Right now, our world as we knew it, has been completely turned upside down! There’s a pandemic out there that is scaring the bejesus out of us all! Our first responders (medical personnel, firefighters, police officers) are fighting with everything they’ve got whilst facing an extreme and before unheard of, lack of essential safety equipment. Times are tough. People have lost their jobs, unemployment is rising every day, social distancing is real and becoming tougher every day. We are all feeling pressures on us we never knew we would face! Parents are homeschooling and working from home, trying to balance this new normal as best they can, yet the minute they complain about it, others are very quickly putting them down and this really bothers me! I’m reading all of these Facebook stories/quotes/heartbreak moments that are trying to both scare parents with horror stories of children dying alone and to make parents feel bad for getting frustrated with their children after being stuck at home with them day in and day out!
Here’s the deal: don’t try to make me or any other parent for that matter, feel bad because I/we need to frigging vent! We know people have got it tougher than us! At no point in time have we said “woe is me!” or “I am in the worst position ever!” What we’ve said, had you been listening, is “holy shit!” – I really appreciate teachers right now! I really appreciate going to work, I really appreciate those few minutes I have to myself daily, I really love my kids but 24/7 is too much sometimes and I just need to vent without being judged and made to feel like the weight of the earth should rest on my already very weary, very overworked, overwhelmed, completely out of my comfort zone, feeling sorry for everyone in the entire earth including myself, shoulders! Stop it! Stop making us feel guilty for venting! We are doing the right thing, we are staying home, we are trying to be the best people we can be right now, but sometimes we get shitty, sometimes we want to scream out loud that we don’t want to anymore! Don’t throw shit in our faces about our babies dying! Don’t try to make us feel worse! We are in this position because we love our children so much that we are already feeling guilty we aren’t doing a good enough job at being parent, teacher, comforter, friend (because they can’t see any of their friends right now) 24hr guardian and everything else in between! Please just stop! Your tactics aren’t working to make this world a better place, they are simply making the good people out there; the people who are literally trying to be all things to the little people, feel even more like shit!
Let’s lift each other up, not put each other down! Let’s realize everyone needs to vent and for the most part, we are all trying to do the right thing and support our doctors and nurses, our medical technicians, our paramedics, our firefighters, our police, our military, our shop assistants, our shelf packers, our truck drivers, our construction workers, our funeral home workers, our delivery drivers, our scientists and researchers and laboratory technicians working day in and day out to find a vaccine, even a cure, our teachers who are still trying to figure out their new normal and how to best help their students, whilst juggling their own new normal, our restaurant chefs/cooks, kitchen hands and assistants, who are still making us food, but delivering it now, and all those who continue to work to help us get through this very difficult, crazy time.
With Halloween only days away, I thought I’d share with you some of the things I’ve made for this year’s Halloween party! Notice I didn’t say just say “Halloween” that’s because in my house, it’s become more about the party than it has the actual night! Sorry kids! 🤣
Anyway, this year is going to be a blast and I wanted to share with you some fun, cheap DIY projects that you too can do at home with some pretty basic supplies!
1. Dollar store hanging pen
This one was really cheap and really easy to make, you could honestly stick anything inside it too, I just wanted something fun and easy to hang near the street, so opted for what a I’ve got.
What you’ll need: 2 baskets from the dollar store (sorry Aussies, you’ll have to pick some up from one of the cheap shops, I know they’re not a dollar, but still pretty reasonable). I spray painted them black with spray paint I already had but you can pick up cheap spray paint from Walmart or even your local hardware store.
I bought 2 stake (as in you normally stake them in to the ground) glow-in-the-dark arms from Dollar Tree as well as one of their skulls. I bought a mop also from there. I had an empty lacquer thinner container that I used as my ‘body’ (after I had rinsed it, of course) and got one of my son’s old shirts.
Get your dollar store mop and remove some of the strands:
I got a glue gun and took the strands from the mop and glued them to my skull. Nothing fancy, just gluing wherever they looked good. Then it’s a matter of putting it all together, I’ve seen similar projects with skeletons inside the baskets or even homemade ‘monsters’, as I said I opted for something super simple. The process was very easy and maybe took all of 20 mins (excluding drying time).
I grabbed the lacquer thinner container and drilled a hole on each side for the arms to slit into and put a dab of hot glue to hold them in place. I also hot glued the skull on to where the lid formally lived. Then it was just a matter of putting the shirt on and placing him in the basket.
After the baskets were dry (having sprayed both inside and outside of each) I placed my ‘half-guy’ into the basket and put the other one on top. I placed the hands where a I wanted them to go and zip tied everything in place. Then it was a matter of putting a couple of Dollar Tree rats on the outside of the cage and a chain from there also and zip tying those into place too. It has been outside in all sorts of weather and still looks great!
2. Dollar store trophies
I wanted to give out trophies this year as well as the prizes we regularly give out, but didn’t want to spend a fortune on them so I grabbed these from Dollar Tree:
and made them into these:
Super easy too! All you do is give the skull a light sanding and using acrylic paint, darken the already darkened areas on the skull. Grab a light grey paint (or gold/brown or whatever colour you like) then go over everything else, leaving the darkened spots in place to contrast. The great thing is that if you make a mistake, you can easily go back over it with whatever paint you need to!
