Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Wit and wisdom of my toddler

This will come as no surprise to any of you who either have a toddler currently or have been through that phase with older kids, but man toddlers can be hilarious ;-)

Here's some gems that my 2.5 year old has come out with in the past few weeks.

Toddler the Modern Child (tweeted on 27th August)
We got Mickey Mouse Clubhouse DVD for review in the post this week. Kids watched some eps this arvo. 2 yo just said to me: "Mummy, can we write 'bout the Mickey Mouse on your glog?" #childrenoftheInternet

Toddler the Negotiator (tweeted on 26th August)
Toddler just got put into her cot because she threw a plastic toy in her 8 yo sister's face. Le sigh. Now she's calling out, "Mummeee! I wan' a Zhou Zhou pet an' 500 hunnerd dollars! An' some blackberry jam!" #whatthe

Toddler the Self-Aware

On being asked to help her sister pack up some puzzles, she replied "Nooooo!" "Why not?" demanded the exasperated 6-year-old. "Cos I being diff'cult!" shouts the toddler triumphantly.

Toddler the Toilet Trainer
To a random lady in the supermarket, "Hi! I am wearing my big girl undies! They 'ave Dora the 'Splorer on them! I show you, see ..." Then, "What is on YOUR undies?"

Toddler the Curious
"Mummy, why Daddy have no O-Os? [Her word for breastmilk]."
"Well, only women make O-Os, sweetheart. And Daddy's a man."
Frown. "He NOT a man, he a BOY!"
Then - "Will I make O-Os when I a big yady too?"
"Maybe, love. If you have babies."
Smile. "Gweat!"

Toddler the Heart-Melter
"Yes, hon?"
"Mummy, I love you. I love you very much. An' I missed you. I missed you sooooo much."
Me, accepting the hug and kisses happily, "I love you too, darling. But I was only gone one minute, you know." (I'd been out to the bin to put rubbish out).
She, sternly, "But you DID miss me, Mummy!"
Me, "Of course, love."
She, cuddling in, "I should think so!"

For all its frustrations and exhaustions, it's a phase of enormous delight, toddlerdom.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Super Silly Adventures: Review and Giveaway

Disclosure: I received a complimentary DVD review copy courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment and Porter Novelli. No financial payment was offered nor accepted for this post. All opinions expressed are purely my own.

As I've written about before, my kids like Mickey Mouse Clubhouse a lot. When we were offered the chance to review a collection of episodes around the (loose) theme of Super Silly Adventures, we said, Sure, we're in!

As it turned out, my older kids had seen a couple of these episodes on TV, but they were very happy to catch them again. The toddler, for whom they were all new, was, and is, delighted with them. Her favourite is the episode where Goofy gets turned into a baby by dint of a time machine experiment gone horribly wrong (this is Mickey Mouse, not dystopian science fiction, so never fear, all ends well and everyone stays perky throughout their journey back to their proper timeline ;-)

The three things we most enjoy about Mickey Mouse Clubhouse are:

- The bright colours and eye-catching, simple graphics. My toddler in particular is drawn to bright, clear images at the moment, and enjoys Mickey Mouse visually for much the same reasons she enjoys Dora the Explorer.

- The predictable, straightforward, but (for this age group) very successful story structure of problem - questions - viewer involvement - solution. This structure isn't unique to MM, of course - I could name another half-dozen preschool shows without even trying that employ this formula to good effect - but it's common because it works in presenting entertaining material with a learning component to young children.

- The music. Gosh this show has good music - someone with a real talent for creating earworms was involved in putting together the score, I reckon. From the They Might Be Giants theme song to the chirpy, instantly identifiable background tunes that are all riffs on the theme, MM is bound together and driven forward with music.

Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Super Silly Adventures is out in shops from 14 September, but if you'd like to win a complimentary copy, just leave a comment below by 5pm AEST on Sunday 4 September. I'll randomly draw a winner on Monday 5 September and announce it here on Tuesday 6th. This giveaway is open to Australian addressees only.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Things I Know

Here are a few things I know this week, still dentally-themed (it's been the node and focus on my world again as I've battled gum infection and post-extraction problems).

- I know that it's a sign of how things have changed since the olden days when I was a girl, AND how awesome my dentist is, when my kids actually look forward to going for their check-up.

