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Cicadas. Some interesting facts. And some not-so-interesting facts.

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We are currently nearing the end of a relatively mild summer and for some reason we appear to have struck an influx of cicadas in recent weeks. Cicadas are synonymous with the Kiwi Summer, their loud trill of a song commonplace in all childhood memories. But I have no recollection of ever seeing and hearing so many before.

They seem to be everywhere at present – on the footpath, on trees, even in my house. I’m not a squeamish bug person but I take exception to being dive-bombed by a cicada while enjoying my evening Child Free time!

So, all these cicadas got me thinking, where the heck have they all come from? And what are they?

Some interesting facts about Cicadas:

  • There are 42 species and sub-species of cicada unique to New Zealand. What!? 42?! That’s a lot.
  • The largest has a wingspan of 80 mm. That must be the fellow who hit me in the face while I was out walking this morning.
  • They arrived in New Zealand within the last 11 million years. They are practically newborns!
  • Female cicadas lay their eggs on plants above ground, and then emerge wingless nymphs who drop to the ground and burrow into the soil. Some as deep as 1m! You go, you crazy wingless nymphs!
  • No one knows quite how long cicadas live for, but some species live underground for at least three years and probably up to five. That seems remarkably long for an insect.
  • One North American species lives for seventeen years. SEVENTEEN YEARS. Shut the front door.
  • When the cicada emerges from underground, it sheds it’s empty nymph case behind once it’s wings are hard enough to fly. And it’s off for two-to-four relaxing weeks of mating, laying eggs and generally trilling happily in trees.

source: http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/cicadas

Some not-so-interesting facts about Cicadas:

  • They are everywhere. EVERYWHERE. 
  • Nymph shells are irresistible, particularly to 4 year olds.  They are, in fact, a collectable item.
  • Nymph shells have sticky feet. Ask Princess’s friend who discovered this and “surprised” his Nan with them stuck all over his face.
  • Cicadas are relatively easy to catch. And hold by the wings as you, say, eat your lunch. Or watch TV, perhaps.
  • Nymph shells crumble. Particularly exciting to crumble them all over the floor of the playroom, apparently. Do you know what’s not exciting? Walking into the playroom to find Baby Girl with a cicada leg hanging out of her mouth. *vomit*
  • Cicadas are noisy. Not necessarily unpleasant, just loud.

Cicadas. I have a lot more respect for the noisy little blighters now that I know they live for so long underground, those funky little drab, ground-dwelling nymphs. But, I won’t lie when I say I’ll be glad when this influx has passed. I’m a little tired of vacuuming nymph shells out of the carpet, finding them on the wall and stopping fifteen times on the way home from Kindy to add a few more to the container. We’ve researched cicadas, we’ve learned a lot and now I’m ready to move on. I think the key to successful parenting is to allow children the opportunity to grow and learn at every opportunity, whilst not projecting your own hang-ups onto them. Like I said, I am not a squeamish bug person but even I draw the line at carrying them. And, no matter how nicely Princess’s little friend asked me, I will not, repeat will not put them on my face.

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Cleaning a house with preschoolers? Don’t be silly!

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Honestly, you would have more success standing in the middle of the room and throwing everything into the air.

A few years ago BC (Before Children), Mr T and I visited a friend who had three kids, aged 6, 4 and 2. We cooed and were thoroughly entertained by these adorable children. We played, we giggled and we had a lot of fun. And then we left. Once we were in the car and on the way home, Mr T turned to me and said, “That house is a MESS. I will never, ever live in a house like that. The food on the floor, the clutter in the corners, it’s just unbearable”.  And I’m ashamed to say, I agreed with him. We figuratively patted each others child-free backs and returned to our tidy 2-bedroom cottage to relax in clutter-free happiness.

Fools, we were. Fools. I shake my head even as I type this. Oh, how little we knew.

Because, I really think it is inevitable that with children, comes mess. Particularly preschoolers. And more children = more mess. I mean, you can teach a child to tidy up after themselves but that comes with time and age. A 9 month old isn’t terribly good at remembering they should put away their blocks before tipping the entire contents of their brother’s toy cars all over the floor, no matter how many times you ask her.