Then I got a candle (also from Dollar Tree) that fitted into the top of the trophy perfectly. I hot glued this in place (just the lids so that if someone wants to use the candle they still can). Some of the candles I painted in a metallic acrylic paint, others I left as is. I printed out trophy names on the printer, cut them out and modpodged them to the candle cases. I glued hair on some and not on others, there’s even one as a gag trophy to a friend of ours because he promised to finally wear a costume to this year’s party! 😆
Let me know what you think. And if you try this yourself, I’d love to see your photos!
Note: This was originally written in 2016, updated April 2nd, 2019.
Today I have been reflecting on being a female in this world. There have been so many books, blogs, articles, you name it, written about young girls and how to give them the strength to face society as the best women they can be, but it is tough as a parent, to watch your child struggle with social situations in her ‘tweenage’ years.
My eldest daughter is 11 going on 12 this year (2016). She is incredibly smart, in fact, one of her teachers (a professor) just told me that he thinks she is incredibly gifted and wishes there was a formal gifted program at their school. Instead, he has started a high-level reading program with 5 students (our daughter included) that meets once a week during their lunch break to read and discuss whatever current book they have selected. It works well for our DD as reading is her strongpoint. It was always mine too. Forget Mathematics, give me a book any day, although she is mathematically minded as well.
Although eldest DD is very gifted when it comes to reading, she is lacking in some social skills and I’m not sure how to help her. She desperately wants to be popular but for some reason, isn’t well liked. Neither of us encourage her to seek popularity, rather to make a couple of well-trusted friends, but she just wants to be liked anyway. We try to understand what it is about her that other kids her age don’t take to, but we just don’t know. She is highly liked by adults/teachers and her own siblings adore her, particularly little sister. But what is it that she does, or how is she behaving when we are not in view, that is making her peers not take to her? She brought home a note last Friday that really upset me. It was from another student saying how much everyone dislikes her because she has a smart mouth. We tried to find out more about what this meant, but I truly don’t think she herself knows or is aware of, what she is doing. How does one rectify this? How can I help my daughter better socialize at school? She is always very polite and sweet. She can be bossy, yes, but swears she isn’t at school. She used to be a leader but now she is more of a follower because she so desperately wants others to like her that she has given up on the things she wants to do/play at school, doing seemingly, only what others want. I really worry. All this on top of being a girl in a society that is slowly improving, but still judges girls by their looks, their weight, their smile.
She hates her smile too. She needs braces and now with the whole dentist fiasco (was supposed to get them in Korea but didn’t because it wasn’t a very good deal) will have to wait some more. How can I instill in my beautiful girl all the wonderful things about her when she is already judging herself so harshly? Wondering what she does wrong that makes people dislike her? Hating her smile? The great thing about her though, she is full of confidence on so many other levels. How can I put this so you can understand? She believes in her sporting prowess and believes she is good at so many sports (some are hit and miss, but you know, who am I to judge). Though I do prefer she hear some truths from me rather than teammates.
Then there’s her height. Most girls her age are taller than her. She is starting to feel it too, with kids teasing her at school about how she’s not growing. Sometimes I just want to punch all of these unthinking, inconsiderate, little so and so’s! We talk about teasing all the time in our family and our motto is: ‘Only give what you can take; Nothing mean, all in good fun’. But these kids are definitely not practicing that. Some of the stuff they say is just plain mean. DD tries not to let it get to her, but it does. She keeps asking me how she can grow taller. I’m always going to use that sort of a question as a chance to motivate more fruit and vegetables being eaten, but I don’t have the growth secret. Now, I’ve just started saying to her that it will happen in good time and when it’s meant to. Everyone grows and matures at different rates and she may well change at a later stage than most of her peers. My Mum keeps asking me too if she’s grown, knowing how big her other granddaughter is. I’ve finally told her not to ask anymore. I know she doesn’t mean it in a bad way, but DD is getting a big enough complex about it as it is, so all talk about her hitting her growth spurt has been banned at this point in time.
Girls. They have it tough. We have it tough. Then she talks to me about perhaps going on a diet. What? No, I don’t think so. Her body is slowly changing as she becomes a woman and that means certain areas are expanding (and no, I dont necessarily mean breasts) and she isn’t comfortable with it yet, but that’s what happens to most girls (and some boys). The only thing I say to my children about dieting is “Every thing in moderation.” You can eat anything you like as long as you eat it in a balanced way, is my point of view. That means limit the stuff you know is bad for you, ensure you get lots of good, hearty fruits and vegetables on a daily basis and don’t keep eating just for the sake of eating (exactly what we did on the cruise and over Christmas which is what started me needing to go on an exercise regimen in the first place). Also make sure you get plenty of exercise on a daily basis. My girls ride their bikes almost daily. They walk to and from the bus stop. They walk our dog. We try to be a fairly active family. I’m not concerned about the exercise part, but my dear daughter does like her junk food and won’t eat any fruit except apples, so she may have to start doing something else on top of our regular stuff. I suggested swimming but she told us that some of the girls who don’t like her are on the swim team. Back to that again.
I think my husband is just now starting to see all of the obstacles facing girls. Other girls are mean to girls, boys are mean to girls. Girls are expected to be both beautiful and smart, yet the minute we make a mistake it’s ‘because we’re a girl’ or because we’re not smart.
