Saturday, March 17, 2012

The glass half full...

This past week has seen some real lows, feeling exhausted and down, and yet I can say I am thankful for having 3 gorgeous, healthy children and a gorgeous, funny, very supportive husband.  It also helped working out that Mr One year old's grizzliness, night time wakings and extended crying, clinginess etc. had something to do with him cutting his third tooth and a molar at that.

I am thankful for being able to look out my window right now and see blue sky, a green vegie patch and chooks happily scratching around.  The last one being especially cool.

I am thankful  for God's grace, that even when I can't see how I can possibly cope with more, I can trust that He will somehow help me through.  I don't have to have it all figured out.

And here are some photos from the beginning of March of our weekend down south.  Early morning bbq breakfast at the beach, lots of swimming and climbing over rocks, ice creams at Simmos and catching up with a good friend.  Seeing these happy faces makes me smile!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Trouble falling asleep? 12 Ways to Help You Sleep Better

Are you like me and call yourself a poor sleeper?  That even when you know you have a full day ahead of you and need the rest, you can't seem to fall asleep.  And even though you know you will probably be woken up at least once during the night so you really need to rest, you can't go to sleep.  When you try to get to bed at an early time, you can still end up lying there for a hour or more...

Ok, that is me!  Most nights I am woken at least once by one of the kids, start the day anytime between 5am and 6am  and though I try to get to bed by 10am I still have trouble falling asleep.  So here are some of the ideas I am trying at the moment.

1.  Going to bed the same time every evening.
This one doesn't happen all that often for me because of having things on in the evenings.  So bedtime is anytime between 9.30pm and 11.00pm.  I'd prefer earlier rather than later.

2.  Getting up at the same time every morning.
Apparently this idea is meant to make the most difference with a good night's sleep.  It's to do with re-setting your body clock in the mornings.  However in this season of life I let the baby wake me up.  Any extra sleep I can have in the morning I will take.  But wake up time is generally between 5am and 6am.

3.  Take only short naps during the day if needed.
At the moment I do take a nap if I can while the kids are resting/ sleeping in the afternoon.  It helps me keep going to the end of the day without getting too grumpy or impatient.  Yes, my naps are probably too long, about 1 hour, since most would say a nap is between 10 and 30 mins long.  Obviously if you have too much sleep during the day it affects how you sleep at night.  Hmm, saying this, there are some people in life like hubby who can disregard all these ideas and still fall asleep quickly at night.  Just a little bit of sleep jealously here! :)

4.  Low lights in the evening.
Ok since I have gone back to dimming the lights at night I feel I have had some improvement with sleeping.  In the evenings I make sure most of the lights are off and use the table lamps we have in the bedroom and in the lounge room.  Why is this important?  Apparently we secrete a hormone called melatonin which helps us fall asleep and stay asleep.  Light suppresses melatonin secretion and darkness increases it.  So it is a good idea to be exposed to less light several hours before going to bed.  This leads to the next idea...

5.  Reduce or eleminate screen time in the evenings.
Computer screens give out a lot of light especially blue light which affects melatonin secretion.  So lately I have been trying to turn off the computer by 8pm.  Ok I admit sometimes I eek it out to 8.30pm.  Part of my reasoning for less screen time in the evenings is not just to do with sleep.  I have been telling myself that a lot of what I want to do on the computer (research, emails etc.) could be done in the morning and that I am more productive in the mornings anyway.

6.  Avoid eating within 2 hours of going to bed.
But if you are like me and feeling hungry can also stop you falling asleep then there are some foods that are better to eat.  Obviously, have a snack and not a meal right before bed.  Some foods that encourage the body to relax and sleep better are milk, bananas, almonds, cheese, whole grain toast and oats.  So have a cup of warm milk and an oat biscuit or cheese on wholemeal toast.  

7.  Avoid having caffeine after 3pm.
This is one idea that I am really strict about because it makes such a big difference to me getting to sleep or not.  On occasion I have a had a cup of tea about 4pm and I am wide awake at bedtime despite being very tired.  I have also found that green tea, even though it contains a lot less caffeine, still affects me.  I don't even bother with coffee.  :)  

8.  Exercise
The bane of my life! :)  I know this idea is good for me but fitting into my day to day routine at the moment and being motivated... another story.  But if are unlike me, apparently vigourous (aerobic) exercise in the late afternoon/ early evening affects sleep the most positively over exercising earlier in the day.  Though not within 3 hours of going to bed because it is actually too stimulating.  Exercise raises the body temperature and our body temperatures need to be lower to induce sleep.  Exercise, of course has loads of other health benefits!

