Sunday 31 March 2013

WE WON A HOLIDAY!.....We have to travel with a toddler......

We had discussed going to the Easter Show. Miss Teen and I had been many times, but years before, and she doesn't really remember it. Hubby had NEVER been! Ever! And obviously, neither had Mini Miss. But sadly, on my measly part time income, it wasn't going to be possible.

Then the wonderful Coffs for Kids ran a competition, and against all odds, WE WON!!! When I got the call from Alison I danced around the lounge room as I tried to take in all the details she was giving me!! 

I was excited! In just 3 days we would be heading off on a train trip to Sydney on the Countrylink Explorer and be lucky enough to spend 2 whole days in the city, including a whole day at the SHOW! 

Then reality hit.....a 9 hour train trip with an overactive "can't sit still for 2 mins" toddler. And a sometimes moody teen. And NO internet or phone access.

This sounded like the recipe for a horror movie really.

So what does a mother do when this kind of fear sets in??

She explores the internet for ideas!!! 
(well, thats what this mother does anyhow! I'm sure most mothers wouldn't go up those stairs, or open that door, but me, I'll go charging in regardless, but at least I'll be prepared!)

Surely somewhere, in that wide wide world that is the internet, there had to be some useful, informative information and advise for mothers needing to entertain her kids. 

(insert picture of a wild haired mother typing insanely fast at her keyboard and clicking madly on her mouse!)

Well, you get the idea!

Of course there was LOADS of information. Most of it was for travelling in a car, but easily adaptable. If anything, it is a LOT easier when on the train, as you don't have to concentrate on the road or other cars, or really anyone else but your family. 

Using information from a mix of sites, such as The Activity MomKids Activities BlogBetter In Bulk and Family Food and Travel I formulated my plan of attack, as one does when planning a battle. Yes, thats right, a battle. I was under no illusions that keeping calm on a train for 9 hours with a bored Miss Teen and a hyperactive Mini Miss was a battle in the making!

My Plan looked like this:

Mini Miss REALLY loves STICKERS!!

Yep. A table. With pretty colours. And lots of ideas. Cause that is how I calm myself when panic sets in, lists, particularly in colour. (that's not weird, right?)

Reality was, in the 3 days we had to plan, where I was working everyday, and with the limited funds we had to buy stuff, the activities weren't quite that exciting. I did explore Big W one afternoon after work and scored some clearance bargains, including Dora stickers and a Mickey Mouse activity tin! At Officeworks I picked up some cheap basic shape magnets, some pencils and crayons. 

I even put my craftiness to good use and made up a colouring book of all Mini Miss's favourite characters! 

Our 9 hour train trip was NOT the nightmare nor the horror movie I was expecting. The lovely Countrylink people put us up in a day cabin, which is like a little private room. So Mini Miss could spread out and make mess and move around a bit. We did lots of colouring in, we read stories, and we played games with her little people figurines. We PLAYED pretend with Mini Miss, which we don't much. Mostly though, we talked and laughed and enjoyed being together, no interruptions.

It was actually really, really nice. And relaxing.

My tips for travelling with the family?

1. Keep it Simple. If you aren't driving, you need to entertain your kids, but take the time out to talk to them, play with them, read to them. They do love having your undivided attention!

2. Have their favourite healthy snacks available. It's cheaper and you can guarantee if they won't eat what is available, at least they will eat what you brought for them. 
Mini Miss wouldn't eat anything on board, but we had plenty of fruit, sandwiches, and biscuits and cheese that she was happy to eat.

3. Remember a family holiday, no matter how long or short, is for the whole FAMILY. You count as part of the family!!! Yes, you really do!! YOU COUNT! It's a secret kids have tried to keep for years!
So pack stuff for you as well. Hubby has his camera and had a ball trying out different ways of taking photos while on the move. I had magazines to read. Bring yourself entertainment too!!

4. Plan It. A plan of attack might sound crazy, but if you are prepared, then it gives you an arsenal to avoid meltdowns and disasters and makes for a more relaxed trip.

Have YOU got some tried and tested ways of entertaining the kids on long trips? Please, feel free to share them with me here!!!!

In the meantime, I am off to plan our next family holiday on the train! Or maybe plane....or cruise ship.....

Saturday 30 March 2013

Our Easter Show Adventure

In case you were unlucky enough to miss all my posts about this in the last week or so, I had the chance to write a guest blog for one of my favourite websites Coffs for Kids. You can read about our adventures here: 


We were so very lucky to WIN a family holiday in a competition they were running, with the catch being I had to write a blog about it! Um, ok!!!

We had so so much fun, and in coming weeks I will be doing some posting on travelling with the family!! 

A big big THANKS has to go to Alison at Coffs for Kids and to Stephanie and Susan at Countrylink for firstly running the competition and secondly for organising our trip in such a short amount of time! Everyone was truly amazing!! 

File:Countrylink logo.png
Ok, enough blatant plugging for some wonderful people and places! Back to work for me!!

