Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A Bungee

We survived the first day of school! No tears from our Muddy Preschooler, just a few tears from me, as she lined up so beautifully and filed into the classroom, holding tightly to the hand of her best friend.

I was so excited to pick her up and absorb everything she had done in her day, I had a tonne of questions all lined up and ready to go. I didn't even have to ask, my Muddy Preschooler chatted non-stop all the way home! I heard all about who is on her table, what she did at recess and lunch, who else is in her class, who her Year 6 buddy is. Our stumbling block was what she actually did in the classroom. I know she coloured in a picture of a rocket and 'we did a Bungee'. I asked her to repeat it, I still got the same answer 'We did a Bungee Mum'. I went through a series of questions, but still we got 'a Bungee'.

This morning I have learned that they coloured in a picture of a bungee jumper! Who knew they'd learn about Bungee Jumping on their first day at school!

For me, a Mum who has been keenly involved at preschool, I think I am going to be a little lost, as no doubt I will be left wondering on many ocassions what she has been learning or playing at school, as I get half stories or mixed up information from my Muddy Preschooler. I think it's another part of me that has to learn to let go and trust in her teacher! A harder task than I thought, I'm hoping it gets easier!

Maybe today she'll learn about sky diving or rock climbing, but not quite sure how you top Bungee Jumping on your first day!

Mandatory family photos

The back pack which is almost as big as her!

Best Friends

Lining Up!
How did your little one's first day go?
What stories did they come home with?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

A Letter to my Daughter

To my Darling Muddy Preschooler,

Tomorrow you will have your first day of Kindergarten and begin your journey through school. I am writing you this letter, that I hope to keep for you one day to read.

I am overwhelmed with emotion as this day draws closer. You know that I am a big softie and I cry at the drop of a hat. This is different though, I am filled with a big knot of anxiety. I so want your first day at school to be wonderful for you. I dream that you can make some new friends and adore your teacher. I wish for you to have the happiest of first days, to enjoy your first day and come home tired (of course) but with a big smile on your face. I want you to not be bullied, not feel scared, not feel like you can't do something.

I am a control freak and I think my anxiety for you is that I can no longer control some aspects of your life, to protect you, to be there to pick you up when you fall over, to wipe your tears when you cry. For five days a week from the time you hop in the school bus, until the bus delivers you home you will be your own little person, beginning to make your own mark on the world.

To help control my anxiety I have been drilling you for the last few days 'remember to answer a question when it is asked', 'when someone asks your name, what do you say?', 'if you need to go to the toilet, what do you do?', 'if you're having trouble with a task don't be afraid to ask for help, because that's how we learn'. You, my beautiful girl have been so patient with me, answering my questions, telling me what I need to hear. You have been pretty confident about starting school, we have talked about it lots and you know your teacher and lots of your class already. You tell me you are excited, but a little nervous.

I have tried to be as prepared as any first time school mum can be, we have labelled everything, talked about what you want in your lunchbox (jam sandwich and fruit), Dad has practiced tying your shoe laces with you, and today you almost have it mastered. You are an old hand at catching the school bus, and I think this is the one thing I am relaxed about.

The one thing I keep repeating to you is this 'Remember that some things we learn quickly and some things will take more time, it's OK to ask for help or to take your time, never doubt yourself and remember you can do anything if you try'. Soppy words I know,but the best I can pass on at this point. 

I have no doubt the next year will be all about your teacher and everything that she knows and is teaching you, I'm sure she will do no wrong in your beautiful blue eyes. I am looking so forward to all the new things you will learn and the delight I see on your face when you come home with the excitement of something you have learned.

Tomorrow we will take you into school, on what is supposed to be a wet and rainy day. I have no doubt I will cry. You are my first born child, the first to start your school journey, you are breaking me in to this whole school thing, and I do not doubt this next year will be a roller coaster and I have my fingers crossed that no matter what happens you have a smile on your face.

Good Luck my beautiful girl.

