Elmo Show!

I have been meaning to post this for ages but it’s really that silly time of year where so much is going on!

Every once in a while, I go on a bit of a “competition” frenzy and enter a whole lot of competitions. I don’t even remember when I entered this competition, but on my birthday, I got an email saying I had won some tickets to an Elmo concert!

Even a year ago, it was difficult to get Jacob to sit still for an extended period of time. He never really sat and watched things til he was about two years old, and even so, he prefers to get up and fidget about. But now that he’s three, he certainly has matured quite a bit and my winning comment was actually along the lines of “I’d love to win this because my son is finally old enough to sit still for a concert like this!”

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So anyway, off to the concert we went – just me and the kids! Hubby was supposed to join us but had some last minute commitments he couldn’t get out of. I was a bit nervous taking two of them on my own but I also was comforted in the fact that it’s a kids concert – so even if my kids were making noise, they’d certainly not be the only ones.

We parked a bit of a way away and had a trek along the Torrens to the Adelaide Festival Theatre, which I think contributed to our success as Jacob could get a bit of the running around out of his system. Before the concert, it was a bit chaotic as I let the two of them loose (to run/crawl around in the foyer) and Jared kept attacking the posters to a point that he knocked some pull-up banners over as I was trying to tell Jacob to stop playing with some retractable barriers. Oops.

But fortunately for me, the kids were great in the show itself. Jacob was a bit too light for the seat (it was one that flips back up) so I had to hold it down with my leg or it folded up on him! And I kept Jared in my Tula for a lot of the time – babywearing has been my new obsession – and he fell fast asleep.

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Jacob was genuinely intrigued when Elmo and his crew came out. He isn’t hugely into Sesame Street but he does know some of the main characters – his favourite is Cookie Monster, of course! Jacob likes to sing “C is for Cookie, that’s good enough for me”.

But we really enjoyed this show – relatable characters and good moral theme to become a superhero by being kind to others. I look forward to seeing more concerts with the kids – maybe the Wiggles or Playschool or even Mister Maker. What concerts do you recommend for preschoolers?

Anyway, I hope to post a bit more over the school holidays and share little snippets of our lives. Enjoy the weekend!

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Giving away your best friend…

It’s been just over a month since we gave away our best friend.

I’ve been trying to write this for ages and somehow I never seemed to be able to find the right words. I might write a poem about her sometime, somewhere, but for now, please forgive my rambling.

We’d been having issues with Skittles escaping for years now. It probably started in her first year of life and we never succeeded at stopping her. She’d always find some new thing to climb or just chew up the barriers we put in place. She got herself into all sorts of trouble – got picked up by the council and even killed chickens in a neighbour’s garden.

We put her on a chain. It would be a temporary measure, we said, because we couldn’t let her keep getting out and being a public nuisance (aside from endangering herself too). The fence was raised. We even tried an electric shock collar barrier. Nothing worked. She stayed on the chain.

Something happened a couple of months ago which escalated things. Our neighbour next door got some rabbits, and naturally, our dog wanted them. We couldn’t even let her off the chain for a supervised play – it was straight over the gap in the fence and over to the hutch.

You know, I’ve cried a lot over this dog. I cried when we first got her and then we had to go to work full time and she was alone and sad all day – so we found her a puppy daycare place, which kinda solved that. I cried when she got out – I was so scared that she could have gotten herself dog-napped or run over. I cried when she killed those chooks because I knew that it was our fault – we hadn’t been taking the escaping issue seriously enough.

I cried the day she jumped the fence and nearly got those rabbits – she had done it before but this particular time, I cried because I had made up my mind about something I’d been thinking about for a very long time – that we probably should rehome her.

I advertised her, met with a few people, but then we met with this family who were looking for a companion dog for their own dog who used to escape and whined all day when they were at work. Their dog seemed like a perfect match for her, so we decided to have a trial period.

In the days to come, I think my mind went on overdrive and I gave it my all. I took her for longer walks than ever before with the boys in tow. I let her come in more often, cooked her fancy meals and gave her lots of treats. I tried harder than I had ever done before, and I was exhausted by the end of it.

Guilt really set in – I’m sure it had been there before but it completely consumed me. I was sorry I didn’t spend enough time with her, that I didn’t walk her enough or spend enough time training her back in the day. I was sorry we didn’t have another dog for her to play with, as she’s such a loving and sociable dog. And I was also sorry about the repercussions on our family – sorry that Jacob and Jared wouldn’t grow up with a dog. Jacob still asks about her and asks when she will come home – it still silently breaks my heart.

The day we gave her away, we skipped church and took her for a walk in the reserve. It wasn’t a long walk as it was drizzling, but it was just memorable all the same. We dropped her off and I reckon she didn’t know any better, like she thought I might have been dropping her off on a playdate or to have someone petsit while we go away.

