Monday, October 16, 2017

She said she liked it better than Pirates of Penzance

This is a C2 post. Opinions are my own.
#C2 for full details please see my disclosure policy

Coming home from martial arts the other night, MapGuy asked if I'd had a good training session.

"I liked it better than Pirates of Penzance" I said. 

He looked at me blankly.

Turns out his aptitude for pop culture references is not as advanced as mine. Shame. 

But the Pretty Woman fans amongst us will know it was a sly way of saying I trained so hard I almost peed my pants.

Last week my friend and I we were talking about me flipping MG to the ground in a take down defence, and kicking butt and I said I was going to try my hardest because "I'm not wearing a sports bra and a liner for nothing!", adding "TENA should sponsor me!". We laughed the way only girlfriends who have both had gigantic babies can.

The last time MapGuy ever hugs me from behind! From standing to flat on the floor in 3 seconds.
So when this info from TENA arrived in my inbox, I thought perhaps my house was bugged, then had a giggle. I didn't PMSL, but if i had of, it would have been OK. 

I have the habit of oversharing. But what happens when I do it, is that most of the time, whoever I'm talking to will chime in with a "me too" story. And you guessed it, needing to wear a liner for sports is almost always a "me too" moment. Despite us all doing pelvic floor exercises, sometimes it still happens. Just look at all those Cross Fit wee photos. 

Most of my mum friends are a tad nervous when it comes to physical activity like jumping or lifting weights. For those who have no idea, and are lucky enough to have no issue, I'm not saying we wet our pants the way a kid does. We're talking droplets.

But those droplets can freak you out and, well, they just feel awful.

So I never go to training without a liner. Screw the stigma. 

Incontinence (yep, I used the real word) is more common than you think, affecting 1 in 3 women and 1
in 10 men within Australia.

TENA has created infographics to help simplify it for us. Because everyone loves an infographic.

How to strengthen your pelvic floor

See the bit down the bottom? It's only tiny, but it says free samples are available. They'll send you out a pack with a couple different ones to try. Oh, and it's a plain envelope, by the way, so if you're not down with smashing the stigma just yet, that's cool, too! 

Friday, September 15, 2017

20 of the BEST School Holiday activities in Perth September/October 2017



I Love school holidays. See that capital L? That's how much I love them.

I get a LOT of comments on how fun our school holidays always seem to be, so I figured I would start sharing my top picks so you can hear about them when there is still spots available.

Don't get me wrong, my kids fight and send me batshit crazy just like everyone elses kids (please, tell me it's not just me), and there are moments when I can tell you exactly how many hours it is until the next term starts.

But for the most part I love them because there is so many cool things to do and a whole heap of them are free. Plus having an activity planned makes excellent bribe material. Or, um, so I've heard. *shifty eyes*

Every school holidays I plan us one activity a day. It works really well for us because then there is one structured thing and then the kids have loads of free time to just hang out at a park, or play LEGO, and fight with each other. Plus we're not above some serious couch time so we can watch Moana for the 786th time.

So here's my top 10 paid activities for us this September/October. Keep scrolling for my top 10 FREEBIES!

TOP 10 PAID ACTIVITIES

German Engineering Workshop (25 Sept    $30.00)
Your budding engineers will love this one. Using LEGO Technic pieces your kids will be in STEM heaven! Follow it up with some German food and you've got an awesome morning.

Awesome Arts Festival (30 Sept - 13 Oct prices vary)
Absolutely every age kid is covered by this brilliant festival. Tricky is heading to the Junk Shadow Puppet Workshop, and he and Bobbin will be seeing Kaleidoscope, a sensory-sensitive celebration of difference and a look through the eyes of Ethan, a boy with Austism. .  There are mud workshops, zombie makeup and film workshops, theatre performances, and dance sessions, plus a chance to meet some amazing performers, authors and illustrators.

Doughnut Decorating (26 - 30 Sept & 3 - 7 Oct  $5.95)
A fun, creative and extremely yummy activity at the Whitfords and Myaree stores. You get two original doughnuts and a heap of decorations to cover them with. I implement a "mum tax" of one bite per doughnut because DELISH!

