Saturday, 15 September 2012

Day 8 - 20 Days to Organise & Clean your home Challenge

I am participating in the The Organised Housewife's 20 Days to Organise & Clean your home Challenge. If you haven't already signed up, it's not too late to start! Just follow this link to subscribe.

It is Saturday night and I have FINALLY completed Wednesday's (Day 8) challenge focus area which was A ROOM OF YOUR CHOICE. You can find all the information you need know about Day 8's challenge tasks here.

CLEAN kids toy room, craft room, spare room or extra living room (one only).

This is one of the few occasions that I'm thankful that we don't live in a huge house ... less to clean! We live in quite a small house by today's McMansion standards (3 bed, 1 bath) so most of the room's in our house are dual purpose. Our living room is also the toy room, Master two-and-a-bit's room is also the office and Master almost-one's room is also the guest bedroom.
So for this task, instead on focusing on another room, I just tidied up previous areas we've covered and got everything back in order after my two days of work. It took me a bit longer than I expected (hence why I'm writing this post on Saturday night!) and I'm amazed at how quickly the house deteriorates if I don't stay on top of things!

DE-CLUTTER kids toys

Yay! I've been looking forward to this challenge as the kid's toys are really starting to overtake our lounge room. I found a spare plastic box, put books and toys that aren't currently being used in it and then put it under the house. I wasn't able to get the same sized baskets (from K-Mart) to match the ones we already had so ended up buying 5 new red canvas baskets from Bunnings and they fit perfectly! I think black would have looked a bit more stylish but the red goes with our couch cushions and a canvas above our TV so doesn't look too out of place. The books and toys are now sorted into categories, I just need to make some tags so hopefully they stay that way!

ORGANISE family responsibility system

I want my boys to be responsible and independent from a young age so have been gently encouraging Master two-and-a-bit since he was about 18 months old to help with daily chores according to his interests. I also found that I was using up valuable time while the boys were asleep doing chores, so decided to incorporate them into their awake hours so they learn that things just don't magically happen while they sleep! He currently helps with the following tasks:
- unpack the dishwasher (and not a single break yet!)
- recycling into the bin
- puts things in the bin and takes the recycling out
- puts his dirty clothes in washing basket in the bathroom- helps feed our dog and our two new pet chickens!
- pick up toys (he's going through a great "packing away" phase at the moment)
- collects the mail
- help bring the bins in after collection day

NEW HABIT tidy a shelf (in kid's bedroom) every 2-3 nights
I think this is a great idea and will hopefully mean less work when we tackle the kid's bedrooms in future challenges. The boy's don't have built-in's in their rooms so I'm using an Ikea Billy bookcase to store Master two-and-a-bit's clothes. Even after tidying these shelves it is quite obvious he has way too many clothes, so another item to put on my to-do list is to downsize his clothes collection.

5 MINUTES ONLY revisit the main bedroom
I love that our bedroom now only takes 5 minutes to get back into shape and I can't believe I resisted making our bed each day for so long :)

We have a big week coming up this week, with Master almost-one having his 1st Birthday party here at home on Saturday, which we just found out is the same morning he starts swimming lessons with his big brother. With organising and catering for the party as well as working an extra day this week, I have realised I can't do it all so I'm having this week off challenges. I hope everyone has a fabulous week and I'm looking forward to getting back into challenges next week!

Mel xx

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Day 7 - 20 Days to Organise & Clean your home Challenge

I am participating in the The Organised Housewife's 20 Days to Organise & Clean your home Challenge. If you haven't already signed up, it's not too late to start! Just follow this link to subscribe.

It is Tuesday night and I have just completed today's (Day 7) challenge focus area which was the FRIDGE. You can find all the information you need know about Day 7's challenge here.

CLEAN the fridge
As you can see from the before photo my fridge needed a big clean out. It was dirty, cluttered and I was struggling to find old items and fit in new ones. I started out by taking everything out and separating it all into two piles - keep and throw away. Above is my throw away pile and is comprised of items past their used by date or fresh items no longer very fresh! I was really disappointed to see how much food I was throwing away and I am hoping that by doing weekly meal planning I can prevent wastage like this.
I then washed all of the shelves and vegie crispers, and wiped down the inside of the fridge before returning the shelves back into place. I tried to place like items, such as jars of curry paste, together to make it easier to find things in the future. I'd also like to try The Organised Housewife's method of storing cut vegetables in Tupperware instead of the vegie crispers in the hope of them lasting that bit longer.

DE-CLUTTER cookbooks.

