what I’ve learnt about being a special needs mum

As we come to the end of the year I think about how far we’ve come with our little miss and how far we still have to go. It’s been about 1 1/2 years since we had the doctors confirm that our little miss has a disability and we’ve been doing different therapies and made progress ever since. We are still doing tests and still seeing doctors but what I have learnt might be of help to someone out there in the same shoes or at the start of their journey. And that’s kind of the best way to describe it. You’re on a journey, a different path in some ways to children who have no additional needs, and it’s a bumpy ride but there are plenty of rewards.  And if you have advice then please leave a comment and let us know………………

grieve first then make peace

Even if you’ve known for a while before you get a diagnosis or report from the drs there is still a sense of shock and grieving. Things will be different, things won’t be easy and you will go through a range of emotions. I blamed myself and yet have nothing to blame myself about but I would still question everything from the pregnancy to delivery to everything. Allow yourself to work through emotions but it’s important to make peace with the situation so that you can move forward. If you need help with this then talk to your dr to talk through how you are feeling.

Make sure you know what you are eligible for and use it

Funding is all over the place at the moment and there are lots of changes. If you don’t have a ‘tick a box’ diagnosis then you might be struggling to get any funding for therapies and dr appointments. This is where we are at. So you’re going to want to apply for the carers allowance and use that towards your costs. It took me a year before we applied, we were knocked back and we appealed. Don’t let a rejection deter you.

If you’re on a waiting list start doing things today

It was 6 months before we got into early intervention and that only provided a short speech therapy session every 2 weeks that was a total disaster because it always ended in tears. Find special needs playgroups near you, find out what early intervention can offer while you are waiting. If you can afford to find a private therapist whether it’s speech, OT or physio then do some sessions, get lots of advice and do things at home. If you have private health insurance then you should be able to claim the amounts you have paid (up to a maximum per year). You can also claim some expenses through medicare (I think it’s 5 or 6 per year) and you’ll need a referral from your GP for that. Determine what is your child’s greatest need? is it speech, then get some speech sessions under your belt and get out the toys and the books at home and incorporate the tips into your play time. I think the first year of speech was me learning what to do to get little miss talking.

Don’t turn your child into your project

I love this advice from a recent course I did. It’s so easy to try lots of therapies and want results and you can easily go to appointments or therapy sessions all week long and forget that your little one is just that – a little person. He or she wants to play and just be a kid like any other kid so don’t overdo it. I do know that there is a window of time where therapies make such a difference but don’t get so caught up in it all that you forget to just let your child be a child. We stopped going to therapists half way through this year and had everyone come to us or preschool. It costs more but we get more out of it because she is happy and isn’t in office settings and travelling in the car.

Be proactive

I’ve found therapists through word of mouth and the internet. Join facebook groups for your child’s disability, find people who live near you, ask what courses are available through early intervention. One of the best I’ve done is called PACC – parents as case co-ordinators. It was about 4 weeks from memory and is all about putting you in charge to do what is best for your child. At the moment I’m doing a toilet training course run privately but I’m getting so many tips and help that I know will help me toilet train when it’s time.

Take breaks from therapy

A reader told me this one and she was right. We are on a break from physio after great results. We left not being able to jump on two feet but decided to ramp up our swimming instead. We can now jump on two feet and will go back to physio next year to work on some skills for preschool and school. Picking up physio means we’ll  take a break from OT until the second half of the year. So plan things out, talk to your therapists and give little ones a break because often it’s in those breaks where you see the progress.

Focus on the greatest need

If your child isn’t speaking then make communication a priority. We will be doing weekly speech sessions next year which won’t come cheap but we’re seeing great improvements and are going to build on that. Taking photos of simple foods and objects is a great way to start communicating with your little one if they are not talking. PECS, Boardmaker or just your iphone to take photos, a printer and a laminator will have you on your way. Just google for tips and advice.

Don’t be afraid to change doctors or therapists

The hospital recommended a dr to us who kept us waiting up to an hour, wouldn’t give me copies of results and just wasn’t all that interested in helping us. My neighbour told me about a fabulous one and bingo. Someone who took an interest, did tests, was up to date with everything and for the first time told me what we were looking at. I now recommend him to other mums who are looking for a caring paediatrician who makes a difference. We’ve had some wonderful therapists who little miss hits it off with and some disasters. Don’t feel that you are committed to anything and especially when you are paying yourself. Don’t waste time if it’s not working and ask around for advice. If going into therapists offices is freaking out your little one then look at home visits for a while or at preschool or somewhere they are happy. For little ones there should be lots of play and fun to keep them interested and happy.

Incorporate their interests into therapy and playtime

Oh the number of times we’ve sat down to a puzzle with cow noises and other animals and someone is not interested and the body language is saying it all. Then about half way through the year and my little miss really started to love dora, frozen and palace pets. Bingo. We hit the jackpot. By incorporating what they like into therapy you will get the eyes light up and excitement about ‘working’. Because let’s face it they know you are making them work and for most kids it takes a lot of effort to repeat words back or climb up the slide or do what we want them to do. Printables, small figurines, iPad games and books will all help and even though we don’t need a lot of toys we make exceptions for little miss if they can be incorporate into therapy. Thank you Dora!