With all my love,
Mum xoxo

Do you have a child starting school for the first time?
Are you as much of a Nervous Nelly as me?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Rat

At the moment I feel like I'm living in an episode of Fawlty Towers, you know the one, where Manuel has a pet rat, but he is adamant it's a hamster and it escapes and he spends the whole time looking for it while it happily explores the hotel. We don't have a pet hamster, guinea pig or pet rat BUT at the moment there is a Rat in my house.

For the last two nights I have been ensconced on my lounge, iPad in hand when out of the corner of my eye a rat has run across the lounge room floor, to under the lounge I'm sitting on.

When I first saw it, I had to look twice, thinking it was one big bloody mouse, then it clicked 'that's not a mouse, it's a rat!' I then promptly jumped off the lounge, running into the bedroom to wake Muddy Hubby, screaming, 'there's a rat in the lounge room'. Muddy hubby stirred from sleep said 'what can you do?' turned back over and promptly fell asleep. I on the other hand dragged out every single mouse trap we had and proceeded to lay them all around the house. All in vain, as next morning not one single one was let off.

Last night, same thing, sitting with my iPad on the lounge, across the floor runs the rat! This time I had the traps already set, and didn't waste my energy waking Muddy Hubby, as when he went to bed his instructions regarding the rat were 'just kill it!', very helpful honey! Me a city girl, kill a rat, I think not!

I have since discovered the following things about rats:
  • They can do a lot of damage gnawing on things (so far no damage I can find).
  • They are cunning and you have to put traps unset in their path for a few days before they get used to them, then you can set them.
  • They are not carnivores, rather they prefer seed and grain (this allays my fears about being eaten while sleeping)
  • Rats are seed and grain eaters, but can be herbivores (which is why they're around the farm) and have likely moved around the house in search of food now that there are no crops in the paddock
  • They're out of luck in our house (which is why I'm not sure how they're here) as the food is confined to the kitchen and dining room, vacuumed after meals, and everything is securely packed away in mouse proof containers thanks to the mouse plague last year.
  • My house has never been cleaner, it has been disinfected from top to bottom as there are certain diseases you can catch from them and the health warnings state 'If bitten seek medical assistance', so that's not a reassuring thing
So today, a different Australia Day, I have baited in Muddy Hubby's workshop (pretty sure his workshop is their breeding ground!). I have vacuumed until the polish is coming off the floor, laid rat traps, mouse traps, investigated purchasing a cat and badgered Muddy Hubby about staying up to catch the rat.

My sleep is suffering as every sound I hear is in my mind the rat coming for me (silly I know, but a childhood fear I can't shake!). I'm ready to issue Muddy Hubby an ultimatum, get rid of the rat or I move out until it's gone. I can cope with snakes, frogs in the toilet, spiders, sheep, mice plagues, but rats are a big no no.

Have you got pest problems?
What would you do with a cunning little rat?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Nothing like a good sisterly hug!

Sorry Muddy Bubby, but brothers give a different kind of hug to what sisters do (and they'd probably squash you too)!

Linking up for Wordless Wednesday with My Little Drummer Boys.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A sad, but happy, Morning Tea

Ever since I've had my Muddy Preschooler (maybe even a little before I had her) I have been having the most wonderful morning tea catch ups with the most wonderful group of friends a woman could ever ask for. It began with ante-natal classes, grew into a mother's group and while the frequency and attendance has waxed and waned there's been 5 of us who have continued our friendship on, through many, many, many morning teas, dinners and lunches.

Today we hosted morning tea at our house, what was special about this morning tea though, was that it will be the last morning tea that we have, where our firstborn children will be there (other than school holidays of course).

For the five of us our eldest children will start school together on Monday for the first time. They will all be going to the same school and will have each other there as a support. I've discovered that you cannot force friendship onto your children (much as times we may try to dissuade them from one wild child, to another, with a gentler influence) but we have been lucky enough that our 5 children have formed a lovely friendship with one another.

And so this morning while our children played just beautifully together, with minimal fighting and only a few tears, I felt both happy and sad. Happy that my Muddy Preschooler will go to school with friends she knows, friends she adores and friends that will keep an eye on her. I did however feel sad at the same time, that this is the end of 'early childhood' for my Muddy Preschooler, in 6 days she will be a 'School Girl' and a whole new chapter of her life (and mine) will begin.