I really like cookbooks but am finding myself referring to them less and less as I use the internet to access recipes. All I have to do is find a recipe I like and then just take my laptop into the kitchen with me and follow the recipe straight from screen.
So I sorted through my collection and put all of the magazines out for recycling, found a new home for all of my Weight Watchers information and cookbooks, and put some books aside for donation. While the remaining books look tidy, I know I probably need to reduce this number further. I am going to track which books I use over the next few months and then do a further cull.

ORGANISE meal planning

I began meal planning a couple of months ago and now sit down every Sunday night and plan a week of meals before I do the grocery shopping on Monday. This is my plan for this week:

Monday: Satay chicken with vegies on rice
Tuesday: Crispy chicken soft tacos
Wednesday: Thai pumpkin soup and toast
Thursday: Beef ravioli with a tomato and herb sauce and garlic bread
Friday: Homemade beef burgers with caremlised onion and salad
Saturday: Basil pesto pasta with chicken, pine nutes and parmesan
Sunday: Left overs

NEW HABIT meal plan once a week, fortnight of month

As I already meal plan weekly, I'm going to give doing it fortnightly a try and see how I go!

5 MINUTES ONLY wipe over kitchen appliances

I finished off today's challenge with a quick wipe over of the appliances that remain on my benchtop using a damp Norwex Antibacterial Envirocloth. Probably not as shiny as if I had used a stainless steel product but they still look pretty good :)
Tomorrow's focus area is a room of your choice e.g. toy room, craft room, spare bedroom, extra living room etc. Just like last week, I'm having two days off challenges while I head off to work, but I will be back and ready to roll on Friday! Our house is quite small so most of our rooms have dual purposes. Our lounge room is also where all of the boy's toys are kept so the toy section of this room is what I've chosen for Friday.
Mel xx


Day 6 - 20 Days to Organise & Clean your home Challenge

I am participating in the The Organised Housewife's 20 Days to Organise & Clean your home Challenge. If you haven't already signed up, it's not too late to start! Just follow this link to subscribe.
It is Tuesday and I completed Monday's (Day 6) challenge focus area which was THE BATHROOM this morning as I had some terminal computer issues yesterday that set me way back. Luckily we were able to get it going long enough to save all of our precious photos. I started on the bathroom last night once the kids were in bed and completed it this morning. You can find all the information you need know about Day 6's challenge here.

CLEAN the bathroom & toilet
Mould tends to build up very quickly in our bathroom so first of all I started by spraying all mouldy areas with Selleys Rapid Mould Killer. This is really nasty stuff but it's the only product I've found that tackles hard to remove black mould. I then left it to do its thing while I put the floor mats in the wash, soaked the shower curtain in Nappy San, cleaned the mirror and taps with Earth Choice window cleaner and cleaned the vanity and bath with Earth Choice multipurpose cleaner. I then used a Oates grout brush to scrub all of the grout, then finished off by washing down all of the tiles with water and going over them with a Norwex kitchen scrub cloth.
Then it was onto the toilet. There was mould on the walls so out came the Selleys Rapid Mould Killer again. While it was working, I cleaned the toilet and Master two-and-a-bit's toilet stand with Domestos, wiped down the window sill, bin and toilet brush, and restocked the toilet roll holder. I then wiped down the walls with a wet cloth. I also added a small carboard box for femine hygiene products (I got this idea from Tiny Gray's post "What to do with lady things?") and a lemongrass diffuser to the window sill.

DE-CLUTTER the bathroom vanity bench

As you can see from the pictures above, I just put everything that should be on the vanity away, leaving on a candle, soap dispenser and toothbrush holder. I don't like how toothbrush holder's always get yucky so quickly so I've been searching for one with drainage holes. The best I could come up with was a wire pencil holder which is working well but I have just noticed some rust on the bottom of it so that's not ideal. I really like the the suction cup one The Organised Housewife featured so might think about getting one of those and drilling some holes in the bottom. Then I can just wipe any drips up as I'm wiping down the bench each day.

ORGANISE a shower caddy

Next time I'm at the shops I'm going to look for a little basket to make up a shower caddy of my own. I'm going to store it above the shower so the kids can't get to it.

NEW HABIT clear and wipe bathroom vanity

Starting tonight I am going to put away everything left on the vanity and wipe down the surfaces while I'm brushing my teeth before bed. I might need to put a sticky note reminder on the mirror until it becomes a habit!

5 MINUTES ONLY wash the lines on the clothes line, removing all dust and dirt.
Did I mention we have a problem with mould? Well, we also have mould build up on our clothes line!!! This is a quick and easy job that I usually do once a week already. As you can see from the photo the Norwex kitchen scrub cloth works well to remove both the dust and mould, as well as the pollen from the tree that overhangs our clothesline.

