17 Jul 2014

A Year Ago

Can you believe it? A year ago today my family and I left on a plane bound for Hawaii. I was 28 weeks pregnant at the time and now that I think about it, I was probably delusional to be going anywhere overseas. Not that women who are pregnant shouldn't be enjoying themselves and traveling. It's just that I'm such a risk adverse person now and the thought of what I did seems so .... risky to me now.

I think I now understand the fear and anxiousness my husband felt throughout the holiday. I knew I really wanted our family to travel overseas after I was let off at my last job; and I guess finding out I was pregnant shortly after fuelled my desperation to travel.

I do want to convert the travel journal I kept during that trip onto this blog. I'll eventually get to it and hopefully it won't be too far off that the information I wrote is still current and valuable. In the mean time you can re read about our family holiday to Hawaii here


15 Jul 2014

Long Driving With Children Under 3

We recently went to sunny Queensland for a week. I have family up there and when I was a lot younger my family would travel up frequently; and now that I have a family of my own we find ourselves making the trip often as well. Personally, I love Queensland. The warmer year round temperatures, the beaches, how cheaper everything is compared to Sydney; and I guess it's feels like home, having once lived there too. 

Again we drove up to Queensland. It just made sense economically to drive up when petrol is covered under our car lease. Plus if we flew not only would we be forking out money for fares but also a car rental, car seats and insurance. Then there's the hassle of carrying luggage and equipment, with two kids under three onto the plane ... no thanks. 

The drive to Queensland from Sydney is roughly about 10 hours without stopping, depending on who you ask and which route you take. I've been asked by a few people what's it like long driving with two kids and what advice do I have? So I've put together my tips on how to survive a long haul drive with children:

1. Pack lots of their favourite foods and drinks - even the food you don't like them having too frequently. The more bad it is for them the better, as this will distract and satisfy their boredom the most. This will also minimise the need to stop to get food.

2. Load the iPad or tablet with their favourite shows, movies, games or music. Eli watched a few Play School episodes online and played the Sesame Street Alphabet game until he got over it. 

3. Keep them comfortable. Put them in comfortable clothing and shoes. It was cold the morning we left so we also kept them warm with blankets. Place within their reach anything you think they need that will keep them comfortable, such as their favourite toys. 

4. Talk and have conversations with your children, given your child is already talking or thrives in conversation. Eli likes to be included in our conversations. If Ian and I are speaking and haven't addressed him in awhile he'll interrupt us and say "Talk to me!" We just spoke to him throughout the ride to keep in entertained and to pass the time. We asked him what he did last at childcare? Who is friends were? What's his favourite thing to do there? A conversation we probably repeated four times during the drive. We used the long period of time as an opportunity to teach, as we asked Eli to count as far as he could and tried to teach him the days of the week and what he did that day of the week. 

4. Play games with your children. If they're old enough you could play car games or maybe even create new one's together. Eli was entertained by the mountains he saw outside the window, so we'd make him count how many he can see. Not an overly interesting game but hearing his answers, then probing him to elaborate more on his responses, again distracts him from the long drive. 

5. Stop frequently and get everyone to stretch their legs. Admittedly this was something we didn't do only because we decided we would gauaged how our boys were doing to determine when we would stop. We agreed we would stop for toilet breaks, meals and for out of control crying. 

6. Play their favourite songs in the car. Have their favourite cd or tracks ready to play when you need another form of distraction. Sing along and encourage your child to participate. 

7. Be flexible and have realistic expectations of how the experience will be. I actually thought the worst and so I was pleasantly surprised of how well the drive ended up being. We were also open to potentially staying over night somewhere in the event we felt the boys were not settled and had had enough of sitting in the car.

8. Drive over night. This tip was actually recommended to us and crossed our minds. However decided not to do it because we feared we'd get "lucky" and they wont actually sleep during the night drive. Plus we would not have gotten any rest during the day leading up to the drive that evening. Driving over night does make sense because this is the period of time they're mostly sleeping anyways but I think its a strategy best suited for kids a little older or maybe infants. And if parents got rest during the day too - don't drive if you're tired parents!!

