Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The wrap up post that isn't a wrap up post

I feel the urge to write a wrap up post. One that notes any achievements, the highs, the lows, the ins and outs. But the motivation wanes almost as soon as my laptop boots up. And it is a quick boot.

I'm struggling to put pen to paper and fingers to keys right now and as a result my head is swirling with thoughts that need to be purged. They're keeping me up at night and distracted during the day.

It feels like I can't even have a conversation anymore because I forget what I'm saying as all the thoughts wrestle amongst themselves vying for attention.

None of these acrobatic thoughts are profound, or even mildly important. They are as mundane as they come: sweep the floor, make some muffins, don't forget the appointment on Tuesday, visit the grandparents, pick up milk on the way home, write a blog post. If they were life changing thoughts I might feel less annoyed that they're keeping me from doing anything.

I know this is part of feeling a bit low, so I know it will end soon as my mood continues to lift and I return to a sense of normalcy. But right now, right in the middle of it, I'm exhausted. Bone tired.

I started wearing a fitness tracker that I got for my birthday and it also tracks sleep patterns. After seeing the results, it is no wonder I'm so tired. An average night for me is 5.5 hours sleep, awake 4 times, restless 19 times.

So there will be no wrap up (please, we all know it would centre almost entirely around the beautiful little girl we made and her most spectacular birth). And as for goals for the New Year? Well, a focus on health - my mental health. Doing something to relax, something I enjoy, something just for me once a fortnight. Having dedicated work days and not doing work on the off days. Keeping my house tidy (when it is finished). You know, the stuff normal people do.

It will be operation do not burn out. And it will be done. 2014 will be full of awesomeness. And sleep.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Letter to Bobbin - four months old

Dear Bobbin,

Hey there, not so little girl! Merry Christmas and happy four months.

Yesterday we celebrated your first Christmas and it was so lovely. We spent the day with us and your Perth grandparents, your Aunty Penny and your Great Aunty Colleen. You were a little grumpy the last few days, a little under the weather, but after lunch and a big sleep you perked up and became your usual smiley self.

You got some lovely gifts; some bibs, a brush, a Babushka, a feminist tshirt and your first ever Barbie doll. It was pretty funny to get those last two on the same day!

I am amazed at how different you are to your brother already. Your personalities, whilst both chilled, are stark opposites. You are much more vocal, put everything in your mouth (Tricks never did) and are quick to let us know when you're frustrated. And you continue to look more and more like my side of the family every day.

Right now your favourite things to do are sit in the Bumbo and bang your toys, chew Sophie the giraffe's back foot, chew your own foot (always with the feet - it is a disturbing trend, m'dear!), chill out on me in one of the carriers or laugh at your brother.

Because it is all anyone seems to ask about, you do sleep pretty well. You wake once or twice a night for a feed and then fall right back to sleep. You spend a lot of time in our bed, and your brother is still coming in to bed with us so it is getting a bit squishy! We will have to upgrade to a king size bed I think!

Having you close all the time and watching you fall asleep is just divine. You put your arm over your eyes and your feeding and breath slows. It is the most relaxing part of my day, I can't help but feel calm when you are so relaxed.

I grow more and more in love with you every day. I am so lucky to have you and your brother.

Love Mama xxx

Monday, December 23, 2013

A much needed parenting win

I'm not the parent I want to be right now. This whole PND malarkey is kicking my butt in terms of patience and acceptance of kids being kids. I have to keep reminding myself that Tricky is only three, because he just seems so much older now that Bobbin is here and he has a booklist I have to buy for kindy next year. KINDY!

Tricks has had some major adjustments over the last few months; his aunty leaving to live overseas, losing his bedroom, his backyard, and then the lounge room where he would play, gaining a sister, his beloved day care teacher leaving and of course having a mother who is not as bubbly and fun as she once was. It is so much in such a small boy's life and understandably he's pushing boundaries and figuring out where he fits.

Last week he had conjunctivitis. Have you ever tried to put eyedrops in to a stubborn three and a half year old child's eyes? One who doesn't like anything done to his head at all? OH it is glorious fun. The highlight of my day and just the thing to reduce me to tears because IF YOU JUST SAT STILL IT WOULD TAKE TWO SECONDS NOT TEN MINUTES!!!

My usual negotiating and firmness has been replaced with bargaining, bribery and, I'm ashamed to say, threats. I even pulled the biggest threat of all on him... that Santa would not come. As soon as I said it, I regretted it. Because the behaviour wasn't "naughty" and therefore in need of consequences. He was scared. Absolutely petrified it was going to hurt. If I tell him off for telling me how he feels, what sort of message is that sending him?

I felt awful and his little frown broke my heart. I swore there and then I wouldn't let this bastard PND screw up my kids. I would have to get my creative parenting mojo back.

And today, I did.

Right now, his eczema is flaring. I've tried countless techniques to get cream on him but he hates it, again based on fear after one extortionately expensive cream stung him terribly. So, after refusing cream and being unable to even force it on him, he wakes up screaming and scratching until he bleeds. Every goddamn night. Something needed to be done.

I went to the shops and bought a new tube of cream and grabbed a $2 sheet of Lighting McQueen stickers and wrapped the former in the latter. I raced outside to show Tricks our tube of 'Rust-eze' and his whole face lit up. It was magical. I told him that this was the same type of Rust-eze that Lightning McQueen used and it would make him run, scoot and ride faster. Yep, I lied. And I'm damn proud of myself.

For the first time ever, he let me put cream on him without crying and begging (from either of us). Then, with the biggest smile ever, he ran around to see if it was working already. We whooped and hollered at how unbelievably fast he was going, and he was pleased as punch.

It might sound pathetic that I'm so proud of this, but if you knew what a fight it was every time he needs this cream, you'd be fist bumping and air punching too. And I feel that maybe, just maybe, a little bit of my mojo is on its way back.

Friday, December 13, 2013

First Aid Saves Lives

This is a C2 post
For full details please see my disclosure policy

What would you do if you found your child unconscious? If they tipped boiling water over themselves? If they started choking on a grape? If they had a severe allergic reaction and their throat started to close and they couldn’t breathe? If you found them floating in the pool?

Would you panic or go in to lioness mode?

Well I’m going to tell you, Lioness mode means squat if you don’t actually know basic first aid.

About a year ago, Tricky choked on some food. I don’t even remember what it was now, but we were all sitting having dinner and he went quiet, and we all know quiet and toddlers don’t mix. It usually means they’re up to something, but in this case it meant his windpipe was blocked.

