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Let’s Go Driving In The Car-Car …

My Mum and Step-Dad, my Aunty and my in-laws all live a 4 hour drive from our house. It’s handy that they all live in the same city, but the travel is a bit of a hassle sometimes. However, we try to make the trip at least once every month or two if we can.

In fact, Princess was a mere 5 days old (and not even at her due date yet!) the first time we made the trip with kids. I know, right?! Insane. What the heck were we thinking? Actually, I know exactly what we were thinking – babies aren’t that big of a deal. She’s a baby, it’ll be easy. Boy, I wish we’d taken a photo of our car for that trip. For two adults and one newborn, we wouldn’t have fitted another person in our roomy, 5-seater hatchback. It was so full. We took absolutely everything we could possibly need on that trip.

Change mat. Baby bath. Baby bath support. Baby bath thermometer. Bassinet. Bassinet stand. Outfits for every season possible. Nappies. Nappies. Nappies. We were away for four days.

We have come a long way from that first trip, we have the packing down to a bare minimum – one small suitcase each. Of course, with three kids, it’s the only real option.

And so, this weekend, we packed up the car and headed off on a fun filled, 4 hour drive north. Only, I think the kids missed the “fun filled” part of the memo.

Now, BoyChild is recently toilet trained. So, this was our first trip with two kids out of nappies (and, of course, one in nappies). But really, how hard can it be? She laughs.

BabyGirl fell asleep almost instantly when we got in the car – you see, that is trick number one to a successful long car ride – timing. It was dead on her nap time, so she will easily sleep well.

With the kids music blaring and BabyGirl happily snoring, we drove for a short while in peaceful bliss. A very short while.

“MUM! I need to go to the toilet!”

Stop the car at the closest public toilet. “Who else needs to go??”

Take both kids in, business done, back on the road.

“DAD! I need to go to the TOILET!” Seriously? You literally just went.

One hour down, we stop at McDonalds because the kids are restless, BabyGirl is crying, BoyChild is playing I-Spy but, according to Princess, is “DOING IT ALL WRONG”.

Nice lunch, and back on the road.

15 minutes later, as far away from any public toilets as we could be.

“NEED GO WEEEEEEEEEEEES”.

“Ok, just hold on, won’t be long”.

“Need go weeeeees now, Mummy. NOW.”

Pull over on the side of the road.

“No wees, Mummy – poos. Need do poos.”.

Crap. Literally. Crap. I grab the wipes and wait, cringing.

“No poos, Mum. Just wees.”

Get back into the car.

I’m sure that by now, you get the idea.

I’m pretty confident that, during our 4 hour drive, we stopped no less than 25 times. Each child swore they didn’t need to pee, then did. BoyChild did wees roadside, so Princess wanted to as well. Princess went into the toilet that talked to you (oh yes, we frequented even the fanciest of public loos) so BoyChild wanted to. I drew the line, however, at stopping at the public loo who charge 20c a go. That’s just ludicrous. Loo-dicrous (see what I did there?). And, poor old BabyGirl. By the end of the trip, I’m sure she was saying, “WEEEES!! POOOS!!” as well.

We arrived safely, albeit exhausted (well, speaking for Mr T and I in particular!). And, the first thing the kids said when we arrived at the in-laws?

“WE NEED TO GO TO WEEEEEEEES”.

Next time, I think I might fly.

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K.I.S.S.I.N.G

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Oh, dear lord, help me.

Princess got kissed at school. By a boy.

No.

This was NOT supposed to happen, not yet, anyway! I mean, besides the fact that, when I was four, I was schooling my older sister (and anyone else who would listen) about the *ahem* birds and the bees. Mum isn’t entirely sure how I found out, but I don’t remember ever not knowing. I didn’t know all the technicalities, of course, but I sure understood that babies were made from a man and a lady, and something to do with a limousine and a garage.

Princess was only 18 months old when BoyChild was born, and was three-and-a-half when BabyGirl was born, so we have had ample opportunity to expose her to whole business around babies and conception and the like, and we definitely adopt an “honesty is best” mantra with our kids.

And, I am ashamed to admit, the first time Princess asked me, “Mum – how are babies made?”, I giggled. And then realised she was serious. And giggled again. She didn’t have to tell me to grow up, her eyes said it for her. I went into a stumbled answer about men having sperm and women having eggs, and the two combining to make a baby that grows in Mummy’s tummy, that then comes out, either through the vagina or cut through the stomach.

She had a few ‘follow-up’ questions.

