I’m Late, I’m Late, to An Un-important Date

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I like to think I am a fairly tolerant person. Whether I am or not, is probably better described by my husband and children, but I do try.

There are, however, a few things that really make me cranky at the drop of a hat. Things like blankets lying on floors (drives me nuts),  butter being left in the Promite (I don’t like butter) or one thousand cups (slight exaggeration) on the kitchen bench.

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I only wish they were lined up this neatly in my house

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But one thing I really hate, is being late.

Can’t stand it.

I’ve always been like this. I come from a  family of people who were always crazy early. Both mum and dad can be relied on to show up at least 20 minutes earlier than the time you give them. As such, I grew up believing if I was only 10 minutes early, I was actually late.

Pretty sure this is the quote by which my parents lived their lives.

Pretty sure this is the quote by which my parents lived their lives.

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As I’ve gotten older, I’ve tried to be more relaxed about it, and I think, in many ways I am. For instance, I now understand that sometimes arriving 10 minutes after a BBQ officially starts, can actually be a good thing. And being half an hour early for anything, especially if you arrive with 4 kids, is not ever always helpful.

Having said that, my moral compass is firmly set on punctuality. I whole heartedly believe that being on time is a sign or respect and honour for whoever it is that has organised the event.

Or, in the case of our everyday happenings, school.

I don’t know why we are running later these days. We have twice the distance to cover to get to school than we used to in Darwin, (which just means a 10 minute drive as opposed to 5), but school starts 20 minutes later, so we should be fine. Somehow though, we seem to be constantly arriving just on or after the bell. Which perhaps isn’t a total sin, except that BJ’s teacher is a drill master in punctuality, and she submits the electronic roll not long after the bell goes. As such even a 2 minute late arrival  ends up with a long walk to the front office at the other end of the school.

Not BJ's teacher

Not BJ’s teacher

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Which is exactly what happened yesterday.

Now being late, I’m sure, is not my fault. I’m perfectly convinced if it was just me, I would be at school an hour early every day. (Though it would be weird because I don’t go to school.)

No, it’s the little people and the most random of reasons that hold us back.

Like Taylah this morning, trying to evaluate the psychology of the cat, when she should have been making lunch.

Or Bridie, suddenly losing her reader diary, even though she assures me it’s always in her reader folder. (Which it often isn’t.)

Or BJ, deciding that he needed to take another drink bottle to school, because the one he had there was empty, and the idea of filling it up at the bubbler is too complicated to comprehend. Instead he should just debate with me the many merits of taking a full one, and then just using cups at home.

You can imagine how much I loved that idea.

And then there was the argument with Miss Ava, who after debating with her brother over whether she or Taylah owned a ball, and Taylah not caring about it, was told to ‘just let it go,’ (the debate, not the ball), when she had absolutely no desire to let it go at all. So instead of screaming at BJ, she screamed at her mother (who does not take kindly to being screamed at), that it was her ball, and he needed to know, and she ‘would not let it go!!!’

But despite that, we managed to make it out of the house, and onto the roads.

And then there was the traffic.

I swear, the roads are full of people who are completely inept at using them. And in turn I become a driver completely ept (as opposed to inept-totes a word) at using sarcasm to its fullest extent. “Oh great indicating there!”

“Please, drive slower.”

“Thanks for cutting in front of me! You have made my day.”

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Eventually, despite the arguments and the missing reader, and the cat that would not be understood, we arrived at school, I trekked all the way up to the office to do the sign in, handed in the late slips to three different teachers, and then bidding BJ farewell, and needing cash out, (and coffee) I headed to MacDonald’s. Ava had Kindergym, and I was $3 short, and Maccas was the easiest, quickest option.

Of course then it took forever.

Apparently all those slow people on the roads were also visiting Maccas, because I think I could have gone home and made a coffee in the amount of time it took to finally get mine. Instead though, I was standing in that store, almost bouncing on the balls of my feet in frustration because it was Kindergym day, and we were going to be 2 minutes late.

Exactly what it looked like. Except not at all.

Exactly what it looked like.
Except not at all.

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I don’t like to be 2 minutes late. Ever.

Turned out it was 4.

By the time we pulled up in the car park, it was 9:34.

Do you know what happens when you’re four minutes late for Kindergym?

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Nothing.

Nothing at all.

The line is a little longer, because of all the other late comers, but it doesn’t stop your child running in, and (bonus points) it actually gives you time to finish your coffee, and  8 minutes less of following an exuberant three-year old around an indoor obstacle course.

The world did not implode.

I did not fall apart.

And Ava had no idea that she had missed out on a whole 240 seconds of play.

So I am a person who hates being late, and I probably always will be. But I’m also a person whose learning that if you are late occasionally, it’s actually ok.

