Monday, December 10, 2012

MICI Magazine

A friend just sent me a link to an oh-so-pretty magazine.  It's apparently been around for a little while, but next year, they are launching a printed edition.  I'm in love and planning on taking up a subscription.

Did I mention that it's pretty?  And Christian? And they give away free things? And it has interesting articles?  And there's a really cute craft idea?  And, oh, I'm not sure if already said that it's pretty?

Monday, December 3, 2012


Just a quick post to say that I'm sorry I haven't posted for a long time.  I've been busy spending a lot of wonderful quality time with this beautiful angel, working and attempting to keep this household in order!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

#1 (36 to 36)

Number One on my list is now complete!  Very excited to tick this one off:

Get the cross stitch I did for Little Spring (that I started before she was even born) finally framed.
 On the way home from work, I picked this up from the framers:


The framers did an absolutely amazing job.  I am so, so pleased with the result!  It's such a good feeling to FINALLY get it completely finished and hanging up on the wall!

While I was getting the Pooh cross stitch done, I decided to finally get the gorgeous little picture below framed as well, which has also been patiently waiting to be framed.

I got this quaint little cross stitch from my beautiful cousin, Tammy (from the States).  The framers were wonderful in helping find the perfect frame, being an off-white, distressed one to make it appear like you were looking out of a country cottage window.  We were both totally on the same page and I'm very happy with it.

The framer ended up using "museum" glass in this piece - he had an off cut left over from another project so put it in this frame... so, Tammy, your cross stitch is fit for a museum... ready to showcase your talent!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Update on 36 to 36

I've been fairly quiet on my blog.  Even so, I have been busy completing a few of my 36 to 36 tasks...

Number One...

Get the cross stitch I did for Little Spring (that I started before she was even born) finally framed.
This is currently at the framers... finally!  I should hopefully have it by the end of the week, so I'll let you see the final result!

Number Five...

Enroll Little Spring in 3 year old Kindy for next year.
Well, I haven't actually completed this one.  Due to the fact that I got a new job very unexpectedly, Little Spring is now attending day care.  Instead of enrolling her into 3 year old Kindy next year, we'll keep her at day care.  So, in some ways I did complete this task, enrolling her in Kindy-Day Care this year, but in other ways, this task has become irrelevant.

Number Ten...

Increase my Avon client base (I was going to put a number of how many clients to reach, but I can't control that entirely, so won't put a number.  I'm currently at 46, so will update you on how many I have this time next year!).
Hmm... another task that has kind of become irrelevant.  Instead of increasing my client base, I'm actually in the process of reducing it.  Even though it isn't hard to run my Avon business, and doesn't take up lots of time, it does take up some time.  Time that is taken away from spending it with my family, or time I could be spending on housekeeping, or preparing meals.  For this reason, I've decided to make my Avon business a completely 'online' affair.  I'll no longer be giving out brochures, but any client who wishes to do so, can view the brochure online and email me with their order each campaign.  This isn't suitable for a lot of clients, which is fair enough, but it means my client base will be reduced significantly.  I definitely won't be increasing my client base!

Number Twenty-Three

Go through Little Spring's clothes and send some to a dear friend who's just had a little girl.
I recently sent off my 2 final bags of clothes to my friend and her gorgeous little girl.  It's lovely knowing that many of Little Spring's clothes can continue to be loved by close friends!

Number Twenty-Four

With the rest of Little Spring's clothes, either sell through a pre-loved sale on FB or give to charity.
Many of the clothes were sold on Facebook.  And they were all bought by friends or family, so I'm very happy that strangers won't be wearing Little Spring's clothes!  Not that it really matters, but it does help when 'saying goodbye' to them.

So, 36 tasks, 8 crossed off, a few in progress and still many to complete!  We'll get there! :)

Monday, October 1, 2012

April 2012 Date

Sadly, the "April" part of the title of this post is not a mistake.  This is, in fact, the update on what was meant to be our April Date, that we only got around to doing in September.  Big disappointment about that, but this is what happens when life gets in the way of, well, life!  For any new readers, or to remind some old readers, check out my Christmas Gift Box for Big Spring that gives some background to this date...

The Date Envelope:

Gift Voucher to Sizzlers
Gift Vouchers to the movies
Coupons for popcorn and drinks combo

The Plan:
The problem with planning dates well in advance is that things can go wrong/change.  For almost all of our dates so far, there's been some sort of hiccup!  Our April date was no exception!

We started off our date having dinner at Sizzlers.  One small hiccup there was that we'd both ordered steak with mash potatoes.  As soon as I ordered it, I was hanging out for that yummy mash.  When our meals were brought out, the steak came with fries instead.  When I asked about the mash, the waitress said that she could get a replacement, but it would take about 5 minutes.  We had a movie to get to, so I didn't want to risk running late, so decided to forgo the mash.  Never mind!

We got to the movies in plenty of time and went up to redeem our vouchers... sadly, the movie tickets I bought had expired at the end of July and were no longer valid.  My plan to pre purchase cheaper tickets and therefore having a cheaper date, fell by the way-side when I had to hand over money for 2 full priced tickets, not to mention the cost of the original tickets which were now useless! *sigh*!

We decided to look passed this, were grateful that the popcorn and drinks coupons were still valid and headed into the theatre to watch "The Bourne Legacy".  We've watched the first 3 "Bourne" movies many times (own them on DVD) and had been eagerly awaiting this next one.  We weren't too sure how it would go without Matt Damon and Jason Bourne no longer being the main focus of the storyline, but we quite enjoyed it and look forward to the next installment, whenever that may be.

So, despite the hiccups along the way, we enjoyed our Date Night and the time that gave us for some one-on-one quiet time was lovely!

The Memory:
Unfortunately I forgot to grab my phone off the kitchen bench before running out the door, so the photos below are a little low res as they were taken with an iPhone 3s, instead of my iPhone 4s!

