Thursday, February 28, 2013

#OperationMOVE: Farewell Summer

It is the final February check in already.

Considering I could not WAIT for Summer way back in Spring, for the first time in my life I am actually looking forward to it leaving this year. Running outdoors will do that to you I guess.

In my dream world it would be say 10 - 15 degrees every morning, up until around 10.30 when I'd finished my run. Then a lovely 27, sunny with a light breeze for the rest of the day. And it can rain overnight, that would be okay.

Given that my dream world is just that though, a dream world, I'm figuring ways to work around the weather and still get as much as I can out of each week. I'll be sharing a bit more of that in tomorrow's Autumn #OperationMOVE launch post.

So have you hit your targets for February? I know a lot of us have had additional challenges this month but I've loved the support I've been seeing in our Facebook group. Truly every time I think I might take a day off I think of you all and how much we count on each other to keep moving and I decide not to let the team down. Thankyou for making me accountable.

My February wrap up? 143.3 / 130kms and 1301/1300 minutes. Just scraped it in!!

How about you?

PS Don't forget to save this one to your devices, #OpMOVEPicADay starts tomorrow!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

In Mourning

My wise and wonderful friend Marita left a comment on this post last week that really got inside my head.

When we first received my Little Mate's diagnosis I think I was in shock for a while. I overcompensated by reading all of the things and putting on the happiest of happy faces. I even nearly managed to convince myself.

It was a year or so later that I realised I'd been kidding myself. I was not really fine at all. Maybe it took that long for me to really absorb the fact that this is a lifetime diagnosis.

I had been in mourning for a life only imagined.

Every time I've thought about it in those sorts of terms to myself, I have felt overcome with guilt. It is one of the reasons I've not written about it here.

Guilt for feeling so shattered when others have so much more to deal with. Guilt for grieving when my boy is happy and healthy. Guilt for feeling what I was feeling because it seemed offensive given how okay our son is compared to so many other children.

Guilt for feeling so deeply sad, and fear of voicing it because it sounds like I feel the diagnosis has diminished him somehow. It hasn't.

When people tell me how well he is doing with his speech, his eye contact, his social skills I suspect my reaction is not what they expect.

Of course I am inwardly punching the air. I am the proudest of proud parents. But a part of me holds back, the part of me that is terrified to get her hopes up. The part of me that still has moments of denial.

It is a complex thing to explain. A complex thing to feel. And even now I am second guessing myself, worried about the reaction this might receive.

But I will publish it. Because if I have felt like this then maybe someone else has too. And the most important thing in this journey as a parent for me has been knowing that I am not alone. You are not alone either.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

When I grow up.

Image Source
It is bound to happen one day yeah?

I have a degree in Education. I taught Grade 5's and Year 12 Psychology before I had kids. I've done some emergency teaching since but not for quite a few years now. I really don't think I want to be a teacher any more.

I am incredibly lucky at the moment to be able to bring in some pin money with this blog. I do not take it for granted and am so happy to be able to draw some income from something I love. I don't know that it is a sustainable long term career choice though. Not unless I get a lot funnier/more soulful/less daft.

I do not know what I want to be when I grow up.

My Little Mate will be at school next year. My Little Miss Thing at kinder the year after. These long years of being a stay at home parent are drawing to a close. I'm so lucky that I've even had the opportunity to be home with the kids as long as I have, and every time the Supertrucker heads out on shift I remind myself of the sacrifices he has made for this to be possible.

It is weird to be 36 and not know what I want to be. My childhood dreams of being either a princess, or a lawyer by day and a doctor by night haven't eventuated, so I need to think more about it.

Are you a grown up? Are you doing what you want to do? What do you want to be when you grow up?

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Colour Catcher {A Sponsored Giveaway}

This post is sponsored by Colour Catcher.

So when I heard about the Colour Catcher I had a 'yeah, right' moment.

I am allergic to doing laundry, and as a result do not do separate loads because why drag it out even more than it already is with 6 people to wash for. As a result I have on occasion turned an entire load pink. I like to think of it as updating wardrobes cheaply. Sadly other members of my family do not agree.

So anyway this thing comes along and it reckons it will take that random colour and magically make it stick to this little piece of fabric instead of all the other stuff in the wash. Hence my 'yeah, right'. Apparently they have been available in Europe for ages but are pretty new to the Australian market. They're also the only product on the market to address the problem of colour transfer before it BECOMES a problem, rather than afterwards.