And it’s even better if you’ve got coffee.

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Are you a frustrated time follower too?

Or are you always a late comer?

Linking with Grace

Mad About Bridget 2. The Across Australia Edition #IBOT

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Sunday 23rd February, 2014

Boxes packed 3521 (feels like), walls scrubbed double the amount of boxes packed. (Rounded up.)

Am completely and utterly exhausted and feel as if the very act of eating will require too much work, but have successfully cleaned and packed the entire house in ten days. Am quite certain that I have lost multitudes of pounds with all the cleaning activity, and the stress of it all, but scales are packed so I have no proof. Never mind. Will enter South Australia in four days, rejuvenated from four days drive, and much skinnier from eating only healthy food on the drive and no fried carbohydrates. This is a completely probable scenario I am sure.

May also read more Bridget Jones whilst we drive….

Monday 24th February, 2014

Fried foods consumed 2, (If you count a bucket of chips as one item), minutes of actual relaxation, about 5.

Arrived in Tenant Creek tonight along with their average national rainfall. Boatman is quite pleased with this feeling that the down pour will keep the less polite members of the community away from the unguarded boat.

I have had many moments to think and reflect on the journey ahead and am quite conflicted on a great many things. One being that I was quite excited that our sad looking couch, (that was unable to be replaced due to an insolent cat) was being left North Side and a new one would soon be mine. Unfortunately the recalcitrant animal that caused the trouble in the first place was never re-homed, and so we have found ourselves travelling with a surprisingly relaxed feline, smuggling him into hotel rooms like some amazing kind of ninja cat. I am now questioning if a new couch is necessary, or if I am zen enough to live the kind of life where cushions on the floor are adequate.

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 I doubt it.

Tuesday 25th February, 2014

Fried Foods consumed 0! Number of blown tyres, 1. Calories spent digging tyre out of the ground (15- it wasn’t very stuck.) Minutes spent driving down the highway at 60km/h with a partially flat spare 200 (approx)

Had planned a short day today, and in all manner of brilliant parenting, was going to arrive in Alice early in the day for swimming fun and jumping pillow antics. Of course we forewarned the children this so that they would have a clear and accurate understanding of the height, depth and breadth of our love and devotion to their needs when planning a trip.

Said love and devotion unfortunately did not extend to checking the tyres before we left, and not long after a brilliant stop at the Devil’s Marbles, the boat decided that it no longer needed one of it’s tyres, and blew it up in a spectacular fashion. Boatman and I spent the following hour removing the spare tyre, which also didn’t want to be attached, and then proved extra insolent, by being partially flat.

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Not ones to be easily disheartened, we proceeded at snails pace just ‘up the road’ to the next servo and a hopeful air compresser. Unfortunately, up the road was 40km, and Barrow Creek seems to have really gone down hill since Peter Falconio visited. No fuel, no food, only 3 ice creams and no air compressor. And so we persevered in true Burke and Wills style to my most hated of stops on the Stuart Highway, bar one; the infamous Ti-Tree. 3 years earlier I had emerged out of their bathrooms with an unexpected passenger decidedly too close to my hoo-haa for comfort, leaving me quite convinced for several hours down the road, that I had actually picked up crabs from the public toilets. Which thankfully it wasn’t, but a tick is not much better.

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Wednesday 26th February, 2014

Fried foods consumed, 2, Chocolate products consumed 2, Bad pasta dishes consumed 1, Imaginary kilograms added to my waist line 10, Borders crossed, 1.

Today we crossed the line into South Australia, and in true pro-photographer style, I completely missed the welcome sign. To be perfectly honest, I was secretly  hoping that there would in fact be some kind of welcoming committee and perhaps a red carpet with important heads of state ready to welcome me to their fine state.

Instead all I got was a few cows and a couple of emu’s. Better than nothing I suppose.

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Off to spend the night in the Sex Capital of Australia!

Thursday 27th February, 2014

Fried foods consumed 0 (huzzah!), spectacular tendon tearing ankle injuries in the middle of nowhere, 1, Number of times carried by Boatman because of sprained ankle, 6.

Have never really been a huge fan of Glendambo as a road house. It’s always rather hot and depressing. I’m not sure why I feel the need to give it a go every time, but I suppose that is just a side effect of my wonderful, generous nature; I believe road houses can get better.

Sometimes it’s better not to give them a second chance.

Any roadhouse that does not display ‘watch your step’ signs every where to vertically challenged members of the public, who have been in a car for four days and likely forgotten how to walk, and also possess weak ankles on account of previous inability to walk scenarios, should be avoided.

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My stupidly swollen ankle and I have learned the lesson, and if the tendons ever heal properly, I may possibly walk back there just to shake the dust off my feet. But not to buy ice or Panadol, because why would those things be necessary in the middle of the bush in a place that is obviously a safety hazard to members of the general populace?