Dinner at Sizzlers

Photos without a flash, sorry!  The happy couple above and below... popcorn and drink - what trip to the movies is complete without that?  Some people may argue that it wouldn't be complete without a choctop, but I've never really gotten that.  Icecream in a movie theatre just doesn't seem appealing to me!  Chocolate, for sure, but icecream?  Each to their own, I guess!

So, we have just entered the month of October, and I reluctantly report that we still have June and July's dates to complete... and for that reason, haven't even opened August or September's envelopes... nor Octobers come to think of it.  :o(

Sunday, September 2, 2012


Retreat: Yes, I went on a women's retreat last weekend, but I'm not talking about that retreat in this post (I hope to post about that another time though).

I'm talking about a personal retreat.  I'm longing for one.  I need one.  I'm desperate for one.  This past week has got me thinking about many, many things.  Assessing my life and realising how ridiculously busy it is.  Realising the unrealistic expectations I've placed on myself.  And realising that I don't think I actually know who I am anymore.  I have no doubt about my role as a wife and a mother, but beyond that, I've been thinking a lot about who I actually am as a person.  Who I really am and assessing why I do the things I do.

I want to go away for at least 24 hours and spend time in prayer, meditation, devotion and answer some tough questions I've asked myself.  This morning when I woke up (well, when I got woken up by darling Little Spring - no sleep in for me!), I started to write down all the questions I want to answer... 4 A4 pages worth of questions.  I'm now in the process of trying to track down some sort of resource that will help guide me through all these thoughts swirling around in my head.  If you've ever come across any sort of 'personal retreat' resource that you can recommend, I would really appreciate you passing this information on to me.  My focus really is "who am I".  I need God's guidance through this, but if you have any suggestions for resources, specific bible readings for me to mediate through, etc. that would be super helpful!

(image credit: taken by my Aunty Ellen)

Not Recommended

I don't recommend attempting the following:

In one same week:
  • starting a major diet/exercise regime (12WBT) AND
  • having your husband overseas AND
  • having a job that is new in itself, so getting ready in the morning is still 'interesting' AND
  • having to get your daughter ready for day care for the first time (when your husband normally does that) each morning, whilst trying to get yourself ready, and deal with her separation anxiety AND
  • starting that week with a weekend away at a women's retreat, so you're already behind before you've even started your week
Nope, totally don't recommend it!

Yep, totally experienced it!  How did I 'survive' (I've put that in inverted commas, because because I don't feel I really survived it, but I'm here on the other side, still breathing, so there is some element of survival):
  • being kind to myself, first by stopping the exercises.  I forced myself to do exercises on Monday, even though, after a very long day, I really didn't want to.   I decided on Tuesday that exercise wasn't going to actually help me this week: just stress me out, make me feel guilty if I didn't do it and take up precious time that I didn't have much spare of.  I'm not saying that exercise isn't important, but I am saying you have to realistic.  Even Michelle Bridges acknowledges in her preseason tasks - "external excuses outside of your control".  While sticking to just the diet aspect of the program, from the Monday morning weigh to the Wednesday morning weigh in, I'd lost an amazing 1.3kg!  By the end of the week, however, even trying to stick to the menu plan was stressing me.  With so many extra factors lumped on my life this passed week, not having flexibility with what I was eating was having me stressed.  Where possible, I tried to move the menu items around to fit how energetic I was, therefore, what meal preparation would suit.  A kind friend that I debriefed with yesterday had wonderful words of wisdom to share with me.  Be kind to myself.  It's okay if I don't stick to the program.  My expectations of myself were too high and I needed to drop them.  As long as I make sensible food choices, it doesn't matter if I don't stick to the plan.  What a weight off (pun not intended!).
  • there's not much I could do about Big Spring being overseas, but obviously if we'd realised everything that was going to happen this week and how it all fell together (or fell apart!), then a few months ago, we might have reconsidered agreeing he should go to the States for a conference (the 20-20 vision of hindsight is amazingly clear!).  However, having WiFi/internet available, has been a blessing to talk to him for free and the invention of Skype is so amazing.  Every night Little Spring and I chatted with Big Spring and we had our nightly bedtime routine, including blessings and prayers together.  Such commitment from Big Spring to do this though: he had to get up at 5am to match Little Spring's bedtime.  And he's not a morning person!
  • again, there's not really a lot I could have done about my new job.  If we'd realised how big a week this was going to be, perhaps we would have reconsidered me accepting the position, but for just such a short period, it doesn't seem a very realistic way of making that decision.  We maybe could have deferred my start date for a further few weeks, but I don't think that would have been very realistic for my employers.
  • in regards to getting Little Spring ready in the morning, it was a matter of getting as much ready the night before, which was quite difficult at the end of an already long day!  I had teed up with work, however, that I'd be getting into work late while Big Spring is overseas, so it took the pressure off getting out the door on time.  Addressing Little Spring's separation anxiety has been stressful and emotional.  It's unfortunate that we were dealing with it in this particular week, but no matter when she started day care, we'd have to deal with this and push through.
  • I could have cancelled the retreat, but it was something I was really looking forward to and, although it had me starting my week on the back foot, I was SO glad to have gone... I really appreciated the bible study and it was wonderful to bond more deeply with some beautiful women from the church.  I had so much fun!

Saturday, August 11, 2012


Do you believe in them?  Miracles? I'd like to think I do, but always get shocked when they happen, especially to me.

My latest miracle happened yesterday.  For those long time readers/friends/family, you will probably recall that just over 5 years ago, I had surgery on my ear for a perforated eardrum.  It was a successful surgery in that the perforation healed, but I never got full hearing back in my ear.

A few months ago (a week from the 5th anniversary of my surgery), through an ear infection I had, my doctor diagnosed another perforation.  I was devastated.  The idea of having to have surgery again filled me with dread, not because of the surgery itself, but because of the post-op condition.  The first time I had surgery wasn't all roses, but it was easy for me just to lie in bed and rest and not have to worry about too much.  Now, as a mum, post-op isn't quite as simple as lying in bed, getting the rest I need!  Little Spring doesn't really understand, even though she's very caring and sensitive (when I rolled my ankle at basketball, she knew that "Mummy's foot hurts" and when I had my ear infection, she understood that "Mummy's ear hurts" and would often give me kisses to make it better), but trying to help a child understand that they can't climb all over you, or get up and run around and play, that is a difficult thing!

