Friday, January 30, 2015

Liebster Award : Get to know the voice behind the blog

Exciting! House of many Minions first award. Thanks Mumma McD for the nomination (head on over & have a read)

If you enjoyed reading my Fifty in two hundred days post then you're likely to read to the bottom of the page on this one too. The Liebster award is all about sharing the details & then sharing the love {of the award} to eleven blogs I visit regularly when I want to escape the chaos of these minions & pretend I'm in someone else's world for a few minutes.  

Mumma McD has thrown eleven questions at me, so here goes...

How did you choose the name of your blog?

Five years ago I went through a sewing craze, making sleepy babies & fabric handbags. I briefly entertained the thought of taking these late night mini masterpieces to the local markets with the branding, 'House of many'. I never made it to the markets, I realised I preferred to read in my spare time more than I wanted to design, cut & sew, sew, sew.
The second part started up when the first 'Despicable Me' movie came out. We {I} love the little minion characters & all the antics they get up to in their efforts to helping Gru. Our own little minions often give us the same entertainment - whether we find it funny at the time or not until much later. I began affectionately calling the kids 'my little minions' - "okay, my little minions, it's time for bed/to get in the car/to get changed".

In June last year when I finally put this little space together, the name was ready & waiting for me. It's long, but it suits my blog.

How much time per week do you spend on your blog?

However much the kids & the housework lets me. Some weeks I might put up two or three posts because the little minions have either
a) one or more of them have given me grief & I need to put it to the keyboard so I can see the lighter side of it,
b) they've been exceptionally sweet, causing me to feel all lovey & warm n fuzzy - which often preludes the "I want another" posts, or,
c) Inspiration hits & the words are going around in circles. Given my goldfish memory I need to get it all written out then & there before it vanishes to the same location as our forks & missing socks. {We seem to have a fast dwindling number of cutlery - forks especially.}
In answer, it could be one or two hours between opening Blogger & hitting 'Publish' each week. Or the kids may find me at the computer desk multiple times during that week over several broken hours. Plus lots of late nights.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

When I was young enough to be influenced by my parents I wanted to be a lawyer - because a lawyer had to go to University & my parents wanted me to be the first in our family to tick that one off the bucket list. The other reasoning my nine year old self applied was lawyers {are perceived} to make bucket loads of money {to pay off their HECS debt}. I could buy my own pony & my own house. Once that dream evaporated I decided my love of animals should see me wearing a veterinary nurses uniform...Until my year 10 work experience in a veterinary clinic put me off. All that stinky dog smell & pissed off cats wasn't all it was cracked up to be. Ben's arrival in 2004 opened my eyes & I began contemplating Midwifery, & after Rianan's birth in 2006 I knew that was where I wanted to go in the future. Then we had another four little people who would need looking after while I was working odd shift hours & Doug was at work.
These days the plan is looking something like me studying a Bachelor of Education when our youngest is at school. For now that is a minimum five years away, so we'll see what happens, when it happens.

Last piece of clothing you purchased?

For me, or for anyone?
For me the last piece of clothing I purchased was a bra, which didn't fit, because who wants to try on several bra's with several little people in tow? I picked out my size in the very limited maternity section (Clay is still a booby monster) & hoped for the best. I should know by now that hoping is futile when it comes to getting a perfect fit with the first choice the first time. I still need to find a time to go over the shoulder boulder holder shopping without kids.
Otherwise, the last time I purchased an item of clothing was last night - a gorgeous outfit for the imminent arrival of a friend's baby girl. I miss baby girl clothes. Scratch that, I miss baby clothes full stop.

Where in the world do you live?

Limited details here - those who know me know where we live. For those who have never heard my voice, we live in a beautiful small country town with everything we could want nearby. Several photo worthy beaches only a short drive away, the Murray River within a half hours drive, shopping centres are close enough I can visit them frequently (much to the despair of our bank accounts) & Adelaide isn't an impossibly long drive away.
I love where we live & couldn't imagine living anywhere else.

Favourite television show at the moment?

Right now there isn't anything I'm watching. Come April though when the second instalment of 'Outlander' begins, then I can answer properly.
I don't watch a lot of tv, however a good documentary, labor & birth programs, Grey's Anatomy & of course the above mentioned, Outlander, always capture my attention & are usually worthy of putting down the book for.
If this question was 'favourite book I've ever read', then this answer would have been much longer. I've read twice as many books as I've watched tv shows over the last few years.


Favourite actor/actress?

Am I boring if I don't have one? My favourite actor or actress is usually whoever is bringing their character to life, that has me completely mesmerised in the character they are immersing themselves in. (Same answer goes for authors too. Self confessed book nerd.)

How do you relax?

