Thursday, September 27, 2012

Porky, but not Pregnant.

There are moments in life when only a three year old can ease the tensions in a situation.

On Saturday we attempted to buy the tapware for the bathroom renovation. Mr H had allocated a budget for the taps and was hoping to stay within a few dollars of this tight budget.

We started arguing discussing the tap issue and the salesman raised his eyebrows and silently crept away.

I couldn't understand why Mr H wouldn't be buying a mixer tap. He was stuck with wanting two old style taps for the shower.

As we argued talked between clenched teeth, Immy and Popps were rolling eyes about how bored they were and then Immy walked over, patted me on the tummy and said "Wow, Mummy is having a baby, look Mummy, you are having a BABY!"

Mr H simply buckled over from trying not to laugh out loud. I do believe I saw tears in his eyes from laughing so much.

Conversation over. Mr H could no longer look me in the eye without hysterical laughter.

We soon left Bunnings minus any taps or toilets and headed to the next bathroom wares distributors on the list. Mr H silently choking on his own laughter still. Two hours later and we had everything we needed.

The taps were only $795 over Mr H's budget, so, um, guess who's laughing now...yes that would be me (otherwise known as porky but not pregnant, belly).

If you need me anytime soon I will be either consoling myself with a packet of tim tams or attempting to run around the block to lose this belly.

(There is no image to display on this post, it would need to be either taps or tummys, so, nothing to look at here, move along.)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Modern Classroom: Ipads and schools

The modern classroom

A few months ago I wrote about schools using iPads in the classroom and what I did to secure an iPad for Popps to use in her prep classroom.

I asked the teacher to let me know how it was going and to provide some feedback on how it was that the ipads were used in the school environment.

The teacher sent me an email with some comments;

... the ipad has been a very useful and exciting addition to the classroom, it has provided a new reflective, planning and organisation tool for me as the class teacher and also introduced some exciting and engaging activities for students.

Students ‘at risk’ and ‘above the expected level’, have had an interactive platform to participate in Literacy and Numeracy programs that meet their specific learning needs.

I recently downloaded a particularly useful assessment and portfolio record keeping app. This app assists with tracking and future development of programs for all students and particularly those with ‘specific needs’.

Our school has now purchased 16 iPads for exclusive use in the prep classes. My classroom has 18 children and 5 iPads available most sessions, a very good ratio.

IPads have become a part of the weekly agenda in our levelled team meetings. We share, discuss and evaluate apps.

The ICT team is also currently investigating the viability of a 1:1 iPad program in the senior area of the school. A tool that can link iPads with classroom interactive whiteboards is also being investigated which will extend the impact of this form of technology.

EA Mobile filled the ipad with a number of games which the school now has in their account. 

I know for sure that SPY Mouse is a big hit as Popps is keen to practice when she gets home (and it is also free so go grab it). 

The teachers indicated the following EA Mobile games were used for specific skills and to learn how to work your way around the features of an iPad.

Strategy/hand eye coordination
-Flight Control

-Flight Control Rocket
-Coconut Dodge

-SPY Mouse
-Max and Magic Maker

Hand eye coordination
-Draw Jump

General Knowledge
-Trivial Pursuit Master Edn.

-Yahtzee Adventures

-EA sports FIFA 10
-Madden 12 by EA sports
-NBA Jam  by EA Sports
-Tiger Woods PGA tour 12

The more we start learning how to really use the features of an iPad, the more I see how wonderful a tool they are for children and adults of all ages and abilities. As I discussed with some other people recently, our young children will not work at 'work stations' with a massive big computer box in front of them in twenty years. They will be mobile, they will use apps, they will work with technology that is not even thought about yet. The jobs they have may not have been invented either.

Exciting times I say. Very exciting.

Disclaimer: I was not paid to write either of my posts regarding EA Mobile. I discussed an arrangement with EA Mobile and they agreed to fund my child's primary school with an ipad to allow the teachers to trial the technology in the classroom. The school gets to keep the iPad and I get to tell you what the school thought of using ipads and if the games were of use to the class.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Ideas for September School Holidays.