And then, when I discovered I been offered my new job, I was dreading the idea of having to tell them that I'd need time off for a surgery, plus recovery time... not a good way to start a job!

So, I headed off to the specialist (ENT) after my GP discovered the perforation. The ENT told me to keep it dry and come back in 3 weeks after the infection was gone.  When I went back, he saw that the perforation was still there and said that we could either proceed with surgery now, or try again in 6 weeks and see if it had healed itself (50/50 chance).  I didn't hold high hopes, but said to wait and see what happened to try and avoid surgery.

Yesterday was my 6 week check up and I went with a heavy heart.  I start my new on Monday and really didn't want to go in with bad news.  I said a quick prayer to God as I was driving there, feeling guilty that this one prayer was meant to fix everything, when I hadn't really been praying about it at all since the last appointment.  My desperate plea not for surgery, but not really believing that what I was praying for could possibly be answered, especially when this was the only, almost token, prayer I'd offered on the matter.

When my name was called in the waiting room, my heart sunk (both because of the bad news I was about to hear and because I was enjoying reading a book in silence, uninterrupted - book reading doesn't happen very often for me anymore!).  I gave a big sigh and got up.

I sat in the usual chair and waited while the ENT read my file.  I was just thinking, get on with it, check my ear and give me the bad news already!  He finally grabbed his instruments and had a look.  Yep, bad news... the perforation was still there.  I didn't think it could, but my heart sunk that little bit more.

The ENT then asked me to blow air through it.  When that request was met with silence and a questioning glance, he said to hold my nose, take a deep breath and blow through my nose.  I've never liked doing that for the popping sensation and with my perforation, was even more scared to do so, so gave it a half-hearted effort.  He asked if I could feel the air and when I said, no, he said that it was possible that there was a small patch over the perforation and it might be healing itself.

So, he wanted to have a look at it through the microscope to see.  At this point I was a little embarrassed.  He was going to see that there wasn't a patch and it was just my pathetic attempt at blowing air that caused me not to actually feel anything.

We walked into the next room and I hopped up on the special chair.  It reclined like a dentist's chair and then it was time.  Time to get busted and humiliated for not blowing properly.  He stuck his microscope in my ear and had a look around.

After he pulled it out he said something I couldn't possibly believe.  There was, in fact, a small patch over the perforation and my wonderful body was healing itself!  A miracle indeed!  No surgery required!  I could feel tears stinging my eyes I was so happy and relieved!

He said that I should continue to keep the ear dry (yes, sir!) and not to blow it too hard (okay, I have a cold at the moment, but gentle nose blowing it is!) and it will hopefully continue to heal itself.  Now I just need to wait 6 weeks until I go back to him and have it checked again.

I practically skipped back to the car, holding back tears of joy.  I was in absolute shock.  My ear was healing itself.  God answered my prayer.  A miracle had occurred.  I felt unworthy of the miracle because of my doubt, but so, so happy!

Thank you, LORD, for answering my prayer.  The prayer of a woman with much faith in God, but little faith in her prayers.  Thank goodness prayers aren't answered, and people aren't healed, based on the level of faith a person has.

God be praised for God is Good!

I think Mary sums up my feels quite well:
And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me - holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation.  He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.  He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors.” (Luke 1:46-55)

Thursday, August 9, 2012

I Am Committed

"My commitment is to lose 10 kg ... and I am committed to do the work to get me there."

12WBT Progress Tracker 

Just yesterday, I signed up for Michelle Bridge's 12 Week Body Transformation (12WBT).  Round 3 starts on 27th August and I am currently in "Pre-Season".  At certain stages she unlocks tasks for us to do and today's task is to "Say It Out Loud" and making a commitment to myself and others, so that's what I'm doing - stepping it up and putting my journery here on my blog.

I won't be constantly posting about 12WBT, but I will give you updates every once in a while to let you know how I'm going.  I hope that in 12 weeks I'll be able to give you a wonderful success story!

And so it begins...

Thursday, August 2, 2012

What Condition is Your Bible In?

I saw this on Facebook today:

and it reminded me of a bumper sticker I saw about a year ago that I thought I'd share with you:

How's your Bible looking?  I hope and pray that it's falling apart!

Monday, July 30, 2012

First Orders

How exciting... after my post regarding my Weekly Activity List, I had 3 friends request their own!  Here are my first 2 completed orders:

My third order is just waiting on confirmation of their personalised details and then I'll be able to complete another one!

I've been so excited about this project and the interest it's generated, that I've made up some "Forever Springtime" stationery to send out with the orders - a covering letter and some labels to pretty up the envelope the kit is being sent in.

It has actually been very interesting making Weekly Activity Lists for other people.  I feel that I've been privileged enough to get an inside look to my friends' lives that I might not have otherwise known.  Getting a list of all their activities for the week gave me an insight to how they organise their week, or perhaps how they wish to see their week unfold.  It showed me what their priorities are and got me thinking about mine and how their calendars were the same and different from mine.  I didn't expect to feel this way, but I do really feel privileged to receive this information and to hopefully play a part in helping them feel more organised, if not get them more organised!

If you'd like one of these for yourself, please email me and I'll let you know what information I need from you to complete your personalised Weekly Activity List!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Shopping Spree

What a pity that I had to go out and buy news clothes for my new job coming up!  A friend and I had a wonderful day today shopping for many outfits for this special occasion.  I managed to find a few bargains and get some discounts here and there, so the damage wasn't quite so bad!  The photos aren't that great (my camera takes beautiful pictures during the day but I've always had issues with night time/flash shots), but this gives you an idea of my plunder for the day!

