Thursday, 29 August 2013

Cot Days...Part Two

As promised, here's my brief update on Miss Celeste's new night time home - our bedroom. You can read part one on this theme in case you missed it.
You can see from those delightful pictures in my header, Celeste had mixed emotions about the large brown thing when we first introduced her. Unsure and even afraid, she inspected it with both wonder and trepidation and a hint of snootiness. The fact that she had so recently risen from her last daytime bassinet nap (about 5 minutes earlier), and that she was hungry and a little freaked, probably was all it was about! Still, I couldn't resist excitedly tossing her in for a few more of those cutsie baby pictures. She warmed to it pretty quickly too. It must have been the excited onlookers who encouraged her with lots of "oohs" and "ahhs" and high pitched squeals. The first two nights were probably the biggest hurdle for her. I think she was overtired, overstimulated and just plain forgot where she was located a couple of times.
A little whingy.
It didn't take her long to understand that a cot means space and space needs to be explored! She is loving the freedom, the new sights and the potential for keeping us awake that her new bed has given her.
I am left wondering how something so small can be so demanding, noisy, irritating and yet still be lovable beyond comprehension. This one's a typical girl: Busy, curious, alert, bossy, grumpy and sweet as well. She's testing out all these traits during the night with extra emphasis on impressing Dad who she seems a little obsessed with lately. I am growing rather jealous. Especially since I put in 100 percent night time effort and he's the one getting the impressive smiles at ungodly hours.

The proof that Celeste is loving her new bed is evident
below. Sleeping - even in full daylight.

Hmm, this is a bit of alright...

Large bunny and matching heavy-weight heart patchwork quilt from Target for a tiny $19!
The gorgeous 100 percent cotton sheet sets were a bargain at $10 a set.

Where are you going Mom?! Don't leave me HERE!

Sshh! Don't wake her! How sweet they are when they are sleeping and not wanting anything.
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Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Some random shots from my week that's been...

Taite pulls a pose

Celeste has popped two teeth at last so she has been trying finger foods.

Ruben enjoys a kooky hot chocolate

My adorable mini Miss

Linking with My Little Drummer Boys and Twinkle In The Eye for Wordless Wednesdays.
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Monday, 26 August 2013

Cot Days...Part One

Well Sunday was a big day in our house! It was finally time to move Celeste from the bassinet in Indiana's room, to our room and into a cot.
We purchased a Boori Classic cot several weeks ago. It has sat untouched in our garage all this time due to various birthdays, illnesses and general mayhem that prevented us from getting to it until now.
Celeste was just bursting at the seams in the bassinet however and there was no delaying it any more.
She is well into her 8th month and growing steadily. She is only in the 25th percentile for growth so she is little but eats like nothing else!
I have to say she has managed to live in a bassinet longer than any of her siblings.
It was a beautiful bassinet too. It was strange to remove her bedding for the last time. While sad (a little), it wasn't difficult. In the past it has been a rather teary event for me; to dismantle a little baby's first bed. The passing of time and the end of a sweet era. Perhaps I am just more experienced now and used to the event. Or perhaps I am just truly past the baby making stage.
This has been the first time I have ever really known that I have reached the end of my baby desiring. It is a relief to know finally what came so quickly to other Mothers. Celeste will be my last child. She is the full stop on a very long paragraph to date. I feel finished, content, ready for the future and the next stages. As your family grows in age, the next steps are an exciting new adventure, but you never forget those special first years of loveliness.

As soon as Dad is home on the weekend, it is funny to see the boys (the youngest three), rally around him and follow him everywhere. When a manly task is to be done, these three jump to the job more than enthusiastically.
If there's a tool involved, they're there with bells on. They'll even bring along a few toy tools of their own.
They were all eager to help Dad assemble the cot. I think even the older kids have experienced this momentous occasion enough times to know it is special and worth assisting in some manner.

Joaquin (pictured), is a particularly good helper. He is my little architect! He is always keen to create and put his brain and hands to good use. The cot was somewhat of a puzzle to him (and Dad), so very entertaining in his mind. Taite loomed about in the background, loud and excited and mostly in the way! He is a lot like Joaquin in many ways but still somewhat of a little mystery too. School next year will bring out the boy in him and I look forward to the discovery of him more. (Not too soon mind you).

