Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Mum attempts ballet leap, wets self

Sometimes when days get crazy-making I get a bit cuckoo myself. On this day in question, Mr B was home from school due to a ‘sore tummy’ and so the five of us had been indoors all afternoon and things were starting to get a bit hairy. In a bid to change the mood, I switched off the TV and hunted for some soothing music, which turned out to be Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker, the only classical music I own and really love. 
The Nutcracker had the desired effect, and, buoyed by the relaxed atmosphere, I decided to try some comedic ballet moves that I'd seen Emma Wiggle do in her little show 'Emma!', which we'd watched about 7 billion times that day.
'Look at me! I'm Emma Wiggle!' I said to the kids, as I spun around, pointing my toes this way and that, my arms flinging around in what I believed to be graceful gestures. I've never done a ballet class in my life. But now I have Emma Wiggle to teach me. 'Wheeeeeeee!' I called out as I took a running jump and tried to twist around mid-air. I was about as limber as a giant panda bear.

With a weak pelvic floor, as it turned out.
I didn't exactly leak, but let me tell you: as I lurched into the air, I felt another undeniable lurch occur inside me that was very suggestive. Frighteningly so. I abruptly finished my dance and sat down, trying to remember how to do those pelvic floor exercises I should have been doing all this time.
I realised then that although me and my pelvic floor get on ok in most departments - I'm fine with laughing, mostly fine with sneezing (as long as I concentrate) and I can always hold on when I'm busting - it's certainly not what it used to be, thanks to the years I've spent pregnant.
So I added dancing to my list of Things I Can No Longer Do Because I Might Wee Myself. This list is based on harsh experience and educated judgement based on said experiences.

Here is what I have so far:
  • Play netball - thinking of all that twisting and leaping makes me shudder
  • Throw balls - it takes a fair lurch to send a ball though the air (or a toy up the stairs, as it was in this case)
  • Bounce on trampolines - this one's an educated guess. My bladder has virtually sent me a text message about this and told me not to attempt it
  • Run - small running spurts have proved an uncomfortable point
  • Martial arts - all those high kicks? I don't think so
  • Drink too much and fall about laughing - a certain hen's night springs to mind here
  • Sneeze without concentrating - way too many lessons have been had
  • Dancing that involves leaps - added to the list
Now in all honesty, I don't care much for running in the jogging sense, and I don't mind missing out on the martial arts or the trampoline bouncing. But I'd like to think I can play netball again someday, and I sure as hell don't want to say no to a few drinks and a belly laugh in the future.
So it's time to hit the pelvic floor exercises for me again. I've done them half-heartedly for years but as it turns out this is pretty ineffective when it comes to being physically active. And if I'm going to be running around after four kids for the next few years, it's time I paid better attention in this area. I want to be able to play tip with them, or a game of football. I want to beat their arses in running races ( I am VERY fast). These activities seems like a convenient way to get some decent exercise in the future as well as spend quality time with the kids. I'd hate to have sit these times out because...mummy has a headache (or some other made-up excuse because I'd be mortified to tell them the truth).
For those of you in the same boat as me, here is what we need to know (courtesy of www.continence.org.au):
  1. The pelvic floor muscle layer is like a muscular trampoline that stretches from our tailbone to our pubic bone. These muscles support the organs that rest on it, like the bladder, bowel and uterus.
  2. After pregnancy and childbirth, this muscular area can become weakened, but the pelvic floor can be trained, much like our arm or leg muscles.
  3. The pelvic floor muscles work in conjunction with the abdominal and back muscles to support your spine - so strengthening the floor will help your back and posture.
  4. The easiest way to find your pelvic floor is to attempt to stop the flow of urine when you're having a wee. You shouldn't do this too often, it's just an exercise to help you identify your pelvic floor muscles.
  5. Now that you know what you're supposed to be lifting and squeezing, it's time to put it in to practice! Lift and squeeze the muscles around your vagina and back passage (like you're trying to hold in wind and wee at the same time!). But don't squeeze your buttocks.
  6. Hold the 'lift' position for up to 8 seconds. Repeat this 8-12 times.
  7. Repeat this set 3 times a day.  
TIP: If you struggle to remember to do these sets, put up post-it notes or some of your kids stickers in places that you're always busy around, to remind you to do them - like the microwave or on the bathroom mirror. That way you can quickly do your set while you re-heat food or brush your teeth.
If you're not sure about what you're doing, or if your symptoms don't improve, see your GP or contact your physiotherapist for some more specific help. You don't have to put up with the problem, and you shouldn't feel embarrassed about it. 
We should all be able to dance for our kids without fear of wetting ourselves!

