Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Sammy Sea Patrol and Surf Safety

I have a couple of very visual learners at my place. While I could talk at them until I was blue in the face, when they have visual cues to help them they absorb information far more quickly and easily. So when I was asked recently if we'd like to try out WOW Toys new Sammy Sea Patrol figurines and truck I thought it would be a good chance to talk about water safety with the warmer weather approaching.

We don't live anywhere near the beach (sadly) but we do love to spend time there. We also have a dam that comes onto our property so while we talked to the big kids about beach specific safety such as swimming between the flags, we also opened up a conversation about safety around all bodies of water, and in particular the need for them to be aware of their younger siblings trying to copy them.

Sadly the best of a zillion photos... when this kid does not want his
photo taken, he DOES NOT WANT HIS PHOTO TAKEN ;)

My Little Mate loves the toys themselves, the buzz of the retracting rope totally floats his boat! And while the actual message may be a little lost on him right now I appreciate that my older children have taken an interest and are hopefully a little more aware themselves now. They role play scenarios with their other toys and I like that a lot.

Sammy Sea Patrol is available at www.kidstuff.com.au and has a ten year guarantee along with the other WOW toys in the range.

Do you have a water babe at your place? I have a Sammy Sea Patrol to give away as well! To enter please leave a comment telling me your best tip for helping kids understand water safety. The competition will end on Friday November 2nd at 5pm and is open to all Australian residents. This is a game of skill and the winner will be contacted via email within 24 hours of close.

Good luck!

Disclosure: We received a Sammy Sea Patrol toy and admin fee for this review.

Monday, October 29, 2012

An Open Letter to PR Reps.

Dear PR people who work with bloggers,

I'd like to say thankyou for all the wonderful products and opportunities that come my way because of you. I do not take them for granted and feel very lucky indeed.

I thought I'd let you know a few things that might make our relationship a little easier on both sides, if you don't mind?

It is seriously awesome receiving packages in the mail. I especially love the surprise packages! If you send me a product and have expectations that I will blog about it, please be sure to communicate that with me beforehand. I love it when I know upfront what the expectations are on both sides. I will admit that when I receive a surprise package and then get an email weeks or months later that basically indicates I am expected to write a post about it, that really takes the sheen off the experience.

I think carefully about the products and services I write about here, and I say no to things more often than I say yes. I owe that to myself and to those who read my blog, so feeling trapped into posting about something I had thought a lovely gift isn't great for relationship building. Conversely a follow up email that simply asks if I received the product and what I think of it opens up lines of communication in a much friendlier fashion.

I don't want to sound rude here, but when an introductory email says 'we don't pay bloggers because we won't pay for opinion', you are likely to get a pretty curt response. You've got my back up and you may not even know why, so let me explain.

Like many bloggers, I charge an admin fee for the majority of my review posts. Sometimes it may be a monetary payment, sometimes a gift card. That fee does not buy my opinion, because my opinion IS NOT FOR SALE. It helps cover some of my expenses in running this blog, it says that you value the time I put into reviewing your product and promoting that post and it tells me that you understand the value of my space. If that sounds entitled I do not mean it to... but my time is valuable too and unlike you I am not paid a salary. I do love many of the brilliant products we have received but sadly they won't help pay the bills.

If you indicate that you'd prefer I not disclose what product/payment has been received for a post then I will walk away. My readers deserve better and so do I. Fair warning.

I've had the pleasure of working with some wonderful PR people, and I am so very grateful for the opportunities that come my way. I've also had my fair share of not-so-pleasant experiences but you won't generally read about that here... I respect what you do and I'd like to think that respect is reciprocated.

With very best wishes,






Saturday, October 27, 2012

The sweet stuff.

So I will confess that I have a wicked sweet tooth. One of the reasons I'm running so much lately is that I feel less guilty about it. If you're looking for advice on how to quit sugar then you are in absolutely the wrong place!

That said, all things in moderation.

We don't tend to have soft drink in the house that often because my kids hike through it and they really don't need it. As an occasional treat? For sure! As an everyday thing? Not for us.

Treats can be nice to have though, so when I was offered the chance to try the new Pepsi Next with the fam I thought hey, why not?

It is a lower sugar version than the original Pepsi (which I will confess I love). 30% lower actually, and sweetened with Stevia which I've heard a lot about and have not much idea what it is aside from something natural. Full disclosure. Ignoramus is me.

I expected to dislike it as I tend to dislike most 'dietesque' products but I was surprised to find I actually really liked it! So much so that I would happily purchase it when we are having a treat.

I can tell you just quietly that it tastes great with my mate Johnnie Walker too. Shhhhh ;)

My big kids were allowed a can each and they both loved it too.

Want to try some for yourself? I'm giving away a gorgeous Pepsi Next gift pack!


Not only will the winner receive all the lovely goodies pictured, they'll also get a $100 Coles gift card so they can go get some other little treats for the family as well!

To enter simply leave a comment telling me your own favourite sweet treat, and use the form below. This is a game of skill and the competition closes on Saturday November 3rd at 5pm. The winner will be notified via email within 24 hours of competition close.

What are you waiting for?


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: We received a Pepsi Next pack and gift card for the purpose of this review. That is how I know it tastes great with scotch. I reckon it'd be the biz with vodka as well. Just sayin'.

Friday, October 26, 2012

#OperationMOVE - When shit gets real.

I've had a slower week and I know I'm not the only one. I've really had to push myself to get moving and I've had a lot of stuff going on that has meant I've been really restricted for time.

I know the next few weeks will be the same and I've had to stare down the part of myself that thinks 'ah it's okay, you can catch up tomorrow' and put her back in her box.

