Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Blue Screen of Death!!! - And Sartorial Kiddie Quotes :)

Have you ever heard of the Blue Screen of Death?  It's a computer thing, and it basically means the end of all computer life as you know it..  not good!

Abby has just encountered this tragedy, and while mourning her computer and all the good times they shared, she has been literally unable to post today.  She is hoping to be back on line tomorrow and will post then if possible.

In the meantime, she dictated these few snippets of quotes from the two little girls for me to share with you all. Maggie (age 3) and Ana (age 2) are both very fashion conscious - today's theme :)  

Abby came out of the bathroom this morning with wet hair and began to brush it through.  Maggie was of course already dressed up to the nines.
Maggie:  "Oh dear, Mummy!  Don't come too close, you might get my shoes wet!"  (Her little high heels.)

Maggie hit Ana and Ana was crying.  Abby told Maggie that she needed to apologize.
Maggie: "Ana, I am sorry for hitting you and messing up your dress!"

The girls were playing and Ana was rolling on the ground, then Maggie stood up.
Maggie:  "Quick, Ana!  You better get up - you're crinkling your beautiful skirt!"

(This is re-occurring:)
Maggie: "Mummy, Jesus died, and everybody was so sad!!!"
Mummy:  "And then what happened?"
Maggie:  "Then he was resurrected, and he got new clothes!!"

Every time the family leave the house Maggie rushes to the new full-length mirror, which is near the front door.
Maggie:  "Mummy, I'm just checking myself out...  (gasp) .. and I look Fantastic!!!"  :)

Abby was wearing new earrings and helping Maggie with something.
Maggie:  "Mummy, I love your new earrings!  You look so cute in them!"  :)
Soon after, Abby went outside to where Ana was playing.
Ana:  "Mummy, I love your new earrings!  You so cute!"

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Change is a'comin'

So it's official.  I've given notice at work, and will be finishing up in a month.  It has been a great job for the last almost seven years and I've learnt a lot. So much, in fact.  I've had lots of great experiences, and met lots of really interesting people.  But it's time for a change and I'm really looking forward to it.  My lease is also up around the same time, and I've decided not to renew so I'll be moving house too.

What's next you ask?

I have absolutely no idea.  I don't have a new job yet, and haven't really applied to many jobs.  I'm not even sure what I'd like to do next.  I realize that's not particularly responsibly - especially since I'm not a woman of leisure who can just afford to holiday for a month in-between jobs.  But at the moment, I'm just so excited with the 'being finished' part, that I'm having trouble focusing completely on the 'starting again' part.

I have dreams of taking off for a few months and traveling the world in-between this job and the next, but the funds aren't really there, so it will probably (hopefully) be a matter of finishing, taking a week or two's break to move house, and then starting a new job.

But that's okay, they say change is as good as a holiday, and I am very much in need of one!

So here's my questions for you:

a) What do you think I should do next?  (honestly, any suggestion is likely to be considered.  The other day I spent a happy half hour thinking about just how casual and stress-free and utopia-like it would be to work as a Sandwich artist at Subway)

b) If you've ever made any huge life changes and they've turned out good or bad, I'd love to hear them.

Four (and a half) weeks to go!!!!

xo Tammy

Monday, May 27, 2013

Why Are Little Girls Going Through Puberty So Early?

Many news stories recently have alerted parents of young girls to the as-yet unexplained rise in the prevalence of early-onset puberty, with a new study showing that 15% of girls are beginning puberty at the age of 7 or 8, or even younger!   This is called 'precocious puberty' and is 10 times as common in girls as in boys.

Did you know that girls in the USA now typically enter puberty at the age of 10 or 11?  Apparently, back in the 1700's it was unusual for girls to menstruate before about the age of 17 or 18.   Obviously, improvements in diet and living conditions have impacted the onset age for puberty over the years, but researchers are searching for additional causes.

All of this means that some girls as young as in grade 3 are having to cope with acne, menstruation, growing breasts, underarm and pubic hair, mood swings, and everything else that comes with all those hormone changes.

Getty images

It's a bit horrifying, isn't it?  Or, at the least, concerning.  It's a lot for a young girl to contend with, and doctors worry that children are unlikely to be emotionally prepared enough for puberty at these young ages, and that these girls demonstrate a greater risk of developing behavioural problems.  Girls with early-onset puberty also tend to have lower self-esteem, and to battle poor body image, and engage in high-risk behaviours, such as those leading to unplanned pregnancy.

Furthermore, early onset puberty appears to have links to an increased risk of developing breast cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.  Other studies indicate that early-onset puberty may stunt the child's growth, causing her to be shorter.

What are the causes of this phenomenon, and are there any commonsense actions you can take as a parent to reduce or avoid these outcomes?

Obesity is likely to be at least partly to blame - so a fresh, healthy, and balanced diet is key.

Environmental factors, such as exposure to estrogens in plastics, chemicals and foods, are also likely culprits.

Although they admit that they do not yet have all the answers, experts do suggest the following:

  • Encourage our children to 'eat from the farm, not the factory' - to eat more fruits and vegetables than sweets and fats, which will encourage a healthy weight, with less chemicals in the diet.  
  • As much as possible, buy organic, hormone-free milk and meat, and limit animal fats.   
  • Keep the child away from external sources of estrogen (and testosterone), such as prescription medications for adults or dietary supplements that contain hormones.
  • Use a stainless-steel water bottle, rather than a plastic one.  (The concern here is that chemicals leach out of plastic when it is heated, which is often very likely to have occurred in storage or in transit to a store.)
  • For this same reason, only ever use glass containers in the microwave - never plastic, even if the container was made for microwave use.  Use a plate to cover the container, rather than plastic wrap.
  • Use clothing rather than sunscreen, as much as possible, to protect children in the sun, thereby minimizing the use of chemicals on the skin.