I am really glad I managed these photos. They will be great keepsakes of the event. I know Celeste will enjoy looking at these pictures in a couple of years time. Girls tend to have that curiosity about memories. I am making sure I capture lots of pictures to let her know what life was like when she was too little to remember.

In my next post, I will let you know how Celeste is going in the big bed!

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Thursday, 22 August 2013

Pedicure Please!

Call it nit picking, but I confess to an ugly habit.
When bored at the checkout, library or dentist - basically any queue or place I might have to bide my time in, I have developed a little game for myself called check out those FEET!
I like to entertain myself in otherwise dull circumstances by looking at how well not groomed people keep their footsies.
It is both a vile and revolting sport but also compelling.
It fascinates me to notice the effort many women will put into keeping their top halves glam: hair, makeup, clothing and accessory choices - all ticks. Even footwear has been thoughtfully considered. Frightfully however, these same women will too often neglect the foot within the fancy shoe and it seriously bothers me.
Nothing visually grosses me more than cracked heals, dry skin, yellowed nails, misshapen nails, long nails and just plain dirty feet! Chipped polish is a personal sore spot with me. Don't even go there. I mean, if you can't find the time to remove it when it peels, don't find the time to put it on in the first place!
I really wish I could find something else to fixate on in these circumstances but once this habit takes hold, it's a hard one to break.
It's also contagious so be warned you will now find yourself practising the same habit next time you visit the bank.
Since Spring is just about to begin, and those blessed ugly footsies will be making their debut everywhere I look, I thought I would write this post on pedicures. The what you need to know basics and how to's, featuring some of my favourite items from my own myopic collection.
Let me begin by stating that I am no expert here, but I am a perfectionist and one without time. So it's a very narrowed down list for Moms on the run.

Begin by purchasing yourself some cracked heel balm. You can pick this up for under $10 at your local supermarket or chemist. Apply it daily to your feet after showering and at bedtime for best results. Heel balms soften skin that has hardened, cracked and discoloured rewarding you with princess feet within a week. Another little tip I have learned is that applying a tiny amount before venturing out in your heels or sandals, simply improves the look of your feet altogether. It temporarily disguises bad heels in emergency situations. Little known fact number two; use it around cuticles for extra healing and healthier looking toenails.

Trim your toenails regularly and file the edges. Cutting too low around the edges can cause ingrown toenails so shape carefully.

My basics include:
A Ped Egg. Rather like a grater for feet. Excellent for removing excess dead skin.
A nail buffer. Cheap and excellent for ridge removal and buffing your nails to shiny heights.
Toe separators. Invaluable when it comes to polish application - prevent the giant coloured mono-toe!

Some essentials for maintenance. Apply daily while watching TV.
My must have favourites are:

1) OPI Avoplex Nail And Cuticle Replenishing Oil. Simply paint this light, pleasant textured oil onto your nails and massage gently in to each nail and cuticle. Be as sloppy as you like! Very moisturising. Lasts for 24 hours. Like a moisturiser for your nails. Feels sensational to apply and helps dried out nails after too many days of polishes.

2) OPI Nail Envy. For stronger nails. I don't need it much but if yours are that way inclined - highly recommended.

3) MUST HAVE this item! Scholl Perfect Nails Discoloured Nail Treatment. At around $16 this two part nail treatment is essential! Buy it today!! This is a polish which whitens the nail and conditions it. I am always astounded by the results when I use this. You can even use it under colours as a base coat. It has definite and pleasant shock factor results! If you only buy one thing for your nails, make it this.

