Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Mr B: Monster Extraordinaire

monster drawing
 Mr B is into monsters at the moment. In a big way. He seems to be past the age where talking about them all day and watching too much Scooby Doo gives him bad dreams. Now, he'll talk your ears off about all the different kinds of monsters there are, what they look like, what they do exactly, and what their names are.

And he has these scrapbooks. Lots of them, each one dedicated to his drawings, which are all lovingly named and numbered. His last book was entitled, 'The Top 73 Scariest Monsters of all Time', because he is really into lists and countdowns as well.

monster drawing
Not content with his own scrawlings, Mr B now has the adults in on the drawing game. After watching the latest Scooby Doo episode, he will pause the show on the monster he'd like us to draw and then have us sit down with the latest scrap book and lead pencil to create a replica of the TV version. As you can see above, I even had to get my glitter pen out for The Phantom's cape.

I have to say, while it's not always easy to get a few minutes to sit down and draw, once it's underway, the whole thing is quite relaxing. And I think I'm actually getting pretty good at drawing monsters freehand! Check out my drawing below, on the right. Seriously, how scary is that? I told Mr B to step aside and let me colour in that one.

monster drawing
I've had to lift my game though, Mr B gets upset if the monster doesn't come out how it looks on the telly. I tried to draw Mancrab the other night, and it was a disaster. Especially as I did it in pen and we couldn't rub it out. Admittedly, it did look a bit shit. Thankfully, Mr Laney solved the problem by sticking a blank bit of paper over it and I got to have another attempt at it.
When he's not hovering over us and issuing instructions about monster-drawing standards, Mr B loves to look at other monster images on the internet. Last night, he wanted me to find a picture of a 'headless monster who carries his head around on a dinner plate'.

Sounds simple, right? But if you're not careful, Google will dish up (ha, that's a pun) some pictures that aren't really suited to small eyes. Fortunately, I've been shielding him from what comes up before I show him - because when you type in 'headless monster', Google will  offer you pretty much anything that is headless, if you know what I mean.

Anyway, we are still searching for the ideal headless monster. He'll turn up, they always do.

monster drawing
The scrap book of the month goes everywhere with Mr B, including to bed with him, where it sleeps on a pillow beside him. It then comes backs to us in the morning, when he brings it downstairs, ready to go through every monster in the book with you, one by one. This is great fun when you're still rubbing sleep out of your eyes and yet to imbibe coffee.

Mr B: yep, Monster Extraordinaire. But there's no way I'm letting him take all the credit on this one.

So, I'm dying to know: what are your kids excited about, and how do they rope you into it?? And what have you found surprisingly fun about it? 

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Secret Parenting Behaviour

secret parenting behaviourThis is strictly between you and me. But there are things I do now, that I would never have done before having kids. Remember when Carrie Bradshaw talked about secret single behaviour in Sex and the City? About things she did behind closed doors before she was part of a couple?

Well, I've realised lately that I, too, have a list of unsightly, unbecoming and generally uncool behaviours that have emerged since becoming a mum. I was not like this six years ago, believe me! Every now and then, I look at myself and think, '...really?'

But the thing is..... I just don't care. I'm keeping my head above water here. It became a choice between standards and survival, and I went with the latter. So, I'm coming clean - proudly. That's right, I partake in SPB and I'm not ashamed to admit it. And let's face it, if you're a parent, there's a chance you do as well.  It's ok. You can tell me in your own time.