If you would like to learn more, you could start with links here and here.  If I was a mother of young girls now, I'd be pretty interested in this!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Dear Readers...

We began this Blog last year with the decision to post every Monday to Friday.  We are pleased that we have pretty much accomplished that, (just slipping sometimes recently on Tuesdays..)

With some recent events we have decided to par our output to three times a week: Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays - one day for each of us to write.  We hope that is still a reasonably respectable output, and that you continue to enjoy the Blog :)

We really love your comments! :)


Thursday, May 23, 2013

An Extremely Innovative Idea

Entrepreneurs out there!!!  Please take this idea and make it into a chain of shops so there's bound to be one near me wherever I'm living!!!  I'm sure it will take off, because I'll keep you in business, all my myself if I have to!!  I can't tell you how many times I've wished it existed!! And by all the exclamation marks clocked up in this post already, you can tell I mean what I'm talking about!!!!! ;)

And what is my extremely innovative idea?  It's for times like this:

Image from

Or times for even when they're not asleep, but they're in the back seat nonetheless, and it takes at least 5 minutes to get them all out and all into the car, and you need to pick up some bread and milk.  Or toilet paper.  Or nappies.  Or wipes.  Or something else you can't live without.  

So here's my great idea:

A drive through 'essentials' store.  

Honestly, I'd be there all the time!  I do almost anything to avoid pulling all three of my aged 3 and under children out of the car and in again when I only have to 'run in' for something.  Of course I can't leave them in the car by themselves even for a minute, so I'm forever doing this, and it's lost all of its charm!  And it literally takes me at least 10 times as long to run into the shop as it does when I'm alone in the car, which is almost never!  Just yesterday, I may have gone over and picked up my little (not that little) brother to come for a short drive with me so he could sit in the car with my babies while I ran into the post office quickly (okay, the post office is probably my LEAST favourite place to attend with my babies - everything is so very exciting to touch, and you're trying to figure out the cheapest way to send your package and writing the address on it while desperately trying to stop them from touching things and wishing you had 4 hands.  And my children are actually pretty reasonably behaved!).  A bunch of healthy snacks at this drive-through window would also be appreciated.  I mean I should be packing them myself when we're going out but sometimes you are having 'a bit of a day' and forget, and it would be great to drive through and pick up some cheese and yummy bread rolls instead of having junk or nothing available without leaving your car!  While I'm at it, let's make this place reasonably well priced :)

I'm a bit busy looking after the reason I need this innovative idea, but if there's anyone out there who wants to steal my idea and use it, just me being able to drive through for a bottle of milk after a long day of running around doing errands with my children at the end of their ropes, would be payment enough ;)

PS:  Why does this not already exist?  Surely it would be profitable?!  Surely!!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Weathering Life

When the news of the Oklahoma tornado came through yesterday morning, and I started to hear (in particular) about the parents screaming out the names of their children as they ran to the school that had been so completely devastated, I felt my heart break a little.  The United States has been doing it tough lately, with storms, shootings, explosions and tornadoes, and I know there are towns all over the world going through equally or even more devastating experiences every day.

As these events occur, I find myself glued to the news reports during the day, and ticking things over in my mind at night. Like many, I have a faith in God that pulls me through the hard times in my life.  But regardless of whether you believe or not - there are few things as uplifting and comforting as hearing about the ways that people reach out to each other with things seem overwhelming.

Members of the Oklahoma National Guard look for survivors in rubble in Moore on May 21.

I particularly enjoyed this article by Jason F Wright this morning:

Like many of you, I’ve watched hours of the live coverage broadcast from mountains of rubble and rippled asphalt parking lots. Stories are emerging of friends, neighbors and strangers saving lives. ... As the anecdotes roll in, I wonder why it sometimes takes such tragedy for our hearts to fully engage with one another. Does it seem we’re all a little kinder after school shootings, marathon bombings and natural disasters? Don’t we love our fellowmen on the good days, too?
We’ve seen recovery footage featuring volunteers climbing up and around dangerous piles of rubble that appear as if they might collapse like a Jenga tower. Their bravery reminds us that God could do this work if he wanted to, but he expects us to be his hands.
We know he could pull people from trapped cars, put out fires or carry a stranger’s body from ruins to a resting place. No, he doesn't need our help — he wants it.
Heartbreak of this EF-4 magnitude tornado teaches us that our Father in heaven is a God of perfect miracles, but often the day-to-day heavenly miracles come through imperfect, earthly hands.
We know that tragedies only teach us if we allow ourselves to learn from them. Perhaps the tragedies of the past few months have reminded us that the best way to honor those who’ve lost their lives is to be more kind, more patient and more loving.

And with all of this in mind, I came across a really wonderful story on Facebook that is definitely worth a watch.  It's a quieter example of how tragedy and hard times can bring out the best in us and actually enhance our lives.  Zach passed away a few days ago, on the 20th of May, but his life has touched so many others (especially with this video now going viral), and he was able to be strengthened and touched by so many in return.  If you've got 22 minutes and a box of tissues, I'd highly recommend it:

So I guess in summary:  Storms are scary, and there are certainly a lot of them around.  Some people's storms are so severe that I can't even begin to relate. But I'm grateful to know that the sun will always continue to shine above the clouds - even when they block our view momentarily - and that it will eventually find a way to break through.