Wild Movement Kids (25/27/29 Sept & 2/4/6 Oct   $15.00)
Children of all ages can run, balance, crawl, climb, carry, lift, and develop new movement skills while improving their risk assessment, team work and problem solving skills. All in an outdoor nature play area! We cannot wait for this one.

Dinosaur Discovery (20 Sept - 28 Jan 2018   -   3-15yo $15.00 adults $25.00)
If life size animatronic dinosaurs are your thing, then this is for you. Step inside a meterorite crater, use augmented reality to interact with dinosaurs and experience the digital dinosaur track. There is also a central play zone and a heap of dino based activities to enjoy.


Artist Workshops with Rainbow Palette (16 - 29 Sept    -    $40.00 - 80.00)
Got a creative kiddo? Rainbow Palette is the place for them. Run by a qualified art teacher, these amazing sessions have limited spaces to ensure everyone gets a lot of time and space to work. The art works being created change every holidays, this time you can choose from wind chimesplant pendantsbird feeders, planterslooming and even gorgeous Eric Carle inspired butterflies. Plus mum or dad can grab a coffee at Stacked Cafe while they wait.

iFly Indoor Skydiving (25 Sept - 8 Oct   $330.00)
Now this is a big one, but that price represents a whopping 25% saving off the usual $440 package! Up to five people ages 3 and up can experience flight! It is such an amazing experience, MapGuy and I thought it was fantastic and we both highly recommend it - check out the review I did here. Book the Family and Friends package using the code SUPER FAMILY to get the discount.

The Maze and Outback Splash (25 Sept - April 2018   -   4-15yo $16.00 adults $24.50)
This place is A-maze-ing. See what I did there? Navigate mazes made from tyres, plants, timber and string, and once you've mastered those try a round of mini golf, see the animals, jump on the huuuge jumping pillow, play giant games, and have fun on the playground. Because the weather is warming up Outback Splash will be open too! That means three stories of water playground with six slides will be open to cool you down. If you're feeling brave try the seven metre drop of The Plummet water slide... if you're in to more sedate things, Octopus Bay is for littlies and their carers.

Adventure World (23 Sept - April 2018   -   4-13yo $48.00 14+ $58.00)
The Adventure World season starts the day after school finishes. A Perth staple, this place has been going for years and is the place to go for rollercoasters, rides, swimming and slides. It's definitely on the expensive side, and so is the food, so if you're going, save up and take a picnic lunch with you.


Zookeeper 4 A Day (ongoing   -   $165.00)
We adore Peel Zoo. It is nothing like Perth Zoo (which we also love) and is much more focused on native animals and being able to get close. The Zookeeper for a day program is the shiz. You get to do all the behind the scenes stuff like feeding the animals - even the baby animals OMG. Included in the price is a tshirt, cap, lunch and a certificate that says how rad you are.



TOP 10 FREE ACTIVITIES

Ocean Keys Carnival (23/24 Sept)
Experience the magic of the circus with juggling, unicycle riding and circus skills workshops, stage shows, craft stations and game zones. Plus no carnival would be complete without a bouncy castle, face painting, balloon twisters and stilt walkers!

Mini Makers (26/27/29 Sept)
Stop motion animation using LEGO for 7-15 year olds. I may try to pass myself off as a 15 year old for this. I can't wait to see what gets created.

Awesome Arts Festival 2017 (30 Sept - 13 Oct)
The Cultural Centre will come alive with all things fun, educational, arty and silly. I have my eye on the Cardboard Challenge, the launch of Dame Lynley Dodd's latest Scarface Claw book (swoon!), Madame Lark with her musical saw, and the Pop Up Play space.


Spring in the City (multiple dates)
Check out all things scaly and slimy with Critters Up Close (17th Sept), the gigantic 12 metre walk in Giant Kaleidoscope (15 Sept - 13 Oct), the Kids Carnival (16/17 Sept & 21/22 Oct) will have rides, activities and games for kids of all ages, or set them loose with Laser Tag (16/17/23/24/30 Sept & 1 Oct).