It’s time we changed this kind of thinking for once and all. No more putting crap on other girls. It is our duty as mothers (aka females) to ensure our girls are not mean to other girls. It is ok to be competitive, but when you start putting someone else down to lift yourself up, something has gone wrong. We should be greeting each other daily with a pat on the back and a compliment. That’s something else I’ve learnt from my other daughter (from the moment she started talking until this day); give compliments. Try to find something, anything, about someone you are talking to and compliment them on it. “Your hair looks amazing today!” “I like your scarf.” “Those are beautiful (insert anything here, earrings, sandals, etc).” It doesn’t have to be super personal, but it does have to be sincere. This gossiping crap has to stop too.
There’s an old saying we are all familiar with, ‘If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.’ It’s true. Just don’t speak. Obviously there’s also some grey here, if something has been done to wrong you, then tell your story, but don’t put that other person down in the telling, otherwise you’re stooping to the same level, meaning you are no better than them. Even when eldest DD talks to me about someone at school, she never puts them down, she will say something very simply like, “…… was really mean to me today. She called me short and said I was a B word.” (She’s not allowed to say it but will let me know if someone has said it to her by stating the term ‘B’ word). Now this was but an example, but I like the fact that in the real life scenarios there isn’t any name calling coming from my own daughter. My girls rarely put other people down. It makes me very proud! I encourage you to ensure your daughters don’t either (and sons for that matter).
We must pick each other up rather than put each other down. We must encourage healthy eating rather than junk (which we are doing, but we still have a long way to go), we must encourage the realistic body not the photoshopped image, (again, we are doing just that) but we must also encourage the realistic body that is doing regular exercise rather than the overweight body that is doing none.
Our daughters need to hear from us every single day just how beautiful they are, just how smart they are. Unfortunately certain web sites, some famous people, authors and journalists and bloggers and whomever else, that talk about the unimportance of beauty have got it wrong. Yes, I said beauty is not unimportant. But before you get on your high horse and start accusing me of being shallow and all sorts of other things, please hear me out:
We are made (human nature) to admire beautiful things (whether that be in nature, or in another human being). There is such a thing as inner beauty, yes, but there is also such a thing as outer beauty and it will always be recognized. Our daughters should be recognizing their own beauty both inside and out. I read an article the other day about how you shouldn’t be encouraging your daughters to care about the way they look and I have to say, I completely disagree. You should take pride in your appearance, you should encourage your children to take pride in their appearance. You should love yourself both inside and out. We all look in the mirror and we all see flaws no one else sees, but we have to be able to see beauty there too. There will always be someone more beautiful, smarter, with a better body. We need to be aware that that will always be the case, but it’s ok, because we are confident in our own selves and our abilities and our beauty, both inner and outer. We know that a smile is truly beautiful (yes, even the smile thought to be a flaw by the owner), we know that happy girls are confident girls and vice versa and confident girls are beautiful girls. Our daughters are always going to see people being recognized for their beauty. It does exist and it is very real and there are truly beautiful people surrounding us. It’s part of life. We need to focus more on the confidence part. We need to focus on all the positive things in our girls. We need to help them to help both themselves and to help others. We need to make sure they are lifting others up.
How do we do this? Well this is where we as women must lift each other up too. I challenge you to give everyone you meet tomorrow a compliment. I challenge you to find things that will inspire your daughters to be the most beautiful people they can be by bringing others up. Lead by example. Don’t gossip, don’t bitch and moan, always talk positively about your friends and their strengths and always remind your daughters to be the best “insert name here” they can be. I also went into my daughter’s room whilst she was at school today and put inspirational quotes, and reassurances everywhere. Including some I thought pertinent to just her at this time. And there are quite a few for when she’s laying in bed looking at her ceiling:
Just in case she needs reminding when no one is about. 😊
Boys will not judge my daughter and place her into a category and girls will not bring her down. She shall know each and every day just how special and amazing she is. And how beautiful she is on the inside and out. She will know how talented she is when it comes to singing and playing her guitar and she shall know that she has very special strengths and is truly gifted when it comes to reading and comprehension. We will be realistic with her when she asks our advice but we will never shame her choices. I challenge you to make sure your daughter knows those same things; as relevant to her and her own strengths. Your sons too.
*Update: 3 years later.
My eldest daughter is now incredibly confident and not invloved in any drama with any girls. She knows her own strengths, she works hard and she is surrounded by a great group of friends. She has started playing lacrosse (absolutely loves it) and is still an avid reader. She has truly come a long way from this moment in time. I hear her talking to her friends sometimes and I never hear her putting anyone else down, which makes me incredibly proud. In fact, knowing all of this has given me the strength to get through it with my now 10 going on 11-year-old daughter who seems to be going through an almost identical situation on a daily basis. A friend of mine asked me for advice the other day because she too is experiencing something similar. I told her to reassure her daughter. Tell her she’s there for her. Listen, but try not to let her see how angry you are at those other kids, that ‘mama bear’ doesn’t necessarily help in these moments. Don’t get involved directly with the drama either, that just prolongs it (trust me, I’ve learned from experience). But most of all, remember the 3 R’s: Reassure, Remind, Renew. Reassure her daily of all her strengths, all that she has both inside and out. Remind her to help others up rather than put them down. Renew her confidence in herself and love, love with all your heart.