xo Tammy

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

How To Cover Bad Skin With Make-up

Our beautiful daughter, Bethany, was troubled by really quite bad skin as a middle to late teenager.  I used to feel awful for her, and frankly, I sometimes wondered how she might feel about going out in public at times when most of her face was so very red and inflamed.  (I never said that to her of course.)  But then Bethy would appear on her way out the door, looking like the gorgeous young girl she was, and you couldn't see a pimple or spot in sight!  We all knew that her self-worked-out routine required some mysterious time factor, because Bethy always worked her days around the time that she needed to begin applying her face, but the truth is that I don't think any of us ever really asked her for the actual details of her routine.  We were just all in awe at the incredible result!
I thought that it's finally time for us to find out Bethy's secret.  Thank you Bethany! :)

I have added a couple of photos of Bethy from that time period.  I know that looking at these photos, you will probably not believe that she was suffering from acne.  That was the magic of her routine!   She was actually so good at covering her bad skin that when Bethy looks at these photos now, even she thinks that she couldn't have had a too big a problem back then after-all - but she really did :)  

I have included the photo below, not only because it was a bit hilarious, but because if anything shows Bethy's awesome face-saving make-up skills, this is it.  Not only was Bethy in the middle of a break-out, but she had just returned from a trip to the Great Barrier Reef in time to be a bridesmaid at her sister's wedding.  Of course she had thought that it would be great to have a suntanned glow for the big day, so had managed to burn her face to a crisp a few days earlier.  It didn't look too bad the day before, but on by the morning of the big day her skin began to turn a very dark brown (think multiple layers of dying skin), and begun to peel.  By midday she had thick, bark-like layers practically dripping off - and later spent half an hour in the bathroom removing her nose, forehead and upper cheeks, after which things looked slightly better.   (This photo was taken heading in to the drippy stage.)  Yet she still managed to look completely beautiful!   She is a bit of a make-up genius, our Bethany :)


I've always had the bad skin in the family (yay for me :S) and I remember all through my teenage years hating my skin and thinking it was awful. I hit the lovely age of 20 however, and that's when my skin decided to show me what awful really was!! What?? I thought when I finished teens my skin was meant to get BETTER, not WORSE! I thought I was meant to feel MORE confident in myself, not LESS!
*sigh* So not fair :(

Now I look back on photos of that clear, lovely skinned 17, 18, 19 year old girl that I was and am jealous. Didn't know how good I had it!
Now, even though I know that my skin was way better back then, mum says I still struggled with it, it's just that I can't see it in the photos because I covered it up so well (woohoo :))

So anyway, mum asked me to write a post about how I apply my make-up.
I'm really not in any way a beauty artist. I can only seem to cover the make-up basics on my own face and would be horrible at even attempting to apply somebody else's make-up.
But for some reason my mum and sisters have always talked with admiration and wonder about my foundation-applying abilities. Maybe it's just because none of them have ever suffered the self-loathing phenomenon of bad skin (blessed things! :P) and so they've just never had to try that hard to look good. But they seem amazed that one minute there's an ugly red blemish, and the next minute it's gone! Viola! :D
I just figured that's the whole point of foundation. But apparently, I "do it well"  :) (go me!).

If I have to stop and think about it, there is something I do a little differently to the other females in my family. It's a little technique that has earned me the nickname 'Spotty' from my siblings throughout the years :) I don't know if others out there do it, I'm sure they do, but this is what I do:

I cover my face in spots.

See, I have this theory about letting foundation 'soak in'. Let me explain...

  • I start out by using liquid foundation on my face to give it a bit more of an even tone all over. 
  • Then I get my concealer stick, and dot all my pimples or blemishes with spots of concealer.
  • I then leave it there and continue with my day, letting the make-up kind of 'soak' into the skin a bit. 
  • A little while later, I might come back and lightly pat my finger over the spots or around the edges so it blends in with the rest of my face a bit better, but not too much, and then go about my business again. Still soaking.
  • Every now and then I'll repeat this, until it's time for me to actually get ready. Then I'll lightly pat around the edge of my concealer spots so that they blend in completely with the rest of my face.
  • After that I brush my face lightly with foundation powder. Done!

I don't know if this makes any sense at all. But this is how I do my make-up.
The more time I have to do it, the better the end result! So the nicer I care to look, the earlier I start my spotting routine :)
If I only have 10 mins to get ready and do all my make-up, then there's less time for the 'soak' to happen and it won't look as good. If I want to look nice for, say, a formal or something then the initial make-up and 'spotting' applications begin in the afternoon so it can sit and soak for a lovely length of time :)
(I'm sure letting make-up really soak into your skin is probably not good for your pores and stuff (probably contributes to the whole 'bad skin' thing)...but hey, at least I wash it off every night before bed! :))

This morning I only had about 15 mins to do my make-up for church, so it's not the best job, but I took a couple of photos. Now I'm really wishing I had stopped to check them because they are not in the least bit flattering!! But hey, we're all women what the heck. No shame.

After the foundation I put my first concealer spots on. Not sure if you can really see them from this angle. Yes....I really do need to deal with my eyebrows...   And I don't know what sort of expression I was trying to pull :

After the mid-way pat. The spots are a little less obvious now (at least that's the idea! :P) Normally it's best to have time to do this a few times. Still don't know what's up with that expression :

Finished. Did a bit of a final smooth of the spots and put powder on. At least this time my smile isn't so creepy.. :

I guess the fact that I had earrings in and was dressed in real clothes instead of daggies in this photo helps also :)

I know I didn't show you a before photo of my skin. I'm willing to put some hideous photos up here, but not that hideous :)

Anywho, so that's that. Happy pimple covering :)

Monday, May 20, 2013

Lost Treasure Found at March House Books

There are some memories of childhood that have a savour so sweet as to hold almost an ache of longing.