Overall I think the key to successfully driving for several hours with children is having lots of distraction strategies in place in the event they become restless; and being open to stopping frequently if required. For us we just let the boys be and enjoy the ride, pulling out one of mentioned strategies above when we noticed they were getting bored. The drive up we only stopped for petrol and an hour for lunch and we arrived at our destination in 11 hours. The drive back we stopped three times and for longer periods of time and end up arriving home 12 hours later.

What are your tips and recommendations for long haul travel with small children? What worked and what didn't work for your family?

10 Jul 2014

Networking

They say 70% of jobs aren't advertised, it's who you know these days. So I created a LinkedIn account. Why? I don't really know ... cause I don't really know when I want to go back to work and what I want to do either.

I keep changing my mind from go back to my previous professional life (and probably hating it); starting my own business; doing something totally different; and or studying. My over confident self tells me I could do it all ... but my reality time pressed self reminds me to choose ... something.

I actually avoided creating a LinkedIn account for years. I had this fear that people might judge my past experiences. That those I make connections with will look through my work history and doubt what I had put in there. I don't know why? I would never lie about my experience ... maybe embellish on somethings but who doesn't do that? No one is going to toot your own horn for you, you got to do it yourself - something I learnt during my career.

Another reason why I haven't created an account is because I don't really make work friends. Don't get me wrong, I do befriend people I work with, but once I move on I don't keep in contact with them. I always get stuck in teams where I'm the odd one out, whether it's I'm the only female, the youngest, the asian or (previously) didn't have children. So of course since we don't really have anything in common, the friendships don't last once I or they have moved on. There's only been two jobs in my whole working history that I maintained the friendships I made at that place of employment. So now with LinkedIn where I have to "connect" with past fellow employees I feel kinda ... weird. 

Then there's the people I worked closely with but dislike. What if they see I'm connected with someone we both worked with but we're not connected? 

To me your work is personal. I know it's just a place we're paid to do a particular task over and over again, but we spend so much time at work and what I do with my time is personal. Another reason why I feel it's personal is because I can admit I am different at work. I have mentioned previously I am naturally quiet, but at work I'm not so quiet. I know I can be passionate about my opinions and decisions when I'm at work - its just part of the job. I need to be able to take in information, recommend, influence and negotiate - and that's just the skills I need to deal with people everyday. 

I've dealt with difficult stakeholders and team members who I don't agree with. I've gotten positive and constructive criticism thorough out my career. And although I don't think I've ever burned bridges where I worked, as I make connections with past colleagues on LinkedIn, I can't help wonder what's their last impression of me and my work.

And where can you change the privacy / security settings? Is it not like Facies where you can put your account on maximum security setting, so people who you're not connected with can't see details of your profile. I'm already getting spammed by recruiters. I don't like that 'Who's Viewed Your Profile' setting I can't stalk ... well I can, but then they'll know .. ha ha

And does my profile pic have to be me in a suit like everyone else? ha ha

I shared these thoughts with my sister and she thinks I'm over analysing LinkedIn. I can't help it. It's in my nature ... its what I use to do for a living.

Are you on LinkedIn? What are your thoughts on it? Is it useful in finding roles or just another tool we can use to snoop on other people?

8 Jul 2014

I'm Still Here

Hey.

I know it's been several days since my last post. To be honest I haven't even attempted to write anything. I just haven't felt like blogging.

Most days right now, taking care of the boys all day is so mentally and emotionally draining that I'm spent by the end of the day. I don't feel like talking, writing or thinking. I just want to curl up in front of the television and watch mindless tv and just not have to hear my own voice.

They've both more demanding I really just try and keep up with them. I'll go into it in more detail some other time.

I've also been using my free time to start planning (i.e pinning like crazy on Pinterest) the boys birthday celebrations. I have so many ideas and good intentions like cooking every dish but I've realised that's not possible and now outsourcing as much as possible. So again my spare time has been absorbed, but I love it! I love researching. I'm in my element coming up with ideas, researching and successfully finding vendors for these ideas.