- I know that oil of cloves tastes absolutely disgusting, but that it works as almost nothing else does to relieve the agony of a dry socket inflammation.

- I know that, with my eldest daughter's permanent teeth growing very crooked and with a decided overbite, orthodontia may be in our future.

- After looking at some brochures the dentist gave me from orthodontists he refers patients to, I know that we may have to (reluctantly) rethink our stance on private health insurance if this occurs, and / or remortgage the house. (And I'm not joking even a little bit).

- I know that bad teeth, as my own mum pointed out in an email recently, are nothing but trouble your whole life long - a pain to get, a pain to keep, and a pain to lose ;-)

For more things that people know, check out the link over at Yay for Home!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Blogopolis Reflections, Directions and Decisions Part 2: Purpose

One of the things that I took away from Blogopolis was a rethinking of purpose in blogging for me, and the purpose of this blog in particular. Several of the speakers touched on this, but it was some of the comments made by Nikki from Styling You and Nicole from Planning with Kids that resonated the most with me. I've been mulling it over ever since, but to really show the evolution of my thoughts, you'll need to follow me Back in Time a bit.

The history

I've been blogging for quite a while now. I started my first blog, Zucchinis in Bikinis, in February 2004, when my eldest daughter (now 8) was a wee thing of 6 months. Before that, I'd been reading blogs for about 6 months, first alerted to their existence via a friend of a friend (now himself a friend ;-) who is, I venture to say, one of Melbourne's longest-running bloggers.

When I started blogging - via the at-the-time charmingly amateurish Blogger, long before it was absorbed by Google, and long before it could handle complimacated stuff like pictures and comments - I don't think I had much of a notion of purpose, or focus, or direction. I could be mistaken, but I think lots - most? - bloggers were like that back then. We're talking the days before the mighty Dooce had Leta; the days when she was just starting to feel out her readers about the possibility of maybe at some point running a teeny-weeny ad or two if anyone was interested. The blogosphere as a whole was much more of a new frontier as a popular pastime, and ideas about purposeful (let alone remunerative) blogging were very embryonic in most cases.

I drifted into blogging with a vague idea that it might be fun, that I wanted to be part of the conversation I saw happening on other blogs, and that I'd like somewhere to record things about my daughter's development in a way that could be quickly and easily shared with distant friends and relatives.

This wasn't a very specific or directional purpose, and, again like a lot of bloggers at the time, I spent quite a few months happily splashing my feet in the milieu du jour - memes in particular (oh, list memes! I'm quite nostalgic for them sometimes). It did not occur to me for quite some time that "me, on the Internet" was maybe not a sufficient purpose to carry my blog forward, in terms of sustaining my own interest as much as anything else.

The schism: One blog to two

In 2009, a lot of things happened to me, some of them wonderful, a lot of them not at all wonderful. I continued to write my life in Zucchinis in Bikinis, but, just as my life was darkened at that time, so was my writing. This led to a number of uncomfortable crossovers between with IRL and online worlds, culminating, early in 2010 in a very upsetting conversation with a co-worker who read my blog. (The blog wasn't about him or about work - I rarely blogged about work, and when I did, it was in the most elliptical and inoffensive terms. No, his views were on my LIFE, and how I was screwing it up, based on a few dark-days posts).

At that point I decided I no longer wanted to blog my life, unexpurgated, in public. I made the decision to close Zucchinis in Bikinis down to subscribers only, and to carefully screen anyone I added to the reader list. (That blog, which continues apace in the blackout of the private blog world, has just short of 40 subscribers, and that suits me just fine). I still blog my life there, still uncut.

I set up this blog at the same time as I shut down public access to Zucchinis, mostly, truth be told, so I could still play along each week with Childhood 101's We Play link-up. I must have had a glimmer of intent / purpose when I did this, as I chose a blog name that sounded purposive - Play, Eat, Learn, Live. But that purpose was loosely defined, unclear, to me, and probably to my readers as well.

Rethinking purpose

Listening to the speakers at Blogopolis helped me to really crystallise in my mind that my blogging would be more satisfying for me, a more fleshed-out hobby, if I had a clear idea of what I was doing it for (and, following on from that, who I was doing it for). I mulled this over for a long while before realising that I could coalesce my blog's purpose into three main theme areas:

1. Blogging the journey of parenting my children, and what it means to "be a family" in a postmodern world
The blog as a family record, and as a record of my growth as a parent, and of our growth as a family, has always been important to why I do this, and has not become less so with passing years.