Live for today and not always worrying about the future

I could lie awake every night if I always worried about the future. Of course it worries me. What does the future hold? What happens when I’m not here any more to care for her? What if…… It’s so important to live in the now and take it day by day. Think about the next year or schools but don’t always worry about the future. It’s a long way away and you’ll forget to enjoy the day and fact that you have a little one with you right now who needs you.

Don’t compare

Thankfully my little ones are all at different stages so I don’t really compare my little one to what they are doing but it’s easy to see a child the same age and then have this moment where you realise that you are so far behind. It’s natural to be upset over it but don’t let it take away from the beautiful little person you are raising. ‘Comparison is the thief of joy’. Commit that to memory every time you catch yourself comparing your special needs child to someone else. Focus on what they are good at – for us she is by far the most empathetic person in the family, has amazing attention to detail and can sit on task for ages. In fact when you see her colouring with the kids you’d never know anything was different. So don’t you be comparing or you’ll just set yourself up for tears and upset.

Don’t think that you aren’t doing enough

you will always hear about so and so who is doing hours and hours of therapy each day or someone else started therapy much earlier than you. We are humans and we are doing things differently. Our little ones need to be kids and we do the best we can. Start with an hour a day of play time, remember that just playing at the park or on a trampoline or reading a book with you is doing something. So don’t forget all the little opportunities you have to teach and be there. I’m starting to take notes of the little things that happen each week, like just last week cutting a piece of paper with the paper in one hand and scissors in the other. A huge achievment and something that we can do at home easily in play time.

Look for special needs activities in your area

This can take a bit of research but did you know there are dance classes, music, gymnastics, horse riding, art, swimming clubs and more for our special little ones. Swimming was a bit hard but we found a school that ran private classes for special needs kids, then we moved into their regular class with 2 teachers and then we got a place at a special needs swimming club called Rainbow Club. Use the internet to find your nearest school, private swimming classes might be your best option. We love where we swim, it’s a special place where you feel normal, it’s $100 a term and I look forward to supporting them more in the future. Get on the waiting list even if they tell you it’s long and make the most of what is available. It’s there for a reason and it’s wonderful to let our kids develop hobbies and interests of their own. You can also look up your local council and most in Sydney produce a booklet/pdf for people with disabilities with lots of information, school options, groups and more. Get on to it. I can’t wait to start gymnastics when we are school age.

Be prepared for people to say the ‘wrong’ thing

Thanks to Leah for reminding me of this one! I forgot! It’s all to do with ‘well meaning’ comments or people who have no idea. I have a big mouth so I know that sometimes I speak before thinking. And of course there are people who really do have no tact and say the wrong thing. Usually a stranger in the supermarket or something along those lines. Get ready for that. You will get looks when someone is having a major meltdown in public but I can tell you that happens with any of my kids. But it is especially hard when we don’t have a sign on our backs saying that a little one has special needs and a bit of compassion wouldn’t go astray. You’ll develop a thick skin, you’ll hear all sorts of things like they’ll grow out of it, don’t worry and my favourite – ‘X didn’t speak till he was 7 and now he’s a big wig at xyz so don’t worry’. Just know that sometimes people think they are saying the right thing or they don’t know what to say or they don’t know what you are going through. Don’t take it personally and don’t dwell on it. Even family won’t always know how to react and it takes time for everyone to understand. Be patient with people, if you have the time say something to them that is helpful and if all else fails end the conversation and move on. I do find that once people know your little one has special needs that it helps make things easier but you’ll always get that one. Or two.

Look after you

It can be exhausting. You are dealing with a child who needs your constant supervision, who might be frustrated that they can’t communicate or move. There might be extra medications to give. There are appointments and doctors visits. The financial strain. The feeling that you are fighting for everything. The slightest temperature or cough isn’t just something they will get over. It is stressful, exhausting, a worry and we put ourselves last. Have something that is yours and make time for it. You don’t even have to leave the house. If I’ve been on my own during the week and hubby asks what I’d like to do I just tell him to give me a few hours in my sewing room. A bit of quiet time to unwind….well so long as I don’t need the unpicker or rethread my overlocker.

And I almost forgot…just love them for being who they are

there have been times that if I was honest with myself when I wished I could make all of the problems go away. Just be normal. But at the end of the day what makes someone different is what makes them who they are. Love them as they are. For all the tantrums, frustrations and bad stuff there is so much good stuff and joy in there. Someone who relies on you for everything and loves you EVEN when they can’t say it. When I got the first ‘ I lah oo’ I could have cried. It still melts my heart. The eyes say it all and the eyes do tell me that I am loved. So of course we love our kids but be sure to love and accept them for who they are and all of their differences as it is what makes them unique.

What are your top tips? I know this isn’t an exhaustive list and I know that many of you are ahead of us in the journey but I really wanted to put a few things down because I receive lovely emails and messages from my readers with questions and thought this might help…………………….

pretty flowers and family life

Honestly these days I don’t have much to say. I sit down at the computer and I’ve got nothing. Nothing. I mean there is plenty going on. And I’m dealing with some late night antics from 2 of my little ones that is taking me right back to life with 3 under 3. My 2 and 4 year old are partners in crime and we’re talking drawing on the walls, running away from me at the shops, dropping things in the toilet, being quiet for just a bit too long, unravelling the whole toilet roll and sneaking out the cat door and coming back in…and going out…and coming back in. And they laugh at each other so much. So life is busy and my diary is filling up with so many school events. And while the house is chaotic the garden is so beautiful and green right now. This is our first spring/summer in the house and I know it’s going to be beautiful. Oh the gardenias! As soon as you walk out the front door you get a good whiff of these beautiful big flowers….and out the back door too. and thanks to retro daddy for fertilising everything for me.