WA Museum Discovery Zone (23 Sept - 8 Oct)
The Cabinet of Curiosity will let you experience the Nyoongar language and extraordinary objects, check out Bones! Bones! Bones! (three exclamation, it must be good) and learn about bones (surprise), and have a look at the Toy Box while you're there to see toys from all around the world.

Shrinky Dinks (2 - 8 Oct)
OMG remember these?! Shrinky Dinks were all the rage when I was at primary school and they're getting a 2017 twist with emoji shapes. Make a charm and turn it in to a keyring or necklace. While you're there check out the Muddle Maze and enter the competition to win a cool prize.

Hillarys Boat Harbour (any time)
This place is one of our regular haunts. Swim in the sheltered waters or run amok on the shaded playground right on the beach sand. There is always a free kids train running during the school holidays, and some days you'll find face painting and other pop up activities. No day is complete without an icecream and at last count there were five dedicated icecream shops! The Great Escape has closed down, but there is still a great day to be had.


Adventurescape Playground (any time)
Just 20 minutes from Mandurah is this insane farm themed playground. Climb over tractors and tyres then head up the windmill and down the slide. Swings galore, a 35 metre flying fox, plus water areas for wading and splashing so bring spare clothes. There are BBQ facilities and toilets, so you could spend hours there without breaking the budget.

Mini Roads and BMX Track (any time)
Shepherd's Bush Reserve in Kingsley is so freakin' cute with mini roads, stop signs, roundabouts, even parking and refueling stations, and is perfect for little ones on scooters, trikes, push-alongs, and small bikes. The bigger kids (or daredevils like Bobbin who has ruled this place since it opened) can get their kicks on the BMX track. There is also shaded seating, BBQs, and a playground. But be warned, there are no toilets!

Bunnings Kids Workshops (ongoing)
Bunnings always offers up free workshops every weekend, but they step it up on the holidays and most stores tend to have one activity per day. Tricks and Bobbin are signed up for planting and army tank making, but check your local for details. They tend to overbook these things, so be prepared for it to be chockas. Still lots of fun though!

Friday, September 1, 2017

No more knock, knock, who's there!

This is a S3 post: I received a complimentary Ring doorbell.
#C2 for full details please see my disclosure policy



It's no secret that I live in a bit of a dodgy area. It's more likely to be mentioned in the news for a stabbing than for the accomplishments of its schools. But as high as it is on the crime-o-meter (that's a thing, right?), I still love my lil house and this street. It just means we take a few extra security measures.

The latest we've adopted is the Ring video doorbell which I had been eyeing off in the catalogues for a while. I thought it would be pretty good, which is why I said yes to a review, but it has actually been even better than predicted, and in unexpected ways!

What does it do?

Well, it's a doorbell that has a camera and microphone inbuilt. When someone presses the button you get the usual ding-dong of a standard bell, but you also get an alert immediately via the app on your Android or Apple phone - open it and voila, you can see and hear who is at your door, and they can hear you, but can't see you (or your pyjamas).



You can also set it up to record whenever it senses movement so it becomes a security camera even when noone presses the bell. Super handy when you're going away and want to keep an eye on your property or, if you do happen to be broken in to, you might actually catch the bugger on video! Alternatively you might just get cool vision of a child patting a dog and go viral. Whatever works for you. It's quite sensitive so I'll reserve the motion sensor function for when we're on holidays.

A great bonus is that you can have it professionally wired to your house, but you don't have to., The internal battery lasts for months and the app actually lets you know how much battery life is left. If you have it turning on all the time with the security sensor, then you might want to think about putting it on the mains, but as a standard video door bell, it hasn't used much of the juice at all. Ours is still running on battery and won't need to be charged for another month or so yet.

So that's all great, and it does what it says it will do, using secure wifi. The kids think it is the bee's knees, I think it's fabulous, and the cop who came to my door the other day because my neighbour had a break in thought it was a great additional step to security, too. But it doesn't stop there...



Unexpected perks

1. Because you can see who it is before you press the answer button, you can choose to not answer. Pretend you're not home if it is someone trying to force their religion down your throat, sell you encyclopedias, or even a family member, up to you. You'll never have to close the door on Aunt Beryl again, because you never have to open it in the first place. Aunt Beryl aside, this is also fabulous for those of us with anxiety who are flooded with a sense of dread whenever the bell rings, not knowing who it is. When you see it's a friend with a box of chocolates, you know to let them in.