The truth is, tomorrow never comes.

Sure there are lots of really good reasons to modify your exercise or take extra rest days. Injury and illness and family crises happen to everyone.

But when shit gets real, THAT is the time you prove your mettle. THAT is your chance to say to yourself "I am worth it. I deserve to feel good. I am allowed to take time that is just for me."

I was so ready to write off this week. Then I pulled this off.
If I can do it you can too!

So if shit is getting real at your place as it is at mine, here is my challenge to you.

Don't give up. Can't fit in your usual exercise? Instead of writing it off try something else. Ten minutes of push-ups, crunches and jumping jacks are better than sitting on your bum right?

I need to take my own advice, but I think I'm worth the effort.

Are you?

Awesome to see so many nearing their goals, or smashing them already!! Still got a ways to go? Don't give up!! You can do it!

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

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Thankful Thursday: I {heart} my body!


Last year I joined in I {heart} my body for the first time. It was a hard post to write, an even harder one to publish. But in doing so I was forced to address issues and ideas that I thought I'd left long behind. It was a cathartic experience.

This year I still {heart} my body, but my feelings about it are very different to a year ago.

It is still the body of a woman in her mid 30's. It remains the same body that has grown, birthed and nurtured four people. All the reasons that I loved my body last year are the same, but this year there is something more.

This year, this body is stronger than it has ever been.

This year, I learned to run for the first time in my life and surprised myself by loving it.

This year, I have dedicated hours to moving my body, and to prioritising myself enough to do so.


I was the fat kid in primary school. The one who was picked last for teams. The one who limped across the finish line at the school fun run in very last place. The one who would rather be in the library than running around outside.

Obviously those years had a heavy impact on my own belief in what my body can do. I've had periods of exercising, but I've never really tried that hard because deep down I believed I was simply incapable of athleticism.

I am living proof that anyone can do it. Anyone.



At 36, I am so proud of this body. I have a Mummy Tummy and always will have. Age and gravity are catching up as they will for anyone. None of that matters because I pound out 20-40kms every week and it makes me feel amazing, like I can do anything if I can do this.

I weigh more than I have in years, and I love it!


I am ridiculously proud of the muscles in my calves. My skinny jeans are getting tight and I couldn't be happier! My legs can take me anywhere, and so can my heart.


In other news, as I mentioned last week this is the last Thankful Thursday you will see here. I am so sad to bid it farewell but I am very excited to share with you all that as of next week you can link up for Thankful Thursday over at We {Heart} Life! How is that for a match made in heaven?! Carly and the team are very excited to be taking the helm and I know you will all be in great hands.

I'm also so happy to share that I've joined the team there as a contributor!


So for the very last time at Kate Says Stuff...

Monday, October 22, 2012

BB Creams - the good, the bad and the oily.

Please note - this post has not been sponsored in any way. I've been lucky enough to receive some BB creams to trial over the past year and thought I'd share my experiences. I'm not a beauty blogger by any stretch, but I am a big lover of makeup and skincare products and have loads of fun with them!



BB (blemish balm) creams have been the red hot products on the market since Garnier launched their version a year or so ago.

In the time since I've used the original Garnier BB, the L'Oreal Paris Revitalift BB and as of recently the L'Oreal Paris Nude Magique BB.


Garnier Miracle Skin Perfector BB - $15.40 for 40ml

This was the first BB cream I tried and I RAVED about it. It offers good coverage although I know some people found the original version a little heavy for oily skin. Since then they have released a new formula for that skin type but as I have quite dry skin myself I've not tried it.

I found it left a dewy finish and would often cover with a dusting of mineral powder (because dewy feels a bit like sweaty to me sometimes).

The light tint may be a little heavy for very fair skin.

The product combines moisturiser, coverage and sunscreen all in one product and I continued to purchase and use it for many months. Anything that saves me time in the morning is a winner and this certainly fit the bill. The price point is excellent for those of us on a budget too!


L'Oreal Paris Revitalift BB - $39.01 for 50ml

My skin took a little while to adjust to this product. I did have minor breakouts in the first weeks of use but once it settled down I found the formula less heavy than the Garnier product.

I like that this product offers extra goodies for mature skin (I'm still in denial that I fit that category!) and like the Garnier it offers quite good coverage. I felt less need to add a loose powder after as it has a slightly more matte finish than the Garnier, whilst retaining a level of moisture that is apparent on the skin.

The pigment of the formula is quite similar to that of the Garnier products.


L'Oreal Nude Magique BB - $24.90 for 30ml

I don't even know where to start with this product. When I first squirted some into my palm I was sure I'd got the wrong thing. It has a whitish grainy feeling and I could not see how on earth it would offer any coverage at all, let alone moisturising or sunscreen benefits.

There is some weird kind of magic in this bottle. It is a far lighter formula than the other BBs and you don't need as much by a longshot. It goes on beautifully smoothly and seems to absorb quickly as well.

Then some scientific magic hocus pocus happens and your skin tone appears more even with a soft matte finish. This is the only product that doesn't even tempt me to add a layer of loose powder.

It is the standout of the three for me and one I will be continuing to use.


In conclusion:

I have quite heavy melasma (dark pigmentation) across my cheeks and forehead thanks to the joys of pregnancies.

None of these BB creams offered complete coverage of that, but short of heavy duty pancake foundation I suspect nothing will. Of the three, the Nude Magique offers the best coverage and evening of skin tone for my particular situation (and if anyone wants me to review phototherapy to reduce that condition I am all ears!).

The Garnier pricepoint is notably lower and it offers great value for money for a daily BB, but for me I'll be saving and buying the Nude Magique as it far outperforms both the other products in my opinion. I also found that I used far less of the Nude Magique so I suspect that price saving may even out more over time.