For now, you can revel in my Secret Parenting Behaviour:

1. I'm a wannabee hermit: Before I had all these children on my hands, I distinctly remember how I used to feel about getting out of the house. It was a must, otherwise I'd go 'stir-crazy', or get 'cabin-fever'. Of course, back then, popping out for fresh air was as easy as grabbing my bag and shutting the door behind me. Now, it involves two hours of sweat and tears (literally - from any number of us) and once we're out, it's not exactly relaxing. So when Mr Laney offers to take the kids out, I'm grateful for the chance to stay indoors. To not step outside for even a moment, the whole day? My idea of bliss!
2. I swear this was clean when I put it on: I'm not a disgusting person. I shower daily, and wash all the clothes in the house regularly. Yet somehow, everything I put on is filthy. I very often leave the house in clothes covered in smears from small people. You'd think denim and black would conceal dirtiness but they don't. Especially in broad daylight. I've got used to scheduling in a quick sponge-down in the kitchen just before I leave the house now, but it's not always successful. Whatever. Take it from me: if I'm out of the house, I'm doing well. End of.

secret parenting behaviour
3. Sometimes tantrums are funny: Every now and then, the sound of my kids blowing their tops crying, shouting or having an outright tantrum gives me the urge to giggle. Especially if it's over something I've done to them, like told them it's bath time or clean-up time. So before I put my on stern face to approach the situation, I have a quick chuckle in the kitchen while I finish my cup of tea.
4. The grooming thing: Sometimes when I'm in the shower, I consider giving my legs a quick seeing too with the razor, and then I think, 'nah, that'll do'. 
5. My pyjamas are my house clothes: As soon as I get home, my regular clothes suddenly become tight and uncomfortable. They have to go. So I put my pjs on. Even if it's 3pm. That way, I'm ready for bed, and have cut myself out the extra chore of changing out of my house clothes and into my pyjamas later on. I don't even feel embarrassed if someone knocks at the door.

secret parenting behaviour

6. The local will do: Despite everything I've said, I still like getting out for an evening. But my days of heading into the city or going anywhere further than ten minutes away are done. The local pub = going out. They serve wine, right? 
7. Sometimes I don't have a tissue handy: So when someone's nose is running urgently, I use my t-shirt to wipe the snot away. Hmm, hang on. Maybe this is why my stuff is always dirty.
8. I've got no idea what's happening in the real world. I feel like we live in a cocoon sometimes, when all I have time to deal with is what's happening within our chaotic little world.  I used to watch the news. But why is it on during the mad-hour? How does any busy parent have the energy for the news? Even if we record it to watch later...by the time we're done with dinner, baths and bedtimes for them all....I'm not sure I could handle hearing the news, not exactly relaxing is it? By this time, I'm in need of a glass of something, and some mindless TV trash, stat. My brain is done.  
9. Oh no, the hot water's run out! When the big kids shower, sometimes they have so much fun playing their games with the shampoo bottles, that they won't come out. So I flick the tap from warm too cold and wait for them to realise the change in temperature, before exclaiming, 'oh no, the hot water's run out!' Is it wrong that I kind of enjoy that? 
secret parenting behaviour
10. Returning your texts: I always read text messages straight away. Same for emails. I welcome the alert that someone from the outside world is trying to reach me in the cocoon. Yet for some reason, it takes me a week, sometimes ten days to reply. I don't know why I let this happen. I think I spend a lot of time in my head rehearsing what my reply is going to be. Your patience means a lot to me.
11. I sleep on the couch: Not because hubby and I are arguing. No, he is right there beside me, camped out on the living room floor. Baby A has residence in our bedroom, and  has done for months. We're too scared to sleep in there, in case we wake him up. One day I will put the twins together in their proper bedroom, which is where Baby J sleeps. But I'm too scared of upsetting the good sleeping habits we've finally got sorted with them. Honestly, the couch is lumpy and uncomfortable, but sleep is sleep. I'll take it.
12. Secret cuddling behaviour: When I'm at work, or somewhere without my kids, I miss the feel of them in my arms so much that I cuddle myself. I wrap my arms around my body and squeeze. I think I even close my eyes. It's a weird security thing I've got going on.

 Ok, your turn: have you got some Secret Parenting Behaviour? Come on, just one! You'll get no judgement from me, obviously! 

Hey, if you enjoyed this post, why not follow me on Facebook?

