Sunday, 18 March 2012

Flyspray IS the latest "Buzz Word!"

You KNOW you are a parent when at the end of a very loooong day, you offer to do the family grocery shopping just to get out of putting the kids to bed!! Works every time! :0) The perfect opportunity to sneak in that take-away coffee on the way, to turn the radio volume up high and sing along very loudly a) with the windows wound all the way down to be embarrassed in public (the car doesn't really count as usually I don't encounter familiar faces!), or b) if it is a chilly evening, a roasty, toasty car heater turned up full throttle is the ticket to enjoying warmth, while the rest of the world outside chills like Popsicles heading to Antarctica!

So I do my weekly shop, feeling like I did back in the day when I was a student watching every penny! A tad "old school" I key in the numbers into my trusty calculator, to meet the family budget. Lucky for me, I have a sharp memory, because once I got halfway through my shopping and I accidentally clicked on "CL" and the whole calculator cleared any trace of my adding up! I really should figure out how to use one of those scanner things!!

One of our family's "decluttering" tips is to use a weekly meal planner. As tedious as it may sound, this actually saves us money in the long run, as it prevents the temptation to impulse buy.... well, I did purchase some Impulse Deoderant..... :0)

Meanwhile back at the check-out counter, I pay up for my trolley of eats and treats. Not bad; only $2 over budget!! The cashier looks to be about sweet sixteen or thereabouts. He asks me if I have had "a busy day". I tell him I have four children under the age of seven (including twins!) and that I love to shop when they are all asleep. Mr Sweet Sixteen looks rather pained to hear my "life story" - that's quite enough to hear; he looks like he would rather head for the hills than face a deliriously happy-shopper mother who acts as if she is on parole!

About 15 minutes later I pull up into our driveway. The lights are off in the children's bedrooms, signalling they have been asleep a while! The coast is clear!

Prince Charming and I smuggle the shopping bags into the house and unpack. And then, it happened. The GASP! "Honey! Why oh why, did you buy another can of fly spray? We already have one!".

Me: "Put your reading glasses on!! It is HAIRSPRAY, not fly spray!".

Prince Charming: "There ain't no flies on my wife!"

Both the fly spray can and my hairspray can are the same colour blue. (The "Budget" colour.... I'm not ashamed to admit we are on a tight budget for a family of six!). Just imagine if, for a moment, we switched cans! The rogue late-Summer flies would suck in the hairspray, and they might actually succumb to the horrid fumes. And then I would really have my day to shine! My own home-made "recipe" for fly spray... a chance to make a million bucks.... dream on!!

I'll let you in on a little something I know firsthand about hairspray! On our wedding day, we released two boxes of Monarch Butterflies. For the rest of the ceremony, one Monarch butterfly clung to my hair! Some say it was the beautiful bride; others say it was the hairspray!

Next grocery shop, I will be upgrading from Budget to something better. I really could have gone one better with the extra $2 I had!

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Mrs Cinders has lost her mojo!

I re-arrange the contents of my kitchen cupboards a lot! It makes me feel good to be able to see what foods I have (or don't have!) right on Grocery Day! (There's nothing worse than buying a box of baking powder, only to find out you already had one of those lurking at the back of the food cupboard!). Little fingers grease our fridge door daily, and I find that by the end of the week, the fridge gets cleaned inside and out! The same goes for wiping down exterior cupboard doors, kitchen walls, and most doors at home! Seriously, I hardly gave it a thought when I had one child, but now that we have x4 children, a weekly/daily mop-about is what I am all about! I know one couple who don't have children, who say they vacuum their house about once a fortnight, or once every three weeks. For Mrs Cinders (yes that's me most days!) I vacuum about twice per day at least! It is a wonder I haven't yet been sucked up that vacuum hose into the proverbial black hole. There could well be another as yet unfound galaxy in there!

I like being Mrs Cinders, because deep down (or not so deep down!) there is a part of me who loves to dress up and be a Queen for the day. It doesn't happen often, but recently I have been creating "me moments" and they are just about as important as looking after my quiver of children! Recently I have been feeling a little down, so I: got a haircut, joined Weight Watchers (I used to be 65kg pre children; now I am 82 kg... not too bad, but I'm determined to lose ALL the extra weight: ZUMBA!! Here we come!! A la vista, 82 kg, voila, poof! I shall call on my Fairy Godmother to magic away those pesky kilos, but "Cinders" shall do her part to step on the royal bandwagon to demolish those extra pounds! I'm up to Day 3 on Weight Watchers and have been munching on a mountain of apples (they are worth "zero" points these days!!).... the Magic Mirror on the wall does not lie: there are NO apple sprouts growing from my ears!