2. As the app works wherever you have coverage, I answered the door when I was in Kmart the other day and ACCEPTED A PARCEL! Oh lordy, is there anything worse than finding you've been carded two minutes before you got home? I was able to tell the delivery dude that I couldn't come to the door, but he could leave the parcel. I may have looked like a tool in Kmart, but that's OK, I'm used to that. I could have been on the other side of the door with an infectious illness for all he knew, but no, I was looking at storage solutions.

3, Again, because it is app based and you don't have to be on the other side of the door to use it, I was able to let a friend know I was only a few minutes away when she got to my house before me. I'd popped to the shops for milk thinking I could get back before our visitors arrived, but she was early. Rather than her standing around waiting and repeatedly knocking or having to phone me, straight away she knew I was five minutes away.

Only once did the video get a bit laggy, making the image pixelated (see above) and the audio was crackly, but on further investigation it appeared to be because we were maxing out the wifi with streaming and downloading at the same time. But even with it coming through at a lower quality, I could still see who it was and hear everything that was said.

However, there is one thing I'd like to change if I could. The time it takes for the app to load when the doorbell is pressed. It seems really slooooow. I feel some people might walk away before I've even had the chance to see who it is. The app is 'asleep' to save battery power, and if someone was in a hurry or a courier was ready to card, I reckon you'd end up seeing them getting back in to their van rather than waiting at your door by the time it was up and going.

Overall, I'm quite happy with the Ring. The camera gives a sharp picture, even at night with no external light source (see below), the audio is clear, and the app is very easy to navigate and control. You do have to purchase a subscription to view saved videos (including missed rings), but at $4 per month, that's less than a cup of English Breakfast at the local cafe, so that's OK by me.



The Ring video doorbell is available from stores such as Bunnings, Harvey Norman, and JB Hi-Fi.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Letter to Bobbin - four years old

Hey Bobbin,

Or is it Princess Unicorn Icecream Eyes? Because you've been requesting that I call you that quite a lot lately. You became utterly obsessed with unicorns when we saw a mini unicorn pinata in Kmart months and months ago. It all started there and of course it meant it was the theme for your birthday party today.

We have been counting down the sleeps to this day and you've been telling everyone "It's my birthday tomorrow. Not tomorrow, but tomoooorow." which is how you say anywhere between two and six days. The longer the sound, the longer the time.

You have spent the last year doing weekly kindergym sessions and you are pretty damn good at it. You climb and swing off everything in sight so it was a given, really. But now we've had to move on because you are so bendy that it isn't good for you. People think I'm bendy, then they look at you and their eyes widen. It's tough for you not to overextend, so gymnastics is out, I'm afraid.

But it's OK, because you've joined martial arts! You're a Ninja Ru now, and the fourth and final member of this family to join the dojo. The family that kicks together, sticks together. You're still unsure about it and quite nervous, which really surprised us because you are usually little miss confident. You know all the staff from spending countless hours watching your brother, and yet you were still nervous. It was nice to see, because we were starting to think you'd jump out of a plane without a parachute because you don't seem to be afraid of anything usually.


This confidence will help your chosen career, which for months and months now has been "a police officer who lives here with you". It's never just a police officer. You always add the last bit. So apparently you are never moving out of home. Um, yeah. Let's talk about that when you're older.

I love listening to your little games. You play with all sorts of toys but you centre them around the dollhouse and in my She-Ra's Castle that you have inherited. Sometimes the baby will get picked up by the giant Pokemon, and Wonder Woman will come home from school to pat the pet tiger, and go for a drive in her Monster Truck. The LEGO friends girls are a fave of yours, and you got your very first set today which you built yourself (when Dad and Tricky helped with the instructions).

You are desperate to start kindy next year and are getting so good at writing your name. You're quite flexible with the order the letters go in though! Remix version, perhaps? I wonder how you will go because not long after you turned three, you started screaming and crying whenever I left you at daycare or at pre-kindy. We're talking wrapping yourself around my leg and needing two adults to remove you as you screamed "ONE MORE KISS! ONE MORE HIGH FIVE! MUUUUUM!". You LOVE going and settle in only a few minutes after I leave, but that drop off breaks my heart, and it breaks yours, too. We'll keep practising, munchkin.