I agreed to give it a go and because I was pretty sure it would be an epic fail I put it to the ultimate test. A brand new red bed sheet as yet unwashed together with a white shirt of my son's.

This is what happened.

The things I do in the name of research.
This is me putting the Colour Catcher sheet into the back of the washing machine. I know you are amazed at my skills, given my laundry allergy. It was hard, I won't lie to you.
When the wash was done I hung the shirt and sheet under cover to dry, so there hasn't even been any sun on this shirt and IT IS STILL WHITE.
And for comparison, the pink Colour Catcher that came out of the wash along with a new one. 
I don't even.

Honestly I expected this to be a big mistake. I thought the Colour Catcher would probably cope with older items that had already lost some of their dye, but no way would it save the shirt from the brand new red sheet.

I was wrong. Forgive my cynicism Colour Catcher crew, it was misplaced. And next time someone (I'm looking at you Supertrucker) tells me that I'm committing some sort of criminal act by doing mixed colour washes with whites, I will throw in a Colour Catcher sheet and worry not.

I'll also suggest that if he's such an expert on laundry then he can do it from now on. Actually I might do that anyway. Fair play.

Oh and by the way, At the moment Colour Catcher is running a competition with a chance to win a $1,000 wardrobe plus a year’s supply of Colour Catcher!

Do you just throw everything in like I do? Have you paid the price before? I have ten Colour Catcher packs to give away so you too can tell those gods and goddesses of laundry to mind their own business safe in the knowledge that your wash will come out the same colour as it went in. If you can't wait that long, you can find Colour Catchers in the laundry aisle at your supermarket probably up near the whitening stuff that you won't need any more.

To enter, please leave a comment telling me your greatest laundry disaster then use the widget below to verify your entry.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Fruit that is fun! {Sponsored Giveaway}

This is a blogvertorial for Digital Parents Collective and SPC.

My kids have phases with fruit.

One week they are going through it so fast I need to stock up every other day, the next I have 800 bananas turning to mush.

On top of that I have a Little Mate who neeeeeeds crunchy textures, except when he is refusing them and will only have soft foods.

It can make getting fruit into them pretty tricky, but we now have a solution!

The SPC Fruit Crush-Ups range has recently been awarded 'Product of the Year' in Australia's largest consumer survey of new products. What this means to me is that the people doing the survey probably have cheeky buggers at their places too, and are as happy as I am to have a healthy snack option that has more than half the recommended daily serve of fruit for kids in a fun package.

They are portion controlled smooshed up fruit in a pouch that can be squeezed out and served in a bowl with a spoon (or fingers if you have a kid who loves the sensation of them, and you have a boatload of facewashers on hand) or eaten straight from the pouch (the more common option, for obvious reasons).

They have a resealable cap so there's no waste, and contain no known allergens or any of the nasties like preservatives or artificial colours or flavours. They come in mango, banana, mixed berry, fruit salad, tropical and strawberry and at $1.29 each are a brilliant healthy snack option.

Really they are just like eating a piece of fruit. Crushed up. In a pouch.

My big kids thought they were too cool for this gig. That was until I popped some in the freezer, put them in their lunchboxes in the morning and they had super chilled fruit crush-ups for lunch. Winning!! Especially given my Big Girl's lunch box usually comes home with her piece of fruit still in it.

My littles are big fans of the squeezy pouches too. Quick tip though, when you take off the cap and pass them over make sure the mouthpiece is in their MOUTH before they start squeezing. Trust me on this one.

Have you or your kids tried them yet? Do you want to?

I have a WHOLE TERM'S WORTH of SPC Fruit Crush-Ups to give away so your kids can paint the walls as well. Or not. Hopefully your kids will just eat them and love them. And with 8 packs of each of the six flavours in your pantry you'll be well and truly sorted for school lunchboxes, handbag snacks for toddlers or a quick fix yourself if like me you forget to eat with all the running around you do.

To enter please leave a comment telling me how your kids would consume their SPC Fruit Crush-Ups. This is a game of skill so get your thinking caps on!

The competition ends at 5pm on Saturday March 2nd 2013 and entry is open to residents of Australia. The winner will be contacted by email within 48 hours of the competition closing and announced on this blog post.