 1. Gorgeous black dress with white polka dots and a bright red belt (we ran out of time to find some beautiful matching red heels to complete the outfit).
2. Stunning black pinstripe dress with a flattering flaps on the hip (I think my favourite purchase of the day).
3. Some new, simple black heels to complete each outfit.

 1. Gun metal grey slacks with slight stretch for a beautifully comfortable fit!
2. Black pinstripe below the knee skirt with belt.
3. Basic black below the knee skirt.

1. Stripped ruffle front shirt.
2. Basic red stretch shirt.
3. Cute little cardigan to throw over an outfit when slightly cooler in the office (jackets are a little redundant up here, so a cardigan is a practical, essential alternative!).
4. Another stripped, pleated shirt.

Can't wait to wear them for 'real' in the coming weeks!  My first day will be here before I know it... and so much to do before then!

#16 (36 to 36)

Getting caught up on some of my achievements from my 36 to 36 list!
Get rid of as much 'processed' food as possible from the pantry and fridge.  I've already been trying, but it's a definite goal.  Whether it be giving it away to the charity food bin at church or using it up, I want to get it out of the house!
Since I first shopped for my Cooking Like Grandma Experiment, my pantry has been so unorganised and I haven't been able to find anything.  I'd moved everything off of one shelf so that the week's food would all be together.  That meant everything that was on the shelf, no longer had a specific place and got shoved where I could find room.  Each time I went to the pantry after the experiment, stuff just got put back wherever and it got more and more unorganised.  It had been driving me crazy for weeks!  So, yesterday, I finally went through the cupboard and put everything back in an organised fashion.

However, not everything made it back into the cupboard.  Some got thrown and some was donated to the food box at church.  This was in line with #16 on my list.  I was pleasantly surprised, however, at how much stuff I was actually able to put back.  I didn't have too much processed stuff and the processed stuff that did make it back is hard not to have as a staple in the cupboard.

Also, I wasn't quite as strict as what I'd planned to be... I had to be a bit more realistic.  Due to the fact that I'm going back to work next month, I'm probably not going to have time to make every single thing from scratch.  As much as I'd like to, it's just not a realistic expectation.  Having said this, I will still try and avoid buying processed food as much as possible.  The experiment really influenced me in that way, and I am still keen to keep "Cooking Like Grandma" as much as I can, whilst staying realistic and in the realms of not making it too difficult for myself as a working mum!

The fridge is looking pretty good too, but I haven't provided a picture because it's actually pretty empty as I'm due to do a shop tomorrow!  With only fresh food (mostly) going in there, it gets bare much more quickly now!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

#33 (36 to 36)

Another task complete!
Make my own pasta for the first time. A friend is lending me her pasta maker and I hope to start using it often so I can justify spending the money on my own and make fresh pasta.
I've made it once so far.  It didn't work out too badly!  Not the best, but it was edible!  The friend who lent me her pasta maker, verbally gave me the instructions on how to make the actual pasta dough.  When I made it based on the memory of what she told me, it didn't really have the right consistency, so I just kept adding ingredients until it felt right.  Because I wasn't fast enough with each step, the dough stuck together a bit, but I made it work as best I could.  When I cooked the pasta, it turned out pretty well, but there were a few more clumps than I would have liked.

However, for my first attempt, I was pretty happy with the end result. I look forward to trying again sometime in the near future!

Have you made homemade pasta before?  If so, please share your recipe... I'd love to try it!  I'm keen to perfect the art!

Bar Codes and Shopping List Apps

I love the Woolworths App on my phone.  There are so many benefits to using it, my 2 favourite being 1.) the ability to scan in products I have at home to add them to my shopping list and 2.) having the shopping list automatically sorted by aisle number to make shopping more efficient and easier.

As I was sorting out my pantry today, I came up with what I thought was a pretty good idea (and Big Spring thought so too!)... when I get to the end of a product, I naturally add it to my shopping list on my phone straight away.  For something like a jar of peanut butter, it's nice and easy to just scan the bar code on the jar and have it added to my list automatically.  It's more frustrating when I use something like flour or sugar that has been put into a container and I no longer have a bar code to just scan and add.  Instead, I have to add it manually and scroll through a number of items to find the particular item I need.  I admit that it's not really that hard, but it's not as convenient as having the bar code at my finger tips.

So, I came up with a solution!  I've started to cut the bar codes off of the packets, after emptying them into the relevant container, and then sticking the bar code to the back of the container.  That way, when the item gets low, all I need to do, is scan the bar code that is conveniently located on the back of the container and the exact item I'm after is added to my shopping list.


I only have a few containers with the bar codes attached, but I look forward to slowly building my collection!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Big Changes

So, yes... as I was saying in my last post, I'm going to be starting back at work next month!  Does it seem like this has happened out of the blue?  That's because it did happen out of the blue!  Here's the story...

Big Spring and I have previously discussed me going back to work part-time while putting Amy in 3yo kinder next year, but when an opportunity arose recently, we decided to relook at things and assess the possibilities.

Big Spring received an email from MAF (Mission Aviation Fellowship) asking him to let his church know of a vacant position for “Personal Assistant to Regional Director (RD) and Senior Staff /Receptionist-Office Coordinator”. After some discussion (especially because the job ad mentioned that the role is full-time but applicants wanting to work less hours may be considered), we decided I should get more information on what the actual role was and what ‘less hours’ meant. They emailed me the job description and said they would consider less hours for the right person – they wanted the role to work for both parties, so would negotiate accordingly. As I read through the job description, I fell in love with the role. I then started looking on MAF’s website, to find more information about them. As I read through what they do, I got so passionate about wanting to serve with them.

After much more prayer, we decided that I should apply for the position, so I emailed my resume. They advised they would contact me by the end of the following week, however, the next day, I received an email saying that HR had a meeting and decided to get selected applicants to go through a practical exercise to help in their selection for interview. Wow! One step closer to the position! I thought the practical (a week later) went really well and later that day, I got a call to say they’d like to interview me, so a time was arranged for the following Monday.