As with so many of my blogs, they really are random and varied in their subject topics and this one is no exception.
Several years ago, a wonderful friend of mine who was born in Paris but raised in the French countryside by her Parisian mother and Tunisian father, showed me how to make beef bourguignon. It was one of the most wonderful meals I’ve tasted. Over the years, I have made a few adjustments and even modified it for the crockpot and it has become a favourite meal in our house. According to my French friend, the difference between French country beef bourguignon and Paris beef bourguignon, is the potatoes, but I love them and wouldn’t make it without them as they give this dish the added heartiness it needs.
I’m going to do my best to share with you the recipe/process of making it but you must first understand that I don’t really measure anything when I cook, so you’ll have to go with my explanation of amounts and if your anal about your quantities, you’ll just have to make it your own by perfecting the measurements 😉. The great thing for me is that each time I make beef bourguignon, it has an ever so slightly different taste and each time is just as lovely as the prior one.
If you’re still here then I’m assuming you want to know more. This is a great family meal and can also be a great dinner party meal, which is how I came to writing this blog. We had guests over one Friday night and the menu was quite last minute, but it was a hit and I was asked to share my recipe, so here goes:
Obviously the first thing you need is the beef. I am not completely au fait with different types of beef, so I normally buy either a nice looking lean beef for stewing package (and still remove all of the fat as none of my family likes fat on any meats) or I buy a top sirloin family package and cut it into chunks (somewhere about the 5cm/2” chunk size especially if I’m doing it in the crockpot as the meat will shrink, basically, you want it to be bite size after it has been cooking. As far as the amount of meat, it really depends on how many you’re cooking for. The night of the dinner party, I was cooking for 8, so I used about 1kg/just over 2lbs, of meat.
I cook the meat in a large pan with olive oil on a medium high heat until just brown, then add the bacon. Again, I like the bacon to be nice and lean. I cut most of the fat off and have even used lean turkey bacon in the past. Either one works. In this case I used 7-8 slices of center cut pork bacon that I cut into very small pieces after I had trimmed the fat off. Then I threw in a variety of salts (pictured) because I didn’t have any ‘seasoned salt’ on hand, so just made my own. It’s important to add a little extra salt as you will be cooking potatoes.
I added 3 cloves of fresh garlic (refrigerated minced garlic is just as good – about 3 teaspoons) and lots of onion powder as well as some dried minced onion (note – I love cooked onion but my husband and 2 of my kids, do not. I find things need that onion-y taste, so have resolved to using a mix of onion powder/dried minced onion to give the taste without adding the texture they dislike so much).
Next add a couple of heaped tablespoons (or 1/4 cups with a bit) of flour. This was weird for me the first time I saw it as I thought it would end up chunky/lumpy like gravy, but it works itself out. Stir the flour in, it will get thick and pasty very quickly so have your wine ready to go.
I really like using the box wine for this. I have used different types of red and I guess it can’t really be called a bourguignon if you don’t use that wine, but semantics. Lol. The Franzia chillable red gives the dish a lighter taste (which my kids prefer, rather than a heartier red that continues to give it a ‘wine’ taste even after the alcohol is cooked). My friend used a heartier wine but added an equivalent amount of water, so I really find this does the job just as well. I did measure it this time knowing I would share the recipe with you 😊 and I used about 750mls of the Franzia and added about 250mls of a cheap cab sav to find a happy medium in the sauce/stew. I gave it a quick stir and threw it all into the crockpot then added the tomatoes and tomato paste, 3 bay leaves and a huge spoonful of the beef stock paste you see pictured here. I love this paste. Best stock brand in America in my humble opinion. Find a good quality beef stock where you live and use it generously.
If you are cooking it in your pan, add these ingredients, put a lid on your pan and turn it down to a simmer, stirring regularly and cooking for about 40 mins. If you’re using a crockpot, set on low for 8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours, stirring it after about an hour.
Potatoes. In this particular meal, I used a 3lb bag of baby red and yellow potatoes. But I’ve used all sorts of potatoes and just cut them into bite sized pieces. You have some different options here as far as cooking them goes too. I like to cook the potatoes a little bit before adding them to the crockpot as I have had potatoes not quite cooked even after they have supposedly simmered away for 8 hours. Your other option is to cook them and add them at the last minute. I prefer the first method because they get the saucy flavour interspersed in the potato and it adds to the overall quality of this dish, but sometimes things don’t work out, so it’s always an option at the end. If you’re cooking this meal on the stovetop, then your only option is to cook the potatoes separately and add them into the sauce for a few mins. Make sure you taste it after you have added the potatoes to see if you need to add some extra salt, this goes for both methods.
To finish off this hearty stew meal, I throw a loaf (or two) of French bread into some foil and warm it up in the oven. Serve it with some real butter and let your guests dip away into this wonderfully warming meal!
Let me know what you think of this recipe and if you make it, how it goes down with your family and friends. This meal gave 4 of us seconds and lunch for 4 of us the following day, so it certainly went a long way.
Imagine this: you’re sitting al fresco style at a lovely restaurant eating brunch with your husband and your 12 year old son. Everything is great, you’re eating your food and this family outing is extremely pleasant; all of a sudden your son’s face goes extremely red. You wonder if he’s choking but he’s not making any noises or gesturing in any way that indicates that such a thing is occurring. He stands up and you can see a wet patch on his bottom. He’s had a minor accident you think, but then the smell hits you quite violently and you realize this is no minor accident!