And flowers are such a great way to practise your camera skills….they don’t move like little people

And something not in the garden but still in pots are my all time favourite flower, yep you guessed it. Hydrangeas. Love them

And then for a total contrast in colours when I was picking up milk and bread I spotted peonies at woolies that had to come home with me. I’ve never bought them before and what a beautiful welcome when you opened the front door.

And the next morning they were much paler and made a lovely backdrop as I headed out to a high tea. And then before I knew it  the petals were all falling off and that was that. End of my $20 flowers. I think they lasted friday to tuesday at the most.

Anyway that’s all from me. Sharing pictures of pretty flowers is much more exciting than laundry piles, a broken dishwasher (good thing I’ve got years of practice hand washing dishes) and what I’m having for dinner tonight.

clearing out my store

I’m under strict instructions to clear out my craft room which means clearing out my store before Christmas! So I’ve reduced everything with all cotton charm squares at $12 and layer cakes and jelly rolls at $35 including post in Australia! Snap up a bargain here and here  for your Christmas sewing, quilting or presents and make my husband happy……………

for my wool stash I’ve started on tiKKi’s memory blanket and hoping it might make a dent in the huger than huge stash

 

my new favourite cake in the thermomix

It’s kind of funny that I had my thermomix for 3 years, got the new TM5 which comes with a newer cookbook and recipe chip, try out the apple tea cake recipe and then never make any other cake than the tea cake and decide it’s my favourite cake recipe of all time! In fact I’ve been keeping butter in the fridge for when the mood strikes and I want to bake one for dessert. Tonight I did one and didn’t tell the kids who were too busy having iceblocks and running around the backyard so I actually have cake leftover for lunchboxes tomorrow.

You could top it with whatever fruit you like, we’ve done apple, peach, blueberres but mostly stick to apple with a bit of sugar and cinnamon sprinkled on top before it goes into the oven. I’ve made it with plain flour, self raising and gluten free flour and it’s still been a winner. My only tip is don’t push the fruit down, just scatter or place gently on top. And another tip is that if you have the TM5 the cake and biscuit recipes don’t start with raw sugar like I usually like to start my recipes. So always put your raw or white sugar in first and process for 10 seconds on speed 9 before you follow the instructions from the cookbook/recipe chip. You want a nice clean bowl to do the sugar so it doesn’t stick to the sides.

my favourite cake in the thermomix
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Serves: 8-10
What you'll need
  • 150g raw sugar (or caster sugar)
  • 125g butter, room temperature
  • 3 eggs
  • vanilla
  • 200g plain flour with 1 tsp baking powder (or use self raising flour)
  • 2-3 apples or fruit of your choice
Instructions
  1. Place raw sugar in thermomix bowl and process for 10 seconds on speed 9.
  2. Add in butter, eggs, dash of vanilla, baking powder and plain flour and process for 20-30 seconds on speed 6.
  3. Pour into a lined square or round cake tin and scrape out the mixture from your TM bowl. It's actually not a huge cake batter so you want to get all of it out.
  4. If you don't have a thermomix then just cream your butter, caster sugar and vanilla together. Add in the eggs and mix well then the flour and baking powder and pour into a lined tin.
  5. Top with sliced fruit. You can peel the apples, cut into four pieces and then run a knife in lines down the apple as if you are slicing but don't cut through to the very bottom and arrange nicely over the top of your cake batter. Don't press down and top with a dash of sugar and generous dusting of cinnamon.
  6. Also a punnet of washed and dried blueberries is perfect on top too. Whatever you have will work so long as it isn't too wet.
  7. Bake cake for 30-40 minutes in a 180 degrees oven. Mine takes about 35 minutes.
  8. Gluten free flour is also great in this recipe.

a kina for keira

It’s been a while between knitting projects and a year between cardigans for my big girl but here we are. One kina for my big girl keira.

She absolutely loves it, picked the colour herself and I know this will be worn to death just like the last one I made her was until she outgrew it.

I’ll confess to you, baby knits are so much faster but this really is an easy knit you’ve just got to sit down and commit to lots of stocking stitch. Easy to do when you have a little baby who needs to be fed and you can feed the baby and knit. Trust me when I say that it’s the only reason I’ve finished this with a baby in tow. And it’s all in how you prop the pillows and feed and knit.

The button is a little Cath Kidston fabric covered one from the stash which is perfect.

