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silky chill- organic kid’s cold packs

4 May

Our most popular design to date

A silky chill is a unique cold pack to soothe the everyday bumps and bruises of childhood. Made from super-soft fabric, silky chill goes from the freezer to the site of the pain, without needing to be wrapped. Filled with a fine organic filling, silky chill is safe for little ones, even if they chew on it. Endlessly re-usable, silky chill is the icepack kids ask for.

Handmade with mummy love.

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Golden moments

17 Oct

As a parent, there are plenty of tear-your-hair-out moments in daily life, but there are also the occasional golden moments.

Like when you take your whole family to someone’s place for dinner and your child goes up to the hostess and asks if there is anything they can do to help. (If only it happened in your own kitchen on the odd occasion.)

Like when they are all tucked up in bed at night, smelling clean and warm, deeply breathing without a care in the world, looking like sleeping angels.

The time all three of them play with Lego on the floor together for an hour or more and build a new city or create a new breed of animal without arguing.

When your eldest creates a dog house out of a cardboard box and the youngest is content to curl up inside and sleep with a blanket thrown over them, panting occasionally and answering every question with a ‘woof’.

When seven year old boys discover their nurturing side with a soft toy, and it’s immediately given a name and it’s own blanket and patted and rocked to sleep in a way that carefully mimics the way you used to do it when he was tiny.

When you look after someone’s baby for an afternoon and your youngest child gets to play the role of big brother. Carrying the bottle and putting the dummy in the baby’s mouth are something he’s never done, but are all of a suddenly imbued with a sense of tenderness and maturity that he’s never displayed and you’ve never seen in him before.

It’s the hot afternoon in the school holiday break when all three of them swim and dive and race each other in the pool, only to climb out and place full buckets of water on the trampoline and jump and bounce and splash them off, laughing like it’s the funniest thing in the world.

And the quietness afterwards, when they spread their towels out on the hot concrete and bake themselves dry, stretched out side-by-side in a row of treasure that makes you melt.

These are the golden moments I tuck away in my heart and for when my children are  no longer children, but I am their mother still.

It must be Fete.

2 Aug

Right now I feel just a little   overwhelmed by everything I have to do. Our family-sized calendar for August is scarily marked with red pen and capital letters, yelling reminders at me not to forget the myriad appointments and functions my family has scheduled in for the next four weeks. We’re talking dead-lines, sports days, speeches, doctors appointments, election polling, birthdays, school excursions and organising the school fete.

Oh yes, you may well laugh. Most of my friends did once I sheepishly admitted I had put up my hand to organise our school  fete. As if I had nothing better to do with my so called  ‘spare’ time.

The fete was supposed to be held last year, but due to Uncle Kev’s  Education Revolution our school got a brand spanking new hall plonked right in the middle of our playground and the date was post-poned. Come the New Year, the $20 million question was posed. Was I still able to co-ordinate the big day? Ahh, um, what could I say? Right now I’m working on my book, writing like a mad thing for parenting publications and trying to keep life a positive experience for my hubby and three children. Sure. Of course I’ll organise the fete for you. It’ll be a blast.

Sure, the timing is rubbish, but if I’m totally honest, I have to admit that I actually enjoy organising things. My siblings tell me it’s to do with my bossy eldest sister training. My mum recognised it when I organised the whole class to set up a surprise party for a teacher whan I was in Year 3. At uni I did public relations thinking I would like to be an events organiser,  and I had to organise a major event at Maitland Gaol to graduate. They were all just practice for the real thing.

My thirtieth birthday party. Ah, now that was a party to remember. I’ve been to weddings where they didn’t put as much thought into the day as I did with my 30th. The food, the cake, the band, the costumes, my dress and of course my beautiful red shoes, all were planned months in advance. The party produced some terrific photos and great memories. I had a picture in my mind about what I wanted, and actually managed to exceed even my own inflated expectations.

But it was all just training, really. When it comes to organising a fete, there are insurances and floats to consider, of both the horse and money variety. People to organise, volunteers to co-ordinate, food to cook,  media to inform, comittees to liasise with. Tickets to sell, balloons to order, posters to print, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera… you get the idea. It’s massive.