Victorian September School Holidays are pretty much here.

Don't stress, there is lots to do and here is a picture list for you, some of the images will take you to links about the places.

Go for a bush walk and look down carefully, there are lots of wild flowers in the Australian bush.

Royal Melbourne Show starts on 22 September.
Country Shows will start soon after.

Find a national park, a camp site, a beach setting and have a snag in bread.

If Footy is something your kids like, get involved in finals footy.

What else are you getting up to for the school holidays?

A firey plumber

Step 1 in removing 1981 from the house.
I was going to tell you all about the visit from the Pete the Plumber*, how he decided that because the pipes in our house go down and through the floor and our house is built low to the ground it was a really shit job for him to get under there and change the pipes around. Pete suggested he take a quick look at what we could do to minimise the cost of the renovations, knowing that we are of the home brand label budget variety of renovators and not wanting to have to play with moving walls.

Once the water was turned off it was just a swift bang of a hammer and the entire vanity was out, a few saws and cuts here and there and the pipes were gone too. The old copper pipes in the wall were stuffed and needed a bit of cosmetic surgery to get them prepared for the new look - not plastic surgery though, wrong type of pipe.  Pete got out his fire gun thingo tool that welds those pipe widgets into place.

I was being all housewifey and grating carrots in the kitchen and could hear Pete jumping around and swearing and huffing and puffing. I yelled out "You ok back there?" Didn't hear him of course as the fire alarm then went off.

Mr H ran down to help out.

Remember the water is turned off?

The fire thingo on copper pipe gizmo set off a little spark which hit the insulation bats in the wall and away went the flame. Pete put it out with his hands and jumper. PHEW. Imagine how fast the whole house would have gone up in flames with the insulation within the walls on fire. Pete had to cool his hands off in the back of the busted toilet where there was some fresh water sitting awaiting the next flush. Noice.

Anyway, I haven't got time to tell you all about that as this morning was another morning of busy bathroom stuff. The cabinet maker kept asking what kind of finish I wanted on the cupboards, the bench tops, handles, handle shape... which means I have work to do.

*Pete the Plumber is not his real name and he is a plumber so I can't show you his face.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Sharing too much information on blogs. Or Not.

When you blog the whole idea is that you are writing an online diary. You are sharing publicly the thoughts in your head, the activities in your life and ups and downs of how you are. This is what makes reading blogs really fun. Reading of lives so different or at times so similar to your own makes for great reading.

But sometimes the stories are not yours to be told. Sometimes it affects you greatly but it still isn't your tale to tell.

I find this happens a lot for this blog.

I might be flat out, there could be a whole stack of things that are happening, but they might be something Mr H is dealing with and he requested from the start that I didn't share these issues. It might be something  discussed with a friend who doesn't expect to read about the conversation a few days later on this blog.

There are times when you might be upset by the actions of other people, annoyed at something happening in the school yard. Lots of times I do write about these things but then other times it just doesn't work and just isn't right. The stories are not mine to tell.

There is also the other side of social media which makes it a fast and efficient way of sharing news. Then again, others hate hearing that a friend is getting married, having a baby or has a new job by a facebook update and not in person.

I am sure this must be an issue for other bloggers or even people who write.

If you are a blogger how do you go with sharing news that isn't really for sharing?

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Bathroom Renovations: Fun or fight filled?

Renovating a bathroom is one of those things that seems like such a great idea at the time. Flash new  tiles, showers without cracks in them, grout that is not black and taps where the water stops running  when you turn them off.

Then you go shopping as a couple to choose a tap, or a basin, or a tile and all of a sudden that great idea is not feeling so joyful.

One of you prefers the budget option, one of you prefers the functional, better looking nicer option.

Together you have excitedly booked the first of the tradesman who will need the bathroom for 8 days, he is arriving in a week. It seems neither of you considered that it takes two weeks for the vanity you want to be ordered and the custom made version will take 6 weeks. Do you go for a bathroom minus a vanity for six weeks or choose the inferior version, or worse still race to ikea and see how you go with a flat pack?

As for taps, who pays $2000 plus for a shower head and $1500 for the matching taps? Who are these people and have they not heard of Bunnings? Or at least tell me, how do you convert your husband into becoming one of these people.

I'm looking forward to seeing and using the new bathroom, but I'm not sure what I am going to end up with in a couple of weeks time, I do know that I am going to be a lazy slob and not clean the tiles for the week considering they are about to have a date with a crowbar.

Friday, September 14, 2012

In need of grown up lunch boxes.

It seems my Dad has gone and got himself some rare crazy disease, one of those ones that makes the doctors sit up and get interested. So the parentals have left their rural retreat and while Dad gets poked and prodded all day each day in the hospital, Mum is staying with us and visiting the hospital each day.

Hospital cafeteria food is not fabulous, it's also expensive and sometimes not convenient if you are waiting around for stuff to happen and doctors to call and visitors to arrive so I thought it best to make Mum a packed lunch each day when I make the school lunch.

Of course all the lunch boxes I have are rather pink, covered in butterflies or love hearts.

I had to send Mum into the hospital yesterday carrying this, it's rather large, too big to fit in her handbag, but comes with it's own handle so Mum could carry it nicely. It wasn't really a match for the rest of her outfit, but she didn't complain.

I may have overfilled it as lots of it came back. Apparently Mum doesn't require eight pieces of fruit, two rounds of sandwiches, two types of biscuits and a jar of muesli just for lunch...but you never know.

Today I also figured out the new train ticketing system and put Mum on the train. We all waited by our mobiles in case she lost her way on public transport and navigating the city, but all was fine. The Eagle landed with her packed lunch.

The girls seem to think having a Granny staying is rather fabulous, and really when she keeps dishing out things they have never tried, what is not to love?

So tell me, there must be fancy trendy lunch boxes for grown ups that don't come from tupperware, what's your lunch box of choice, cos I might need to update my collection!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A little bit about car seats.

This is a sponsored post for the NRMA via Digital Parents Collective 

When I was pregnant with Popps there seemed to be an endless number of things on the list of items we must have. Prams, cots, cradles, wraps, slings, baby bags, monitors, designer toys and the list went on. I soon realised that a decent car seat was actually the most important item to consider when you look at the list of things your baby will need.

It took me a couple of seats to work that out, so here is what I suggest you do to save yourself purchasing an excessive numbers of car seats.*

Firstly, when it comes to the cost consider that your baby will be in a couple of car seats for at least seven years, long past the point of being pushed in a pram or sleeping in a cot and certainly past the time you want to hear their every word on a monitor strapped to you as you walk around the house. If you need to save some coin, ditch the nappy bin, the dummy strings, the bumbo, the floor mats and all those things that last a few months and put the money to the car seat.

It can be difficult to choose the right car seat, there are many to choose from and they do differ quite a bit. There are also road rules that you will need to abide by that assist in looking after the safety of your child. The laws differ depending on the age of your child and apply to babies under six months, from six months to four years and four to seven years. Each age group has a specific style of seat recommended. Some seats will work for many years, but you will generally use at least two different seats until your child is seven.

All car seats must meet the Australian Standards, regardless of cost, but you can consult the NRMA’s test results to choose a top safety rating restraint.  This site also tells you how easy the seat is to fit.

You can buy a second hand car seat or use one which you know the history of. If the seat is second hand, take a look at the sticker on the side or back of the chair, this will tell you when the seat was made, if it happens to be more than ten years old, then the seat is no longer considered safe, no matter how clean it is and how little it was used. If you are unsure if a seat was previously in an accident then don’t risk using it for your child either.  

Once you know you are looking at a seat that meets safety standards the next thing to look for is how easy it is to use and will it fit in your car.

Crucial to any new seat I now buy is how easy it is to adjust the straps. Make sure you play around in the shop with the straps. Often Immy might be in a bulky coat and jumper in the morning and I need to lengthen the straps, by the time we are strapping in again later in the day she may be in a t-shirt. I adjust the straps each time and the car seat with the push button adjustable harness is far simpler to use for both of us. I also did this when the girls were newborns. Tiny babies can be fiddly, it can be easier to lengthen the straps quite long, place the baby in the seat click them in and adjust accordingly. If you are unsure how tight to make the straps, you should be able to fit two fingers between the child and the straps.

When Popps was a newborn we purchased a cheaper seat for the second car, initially we were moving the one seat from car to car which is a really stupid idea. Currently we have both cars fitted with appropriate seats for a 6 year old and a 3 year old. We also have spare seats in case we need to travel with a little friend in each car and one for the grandparents to use.

While a booster seat for a child over the age of 4 doesn’t legally need to use the tether strap in your car we only use those that are. I also prefer to use booster seats that have what is called an anti submarine clip on the seat; this clip ensures the belt is held down around the hips area and stops the belt creeping up over your child’s tummy where little internal organs could be damaged in the case of an accident.

Once you have fitted a few car seats into a car you get used to it pretty quickly, but the statistics show a very high number of seats are not fitted correctly into cars. There are now a number of places that provide free fitting of child seats into your car or you can pay a small fee to have it done for you. Mr H did this while I was in hospital and it made that first wobbly drive home from hospital a tiny bit calmer. They showed him how to fit the seat and included the additional buckles we needed at the time.  

In a perfect world you will never test the safety of the seat you choose, but the Child Restraint Evaluation Program  has done many tests and rates the seats accordingly - it can be a useful place to start when you begin the search for a car seat.  Interestingly, not a single seat gets the full five stars in the ratings for both safety and ease of use. The things that are not taken into account are the added extras; cup holders, cushioning, fabric design, and speakers in the headrest. These are things that your child doesn’t need to be kept safe, but they can be rather useful for parents, especially those that spend many hours in the car.

Buying the right seat can be tricky. But never fear, there are plenty of people who can help you.

If you are in Sydney and heading to the Sydney Baby and Toddler Show on 28-30 September you should track down the NRMA booth and go and talk to them. NRMA wants to share everything they know on how to keep kids safe in and around cars. They will be able to help you with any further questions you have about the right seat for you.  Also, if you are an NRMA member you get 40% off the cost of the ticket for the Show.

* At last count I have had nine seats for two children. This wouldn’t have been required if I did my reading first. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

This is how a good day rolls.

Not all days just work from start to finish. Some days are filled with children wetting beds, cars that don't start, phone calls with bad news.

Yesterday was not one of those days.

Yesterday was just a good day from the tips of it's fairy nose to the nail polish on its toes.

We headed off altogether to check out the latest Tinkerbell movie. Mr H and I expected to just endure it as one of those things good parents do, but we both actually really enjoyed it! Maybe we had low expectations, maybe seeing the girls enjoy it so much was what we liked, it doesn't really matter why though, the four of us all had a great morning.

We then headed off to play in the park in the city beside the Melbourne Museum, we met some other family and the kids ran and ran and ran in the sunshine before we strolled down to Lygon street and ate gelato icecream (lime is the best!)

Mr H had arranged a time in the early evening for a tiler to come and quote on updating our bathroom from filthy brown to something a bit more modern and as the stars and moons had somehow aligned for the day the meeting ended with Mr H booking him in. In the past a quote from a tradesman has ended with comments along the lines of

"Stuff that, I will do it myself." Not this time.

Modern new bathroom, you are but a month away from greeting me.

Once the kids were in bed I then got to watch my new favourite show, Call the Midwife, with my new favourite treat, dark chocolate with passionfruit.

And that is how a good day rolls.

Note: We were guests at Tinkerbell,  I was under no obligation to write about it, nor was I paid to mention it. We loved it, it added to our day so I am sharing. There was no chocolate provided to encourage this post. I am not paid to promote ABC TV shows. Lygon St ice cream do not sponsor me, nor is there actually a shop by this name, I don't know what the name is.  Actually, it seems no one is sponsoring me, but in the interests of being upfront, I am adding this disclaimer in.

Friday, September 7, 2012

A Paper Chatterbox

Do you remember making and playing with chatterboxes at school? I can remember making hundreds of them.

When one of the bigger kids at school gave one to Popps recently she was beside herself with the excitement of it all. It was fun. It was cool.

She asked me to help her make one too so I pulled the gifted one undone and tried to figure it out. I couldn't work out which folds went first and how to get the angles to move and she soon gave up on me,but not the idea and this week the art teacher at school showed her how to do it.

Last night we spent some time making chatterboxes. They are fun, Immy loved making them too and writing the numbers on them, at 3 she is good with her numbers but isn't able to read and write so I helped her with that. Popps likes trying to write a new thing on each panel and really likes involving everyone with the game - pick a number, pick a number!

Now I am reminded of how easy they are to make I thought I would share the simplicity.

(apologies for my overuse of Picmonkey, I can't help it)

Be imaginative, add jokes, stories, wishes or maths questions if you are so inclined.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Once again, it's who not what you know that's important.

It's happened.

We have a box of 50 chocolate bars to sell to raise money for the primary school. I have been dreading this moment because I know my will power fails when chocolate is in the house.

Our street is filled with school kids and they do not want to be buying our chocolate, they have a box already.

A mum at school pick up told me she got rid of hers on the first night they came home from school. I couldn't believe it, I asked her for tips on what to do. Easy she said, I just walked around to my Mums house, my brothers house and the in laws and made them all buy some.

Once again I realise in life it is not at all about what you know and all about who you know. In this case, who do I know that I can pester into buying 50 chocolate bars (ok, about 41, I am slowly working my way through them).

I am all for school fundraisers and joining in, but aren't there better options than the chocolate box, my hips really don't need them.

How does your school raise money?

Monday, September 3, 2012

A sunny project.

There are times when you need to do stuff and just not think too much.

The perfect project found me under an old Mulberry tree two weeks ago.

I bundled the treasure into the back of the car. When we got it out and into the backyard a huntsman spider crawled out to say hello. I put him on a stick and placed him in the lemon tree before I got to work.

Ideally I would have used a power tool of some kind to sand this to perfection but I didn't know where we kept such things. The local hardware man pointed me in the direction of the sand paper and then another old man came over and told me what I should use. His English was broken, but we muddled through what I was planning to do, he figured in the end that I was sanding a steal gate. Close enough.

The girls liked to help with the sanding and my hands ended up pretty rough. After two days it was looking about as good as I thought I would get it.

Next task was to make it a bright and happy seat. I need something to be placed near the swing set, often in the warmer weather I have to sit there to watch 'concerts', there is a lot of "look at me, look at me" that goes on at our swing set and it was time I planted a seat there.

Yellow also fits in perfectly with the lemon tree.

Have you got a project you are working on?

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Winning Weekend: Party Book

It's true, I love a kids party.

Really love them. 

Actually I should say that I just really love a party, full stop, but at the moment the majority of parties I attend the person celebrating is a long way from tasting their first champagne. 

So if I am to celebrate with the little folk then I like it to be a good one. 

A good party needs four things

Happy People

Everything else is a bonus.

Our brand new book Party is already grubby just from me and Popps flicking the pages over and over. She isn't sure which party to have first. It is a major dilemma in her life each year, choosing the theme for her party. The witches ball was picked months in advance last year and so far this year it seems Pool Party will be the winner, but we do still have 4 and a half months to go. 

Immy is pretty clear. Princesses. Princess cake, princess dress. Princess food. No boys. So yet again I will be hosting a princess party this year.

But I have lots of new ideas from the new book.

Party will not be on the streets until October, but you can be one of the first people to grab a copy by leaving me a comment and telling me about one of your birthday's as a child. Did you have the Women's Weekly cook book at your place?

Entries will only be taken today and tomorrow. Comments close at 8pm Sunday 2 September. Only Australian Entries allowed. 

I hope your weekend has a party in it.

This giveaway is now closed.

The winners are:

Michelle Louwrens and Josephine Kelly. Emails shall be hitting your inbox soon.