Ravelry details are here

Pattern is Kina available here

Yarn is Bendigo Woollen Mills Luxury 8 ply in Aquarium

And thank you daylight savings. I took all of these photos (with my new favourite lens the 25mm 1.8) after a stinking hot 42 degrees hot day. We went out at 7pm to take these photos while we were waiting for our dinner. Now to think about my next project!

chicken + vegie balls with rice in your thermomix

Maybe you’re looking for a quick and healthy weeknight dinner. Maybe you’re stuck in a dinner rut. Maybe you’ve got a new thermomix or haven’t used your varoma yet. Maybe you’re trying to be gluten/dairy/egg free. If any of those apply to you then you are going to love this dinner. The kids in this house absolutely love it and decided it tastes like dumplings without the wrappers. I made it when I had chicken mince that I had bought for hawaiian burgers and then couldn’t be bothered making them and just wanted something easier and all done in the thermomix.

It might look like a lot of ingredients but if you keep the basics in your fridge and pantry then you’ll just need some meat. You can make your own mince in the thermomix but I overdid it once so tend to just pick up the mince already done. I like organic chicken mince but you could use whatever mince you prefer including beef if the kids prefer.

The trick to this recipe is that you’re not making burgers so don’t think your mixture is too wet and add more flour. You want a wet mixture so you have deliciously soft, just cooked meatballs to go with your rice.

5.0 from 1 reviews
chicken + vegie balls with rice
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Recipe type: gluten free, dinners
Serves: 4-6
What you'll need
  • ½ onion
  • 500g chicken mince (or whatever mince)
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 zucchini
  • 60g gluten free flour (or plain flour if not gluten free)
  • 2 Tbsp vegie/chicken stock
  • fresh ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 litre water
  • 4 Tbsp tamari (or soy sauce if not gluten/wheat intolerant)
  • 1 Tbsp mirin or chinese cooking wine
  • 300g basmati rice (or your favourite rice)
Instructions
  1. Place onion half and a small piece of ginger (about size of 20c piece and 1 cm thick) in thermomix bowl and chop for 4 -5 seconds on speed 7. Scrape down sides of bowl
  2. Add in carrot in pieces and zucchini and process for about 5 seconds on speed 7-8
  3. Add in chicken mince, a tablespoon of vegie or chicken stock, flour and combine on speed 3 for 10 seconds or until combined but don't overdo it.
  4. Tip out mixture onto a plate and check it's all mixed through properly
  5. Take a spoon or use wet hands to make small balls and place in varoma. Leave some gaps for the steam to come through and use both layers. Set aside
  6. Fill your rice basket ⅓ full of rice. Rinse under cold water until clear and set aside.
  7. Place peeled garlic cloves and a piece of ginger about the same size as before into the thermomix bowl and process for a few seconds on speed 7 or 8.
  8. Add in 1 litre of tap water, tamari, mirin and stock.
  9. Place rice basket in your bowl, lid on thermomix and without the measuring cup on top you are going to place the varoma on top of your bowl.
  10. Now cook your dinner - 20 minutes, varoma temperature and speed 3 or 4.
  11. Check that your meatballs are cooked and please BE CAREFUL when you lift off the varoma lid as the steam is hot and you want to lift the lid off with both hands and set aside.
  12. Remove rice basket and keep the liquid in the bowl and add a dash more tamari and this has become your sauce.
  13. Serve up rice, with some meatballs on top and pour over the reserved liquid over each serving.

 

Win $150 of Lego Products

Brought to you by LEGO

These are my little twinnies, about to finish their first year of school and also huger than huge LEGO fans. In fact we’re all LEGO fans in this house. I have memories of creating my own castles and fortresses with my big LEGO set which had a little drawbridge. But my twinnies usually need a bit of help to put together a LEGO set once we’ve opened the box or the sets that they really want are age 8+ and need some help from their big sister or someone else.

LEGO Juniors is new and bridging the gap between LEGO DUPLO and larger LEGO sets with these great colourful tubs and super easy to read instruction booklets. Designed for children aged 4-7, the pictures in the instructions are bigger and simplified and these two put the castle together in no time. With no help. That’s a great sense of achievement for these two. And instead of opening the box to find 6 or so bags of LEGO to work through there were 3 which kept things simple enough for them but still a challenge that they wanted to finish. And LEGO Juniors is great for little fingers, putting everything together and pulling it apart as well as creative play as you make up stories and play with what you’ve created.

Plus LEGO is all about imagination and creating your own……….once you’ve followed the instructions in the book you can go on to create your own wonderful creations. Like putting a head on top of a flag pole. That sort of thing. There are no rules when it comes to LEGO…oh no wait yes there are. Rule number 1 you pack it away or some will end up in the vacuum. Rule number 2 don’t walk barefoot on a piece unless you want a painful encounter. I think they are the 2 Lego rules in our house.

Christmas and birthdays are most definitely our favourite time to buy LEGO. You can add to existing collections and you can never go wrong with LEGO. The LEGO Juniors kits can also be used to add to your existing or future LEGO sets which is great news in this house as I’ve lost track of how much we actually have. And still want. I get regular updates on who wants the Shopping Mall from the girls and which Lego Harry Potter my big guy wants for Christmas.

And to share the love I have one of these LEGO Juniors sets to give away as well as a $120 gift card for you to spend on LEGO this Christmas. You don’t have to tell me how great that’s going to be as we get closer to Christmas time……I want to win for my little ones.

To enter is super simple, just tell me who you’ll be giving this great LEGO prize to and why?