Next on the list is Day 7's challenge which is the FRIDGE! I'm tackling this while the boys are having their afternoon sleep today.

Mel xx

Saturday, 8 September 2012

20 Days to Organise & Clean your home Challenge – Day 5

I am participating in the The Organised Housewife's 20 Days to Organise & Clean your home Challenge. If you haven't already signed up, it's not too late to start! Just follow this link to subscribe.

It is Saturday night and I've just completed Friday's (Day 5) challenge focus area which was THE FLOORS. You can find all the information you need know about Day 5's challenge here.

CLEAN the floors
I usually pick up everything from on the floor and vacuum the floorboards, carpet and tiles as I feel it generally does a better job that a broom. My mum bought me the Oates Triple Action Flat Mop (from Coles) during a visit and I find it easy to use and effective. It has a sweeping pad, a mopping pad and a drying cloth. When I vacuum first, I only use the mopping pad and then let the floors air dry. But if the kids are asleep I'll use the sweeping pad instead of the vacuum. I only use the drying cloth when I need to dry the floors quickly.

I love The Organised Housewife's suggestion to relax while the floor is drying! Perfect time to sit down for a cuppa and a magazine I think!

DE-CLUTTER out of date food

I recently took stock of my pantry and threw away out of date food so I am moving straight onto the next task! A good tip from The Organised Housewife is to add food close to its use by date to next weeks meal plan.

ORGANISE the pantry

Unfortunately we don't have one single pantry where everything is kept so food is stored in a few different locations. I think there is a lot of room for improvement in this area but today's task is just about tidying and reorganising to make it more manageable, rather than a complete overhaul.

So I decided to focus on one cupboard that was looking particularly messy and required me to regularly move one item to get to another. I spent about 10 minutes rearranging items and making sure my Tupperware Modular Mates where easily accessible rather than storing items in front of them.

NEW HABIT immediately put rubbish in bin.
I always put rubbish straight in the bin but items to be recycled tend to end up in a pile on the kitchen bench top creating clutter. Master two-and-a-bit is fascinated with all things garbage related at the moment and loves putting things in the bin, so I'm going to use his interest to take recyclables straight to the bin rather than let them accumulate.

5 MINUTES ONLY tidy the kitchen bench
While our kitchen can still become cluttered with items during the day, we have established a new routine whereby hubbie gives the kids a bath and I pack away the toys and tidy the kitchen. It is certainly helping me to relax more in the evenings knowing the house is tidy and ready for a new day!

Having completed all of this week's tasks, I'm having Sunday off! Yay! But in saying that, I'm looking forward to receiving the challenge for Day 6 tomorrow afternoon. 1 week down, 3 weeks to go to achieving a clean and organised home!

Mel xx

20 Days to Organise & Clean your home Challenge – Day 4

I am participating in the The Organised Housewife's 20 Days to Organise & Clean your home Challenge. If you haven't already signed up, it's not too late to start! Just follow this link to subscribe.

After two days off challenges this week due to work I am gradually catching up. It is Saturday and I have just completed Thursday's (Day 4) challenge which was the LOUNGE ROOM. You can find all the information you need know about Day 4's challenge here

CLEAN the lounge room

Our lounge room is also our children's play room which means it contains quite of lot of stuff in a small area and by the end of each day looks like chaos. Once the children are in bed we spent 5 minutes each evening returning toys to their boxes and clearing everything off the floor so we can relax for the evening and have a clean slate each morning. I find that if any toys are left out, they are just ignored by the children while they go searching in their boxes for new toys. As this challenge was only to clean the lounge room I am hoping that a "play room de-cluttering" challenge might come up soon so that I can focus on reducing the amount of toys/books in the Expedit book case.

After packing all the toys/books away and returning items back to their homes, cushions were placed on the washing line in sunshine for a few hours to help remove dust mites, all surfaces/photos/ornaments were dusted, the remote controls were cleaned and couch vacuumed.

DE-CLUTTER your magazine collection

My mum has given me subscriptions to parenting magazines since I was first pregnant with Master two-and-a-bit and I enjoy reading them as they are a light read which always seems to have something pertinent to our parenting journey each month. I already have an organised system to store them but it has occurred to me that I have been keeping them with the aim of reading over old issues again but never seeming to get around to it. I need to rethink this and either give them to a new mum or donate them to the local library.

ORGANISE pamper yourself with "me" time

I am getting a little bit better at organising some "me" time and recently arranged to finally get the massage that the children got me for Mother's Day! I have also just received an invitation from a friend to go to a High-Tea at a local chocolatier so have arranged babysitting while I go out and enjoy some chocolaty heaven for a few hours! Can't wait!