I don't recall much about the time before I was five and my parents separated.  When that happened, we moved away from where I was born in central Australia, and my mother and sisters and I made a new start a long distance away in Adelaide.  I'm sure I was confused, (and I'm sure it was hard for our mother).

I began school that year, and as soon as I learned to read I escaped into books, not raising my head to rejoin the world until the end of grade seven.  Somewhat the archetypal bookworm, I read as I walked to school, read a book under my school desk through as much of the day as I could, sat by myself with a book through every recess and lunchtime, and read through every spare minute at home.  I even read when I was in the shower and as I rode my bike.  I loved books like friends, and the people in them populated my world.

But the first book I ever loved was from that earlier time before my parents divorced, and it's that book or group of books that is to be the source of one of my happiest early childhood memories.  I suppose my mother or father must have read it to me when I was little.  Or perhaps I sat for hours by myself, turning the pages and absorbing the pictures.

Down through the years I have remembered these as 'the Belinda books'.  All I could remember was that a young girl called Belinda lived in a magical kind of forest, and that she was able to talk to her forest friends, the animals, there.

Every now and again I asked about these books at second-hand book shops, but without success.

Until back in April I visited Barbara's wonderful Blog on this page at March House Books and thought to ask her if she might know what it was that I was remembering.  You can hardly imagine my delight when she directed me to this page on her Blog, and I was able to rediscover these lost friends from my childhood.

I now own seven of this series.  I'm very happy :)

I am also very grateful to Barbara, who is so very knowledgeable about children's books, and who was so very kind and helpful!  She knew that Belinda was actually a character in the Pookie books.  I recommend Barbara's online book store to you very highly!

Isn't the internet wonderful, and aren't the people you meet there lovely?! :)

Friday, May 17, 2013

Advice For a New Mother - Part 1

It can sometimes be hard being a new mother.  Sometimes harder than you thought it would be.  Here is my basic, simple and practical advice for new mums, part 1.

Advice before the birth..

It's good to have a bit of an idea of how you would like things to go during labour - an idea about what is involved, what will be happening, what pain relief or other options are available, etc.  Just please don't be too rigid about it!  The hardest part of the birth for some girls is having things work out differently to what they had planned.   Perhaps you want to go drugs-free - and that's great - as long as you have that as a loose plan and can feel comfortable about changing directions during labour if you change your mind.  Strangely enough, no-one gives out medals saying, 'Yah-Hoo!  You did it all without drugs!!'  You do get a wonderful, swirming and tiny prize however - either way :)

Just go in there and do your best, and let 'come what may, and love it!' :)

Advice for after the birth

You might absolutely adore your baby from the first moment that your eyes meet.  (Yes, they will look at and see you from the first moments.)  All the gushy, overwhelmingly tender and fiercely protective love that you never thought anyone could feel this strongly might rush over you in that moment, irrevocably changing your understanding of your place in life forevermore..

..Or you might feel nothing.  Or nothing much.  Or perhaps a bit of awe, or fear, or even resentment - this was the reason for that, afterall!

Be patient with yourself.  There is nobody standing by, grading you on some cosmic mother-appropriateness meter. It's really ok to be yourself and to be honest with yourself and others about how you feel.  Give yourself some time to grow into things.  Ask for help.  Talk to somebody who will be understanding.

There is one thing that is more important than anything though - even more important than your feelings and challenges at this stage, and that is the safety and health of your new baby.  For good or ill, you are the one person on earth more than any other who has the responsibility of ensuring the safety and well-being of that tiny person.  There will be people around to help you if you need it (and very often even if you don't :) - but yours is the prime responsibility, unless you officially pass it on to someone else.

Doing whatever it takes to get through the day

I had a good friend, a lovely girl, who was home alone with her new baby one night, pacing the floor with a baby who would not stop crying.  She did all she could, until finally, she said, she had, "an overwhelming impulse to throw (her baby) against the wall."   She put the screaming newborn carefully into her cot, then left the house and walked around the block a couple of times until she had calmed down enough to go home.

Leaving your new baby in a house alone is not normally the right thing to do, but in this case it was a matter of doing what she had to, to get through the day - something of a mantra that I think should always be kept in mind by new mothers.  I believe that the daily objective of every new mother should be to keep their baby safe and healthy and themselves sane, and to do whatever it takes day by day to achieve that! :)  If you can get to the end of the first few months with your baby safe and well and yourself sane - well done!!  You made it and you are doing great!  Really :)

Perhaps this will mean having lots of take-aways, (or easy, throw-together meals like, say: a tin of tuna, a banana, some frozen green peas straight out of the packet, a tomato and a drink of milk - Ta-da!   Nutritious and it just took you one minute and 18 seconds to prepare :), or letting the dust in the house accumulate and the ironing mount up..   This time of night feeds and unsettled tummies won't last forever, and you will eventually get back on top of things when a routine finally kicks in.  It will happen.  Until then, don't fight it my friend.  Remember the mantra, and the daily objective :)

Ask for help, and say 'yes, thank you!' when people offer

You're capable, smart and independent.  When people offer to help in any way after you have had a baby you ought to say, 'yes, thank you!' - because that is what capable, smart and independent people do! :)

Maybe you won't have anyone offering.  It's nice if you do, but you'll still make it if you don't.  While it would be nice to have someone dropping by a home-cooked meal some days, you'll be ok without it too.  But if you do need help in achieving the Daily Objective, (of safety and sanity), then you need to ask somebody for help.  It might be a friend, family member, kind neighbour, or a helpline.  I think all Australian hospitals have someone 24/7 that you can talk to for advice whenever you need to.  You're not alone, remember that.  There are people who care about you and your baby and who will gladly help :)

Advice and criticism

You're almost bound to get a lot of advice as you embark on this challenging adventure.  (Here I am, giving my share, and I've got still more to come too :)  It's pretty much all well-intentioned, even though some of it may even sound like criticism on occasion, (perhaps when you are tired and frazzled :)

This advice will range, (and I do mean range!), from whether or not to breast-feed your baby, when to toilet-train, whether or not to enforce a schedule, whether or not you should leave your baby to cry, whether you should swaddle, when you should start feeding solids...  ...   !