Friday, February 22, 2013

#OperationMOVE: Alive!

February is such a short month, and this year it has been so hectic for me with all new routines to adjust to that I feel like I've blinked and missed it! So much has happened, but the busyness has served to help me refocus on my fitness goals and I'll look forward to sharing them with you on the first of March.

In the meantime, I have something SO exciting!

The gorgeous Maddy suggested in our Facebook group that a photo a day challenge for us might be fun. I've loved doing Fat Mum Slim's Photo A Day challenges on and off in the past and have been pretty slack with the photos of late, so I've put together the challenge list for you to save to your computer and devices so you can join in with us in March!

For anyone who wants to join in, the Instagram hashtag will be #OpMOVEPicADay so don't forget to tag your photos for us to follow!

In addition to that, my generous friends at Blackmores have offered a fantastic prize for one of our participants, to celebrate the launch of the new Alive! range of multivitamins.

Any time you choose to tag a photo with the additional hashtag #BlackmoresAlive that image will be considered as an entry for the prize. Each week I will choose three of the #BlackmoresAlive photos and share them in our Friday check in post. At the end of March we will have twelve photos, and from those the team at Blackmores will select a winner. Please note that in using the #BlackmoresAlive hashtag you are giving permission for that image to possibly appear here on my blog as well as the Blackmores Alive! site.

So what can you win??

* 4 Bottles of Alive! Multivitamins
* A Blackmores Water Bottle
* A Blackmores Visor AND
* The cutest overnight bag to take on your Alive adventures!!
Total value over $250, thanks so much Blackmores!

Are you in?! You'll be able to register your interest on the March 1st launch post, which also marks our SEVENTH MONTH of #OperationMOVE!! Amazing!

And now that I've got that all out of my system, it is check in day!! How are you doing for Feb? Are you going to make your target?

I'm at 104/130kms so have a bit of work to do yet! How about you?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Through the looking glass.

My Little Mate has been doing so well at his new kinder. He loves it and looks forward to going very much. He holds it together beautifully while he is there.

And then he comes home.

He is exhausted I know, and processing so much new information at the moment.

I watched him as he was having a massive screaming meltdown the other day. Unable to stop it. Unable to make it better. Unable to help him.

And in that moment the thought flew through my mind.

How did we get here? How is this my life?

It does not look anything like I imagined it would. Nothing could have ever prepared me for life with an autistic child.

For the longest time I lost myself in it all. I was so busy just coping. Trying to parent this child who can be so 'other' whilst attempting not to neglect his siblings.

Sometimes I feel I have too many children, and as soon as I think it I hate myself for it. But every now and then it just feels like too much. That no matter now much I do or how hard I try I will never be the mother I want or need to be to all of them.

Sometimes, it is just hard.

I wouldn't change it. I'd not be without any of them. But sometimes I look at other families doing normal kind of things and I envy that mother who isn't walking a knifes edge trying to keep her child from losing it. The kids who just run around and play and don't have the resentment that my older children sometimes tearfully tell me they feel.

I tell them they are entitled to those feelings. That it is okay, and that I know they love their brother but I also know that the way things are take a toll on them too. I tell them that I love our Little Mate so much that it hurts, but sometimes I wish it was different too.

It's funny how quickly we adapt really. I can't remember a time that we didn't know my boy was different any more. Maybe because even before we knew, we already knew.

And so I focus on the positives. His speech has improved exponentially in the past six months. He makes eye contact more readily. He plays alongside other children now and again.

But sometimes even those great gains aren't enough. Sometimes it hurts my heart that we need to fight so hard for him. Sometimes, just sometimes, I wish it looked like I once imagined.

And that is okay. Because even while we create new dreams, sometimes we need to mourn the loss of the old ones.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A post about nothing.


So I was watching Seinfeld the other day.

I'm pretty sure I've seen every episode over the years. I remember watching it during my Uni years, and the spinoff lines that would float around the tute rooms. No soup for you!

I moved in with the Supertrucker when I was 22. Way back when the internet still went reweeeeeertttttshkeeeeeeeee and it took about five minutes to load a page. Way back when BBS's were a thing, no pretty forums in the olden days.