Colour time. Finish off your now beautiful feet with some sensational colours. I am a lover of OPI nail things. Their colour ranges are legendary. They make them in hundreds of beautiful shades.
Pictured are 3 from my collection, not yet destroyed by the teen daughter.
1) Mod About You. Always have a French pink polish for class!
2) Dutch Tulips. Love this colour.
3) You're A Pisa Work.
For those of you not familiar with OPI, all their colours have catchy little names.
Don't forget to use a base coat and a top coat to protect both your nails and the colour you apply. Remove your polish after a few days and go for a few days without to let your nails breathe between polishes. Nails can be weakened by polish no matter what brand polish you use.
Seems like a perfect place to insert a picture of my newly manicured nails. I have not done the said pedicure yet however so it is toe hiding time for me still. I did invest in these delicate little shoes that I thought I'd share here. This neat little pair of crystal studded satin shoes lined in leather are from Novo and the style is Daria. I picked these up for a tiny $9.95 online, reduced from $59.95! I think I did alright!
How about you?
Do you pedicure yourself or pay someone to do it for you?
Do you participate in an idle foot staring sport like mine?
Did you know you can subscribe to my blog via email and receive each new post directly to your inbox? Please enter your email address in the 'follow by email' icon and happy reading!
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Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Making Space For Children In A Large Family

Having lots of kids means many sacrifices large and small.
One thing we sacrifice most is space.
We live in a standard 3 bedroom home like many other families. Our boys, (4 of them), sleep in bunks in one room and my eldest daughter has her own room. When Celeste is old enough for a bed, she too will bunk in with her big Sis.
It was the same for me when I was growing up. 
I have met many parents over the years however, who were unwilling to have further children because it would mean their child or children would no longer have a room of their own.
I always found this a rather strange way of family planning. Quite materialistic even.
My kids do enjoy their own time and space but they also love their together time. Sharing a room means they always have each other to play with and talk to. I really enjoy hearing their conversations and spying on the games they create. Often it's when they don't know I am present that I have gathered some of my greatest memories of their childhoods. (Probably because they are not abandoning the game in favour of asking me for something, which is never fun)!

One of my favourite games the kids invented was a game my eldest two made up when they used to share a room together. They called it 'chinkabunga!' Basically it involved a loose blanket on each of their beds which they would toss in the air and then dive beneath. It kept them entertained for ages!
Recently all 5 kids have been enjoying murder in the dark together. Then there's Nerf wars and Nintendo DS group gaming sessions. Even better, is when they all read quietly alone or together.

When the younger ones are afraid of little kid fears, like darkness and night time noises, it's the reassurance that the older children's presence provides, that comforts them.

When one of the kids has a friend over, the bedroom temporarily becomes their own room. This gives them their valuable free time, space and the privacy they crave to enjoy with their friend. It works well for them. More often than not, all the kids will choose to hang out with the friend. Usually the guest is very curious about what it's like to have so many siblings and is equally happy with their addition to the play!

Keeping the house tidy is easier too, if they are confined to one room. They are all responsible for the tidiness of their space. This has become more important since the size of our family has grown. I cannot keep up with the mess anymore.

It's far from perfect though. The kids do fight. The age differences can be problematic at times. Particularly if a younger child cries in the night and keeps others awake. Thankfully, all of my kids are great sleepers and always have been. Kids learn fast to behave around each other and know what triggers a tanty in a sibling! They have learned to respect each other's space. It's a what goes around, comes around situation which they learn the meaning of very quickly.
I would have to say tantrums and bickering happen far more frequently outside their shared bedroom than within it.

Do your kids share a room?
How have you found the arrangement you have in place?

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Wordless Wednesday


Taite and Celeste have a little play together.
It has always amazed me to see the sweet little relationship between a baby and a sibling.
Babies are so fascinated by young children and the reverse applies also.
My two youngest share some time together while the others are at school.

Linking up at My Little Drummer Boys and Twinkle In The Eye for Wordless Wednesday.