Tuesday 19 March 2013

The Wiggles 3.0


So today we had the opportunity to take Mini Miss to see the New Wiggles, or Wiggles 3.0 as my lovely husband has named them! 

We were lucky enough to win tickets on our local radio station, which worked out to be a great thing, seeing as Molly loves them and we wanted to take her!!

It was only a couple of months ago that I was in the same auditorium with Miss Teen watching Reece Mastin. The atmosphere was filled with the same level of excitement, but minus, thankfully, the hordes of screaming teenage girls!! 

Lots of little ones from babies to school age had arrived to see the New Wiggles in action! They did not disappoint!! They started on time (a big PLUS in my books, with an already overtired toddler to entertain!), they were full of energy & they were obviously having fun! That all lead to an audience who also enjoyed the show. Yes, they made some mistakes, and laughed at themselves, a lot. But that just made the show more enjoyable! 

The old favourites were still there. Mini Miss's favourites, Dorothy the Dinosaur, Wags the Dog and Captain Feathersword as well as Henry. 

Mini Miss attempted to storm the stage when Dorothy appeared, attempting to push past the kindly security lady, who gently guided her away! She then attempted to climb up the stage before settling for dancing right in front of Dorothy and her friends! They had a couple of new characters including Zammel the Camel and Teddy Bear. To be honest, I hope they are only temporary characters as the old ones are a lot better!



They did a fun mix of old and new songs, encouraging the kids to join in. The new dynamic, as far as I can tell, sees the yellow wiggle no longer being the main singer. It seems now they all share that role, which, surprisingly works well. 

Of course, there was a lot of merchandise to buy, but it was all reasonably priced, not cheap, but reasonable. Sadly though, there was still not a lot of "new" Wiggles stuff, but I'm sure they are working on that! Mini Miss was lucky enough to get a Wiggles 3.0 balloon and later, a flashy Dorothy!

All in all, we had a great day out! Mini Miss has spent the evening (after a very long and late afternoon nap!) teaching her Minnie Mouse how to dance like The Wiggles, and playing with her Wags and Dorothy cuddlies and singing various songs.

A special thanks goes to the radio station where we won the tickets, Star FM Coffs Harbour! Without them, we could not have afforded to go!!

Sunday 17 March 2013

Confessions of a teenagers mother

So. I knew raising teenagers was hard work. But really, no one ever really lets you know what you are in for! 

I mean, you get the general idea from watching sitcoms, family shows and the Disney channel. They are kids, but also mini adults. They have peer pressure and puberty to deal. They have busy lives and an unknown future. They are trying to figure out who they are and how they fit into the world. Its tough.

But there is an emotional, mental and physical demand, that I just wasn't prepared for! The conflict of emotions is, at times, overwhelming! (not that it is hard to overwhelm me at any time!). 

I know "they" say life is like a roller coaster. It has its up and its down, but as long as you hold on tight and keep a sense of humour you will enjoy the ride.

Well, I think raising a teenage girl is like riding a roller coaster in the haunted house for the first time, which is situated on a mine field! It has the usual ups and downs, but you can't see where you are headed. You don't know what to expect next, you cannot see where you are going. And there are a lot of scary visions/images that pop up along the way and scare the c*%# out of you! You don't know when or if things are going to blow up in your face! But, there is a light at the end of the just seems like an eternity away!

Miss Teen and I have a great relationship, at least, from my perspective we do! She still enjoys hanging out with her Mum (ie me!) from time to time. I make sure I give her one on one time at least once a week. This is time where there is no husband/father and there is no mini miss to distract me. We go for afternoon tea, for a window shop, for a walk, or we just lay down in my bed. We talk, about everything and nothing. We laugh like crazy people. We do silly and embarrassing things in public. We cry. We share. I have always been open and honest with her to the level I think she can handle. So far, this has worked in my favour, as she is open and honest with me. 

As I watch her grow up, my heart bursts with pride. At the same time, my heart breaks with sadness. She is not my little baby anymore. She doesn't need me for everything now, but she does still need me. She has changed. She has a mind of her own, an opinion on everything. What I say no longer is necessarily law in her world. I can no longer protect her from life, from heart ache, from hurt. But at the same time, no she can experience new levels of joy and happiness, success, be proud of herself. 

Roller. Coaster.

I am so proud of the young woman she is becoming. Confident. Determined. Focused. Yet these same traits that make me proud also drive me insane! When she sets her mind on something, nothing, not even a mere parent, can stand in her way. So when we disagree on something, these days it often leads to raised voices, disgruntled loud sighs, slamming of doors, and lots of exclamations of "fine" & "alright" (and not always from her!). We argue a lot more. I end up frustrated that I cannot make her see my point of view. She ends up frustrated that I am trying to force her to do something or go somewhere she doesn't want to. 