I remember many an evening on the couch watching Seinfeld at 7pm. No iDevices, no tweeting unless it was daylight savings and the birds were still out. Just sitting and watching a show together and sometimes having a conversation. Ahh those golden days of yore.

I had two late tutes in my final year. They ran from 7.30 - 9.30 I think. One night we had to do a group presentation. Our group was last and with no word of a lie we told the class we were keeping it brief so everyone could get home for the final episode of Seinfeld. I watched it at my mate's house, from memory it was pretty disappointing. Then we went out and got pissed, because it was Thursday.

For the longest longest time my catchphrase was giddy up. Still is sometimes. My buddy even bought my then baby little mate a T-shirt with Kramer on it along with the slogan. That was a fun one to me.

So where were you for the final episode of Seinfeld? Are those pretzels making you thirsty? Do you celebrate Festivus with the rest of us?

Sunday, February 17, 2013

WIN A BOB Ironman pram worth $599! {Giveaway}

If you didn't already know, I am a pram junkie lover. I have owned many. I have coveted many. I love so much about them and as my last baby is now two I am sadly accepting the fact that my pram loving days are nearing a close. I am happy to be going out on a high note though.

I was so impressed with my gorgeous new BOB Ironman Jogging Stroller that I wanted to share the love!

If you are a runner, a wannabe runner or even an on-the-couch-blaming-the-kids-for-not-running type, you want this pram. But only if you are ready to stop making excuses, because once you have this stroller THERE ARE NO EXCUSES.

How to enter:

Make sure you have read my full review, then leave a comment telling me why YOU need some BOB in your life in 25 words or less. This is a game of skill, chance will play no part in determining the winner.

Then simply use the widget below to validate your entry and please cast your eye over the terms and conditions while you are there.

This is such an amazing prize and I can't wait to award it to someone!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, February 16, 2013

MotherRunner {BOB Ironman Review}

I received a BOB Ironman Jogging Stroller and accessories to use and keep for the purpose of this review. No payment was offered or accepted and all opinions are my own, of course!

It took me a really long time to consider myself a runner. When I was starting out I thought that once I cracked 5kms I'd feel like a runner. When I got to 5 I thought maybe 10. It finally occurred to me that it isn't the distance, it is the fact that I prioritize running in my week. I schedule it in along with appointments and outings and I feel sad when I miss a run.

One of the things that has made consistency tricky has been the fact that I am usually working around two (if not four) small people and I cannot stand treadmill running any more. I spent a fair bit of time running with a double pram but learned the hard way that 40kgs of kids and pram wreaks havoc on my already pretty dodgy back.

So when I heard through the Twitter grapevine that Britax were bringing the BOB series of prams to Australia I was all over it. Now that my Little Mate is at kindergarten I have lots of lovely time with my little girl, and she often falls asleep if I run in the morning which is a win for both of us.

I've known about the BOB series for a while. I started researching running prams a few months ago and they consistently got good reviews but were notoriously hard to get hold of in Australia. I'm stoked that they will be freely available here over the next couple of months!

Here is what you need to know about the BOB Ironman in words and pictures:

The pram has large pneumatic wheels for a smooth ride even over rougher terrain. The front wheel is fixed for increased safety when you are moving at speed... no risk of it catching on a rock, twisting around and flipping the pram and your precious cargo over. It has great stability and the front wheel tracking can be adjusted by twisting a dial to ensure you are always rolling straight. Brilliant when you are running with one hand on the bar with your wrist through the safety strap.

It also has an extremely generous hood to protect your little one from the elements. My girl does not like the wind rushing past her face when I run, with this hood it is not an issue any more. And it has a sunroof so I can see her and recline the seat when she falls asleep.