We're also away at the moment, back at my uncle's holiday home up north. I had no intentions of posting but the boys have been sleeping early every night and I hate to waste these golden opportunities. 

We love it up here. The property is a street away from the beach, caf├ęs and shops. The weather isn't as cold as Sydney, although it's been pretty warm back home too. And its just a nice alternative to life at home right now. When I get back and have everything planned and under control I will aim to post more. 

26 Jun 2014

Celebrating The Small Wins - Weight Loss

I did it! I lost all the weight I had put in during my pregnancy with Kai. All sixteen kilos of it ... gone ... in eight months. I'm surprised, proud of myself and celebrating by going to KFC later. Joking ... or am I?

I'm not back to my pre children weight, I'll need to lose another 5 kilos but I don't know if that's the kind of body I want anymore ... well that's the excuse I tell myself ... kidding.

I didn't think I could achieve it in such a short period of time. I told myself in March I was going to bring it and ramp up the exercise regime, and since then lost the last 5 kilos in three months.

The scales says I've lost all the weight I had put on however my body certainly doesn't look like it did just before I had Kai. They say a woman's body takes longer to recover after consecutive births and for me this is true. The excess skin I produced during my second pregnancy didn't shrunk back like it did after my first. I think the rapid weight loss has also contributing to how my body currently appears as well. 

Ok, enough of the nit picking and more of the celebrating ...

How I did it? How I ramped it up? I started doing some high interval intensity training. I started doing things my body hadn't done before such as weight lifting and gymnastic movements. And did cardio movements my body was not use to like skipping, burpees and box jumps. These kind of movements are all done when I started doing Crossfit.

I'm not here to show off that I do Crossfit; or talk about Crossfit, cause Crossfitters do talk about it a lot - I don't blame them and I'm happy to join in a conversation about Crossfit cause it is addictive.


But I do want to say something to those who say its a "fad" or roll their eyes when others do talk about Crossfit. Don't rain on people's parade if they're passionate or interested in something positive. How would you like it if people rolled their eyes if you started talking about your kids or that recent holiday you went on or how your basketball team won the grand finals. People could be talking about subjects far more toxic than exercise and fitness.

So Crossfit. It's not for everyone but it doesn't mean its only for certain people. The box I go to have a range of members who go, from very young to very old. There are those who look like Michael Angelo's David and those who look more like Santa Clause, everyone starts somewhere.

For me this was what I needed. Before I started I thought I was relatively fit. I'm a cardio girl but needed to mix things up with something my body doesn't usually do. I lack strength and was something I've been saying I wanted to address for years. Crossfit ticks all those boxes for me and obviously was what my body needed to drop the last few kilos. I didn't even really change my diet I still eat roughly the same just have less of it.

I've also noticed a change in my body too. The excess skin seems to be shrinking and isn't as saggy. My core feels tighter so I've notice I have better posture; and I'm starting to see mussel tone in places I never use to.

And today was the cherry on the top for me. I got an email from my trainer, (our box owners regularly ask for feedback and it was a reply to some I gave.) Amongst his response was this comment 
"You are improving everyday you come in! You were actually in contention to being member of the month last month but pipped at the post!
What, who me? There is about 100 members who attend my box and there are people who lift heavier than me, complete higher reps than me or finish the workout faster than me. And sometimes it can be a little frustrating when I can't do what they do, but yet my small improvements have not been unnoticed. It's definitely motivating and encouraging and makes me want to work harder. Even though I didn't get the title the fact that I was even considered ... I could not remove the smile from my face for at least an hour.

So that's my little win I wanted to celebrate and share today. Care to share your body improvement win or exercise motivation story? I'd love to hear it. 

12 Jun 2014

My Child Magazine


Having a child and being a parent is one of those things in life that changes you and your life forever so the fear, excitement and unknown can be overwhelming.  I wanted to know what was happening to my body at various stages of my pregnancy, understand the labour process and educate myself on trying to understand my newborn once he arrives. I wanted to research and take in as much information as I could from various sources.