Now imagine your son is special needs. Imagine if you were that parent. Imagine if everyone around you (and the restaurant, even al fresco, was absolutely packed) just sat and stared!
So I tried to imagine this and I honestly couldn’t, not in a real, oh my god, this is really happening, kind of way. This is what did actually happen to my sister and not one restaurant patron helped her in any way at all. She didn’t have any wipes on her (isn’t that always the way when you desperately need them) and her husband ran to to get as many paper napkins as he could whilst she desperately tried to clean their son up.
“What could another patron have done?” You might be asking. Well, anything but nothing! Here are some suggestions if you ever find yourself witnessing such an awful situation: Alert the staff, suggest they get some disinfectant and lots of paper towel. A bucket of hot water, a mop, you know, those things you need to take care of a situation like this, offer to help get paper towels from the public toilets, if you have young children (and there were other families with very young children there) offer your baby wipes! Try not to stare. the worst thing these people did was nothing. This was an awful situation for my sister and her family. She was embarrassed, stressed, mortified and by the end of this now-turned-horrific brunch, a little angry! And I can’t say I blame her.
We all talk about how kind we can be on social media, but it’s time to own that kindness in real life. Stop being so ghastly! Help out your fellow people when they need you! No, it wouldn’t have been pleasant, but no one was expecting you to do the actual clean up! My sister didn’t even expect the restaurant staff to do that! She cleaned it up as much as she could with the limited resources she had, but their disappointment in their fellow patrons and the lack of kindness shown to them, is something that has to be shared so that no one ever has to go through that again!
It’s time to start actually doing the right thing and thinking about people other than yourself. To the patrons at that restaurant: shame on you!
If you have a child with special needs and would like more information on where you can get support, please check out the links below:
USA (this is a link to a blog that lists 10 organizations within the USA that can help you with support):
I recently read an article titled “10 Reasons Teens Have So Much Anxiety Today” and I was really quite shocked at just how much the author generalized and blamed parents in this article. A little too much blame methinks. As if parents don’t have enough stress on them too! How about the fact that in America it’s all about working rather than spending any quality time with your family? How about the fact that teachers aren’t given the respect and recognition they deserve? And yes, I do believe (highly unfairly) some parents expect teachers to raise and discipline their kids.
I think another factor is that society wants to give everyone a medal! God forbid we recognize that our child lost! – Our daughter had a soccer game the other day and it was awful! It was awful to watch. She played terribly. Her team was annihilated because none of them played well. She got into the car afterwards and told us how she played terribly. I said she had some moments that were good, but it definitely wasn’t fun to watch and she certainly wasn’t playing her best. She said she didn’t give it 100% – All we ask is that our kids do their best. Every time. If you are going to commit to something then you need to give it your best. I told her I appreciated her admitting that, but if she wants to play soccer then she needs to give it her best, every, single time. There is no talking it up at our house. We are by no means perfect parents but when our kid doesn’t commit and recognizes it themselves, I’m not going to disagree. I’m not going to praise the not-so-good. I am going to praise her great moments though. Our other daughter has just made a lacrosse team. It’s the B team. She started playing lacrosse at a free clinic last Summer. She did another clinic in Autumn. And another this Winter. She can’t expect miracles. She can’t expect to be the best immediately. It just doesn’t work that way. I’m proud of how she responded though when I told her this morning that she had made the B team. She said that if she wants to get better then she has to work hard. But she’s going to play hard nonetheless and actually said how thankful she was that we actually let her start playing the game now (14).
No one knows if they’re doing the parenting thing the ‘right’ way. Articles like these point out some great things to keep an eye on but they also blame parents in so many ways and that’s when it becomes unfair. We are trying to do our best. We are told what we can and can’t do as far as our parenting goes. We are told we are doing it wrong all the time. “Too many electronics!” “You have to have your kids skilled in electronics!” “They’re not exercising hard enough!” “You’re putting too much pressure on your kid by having them exercise hard throughout the week and playing competitive games on weekends!” There’s a happy medium somewhere there, but we can’t be blamed for everything! Society as a whole needs to intervene in a more productive way. Playtime at school has to happen. Yes to less screen time, but haven’t the so-called experts been saying that for years about TVs?
My son told me he was bored the other night, I told him to read a book or play legos or take his imagination on an adventure! We ended up playing a family card game of Uno. It was fun! Kids need to be bored and parents need to allow them time to develop coping skills, it’s also a time when parents can add some family fun into the mix.
I very much believe in the hierarchy point though. I have friends whose kids seem to dictate all that they do. I have friends who treat their kids as equals and share with them far too many facts about themselves or other adult friends. Your kid is your kid. Not your peer. Not your friend. When they are adult enough, become friends. But they need you as their parent, their guide, their guardian, right now.
This article points out things to keep an eye on within ourselves (as parents) and some modifications we can definitely make in our day-to-day lives as the parents of teens or even tweens, but blaming us for everything isn’t the answer either.
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The second time I miscarried was about 7 months after my first miscarriage. I was 11 weeks, 6 days pregnant.