What an interview… it went for 1hr 15min with a panel of 3 people. I felt that some of it went really well, but for (what seemed like) much of it, bumbled my way through it and thought it was just disastrous and figured that was the end of any hope of getting the job. As I left, they told me that I should find out by the end of the week if I had been successful. Imagine my surprise when I received a call the following morning saying that they were delighted to offer me the position! I took them up on the offer to think about it for the day before accepting. After continued prayer and much thought, I rang back in the afternoon to say that I would love to accept the job. Oh my goodness!

Obviously in between all of this going on, Big Spring and I had a lot on our minds! I was constantly thinking about it and praying, pleading with God to give me a clear answer whether this was the right thing to be applying for the job. We took each step as it came and hoped and prayed we were following God’s Will.

So what does this all mean for us? Well, I’ll be working from 8am-3:30pm Monday to Friday. Little Spring will be in child care 4 days a week and Big Spring will look after her on his day off. The one we are most likely to send her to is literally just around the corner from us, a minute’s walk away, so nice and close.

I’ll be starting on 13th August and of course have a mixture of excitement, nervousness and everything in between!

If you'd like to know what MAF is and what they do, click on the link above to take you to their website.  If nothing else, please check out their "Impact" page and watch some of their videos.  It's truly inspirational stuff!  Here's one in particular, from their US site, so you don't even have to leave this page!

Reverse Maternity Leave

Reverse Maternity Leave \ri-ˈvərs\ \mə-ˈtər-nə-tē\ \ˈlēv\ n. opposite or contrary to <reverse order> a period of paid absence from work, to which a woman is legally entitled during the months immediately before childbirth.

I came up with that little definition by splicing together the definitions of the words on their own.  And why would I do that?  Because I had to come up with a name for the period of time I am currently in and how it feels.

I don't speak for everyone, of course, but I think for many women, when they leave work on maternity leave, before having their baby, they spend the time preparing the home... cleaning every nook and cranny, baking and cooking up a storm to stash in the freezer, ensuring the nursery is just right and ready to bring home baby, frantically trying to fit in all those projects you know you won't ever touch again after baby comes along and treasuring the quiet time to relax and kick back, because you know you'll forget what "quiet time" and "relax" means in future and they will, in fact, become a redundant concept!

So, what does this all have to do with me?  Well, I’m now thinking about all the things I need/want to get done before I return back to work next month.  The list is growing in my head and I know it’s going to have to spill out onto paper if I want to keep track of everything.

“Hang on, back up,” I hear you saying.  “Before I return back to work next month?”  Yep, you read correctly!  If you haven’t already heard, you’re probably thinking you’ve missed something!  And you have, except it’s not your fault because I haven’t written about it on my blog until now.  I’ll tell you more about it in a minute, but in the meantime, I want to get back to this “Reverse Maternity Leave” concept.

As I was saying, I have a growing list in my head of all the things I need/want to get done before I start work.  I’m thinking about:
  • getting the house thoroughly clean now so that I can try and maintain the cleanliness on a much more manageable level.
  • baking and cooking to put in the freezer so we have ‘emergency’ food for the times I don’t feel like cooking or don’t have time after a long day.
  • starting to look at what routines I’ll put in place to manage my time well (using my activity list – I’ll need to make some new tags!)
  • organising all the things Little Spring will need for child care – clothes labelled, spare clothes in abundance, toilet train her (Big Spring is doing a wonderful job of taking that in hand today!), paperwork to enrol her, register her with Centrelink in order to claim the costs, start taking her to the centre a few times, to help familiarise herself with the other kids, staff and surroundings.
  • fitting in some pampering for myself to feel nice and refreshed for my first day – massage (got a voucher for mother’s day… the perfect time to use it!) and pedicure/manicure.
  • buying new clothes – I got rid of all my corporate wear when I decided not to return to work after my maternity leave ran out.  I figured that I’d had all the clothes for so long that I was due new ones when I eventually went back to work anyway!
  • trying to knock off some of my 36 to 36 list, especially the ones that involve helping me clear out my office here at home.  It’s a huge, unorganised mess at the moment and it deflates me every time I walk in here!
All this feels very similar to how I felt when I left my last place of employment before having Little Spring way back in 2009!  There are obviously some different tasks to when I went on maternity leave, but the concept is the same.  It got me thinking about a name for this period and I did try inventing a whole new word, but couldn’t come up with anything catchy enough, so a splice of words that gets the meaning across would have to do!

Now, I did promise to tell you more about this new job of mine, but I think that this post is already long enough, so instead, I’ll do a whole new post on it.  Stay tuned for the next post, or if you’re reading this later down the track, I’ll link you to the post here.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Fourth of July!

Seeing as my mum was up visiting, I thought why not celebrate the fourth of July, for the first time ever!

First of all, I made some very delicious pre-dinner snacks.  They weren't festive for this particular occasion, but Mum loves ladybirds, and had found these on Facebook, so I said I would make them for her when she came up.  Tonight seemed like as good a time as any!

We had a simple, but yummy BBQ dinner with Porterhouse steak and salad and made sure we saved room for dessert... Hidden Flag cake:

 It was a little messy, but I think it turned out pretty well, seeing as I based the design on something I saw on the internet, but didn't have the right 'equipment' to make it exactly.  How clever is that cake?!
Little Spring absolutely loved it... she's been on a sugar high for most of the day - licking beaters from the cake batter, from the icing and finally the cake itself!  It was actually very, very sweet, with all the cake and icing in between, that I got a bit of a sugar headache after eating it!  We had 5 adults and Little Spring to taste of the beautiful cake, and this how much is left.  I certainly don't want to be finishing it all off myself!

After dinner, we proceeded to play some American Football... on the Wii!  I found the game today at a bargain shop and wouldn't have bothered buying it except for the fact that it had American Football as one of the games and today was the fourth of July, so couldn't resist!

It wasn't one of the best Wii games we've ever played, but we had fun taking turns and we got into the other games as well - volleyball, cricket, boules, football (soccer) and disc golf.