Top of the list is eating devouring chocolate chip cookies dipped into a large {very large} mug of steaming hot chocolate. However my jeans don't like when I do this more than once a day, so I read - a lot. Just in case you missed that little memo.
Then you get the stock standard answers, catching up with friends over a meal someone else has cooked, long walks on the beach, that kind of stuff. But that takes time & co-ordination of diaries & baby sitters.

Do you have a nickname? Or did you have one as a child?

The only nickname you can get from Hayley is Hales, or Hayley-Bayley. Both of which I've been called over the last thirty odd years, neither of which has stuck. Thank goodness.
Doug has a nickname for me, as nearly all couples do, which only he calls me (or the kids when they're being cheeky!) & I don't think that counts.

How do you take your coffee?

Usually white with two sugars.
At home I drink either a latte from the coffee machine with only one sugar, or a Nescafe Cappuccino or Latte sachet. Just what I need for the 4pm after school pick up, pick me up.

How many hours sleep do you get each night?

I'm pretty lucky at the moment. Right now I'm averaging between six & eight hours sleep each night. Guaranteed one of the younger three minions will wake me up at least once, either to expel liquid or to ingest liquid. The last ten years have conditioned me to waking up at least once or twice, so it doesn't affect my sleep as much as, say, more than five wake ups a night would.

11 random facts about me...

Now I have to think really hard for something you wouldn't already know.

1. I'm a sucker for any personality quiz. I thank Dolly & Girlfriend magazines for starting this habit back in 1995.

2. I love buttered salt & vinegar crisp sandwiches. Especially with crinkle cut instead of thin crisps.

3. Despite managing to {most of the time} keep on top of the housework & having six children to do almost everything for {not really but it seems like it some days}, I am a sloth at heart & would love nothing better than to lie on the couch all day.

4. My star sign is Virgo

5. My favourite chocolate is Rocky Road, since Cadbury has discontinued 'marble'.

6. I don't wear perfume. I do wear deodorant, don't get confused there.

7. My first kiss was on a summer holiday in Victoria when I was 13.

8. The further away from the city we move the more I love our lifestyle.

9. We found out the genders of five out of our six pregnancies. That one time we didn't find out was torture not knowing (even though we chose not to find out before the birth).

10. I'm a believer in fate & of an afterlife. Specifically what, no idea, but there is something more.

11. If our house was big enough & Doug could keep his hair, I would probably have ten children.

Now the fun part - my nominee's. Here are 11 of my favourite blogs {I'm breaking the rules a little, as each nominee is meant to have less than 200 followers, one or two may have a few more than that}

1. The Laney Files
2. Lime & Mortar
3. An Organised Life
4. Your Kids OT
5. Looking for Mama Me
6. Bombarded Mum
7. Maxabella Loves
8. The Mummy & the Minx
9. Quack + Skip
10. I Love to Op Shop
11. Colour Saturated Life 

Here are my eleven questions for you bloggers:

1. What pushed you over the edge to take your blog from an idea to a reality?
2. Which bloggers inspire you? Why?
3. Vegemite, promite or marmite?
4. Tell us about one of your most cherished memories.
5. Your favourite blogging tip
6. The best life lesson you learnt from high school?
7. Summer or winter?
8. What do you love most about yourself?

9. If you could meet one person, famous or average Susie walking down the street, who would you meet?
10. Spare time? Where can we find you if you get it?
11. Lastly, if you had 48 hours completely to yourself, how would you spend them?

Each nominee has to follow six easy rules:

1. Acknowledge the blog that nominated you & display the Liebster Award on your blog.
2. Answer eleven questions that the blogger gives you.
3. Give eleven random facts about yourself.
4. Nominate eleven blogs that you think are deserving of the award, have less than 200 followers (Go off the number of Facebook and/or Bloglovin' followers if you can tell from the blog).
5. Let those bloggers know you've nominated them.
6. Give them eleven questions to answer

That concludes tonight's post. If you made it to this final paragraph - Go You! Now head on over & have a browse of the blogs I've roped into this little get to know you thing. You'll be glad you did.



Wednesday, January 21, 2015

A new era - The first week of school

Next week marks the beginning of a new era for Blake, venturing off into the big wide world of school for the first time. He's ridiculously excited to be joining the bigger minions in the 'big school boy' category, & I hope just as ready. As for me, as excited as I show for him, on the inside a small part of me is aching, dreading letting go that little bit more. 

With having prepared {nearly} four little people for their debut into school life, I thought I would share a few tips that have worked in our house & helped make the transition easier - for both of us.