Facebook was a fairly new thing and I had just begun to connect with a whole heap of people online. As with the first miscarriage, I had been to the doctor and had the pregnancy confirmed. It was standard practice in Texas to come back at 12 weeks to hear the fetal heartbeat and do various first trimester blood tests, etcetera. We were excited. After the first miscarriage, I bought a fetal Doppler so I could find the heartbeat myself & after a lot of searching and much panicking, we did find it. It was all very exciting. I would go and try to find the heartbeat almost daily though, which was probably unhealthy in itself. Anyway, we were excited. We were expecting & at 11 weeks, 5 days, I announced it to the world via Facebook, what could it hurt right? My appointment was in 2 days, things seemed to be coming along nicely.
The following morning, Texas started going in to panic mode as there was a big ice storm coming. The entire city of San Antonio began to shut down. We got a call from the doctor’s office saying we would have to reschedule our appointment (it was meant to be for the next day) as the city had closed everything. They would call us back after the ice storm to find another time for the appointment. The timing was incredible.
That afternoon, I began spotting all over again. I couldn’t believe it but read that it can happen, even during a normal pregnancy. I was trying to be calm but when we couldn’t find a heartbeat, something kicked in and I knew in my heart of hearts that this was happening all over again!
It was very different this time. It’s really tough for me to explain and to tell this story, but I pretty much started to go into labor (I had a child, so I knew what that felt like). Everything was wrong. Hubby was at work again – he worked for a home improvement store so had to make sure people got the supplies they needed for the ice storm, ironically.
Our little girl was amazing! She just sat out in the living room watching tv, being the sweet, responsible, almost 3 year old, that I was so incredibly lucky to have!
But what I went through was awful! It didn’t last for that long. But imagine actually giving birth to something that doesn’t resemble a baby at all. I know you can find photos on the internet that look like a tiny baby when you are almost 12 weeks pregnanct, but this was a lump. I couldn’t mourn it, I couldn’t stand looking at it. It didn’t have limbs, it was just a lump. And in some ways it made it easier to move forward and in other ways, far more difficult. That fact that I had been through the whole process of a miniature labor, was very tough to swallow, the fact that it didn’t remotely resemble what the books showed you, made it a tad easier, I guess.
For 3 days San Antonio was shut down, even hubby stayed home for 2 of them. By the time the clinic called back to reschedule, I knew it was all over and told them as much. They wanted me to go to have a D&C (a clean out to make sure everything is out of you so you don’t have any chance of getting an infection) but I knew everything was out of me. I knew my body had done its job. I just knew.
I spent my next few weeks in a daze and thought our daughter would end up being an only child. Obviously I was too old or I had done too much damage in my earlier days through smoking and drinking. It was a tough pill to swallow as one thing I adamantly didn’t want was an only child! But I put thoughts of another baby on the back burner and focused on the child I did have. I gave up smoking (yes, I still smoked – outside – after having our first child – obviously I stopped during the pregnancy-but I stopped completely this time). I started to exercise and even started making some friends. Hubby introduced me to some of the spouses of his college cohort and we all started to socialize on a regular basis too. It was a really fun time in our lives and we made the most of the family time we got together and the quality of life our daughter had.
About 1 year later, I was fortunate enough to get pregnant again and everything seemed to be different from the get go. It was meant to be. And my second little girl is 10 going on 18. She’s a handful, but an absolute joy.
I even got a surprise third baby about 4 years after she was born, when my husband was waiting for a vasectomy of all things! Had I not though, there wouldn’t be any Hunter-isms! 😁 Check out my Facebook page to find out more info about those!
I hope you’ve found this blog helpful and in your time of need, you know that you are not alone. Please feel free to share so others understand how many of us have been through this. Come on over to Aussie Mum’s Adventures on FB and like my page: Aussie Mum’s Adventures. You can find me on Twitter: @ozmumsadventures, on Instagram: Ozmumsadventures, on Pinterest: Aussiemumsadventures.
If you or someone you love has experienced a miscarriage, please remember there are resources out there to help you.
Miscarriage, it’s the kind of word that comes with lots of stigma. It’s the kind of word that seems to hush the room when spoken, no-one knowing what to say, yet statistically, it happens often.
According to March of Dimes:
“Miscarriage (also called early pregnancy loss) is when a baby dies in the womb (uterus) before 20 weeks of pregnancy. For women who know they’re pregnant, about 10 to 15 in 100 pregnancies (10 to 15 percent) end in miscarriage. Most miscarriages happen in the first trimester before the 12th week of pregnancy. Miscarriage in the second trimester (between 13 and 19 weeks) happens in 1 to 5 in 100 (1 to 5 percent) pregnancies.
As many as half of all pregnancies may end in miscarriage. We don’t know the exact number because a miscarriage may happen before a woman knows she’s pregnant. Most women who miscarry go on to have a healthy pregnancy later.”
This might be a tad tough to read, it’s certainly tough to write, but sometimes we need to share our stories to help others through their struggles. it’s that spoken about, yet unspoken thing that so many women have to endure. The United States is currently in the midst of an abortion debate, but we seem to forget about those who tragically lose a fetus, particularly when they are trying to conceive.