2. Blogging the life of the mind of our family
Increasingly, I'm drawn to book blogging - not just reviews, but blogging about literacy, about how books and meaning permeate all of our lives. I'm also interested in blogging the learning / educational process my children are going through, and the things we're learning together.

3. Blogging the sustenance of the body in a food-intolerance household
I'm a Coeliac and a cook, and I have two daughters who are fascinated with food. Blogging our culinary adventures is just pure fun for me, escapism and sweetness and light. I also love taking photos of food, even though I'm not super good at it.

Wrapping around all of these was a fourth purpose, which is growing in strength all the time, and that is to have a forum where I can practice and refine my writing. I'm intending to do NaNoWriMo again this year and will probably set up a separate "writerly" blog at that time, but for now, this is a space where I can experiment with different styles, voices and themes and get feedback on it, which I value immensely.

And, of course, the uber-purpose can never be lost - connection. Being part of a community, or rather communities - sharing, interacting, developing. If I didn't want connection, if I didn't hope people would read and engage with me, I'd write an offline journal. It's as simple as that. I don't do this for the readers, but I embrace the fact that people do read, and the conversations that inspires.


Going through this mental process has really helped me to refine the purpose of this blog, and surprise, surprise, the name I thought up in 2 minutes last year is still quite apt! My purpose in this blog is to write about a family's journey through three childhoods, from the mundane to the elevated, in body, mind and soul, from different viewpoints and in different voices. I'm really happy with this as an outcome and as a statement of what this blog is about - what it's for.

As to who it's for? It is, first and foremost, for me, my partner, and our children; in time, for my grandchildren (what a rich resource for any future family historians these blogs will be!). Secondarily, it is for my extended family and friends, who can read our story here and be part of it even though far away. Thirdly, and not less importantly, it is for those who read it and enjoy, or take something away that's of value, and form a connection with me because of it. That's who it's for.

(My next post on my Blogopolis thoughts will be about Ethics / Law in blogging, but that won't be up for a week or so, as I have a book review post on Ben Goldacre's book Bad Science that I'm itching to finish and post first).

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Blogopolis Reflections, Directions and Decisions Part 1: Monetization

It's three weeks now since the Nuffnang Blogopolis conference, which I attended and really enjoyed. I took away a lot of food for thought from the day, and I've been slowly masticating it in the back of my mind ever since, mulling over ideas, information and challenges presented by the day.

As I stated at the time, I found the technical information interesting and in some cases useful (I'm loving Smush.it, for example, and have started tracking stats, and am finding that interesting). However, the greatest benefit for me was in the reflection that the day prompted about the purpose, voice, and direction of my blog, and blogging generally. Several of the speakers started trains of thought in my mind that took some time to arrive at the station, but things have coalesced now.

My thoughts (and the conclusions I drew from them) ended up being gathered under four main heads - Monetization, Purpose, Ethics, and Voice. Because each is a whopper in and of itself, I've divided them into four separate posts. First up is Monetization.


One thing that struck me even at the time, and more in retrospect, as a bias / theme / focus of Blogopolis was the assumption, in some cases stated, in others implied, that most, if not all, people were aiming to directly monetize their blogs in some way. Perhaps this was predictable given that Nuffnang is an advertising network, and in reality it's probably true that a preponderance of bloggers are at least not averse to earning a little money from their blog (and many do want to develop it as a part- or full-time job).

This seems to me to be very far indeed from the whole story when it comes to blogging and money, though, and it flattened out, for me, what is actually a very rich, multifaceted picture. I know bloggers who actively reject any form of monetisation on their blogs, for many reasons. I know bloggers who accept some kinds of remunerative opportunities but not others, on criteria of their own (sometimes spelled out, sometimes not). I know bloggers who actively shill for advertising and sponsorship, up to and including tailoring their content to meet sponsors' requirements. I know bloggers who are open about running effectively online advertisement sites, with as much personal connection as a copywriter in an ad agency has to their finished product (ie. some, but not overwhelming).

