Saturday, August 30, 2014

How to Blog with Kids

When you become a mother you become the Queen of Multi-tasking.  Many of you are now nodding your heads in agreement.  I have a photo of me loading the washing machine (while standing in the washing basket oddly), whilst brushing my teeth and without any pants on.  I was obviously in the process of getting dressed at the same time.
 
As a writer/photographer/blogger and mother of four children I think I have almost got the multi-tasking thing down pat.  And strangely it doesn't involve alcohol!
 
So how do you keep a blog and keep your kids at bay while you do it?
Pick your moments
 
Yes, this makes perfect sense, and is the most obvious idea.  Blog when your kids are at school, in bed, at their friend's place, or are engrossed in 'Peppa Pig'.  Whenever you find is the best time when there are the least distractions is the best time.  It will be different for everyone. 
 
Sometimes, however, you can't avoid the distractions of children while you are blogging, particularly if you have really little ones, like I do.  I don't like to write in the evenings when my husband is home, because I like to spend what little time he is actually home, hanging out with him.  We don't do much.  He's normally too buggered to do anything after a day of shearing and often he sleeps while I catch up on reading blogs beside him in bed.  Oh the romance!
 
So instead I spend my blogging time jumping up and down getting drinks and snacks, hunting for lost toys, breaking up fights and changing nappies...and occasionally getting to write something.  For example, currently my four year old is insisting that I go on the 'bouncy bounce' with him (the trampoline), which just ain't gonna happen buddy.  (just let me finish this sentence)
 
Ok...bouncy bouncing over.
 
What was I saying?  Oh yes, blogging with kids.
 
Involve your children
 
I have actually found that my kids can be quite useful in assisting with the process of my blog.  Sometimes they star in photos (although not often, and usually I trim recognisable features of them off...like their heads), and my eldest sometimes acts as my photographer when I need a photo of myself.  I also get them to find me props, hold things still for me while I'm trying to do a photo shoot and also make them play the game "Go Stand in the Corner While I do this"...just so they don't destroy my props I have just set up.
Food can be used as a bribe
 
Ok, so I might deserve the 'bad parent' award here but sometimes it can be useful to make a big bowl of popcorn, stick on a DVD and sit them in front of the television, just so you can get a half hour of peace and quiet.  Really, whatever works for you.
 
Don't expect miracles
 
Probably the soundest piece of advice I can give is to not expect miracles.  Sometimes it just isn't going to work, and if they keep interrupting you it can spell disaster for your chain of thought.  And then you just end up writing a big pile of doo doo.  Remember, quality over quantity.  Luckily I don't suffer from 'thought interruption problems', and as I write for a magazine I do get used to having to work around my kids, particularly to a deadline, but if you just can't then you need to try and not get too frustrated and come back to it later.  I know...easier said than done, but you might be able to sneak in an hour after they have gone to bed or even get up a bit earlier before the little monsters get up.  Unfortunately I find that impossible, I'm not a morning person and treasure every last second of sleep but maybe that could work for you.
 
How do you blog and around your kids?
 






Friday, August 29, 2014

Shades of Blue

It was a bit of a 'Friday Finds' day today, and I was kind of drawn to the colour blue.  It's so relaxing.  I am enjoying an element of peace today because all of my boys are out of the house; husband off shearing, eldest son at school, the next off at kinder and my youngest boy at day care.  So it's just me and my girl at home.  It was peaceful...until she climbed into her dolly cot and it broke and she got stuck.  Boo!
 
Anyway, these are the pretties I have to share today...


 
Ok, this lip balm is seriously the most gorgeous thing I have ever come across.  I have a thing for vanilla.  It's my all time favourite scent.  This would have to be the best vanilla scented anything I have ever had the pleasure of breathing in.  These Lip Macaron balms by Mor come in a variety of 'flavours', but this little lovely is French Vanilla.  It smells exactly like vanilla ice cream...the good stuff.  Or a little like cake batter.  It's divine.  It's really nice on too, and I like how balms are easy just to chuck on anywhere without the aid of a mirror. 
 