So, tonight was one of the most interesting fourth of July's I've had, seeing as I've never celebrated it before, but I look forward to trying again next year and perhaps perfecting the hidden flag cake a little!

Did you celebrate Independence Day?

Friday, June 29, 2012

Unexpected Suprises!

Thank you shopadocket!  I never check the back of my supermarket receipts because there's never any vouchers of interest on there, so don't bother.  The other day, for some reason I flipped it over and discovered a lovely little gem.  Discount voucher for the hairdressers... a very good valued voucher.  And it got better... it was from the hairdressers I've been to once before and had planned to make my regular hairdresser.  And I'd been needing a haircut and colour for a long time (with a friend's wedding coming up, I knew I really needed a freshening up!).  I couldn't believe I was looking at this great voucher!  It was perfect timing.

So, I booked myself in and arranged a friend to babysit Little Spring.  And what a fantastic morning I've had.  I knew I was in for more than just a cut and colour, going by the package that was on offer, but there was really a surprise around each corner.

When I got there, they took me to their beauty section, where they waxed my eyebrows and then proceeded to tint them and my eyelashes... something I've wanted to do for quite a while.  That was an unexpectedly nice surprise.  When they'd finished with my eyes, they proceeded to do a mini facial.  Mm... relaxation, followed by a shampoo.  Totally relaxing!

I was then taken back to the salon section, where the hairdresser cut my hair.  At this point, I figured that my pampering experience (aside from the usual cut and colour) was over.  It looked great, having a fresh new cut, and I hadn't even had the colour put in yet.  Next came the colour and waiting whilst the colour 'took'.

I was then taken back over to the beauty section, where the basins are and they rinsed the colour out.  I was once again pleasantly surprised when this was followed by a hair treatment, slight scalp massage and a hot towel wrap on the hair.  Heavenly!  This was surely the peak of my pampering.  Nope!  She rinsed the treatment out and then proceeded to perform an even deeper scalp massage!  Mm... this couldn't get any better!

With the hair rinsed, it was time to go back to the salon section for my hair to get dried and styled.  Well, that's what I was expecting... instead, once I was seated, the assistant asked if I was ready for my Indian Head Massage (including shoulders).  Oh, yes indeedy, I was ready!

Finally, the hairdresser dried and styled my hair and that was the end of my "me" time!  All whilst enjoying a delicious hot chocolate and yummy bite sized "Boost" bar!

After paying for this pampering session (well over 3 hours worth!), they handed me a gift bag packed with even more value... three more vouchers for free, valued between $40 and $80, a mini book on 'styling essentials' and hair product samples.  I love value for money and I walked out of there a very happy lady!

The eyes have it - waxed and tinted!

Lighter and more coverage than I was expecting but still love it!  I had told the hairdresser that I wanted a lighter colour this time, so it's not like I didn't actually ask for it!

So, what do you think!?

This experience has certainly taught me that I need to check my supermarket receipts in future, to make sure I'm not missing out on any more shopadocket gems!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Five Minute Friday: Risk

It's been awhile, but I'm linking up with Five Minute Friday again... here are the rules:

1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
2. Link back here at Lisa-Jo's house and invite others to join in.
3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community..


I don't skydive, or bungy jump, or jump into pools full of electric eels... but I lead a risky life.  Well, at least on my blog.  Putting something on my blog is risky; whenever I post about something I want to do, or a challenge for myself, I'm making it public.  That means accountability.  If I don't do it or achieve it, everyone will know about it.  There's nothing private about the failure.  But it gives me incentive to do it!  My "Cooking Like Grandma Experiment", my "36 to 36" challenge and many others.

I'm also taking a risk when I put my opinion out there.  Everyone has they're own view and it's often different from your own.  I've just posted about how we are potty training our daughter.  Many will disagree with our method.

I often put my heart on my sleeve... or at least I try to.  I run the risk of opening myself up to people who don't really care.  Right now I'm telling you all that our beautiful daughter was conceived through IVF.  A million reasons that can fall under the category "risk", both from the perspective of the actual procedure as well as just talking about it now and how we came to have a wonderful almost 3 year old in our lives.


Wow!  Five minutes is so restrictive!  LOL.  I always get cut off mid thought, so will need to learn to touch type much faster!

Friday, June 22, 2012

#36 (36 to 36)

I've started another task on my list today... Number 36:
Be more intentional with Little Spring's toilet training, without pushing her. Look into it a lot more (have already Facebook researched it amongst friends) for hints, tips etc.
Basically, using the feedback I received from my friends on Facebook, I decided to just go ahead and start a new method for Little Spring's toilet/potty training. There is SO much information on the web, that it can all get a bit confusing and overwhelming, so thought I'd go with what I sort of already thought, that was confirmed or enhanced further by the feedback. To condense what I wrote on Facebook in my response to everyone's feedback: I've heard it before, but they all confirmed it for me that basically it should be child-led, not parent-led and not to push until they are ready themselves. For quite awhile now, we've kept Little Spring in nappies, but encouraged her to sit on the potty and do wees. She then gets half a snake for her efforts. She's now refusing the potty more (I've heard kids can regress for a little while) and thought I might step up the effort, with a different tact. After reading all the experiences of my "Mum" friends, I liked the idea of a chart... Little Spring's at a better age to understand what that means now. I don't want to push Little Spring too much, especially after I've heard a number of mums comment about the heartache and wasted effort, when ultimately the child really decides they're ready, but think a change of tact and vamped up effort might work.

Firstly I purchased all the 'supplies' I would need - stickers, Freddo Frogs, and small & major achievement rewards. It was a little hard finding the smaller toys... I didn't want to buy anything too 'cheap and nasty' but I didn't want to spend lots of money either, so I found toys that had multiple elements in the packet that could be divided up into a number of rewards (playdoh sets, cooking sets etc) and found a couple bargains in the $1 bin in Big W. There was also a 'throw away' bin of some great toys that are normally quite expensive but they were getting rid of them really cheaply that I could use for the major achievement rewards (Snow White and 2 Dwarf figurines). Secondly, in true Nelle fashion, I went a little OCD on the details of the chart and printed something out and laminated it. I laminated it so that Little Spring could stick her stickers on it, but could reuse it as required and not have to print it off each time we restarted or filled it up. Laminating also protects the paper from getting tatty. Anyway, here's the plan...

