Friday, January 21, 2011

Found it!

A Poem that I wrote about 6yrs ago. I'm not sure about you, but in the computer age, sometimes I lose things in my computer. The old computer that I'd written this on, has long gone and I have a new one. So I just assumed that my poem had gone to the same place my old hard drive had...the dump.

I guess a good thing about being a self confessed hoarder is, I keep things from forever. Sifting through papers the other day, looking for folders for my kids for school. I came across an email that I'd printed. As I realised what the email had on it, I am sure I heard the hallelujah music playing in the background. My Poem. I remember writing this poem. It came so easy. It just flew out of my mind into my fingers and boom there it was. I freaked myself out. lol So here it is. At least if I lose the old email, I'll have another hard copy here.

I wish I had a photo that I could post with this..but I don't have anything that I feel is suitable. I miss my camera, so maybe tomorrow I may go on a journey and take a photo to illustrate this poem.

A caged Angel
with broken wings
wonders when her life began
and when it will end. 

She prays for forgiveness
for the emotions, inside
how could such a pure heart 
have such hatred that she can't hide. 

She will live like this forever
inside the cage she built herself
to protect the others from the evil
from the hate that lives within oneself. 
The emotions boil, like a pot of water
waiting to spill over and 
scold whoever stands closest.

She sits and stares 
at the key to unlock the gate
the key to freedom, forgiveness, love
to unlock her hate.

She will never give herself
permission to be enslaved
from her own demons that dance the night away

Denying the only hope that lives inside her 
the hope that keeps her alive
she prays for freedom
she prays to fade into the night. 

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Busy!! Breastfeeding slows me down. In a good way!

These summer holidays I'm on a mission. Hubby is home. We are inspired and motivated to clear out all the excess 'things' we have in our home. I'm a hoarder, so this is hard for me. As I grow older, I am able to let things go. Which is good :)

Today was no exception. We had a busy day planned. It involved, a dump trip. Picking up a washing machine, dropping washing machine off at our house. Dropping other vehicle back that we had to borrow to pick up washing machine. Picking up kids and nephews...dropping off kids. Checking mail, picking up hay for the horse. Plus keeping up with all the demands that we had with our other three babies that were doing all our jobs with us. You know the usual, feeding them, stopping the fights. Feeding them. Feeding them. lol

So after a fairly quiet morning...then a good 5 or 6hrs of full on getting all our jobs done in town. We get home. I was then looking around at all the other jobs I had to do. I can wash clothes again. Look at the time, I should get dinner started. What the kids are hungry again??? Ok, off to find something interesting that they can eat. Then my daughter (3yrs) who had been patiently going along with Mummy and Daddy's mission grabbed my hand and said "I want boobies please Mummy".  I looked down at her and in her eyes, she was saying. Come with me Mum. I'm tired, I want you. So I told hubby that I was going to put possum down for a sleep.

We came into the room and she had boob. In that moment I realised why I love breastfeeding her. It slows me down. It makes me stop. It makes me relax for a moment without feeling guilty. It makes me hold my precious daughter and give her a drink. Yes I have millions of jobs that have to get done. In reality though. I will always have jobs to do. I won't always have a precious 3yr old who needs me at that moment. She will grow. My washing pile will become less and the dirty hand prints on my walls will fade. I will miss these early years. At least I can cherish the memories of holding my baby and feeding her. Enjoying her company.
I AM busy. Breastfeeding does slow me down. But in a good way. :)


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

In 2008, I achieved one of my lifetime goals. I wanted to write articles for a Parenting Magazine. I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity. Now it is 2011, although I don't write for them anymore, I wanted to post some of my favourites here. I might even start writing again. :)

Young Mum

Meeting and introducing people to my children is usually when it all begins. They see me standing next to my 14yr old son who is taller then me and you see them calculating in their head. Moments later the comments and ‘innocent’ questions start. “You don’t look old enough to have six children” or “you don’t look old enough to have a teenager.” Considering I look younger then my 32 years, people are wondering if I had my eldest son when I was younger then 16. Even though it still astounds me it doesn’t surprise me. It seems because I chose to be a Mother at 18 I gave society the right to ask me very personal questions and to share their opinions about my life decisions. 