“Do I have an egg in my tummy???” Yes, it’s very, very, very, very tiny though.

“Does Daddy have sperms then?” Yes.

“I’m never going to have a baby”. Ok.

And that was that. No further discussion, just a shrug of the shoulders and she was off playing a new game. I mean, aside from the time she informed my friend, relatively loudly, that babies were made with SPERMS and EGGS and IN MUMMYS TUMMY, she has been relatively okay about the whole deal.

And then, she started school.

I don’t want to blame the boys in her class entirely, but my beautiful, lady like Princess has turned into a right little potty mouth. Everything is “poo” this and “bum bum” that, “farty face” and “poos and wees bum bum big fat farty poo poo mouth head”.

Again, I shouldn’t be surprised. I was anything but ladylike as a young girl. And even now, I like a good rude joke as much as the next person, but there is something else when it is your little girl. Your Princess.

Don’t worry – Mr T has already threatened to go down to the school yard in the lunch break to “sort those boys out”, but we both know that *sigh* there is nothing we can do. It’s innocent, it’s about growth, and it’s perfectly normal.

I only hope she keeps her “boys are gross” thing a bit longer than I did. Six is FAR too young for a first boyfriend. My poor mother.

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The Modern Coffee Group

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I am part of a wonderful coffee group. I feel so lucky to have stumbled upon this group of fantastic parents – because, for a long time, I wasn’t part of any coffee group or anything. Not for lack of trying – I even tried to set up my own “playgroup” at my house, inviting every stay-at-home parent I could find. It worked well for the first week or two but really, the random mish mash of people never really “gelled”.

Which is kind of funny, if you were to see our coffee group now. We really are, I believe, the epitome of the “modern” coffee group. The coffee group of the 2000’s. Sounds pretty neat, really! And it is. It’s awesome.

So, who would you find, at one of our random coffee “outings”?

The SAHM

There are a few of Stay At Home Mum’s in our group. Some of us work one day a week, some work two days a week, some (me!) work random, casual work. But essentially, we are stay at home, primary carers of our kids.

The Working Mum

We have one of these. She can’t come to a lot of the coffee outings, but she comes when she can, and she loves it. And we love her, of course!

The Young, First Time Mum

She has a little bubba and is new to this parenting gig. So, the poor thing has to endure endless tales of what she has to look forward to in years to come. Poor lass.

The Solo Dad

Yes, he is a dad. He is also the primary carer for his kids and he is wonderful at it. And, we welcomed him with open arms. Because, when we formed this coffee group, we vowed that we would not be exclusive – any one was welcome. Sure, we have to tone down the “lady” talk when he is around, but give it time. It’s hard work being a single parent, and I think it’s just that little bit harder being a single Dad. Everything is set up for women. And, we learned that he was too shy to approach women to ask for playdates for his daughter, for fear of being judged or treated like a predator.

The Nan

She is 64 and shares care of her grandson with her son, who works full time. She is lovely, even though she doesn’t have “the Facebook”. We won’t hold that against her, she makes a mean sponge cake. And she parties it up like the rest of us, given half the chance!

 

In our coffee group, there are as many as 10 parents and in excess of 20 children, ranging in age from 7 years to 5 months. And we love it. We meet for coffee at least once a week. We try to get together without kids every month or so, and do really crazy things like play board games (with wine/cider, naturally). And, just last week, (wait for it), we went to Kmart at 9pm. That’s right, you read correctly. We emptied the car of carseats, piled in, and went for a crazy, kid-free, late night shopping trip. Because that’s how we roll.

I consider myself SO lucky to be in a group with such awesome people. We all have different views, different opinions, different strategies, and yet this crazy mish-mash of people just “gel”.

 

 

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Why, Mum? But, why, Mum? But, why, Mum?

Kids ask questions. A lot of questions. Which is great – it is how they learn, and how they explore the world around them. I read somewhere once that your average 4 year old asks around 300 questions a day. I definitely agree with that.

And, with questions, comes answers. Oftentimes I endeavour to answer the question properly and fairly, but I won’t lie – it doesn’t take me long to revert to such common “Mum-isms” as, “it just is”, “because I said so”, and “who want’s ice cream?!?!”.

Today Princess is not well, so she is home from school. I decided to drive 25 minutes to a local fabric store to get some wool, in order to crochet her the Rapunzel hat I (foolishly) committed to, many weeks ago.

Here is how our car ride went. Note: this is only the drive to the store.