I looked over and he was trying to heave up what was in his throat but he couldn’t. His eyes were wide in panic and there was saliva dribbling out his silent mouth. I grabbed him up to flip him over and smack him on the back and whatever it was, thankfully, popped out straight away. He coughed his little lungs up and cried buckets (whether from the shock or from having his mother yank his arm and thump his back, I’m not sure). In that moment, just like the first cry of a new born babe, it was the most brilliant sound I’d ever heard. The whole thing, from start to finish, would have been 5 seconds at the most.

My mind raced with quite a few expletives and what ifs but mostly it sung a happy tune of thanks for doing a first aid course. Then I berated myself because I still hadn't done the refresher I swore I'd do when Tricky was born.

I was lucky enough to be invited to a child resuscitation course at St John Ambulance the other day and finally got my refresher, albeit four years after I started thinking about doing it. Turning up to find out that my classmates were actual celebrities, Amy Zempilas, Jessica Bratitch and Elissa Griesser, meant I almost needed CPR myself. But I had thankfully taken along the buffer. And by buffer I mean Bobbin.

Not content to just be the cutest baby in the room (erm, she was the only baby in the room) Bobbin decided to really make a name for herself and proceeded to do a poo explosion all over my leg when we were only a few minutes in to the course. Oh did I mention that we were BEING FILMED FOR TELEVISION?! I excused myself and tried to clean us both up as much as I could and seriously considered just legging it and not going back because, well, poo stains don’t look good on camera. And as much as they say “breastfed babies don’t smell”, IT’S A LIE!

But I continued on with my poopants and the others should be applauded for being gracious, helpful and above all, not gagging. When it is your own kid it is tolerable, but someone else’s? Kudos, ladies, kudos.

I’m glad I did stay because the long awaited refresher was awesome. Our instructor, Brooke, was amazing and so passionate about teaching people these basic, life saving skills. It was great to learn that the number of compressions to breaths is now easier to remember, that you can’t hurt someone with the defibrillators available at shopping centres and that a shocked person doesn’t jump a metre off the bed like they do in the movies.

Here we are practicing compressions on child mannequins. For the record, we didn't purposely dress all matchy matchy.

L - R: Amy Zempilas, Jessica Bratitch, poopypants and Elissa Griesser
You can check out the segment below. Let's all be thankful it is not smellovision.

I also learned:
  • The likelihood of a person making a full recovery improves if they receive first aid in the initial moments after the accident
  • The average time it takes to get an ambulance to the scene is 10 minutes
  • Irreversible brain damage can occur if the person goes more than 4 minutes without oxygen
  • St John Ambulance have been running first aid courses in WA since 1892!
Brooke demonstrating how to use a defibrillator on a baby
We go to so much effort to keep our kids safe; vaccinations, power point guards, securing furniture to the walls, locking away poisons, having pool gates and teaching them how to cross the road safely. But accidents do happen and you can’t control how other people set up their houses. It makes sense that you’d learn the skills to act if something horrible should occur.

It was quite confronting to practice CPR on the child mannequins and even more so on the baby mannequin. Resusibaby and Bobbin were exactly the same size and doing the compressions and puffing air in to it's little lungs actually made me quite emotional. But now I know exactly how much air fills a babies lungs, not because I've read it, or heard it, but because I've practiced it.
Behind the scenes
St John Ambulance know that you don’t have a lot of time to spare so they have the Child Resuscitation Awareness course which is only 2 hours long and costs $49 per person. As the name suggests, it focuses on babies and children and covers things like choking, drowning, asthma and anaphylaxis.

Certificates for everyone
As it happens, I’ve got a $50 voucher to give away which you can use towards any course or even a first aid kit if you wish. You just have to tell me one reason you should become a Super Mum and learn (or have a refresher) for first aid.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Glow's Ultimate Christmas Gift Guide 2013

This is a S1 post
For full details please see my disclosure policy
I love Christmas. L O V E, love. It might sound corny, but my favourite part is giving people presents. Yes, even more so than receiving them. That look on their face when they open it and really like it (or perhaps are just really good at faking it) just makes me go all warm and fuzzy and gooey and stuff.

I have a few people that are hard to buy for though and I search high and low through the catalogues and the gift guides to see what is out there because ain’t no chance I’m wading through the shops with a baby and a threenager waiting for inspiration to hit.

Instead, I’m making a list (and *ahem* checking it twice) and heading online as much as possible. To circumvent the extortion that is delivery prices, I’ll be using the Click & Collect service at BIG W. It’s pretty simple: you shop online like you usually would, then select which store you’d like to pick it up from – it’s available at every store. It takes a couple of business days and you’ll get a text or an email when it’s ready to pick up and all you do is show photo ID. No gigantic check out queues, no trolleys with a mind of their own, no children begging you for every single toy you pass and no delivery fee. Fab. Plus you don’t have to wait around all day for couriers and delivery trucks or worry that your parcels will be knocked off if they’re left at your front door in the universal “I’m not home” position.

To help you out a bit, I’ve collated my top five presents in a few categories for you. It’s kinda a wish list for what my family want, so, err, do keep that in mind if you’re coming over to my place on Christmas Day.

Glow's Ultimate Christmas Gift Guide 2013

Donna Hay, The new classics - $28. This chick is amazing. I view her books with a sheet of plastic over it to prevent the drool ruining it.

Jamie Oliver, Save with Jamie -  $24. The flagship roast is the bomb diggity!

Preserving starter kit - $35
. Because Mason Jars are all the rage, or so Pinterest tells me.

Maggie Beer, Maggie’s Christmas - $34. Nawww, I love Maggie. I love her quince paste more though.

Russel Hobbs Stick Mixer - $49. No kitchen should be without one of these. I’m a devoted fan.

iPad Air - $568. Fancy pants thinner and lighter version

Canon EOS 600D Digital SLR - $494. Team this with a book about photography so they actually know how to use the settings

LEGO Marvel Super Heroes - $64. (PS3, Xbox360 or WiiU) Super heroes and LEGO? Yes please!

LEGO Star Wars Death Star - $598. No explanation needed. It’s the Death Star, c’mon!

Doctor Who Dalek War Box Set - $33. Exterminate! Doctor fans will appreciate a box set.

Sperling Deluxe jumbo picnic rug - $28. Team with a homemade voucher entitling the bearer to one romantic picnic

Armor All Detailing kit - $24. Because they might not be able to clean a toilet, but the car is always pristine

Keter Cool Bar - $68. After being all rugged you need to cool down, right?

Lifetime netball play system - $79. I always wanted one of these but was never allowed. Poor me.

