Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Easter Bunny has come!

On Saturday night we got into Launceston Airport and headed straight to Hobart for the night. Georgina and Damien were down for the weekend and we wanted to catch up with them while they were down. Maddi and Alex had a wonderful time at Mum and Dad's. We got a report from both Mum and Maddi about the experience. Maddi is still telling me about all the great stuff they got up to on the farm, right down to the finer details of what they ate for tea! On Saturday the kids spent the day at Moppy and Poppy's house and were still awake to greet us when we got to Hobart around 9 o'clock.

On Sunday afternoon, the easter bunny paid a visit to Moppy and Poppy's house. Easter bunny knew that Moppy and Poppy are going to be away in Europe over easter, and paid an early visit.
Alex loved his first Easter Egg hunt and kept trying to eat the eggs with the foil on.

Maddi was amazed at where the Easter Bunny hid the eggs. She was amazed that Easter Bunny had put them on the gate and on the car tyres. The Easter Bunny seemed to like Ness' car a lot.

After we collected all the eggs we divided them all up.

Alex loved the eggs and got a bit silly about chocolate. He would come up to us and let us know he was there, and then jump up and down on the spot until we gave him some chocolate! I think he's a born chocoholic. He definitely takes after his parents!

He was so happy about the Easter Bunny's visit that he was on a sugar high!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Weekend Away

On Thursday night we stayed the night at Mum and Dad's to prepare for an early morning start. We had a solid four and a half hour sleep before we got up for our 3.30am start to catch our 6am flight from Launceston. We have never been away from the kids overnight, so it felt like a parents retreat in a way. Maddi was very excited to go and stay at Grandma and Grandpa's house and had been asking all week about going to Grandma and Grandpa's.

When we got to Melbourne we got our hire car and headed straight to the temple and competed with the traffic on the roads. Whenever, we go to the temple, we always bump into someone we know, and this trip was no different. The temple is such a wonderful blessing to us and is such a big part of our lives that we make a goal to attend the temple every year. We spent such a wonderful and memorable morning there.

After the temple we headed to Knox City for some lunch, and then went to Alex's favourite shop in Melbourne-Hawk's Nest. We came out with a couple of bags of merchandise, and saved ourselves a bit of money as we used some of the vouchers that we had for being club members.

We then headed to Perry and Loretta's house to pick Perry up. Perry showed us a good place in the city to park, on St Kilda Road and it was right next to the Grand Prix. For a while I thought I was hearing motorbikes, and then we realised what all the noise was about. We did a did a bit of sight seeing around the city before our dinner reservation at Melba.
Perry was the perfect tourist guide and knew where all the shortcuts were.

Some Shady looking characters!

Outside Hague's chocolate shop

Flinder's Street Station

Melba was a wonderful buffet restarant, that had such a diverse range of foods. There was a lot of variety and I regretted eating so much seafood as I didn't get to try everything. The best thing there was a great Indian Chef that made a specialised Naan bread. He made me a lamb naan bread that was so delicious that it melted in your mouth. By the time I got to dessert I was so full that I could only fit in two desserts. But I think we got our money's worth after eating so much smoked salmon and King Prawns!

The dessert bar

We finished eating tea at 7 and allowed ourselves 40 minutes to get to the game. We had a quick change of dress for the footy as we didn't really think our football gear would meet up to the dress code of the restraunt! Perry is a Kangaroos fan and we managed to get him to wear some Hawks gear. I was under strict instructions not to put any photos on facebook though, as his Melbourne mates would give him such a hard time. I was secretly hoping that we would bump into one of his mates, but it didn't happen.

We walked the streets of Melbourne and headed to the MCG. There were lots of other people heading to the MCG and when a Hawks supporter would see another supported they would exchange some cheeing with "Go Hawka!" in the most manly voice! There was such a good spirit in the air. We caugh a tram that was packed like sardines and because we were one of the last to get on, we were right next to the door which made it awkward to give room for those who were getting off.

When we got to the MCG the atmosphere was electric. It was Alex's first visit to the MCG and he was pumped! Our seats were on the top stand up the front, but were actually quite good.

Some crazed Hawks fans!

We were still smiling after the game had finished

It was an awesome game, even though they didn't win. The last quarter was really exciting as Hawthorn seemed to be making a comeback but didn't quite get there. They did so well even though they had a lot of injured players. The result was still good. The game seemed to go really quick and it was really enjoyable just to hear the crown cheering. We made our walk back to the car after the game and cut through Federation Square. Some people even gave us condolences as they had heard that Geelong had won.