Hmm .. this is sometimes a hard one for me that I will consciously have to work on. When hubbie is away I am pretty good at not overdoing it with too many commitments but when he is home I usually try to squeeze in as much as possible either to make the most of an extra set of hands or just to do more things as a family. Life can become quite hectic. For this task, I am going to try to find a bit more balance when hubbie is home by reducing the activities and catch ups I organise and spend more time chilling out at home as a family.

5 MINUTES ONLY clean windows of main areas of your home 

Cleaning all of the windows in the main area of our home, which for us is the living/dining/kitchen area would take quite a bit longer than 5 minutes so for this task I'm just choosing to spend 5 minutes cleaning the back sliding door. Between our dog and the children this door gets filthy so giving it a quick clean will make a big difference to this area.

Day 5's focus area is the floors. You can learn more about the individual tasks here. I'm going to try to get all of the task's done today so I can have Sunday off!

Mel xx

Friday, 7 September 2012

20 Days to Organise & Clean your home Challenge – Day 3

I am participating in the The Organised Housewife's 20 Days to Organise & Clean your home Challenge. If you haven't already signed up, it's not too late to start! Just follow this link to subscribe.

After two days off challenges due to work, I am right back into the swing of things. It's Friday and I'm completing Wednesday's (Day 3) challenge which was THE LAUNDRY. You can find all the information you need know about Day 3's challenge here. I'm hoping to have completed Days 3, 4 and 5 with still enough time left of the weekend to feel like I've had a break and be ready to start next week back on track! So here is how I went:

CLEAN the laundry

I was considering not posting any pictures of our laundry after suffering from an acute case of envy of all the beautiful laundry's that are popping up as people are completing their challenges, but I just had to remind myself that some people don't even have a laundry and to be grateful for what we do have. So here goes! 
Our laundry is beneath the house in a room which is not sealed or painted so it tends to collect lots of dust and leaves everywhere. It has an old concrete double tub that I don't use as I think anything I left to soak in there would come out dirtier than it went in! But as we are renting there's not much that can be done about it. It is purely a room that stores the washing machine and dryer so I don't do any other tasks in there other than using those appliances. 

So to get started, I removed everything from on top of the washing machine and dryer, in the tubs, and on the window sill. I then wiped down the washing machine and dryer, removed dust and lint from the dryer, dusted the walls, cleaned the window and swept the floor. I put a folded towel on the washing machine and dryer to prevent dust from collecting and so when it is time to clean, I can just throw them into the wash. To stop unnecessary bottles and clutter ending up sitting on top of the washing machine, I found a plastic tub I wasn't using and put all of the items I don't use every wash into it then placed it into the right hand side tub. I then found a small tray and placed my the items that I use almost every day on that then sat it on top of the washing machine. It took a solid hour and I am really happy with how it turned out!

DE-CLUTTER the laundry pile
I currently sort dirty laundry into whites, darks, colours, towels/kitchen and bed/cot linen. There are washing baskets (Antonius from Ikea) in our main bedroom and a small plastic tub in the bathroom for when I bath the boys but I don't have a designated area for these plastic ones. They are stacked and put in one of the rooms while not in use and then arranged on our bed or the lounge when I'm sorting. I think I'm going to revisit this system once the challenges are over to see if I can fit a sorting station somewhere in the house once all the clutter has gone! I love the sorting system used by The Organised Housewife here.

ORGANISE a laundry routine.

I have always washed on an ad-hob basis which means I can go a few days without washing and then have to spend a whole day washing load after load after load. A laundry routine is just what we need so I am going to give the following one a try:

Monday: colours
Tuesday: darks & whites
Wednesday: day off
Thursday: day off
Friday: colours
Saturday: swimming gear, towels & tea towels
Sunday: bed & cot sheets

I plan to trial this routine for a week to see how if goes and if it needs any adjustments.

NEW HABIT routinely put on a load of washing

I am going to trial putting on a load of washing in the evening so it is ready to hang out first thing in the morning.

5 MINUTES ONLY: polish or dust two pieces of furniture

 For this task, I chose the television cabinet and the telephone station. Removing the clutter took longer than the actual dusting so I am going to put extra effort into keeping them clutter free from now on.

Phew! Another challenge complete! Since I'm a couple of days behind, I'm going to get started on Day 4's focus room which is the lounge room. I'll share how I go with it tomorrow.

Mel xx

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

20 Days to Organise & Clean your home Challenge – Day 2

Wow, what a day! Today's focus area is the MAIN BEDROOM and below are some photos of my attempts at the challenges set for today!