When I was pregnant with Princess, we kept our house as tidy as it always had been. Clutter-free. Baby clothes neatly placed in drawers, blankets nicely folded on shelves. Literally the day after she was born, our midwife commented with a smile about the state of our house and I remember looking around thinking, “where on earth did all of this come from?”. It came from the baby, those towels and baby clothes and nappies and dishes and toys and everything else.

IT CAME FROM THE CHILDREN.

And now, fast forward nearly five years and we have five individual people adding to the mess, including the three preschoolers. Bringing me to my point – housework.

They say, doing housework when you have preschoolers is like doing paper work at a desk with a desk fan on full power. So true. If I had a dollar for every time I have tidied one room then left for literally 30 seconds, only to return to the same mess I just tidied, I would be a rich lady.

I tidy my house. I vacuum, despite once (or thrice) vowing to never touch a vacuum cleaner. I do laundry. Six million loads a day. No exaggeration, I assure you – how a 4 year old goes through six pairs of leggings per day, I don’t know! I wash, I hang and I fold. I pick up toys and put them in their proper homes. I load and unload the dishwasher. I make all four beds each morning.

And yet, not ten minutes later, my house looks like this again:

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The beds look like this:

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And, if it’s a particularly energetic day (courtesy of BoyChild), my kitchen looks like this:

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Because, realistically, my house is lived in. We live here. And as much as I don’t love the mess and the clutter (and I for SURE don’t love the toy I just stood on, rendering me speechless with silent tears momentarily), I don’t want to banish my children to one corner of the house while I dedicate my time to cleaning. I would rather spend that time with my children, playing alongside them, than worrying about cleaning around them. As long as things are relatively hygenic, I’m happy with that. I’m sure there are people out there who are able to maintain a spotless house while still raising lovely preschoolers, and I take my hat off to them. But I am not one of them.

And, I figure, if anyone comes to our house and judges us for it, that is more their issue than mine. SHAME on me for judging my amazing friend all those years ago, SHAME on me for not appreciating how awesome a job they were doing (and still are) with their kids.  Mr T and I recall this conversation and chalk it up as yet another Horridly Wrong Preconceived Idea on Child Rearing. We choose to surround ouselves by people who accept and love us for who we are, and I adore the fact that I can visit friends and know that their houses will be equally as untidy as ours (kudos to my friend who says, “If my husband asks, tell him I vacuumed before you came over”).

Mess can be tidied up, memories can’t be re-created.

These days, Mr T and I just wait until the kids are in bed then do a ten minute tidy around the house. That way, we relax for the evening in a tidy house, and it’s all fresh for new mess tomorrow.

Besides, if someone important is coming over who you want to impress, you’d be amazed at how much cleaning can be achieved in half an hour!

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Kinetic Sand. Oh, my!

Kinetic Sand. If you have children, get some. Heck, if you don’t have children, get some anyway. It’s amazing. Ah-mah-zing. That’s all I’m going to say about it.

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Well, ok. It’s not all I’m going to say.

I was introduced to Kinetic Sand by a friend in Australia who posted a link about it in our online parenting group. I was immediately captivated – Kinetic Sand is “98% pure sand” with “patented technology hidden within the binder”. When I googled and found YouTube clips and other blogs, I became a woman obsessed.

Today at last, my kinetic sand arrived. Note: I call it MY kinetic sand. Not my kids’. Mine. They can use it but I plan on guarding this like Smeagol. Kinetic Sand, my preeeeeesciousssss.

The basic idea is, it is sand with a difference. It binds together and then crumbles almost immediately. You can shape it and then break it again and again and again. Or, just run your fingers through it. Again and again and again. I should mention at this point, it feels pretty nice, it’s like soft sand without being gritty. I should mention at this point that I hate sand. I despise the stuff, especially stuck to me. The appealing factor of this product is that it supposedly only sticks to itself.

I got a 1kg box, which is advertised as being enough for 1-2 kids. I think this is a fair assessment, it did BoyChild and I nicely. It doesn’t come with any instructions or anything which is ok, except I would have liked some indication on how to store the sand once we were done playing. It does mention on the box that Kinetic Sand is sensitive to water and that the best place to play is indoors with less than 60% humidity. If your sand gets wet, let it air dry and it should go back to normal, so says the box.