Little Spring's reward chart and stickers. For every wee she does, she gets 1 sticker. For every poo she does, she gets 2 stickers. I bought 2 types of stickers for her to choose from - stars and flowers in a multitude of colours. Little Spring knows shapes and colours well, but for children that don't, this chart would also have a bonus learning element when choosing their sticker/s. It does, however, help Little Spring with her counting and she can actually see the value of counting in a 'real life' situation.

I know that there are some very conflicting views on how to teach a child to become toilet trained (like all child-rearing, everyone has their own view and there is never one way that everyone agrees on), so I understand that some readers may not agree with our method, and that's okay. I'd love to hear your own method (please leave a comment below), but please don't judge us for ours.

I included a picture of Jemima from Playschool on Little Spring's chart as I wanted something familiar on there. She received Jemima at the recent concert she went to and loves her. Jemima will help her count the stickers and I'm hoping I can use the actual doll as a way of connecting on a different level. Anyway, once Little Spring has achieved 5 stars in a day, she receives a Freddo Frog.

I was going to have a "small achievement reward" at the end of 7 days, but as I had so many things up my sleeve, and 7 days is a long time for Little Spring's age, we decided to change to every 2 days. I put all the rewards in a box and she can choose one thing out of the box each time.

At the end of 7 days, Little Spring can then choose her major reward of a Disney character. Once we have our first full successful week, I'll tweak the reward system accordingly. I have no idea how this will go and it could possibly be a complete flop! Big Spring and I are on the same page, however and don't want to push her in anyway. We are offering her the incentives and encouraging her to use the potty or toilet (her choice of which), but it will be up to her to say yes. If she says no, that's fine (disappointing, but fine!) and we'll ask again later. So, that's the plan... wish us luck and please let me know your thoughts on toilet training (how you toilet trained, how successful you were and your advice etc)...


Further reading: If you are interested in the information I collated from Facebook here it is:

I asked the question "Parents: I need some advice! Would love your feedback on how and when you toilet trained your child/ren... and whether you'd do the same again. Did they fight against it, or was it their choice/did it willingly?" and received these answers (with some very minor editing on my part):

Mum #1: I was 'told' that I should start toilet training Lachlan because he was 2 and leading into summer. So I started and I would not do that again as what followed for 2yrs of pain. Both girls though were wanting to wear undies before I was ready and despite me trying to hold off both basically toilet trained themselves by the time they were 2 and half. My recommendation they will let you know when they are a little interested. Encourage but don't stress if are are not showing any indication that they want to be toilet training at the 'right age". Each child will progress at their own pace.

Mum #2: With my children summer Autumn was the best time to toilet train them. Good QLD weather is the best for that. Mine were easy to train. I never stressed about it and I encouraged them. I had 2 summer babies and 2 winter ones. While I say it was easy, I know some parents do have their struggles.

Mum #3: Josh my first was so easy, summer times a great time and he was 2. Tyler started well at 2 but then decided he didn't want to do it anymore so back to nappies, then I was worrying cause he was coming up 3 and had no interest, but some slight encouragement and he decided he was right, and Hayley did the same started at 2 was doing really well then just decided she didn't want to, gave her a month or two and we tried again and she's doing excellent even out of night nappies now and she's 3 next month, but I don't think it should be forced; encouraged but they know when they are ready.

Mum #4: Cloth nappies, if you have them are a great way to introduce the sensation of wet to your little one. I basically start when then can pull on and take off their pants. I don't use pull ups, particularly in the early training as they are too much like undies and seems to confuse things. I also time wees, and have recently seen an expert article suggest that this is better than teaching them to hold on. To begin with, on the hour, and then tweak it up or down to give the child easy success. Noting that a big drink can be followed sooner than you think by the wee. And becoming a broken record of "poos go in the toilet" or "wees go in the toilet"...but not a frustrated record. And don't ask me about poo training, I've just finished with no4 and still don't have a clear plan as timing has never worked for me. I always get the wees first. If they are young, 1-2.5 years, its important for the adults to be responsible for reminding when to go, as they are a bit young to take on the responsibility by themselves.

Mum #5: We're just mucking around with toilet training - had first accident today and not sure I can be bothered pursuing this. But we're home this afternoon so we'll go nappy free again and see how that goes! Pity it's the beginning of winter - agree summer would be a better time

Mum #6: Have you ever seen a 21 year old in nappies? No I had trouble with my youngest, he has a lot of tummy and bottom issues; at first I was stressed as I wanted him trained to go to 3 year old kinder when he was about to turn 4. First he had no idea there was no hold gesture or anything. Then I placed Undies inside the pullup... they feel the wet but your flooring does not! I became really stressed as birthday 4 came and he did not go! One day I kid you not I put him in undies to teach him, he wet them, I slipped on the wee not knowing it was there fell on my back and hurt myself! he saw it all happen, and went to the toilet after that. Cyndi was 3 and so was Josh. It is in normal range! ask but do not stress, she will when she wants, my story proves it. Josh started just after 3 cos he was scared of the toilet and hated the potty, he went toilet because they changed the pull up design from mickey mouse to buzz light year, he was not happy and decided toilet was better. Its not just about the feeling the need to go its all about confidence. Some are good and some are unsure. Keep yourself happy and it will happen. Do not listen to braggers. Last year in prep there were two mums who bragged their children were trained at 18 months.... but those very same children pooed in their pants on a regular basis! Cyndi decided to go to toilet when she saw what was in Joshua's nappy and disliked the dirty look! they are all different. it will happen

Mum #7: When I pushed the issue nothing happened. I just took my cues from him!