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

I think it's time to stop breastfeeding

time to stop breastfeeding
This week, it's occurred to me that the time to stop breastfeeding is near.

The other day, during a feed, Baby A bit me. Three times. The first two times happened during an overnight/early morning feed, when I was really drowsy. So you can imagine the yelp I gave when I felt those razor-sharp teeth (he has four up the top and two down the bottom) clamp down on me. I cried out, which gave him a jump. Being a glutton for punishment, I put him back on for his usual breakfast feed later that morning, and the little monkey bit me again. This all happened on the same side, which was pretty gosh darn sore by this point. There was no blood but man, it hurt.
For all our feeds since, I’ve not been able to relax. I’m waiting for the next nip (oh dear, please excuse that pun).  It’s not as relaxing as it used to be. Maybe he was trying to tell me something?
So because of this, I’m at the point where I’m considering finishing breastfeeding both my babies. They are 14 months after all; we've done pretty well, the three of us. I always hoped to get to a year and then start tapering off.

The thought of stopping both excites me and breaks my heart at the same time.

It excites me because it represents a bit more freedom. Anyone can feed them now. They can now be bottle-fed, and become accustomed to a different form of comfort. My other two kids used their bottle for an evening feed until they were three and they loved the comfort and security the ritual offered. My babies are at the age where they can drink their bottles themselves, so it could be a new ritual to put in place that becomes a bedtime-cue. (btw two babies lying side by side holding their bottles makes for a very cute picture).

If I don’t breastfeed, I am not needed for bedtime, which could come in handy if I need to work late, want to see an early movie, or want to take my bigger kids somewhere for dinner.

It also excites me because my body can return to its normal state, where it just looks after me and not two other little humans.

I can once and for all ditch the maternity bras. Underwire at all times! And go back to my normal size (which changes my overall body shape, I find). That’s kind of exciting. This also gives me a bit more freedom with clothes.
time to stop breastfeeding

It’s also exciting because it represents the beginning of a new era – the one where we leave the baby months behind and begin toddler time. Which, yes, is really exciting.

But it also hurts my heart.

Why is it heartbreaking? Because these are 99.98% likely to be my last babies. And the end of breastfeeding for me signals the end of babyhood. Forever. The end of that magic little bond that only exists between me and my babies.  

I remember giving up breastfeeding with Miss P. I decided I was ready when she turned one. All went smoothly, and she never looked back once I gently removed each breastfeed. But once she was completely weaned, I missed those feeds terribly, and wished I’d held on for another couple of months.

I can’t believe I’m never going to feel the sensation of a baby feeding from me again. I love watching the contentment in their face, their mouths moving rhythmically to draw in the milk. Their little hands twirling about with my clothes, snuggling up close to me.  

But I’d never planned to feed extensively. I’m really happy to have been able to give them what they needed all these months - I know not all mothers can provide breast milk for their twins, so I am super grateful to have lasted this long. 

It makes sense to stop. I think these babies are ready. And I have all these reasons why it's a bit exciting, too.
But I’m not quite ready to pick a date yet.

What about you? Have you finished your last breastfeed of your last baby? I'd love to hear how you coped! Or maybe you've just begun your breastfeeding journey. How are you finding it?  

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

Monday, 9 February 2015

It's Savvy Monday! Question: Exactly how organised are you?

how organised are you?

I'm getting really fed up with my persistently disorganised state. I know the theory of being an organised person. I start lists, and put up noticeboards around the house. I have a place to hang my keys and I have hundreds of storage boxes designed to hold particular toys belonging to different children. The problem is, I can't keep up. My intentions are brilliant but I have no follow-through. It's very frustrating.

So, I thought to myself, what are some habits of organised people? There must be something that I  am missing from my daily practice that stops me staying on track. I'm tired of feeling like I'm constantly chasing my tail trying to keep up with everything. It's time for big change.