I have completed x2 sewing lessons, narrowly missing sewing my own finger and almost running over a pin... but I emerged victoriously holding my very own home-made pin cushion at the end of my lesson! My sewing instructor probably thinks she is on some sort of "Learner Driver" test with me! :0)

I am sure that in no time at all, I'll be sewing up my very own ballgown.... perhaps I'll wear to my next wedding anniversary (since I already have my Prince Charming!). Better yet, I'll be slim enough to fit back into my wedding dress - it has been sitting forlornly in its box for eight years!

It is so much fun to sit down and watch the words fly off my fingers! My husband and I both have a love and a natural talent for writing, but we were going through a tough time with our kids, and the words were just not flowing! I lost my mojo, so to speak! But after pursuing "me time" and re-discovering "the real me" again, the words are back. The blog is back, and I am in that happy place again where the words are there, leaping onto the pages. The click of the keyboard is music to my ears! A sweet harmony of ones reflection on the beauty and simplicity of life itself.

Thank you for your listening ears my friends! Until we meet again in Blogisphere! :0)

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Turning Over a New Leaf

With the dawn of each new year, come new seasons in our lives. My three big children have started back at school and kindergarten after their six week Summer break. We are now back into the predictable routine of going to our places of education, my prince Charming to his workplace, and the baby Cherub takes his morning nap and I have this very welcome slot in my day where I can take the phone off the hook while the baby sleeps..... I take time for myself to relax, instead of scooting around the house at 90 miles per hour, being bogged down by hum-drum housework. I choose what it is I would really like to do. I enjoy reading books or magazines that make me feel good: "Your House and Home" (and "Weight Watchers" because I'm enjoying losing some baby weight now that I have stopped breastfeeding!). Listing my "Favourite Things" reminds me of a song of the exact same title, that Julie Andrews sings. My favourite things are: putting my Zumba DVDs on and having a workout with no interruptions! Making Hokey Pokey and cupcakes for the kids lunchboxes. Weeding the garden and planting cheerful pot plants (a new skill, as I have finally found a little bit of time to potter about in the garden). Booking myself in for sewing lessons (my first lesson is this Sunday afternoon!), as I want to learn how to simply thread a sewing machine and learn to replace zips and mend hems - anywhere is a good start! My mother dropped off her old sewing machine at our house - a good incentive! Four years ago I had three children in nappies (diapers, for my American pals!), and my days were filled with changing babies (twins!!), sterilising bottles, and using a breast pump to keep it all going! A friend once remarked to me, "Princess Daisy, if you can get through the day with everyone being fed, then that is enough!". Forget the weeds, back then it just wasn't an option! Time is precious luxury!

Lately our latest gardening project is purchasing several Swan Plants for our growing caterpillar family! Several weeks ago, I witnessed creation in all its glory - a Monarch butterfly flitting graciously over the neighbour's fence and landing with perfect angelic precision, onto our single Swan Plant. Not long after, I found tiny white eggs floating on the leaves. Almost in no time at all, the eggs hatched, bringing with it a tidal wave of caterpillar babies! Munch, munch, munch.... weeks later, shortly before the last leaves were eaten, I took the children to the local plant nursery and purchased x2 more Swan Plants. Four days later, every last leaf was gone! Back to the plant nursery to buy x2 more Swan Plants. You guessed it, in four days, every last leaf was eaten..... now there are x4 shimmery green chrysalis and three hungry looking caterpillars! Guess where I'm taking the kids this afternoon?! :0) We will buy just ONE Swan Plant today, as I am certain there will be three new chrysalis very soon!

So I'm writing a blog about decluttering and you are probably wondering what butterflies have to do with cleaning up - well, our front garden is a work in progress! For the last six months we have been concreting what used to be a rambling, weedy flower bed, strewn here and there will rambunctious brambles! Attractive pot plants now grace the place where weeds overtook the pansies and snowdrops! The children are learning that gardening can be fun, and much more than dirt piles and boring old weeding!

Soon the bright orange Monarchs will be gracing the skies, flapping their newly formed wings in the Summer breeze... they will flit over the neighbour's fence and they will alight on another Swan Plant and then the Life cycle will begin all over again.

A new year. Turning over a new leaf! And then on we go to the next season of life, wherever it takes us. These are a few of my favourite things!

