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So here we are... back at Friday again and I have a very exciting announcement to make. Let me start by saying that I love getting presents but something that makes me just as happy is giving them, so you can only imagine how thrilled I am to announce the winner of the first ever giveaway on Mother Load today.

It goes without saying that I wish I could give an awesome personal planner to each and every person that filled out my survey and entered the competition but (sadly) there is only one winner. Drumroll please .... The winner is Sarah Armstrong. Yay for Sarah! Keep a look out in your inbox for details coming your way real soon Sarah.

Please don't feel too sad if you didn't win this one - you have not heard the last of Giveaways from Mother Load this year! So don't forget to subscribe to Mother Load and you won't miss out on my next competition or Giveaway!!

Happy Friday.


Cheers,

Lee

 
 
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If you are visiting Melbourne or live in Melbourne and have not made it to the Queen Vic Night Markets yet, here is your call to action.

The Night Markets run on a Wednesday night through the summer season and are a great place to take the whole family. There are 101 (well I don't know how many exactly - I didn't count) food stalls with a wide variety of foods to suit a range of tastes. There is also a Sangria Bar, cocktails and the most delicious desserts.

Whilst all this tantalising food is grabbing your attention there are also lots of arty, crafty stalls to look at and bands playing. The atmosphere is amazing but it gets crowded early - so get in earlier if you would like time to grab a table to enjoy all this delicious stuff.

The Night Markets are still on until Feb 27th so get out there and experience all that Melbourne has to offer.

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Get there early to get a table - as you can see the Markets are very popular!!
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Bands and Buskers. Music is all around - lots of stuff to get you tapping your feet.
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A look at some of the tasty desserts available. These are honey dumplings with ice cream and chocolate. It was as yummy as it looked!
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Lots of atmosphere, things to see and spaces to hang out.
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Cello Joe the busker.
Don't forget that the winner for the Awesome Personal Planner is being drawn tomorrow and announced on Friday. So you still have a little bit of time to enter this survey and be in the running to win.

Cheers

Lee
 
 
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The body is an amazing thing. It gets us to where we want to go, it can create another life but it's not until it is broken that we really appreciate it for what it is. I have spent so much time wishing I looked like someone else and the really hard thing to swallow is the older I get the more I realise how much I should have liked what I already had in the first place. 

Well, here's the thing. I disclosed this in a blog post not so long ago but just in case you missed it, I just turned 42. Yep 42. It's funny that when you're young everyone over 30 looks ancient but when you get to 40 - you think everyone who is 40 is practically a babe in the woods and even 60 isn't looking that old. Well, it seems that looking fabulous has now come in a dismal second to remaining healthy and I'm not even doing a great job as that. 

It appeared that I turned 40 and everything turned to shit. I know that sounds a little over dramatic, so I will expand on that.  I try to be healthy, I work out, I try to eat right (yes, I know I love a good cake... but who doesn't!?) and in general I try to look after myself but it seems that this has made no real difference. It's looking like 40 is the tipping point whether you looked after yourself or not. Once I turned 40 I got plantar faciitis - in a nutshell - it is a painful throbbing under my foot near the heal which some days is so bad I have to limp. Off to the gym to do my step and attack classes with booming music and some fast paced cardio - I think not. Once you start yapping to people about having it, you'll be surprised by the sheer number of people out there suffering with it and the really exciting thing about it (not), is that once you have it you always have it. So it is likely to reoccur even once it's sorted - you just don't know when (Yay - a surprise).

I know what you are thinking, boo hoo, get over yourself - but I am sad to say it has really affected my life. Another great joy of hitting 40 is that it becomes so much easier to put on weight and harder to get it off. So my usual routine of slogging it out at the gym to sort all that out has now been put to a stop as well. Far out! It's coming at me from all sides.

Not to be deterred and doing my best to continue to care for this body, I took myself off to a naturopath to help with the fact that I was feeling a little over it all and was pretty much tired all the time (well, tired and angry actually but we will just stick with tired at the moment). He recommended a number of tests to check my levels were all where they should be. Surprisingly my vitamin D level was great (which is funny as I don't ever stand in direct sun light and pretty much run from one shady spot to the next) and my iron was excellent. But - and here's one I didn't see coming, I have high cholesterol. What?! It turns out you don't have to be overweight to suffer from it (that's a myth).

I don't know what my next move is going to be other than cutting back on the cakes and biscuits (talk about sucking the joy out of my life) but I know what the next thing I will be researching online is going to be.

Have you just hit a milestone with your age? I hope your handling it better than I appear to be... let me know.

Cheers,

Lee



 
 
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I was perusing my Facebook page the other day when I came across a post from a friend of mine. Now let's be clear it is a Facebook friend not one I have in "real" life but one I find interesting none the less.
 
The post was on adversity and overcoming events in your life. He talked about things that he had overcome and how he was still able to move on in his life with a sense of purpose and joy.

Now it is not my place to mention someone else's traumatic events so I will not be going into what happened to him but I must add that once I had read his story and just one other friends (who had commented underneath) and I realised the enormity of what they had overcome I realised how much I had to be grateful.

My parents are divorced, my family is a little fractured, I live in a different state to every  person I am related to but these problems were so small and insignificant next to these two peoples worries. I thought perhaps it was time I took a moment to reflect on what I was thankful for in my life, not just focus on the areas I issue with.