I opened the bag in which it came and BoyChild was at my side in a flash. Lots of “wow” and “ohhhh” and “look, mum!” went on, as he immediately started molding and destroying it, shaping it, rubbing it through his fingers, spreading it far and wide then bunching it back up again. Of course, he wouldn’t be BoyChild if he didn’t put some in his mouth but the look on his face told me it did not taste nice, I doubt he will do that again.

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I went and got some cookie cutters and we spent a long time cutting shapes – the amazing thing is that the sand will hold the shape that you cut and then breaks when you lift it. I did mold some balls in my hand to see just how well it binds.

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This product kept BoyChild entertained for over an hour which is pretty good for a 3 year old boy. I even let Baby Girl have a play, she was intrigued and loved the feel of it running over her hand. For storage, I opted for ramming it back into the plastic bag it came in, then into an air tight container. Then high up in the cupboard where no one will find it.

Conclusion? Kinetic Sand is fantastic. If making long-lasting structures is what you are after, stick with PlayDoh. But if you just want something to play with, make shapes, cut, run through your fingers, then I highly recommend getting some. You could even share it with your kids if you want.

Where to buy?

http://www.mightyape.co.nz/product/Kinetic-Sand-1kg/22047202

Don’t believe me? See for yourself 🙂

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Supermarkets. And why I’d rather poke my eye out with a stick.

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I used to love grocery shopping. Pre kids, that is. Choosing what to have for dinner, for lunch. Buying ingredients for new recipes I’m just itching to try. A calm, quiet meander through the aisles.

Now, I would rather poke my eye out with a stick. I really drag my feet with grocery shopping, leaving it until the Last Possible Moment. Inevitably, the Last Possible Moment often coincides with Mr T being at work. Sigh. And so we have, The Supermarket.

Getting to the supermarket is easy. Get in the car and go. When we arrive, the first challenge is finding the right trolley for the job. BoyChild is right on the maximum weight limit for the double trolleys (the ones that seat two preschoolers) but that is my best option when shopping with the kids. I mean, having a 4-year-old loose in the supermarket is one thing, having a 3-AND-4-year-old loose? That’s a whole ‘nother kettle of fish. Of course, without fail, one of only two double trollies in the entire supermarket will be at the back of a line of, oh, 5 million trollies. I leave the kids in the car until I have my hands on my trolley. I tried getting the kids out first and that is just asking for trouble –  I lose one kid behind the Lotto counter and another under a line of trollies. Anyway, after my mission of moving 5 million trollies (and finding somewhere to put them all), all the while dodging other people getting trollies (and them thinking that I’m getting them out for them – thanks, love, but I’d prefer the next one in the line. Um, take what you are given, thankyouverymuch), I finally get the double trolley. And now I have to line all the trollies back up again. I stopped working in a supermarket when I was 17, I really didn’t see myself stacking trollies again in my lifetime. At least back then I got my whopping $6.50 an hour for the job.

I take the trolley to the car and load the kids. It’s a real talent, negotiating a 3 year old into the tiny trolley seats. Thank heavens for seatbelts in those things, at least once I finally wrestle the kids in, they aren’t going anywhere. The person who invented trolley seatbelts to do up at the back is a genius and I take my hat off to them.

And, now we shop. I think the real difficulty with supermarket shopping is the juggling between kids, “I wants” and trying to stretch (this much) money into (THIS MANY) groceries. The fruit and vege section is first and it’s not that thrilling for the kids, not surprisingly. Except Princess – “Mum! Let’s get mushrooms. I love mushrooms. Let’s get oranges. I love oranges. Let’s get abo-cado. I love abo-cado. Let’s get … ” . Next section, meat. Accompanied by the commentary, “Yuk. That meat is red. Yuk. That meat is brown. Yuk. That meat looks like poos”. So far so good, though. This trip is going to be a breeze.