It is very light to push indeed. I do the majority of my runs with one hand on the handlebar and the other at my side, that is how cruisy this stroller is. Do note that because the front wheel is fixed it isn't heaps of fun on really winding roads or tracks, but then if you are like me you are that focused on just putting one foot in front of the other that a winding run track would do your head in anyway! I do a 6km run around a lake nearby and have no issues at all with the gradual turns there.
The seat is exceptionally well padded so you know your child will be comfortable even during longer runs. It has a five point harness and I like that the waist straps aren't fixed at the sides but form a belt around the child and are secured at the back of the seat. If I need to stop really suddenly (as happens when you run country tracks... snakes!) it has enough give that it allows her to move with it rather than have the straps cutting into her while remaining perfectly secure.
The seat also has a mesh pocket on each side, I pop little toys and knick knacks in there to keep her happy while I'm pounding the track.
As well as the standard foot brake, the handle features a front wheel hand brake also. Great for emergency stops particularly on a declining surface. The handlebar is well padded and very comfortable too.
There's a reasonable sized basket underneath so you can lob your jumper in once you get warm, and a large mesh pocket on the seat back itself.
The fold mechanism is SO EASY! Simply grab the levers on either side of the handlebar and the seat back folds forward...
Like this.
Then pull the red handle at the base of the seat back and the bottom half of the chassis folds into itself. There is a buckle on the handlebar safety strap that allows you to secure the pram in its folded position if need be as well.
The wheels are quite easy to remove if space is an issue, but even with the wheels on the stroller should fit in the boot of a standard sedan.
Or a Captiva, with lots of room to spare.

 If you are like me, you may be a fan of accessories as well. There are a number of accessory options available for the Ironman, but the must haves for me are:

The BOB Sunshield.

Very easy (and clever) to attach with a full mesh front for ventilation whilst keeping out the bugs and the harmful rays of the sun. I need a full body one of these for me, the flies are horrendous out here! I'll be investing in the BOB Weathershield as well when it gets colder so my girl can stay cosy and dry and I can enjoy running without sweltering.
The BOB Handlebar Console.

For easy access on the run (haha). I like that it has the 'not intended for hot beverages' warning. Don't know about you but about the only time that I DON'T want a coffee is when I am running. I do want to be able to grab my water quickly and easily though. And my phone so I can stop my running app the very second I reach my target. And my keys too. Nifty.
The BOB Snack Tray.

Absolutely perfect for kids who get a bit bored after a while on long runs. It has a cup holder which fits my daughter's water bottle perfectly and a sunken tray for snacks or toys. My girl has an apple and a little container of sultanas when I run and this makes it easy for her to manage them without me needing to stop. It is a bit cool!
The mechanism to attach the tray is very easy, and the same point can be used to pop in a travel system capsule for a younger baby. Very clever design indeed.

And does she like it? Yes indeed she does!
Happy Families :)
*Please note: This stroller can be used as part of a travel system with young babies and is safe for walking with from birth. However it is not recommended to run with a child younger than 8 months old.

Do you like what you see? Because if you do I am GIVING AWAY A BOB IRONMAN STROLLER valued at $599! You'll need to check back tomorrow for details on how to win, but in the meantime I'd love to know how a BOB Ironman could help you reach your fitness goals!

Friday, February 15, 2013

OperationMOVE: Reality Bites

I'm feeling a bit cranky pants at the moment.

I've been taking it easier this week after having some issues with my knee and foot, which in itself isn't a bad thing. But it has me thinking lots of thoughts, some of which are not happy happy joy joy ones.

Here is the thing. I have a back injury that is 5 years old and still gives me pain daily. I used it as an excuse not to exercise for a really long time. I have found that running doesn't make it better, but it doesn't make it any worse either and I am loving running so so much.

BUT having been through the utter agony of the initial injury (which resulted in a few days in hospital off my head on all the good drugs) I am really loathe to put myself in a position that could result in a similar level of pain.

I've thought for a week or so that maybe I need to stop pushing for greater distances when running. I've argued back and forth with myself endlessly... am I thinking this way because I am a wussbag and scared to step it up? Or am I being quite sensible?

I've registered for a 15km run at the end of March and am looking at half marathons later in the year... but maybe I need to see if I can do the 5km run this time and maybe some 10's or similar later in the year instead of pushing so hard for the endurance runs?

I don't know. I really don't. I desperately WANT to be a person who can run a half marathon, but I also want to be a person who has working joints for the next 50 years too.

What do you think? Am I just making excuses? Or should I take some pride in what I've achieved so far and commit to doing 8/10km runs that don't hurt in a bad way a few times a week and try to be happy with that?

ARGH what should I do internet? What should I do?

In other news, it is check in day and because life has been crazy the past week I haven't done the tally board. Sorry :( So please leave your total for the month so far along with your goal and we will track that way for a bit.

For me to date: 68.3/150kms 

Hope you are faring better than I am! 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The easiest home made icecream ever!

A while back my Mum was telling me how her Mum used to make icecream with condensed milk, and it was yum.