The little cupcake is actually not edible, much to my four year olds despair, but is a bath bomb I picked up for a few dollars in the next town.  It's from Bomb Cosmetics which is in the UK.  With four kids I'm a 'quick shower before bed' kinda gal, but this might be the excuse I need to have a good long soak in the tub!
I'm a sucker for notebooks.  Actually any kind of stationery makes me happy, but this particular notebook came with stickers!  The birds on the front of this one are little Australian Blue Wrens.  The male is the pretty blue one (of course...show off!), and the little brown bird is the female.  They are actually pinging about everywhere at the moment with the onset of Spring.  I say 'ping' because they flit and hop about like nobodies business.  This notebook has a lovely soft fabric cover, with white stitching down the spine, and is made from recycled board and paper.  It comes from The Linen Press which is happily a Carbon Neutral company. 
This nail polish by Natio is the prettiest shade of pale blue.  It's called 'Air'.  I'm always impressed with the names companies come up with for all their different colours.  It's an art form in itself!  My fingernails don't normally see any polish, due to handling kids, sheep and horses, but I like to bling up my toes during the warmer weather when I dust off the sandals.
This moisturiser was a new discovery for me, and handy because I'd just run out of my usual one.  For a change I thought I'd give this a go.  I hadn't heard of Milk & Co but they have a whole range of products.  As the name suggests this moisturiser is nice and light, but once rubbed on it feels a little thicker, which I like because I feel my slightly older skin needs a bit more moisture than it once did.  It has a light floral scent too, which is nice for a change.  Only thing, it doesn't have a sunscreen in it, which I do like in a moisturiser as it cuts out a step in my morning beauty routine. 
 
I hope you enjoy these few Friday finds!










Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Drive Home


Spring is springing down here.  Only a few days to go until it is officially not Winter.  Other than our lambs hitting the ground thick and fast to give us a fair hint that the seasons are changing, we are also getting some pretty nice days.  Like today.

My four year old goes to a special kinder on Thursdays down in Warragul, which is a bit over 20kms from home down the highway.  My three year old and I bummed about town for a couple of hours, I had a few things to do, and he insisted that we go for a 'babycino', so we did that too.

After that the three year old demanded we go visit Nana, which is my Mum.  Good idea.  It was a gorgeous day, and since it is her birthday on the weekend, and we had just bought her a present, we thought we would go and stop by for an hour.  They live out on a farm about 15 minutes north of town, so out we popped.

It was a pleasant visit, as usual, my kids went a little ballistic, as per normal, and Mum loved her present (a gorgeous recipe/travel picture/lifestyle type book on all things French......my parents are heading off to France next April....lucky ducks!!)

Anyway, we didn't stay too long, but I was really impressed with the drive home today.  You see it's all 'the back way' when you head home from my folks, and with the weather turning, it really was all rather beautiful.

Gums do look lovely lining the road.  Except you do need to be careful on a windy day...they drop branches like you wouldn't believe.  Actually even on non-windy days they will unexpectedly drop a few here and there.  It's kind of like they decide "hey..I don't need that one no more".  Womp.

See...there's someone's unwanted appendage right there!  And a view of The Baw Baw's. (The mountain range.)
The view towards the Strezlecki's.  (some more hilly bits)
Cracker view of Mount Baw Baw.  There was a little snow left on it, but you can't see it here.  We don't get SNOW like they do in Europe.  No siree.  But people do still get excited about it.  Not me.  I'm not a skier.  Or a snowboarder.  Or a snow bunny.
Continuing on home, I liked this shed and stockyards enough to take a quick snapshot out the window of my car.
I do like this bit of road here.  The Strezlecki's are peeping around the corner.
There's a cute house up on that hill in amongst the trees.  That's a shed to the right.  Probably not so nice to live in.
And I go along a long long long road with a river beside it and lots of reedy things.
And on the other side of that road are cows!  Dairy ones.  They are very curious and really pretty.
Almost home!  This is the view I get just before I drive into my town.  This is also the view that is just up behind my house.  If I drive three minutes south of my house I'm up in those hills and going through some even more beautiful countryside.  I will take you on that journey another day!









Wednesday, August 27, 2014

It's A Jolly Thing



I love it when people I know start businesses; whether big or small, for a life changing career or even just a hobby.  It's so inspiring.  There are so many clever people out there and even someone you might know really well can just suddenly, out of the blue, surprise you with an amazing light bulb moment.

Nicola is now a Facebook friend of mine, although I did play netball with her for a season about five years ago, and she did kindly let me tag along a few times when she went out with her friends (I was new in town, a single mum and didn't know anyone!)  She's the best! 