6PM- Arrive in Port Lincoln! Hurray!

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Monday 3rd March 2014

Boxes unpacked (Today 0, on the weekend too many to count), Shops successfully navigated, 3, paranoid thoughts of rolling my ankle again and being disabled and screaming on the street, 4523, number of times got lost in a small country town, 1.

Am officially a ‘local.’ Have lived here three days, am able to withstand cool temperatures without a jumper, and can successfully find my way back from getting lost halfway out-of-town. Planned to devote the day to settling into normal routine, and getting on top of the mess of boxes in the spare room.

Successfully got the kids to the new school with minimal tears. Because we are locals, insisted that they didn’t need their jumpers today, only to arrive and see that at least a quarter of the kids were wearing theirs. Clearly they are not as well-adjusted as we are; it’s not that we are negligent parents who are causing our kids to freeze.

Have proud mother moment in the car leaving, and then realise that I neglected to take one photo of any of them on their first day. Am failure as mother and social media guru/blogger extraordinaire. Will rectify and take photos tomorrow, and just say they were from their first day. The hashtag #latergram is the essential tool of any good parent blogger.

Thank goodness they seem to have made good friends who will not forget important life altering moments.

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9PM- Reflecting on craziness of last week, and new-found fear that I will never walk again without injuring myself. All seems very vague and more holiday like than real life. Thankful though for a great new job, a good new school, and an adequate wi-fi connection.

Extra thankful that it’s time for IBOT- have missed reading the last two weeks.

Have you linked yours yet?

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Back to School Attitudes

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Seven thirty Monday morning, and all of us are enjoying the last day of lazy wake ups, and watching cartoons before school goes back tomorrow. There’s all sorts of mixed emotions about it here. Taylah and Bridie are about as excited as a person can be. I’m happy because I know it will make this week go much faster which means Boatman will be home sooner. Ava is completely indifferent, and BJ is quite sure the entire world is about to implode.

To say he doesn’t want to go, is an understatement; he is completely, one hundred percent against the idea of full time school.

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Now his reasons are few yet varied, but honestly none of that actually matters. Unless I’m willing to homeschool, (which at this point, definitely not), he has to go to school. It’s the law. He’s five and a half, more than ready and despite his great protestations that he doesn’t like school, I know he does when he gets there.
(Just quickly; I am talking about a stubborn little boy here with no other behaviour considerations or learning difficulties. I’ve got no experience in that area, and if that’s your child, you may need a completely different approach. Xx)

Now I’ve done all the things a parent should do when a child is unsure; we’ve been to the school (a hundred times), met the teacher, talked through his fears and concerns and talked about his friends. And every single time I have done any of these things I have been met with extreme resistance and reasons as to why I’m wrong.
Can I just take this moment to say how exhausting it is to try and be upbeat with someone who is convinced the sky is falling? And that not only is the glass well and trike half empty, but also likely to NEVER EVER, be filled EVER again!!

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It wears you down.
Now if I was a parent whose main concern was my child’s happiness, no doubt I myself would be a basket case right now. Thankfully though, I’m not; I’m all for happiness of course but not at any cost. And from experience, I’ve learnt that in life you rarely grow through the easy, happy times, but always through the challenges.
To me then, the job becomes getting him to conquer this mountain when he just really wants to avoid it; not an easy task at all.

So how does one deal with an extremely negative, melancholy child determined to not do what is necessary?
Well this is what I’ve been doing:

1. Talk through the fear. It’s real it’s not imagined, and it needs to be acknowledged.

2. Be positive but realistic. Don’t set them up with false hope or exaggerate the goodness of things. That’s only going to make it hard for them to trust you in the future. The melancholy personality is often a little skeptical anyway, so if you oversell you’re making things worse for the future.

3. Be clear about expectations. Somethings we don’t need to ask our kids to do until they are ready; others, like this, they don’t get a choice about. Explain that there is no choice here about going, however they can choose the attitude with which they will go. I’ve explained to BJ more than once that tomorrow he WILL be going to school. He can go happy or grumpy but he still has to go, and happy is so much better.

4. Be positive. It’s hard when they are so negative, but remaining upbeat and positive really does help. And don’t forget, you’re talking about a child that you have a relationship with, and who has learnt to trust you. So long as you’re not over-exaggerating on a regular basis, they will know that when you say it’s ok, it actually is.

5. Reward attitude. It can be easy to think ‘yay you do it’ and reward that, which can, in some cases be a good and necessary thing, but in the long run, attitude is your main concern. I can tell a five year to ‘chin up’ and make him go, but if I don’t help him decide to change his attitude, in ten years I have no hope. The challenge here is not the actual ‘going’ to school. It is making the decision to believe that when he gets there, it’s actually going to be ok.
It’s always the attitude that counts.