The finish of the Nude Magique is the lightest feeling on the skin, followed by the Revitalift and then Garnier.

I found the coverage of the Garnier and Revitalift products to be on a par.

I'm a definite convert to the BB cream in general... it cuts down my time to get ready in the morning and I don't need to remember a separate sunscreen (which I rarely do - oops!). I know there are lots more options available but I thought I'd share my experiences of the three I have tried so far.

* Prices are in AUD and sourced from Coles Online for comparison.


Have you tried BB's? What are your thoughts?

Saturday, October 20, 2012

I went for a walk today.

I put my daughter in the pram, pulled on my runners and walked away from home with no goals, no direction.

I turned up a road I've not travelled before. The dappled sunlight warmed my skin through the canopy of  hundreds of gum trees.

I marvelled as the vista opened up to endless fields. The occasional house dotted the landscape but mostly it was just me, my pram, my girl and the road.

The crunch of the tyres as the tar gave way to dirt lulled my daughter to sleep and I was alone.


I realised after a while that I should turn back, but stubbornly kept walking. Away from the endless laundry, the dishes to be washed, the toddler tantrums, the meltdowns, the sleepless nights. Away from what I knew and into the unknown.


Later, when I was as far from home as I had ever been, I wondered if I would keep walking forever.



I reached the crest of a hill and looked at what lay before me. It was stark, and beautiful, and quiet.

I turned around.


The road was thick and sandy, my progress was heavy. But I was determined.

Eventually I found firmer footing. I looked back over my shoulder at how far I had come.


I went for a walk today. And then I came home.

Friday, October 19, 2012

#OperationMOVE : why would you do that?


In the past I've been one of those people who would read tweets or Facebook updates about people exercising and roll my eyes so hard they'd nearly fall out of my head. I get that when you're not that interested in it, it can come across as self indulgent showing off.

And yet I share every Runkeeper update as I go these days, regardless of knowing it is probably causing eye injuries all over the place.

This is why.

Now that we're seven weeks in to #OperationMOVE, exercise has become very much a habit for me. Part of my daily routine. But to start with it was much harder to find the motivation, and some days the only thing that got me off my bum was feeling like my fellow Movers were holding me accountable.

Now that it IS part of my everyday I have no shame in saying that part of my sharing is because I am proud of myself. Damn straight I am! At 36 I am running for the first time in my life. I am getting stronger and fitter with every kilometre and it is hard earned!

Of course the other reason is to hopefully remind and inspire the rest of our crew to keep moving too. Because if I can ANYONE can.

I've noticed the tweetstream has been a little quieter of late and wondered if that is because people are losing interest, not moving as much or just not in the mood to share what they are doing...

How about you? Are you still moving? Do you shout it loud and proud or are you a quiet achiever?



How are you tracking? Let me know if you spot any discrepancies :)
#OperationMOVE is proudly sponsored by RedBalloon with thanks to Digital Parents Collective

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Thankful Thursday: So much to tell you...

Where to begin.

Firstly thankyou so much for all the support and hand holding here and over on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram yesterday while my Little Mate had his surgery. We got through it, and while it wasn't at all fun for anyone I am glad it is over and grateful to live in an age and country where we have access to good public health care.

I can also tell you that I will be forever indebted to the surgeon who went against protocol and restored my boy's front teeth rather than pulling them. Such a compassionate thing to do, it has filled my heart to bursting.

Would you check those flash new teeth?!

So I have some big news.

This is the second last Thankful Thursday you will be seeing here.

I'm telling you this now because next Thursday is I {heart} My Body day over at We {Heart} Life, and while I've not decided as yet if I'll be getting my kit off again this year I do know that I will be participating. If you are a blogger you should too, and you are welcome to make it a Thankful post and link up here as well as there. That's what I'll be doing.

I'll also be announcing the new home for Thankful Thursday. I've loved watching it grow. I've loved reading all your amazing posts. I'm so proud of what we've shared here. But the time has come for me to let it go and I know you will be as happy as I am about where it is going!

So there you have it. Exciting yes? And I would LOVE to see next week, the last week that I host Thankful Thursday be our biggest and best ever. Are you in??


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The fear and the fine line.

Today my son is having dental surgery.

None of my kids have been under a general anaesthetic before, and I'm feeling really stressed about it.

I know there are families who face this often. Far too often. I know I'm so lucky that this is the first time for us. But that doesn't make me feel any happier about it.

My Little Mate will be losing at least two, probably three of his top front teeth along with having many others filled or removed. More than half his teeth are rotten. And it sucks because he is the kid who is so routine driven that his teeth are brushed all of the time. It sucks because he is the kid with sensory issues. It sucks because he is the kid who is different already.

But it isn't just the loss of his little teeth that upsets me. It is the fact that I will be holding him as they put him under. Despite having had ear operations as a child myself and knowing well how safe anaesthesia is in general, it isn't something anyone wants their child to experience.

I have a ridiculous amount of fear around it. What if he reacts to the anaesthetic and it causes something terrible to happen? What if he wakes up too early? What if I can't get to him quickly enough when he does come to?

None of these things are under my control, of course. None of them are likely to happen. But my rationality seems to be suspended right now. There is something about the unreality of anaeasthesia... Not asleep, not awake, not conscious... It would not concern me in the least if it were happening to me, but it squeezes my chest hard when it comes to my child.

It is going to be a challenging day. Wish us luck.


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Lachie's Story - A Guest Post for CanTeen


“When you’re 13 and have just started high school you don’t think about your mum dying – you don’t even consider it.