Giveaway is open to Australian residents, entries close 18th November 2014 and full terms of my giveaways can be found here 

christmas cookie truffles

These delicious little truffles made from oreos kept popping up on pinterest and then in the Christmas issue of Donna Hay.

I’m a bit stuck in my old ways though and always make the same treats at Christmas time so thought it was time for a bit of a change and try something new.

So in a break from tradition I have tried my hand at these, adapted them for the thermomix and have to say that they are delicious. Some recipes call for a whole pack of cream cheese and others use cream. I used most of a packet of cream cheese and they worked well but let me know what works for you.

This was one of the bigger ones I made so make them a bit smaller and you’ll get more out of your mixture. These were just for us so are now in the fridge for little treats.

They got the big thumbs up from the kids and I probably ate too much of the mixture so that by the time it was taste testing time….well I was ok and didn’t really need to taste one at that moment in time.

And just so you know…..these were prepared under normal mum conditions on a hot day with 6 kids  - 4 were watching a barbie movie, 1 was helping with the chocolate and one baby woke half way through making these and was resettled and back to sleep again.

Definitely give these a go. They are lots of fun, the kids will love ‘helping’ you and might even make them themselves, they are super tasty and something a little different. You could even make a gluten free version using the glutino cookies that are similar to an oreo and ensuring your other ingredients were gluten free.

Enjoy………………………

christmas cookie truffles
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Serves: 30
What you'll need
  • 3-4 candy canes
  • 36 oreo/chocolate cream cookies
  • 200g cream cheese
  • 200g milk or dark cooking chocolate
Instructions
  1. Unwrap candy canes and break in half, place in thermomix bowl and process turbo for 1 to 2 times or speed 9 for 2 seconds. Empty out into a clean dry bowl.
  2. Place cookies into thermomix bowl or food processor and process until fine. I did mine on speed 8 for 3 seconds.
  3. Add in cream cheese and process speed 5 for 20 seconds or until combined in your food processor.
  4. Tip out the cookie mixture into a bowl. Now roll into small walnut sized balls and pop in the fridge.You should get about 30 balls from the mixture, more if you make them smaller, less if you make them bigger.
  5. Melt chocolate. I like to do mine in the microwave for 2½ minutes on medium. Break up chocolate, place in heatproof bowl, microwave in 1 minute increments on medium and stir before the next minute.
  6. Now lay out baking paper into a baking tray or lamington tray.
  7. Using a fork dip each ball into chocolate, allow the excess to drip off and lay on baking paper or a cooling rack could work for the excess chocolate to drip off onto some baking paper underneath.
  8. I found the chocolate pooled at the bottom when they were in the fridge so I recommend moving them carefully to another sheet of baking paper for the final refrigeration so they don't have a clump of chocolate underneath each truffle.
  9. When all the balls have been covered in chocolate and with clean hands sprinkle a little of the crushed candy canes over the top of the truffle.
  10. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours and serve. We had a super hot day here so the chocolate was sweating a little when they were out of the fridge so I recommend keeping them cool before gifting them.
  11. They will look super sweet in little cello bags with some festive ribbon on them.

 

retro mummy’s rum balls

This recipe was hidden away in the archives of my blog! With Christmas coming and lots of yummy recipes that I’d love to share I am pulling this one out of the archives and sharing again with you all. Rum balls.

They are super simple and if you’re not into alcohol just use orange juice! Too easy. I just love making these to give away because I get to eat them while I’m making them. I think that’s why I love making edible gifts – it’s so fun to make them, eat them and then give them away. I always do this recipe in a double batch so stock up on a few madeira cakes and just pop them in your freezer if you’re not going to make them until closer to Christmas.

 

retro mummy's rum balls
 
delicious and easy! they make a gorgeous present at Christmas time
Recipe type: Chocolate
Serves: 20
What you'll need
  • loaf of madeira cake (mine was 450g)
  • 1 cup icing sugar sifted
  • ½ cup cocoa
  • rum – enough to make the mixture moist (or orange juice)
  • coconut or chocolate sprinkles to coat
Instructions
  1. Slice off the brown edges of your cake then crumble the rest of the cake into a large bowl. Let the kids eat the edges of the cake.They love it.
  2. Sift in cocoa and icing sugar and stir well as you want it all evenly distributed. I use the back of a spoon to squash out any bigger cake bits too.
  3. Pour in rum (about 2 good sploshes) until you have the right consistency and your mixture is coming together. Mix well.
  4. Roll tablespoons full of mixture into balls and coat in coconut or chocolate sprinkles. Don’t worry if you can see little bits of cake, the mixture all comes together and they turn chocolatey in no time.
  5. Keep them in the fridge or package them up to give away. They look so pretty in little glass jars.

 

pretty in patchwork holidays

I don’t know if it’s a crafter thing or just a me thing but I love to make lists of presents I’m going to make before Christmas. I get all excited, and go through my books, think of each person, plan it out and then………..I get busy. Christmas comes and goes. Although I did promise my grandma a quilt for her bed and she’s still loving it and using it on her bed. So I’m not all bad. It was finished and blogged on the 23rd December. Just.in.time.

one finished quilt for grandma betty

Anyway here is a book that I purchased last Christmas with good intentions but never used and am hoping to make a few things this year. And I think you’ll like it because it’s got a great variety of projects and something for everyone.