CLEAN the main bedroom and DE-CLUTTER any bedroom surfaces

First I stripped the bed and washed the sheets. Then I put all of our plastic washing baskets onto our bed and started sorting things which didn't belong in our bedroom into the rooms they needed to be returned to e.g. children's bedrooms etc or threw them in the bin. In the end this de-clutter mission ended up being more of a relocation mission as I didn't have time today to sit down and make decisions about every item's future. I will need to tackle those items when the room they were returned to is the focus room for the day. I found a home in drawers or our built-ins for all remaining items I didn't want on surfaces anymore. Now that all the clutter is gone it is actually looking quite bare! Time for some styling I think! (Oh, and that pile in the corner is hubbie's stuff. He's not participating in the challenge so I am just going to have to work around him!)

I decided to wipe down the ceiling fan by hand (rather than vacuum it) and it came up a treat! It was pretty gross so don't think it has been cleaned in years ... ewwww! Thinking of the warmer weather coming up and starting to use the fans again, I'm really glad this was in the challenge!

The privacy screen that is meant to be across our window had mould on it so I took it down to soak it for the afternoon. I then realised how dirty our bedroom window was so decided to clean it ... 30 minutes later and I remember why I'm not that keen on cleaning windows - they are actually really hard to get clean with no streak marks! But I really happy with the end result and enjoy admiring my work each time I walk back into this room now.

ORGANISE top drawer of your bedside table

This was just a quick tidy up of my underwear drawer which took about 5 minutes. As much as I would love my drawer to be stocked with hot mumma matching sets, I'm a pretty practical kind of girl so no pictures are really necessary for this one ;)

DEVELOP A NEW HABIT: make your bed each morning

I've been doing this for a couple of months now and am not sure why I resisted it for so long! It takes less than a minute to do each morning and instantly improves the look of our bedroom. 

I used to always close our bedroom door when guests came over as I was so embarrassed by the sight of it. Now that the bed is made and the room is clean and de-cluttered the door is wide open and door is now wide open!

SPEND 5 MINUTES ONLY: clean the dining room chairs

Our dining chairs are just basic cafe style laminated wood with metal legs so cleaning them fit perfectly into the 5 minute challenge.

TO-DO LIST (this is my own addition for things that still need doing)
- I forgot to vacuum and flip the mattress before remaking the bed so I'll do that next time I change the sheets.
- Buy a smaller globe for the fan so I can put the cover back on
- Start looking for some new lamps for our bedside tables (as hubbie's is broken) and nice ornaments or pictures for the chest of drawers that is now free of clutter!
- Figure out what to do with the blank wall behind the chest of drawers. 

Today's challenges probably took me about 3 hours spread over the entire day. Master two-and-a-bit and Master almost-one were my helpers (ie. hinderers) for the day so I that certainly made me get a move on when they were both having their afternoon sleep!

The Day 3 email has arrived and tomorrow's focus area is the LAUNDRY. I'm working Wednesday and Thursday so I am going to put this challenge off until Friday.  

Mel xx

Monday, 3 September 2012

20 Days to Organise & Clean your home Challenge – Day 1

Today is Day 1 of Katrina at The Organised Housewife's 20 Days to Organise & Clean your home Challenge. If you haven't already signed up, it's not too late to start! Just follow this link to subscribe.

Today's focus area is the kitchen and below are some photos of my attempts at the challenges set for today!

CLEAN the kitchen & DE-CLUTTER the bench tops

I relocated everything that didn't belong on the bench tops over to the dining table for sorting. The only items that were allowed to remain on the bench tops where things that I used every day like the coffee machine, knives, toaster, wooden spoons etc. The one exception was my cook book stand which is currently holding Donna Hay's Simple Dinners as I think it just looks good!

I sorted and found homes for or threw away everything on the dining room table. I then wiped down all the bench tops, wiped over the appliances and scrubbed the sink. It probably took me about an hour in total, spread over the day while wrangling Master two-and-a-bit and Master almost-one.

ORGANISE under the kitchen sink

After seeing all the little baskets Katrina uses for organising her cupboard under the sink, I popped into the local discount store this morning while out grocery shopping and picked up a few myself. I also replaced our small dish rack with a bigger one. I again relocated everything to the dining table for sorting. I threw some things away and found new homes for other things as I wanted to have a dedicated space to store my dish rack when not in use as it has the tendency to become a dumping ground if left on the sink permanently.

DEVELOP A NEW HABIT: clear bench tops and clean dishes before relaxing for the evening. 