I found out my Mum had cancer the day of team soccer photos last year. Mum was late and I was waiting at home in my soccer clothes. When I got in the car I could tell she’d been crying. We started driving and she burst into tears. I didn’t know what was happening and automatically started crying because mum was crying. I asked her ‘what’s wrong’ and she didn’t want to tell me. When we arrived at soccer she said ‘I might have breast cancer’. Everything went quiet. I felt like my heart stopped. I didn’t want to get out of the car. It had been just me and Mum all my life, as my parents split up before I was born. How could I possibly live without her?  

I still went to the soccer photos and had the photo taken, but I wasn’t thinking about soccer just about mum. I felt scared because I didn’t know what was going to happen next. You can see in the soccer photo that I have red eyes because I’d been crying. I’ll never forget that day.

The hardest thing about mum’s cancer was the possibility that she could die. I didn’t want to lose her. I thought I’d be with her forever and ever and to realise that might not happen and for the rest of my life I’d be without mum was the scariest thing ever. 

The other thing that was hard was that mum couldn’t be at my soccer games any more. When she’s there she cheers so loudly I can hear her from the other side of the field. So to not have her there was upsetting. She did make it for my semi final- though. She came to the game with all of her drains still in, trying to walk, which was painful because the drains moved in and out with every step. She sat down and cheered as hard as she could. It was one of the best games I played.

I’m very grateful for CanTeen. Once they picked me up from my house and we went to Treetops. I would never have dreamed of going somewhere like that, I had so much fun. The people at CanTeen have generous hearts and they genuinely want to help.”

Each year in Australia about 18,000 12-24 year-olds are confronted with a cancer diagnosis – whether it is their own or that of a parent, brother or sister. CanTeen is the only National charity dedicated to helping these young people fight cancer, no matter what their cancer experience. 

CanTeen’s largest annual fundraiser National Bandanna Day is coming up this year on Friday October 26th. By buying and wearing a CanTeen bandanna on National Bandanna Day you can show young people, like Lachie, that you support their fight against cancer, and that you will not let cancer be the boss of them.

For more information visit www.bandannaday.com.au 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Method in my Madness.

We have a little issue at our place sometimes. Well let's be honest, we have lots of little issues because that is what life is. But this is a cleaning based issue. I know right?

The Supertrucker is a fan of things that spray and smell when it comes to cleaning. Somewhere in his psyche is embedded the idea that if it doesn't come out of a spray can and stink then it isn't doing anything.

I on the other hand prefer to use my Enjo gear as much as possible because I tend to think chemical cleaners and kids aren't necessarily the best thing. Especially when you have a kid who licks all of the things.

So we have a little compromise in place. So he can satisfy the spray/wipe urge and I can not be rolling my eyes whilst choking on the smell of ammonia.

Method.

Have you heard of it? I've used a number of their products and loved them in the past. They are chemical and cruelty free products which won't give you a stench headache but WILL get things clean.

Because I am a bit of a clean freak of a fan of cleaning products, I was SO excited to receive this bundle from Method recently!


Our biggest area of compromise tends to be the bathrooms... That is the one room that the man insists something other than water and fibres be used, so I'm  loving the shower spray and bathroom cleaner. A long time fave Method product here are the toilet wipes as well. I was a little worried as I'd not used them since we moved but what do you know, ace for septic tanks too. Phew! I'm going to grab another couple of packets and leave them in each of our WC's. who knows, maybe someone else might even be inspired to clean the toilets then. Haha.

I'm giving the kids products a huge thumbs up as well. My Little Mate has terribly sensitive skin and we've seen NO reactions at all since we started using these. This gives me a big happy. And him too!

Oh and the laundry detergent is a big winner too! Smells great, you use a tiny amount and it gets things clean, which is pretty much what you want from a laundry detergent right?

I think it is safe to say that I love the whole range really. And because I am a bit shallow the attractive packaging totally floats my boat too.


But hey. Don't just take my word for it. Give it a go yourself!

I have two gorgeous Method packs to give away to two lucky readers!



First Prize consists of:

Spring Daisy Laundry Liquid
Sweet Water Hand Gel
Daily Kitchen Spray
All Purpose Spray in French Lavender
Kitchen Lemongrass Handwash







Second Prize is made up of:

Bathroom Cleaner
Daily Shower Spray
Bathroom Wipes
Glass & Surface Spray






To enter leave a comment telling me which Method product you'd most like to try, then use the form below to register your entry and for some additional entry options too!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, October 12, 2012

#OperationMOVE - What's on your playlist?

How are you tracking? Don't forget check in is on Wednesdays over on my Facebook Page. I'm still missing a few numbers so please be sure to let me know yours if this applies!




For me, music is a great motivator to move. Even when it comes to getting me off my bum to clean the house, cranking the tunes can be very energizing.

For this of us who are running/walking/working out at home, I thought I'd share my current top ten running tunes.

Disclaimer - my taste is eclectic at best and (according to some) dreadful at worst. You have been warned.


* Afro Circus / I Like To Move It - Madagascar 3 Soundtrack (have a listen here).

* Bound for Glory - Angry Anderson (yes, I know.)

* Break Away - Kelly Clarkson

* Don't Leave Me This Way - Communards

* Gangnam Style - PSY (yeah yeah, bandwagon jumper.)

* Horny '98 - Mousse T (from Wild Reunion 1996-2011, loads of great tracks on this one!)

* It's Raining Men - Geri Halliwell (because if you are gonna be tragic do it properly.)

* The Rockefeller Skank - Fatboy Slim

* Come Out and Play - The Offspring

* I Like The Way - Bodyrockers


For stretching and cooling down I love...