I will never regret becoming a Young Mum. It’s my honour. I get to share my life with six of the most amazing people in this world. They have taught me, and through their teachings I am able to teach them. I think the main lesson that I have learnt is to be strong and pursue your dreams. Society told me my life was ruined, my babies told me my life had just begun.
Having children young hasn’t been easy. Financially we were behind before we even began. In ways though it worked to our favour because we had always been on one wage so we learnt how to live within our means. 
Our children gave us a push in the right direction. We wanted a good life for them so we worked hard to achieve our goals early on in our lives. 

Feeling judged as a young Mum, I found it hard attending play groups or ‘real life social’ events. My saviour was an internet based community for Young Australian Mums. Through this forum I have met some of the most inspiring Young Mothers of Australia.   
I knew that becoming a Young Mum would be a life changing experience, but never in my wildest dreams could I have predicted the profound effect it would have.

Imagine no Pretend Play

Albert Einstein once said “Logic will get you from A to B.  Imagination will take you everywhere”   I’m sure he was oblivious to  the importance of these words  when it comes to the wonderful world of parenting.

As a Mum in a modern, fast moving world, I find my children have a lot more attractions and distractions to sway them away from Imaginary Play.  Days when we have power outages are my favourite, these are when the blankets come out and the kids build cubbies using chairs.  Or towels become wizards capes and wooden spoons are wands.

For anybody that has noticed, most pre schools or kindergartens have well equipped Pretend play areas.  This doesn’t happen by accident.  Imaginary or Pretend  Play is a very important part of a young  childs development.  The great news is:  its cheap to encourage this style of play. In fact most of what you need will be buried at the bottom of your wardrobe or around the house.

Go for a dig and find old shoes, wigs, oversized jackets and scarves. Even the most simple piece of material can be transformed into a Kings Robe or a Princesss dress.

Dress Ups:
When your child pretends to be different characters they are looking at life through somebody else eyes.  This helps create the moral skill of empathy. It also teaches about taking turns and sharing responsibilities.  Sit back and watch  your childs self esteem blossom.  They are discovering that they can be anything by pretending.

Setting up a shop:  Grab some shopping bags,  pantry items such as pasta and some canned goods, a purse with some coins.  A simple cash register can be made with an old cereal box and felt pens.  Taking turns being the customer or the shop keeper is fantastic for building language skills and their vocabulary bank.

Tea Parties or Restaurants:
Feeding or cooking for their stuffed toys or dolls is all about role sharing.  Children love to imitate the important adults in their life. By pretending to be grown ups and carrying out jobs and responsibilities they learn how to solve problems through words and negotiation. This type of play stimulates the senses and improves creative thinking. All you need isSecond hand kitchen utensils. Pots and Pans, paper or plastic plates and cups. Allow your child to run riot in their Pretend Kitchen. Adding salt and pepper, tasting their simmering soup.  Stirring and slicing.  After the cooking is done, serve up the ‘food’ on the plates and sit down and enjoy.

With all these types of play problems arise. Therefore problem solving and cognitive thinking takes place.  The problems could be two children who want to be the same character or what type of material to use to build a rocket ship. This is developing the skills for intellectual and emotional growth and widens their imaginations, not to mention what it is doing for their abstract thinking.  

Most parents try to get their children school ready by concentrating on the Numbers and Letters side of things, when the Imaginary world of children is also a very important way to help teach your children many life skills.  It also introduces Pre Reading and Pre Writing.  By providing your child with sufficient pens, pencils, magazines and different types of papers and books you are encouraging her natural drive to learn.  You might see her reading to her dolls, or writing a letter to Grandma.  Why not both of you pretend to ring each other using an old phone and take down phone messages.

Some more simple ideas:

Doctors Office: . If you don’t have a toy Doctors Kit that’s fine.  Most of the equipment can be found around the house.  Some bandages, a plastic medicine syringe, band aids, a note book and pen for writing out prescriptions.  Make a stethoscope using a toilet roll.  You could take turns with your children on being the Dr and the Patient.