Mum #8: Too long ago to remember!  Pull-ups were great for night.

Mum #9: Someone once told me that if the parents use the toilet, the children will eventually use it too! I had two in nappies at one time, but I don't remember toilet training to be a big issue. What I would have given for pull-ups!!!!

Mum #10: I reckon later is better than too early - the earlier ones seem to be having more accidents for longer. I had two aborted attempts due to F screaming about having to do poos. I did the naughty thing and actually pushed her on this on the 3rd attempt as I knew she was pretty much okay for wees - took a day of lots of tears but from them on was pretty much trained (27 months or so). We had a box of treats and a chart (with rows of 10 dots) and she got one sticker for a wee and two for a poo and she would stick them on her chart - once she had 10 she could pick something out of the box. Worked a treat. For a few days she was focused on the stickers but soon forgot asking for them and although we kept them for the odd big treat, that was it. First few weeks out and about are a bit touchy ... dreading that bit!! But good luck!

Mum #11: I toilet trained Tom at about 3, and Maddy toilet trained herself at 2.5, I made her wait until I was on annual leave, she was ready earlier. Both only took about a week, it's just waiting for their cues. If you do it too early it's pain for everyone involved. Don't feel pressured from anyone.

Mum #12: There was some resistance from both boys for about a week, but with toilet training charts etc. they slowly got the hang of it. Girls are meant to get it quicker and drier! No 2 is still having accidents before he knows to go and it's been nearly 9 months of undies now! None of us mind. My fault - I forget to do the hourly reminder to go. Easily by 2 1/2 y.o.

Mum #13: A wise person once told me, "If the parents are toilet trained, then the children will be too!" [Guess which 2 sisters responded to my question on Facebook, with the same answers?!]

Mum #14: My advice would be look for cues eg- sometimes she might actually stop what she's doing and realize she is weeing then use that to talk about going to toilet etc... Everyone has their own way of doing it and some start early some later, with kiara I followed "the book" and it was more stressful than anything and I took her to doctors thinking something was wrong with her he gave me best advice wait for her and I've done that with other 2 and been much more successful you can always encourage to by taking Little Spring to choose her own knickers. Do what works for you two and follow your mother instinct; better to be patient and get it right then rush it because somebody tells you it's time.

Mum #15: Caleb has a star chart and if he did a wee he got a star. If he got 5 stars in a day he got a Chocky Frog. If he got 5 stars a day for 7 days he got a match box car. Poo's was a whole different story.I asked him about every 45 minutes to start with and made sure I was home most of the day. He was not quite 3 and after two weeks we had no wet pants - again poo's a whole other story!

Mum #16: We are only just approaching this milestone with Micah. I found this article helpful: As a result, I purchased a couple of the books she recommended and Micah LOVES them. He wants to read them at bed time every night!! He hasn't used the potty yet but he is doing LOTS of potty role playing and conversation. I know he will get there and will just follow his cues while providing an environment that encourages the use of the potty.

Mum #17: I agree with the others who say to wait until they are ready. Just after Ruby turned two she was ready, but we were so busy with end of year stuff and Christmas that we missed our opportunity. Also as her big disabled brother is still in nappies we didn't push the issue. She asked to go a couple times during the year but it wasn't until the week before her third birthday when she said "mum, I want to wear knickers now", got some Dora ones for her birthday and never looked back. Well, I exaggerate, it wasn't that easy.. Lots of accidents, especially when over-tired or distracted, but a couple of months later I thought 'wow I haven't had an accident in a while'. The same thing happened with night nappies a few months later.

Mum #18: We let H pick a potty and some undies a while back and talked to him about big boys wearing undies. We'd ask him occasionally if he wanted to use the potty or wear undies and he'd say "soon". My folks were over at Easter and he decided to go into undies then. I then just kept reminding him to keep his undies dry and use the potty if he needed to go. I had a packet of these Cadbury tiny egg-shaped M&M things and gave him one when he produced something in potty in addition to lavish praise. Took about a week and a half -set back a bit as he wouldn't use potty at child care. So we're lucky in that when he decided he was ready, he just got it.

Mum #19: After telling me for a few weeks when he had a dirty nappy, a week before master 3's birthday I started sitting him on the potty in front of the tv for 10 mins immediately after breakfast (a treat for him!), just to get him used it. After a week he actually used it, and he was rewarded with a mini M&M from a tube I had bought. I told him he could get more if he used the potty more, and he was successful a few more times that day, but the next day he used it something like 20 times to get a choc! I ended alternating between the chocs and a bottle of bubbles that he could blow after using the potty. Only had a few accidents, but with constant reminding about needing to wee (you need to wee before we do such-and-such) he very easily made the transition to the toilet.   I think that was the main thing - we had him in jocks from when he started using the potty, then I made it that he had to pee before we did anything (before morning tea, before we went outside, before we went in the car etc), and made it clear that we weren't going anywhere until he had been.
He chose his own jocks at the shop. He had been waiting until night time for a nappy for number 2s for the first 3 nights, so we set up a reward chart to encourage number 2's, and he was able to pick a small car at the shop after 10 stars.  We flew to Sydney for a weekend on day 3 of training (not ideal timing, but he was ready and we didn't want to stop him), and rewarded him with a bigger chocolate when he was successful with number 2's for the first time on the toilet. Only one accident that weekend and that was when we didn't ask him to wee before he fell asleep in the pram.   We restricted drinks after tea and he has only wet a handful of times overnight since training. We didn't want him to be dependent on pull-ups so we only used them for a couple of weeks, cos I know too many 5 year-olds who still need to wear them. For a while, if he refused to go to the toilet before bed we'd tell him that he needed to wear a pull-up, and he decided before long that he was a big boy and wanted to wear jocks. Definitely helped that he was ready. The right incentive helps too (helps with all manner of 'training'), but it doesn't have to be expensive or too excessive (I never thought a bottle of bubbles and mini M&M's would work for toilet training, but it did!!).