Caribee Quencher Hydration pack - $54. Map Guy would love this when he goes mountain biking.

iPod Nano - $158. Team with an iTunes voucher and you have an awesome present

Hunger Games box set - $30. Because everyone should know the book is so much better than the movie

Laser ipod/iphone speaker dock with alarm clock - $38. Waking teens up is hard work, at least this way they’ll wake up to their favourite tunes

One Direction Secret Diary Set - $5. *insert hysterical screaming here*

Despicable Me 2 DVD - $28. Huzzah for minions!

Classic Case of Dr Seuss - $50. You cannot go wrong with books!

LEGO creative bucket - $38. They won’t even realize they’re learning while they play

Crayola Marker Airbrush Kit - $30. Encourage creativity with funky stationery

Skylanders Swap Force: Flynn's Ship Storage - $88. WOO! Skylanders are everywhere!

Barbie digital camera - $40. Look at the world through your child’s eyes – I love lookingat the photos Tricky takes – cars, his own feet, erm, dog poo, and puddles feature heavily in his snaps

Wonky Donkey Boxed Set - $16. Because everyone needs to know about the spunky, hanky panky, cranky, stinky dinky, lanky, honkey tonkey, winky, wonky donkey.

Tinkers Sand and Water Table - $30. Water tables are a great way to cool down on a hot day.

Little Yellow Digger box set - $16. This is such a brilliant book, one of Tricky’s favourites

Bright Starts Jungle Safari Gym - $40. Bobbin bats at her Jungle Gym and talks to the animals.

Fisher-Price Ballapalooza - $128. If these came in adult size I would buy one immediately. Child size will have to do.
___ ...___ ... ___

These are, of course, all available at BIG W!

I asked some of the kids at Tricky's pre-kindy what they wanted for Christmas and this is what they told me:

For the chance to win a $100 voucher to spend at BIG W tell me what is on your Christmas wish list this year?

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The internal monologue of the anxious chick at the PR event

This is a C2 post
For full details please see my disclosure policy
Last week I went an awesome PR event. A cake decorating class (with no obligation to blog, I might add) to help celebrate Appliances Online’s 8th birthday and help spread the word about their cake decorating competition (you decorate an appliance themed cake and hashtag it #AOLbirthday to win awesome appliances – ends this week so spit spot).

Now we all know I’m fond of appliances. When this renovation malarkey is finished I will have an entire cupboard space dedicated to them. It will be like a shrine and I will worship at the alter of convenient and fast food preparation. So I said yes. Then the whole “OMG I HAVE TO INTERACT WITH PEOPLE WHEN I FEEL LIKE CRAP” thing hit me and I wondered why the hell I was doing it.

Cake. Cake is why I was doing it.

So here’s how it went…

8:15am OK. Nappy bag? Check. Phone? Check. Child looking adorable in cutest outfit? Check. Go, go, go. Do NOT be late. Everyone will stare at you and think you’re rude. I repeat, do NOT be late. If you’re not 15 minutes early, you’re late. Don’t forget to pick up Georgia.

8:45am Sweet, Georgia is on time. Could not handle being late. Oh wow, she has a present for Bobbin. I feel bad. I don’t have anything for her. I didn’t get her anything when her kids were born. I didn’t know her when her kids were born but that is beside the point. Set GPS and drive. Do NOT be late.

9:30am Where the fuck am I? This is a house, not a cake shop. I followed the GPS and it has taken me to the wrong spot. OH SHIT. It autocorrected the address. We’ve come 20 minutes out of our way. Shiiiiiiiiiiiiit! I’m the biggest dickhead in the world. Who doesn’t check the address? What moron named two streets so similar? If I find him I’m gonna smack him upside the head. Fuuuuuck It’s OK. It’s OK. Go now and you will still be on time. WHY THE FUCK IS THERE A TRUCK DRIVING SO SLOW IN FRONT OF US?!

9:40am Bobbin please stop crying. Is it drive slow in front of Glow day? FECK!

9:45am Bobbin pleeeeeeaaaaase stop crying.

9:50am OK. Baby has milk. Baby is more important than being on time. People will understand, surely. When the kid is hungry, you have to feed it. They’ll understand. Should I tweet them?

10:01am YOU’RE LATE!!!!!!!!!! Go home. Just go. Drop Georgia and go. Pick her up after. Make an excuse. Oh god I’m so dizzy.

10:05am OK, they haven’t started. It will be OK. Who are these people? Repeat their names so you don’t forget. Woo, Bobbin is best buffer ever. Yes, let’s all talk about the baby.

10:10am Walk out, the baby is crying. People don’t like crying babies. Boob. Yes, boob. Boob fixes everything. Go back in. Oh shit, what did I miss? Who is that talking? I shouldn’t have come. I wonder if I should take a tablet to calm down? Oh they have free delivery. Cool.

10:30am Everyone is being nice. This could work. Stay with Georgia. Stay with Georgia. Stay with Georgia. Smile. Nod. Smile more. Talk. ACT NATURAL.

10:35am Baby smells, excuse yourself. Oh bloody hell, it’s leaked on to her clothes!!! Wardrobe malfunction!!! ABORT!!! ABORT!!! Will they notice she’s changed outfit? They’ll all know it went everywhere. Oh shit, is it on my clothes?!

10:40am I don’t think they noticed. PHEW! Do some of the cake thing. You came for cake. Do it. It looks like you’re not having fun. Talk to people. Smile. Laugh.

11:00am You’ve done cake decorating, why are you not getting in there and doing it? Baby is no excuse, she’s in the hugabub, she’s fine. Take a photo. Put it on Instagram.

11:30am Is it rude to just offload my kid on to these people? They keep offering. They seem to really want to cuddle her. Do it. Oh, she likes them. Look at her smile. Wow, I love her smile. Happiest baby ever.

11:40am Make a Santa? I can do that! You’ve done this before, all is well. Oh baby stinks again. Wow, the staff are so nice, I’m so glad I made a point to remember her name… shit. What’s her name?

11:50am It’s OK to breastfeed in a commercial kitchen, isn’t it? I’m sure it is. Of course it is. Just do it. Excellent. Sit back and relax for a bit. No, keep doing the Santa. Everyone will think it sucks. Try harder. Wait, don’t try so hard, you look like a… try hard. Smile. Make a joke.

12:00pm So tired. Don’t let anyone see you yawn, they’ll think you’re bored. Being “on” is exhausting.

12:20pm Sweet jesus I get to take home an appliance? Duuude! I was coming for cake! Awesome.