Skip the alcohol aisle entirely. Because, well .. let’s be honest. The temptation to buy a bottle of cider and two bottles of Sav instead of strawberry milk is there. Plus, it’s an aisle full of glass bottles. Three preschoolers + glass bottles = an expensive lesson.  The next aisle is confectionary, magazines and dvds. All in one aisle? Really, Mr Supermarket? That’s our loudest aisle, I think. “MUM! CAN I GET THIS BAG OF LOLLIES?! MUM!! CAN I PLEEEEEASE HAVE THIS PRINCESS MAGAZINE???? OH MUM WOW LOOK! A TINKERBELL DVD!!! WOW”. Add to that Master Sneaky McReachy who somehow manages to open and be eating a kinder surprise before I’ve even realised I stopped the trolley near the stand. I use the term “open” loosely, he tends to just bite into it, foil and all.

I think it’s about this stage that the kids are getting over the excitement of being in a store full of boxes and containers that they clearly aren’t allowed to touch. Luckily we reach the deli. I buy luncheon every time I go to the supermarket. Not because I like it, or because we need it. I buy it so I get given the free piece for each kid. I have tried loitering around the deli until they offer my kids a piece of luncheon but it never works – I just look like the weird lady loitering at the deli. Of course, you get the occassional deli person who doesn’t offer the kids a piece to eat, even when you do buy some. I do not like those people. Don’t they know how quiet it keeps my kids?! It’s for everyone’s benefit, really. On that note, I did try bringing my own snacks to the supermarket but they were never eaten. I also went through a phase of opening a box of crackers mid-way around and feeding them to the kids, but Mr T got concerned that I would be done for shoplifting and who would look after the kids while I was in prison? Anyway, luncheon-stuffed kids galore, we go to the aisles with canned goods, noodles (“NOODLESNOODLESNOODLESNOODLESNOODLES”), walk very fast past the food colourings and sprinkles in the baking goods aisle (“I want sprinkles Mum. Hey, Mum – these are on special! Let’s bake a hundred cakes for my birthday!) and walk equally fast down the feminine products aisle (“Are they for your BUM BUM Mum? Are they grown up lady nappies, Mum?”).

It is in the nappy aisle that the kids are really starting to get bored and restless, but it’s also my calculator aisle. Yup, I’m that person who stands blocking the aisle while I get out my phone calculator and work out which packet of nappies is cheapest that week, based on price per nappy. If I’m spending $30+ on nappies per week, I’m going to get the best deal, dammit! We skip the pet food aisle as we don’t have a pet (“MUM! Can we get a dog PLEASE? Can we buy cat food for Grandma’s cat PLEASE?). And lastly, the fridges. “It’s COLD here, MUM” “Well, don’t put your head in the fridge, love”. Milk, bread, eggs, yoghurt (put at the BACK of the trolley, learned that one the hard way, a la Sneaky McReachy again). Strawberry milk. A little strawberry milk for each kid to have when we are finished. Justification for my own treat, in all honesty. Walk briskly past the shelf of toys (“No, BoyChild, you don’t need an infrared T-Rex. Please put it back on the shelf”) and find a check out. Try to ignore the looks of “Oh dear lord, please don’t let her come down my aisle” while also struggling to push the trolley with one hand (because trollies seem to list to the right when they are full), grasping Princess’s wrist with the other hand (because she has to go and look at the chippies/lollies/biscuits once more) and making peek-a-boo faces to Baby Girl who has been elbowed by BoyChild one time too many in the trolley and is just whining and whining for a cuddle now. Get to the check outask the person to scan the strawberry milk first then send the two older kids to sit down quietly while I scan and pay for the groceries.

Juggle the groceries and the children to the car (if I’m really lucky, it has started to rain by this point), put the older two into the car and then unpack the bags into the boot. Put the baby into her seat and then return the trolley to the closest trolley bay (which is never close). Get into the car to three screaming kids, rest my head on the steering wheel and thank goodness that I am done for another week. And then realise I’ve forgotten the key ingredient for dinner. And I’ve forgotten my own treat.

I just … it just … I should try online shopping. Except I need to concentrate for an hour to properly do it, last time I tried the kids distracted me and we ended up with five tins of tomatoes and three packs of M&Ms but no bread or milk. Next time, I will go alone, very late at night.