We got back to Perry and Loretta's close to midnight and slept really well. It was so strange not to have any children waking us up, and was different to wake up when we were ready to wake. We went to the Cheltenham DFO which was just a 5 minute drive from Perry and Loretta's and did a bit of shopping. I got the kids some clothes and Maddi is all set with a winter wadrobe now. I love shopping for kids clothes but found a lot more to buy for Maddi than Alex as the shops tend to have a wide selection of girls clothes and not so much for boys. Loretta and I went off shopping together and the boys shopped together and we all ended up picking up some bargains.

We headed to a local Cafe near Perry and Loretta's house for lunch. It had the nicest lemon tart that I had ever had. We sat outside and it was really relaxing to chat and slow down a little from the busyness of the day before. It had been a while since we last saw Perry and Loretta, as they were backpacking around South-East Asia when we went to Melbourne in November. It was good to be able to catch up to where we left off.

We then made one more shopping stop at Southland Westfield and said our goodbyes to Perry and Loretta. We had such a fantastic couple of days full of lots of memories. We did miss the kids, but it was nice not to have to worry about them and to be able to fit in so much into the days. We made sure we got them a little present each. I always remember Mum and Dad would get us a special present when they would go away, and they would keep their eyes open for a present that we would request. I wanted to keep the little family tradition going.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Toilet Train

It's been a long hard slog of toilet training for Maddi. It all started back in October with small steps of being aquainted with the potty and using the potty chart. Maddi quickly filled her potty chart up with stickers and got her rewards. Then with November being such a busy month we put Maddi back in nappies and thought we'll come back to it later. We were barely home in November, and December rolled around quickly with christmas and all of the events leading up to the New year, that I put the potty training on the backburner. Maddi heard the phrase "toilet training" a lot over the last 6 months as Alex and I would talk about it, and she would refer to it as "the toilet train." It all seems like a very appropriate phrase now as it as been a long journey like it would be on a slow and steady train trip!

Back in January I was SO over changing Maddi's nappy and thought Maddi was so capable of using the toilet. It seemed to be the right time with the warmer weather and we had no commitments on, so there was no excuses to why Maddi wasn't toilet trained yet. The hard slog all really started on the 19th of January when the Australian Open was on. I thought there's no turning back now, we're going to give this toilet training business two dedicated weeks of training while the tennis is on. I felt very housebound that week, but was glad that I was able to clean the kids cupboards and organise the kitchen cupboards while we were home.

The first week Maddi was in pants during the day and there was far more accidents than what was actually in the potty! I lost count of how many accidents there were. It was tiring and discouraging for me more than Maddi. I would be cleaning the accidents and changing pants while trying to keep Little Alex out of the mess. For some reason Little Alex likes to be involved in all the toilet action! In the past he has always being by my side when I go to the toilet and he was no different with his sister!

Maddi wasn't phased by all the accidents and I began to wonder if it was the wrong timing and that I was just wasting our time and energy. I'd read a lot about readiness with toilet training. I was on the phone to different people about it and they told me about their experiences with it, and they told me "they eventually just get it, and it all clicks." I thought I'm going to give this another solid week and hopefully she'll be fully toilet trained by the end of the week. By the second week things had improved a lot, which was a bit more encouraging for me things improved slowly and there was no way she was fully toilet trained.

We got adventurous the second week and went on daily outings. It sort of felt like we were both on parole as it had been so long since we had been away from the house! I would be constantly asking Maddi if she needed to go to the toilet and would make her go to save the embarassment for us. Luckily she liked the novelty of using public toilets, which most people hate! There were no accidents as we would go out as I would make sure she used the toilet reguarly. The rewards were then eventually phased out after that week as Maddi needed to learn that going to the toilet was a routine and that it wasn't all about rewards.

For the last 7 weeks it's been two steps forward and one step back. Daily accidents of number two's have been a norm, and the only time she wouldn't have an accident was if I noticed her signs. People would reguarly ask me how it was going and usually at the time it was going alright. I would tell them it was going well, then right in front of me she would make a liar out me! It was much more to my embarassment than hers.

I never put Maddi back in nappies unless it was sleep time or for a long drive, as I believed I would be sending her mixed messages. It was all a very unpleasant experience to have to change Maddi's underpants everyday. Also it was very time consuming to go through the whole cleaning process of informing people that she had had an accident if we were in a public place. We also had to be on the search to find the nearest toilet. It was always at the most inconvenient times that an accident would happen. But really there is no convenient time with kids! I reacon I have become aquainted with most public toilets on the north west coast now! Spare underpants were always packed. The only way to prevent an accident was if I was monitoring her closely and would recognise the signs.