Mum? Why can’t I sit in the front seat? Because it isn’t safe

Why not? Because there are air bags in the front

What are airbags? They are .. um … bags like balloons .. that .. um .. come out in a crash and act like a pillow to protect grown up faces. But they are too strong for kids.

Are we going to crash? No

Why not? Because I’m driving very carefully

*silence*

Why aren’t we going to crash? Because I’m driving safe

Where are the airbags? One is inside the steering wheel, one is there *points*

Why is it in the steering wheel? Because that is the most central place for this seat

Is it because the steering wheel has handles? Yes.

Who are the airbags for? The two people sitting in the front

One for Mum and one for Daddy? Yes – or whoever is in the front

Why can’t I sit in the front? Because it’s too dangerous.

Are we going to crash? No.

What are airbags? *silence*

*silence*

Who were you born with, Mum? Um … Grandma.

Why do you call her Mum, Mum? Because she is my Mum

But you are my Mum? Yes.

And she is my Grandma? Yes.

When were you born, Mum? 1982

I was born in 20000001, aye, Mum? No – you were born in 2009.

Oh! Why was I born in 200009? Because that’s when we had you

When was BabyGirl a baby? She kind of still is, but she was born last year

In 20000001? No – 2013.

Who was Daddy born with? Nana

Like Nana-and-Poppa? Yes.

Is Nana Daddy’s Mum? Yes.

*silence*

What is that thing, Mum *points out window* ? What thing, darling?

Why can’t you see everything, Mum? *silence*

Where are we going? To the wool shop

To buy wool? Yes

For my hat? Yes

Are we going to crash, Mum? No.

*silence*

When is the school holidays, Mum? Next week

Tomorrow? No, next week.

In how many days? Five

Is Laughalots open today? Yes

Can we go? No – you are sick today.

Can we go in the holidays? Maybe.

Is it holidays tomorrow? No – next week.

After tomorrow? No – next week.

What time are we picking BoyChild up? This afternoon

Now? No – this afternoon

Is it this afternoon now? No – it’s the morning

Is that when we have morning tea? Yes

When are we picking BoyChild up? 3pm

Is that when he is finished at preschool? Yes.

Why is it a rainy day today? I’m not sure

Why don’t you know what weather is going to be, always? *silence*

Do you know what is rain but colder? No – what?

Snow HA HA HA HA HA HA.

Why aren’t I at school? Because you are sick – you have a cough.

Are my friends at school? Yes.

Why are my friends at school? Because they aren’t sick.

Is it school holidays tomorrow? *silence*

Why can’t I sit in the front seat? *silence*

Mum? Yes?

I love you.

I love you too, pet. I love you too.

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Why Having Children is Like Living With a Ghost

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They are sneaky foxes, these children. Little people who scamper about the place, like a flicker out the corner of your eye.

Living with small children is what I imagine life might be like if your house was haunted.

Things are always everywhere

I babysat a 5 year old boy recently, an only child. He commented, “Wow! You have so many THINGS in EVERY ROOM!”. I might have been offended if it weren’t entirely true. There are things. Everywhere. I don’t blink if I come across a set of kitchen tongs in the bath. Or a ken doll in the pantry. Or an entire box of cars inside my neatly made bed. I very rarely see these things put in these places. They just appear.

Doors open and close by themselves

You go outside to get the laundry, closing the door behind you. Upon your return, the door is open. Yet the child who (you are fairly certain) cannot open said door, is sitting beside it, blinking innocently up at you. How did you …? But .. ?

Doors lock

Make that mistake only once.

Children appear

You are alone in the room. You glance to your left. You glance to your right and damn near wet your pants because suddenly, there is a child standing right. beside. you.

Night Noises

Once you have children, I’m not sure you ever sleep well again. Even the slightest of noises has me leaping out of bed. But the worst are the noises that have no obvious source. You hear a blood-curdling scream. You dash into the kids’ room. Both are fast asleep, not even flickering. Go back to bed. And then, when you are just about asleep again …

Any work is counter productive

You pack up all of the blocks, put them away. Leave the room. Come and back all the blocks are scattered throughout the room once more. Child is either (a) innocently sitting there reading a book, or (b) no where to be found.

Same applies for putting away groceries. Though is this instance, the kids eat the food.

Figures standing beside your bed as you sleep

So, if the noises haven’t woken you, nothing scares the crap out of you more than waking up and realising someone is standing there, just watching you. “Hi, Mum! You are sleeping, Mum!”

Ah, kids.

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Long Time, No Blog

Well, hello there! How are you all? Long time no see!