Although, to be fair, there are more lollies bought when I shop alone. Because I don’t. have. to. share *evil laughter fading out*

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4 reasons why I love my kids

A lot of what I have written on here thus far, has been, as promised, the truth in child rearing. But, I must let it be known that, above all else, I absolutely adore my children. Sometimes when chaos reigns in our household, when we have the Five O’Clock Symphony of Screams, Mr T and I look at each other and reminisce about The Olden Days, the days BC (Before Children). But, we always ask ourselves, would we change it if we could?

Absolutely not.

Because, if we changed anything about the kids (a bigger gap between them, waited until we were 100% financially secure, stopped at one) then we wouldn’t have the children we do. They are who they are because of when they were born, the family they were born into, and we wouldn’t change that for the world. No matter how tempting it is.

So, here are just a few reasons why I absolutely and unashamedly live for my children.

  • Their personalities

They are all different and it constantly amazes me how many elements there are to each of them. Princess is bossy, she’s loud and she’s dramatic.

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But she is also sensitive and shy, afraid of the unknown and bites her lip when she gets nervous. She has eyebrows that can tell a story all on their own. It’s hard to take her seriously when she is telling some great fable about her day, because her eyebrows dominate the conversation – not because they are a mono-brow, because they are super expressive.

BoyChild is independent with a wicked sense of humour and a tendency to just slip away and get up to mischief (his nickname is The Ninja). But he is also very soft and cuddly.

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Baby Girl has always been placid and an “easy” baby. She loves faces and will smile at anyone who looks her way. But we are seeing a determined side coming through, making me fear for her older brother and sister! And the jokes she plays, then laughs and laughs at herself! She has us in stitches with laughter and she’s not yet one year old.

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You can’t put kids in a box, that’s for sure. A figurative box, I meant, of course. Although you probably shouldn’t really put them in a real box either.

  • The way they sleep.

One of the greatest piece of parenting advice I EVER got was this : after a long, tiresome day with kids, no matter what has gone wrong, go in and kiss your kids goodnight when they are asleep. And tell yourself that tomorrow is another day. Believe me, there is NO way you can be mad at a sleeping child. Their little angry-sleeping faces (because my kids are sleep-frowners, like their Daddy) just melt your heart. The crying, the whining, the bickering, is all gone when they are asleep. Replaced by peace and serenity.

Just make sure you have mastered the art of getting in and out of their room without making a sound. I’m sure we’ve all had that moment where we’ve had to stand like a statue in the middle of the room until the child finishes stirring. And, inevitably you’ve had a sudden need to sneeze and/or pee. Am I right or am I right?!

  • The things they learn and the way they see the world

There is something truly heartwarming about the innocence of a child. The comments they make, the observations, the questions. Why is a yolk not called an egg yellow? Where did you live before I was in your tummy, and was I a big kid? If today is Sunday and last year is Tuesday then why did I go to kindy on Wednesday but it’s a weekend last tomorrow?

Seeing something through the eyes of a child for the first time is truly magical. Bubbles. Ice cream. The day Princess found out there was a shop called Toy World. You can’t fake enthusiasm like that.

  • The I Love You’s and the knowledge that, above all, you are their everything.

The first time BoyChild said I love you to his Daddy, I could hear the tears in Mr T’s voice. Every night in bed, Princess says “I love you” to us. And, occasionally, she will just walk up and whisper it in my ear. It’s just a spectacular feeling. Seeing the kids after two hours at kindy and they sprint to you, screaming, “MUMMY!” as though you’ve been away for years. The way they come to you for cuddles, that there are problems only Mum can cuddle away (and, of course, ones only Daddy can cuddle away!).

There are, of course, a ga-zillion more reasons why I love my kids. I could go on and on and on and on and on. But, this is enough writing for today, all this talk about loving my kids makes me want to go and jump with them on the trampoline and let them knock me down and bounce all over me.  Any excuse to hug them, really!

My point is, having kids is annoying, it is frustrating, but by golly, it takes just ONE of these good things to happen, and it melts the bad away. They are good like that, these crazy creatures we call children.

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Children Are Gross – Warning. This is Gross.

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When you have a baby, someone is bound to comment about dirty nappies. Will you change them? Will your Other Half change them? Ew. Nappies. The grossest thing that comes with having a baby, right?