I need to be clear here - I'm not suggesting that any of these approaches to money and blogs are wrong. I read and enjoy blogs in all of the above streams and several fine permutations thereon. So long as the writer is ethical in disclosing their commercial relationships, which appears to be pretty standard on most blogs these days, I cannot see that the very fact of monetization is problematic, any more than earning royalty income as a writer is wrong, or being paid to create advertising copy is wrong. If blogging is one's chosen profession and one is skilful and consistent enough to attract and hold an audience, then that is all to the good. And after all, why should a good blogger who devotes considerable effort to their work not be compensated for it, if that is the path they choose to pursue? Very few people are independently wealthy enough to devote masses of time that could otherwise have been used in paid work in providing quality content to an unremunerative hobby.


I think there is another case to be made here for the un-monetized blog. If a blogger does not wish to monetize their blog, even if their blog is popular enough to support it, does that in itself render their blog less "serious", less ready for "the next level" (as several speakers said)? I don't think for a minute that it does.

Bloggers can choose not to monetize because they are blogging for a cause or purpose which would be incongruent with accepting ads or sponsorship. They can choose not to monetize because they have consciously decided to blog raw, as therapy or self-expression, in a way that's too uncomfortable for advertisers to buy in. They can choose not to monetize because, for them, blogging is a passionate hobby, a personal or family record, a way of creating and sustaining community, a practice ground for a larger writing goal; any of these goals can make monetization a poor fit, or even impossible, for that blog.

What I want to say is that it is really OK to not want to monetize your blog, to make that choice with open eyes, or to choose some kinds of opportunities but reject others because they are inconsistent with why you blog. There was lots of talk at Blogopolis about voice and purpose and how important it was to be present in your blog (good discussions, and I enjoyed them all), but all of it was slanted towards how being authentic and having a sense of purpose etc was important because it built readership, which was, in turn, desirable because it built monetization opportunities. And this is all true, and it is a special feature of blogging that the personal, rather than being political, is the magnet that draws and holds. All this I agree with. But there are reasons to want to write in public, to want to attract and hold an audience, that are non-financial, and that does not make them less real or serious or important.

So let me say it explicitly here: I do not want to directly monetize this blog. I write here because I like to write, I like to log my family's development, I love to write about books in particular, and I like being part of a community of bloggers, I really value that connection. I do not want to have to blog in particular way or on a particular schedule. I do not want to see my blog as a potential income source, because for me, then I will start to treat it differently, treat it and think of it the way I thought about my paid work (which was also writing-based, although in a very different space). For me, to do that would spoil blogging; it would take this shining bijoux thing that I do for me, and make it just another thing to grind away at, with plans and schedules and forecasts and so on.

Thus, I've decided that I'll continue to accept DVDs and books for review / giveaways with great pleasure, as that fits very well with the purpose of my blog as it is evolving (see next post). I am not open to any form of brand partnership, sponsored posts or direct advertising. I'm leaving Nuffnang's box up for now, but am contemplating withdrawing from it also shortly. (Not because I don't like Nuffnang - I do, I think they're terrific - but I feel that I ought to walk the talk as much as I can).

In the next post, I'll talk about Purpose, which was one of the more profound areas of reflection that Blogopolis triggered for me.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Things I Know

I had a very badly infected tooth extracted yesterday, so that's what's kind of filling up my vision at the moment. So this is going to be a moany post, please forgive me...

I know that severe toothache is the absolute worst pain in the universe. Yes, including labour.

I know that it is completely typical of my luck that this intense tooth pain, and subsequent necessity for extraction, should occur while my husband was away on a business trip, AND while I and all of my children are still sick with a cold / cough.

I know that having a good, efficient dentist who works carefully and quickly is an immense blessing.

I know that one's mouth feels bloody awful the day after an extraction, but that it still isn't as bad as the nerve-dying torture of pre-extraction.

I know that I am clock-watching til 10am, at which time I can next take some painkillers.

I know that alternating Panadol with Nurofen Plus at 3 to 4-hourly intervals does indeed provide better overall pain relief than one or the other individually, and also spaces the doses nicely.

I know that I'll probably get dry socket inflammation, seeing as how I usually do after an extraction, and possibly a nice gum infection just for larfs.

I know that the dentist's advice to rest, not talk or do too much, and relax is a HOOT in the context of my life.

I know that, with the big kids safely delivered to school and urgent supplies obtained, toddler was always going to be watching Play School this morning (and is enjoying it as I write ;-)

And also ...