9.  Lower your body temperature.
A great way to do this is to take a hot bath/ shower 1 1/2 hours to 2 hours before bedtime.  Avoid a hot bath/shower right before bedtime.  This works for me!

10.  Create a bedtime routine.
Apparently doing the same things every night 30 to 60 minutes before going to bed can help.  I am working on this idea because I have realised I don't have a consistent night time routine.  I use to give myself 10 minutes to get ready for bed, still working up until then and then collapse in bed.  One thing I do now is allow myself  light reading time before turning the lights off.  I just have to learn to be disciplined with my reading time and not read for so long.

11.  Get direct sunlight in the early morning.
I love this idea because I am one that tends to be up early in the morning and I love being outside.  Apparently having exposure to sunlight between 6.00am and 8.30am for at least 30 minutes is really important for re-setting your internal biological  clock.  Our biological clocks which are located in a section of the brain have a natural day length of just over 24 hours.  They need to be re-set to match the day length of the day/night cycle.  Light is key to that. This means I have more reason to enjoy feeding the chooks, watering the vegie gardening, hanging washing out in the early morning and appreciate my kids waking me up so early.

12.  Learn to deal with stressors in your life.
Personally I'm often kept awake at night by stressful, anxious thoughts.  We do have a considerable amount of stressors in our life right now, some of which I cannot do much about.  So  this is an area I am leaving be for the moment and instead I am trying some of the easier to implement ideas above.

Well I hope you find this this helpful with your sleeplessness and you are able to get some more zzzzzzz!

What do you like to do to help you get to sleep at night?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Free People in Parks Event

Our local city council like other councils in Perth organises free outdoor events during the summer months. Before kids we use to go along to the concert events. Well now with kids we get along to the events which have a petting zoo and face painting. :)  I reckon it is a great idea to get everyone outdoors and having some fun on a lovely summer evening.

So this past Sunday hubby took the two oldest kids down to the local park.  I must say it was a trip squeezed in between finding a shop that did passport photos on a Sunday (when almost everything is CLOSED in Perth) and trying to get them to eat dinner.  They managed a short visit and this is the result.

Check out the face painting.
Miss K's face painted with a beautiful butterfly.
Shaan with a bee, his choice.
"Yeh Trixie I don't like the look of these two kids approaching. "
More animals to pat.
Patting the baby goats,  I mean kids.
Thanks Dad for taking us to People in Parks!

Well then it was just a matter to taking two VERY excited kids home, getting them ready for bed and off to sleep straight away. Oh I didn't mention that they also got to touch a snake right up close. Both of them and that was Shaan's favourite thing for the day, he later told me.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Golden Orb Weaving Spider

Ok about time to post something... After a week away with the kids visiting family and friends and then coming back and getting Kalyani ready for the new school term and Dhiraj settled in for his first day of family day care, well I am just not as motivated or energised as I would like to be. Anyway here are a few photos taken while we were away.

Umm, yeh we had a few early morning sessions at local parks.  It was one way of keeping the kids occupied from 5am onwards and not disturbing other people who were still sleeping.  I think we still did disturb them!  With such a hot week while we were away it was a lovely time of day to be outdoors.

Ok not a holiday shot.  Instead this one is of one of our resident spiders who happens to have his web in the bushes outside our front door.  It's a golden orb weaving spider so named because of the golden colour of some of the web it spins.  What amazes me about this one is that it has made its web in an open area and so is exposed to the weather.  While many other spiders around the house are seeking relief from the heat, this one seems not to be affected by it.