Wrong.

Don’t get me wrong, changing nappies is hardly one of my favourite past times, but when you are changing them 5-6 times a day, 7 days a week, for 2-3 years per child, you get used to it. I was lucky enough (*cough*) to have three in nappies for a brief moment and I would literally line the kids up on the ground and change them like my own little production line.

Every parent has their fair share of what we in the trade like to call, a “poo-nami”. Like a Tsunami but in a nappy. I use the term “IN a nappy” loosely because a poo-nami generally exits the nappy in an orderly fashion and spreads itself as far as it possibly can. You know you have struck one when you use an entire packet of wipes and end up wiping the baby from chin to back, wrists to ankles. And then carry them by their armpits into the bath because you just can’t clean them any more without the aid of water and soap. We’ve all been there.

But, what about all the other gross things kids do? I mean, there are LOTS. One of the biggest surprises I found from having kids, was just how gross they are.

Snot

Bogeys. Snot. Mucous. Call it what you will, it’s foul. Princess was only 5 days old when she got her first cold. Still getting to grips with having a new born, having one with a cold made things even harder for us. Trying to help her clear her poor little nose, we were horrified to discover that, while baby poop looks like baby poop, baby snot looks like adult snot. That was just the beginning for us – when an 18 month old has a runny nose, they manage to spread it from wall to wall. When all three kids have runny noses, you just declare you house a quarantine zone and don a radioactive suits. And never wear black. Trust me.

Vomit

Some kids are prone to vomiting, some aren’t. Princess is. She always has. Once, when she was about 8 months old, all three of my sisters were holding her and fussing over her and she power-chucked. All over them. I smile wistfully at the memory of three women in their 20s, covered in orange puke. Good times. I think BoyChild has only vomited once or twice, which I’m ok with. Because it’s not just the vomiting that is hard, it’s the cleanup. My favourite is the middle-of-the-night vomit, with the child in the bath while a very sleepy Mum and Dad rinse sheets, change bedding, pull vomit out of hair, find spare pillows, etc. Or, the middle-of-the-night-vomit: the parent’s bed edition.

Ok, that’s enough about vomit.

Soggy things that aren’t meant to be soggy

This is the one thing I can’t handle. The thought of something that was once rigid being soggy, just makes me dry wretch. Soggy toast *bleurgh*. Soggy biscuits *ugh*. Needless to say, I’m no fan of trifle (soggy sponge *barf*) or dunking a cookie in my coffee (the bits float *wretch*).

Imagine my HORROR, the day I walked into the bathroom to find a piece of toast in the toilet. I couldn’t deal with it, I had to get Mr T to deal with it. I can’t even type *flush it* without breaking out in cold sweats. *shudder*

Mouthfuls of food

Pretty early on with kids eating solids, you deal with regurgitated food. They spit it into your hand. You retrieve it from their mouth. You learn to deal with it pretty early on, actually. First kid, you get squeamish. Third kid, they spit up on your hand and you just get on with it.

Don’t do what someone I know did. She picked up a piece of banana off a plate and ate it. Then remembered her son had brought that exact piece of banana up just minutes before. Needless to say, she promptly spent a good amount of time with her head in the loo.

So, on that note, there are far worse things out there than wiping a poo bum. Until you realise, of course, that your children just smeared the contents of their nappy all over their cot/younger sister/couch/your handbag. Or, heaven forbid, they just ate the contents of their nappy.

But, folks, that’s a story for another day 🙂

 

 

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The Princess and her Reward Chart

So, Princess has a Reward Chart and it works really well for her (and us!). The basic idea is, do what we specify and your “slide” moves over one place. Naughty behaviour and non-compliance mean the slide moves in the other direction. Easy and it works well. Get to the end of each line and Princess gets a reward, generally to the value of approximately $10.

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At the very end of the chart, she will get a larger reward of her choice – initially she had to have a Doc McStuffins Doctor’s Kit. Then is was a Princess Sofia dress (which she got for Christmas anyway) and now it’s a Tinkerbell dress that she MUST have (the pink one that is Tinkerbell’s friend, not the green one that is Tinkerbell *blank look*).