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6. Expect the best. Kids really do rise to our expectations, and if we are fearful and concerned about their coping ability, they pick up on it. Instead choose to believe that you are doing the best for your child, and that they can and will thrive, and even better, can do it with great joy.

Do you have a negative child?
What tips do you have for helping them achieve things they don’t think that they can?

Nobody Puts Baby In the Corner

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When my eldest daughter was born, way back in 2003, my world completely changed. I think most parents would say the same.

Suddenly everything was different, and not just because you were in shock over what just happened, and deciding whether or not it was more crucial to have a shower, or just keep cuddling this precious little bundle forever, but because the world itself became a completely different place.

There was a meaning ascribed to life that there had never been before. I wonderful purpose in living, and a whole new dimension to loving. I was looking at this little girl as if she was in fact the very reason the entire world had ever existed, and let’s face it, she kind of is. :)

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But something else changes the minute you become a parent too. You are suddenly so much more vulnerable. The strong woman that has just pushed herself through the pain of labour, or the uncertainty of a caesarian or, prior to that, nine months of being completely battered in all parts of her body, is suddenly exposed and open to pain she never thought possible. As if someone has just ripped out her heart, or the very purpose for her existence, and put it in her arms in a very cute, but fragile package.

I will never forget the first time they drew blood from Taylah for her heel prick, and it wouldn’t bleed so this well-meaning mid-wife squeezed and squeezed whilst my 2 day old howled inconsolably; the emotion that rose up in that moment in me was completely unprecedented. I could quite easily have scratched that woman’s eyes out. (Thankfully I didn’t. :))

That emotion, after 10 years, has perhaps softened a little, but not so much so, that when I heard about some nastiness that occurred at school last week, I wasn’t tempted to march myself to a few 11 year old’s homes, and give those a girls a piece of my mind. And quite possibly a punch in the face. (Again, didn’t do it. Also never would. Just in case you are worried. :))

I didn’t realise just how hard things were for my girl. She had mentioned not really wanting to go to school, and the absence of a really great, close friend is definitely a contributing factor, but what I didn’t realise, is that she’s been victim to some not very nice behaviour. I guess you might even call it bullying.

It’s pretty classic stuff really. At the start of the year, she struggled with maths and they called her stupid. (I never knew :( ) She’s doing much better at that now, so they have found other ways to persecute her. Such as calling her the teacher’s pet, or a ‘goody two shoes.’ I think there is also probably more.

Perhaps worse, is that she is the victim of their wrong behaviour, often being punished for doing things she never did, but they said she did. She’s become so fearful and frightened of these girls, that last week she even admitted to do something she would never do. The teacher herself even made the comment “I didn’t think you would do that.” It’s beyond heartbreaking.

And again, making me want to kick some 11-year-old bums.

Initially I was a little annoyed at the school, wondering why they haven’t seen this or done something, but the truth is I can’t be. Taylah has been keeping this to herself in fear of getting in even more trouble with these other girls; she’s even been too scared to tell me lest I tell the school.  When I asked her, why she hadn’t said anything, or why she won’t stand up to them, she said these next few words that have broken my heart more than I think anything before.

“Because I’m not the girl who stands up to people. I’m the girl who sits quietly in the corner so people won’t see her.”

Fighting back tears, and the urge to use a pop culture reference she would have no understanding of, I immediately challenged that thinking.

“No. You are not the girl who sits in the corner. You are the girl who stands up for what is right. You are strong and courageous and wonderfully made. Do not let anyone put you in a corner.”

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The truth is though, it is not these girls, or any one incident that has led to that thinking. It’s her. She has put herself in the corner, and that is perhaps the most devastating of all. In her evaluation of her life so far, this has been the conclusion she has drawn, and at an age where she is beginning to form conclusions about her self and the world and her role in it, it is all the more crucial that this is not where her thinking ends. She cannot be the girl in the corner; that is not who God made her to be.

At the beginning of last week, I would have told you my eldest was strong and confident and aware of there amazing-ness. This is the girl, who, just last weekend, took centre stage at the Darwin Entertainment Centre for her ballet concert. That girl was poised and perfect and strong.

That girl literally stood in the middle of the room. Not in a corner.

Friday comes, and the world shifts and suddenly the hurt in her heart comes out. And I am torn between wanting to storm in to the school and give some kids a piece of my mind, and actually thank them for one stupid prank that helped this truth come out. Because if it didn’t? What then?

How long would she have walked through her life with a faulty sense of self?

What would the coming years have brought?

At least now, we have direction and a focus and we can give her the tools to see herself the way she should be. The way that she actually is.

Because nobody puts my baby in a corner.