* Crazy - Gnarles Barkley

* Bittersweet Symphony - The Verve

* Porcelain - Moby

* Paradise - Coldplay


The beat to Break Away seems to match my natural gait perfectly and I always find running to that one really easy. I need to find a few more tunes with the same tempo I think.

So what music gets you moving? I'd love some new tracks!


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Thankful Thursday: The Love Bomb


I read about love bombing a few years ago and thought it was an interesting idea, but not one I'd ever want or need to employ. 

That was before my Little Mate's development started its own little unique course, and before my Big Boy's behaviours became noticeably more challenging than those of his peers as well.

The thing I find hardest at the moment is spending time with my Big Girl. She is the easy child you see. She's not got the behavioral issues of her brother and she isn't the toddler. She loves school, she helps out as much as any seven year old is inclined to do and she is very independent.

In an ideal world it would be possible to find that one on one time with her every day, but our world is far from ideal right now.

So during the holidays we had a girl day. A love bomb day if you will. The Big Boy was with my parents and the little two at child care, and the day was ours to do as she pleased.

Admittedly I talked her into going for a walk first, it was a stunning day and it gave us an opportunity to enjoy the wildlife around the lake and just chat about everything.

We had lunch at the Pancake Kitchen where she was able to choose whatever she wanted. 

She really wanted to buy a new dress, so we headed to Myer (which I would never brave with the other kids!). We spent ages looking at the beautiful clothes and she insisted on trying on four all by herself. She is growing up so fast, sometimes I'm afraid I will miss it in the day to day busy-ness of our household.

She decided on her favourite and proudly carried the bag while we stopped to look at nail polish. We'd planned on getting pedicures but her legs aren't quite long enough for the special chairs yet so we made do DIY style. 

It was just so lovely to spend the day with her and not have to say 'no' to everything because I'd need to factor in three other kids. She's such a sweet girl, and so funny too. It gave us a chance to reconnect in a way that has been missing of late, and I'm so glad we did it.

Do you have dates with your children? How do you balance your time with them?


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Shift


Sometimes life throws you a curve ball, and you can either run away from it or catch it with both hands and play on.

I choose to play on.

There will be some changes.


I turned off the stat meters for this blog not long ago. I'd been suckered into believing that the numbers mean something. They don't. I don't write to compete with anyone else, I write because I have to. So apologies PR people who *need* those numbers. What you see is what you get, and either you like it or you don't. And either way is fine.

I am going to work in my garden more.

I am going to play with my children more.

I am going to read books and sit in the sun painting my nails.

I am going to focus on what I love and not what I think someone else may love. If that means this space is all about living with autism and running for a while then so be it. My life is my experience alone, and it is of value for exactly that reason.


I received a couple of emails recently from mothers who have children newly diagnosed on the autism spectrum. I know their pain, and their fear, and their hope.

They said that they had found my blog via friends, and that they had found comfort and support here.

They helped me find my words again, and I am grateful for that.

More importantly I am grateful for the reminder that I am valuable, at a time when I felt anything but.


Maybe I will post nearly every day. Maybe once a week or less. There are changes afoot that will be revealed shortly, and hard decisions have been made.

But they have been made with high hopes and good intentions.


I hope you'll turn this corner with me. Your comments and friendships are where the true value in this blog lie, and I am thankful for them.


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Frozen



I get up every morning. Not because I want to, but because I must.

I feed my children. I try to remember to feed myself. I do the laundry. I tidy the house. I vacuum. I cook meals. Rinse, repeat, rinse, repeat.

I kiss and cuddle my children and tell them that I love them. I do, so very much.

And I wonder if this is all there is.


I don't know if it is because I never envisioned having a four year old who is for the most part on a par with his nearly two year old sister.

I dont know if it is because like the true extrovert I am, I absorb the energies around me and this last time has been the tipping point.

I don't know if it is because I am so very tired all the time. My boy wakes many times every night. My body is used to it but my mind is not.


I only know that this time all the positive self talk in the world has not been enough. That the return of the sun has not pulled me out of my Winter slump. That the warmth on my skin doesn't penetrate to my soul any more.

I am frozen. Operating on autopilot and waiting for it to get better. 

Some days are so good that I think it has passed, this melancholy in my soul.  But it lingers at the edges of my consciousness, a shadow darkening even those bright times.

I am okay. I will be okay. I have sought support and found it and I am grateful for that.

But right now I just want Spring to bloom in my heart as it is all around me.




 

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Mother's Sixth Sense

This is a guest post from the remarkable Kate who writes at My Dear Angel.



It is quite extraordinary.
I’d lay there in the dark. Waiting. Waiting until it was time.
There. A nudge. A kick. A push.
Is he just kicking me? Or is he just snuggling me? I'm not sure.
I’d wait a moment more.
There. Definitely a nudge. A poke too. Getting impatient, aren’t we?
And off I’d sleepily feel my way down the hall. Again.
Extraordinary, I’d think. Again, I knew. I just knew.
Is it like that for all mothers? Do they know?
For me, it seemed, I always knew when my baby was crying out for me. I always would wake a few moments before that nudge. Sometimes, I swear, I would even hear a cry.
Is it like that for all mothers? Those that can hear? Do they know?
I imagine it wouldn’t feel quite remarkable, if they did. They’d probably think they were roused from their sleep slowly, at the first sound of a cry. That it was their sense of hearing that alerted them to a baby in need.
But I don’t think it is that, their sense of hearing.
What is remarkable for me is, I cannot hear.
That cry I thought I could hear, I couldn’t possibly hear.