Today, Princess got to the end of her second-to-last line on the chart. It was hard work getting there as she had to not wet her bed, not get up at 10pm and declare she had had her sleep and was up for the day, as well as the usual tasks of putting her bag away after kindy, etc. Therefore, I told her that we would go shopping this afternoon and choose something. I see my mistake right there – I let her choose something. Never, ever let a 4 year old CHOOSE SOMETHING. On an episode of Breaking Bad last night, Gus (the baddie) said to Walt, never make the same mistake twice. I hear ya, Gus. I hear ya.

I took BoyChild along for the ride because he had been promised for awhile now a replacement for his broken and beloved Shaun the Sheep DVD – thank heavens he is a cool, calm and chillaxed little dude. Thank heavens.

We parked up at the local mall, after discussing the parameters of the Reward – $10 value. Excellent, let’s do this.

We go into the first shop, a children’s clothing shop with 70% off. She beelines for a dress identical to the one she is wearing, except pink instead of purple. Looks at it, ponders literally with her finger on her chin. And puts it back. “Nah, not this one, Mum”.

Second shop, another clothing store. Again, she beelines to the dress racks (it’s like she has a sixth sense for party dresses) and immediately pulls out a gorgeous white and purple dress with stars and sparkles. 50% off as well! Only $10! I’m not sure I could be any more enthusiastic! Again, takes it off the rack. Looks it up and down. Screws up her cute little nose and puts it back. “Nah, not this one, Mum”.

Third shop – department store. We skip (well, she skips, I push the pram) up to the Toy section. Straight away we see a cool Disney Princess boogie board. Her eyes light up and, when I see the price ($12!) my eyes light up too! I’m prepared to sway $2 because boogie boards are pretty cool. She actually carries it around for a good five minutes before politely putting it back and saying, “I think I’ll get this when I’m a bit bigger. Maybe when I’m five”. Ohhh-kaaaaay. We get to the Barbie aisle and oh my, it’s Buy One Get One Free. If she chooses a Barbie, I could get BoyChild a Ken for his birthday (he really want’s one. True story). And, they have Barbie and the Pink Shoes dolls. Her favourite movie currently. We look at them, we read the back, we discuss the movie, we compare the dresses. But, alas. “Nah, not this one, Mum”.

Fourth shop – book shop. Glance around the books, find a nice pink notebook. It has no price so I offer to take it up to the counter and ask, but she takes it from me and sets it back down. “Nah, not this one, Mum”.

Fifth shop – The Warehouse. About to lose my mind (I should mention here that I have a bee sting on my ankle so walking is starting to get a touch achy). We go to the book section first. Oh! A Barbie and the Pink Shoes book! It’s $15 but right now, I am caring less and less about price. We read The. Entire. Book. “Nah, not this one, Mum”. DVD section and the silent and patient BoyChild finally gets his Shaun the Sheep DVD. We look at the selection of Barbie DVDs – who knew there were so many? Who, indeed. We discussed the plot of each one, the name of the character Barbie plays in each one. How her hair is a different colour in each one. How good a dancer she is. It was about this point that Princess said, “Mum? Are you even listening to me?” to which I replied, “I’m sorry. But I’m getting bored, my darling”. Barbie DVD? “Nah, not this time, Mum”. Toy section. Every aisle. Twice. Clothing section. A brief argument about a lovely dress that was $39 and well outside of my price tolerance. Jewellery section. Bag section. Back to the Toy Section. Linen section.

So, what did my delightfully indecisive 4-year-old choose, as her Reward? What, I hear you ask, what amazing toy did she select?

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A lunch box. A purple lunchbox. With compartments! And a drink bottle!

And, a small pink notepad. Total cost of both? $8.

I just … we just … it’s just … sigh. You think you know someone.

Needless to say, Mum needed a large Pepsi Max for the car ride home. Which, of course, meant the kids got a drink as well.

Lesson learned. Don’t let a 4 year old pick their own Reward. Or, if you do, limit it to ONE shop. And pack a hearty lunch. And wear sturdy shoes cos folks, it’s gonna be a looooooooooong day. I can’t wait until she gets to the Very End of her Reward Chart.

(disclaimer: that last line may have been sarcasm).