Naturally, I googled it. And I think I've found out where I've been going wrong. There's loads of websites dedicated to improving organisation, and while I know of lot of this stuff, there are some things that have stood out. Things that might be doing me more harm than good.

These are the things I've highlighted for me personally:

how organised are you?

1. Decluttering and Donating - I am a 'save for a rainy day' type person. Especially with our twins, I like to keep stuff that the older kids no longer use for when the babies are big enough to enjoy it. But we also have a lot of junk that I could go through and minimise. I think being 'ruthless' is the key here.

2. Every Chore is Written Down - apparently the organised lot write every little thing down, no matter how trivial it seems. I have to-do lists. That is no problem. I think my problem with adhering to them is described further on. Keep reading.

3. Proper Planning - For organised people, 'no job - however big or small - is ever done without a plan.' Fair enough. Enough of my 'winging it and hoping for the best' theory then.

4. Exact Documentation - Definitely understanding the value in this one. I've lost count of the times I've neglected to write down a reference number, or the name of who I was speaking to, or the date I've paid something. As well as this, I also have a file now to put 'bills to be paid' and 'paid bills' in. Yeah I know, pathetic that I've only just sorted this! What have I been doing all this time? (answer = 'winging it' - see above).

5. No Procrastination - This is the big problem for me. I am terrible for it. When I have a list that's long and looming, I get overwhelmed and start procrastinating rather than getting stuck in. Apparently, 'super-organized people do not procrastinate. When they need to get something done, they just do it.' This goes for 'cleaning as I go' and other things that would be much better done in the moment rather than waiting til later.

how organised are you?

Number 5 is my biggest problem. I need to stop avoiding my lists and work through them, one thing at a time (a mantra I use VERY often with four children). As well as this, I need to use lists more. And remember where I've put them (another key organisation point: everything has its place).

So here's what I've sorted this weekend:

* a noticeboard dedicated to newsletters and notes from Mr B's school
* a whiteboard stuck to the fridge reminding me of what's on each week for the big kids (sports day, library day, show and tell etc)
* a new file to hold all the important documents that need to go somewhere safe rather than be stuck at the back of the medicine cupboard
* a routine chart for Mr B to get himself as ready as possible each morning

If disorganisation is a big thing for you, check out Buzzle for the full list. I also found this website really helpful for all matters related to being on top of your game.

Good luck in all your organised endeavours! As always, I'll let you know how I get on!

So are you a super organised person? I'd love to hear your tips: what saves you when it come to keeping control in your household or life? Or are you a bit like me, on the struggle? Is there something you plan to try from this list to help you?

Friday, 6 February 2015

We survived our first week of school!

We did it! We survived our first week of school. Which was....what can I say? The word 'whirlwind' springs to mind. All in all, it all went well. Mr B has been a happy school kid, although he's been a bit miffed about having to go in everyday (didn't really word him up on that one).

But it's been BUSY. I sense a major learning curve coming my way. I already got a taste of one when I realised I didn't read the last page of the first newsletter, which instructed what the kids should have in the way of supplies. Cue one upset little guy at afternoon pick-up, who told me tearfully that he didn't have a library bag for the library visit (and therefore couldn't borrow the book about foxes).

Could they not have given him a *@$# plastic bag just for the one time? Is all I'm saying.

Something tells me that big school is more of a 'welcome to the real world' type learning place than his old kindy was.

Here are some other things that I've observed since beginning school:

1. I have got us there right on bell time every morning, despite my best intentions to get there with time to spare - and for Mr B to have a bit of a play and me to eye off some other parents. It's not ideal, pushing a double pram, carrying a Miss P and hurrying Mr B along to make it there in time for the bell.

2. Speaking of ridiculous logistics, let's just say that getting four children ready in the morning, loaded into the car, unloaded again 8 minutes later for school drop-off, and then packed up again for home...not so easy. Add in a little Miss P that demands to be carried....yeah, a tad difficult. Same goes for school pick-up, only in reverse. Plus it is during what's supposed to be the babies' sleep-time!

