Thursday, 31 December 2015

The year that was 2015

I figured I should probably do a post where I discuss everything that was 2015. Unfortunately for me my memory is based purely on what I can find on my Facebook news feed (thank's mummy brain) so that's actually a tricky thing to do.

A lot happened this year that I just didn't bring up here, parts because it was too hard (or against the law) to discuss on such a public medium, and others I simply didn't know if it was even worth mentioning. I'll talk about some of it here now, simply because these things made up such a large part of me during the year, and because you're all such wonderful friends I feel I should share them with you.

The first and best thing I did all year was start writing again after taking 12 months away from blogging. I had gotten to the point in February of last year where I really didn't know what I wanted this place to be. I'd spent a lot of time crawling around a frightening website called Get Off My Internet, where readers would spend all their time slamming bloggers from around the world, including some that I absolutely loved. A lot of their vitriol was aimed at "mommy bloggers" which terrified me at the time because that was what I identified as, and the thought of being the target of their disgust paralysed me whenever I tried to write. I spoke to some of them, to try to understand what made mommy bloggers so hated, and thankfully I seemed to be avoiding the biggest pitfalls of the genre, but that didn't really make me want to write any more. So I walked away for a while, spent some time not writing at all, deciding whether I was really prepared to be such a large target, and also questioning what I wanted this place to be. It was a chance conversation with the wonderful Tamara over at Confessions of a Part-Time Working Mom that got me to dust off my keyboard and come back here. She was so encouraging at the time, and I consider her a great friend, despite the fact that there are several thousand kilometres separating us.

The other friendship I got to rekindle once I came back to blogging was my friendship with the indefatigable Karen over at Baking in a Tornado. She is a huge tube of glue for a large group of us bloggers, and she has managed to create a wonderful community full of welcoming and supporting people, all of whom I love.  I am actually going to be doing a guest post over at Karen's website early next year, so you need to keep an eye out for me over there, where I attempt to be a food blogger for the day. You won't be disappointed, I promise. Karen has had her own struggles this year, but through it all she has supported me through everything I am about to discuss, we have had lots of late night email conversations where we commiserate the state of our respective lives and try to prop each other up. She is one of the most beautiful souls I have ever had the privilege to know.

But it wasn't all rainbows and smiles this past year. There were lots of hard moments, times when I wondered the point of continuing anything, and times I even broke for a little while. I quit my job at the beginning of October, and have been living an incredibly hobo-esque life ever since. I found it became too hard to balance a job and my life as a parent, and my health began to suffer. Although life has become slightly harder to afford since I gave up work, I still don't regret my decision, and feel it may have been the best thing I could have done. At this stage I have no plans to work until Miss K starts school in 2017

 I had several significant fights with Miss K's dad, we attempted mediation, and nearly ended up suing the pants off each other for custody of Miss K. Luckily we managed to get past all of the horrible fights and hurt feelings, and we've even managed to draw up joint consent orders without having to spend $40,000 on lawyers fees. We come to the end of the year at an albeit slightly tenuous position, but reunited in our attempts to parent Miss K the best way we both can.  It hasn't been a smooth road for my little family, and we're still trying to paper over all the cracks we've created this year, but I have hope for us. I may discuss the process we went through next year, just to share with any of you who are dealing with your own custody battles, because whatever you're going through, you're never alone.

But through all the tears, the smiles, the fights, the boredom and the frustration I have felt incredibly blessed. I can't say this was the best year of my life, because that can only mean it's all down hill from here, but despite all the crap, it was a good year. I feel stronger than ever before, and I have faith that I can cope with whatever 2016 has to throw at me.

So I will definitely be back next year, I promise no more holidays for me, and hopefully there will even be some growth around here in the new year. This website has already become more than I ever thought it could be when I first started it three years ago, and I thank every company that gave me an opportunity to speak for them this year. Hopefully there will be more opportunities to come, so stick around and see where we end up.

Happy New Year.

Sunday, 27 December 2015

How to survive the post-holiday slump

Hello to all my wonderful readers, you may have noticed I fell off the radar again this month. Once I finally got over all of my various illnesses, (except for the conjunctivitis Miss K so kindly shared with me two weeks ago) I discovered the silly season was well and truly upon us, and I needed to get my ample bottom into gear to get ready for the celebrations. I'm sure you'll all appreciate how crazy things get around this time of year, so even if I did attempt to write anything, it would have come out as a crazed stream of consciousness, complete with rambles about tinsel and presents for a family of 15. But now with the endless stream of parties and gift giving ceremonies almost behind us for another year, I sit here eating what's left of the plum pudding in an empty room, wondering to myself now what?