12:30pm Talk to camera or you look like a selfish bitch. I bet I look ugly and fat on that video. Say thank you. Say it again. Once more, for good measure. Thank the other girl. Oh crap what was her name again? They are such lovely people.

12:40pm Get in the car. Don’t hit the pole while everyone is watching. Go, drive. Oh shit, wrong way. Um, fuck. Where am I? Fuckity, fuck. Oh god. It’s coming. The panic is coming. Stop moving your hands like that. Calm down. It’s not safe to drive when you’re like this, you need to calm the fuck down NOW. YOU’RE AN EMBARASSMENT! Apologize to Georgia. Profusely. She’ll never want to come out with you again now for sure. Shit. Stop apologizing now, you sound like a tool.

1:00pm OK. Blood pressure returning to normal. You can do this. Georgia is so nice. It’s awesome to have fun friends.

1:30pm You’re alone now. You did OK. Hopefully they didn’t notice you were ready to snap. Maybe they think you’re just aloof and not a total bitch. You can let go of that fart now.

Anxiety is exhausting. I needed a two hour nap when I got home to recover. These meds better kick in quick.

Do you freak out?

Monday, December 2, 2013

Homemade Holiday Fashion

This is a S1 post
For full details please see my disclosure policy

Now I could sit here and tell you to wear the latest designer outfit on Christmas day. I could use words like ‘on trend’ and ‘arm party’ or whatever. But I am not on trend as my elastic waist banded pants will attest, and the closest thing to a party my arm gets is the Hokey Pokey. Because that’s what it’s all about.

So instead, I’m going to show you some homemade fashion using some inexpensive shoes we grabbed at BIG W this week. This would be a great activity for pre-schoolers through to tweens and some teens (depending if they’ve reached the grunty stage yet). It will work well for a one on one session with just your child, but if you gather some friends together and have a crafternoon party you can have a fashion parade at the end.

Tricky and I set ourselves up in the carport for a crafternoon with our stash of goodies from BIG W and got to work personalizing our footwear. We started with the big guns – the canvas shoes! A pair of these, already decorated, would make a sweet gift (gardening shoes for Nanna perhaps?) but how cool would it be to give a plain pair and a packet of stampers? It’s a great gift activity for less than $15.

As you can see we went to town with the stampers and the glitter glue then Tricks decided he’d like to think outside the square. And so it came to be that one shoe has a balloon and the other a button, stuck right on top. Ahhhh pre-schoolers. Love ‘em.

Things to use on your canvas shoes:
  • Glitter glue
  • Stamps
  • Markers
  • Puff paint
  • Pens
 Then we whipped out the Wavezone thongs, which at less than $3.50 are a steal!

As you can see from the top image, I grabbed a handful of those impossible to blow up balloons, cut them in half and tied them on in a simple double knot. I was stoked with how they turned out and think it is actually really effective. I would totally rock these pool side for a bit of fun!

Tricks decided to make Monsters with his thongs and proceeded to glue googly eyes on… until he noticed the pom poms and changed tack. While he was doing that I glued some buttons on to another pair.

He was so proud of his canvas shoes and thongs and he proudly showed them off to Aunty Penny who had been jiggling Bobbin on her lap for most of the time.

“Wow, Tricky! Those shoes look fantastic! Where are you going to wear them?”

To which he replied “On my feet.”

Doesn’t get better than that.

Other ideas for your thongs:
  • Tie on strips of scrap fabric – use an old shirt that doesn’t fit anymore.
  • Wind wool around the straps
  • Braid over some friendship bands
  • Tie a scarf around the straps then around your ankles
  • Glue on sparkly gems
  • Use glitter pens to draw designs
So I'll be wearing my fab canvas shoes on Christmas Day for sure. I'm not sure what else I'll be wearing but I'm thinking maybe something from the exclusive Peter Morrissey range. I took some change room selfies to help me figure it out:

To win $100 tell me your top Christmas fashion tip?

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Shove your stigma

Back in May I wrote about all the red flags on my file for post natal depression as part of the One Million Mums in May movement by PANDA for The Shake. If this weird brain of mine was in a graduating highschool class it would be voted "brain most likely to have a breakdown" so when I'd felt a little off for a few weeks during my pregnancy I made sure my midwife knew and I went and spoke to a counsellor to have a plan in place should I need it.

I copped a bit of flack for that article. I was told that "some people" thought I was speaking about things that should remain private. Funnily, those "some people" wouldn't say this to my face and got others to do the dirty work for them.

If it is taboo to talk about the possibility of needing help for mental illness and creating a preventative mental health plan, then what hope do those who do need help have? How much longer will it carry such shame that there are those that would warn you off talking about it?

These last few weeks, those thoughts have been racing through my head. Do I appease the "some", keep my mouth shut and feel like a fake, or, do I just put it out there, knowing that there are others who can relate. Others who may have been in the same boat and can offer a word of support; others who are there now, and need that little push to ask for help.

So I'll say it. I have post natal depression. There. Did it.

This isn't the most appropriate way to let my family know, but I just couldn't find the words to say it to them face to face. How do I even start that conversation when on the outside everything looks so fine? Oh hey, this slice is delicious, you must give me the recipe, and by the way I'm looking in to inpatient treatment for my mental illness.

So I'll sit behind my computer screen, safe behind the keyboard that lets me say these things and not have to see your face. Or let you see mine. Because mine is tear streaked and seems to have more wrinkles on it than ever before. I look old. I feel old.

I've been struggling. Really struggling. There is a lot going on in my life right now and I suppose I'm a bit stupid for taking so much on, but there isn't much I can do about it now.

A few weeks ago it became glaringly obvious this was more than just a temporary low mood.

Because crying for hours after the kids are in bed because you think your latest blog post was a bit shit isn't normal.

Because not being able to turn your brain off until 1am and then waking at 4am is not normal.

Because breaking down in to tears and becoming mute when someone asks you to make a simple decision (what you want for lunch?) and you just don't know isn't normal.

Because standing in front of the fridge and eating two blocks of chocolate without taking a breath isn't normal.

Because falling to the floor in a sobbing heap when you have a bad day care drop off isn't normal.

Because shaking like a leaf and crying at a loud noise isn't normal.

My nerves are shattered. I feel like I have ants under my skin. The pressure is building and I can't seem to find that release valve. So I called for help. And I'm getting it.

Having worked tirelessly to get off medication, I find myself a little disappointed to be back on it after all these years and find it hard to admit that I'm not as strong as I thought I was. And I'm so sad that it means I can no longer donate my milk to the prems.