How about you? Are you way too acquainted with Emma Wiggle for your liking? Any activities that are 'off-bound' since you had kids?

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Saturday, 27 June 2015

Apparently it's the school holidays?

These school holidays have crept up on me, and I only realised they were arriving when people started asking me what I had planned for them. Hmm...four kids at home. Is 'day-to-day survival' an answer? Or 'keeping my head above water?' No? Too droll? How about 'Holy crap, I've got NOTHING PLANNED WHAT DO I DOOOOOO???'
Suffice to say, I've found it a tad hard to come up with what I'm actually doing these holidays. To be honest, I find it much easier coming up with what I won't be doing for the next two weeks. And let me tell you, the idea of that is a holiday in itself. A holiday for the brain...it's a braincation.

For example, I won't be:

Constantly washing the school shirt

For some reason, we've only got one winter school shirt. Actually that's misleading, there is a reason: we only have one shirt because I keep forgetting to go to the uniform shop to get another one. So we have to keep washing the one we have, several times a week to make sure it's wearable. You can imagine the frantic mornings at ours, wondering where it is and if it's dried overnight and WHERE IS IT ANYWAY??  It's all very dull. Because it could be avoided. Anyway, yesterday afternoon, I tossed the shirt and trousers into the laundry and gave them both the finger. See you in two weeks fellas.

Stifling yawns while we learn sight words

Is anyone else glad to give these a rest? I don't know about Mr B, but I definitely need a break from the coloured words. These got hard all of a sudden when we moved from saying them out loud to having to write them down to learn their spelling. This takes all sorts of efforts I have trouble mustering up most nights. Especially right before Mr B's bedtime, when I am picturing about seven things I would rather be doing. One of which comes in a glass.

Dealing with school mornings

I might have written a Morning Manifesto but that doesn't mean all mornings are perfect or that I enjoy the adrenaline of getting us out on time. I will be crazy-glad to give this one a rest. No more hunting for school socks! That reminds me, I must buy more socks...

Memorising designated days

No designated days for two weeks...bliss. No sports days or library days or mufti or jump rope for heart days - no more days for me to cover the front door in reminder post-it notes for. Man, it's going to be tough when all four of them are at school. How the heck will I keep up with all the days? I will be all over the mummy organiser blogs when that time comes.

Yanking babes from their sleep

Pick-up time is always when the babies are sleeping. I leave them sleeping until the last minute before yanking them from their slumber and thrusting them into their car seats while they're all sleepy-eyed, still wondering what's going on. For the next couple of weeks, these babies will be sleeping.

Wrangling Miss P away from the school playground

It's always a process: me, giving them 5 minutes to play after school. Me, announcing that it's time to go. Me, ignored. Me, asking Mr B to wait by the pram with the babies. Me chasing Miss P around the playground. Me, hunting for her shoes, that she's taken off and left somewhere. Me, trying not to use my stressy-high-pitched voice in public. It never gets old.

There. Holiday plans sorted. Sometimes it's more a case of what you won't be doing that makes the holiday, don't you think?

How about you? Got anything that you're deliriously happy about not doing for two weeks? Are you in need of a braincation?

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

13 Life truths I want my kids to understand

I'm by no means perfect at life, but I like to think I've learned a thing or two along the way about how to live respectfully and happily in this world. It's definitely an ongoing project, but it's one I want my kids on board with early on.

We all know that children are like sponges, absorbing what they see and hear in their environments, and copying what we do. It comes down to us to guide them in the right way. I think we have a huge responsibility in encouraging our offspring to be kind, generous and tolerant little humans, who can contribute positively to the world.