I know that I am privileged that the biggest problem in my life right this minute is that I'm in moderate pain and feel unwell.

I know that I am privileged to have access to first-class dental treatment and the means to pay for it, and effective, inexpensive pain relief.

I know that there are millions of people worldwide who need these services and have no access to them, and that that is appalling.

I know that, sooner or later, I'm going to feel better, and that's OK.

For more things people know this week, check out the link at Yay for Home!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The multiple sick day: A survival guide

Every parent everywhere has had to deal, usually many times, with the phenomenon of having a sick child who isn't desperately sick. In other words, they're unwell enough that they can't attend their normal Thing (be that school, creche, kinder, or even usual lessons / extracurriculars) that ordinarily shapes the day and provides some sense of routine / activity; but they're not unwell enough to curl up in bed in fever-laden stupor and worry the living crap out of their hovering parent.

I venture to guess that every parent has also had the funtimes experience of caring for a sick child while sick themselves; often, for extra difficulty points, with the parent actually being *more* unwell than the child, but having no choice but to dig in and do.

One experience that I have been lucky enough to have only had a handful of times, however, and that I'm only just starting to perfect, is the Multiple Sick (But Not Desperately Sick) Day. Oh, I've had two out of my three kids sick at the same time before, but usually when this has been the case, it's been Desperately Sick - like the winter when A had pneumonia while E & I had full-blown flu (well before Miss C was born). My advice when dealing with the Multiple Desperately Sick Day is this: Survive. It. That is all.

But here, it's been a while between drinks for shared illness. A, who was the ear and chest infection queen from ages 1 to 4, has apparently outgrown her tendency to contract scary lingering bacterial infections, and is now very rarely ill with anything worse than a mild cold, usually not enough to keep her home from anything. E, still prone to tonsillitis whenever a heavy cold strikes, is ill somewhat more often, but nonetheless, still not all that often. And Miss C gets about the average amount of snotty noses for a 2.5 year old, but other than that, has been remarkably healthy, having a total of two ear infections to her credit and that's literally *it* for non-cold-virus illnesses in her lifetime.

So Monday, when I kept both big kids home from school with snotty noses and heavy coughs, toddler was a ball of cold-virus and I was suffering badly from a relapse of flu (and I think also a chest infection), was something of a novelty for me. Three sick kids, none of whom was sick enough to warrant or accept being confined to bed; one rather sicker mother, whose weak over-the-counter cold medicines were not providing nearly enough support to stave off the pain; one dad who confided sorrowfully that he'd be working back that night to prepare for a forthcoming business trip, which, he reminded me, meant he'd be away from Wednesday morning for four days.

Can we say AWESOME? Oh yes, I think we can.

The day wasn't nearly as craptastic as I'd feared, although it would be stretching a point to describe it as "good". Here are things I did that I *think* made it a bit more bearable for us all.

1. This sounds counter-intuitive, but try not to go for screens (TV, computer) in the morning.
I know it's an axiom of modern parenting advice pieces that "you should not worry about how much TV they're watching when you're sick!!" but I still reckon, based on my own experience, that overdosing on screens too early in the day is not a good move. In the case of my own kids, none of them are very screen-driven, and while I'm sure they would have been happy to sit down at 9am and watch Scooby Doo for an hour, this almost certainly would've meant that by the afternoon, they were bored of visual entertainment and looking for something else, just at the time when I was hitting my own brick wall.

I guess the point here is, even in sickness, use technology strategically to get the maximum benefit in terms of respite and fun. I put Shrek on for all three kids after the toddler's nap (around 2:45), and they all enjoyed it, which gave me a much-needed hour to slump around when I was feeling at my worst.

2. Be ever-mindful of the fact that sick kids have shorter attention spans, less patience, and much higher irritability than well kids.
For us, this meant that I had to accept that a quicker rotation of activities and much shorter periods of independent play would characterise the morning. We started off with playdoh, an activity that all three girls enjoy and that usually they will happily play with together for an hour or even longer. On Monday, within 15 minutes I was summoned from my dishwashing in the kitchen to mediate a dispute, and found this pattern repeated throughout our drawing /colouring time, music time, and leggo / duplo time.

Following on from this revelation was my third observation, which is:

3. Make frequent opportunities for the sick kids to play separately or do different activities apart from each other.
Peace was restored several times by me setting up different activities for the kids and actively / firmly separating them. While the toddler napped, for instance, the 8 year old lay in my bed reading a novel, while the 6 year old & I played Uno. Giving them some breathing space is even more essential than usual when they are unwell.