On August 28th, our Grand Winter Fete is going to be a terrific. It will be a traditional, old fashioned family fete, just with better coffee. I’m incredibly thankful to have a great team to help me and our end goal is, other than raising a potload of money for our school of course, to increase the sense of community in our school. It’s starting to happen in tiny increments, and the signs are positive. If I make it to the end of August, I may just manage to surprise myself once again.

Picture Perfect

7 Jul

It’s school holidays right now where we live. For me, that means having three lovely, though somewhat boisterous and rather messy children in my care 24 hours a day. Said children are with me, often in our home for the duration of the holidays, except for those times when I am driving them from this or that friends’ house to the movies to soccer practice or to a sleep-over at Nana’s.

Cup of tea?It might sound shallow, but they kinda cramp my style. Not my ‘amazingly gorgeous, immaculately turned out, coiffed within an inch of my life’ style, rather the overall general tidiness of our home.

I don’t have one of those minimalist, clean surfaces and long white lines kind of interiors. I don’t really have any ‘interior look’ to speak of. As far as I’m aware, squished playdough in the carpet hasn’t made it to trend status yet, apparently spurned by those who see a kettle and a toaster on a bench as ‘clutter’. Call me easy, but I’m happy if the floor is clear enough to walk on without tripping, the cushions remain on the lounge-(note to children!)- and the dishes are done.

In my neverending domestic quest- the washing, the tidying, the cleaning, the vaccuuming, the cooking, the folding, yada yada yada- I’m yet to drop whatever it is that I’m holding and, inspired, leave the room, hell bent on creating a masterpiece out of sticky tape, pipe cleaners, cotton wool and old shoe boxes. Maybe it’s old age creeping up on me, but I manage to finish one task- more or less- before I start the next one. My clothes usually make it into the dirty clothes basket as opposed to dropped into a soggy puddle next to it, and unlike Hansel and Gretel, you can’t see where I’ve been by the trail of crumbs (or books) that I’ve left behind me.

My mum, an amazing mother to five now mostly grown up children, has a little picture on her kitchen wall. It says ‘Keeping house is like threading beads on a string with no knot at the end.’ And there is truth in that. It’s not comforting, to be fair, but it certainly holds true.

But before the drudgery can set in, my eyes were opened to an even sadder fate. Around the corner and down our street, there is an immaculately tidy and very handsome  house. Recently and beautifully built, it boasts a wide verandah with a table and chair set, just right for enjoying a cup of tea in the sun. The garden is a maze of colour and foilage and weeds would never dare poke their unwelcome heads in such an ordered place. The husband and wife that live there tend their garden and their home with such dedicated care. I once saw her dusting her windowsills, her external window sills. There wasn’t much to dust, believe me.

We drive past this house numerous times a day, and often in the evening as well. The wide bay windows are graciously draped with grand plush curtains, revaling richly upholstered mahogany furniture. The tasteful decor is lit by an antique lamp that casts a gentle pool of glowing light on the still life of the interior. And that’s just what it is. A still life. With everything placed just so, their house is an empty illustration for decorative purposes only.

In the year and a half we have lived here, I have never seen the old man and his wife enjoying the fruits of their labour. They don’t draw the curtains at night, becasue they don’t live in the elegant lounge room. In that curious way that old people have, it seems they are ‘saving it for a special occasion’. They choose just to close the door and save the bother of messing it all up.

I know I’m a sticky beak and a busy body and all those things, but my theory was confirmed a few months ago. It was a gloriously sunny day, and as I walked past with my kidlets, I could hear a radio tuned to AM. Ah, old people about, I thought. And I was right.

The elderly couple were pottering away in their garage, radio on, roller door flung open to catch the sun’s rays. They were well set up. There was a kitchen table with wooden chairs, a dresser with a kettle steaming away and tea cups at the ready, a slightly battered but rather comfy looking 1970’s sofa and a rocking chair. This was their real home. This was the place where they felt comfortable enough to relax.

They have worked for many long years to get where they are now. Hard work and sacrifice has enabled them to build their gracious home and appoint it with lovely things. But they don’t seem to enjoy what they have built. Perhaps it’s too grand, or not cosy enough. Perhaps they don’t feel comfortable enough with all they have amassed to be able to savour their reward.  Perhaps it’s just not suited to them after all. After years of making do and living simply, the habit has stuck, though the need to do so has evaporated.