CHECK! I now love walking into my kitchen and looking at the clear bench tops free of clutter! Now, I just have to keep it that way :)

SPEND 5 MINUTES ONLY on tidying a bookshelf

CHECK! Hubbie and I both really enjoy reading books and have accumulated A LOT of books over the years. I now have a Kindle but hubbie still likes the feel of a good book so our collection is still growing, but now only by half as much! We have a large wooden book case in our hallway which I tidied up not that long ago so for this challenge rather than spend 5 minutes on one shelf, I just set the timer to see how much of the whole book case I could tidy in 5 minutes! ... Well, I was able to tidy and dust 5 out of the 6 shelves and the 6th shelf has been put on my to-do list for follow-up tasks that I don't manage to complete during each challenge day.

The Day 2 email has arrived and tomorrow's focus area is the main bedroom. Eeeeek! This is probably the biggest clutter zone in our house at the moment so tomorrow is going to be a big day! Wish me luck!

Mel xx

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Blogging - Finally my blog is live!

Hello and welcome to the launch of my blog - Just Winging It. Parenting by the seat of my pants! A blog about my life navigating the world of babies, toddlers and children as I journey through parenthood. You can learn a little bit about me and my family here

You can also check out my Facebook page here.

I hope you enjoy reading about my parenting journey. Please feel free to leave a comment and tell me a bit about yourself.

Mel xx

Special Occasions - Father's Day 2012

Happy Father's Day Daddy! Thanks to Bianca from A little delightful for the great printables!

Organising - Kylie's Handbag Organisers

After accumulating so much stuff in my handbag during our little holiday, that it was starting to hurt my shoulder to carry it, I was excited to receive my handbag organiser in the mail from Kylie's Handbag Organisers on 27/08/2012. Here are the before and after photos!

In the beginning … Trying to conceive – Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 of our trying to conceive story. Last week I shared how despite our best efforts (!!!!) we had been trying for a baby for almost a year and I was starting to get worried.

I went back to see my GP who referred us to a local IVF clinic for some preliminary fertility testing. In the meantime a friend also recommended we see a naturopath who specialised in natural fertility. Hubbie was skeptical but by this point I was prepared to do anything. If we tried alternative methods and were able to fall pregnant, I didn’t care whether it was the treatment or a placebo effect. If the end result was a baby then that is all that mattered. The naturopath created the most horrendous tasting tonic for both of us and encouraged us to cut out all caffeine and alcohol. I diluted my tonic in the biggest glass of water I could find and hubbie took his as a single shot followed by a straight cordial shooter! It still makes me laugh what we were prepared to do and even though I was sure I wanted this baby a tad more, hubbie was a good sport and diligently took his poison tonic twice a day!

We attended an initial appointment at the IVF clinic to discuss our health/medical history and were referred for some preliminary screening tests. The doctor tried to reassure us that he saw a lot of couples who came to see him after trying to conceive for 12 months and who then went on to conceive naturally, so trying for 12 months didn’t in itself mean we would have to use IVF. But after some less than favourable test results came back, it was becoming apparent that trying to conceive naturally might just not be possible for us. Maybe IVF was the road we would have to take to fulfill our dreams of starting a family. The doctor encouraged us to stay positive and booked me in for a laparoscopy in a few months’ time. Even though I was impatient to get things moving, he still wanted to give us every chance of falling pregnant by ourselves before using assisted fertility.

Before my scheduled laparoscopy, hubbie and I decided to go on a holiday to Fiji. To his surprise, I suggested there be no baby talk and no scheduled trying to conceive while we were on our holiday. This was a chance to just get away from it all, relax and take some of the pressure off our baby making efforts. We loved experiencing all that Fiji had to offer and had a wonderful time. It was nice for us both be able to enjoy time together without counting days and getting timings just right.

A couple of months after we got back from Fiji I noticed my period was a few days late, but having been through so many disappointing months before, I didn’t let myself get excited. A week went by and still nothing, so I decided to take a pregnancy test. And this time there was something different. There it was… a faint second blue line. I quickly re-read the pregnancy test instructions and a faint second line wasn’t enough to confirm a pregnancy. It could be a false alarm. Thinking that a natural conception wasn’t going to be possible for us, I dismissed the faint blue line and continued on as normal. But as the days went by, a little touch of excitement crept in, even though I was trying hard to suppress it.

I waited a whole extra week (which felt like an eternity) until I decided to take another test. WOW! There they were… two beautiful, bold blue lines staring back at me. I couldn’t believe it and stood there in shock just staring at the stick, tears welling in my eyes. Could this be it? No, surely not. It wasn’t going to happen for us this way. Could I finally be pregnant? Well, those two blue lines certainly said so!