But here I am, medicated and back in therapy. It is helping me sleep, which is good because I'm just so tired. The lethargy goes right the way through to my bones. Map Guy has been given carers leave so that I can just chill out for a week to try and keep from needing inpatient treatment.

I've been trying to keep going out, seeing friends, doing normal things. All the things that I really don't want to do but I know I should. And I'm so lucky to have friends that could tell something was up and have been checking in on me. 

So that is that. I'm sure I should be feeling empowered, but I don't. All I want to do is just go to bed and snuggle with my family. To feel MG's arms around me and tell me it will be OK, to hear Tricky talk about cars and tell me a fart joke, see Bobbin smile and hear her giggle when I kiss her scrummy neck. Those three people are my lifeline and stopping me from going over the edge. For them, and for me, I will stand up and ask for help.

And I flat out refuse to believe that talking about this is shameful.

Shove your stigma.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Letter to Bobbin - three months old

Dear Bobbin,

You, my girl, are pure sunshine. There is no other way to describe it. Your smile is just so radiant that anyone near you is instantly transported to their happy place and starts speaking baby talk.

You are a very chilled out little bebeh. You're happy to be carried around by absolutely anyone and love to see what is going on around you. On Wednesdays when we go to kindy with Tricky the ladies whisk you away and pass you around so they can each get their baby fix. You happily oblige, beaming at each new person who cuddles you.

You already have eyes for one person and one person only. Tricky. Unless you're hungry in which case the boobs win without question. But, oh, how you gaze at him! He plays with your hands and feet, and covers you with kisses constantly. Sometimes when you're asleep. Unsurprisingly, you don't like it quite so much then.

He asks to hold you all the time and is convinced he can carry you. Sometimes he holds you nice and tight and you love it but other times you get this look on your face that says "you're not gonna let this boof of a boy drop me, are you?". You cry and he tries so hard to soothe you, calling your name and telling you everything will be alright.

He has dropped your nickname already and if I'm honest, I'm a little disappointed. Having a girl called Henry was kinda cool. 

Your milestones are all over the place. A few weeks ago you could barely do a baby pushup but you decided you would like to roll. And roll. And roll. Over and over. Back to front came first, and since you are still not the biggest fan of tummy time, it was met with much screaming. A few days later you figured out you could just push off and roll back over. Much less screaming now. Hoorah!

This all seems to have happened overnight. Quite possibly because we are living with your Perth grandparents right now and you're actually able to get down on the floor without fear of some horrid lung disorder developing.

You are quite the chatterbox and will babble your way through most of the day. We have some mighty interesting conversations and you think I'm hilarious. You chat to anyone who will talk to you plus the Christmas Tree and your own reflection.

We are hard at work to get your bedroom ready back at our house and can't wait to be back there, all settled in for our first Christmas as a family of four. Things are really stressful right now but I look at you and your Muppet smile I know that everything will be alright.

Thank you for being the light at the end of this tunnel.

Much love,

Mama xxx

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Feeding and Fashion

This is a S2 post
For full details please see my disclosure policy

I do not profess to be a style icon. I know next to nothing about fashion. But I do know that the options for mamas who breastfeed can be limited so when I saw how gorgeous the clothes from Milk and Love were, I knew I had to have some.

If you follow WMG on Facebook or Instagram then you might have seen me trying out a few breastfeeding dresses from their online maternity and breastfeeding store recently (or even pre-Bobbin when I started wearing this awesome waterfall cardi that has hidden buttons to turn it into a breastfeeding wrap).

I've been reviewing a few dresses (and a couple of tops) because I am getting sick of just wearing shorts and tshirts every single day. With summer almost here, and the weather well and truly hot in Perth already, I wanted to put a few summer styles to the test.

The first one I tried out was the Zahra Applique Dress. You would never guess it was a breastfeeding dress and every single time I've worn it I've had so many compliments on it. I absolutely loved that I could wear it with a pair of nude heels, a bit of a nice hair do and a fascinator to make it in to a smart dress but that it works just as well with sandals and a sunhat to be completely casual.

It allows great breast access which is particularly important for us larger bossomed gals or newbie breastfeeders. Because it really doesn't look like a breastfeeding dress and you can't tell how it works just from the front, I put on a white bra and took a photo to show you how it opens (bottom right)!

I also tried out the Getaway Day Dress which comes in both a full length maxi dress and a knee length version. I opted for the shorter one just to show off my lily white legs and blind passers by. What I loved about it was how the breastfeeding clips are concealed by a small piece of fabric so it doesn't scream breastfeeding dress. They did make it a little trickier to refasten the strap after feeding at first, but I got used to it pretty quickly. This one comes with a built in shelf bra that offered light support and depending on where I was going (read: how many people I was likely to run in to) would determine whether I wore a bra with it for extra support. It is fully lined, but I found out the hard way that you still shouldn't wear neon blue undies with it. See? Not a fashionista!

Left: Getaway Day Dress. Right: Frills and Grace Maxi Dress.

I took the Frills and Grace Maxi Dress for a quick spin and loved the frills and the, err, grace. This one was easy to feed with because it unbuttons at the breast but still has another layer underneath to be a bit more discreet. I'm not a fan of the tops and dresses that skip this part - It just feels like so much more skin is exposed when they don't have that teeny tiny little camisole layer.

All three of the dresses are nice and roomy over the tummy without looking like tents and can be worn as maternity dresses or, in my case, cover-the-paunch dresses.

I also road tested the Myo Waist Shaper Compression Top because of said paunch. Whilst I did love the slimming look the compression band offered, I think it would be better suited to women with a smaller bust and not my ginormous knockers (I range between an E and an F depending on how long between feeds). The right size for around my tummy was just a tad too small for the boobs and the right size in the boobs meant no compression for the tum. But this is something I've always struggled with as a large chested gal.

A smaller bust size would still have great breast access through the arms, but it was a little restrictive for me. Which is a shame because I wanted to have those extra muffins without the muffin top. When Bobbin is taking some solids and I deflate a little, it will be perfect.

Milk and Love also sell the groovy necklace I'm wearing in some of these photos, the 7 Pebble Necklace in Egyptian Teal. It's one of those food grade silicone teething necklaces that mean your kid can gob on it without hurting their chompers. Because of the materials you do need to run them under the tap to stop them feeling 'furry', but if your kid is actually chewing it you'd be cleaning it more often anyway. Well, at least I hope you would be.

On a side note that shows my maturity level, I found it completely hilarious when I looked down at the largest pebble resting on my boobs and read the brand name... Nibbly Bits.