I think the great thing about this book is that you’ll find small projects that you can whip up, larger quilts when you have a bit more time or want to make something extra special, projects to make for little ones

projects like this wine bag that you can put something nice in to gift to that extra person hard person who has everything…………

and there are some really cute projects

So many times you buy a book and you might not want to make everything and I’ll admit that there are a few ‘fall’ projects that won’t really appeal to the aussie readers but the book is just fabulous and has lots of inspiration and projects for you to get sewing and quilting before Christmas.

But perhaps I just need to start in January or February if I’m ever going to make everything on my wish list.

what’s been going on?

Once upon a time I would blog every day, then every 2nd day and now I’m just blogging when I can sit down at the computer and find something exciting to talk about. It’s all about home life at the moment and I am loving it that way. Little lawson is almost 3 months old and I’m still breastfeeding which is a bit of an achievement for me as I usually don’t make it this long. We are going longer between feeds and I’m getting a bit more sleep which is making life a bit easier.

lawson3

I have been knitting and am hoping to knock this kina over in 2 weeks. Because I am determined to have a little cardigan for each of my girls done before summer. Pattern can be found here and the wool here. Wishing I was knitting this in cotton now as it’s we’ve had some super hot days so might do my next one in cotton and at $10.50 a 200g ball why wouldn’t you!

We have been baking which is great for the snacks and not so great for the waistline. Mind you I broke the cardinal rule of cooking with kids in the kitchen………don’t turn your back otherwise your mixture will end up everywhere. But we had fun. We’ve been putting the new thermomix through its paces with pizza dough a few times, rice and meatballs last night, cakes, biscuits, pasta dishes and we are big fans of Quirky Cooking’s Spicy BBQ chicken which uses 1kgs of chicken thighs and we just have it minus the spice. If you haven’t made it then make it!

We’ve been playing outdoors and finding the best tree to climb……………

and my pile of Christmas magazines is growing by the day. I have a bit of a soft spot for Christmas magazines to get ideas and new recipes. I’ll always fall back on my old favourites but don’t want to miss anything. So far Donna Hay is my favourite of the bunch and I’m going to go all out and say it’s her best so far. Lots of new ideas and delicious recipes with all the beautiful styling that you’d expect.

And that’s about that.

super easy girls skirt to sew

Summer is coming, Christmas, parties, presents, places to go and things to do. So I’m cutting into my stash and whipping up a few pretty skirts for my girls AND doing a quick tutorial of how I do my skirts. I certainly don’t own this technique and won’t be the first person to share how I do them but they are so quick and easy and you’ll be making them in no time. They are also great for budding sewers and absolute beginners.

you’ll need about 1/2 yard – 1/2 metre cotton fabric (we used just under 1/2 yard for this skirt pictured which is about a size 5-6)

elastic for the waistband at least 1/2 inch wide

thread, pins, scissors or rotary cutter and ruler

1. measure out your fabric. To make a size 3-4 skirt I did 15 inches (about 38 cm) of fabric by the width (about 44 inches/112cm wide). For the skirt photographed which is size 5-6 I did 17  inches (43cm) fabric by the width.  We are keeping the fold in the fabric so it’s 15 or 17 inches  x 44 inches. For longer skirts you can just add 2 or more inches to the 17 inches or find your daughter’s favourite skirt and add 2 inches to cover the waistband and hem.

2. remove selvages from fabric with a rotary cutter or scissors

3. with right sides together you are going to sew the short sides together. I use the needle left position on my machine and with the foot of the machine on the edge of the fabric off I go.

4. overlock or zig zag your edges to prevent fraying once it goes in the wash

5. take your skirt to the ironing board with the wrong side of the fabric facing out. Press over your seam to one side. Now we’re going to create our waistband casing. With your fingers, press over a small amount of fabric at the top of the skirt and press with the iron, continue around the top edge of your skirt until you’ve come back to the starting position.

6. Now press over again by an amount wider than your elastic. You don’t want it too much bigger (in fact it’s probably a bit too wide in this pic) but I like to do a row of stitches at the top of the skirt to make a neater waistband and also prevent the elastic twisting. Press with a hot iron to keep the fold in place. You could pin it down to help you with sewing if you’re a beginner/new sewer.

7. Now we’re going to do the hem in a very similar way. At the bottom of the skirt press over a small amount and go around the bottom of the skirt until you are back at your starting point. Fold over again by about  1/2 – 3/4  inch and press with the iron right the way around the skirt.

8. This is what your skirt will look like. At one end we’ve got a bigger folded over edge for our waistband and at the other we’ve got our hem. Now we are ready to sew.

9. OK let’s get sewing, with our needle in the needle left position we are going to do our waistband and we are going to start an inch out from our side seam and finish an inch out, that space will leave us enough room to thread in our elastic. I like to sew on the wrong side of my fabric so I can see that I’m catching the folded over edge with my stitches.

10. Now before I thread the elastic for my waistband I like to do the hem while I’m in that frame of mind. Now I like to sew my hem with the right side of my fabric facing up. Go right around from start to finish and don’t race it because you want a nice even edge. I do needle left position and edge of the foot on the edge of the fabric if I can. If you’re nervous that you might not catch the folded over edge underneath then you could do what you did for the waistband with the wrong side of the fabric facing up.