 


She was studying to be a teacher when I first met her, which is now what she does for a living, but her other 'job' is a little business she has started with her sister.  They are making the cutest posters under the business name 'It's A Jolly Thing', (which is very clever as this is their surname!  I love it!!), and I have a sneaky suspicion they will grow really big and launch into other areas of Home Décor as Nicola is very stylish and I am sure her sister is too.  Do go on over and have a looksie!

They can be found over here on Facebook.

These were made up specially for my children, and the one below was one that Nicola kindly adapted for me from a similar one she had.  I wanted it to reflect my boys who hang about on a farm a great deal, and are going to grow up around our sheep, and who no doubt will have ponies very soon.
 
   This one is for my little girl, which I think is adorable.
Luckily my Dad is a Picture Framer so I will save my pennies (or buy him a slab of beer), and get him to pop a couple in some frames for me.
 
These are all A4 in size, although I'm sure you can get different sizes, and these were only $10 each.


Monday, August 25, 2014

Moo Goo Review

Moo Goo, one of my favourite ranges of skincare.  I love everything about them; their use of 'people' friendly ingredients, the fact they are Australian made and owned and they have cows on all their packaging!  What more could you want!?!  They also have some very clever names for their products, such as Cow Lick Lip Balm, Tail Swat Body Spray (which is an insect repellent) and Mudder Udder Balm (for breastfeeding mothers).
 
The company itself came from small beginnings, starting with one simple product, the Skim Milk Udder Cream (which is a fantastic all purpose moisturiser).  Apparently the founder took a cream used on dairy farms, that was used to heal cow's udders, and adapted it to help a member of their family with a skin problem.  The cream they use on dairy farms is incredibly healing, but too greasy for human use, so it was changed...keeping the healing properties and removing the grease.
 
This was one of the first Moo Goo Products I came across and I love it.  I use it as a hand cream, and sometimes on my face, especially if I am going away and just want to take one tube of cream that will do many things.  As well as the gorgeous fragrance (kind of marshmallow-y), I particularly liked the 'Directions' for use they originally had on the back of the tube....
 
"Wash udder and teat parts thoroughly before each milking to avoid contamination of milk.
Apply udder cream to the udder after each milking, massaging into the skin......"
 
It was great, very tongue in cheek.  The outside blerb on the tube is a bit different now but the product is still its same fantastic self.
 
I now keep a number of their products on hand including:
 
Milk Wash
 
This can be used for the body or face and is a combination of six natural cleansers.  Personally I use it for my face and use the Fresh Milk Cleansing Bar everywhere else, but sometimes I will wash all over with it, first squirting a little on a bath lily and soaping it up a bit.  It's not overly foamy like normal soap, and it doesn't dry out your skin like soap can.  This is why I love it for my face.

 
Milk Shampoo
 
I'm using this on my children at the moment, my one year old daughter included.  So far none of them have complained or cried about getting stingy shampoo in their eyes, which is great.  It smells lovely and the conditioner is really nice too.
 
Nappy Balm
 
This is great, and has been tested on the developers own babies, so you can have every confidence that it is going to be fine for your own little one.  My little girl is quite fair and easily gets a little red bottom.  This has a nice soft consistency and smooths on really easily.  Some nappy creams are a bit sticky and seem to pull on the skin as you put it on, which I think hurts your baby even more, which is not good when they have really bad nappy rash.  This is the best nappy balm I have come across.  It is also ok if she happens to put it in her mouth because there is nothing harmful in it, nor is there any nut oils (just in case of nut allergies).
 
Cow Lick Lip Balm
 
Great little tube of lip balm that easily fits in your jeans pocket.  It's easy to always have on me even when I'm out and about on the farm.  When I worked full time as a farmhand I always had a tube of this on me since I was constantly exposed to the elements.  There are no chemicals, which is great since you generally end up digesting a portion of your lip balm (!) and it is fragranced with Mandarin Essential Oil.
 
Fresh Milk Cleansing Bar - Fresh Buttermilk
 
This is like an old fashioned piece of soap, nice and big, and they are made with fresh milk.  They last for ages, longer than any other soap I have used.
 
The range is not overly pricey and they are available in store or online.  My local chemist stocks it (after I showed them a brochure about three years ago...so they ordered it in and have been stocking it ever since!), but you can buy it easily in major chemists and health food stores.
 
 
 




The Sheep are Sheeping

Spring is just around the corner and the sheep are sheeping! (which is our families non-technical humorous way of saying that the sheep have started lambing).
 