We hosted Christmas at my house this year, and in a stroke of what I can only call pure insanity, mum decided the party needed to be beach themed this year. So I spent a crazed week crawling through Pinterest trying to find beach themed decor I could do on a budget of free hugs and my most charming smile, and managed to cobble together a beach themed party that even a mermaid couldn't fault. Then our annual Boxing Day party got moved from my big sister's house to our house at the last minute due to inclement weather, and the fact that we have a larger living space to accommodate all of the slightly larger bodies thanks to the feast we put out the day before, so we ended up having two parties in two days at our house. On top of that I spent three hours building a kitchen for Miss K at 9pm Christmas Eve, went shopping every single day for a week for more Christmas essentials, and also cleaned the house so that we weren't shamed by the fact that for 364 days of the year we live like someone from an episode of Hoarders, Buried Alive. So sitting here now, with nothing to do is kind of hard to do. Add to that the fact that Miss K has now gone to Melbourne for a week to have Christmas with her father and his family, and I am as lost as a one legged man in a butt kicking contest. So I have decided to share with you some of the techniques I have learned over the years to get over the post-holiday blues that always hit at this time of year, to help you guys achieve the balanced calm I so clearly show on a daily basis.

Me on a good day

Go shopping
Now that gift giving season is over, you really have no reason to go shopping, but that is exactly why you should get out now, more than ever. Beside getting to take advantage of the opportunity to return any practical gifts that well meaning long distance relatives bought you at the last minute so they didn't show up at your house empty handed, you can witness human beings at their absolute worst, thus making you appreciate your empty house and it's lack of festive feelings all the more. The long line of customers all coming to complain about the over priced child's toy that broke five minutes after being removed from it's packaging only makes you love your own family all the more, because they aren't that obnoxious man at the front of the line loudly proclaiming that this is the last time he shops at this particular store. 

Clean up your house
You've just spent the last month complaining that if you stepped on another bauble the whole tree was going into the bin, so now is the time to make good on your promise. Pull down the tinsel, drag every strand of angel hair out of your carpet, and throw all of it in the bin (or into storage if you can't stand the thought of having to replace it all again in ten months time). The sight of you going into a cleaning craze will send your children running outside just in case you get the bright idea to give them any jobs to do of their own, so now is the perfect time to "lose" any of the irritating noise makers or cheap plastic toys they were given by the same well meaning relatives who thought a life time supply of micro fibre cloths was the perfect gift for you at the same time. This is also a good time to search for any stashes of chocolates the kids have hiding in their rooms, and add them to your own stash of chocolate hidden in your bedroom. You need the sugar more than they do, as you're the one who spends your life chasing after them trying to get them to act like civilized human beings. 

Put on some tunes and dance alone in your living room
Just because the party season is over, doesn't mean you need to pack away your best moves for another year. The lack of audience apart from your children is irrelevant, as you can always embarrass them, no matter the time of year, so get your boogie on and keep the party going as long as you want it to. If you didn't get to do the Nutbush this year because you got vetoed at the last second by someone wanting to do the Whip Nae Nae (whatever the hell that is) then put that song on repeat and Nutbush until you can't move any more. You deserve it after all the hard work you've put into these holidays.

Eat all the party food in the house
If you were too busy to eat during Christmas because you were hosting the party, now is the time to get yourself a big plate of whatever is left over and eat it in front of every one. Diets are for the first day of January anyway. I personally like to buy two plum puddings, simply because I am a horrible pig who doesn't like to share my food, so I always have enough pudding to last me several weeks once all the parties are done with. I don't need to buy any breakfast or lunch foods for ages now because I spent an extra $4 a week ago. That's not only smart, it's economical. 

Start getting ready for the next big celebration now
If you've been bitten by the party bug but Valentines Day is too far away from you, get on Google now and find another holiday closer to today you can prepare for. For Australians, Australia Day is always a good one, as it falls on 26th January, meaning there is plenty of time still left to start preparing our barbeques and best Australian Flag decorated party supplies for the big day. For something even closer again, check out Earth Calendar which tells you exactly what you can celebrate every single day of the year. For example today is St Stephens day in Bulgaria. So if that is enough reason for you to party, get out your best duds and celebrate St Stephen as only you can. 