Car: This activity can be as simple as using something round (like a paper plate) as the steering wheel and using a lounge chair as the drivers seat. Or if youd like to go for more creative: use an old cardboard box as a car, paper plates for steering wheels and tyres.  Decorate with some felt pens.  Youre ready to go.

Cave/tent: blanket, chairs and a torch. You can pretend that you have a camp fire and roast marshmallows.  Take the torch and go exploring and see what can be found.

Puppets:  grab a couple of old socks, stick on some eyes or draw them on.  Some wool or paper cut up for the hair and you have some puppets.  Perform a puppet show on a coffee table. 

Making Musical instruments:

empty shoe box
rubber bands
ruler or stick
Remove the cover from the box. Stretch the rubber bands around the box. Attach the ruler or stick to the back of the box on one end to act as the arm of the guitar.
To play, strum or pluck the rubber bands.

Art box with Clay, paint, threading, gluing, paper, pencils, crayons for making shop signs etc

Recycling Box with magazines for cutting up.  Keep cereal boxes etc.your children can use the items for making a shop or to make a robot.  All part of the fun.  Its up to their imagination.

Have dress ups for certain people.  Ie: an eye patch for a pirate, a cowboy hat and a hobby horse.  Newspaper hat for a sailor.

Wooden blocks : can be made into a service station for the car or a farm for their animals.

 Hold a Pretend Birthday Party.  Invite all the stuffed toys and dolls, wrap up some presents.  Pretend food can be made from play doh.  Maybe real candles could be used on the cake.  To make the party more fun, turn on some music and dance.

Don’t forget the most important rule: Have fun and let everybody’s imagination run riot!!

Breastfeeding in public

Sifting through recent Christmas Photo’s, I found one that my Mum took. She captured a beautiful shot of me breastfeeding my 1yr old daughter in the pool. Loving it, I wanted to share it with my online friends. Without a second thought I uploaded the picture to my facebook account. Setting it to friends and family I thought nothing more of the action. 
A few hours later I saw that a male friend had commented on it.  Only three words in his comment and I knew that he meant no offence by it, but his little joke got me thinking. After doing a bit of research I discovered that photos of babies being breastfed were being taken off facebook because they were deemed inappropriate or the pictures were ‘flagged’ if a nipple was showing. Feeling like a “Breastfeeding in Public” advocate I decided to make a stand. I joined every group that existed stating that Breastfeeding in public is natural and a very normal event. After making sure that an invitation to every group was emailed to this certain friend, I gave myself a pat on the back for a job well done. That day I had done my part for all the Breastfeeding Women out there.

Then the more I thought about it, I started to get a bit paranoid and embarrassed. Had I pushed the boundaries by sharing this photo with my friends? To me it was no different to my daughter having a drink of juice while sitting in the pool. I started questioning my views on feeding in public. Were they a bit ‘out there’ because I have been breastfeeding for at least 8yrs out of the last 14. I demand feed and I feed whenever the baby wants too. I’m the woman walking around the Supermarket doing the groceries while breastfeeding. If I stopped what I was doing every time one of my children had wanted a feed and I had to find a secluded place to sit for hours on end I think I would’ve gone a bit battier then I already am.

Whenever I’m in doubt about a parenting dilemma I take it to  another group of online friends. My morning coffee with my girlfriends. After reading their replies I felt very normal that my picture was fine and some of them even went over and made their own comments. Afterwards I felt a bit mean, this poor man had made in his view one little simple comment. With no hidden message and I’d taken it to the next level. He had been inundated with invitations from breastfeeding groups, a gang of Mothers started posting their own ‘comments’ with lots of hidden meanings. Was I being a bully? ‘Follow me ladies and lets teach this guy a lesson!!”

 The bully feeling passed quickly, after realising why the picture was important to me. For me it represents many years of breastfeeding and how far I had come in those years. With my first son, I would go to a separate room to feed him. I didn’t trust my instincts on feeding and I gave up after only four or five months. With my other children I stopped trying to keep everybody else happy and focused on keeping the baby and myself happy.  Once I did that I’ve been able to successfully feed the other five babies until they were around 18mths old. My daughter is 15mths now and still going strong.  As she is my last baby I’m going to allow her to self wean.