A chook update:  everyone helped me move mother hen and her much bigger chickens (2 months old now) into the main pen this week.  See this post for photos of when they first hatched.  Surprisingly they all seem to have adjusted well including my older hens with only a few minor peckings to re-establish the social order.  I reckon the chooks actually enjoy being part of a bigger social group rather than a smaller group and for me, it is less work looking after one pen rather than two.  I also enjoy them a lot, seeing them all scratching for food and moving around etc.  In the early evening my treat is to go out, sit and watch them.  I find it calming in comparison to caring for kids all day. :)

Oh if you are interested in a really quick and easy meal using lentils and vegies, called Indian dhal, check out the recipe at The Curried Aussie.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Starting Toilet Training

This week I started... toilet training with Shaan and stopped!  Ok I know you are not meant to do that.  But I ran out of motivation after the first day with no success.  One thing I tried this time was using rewards for staying dry and clean rather than whether he went in the toilet or not.  A much less frustrating process for both of us because he could be rewarded frequently during the day after he checked his pants were dry.  I really don't think he is ready yet though especially  if I want him to be trained within a few days.  Toilet training K was such a long, drawn out affair with a lot of stubbornness involved and I don't want to go through that again.  So even though my pride would like him to be toilet trained now, I think I will wait until the next school holidays in April to try again.  Or more signs of readiness.

This week I visited... our local child health nurse to have Dhiraj weighed.  Just a spur of the moment thing because even though he has been sick lately, his eating has been all over the place.  He wieghed in at approx 200g lighter than the last visit at 8 months which is a bit concerning.  So yes he does need to put on some weight and apparently the answer is more carbs.  I had been giving him too many servings of fruit and vegetables a day and not enough of the breads, pasta and rice.  Thankfully it's a fairly easy change to make.

This week... I scrapbooked for the first time in a very, long time.  It's an interest that I have wanted to get back into after stopping just after Dhiraj was born.  So it has been put on my weekly planner and yeh this week I actually did a bit.  Alongside my daughter who was very enthusiastic to see me get out my craft supplies.  In the end I got re-elagated to one end of the desk as she took over most of my desk with her craft work.  Oh the mess! :)

This week I decided... to have screen free time for the kids.  They had been watching something each morning while Dhiraj was napping for up to a hour and I got some time to myself.  But then on top of that K has been watching a few Disney movies during her rest time.  Really I find that a lot of them deal with very serious adult concepts like betrayal, rejection, death etc in the context of an entertaining story.  So I thought it would be healthy for all of us to have a break.  I am trying to not watch anything at night from Mon-Thurs and instead work on things like scrapbooking as mentioned above and my blogging.    The kids have done well with it and have played outside more.  So far I have done ok with not having that time to myself in the mornings.  Ok I am really missing that time now!  

This week and well the last few months I have been struggling with... menu planning.  Since the weather has gotten warmer I have had less idea of what to cook and less motivation too.  A lot of the dishes I was cooking on a regular basis just aren't great summer dishes.  Like chicken curry- yum!  Lately hubby has been commenting on the lack of planning with my meals.  He reckons I have been making lots of strange dishes. Ok some days I do just go to the fridge, have a look in, see what needs using up and try and make something from that.  But still... I then suggest I could cook meat and vegetables for him every night.  No chilli!  The interaction goes down hill from there.So this week I've been thinking about summer staples and what in particular appeals to the taste of my family members.  I did a couple of spicy salads- yum!   Check out the The Curried Aussie for the latest recipes.

What does your family like eating during summer?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Financial Diversification for Families

 This past week I've been reading... about financial diversification in building a personal investment portfolio.  Just for the fun of it.  :)  Apparently buying an investment property in the same suburb in which you live is not considered diversification. Why is it an important concept to get? Because it minimises your risks when investing long term so that you can get the best returns and not lose money and go bankrupt. Ok that sounds important! It's interesting because what I would have considered diversification- having an investment property and a small portfolio of shares is not diversified at all. For shares, it's suggested that a minimum of 15-20 shares is a good start. Ok it just means that for us we are a long way off before we can start that kind of portfolio. Arhh – all the good ideas I have!  Obviously if I want to get into the market before then I need to go for a managed fund.  Maybe that's why average Aussies are encouraged to pay off their mortgage on their home first (as there are no tax deductions unlike the interest on investment loans. What's our government thinking!) and then salary sacrifice into super (taxed at 15%).