Here is what I've learnt to be important so far, and what I want my kids to know as they begin their journeys:

1. Say please and thank you

Manners matter at every occasion. Make politeness a habit and you'll stand out from the masses who forget to use theirs. The best bit is, using your manners helps you feel good and people will enjoy being around you too.

2. You don't know what happens behind closed doors

Don't waste time making assumptions about how other people are living their lives and why they're better or worse off than you. There is ALWAYS more to the story. Concentrate on your own backyard.

3. It's not helpful to judge

When we feel emotional, it's easy to cast a negative judgement about someone's behaviour. But try to walk in their shoes and consider their perspective. Being judgemental is unpleasant, and you may end up red-faced if you speak out of turn about someone and get put in your place.

4. Take the time to be kind

Be kind to your friends and go the extra mile when they're in need of support. Don't say 'Let me know if you need anything.' That's not friendship, that's a throw-off statement. True friends know what their mates need and do it without being asked.

5. Don't press send when you're angry 

Try your very best not to text or email when you feel emotional. It's highly likely you'll regret the intensity of your words, which can never be undone once they're written.

6. It's ok not to be good at some things

Enjoy the things that you are good at, and be open to learning more about the things you're not. Winning isn't everything. When you don't win, you get to reflect on your performance and plan differently for your next chance. Thinking things over is always a positive.

7. When someone apologises to you, say thank you

You don't always have to respond with 'It's ok'. Sometimes it's not ok if your feelings get hurt. But if the apology is heartfelt, saying 'Thank you' is a genuine way to accept the gesture and move on together.

8. Casual racism is not funny

It's vulgar, ignorant and plain rude. It's the same with homophobia and sexism. Saying something disgusting and then adding 'Just joking' does not make it innocent.

9. Be generous 

Enjoy sharing as though there is always more to go round. Learn about the charities that matter to you and do your bit to support them. You don't have to donate to everybody. Being generous doesn't mean giving more than you can afford.

10. Be curious about the world

Don't for one minute think that your immediate world is the only thing that matters. Travel the world, experience what it would be like to walk in someone else's shoes. Enjoy learning about the different cultures and beliefs that exist the world over.

11. Don't settle for 'good enough'

When it comes to your life, never feel like you can't achieve what you really want. Follow your passion and listen to your dreams -  they come true for some people, why not you? As long as you're prepared for hard work, roll up your sleeves and follow that rainbow.

12. Crying is healthy

In fact, all emotions are healthy. Don't let anyone try to tell you otherwise. The trick with feelings is making sure you deal with them effectively. Talking, writing, singing and drawing are all good ways to express yourself, as is having some quiet time on your own to reflect.  And yep, having a good cry is a fantastic way to release pent-up stress and sadness.

13. Listen to music

At the end of all things, there is music. Music is good for relaxing, motivating, dancing and singing. It's good for expressing anger, crying your heart out and exploring your soul. This is true throughout history and across the world. It kicks arse all over TV.

No way is this list exhausted! What would you add to it? Any important lessons you want your kids to know about being part of the world?