4. Feed them little meals often, rather than trying to go for normal-sized or big meals at morning, noon and night.
Kids' tummies often feel a bit wonky even when the virus is essentially respiratory, I've found. By giving the kids 6 or 7 little nibbly meals, they are more likely to eat enough to feel sated without getting nauseated. Frequent snacking is also a good way to break up the day and inject some quiet togetherness into things. I served my kids, across the day: crumpets & honey; fruit salad; cups of chicken vegetable soup; cheese & crackers; rice pudding; home-made chicken nuggets; and steamed veggies. None of the servings were large, but all got at least sampled by each child.

5. Don't expect to do anything at ALL other than care for your children and (hopefully) yourself.
The laundry can wait. The vaccuuming can wait. All those niggly little things you've been putting off can certainly wait. The only thing that can't wait is your kids, and yourself.

6. Try to see the funny side.

I say this because there will be stuff go down on these days that is not optimal. One example might be, say, a toddler deciding to stick her fingers in her pooey nappy and paint the loungeroom window and curtain with it while you are busily coughing up a lung. Or, perhaps, a 6 year old coughing mucus into her sister's cup of soup, prompting a screeeeeeeeeaming match of epic proportions.

It's not funny at the time, no, but you have two choices here - explode and be part of the problem, or try to see it as theatre of the absurd, put on your best face, and deal. Either way you're gonna be cleaning that window and replacing that soup, so you might as well do it gracefully.

Do you have any other tips for Multiple Sick Kids Days?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Things I Know

Some days, I feel like I don't know nothing at all, but here are some things I *think* I know this week about combining paid & other work with young families, after doing some solid contracting hours and also some writing / reviewing.

I know that doing paid work again after a 6-month hiatus feels strange, a little uncomfortable, but also surprisingly a great relief as the thin stream of extra cash starts flowing into my bank account.

I know that we can live, and well, without what I earn ... but that it makes sudden financial crises a lot less scary if there is a bit of cushion in our budget.

I know that 2 days a week at creche is OK for the toddler and OK for me, but not really ideal for either of us, and I know that once I settle into a routine with my home-based contracting, I'm going to drop her back to only going on her beloved Thursdays, which works beautifully for us both.

I know that you should be careful what you acquire expertise in and a reputation for professionally, for once you are known as That XXX Person, you will never escape being asked to do work in that zone unless you change industries (and, preferably, countries ;-)

I know that, looking around my house, it's obvious that I am not a superwoman who can juggle both paid work and cleaning. This week was paid work, so, yeah, bombsite.

I know that the warm and genuine positive comments of readers of my NaNoWriMo book from 2010 have made me feel like a million dollars this week, and I'm so grateful to all of them. What a massive confidence boost for my writing!

Hop over to Yay for Home! to see what other people know this week.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Tweeting the slumber party

Although I hadn't intended to, I ended up tweeting my eldest girl's first-ever slumber party in pretty close to realtime. Here's how it went down:

Slumber party in full swing here. Seven kids running with great energy around the house. Hubs left with alacrity to get dinner 15 m agoless than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet Reply

So, dinner, then cake, then we put on Shrek 2 on the big screen for them to watch. At some point in distant future - sleep #shesayshopefullyless than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet Reply

Starting off, all organised, all calm, no problemo. She'll be apples!

First glitch wasn't long coming, but it was minor.

And ummmm, I can only see / hear 5 of them. Better go huntin'less than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet Reply

OK, the missing trio were playing Zombies in the Dark (whateverthehell that is) in my bedroom.less than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet Reply

Things were going swimmingly at dinner:

One of the party guests just said, "Is ANYONE happier than me?" I think the party's going well ;-)less than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet Reply

Bear in mind that this was a slumber party for an 8th birthday, and that all but one of the kids is unused to sleeping away from home. So, as the movies started, some potential cracks were appearing:

Shrek 2 in progress. My kids + 3 guests v, v happy. One guest looking anxious. One coughing & looking sick. #howlongtilfirstonebailsless than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet Reply

Then they started to divide into groups, which, while I hadn't expected it necessarily, worked out OK:

OK more experienced sleepover hosts - it's normal for party to divide into smaller groups, right? Three kids now playing while 5 watch movieless than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet Reply

At this point it sort of dawned on me that sleep might not be a rapid and seamless transition.

aaaaaand credits roll on Shrek 2. Next - Scooby Doo Cyber Chase, and a further mystery called #willanychildactuallysleep?less than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet Reply

I also realised I was using Twitter for emotional support as well as fun ;-)

I feel like I'm live-tweeting this slumber party, but need to report that the first kid just bit the dust (as in went to sleep, not left ;-)less than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet Reply

Matters proceeded apace throughout the second movie, and I said:

I give this sleepover 30 more mins before 1 more kid crashes to sleep, and 1 kid cracks & asks to go home. Who'll give me odds?less than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet Reply


Oh Lord. They're having a pillow fight #iconicslumberpartymayhemless than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet Reply

Wow. Is it really going to be this easy? Signs of trouble simmering, but basically, not bad! Sent at 11pm:

All in sleeping bags. To my surprise, no one has yet decided to go home. 4 of them are overtired and sleepy, 4 are overtired and manic #hmmmless than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet Reply

Ok, now 4 are asleep - my toddler (in her cot), two sisters who are guests, & one other kid. My two bigs + the two worried kids still awakeless than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet Reply

Twitter had to wait for morning for the answer, as I stopped tweeting when I clambered into bed at 11:30, to doze, but not sleep. Today I reported:

Well, it's 630 am. Sleepover score was - Kids asleep by 1130: 100%. Kids awakened by screaming nightmare of kid at 1245: only 1, amazinglyless than a minute ago via Twitter for Android Favorite Retweet Reply

Kids going home at 1 am after aforementioned nightmare: 1. Kids inexplicably awake at 215 am believing it to be morning: 3.less than a minute ago via Twitter for Android Favorite Retweet Reply

Kids intermittently awake throughout night due to coughing and sniffing: 2. Kids awake for the day at 615 am: 4. Kids still asleep: 2.less than a minute ago via Twitter for Android Favorite Retweet Reply

And the all-important number: minutes of actual sleep for me - 180. In two 1.5 hrs blocks #gonnabetiredtodayless than a minute ago via Twitter for Android Favorite Retweet Reply

But at the end of the day ...

Still, the 8 yo has loved it intensely. So it's all good. Nanna nap is indicated for me today tho!less than a minute ago via Twitter for Android Favorite Retweet Reply

More palaver about making pancakes, saying goodbyes, and then, in staccato;

Overall, it was a good party, and it was what A, my eldest, wanted most of all, a slumber party of her very own. After having a Nanna nap in the early afternoon, I don't even feel too drained. Unlike life with a little baby, I have the inestimable comfort of knowing that I'm likely to clock 8 solid hours of shuteye tonight, which makes it all OK.

Things I've learned from how we did this sleepover that I'll carry forward are:

1. Bringing takeaway dinner in was a good idea and really made the whole business of feeding the kids unstressy. It also was cost effective - buying bulk packs at the takeaway meant we spent $50 or so to feed the 8 kids and us, and I would easily have spent this on food if I'd prepared my own.

2. Popcorn with the movie was a huuuuuuge hit but very messy. Still, that's what vaccuum cleaners are for ;-)

3. 8 kids (including my own two big girls) was probably one or two many for a first-effort slumber party, especially as they are so young. The older, more mature ones coped extremely well, but some of the younger / less confident ones might have found it easier with less bodies at sleeptime in particular.

4. For winter sleepovers, *keep the central heating on all night.* I cannot stress this enough. Warm children sleep better and longer than chilly children ;-)

5. Being relaxed about bedtime (including for the toddler, who liked joining in) was a key part of making the event fun. Yes, some kids did get overtired and no doubt will be flaking out now, but it's a special occasion!

6. And finally, starting with an attitude of acceptance that I might not get a lot of sleep, and than that was OK, helped me to enjoy the experience and my big girl's excitement without obsessing on my own lack of rest. (I am glad I didn't attempt this until my toddler was solidly sleeping through the night, though, as adding getting up with a wee one into the mix would've been very hard, as would the knowledge that the lost sleep would not be made up the next night).

It's a meme of childhood, the slumber party - it's where memories are made. I'm glad to have been able to give it to my eldest as a love-gift this year.