There were no regular times that Maddi would go to the toilet. I would sit Maddi on the toilet half an hour after meals and she would get impatient after 5 minutes even if she had some books with her. In the meantime Little Alex would pound the door and want to join us and would cry until we came out. Most of the time we would try to sneak away without Little Alex realising, but after a few minutes he knew exactly where we were and would get upset if he wasn't with us. Maddi also never wanted me to leave her side. As soon as I would leave the bathroom, she would panic and say "come back", even if I just left the bathroom for a second. Then she would leap off the toilet and give up and there was no way she was going to sit on the potty again in that sitting.

I learnt that I couldn't monitor Maddi's toilet signs all the time, expecially in public as I was often distracted with other things. Maddi needed to recognise the sensation herself to be toilet trained and it was going to take more than me asking and reminding her to go to the toilet all day. Maddi got so sick of me asking if she needed to go to the toilet that she would say "no thanks" without even thinking about if she needed to go or not! I began to envisage Maddi going to kindergarten still doing number two's in her underpants! It was all very frustrating as it was hard not to show my dissapointment, yet I still had to be positive and enouraging too and it seemed as though she didn't care at all about accidents or if she had success (unless there was a reward).

HOWEVER, a few weeks ago I think it all started to click and it all came just at the right time, when I was loosing patience and getting really discouraged. It all started last week when Dad popped in for a visit. He offered to take Maddi out for the afternoon and I said to Maddi that if she was going to go out, she must go to the toilet before she goes out with Grandpa. (I hated to picture any one else dealing with the mess other than me!). To my surpise she said " Yes! I'll go and do poos." I was amazed at how compliant she was and she went off and did her business and we had a lovely surpise in the potty! I was relieved to know that the likelihood of her having an accident on Grandma was very slim. Since then she has just got it and has not had accident for over a week!

Maddi now takes herself to the toilet, and announces to us, "i'm going to do poos, you stay here." She goes off to the toilet and shuts the door for a bit of privacy and calls out to me when she's done. I am a bit amazed that it has finally happened and there has been no going back (fingers crossed!). I think when little Alex turns 18 months we will have to work on his toilet training early. I hear that boys are much harder to toilet train than girls. Hopefully I will forget about what hard work it was and be positive and enthusiastic with him when it's his turn! I never actually read a whole book dedicated to potty training, but would appreciate any comments if you've got some advice for potty training boys. Maybe the next time I write a post on potty training it will be a whole different story! I can only hope that Little Alex will be like a bullet train in his toilet training! I'm so glad it's finally happened!

Our most recent photo of our toilet trained girl.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Relief Society Birthday

Last night was our first ward enrichment activity for the year. We had a Women for All seasons birthday party to commemorate the 167th birthday of the Relief Society organisation. There was a good turnout with around 33 people there, and it was a fun and relaxed evening with good company. We sat in seasonal birthday tables, and the tables were decorated to represent each season. The sisters that decorated the tables did a wonderful job, and went to great effort to make each table distict It was great to see the contrast in the seasonal decorations. Some sisters dressed in their seasonal birthday clothing, so there were sarongs, hats, mittens, gloves, floral prints and jackets worn on the evening. My favourite season is summer, but I do have an appreciation for all the seasons, because if there was no contrast in the seasons I wouldn't appreciate summer as much as I do.

The summer table had a beach theme and looked great with little umbrellas in each persons glass and was relaxed and casual.

The winter table used white and blue as their colours and had lovely handmade snowflake placecards. Brystal and Ellen who were on this table were used to having a white winter as they are from England and the US, and found it really hard to adjust to their birthdays falling in winter (as they were always in summer) when they moved to Tasmania a couple of years ago.

The autumn table looked very elegant and beautiful.

The spring table was bright and colourful.

I am a spring birthday girl, so I sat on the spring table with 7 others. We ate jacket potatoes for tea with fillings and black forest cake for dessert.

We did some cake decorating that allowed each table to decorate freely with a limited number of ingredients Below is the summer table decorating their cake.

The summer table made a beach cake which fit with their tables theme.

The spring table into their decorating. Becky had steady hands to write on our cake.

Apparently (before my time), there was a Relief Society magazine. Our cake was a page from the Relief Society Magazine.

The autumn table decorated their cake very swiftly.

A beautiful flower cake made by the autumn table.

The winter table hard at work

A beautiful butterfly cake was made by the winter table.

The cakes all looked great and it was easy to see that there are some very creative and talented women in the ward. It's amazing what people can come up with in 20 minutes!

We played games with members from our seasonal tables. We were involved in a vigorous relay of doing tasks of what they did in the early Relief Society Days. We have some very competitive women in the ward that cheered their team mates on while they did some of the tasks such as sewing buttons on, peeling potatoes and hammering nails, sack racing, hoop rolling etc. I had to whistle a hymn and it was hard to hear what was coming out of my mouth as their was so much noise from all the cheering! It was a fun night and it was great that everyone all worked together on clean up. Many hands make light work.