I am honestly both excited and anxious at the same time about My Preschooler becoming a School Girl, and some days I'm not sure which emotion is stronger! Today though I was reassured that she will not be doing it alone, she'll be starting her journey with good friends, and that I think is worth so very much. At least for me it is as it helps lessen my anxiety and worry.

One of our first Mother's Group Morning Teas.

Fun in the Fig Tree

5 Cheeky Cherubs

Is your Preschooler becoming a school kid too? How are you feeling?
Are there friends starting with your children too?
Or is it a whole new world, with the opportunity to make wonderful new friends?

Monday, January 23, 2012

A week of Appointments and Learning

In the past week I have seen three different health professionals as part of my healthier me campaign 2012 (unofficial title get your butt into gear Nat). Over the course of these appointments I have learnt several things about myself and my body, some are very obvious and others made me go 'why didn't I think of that before'.

I have learnt lots but here are the keys things that have stuck in my mind from the appointments with the Nutritionist, Chiropractor and Dentist:
  • Having four babies in four and a half years isn't the best way to look after your back, it means your pelvis goes out of whack and one leg ends up an inch shorter than the other (fixable, but not the best).
  • When you brush your teeth with an electric toothbrush your toothbrush shouldn't be parallel to your teeth, but at a 45 degree angle towards your gums, otherwise you start to take off the enamel.
  • For kids that grow up on farms drinking rainwater they need to use fluoride toothpaste and be brushing their teeth with it for about two and a half minutes twice a day (not swallowing the toothpaste) thus enables them to get some fluoride which they don't get like town kids.
  • For me, I am eating the right foods but some days I'm not balancing out my day with all the major food groups, so I have to mix up my diet a bit, including planning dinner based around what I had for breakfast and/or lunch, who knew your meals had to be so co-ordinated?!
  • My girls have only about a 15 minute tolerance for appointments before they loose it and start dancing and running around the room, or fighting. Hot chips as a reward work wonders for keeping them calm an extra five minutes (not good to say in front of the Nutritionist though).
  • Exercise is no longer avoidable, it's a necessity, to reach my goals of where I want to be (women's boot camp is booked for term one).
  • With a soda stream in the house I can easily drink 3-4 litres of water a day (hooray!)
  • I hate getting on the scales to be weighed, I find it humiliating, frustrating and demeaning (especially when the person weighing you is a size 10). I did already know this but to have it reinforced was not a pleasant experience.

The Muddy Preschooler and the Muddy Pixie at the Chiropractor
Our household has already started to implement some of the changes suggested by the Nutritionist, and I'm excited about trying some more of her ideas around menu planning and especially excited about trying some new recipes.

I'm not so excited about going back to the Chiropractor, it's the anticipation right before she cracks my back that I can't stand!

As for the dentist, I got given the all clear for another 12 months. Now to make my appointment for the naturopath and make sure my shoes fit for boot camp, then we'll really be on a roll!

I really enjoy learning new things, especially if they're things that are going to help me achieve my goals for a better me. I have tried Internet advice etc before, but for some things there's nothing like sitting down face to face with someone and really nutting out a problem til you reach that light bulb moment of 'That's what I need to be doing!'.
How do you occupy your kids at appointments?
Have you been making plans for a healthier you too?

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Play-Doh - Get over it Nat!

I am going to fess up straight away and say that I loathe play-doh. Can't stand the stuff. I used to not mind it, I really enjoyed playing with it, with kids in our therapy sessions and found rolling out the play-doh somehow therapeutic while we targeted sounds, language, whatever the client was working on.
Now, as a parent, I can't stand the stuff. I don't make it from scratch, I don't add glitter or smell or any of that exciting stuff. We do however have LOTS of play-doh and play-doh related equipment, that we have been given over the years, but I am a terrible parent. Every time the Muddy girls ask for it I find some excuse to not get it out 'Puzzler's awake and she'll eat it', 'why don't we do some cooking', 'Dad will be home soon, so we won't have time'. Today I ran out of excuses! It is raining, that slow rain that has no breaks for going outside, just slow and steady, so before I knew it the Muddy Preschooler and the Muddy Pixie had dragged down the big box and were into it, having a lovely time.