If all else fails, get into your pyjamas and go back to bed. 

Well that should be enough to get you through the next few days, so if you'll excuse me, it is currently the Stanley Sports Day in the Falkland Islands so I'm off to hit a tennis ball against a wall to honor this special day. 

Monday, 21 December 2015

Book Review - Catch that Cat

So it has been a long time since I have reviewed a product, but I was contacted with an offer I couldn't refuse a couple of weeks ago, so here we are again.

Now I preface this review by saying I love reading. I remember weekly trips to the library being a special occasion when I was a child, and I have passed that love of reading on to Miss K, as the two bookshelves that take up her bedroom wall will attest. Every night I MUST read her a story before she goes to bed, then she MUST take five books with her to bed. So when I was asked to review a new children's book by Australian author Melina Mallos I jumped at the chance. I was not disappointed.

When I agreed to review the book I was told it was an exploration of Greek culture as well as the rich history of the country, a subject I would have thought difficult to sell to children, but this book just showed how little I know about selling a subject to kids.

The story follows Elesa, a little girl whose cat Aphrodite has run away from home. Her and her Yiayia (grandmother for anyone who has never met a Greek person) must travel around the Greek island of Kythera, passing many historic locations as well as places of cultural importance while searching for their lost cat. Now because this is a children's book and not Marley & Me the cat does end up returning home, but not before you learn all about this beautiful island and it's amazing history.

The story was very easy to read, and more importantly it was easy for Miss K to understand. Before we started reading the book I explained how the story was set in a totally different country to Australia, and we looked at a map of Greece, and the island of Kythera which was included inside the front cover of the book. This part fascinated Miss K, and she spent ages pouring over the map, following the cat's footsteps around the island.

The books illustrations, drawn and painted by a talented Athenian Tety Solou were simply spectacular and only added to the total appeal of this book. Miss K and I spent ages staring at each page, simply trying to take in as much of every scene as we could. It took us about ten minutes to read the book the first time around, not because it was too wordy, but because we had to stop every page just to stare.

One of Miss K's favourite pages

After we finished the book the first time, Miss K insisted we go back to the beginning and read it again, discussing everything we noticed on each page as we went. I have never seen Miss K this excited about a book, which is saying something. She even insisted this book be read to her again that night at bedtime. To date I have had to read it to her another three times, and my sister has had to read it to her once. It is definitely a new favourite.

The beautiful thing about this book is that Melina's pride for her home country is evident in every page, so much so that you can't help but feel you are right there with Elesa and her Yiayia. Her reverence for the culture and historical significance Greece holds comes through strongly, and helps bring Greece into your home. It is excellent for teaching children about the world around them in a relatable and fun way.

My favourite page

So if you're looking for a new book to buy for a little one in your life, I definitely recommend Catch that Cat by Melina Mallos. You can find it for sale here.

Thursday, 17 December 2015

When Should Kids Lose their Baby Teeth?

Hello again lovely people, I am back with another guest writer here to share their expertise with us today. You may have noticed that all my posts lately seem to be guest written, and I'm sure some of you are wondering if I'm getting lazy in my old age. While that fact is inarguable, the truth of the matter is I have been dealing with a slew of health issues over the past few weeks, all of which have made sitting in front of a computer screen for long periods of time near impossible. Luckily for me I have had a number of incredibly generous people contact me recently offering to contribute articles for you guys to read, meaning I have had the luxury of being able to take this time off to recover properly. I promise I will be back to inflicting my own special brand of crazy on you guys very soon, but in the mean time I have a dentist here to discuss when children should lose their baby teeth. Please enjoy.

The Great White Shark has endless rows of teeth that fall out, grow in, and repeat all throughout its life. It never has to brush its teeth or worry about flossing. If it loses a tooth in the process of taking down a seal it only has to wait a little while for a new one to snap into place as replacement.

Humans? We aren’t so lucky. People only get two sets of teeth, and one of those will be entirely gone by our early teens. For kids, losing this first set of “baby teeth” is tremendously exciting: for parents it can be a nervous wait. Some parents may start to get worried if they think the process is taking a bit too long, or is happening too quickly for comfort. So what is the right time for your kids to start dropping their teeth all over the place?

We may not have endless teeth but at least we have a nicer smile

That’s not such an easy question to answer precisely, however a good rule of thumb to go by is that as long as they’re over four years old and under eight, then they’re of the right age to start losing their teeth. The process will most likely be completely over by around thirteen or so.