I would happily eat condensed milk on its own anyway, but condensed milk icecream? Delish!

I played around with quantities a little bit and came up with this recipe. Which I'm sure if you google is pretty much the same as any other condensed milk ice cream recipe and I could've saved myself some time and effort if I'd done that first. But I'm not always all that bright.

I used my Thermomix to make this but I'm sure any decent kitchen mixer would do the job.

You need:

1 tin of sweetened condensed milk
300ml thick cream (suitable for whipping)
Vanilla extract

What you do:

Place the cream in whatever you are using (kitchen mixer, thermomix, whatever).

Set it to whip until it is nice and fluffy.

Pour in a good splash of vanilla extract then whip it for just a few more seconds until it reaches stiff peaks stage.

Pour in the condensed milk. Don't cut your tongue licking the lid.

Mix the cream and condensed milk for about 30 seconds.

Pour into whatever you want to freeze it in. I use a stainless steel bowl personally.

After two hours pour it all back into your mixer and give it a really good whizz for 30 seconds, then pour it back into your freezable container.

After another two hours or so do it again.

And a few hours after that pull it out of the freezer and gobble it all up.

Too easy!

PS are you a condensed milk fan too? I love that it comes in slurping tubes now ;)

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

That Inking Feeling

You already know that I'm a self confessed card carrying bogan, so it will come as no surprise that I sport a few tattoos here and there.

I'm off to get some new ink today, so I thought I'd share my older ones with you just for shiggles.

This was my first tatt. I got it when I was 21 and it is on my lower abdomen. Women, if someone tells you a tattoo is low enough on your belly to not be affected by a pregnancy, they are lying. As you can clearly see.

This was once a pretty little flower, but four rounds of packing on 30kg then losing it again has left it pretty weedlike with a stretch mark running straight through the middle.

I am however hoping to get a coverup tattoo over it down the track.

On a holiday to Brisvegas back in 2000 the Supertrucker and I thought it would be a laugh to get some matching ink. This is on my right shoulder/back and he has the same near his left ankle. Awwwww.

Meanwhile this is also why you should always put sunscreen on your tatts before going out in the sun. Epic fail there Kate.

So years went on and we got hitched and had a baby. On another holiday to Queensland with our then 5 month old baby boy we went back to the place we got the last tatts. ST got an armband with our son's first and middle names and his date of birth (which is also the date of ST's father's death, our boy's middle name is his grandfather's first name). I got this celtic knotwork mother's heart and one initial in it in the classic tramp stamp position.

Because we were only having two children I made sure there was space for one more initial. Whoops.

A few days before Christmas in 2007 my sister and I decided to get some matching tatts, and I had another initial added to my heart.

My sis and I have this one on opposite feet. Because we are cool like that. I love looking at this and thinking of her a state away.

I also had this one done on my inner left ankle. I designed it myself (you can tell right? ;)) and the stars are for our two children... It was done literally days before the conception of our third. Again, whoops. On the to-do list is another two stars and some additions to my back tatt for the other two children we now have as well.

So that's my little collection.

I'm having a celtic symbol done on my arm today along with a small finger tattoo. Because I am an attention seeker an avid user of social media I'm sure the new ones will be popping up on my Instagram feed and Facebook page later today.

PS sorry Mum. I know you don't like them. But I really do :)

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

One of those poo posts.

Not really. I don't love them either.

But I AM going to share some things about toileting.

It wasn't all that long ago that we were convinced we had a number of years of nappy buying ahead of us. Our Little Mate was showing no signs of toileting awareness and when I'd put him in undies just for a try he would not even register when they were wet, let alone that he was the one wetting them.

Over the Summer holidays we would try once a week or so with both the little two, to no avail.

Then one day, my boy randomly used the potty without any prompting from me. In fact I did not know until he came and told me.

Of course there was much cheering and celebration, but a day later it became apparent that it had been a one off and the nappies were back in action.

A month or so passed and I'd resigned myself to the fact that there was no change likely in the immediate future. I did buy some McQueen pull-ups in the hope that McQueen might just prompt some interest.

For a week or so my boyo wore the pull-ups and treated them like nappies. And then, again completely out of the blue, he took himself to the toilet. We have one of those step up seats and he had set it up, used the toilet and flushed it. The flushing is what alerted me to the fact that anything was happening at all.