It feels like it’s been forever since I blogged in here and I would love to say it’s because I’ve been in Hawaii perfecting my tan in time for Spring. It’s not.

I’ve been here, in the cold and wintery weather, battling colds and flus and infections and practically every bug known to children. In the Fantastic household, we seem to have The Cold That Will Not Leave. No matter how I try to bribe it, lure it away, yell at it, scowl at it .. nope, this cold seems to have set up permanent residence here in our lovely abode.

Silly cold.

This winter has been a particularly vicious one, it’s not only my family affected – in my group of friends, there hasn’t been a week in literally three months where one child has not been sick. And frankly, we are over it. Ya hear that, Cold????

Amongst all that going on, we’ve been a busy little household. Princess has been at school for weeks now and, in her words, “I’m getting used to it”. I’ve noticed a certain sassy-ness to her since she started school, a lot of, “what the heck is this??” and “are you freaking kidding me, Mum!”. We are working on teaching her what is appropriate and what isn’t – though, to be honest, it’s hard keeping a straight face with some of the things she comes out with. “He’s SO gross, and I’m like, dude, I don’t want your poo germs all everywhere”.

BoyChild is completely toilet trained now, which is fantastic. Because training Princess was a long, drawn out process, we decided to leave BoyChild until he was ready, no pressure or rush. And sure enough, one day he was trained. Day and night! It’s exciting having only one child in nappies, that’s for sure! Can’t wait until it’s NONE!

BabyGirl is night weaned as well – no more going-to-bed-at-midnight for her! Nope – in bed by 8pm and sleeping through, thankyouverymuch. And, we are close to weaning her fully, as she only feeds for the fun of it now, and tries to stand and walk away while breastfeeding, so this Mumma is drawing the line in the sand. Lying down to feed is one thing, standing and looking around without releasing the nipple is another thing entirely. I have thoroughly adored feeding her, but I think we have both come to the stage where we are done. And I’m happy with that decision :)

Of course, all of this is just minor in our household – the real reason I haven’t blogged much recently? Because BoyChild has figured out how to turn on the computer, how to find Google search, type in his games, play them, adjust the volume … and so it begins. Near-impossible to get close to the computer these days. How am I typing this right now? Very quickly, trying to ignore the boy standing behind me on the chair, chanting, “DORA BINGO TIME MUM! MY TURN!”.

Yesterday was the first day of Spring and I couldn’t be happier to see it. And, it seems the weather has followed suit, it’s a beautiful sunny day today. I’m thrilled, because it means I’ll get laundry done today. Because, that’s how I roll.

’till next time :)

 

DORA BINGO! DORA BINGO! DORA BINGO!”

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Princess’s Princess Extravaganza

My little Princess, my first baby, my little cutie pa-tootie, is now a big, grown-up five year old!

It’s been a long week, with lots of sad endings and happy beginnings. Lots of tears (mostly from me, I won’t lie) and lots (read: TONS) of cake!

We said goodbye to Kindy on Monday, which wasn’t too sad an event, since Princess is the youngest of her friends and therefore the last to “jump” into school, as they say. It amazed me the difference in her appearance between the first day at kindy (when she was not-quite-three) and the last day. She is taller, obviously, but her face has changed. I now see what she might look like as a teenager and grown up, and it’s a bit overwhelming!

On Saturday, we had her birthday party – her Princess Extravaganza!

Princess loves the Disney Princesses (and, of course, the movie Frozen) so we planned her party around that general theme.

It’s an amazingly easy theme to use, because there is so much available that fits well within the theme, without breaking the bank!

Decorations

The decorations for the party were very easy and not at all expensive. We had a central table with a cheap table cover on it. Behind the table I stuck to the wall a poster of the Princesses, and printed images of both Anna and Elsa from Frozen. Then we put balloons up to support the decorations. My intention was to make a “skirt” for the table out of crepe paper, but for some completely unknown reason, the crepe paper did NOT smell very nice at all when I opened the packaging, so I binned it!

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The tables were set with more cheap table covers, and then I placed paper Princess place mats at each setting (that I got from a local dollar store). The cups were plain pink plastic cups that I added stickers to! They just ate off plain white disposable plates, I figured there was already enough colour in there. For the food display, I got cardboard disposable Princess bowls from the same dollar store as the place mats, and served food in them. The drink was in a great drink dispenser that I found really cheap at KMart. I was pretty excited to get it for $25, even more so when I saw it for sale in a homewares store for $89.99! An identical one! I ♥ bargains!!!!