I bloody love how maternity and breastfeeding clothes are becoming more and more fashionable. Not a potato sack in sight! If you're thinking that buying online isn't the go because you can't try it on, well you don't have to worry because the lovely Corryn at Milk and Love actually lets you try on and return the ones that don't fit, which is why I bought the compression top in two different sizes.

If you feel like popping over to say hi, you can find Milk and Love on Facebook and Twitter. Tell her Glow sent you. And if you feel like buying something, chuck in GLOWING10 for 10% off your first order!

Monday, November 18, 2013

How to create the ultimate Christmas Table for kids

This is a S1 post
For full details please see my disclosure policy

Do you hear that? A mixture of sleigh bells and exasperated sighs? That is the sound of Christmas zooming towards you. You’re gonna blink and it will be here already, so best you get cracking and start thinking of what will be happening at your place.

Having little ones around at Christmas makes it so magical. Their faces lighting up when they come running out to check if Santa has been yet (he has, he has!) has got to be one of the best sights in the world. But when it comes to getting toddlers and preschoolers to the table for Christmas lunch you might need to be a little creative to lure them away from their awesome new toys. A beautiful table fit for the pages of a magazine, whilst looking amazing, is not always practical when you have three foot tall bulldozers running around.

So here are a few ways to create a child-proof table that will encourage them to put down the new LEGO and actually have something to eat! Now, I’m no decorator or party planner (I don’t see an old pallet and immediately want to repurpose it into a table) so this is aimed at other creatively challenged folk like me!

Create an inviting table
Set up a fun kids table by heading to the BIG W Christmas aisle to check out all the cute (and budget friendly) things available. I used:
  • A plastic table cloth for easy clean up at the end of the meal - $2
  • A length of wrapping paper for colour - $2
  • Santa and Penguin drink bottles - $3 each
  • Display stand - $4
  • Brightly coloured bon bons - $5 for 12
  • Gingerbread house kit centrepiece - $10 
  • Goodie bags - see below

Goodie bags are goooooood
A few inexpensive toys and choccies in a goodie bag will go down a treat. I used:
  • Santa and Penguin goodie bags - 2 for $1
  • Pudding chocolates - $2 for 10
  • Chocolate coins - $2 for 10
  • Bubble blowers - $2 for 2
  • Candy canes - $2 for 30
  • Disney bauble - $2 each
Have a fun centrepiece
With a mile a minute three year old and a baby I won’t have too much spare time on my hands over Christmas so I’ve gone the easy (well, easier) route and bought the $10 BIG W Gingerbread House Kit for our table centrepiece. It’s great for time poor folk (and those too addicted to Candy Crush) because it comes all ready for you to put together. No baking, no templates and no cutting out shapes!

I’ve never actually made a gingerbread house before, I usually make gingerbread men, so my first attempt at the house, was, err, interesting. I asked Tricky to help and he was so excited, but ended up mostly wanting to watch and cover the place in sprinkles.

Serve some fun food
I’m all for kids having the same meal as the adults, but sometimes having a few finger foods that are just for the little ones is great.

Santa Hat Strawberries – Pipe some whipped cream on a small muffin or pikelet, pop on a strawberry, then add a blob of cream on top. Voila, Santa hats! If you don’t have a piping bag place the whipped cream in a sandwich bag and snip a tiny bit off the corner.

Santa Face Savoury Crackers – Cut salami in to hat shapes (I cut a circular slice in to quarters to save time). Pipe a dot of ricotta on to a cracker to ‘glue’ the hat on. Pipe more ricotta on to create a beard and the trim on the hat. Don’t forget the pom pom on top! Hint: if the ricotta is too thick to pipe, add a little water and stir thoroughly.

Sandwich Stars – OK so a cheese and vegemite sanga isn’t really gourmet, but if you use a star cutter then all of a sudden it’s a Christmas cheese and vegemite sandwich and thus tastes so much better.

Win $100 to spend at BIG W by telling me your top
Christmas table decorating tip below

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Branching out

Six months ago I was approached with a super secret squirrel offer. There were emails sent, notes taken and meetings attended. All of these were done under the cover of darkness and required a secret handshake and codenames. OK so maybe not, but it was under the strict instruction that I was to keep tight lipped about it all.

The urge to run around singing "I know something you don't know" was enormous. I can keep other people's secrets no problem, but something to do with myself? I feel like I'm going to burst! Luckily with the whole preggo thing there was no chance of getting a bit blabby after a few wines.

The enormous secret? That the Australian Writers' Centre was heading on over to the land of Sandgropers. The part where I come in that made it so hard to keep my over-sharing trap shut? Oh, nothing much, just ME teaching the Blogging for Beginners course. Me? ME! MEEEEEEEEEEEEE! I know, I was just as surprised as you are. Apparently relying on profanity to get your point across does not disqualify you from all things proper and writerly.

In what is no doubt a soul crushing blow to educators the world over, I am now technically a teacher and will be putting it right on top of my resume. I'm thinking of getting a teacher's desk to complete my transformation and I fully expect apples to be left on it (5S thanks).

I can also now be mentioned legitimately in the same sentence as some very fancy people I idolize such as Karen Edwards, Allison Tait, Valerie Khoo, Tim Gooding, Kim Berry, Kerri Sackville and Nicole Avery. And not just in a "Did you see that Glow was stalking Nicole again?" way but in a "They both teach classes at the Australian Writers' Centre" way.

Holy shit, I'm almost certain typing those words just caused me to have a small stroke. Mind = BLOWN!

There are some mighty big shoes to fill here, with my east coast counterparts being the divine Kim Berry and the inimitable Karen Andrews. The pressure! THE PRESSURE!!

Students of the class can rest assured that the content is not created by yours truly, merely delivered with a personal touch and an anecdote or two. And whilst I can't promise anything I will attempt to reign in my F bombs for the comfort of those pupils with delicate constitutions. It's just that I don't swear around my children so when they're out of earshot the words seize the opportunity and come tumbling out like Tourettes, not knowing when they'll get another chance.

If you've ever played with the idea of blogging then I'd definitely suggest you check out the course. Not just to ensure my future employment but because it is actually full of the things that will really help you start up a blog.

Bloggers: What did you wish you knew when you started your blog?
Non Bloggers: What is stopping you starting a blog?

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

So close and yet so far

I did it. I cracked the shits and moved out of the dustbowl. We're now living with my parents five minutes down the round.

I'm pretty sure my mum and dad's neighbours think I've left Map Guy. They saw me single handedly (MG was at work) hauling a couple of suitcases, kids, a still limping dog, a scooter and a computer in to the house, with tears threatening to roll down my face at any moment. Because the crazy is just under the surface right now and it bubbles up to the top for all to see a couple of times a day.