3. We didn't do ourselves any favours starting off the school year with one school shirt. It's my fault. I bought him one size 4 shirt late last year and then this year I decided that an additional size 6 shirt would do the job, given that they grow so fast. In fact I bought two of them. Then I put the size 4 shirt back on and realised that it still swam on him, so needed to swap the size 6s. But, being the first week back, the uniform shop queue was about 20 deep, not moving, and exposed to rain. So, had to surrender to the one shirt (white, might I add), which we hand-washed and express-dried twice during the week to get us through. So amateur!!

4. Mr B has picked up a bit of school-boy attitude already. He has amped up the cheekiness with us, and I have actually enjoyed it a little. It's been nice watching him spread his wings a bit. This week he has told Mr Laney off for being an 'angry pants', and has condescendingly patted me on the head for doing a good job drawing his latest monster for him.

5. Miss P's behaviour has dramatically improved with Mr B going to school. Now she has some space with me and the babies on the days she doesn't go to kindy. Poor little thing just needed a bit more one-to-one time with me I think. Or time to play on her own.

I'm spending the weekend getting a brilliant organisation system going so I can stay on top of the school stuff. I'm talking noticeboards, a filing system and a routine chart for Mr B. It's going to be a bit huge. It all starts with a trip to K-mart first thing in the morning.

How about you? How was back-to-school?

Have a great weekend everyone!

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Miss P and that injury - 4 things I learned

It was a big old last week for us at chez Laney. In a nutshell, we ended up back at hospital for Miss P to have her wounds stitched after being referred back there by our doctor. Apparently, the glue did not look like it had taken. I knew something wasn't quite right when the nurse took off the bandage. It looked too raw, like it had barely healed. It actually turned my stomach a bit.

So we packed a bag and prepared for the possibility of wound repair back at the hospital. It was a really long day/night but I'm so glad we were looked after and that Miss P will now heal nicely and with less of a scar.

And I learnt a lot. I learnt things that I kicked myself for not knowing about or asking about. But it's always nice to take home a lesson or two when you come through the end of something a bit arduous. Now I can pass it on to you, just in case you're ever in a similar place with one of your kids. Of course I hope you never need the following info. But just in case....

Here's 4 things I learned about our hospital experience:

1. Glue vs. stitches. I learned that there is a bit of debate amongst the medics about which treatment to use for lacerations. One side says that for deeper cuts, stitches are far more effective. Another opinion is that glue treatment avoids the trauma of having to put a child under general anaesthetic. All I know is that my much-trusted doctor was frustrated that they didn't just go with stitches in the first place. She said that because the deep cut had gone through muscular layers, the glue would have been compromised by the skin moving with facial expressions etc. This makes total sense to me. I wish I'd enquired more about it at the time with the hospital staff. I felt terrible having to drag Miss P back to hospital when she should have been well on the mend.

2. Plastic surgeons are like artists for the skin. When I watched the plastic surgeon assess Miss P's original, glued laceration, I imagined that for him, it was like seeing a drawing that had been coloured outside the lines. Don't you just love seeing someone who is passionate about their work? I was so relieved that he wanted to fix it, even though it meant having to go through the whole general anaesthetic ordeal. He said that if we left it like it was, it might take a long time to heal, be prone to infection, and leave a significant scar. It's times like these when I think, yes, plastic surgeons deserve all the money they make.

3. Going under. Initially, I was really nervous about Miss P going under a general anaesthetic. I thought I'd be in pieces about it. But I was surprised how calm I felt when it was all happening, Weird how the mind quickly adapts to things you think you can't handle. It all happened very quickly. One minute she was playing with the little mask they'd given her, chatting away about balloons, the next, her eyelids started to droop and then she was asleep. I say minutes, but it actually took about 12 seconds to fall asleep. It was actually quite sweet. Of course I still cried a little bit. But I didn't worry.