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Food

For the food, we let Princess choose her menu. She wanted: Pink Popcorn, Jelly, Cheezels, Peanut Butter Sandwiches, Fairy Bread and Sausage Rolls.

For those unfamiliar with Fairy Bread, it is a New Zealand Kid’s Party institution! Basically, it’s white bread with margarine and sprinkles. A winner every time! I cut the fairy bread into star shapes and put it onto platters with “5” shaped peanut butter sandwiches.

The jelly I made in four colours, and served in small plastic containers with little spoons.

The sausage rolls were a hit, as usual – I cut them pretty small so the little kids could easily handle them.

Pink Popcorn

Princess really wanted Pink Popcorn so I searched and searched for food colouring spray but had little luck. So, I decided to attempt to make Pink Candy corn myself, and was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was.

2 Cups popcorn (remove all unpopped kernels)

1 Cup sugar

3/4 Cup Water

Food colouring

3 Tbsp Icing Sugar

Boil the sugar and water together over a high heat until it reaches 238F (or, forms a medium ball in cold water). Grease the bowl that the popcorn is in (so the mixture doesn’t stick when added). Have the icing sugar ready, so you can move quickly once the sugar/water reaches it’s desired heat. Add the food colouring just before the syrup is heated properly. Quickly pour the syrup into the popcorn, stirring immediately (right to the bottom on the bowl) and add the icing sugar straight away. The aim is the syrup and the icing sugar stick to the popcorn together and harden, forming the nice candy coating. This is much easier done if you have someone to help you (ideally another grown up because it can get very hot). One can stir while the other adds the icing sugar etc!  Leave it once coated and it will cool and harden and be just like the bought stuff!

Cake

Of course, the cake. The Pièce de résistance of the party. Princess loves her Princess Magiclip dolls, so we had the idea to make Elsa’s staircase (from Frozen, of course!) and put all of her Magiclip dolls on the cake. She had no idea that we had the two Frozen Magiclip dolls, that was my special surprise for her on party day (and boy, was she surprised! “How did you know, MUM!! I love THEM!!!”).

For the cake, it’s simply two chocolate cakes (round) stacked on top of each other, and (relatively painstakingly) we carved steps into the top cake. The top few steps are pieces of cake we took out of the lower steps! We iced it with simple blue-coloured buttercream, trying to keep the cake as dairy free as we could (so BabyGirl could eat some).

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Blue Ice Shards

To make the cake look more like an ice staircase, I made shards of blue “ice” – candy shattered to look like ice! Like the candy popcorn, this was much easier than I thought it would be!

3 3/4 Cups sugar

1 1/2 Cups Corn Syrup (I used Queen Glucose Syrup)

1 Cup Water

1 Tbsp (clear coloured) flavouring/extract – I used strawberry essence because that’s what I had in my cupboard!

Food Colouring

In a medium bowl, stir together the sugar, corn syrup and water. Cook (while stirring) over a medium heat until the sugar dissolves, then bring to a boil. Without stirring, heat to 149-154C (300-310F), or until a small amount of syrup dropped into a cold glass of water forms hard, brittle threads.

Remove from the heat and stir in the extract and the colouring, then pour into a greased, shallow pan or cookie sheet. Let it cool completely (resist the urge to poke it!) and then shatter it once it is completely cooled and solid, to resemble shattered ice. Note: don’t try to shatter it over the back of a plastic kids chair. The chair came out second best!

 

Party Activites

No party is a party without some activities! Princess was adamant she didn’t want games with clear winners and losers, so we went for activities rather than games.

We had a makeup table with some cheap eye shadow, blushers, foundation etc, and a mirror. We also had some nail polish. The kids loved it. They just went crazy, making themselves up, then making each other up! This was a real hit, the kids kept coming back to it throughout the party.

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We also had a table where kids could make their own “Princess Sofia Amulet” – a table with silver and purple stickers, purple card that I had pre-cut, and silver elastic that I also pre-cut. The kids designed, coloured and proudly wore their own amulets, I saw some kids wearing more than one!

And, the best part of the party – the Princess!

My amazing friend came all dressed up like Belle from Beauty and the Beast, and she was AMAZING. Fantastic! I can’t say enough how spectacular her performance was! We hired the dress in the end, and she read to the kids, played, sang, told them stories about her friends, the other Princesses, and held court with the kids for over 45 minutes. She made the party what it was!

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All in all, this was an awesome party that I know my Princess enjoyed. Adored, even! “Mum! Belle knows my NAME” she whispered to me partway through the party!

Ah, to be five again!