How is that?
At night, I would not wear my hearing aides. Yet still, most nights, for most feeds, I would find myself lying awake, just moments before the nudge. The nudge from my husband, letting me know it was time.
Is there some kind of telepathy between a mother and a baby? I really think so.
Quite extraordinary, isn’t it.
Have you had similar experiences?

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Take me away...

Do you have a scent that immediately takes you back in time?

I have a few.

Men's Rexona sport spray deodorant to this day takes me back to the heady days of my first true love. You know, the one that was going to last forever and ever? Except that it didn't... but it felt like forever at the time and the memories are sweet anyway.

When I attended the most recent Blogger's Brunch I was given a very cute vial of perfume from Aroma Divine as I walked out. I tucked it in my bag and promptly forgot about it, because I'm not really a perfume girl in general.


When I unpacked my bag that night though I gave it a little spray, and was instantly transported back to my honeymoon days. I'd received a sample of the Coco Lolo scent and the lush coconut brought back memories of lazing on beach chairs, drinking cocktails and other honeymoonesque type activities that best be left unmentioned. Hi Mum.

I got in touch with the company, so taken was I with the scent. They are a very new brand who well and truly live up to their promise of whisking you away with their beautiful scents. I've been lucky enough to try a couple of their other products as well now, and they are all simply delightful. Because I am a little bit shallow, the packaging makes my heart sing a bit as well. Plus the eu de parfums are the perfect size for your handbag!

I may be a perfume girl after all!


It feels a little bit luxurious to this Mama to have a bottle of perfume in my handbag. It isn't something I've done since before I had children to be honest. It's like a little reminder that underneath the bleary sleep deprived eyes and the endless endlessness of parenting, there is still a woman who is an entire person in and of herself. A woman who likes nice things occasionally. And even dare I say deserves them sometimes.

So I'd love to know what scents take you back in time? Where are you transported to?

AND if you'd like the chance to try out Aroma Divine for yourself, I'm giving $50 worth of product to one lucky person. You can enter right here.

I received products from Aroma Divine for the purpose of this review. They are truly beautiful and I am so pleased to be able to support a wonderful new Aussie business. No payment was offered or accepted and all opinions are my own.


Friday, October 5, 2012

#OperationMOVE - Why consistency counts.

This is a guest post by Vladimir Protassow, a personal trainer and coach specialising in helping Mums move! He's also a pretty awesome guy in general and a lovely tweep too :) - Kate


Today, for the first time in years I can actually say without crossing my fingers behind my back, that I’m fit! The realisation came earlier today when I was chasing my young brother- and sister-in law around a playground. We were playing tiggy/chasey and I could actually keep up! Not just for a few minutes but for a whole hour!

Source
The night before, I’d slept badly. I had a very busy day ahead of me, with appointments all over Melbourne. I hadn’t eaten very much, so I was quite hungry. But they were at our house and I happened to have an hour to spare, so we went to the park. We ran the entire time we were there and, when I had to go to an appointment, I ran all the way home. Even last year I would’ve gotten to the park, run for a few minutes and collapsed on a bench! Today I managed to give them a very convincing run for their money!

There is just one key difference between then and now: I’ve been eating healthily and exercising consistently for the last three months. It doesn’t mean that I’ve smashed myself to pieces each and every workout. It doesn’t mean I’m a machine that exercises all day, every day. I didn’t exist solely on lettuce for the last 90 days… I just committed to a certain number of workouts per week and made small changes to my diet.

The changes were small. Some days I had to cut my workout short. Some days I caved in to the cheap/easy food options and I made a few mistakes. In general, however, I stuck to what I’d committed to.

I was consistent in my efforts.

Every journey begins with a single step… but you have to keep making those single steps to reach your destination!
Source
Many of us took our first steps – and have continued to take many more – by joining Kate in Operation MOVE! The idea of publicly committing to consistency in your weekly exercise regime is frankly the best thing anyone can do for his or her fitness. Ever. Full stop. Flailing arms.

Consistency makes millionaires, wins wars, gets you good grades and gets you into shape.

So many of my lovely mummies (clients) ask me for the magic bullet answer to all their fitness and weight loss woes. They expect me to give them a supplement or an exercise or a magic lamp to rub… but the truth is that anyone who commits to something and is consistent in keeping their promise achieves amazing results.

Kate really nailed that one on the head. If you try once, you’ll fail. If you have sporadic bursts of titanic effort, you’ll fail. If you only exercise when you feel like it, you’ll fail. If you exercise consistently – even if it’s just a little bit every day – you’ll succeed!

You know what? Once I’d gotten back from my last appointment of the day, we went to the park again. We ran and played for another hour! This time they cracked before I did.

If you have trouble staying consistent in your efforts to get fit or lose weight, you might want to think about getting some help. I’ve taught many mums the habits they need to stay consistent in their healthy lifestyles. This guarantees their results for long after they’ve graduated from my program.

Stay consistent!

Vlad Protassow

Vlad Protassow is the head Lifestyle Coach from Lifestyle Rescue for Working Mums, an online program designed to completely change the way you think about and behave towards your body, mind and lifestyle! Check out his website at www.reclaimmylife.com.au and apply for a demonstration session!



So without further ado, here come the starting numbers for our October MOVERS!


Don't forget that we are checking in on Wednesdays over on my Facebook Page this round. 

I'll be opening the thread at 8am each Wednesday and you can check in any time, up to you whether you include your numbers for that day or not. 

If there is a blank near your name then I've misplaced some of your info, so please do let me know in the comments what is missing!

It isn't too late to join in either, if you are wanting some support in your efforts to MOVE in October!

What are you doing to keep moving consistently? What gets you going? What slows you down?

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

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Thankful Thursday: Body Love

I have a guest post from Carly, the founder of We {heart} Life today. 