We are so close to being finished with the dusty, dirty side of the renos - quite possibly only a week or two left - but I just couldn't handle it any longer. Walking around with all our belongings piled up in corners, feeling grit under foot and seeing a fresh layer of dust over everything at the end of each day despite drop sheets and high powered professional vacuums to reduce it all.

Brick dust gets fucking everywhere. I think I hate it more than the sand and that is really saying something. At least with sand I can sweep or vacuum it up myself - this shit needs a professional vacuum or it explodes the motor. I don't even want to think about what it is doing to my kids' lungs if it can fuck up German engineering.

The other day our only livable space outside of the master bedroom became off limits as a new wall went up. Tricky's bed, which had been a mattress on the floor by night, then up against the wall by day so there was at least some room to move, now doesn't fit in the space. What will be the play room is currently looking like an op shop with all the furniture crammed in there. I was climbing over a coffee table and tripping over a block trolley to get the kids clothes every morning. And when you're as anxious as I am right now, it doesn't make for the best start to the day. Plus it smells like cement and is covered in bloody brick dust.

Dusty and old (with blue rectangle of doom)

But amongst the woe is me attitude there is always time to stop and think of those less fortunate. Like the people who lived there when that wall was blue. We moved the aircon unit the other day and the thought on everyone's mind was who the hell chose that blue? Oh right, probably my dad

So we really had no choice but to leave for this last part. Because dust and a rectangle of horrid blue means the place isn't fit for human habitation right now.

Instead of living in grime we've chosen the lesser of two evils and are now living out of suitcases. And even though it is my parents house and I can help myself to food, have my kids looked after and even get my washing done if I want (and I do want), I still can't relax. I'm itching to get home even though when we get there it will still need painting, a floor and furniture. But at least I'll be able to walk around in my undies if I want (and I do want), without worrying that the neighbours are going to see me.

Shiny and new!
It's the biggest first world problem around, but bloody hell, I'm really struggling with all of this. The bookies wouldn't take your bet on whether I'll end up in the loony bin because it is almost a sure thing. But whilst in said loony bin you can bet I'd be wagging therapy to check out Pinterest to figure out how to decorate my new lounge room. Because PRIORITIES.

I'm clicking my heels together and chanting that there's no place like home but so far all that has happened is that my shoes are showing signs of wear and I'm tripping over my own feet (related: must buy new shoes). I'm hoping that taking a step away these last few weeks will stop me tipping completely over the edge. Now if only Tricky would stop being so sad that we're not seeing our builders daily.

Monday, November 11, 2013

10 steps to the perfect Christmas tree

This is a S1 post
For full details please see my disclosure policy

It is nearly Christmas. You’ll already know this because people have been posting those “it’s x days til Christmas” memes on Facebook since October and the decorations are filtering in to the stores. Pretty soon you won’t be able to go anywhere without tripping over some tinsel. This means it is time to put up your own Christmas Tree! Here’s my simple ten point guide to putting up the perfect Christmas tree:

1. Pick a pine
. Small or large? Standard green or will you go for something funkier like the BIG W black Christmas tree? Be careful, once you go black…

2. Scheme your theme. I’m a rainbow gal myself but I think ombre trees will be all the rage this year.

3. Tune in.Whack on the Christmas Carols - you cannot go wrong with the Bube. Mmmmm mmmmm Santa Bay-by!

4. Tilt up the trunk. Plop it in the middle of the room and go for it. It’s almost all done for 0you before you even take it out of the box so it won’t take long. Have a vacuum handy for stray pine needles.

5. Light it up, baby. Test the lights before you put them on! Then start at the bottom with the transformer/controller and walk around the tree winding the lights all the way up. Since you were so clever and put the tree in the middle of the room this should be super easy. Except for the whole so dizzy you fall over bit. We used the 200 LED starter set from BIG W because they use very little energy (I spend enough at Christmas time as it is, I don’t need a huge power bill too) and because you can add on extra globes later.

6. Tinsel time. As above but with tinsel. Make sure you honour the time honoured tradition of using it as an impromptu feather boa. Take a selfie.

7. Location, location, location
. Now you’ve finished with the lights and tinsel, put your pine prince where you actually want it to sit. This way you only have to decorate the visible side, saving valuable egg-nog drinking time. Plus you get to hide the ugly decorations from Aunt Gertrude around the back without feeling guilty because hey, you did actually put them on the tree.

8. Beads and baubles and bling, oh my!
Make it fancy. If you’ve got small children helping you let them know that putting all the baubles on one branch isn’t really ideal. When they do it anyway, just move them when they’re not looking.

9. Skirt around the issue. Pop a tree skirt on to make it ultra fancy or grab some material if you don’t have one. That nice skirt that doesn’t fit you anymore that is still shoved at the back of the wardrobe will work well.

10. Top it like it’s hot. Angel or star? This year I’ve gone for the BIG W LED star because at night all lit up the star is always missing! This way the whole thing is a-glow. And I’ve got a thing about things being Glowless, ya know.

I went and asked some unsuspecting shoppers at my local BIG W what had to be on their tree this year:

Win $100 to spend at BIG W by telling me your
top Christmas tree decorating tip.
 To make it easy for everyone to enter you can either leave a comment using Disqus, use the entry form or comment on Facebook. Or do all three! Best answer wins. Full Ts and Cs here.

Competiton is now closed

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Dear Me...

Dear Me circa June/July 2010,

Brand new baby? Check.
Set of boobs? Check.
Read everything ever written about the benefits of mama’s milk? Check.
Steely determination to reap said benefits? Check.
Supportive partner? Check.
Smooth sailing breastfeeding? Erm, lemme get back to you on that one.

Oh, Glow, look at you. You’ve got that new mama look about you – the sleepy but serene look of someone so in love. You’re also got that weird crick neck thing going on from looking at your beautiful babe for hours on end – the books never warn you about that one, it hurts after a while so remember to swap arms.

You’re about to embark on a journey that at the time will seem like an endless slog of long painful nights, but in reality, it is only a blip on the radar. I’m talking about your first few weeks and months of breastfeeding.

There will be hurdles. Oversupply. Thrush. Golden Staph (don’t worry, it doesn’t look gross). Pain. They will seem insurmountable in your sleep deprived state. You’ll sit there at night thinking “just one more week” but not really be sure what you mean by it. One more and you’ll give up? Or one more and it will all be alright?

