me I know ALL about that frustration.

Anyways, after I did a mad dash around the local supermarket and had a big teary (because I do not cope with last minute changes, I just don't) I got over myself. The company were very helpful and professional and even thought the situation sucked I can't fault the response of Coles Online themselves.

So to my third order. I'd scheduled it to arrive between 3.30 and 5.30, and had ordered stuff for dinner that night having run the pantry and fridge down. It was a big order.

At 5.25 I started getting twitchy. By 5.30 I was having a minor panic. At 5.35 I called the Coles Online customer service centre and spoke to a lovely man who followed up as best he could. The driver for my delivery had not called in to say he was late so we could only assume he would arrive momentarily. He also credited my account for free delivery on my next order with his apologies.

Unfortunately the driver did not arrive momentarily. We had a guest staying, I had hungry grumpy children and anyone who knows what arsenic hour looks like can imagine the state I was in. By ten to 6 I ordered take away from the 'local' place (I live in the country, local here isn't quite like local in the suburbs) and loaded up the grumpy ones to go and pick it up.

Predictably my order arrived while I was out spending too much money I hadn't budgeted for on rubbish food, about 25 minutes after our delivery window. I'd love to tell you that the driver (a different one) was apologetic but according to the people I left here while I was picking up dinner, he wasn't in the best of moods himself. Understandably I was a little nonplussed by this point.

I did however receive an email the following day from Coles Online, apologising and letting me know that they would be reiterating with their drivers the importance of letting them know when they are running late. I appreciated the prompt follow up and have found Coles Online themselves very helpful and concerned. While the situation was far from ideal, the company itself dealt with it appropriately and in a timely manner.

So. Would I order from Coles Online again? Absolutely. For general convenience it is well worth it, and I think I must just have had some very bad luck to have had issues with two out of three orders. In both those cases the Coles Online team have responded promptly and appropriately... although I'll not run ourselves so low on groceries again whilst awaiting an order just to be on the safe side.

Disclosure: I received a credit to my Coles Online account for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own as per our disclosure policy.