Thursday, 2 February 2012

It's Raining Cats and Dogs!

There is a reason why I chose this picture of a pet shop! After six long weeks of the aptly named, "Long Summer NZ holiday break", Miss 6 promptly asked The Big Question! "Where did my brothers and sister come from? REALLY? You told me they came from the Pet Shop, so... can you return them... pleeeease?! So.... it can be just you and me again and we'll have a quiet house - we can go to the beach and go swimming, and go to a thousand movies without ....THEM!!". At this point, I was ready to herd the kiddliwinks in the car and drive to the nearest pet shop just for fun! I haven't yet answered the Big Question; I just don't think she is ready to know the real story as she is only six years old.... but she does recall I had a very fat tummy last year when baby 4 was on his way! And the Pet Shop theory just didn't cut the cake so to speak, when Miss 6 discovered her baby brother in an incubator, at the Neo Natal unit! These deep questions bring back humourous memories of when my own mother gave me a book called, "Where Did I come from?" at the ripe age of 10  - or was it 11? My response was "Yuck!" and I never wanted to know ANYTHING about it as the thought just grossed me out! Obviously, we have four children now, so things changed, and it turned out to be a great decision: having kids! They are all great and I really don't want to return any of them to the "Pet Shop!". In life, we all arrive in a little bundle, smelling sweet with that baby smell that only very new mothers know; a little heaven-sent (scent!) treasure from above! When my precious twins were growing in my belly and when I was ballooning outwards, I just could not fathom ever having enough love to go around three children! I loved my firstborn soooo much, so how could her parents equal that love for two more babies? Then at 34 weeks and 5 days to be exact, my twin babies arrived rather dramatically after a routine check that picked up one of the babies wasn't growing properly... and the rest is history! I did indeed have more than enough love to go around... and four years later, Cherub number 4 arrived, perfectly completing our family..... and we still had more than enough love to share. As parents of several small children all under the age of seven, words can't describe the equal love you have for x4 completely unique personalities! It is amazing, this gift of love! The Greek word for "Love" is "Agape". It's the best love you can ever have for a small person, let alone anyone! When Cherub Number 4 is old enough to attend school, I might just consider running a pet shop. You just never know!!

Monday, 23 January 2012

A Penny for your Thoughts

There is a well known saying that many of us have heard: "Many hands make light work!". Those words certainly rang true for us today. Prince Charming and I have slowly been working through our "To Do" list for what seems like forever! Each time he attempted to mow the lawns, Murphy's Law somehow crept in and it would rain, or one of the kids would get sick - or perhaps one of us would fall ill. Then the sun came out and made a real difference. It's amazing what a bit of Vitamin D can do - one of the major benefits of Summer! Aha, those famously long New Zealand summers, breathing life into the dusty embers of a cold, frosty Winter!

Today was a public holiday. The sun came out - just a little overcast, but perfect nonetheless! For three solid hours, from 9.30am-12.30pm, Prince Charming worked on laying bricks and weeding the front path, down our driveway. We have been aspiring to make our garden a "low maintenance" affair, but over time, it became a jungle. All valiant efforts to slay the giant thistles ended up in a shrouded mane of weeds and overgrown stems, smothering what used to be a cheerful patch of bright red fuchsia flowers! However today was the Great Unveiling - the weeds gave way to clear spaces and the plants became visible, having their chance to shine again. Beauty restored, giving way to nature's graceful flowers!

The Princesses ventured out on this glorious day to help garden and peel away the weeds, faring very well. They in turn, learnt valuable life lessons on caring for the family garden. They enjoyed picking a few home grown strawberries too! 

Oh how we love the height of Summer! There is something fresh and freeing about being able to swing wide those windows and let the sunlight in, to air the blankets and heavy duvets on the outdoor washing line. To inhale the Summer breeze and let your lungs fill with clean air, letting your hair down and going barefoot in the dewy grass first thing in the morning, before anyone else is awake! 

We all pitched in today. The weeds have long gone, parked in the Wheelibin, never to be seen again! If all it takes is 10 minutes each day to maintain the garden, then that is what we will do!