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Friday, 16 August 2013

Knitting - An Update

So here it is...
The first 5 cms or so of the first baby jumper I have ever attempted to knit! (Pattern from the Debbie Bliss Knitting For Babies book).
I am pretty thrilled to say the least. It has already been blood, sweat and tears to come this far I can tell you!
I am a little out of practice (massive understatement)! 
I have also discovered aluminium knitting needles suck. They are mighty slippery and thank god I only needed to knit 2 rows using them before switching to much friendlier plastic ones for the body of the jumper.
Just casting the stitches on took me a whopping 5 attempts! It's amazing how hard it is to cast on just 57 stitches and keep 57 stitches by the end of the task! After knitting just a single row, I would find I either managed to add some stitches, or lose some altogether.
All good now though. I have checked (and re-checked) and 57 it is.
Then there's the problem of knitting around children. Five year old Taite managed to tangle his foot in my wool and walk away while attached to it in record time. Oh how I wailed as I watched everything trailing behind him...sigh.
It has been a nice quiet occupation for me though. It's very relaxing mentally and physically to knit. 
Doing it when no-one is home and the baby is asleep is even more so. Wait, that's the case anyway isn't it!
I am slapping myself on the back and throwing kisses at myself. It's great to apply myself to a fun project I have chosen and to stick with it. Let's hope, I can keep up with it all the way to completion. 
Then I will invite the press in for question time and photographic opportunities.
I must resign myself to the fact that Celeste may be aged around 19 or so by the time her baby jumper is completed. In between a week of school camps, illness and aerobics competitions, you can't say I didn't try.

A highlight of my week was this:

Indiana at the 2013 Aeroskools Aerobics Competition. Out of 30 teams, hers came 5th!
Feeling the pride! I just adore this photo which made me cry! What a superstar!

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Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Wordless Wednesdays 13 year old daughter cannot stop taking them. If I leave my iPad or mobile unattended, I can guarantee I will return to many images of her on it!
I jumped in the bottom shot with her on the webcam. My son's hand has only just made the image.
She thinks I don't blog enough about her...this one's for you Indiana!
Are you embarrassed?
Linking with My Little Drummer Boys and Twinkle In The Eye for Wordless Wednesdays.
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Tuesday, 13 August 2013

I Am Going To Knit A Baby Jumper!

I have decided I shall take on my first ever knitting project using a pattern!
This is a huge leap for me as I have only basic knitting skills.
My Grandmother taught me how to knit when I was a little girl. Over the years I have well and truly mastered the skills of stocking stitch which is the basis of most knitting projects.
I can cast on and cast off. I have a little experience increasing and decreasing but I think this looks quite straightforward.
I have knitted many scarves for myself. Just basic ones based on the experience outlined above. Now that there's a little one in the house, the urge to knit is great.
Little baby things are seemingly quick and straightforward to turn out people tell me. Also rewarding!
It's time!
I have scoured online for appropriate project books and settled on the timeless designs in Debbie Bliss' Baby Knits. The projects in the book are geared towards the beginner knitter. They are very simplistic and beautiful. I love simple designs as I live by the less is more philosophy when it comes to stylish design in anything.
I wish to knit this basic boat neck jumper:

I have never read a pattern before but now that I have looked into it more, it appears it may not be as difficult as I have always presumed. I found a great iPad App too called The Knitter's Handbook which has simple images and instructions as well as videos to show how it's done. It's just like having a private lesson whenever I need it without the inconvenience or cost. The App was a tiny $1.99 to purchase.

Really, it's never been easier to learn a skill such as this with all this tech in our lives we are so privileged to enjoy. 

I bought the Debbie Bliss wool on Ebay from the UK. I am sure it could be purchased in Australia but it just seemed easier to grab it online. I decided to make the jumper in the coral colour. Just as well too as I have recently discovered Celeste looks pretty fine dressed in this shade! She has a very girly but spritely energy about her (never more so than at 3am), and the lavender wool suggested in the book is just not her yet! 

I even sourced myself a very fancy knitting bag just to get my mojo happening! I bought this yellow Namaste bag called Zuma from The Wool Shack in WA. It is so bright even my husband commented that he loved the colour! I am heavily into yellow at the moment. Such a happy colour and very motivational. Carting this about with me will inspire me to persist when I come across the inevitable struggles I know I will.
It's even big enough to house my iPad for those lessons on the go!

The only hitch is waiting on a set of 4.5mm knitting needles from the UK. I was missing these from my stash of crafty things and bought some on Ebay on the weekend. I am hoping they arrive very promptly as they are the needles I need to start this whole project and I am rearing to go!