My advice is to listen humbly to it all - but most of all to your own mother's advice, if you can.  She will probably love you asking her for advice, and you will probably find her an amazingly helpful resource.

Then, you should do whatever your own mother's heart tells you to do.  That's my advice.  I believe that mothers are often blessed to know what is right for their child.  So: learn from others, but most of all - trust yourself!  You're a mother.  What feels right to you?

(If you are not feeling anything, then go to the advice of the person you trust the most :)

Anne Geddes Galleries | Miracle 1
Photos by Ann Geddes

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Mother Heart..

Last week, our daughter Ana turned 2.  

Ana has a doll called ‘Jenny’, who she takes extremely good care of.  Especially since we brought our little baby boy home from the hospital, Ana has demonstrated exemplary care of her little baby.  

She feeds Jenny, puts her down for regular naps, cuddles and kisses her, tickles and giggles with her, chats and coos to her, bounces her in our baby bouncer, styles her hair, plays music for her, and holds toys in front of her face to entertain her.  

If Ana’s outside playing, you can be sure that Jenny’s been made comfortable for her absence – I’ll find her napping in our son’s bassinet, sitting in Ana’s high chair in front of a plate of plastic food, or lying in our baby playmate with the music going.  

Every night when we kneel to say Ana’s prayers with her before bed, she gently helps Jenny kneel down beside her, and folds her arms.  Then she holds Jenny’s folded arms carefully with one hand, folds her other hand, bows her head and is ready for prayer.  

Ana loves Jenny.  She takes so much joy in looking after her and meeting her needs.  

Just as naturally as Anamaria’s learned to eat, walk and run in the last 2 years, she’s become a little mama.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Best App Ever

Okay, apologies in advance for those who aren't THAT interested in what I'm starting to think of as the 'cool things online' series that I seem to have started up through scattered posts over the last few weeks, but I HAVE to tell you about this awesome app that I've recently discovered:

Now, there will no doubt be a small group of you going 'Sleep Cycle? Seriously?  That thing's been around forever!'  And you're probably right. But I'VE only just discovered it, and honestly, I think it's amazing.  Here's the gist, in a nutshell (and yes, I'm quoting directly from the website):

Have you ever woken up feeling completely wrecked when the alarm clock goes off, despite the fact that you have slept “enough” hours? When this happens you have probably been awakened during a deep sleep phase, and your whole day can turn into one long zombie marathon. Other days you spring out of bed with a smile on your face, feeling completely rested even though you shouldn’t. As the alarm clock goes off, chance seems to play a big role in how your day will become. But does it really have to be that way? This is where the Sleep Cycle alarm clock application comes into play.
During the night you go from light sleep to deep sleep, occasionally entering into a dream state which is called REM-sleep. These are things that your normal alarm clock does not care about, and will go off at the set time regardless of whether you are in a light sleep phase or in the deepest sleep. However, since you move differently in bed during the different phases, the Sleep Cycle alarm clock is able to use the accelerometer in your iPhone to monitor your movement and determine which sleep phase you are in. Sleep Cycle then uses a 30 minute alarm window that ends at your set alarm time and wakes you in your lightest sleep phase.
I actually heard about this App a while ago.  You put your iPhone on the corner of your bed as you sleep, and it's sensor's pick up when you move and monitor how much you move to know how deeply you're awake or asleep. They then plot out a graph of your deep-light sleep cycle, and then wakes you up at the best part of the 30minute window you give it the night before so that you wake up feeling awesome!  But it all sounded a little too fantastical and far-fetched, so I ignored it.  But after (on the weekend) I heard my brother Ben talking about it and swearing by it, I decided to give it a go.  I downloaded it for 99c from the AppStore, and have now used it for 3 nights in a row.
And here's what's absolutely amazing to me - this thing actually works! Like, seriously works!  I never get more than 6 hours sleep during the week, and often need to get up very early (3 or 4am).  And I have SUCH a hard time waking up and dragging myself through the next few hours until I've finally shaken it off and woken up properly.  But the last 3 mornings in a row, when that little alarms has beeped, I've been WIDE AWAKE!  Instantly. Awake.  It's wonderful. Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful :)
SO.  If you have an iPhone, you really need to give this a try.  It's like a whole new world, where people can be people, and not zombies. 
xo Tammy

Monday, May 13, 2013

Friday, May 10, 2013

I Told You I Was Sick :)

I'm going into hospital tomorrow morning for an operation.  Nothing too serious or worryingly out of the ordinary, but I am feeling a tad apprehensive.  Having been a nurse, (in a time long, long ago), I am aware that while most surgeries go to plan there is that very small number that don't.

Not to be morbid or anything, but I really don't like the thought of being caught out, so just in case anything does go wrong, I have given our eldest daughter the five minute version of what to do in the extraordinary event that I die, which is mostly, "Take care of Dad," and, "Could I please have lots of nice music at the funeral, just in case I am there? Could Abby play the viola please?"   If I am in a coma, then, "Please play French tapes or something, just in case I am still in there but can't communicate, so I don't get too bored!  And perhaps play Mozart?"

All sensible precautions I think :)  But it has got me thinking about how it would be if I were to suddenly die.  What would I regret not having finished yet?