Some kids, girls especially, will be early bloomers and lose their first baby teeth around four years old. This is nothing to worry about, even if to you it may feel like just yesterday that their baby teeth were coming in. The first teeth to go will most likely be the front four incisors. The bottom two typically go first followed by their counterparts up top. The next to go are the lateral incisors, followed by the molars and finally the canines.

The actual process of the tooth loss should be relatively painless and issue free. There’s no need to try and force a tooth to fall out before its time, even if it’s very loose. The old piece of string tied to a doorknob trick can be well and truly left alone. The most active participant in the process will probably the kid themselves, as they wiggle the loose tooth around with their tongue or fingers. When the tooth falls out it will soon be replaced by a strong, healthy example of an adult tooth, which is where the real work begins. These teeth are the last any of us will get in our lifetime, so it’s critical to ensure that proper dental care begins immediately.

There are a couple of situations that may be cause for a little concern should they arise. Sometimes, trauma to a baby tooth may cause it to fall out early. If this happens, there’s a possibility that the teeth surrounding it will try to move into the empty space, forcing the adult teeth to grow in crooked. If you notice your child has lost a tooth before time, a dentist might decide it's good idea to place a temporary spacer in the gap to keep it open for it’s adult tooth.

Another possibility, if your child hasn’t lost any baby teeth by age eight, is that extra bone in the jaw may be preventing them from loosening. If your child is getting on a bit in age and hasn’t lost their baby teeth yet it’s no reason to throw a fit in panic: simply take them along to the dentist for a checkup. The dentist might decide to take an X-Ray to determine any possible issues, and the problem (if there is one) can be addressed from there.

In general, the transition from baby to adult teeth is a painless one for children as well as parents. In fact, most kids will be nothing but excited about the wiggling teeth and the possibility of the tooth fairy coming around. In very rare cases something may go awry, which is why organising regular checkups with your dentist from the time your child’s baby teeth first erupt is so important. Nipping any problems in the bud is the key to ensuring great oral health into adulthood.

This article was written by Malouf Dental a local Tingalpa and Cannon Hill Dentist. Malouf Dental take expert care on Children's dental.

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Discover Different Ways To Encourage Play Time in Children

Having time to play is an essential part of childhood and growing up. It is part of our roles and responsibilities as parents to provide our kids with an environment that encourages play time, creativity and independence.
However, it’s very easy to just leave the kids to it instead of using strategies that foster and promote play time. It’s important to encourage them to play independently, as our ever busier lives can leave children bored and disappointed, turning to the easy act of watching TV programmes or playing computer games that may not be the most appropriate for their social and mental development.

So, how can we encourage play time in children?

Allow Play Time Every Day
Just as we make sure that your children have enough time to sleep, do their homework or study, we can set aside some time to play each day. Whether they play with their cars or make a delicious meal for their dolls, disguise as indians or play a board game, it’s got great benefits if we can allow our children to just enjoy themselves and relax from their daily responsibilities and duties.

Experiences Mean Everything!
Children recreate experiences or activities they performed and enjoyed somewhere else when they use imaginative play. Thus, one of the simplest ways to encourage children to play and be creative is by providing them with diverse and meaningful experiences as regularly as possible. Make a family visit to the zoo or include your children next time you have to take the car to the car-wash service or enjoy a family picnic in a park nearby. You’ll soon discover how your children recreate these experiences in their daily games or use them as ingredients to spice up their play sessions.

Provide Some Props!
We can enrich your children’s pretend play opportunities by encouraging open-ended play. In other words, by offering them toys that have multiple uses and that help their imaginations expand powerfully. Stuffed animals, toy cars, pretend kitchenware, artistic materials, simple costumes (these can even just be mummy and daddy’s stylish old clothes from the 80’s), cardboard boxes or musical instruments. Invite children to play with them and allow them to use their imagination to create rich and highly detailed playing sessions.

Give Them Space to Play
Do your children have a safe, child-proof and comfortable space to play? Whether it’s outside or inside your home, it’s a good idea for children to have a place where they have everything they need within their reach: toys, props, books, art material… you name it! If possible, make sure that they don’t have access to screens and computers in their playing space as the idea is to encourage them to be as creative and open-minded as possible in their playing experience. Having their own play space encourages resourcefulness and independence in children as even though parents can be around and participate in their fun sessions, the idea is that they’re able to develop a complete playing session on their own while we’re mere spectators or limited participants.