11. To measure my elastic I actually grabbed one of the kid’s shorts and measured it against that plus a cm or two. As a rough guide this was 16-18 inches but we are a bit slim on the waist here (sorry I mean my kids not me! I have the opposite problem). So use a skirt/shorts you have that fit well or measure the child’s waist and cut your elastic to that size and then you can take an inch or two off to make it sit nicely.

12. Put a pin in one end of the elastic and a safety pin in the other. The pin will prevent you losing the elastic at the end and the safety pin is to push the elastic through.

13. thread that elastic through by pushing the safety pin into the space you left open in the waistband and the end of the elastic with the pin won’t go into the waistband but will be there waiting for you when you’ve come out the other end of the waistband.

14.  pin the ends of the elastic together and don’t twist!!!!! nothing worse than closing up your waistband and twisting the elastic.

15. Now I just like to do a little zig zag back and forth to secure the elastic ends together and trim any excess elastic.

16. Now we’re going to stitch between those 2 inches we left to thread our elastic through and I just line up my stitches with where I left off. Don’t sew through the elastic and you have one finished waistband and skirt! You can see I’ve done a top row of stitches on the skirt so if you feel your waistband casing is too wide, unthread the elastic and sew a top line of stitches, I think it makes for a cute waistband.

17. Give it a press and you are done. Admire your work.

18. Grab a model to make sure it fits and take a photo!

We like to team our skirts with plain t-shirts. You can also applique some of the fabric from the skirt on to your tee……but I’m loving this white tee and skirt combo and in fact it’s out and ready for church tomorrow morning.

If you’ve got a question or anything isn’t clear just ask! I hope you find this helpful and I promise you won’t stop at one.

charm square giveaway time

My lovely friend and helper Lisa is getting me up to date with my giveaway winners today so why not start a new one…..especially as two of these fabric ranges just arrived this week. I’ve got 5 charm square packs for one lucky person and I’m imagining some lovely things with these pretty florals.

To enter just tell me what you’d make or who you’d give them to and we’ll pick a winner next Friday. You can enter wherever you live in the world and I know it’s great timing for some Christmas craft………..

the baptism

Well where do I start. Baptisms and celebrating special milestones never gets old. Whether it’s your first or your 6th. In the car on the way to the church keira said to me, mum you really love this stuff don’t you……. and you take your food very seriously………she had me laughing. But it’s more than the food and the party, it’s a special day to mark Lawson as a child of God and welcome him into the Church. It’s the first of many sacraments that he will receive and it’s such a special day.  It’s what our parents did for us and their grandparents for them and before that too.

I love that we continue the tradition and bring up our children as Catholics. We don’t just talk the talk here. Before we got married we made a commitment to do what our parents did. To go to church every Sunday and bring up our children with a strong faith in the hope that they will continue it with their own families. We wanted the same values that we were raised with to be passed on to them. And as my children get older and as I welcome more babies into our family I realise that the world needs this more than anything.

And I love the little traditions that we’ve created in our own little family . I have the candle made at Jamberoo Abbey, if you ever need a candle the nuns make them and hand paint them and they are just perfect. The dress has been worn by everyone except the twins (who were teeny tiny at baptism). It’s a little petit bateau linen and cotton dress that I picked up in France on sale before I even got married but thought would come in handy and it certainly has. Not that I ever could have imagined we’d baptise 6 babies!! The blanket was handmade and purchased on…………….wait for it………..ebay. Yes that’s right. A lovely lady in queensland makes and sells these beautiful blankets and it was perfect. And the beautiful bracelet which I shared before was from here.

When planning the big day for my little man I didn’t predict a 38 degree hot day in October. So it was a sweaty day from the time we left home until our last visitors left. And looks like that we’ll need to get the air con fixed after all. And all of those lindt balls were as soft as anything by the end of the day and I had to pop them in the fridge to recover.

And the day just went in a blur.  An absolute blur. I had my time plan all written up and ready to go from 5am but I ended up waking up at 7.30am and was just chasing my tail. Thankfully we had visitors so aunty christine was put on the hair straightener and vacuum, uncle andrew was outside putting up chairs, using the blower vac and tidying up. I was in the kitchen cleaning, feeding the baby, getting kids dressed and just putting the finishing touches on everything. I have to thank Flossy Flamingos for this fun tassel which she whipped up for me and express posted. It was perfect. And thank you to Jane for lawson’s beautiful name sign.

Thankfully with all hands on deck we caught up to my time plan and left on time, got to the church and I had read in the newsletter that 9 babies were to be baptised that weekend and I had a little panic. We walked in and my friend as well as retro daddy’s brother and wife were the first ones there so we had our pick of the seats. It was very warm in there so everyone was fanning themselves and the priest was sweating, two of my little ones acted up the whole time and you would think had never been in a church before but somehow we got them through it. And it was just a lovely little service. The highlight was Lawson just smiling and laughing as the water was poured on his head….that’s why we are all smiling in the photo because he was just smiling and enjoying it. No tears here.