For me, there is a book that I would like to write for my family.  I've been thinking about it for years, but there is always something else to take my time that seems more immediate.

This slight touch of potentially-imminent-deathness that I appear to have contracted makes me realise that I ought to get on to doing what is really most important to me now, rather than just plan to begin sometime.  I want to write that book while I still can.

Do you have anything like that - something that you would like to accomplish before you shuffle 'off this mortal coil'?

Thursday, May 9, 2013


Okay, first, a post from my personal blog from November 6, 2012 (with large sections deleted - it turns out I was really wallowing... :)):

Ever Seen a Pregnant Woman on Crutches??
WARNING:  Long sob story, with some excess of wallowing... :)

So yesterday, I walked (obviously excessively powerfully) by my couch, and stubbed my toe.  I collapsed on the couch in pain, and after it
 really sunk in (the full strength of pain was a tiny bit delayed), I realised it was really bad - like, worse than any other stubbed toe pain I'd had.  I looked at my little toe, and was nearly sick - it was sticking out at a disgusting angle, away from my foot!  Ew!!! 

Fortunately I had my phone in my hand, so I called James (in hysterics, a little bit) and I do not remember the exact wording, but the fact that he was in the driveway and bounding up the stairs maybe 30 seconds later... might give some indication that I was fairly urgent (and possibly a little demanding) about it.  As I was hanging up from James, Mum was calling (she's got that intuition thing
 down).  I blubbered that I'd broken or dislocated my toe, and she offered to come over to look after the girls.  I hysterically yelled "Can you be here in 2 MINUTES?!" and she calmly said "No, but I'll be there in 15" (which is about how long it takes to get here).  She also mentioned that if it were dislocated, James could probably just 'pop it back in', to which I may have screamed something about real doctors and painkillers, and "NO!!!". 

When we got to the hospital, he parked where you're not supposed to (not afraid to defy parking rules in light of a wife's sore toe - my hero ;)) and carried me into emergency.  I was painfully embarrassed  but I wasn't having a great deal of success with my attempted at hopping again :p  When we finally got in for the x-ray (they covered baby boy in my belly with 2 of the iron aprons and assured me it was 100% safe before asking if I was sure I wanted to proceed since I was pregnant lol) and then into the plaster room (after a wait long enough to allow me to imagine the awful pain of re-setting my almost certainly dislocated toe many times over and enough to make me shake all over), the doctor said "You've actually broken your toe".  Oh.  Did that mean they didn't need to re-set it??  Of course they did - it had snapped right through at a funny angle and was sticking out - they needed to put it back in place to heal properly  :(  After warning me that they would hurt a LOT, she then gave me 2 giant, painful, horrible awful needles, right into the bone, on either side of my little pinky toe.  The doctor was right.  It hurt, a LOT.  I cried out and sobbed into James!  I was so embarrassed, but I couldn't help it!  And James even seemed to think it was justified, because they were huge, and the doctor seemed to think they were going to half kill me with the pain, and can I use the 'pregnant' thing??  Anyway, thank goodness she'd let me bring him in! :)  And then the anaesthetic (okay, there was a GREAT reason to put me through those needles, shudder) set in, and she fiddled with putting my toe back into place while I was mercifully without feeling in my foot.  Hooray for anaesthetic!!! :)  I was soooo grateful not to feel it, I can't even tell you!  It was like when I got the epidural when I was in labour with Maggie, and suddenly the world was a happy place again :)

So they strapped said snapped little toe next to it's closest relative, and gave me a lovely set of crutches, to use for the next 6 weeks (that's right - until I'm 35 weeks pregnant! - 1 week before Christmas!), or until the pain goes away and I can walk again.


Oh for the sake of one little toe!!!

{Okay, I just Googled images to find a picture of a broken toe to better illustrate this story for you, but am disgusted by the images that came up, and I think this will suffice..}

I was in a lot of pain, for a long time, and despite everyone assuming so, having given birth twice and anticipating it once more didn't help my toe feel any better in comparison! - Turns out I don't like the pain of childbirth or the pains of broken bones :)

Anyway, yesterday I was walking past the (killer) couch in my living room, when I stubbed that same poor toe.  I hopped around holding it and collapsed on the couch, only to realise after a moment that the pain was not going away - it was worsening.  And it felt strangely familiar....NOOOOO!!!!  I broke it again!!!  Is there anyone else out that who's uncoordinated enough to have achieved this TWICE?!!!  

I'm really asking you that:  Is there??!!!  Twice?!?!!

After a few minutes of trying to swallow the pain I timidly looked down at said toe, and thankfully confirmed to myself that it wasn't as bad as last time - no funny angles!!  So I didn't go to the doctor, I just hurried James home (thank goodness it happened at the exact moment he was finishing coaching for the afternoon!) and strapped it up, and have been hobbling around in pain since...  Today the bruising and swelling have come up, and I can't move it, and did I mention the pain??...

...And I just can't believe I did it, again!!!

So from the very bottom of my heart, here's a piece of advice for you all to keep you out of this sort of trouble.  From the very first words spoken by dear James when he hurried home from school yesterday afternoon:

 "Sweetie, I think you need to take a wider berth when walking around the couches"

Thank you, dear.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Subway Sweetheart

I decided to stop at subway on my way home from last night's workout.  I was feeling lazy, and a nice Steak and Cheese wrap sounded much better than cooking dinner.  I parked the car, walked in, and was surprised to see a 12 year old boy standing behind the counter  (okay, so he was probably 14 or 15 or whatever the legal age for working in Australia is - but he LOOKED 12).  This kid was obviously brand-spanking-new to the world of Sandwich Artistry, and, well, to be frank, I've never seen anyone do a worse job of putting together a subway.