Or maybe, they are so fiercely house-proud, it’s easier to live in the garage so nothing destroys the gorgeous look of their home. After working so hard to achieve a state of perfection, there is no joy in using the trappings that money can buy, because it will all just need to be restored to order again.

My issue is this: What if I become like the old couple? What if I turn into a screaming banshee mother who flips out about rice on the floor and towels on the beds? What if I’ve spent all this time and energy creating this ‘ideal’ home environment and nobody wants to spend any time here in case they crush a cushion? Am I too unreasonable? Am I too house-proud? Is the state of my home more important than my realationships with my kids and my friends and family? Will my family walk on egg-shells, unable to relax in the home that I’ve tried in vain to make a welcoming, restful cocoon for them?

Thankfully, I think not. The lesson of our neighbours has hit a chord with me. I can strive all I like to achieve a veneer of perfection, and then not even appreciate the good stuff when I see it. I want to look beyond the surface clutter of our home, and see what kind of culture we have created. And mostly, I am happy with what I see.

Yes, there is glitter stuck in the grout between the tiles in the bathroom. There is even a hint of mould in the shower. The walls are decorated with small, grimy handprints and crooked initials that I can’t bear to wipe away. But there is an aroma of dinner in the air. There are a few flickering candles throwing a wonky glow about the place and a fleecy rug to snuggle up on the couch after dinner. There is laughter and love and true warmth in our home. And that is the kind of interior I’m truly intent on pursuing.

The Hobbit’s Birthday

23 Jun

Today is my youngest son’s fourth birthday. Amid the flurry of wrapping the ‘parcel the parcel’, baking cupcakes to take to pre-school and trying to get the washing dry, I have scant time for writing. So thanks to the wonders of  technology, here’s one I prepared earlier. Two years earlier to be exact. Though my son has changed, my feelings are pretty much the same.

____________________________________________________________

Today is the Hobbit’s birthday. At 4:45pm exactly, he will be two years old.

As his sister and brother crept into our room this morning, laden with presents for him and anxious for him to waken, they both cooed over his sleeping form.

“Oh, he’s such a cute baby!” I laid there beside him, sharing my pillow and gazed at his creamy round cheeks and long lashes. He was a sleeping angel all right, but it occurred to me, rather rudely I thought for such an early hour, that he’s not a baby anymore.

He’s a growing, independent toddler, who in the last week has replaced his baby names of “barduk” for “bird” and “rah” for “dinosaur”. He can tell me he’d prefer a mandarin to a banana, and this morning even said “milk” when I asked him if he’d like juice with his breakfast.

Our little Hobbit’s decided to toilet-train, despite my wintry concerns. Scorning his nappy and removing it whenever the mood takes him, he wants to wear his new plane undies. Instead of his sippy cup, he likes to drink out of a normal cup like his older siblings. He’s even sitting on our normal dining chairs for meals, not his chair with the booster on top.

He thinks he’s more grown up than he actually is. Yes, I know he can play a CD on the stereo himself, get out his own toothbrush and jump on the trampoline, but he’s only just two! His rate of maturity has just hit exponential growth, but there are clues that he’s still little, really.

This kid doesn’t know himself when he’s tired.  His level of self-awareness hasn’t yet progressed to being perturbed if he happens to be carrying a pooh around in said favourite undies. And despite the wearying baby years of sleep-deprivation, I have never yet fallen asleep while still clutching a cup-cake in my hand as he did the other day.

So today, as I bake and decorate a car birthday cake and justify the dinosaur lollies because they have all natural colours and flavours, I choose to celebrate the change. I will comfort myself with the fact that my baby may be growing up, but my son is still his gorgeous vibrant self, a precious part of our family. I am thankful for the future joy of watching him grow for many more years, into someone that I really like, and am incredibly proud of.

Happy Birthday, precious boy.

Sticks and stones

29 May

You know the old rhyme- ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me’. Twenty five years after first hearing the old adage, I find I disagree.

This morning, we took the kids to the foreshore to ride their bikes. This particular bike track happens to be at the optimistically named Mount Carrington, (obviously Mound Carrington doesn’t have quite the same ring to it.) The path meanders by the harbour, so when Lolly and Shark needed a rest from riding, we sat on the big boulders that separate the path from the water. Boys will be boys, and our boys immediately scrambled down the rocks to start a competition to see who could throw a stick the furthest into the water.