Encourage Mess
Ok this one might get a bit of debate...I know how hard it is not to have a contradictory attitude towards children’s play time: on the one hand we love to see our children engaged in their play session and how they’ve turned their room or the living-room into a zoo, a city or a war zone but, on the other hand, we see the mess and complain about having all the toys around, cushions lying on the floor, blankets hanging from chairs and so on. As a result, sometimes we limit in some way or another their imagination.

That said, a good strategy that we can embrace in order to encourage play time in children is to accept mess as part of their creative process. We can then set aside time at the end where they’ll be required to clean that mess. I’m sure most will agree that cleaning up after yourself is a pretty handy skill for them to learn before they turn into teenagers anyway.

So here’s a few of the strategies that we can use to encourage children to play without your supervision. I invite you to try any or all of them in your family and share your findings. Which one has worked better in your case? Have you tried anything different?

Today's post is brought to you by, and it includes links to their website. Searching for Sanity is not affiliated with Baby Vegas, so I earn no money if you click on these links. Now that the pressure is off, please go check them out and see the awesome toys they have.

Friday, 4 December 2015

The Importance of Nutrition During Pregnancy

Hi guys, I have another guest writing for me today, on the importance of nutrition during pregnancy, so please welcome Orlaith Costello from Koster Clinic.
Image Sourced:
There’s many things that a woman needs to be concerned with when she becomes pregnant, and one is diet. Now she’s eating for two (or more).
Maintaining a balanced and healthy diet is important for living well; however, now you have an extra incentive. Proper nutrition ensures that all essential nutrients (carbohydrates, fats, protein, vitamins, minerals and water) are supplied to the body to maintain optimal health. You need to make sure that you have the right nutrients to get yourself and your bundle of joy through what is a traumatic time for your body. You are creating life inside you, the least you can do is treat yourself well and give yourself the right kind of fuel to do your best.
During pregnancy, your energy and nutrition levels decrease. The pregnancy takes its toll on your body, depleting your fuel resources. You need to consume foods that will give you that boost so you have the energy reserves to optimize your overall health and strength. Did you know that women need to consume 240 more calories per day in their second trimester and 452 calories per day in their third trimester of pregnancy to enable healthy foetal growth? As well as 975 milligrams of iron needed to produce foetal and maternal blood? Having the right reserves of energy will help to ensure the mother’s strength and health through her pregnancy.
Need more incentive?
A well-balanced and nutritionally rich diet can help stave off health risks both for the mother and the child. A mother’s diet can play a larger role in foetal development than genetic factors. The foetus will respond to whatever you consume, meaning your child can adapt its metabolism to cope with an under-nourished diet. This can result in the foetus reducing glucose and insulin production, slowing the rate of growth and increasing the risk of low birth weight and can even lead to diabetes. Another side-effect of under-nutrition can be that the foetus will conserve blood flow to its most important parts – like the developing brain – depriving other major organs and muscles, which can go under-developed or not developed at all.
What can you do?
Some women are pre-disposed to have a less balanced diet based on their own health issues or dietary restrictions. If you are a woman who has conceived, or is hoping to conceive, you need to build up your nutrition levels. This can mean cutting out unhealthy habits like drinking alcohol, ingesting too much caffeine or not ingesting enough fruits and vegetables. If you suffer from a chronic illness which restricts your diet like IBS or Crohns disease, diabetes or food intolerances, speak to your health provider or nutritionist to organise an appropriate and nutritionally beneficial diet for you. I would suggest the same for vegan or vegetarian mothers, as pregnant women need an increased amount of protein in their diet. If you’re not getting it from meats or animal by-products you need to source it from another avenue. Supplements can help but it’s always more beneficial to have natural foods. For you and your baby.
You can do this
Pregnancy is a wonderful, illuminating and scary experience. Remember that no matter how scary or over-whelmed you get, women have been doing this since the human race came about. You are the next in a long line of courageous women who have continued the human race. This is the most natural thing in our history, all you need to do is play out your part. Look after yourself and your bundle of joy!
Authors Bio:
Orlaith Costello writes for Koster Clinic, she graduated with a Master Degree in Journalism, Media and Communications, and writes for several publications in Australia and abroad. Orlaith also writes about health and well-being including women's health and parenting in the hope that she helps others like her better understand the world around her.

Disclaimer: The above is general advice only and not intended as medical advice. You should not delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information in this article.
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