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Thursday, 18 June 2015

This umbrella comes with a story

How gorgeous is this umbrella? The bright red, the pretty frills...and what's not to love about Snow White? She's old school and is definitely the best dressed of the princesses. I also love that this umbrella stands out among all the princess pink and Frozen blue around at the moment.
There's actually a story behind it. It's a bit weird. But here goes.
When I was in my early twenties, which was...oh dear...about fifteen years ago, I went through an - ahem - 'alternative' phase. I was very into wearing vintage, flowing dresses, wore lots of glitter and hair clips, and plenty of green eye-shadow. I was also quite big on fairy folklore but let's not delve too much into that one, it all gets a bit full-on from here *reddens*.
Anyway, I moved from Sydney to England, where I settled in Norfolk for awhile. As you can imagine, they all thought the token Aussie with the weird slant on fashion and beliefs about fairies was a great novelty, so I settled in well there and made lots of very tolerant friends, some of whom were a bit on the alternative side themselves.  
At the local mall there was a Disney shop, which housed all the merchandise a child or indeed, a 20-something misfit like me could dream of. And this was where I found my Snow White umbrella, which I went on to use whenever it rained, bravely and proudly in the city streets of Norwich. It looked right at home with my vintage dress up and green eye-shadow.
I grew out of this phase later in my twenties. 'Phew!' you're probably thinking. Yeah, me too. Sort of.
So when it was time (and sometimes you just know when it's time, right?), I put my little umbrella aside and thought, 'Hey, maybe one day I'll have a little girl who can use this umbrella herself.' That was fifteen years ago. And it's been with me ever since.
It travelled home with me when I moved back to Australia, and it's gone from wardrobe to wardrobe in the different places I've lived since, waiting in the wings for its chance to shine again. I could never donate it or try to sell it. For all I know, this particular design isn't for sale anymore. Maybe it's worth something, but it really doesn't matter. This one has true sentimental value.
So here it is today. Fifteen years later, being used my very own little fairy. Who also loves a good dress-up session. Maybe she gets that from me?
*Disclaimer: I no  longer describe myself as 'alternative' or part of fairy folklore, and, while I love a good set of fairy wings, I partake in the wearing of these only in the privacy of my home. And when I do, it is strictly under the instructions of Miss P. Also, sometimes when Miss P is using glitter, it accidentally spills onto me , often in my hair or across my cheeks. It is very hard to get off. In which case I am forced to wear it, and yes it can look out of place on a 37-year old mother of four but at the same time I can't help but think it looks a bit pretty. Miss P agrees. 

Did you keep any relics from your past for your children to use? Got any fashion demons to face? And which Disney princess is your favourite (you know, if you had to choose one)? 

If you thought this post was interesting rather than bordering on the crazy-side, you can find me over on Facebook.  Come visit!

Monday, 15 June 2015

A different sort of weekend

As you've probably heard, over the weekend a few of us headed to the Kidspot Voices of 2015 Masterclass and launch events.  I have to say, I was giddy with excitement in the lead-up to this! The night before our flight down to Melbourne, I set four alarms to make sure I work up at 5.30am, ready for the early morning flight. And then I still work up at 4.30am, worried that I had missed the wake-up call!
It was a great day. Most of my weekends are like yours, probably - they revolve around children's parties, sport, grocery shopping and trying to get the washing sorted ready for Monday! So it was a welcome change to not give two hoots about any of that and jetset down to Melbourne for a weekend that was all about my interests!
Speaking of my interests, here is what really floated my boat on Saturday:

The journey

There's something about airports that is so exciting! There's such anticipation in the air. What made this trip even more fun was meeting up with my blogging friend Mumma McD from Toilets Aren't For Turtles, to travel down to Melbourne together. Lucky me, I got the window seat on the way down!

The Masterclass

Within minutes of us arriving, the first of the presentations began. Wow, talk about a learning fest! So many great speakers offered their experience, tips and encouragement. The highlight for me was hearing from four amazing bloggers, and while I loved learning from them (and took notes furiously) the best bit for me was getting to know the women behind these brilliant blogs. If you haven't heard of Miss Chardy, look her up, she has an amazing story and is hilarious!

The bloggers

Naturally, we were spoiled for choice when it came to bloggers to mingle with. I met some wonderful blogging folk, including Bec from The Plumbette, Caroline from Mama Raj Says, Lucy from Bake Play Smile, and I finally got to meet Michaela from Not Another Slippery Dip in person. But the blogger that made the biggest impression on me was Em from Have A Laugh On Me for her gorgeous, down-to-earth friendliness (and her willingness to talk about kids!).

The lunch

I was starving when lunch came around and happily stuffed myself with the yummy food from the buffet. I am really bad with hunger and loss of concentration so I didn't want the pangs to ruin things for me later on! Thanks Kidspot!

The announcements

Finally, the moment that everyone had been waiting for arrived. I was a bundle of nerves by this point, waiting to hear the Top 100 announced officially in front of all these people. And when The Laney Files was called out, alongside all these other amazing blogs, I was completely overwhelmed. Embarrassingly, I got a bit teary! It was the nerves!! Luckily, Mumma McD was on hand to give me a hug and tell me to get over it. And to pass over a fresh glass of bubbles! You can see the full list of finalists here.