My friend and I never discussed the ‘event’ but he has never been brave enough to comment on another photo of mine since. 

Update: The above article was written in April 2009. It is now January 2011 and I am proud to say my daughter who is now 3yrs old still breastfeed's. :) And doesn't look like she'll be stopping anytime soon. lol 

Raising a Reader

Raising a reader

Some of my fondest memories, from childhood, are of snuggling up every night with my little Brother and Mum reading us our bedtime story.  It was Mums time of unwinding and her spending a lovely 20 minutes with just us.  For those 20 minutes we were the centre of her world. 
Mum didn’t realise it but she was laying strong foundations and giving us a gift:  the love of reading.  She was ‘Raising a Reader’.  The equation was simple, my brother and I loved being read too.  We felt loved, warm and safe when Mum read to us, so books represented love, safety and all those other warm feelings.  Reading was fun and our imaginations soared with adventures inspired by the stories.
From this nightly ritual we slipped into the environment of school easily and the task of learning how to read wasn’t a difficult journey.  Why?  We understood books, we knew how stories worked.  There was a beginning, middle and an ending.  Predicting words and the endings of stories were second nature to us even though Mum never ‘taught’ us.  
After my own children were born reading at bedtime was a childhood memory that I wanted to instil.  Competing  against the TV, computer games and  the truck loads of toys that are in our house, I have to really ‘fight’ these modern day privileges, if I want to read to them every night, especially as my boys have grown older.
 “The Reading Bug...and how you can help your child catch it” written by Paul Jennings and Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to Our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever” written by Mem Fox.   

Are books written by two experts who agree with my Mum’s theory.  They have reassured me that by following the nightly ritual I’m doing my best at raising a reader.
Having six children I will be honest I can’t read to them for 2hrs a day, as much as I would love to. So I’ve tackled the situation with a bit of mother’s creativity. I have a book of fairy poems by my daughters change table and I read her one when I change her nappy. 
With my toddler and Preppy I read their choice of 3 short books every night before bed. 
My elder three and whoever else wants too (insert husband here) will listen to a chapter from our favourite family books. If I know that there is a movie coming out soon that is based on a book then I will read that story to them before we see the movie.  They love this because they know that a trip to the movies is inevitable.   
Sibling bonding and encouraging family involvement is another benefit of raising a reader.  If I’m extra busy I’ll persuade my big kids to read to my littlies and vice versa.   My preppy loves to read his stories using pictures as a guide.  This is fantastic for his comprehension and predicting of words.  It doesn’t matter if he ‘reads’ puppy instead of Dog, what matters is he knows that the story is about a dog.
Though I do boast experience in the reading area I have to admit I learnt a valuable reading lesson from the wise mind of my eldest son when he was the ripe old age of 5.  While reading to Mr Five and Mr 2 one night, their Dad stuck his head in the door to see what we were reading and have a little listen.  After he left Mr Five looked at me most concerned and whispered in my ear. “Can Daddy read Mummy?”   It hit me like a tonne of bricks, because he had never heard his Father read out loud our son really believed that his Dad couldn’t read. While it was humorous I saw the serious side and though I wasn’t intentionally being the ‘story time hog’ both my husband and I had somehow taken on gender roles of the Mother being the reader.  

Children’s words of wisdom often bring on deep thinking and I realised that I had been robbing my children and their Dad of such an important bonding opportunity, not to mention the significant role that this played as to how my sons saw that ‘real men’ read as well.   I’m pleased to say this scenario ended with my sons(s) discovering their Father could read.

Books are also a great way to avoid the “going to bed sagas”, and  sending favourite books over for Grandparent sleepovers brings a sense of security and comfort and helps ease the anxiety of being away from Mum and Dad.
 ‘Raising a Reader’ is my favourite part of the day and I’m hoping that it is a tradition that is passed down to my grandchildren.  