This week I've been able to... stand a little straighter. Yeh- that means my back muscles are not so tight. Still got a long way to go though! And I did 4 mins of cycling! Boy, did that tire me out. :) 

This week I gave into... Miss 5 yr old's pleas for us to do some cooking or more specific make cookies.  Find the recipe I used here at The Curried Aussie.  She wanted to use some cookie cutters I had bought at Christmas time to do some Christmas baking. One of those great ideas that I didn't end up having time or energy for. Maybe both! They had a ball (ha,ha!) rolling out their dough and surprisingly they didn't taste test much as they went along!

Miss K's beautiful creations!

This week we have seen the end of (thankfully!!) ... Miss K getting over a very yucky tummy bug. So thankful that she's improving and not waking at night anymore. At the same time Dhiraj had about 4 days of crying, more like screaming on and off all day and only sleeping for 40 mins at a time during the day.  Consequently he was a very overtired and clingy baby and it was hard to tell whether he was sick or extremely overtired or teething etc. After a few exhausting days of this I was thinking of taking him to the doctor and just saying, my baby won't stop crying since there didn't seem to be anything else wrong with him. Thankful he's back to his sunny self, eating better again and his sleep has improved.  And still no teeth!

This past week we enjoyed... our first trip to the beach for the summer season.  It has taken us a lot longer than usual to get there this year but we finally did even if it was just a brief 20 min visit.  So beautiful!

Ok only Hit and Kalyani went down to the water and the instructions were "Do Not Get Wet!".  Hmm- so this is what really happened!  The girl loves the water!

I don't like being in the car, Mummy!
This past week I tried out some ideas... for organising my blog writing. It's something I have struggled with for ages, finding regular time to focus on my blogging. Then wrestling with whether it's something that should be a priority in my life at all.  Over the last few months I have been working on putting into place habits and routines that mean I am much more in control of daily household tasks, meals etc. The hope is that I can make some time each day to focus on my own activities.  This past week I tried to focus on writing posts for about 30 mins each morning while the older two were watching a show and  Dhiraj was sleeping. It sort of worked except for the mornings when I was interrupted too much to get a lot done.

Quick Blogging Update:
I am planning to give this blog a bit more attention this year.  I am hoping to post at least twice a week on a variety of topics relevant to women and families.  It does feel like a big challenge for where I am at!  However I would love that my thoughts and ideas, stories and photos would be encouraging to you on your life journey. :)  Love you to sign up to follow my blog.

How do you organise your day or week to have time for personal interests? 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A blue, banded bee in the vegie garden!

My buy of the week in the post Christmas sales... a 120cm brand new Christmas tree for $3.25.  Much to Miss 5 yr old's disappointment I didn't put up our table top tree this year at Christmas time.  The last few years I got tired of wandering around the house picking up Christmas tree decorations and putting them back on the tree.  Plus I wanted a bigger tree.  So in my only post Christmas very short, try and keep 3 kids happy and together, shopping trip I got this Christmas tree bargain.

My find of the week...  a blue, banded bee.  Apparently the unusual looking white and black bee that's been hanging around my vegie garden is not a rogue bee after all but a native one.   Even better is that this bee is an efficient pollinators of plants such as tomatoes and chilli because it uses a technique called buzz pollination to release more pollen from the anthers.  Yeh more tomatoes for us to eat!  

My love of the week and always...  11 months old and such a darling!

Book of the week... Growing Great Girls by Ian and Mary Grant.  I've only read a few chapters so far but it is such an encouraging read.  Love this quote from a single Mum talking about her attitude to raising her daughters on her own.

"I could model martyrdom and live with bitterness on a daily basis, or I could show my daughters something different.  I decided that I would choose a path for myself, one that would be about learning and growing and becoming all that I could be, and hopefully that would show to my girls an attitude that would set them up for a healthy life."  What an awesome perspective!

Challenge of the week... difficulty standing up straight and being in a lot of pain with my back.  Shuffling, shuffling!  I feel like this ongoing challenge in my life is bringing me to the end of myself and beyond.  There are days I feel I don't have the physical capacity to look after my kids, my home, myself and yet I do...  I am working out that my capacity is indeed stretchable.

Thankful for this week... God's Word!  Oh and a few days of cooler weather.  Summer has been feeling a lot like the winter months.  All of us cooped up inside because its too hot to play outside, getting frazzled with each other.  So lovely to be able to enjoy being outside during the day when the weather is not so stinkin' hot!