Lunchboxes & drink bottles

With shelves & online stores bursting with a wide variety of lunchboxes & drink bottles, the choice can be overwhelming. From plain old school style lunchboxes to lunchboxes consisting of several separate compartments, lunchboxes filled with little containers, along with a range of insulated lunch bags - all ranging from five dollars to fifty dollars.  Confusing much?
We've tried all of the above over the years & the best advice is to choose one that will be simple & easy for your child to open & close. Remember to check any smaller containers as well. What looks the most appealing may not be the most practical. Once you get home, let them practice using their new lunchbox & drink bottle. Also name anything & everything - especially if your choice includes smaller containers. {Remember to stick a label on the lids too!}

The first Good-Bye

Oh it's an emotional one. 
Regardless of how you are feeling, show enthusiasm & confidence in your child on that first {& subsequent} morning. It's likely they will be looking to you for cues on how to respond to this new experience & if you're showing hesitation they will pick up & mimic this. Hold it together until you're out of the classroom. Then put on your over sized sunnies & pull out the Kleenex, keeping the tissues close by...all day. Especially if you're tear ducts are like mine & prone to leaking for the smallest of reasons.
As for when to finally say good bye & leave the classroom, watch their teacher for cues. Usually I've found teachers like the parents to say their final good bye's within five to ten minutes of the bell. As much as I might like to prolong that final moment, sometimes hanging around too long can cause tears {from both of us}. If the bell has gone, your child is all unpacked, settled & waiting for their school day to start, be ready to say good bye. Then do it & leave. 
Lastly aim to be a few extra minutes early. This is not a morning you'll want your child to feel rushed or add any extra pressure on to. There's plenty of time in the future to arrive just as the bell is ringing over the coming months & years.


Even though Blake is familiar with the morning & afternoon school runs, we have been talking about what he needs to do in the morning to get ready & what will happen once we get to his classroom. Not in great detail - covering getting dressed into his school uniform, making sure he packs his hat & can put on his own shoes. Once at school he'll need to unpack his school bag - putting his lunchbox away, drink bottle on his table, his hat into his named tray & then lastly putting his bag in his allocated space. Knowing what is likely to happen on the school mornings eases the change of routine, helping the unfamiliar to feel more familiar.
We also make sure he knows where the toilet is, what to do if he feels lost or scared, who to ask for help & where he can go to find help. With older siblings at the same school we have also talked about not wandering around the school yard to look for them in case he gets lost & to stay with his class for recess & lunch {at least for the first week}.

After school

In that first month of school commencing, we always keep our after school activities & errands to a minimum. Ideally we head straight home from school, with a snack ready & waiting for them - muffins, a fruit platter with a small bowl yogurt, dip with crackers & vegetable sticks. Get into the habit of unpacking bags from that first day -  encouraging them to pack & unpack their own bags. It fosters a great sense of independence as well as setting strong habits that you'll be grateful for in a couple of years down the track. Consider bringing dinner time forward a little earlier than usual. The first month of starting school has always been a big shock to our minions little bodies & often I would find them flaked out on the couch before dinner was ready. 


Never be afraid to talk to your child's teacher, about anything. Whether it's about something that's happening in your lives at home - trivial or important, positive or not so positive. Knowing what is going on in their little students lives is helpful. Address any concerns relating to your child early, if something isn't working well or your child is having trouble adjusting let their teacher know so you can work together to help your child. Same goes for any positive feedback, teachers love to hear good news!

Hopefully some of these help you, or inspire other ideas to ease the transition into beginning school for the first time. Over the coming weeks your ears will probably fall off with all their tales about their new school adventures, who they played with, which lessons they had, when they cried after falling over on the pavement. That's another heart wrencher, the first time they hurt themselves & it wasn't you who cleaned up the scrape & wiped away the tears.

It's a new chapter that brings a lot of changes, but the best part is watching your child learn, seeing them form & grow new friendships, watching their self confidence soar with their new independence & skills.

Now we just have two more to go. 

Saturday, January 17, 2015

What does a Mum do with forty eight hours of minion free time?

Last week five of the minions went to Grandma's house for a big sleepover. 

Two nights. 

Three days. Almost. 

Oh em gee. 

My hypothetical "What I would do if I had two whole days of no kids" became a reality. I could have wet my pants I was that excited. The only times Doug & I have had more than twenty four hours minus our minions have been when we were welcoming another little one into our tribe & a few years ago when we celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary with a two night get away. Though Will wasn't yet a year old, so our packing list included a porta-cot & a baby.

Back to last week though. 

With a kick in my step & a tear in my eye I kissed Ben, Rianan, Jack, Blake & Will good bye, squeezing little bodies tight enough to last us all until Friday afternoon, before driving Clay & I back home to our quiet, empty house.

I had planned to sap every last minute out of my {mostly} minion free days. The to-do list was nearly as long enough to rival our weekly shopping list. Furniture to sand back & re-paint, toy rooms to set up & bedrooms to change around, endless uninterrupted hours curled up on the couch reading with a hot chocolate in hand, walk in robes to de-clutter & drawers to sort through, cafes to visit & movies to watch during the day.

So what did I do with my first three hours? Be prepared to be vastly disappointed...