The drinks

Hell yeah! The gorgeous bar kept the glasses topped up and the waiters circled the room with food to make sure we kept our stomachs lined....unfortunately my nerves had travelled from my head down to my stomach, which refused to let any food in, so I went ahead and got quite lubricated indeed.

How cool is this pic?? Mumma McD, you are very talented!

All in all, we had a great time, and while we wished there'd been more time to get out and about in Melbourne, we were desperate to get back to the family by Sunday morning.

Thanks again for reading my blog and supporting me in this journey. I really appreciate it!

Did you get to the Masterclass? Are you going to Problogger??

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Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Dear Sleep Deprivation: We're finished

the end of sleep deprivation

Dear Sleep Deprivation,

This is the end of the road for you and me. We both know it's no longer working between us. For a long time, it was like I had no choice but to keep you in my life, but now that the twins are sleeping through the night, there's no place for you here anymore.

Yep, that's right, I'm taking my sleep back and it's time you hit the road - we're finished. It's been a long and emotional journey, and  to be honest, I can't believe I've actually survived this long with you in my life. You're not exactly a healthy companion. Getting by on broken sleep for eighteen months has been an eye-opener, in a very non-literal way. And I've finally seen the light.

Look, don't be upset, we can stay in touch. You'll be back in the future. We both know this. When someone's sick or having bad dreams, I'll lose sleep again for a night or two and I'm sure you'll be there, tapping me on the shoulder. But we'll never be close again, not like we have been this past year or so.

I think it's time I was honest with you.

You see, it's been a reluctant relationship on my part. You've always wanted more from me than I wanted to give. Sure, there's been days, weeks even, where we've been like bosom buddies. Like two peas in a pod. But I've always had my eye on your friend, the one they call Decent Sleep. And Decent Sleep can offer me so much more than you, like clear thinking and energy for living. All you've given me is brain mush and unpredictable emotions. And big, cavernous shadows under my eyes that refuse to be hidden, even with industrial-strength concealer.

In truth, there are some things I'll miss about you.

In your own torturous way, you offered me quality time with my babies. So I should thank you for all those late night, long-lasting cuddles with them. I can't fault you on providing me with those times. Though I don't know why in the end you thought I needed them for HOURS AT A TIME. To be honest, this is where I started questioning our relationship. But thanks, anyway. I guess I can also thank you for the extended breastfeeding opportunities.

I can also thank you for refining my taste for coffee. Never again will I waste my time or money on shit coffee. I've learnt which cafes make the good stuff, and which ones to avoid at all costs. I've become so regular at my favourite places, they know the names of all my kids. Thanks to you, my morning coffee ritual is the cornerstone of every day and kind of borders on the addictive side.

Lastly (because let's face it, this was never going to be a long list), thank you for making me appreciate the sweetness of real, proper sleep. And the thought of my actual bed, actually being in a horizontal position in my bed - well, I'd be lying if I said I didn't feel weirdly sensual about it.

Anyway, that's it. That's all I'll miss about you. I won't miss feeling bone-tired and run-down. I won't miss being unable to follow complex sentences or feeling like I've got cotton wool for a brain. I won't miss the desperation for caffeine or the unsavoury mood swings.

So long, Sleep Deprivation. It's been...nice. Look, I don't want to be rude, but can you see yourself out? I've got Decent Sleep arriving any minute and I don't want any awkward scenarios.

Take care - we'll catch up some day...no, no, I'll call you.

Yours Truly,


Do you need to break up with sleep deprivation? And if you're finished with being sleep-deprived, what was it like to finally get some sleep? Am I going to feel like a new woman? Will my brain ever work properly again??

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Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Hi, we're the Disgustingtons - pleased to meet you!

Sometimes social occasions are way more hard work than they need to be. Especially when you decide to bring your kids along.

On the weekend, our neighbours, who live in the same row of townhouses as us, put on a garden tea party for everyone in the street to get to know each other. I decided to bring along Mr B and Miss P, while Mr Laney stayed home with the sleeping twins. Being late in the day, I was looking (and feeling) a bit dishevelled. The BB cream had long since evaporated and my hair was a frizzy mess. As I ushered the kids out the door, I caught sight of the snot marks on my left shoulder, courtesy of Baby J earlier in the day. But as usual we were running late and I had no time for a clothes change, so I shrugged it off and decided I was fine with the 'casual' look for the occasion.