Unfortunately I know this from experience, twice. The first time, I was 8 weeks pregnant, we were super excited. Life was good. We had moved to Texas from Italy, my husband had left the Navy and started school to earn his bachelor’s degree. He was working a part time job, our eldest daughter was two and we were ready to increase our family. Money was tight and we didn’t have great insurance coverage but it was good enough to cover a pregnancy and we knew that once my husband had finished his degree, we would be ok. Life had other plans at that point in time though.
I was approximately 8 weeks pregnant. We had confirmed the pregnancy at a doctor’s appointment when I was approximately 6 weeks pregnant. They told us to make another appointment at 12 weeks, we were delighted. One of my hubby’s friends was having a party and I was designated driver (obviously). We were having a good time when suddenly something didn’t feel right. I went to the bathroom and had some fairly prominent spotting. We left the party shortly thereafter. I was concerned, but tried to remain as calm as possible.
The following morning, I dropped my husband off at work and was driving home when all of a sudden the bleeding became fairly heavy. It was scary. My two year old daughter was in the car. I was alone. We got home and she saw the blood and started crying asking if Mummy was ok. I was more scared for the scarring this could do to her than anything else at this point in time, so I tried to reassure her I was ok. Even thinking about it now makes my heart beat faster. With only one car, it wasn’t even like I could physically go and pick up my husband from work, so I sat there with my little girl and cried and miscarried throughout that day. Alone, in a foreign country, not knowing anyone close by.
When I did go and pick up my husband, who was blissfully unaware of all that had transpired throughout the day, he saw me and seemed to understand something was terribly wrong immediately. We decided to go to the emergency room to make sure it was a miscarriage and that nothing further was wrong. Unfortunately, it was all but confirmed (another blog to come about this whole ghastly experience) so I went home with a heavy heart.
I’m pretty sure I cried for the next week or so. I felt lost. I felt like I had failed. I felt alone. I wanted to give my Mum a hug and have her tell me everything was ok, but unfortunately she was on the other side of the world. Thank god I could at least talk to her on the phone! My husband tried to be there for me, but he didn’t really know what to say or do. I couldn’t help him either, I was a little lost and trying to hold my shit together for our daughter. He was doing his best to hold down the fort in every possible way.
What do you say when someone has a miscarriage? Well here’s what not to say, “it was obviously for the best as something must have been wrong with it.” Um, no. Just no. (and yes, people felt the need to say this to me). That might be true, but when someone dies after suffering incredible pain, you don’t tell their family that it was for the best, it just doesn’t work! Just listen. Say you’re sorry. If you’ve been through it yourself, share that information. Tell the person you have some understanding of what they’re going through. Remember that everyone feels pain differently, your experiences are probably different to theirs and if you’ve never been through it, then you honestly don’t understand. Be honest. Let them talk or sit in silence. Its similar to grieving for a loved one. You didn’t know that child, but you lost the promise of all that could have been. When you find out you are pregnant, you are excited, you can’t help but wonder what this child will be like; is it a girl? A boy? Twins? Will they be a prodigy? Will they be funny? Sweet? What sort of mother will you be? How many adventures will you have? So many things run through your head the minute a pregnancy is confirmed. And it’s all the could-haves that break your heart when you miscarry.
I mentioned earlier that I had a second miscarriage and I will share the details of that in part two of this blog. Miscarriage can be terribly lonely. Women feel ostracized by it. But you are not alone and it’s ok. You will get through. You will be ok. We will be ok. More than likely, you did everything right. No-one can really explain why miscarriages happen, but what we do know is that everyone experiences different emotions when they go through a miscarriage; you doubt your own body, you question what you’ve done to deserve this. Some people grieve immediately, others later. At the end of the day, it’s painful, but you are very much allowed to mourn your loss; to mourn the could-have’s.
I hope you’ve found this blog helpful and in your time of need, you know that you are not alone. Please feel free to share so others understand how many of us have been through this. Come on over to Aussie Mum’s Adventures on FB and like my page: Aussie Mum’s Adventures. You can find me on Twitter: @ozmumsadventures, on Instagram: Ozmumsadventures, on Pinterest: Aussiemumsadventures.
If you or someone you love has experienced a miscarriage, please remember there are resources out there to help you.
When it comes to French doors and privacy, there are only so many options. I started researching some of them when we installed our French doors on our house here in Virginia. We have a larger lot (over 2 acres) and are surrounded by woods, but in the winter, the trees take their deciduous steps and distant neighbours have now got much better views into your domain. This bothers me, particularly at night when it is so dark outside and the house is lit up like a small supernova. I definitely like my privacy. What to do on a budget? Well, given I had no clue how to make French Door curtains, I purchased some and they’re fabulous and cost about $30.
We have another set of French doors in our basement and it has always bothered me that my kids could be down there playing (the video gaming is set up down there) and anyone can see into those doors too. I had originally planned to buy another set of the same style of curtains for down there, but then I remembered I actually have a ton of curtains from our various moves – yes, when you move like we do, you acquire so many things – some of which are a metallic Grey and would match the decor down there absolutely perfectly! The curtains I had purchased (pictured) looked very easy to copy the style of, so with a few modifications, I set out to repurpose my existing curtains into practical ones for the French door.