They started at the beginning of last week.  They kind of appear like popcorn does when you cook it in a saucepan over the stove.  One day there was two, then the next there was four, then suddenly by Wednesday they had all started to explode and there was about fifty of the little darlings running around.  I went yesterday for a looksie and there would have been around sixty, and brilliantly there is still many more to go.
 
We even had a set of triplets! 
 
I couldn't get a clear photo of those little guys snuggled up together so here are one of our sets of twins, which there are a few.
 
Once they get a little older, say a couple of weeks, they become a little braver and head out away from their mums and bunch up, like a flock of school children, and play silly games together.  There is a very 'fun' pile of dirt in one of the paddocks and this is a source of endless amusement.  They run up it and over it and all around it, kicking their heels up, butting their heads and just generally being young and free.
As well as checking the ewes and their new arrivals I also spent a bit of time brushing my very hairy horse, who is losing her Winter coat.  To me it just looks really really itchy, so I figured I'd relieve her of some it while buttering her up with carrots.
See how muddy and yucko she looks.  Her paddock is looking a little worse for wear too after a wet and boggy Winter.
 
Of course, because I brought out the carrots Sabre had to show up too.  This is my husband's horse.  He is a big sticky beak.
And it does make it hard to take a decent photo of him...
He is also always trying to find more carrots, and seems to think you have them tucked away behind your ears, in your hair or, indeed, in your own mouth, so he will sniff and even lick your face in search for them.  He is lovely, but I'm not sure about all the smooching.  
 






 



Sunday, August 24, 2014

Frankies

Do you have a favourite café?  I do.  It's called Frankies and I visit once a week on a Thursday while my four year old is at kinder.  He attends a special kinder in the town of Warragul, which is a bit over 20 kilometres from home.  So being little point in heading back home for just 2 hours, I tend to hang out with my three year old son and my baby girl and we enjoy a Vanilla Chai Latte and Babycino's and usually a cute rainbow coloured biscuit with a 'face' on it, (my kids, not me!)
 
This Thursday my son and I decided to share a Vanilla Slice.

Needless to say he had a little trouble with it. 
Forks aren't the best for cutting through pastry...particularly when you are three and impatient.  Actually, it sort of ended in disaster but it was fun while it lasted!
 
It's as relatively new café, and has that 'trendy city' feel to it, which is kind of cosmopolitan for little old Warragul, but they make fabulous breakfasts.  Their French Toast is the best I've ever had.
I usually can't hang around too long in cafes because the kids start to get a little bored and start climbing the walls, but I do think it is good for them to learn how to behave in a cafe or restaurant.  They have their 'please' and 'thank you' down pat now!
And the staff are always lovely here too.  Despite how many crumbs we leave behind (courtesy of the kids), they never seem to mind.






 



Saturday, August 23, 2014

How to Stay Motivated as a Stay at Home Mum

I read a lot of different lifestyle blogs, following along with the lives of some gorgeous 20-something year olds who are out and about doing and seeing wonderful things, wearing stylish clothes and all knowing how to do their makeup properly.
 
I, on the other hand, am beyond this stage of my life, with four kids, barely enough time to brush my hair, and I walked through the doors into forty-dom earlier this year.  Blergh.
 
While enjoying following along with these lovely and talented young ladies, and their stories of their interesting adventures, I often wonder what it is I can really bring to my blog and to you to keep you captivated, and perhaps head back this way for a regular fix.
 
This is when I thought a little post on sharing some advice about beating the monotony of being a mum at home, and trying to keep your identity while chasing after kids, might be useful.  Not just to those other mummy's out there, but also for those who intend to one day fill their world with children. (and don't think it will never be you because trust me...it sneaks up on you!)
 
By no means am I trying to put anyone off kids, I certainly love my own and don't have any regrets, but I do know how trying it can be sometimes, and that feeling trapped, angry, resentful or just down right bored are a completely normal range of emotions.  There is also the guilt that comes with feeling this way, which makes it even worse. Throw in some hormones for added good measure and you can end up a downright mess.  Being a stay at home mum is hard.
 
Anyway, here I have put together a little list of what I have discovered are useful tips for surviving the Mummy gig:
 
 
Weight Control
 
Put a padlock on your pantry, then hang the key up high...(no, I'm serious) where you need to drag a chair over to get to it.  Perhaps put a few other obstacles in your way too.  Anything to stop the unnecessary grazing or boredom eating.  It is such a trap and can stack on the weight.  I only need to just look at food and I put it on.  Maybe even go as far as doing your grocery shopping online so you can stick to your shopping list and not be tempted to throw those extra Tim Tams and chocolate in your trolley.
 