I had to tell hubbie NOW! But wait, he had gotten home from work late last night and would be sleeping in then getting up to do another late night. But I had to go to work shortly myself and didn’t want to leave and then have to tell him over the phone. So after a moment of indecision, I thought bugger it, I’m going to wake him and tell him the most amazing news! I went into our bedroom, gently nudged him and whispered his name to wake him up. By the time he roused my voice was shaking and there were fresh tears in my eyes. He bolted upright and asked what was wrong. Smiling, I just handed him the stick. “What’s this?” he said in his still sleepy haze. You’re kidding right? You don’t know what that is? “It means we’re pregnant!” After a few moments, it sank in and we hugged sharing this amazingly special moment. Grinning from ear to ear I left him to try to go back and get some much needed sleep. I floated around the house while getting ready for work and spent so much time smiling that day I was sure someone would figure out our wonderful little secret!

We did it! This concludes our trying to conceive story. In the coming weeks, I will share with you the next stage of our parenting journey …. my first pregnancy.

In the beginning … Trying to conceive – Part 1

While possibly a bit predictable, it still makes sense (and satisfies the list maker in me) to start from the very beginning and share our trying to conceive story on a blog about motherhood and parenting. So here is our story…

... While I have always wanted children, when I was in my mid-20’s it was important for me to tick off a few career goals before starting a family. One such goal was to reach a senior level in my profession. My thinking behind this was that if I had at least reached a senior level, I could take time off to have my babies and return to work part-time while my children were young, without it affecting my career path. Coincidentally, the year I was able to achieve this coveted senior position was also the year I turned 30! Whether it was one or the other, or a combination of both of those things, I felt a shift in my priorities and decided that I was ready to start a family. Now I just had to convince my husband! But unfortunately the subtle cues and suggestions I started using with hubbie weren’t getting through. What’s the rush? We just got married. Are you sure we’re ready? He asked. He was preoccupied with the importance of his work and from his perspective we had heaps of time for children … later. But how long waslater  I wondered? 6 months? One year? Two years? Sure enough, we had only been married for 12 months and had just become the proud owners of our first puppy together which, incidentally hubbie thought would give him at least a couple of years reprieve before I wanted to start a family! But being the planner that I am, waiting for later concerned me. I had known friends and family who had tried to conceive for years. Some had gone through IVF and were thankfully able to conceive, but this wasn’t always the case. Being 30 and ideally wanting to have completed our family by the time I was 35 (if we were able), wasn’t giving us as much time for later  as he thought.

So I kept persisting (nudging, urging, pleading) and finally convinced hubbie that we might not ever be totally “ready” to start a family, but since there were no major reasons stopping us, why not now? I went off the pill, upgraded our private health insurance, got pre-pregnancy blood tests and started tracking my cycle, taking my temperature, using the Maybe Baby ovulation tester, taking folic acid, the works …. I thought if we’re going to do this, we’re going to do it properly! At first, hubbie was happy for it to just happen if it happens but as I mentioned in my first post About Me (Facebook – 28/07/2012), we’re opposites which of course meant that for me it couldn’t just happen! Didn’t he realise that the chance of a healthy couple our age conceiving was only 25% each month at best! This baby making would be planned, prepared for and well thought out.

So a few months later our trying to conceive journey (reluctantly, or so he says!) began. While I was realistic and didn’t think we’d fluke it and fall pregnant straight away, months went by with still no sign of the baby I had begun to crave. In the early months if my cycle went even a few days longer than normal I was there ready with a pregnancy test. But month after month, my cycle continued as normal. No double blue line, no baby, nothing. And each month I didn’t fall pregnant was a blow. There were feelings of sadness, disappointment, failure and a few tears. But there was also hope (and a fair amount of stubbornness!) so we kept on trying...

... Fast forward almost a year and we were still trying. I was starting to get concerned, surely it wasn’t meant to be this hard?

This concludes Part 1 of our trying to conceive story. Stay tuned for Part 2 next week! Mel xx

Craft - Baby Taggie Toy

On 09/08/2012, my mum and I made a Baby Taggie Toy thanks to Eva of The Multitasking Mummy who featured it on her blog on 28/07/12. A friend of mine is having a baby shower this weekend and I am going to give it to her as part of her gift. It took us about an hour and a half to make (probably because I insisted on the ribbons being spaced perfectly and we were using the smallest sewing machine ever!) but I'm thinking it will be much quicker next time. I'm really happy with the result and am looking forward to making some more!

Baking - 100+ cookies from 1 mix

On 03/08/2012 I shared this photo on my Facebook page - Just Winging It. Parenting by the seat of my pants.

