Wednesday, July 28, 2010

I'm in love

..with this new blog I found, Pioneer Woman. It's amazing, so funny, and full of great stuff. And the writer is a city girl turned homeschooling mum of four living on a ranch. There are some great recipes too, I'm making this Pasta with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce on Friday night for dinner. You will love it, I promise.

This week I'm also loving:
- Layla's questions about robbers, God, whether we are allowed to talk on mobile phones in the car and "Mummy, how do you write dot com dot au?"
- this real life Summer Table Settings, some gorgeous inspiration in the thick of our Australian winter
- this Printable Alphabet Bunting - beautiful colours. Just click, print and cut.
- watching all the differences emerge in these three girls

- our Sunday night garden bonfire with toasted marshmallows

Hope you've got some lovin this week

Friday, July 23, 2010

Etsy love

As I mentioned, I have a hankering for the country. You'd be shocked if you knew me to hear me say that. You see, I am an unabashed creature of comfort. My love for glossy magazines and a spot of shopping is well known. But now that I'm a little older, and a mother of three children, a part of me yearns for the simplicity of the country, the clean air and the lack of distractions here in the city.

I'm pleased to say we are getting closer to realising this little dream of ours. But in the mean time, I have started a little stock pile of sweet, gorgeous and things for this country patch of ours.

Where from? Etsy of course.

These little babies are on their way to me, as I type. Aren't they lovely? They make me want to snuggle in the couch with a cup of tea and a magazine. (A girl can dream can't she?)


Heart Pillow, from Olive

Colorful Afghan Blanket, from AtelierAfra

Coaster, from AtelierAfra


Monday, July 19, 2010

Fabric Wreath

Image from Ready 2 Quilt via Etsy
I am daydreaming of a little place in the country, and while biding some time on Etsy the other day, came across this lovely little fabric wreath. My first thought was, "oooooooh I want it!', quickly followed by, 'Hang on, I think even I could make that!'.

After googling 'fabric wreath', I found this easy tutorial. I do have some fabric from my shortlived (ahem) stint with my sewing machine, and once I find a wreath frame, am going to give this a go. I love the idea and look of a wreath on a door.

See what you think....

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Some fun

Image from Made by Joel

Here's something so fun and simple you could do with your kids - and best of all, you only need to click and print and your own little paper city is ready to colour in and make. It's from Made by Joel's blog and it's a gorgeous little paper city he created. I've never seen a dad quite like him! What a blog (bordering on depressing) - full of the MOST creative things this dad makes for his twin toddlers.

Thanks Meri for the link to Made by Joel's. My lovely friend Meri has a great blog too, called Meri Cherry, full of fun crafty stuff to do with kids.

Hope your weekend is fun and relaxing (ish).

Thursday, July 15, 2010

No banana bread today

Ever have those weeks where you hear so much bad news around you, it makes you really stop and think. It shakes you, makes you hug your kids a bit tighter, or go back in after you've said goodnight to say 'I love you' again?

A terrible accident involving a young teenager from my girls' school, and some I discovered in the blog world. Well, it just seems a little trivial today to be posting about banana bread or dress ups. I'll leave you the links so you can read yourself. One involves a gorgeous mum called Marija whose blog, Holding Court, is about design, family and interiors. Suddenly her husband has posted informing his wife's readers that his wife has been killed in a car accident two days earlier.

At the very least, these terrible things always make me stop, take a breath and appreciate what we have. Our health, our family, our little sweet people and a pretty good life. And knowing that what seems to be so steady, even mundane at times, can be turned upside down in an instant. So, hug each other a little tighter, say your I love you's and be happy.

Wishing you only happy days.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Best tips for surviving (and maybe even enjoying) school holidays

It's the night before we go back to school, and I always give myself a little (invisible) toast - you made it! I always get to this point with the same mixed feelings - relief and anticipation of some time to myself again, a sense of accomplishment that we had a mostly (I say, MOSTLY) nice time, and a little 'aawwwwww I'll miss them tomorrow' (quickly replaced by my brain working to create 10 lists of things I'd like to get done tomorrow).

We travelled, swam, saw, explored, rode, flew, drew, painted, made, read, sculpted, cooked, ate, snacked and most importantly, PLAYED.

Here's my top tips for getting through school holidays:

1. Planning
Firstly, plan ahead. A few weeks before the holidays, look online or in your local children's magazines for shows, workshops or activities you want to do with your kids. Book tickets to what you want early. Once you've done that, you have a loose schedule to work around. Spread out your activities so you have some quiet days interspersed with the busier ones.

2. Surrender
Accept that for the next few weeks, your time to 'get things done' is being suspended. In fact, you can kiss your 'me' time away for the time being. You simply cannot get as many errands done as normal. I always feel like a kindergarten teacher during the holidays (but without the lunch break). Your focus has to be on the kids. Having a quiet cup of tea and making dinner is sometimes it for the day.