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On the Cusp

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Every year, our school has a thanksgiving service to commemorate the efforts and achievements of students and staff alike. It’s a great time in the school community to look back at the year and see how far everyone has come.

Each year I go to these things, and get a little emotional. Last year I had this whole ‘there is no room in the world for me anymore’ moment, probably contributed to by a complete lack of life direction at the time.

This year, I’m in a different place. Don’t get me wrong, seeing all those year twelves on stage made me feel like an old, fat woman, but there was also a calm acceptance.

I had such beautiful memories of school. Wonderful friends, great school activities, and when I finished, I honestly was ready to change the world.

Now I sit here on the couch, on the cusp of thirty, whilst my effervescent two year old asks me ‘when you’re all done, you push me on the swings?’ and I’m doing nothing I thought I would, and everything that I actually should.

It’s taken me a long time to get to this place. Despite being a mum for 9 and a half years (as was pointed out to me this morning), it’s only now that I’m truly comfortable in my role, and in my self.

In being me.

As part of the service at the school, there was reflections on the class of 2012’s years at high school, and then a prayer of encouragement after they received their certificates. I was so inspired at that moment, it was all I could do not to launch myself out of the balcony, on to the stage, and ask to say a few words.

I couldn’t, so I didn’t, but it’s been in my mind ever since; thousands of students finishing school, moving into the world, on the cusp of something grand. And me, that fat, old lady, with a hundred things I wanted to tell them.

 Follow your dreams- Don’t just do what you think is required of you. Do what you love.

Don’t chase money; that will come easier and much more abundant when you’re doing the thing you were made to do.

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Don’t get distracted- When you leave school, everything changes. There are so many open doors, and opportunities and unbridled freedom. Don’t let it distract you from where you’re going. There is time to have fun, but don’t make mistakes that can’t be undone.

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Make a difference- Every single one of the teachers that has invested in you over the thirteen years of your schooling has done so because you have the potential the make the world a better place. Show their devotion some respect.

Go out and be awesome.

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Don’t lose this feeling- When you finish school, it’s a milestone. It’s huge and the world is full of so many opportunities. Soon you will be absorbed by jobs and degrees and boyfriends or girlfriends pressuring you to become serious. It will be easy to forget that you ever thought you can be extraordinary, but you can be.

You already are.

Don’t lose that belief.

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I’m naive enough to believe that my well meaning non-speech could have changed their futures for them that day. That one of them would have listened and remembered that the world can be theirs; not just on the day you leave school, but every day after.

I’m also naive enough to believe that there a few people reading this that could choose to be reminded of this. That although being a SAHM or a WAHM or a full time working woman who comes home to little children at the end of a long day, seems very ordinary, it does not mean you are.

You’re just as awesome as you were back then.

When you were that year 12 student, holding your certificate.

Proud, relieved, excited, and ready to take on the world.

On Sunday afternoon,  I sat in that auditorium, feeling, for a little while, like an old fat woman who was past her used by date. And then I realised that is unequivocally untrue.

I’m not a fat, old woman.

I’m still that 17 year old girl ready to change the world.

I’m still awesome, extraordinary and with something to offer.

I’m still on the cusp.

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If you’re looking for positive Christian based camps to send your school aged children to over the summer, Crusaders has some fabulous suggestions from horse riding on outback trails, sailing, and even band camps. 

This is a sponsored post for Crusader Union

School Holiday Fail

I always get excited at the end of the school term, because I know it is nearly time to read the kids report cards.
I’m always nervous to ask the teachers too much how the girls are going; I know they are very busy people and I don’t want to nag them, so I love the written academic report at the end of the year.

Well today marks the end of the holidays and my girls are off to year four and year one.

And I think it’s about time to give myself a report card.

If the kids get one during the term based on their achievements, it’s only fair I get one once they are back at school.

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Activities: A. We did a lot more than usual this school holidays. I’m usually a ‘less is more’ kind of person, but not this time. We did heaps!
I’m not sure this was the best idea really. Having less time at home meant we were often behind on housework and we also missed out on a lot of the simple joys of craft activities, or just playing in the yard.
Also I noticed my kids began to feel entitled. No matter hat we did, someone always complained and wanted more. It’s highlighted the need to focus on contentment a lot more.

Learning opportunities: C
I didn’t do much at all to keep the education momentum going, a fact which may bite my bottom with Bridie in the next few weeks. Mostly I tried to ‘teach’ informally when I thought of it, which wasn’t often.
I do get points though for beginning to talk with Taylah about ‘the change’ and for buying a fun maths book that Bridie has loved.

Relationships: C
I didn’t use the time wisely enough. Although there were times when I did spend one on one with all of them, I also took full advantage of the fact that there were four of them to play together and keep each other company whilst I did my thing.