4. General anaesthetic rage. The anaesthetist told me that some small kids really freak out when they come to after being under a general. She said Miss P might cry more than usual and that I shouldn't be concerned if that happened. I thought, 'Hey, I'm used to Miss P and her noise'. Well. When they brought me to her just after she was roused, she was just starting to cry, which quickly progressed to all-out screaming. I held her in my arms, feeling really sorry for the other patients in the ward, while she screamed  'Mummy!' over and over again. All I could do was hold her and try to reassure her. Strangely, she had her eyes shut the whole time, as though she was still asleep. This lasted about 15 minutes and broke my heart a bit. Thankfully, we managed to quell her with a ride in the bed, cuddling up to me, back to the children's ward for recovery.

After a night in hospital for monitoring, we got to take our little Princess home the following morning. She is doing brilliantly now, and I am glad to have it all done and dusted. Life is all back to normal for us. Aside from me freaking out anytime someone in the house starts jumping/climbing or banging things about.

 I just wish they'd sit down more often. Stop running about, being all dangerous.

Monday, 2 February 2015

It's Savvy Monday! This week: Discipline!

Mr Laney says that our 3 and 5 year old run rings around me. I'm starting to think he might be right. I've always thought I was a 'firm but fair' parent: who doesn't take any shiz, but doesn't raise the roof about it either. I'm starting to think this way isn't working at the moment.

Miss P is the 3 year old. She is like all the other 3 year old girls I hear about: stubborn, defiant and ready for a screaming match at any moment. Big on tantrums.

Mr B is our 5 year old. He is actually a really good boy (don't all parents say that about their kids? I mean, who's going to say, 'Our boy Joe is actually a naughty little shite?'), but lately he's coming out with some boundary testers. And I'm sure I can expect worse when he starts school! He hates getting into trouble, and hates it when we get cross at him. But this didn't stop him telling me to 'go away!' this morning when I interrupted their play! How very rude!

I'm not a shouter. I don't see the point in adding to the noise in this place. But I need to refresh my techniques. I need to reset some boundaries.

So I went to one of my favourite parenting websites, Planning with Kids to see what Nicole had to say about discipline. I came across a couple of techniques she advocates for tantrums and for school age kids that I think could help me:

For tantrums: 'Bring them in close'

1. Explain in advance to your child about how you will react when they lose control of themselves. When you start this, you need to be consistently doing it for every episode that occurs.
2. When your child starts to 'lose it', bring them in close, maybe onto your lap, and tell them that you are going to help them calm down. Use as little talk as possible, explain that you are going to wait for them to calm down.
3. Once calm, let them go.

I'm going to try this tactic with Miss P as she responds really well to physical contact. She's always after a cuddle.  I wonder sometimes if she just needs some attention in our busy household (of mostly males) and that maybe her tantrums are a cry-out for this. It doesn't seem right to punish her for losing control of her emotions. I'm thinking, once she gets to the calm point, I can explain to her that her behaviour hasn't been ok with me and what I would prefer.

For older children: 'I feel' statements

1. This is basic assertiveness, and a great skill to model to kids. The theoretical form is:

When you (do such and such)
I feel (xxxx)
Because (my rights are being violated in this way).
So I could have said to Mr B:
“I feel hurt when you tell me to 'go away', because that is not a nice way to talk to people."
Only I would add another element to the statement by explaining what I would prefer in his behaviour, for example, a nicer way to communicate his 'wishes'.

I do wonder if this technique alone can curb future rude behaviour from Mr B, but I like that it is simple, gentle and respectful. Also, very simple, so must be worth a try!

If you haven't already, check out Planning with Kids, Nicole Avery is brilliant and helpful when it comes to organising the chaos of family life.

I will get back to you in the week about how I get on with these techniques. Wish me luck!

How about you? Got any tried and tested discipline techniques that encourage good behaviour in your house? I would love to hear about them!