The candle was lit and then the little ones were busting to blow out the candle like on a birthday cake. I really thought of one of them might say hooray and throw their arms up as candles mean birthdays in our house. And I think my face is saying oh no you are not blowing it out.

we took more family photos and then it was a race home to beat the guests to the front door. That’s the thing about baptisms and celebrations, you don’t have the luxury of having been at the house just before your guests arrive. Lunch was simple and delicious and I put a few of the ladies to work in the kitchen.  And then at about 10.30 that night I remembered that I hadn’t put any of the delicious fruit out. In fact I almost forgot to put the macarons out until after the cake was cut. Now the cake was something else. I had moved away from my usual cake lady and so my friend, lawson’s godmother ordered this beautiful 10 inch continental cake with layers of soaked sponge and layers of custard and chocolate inside. It was perfect and some gold leaf sprinkled on the top for a little something special.

My dad was the official photographer of the day so I’m sure I’ll share some more photos when he sends more through but while we’re all still thinking about the day I wanted to share a few of them. It really was a special day and although it went by so quickly I have some very beautiful memories of Lawson’s baptism. Thank you to my family and friends who shared it with us, especially the lovely Godparents and those who couldn’t be with us but were in our thoughts on the day.

large family logistics- the book

Whenever I’d put ‘large family’ into the search bar on Pinterest it would always bring up this book, Large Family Logistics. It had lots of reviews but was sadly out of print and very expensive to track down a copy. One weekend I found a copy on amazon for a reasonable price and grabbed it. Am I glad I did? Absolutely. Is this book for everyone? Absolutely not. Do you need a large family to read this book? No way. In fact it’s for families of all sizes.

I love this book but it’s definitely not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. You’ll want to be a Christian lady as it’s heavy on the bible references in some parts of the book which I enjoyed but won’t be for everyone. Also you’ll need to take a few things with a grain of salt especially a couple of references to the relationship between husband and wife that aren’t how our marriage is. There are a couple of little things that made us have a laugh and that I didn’t agree with. For example let’s sit down and listen to our husband’s goals and work towards them because he is the head of the household (not your own goals though, you are working towards his). Also if you want to run the family meeting then you need to ask your husband first and then let the kids know that you have his authority and will be running the meeting as his 2nd in charge. That sort of thing.

So you might need to get past a few little things and I did. For me there was more in the book that I enjoyed and learnt from than what I didn’t agree with. And I want to lend this book out to a few mums but I’m not ready yet, I wanted to read a few chapters again, have marked a few things I want to try and have really enjoyed it in the past week or two. And the reason I needed this book is because my system of doing things – whenever it gets really bad or someone is coming over is not a good system. I really struggle to keep the house clean and on top of the laundry. The rest of my jobs I can do just fine but housework and the never ending laundry kill me.

The book adopts more of a traditional system to managing your home, whereby you assign a day to laundry, a day to the kitchen, a day for your errands (called town day), a day for the office (bills, paperwork, banking etc),  a day of rest on Sunday and so on.

There were some great tips I picked up that I’d love to share with you

4 loads by 4 – could you commit to 4 loads of laundry by 4pm each day?  Or what about setting a goal of having all of your laundry out on the line by noon. That would be nice.

Cleaning your bathrooms in 5 minute intervals, where to start and how to clean it.

Limiting your computer time, bookmark your favourite sites but make sure you are getting on to do the things you are supposed to be doing not spending forever burping a baby just as an excuse to sit on the computer.

Quiet time everyday for everyone in the house.

Using my slowcooker more especially when you’ve been out for the day

Household management binder – just put that into pinterest and you’ll see what I’m talking about

Hospitality! How often would we like to have people over but we think cleaning and having the house ready or having people over is too much work. We should enjoy having people over. In fact she works backwards and sets goals for each month so that you have a month of hosting people in december and throughout the year you do little things with different people at your house and it prepares you for your big month of hospitality in December. Something to think about as I love having people over but do put it off until special occasions. And then think I need to do it more often as  it’s always lovely to have some adult conversation in the house and play buddies for the kids.

The author also really promotes healthy eating, looking after yourself and your family which I think is great advice too. And if you have a new baby there is some great advice on doing things with a new baby in tow and looking after the baby and it’s a gentle approach adjusted for each little person’s personality which I liked and could relate to especially at this point in time with a new baby at our house.

So my advice would be that if you can track down a copy then grab it and tell me what you think. Don’t pay through the nose for it though (I’m not kidding you when I tell you that some copies go for over $100), my copy was $37 and I’m thrilled with it as it’s text book size.  And the  book is supposed to be reprinted in 2015 (correct me if I’m wrong). So don’t go into it thinking you’re going to love it all and totally change your parenting style or your marriage but have an open mind, look at what isn’t working at your house at the moment and be willing to try new things, be more organised, get on top of that laundry (it’s taken over my home) and enjoy a clean home which gives you more time to do the things you want to do.

And I think what I really took away from the book is that I shouldn’t neglect the housework or think that I’m above doing housework or too busy for it. It needs to be done and there is no point me leaving it and hoping someone else in the house is going to realise that I’m behind and suddenly clean it all for me. I’m home, I should be on top of it and I should be having some systems in place because I’ll be at home for a while and I’ll be raising little ones for a while so I might as well work out how best to keep on top of it