Exercise
 
Personally I need to swim at least every second or third day, otherwise my back plays up, although when my husband is away shearing this is often not possible.  If you have the time, and the funds, joining a gym, going to an exercise class, or even a dance class, is a great idea because it gets you out (a break from the kids), gives you time to yourself and helps keep you fit.  Obviously. 

 
I do struggle with having someone to watch my kids some of the time, so I have a few yoga and Pilates DVD's, and weirdly, a tap dancing DVD filmed by a woman that looks a little like an older and wrinklier version of Ginger Rogers. 
 





Social Life
 
This is important, particularly if your husband works long hours (like mine...which unfortunately includes weekends).  Keeping in touch with friends is not only vital for your sanity but also helps keep you in touch with the world beyond your kids.  Talking about things, other than just what little Junior did or didn't do, will also make you feel more human.  It does also help to have a friend who doesn't have kids at all.  They will help keep you grounded, and if you're lucky, will take you out every so often, prop you up at a bar, and pour drinks in to you.
 
Internet Use
 
You know how those in the know are always going on about the effect of technology on children and how limiting their online time is something you should be extra Sergeant Major Grumpy about?  Well so should the same rules apply to yourself.  If you find yourself incessantly stalking others on Facebook or Crushing Candy all day long, or have a major relationship with your smart phone, things could be getting a little out of hand.  Internet usage is great, social media is fantastic, but too much of a good things is just...well..too much.  I also find that the kids start climbing the walls when the computer goes on ...take them out to the park instead and benefit from the fresh air.
 
 
Motivation
 
I do struggle to be the perfect 1950s version of a stay at home mum.  I definitely don't feel satisfied with just the kinder run, changing nappies and cleaning up tinned spaghetti off the floor.  Of course being a mum is way more than that, and it is an extremely rewarding job, but like everything, it has its moments.  For some life as a S.A.H.M is perfect, everything they could ever want, which is great.  I admire anyone who has this much dedication and patience (something I have very little of).  For others, (me included) we need another outlet and this could include working part time, or even full time, working from home, having a hobby or favourite craft to indulge in, or even doing something like volunteering.
 
I have my job as a writer and photographer for a magazine, and there is also this blog.  All of this I love.  It gives me a purpose, other than caring for kids and cleaning the house, but more importantly it makes me happy and keeps me motivated.  If you feel you are lacking a little motivation, and getting a little narky, think about how YOU can make the difference in your own life.
 
I know this has been a longer post but I guess it is a really big topic.  As a follow up I will have a look at what sort of work is perfect for the stay at home mum.  In the meantime, it's a gorgeous day today, Spring is on  the way, so I'm switching off the computer to go and enjoy the outdoors!


 
 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

A Beef Farm and an Irish Pub

Yesterday saw me getting away from the kids for a day and heading out to do an interview in East Gippsland.  At a little place called Wuk Wuk to be precise.  This feature for the mag is about a couple, Peter and Rachel Treasure, who own a Murray Grey beef cattle farm and who sell their beef as fresh meat to high end restaurants in Melbourne, under their Wuk Wuk Beef label, and also their Happy Camper Gourmet products which are made from the off cuts of meat, (what is left after the prime cuts have been taken).  These are meals that are pressure cooked in bags that campers can take away with them and simply heat by boiling in the bag.  Brilliant hey!
 

 
My Dad came with me, which he decided to even before he knew that they had Murray Greys, which are the same breed of cattle he has had for twenty five years.  They are so beautiful.  He had a lovely time talking 'shop' with Peter's father, who took him off in the ute to go and have a look at the cows and calves.
 
 
This curious fella is a steer. 
 
Some more steers....
 
After the interview, and then traipsing around the paddocks, I then had to head off to the Lindenow Pub, which was conveniently only five minutes down the road, where I had to take photographs for an advertisement for this coming issue of the magazine.
 
It's a bugger that it is over two hours from my house because it's a great pub.
 
The interior was lovely too, lots of character.
 



 
I was quite disappointed we didn't have time to stop for lunch, but I sort of needed to get back home to rescue my Mum from my kids....who can be a handful sometimes!
 
Perhaps next time I'm out this way...
 
 
And right across the road is the view of Gippsland's Food Bowl.  I love my job!