I asked my friends about their experiences, I googled and purchased books on certain topics. Another great source of information was parenting magazines. Although I've I've passed the newborn, new parenting phase, I still gravitate to these magazines. They're always filled with a range of information, products and resources. 

But what I love most about parenting magazines were the feature articles. I enjoy an article that challenges my thinking and or opens my eyes to other forms of parenting and nurturing or educates me on something I didn't know before.

I've recently discovered My Child Magazine (although they have been around since 2006) and I love trolling through every page. My Child Magazine was created by Lise Taylor who, like all new mums wanted to be around for the first few years of her son's life. So utilising her 20 years of magazine editorial experience created My Child Magazine. Previously the magazine was printed quarterly but just this month moved to a monthly digital format.

What I love about this magazine is firstly, it's FREE ... I don't even need to explain why that's a bonus. Secondly, its in a digital format and those who know me personally know how pro-digital anti-paper I am; and I could go on and on about the benefits of having paper based information digitally. I even have this brilliant electronic receipt idea that I think AusPost is starting to roll out ... I knew I should've patent my idea .. but anyway I digress ...

I could go on about the quality of the articles published, products advertised and range of content this magazine covers but I'm going to be a bit of a geek and talk about the technology aspects that impressed me about this magazine. My background is IT (information technology), in particular systems and impacts to end users; and this magazine has really took that into consideration.

Every advertisement or product or company that is mentioned on this magazine has a (hyper) link already set up so that once you click on it you are taken to that company's website. No more writing the link down or trying to search for the company yourself on google, My Child Magazine has included the link for you.

The front cover and contents page has hyper links too so you can jump straight to the articles or sections you want to read now instead of clicking through every page or trying to find it via thumbnails. 

If you want to see how awesome this magazine is check out the June issue here. I highly recommend joining their subscription so you know when their latest issue is out, issued their newsletter as well as be informed about competitions and special offers. 

Finally a parenting magazine that's available online and for free!! 


Sponsored post by My Child Magazine

10 Jun 2014

Being Supermum


We hear mums being liken to superwoman. When I hear people call me one I take it as a compliment.

But since becoming a mother and now that my kids are becoming more mobile and adventurous I think I have acquired some abilities such as ...

Super Speed. Sometimes my husband teases me that I'm uncoordinated and one of the reasons why I actually took up sports in my twenties. I wanted to work on improving my slow reflexes and my "unco-ness". Since having children though my reflexes seemed to have sharpened considerably. Now I seem to be able to catch that plate before it shatters on the ground; grab my child out of the way before he is kicked in the face by another kid on the swing; or be quick enough to run from the other side of the room to the other to grab some sharp object just inches before a pair of tiny hands get to them.

Super Hearing. Since becoming a mum I seemed to have developed the ability to hear between walls. I'm always listening to gauge what my kids are doing, especially the eldest one. He's learnt that he can get away with doing things he likes if I can't see him. So now when he hides in his bedroom and closes the door I he's probably up to something. If the house is too quiet you can guarantee he's up to his cheekiness.

Super Strength. I have no body strength and probably the last person family would ask to help carry anything heavy. But despite this when I really needed to, I seem to be able to carry both kids at the same time. I'll make stupid decision, (which didn't seem stupid at the time) like not take the pram into the shops so I'm left carrying a 10kg baby, baby bag, 2-3 bags of groceries and keeping an active toddler close by.

Super Vision. I'm actually very bling without my contacts or glasses on but when I'm supermum I seem to be able to find that one object my child really wants but can't find .. even if it's right in front of them.

All super hero comes have their kryptonite and of course mine are my boys. No matter how much stronger mentally or physically they make me, they also make my heart softer. There's been too many times I've threaten the time out corner and didn't follow through; and I repeat "this is the last time" or "I'm only asking you once more" too often. Eli knows just the right time to say "you're my bestest friend" or "I love you sooo much" to his advantage. Kai knows when to hug a little tighter or pull his sad face so I won't put him down and he knows his deep stares entrances me and I live for his smiles. These boys are my kryptonite. 


What super powers have you acquired since you became a parent?