Baby and Toddler Books
Big Red Barn by Margaret Wise Brown
Fuzzy Yellow Ducklings by Matthew Van Fleet
Spot Goes to the Park by Eric Hill
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
That’s Not My Train by Fiona Watt, illustrated by Rachel Wells

Books for Pre Schoolers
Possum Magic or Koala Lou by Mem Fox
Green Eggs and Ham – Dr Seuss
Where the Wild things are – by Maurice Sendak
We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury
Are we there yet? - By Alison Lester

Early Primary:  6 – 8yr olds
Tashi series by Anna Fienberg and Barbara Fienberg, illustrated by Kim Gamble
Rainbow Magic – Ruby Red Fairy – Daisy Meadows
The Adventures of Captain Underpants – Dav Pilkey
Go Girl!  Sister Spirit – Thalia Kalkipsakis
Aussie Nibbles by various authors and illustrators

Lower Primary: 8 – 10 yr olds
Rascal the Dragon – Paul Jennings
Just Disgusting – Andy Griffiths
The Witches – Roald Dahl
BFG – Roald Dahl
Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White, illustrated by Garth Williams

Middle Primary: 10 -12yr olds
Stormbreaker – Anthony Horowitz
The Princess Diaries – Meg Cabot
Deltora Quest Series 1: The Forests of Silence- Emily Rodda
Lily Quench - Natalie Jane Prior
Storm Boy by Colin Thiele

Upper Primary/ Lower  Secondary: Over 12’s
Looking for Alibrandi – Melina Marchetta
Sisterhood of Travelling Pants – Ann Brashares
Onion Tears- Diana Kidd
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
Hover Car Racer – Matthew Reilly

Top 10 Family Classics – Great to read together as a family book
The Chronicles of Narnia – C S Lewis
Harry Potter Series – J k Rowling
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
Lord of the Rings Trilogy – J R R Tolkien
Truckdogs – Graeme Base
The Magic Faraway Tree – Enid Blyton
Eragon – Christopher Paolini
Dragon Keeper Series– Carole Wilkinson
The Power of One (Young Reader’s Edition) by Bryce Courtenay

Are they all yours

“When I grow up I’m having ten kids!” I still remember speaking those ‘famous’ words over twenty years ago.  While most kids were planning on becoming lawyers or doctors, I was dreaming about becoming a Mum.  I knew I wanted lots of children and I wanted to have them young. 

Luckily for me I met my husband early enough for both of my dreams to become reality.  Today at 31 I am a proud stay at home Mum to six fantastic kids.  My husband and I have five sons ranging in age from 13yrs down to nearly 3.  Our only daughter is 9mths old and she has bought such a gentleness and joy to our home.  Our house is chaotic, messy, noisy and always on the go.  I have become the Queen of multi tasking, but I believe every Mum is.   Shopping, cooking, washing clothes are momentous events that take much planning and organisation. Although I dread when I tell the kids to clean their rooms, especially  when I  finally think I’ve caught up with all my washing and folding  then the boys clean under their beds, and I have another 3 loads to do. 

I remember one morning I had to take all the kids for an out of hour’s trip to the emergency room for a suspected broken thumb of my eldest son.   I expected being at the hospital for a while so I came prepared.  Nothing more stressful then six bored children jumping all over the waiting room or pushing the fold up chairs up and down, up and down. We had the pram, two bags one with toys and colouring in pencils and my five years old favourite colouring in ‘books’ ,note I said books the plural, we must bring all favourites.  In the other bag I had food and drinks. They had already eaten breakfast, and I knew we would be back home for morning tea, so this was just when they get starving hungry and wanted to buy everything in the vending machines.  Then I had the baby bag with all the other essentials. My sons name was called and I started organising the children to go into the triage room.  We were finding shoes, putting toys back into the bags, picking up the food that had been eaten because they were starving hungry.  Finally I was ushering the kids into the room and we all pile in.  We all settle down and find places to sit, all is going well and the nurse is looking at us with a bemused look on her face.  She finally asks “Are these all your children?” There was a part of me that wanted to ask her why anybody in their right mind would bring six children to the hospital at 7.30 in the morning if they didn’t have to, but then I looked around at the gorgeous faces of my six babies and I answer with a smile “Yes, they are all mine”

Written by Amanda Mathiot