I {heart} my body day last year had a profound effect on me, and I'm very proud to be sharing Carly's thoughts in the lead up to the day this year.



Battling Body Image Issues

Body image is something that I discuss a lot the blog I created, WeHeart Life. Being a woman who is constantly battling her own body image issues, those of the negative kind, it is an area that I feel that a lot of women have similar issues and so I have become very vocal in expressing the need to become more positive about our bodies.

While I do believe that we should be kinder to our bodies and ourselves about how our bodies look, I don't always practice what I preach and spend copious amounts of time in front of mirrors analysing the flaws.

In 2010 after appearing in a magazine and having an amazing photoshoot, I stopped and thought about what beautiful/sexy/pretty means. I felt extremely pretty being all made up and snapped several images of myself once I got home, but I wondered why I needed makeup to feel that way.

You see feeling beautiful/sexy/pretty doesn't happen for me. Or at least it never used to. Growing up I never felt this way because I was always the fat girl of the group. It probably never helped that I have been told all my life that I am just that, fat.

The media also plays a very significant role in shaping and distorting my ideals about what is beautiful/pretty/sexy. Advertising is done in such as way that as 'real' women we can never live up to these ideals unless we are photoshopped every day of our lives.

You only have to view some of the before and after photoshopped images to see how much the media contort and change a woman's body before allowing it to be published.

After that 2010 photoshoot, I decided that I needed to ensure that I am more positive towards my body, which is why I started the 'I Heart My Body' campaign on We Heart Life in October.

It appears that a lot of women feel the same way I do, however most were able to name three things that they loved about their bodies, and some appeared in their underwear. It was amazing to hear some of the words from these women, explaining their own lives dealing with their body image issues.

When I repeated that same campaign in 2011 over one hundred women linked up! The way that these women spoke about their bodies the following year made me feel in awe of something amazing that I had created. It was allowing women all over Australia to love their bodies, just as they are.

Being positive about our own bodies is not all that it is about. 

We need to stop basing our own body ideals on advertising material, and rather explore being healthy and fit.

We need to ensure that we don't compare our bodies to other women's bodies, each body is unique and different.
Finally, we need to focus on the positives, not the negatives that we see in the mirror.

Are you in for loving your body this year in October at WeHeart Life?



Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Talking Turkey

Fair warning. If you are vegan or vegetarian best click away now. Just sayin'.


Needless to say we are omnivores at our place. If I had to choose a favourite meat it would be bacon. Because bacon.

But I'm also a big fan of turkey. In particular if I'm being a bit indulgent I'll have a croissant or baguette with roast turkey, cranberry sauce and double cream brie. It is my favourite treat lunch of all.

So of course when Steggles asked if I'd like to try some of their new turkey shortcuts I was all over it! I've not had great success cooking turkey myself in the past but was keen to give it a go.

The day they arrived I was stoked because I'd not thought about dinner yet. Yes yes slack whatever. We loved the kebabs and burgers... Meat on a stick in general is a winner at our place.


So then I was thinking about what to do with the turkey mince. I make a mean bolognese sauce from pork mince and I thought that would be an easy and tasty switch, but then the request came in from the Supertrucker for cottage pie (a family favourite) so I thought I'd share it with you guys too!

For this version you need turkey mince, 400gm tin of diced tomatoes, about 800g of potatoes, some frozen veggies, Vegemite (yes you read that right) and gravy powder or granules.

Brown the meat in a saucepan, then add a tablespoon of Vegemite and the tomatoes. Allow to simmer for around 20 minutes.

While that is happening cook and mash your potatoes using your preferred method. I cook them in the microwave then skin them and put them through a potato ricer. Then I whip them with butter and cream because that's how I roll.

When you're done with simmering pop about a cup of frozen veggies (your choice) in with the turkey and give it a little mix, then transfer to your casserole dish.

Top with the mashed potato, sprinkle some cheese and paprika on top then into a 180 degree oven for around half an hour.

Too easy right? And delicious too!!




Would you like to try some turkey at your place? I have FOUR $25 gift cards to share so you can try out  the mince, the roast, the shanks... Whatever takes your fancy! Hey you could even make a deluxe turkey baguette because why not when someone else is paying right?

To enter please leave a comment telling me how you'd love to try turkey, then click here to connect with the Steggles and Kate Says Stuff Facebook pages. Easy peasy.

Entries close at 5pm on Wednesday 10th October, this is a game of skill and the winner will be contacted within 24 hours of competition closing. Good luck!

This is a sponsored post for Steggles.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Trips that both parents and kids enjoy.


All parents know that sometimes it is not easy to combine one’s own interests with that of one’s kids.

Whereas kids often like it loud and colourful, parents rather enjoy having a relaxed time, getting some fresh air and trying to leave the stress of a week full of work behind them.

In the worst case, this can lead to huge conflicts, crying children and screaming parents and thus destroy an afternoon that was planned to be peacefully spent together with the family. The result is that nobody is happy and a day that was planned to be fun has resulted in a disaster. According to my personal experiences it is a good idea to agree on some destination that combines everyone’s interests beforehand.

How to agree on a destination.

To get an idea of what everyone is expecting from a family trip let everybody write down three words on a piece of paper that describe what he or she is expecting from a weekend trip. It then shouldn’t be too difficult to agree on one common interest. Whether you will then get some theme park tickets or rather go to a museum that allows kids to conduct their own experiments – the outcome should please everybody.

A trip to the zoo offers something for everyone.