While Master almost-one was asleep, Master two-and-a-bit and I made the "100+ cookies from 1 mix" featured by The Organised Housewife. We made 1x batch each of macadamia & white choc chips, pistachio & craisins, smarties and 100's & 1000's. It was super easy and a great way to get him involved in the cooking process by helping to mix in the different items. We cooked some today for morning tea and the rest are in ready to cut logs in the freezer. I used PicMonkey to create the photo collage (as recommended by We Heart Life ♥). 

Mel xx

How I cope when my hubbie is away – Part 2

I hope you enjoyed reading Part 1 of how I cope when my hubbie is away. Please read on for more ways I manage life with a toddler and a baby without hubbie for almost half of the year.
  • When my hubbie is home, even when he is working long hours during the week, we still have the weekend to spend special time together. But when he’s away for weeks at a time, weekdays and weekends can all start to look the same. No weekend sleep ins at this house! So, I try to create some special “weekend time”, where I might enjoy a special treat with the kids like going out for lunch or an early dinner at a kid-friendly cafĂ© or pub, indulge in fish-n-chips at the beach or grab a milkshake on one of our walks. For myself, I might watch a movie while enjoying a bowl of popcorn or have a day (or two) off housework. This breaks the week up and leaves me feeling more refreshed and ready to face another week of going solo.
  • I ask for help … most of the time. I seem to have this little filter that determines what request “deserves” the need to ask for assistance. Deserving activities usually include the things that I just can’t do on my own like looking after Master almost-one when I take his big brother to swimming lessons or looking after both of them so I can go out to dinner for a friend’s birthday. But I do struggle asking for help in order to take some time out for myself, even though the offer is there, as I sometimes worry that we are already asking quite a lot from our support network. This is something I am continuing to work on so that I too can have a break and as Stacey Sullaphen from Sunny Mummy says “look after my children’s mother”!
  • I cook double batches of some of our favourite meals and freeze them prior to hubbie leaving. On the nights I don’t feel like making something from scratch I can defrost and cook up chicken schnitzels, sausages or burgers and just add some vegies or a simple salad. And on the nights I don’t feel like cooking at all, I can always reheat frozen prepared meals like lasagne, curried sausages or a pasta bake. I am also starting to meal plan one week at a time. This is helping to increase the variety of what we eat and reduce the amount of fresh food I’m throwing out. If all else fails there is always cereal or eggs on toast (which growing up was always a special treat in our house anyway)!
  • I like to invite friends or family over to our place for a get-together so I can enjoy some adult company and the kids can stick to their normal routine and go to sleep in their own beds. I have hosted a high-tea (with about 10 friends), play dates and numerous dinners. Not only does it give me the motivation to do some cleaning but it is nice knowing that I can still see my friends with the least disruption to the children as possible. Friends are welcome with or without their children, the option is theirs!
  • On the other hand, if I am going to someone’s house for the evening, I may take the children with me rather than get them babysat. If it is a friend who has kids we might have an early 5.30pm dinner so I can be home by around 7pm for bedtime. If we are going to be eating later or I expect to be out longer, I pack up the porta cots and take them with me to try to ensure the kids have a fairly similar routine to what they do at home, but I still try to keep consistent with a 7pm bed time as much as possible. The boys have both used porta cots regularly since they were tiny so are used to them and they transfer back into their own beds once home without fuss. It is still quite an undertaking though to drag two porta cots and the assorted paraphernalia out so I try to only do this once a week at the most.
  • I am a little bit obsessed with sleep. I think this comes from having my first son not sleep through the night until he was 12 months old. I make an effort to get enough sleep because if I need to be up all night with sick children it is me who still has face the next day. I know what sleep deprivation does to me. I become vague, make mistakes, forget things and my resilience takes a battering. I don’t often rest during the day as this is when I am actually motivated to do chores but sometimes I need to just put everything aside and catch up on some sleep even if it is only for an hour. Normally I try to be in bed by around 9.30pm-ish, depending on how I’m feeling, but I have been known to go to bed early as early as 7.30pm if that’s what I need.
  • And lastly, if it is all just getting too much, such as when the kids and/or I are sick, I cut myself some slack and we have a day where we stay at home in our pyjamas all day! Only the basic chores get done, the TV gets a work out and we all might end up having cereal for dinner followed by an early night. Sometimes it is more about surviving than having a clean and tidy house for a day or two!
So, these are the ways that I cope while my hubbie is away. Thank you so much for reading and sharing my parenting journey with me. I’d love to hear about how other people cope whether it be as a single parent or with a partner who works long hours or away from home.

Mel xx