But I didn't care.  At all.  Because this kid was just so darn cute!  Seriously, melt your heart cute.  And he was trying so hard.  It started when I ask for a steak and cheese wrap, and he reached into the cupboard to pull out the package of wraps and grabbed the closed end by mistake.  This resulted in every wrap in the packet flying out through the open end and landing Frisbee-like all over the floor.

He was clearly mortified, but he also seemed to be working on the 'maybe if I don't make a big deal no one will notice' thing, as he put them all in the bin and started looking ('subtly') in every cupboard for another packet.  Which he couldn't find.  So once I realized he was going to silently continue to look for wraps until I stepped in, I decided to put him out of his misery by saying (also playing along with the 'let's pretend that never happened thing') "Actually, instead of a wrap, could I maybe change my mind and have a 6 inch Pizza sub instead?"

He looked grateful and relieved.  And was quick with a 'of course ma'm'  (which is another reason the kid was melting my heart.  He kept ma'm-ing me).

He forgot to wipe off the knife before he cut open my sandwich (which put avocado all through it. Luckily I like avocado).  He had trouble spreading the avocado when I then asked for it.  He didn't seem to remember which cheese was the Swiss cheese and after a bit of silent back and forwarding he settled on the cheddar cheese - which he ever so carefully laid out all down the sub.  He was making such a mess of all the salads (spilling everything into every bucket) in his attempt to serve me quickly - which resulted in me pretty much having every salad on the sub, rather than just the handful I'd asked for.  When I said 'no salt and pepper please' he must have only heard the 'salt and pepper please' part, because after another round of 'of course, ma'm' I got a very generous serve of both.  My 'double olives please' resulted in double olives all over the bench, since he couldn't seem to master the art of putting them on top of my sub's salad mountain without them all rolling off again (I watched him try about 4 times before he gave up and asked hopefully "is that enough olives ma'm?")

Oh, and instead of a 6 inch, he made me a foot-long.  But by the time I'd noticed he wasn't going to cut it in half, he'd already put all the meats on, and I didn't have the heart to tell him it was supposed to be a 6 inch - it was a little too soon after the 'wraps on the floor' incident! And the entire time, in between all of the "of course ma'm's", he kept apologizing under his breath - even in the rare moments when he didn't actually have something to apologise for.  It was all kind of hilarious.

By the time he'd wrapped it up (and I use the term 'wrapped' loosely, because if I hadn't been so careful about how I carried it to the car, my sub would have suffered the same fate as the wraps) and went to the checkout, he seemed to be a little worked up - despite my best efforts to exude calm customer contentment and gratitude - and he forgot to take his gloves off.  So that resulted in southwest sauce all over the cash register keyboard (which was fortuitously covered with a plastic keyboard cover) and all over my EPTOS card when he handed it back to me.

Poor kid.  I'm not sure he'll last there very long.  He was trying so hard, but the harder he tried the worse he seemed to do.  But I seem to have a soft spot for these cute little teenager boys and their sincere desire to get things right (I have a few of them in my seminary class). And this awkward stage won't last forever.  One day he'll grow up and figure things out.  He'll learn how to make a perfect sub and will get that trendy, cheerful, zippy, subway-teenager thing down.

In the meantime though, I think I'll glad-wrap my EPTOS cards before visiting again...

xo Tammy

Monday, May 6, 2013

An Angel to Watch Over Me...

With Mothers' Day coming up this weekend, the words of my favourite 'Mother' song come to mind...

Love you Mum!!! :) xox

An Angel to Watch Over Me
By Sally DeFord

She watched by my cradle
through long, sleepless nights
She taught me to pray as she knelt by my side
She guarded my childhood,
and all through the years
She echoed my laughter, she counted my tears
In the arms of my mother, I came to believe
That God sent an angel to watch over me

She taught me the meaning of courage and faith
She taught me to live with the Lord as my strength
She taught me to follow the pathway he marked
She guided my steps when the journey grew dark
And I know there were dangers that I could not see
But God sent an angel to watch over me
She taught me to serve with a spirit that sings
She taught me to seek after heavenly things
And because of her love and her kindness and care
Because of the place that I hold in her prayers
And because of her goodness, I still believe
That God sent an angel to watch over me

Friday, May 3, 2013

Some Totally Random Things That Every Girl Should Know :)

There are probably thousands of interesting snippets that could be written under that title!  Here are just six things, some of which my mother taught me, and that I have passed down to our girls..

How to walk in heels

tells you how to walk in high heels and how to position supports inside the heels for increased comfort - PIN IT !!

You've probably seen how awful it can look when it's not done well - knees and body all bent, head bobbing up and down like a camel?  Here is what my mother taught me about how to walk fabulously in high heels, that I have always found very helpful:

Two things: First - you need to keep your knees fairly straight!  Not both knees ramrod straight all the time, but as straight as you feasibly can.  If you were to go and throw on some heels right now so you can try this, you are going to find that this is more or less impossible to do - unless you put a wiggle in your walk!  No, not a wiggle like that, but a beautiful, womanly, gentle figure of eight, side to side sway - you have to comfortably move your hips from side to side as you walk.  That's number two.   You'll find that you can glide along beautifully when you keep your knees straight and gently sway your hips - instead of badly bobbing..  There should be no bobbing up and down!  Ideally, one seeks to glide! :)  Keep your upper body straight too, head up and shoulders back.

One other tip here, also from my mother: You should always walk as if you are the most beautiful girl or woman in the world!  'You believe it, and then other people will probably believe it too!' she used to tell me.  (You might find it helpful to sing 'The Girl From Ipanema' to yourself too :)


Fight back if you are attacked!