We started sending him to childcare in pull-ups and with extras in his bag. In that structured environment he used the toilet all day with some prompting. That was a few weeks ago now and we have not looked back.

He did rely on the security of the pull-ups for a while but over the past few days has asked to wear jocks. We have a sticker chart on our pantry that one of the wonderful childcare staff made for us so he has the same chart at home and at care. It is a basic laminated table with laminated disks bearing pictures of Lightning McQueen and Mater so you already know that is a winner.

When I had two young children I really felt that sticker charts, reward systems and the like were not appropriate for children. That training them to do things rather than encouraging their own abilities was somehow derogatory to them.

Oh, how things have changed. I knew everything about parenting then. These days I know very little, and what I do know my Little Mate has taught me. Some children respond remarkably well to reward charts and my boy is one of them. Had he not been ready physically to toilet train it would not have happened regardless of any charts or systems, but as it happened the chart provided the impetus for him to experience success.

While there are still accidents now and again, my son really seems to have got it. And I am reminded yet again that when I let go of expectations and allow him to come to things in his own time, he will often surprise me.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Pretty Girl

When I asked the Supertrucker to shave my head last week, I ran it by my kids first.

My boys were both very excited and thought it was pretty hilarious, especially given they have buzzcuts themselves. Little Mate really likes our matchy match heads.

Little Miss Thing could not care either way, but my big girl was a little concerned. 'You won't look pretty,' she said. And since then there have been a few times that she has mentioned that I 'look like a boy.'

This concerns me a great deal. Not because I am worried about looking pretty or for reasons of gender stereotyping, but because it is clearly of great importance to my seven year old daughter.

I think both of my daughters are very pretty. Beautiful in fact. I think my boys are pretty damned spunky too. And I throw away lines like 'okay my beautiful girl' without really thinking about it terribly much because I am their Mum, and I'm forever telling them with words and actions that they live in my heart.

But I don't want 'pretty' to be a thing to aspire to. When I call my kids beautiful I am talking about their entire beings, not the way they look. And while I may think that they are attractive (because of course I do) I'm not sure how to balance that out and help them understand that inner beauty is what counts, in a world that is utterly obsessed with the aesthetic.

When I was in Year 8 I was told by one of the popular girls that I was pretty. Pretty enough to be invited into THE group even. Up until that point I don't really remember thinking I was much of anything... not in a negative way, it just wasn't something I thought about.

After that time I thought about it constantly. How to be PRETTIER. What I needed to do for people to see me and tell me again and again how PRETTY I was. It was a vicious downwards spiral from there... one which I've only really dragged myself out of over the past few years. And let's face it I still like being told I am attractive, because if someone else says it it must be true.

THIS is what I do not want for my daughters. For my sons either. But I do not know how to avoid it.

I can watch my words more carefully. I can focus on the brilliant things about them all that have nothing to do with their features, and I do. But is it enough? Can I ever compete with peer groups and the mainstream media?

How do you teach your children the value of who they are, as opposed to how they look?

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Pizza Party Perfection {A Red Balloon Review}

Thanks to the team at Digital Parents Collective for inviting me to be a part of the RedBalloon Experience Program. As always, all opinions are my own however the experiences are complimentary. 

Sometimes when you live in the country it can be tricky to get to events in the city, especially when you need to factor in school, kinder and child care.

One of the GREAT things about living in the country is not having easy access to take away food (although my children may not agree with me there). When it is a 40km round trip and the food is going to be cold by the time you get home, it's hardly worth the effort.

For the past few years we have had home made pizza night once a week. I make the dough in the Thermomix and the kids love topping their own pizza. I like switching up our toppings week to week as well.

The one thing that has been irritating about it is the fact that I'd always forget to turn the oven on earlier and the time they take to cook. When my kids want dinner they want dinner NOW and while I'd always have the bases made earlier in the day, the cooking time was apparently unbearably long.

I'd wanted one of those pizza cookers for the longest time and was very excited to find that Red Balloon had an Italian Pizza Master Class package available. It's like the best home delivered pizza (package) ever!

We received a beautifully packaged box filled with goodies including the pizza maker itself and some gorgeous gourmet toppings.

Predictably we needed to give it a test run right away...