Heart Training: B-
I love the holidays for the chance to focus on problem behaviours, but this time we have spent the whole time on one thing: keeping the peace. All four children have been exercising great delight in tormenting one another, and dobbing at the first available opportunity. Obviously, this has left me completely exhausted at the end if most days (and sometimes by 8 in the morning.)
Our focus for the holidays has been ‘blessed are peacemakers; they shall be called the children of God.’ I’ve said it so many times, they can all repeat me, but we are still working on the truth getting through.

Routine: E
We have not been organized at all. This has led to tired kids, and more money spent as we have to buy lunch out somewhere cause I ran out of time to make it.
I’m looking forward to the school routine to get things running smoother again.

Overall, it has been a busy, and exciting school holidays, but not a productive one. I think I have squandered many opportunities, and if it wasn’t for the fact that I am writing this down to learn for next time, I think I would be quite miserable about it.
Rather than wallow in self pity and my obvious lack of awesome parenting, I’m embracing the return of normality, and the opportunity to just work with two for the majority of the day, instead of stretched over so thinly with four.

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How did your school holidays go?
If your gave yourself a report card would it be sticker worthy? Or must you see the principal?

Facebook, Betty and a Very Helpful Pin

Social media gets a lot of bad press sometimes.

Part of it is that a lot of people still don’t understand it.
A lot of it is that some people use it as a way to attack others.

But there is a lot of good in social media, and I’m thankful for it.

Apart from the obvious opportunities it opens to connect to others, and meet new people (just yesterday The Fridge Door Blog and I had a conversation about the individual low pressure systems sitting over our respective parts of the country), people can be so helpful.

Similar to most families, we have been getting ready for going back to school, and doing the required stationary, uniform, lunchbox shop. Because Taylah is going into year four (help!) she is required to have all her own stationary, and she also needed new uniforms.
Bridie in year One has all her school supplies, supplied, and is wearing Taylah’s hand me downs.
Needless to say, in the back to school shopping, she was feeling a little left out.

The one thing she did need was a library bag.

Now if I had had my way, I would have ordered some from HoneyBee Homemade Designs, another business I’ve found through Social Media. They make gorgeous personalized library bags, (and you can win one in my Blogoversary giveaway.)

Unfortunately, Bridie, being the shopping diva that she is, had her heart set on the act of entering the shops in search of the perfect bag to carry her books, and an Internet order form was not going to be sufficient. So Monday morning I packed all the kids up and headed out to look for library bags.

Would you believe I couldn’t find them anywhere? Even the guy in the back to school section at Kmart had no idea what one was!
After dragging kids from store to store, I was left with two options. Suggest we go home and order one on line, or suggest that I make them instead and the girls could choose their own material.

Option B it is.

Long story short, we went to spotlight and bought material (I had no idea how much to get), then got home and asked on Facebook if anyone knew where I could get a pattern on-line.
Within minutes, I had multiple responses with ideas, instructions, links to websites that sold them, and pinterest pins.
I was completely blown away by the thought other people had put in; the fact that they would search out ideas for me, (and pretty much save me from having to do it myself), and to be so generous with their time, is such a wonderful thing.

Anyway, thanks to one awesome reader, I found this pin, which linked to this tutorial, and a few hours of play with Betty later….

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Aren’t they cute?
The girls are over the moon at getting such pretty bags, and I had so much fun making them.
So thanks to all the gorgeous people on Facebook who read and comment, and make me feel loved. I honestly appreciate all of you!

Linking with the ever wonderful Kate for Thankful Thursday.

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A-B-C-D-E-F-G I hope you are as Kind as Me

On Tuesday afternoon we had parent teacher interviews.
Somehow I missed the memo, so it was a last minute booking which meant I was unable to coordinate times with two teachers. Taylah had just got her NAPLAN results back, and there was no cause for concern there, so I decided to skip her teacher and just meet with Bridie’s,

As opposed to Taylah, when it comes to Bridie I have had my concerns. It’s not that she is stupid, but she just hasn’t taken to academics the way Taylah did. And I know that we are not supposed to compare our kids, but when all you know is a duck taking to water, a duck that doesn’t like getting wet is sightly alarming.


And I also know that you are not supposed to compare your kids to others, and mostly schools try to stop parents (and students) doing this. Instead of putting them in levels based on achievement, they are put in colours, so unless you are a parent helping in the class, you really have no idea of the significance of the blue group or the red group.


Well Bridie is in the red group, and I know enough to know that it is at the tail end of the colour spectrum, so to speak, if not the very bottom.
This has been hard for me to deal with, because Bridie is not stupid. She is very thoughtful, and very logical. I’ve just had to accept that perhaps academics isn’t her thing.
And that’s ok.