3. Stock up
Before every holidays start, I go to my local art and craft shop and stock up on supplies we need, plus some extra things that will be fun for the girls. Paint, new textas, paper, glue, glitter etc. I do a tidy up of the play room so things are more easily accessible and bring out some old stuff that hasn't been played with for a while.

4. Get inspired
Use the internet for easy, quick printables when you need to give your kids something to do. Colouring in pages, word mazes for older kids, dot to dots - these are all great. I source these in the evenings and keep them in a little folder when needed.

5. TV is your friend
During holidays, when the days can seem awfully long and the kids can get a little sick and tired of doing stuff or being home by afternoon, or to keep older kids quiet while little ones nap, there is nothing, and I mean, NOTHING wrong with some TV. I'm not talking about hours in front of the TV, but an hour here or there will restore a little calmness and can give you a chance to have some peace and quiet too. (My older girls love The Parent Trap, Mary Poppins, Toy Story and Annie.)

6. Make some time for yourself
This is critical. I have found some time away from my kids always rejevunates and refreshes me, and that makes me a better Mum(my). Use a 15 year old neighbour, family, babysitter, whatever you can afford. It will be good for everyone. Plus, I'll admit, being with your kids all day every day can be boring sometimes. Go for a walk, go to the supermarket, whatever just GET OUT!

7. Keep some perspective
Know this is only temporary. We all have bad days where the kids drive each other and us nuts. I've had days where I've felt like the worst mother in the world, shouting at her kids and just not 'feeling it'. We all have those days. Try to stay positive, keep it light and fun. Know this is all normal and part of motherhood. I still feel lucky to be able to be home with my kids and to be making their childhood memories with them.

Hope you have managed these holidays too and had some fun along the way.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Stuff to do at home

I am loving all the kids art and craft activities all over the wonderful American blogs I read - isn't it funny that half way across the world, other mums are also doing the universal 'gotta keep my kids busy scramble' during their long summer break while us mums in Australia are doing the same in our mid year (but shorter) winter break.

Here is a lovely blog I found by an American mum of five now living in Israel, called Creative Jewish Mom. We'll be trying the homemade watercolours tomorrow.

My girls were content today doing our old favourite, making playdough, and then cutting and pasting pictures from old magazines and catalogues. A no brainer.

A lengthy kiddie disco ensued after dinner (although it was rather testing to wind Yasmin back DOWN) which was fun - and I got to play my favourite music (with one Chicken Dance request).

Hope you are having a little peace during these busy times.

And to paraphrase a quote (because, um, I couldn't remember where I read it...)

Life with young kids can be summed up - the days are long but the years are short.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

There's no place like home

We flew in today and it's sooo good to be home. I always love coming home if it's been 2 days or 2 weeks away.

We had a (mostly) fun week away, lots of swimming and sunshine which is a real treat in the middle of winter. Travelling with three young kids is a continual juggling act - it's regular toilet stops, snacks, drinks, sunscreen etc - you get it. They can also melt down pretty quickly after a day playing in the pool but we are always prepared with early dinners and a couple of DVDs from home to give everyone time to rest.

One highlight of our trip Yasmin made a friend from Sydney at our hotel in Bali and they swapped addresses after I explained to her what a pen pal is. Cute. 

I always really clear my brain on holidays and use my empty headspace to think about things I want to achieve when we get home (hellooooo Extreme Makeover!) and do some mental planning. This time I continued to mull our choice of school for our kids (hmmmm), how to be healthier and some fun things we can do at home. I've been reading that although school is important, we shouldn't forget that kids really get their grounding and values from home. This is something we all need to hear sometimes because we can all get a little too caught up in day to day running around, playdates, TV etc, but it's good to be ask ourselves - what am I teaching my kids at home?

One thing I thought of after reading Steady Days which will help fill those sometimes dreadful afternoons after school is to make a Country Board. This will involve a simple bulletin style board where we can hang up any artwork, drawings, words or pictures related to that particular country. After the girls will choose a country, we will do fun little stuff like drawing that country's flag, learn a couple of words, some very basic customs and  of course, try the local style food . This is all easily available online and I think this will be fun for all of us. As I've mentioned before, we have several books about kids living around the world, and this as well as their travels has given them a real interest in places around the world.

We had some serious sleep deprivation today after our overnight flight but as we are still in school holiday mode it's not such a big deal. This week we the girls have a couple of shows - Luigi Zucchini at the Melbourne Magic Festival in Northcote (random!), Circus Oz, a magic workshop at Gasworks and a local production of The Magic Hat. In between that will be a trip to our local Prahran Market (my favourite place to food shop) and continued generalised chaos and malarkey.

In the mean time, please drool with me at this gorgeous kid's pencil scarf (not to mention the rest of the items) I spotted in the recent edition of LMNOP, an online kids style mag.