Imagine that you have just started to drive when someone who was hidden in the back seat of your car suddenly holds a weapon on you and demands that you drive where-ever he tells you to go.  What do you do?

(Well, first - always check the car and back seat before you get into the car!  But, moving on..)   You drive straight into a tree, or a shop, or a house, or whatever!  Do it somewhere there are lots of people who will come running to see what has happened.  In that situation, you have the driving wheel which means you have the power -so use it to your advantage, not his.

Even without the advantage of that situation, you should use whatever you have available to fight back for all you're worth. This makes it much more likely that your attacker will decide that he got more than he bargained for!

The most important thing to remember when anyone is attacking you is:  they are always going to tell you to do something that will benefit them, not you - so don't do it!   Fight back!  Numerous studies have shown that your chances are much better is you fight back.

Protect yourself from the sun

Hats with scarves are fantastically romantic at the beach

I was the girl slathered in coconut oil, laying out for as long as I could.  And I have the sun and age-spots to prove it!  I know you don't think you need to worry about the future too much right now.  But one day you will wish you had, you really will.  Sunscreen, hat, long sleeves, and staying out of the sun will ensure a much nicer skin as you get older.

Don't over-pluck your eyebrows!

red lipsick #topshoppromqueen #topshop

Eyebrow hairs do grow back when you pluck them - until they don't.  So be very careful about ever plucking more than just the stray hairs, or you may find yourself in a needier relationship with an eyebrow pencil than you planned!  Many girls thirty years ago over-plucked their eyebrows, as was the fashion at the time - but they are the older woman you see about now with pencilled in brows.

Eyebrows can change the whole look of your face so much, so it's important to be careful about how you groom them. This is a good page to refer to if you would like to know more.  The photograph of Jennifer Connelly, below, is a good example of how well-groomed bushier brows enhance her beauty.

Anti Aging Skin Care Tips: Avoid over-tweezing to prevent an aged look. To fill in your brows, try Senna Sketch-A-Brow Pencils

How to reduce static cling

This is a simple little tip, and I know that girls don't wear dresses as much as they used to, but for those times when your dress is getting too clingy for comfort, there are a couple of solutions.  You can tip a small amount of fabric softener into your hands, then run it over your legs, or use body moisturizer in the same way.  Quickly slathering on a bit a moisturizer is generally the easiest way to go.  Works like a dream!

(To reduce static cling in your laundry loads you can try one or each of these three ideas, which apparently all work very well:  use 1/4 cup of white vinegar in your final rinse (there's no smell apparently);  use a couple of wadded-up balls of aluminum foil in the dryer (works, but not perfectly); use a couple of safety pins in the wash, attached to an odd sock. This is supposed to attract the static and I've read that it works brilliantly :)

Avoid germs when out and about

BC (before children), I was a nurse, so I think I imbibed some careful ideas about how to avoid germs when possible from that now long-ago training.  I don't think that all germs are bad, or that you need to be obsessive, but it seems to me that a common-sense approach is useful.

Mostly, avoid touching public rest room and toilet doors, and staircase rails, etc, with your palms.  When entering through public doors, it's good to be in the habit of pushing the door open with the back of your hand.  If you want to hold the rail of a stair or escalator, turn your hand over so that only the back of your hand touches the rail, or preferably your sleeve. The reason for this is that you are more likely to touch your face and transfer germs from your palms and fingers than from the back of your hand.  It's a little thing, but probably helps you to avoid getting sick sometimes.  It's a good idea to wash your hands when you get home from being out in public too, more if there seems to be a lot of sickness around.

Fab After Fifty - Yes, it originates from the UK but, it has lots of great ideas for women over 50 ---- regardless of where they reside!

Do you have anything that you are happy to share, in the way of tips we would all like to know? :)

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Any Musicians Out There??

When I was writing a post last Friday, I was reminded of this - one of the funniest things my little viola playing self has ever seen.  It really, really struck a chord (bahaha... or 8.. ;)) with me, and I love it (even though yes Mum, he's not being particularly polite.. he does sound a little bitter... poor cellist!).  If you don't play a stringed instrument you might not find it as funny, but... it really, really is :)

Technically this song was written for 3 violins and a cello - no viola part, but violas usually pick up the 3rd violin part.  I have been in groups where there was no cello, and I ended up having to play those 8 notes 54 times, so I'm feeling his pain! - But I have to say it's one of my all time favourites too - it's just beautiful.

Music fans of any genre, on behalf of the classical world, you're welcome for all of your favourite songs, and sorry for his little bit of rudeness at the end!  But this deserves its own post:

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Welcome to Earth!

Father asked us, “What was God’s noblest work?” Anna said, “Men”, but I said “Babies”. Men are often bad, but babies never are.
- Louisa May Alcott.

I have a new niece!  She was born Monday afternoon, and last night I was able to make the trip up to the hospital to meet her.  Such a wonderful experience to meet someone who's so recently come from Heaven!  

This newest little girl is so strong!  She was lifting and moving her head and kicking her arms and legs with such power.  She'll be a tall girl I think, like her paternal grandfather.  There's a gentleness in her too though.  Such a special, gentle little spirit that I found it incredibly difficult to leave the hospital for the long drive home.  She just kept pulling me back into the room! 

(That and the fact that I mistook the bathroom for the exit and had to come back into the room in order to actually exit).

She's beautiful.  With wonderful parents, and so much promise.

So welcome to the world baby girl!  I can't wait to see you grow and learn and develop.  And I can't wait to get to know you better and spend many fun hours playing and being your (favourite) Aunty :)

xo Tammy