Enter the interview, and I was gladly surprised. A few weeks ago all the students underwent testing that measures their knowledge base on their age. Now, as the teacher pointed out, ‘Bridie may be at the tail end of the class, but she is also a lot younger.’ (She is the youngest and some of the kids are 12-18months older than her.) Her results showed that for her age, she is not struggling. In fact she is doing really well. She is in about the 88th percentile for literacy and the the 79th for Numeracy.
Nothing wrong with that.

I then asked the teacher if there was anything she really excelled at, that I could encourage her with when she became despondent, over not being as clever as the others. It took her a little while to think, and she said, very honestly, ‘nothing fine motor, but she does always try, even when she thinks it’s going to be hard. She is quiet and obedient, and always does what she is asked straight away. Oh, and she does a beautiful job of stacking the cushions.’

It wasn’t what I went in there hoping for, but when I came out of there it was better. She may not be the smartest kid or the brightest, but her character shines through. Perseverance and obedience, and making sure it’s done right. These are all things I emphasise at home, and honestly, don’t see a lot of. But the teacher does, so at least something is sinking in.

Daisy wrote a beautiful post about what’s average a few months back. We parents always want our kids to be above average; we want them to be the brightest, and cleverest and fastest. But what about being the kindest? Or the most hard working or obedient? What good is know the alphabet if you don’t have the self control to sit on the mat and listen to the teacher?
There are so many more things that are just as (if not more) important than academics, but these are the things we generally settle for ‘average’ in. “So and so’s kids don’t listen, so it doesn’t make my kids bad cause they don’t.” We settle for less than the best every day, usually because our focus is on the wrong thing.
After that interview I could honestly say I wouldn’t have minded if they said she couldn’t read or write at all, so long as she practices compassion, obedience and self control.
Now obviously she is not perfect; far from it. But we are getting there. Slowly, surely, and most importantly, deliberately. She is growing into a beautiful person on the inside and out, and in my mind, this makes her so much more than average.


And just quickly, while talking about average’s, when I first started blogging, I read a post on Digital Parents about how the ‘average’ mummy blogger gets about 3500-5000 page views in a month. At the time I was getting about 400, and any more seemed impossible.
So it’s with great excitement, I can tell you that for the month of September, I have had 5381 page views!
Average never felt better.

Lunch Box Hero

Well I’m not typically one of those ‘foody’ blogs. To be perfectly honest I’m an an extremely fussy eater, so if it doesn’t look like something I’m gonna eat, I skip over the recipe posts. But I have been bestowed with a very high honour indeed; I am the mum who packs the best lunch boxes. Who cares about all the other parenting fails in my day? This is my moment of glory!

(Also it’s Kate’s Monthly Monday Menu link up, and I wanted to play too. Check it our for more recipes, like Kate’s Ricotta Cakes.)

Now like the majority of parents I want a lunch box to be tasty and nutritious. But I also hate making lunch. Don’t know why, it just annoys me. That’s why these pizza scrolls are so great. Not only do they make Taylah the envy of all the other kids in her class, but I bring them out at home too, and there is no pesky sandwich making necessary.

This recipe is for a double batch. I make one ‘Bridie’ friendly (no cheese), but I tend to make double batches of everything anyway. It takes an extra ten minutes, and then I can freeze for another day.

So what you will need is:

4 cups of Self Raising Flour

2 Tablespoon Caster Sugar

60g Butter (I use Nuttelex for the dairy free option)

1 1/2 cup of milk (or rice milk)

Your desired sauce. My kids love BBQ sauce, but tomato paste would work equally well

Your desired toppings. I use salami and shredded ham, and capsicum. My kids don’t even notice the capsicum is in it.

Cheese or soy cheese.

Some kind of italian herb blend, if you’re that way inclined.

(It’s at this point that I feel I should say I totally flogged this recipe from the Australian Women’s Weekly Kids Cooking Book. I’ve tweaked it slightly, but not enough to call it my own.)

So preheat the oven to 180 (that’s celcius for all our American friends), and line a baking tray with baking paper.

Sift the flour and sugar into a bowl, and then using your finger tips, rub in the butter until the whole thing looks like fine bread crumbs. Sort of like this.


Stir I’m the milk and roll it into a dough, then knead it gently. I use a piece of floured baking paper on a chopping board for this bit, cause I live in the tropics, and with the humidity, EVERYTHING sticks. But be careful you don’t have too much flour cause then it sticks to the outside of your scrolls and doesn’t look pretty.
After kneading, cut the dough into two (if you have doubled the recipe), and roll each out to a large rectangle.


Spread the sauce onto the dough, and then top with your toppings and herbs. Be careful not to overtop here, cause then it’s hard to roll up.

Once it’s topped, gently roll it, starting from one of the long sides. (This is wear the floured baking paper comes in handy)
You should end up with a log kinda like this.