Yet, these traits also mean that she has a goal, and nothing stands in her way. She goes after it with a single mindedness that is, amazing. She wants to work in music when she is older. Ideally, she would like to be a singer, a rock star. Most kids dream this at some point. But Maddi takes the desire to a whole new level. She has insisted on music lessons, and is now learning the piano. When we have the finances available, she will also having singing lessons to improve her pronunciation and pitch. She is also saving money to buy a guitar so she can teach herself to play. She wants to get a job as soon as possible so she can pay for her own lessons and equipment. 

She is getting herself involved in the music program at school, and tried out for the school musical. She has entered her first Eisteddfod in May, even though she will only have been learning piano for less than 3 months. She practices her craft, both piano and singing, for hours everyday. She studies not only her favourite singers, but their lives, their stories, how they got where they are today. She makes plans, sets goals. She writes motivational quotes and puts them up in her room. She takes care of how she looks, her skin, what she eats, she exercises, all this, with one goal in mind. Her back up plan, should she not "make it" is to teach music, or make a living doing the pub/club circuit so she can still travel and see the world.

Focused. Determined. Confident. = Stubborn. One Minded. Difficult.

Does she have the talent to succeed? I'm not sure. As her parent I am biased.

But I do know she has the determination and drive to succeed! 

Being the parent of a teenage girl is hard work. Its emotional. Its mentally draining. It leaves us financially broke all the time. But I am so proud of her and love her to bits. I cannot wait to see what sort of adult she grows up to be, all the while, wanting her to stay little forever. 

And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Sunday 10 March 2013

Trying not to ramble....I am not okay

So, we found out about our miscarriage 5 weeks and 3 days ago, and my body started to lose the baby and the "products of conception" (I sincerely HATE that term now, it was my BABY, not some scraps of tissue and waste). 

5 weeks ago today. 2 weeks and 2 days ago I had a surgical procedure as my body wasn't doing the best job on its own. It seems it wanted to hold onto any part of my baby it could. 

I am still bleeding, heavily. 

I am still in pain.

I am incredibly tired and physically drained.

I am still grieving and emotionally, when I allow myself to feel, distraught.

So, no, I am not okay. I appreciate people asking me how I am going though, because it reminds me that people do care. I am hesitant to tell the truth though. I want to say "I'm fine" or "I'm great" and mean it, not bore them with more stories of how things are still going wrong.

The weird thing is, I can handle the grief. It hurts, there is no doubt. And when I think of our baby, and the future here on earth that is lost, it leaves an ache, a pain that is all but overwhelming. But, if it was just the grief, then I would feel like i am doing well. That I am handling things well. I could probably say "I'm fine" and it would not be a lie.

But the physical problems this miscarriage has left me with. The constant bleeding. The severe drop in iron levels, and the low hemoglobin levels are slowly exhausting me to the point where I can barely get out of bed some days. I have constant headaches, which, while headaches are not unusual, constant headaches are, and they are draining. Some days my body literally shakes with exhaustion. I can't sleep some nights because of cramping, and when I do, the cramps leave me having vivid nightmares that just wake me up in the end anyhow. 

Then there is the feeling of helplessness. I am a bit of a control freak. I don't mind admitting it. I like to be in control, or at least, feel in control, of my life, my body, me. But this miscarriage, I have no control over.

I can't stop eating x, y or z and it will stop. 

I can't take a pill and it will stop. 

I can't exercise it away, sleep it away, eat it away, live it away. 

I can't ignore it and it will go away.

There is nothing I, nor my doctors can do unless it becomes life threatening, or it goes on for another 4 or more weeks. And even then, what the doctor can do may end in me not being able to have anymore children, which, even though I am 38, I am not ready to give up on, just yet. 

So basically, things are not great. So, why then, I know people are thinking, am I, for the most part, going on like things are ok? I seem to be enjoying life. I post about the things that make me happy, that frustrate me. I post about the things I am doing. How busy I am. So, if I am going through all this pain and struggle, why I am doing that? Am I living a lie? Trying the fake it until I make it tactic?

No. I still find joy in life. I am still happy. I still enjoy doing things. I can still smile and appreciate the good stuff.

I am a very blessed person. I have an amazing husband, and I have 2 beautiful children, who, although trying at times, love me unconditionally and visa versa. 

I have amazing family and friends who do nothing but love, support and encourage me. 

I have an amazing workplace full of genuine people who support and care for me. 

I have an amazing church family who provide me with love, comfort and support, spiritual connection, and uplift my spirit. They provide me with a sheltered place to connect with God, and lets face it, without THAT connection, everything else is just emptiness.

I have an amazing network of online friends through various connections, who provide me with support and gentle encouragement. And these are people I have never met in real life! Yet, I feel privileged to call them friends. They are some of the most genuine caring people I have had the opportunity in my life to "meet".

God has blessed me in so many ways. If were I not able to see through my pain and grief and see all that, then all would be lost. This loss, as horrible and painful as it is, has opened my eyes to all this and so much more. My life is more full, more fulfilling, and I am happier than I have been in years. 

Despite my loss, despite my grief, my life is good. 

So, no, I am not okay. I am a long way from being okay. 


I have FAITH in that.