Often in life, "clutter" happens when "things" just creep into your home; most often times, we don't even notice! We get far too busy in life to really "see" the things that crowd us out. The vacuum cleaner that didn't get put away, lurks in the dark in the hallway at night; singing out to us, "Don't trip up!". The magasine collection and the newspapers collide in a colourful, chaotic pile, under beds and strewn in drawers. No one will notice! (Or do they?!). Over the years since having my babies, I have come to realise that tidying up the house on a daily basis doesn't have to become a chore, as long as I stick to one simple rule" when the children have finished playing with a toy or a book, those items get put away as soon as possible". The basic rule of thumb in our house is, you must put away the toy you have finished playing with, before you get out another toy. Before I applied this rule, I was forever tripping up on strewn-about toys, and dreading surprise visitors, for fear that they might see the carnage of toys, kitchen utensils and books piled about! As nutty and tedious as it sounds, tidying up after yourself, and training your children to tidy up, can do wonders for a peaceful home! Recently my mother complimented me on my tidiness, saying that compared to a year ago, she senses that I am far more relaxed these days. I seem to be able to slow down and have more time than I did in one short year. Yes, I am still very busy; sometimes far too busy for my liking, (especially with the amount of medical appointments for Prince 4), but you get used the busy pace. If you can honestly say to yourself at the end of a long, busy day, "My home is a place of peace and I feel warm and happy when I walk in the front door!", then you are truly on the path of peace, with clutter and all its ickiness scooting like Jack Frost, away, away, away..... until the ice melts and from underneath springs a beautiful red flower which you pick, to grace even more that Peaceful Home you have. A penny for your thoughts!

Saturday, 21 January 2012

The Little Red Hen

I'm in love with my four children! In fact, I ADORE them! I couldn't even dream of putting any one of them back - each birth was divinely precious, especially witnessing the first cries of our twins; within two minutes of each other; deemed an "emergency c.section" as my placenta was failing and one of the babies kept losing a lot of weight, and there wasn't much fluid around one of them. Just when I got used to seeing one baby (a boy!), the little girl was born within a very short time frame, then both were whisked away to the Neo Natal Intensive Care Unit, as they were born at 34 weeks and required some extra TLC for a few weeks. About that time, I learnt the true meaning of multi-tasking! Both babies required my expressed colostrum/first milk, and it became Liquid Gold! Each twin seemed to vie for attention even back then. The neonatal staff, as kind as they were, said I had enough Liquid Gold for one baby, but not for TWINS!! The daily queries were bounced off the neo natal nurses: "Which twin shall we give Liquid Gold to? The "small for dates twin" or the twin who has breathing difficulties and jaundice?". 

And then again, the meaning of multi tasking grew even more, when our precious babies were finally home. I also had a 21 month old Princess to care for. Three little Cherubs in nappies, two babies to feed, burp, change and put to sleep. And so "routine, routine, routine" became our slogan in those days, not to mention learning just how much the very word, "sleep!" was a treat in itself! (Sleep = aka not enough of it!). When owls were calling it quits for the night, we were up far before the first bird twittering, feeding a baby, two babies!!

Fast forward four years. Today we have x2 four-and-a-half year olds, a six year old, and a 7 month old baby! Obviously twins didn't put us off having more children, but you may have noticed a respectable 4 year age gap!  I still have x2 children in nappies (the baby Cherub, and Prince 4, who has special needs and has no control over his bowel and bladder - hopefully that will change one day!). During the day, life has become quite manageable now! Princess 6 goes to school, and our twins go to morning kindergarten (8.30am-12.30pm.... but I am never there at 8.30am; more like 9.05am after dropping Princess 6 off at school first - for me right now, that's the most practical way for the how the morning runs!). But when they are all home in the school holidays, when my Prince Charming is at work, the days are interesting, colourful and busy! I go to do one thing, and someone needs their shoe tied, or someone needs help going to the toilet, or I have to help clean up a spilt cup of milk. There are many days like that when the dishes and the laundry smile at me, as if to say, "Well? When?!", and it all gets done, along with the evening's dinner, and a quick tidy up of the living room at the end of the day... as if it wasn't too much effort, when Prince Charming gets home to an "okay" looking house!! Hee hee, he didn't see the carnage just half an hour ago!! :0)

My latest organisation tip (it is a new one for me!) is to put x4 snack containers (named) in the fridge, containing snacks that the kids can serve for themselves for morning tea and afternoon tea. There are drinks made up in their own cups (named), so the girls (who are the most capable) can get their own food if I happen to be busy feeding or changing the baby etc. Where did I get this idea from?  The children's storybook, called, "The Little Red Hen".