For me it just reinforced my dislike. I have a suspicion it's my control freak gene that influences my feelings. The mixing of colours together that you can't separate out, the tiny bits that get stuck and then go all hard and dry, the little bits that get ground into the ground when they fall off the table, all contribute to our decision not to get it out.

As I was cleaning it all up today and making comments about how I don't like it my Muddy Preschooler replies with 'Well why do we have it in the house then Mum?'. Sometimes I am amazed at what comes out of their mouths. I replied with 'We have it in the house because you love it'.

I know how much they love it, how creative they can be with it, how it stretches their imagination. Today they had planned out a whole 3 course meal, sorting dessert from entree from main and making each individual piece. This is why we have it in our house. This is why I need to get over my hang ups on clean up and mess when it comes to Play-doh and let them enjoy, after all isn't that what parenting is, in part, all about, letting go of some of our boundaries to let them explore theirs?

Muddy Puzzler sneaking a piece to eat when she thinks I'm not looking!
Is their Play-Doh in your house?
Do your kids like messy play that you don't?

Friday, January 20, 2012


Tiredness is a funny thing. You can be going along just fine and then suddenly you can keep going no more, your eyes droop, you can't concentrate on anything for very long and you are forgetting things. For the last two weeks, we've got up, got ourselves organized and headed into swimming lessons every day. Today was the last day (hooray) and now we're home I'd really love a sleep. The tiredness which has been looming for the last two weeks has decided it's time for a rest.

It's not that the swimming lessons weren't worth it, they definitely were, but the physical and emotional toll has been more difficult. Mainly the emotional toll. It took a few days but my Muddy Preschooler began to enjoy the lessons, and by the end she was about up to where everyone else was on day 3, but she was happy and we were very proud that she learnt some new skills and improved her confidence in the water.

My Muddy Pixie though had me crying on several occasions, in the pool and out of it. She had started out OK but by day 3 would cry and scream through the entire lesson. One day we had a stand off in the pool for ten minutes because she refused to paddle, something she had already done on day 1. Then yesterday, the second last day, she merely protested a couple of times, but actually started to paddle on the noodle on her own. I was very proud of her, but at the same time frustrated that it had taken her so long to get back to where she had started.

I always struggle when my Muddy Kids cry, it goes straight to my heart and to see her do it every day was very tough. My theory though was if I gave up and let her get out of the pool, that I wasn't likely to get her back in any time soon, so we persevered and today I am dead tired. I have 50% of My Muddy kids asleep, but the two that should be as tired as I feel, are full of beans, so no sneaky nap will be coming anytime soon. And so we plod on, tired and slowly, maybe tomorrow a full day at home will help to revive us all.

Who knew they got to play in a boat on their last day?

They loved it though

The cheeky gang, born together, swimming together, starting school together!

The second round of babies

Do you have any tricks for getting your kids to have a day time rest?
Did you do swimming lessons and feel as tired as I do?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Summer Thunderstorm

Family Fun in a Summer Downpour on what was a hot and sticky afternoon

Linking Up for Wordless Wednesday with My Little Drummer Boys

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

To Invite or Not To Invite?

My Muddy Preschooler's 5th Birthday is coming up and I'm having a  slight dilemma, or maybe it's really a crisis of conscience. A couple of nights ago we sat down together and made a list of the people the Preschooler would like to invite to her birthday party. She reeled off a list of the usual suspects, kids I know and I know their parents, either very well, or know them to say hello to at preschool pick up and drop off. Then she threw in the name of a little girl I do not know. I don't know this girl's parents, I don't know where she lives. I do know she's going to a different school to the preschooler this year (courtesy of another parent), but other than that I know nothing.

The question is, do I send an invite? How do I send an invite when I don't know where to send it? It's not unusual in our town for children and their parents to not have the same surname, so that's the first stumbling block. The second is, there are lots of people in the phone book with the same last name, so how do I know which one to send it to. I asked around at swimming lessons this morning but nobody could help me out.