I am excited, nervous and as usual, impatient! I can't wait to feel the little jumper take shape in my hands. At least knitting has always forced me to sit down too. I definitely need to do more of that.
Stay tuned in the coming weeks for updates on my disaster project!

Can you knit? What have you made? How did you learn the skill?

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Sunday, 11 August 2013

Cooking With Maggi Stir Fry Creations Sauces...

Have you cooked with Maggi sauces before?
This may seem like a strange question to most but I have to admit, I cannot actually recall ever using Maggi in my life. Other than 2-Minute noodles (which are a massively popular weekend lunch at our house), I seriously can't think of a single Maggi thing I have purchased - ever!
I don't know why I have not branched into Maggi before. I know their packages are an unmistakeable yellow and red. I know they are prominently placed on supermarket shelves. Yet somehow, this Mom has managed to stroll right on past their products each and every time.

I was therefore pretty interested when I was asked to review the Maggi Stir Fry Creations range. Not only because I have not had experience with the brand. I was also keen to try what I have always perceived as a food marketed at convenience. This in itself should be most appreciated by a Mom of 6 kids. I need some convenience in my life.
I must stop cooking from scratch and start accepting some help!

Step in Maggi!

I received a nice plump parcel in the post of Maggi Stir Fry Creations to try. The flavours I received are:
Chinese Five Spice and Soy Beef,
Sweet Chilli, Ginger and Lemongrass Chicken,
Teriyaki and Sesame Chicken and
Honey, Soy and Garlic Chicken.
There are a total of 5 varieties in the range and they retail for $3.29 each.

Immediately I thought I would try the flavour I would be most likely to order if I were choosing off the local takeaway's menu - the Chinese Five Spice & Soy Beef. Mmm!
The instructions on the back of the pack tell me preparation time: 10 mins, cooking time: 10 mins. My local takeout is a good 30 minute round trip. There's 10 minutes saved already!


My dinner in a sachet.
Instructions on the back of the packet tell me to:

1: Tear it:

The sachets are perforated for tearing apart as you have two different flavour sachets in the one pack:
An infusion paste and a finishing sauce. Easy handling - much like having two different bottles of sauce. (Which traditionally I would have resorted to were I making this the homemade way - actually there would have been more than two bottles involved)!

2: Infuse it:

Pour the Infusion Paste sachet over your prepared beef in a bowl and set aside for 5 minutes while you prepare your chosen vegetables. (Suggested 3 cups worth on the back of the pack). The great thing about stir fry cooking is you can use whatever is in the fridge. The infusion paste has real herbs and spices and will not only save you time but give the meat a greater depth of flavour.

3: Cook it:

Over high heat, add oil to your wok and cook the beef for 5 minutes. Add your vegetables and cook a further 3 minutes.
4: Finish it:

Pour the Finishing Sauce in the second sachet into the wok and cook the lot for a further 2 minutes.
The verdict?

Wow! Dinner was prepared and ready to eat in under 15 minutes! Admittedly I marinated the meat in the morning despite the instructions stating 5 minutes. I like my meat very marinated. The sauce was surprisingly plentiful. Initially I thought I would need 2 sachets to feed this family of eight but one package was more than enough. There was a lot of sauce left over in the wok at the end.
The flavour was really good too. I was surprised! My husband and the kids really enjoyed the meal. We made the entire dinner very fast with the addition of 2-Minute noodles instead of rice. My kids love noodles and I knew I would be able to entice them to eat if they were included.
Overall, I was pleased with the ease of preparation and the speed of producing a quality meal. The taste was delicate and not too salty and pretty much just right. Especially so for the kids who can be picky if flavours are too pronounced.
I will definitely be using the sauces in future. It was a lot easier than fiddling with the multitude of sauces in my cupboard and trying to get the balance right on my own. We did not need to add any additional sauces to the finished meal which left us more time together at the table instead of looking for bottles in the pantry!

Product Talk by Nuffnang
All opinions are my own.

Do you cook from scratch or are you a user of food helpers such as Maggi's?

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