Cut the log into even slices. You don’t want them to be too thin or two thick; mine are usually about 2-3 cms. Remember it’s self raising flour, so it will rise.
Place your scrolls on to the tray and into the oven.


Now the recipe says they take about 30 minutes, but because I fancy myself some kind of amateur chef, I just pull them out when they look done.

Like this.

Or a close up.


And Ta Da! Your very own pizza scrolls! They tick all the boxes health wise (dairy, carbs, vitamin c, and iron and protein), plus the kids love them. (Husbands too) And they also freeze really well, so you can pull them out when needed (like for impromptu fishing trips.)

And there you have it, my first recipe!

Will you be making it?

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Mean Girls

My mum was telling me yesterday of a mutual friend who has just become pregnant. She (mum) was talking to her husband and he was saying how he was going to be a stay at home dad; he thought it would be a great way to just relax.
Obviously mum and I had a little giggle; we know how relaxing parenting isn’t. And as my kids get older, I’m beginning to realise just how hard and complex it is.

I’ve spoken lately of the issues my girls have been having at school. It’s not just one of them, but both. Bridie has been very difficult to get going in the morning, and thinking of a million and one excuses why shouldn’t go. It’s been completely exhausting.
The issue with both the girls is one friend (each) in particular. For Taylah, it’s a girl who is obviously jealous of Taylah’s academic and sporting abilities, and the fact that she is very comfortable in her own skin. This girl is constantly putting Taylah down by telling her she is stupid, or spreading malicious gossip, and then getting angry when Tay asks her not to. Take this week for instance. That boy who was making eyes at Taylah months ago asked her out! (she is only eight) Tay was completely surprised and embarrassed and said no. As the week progressed though, his friends kept trying to throw them together, and her friends kept sending him notes and saying she liked him.
And it was this one particular girl at the centre of it.

Bridie’s problem also stems from one girl in particular, but this little girl is just down right mean. She is bossy and also quick to put Bridie down; many times she has come home in tears from this child saying that Bridie is not as pretty as her.


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As a mother, this kind of behaviour just makes my blood boil. I want to protect my girls, and yet here are these negative influences in their life, making things miserable for them.
I’ve struggled with what to do here. How do I find the balance between stepping in to protect them, and just plain ruling their lives?

To further complicate the matter, it’s not a one size fits all solution. Whilst both the girl have a similar problem, their ages mean I need to approach the situations differently.


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The first year of school is confronting on so many levels. Not only are kids learning to read write and count to 100, but they are attempting to navigate a completely different social environment. My kids have never been to day care, which means that although they have had social opportunities, the majority of their time has been spent with their siblings. And whilst brothers and sisters can be polar opposite in temperament and personality, they have been raised with same set of values and morals.
Being a ‘Newman’ comes with it’s own set of rights and responsibilities, as well as perks and freedoms. Kindness is emphasised. Others first is repeated daily. And love and grace is practiced consistently.
These values are not as important to other families or children. They have grown up not understanding the importance of kindness, and thinking it is perfectly ok to be selfish. This creates a problem when my kids (and others) enter the equation.

Because of Bridie’s age, and the constant problem I just put my foot down, and told her that I did not want her playing with this girl. I expected tears and tantrums and a thousand excuses, but what I got instead was relief. She needed me to make that decision for her. She needed that boundary because she couldn’t create it herself and it was hurting her.


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With Taylah I can’t make that decision. Telling an eight year old who she can and can not be friends with is just a future recipe for disaster. But I can guide her, and I can help her to make her own wise decisions.
Yesterday the girl causing the trouble wasn’t there, and Tay came home happy because no one had been fighting. She had recognised for herself that this person is the primary cause of all the drama.
It opened up a great opportunity for discussion. I talked about people being ‘high maintenance,’ and that sometimes when people are like that, they are not great people to hang around. I explained that it was her decision to choose her friends, but if it was me, I wouldn’t want a friend who was constantly causing me trouble, or turning my friends against me.

How she chooses to use that information is up to her; it’s not my choice, and I won’t tell her what to do. But because another of our family values is respect, I know that she will consider what I’ve said.

I’m amazed with how tough this parenting gig is. When you first have that newborn it feels like life is going to be peaches and cream and a bed full of roses. You can’t imagine that baby ever being anything less than perfect, or anyone else ever thinking so. And you certainly have no idea of the hard choices that need to be made, the uncertainty that you’re ‘doing it right,’ or the fear that you may just stuff this kid up forever.
But the other thing I have learnt is that love makes up for just about everything. Love and the ability to say sorry, ask for forgiveness, and move on. Yes it’s hard, and we do make mistakes, and maybe I have gone about this all the wrong way, but at the end of the day my girls know I love them, and that I only want what’s best.
And really, that’s the best gift I can give.


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