A destination that has always been popular with me and my kids is the zoo. I get some movement and fresh air and the kids have excitement when they can watch lions, tigers and elephants and they also have something that makes them laugh when they watch the apes play. The biggest and most popular zoo in Sydney is the Taronga Zoo that also offers a great view over Sydney’s harbor. A great idea to save some money when going there is to have a look at various websites that offer vouchers which allow you to pay reduced entry fees. You can get reduced Sydney zoo tickets via Groupon, for example.

By the way: This guest post is brought to you by Groupon. I love to check their website regularly to find some great deals, so give it a try!

Mothers get burnt out too...

A guest post by Dorothy.


As I drove home last night, alone, the headlights creating a yellow bubble in front of my car, I savoured the silence.  Well, not an actual silence, as Wayne Dyer was sharing his wisdom via the iPod - it was more of an absence. An absence of complaining, bickering and electronic game noises.

I considered what I might do when I got home.  In the empty house.  All on my own.

It was a strange feeling.  A feeling I hadn’t experienced since the previous school holidays.

A feeling of complete freedom from duty, obligation, noise and company.

Perhaps, being a sole parent, I burn out quicker than most.  During this last week of term, I found myself longing for my bed, sneaking naps when I could, giving in to whingeing about game time and cooking two-minute noodles for dinner.  I flinched at every noise, even the happy ones, my senses overwhelmed and raw.

Arriving home, I closed every blind, turned on the heating and the tap over the bath tub.  I realised, that I hadn’t even had a bath here since we moved in.  As the tub filled, I crumbled in some fragrant bubbly goodness, grabbed my book and towel and stepped in.

Ahhhh…..

My body settled gratefully into the warm, hot pink, bubbly water.  I let the heat infuse my muscles and bones.

I let go.

I listened to the silence.

The cats came to visit and wonder at the strange creature inhabiting the boys’ bath.  Then they lost interest.  And still, I just lay there, quietly, just breathing.

I contemplated how little time we give ourselves as mothers.  We all know we should, we all know how important it is, we all …… just don’t do it.  Quiet time becomes housework time, because computer time, becomes work time - if we work from home.  How often do we really just let go?  Just relax and breathe?  Give ourselves permission to just be?

I know I’m not the only one that gets burnt out.  Being “on call” 24/7 is emotionally exhausting.  Children, as much as we love them, are emotional piranhas, as my psychologist, quite accurately, once told me.  The more of yourself you give them, the more they want.  Somehow we keep finding more and more, from unknown reserves.  I am always amazed at the times that I don’t break, when I can find a calm voice and a solution to each drama as it unfolds.

I am astounded at the reserves other mums have.  Mums with special needs children and those with their own health challenges.  Mums who work outside the home and those who work from home.  Mums who look after large families and mums who home school.  Some thrive and some struggle.  Some know exactly how to replenish their reserves before burning out and others wait until they break.

After my bath, I went to bed and read for a couple of hours.  Then I slept.  Even after ten hours’ sleep, I woke up tired and with a migraine. When I’m this close to burn out, my body just stops.

I threw my plans for the day out the window and did as my body told me.  I sat in the sun with a coffee and took photos of sunlight sparkling in the gum trees.



I was thankful that I could. This week of rest needs to be just that, a week of rest.

What about you?  How do you replenish your reserves to prevent burn out?


Dorothy has been blogging for over four years at Singular Insanity.  She blogs to keep herself sane, more or less, writing about sole parenting, mental health and blogging.  A sole parent of two boys, Dorothy is also a freelance writer, thinker and chronic furniture re-arranger.  She is also known as Motivating Mum Ballarat.


Monday, October 1, 2012

#OperationMOVE - The October Challenge!

Welcome to a whole new month!!

If you moved with us last month, welcome back! If this is your first round then hi and we're so pleased to have you join us!

The idea behind #OperationMOVE is to commit to a certain number of minutes exercise for the month.

In the interests of my mental health I will be running the tally slightly differently this time. I'll be asking you to check in at my Facebook Page each Wednesday by 8pm, so when the official post goes live each Friday our scores are more up to date than they have been over September. I'll remind you via Twitter and Facebook each week as well, don't you worry.

So what do you win?

Well, you win the knowledge that you are doing something great for your body.

You win the right to say 'I am able to treat my body kindly'.

You win the joy of doing something just for you.


But in case you need some extrinsic motivation, our friends at RedBalloon have a little something AWESOME for one of our movers as well.

Those that meet their October commitment will be in the running for a deluxe massage and facial at home, valued at $150!


From the website:

A deluxe massage and facial at home is the perfect way to pamper yourself. Sink into 90 minutes of bliss as your massage therapist slowly massages your back and shoulders, then cleanses, exfoliates and steams your face. 

This is a truly indulgent and luxurious experience - the best thing about this treatment is that you won’t have to rush away anywhere afterwards and can continue to relax so that you get the most out of the effects of the treatment.

On the day of your experience your therapist will arrive at your home with all the equipment necessary for making your facial and massage as delicious and enjoyable as possible. 


Your treatment begins with a delightful back and shoulder massage. Your therapist then starts the facial by thoroughly cleansing and exfoliating your skin. This is followed by a facial steam with hot towels. Sink into bliss as your therapist treats you to a relaxing face, neck and scalp massage.
Next you will be treated to a clay mask, which will nourish and revitalize the skin. Your therapist will also give you a lovely hand and foot massage to relieve tension and stress. 


As your treatment concludes you will be gently brought back to earth as your therapist applies toner, moisturiser and a special eye treatment. Your therapist then leaves you to relax and soak up the benefits of your deluxe massage and facial treatment in the comfort of your own home. 

Can I get a YES PLEASE?!


So are you ready to MOVE again? Leave your October commitment in the comments and let's rock this month!


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