We all looked a tad scruffy, if I'm honest. Mr B was in his oldest shorts and t-shirt, his hair wild and overdue for a cut. Miss P's messy plait had all but come undone, so that most of her hair was dangling in her face. They reminded me of Jeremy and Jemima from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

Oh well, I thought. At least we were charming.

We headed two doors down to the little garden party that had been set up and instantly my kids got involved. Mr B started showing everyone his school scrap book and Miss P ran off to explore the garden. See? Charming. I started chatting to the neighbours, one of whom was heavily pregnant, and gorgeously so.

You know those pregnant women that just look fabulous in maternity clothes? This woman was one of them. And to top if off, she was French. For some reason that made her seem even more fabulous. Next to her, I felt VERY aware of the snot on my shoulder. But despite feeling massively scruffy in her company, I wanted to talk babies and gush over her bump. I was sure that I could pull off the casual and carefree look next to her glamorous one.

But did I mention I brought my children with me?

Before I got far into the conversation, I realised I couldn't see or hear Miss P anymore. I went to search and realised in a panic that the back garden led to the garage, which was wide open to the street. I ran out to check for her but could see nothing. Then Mr B called me from inside the house to say he'd found her upstairs, using the bathroom. Because this was another townhouse with the same layout as ours, she'd been able to find it on her own.

'I'm having a wee, mummy!' she called out cheerfully, as I ran up to her.

She was sitting on the toilet, completely naked, her clothes in a little pile on the floor next to the toilet....right beside the big puddle of wee.

Crap! It was a toileting situation in someone else's house! And they didn't have small children! I panicked, wondering what to do first. Smuggle the naked child and her wet clothes out of the house and back to our place? Too conspicuous. Leave them both there and run back for the clothes myself? Way too risky.

In the end, I had my phone, so I called Mr Laney and arranged for him to send some clothes back with Mr B, who could run out to collect them. This worked out easily enough, given we were only two doors down. Although on his return he did go into the wrong townhouse, which had us both running in and out of houses looking for each other, while Miss P stood naked in the neighbour's bathroom. It was all a bit Benny Hill.  I hastily got Miss P dressed, cleaned up the mess with toilet paper and soap, handwashed the bit of floor mat that had wee on it and scooped up the soaking wet clothes to deliver back home, all without any of the neighbours noticing the drama.

With that fire put out, I decided that Miss P was too much of a liability, and was getting in the way of me talking babies with the glamorous pregnant woman, so I bribed her with a biscuit and took her home. But it turns out that Mr Laney was having his own struggles with the twins, because as he opened the door and let me usher Miss P in, he handed over Baby A, claiming that he needed his mum (he actually used a couple of other words here).

Damn, I thought. This twin still had his pyjamas on from the night before. We really weren't presenting ourselves in the best light here. I checked his Wondersuit - sure enough, there was still porridge from breakfast all down his front. Oh well. At least he wouldn't show us up.

Back we went to the garden party, where I attempted to park myself and Baby A next to the glamorous pregnant lady. But Baby A was having none of it, wrestling off my lap and heading off for an explore in the nearby dirt. I watched him with dismay before realising that the pregnant woman didn't really seem that bothered about making conversation with me anyway.

Sigh. I felt like an advertisement for 'what happens when you have four children'. Answer: you become the Disgustingtons. There's no sense trying to mix it up with the stylish folk when you're coming off like this.  In any case, when Baby A started picking up banana bread from the ground (which had probably been dropped there by my kids) and eating it, I knew it was time to call it a day on the socialising front. We were just not going to pull this one off today.

It was time for the Disgustingtons to go home. I didn't mind. We might be scruffy at times, and sure, toilet training sometimes goes awry at our place. But we were charming in BUCKETLOADS.

And that counts for so much more, don't you think?

Ever been to a social occasion where your kids have shown you up? Do you find it hard to have a decent conversation with people when you've got your kids with you? Ever felt that you couldn't measure up to a someone 'glamorous'?

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