I explained to the Muddy Preschooler this afternoon that I didn't know this little girl's address and she asked 'Why not?'. So I'm having a battle with myself, do I spend hours trying to track this little girl down, making phone calls and leaving messages, so we can send her an invitation to the party or do I let it slide and hope the Muddy Preschooler doesn't ask about it again?

What would you do?
Muddy Preschooler's 1st Birthday Cake
Sharing with Muddy Hubby who turned 30 the same day

The joint birthday cake, with her cousin and neighbour for the 2nd Birthday

Shared Birthday Cake with Muddy Hubby for the 2nd Birthday
The first of 3 cakes for her 3rd Birthday, shared with the neighbour who is born the day before

The 3rd Birthday Cake for Day Care
Home Birthday Cake with her cousins and Muddy Hubby

A shared 4th Birthday Cake (Cheesecake Shop Special) while on holidays 2011

Monday, January 16, 2012

Monday, Fun Day

I've said it before and I'll say it again, sometimes I just love living on the farm and being married to my Muddy Hubby Farmer. Today was one of those days. Ask me again tomorrow when it's 40 degrees and we're in the dusty sheep yards and I can't see or breathe through the dust and I might say different. Today however was a good day, with Muddy Hubby getting to spend some time with the Muddy Kids, while working. The Muddy Kids get to do some work with Dad, learning all the time, asking questions all the time. Today's big question was from our Muddy Preschooler who says to me 'How do sheep sleep?, 'Do they sleep with their both eyes closed like we do, or do they sleep with one eye open like a Crocodile?'

While it is hard at times to live on the land, I am very grateful for the life we are living. I am especially glad on those days when the kids are getting ratty (like they are at the moment) when we can go out and explore in the paddock, or lend a hand in the shearing shed, or workshop, or simply take a drive to see what Muddy Hubby's doing. It's that kind of small things that help keep us all from going insane. With only a few weeks left of school holidays, I am trying to make a conscious effort to relax a little more with the kids, hopefully today was a good starting point of more to come.

Muddy Hubby, Muddy Bubby and the Muddy Puzzler headed off to work in the shearing shed while the Pixie, Preschooler and I went to swimming lessons
A trip to the shearing shed to see Muddy Hubby after lunch

In a very spread out convoy

A dip in the small pool to keep cool

Having fun before the storm rolled in

Extra fun when Muddy Hubby jumps in to cool down too

Back to shifting sheep before it poured down rain.

After such a great Monday I'm now wondering what tomorrow will bring! The pessimist in me has me thinking it might just go downhill from here, but fingers crossed it doesn't.

How did you spend your Monday?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Our Restaurant Challenge

I honestly can't remember the last time we went out for dinner at a restaurant as a family. It was probably about the time Muddy Pixie was born and it all just got too hard. When we do a non-cooking night (which isn't very often) we generally get a takeaway and bring it home, or take it to the park.

Tonight though we challenged ourselves (with reinforcements as Nana and Grandpa are still here until tomorrow). We went into town to the local Chinese restaurant. It's your typical Chinese restaurant you find in every country town, complete with tacky decor, plastic tablecloths, the table set with spoon and fork, and you have to request chopsticks if you want them. We went in early, in the hopes of feeding the Muddy Tribe before they got too overtired and out of control.

It started out pretty well, they were happy to colour in while we waited for dinner. Our biggest challenge though was the Muddy Puzzler and the toilet! I counted no less than 8 trips to the bathroom with no success. Eventually Nana took her outside for a 'grass wee' and once that was over we were able to enjoy the rest of our meal.

The Honey Prawns and the spring rolls proved the favourites. It was actually really lovely to go out to dinner as a family, and as my Muddy Pixie started to lose it as we were finishing eating I wouldn't have wanted to be there any longer, as it would have ended in tears! We just might challenge ourselves again sometime when I don't feel like cooking, as it wasn't as terrible as I had feared it would be.

Do you take your family out to dinner?
How do you manage tired kids in a restaurant?