Dishes & Facebook.

What is wrong with me. 

Without my little anchors I was lost. Adrift in the sea of freedom. 

Even Clay was misplaced by the stillness of quiet & solitude. No brothers around building wooden block towers for Clay to swipe with his chubby little hands & his doting sister no where to be found despite how extensive he searched & how loud he tried to call out. The one on one time with Clay was precious, but it was not the same playing peek a boo with just Mummy. Kisses goodnight for only two people instead of making our way around the couches to receive seven goodnight kisses. There was no one to chase around the house or to laugh when he flashed his cheeky, toothy grin.

But oh my, the house stayed clean. No need to enter the laundry or hear the chiming end to another load of washing. The dishwasher was run only once.  The broom stood idle & the vacuum gathered cobwebs & dust instead of sucking them up. The mop even had a chance to dry before the next use.

When Doug came home from work we were able to carry through uninterrupted conversations. This is unheard of. We went out to dinner {with Clay} two nights in a row. Two nights. Consecutively. 

Friday morning Clay & I didn't get out of bed until ten in the morning. While it didn't erase the duffel bags under my eyes, rolling out of bed when the sun was already high & shining bright certainly felt luxurious & indulgent.

The old buffet cabinet I planned to re paint is still sitting in the shed awaiting it's restoration, there were no barista made latte's, bedroom doors remained tightly shut, walk in robes looked exactly the same as they had Wednesday morning & no movies were watched, day or night.

However I did manage a few uninterrupted hours of reading before the change of pace kicked back into V8 Supercar speed.

It seems forty eight hours wasn't long enough. Then again, maybe it was. Our lives were never meant to be that quiet.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Six reasons why six is better than seven

The problem with letting the cobwebs come take residence here, when you notice the days on the calender flicking by, it gets harder to open the next post up...

Where in my washing basket have the last twenty two days gone?! Apologies for the unintended hiatus. 

Twenty two days & not a word, no "Merry Christmas", no "Happy New Year". Just dust & cobwebs. 

**Ten minutes later...

How do you start a post after falling off the face of the cyber world for three weeks? With an explanation for why the desertion? {Christmas, school holidays, procrastination, too many kids to hear myself think} 
Or should I mindlessly type about our Christmas & New Years? {both were good, kids were spoilt & deliriously happy with their gifts, the days were blessedly uneventful & filled with smiles & memories}.
Maybe I should pose the question to you - how was your Christmas & New Years celebrations? 

Perhaps it's best to just close my eyes, pinch my nose & dive straight in.

Why six children is better than seven

- Six is an even number. This is the golden rule, always finish on an even number. Supposedly so no one is left out. I can attest that is a load of soggy weet-bix. Even or odd, someone is left out. Not always, but still often enough to hear "Muuuum, Ben & Jack aren't letting me watch" or "Muuuuum, Rianan & Ben aren't letting me play" every ten minutes for the last four weeks. Even numbers do not bestow miraculous sibling contentment. But I'm meant to be presenting the positives here, not arguing against myself. So, Six is awesome because it's not odd.

- There is still a {teeny tiny} range of normal cars to choose from. By normal I mean not a child care bus & still has eight seats. Hyundai Imax, Kia Grand Carnival, Toyota Tarago, Mitsubish Prado, Toyota Landcruiser, plus a few imported cars like the Elgrand & Delica. After this it is a mini bus for you & your small army.

- Packets of muesli bars, chips, muffins, even picnic dinner sets all come as a set of half a dozen. One for each little person. The picnic sets can even be color assigned for each minion. Perfect. 

- When holding hands to cross a road or walking through a busy event, everyone pairs off nicely. {There's that even number thing again}. Leaving one or both parents with two arms free...To carry all the extra bags full of food, drinks, hats, sunscreen, spare socks, undies, clothes, a random shoe & a token teddy, plus all the other useless paraphernalia that you need to drag along everywhere you go. 

- Dining tables. A variety of choices for eight seater dining tables. Long ones, square ones, round ones. Seats, benches, seat & benches. Same for couches, eight people will fit on a big modular couch, or two long couches. That seventh kid would just have to sit on the arm rest. (Joke. The floor is just as comfortable I'm sure.)
- In a four bedroom house six children with two to a room is a perfect fit. Who could argue with that logic?

Did it work, have I convinced you that six is the new seven? 


Me neither. 

Even though on paper six children fits into our life {& house} nicely, my maternal body clock driving all these crazy baby growing urges apparently can't read or listen to logic. These ovary clenching, love filled sighs for one more little minion have me packing away the outgrown newborn clothes & toys to the back of the cupboard instead of selling them or passing on to someone else who could use them. Because I'm still hoping {against all hope, reason & logic} that we'll use them...just one more time.

*This is not a pregnancy announcement. Before you all start rubbing my Christmas belly & high fiving Doug.