And then, one day you’ll stop and think “Hey, it feels OK. I wonder when that happened?” When it stopped being a chore and started being beautiful. And you won’t be able to pinpoint it exactly, but somewhere, after not too long, it just all started working. Which is so great because not only is looking at chubby star fish hands patting your breast while a toothless grin erupts over your child’s face (never dropping the nipple!) just adorable, but you’re more than a bit lazy and very forgetful so we all know you’d suck at remembering bottles and would complain endlessly about washing them.

One day, not far from now, when it has become second nature for you both, you will barely remember the hassles. No, really. I know you’re struggling right this second, dreading the next feed, but time goes so fast. Trust me. It will be fantastic when you get the right advice from a lactation consultant. 

It’s important, though, to not hinge your worthiness as a parent on this fabulous milk producing malarkey your mammaries are capable of. Because when you become unwell for a few days and experience a massive drop in supply you’ll feel like a failure. And well, that’s just a bit bloody stupid.

Your aim, to get to twelve months? Girl, you’ve got that shit covered and then some so don’t stress. In fact, you’re going to feed your first born for almost triple that. Thirty two months. Some people will call you all sorts of names for doing it, but you need to trust in yourself and what you know about sustained breastfeeding and its benefits. Surround yourself with supportive people and ignore the naysayers.

But in saying that, remember to respect each mama’s right to choose how and when she feeds her precious bundle and for god’s sake share some of that abundant milk supply around to others who need it and become a milk donor sooner rather than later. Seriously, girl, your boobs don't fit in any tops, do it now.

Happy breastfeeding.

Love Glow x

P.S. Then you'll do it all again and with that bit of confidence, you'll jump the hurdles so much quicker. Believe in yourself and believe in the power of the BOOB!

What would you tell your new mama self about breastfeeding?

This post is part of the Dear Me series being run to promote the new Online Breastfeeding Cafe. Developed by the Australian Breastfeeding Association, this new initiative aims to target women who may feel ambivalent about breastfeeding and encourage them to share, discover and chat about breastfeeding via a supportive online forum and resource centre. You can also check out the Online Breastfeeding Cafe's Facebook page.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Tricky and Treat. We did Halloween and loved it.

This is the first year we've celebrated Halloween. Previous years I've had a handful of chocolates to give out for the one or two Trick or Treaters than came by but we've never gone out ourselves because Tricky had no understanding of it.

This year he was so in to it. He loved seeing the spiders and skeletons popping up in the shops and was participating in things for the first time so we ran with it, doing Halloween craft every day, creating decorations for our house. Strongly American influenced? Yes, but it didn't start there and even if it did, so what? We happily take all their other cultural influences, why the big fuss over this? Overly commercial? Definitely. But so is Christmas and I celebrate that despite being a card carrying atheist.

Last night, a group of 15 kids and their parents met at our neighbour's house and together we walked house to house in our street, respecting those who did not wish to be door knocked and not "tricking" them. Some of the houses we visited had one parent home and one walking with us, so that the kids had more places to go.

It was great to chat to our neighbours. We're "wave friends". I don't know all of their names, but we always wave hello when we drive past or if we see each other at the shops. We've had a street Christmas Party before and this was just the same except in place of sausages on a BBQ it was lollies in a bag.

I loved seeing Tricky's confidence grow at each house. It is hard work for him to be around other kids, he gets very nervous, so to see him interacting with a bunch of kids he has never played with  before was amazing. He needed some encouraging along the way and a few times he hung back and asked to hold hands again, but then he'd charge off again and walk with the bigger kids.

Watching the bigger kids make sure the little ones all got a treat was brilliant. Yes, it was all about getting lollies but it wasn't at the expense of others not getting them. They'd usher the younger ones forward and if they were too timid to go, they'd hand a treat back for them. And they all had fabulous manners - the little ones didn't even need reminding because they would hear the big kids saying thank you and follow suit. It was amazing to watch.

I'm not scared to walk our neighbourhood. Not even at night. It isn't the best area, but I know crime statistics show it is very unlikely to be attacked by a stranger. I love an area with a thriving community and if Halloween can help bring that sense of community, make people get to know their neighbours and not feel scared to walk around, which it definitely did last night, then I'm all for it.

We'll be doing it again next year.

Monday, October 28, 2013

A social experiment disguised as a Halloween Craft Party

The Trickster is totes in to Halloween. I have no idea where it has come from - well, actually, I do. It has come from all the displays at the shops. But prior to it popping up a few weeks ago he didn't even know what it was and somehow it is now all he talks about. Every day he asks "Is it Halloween today?". He even sat right up the front at kindy story time last week (he usually refuses to sit with the other kids and just hangs at the back) because it was a Halloween book - the awesome Meg and Mog.

Because we're going craft crazy right now in lieu of outdoor time thanks to living on a building site, I figured some activities that combined the two would be right up his alley. Voila, Halloween craft.

High off the success of kindy story time I thought the same Halloween magic might work at mothers group. So in a bid to get him to interact with the other kids I brought all our crafty stuff in for a Halloween Party. He is actually playing these days and will talk to the adults, but still refuses to talk to the kids! Prior to this he would sit next to me the whole time and occasionally warm up and play right at the end... you know, just as we were leaving. So the Halloween experiment was go!

I created three paper plate creatures as examples - a ghost, a jack o lantern and a monster - and since we had a limited time frame (and only one pair of safety scissors) I cut out shapes for mouths and eyes rather than turn it in to a scissors activity. We had multicoloured strips of cardboard for hair, googly eyes of all sizes, pom poms, paint, crayons, markers and pop sticks so all the kids had to do was create whatever they liked and unsurprisingly, most of them created monsters! Monsters are just super cool.

Kiddies in fancy dress is super cute

The result? A lot of fabulous creations and happy kids... but Tricky didn't participate. He did warm up a bit and play, he spoke to a few of the mums, plus he ate morning tea on the picnic rug with all the other kids and even posed for a group photo - massive leaps and strides for him. But the dude who is coo coo for craft didn't go anywhere near it. But that's OK. Baby steps for my shy guy as we ease him in to part time kindy next year.

Do you celebrate Halloween?

For those wanting to do their own super easy, cheap Halloween craft with toddlers and preschoolers, grab paper plates, paint, markers and crayons, glue and all sorts of materials for decorating such as string, paper, cardboard, googly eyes, gems, pom poms, crepe paper, pipe cleaners - whatever you have in your craft box - and go for it! You can't go wrong with these.

The finished product never looks anything like the sample, but that is my favourite bit - seeing how they interpret it and come up with their own unique pieces. We've been making a few of these every day and we'll be stringing them up together and hanging them out the front to let the neighbourhood kids know they can Trick or Treat at our place.


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