You are Queen Bee in most situations and always seem to end up with random children joining in your games and doing everything you say. I can only hope you use this power for good and not evil. I really love watching you negotiate with other Queen Bees, though. Some clashes, some compromise. You are very headstrong, and you are learning to give and take in these situations more and more every day. It's particularly nice when I can be chatting to the other mama and we can watch you both and see this intense relationship tango happening before our eyes.

As we head out of the Threenager and in to the Fantastic Fours (Frustrating Fours?) I wonder what will be in store for you? What will be the next thing that Bobbin conquers?

Have a fantastic year, kiddo,

Love Mama x

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Goodnight, sleep tight, stay in your fucking bed tonight


A few months ago I was wondering to myself how long it's been since I've slept through the night...


So I exaggerate slightly. Sue me.

Tricky was never much of a sleeper. He only ever took 40 minute day naps as a baby and toddler, even when he was being worn, in the car, or being pushed in the pram. Over night was better, he would wake to feed every hour or two.

But he was such a chilled out baby and toddler that I could handle the sleep deprivation. He would happily play at my feet if I sat on the couch. He'd drive his cars over me, and I could lay down and play blocks with not much effort if we'd had a particularly wakeful night. There was no school run I had to be up and somewhat dressed for. It was a cruisy existence, even with bags under my eyes.

I was very staunch in my attitude that parenting does not stop at night. If he needed me, he needed me. End of story.

And I still believe this, I do, but throw in another child to be cared for, particularly one who is feisty and has higher demands for attention, a school run to do at 8am, and the days of getting away with four hours of sleep were gone.

Seven years I lasted, and I use the term 'lasted' in it's loosest sense. Seven years of him taking hours to fall asleep and then waking multiple times and being awake for hours every night. He seemed to be fine with little sleep; it hasn't affected his school work or behaviour much at all, but I'm over here with my eyeballs hanging out, desperate for a nap.

We tried reward charts, bribery, punishment, co-sleeping, strict no getting out of bed rules, toys, comforters, relaxation, meditation, music, night lights, you name it. I even shouted at him to stay in his fucking bed. Parent of the year award, right there.

Go the Fuck to Sleep by Adam Mansbach and Ricardo Cortes aka MY PEOPLE
When I finally had enough of living on caffeine and built up resentment, and asked for help we were referred to a paediatric sleep specialist who checked that we were doing everything 'right' first (no screen time before bed, a good bed time routine etc) and got us booked in for a sleep study.

The study showed he has Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) and Periodic Limb Movement Disorder (PLMD) which is the name given to restless legs if it continues after you've fallen asleep. Your legs can move up to five times an hour when you're asleep to be considered OK and the sensors showed that Tricky's legs moved on average TWENTYFIVE TIMES AN HOUR. These little jerking movements were preventing him from going to sleep and then waking him up when he finally drifted off.

She started Tricks on melatonin (much to the chargin of our GP) and it helped him get to sleep, but he didn't stay asleep. A trial of Magnesium showed no improvement, so that's where an iron supplement came in.

A measly 5ml of iron every night is our miracle drug.

I cannot believe it.

Since starting the melatonin and iron, Tricks no longer takes hours to go to sleep and he doesn't wake up all night long. Halle-fuckin'-lujah!

I can put him to bed and go back to check on him ten minutes later to find him fast asleep. THIS HAS NEVER HAPPENED BEFORE. He generally sleeps through the night and if I hear him wake, he takes a sip of water, turns over, farts, whatever it is that he woke for, and GOES BACK TO SLEEP!

I repeat THIS HAS NEVER HAPPENED BEFORE!

He is finally getting the sleep he needs and I'm so happy for him, and you betcha I'm frickin' happy for me, too.

We'll continue the melatonin and iron for three months and then re-asses, and try to wean him off them. But until then, I will rejoice in the glorious hours of unbroken sleep we are now getting and try to catch up on those last seven years.

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