Gee I wonder can you guess which one the kids topped?
Oh. The noms.
I'd always wondered if the machine would just be a space taker, but I can honestly say we are using it an awful lot. It is just as easy to spread some tomato paste and veggies on pita bread and cook for five minutes for a delicious lunch as it is to make a sandwich. Perfect for when the weather gets colder as well.

It cooks beautifully. Our bases are noticeably crisper and lighter and the five minute cooking time suits my poor starving never been fed before children.

Hot tip: If you are using fresh pizza dough coat the paddles in flour before putting the pizza in the machine so it doesn't stick and end up all misshapen with the topping in the middle... I learned that one first time.

If you're looking for a great gift for someone who lives a little off the beaten track, I can highly recommend this one!

Do you do home made pizzas? Are your kids as boring as mine? ;)

A special offer for Kate Says Stuff readers:

Receive $20 off when you spend $79 or more on any RedBalloon experience!
Visit & enter the code REDMUM08 at the checkout to receive your discount.
Code can only be used once per person. All purchases are subject to RedBalloon T&Cs -
Expiry: 31/12/2014

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Beers, Besties, Babes and Big W {Sponsored Giveaway}

This post has been sponsored by Big W.

Before I actually had children, I had visions that being a stay-at-home Mum involved lots of lovely lunches out with friends, shopping dates and stuff like that. Laugh away. Obviously I watched too many soapies or something.

The reality of life with small children involves very few ladies lunches and an awful lot of wearing someone else's lunch in my experience. Such occasions are to be treasured as the rarities they are.

When Big W invited me to shout three friends for lunch and a shopping spree to celebrate the Big W Baby and Toddler Sale, the first thing I did was lock it in for a childcare day once my big kids were back at school. I think the idea was to take the children shopping with us, but anyone who has ever seen me out shopping with my kids knows why THAT wasn't going to happen. I wanted to have fun!

I found a great place for lunch. Child friendly (because not everyone was as lucky and child free as me that day), delicious and licensed. Hey if I'm doing it I am doing it properly!

Could my nephew BE any cuter? Also chips. Mmmm.
Cheers big ears!
We had some delicious food, enjoyed a bevvy then headed to the local Big W to check out the bargains. Big W had very generously given us each a gift card (how much do I LOVE that I could spoil my mates for a day?!) so we hit the Baby and Toddler section with gusto.

My bogue buddy, whose own baby has just started kinder, needed to stock up on some items for when she looks after her one year old niece. The problem with not having babies in the house is that you don't usually have baby stuff in the house either.

She managed to put together this package that will have them well sorted comfortably under $200. And portacots make excellent toy storage too... Ask me how I know. Also who doesn't love Bonds gear? Always the first section I check when I enter the store.

My sister came along with my two beautiful nephews. She was specifically after a new pram and found the perfect one right away. Reversible seat for a small boy who likes to be able to see his Mama, compact fold and comfortably under budget as well. Score!

Spunky nephew number 2. She breeds them good looking.
Not included with pram.
My BFF has a brand new boy and wanted to spoil him a little bit. And why not? He is too gorgeous for words. Would you look at that hair and those cheeks? We all loved the look of the three in one highchair, what a great practical long term idea! Excellent discount in the sale too.

Awwww sleepy boy. Shopping is hard work!
Seriously seriously clever highchair. Where were you when I needed one? 
For me? Practicality won out. I have two in nappies (although my Little Mate is finally getting the hang of toilet training) so my trolley was full of nappies, nappy pants, pull ups and wipes. I try to keep up with when these items are on sale because they do really add to the grocery bill. LOVE making a saving on nappies.

AND I had enough left in the budget to grab some clothes for my small girl. She destroys them at child care, so I love the cheap and cheerful tops and shorts. At around $5 each they're easily replaced as well. Nice.

We had such an ace day. I'm grateful to Big W for the opportunity and also to my sister and mate for travelling all the way out to where I live to come shopping. I'm going to assume it was my company that was the incentive and not the free lunch ;)

Please note: The discount code previously promoted here has been suspended for the moment due to misuse by another website. I apologise for any inconvenience and will update as soon as possible.

Would you like to go shopping courtesy of Big W too? I have a $100 gift card to give away! To enter, simply leave a comment telling me what you'd love to buy for a small person in your life from Big W then use the form below to validate your entry. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway