27 April 2012

A day in my life

A few weeks ago a friend of mine directed me towards an article describing a busy mum's day. This friend, who I met back in uni days, doesn't have children and made the comment that it is such a different world to his. I replied that it inspired me to write an "a day in the life" blog post complete with lessons I have learned along the way to make things easier. People with young kids will relate - this is the way life is. But I'm sure this blog post will help me remember in years to come what a mad-house we had at the start of our time as a family of 5.

Well, school holidays came and went and here we are back in the thick of it, so I thought now would be as good a time as any to do "a day in the life". So here's today, Francesca style!

At 4:20am, Hubby and I hear MissyMoo1 (5) calling out my name through the monitor. Concerned that she would wake her sisters, I trudged up the stairs - still half asleep - to find that she wants her blankets pulled up. Seriously.

At 5:59am I hear my human alarm, MissyMoo2 (2), calling out through the monitor. I un-set my alarm, which was set for 6am, and go upstairs to start the day. MissyMoo2 often wakes just before my alarm like this and is afraid of the dark. I decide that she will become reacquainted with her glow-in-the-dark seahorse toy tonight. I kiss her and ask her to stay in bed while I have a shower,

I get out of the shower to find that MissyMoo3 (7 months) has also woken up. MissyMoo2 asks to come downstairs with me while I get dressed. I put MissyMoo2 on the toilet while I change MissyMoo3's nappy all while wearing my towel. Glamorous. Then MissyMoo2 and MissyMoo3 both come downstairs with me. I get dressed while they sit on the bed and do their best to ensure Hubby is awake.

At 6:30 we're back upstairs. I give MissyMoo3 her bottle, then plonk her down on the floor for a play (aah, the joys of having a sitting but not yet crawling baby!). The next little while plays out as follows: put pot of water on stove for boiling (steralising), empty dishwasher from night before, start making packed lunches for Hubby, MissyMoo1 & MissyMoo2. During this time, MissyMoo1 gets up. I leave the lunches to get breakfast for MissyMoo1 and MissyMoo2. Before I've even managed to slice enough cheese for the sandwiches, MissyMoo1 declares she has finished her Weetbix and asks me to get her another when the Weetbix box is right in front of her. I refuse, telling her to get it herself. And so commences family mini-meltdown number one.

Back to lunches I go. MissyMoo2 finishes her toast, so I ask her to finish drinking her milk. I also warn her not to choose her clothes for the day and to wait for me. (MissyMoo2 likes dresses - unfortunately they're all summer dresses which aren't great for cool autumn mornings coupled with a two-year-old's chesty cough). Meanwhile MissyMoo1 does a sniff test on MissyMoo3 in the lounge room and declares a positive result. Guess who changes pooey nappies in my house? So I leave the lunches once more to change the first number two of the day.

Finally, I finish the sangas. I go and check on MissyMoo2 as she has been a bit quiet since leaving the breakfast table. She is standing in her room pyjamas off, reaching for a dress in her wardrobe. Naughty MissyMoo2 gets a talking to. I brush her teeth and get some weather-appropriate clothes out for her. Clever me had already laid out MissyMoo1's school uniform at some stage in the morning and she pretty much dresses herself.

I go back to the kitchen and discover that MissyMoo2 did not finish her milk after all so I call her back and watch her drink it. I cut up fruit for morning tea and complete lunchbox assembly. Meanwhile, in the lounge room, MissyMoo2 (usually an angel but getting cheekier as she gets older) has done something to hurt MissyMoo3. MissyMoo1 dobbed, MissyMoo2 got in trouble, resulting in screaming and family mini-meltdown number two.

MissyMoo2 and MissyMoo1 make their beds at Hubby's direction. I give MissyMoo3 her breakfast.

Hubby goes to work.

Then begins hair production line. Thank goodness MissyMoo3 only has a little bit on top for now. After this it's shoes and getting MissyMoo1 to put her lunch in her bag.

I stand still for a couple of minutes, silently congratulating myself at our progress. But then I look at the clock ... only 15 minutes until we have to leave the house. The last-minute burst includes, packing MissyMoo3's bottle, formula, lunch and spoon, pack things I need for errands after the school drop-off, replenish nappy bag supplies.


I put the MissyMoos in the car, get The Fat Cat out of the way and drive down the driveway.

For school drop-off, MissyMoo3 goes in the stroller with one big sister on each side to walk through the carpark. MissyMoo1 puts things in her classroom, shows MissyMoo2 off to her friends and begs me to stay for morning assembly. When it's time for morning assembly we all kiss her goodbye and leave her to it. Back in the car, a bit of a chat with another mum and then it's downtown for errands.

At 9:30am, errands are done but MissyMoo3 is tired and getting irritable. I drive to playgroup (even though it doesn't start until half past ten) and let MissyMoo3 sleep in the car while MissyMoo2 eats some morning tea and I read a book.

Playgroup goes from 10:30am until 12:30pm, during which time MissyMoo3 has a bottle, lunch and does number two number twos. MissyMoo2 also needs a trip to the toilet so while I take her, MissyMoo3 has cuddles with her godmother B. I have a much-needed coffee (because I can!) and a chat.

After playgroup, we're homeward bound. MissyMoo3 has a nap and MissyMoo2 gets acquainted with ABC for Kids. I have something to eat, wash bottles & non-dishwasher dishes, replenish the nappy back, print out colouring in for MissyMoo2 for this afternoon's outing, replace ink cartridges in the printer, give MissyMoo3 another bottle when she wakes up and organise the rest of the afternoon in my mind.

A bit before 2:30pm, we're back in the car and going to school to pick up MissyMoo1. I knit a couple of rows while we wait in the carpark for school to end. From there we head straight to MissyMoo1's piano lesson at 3pm. MissyMoo2, MissyMoo3 and I sit on the piano teacher's verandah while MissyMoo1 has her lesson. The colouring in I have packed for MissyMoo2 amuses her for all of two minutes. Then she has much more fun running around the yard, tripping over her feet and going up and down the verandah steps. MissyMoo3 is happy with her teething rusk until she drops it on the ground. At one point I catch MissyMoo2 touching her pants. I ask her if she needs to go do a poo. She nods. I ask her if she has already done it, to which she replies: "I don't think so". Spurred on by the notable absence of confidence in her response, we make a bee-line for the piano teacher's loo. Of course, for this I need to get MissyMoo3 out of the stroller to bring her in too and plonk her down on the carpet outside the bathroom.

After piano it's off to a cafe for a gelato (I'll explain why later). None of the usual flavours are there today so the MissyMoos try something new. MissyMoo2 is happy - it's ice cream, after all. MissyMoo1 doesn't like the flavour so is a bit disappointed. I'm relieved as it means we can go home.

We walk in the door at 4:30pm, just in time for Play School. The big MissyMoos are therefore entertained for half an hour while I feed MissyMoo3 her dinner. Hubby arrives home. I cook our dinner. Just as we are sitting down to eat, MissyMoo3's tiredness reaches almost tipping point so it's time for a bottle and bed for her. Hubby and I tag-team. He scoffs down his dinner while I change her nappy, then he gives her a bottle and he puts her to bed while I eat.

The big girls have a story and a chat, then it's time for bed for them too. After they're in bed, I clean up the kitchen, steralise bottles, boil more water for tomorrow's bottles and do up a menu for the week ahead and shopping list for tomorrow's grocery shop. You all know how much I love ironing, but tonight I look at my ironing basket and think: "Stuff it, I'm going to blog instead". I pour myself a Baileys (because I can!) and type away. There's my day.


Things to help me:
  • MissyMoo1 and MissyMoo2 have posters on their walls which I made up with a list of their jobs in pictures and words. It helps things to run "smoothly" in the morning, so they know what needs to be done next.
  • No TV on in the morning whatsoever.
  • No playing until everything on the poster is done
  • Besides getting themselves fed and presentable, their job for the morning is making their beds. If they make their beds every day of the week, they get a reward on a Friday. MissyMoo1's reward is usually a lunch order. But unfortunately today the school canteen did not have enough volunteers to open for lunch so that couldn't happen. (When I told her, MissyMoo1 begged me to help out on canteen, but I had to explain to her that it would be too difficult bringing MissyMoo2 and MissyMoo3 along with me. She was quite understanding). So, this afternoon's gelato was the replacement reward.
  • I don't normally make lunch on a Friday because of the lunch order thing so this morning was a little crazy.
  • Washing did not get done today. There will be lots on tomorrow.
  • Baths did not happen tonight, but it's cool, no school tomorrow so they can splash around in the morning.
Well, this was a very long post for a busy day. But then, this really is the best kind of busy :-)

24 April 2012

Voglio scrivere bene

Ho corretto il primo post dopo aver parlato con mia madre. Ho lasciato gli errori, così posso vedere dove ho sbagliato.

Se leggete qualcosa che non è corretta, per piacere, correggetemi con un commento.


23 April 2012

Pear, pear everywhere

I made a bit of a boo boo doing online shopping last week.

I was rushing. I wasn't being careful. And I made a mistake one would never make if one did one's shopping while physically present in one's local supermarket.

I thought I was buying 5 pears. But instead of clicking on single pears, I clicked on 1kg packs. So, when my Coles Online order was delivered last week, I was faced with 5kg of pears. At first I was surprised, then bewildered, then certain that they must have made a mistake. But then, I checked my order. And there it was staring me accusingly in the face.

Francesca, YOU ordered 5kg of pears. What are YOU going to do about that?

So what was I to do with the perishable pears which were sure to go rotton within days?

All fruit break/morning tea sessions began with pear. If the MissyMoos wanted anything else, they could have it ... after they finished their pear. I steamed most of it for MissyMoo3 (6 months), but have had to do it in batches according to availability of little containers and freezer space (we only have the little freezer above the fridge). I also made pear cake.

I still have 1kg left, which will definitely need to be used in the next day or two. Any ideas?

Pear cake

I found this recipe the other day in a long-forgotten Woman's Day recipe book. I had some pears that needed using (more on this later). The original recipe had dates in it too but I've modified it a bit because if it had dates in it, there's no way the MissyMoos would have eaten it. It was also nice and easy so MissyMoo1 (5) helped me making it.

125g butter, chopped, at room temp
3/4 cup caster sugar
2 eggs
1tsp vanilla extract
3 cups self-raising flour
1 tsp bicarb soda
1 cup mil
6 fresh pears, peeled, cored, diced. (These pears were small, maybe less if they're bigger)

1. Preheat oven to moderate, 180degreesC. Lightly grease and line a 22cm round cake pan with baking paper.
2. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar together until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in vanilla.
3. Fold in sifted dry ingredients alternately with milk. Fold pears through.
4. Spoon mixture into pan. Bake 50-60 mins (my oven is always hotter so I put the temp slightly lower and only baked for about 45mins), until cooked when tested with a skewer. Cool in pan 5 mins, before turning onto a wire rack to cool completely. Serve in wedges.

Mmmm, morning tea is calling!

21 April 2012

Blanket squares

Remember aaaaaages ago I told you that I had a new idea for a knitting project? I never did tell you what it was, did I?

Well, my idea was to use my leftover wool to make a blanket for MissyMoo2 (2). I was going to do this by knitting squares in a nice, thick pattern for extra strength and warmth.

I have completed two squares:

I'm not sure if I want to keep going with this, though. I'm thinking I need a more planned approach to the colours so that the end result is something nice to look at as well as something to keep her warm. I've put it on the backburner while I knit MissyMoo1 (5) a scarf for school...

18 April 2012

Things I want to be good at

I've been thinking lately about being better at stuff; about the things I want to do well in my life.

Things I want to be good at:

  1. Being a mum. I am good at it, but I always want to be better.
  2. Being a wife. I am good at it, but I always want to be better.
  3. Being a lawyer/secretariat-type person. Will be working on that fairly soon.
  4. Speaking Italian.
  5. Forgiving. Sometimes it's hard and I could always do better.
  6. Playing guitar. I used to be pretty good, but hardly playing in the past six years has made me a little rusty.
  7. Writing. Not the knowing how to spell or good grammar side of things. I want to be good at writing, the way a writer writes.
  8. Cooking.
  9. Exercising.
There are others, but these are the most important ones that come to mind right now ☺

19th April 2012
Oops, I just remembered another one which I meant to put on this list. Number 10 is sewing.

Una Francesca Australiana

I just found a blog by an American/Sicilian woman in which she writes posts in English and includes the Italian translation in the same post, sentence by sentence. It got me thinking about my Italian language journey.

I have learnt, forgotten, struggled and succeeded with my Italian language skills at different times in my life. My mother is Sicilian. My maternal grandparents lived in Australia but did not speak English, so our annual interstate visit to see them involved a huge learning curve, which was then slowly, partially forgotten over the course of the following year, when English-speaking once again took over our everyday lives.

I studied Italian at school, but had to do it by correspondence as my high school did not offer the subject. It was a difficult way to learn a language and I didn't end up sticking with it. I was interested in languages so I studied French at university in addition to my law studies, once again because the university I went to did not offer Italian. My mum and I try to speak Italian when we see each other so I can practise and so the Missy Moos have a chance at learning, but it's easy to slip back into English.

I created another blog a while ago with the intention of practising my written Italian by writing posts in Italian, but to say it hasn't had much activity would be the understatement of the century. Not enough hours in the day...

Maybe occasionally, I'll have to make an effort. Even if nobody reads it, it might help me improve, or at least not forget what I already know.

Wean, weaning, weaned

MissyMoo3 (6 months) had her last breastfeed yesterday morning. After the looong time it took going from one bottle feed to two, replacing the other two breastfeeds with the bottle happened rather quickly. This was partly an issue of supply, which some of you would know, decreases with decreased demand. It was also partly MissyMoo3's choice.

MissyMoo3 became very interested in the bottle and not so interested in the other form of feeding. While she would guzzle her formula, she would become very easily distracted being breastfed. She would pull off at the slightest sound or if someone walked past, which happened a lot in a full house with her daddy and two big sisters (I tried feeding her in her bedroom, but MissyMoo1 (5) and MissyMoo2 (2)  just followed me in there for a chat - kind of defeated the purpose). The pulling off was annoying and difficult. And painful. It felt like the newborn breastfeeding struggle all over again in trying to get us both into the right position, but with a heavier, more active baby. I caught myself saying: "Focus, child, focus."

I had imagined that the last breastfeed with my last child would be something I would cherish and prolong. I imagined holding my baby close, smelling her skin, her hair, drinking it all in as she drank in her milk.

Yesterday morning, it could not have been further from that. After some baby acrobatics, during which she can't have consumed very much at all, I gave up, saying: "That's it, tomorrow morning it's the bottle!"

And so it was. MissyMoo3 is weaned. I still cuddle her just as much. I still smell her skin and hair, and kiss her chubby cheeks. Hubby and Nonna have both successfully given her the bottle. Oh, and this might not be politically correct, but I LOVE bottle-feeding in public.

So ... I might have a drink tonight ;-)


Benvenuti al mio blog nella lingua italiana.

Sono una Francesca australiana. Mia madre è venuta in Australia dalla Sicilia più di quarant'anni fa. Mio padre è australiano e anche il mio marito è australiano. Quindi, parlo bene l'inglese. Ma l'italiano? Ogni tanto penso che la lo parlo bene, ma di solito è difficile per me perchè ho sempre parlato inglese in questa vita mia parlato in inglese. Spero che con questo blog, posso continuare a ricordare di avere questa lingua bella in mente e insegnare l'italiano insegnarla alle mie tre figliolette.


15 April 2012

Introducing solids to babies

I saw this article in the Sydney Morning Herald this morning and it made me think of our experiences of when to introduce solids. I blogged about this not long ago.

It makes me feel even better about having introduced solids at four months for all the MissyMoos.

Not that I really needed it to make us feel better - we knew it was the right thing to do for each child. I'll use MissyMoo3 (6 months) as an example, as she's more recent and easier to remember! MissyMoo3's weight gain was minimal at four months and she recommenced waking through the night. It was only after introducing solids at the age of four months that a routine for her feeding finally began to emerge (which had a direct impact on my sanity!).

I know people who wait until six months and that may be the right thing to do for their babies, particularly if milk alone is still satisfying them.

But I am glad to see articles like this which question a blanket approach of waiting until six months of age for all babies. Clearly, there are shades of grey, and a practical approach with professional advice which looks at the baby as an individual is what is needed.

14 April 2012

Book Review: A Town Like Paris, by Bryce Corbett

As I begin this blog post, I am feeling an overwhelming sense of relief. Relief that I have finally finished this book.

I don't usually write book reviews, I just list a completed book on my "Books" page. But this time, I felt a book review of sorts would be therapeutic.

In a word, I can describe it as "boring". If I wanted to use a few more words, I would call it one of the least enjoyable books I have read. Ever. Big statement? Yes, and even  bigger when you take into account the fact that I studied law. (Legal textbooks are hardly can't-put-down literary masterpieces.)
I did not finish reading this book on my first attempt. This was about my third or fourth attempt after having lost interest on previous occasions. I received it as a gift a few years ago and it has taken me that long to force myself to get through the whole thing once (one positive is that I did not actually spend any money on it).

The book promised so much. An Aussie bloke living the dream in Paris - surely a wonderful, interesting, enchanting story would unfold.

But no.

It was far from enchanting. It was barely even a story.

Corbett lost my interest from the outset. The first few chapters were disjointed and his insistence on describing inanimate objects as doing things "almost apologetically" was plain irritating. After being put offside at the start, I saw only arrogance in his descriptions of himself and the life he led. I had the realisation about halfway through the book that, quite frankly, I just didn't care about his story.

About two thirds of the way through, things picked up a little. His first few chapters about the Showgirl flowed ... a little ... and I had a glimmer of hope that I might enjoy the last part of the book. But really, the only reason I got to that part of that book at all was my own stubborn determination to finish it whether I liked it or not (and, to be honest, a little skim-reading helped me along too).  And even that not-awful part about the Showgirl stalled and lost its mojo towards the end.

To be fair, though, at least he finished his book and got it out there. My attempt at a novel is lying dormant, and has for the past 18 months been gathering electronic dust in the deep recesses of my computer while real life has gotten in the way. The characters I once knew so intimately are now acquaintances only. Maybe one day I'll get to know them again. In the meantime, I'll blog ... and hopefully choose better books to read.

Book: Paperback. I own it. (I think Hubby bought it).
Rating: I gave this 1 star on Goodreads.
One-liner: My opinions on this book were so strong (not in a good way), I felt compelled to write this review.

12 April 2012

MissyMoo2's hip update

I've been putting off writing this post for a while. It's mainly because I haven't wanted to think about it, as if ignoring it might make it go away, and writing about it necessarily involves thinking about it.

When I last blogged about this topic, we were waiting for a call from the specialist because he had to go away and research things some more before he could decide whether surgery was warranted. As you've probably guessed, we didn't receive good news.

The specialist called back within a couple of days, saying that MissyMoo2 (2) hadn't been standing square when the x-ray had been taken and that we had to go back to do another one.

So, soon after that phone call, we went back to the hospital. I had to take MissyMoo3 (then 5 months) in case she needed breastfeeding, which meant that Nonna also had to come too, so that she could stay with MissyMoo3 while I went into the x-ray room with MissyMoo2. MissyMoo2 was naturally scared of the dark room and the fact that she is also afraid of the specialist did not help matters at all. They took two x-rays after under the specialist's supervision after which he said that that would have to do so she wasn't exposed to too much radiation.

A few days later I received another phone call from the specialist saying that his recommendation was for MissyMoo2 to have surgery.

A few days after that, I was back at the hospital meeting with the specialist to book in MissyMoo2's surgery. This was purely a paperwork meeting to get her into the system so that if we decide to go ahead with it later, we'll already have been on the waiting list for a while and could book it in fairly quickly. The plan is to have another x-ray done in July, see the specilist that day, then the following week see the specialist in Sydney we saw last year for a second opinion. All only a few weeks after I return to work two days per week and of course, both specialists only consult on one of my work days - so those visits might be left up to Hubby, we'll figure that out later.

The day I booked MissyMoo2 in for surgery, I felt almost like I was betraying her. I left her at home with Nonna, kissed and cuddled her, saying I just had to go out for a while to do some jobs. Her happy, trusting face only made me feel worse.

We still haven't completely decided to go ahead with it. I am still holding out hope that things will have improved enough in the next couple of months. I've heard both sides from people. Some say that if it was their child, they wouldn't hesitate to go through with surgery and others say that if it was their child, they wouldn't even consider it.

I don't want to do it. But I think we have a responsibility to our daughter to consider it, if it means that it will prevent her getting arthritis in her thirties or forties and prevent her need to have a hip replacement. But will it, for sure? We haven't yet had the detailed discussion with doctors about risks of surgery, outcomes etc. Well, we did a little bit last year, but not recently. We have a lot of support, so it wouldn't be as hard as it could otherwise be if she ended up going through surgery and the aftermath. But still, we need more information and more discussion before we can make a decision. If we did go ahead with it, we would want her surgery done before the end of winter, so that the plaster can be off before the weather gets too warm.

So in the meantime, we're in limbo. Will MissyMoo2 be able to start pre-school later in the year or will she be house-bound in a plaster case for 12 weeks? What plans could we or should we make for the second half of this year, if any?

Anyway, that's the update. I have plenty more fragmented thoughts on the subject, but they will come out in time. The saga isn't over yet. I'm sure there will be more to come...

10 April 2012

Happy Easter

Happy Easter!

I hope the Easter Bunny came hopping by xx

03 April 2012

Little miss sitting up

MissyMoo3 (6 months) has been sitting up unassisted for a few days now. Although she's my third child, it still amazes me how much difference that milestone can make to a baby and to everyone else too! It opens up a whole new world for them.

Now MissyMoo3 can sit around on the lounge room floor during the day. It means that her whole perspective on things has changed. Instead of lying around like a little baby, she is now upright just like her big sisters. It makes her look so much bigger. She can "play".

Yesterday, MissyMoo3 was sitting on the floor and MissyMoo2 (2) went over to her. MissyMoo2 loves to say "helloooo" in a cutsie, high-pitched voice to her baby sister. This time though, MissyMoo2 didn't quite know what to do with this bigger baby who was sitting up looking at her. I said to MissyMoo2: "You can play with her now. Why don't you pass her a toy?" MissyMoo2 was a bit freaked out by it all and went off to play in her room instead. I guess it will take some getting used to.

Tonight in the bath was the bees knees. It was the first time I'd been courageous enough to not hold onto MissyMoo3 and just let her sit up by herself. She loved it! She discovered how to splash and whack the water. She gave me huge gummy smiles, just so pleased to be experiencing so many new, fun things. It reminded me of when MissyMoo2 first started having fun in the bath. Even when she got a face full of water from a mega whack, she wasn't phased at all.

I'm loving her age at the moment. And yes, I will be cherishing these precious couple of months during which she can sit up by herself but not yet crawl!

02 April 2012

Piano lessons

MissyMoo1 (5) recently started taking piano lessons. She first showed an interest a bit over a year ago when she received a toy keyboard from Santa. Then, a few months later at playgroup, she sat up at the piano , back straight, starting tinkering and declared that she loved playing the piano.

We thought she was a bit young at four, so we waited until a few weeks ago, when she started going to a lady we found out about through MissyMoo1's school. She's great with MissyMoo1 and MissyMoo1 really enjoys the lessons.

We don't have a piano, but MissyMoo1 practises on this:

I bought this keyboard for myself when I was 19 and right into songwriting. I never would have imagined when I bought it that my daughter would be learning to play piano on it!

Little angel

Once a month during the school year, our church has a Family Mass for the Saturday vigil Mass. Some school-age kids from the parish volunteer to do various things during the Mass and it has a great family atmosphere. I love it that so many kids get involved and the church is fairly full. (It's also great because it's not so noticeable when our little ones are noisy if there are heaps of other little ones there too!)

Last year, MissyMoo1 (5) used to see some of her older friends participating and she wanted to join in, but she was just a bit too young to do so. Last weekend was the first Family Mass of the school year. Now that she is at school, MissyMoo1 was excited to finally be in the thick of it. Most of the children were involved in the procession into the church at the beginning of Mass. They all wore white robes and carried palms in to place on the altar.

MissyMoo1 looked angelic in her white gown. So beautiful, so lovely. She looked small next to most of the other kids around her, but I was still struck by how big she is getting. My big little angel :-)
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