Seeing possible danger at every stick throw, I warned them, as mothers are wont to do. ‘Be careful when you throw sticks!’

Lolly was by my side, collecting some sticks. Without even looking up, she said ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.’

As I sat there on the rocks, icy wind howling around my ears and strands of hair in my eyes, I was taken back to the playground of my primary school. After being called ‘Snothead’ and some other choice names, I was upset and crying. I set off to tell the teacher of the other children’s meanness. She was probably sick of all the dobbing and was counting the minutes till she could get back to the staff-room for a coffee. Either way, this lady had very little sympathy for taunts. She told me the old rhyme, and reiterated that the warned me of the dangers of projectiles and told me that insults wouldn’t damage me.

But as an adult and a now parent, I think she was wrong. I know the old adage was oft repeated to tell kids to ignore stupid words from taunting children. But there is power in the spoken word, and both names and words can, and do hurt.

If we say something enough times we start to believe it. And so do our kids. We become a self-fulfilling prophecy. ‘Oh, I just couldn’t do it’.  ‘I’m not really very good at that’  ‘It’ll always be like this’ ‘I’m such a terrible mother’ ‘You are so naughty!’ ‘She’s going through the terrible two’s’

As a writer, words are rather important to me. My husband and I have always been intentional about the way we speak to our kids. From the beginning of our children’s lives, we banned the phrase ‘I hate…’ because hate is a word with a lot of weight, one that shouldn’t be bandied about. Our children are not allowed to call someone stupid or dumb, because no-one is either stupid or dumb.

I cringe when I hear parents swearing at their kids in the street or the supermarket. Sideline comments at the sportsground can wound, too. No child deserves to be called fat, lazy, stupid, ugly, or useless. Those words wound a person where no-one else can see the damage, and sometimes those words are never forgotten

We tell our children every day that we love them, and that they are precious to us. Our nicknames for them are Gorgeous, Spunky Monkey, Beauty, Precious, Sweetheart and Handsome. Our aim is to encourage and build them up with the words we speak. They will rise to our expectations for them, so we want them to know we think they can do great things.

The world will try to insinuate that my daughter isn’t thin enough, or pretty enough and that her value lies in only one thing. My sons may feel pressure that they are not handsome enough, not man enough, not clever enough, not strong enough. The media is using words and images to make us all feel inadequate in some way, while at the same time showing us where to buy just the right antidote to ‘fix’ us.

Words have the power to build up, or the ability to tear down. The power of life and death is in the tongue, according to the Good Book. I want the words that impact my children to be positive life-affirming ones that they can carry around lightly for the rest of their lives.

The sports ‘carnivore’

17 May

Red ones make you go faster, don't they?

My 8 yr old slug-a-bed has been asking Dad to get her up early so she can do her ‘exercises’ in preparation for the school’s winter highlight. Yes, it’s time for the sports carnival, or as the Shark has so aptly named it, the ‘sports carnivore’.

I hope the ‘carnivore’ mispronunciation isn’t prophetic and it won’t really be ‘a dog eat dog’ affair, but you never can tell when it comes to kids, their parents and competitive sport.

Some kids have been training seriously for this event, their ticket into the zone and regional finals. True little Aussie champions, they (and their parents) can see bright sporting futures ahead of them. The NRL, AIS and other organisations known only by their initials beckon our would-be sporting heroes. Little Athletics and the school sports carnival this week, in a few years, who knows? Surely every little athlete worth his salt will be slogging his guts out on the track. A well-planned regime of training schedules, balanced diet and vitamin supplements may be the way forward to attaining those goals and breaking personal bests.

It sounds like a sensible plan, but obviously not to my daughter. Lolly’s idea of training is to get up and skip outside on the damp, cold concrete in her pj’s for 10 minutes before her feet get numb. The carnival is on Tuesday, she started training on Monday. Maybe she didn’t want to peak too early.

Her dietary concerns were explained this morning as I handed her her usual school lunch, including a cheese sandwich on wholemeal bread.

“I s’pose I won’t complain about whatever sort of bread you give me at the moment Mum. What with the carnival coming up and all. I know it’s good for me, so I’ll eat it, even though I don’t really like it.”

As I unpacked the groceries this afternoon, she wrote me a list of what she would like included in her lunchbox for tomorrow. I record it here, unedited.