The Little Red Hen was a busy mother just like myself, who seemed to struggle to get things done, with her busy brood. One day it all got a bit too much, so she stood her ground (as hens do!) and asked her friends to help her bake some bread.  She says, "Who will help me plant this wheat?" and they all replied, "Not I!". I am guessing you all know how the story goes; she asks for help several times and each time the reply is the same: "Not I!". Eventually, with a heavy heart, she says, "Then I will do it myself!". So she does everything as she has always done, bakes the bread, and cunningly says, "Well, who will help me eat this warm, fresh bread?" "I will!" "I will!" "I will!" chime the friends. "No, you won't", said the Little Red Hen. "You wouldn't help me plant the seeds, cut the wheat, go to the miller, make the dough, or bake the bread. Now my three chicks and I will eat this bread ourselves!". And that's just what they did. 

In many ways, I relate well to busy Red Hen! Sometimes when the going gets tough, you are allowed to have your "just desserts" - you can have your cake and eat it too! 

And that, dear Readers, is just what I do! The bread is delicious!!

Thursday, 19 January 2012

GPS aka Girl Power Signal!

This post is in appreciation of my American friends! While not quite the "Hollywood Hills", this is New Zealand's version of "Hollywood"! The above inscription, "All Blacks" refers to our very famous rugby team; a very patriotic win late last year, of the much desired and sought after Rugby World Cup, won within inches of the French team who almost triumphed us!

A few days ago I went for a drive with my x4 cherubs, and what a glorious day it was! For once, they were all very well behaved and I savoured the peace - Miss 6 has recently discovered radio stations and is mesmerised by the dial and how you can just find music out of "thin air" - hey presto, just like that! We stopped at a dairy in the seaside suburb of Miramar, which is heralded by our own home-grown bearded Hobbit, Sir Peter Jackson! We did a little tour in the car, passing the Weta Cave, and Post Production studios. Wellington, New Zealand (where I live!) has put its name on the global map in recent years, with world famous movies such as the "LOTR (Lord of the Rings) Trilogy", "King Kong", and "The Lovely Bones". On our return home, we took the "scenic route" through Oriental Parade. I pulled the car over and snapped this photo of Wellington city in all its Summer glory, wrapped up beautifully in pristine sea blues! As you can see, Wellington city has a lot of character, and as a seasoned traveller, my own city reminds me of San Fransisco; a place which I visited some years back.

All this driving got me thinking about modern technology, and where the world is going with the latest ipods, itunes, android mobile phones, and the GPS. I love to drive, discovering new places and re-discovering familiar spots. But my downfall is how easily I get lost; particularly trying to find a new address of a friend who has moved house! I call myself, "Mrs Organised" who always has two maps of Wellington City.... but always gets lost and is famous for making several panicky "SOS" calls to Prince Charming's workplace. The staff at his workplace love to have a good chuckle at my tardiness in getting to new places. "Can women actually read maps?", they say to themselves, with sly grins planted on their faces! One day it all transpired that I in fact, DESPERATELY needed a GPS for Christmas! Prince Charming returned home from work and announced that I had made him the "laughing stock" of his workplace, as they all overheard the wacky conversation where he tried to rescue his Damsel in Distress, with x4 children in the car on a hot, Summer's day.

My Christmas present came earlier than expected! Prince 4 (who has special needs) got hungry one day and ate my old phone. He immersed the entire phone in his mouth, giving it the proverbial baptism it so deserved. The SIM was rescued, the rest - history!

To my joy, off I went to the Mall, to purchase my "free" Android mobile phone at the Telecom outlet. With the exact same mobile number as before, thanks to the SIM card being indestructible! None of my friends would know about the eaten phone, or my failure to read maps - as this fancy phone had a GPS built in to it!

Fast forward a couple more days to Christmas Eve. We took the children to see some Christmas lights ie a big, fancy home, literally covered in Christmas paraphernalia, right down to the funky letterbox! Just for fun, I gave the GPS its first test run. While Princess 4 was in the middle of a wild tantrum, because she was tired. The GPS barped loudly, "Please state your location". Me: "Mumble, mumble..." Princess 4: "Waaaaahhh wahhhh bluuuuu aggghhhh!". GPS: "Do you mean..... in NEW YORK CITY, USA?!". Well, that would be nice - Beam me up Scotty!!

There you have it. My very own world famous GPS that is actually a Beam-Me-Up-Scotty, with the ability to transport a child in mid tantrum, to the heart of NY! Howzat, y'all?!  :0)

I wonder what next year's Christmas present will be. Hopefully not a replacement mobile ;0)