And then I cried, because I knew I had done the hard thing but the right thing for her. So many times in the days to come did I want to march over there and get her back, but from what they were saying and the photos, they seemed to be having an amazing time. Two dogs joyful in the company of each other, a happy family with a new loving dog. It was only us who would have to bear the sadness.

It’s been just over a month since we gave away our best friend.

Many tears spilled, many moments reminisced, but I need to let her go. I decided to make a video about her, as lame as that sounds, but it has helped me heal. I’ve looked at these pictures so many times, listened to the song (which is Avril Lavigne’s “Hush Hush”) again and again but it still brings twinges of sadness. I hope that it will change one day soon.

But for now, here is my mediocre piece of work (sorry I’m no videographer, I did this in MovieMaker!) but this means the world to me.

Here’s to the good times, Skittles. You will always hold a special place in our hearts.

4 month update

We had Jared’s 4 month check up and immunisations today. He was in such a good mood that I felt so bad to subject him to a needle in each thigh. The GP was amazed at how happy he was to be undressed to be measured and weighed – he loves being changed and laughs when I take his arms out of his sleeves as it tickles him. He’s a merry ol soul!

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So, at 4 months and 1 week, Jared weighs 8.43kg and is 68cm long/tall. He’s on the higher end of the charts, which is great but is also why I have to go back to the chiropractor to get my back adjusted because of all the times I’ve done my back while carrying him.

Another thing I learned today was about the shift in the introduction of solids. Back when I had Jacob, we were told that anytime between 4 and 6 months was fine and to just introduce slowly such as give one food for a few days before trying another food, and to hold back on introducing “high-risk” food that cause allergies such as eggs, dairy, peanuts, etc. But now, it’s pretty much start at 4 months on the dot and introduce a number of things one after the other including things like eggs and nuts, as this actually helps in the scheme of reducing the likelihood of allergies.

Hence Jared has been upgraded to the status of “high chair”. He loved sitting in it but I put in a pillow to prop him as he’s still a bit wobbly. We tried some mashed banana with a bit of BM today – he mainly licked it as he still has the tongue thrust reflex, but I reckon he liked the taste nevertheless. I’m sure he’ll get the hang of it soon!

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I may be biased, but Jared is such a delight. He is just happy most of the time unless there is a reason to be unhappy, such as a dirty nappy or his brother sitting on him. I am looking forward to many more of his milestones – some of the main ones we’ve seen of late are being able to roll from front to back (but not the other way round), sitting up for short periods of time, gooing and gaaing, and just most of the other things babies do at his age.

Also, on a closing note, one thing I love about winter is all the rain. Growing up in the tropics, rain never bothered me, and my body is finally acclimatizing to the cold. Rain equals muddy puddles! We went puddle jumping the other day and found the biggest puddle ever (which he eventually fell into, ugh!).

Have a nice week everyone!

Some toddler life lessons…

We’ve had a number of busy days and late nights, including a staff party, an 18th birthday, singing at an old folk’s home, a church games night and 2 bonfires! I’m actually surprised at how well Jacob is taking all this, without his catch up naps too! But I think I’m going to take it easy the next few days to get him back and rested so he doesn’t just explode on me one day!

But over the past few days, we’ve had quite a few funny moments that really encapsulate life with a toddler, and also have reminded me that one can’t be too careful.

One of these lessons is don’t have permanent markers in your house. Just don’t. Even if they’re hidden in a pencil case in the middle stationery drawer in the study behind closed doors. Because your toddler will find it, and he will use it. This is now our wall calendar – thank goodness it actually was down on the table at the time, not on the wall, otherwise the wall would be blue too!

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Jacob also has a knack of colouring in things that he likes. Like in his colouring books, he’ll full on colour the faces of the things he likes, such as Thomas the Tank Engine’s face or all over Elmo. Here he got hold of some junk mail and has expressed a great preference to a certain bakery item – if you read the small print, it’s iced donuts.

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Another lesson (or more like a fact) is that toddlers sometimes don’t intentionally want to be funny, but they just are. At playgroup, we were discussing Australian animals and the craft for the day was to make an emu with a paper plate and ice cream sticks. Jacob worked hard at it with the other kids and when he was done, he said loudly “The flamingo is finished!!!” I think all us grown ups had a bit of a giggle. Here is his flamingo:

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Also, a quiet toddler is usually a toddler who is up to mischief. I was making breakfast for Jacob and things went quiet – I thought he was in his room, but clearly he was in our room and had climbed into the cot. Yes, those are stickers on Jared’s face. Jared didn’t seem too fussed about it…

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But one important lesson I’ve learned is that my world would be a duller place without my toddler. Happy 2 years and 10 months, Jacob – less than 2 months to your birthday now! Can you believe it? And Jared is 4 months old tomorrow – time flies when you’re having fun!