The first thing I did was measure the window opening in the door to ensure the curtains I had were long enough, they were. Then it was a matter of taking approximate measurements of the existing French door curtains to match up my gray ones. I measured the width of the curtain and realized I had to cut quite a lot off it. This is a little scary mind you as you are ruining, I mean restyling, something perfectly good. I found the best thing to do was to measure all the way down putting a small sharpie mark along the length then getting a ruler and joining these marks together, then it was just a matter of biting the bullet and cutting (if I ruined them, well I did have another back up pair that weren’t so perfect but would do). I made my curtains 26″ (66cm) wide with a half inch hem on the side that needed a new hem. Therefore, my marks were made at 26 1/2 inches (67.3 cm) across ensuring the 4 circles (normally what would go on a rod) became the feature top of my French door curtains and were evenly spaced on both sides.
With the length I cut off, I measured the amount I would need to make the two pieces that velcroed together, holding the entire curtain up when you wanted to allow daylight in. I did screw up a little bit here as I didn’t take into account the fact that the second piece wouldn’t have any hem on either end, don’t do what I did, make that second piece a fraction longer, it will make life easier and save a burnt finger when it comes to ironing that hem on. I made each of these pieces 19 1/4 ” (49cm) by 2 1/2 ” (6.35cm) PLUS hem – important you don’t forget to factor this in.
I didn’t even tell you that I wanted to do this entire project without sewing! I had lots of iron-on hemming tape and thought it would be perfect for this job.
If you have never used hemming/bonding tape, basically you use an iron to melt it together, ergo bond the fabric together at your given hemline. The iron has to be hot (so the fabric you use has to be capable of withstanding a reasonably hot iron, and you must turn the steam function off. Be careful not to touch the hemming tape with the hot iron, it will melt immediately and leave a sticky residue on your iron – if this happens, turn iron off and wait to get cold before wiping with a clean cloth that has some rubbing alcohol on it (I do not know this from experience ;)). I decided to double hem my edges because I wanted a clean ‘finished’ look, it did mean a lot more work but it looks better in my opinion. One other thing I did was to cut the hemming tape in half lengthwise as it fitted each of my little, narrow hems much better like that.
Once everything was hemmed and ironed, I folded the front of the curtain over so it gave my front a more professional finish, I used more hemming tape at the top to secure these two folds together.
I then joined the two pieces on to the back of the French door curtain like so (I pinned everything in place after I had measured it and before I permanently attached it so I could be sure it was all going to work and look nice and neat). My strips were attached 6″ in from the edges on each side.
Then it was a matter of attaching the Velcro. Again, I didn’t particularly want to sew, not that I can’t, I’m just not very good at it and don’t particularly enjoy it, so I had some sticky back Velcro from another project and just used it. This really is a matter of eyeballing and making sure they will align when joined together. Pinning helps with this too.
Finally, it was time to attach a curtain to the French door:
I love how these turned out. They match the decor down here perfectly, I had everything on hand so didn’t actually have to purchase anything and now I know we will have privacy downstairs too!
I regularly reflect on life and try to find some deep and meaningful answers on a daily basis. Rarely do I actually get any 😆. But, some clarification has hit me this year, I think I’m done with the BS people in my life. The ones who only want me in their lives when it’s convenient for them. You know the ones. You call or text them for the umpteenth time & always get the response “I’ve been so busy……. blah blah.” We are all busy, every single one of us, but we all have a few minutes to take the time to call and check on the people we love; friends and family alike. It’s important. We all say all of these sweet things on Social media about how we are here if you need us, but why not be there before you are needed? Why not give a little rather than talk a sweet talk? It’s time, now is the time to do that! If it isn’t time for you, then perhaps the people in your life aren’t the right people? Perhaps it’s time to move on and make new friends?
Every relationship you have is an investment. You both give and take, you invest your time and your love, yes even with friends. If you’re too busy to invest that time and love, then maybe these aren’t the right friends for you. Take a moment to reassess who you want in your life, then take a moment to jot them a note, give them a call, send a text.
I know, I know, your busy, you’ve got too many friends, too much family, everyone is strewn throughout the country, throughout the world! If you don’t reach out now, you may regret that you didn’t. We have no idea if today is the first of many great ones yet to come or the last of many great ones lived. We have no idea about that for ourselves let alone for anyone else. After dealing with too many losses at the end of last year into this year and seeing so many people regret not reaching out in time because they didn’t realize their time was so limited, I cannot emphasize enough how important this is. I’m not sitting here on my high horse telling you to cull your Facebook friends’ list, what I am telling you though is reach out to those you consider your true friends, a minute is all it takes. Stop putting off having lunch or a coffee with that girlfriend you haven’t seen in forever, stop thinking there’ll be time later to go for that beer or catch up with your mate to play pool. There may not be and you don’t want to spend time regretting.
I don’t want to regret another minute of my life. I don’t want to spend time with people I don’t truly like. I don’t want to spend time with people who don’t truly like me. That’s not doing either one of us any good. I’ve always reached out to people but it’s definitely a two-way street and my life is very full, so perhaps it’s time I stopped. Perhaps it’s time you stopped too. Perhaps our laundry list of so-called friends is just that?
Either way, the people I love , those who truly know who they are, will always call and check on me or text or let me know how they are, just as I will them. The rest, well some could be in this life for a reason, a season or a lifetime, some could just be wasting my time and I theirs. So here’s to truly being there for someone before they need you and to knowing others have got your back!