Watermelon  breadrools  rais on toast and some chocolate biscuits

(Interesting, isn’t it, that my eight year old can spell chocolate but not bread roll? Hey, that’s another story.:) )

She justified the first two items as healthy, the third as healthy and yummy, and the last as a special treat and ‘because I like them’. I must admit, I can see her point.

I smiled inwardly this afternoon as my young dynamo dashed outside to scoot furiously up and down the path to the washing line, in between the shows she likes to watch on ABC Kids. She jumped and skipped on the trampoline, and did some sort of Pilates-inspired stretching on the grass, before retiring to her room to lay on her bed and read for the rest of the afternoon.

So she’s ready, apparently. Her joggers and sports shorts are waiting beside the bed, laid out in anticipation of the great day ahead. Personally, I’m anticipating wind-burnt cheeks, straggly hair, grit in my eyes, terrible coffee and cold sausage rolls. She’s so excited though, I just have to agree when she tells me she can’t wait until tomorrow.  Whatever she does or doesn’t achieve in the events, she’s had a lot of fun getting ready for it. And isn’t that really the point when you’re a kid? I know she will do her best with everything she has in that incredibly elastic expandable heart of hers. And that’s all a mother could ask.

Would you like some porn with your paddlepop?

19 Apr

Is the sexualisation of children something that makes your blood boil? Go here to sign an on-line petition to change the standards about the display of pornographic material where children can see it. Have a look and if you agree, circulate it to your friends. I believe that as parents,  we can’t afford not to stand up for our kids.

http://www.sayno4kids.com/blog/

Apple stickers, and other forms of kid graffiti

5 Apr


I was doing some house-work this morning. You  know, just the usual- put the washing on, quick clean of the bathroom, never-ending picking up of stray toys, cushions and books. As I was sweeping the kitchen floor, I came across not one, but two of those little apple stickers, stuck to the tiles next to the bin.   I scraped them off with a fingernail, shaking my head. It’s not me who’s doing it, and I’m fairly sure my hubby isn’t sticking his apple stickers on the floor. This leaves three young culprits, all of whom delight in leaving a little of themselves behind as some sort of territorial marker.

As I swept the dustpan into the bin, I noticed someone  had stuck a Fuji sticker to the bin lid! What is going on?!?! Why this incessant graffiti-ing of my house? Am I the only one in this family who cares what our house looks like? I know, I’m just saying exactly the same things my mum said all those years ago when I was a kid. But it’s true, isn’t it? Kids are notorious for making mess, (which occasionally in my family has involved permanent marker and bed linen), yet Mum is the one who seems to bear sole responsibility for cleaning it up.

Our walls are artfully decorated with scribbles of varying colours. Each of our three children have contributed.  A cute little house is drawn behind my chair on the dining room wall, and I must admit a certain affection for it, despite of myself. Lolly was about 3 when she first learned to write her own name. It appeared on the suede effect wall in the lounge room in red pen. Very neatly written, in fact. I could hardly be mad at that sort of work, could I? Perhaps I should have been! Our literate daughter has autographed numerous walls, doors and our timber dining table, complete with deep impression lest we ever finally remove the ink. The furniture in her room hasn’t escaped her creativity, nor the forehead of her favourite doll.

Fresh from supervising her cleaning off the latest graffiti, I ducked into the bathroom to find a Great Work! sticker from school attached to the mirror. If school was the only provider of stickers, perhaps our homes would be graffiti-neutral. Alas, now dentists, football teams, charities and even supermakets are supplying the horrid things to be stuck somewhere innappropriate and ruin someone’s paint job, or antique timber cupboard.

I know that as a kid, I did the exactly same thing. My brother and I delighted in lining up our stickers on our (hand-crafted by my grandfather, gorgeous timber) wardrobe door, comparing who was the better behaved child and therefore who received the most stickers. My parents were cross and forbid us to stick our stickers anywhere but in a daggy little exercise book, designated specifically for that purpose. We both thought that they were incredibly strict, unreasonable and above all, boring no-fun parents. We promptly labelled them the meanest parents in the world. From my childrens’ baleful glares, it looks like I may have just earned the coveted award myself.

(For anyone else who is battling the sticker issue, eucalyptus oil works really well.)