How do you choose a kindergarten?

Today as part of my blog challenge, I’m going to ask a question and would love some advice from experienced mums who have faced the same decision/dilemma.

Over the past few months, I’ve been doing research on kindergartens for Jacob to go to. In the South Australian education system, children attend kindergarten when they turn 4 (or in the year that they are turning 4, if they’re born before May) and they go to school the following year.

Firstly, before I begin, I just want to mention (particularly to those who know me) that I’d prefer not to publicise where my kids go to school/daycare hence I am not going to mention any names of places (and would appreciate if you didn’t either, but you’re more than welcome to send me a PM on Facebook!).

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We have already decided on our primary school, which is a wonderful school, but unfortunately don’t have an ELC linked to them. The school isn’t too far away from us, but far enough that the kids living in my area may not necessarily attend that school.

I have looked at 4 kindergartens so far which are probably the most logical choices to make (due to a number of factors like distance, etc.).

Kindergarten A

This is the kindergarten that we are zoned to – in the public system, some kindergartens are zoned to residents in the local area and have to take them as a priority. So if I apply, basically I will get in. It’s in a nice location and they are changing the face of the kindy to a more “nature play” based approach (which is what a lot of kindies do anyway). They are a smaller set up with only about 30 kids in each session and we would have to do two full days and one half day (which is convenient, rather than 5 half days).

What I like is that this one is walking distance from our house too so I could walk the dog with Jacob there and/or walk him home. However, the drawback to me is that most of the kids who go there will be going to the primary school right next door to the kindy (but that’s not the one Jacob will be going to) – so would he be making a whole lot of friends and then having to start afresh when he starts school?

Kindergarten B

This is a highly recommended kindergarten and also quite hard to get in – I’ve put Jacob’s name on the waiting list but he may or may not be given a place. It’s not far from us but we’re out of the catchment zone unfortunately (but we can be given second preference as we’re in the area just out of that range). I walked through the place with the Director and absolutely loved it!

I love that they get some exposure to the school environment (they sometimes attend assembly there and they also get to use the school library) which is not available at the other places I looked at. It’s a bigger place with about 60 kids (so twice the educators, and they’re split into 2 classes) but the space they have is considerably bigger so shouldn’t be an issue. However, the issue of continuity is posed again – most of the kids go to the sister primary school next door, whereas Jacob will go elsewhere. Also, it’s not confirmed that I’d get full day sessions (meaning potentially Jacob might have to 5 half days which is a bit annoying in terms of organising my time etc.).

Kindergarten C

This kindergarten follows the montessori method (and is a private kindy, so a bit more costly). I do like the montessori method but am not sure if Jacob needs it (as he is a kinesthetic learner anyway and just goes off and does his own thing, thinks outside the box, etc.) but whether Jacob needs more structure? And something that put me off a bit was the gym next door which was blaring loud disco music right alongside the outdoor play area (not that it really matters, am I being pedantic now?)

I do like that they use the Jolly Phonics program which is the same one used at the school Jacob will go to. Also, the Director of this kindy actually sent her kids to the school Jacob is going to go to, and often a lot of kids from this centre go on to that particular school (so Jacob can move together with his friends). And a bonus is that it’s only 2 full days not 2 and a half days (they get more done in their sessions) and they allow one hour before and one hour after for drop off / pick up.

Kindergarten D

This is another public kindy but was actually recommended by the Principal of the school Jacob is going to – he sent his own kids there. It’s tucked away in a lovely quiet spot and also has a big focus on nature play – I absolutely LOVE that they have a wooden car, boat and lots of cubby houses outside for kids to play in!

I also love that they don’t set their own themes but rather follow the interests of the kids. The Director told me that some kids were interested in light, so they hung crystals in the window and the kids noticed rainbows forming from the refraction, so then they decided to make a gigantic craft rainbow. And they had a little farm set up which was initiated by one of the educators there, so there was also a farm theme with actual little chicks (and they would watch them grow into chickens). However, she says that each year only about a couple of kids go to that particular primary school that I wanted to send Jacob to. And they also have that issue of 5 sessions potentially over 5 days (depending on the availability).

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If you’ve gotten this far, I applaud you and thank you for taking some interest in my dilemma! I might be overthinking it, and they are all very good options, but which do you think would be the best option for Jacob?

I might just mention that I reckon Jacob would flourish at any of these places, so perhaps it’s a question of “which is the best option that would give ME peace of mind?”

I can’t believe that it was not too long ago that he was this tiny demure creature and now my baby’s all grown up and saving China! (Mulan quote, I’m not a Disney geek or anything right?)jacobbb

Over and out. xoxo

Oh no, not more baby photos!

So, I’m nearly halfway through this blog challenge and today was an easy one – a photo post! Only I have to make it complicated for myself, right?

I thought that this would be an amazing opportunity to show you more pics of my kids! I do my best not to compare my kids, but one thing I love to compare is what they looked like at different stages of their life. Hence I’ve put together a few pics of what Jacob and Jared looked like at the same age. (Jacob’s always on the left, Jared on the right)

At birth01 At Birth

At 1 week old02 At 1 week

At 3 weeks old03 At 3 weeks

At 6 weeks old04 At 6 weeks

At 9 weeks old05 At 9 weeks

At about 11 and a half weeks (which is what Jared is today)06 At 11+ Weeks

From all these pictures, I’ve come to the conclusion that Jacob has a HUGE nose!!! Okay it’s not huge but like lately I look at him and think his nose is huge! Maybe because Jared’s nose is small?

Anyway I hope you’ve enjoyed these pics of my darling boys. xoxo

Tanunda Day Out

I love the Barossa Valley but not so much for the fancy wine and diverse local produce. The Barossa does hold a special place in my heart as hubby and I spent our wedding night out at the Novotel Barossa. We cruised into the place in our bright orange car, with the windscreen smeared with lipstick messages written by some of our friends and relatives. I think we had in room dining for dinner, which wasn’t too impressive, but nevertheless it was awesome that we could just stay in and relax after a big day.

We also stayed out there for our Babymoon i.e. our little getaway just before Jacob was born. Here I am at 37 weeks, chilling out right after I finished up at my previous workplace. Yet again, we enjoyed the same beautiful views of the rolling hills and picturesque vineyards.

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We’ve also stayed up in Tanunda previously for Big Camp – it’s a church camp run by the Seventh-day Adventist Church Conference of South Australia, and it’s usually held on the grounds of a school up there. Two years ago, we camped there with Jacob – look how small he was then (and what a happy camper he was)

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Big Camp is running again right now but we opted not to camp as we weren’t sure it would be the best idea with an 8 week old baby (though Jared is such a calm baby that we probably would have survived). There is an option to watch some of the programs via Livestream, which is very handy for families like us who have kids who make too much noise to be in the main program -here is the Livestream link just for interest sake.

We made a couple of trips up there as I was helping with the music for the kids program. There are programs for kids of all ages, but I was particularly impressed by the Beginners program (which is what I was helping with, and is for kids from 0-5). The camp’s general theme is Going Home – the Beginners team took the approach of telling stories of people in the Bible who were displaced of their homes and then were given a promise of home.

To visit these people in the stories, they constructed a Time Machine. They made a big grandfather’s clock with a timeline where they turned the dial back to the time of the story, and then the kids stepped through the time machine, which was in the form of a Narnia-themed wardrobe. The wardrobe led through a dark tunnel with fairy lights that took them to a tent where the Bible character was waiting for them to tell them the story. I love the effort they put in for this and I know the kids really enjoyed the whole experience. I was going to take photos but it’s hard to get photos of things when you have two kids on your hands!

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However, I did get to take photos of food -we went for brunch at a cafe called Red Door Espresso. Initially I wasn’t too impressed as nobody seemed to pay us any attention at all (I literally was saying “Excuse me!” rather loudly to some staff behind the counter who was just staring off into space and munching on something?). But the girl at the cashier (who was busy at that time) was prompt to make up for that once she had finished with her customers, and set us up at a nice table outdoors.

It was a lovely day out but not too hot for a couple of hot drinks! Daniel ordered something called the Ultimate Hot Chocolate? Or something like that anyway, I forgot. I’m not cut out to be a food blogger, but the hot chocolate was sure awesome! He basically had to pour pure chocolate out of a bottle into his cup and then mix in cream to his liking. Beautiful and not too sweet! Here he is constructing it, as Jacob enjoys his babycino.

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And our food arrived – we ordered some all day breakfast options, because we are huge hot brekky fans! Yet again, I have forgotten the names of the dishes but on the left is something like crushed avocado and garlic mushrooms while mine was the duck and veal sausage with tomatoes, poached eggs, rocket, etc. Delicious!! We ordered hash browns for Jacob and just shared some bits and pieces with him – he’s more of a grazer anyway.

But another thing that made this place pretty awesome was the little corner that it had for the little people, and a whole bucket of chalk. No, Jacob didn’t draw all those things but he did have fun scribbling all over what was there. The only bad part was probably the parting – we had a bit of a screaming match when we tried to get him to leave.

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Anyway, if you’re ever up in the Barossa (and you’re not already lunching at Maggie Beer’s Farm, which is like the classic tourist destination), check out Red Door Espresso cafe. A nice touch in the heart of the little country town.

Auf Wiedersehen bis bald!