This is not to say that I now believe you have to have something huge happen before you can worry about anything or count it as a worthwhile event in your life. I mean, how big does a bump in the road have to be to count as something big?? I believe that problems are very subjective and personal to each person but what I really wanted to focus on here was joy. Moments of happiness. To think about, to dwell on, to enjoy.

So each week on a Friday I am going to share with you something that gave my life joy, purpose and meaning that week and I would love it if you would share yours with me.

So to start of the very first TGIF (Thank God It's Friday) post I give you my moment of happiness from this week the first of February. (Imagine a litle bit of fanfare here - you know streamers, trumpets ... that kind of thing)

This morning I play wrestled with my two (and a half ) year old little guy on the lounge room floor and as I held him down I smothered his face with light kisses. He laughed with such joy and abandon that it filled my heart with joy.

There - that's it. Simple. But the thought of that moment even while he is asleep having his afternoon nap still brings a smile to my face.

I would love to hear you moment of joy from this week. What was it??

Cheers,

Lee

 
 
So, here's the thing. I posted this little anecdote the other day on facebook because I was thinking about it and it got a large and swift reply - which surprised me. So I thought it was worth talking about.

My mum said "Your hair is too long". "Too long for what?" I replied. She looked at me and said "Your age."

Now, I am going to be brutally honest here. With all the things I have spoken about in the last six  months or so I have never ever brought this up, so here goes. I am 42. I just turned 42 - I was only getting used to the trauma of turning 40 and now I'm 42. With being 42 comes the certainty that I will never look like, be as slim as or feel like I am 20.... ever,again. I'm OK with that.... well some of it but whatever the bits I'm not OK with, I'll just have to get over. What's the saying "there are only two alternatives, getting older or being dead!" - so I'll live with getting older thanks.

When I was 29 I went the big chop and had a really short haircut. At the time I thought it was fabulous - but on looking back at photo's of that time I actually look younger now.

I also had a fairly good chop about five years ago - not too short mind you, shoulder length.  When I looked in the mirror after that cut I thought "God, who is that middle aged mum looking at me?". I said to my mother "I look like a middle age mum!!" To which she replied "But you are a middle aged mum." To which I said "Here, why don't I just lie on the ground in front of you so it's easier for you to kick me."

The thing is age will come soon enough. I know I'm not 20.... or 30 anymore but is it a crime to want to do the best with what you've got?? When I wrote that little anecdote about being too old for my hair, I was deliberating going a much shorter do but the outcry for long lovely locks for ALL ladies no matter what your age made me re-think the whole thing.

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Instead of the chop I went the trim. It's actually much redder than this picture looks.
I cited a number of more mature beauties who have held onto their locks in the discussion on hair length with my mother, such as Elle Macpherson, Courtney Cox and Julianne Moore. Are these women just fooling themselves? The question is, are they remaining youthful or just hanging onto something that worked for them in their 20's and not so much now?? Or do long luscious locks only work for celebrities and us mere mortal mums are destined to a life of manageable, mum dos?

Is there an age limit on long locks? When is the time to go the chop? What do you think?
 
Cheers,

Lee

 
 
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We are now heading full steam toward back to school (Yee Har! Ooops, did I say that out loud?) and the thing that may dampen my enthusiasm just a little is the fact that I have another three years before my smallest person goes off into the wide world of education - even though he will be three this year. Due to his birthday missing the cut off for starting education in this part of Australia I will have his happy little face at home for another three years.

That is not to say that I don't love his happy little face, I do. More than life itself in fact. It is just that sometimes I catch myself flicking through Target catalogues thinking how nice it would be to go out and purchase some new work clothes and then actually have somewhere to wear them. Don't get me wrong, I love my yoga pants and shorts... but still.

Anyhoo all this has got me thinking about life BK (before kids) and of the world that opened up to me when I became a mum. I have a few friends who are thinking about becoming, are about to become, or have just become mums and I wanted to share my list of the 12 things I have learned since becoming a parent. Those of you who are already parents will know exactly what I am talking about. 

12 Lessons I Have Learned Since Becoming a Parent.

1. You can never have enough bandaids, tissues, wipes and snacks. So always pack more than you think you will actually need... a lot more.

2. If you think you have more than enough activities to keep a toddler occupied on a plane - double it and some, or spend the rest of your trip trying to stop the game of up / down tray table and seat kick and just live with the hairy eyeball the person in the seat in front is giving you through the seat gap.

3. A toddler will always find the hole in the toddler proof environment - get down to their level and find out where it is before they do.

4. Things that are popular in March for kids over 5 will be lame by December - so shopping that far ahead for kids Christmas presents is a waste of time, no matter how much cheaper it is.  

5. Selective deafness means kids don't hear you asking them to clean up their rooms (10 times) but does mean they will probably be listening into your private conversations.

6. Chances are they will bring that new found information up in front of the people you were actually talking about.

7.The same show can be watched over and over and over because it's their favourite and you just don't understand how much they love it.

8. That same show is now oh so ten minutes ago and you should never mention it again - without expecting to get that look.

9. Even if they are so full they could not fit in one more tiny little vegetable .... there is always room for dessert

10. Going on a holiday with kids hardly ever means you are actually going to have a  break. 

11. Even if you are just going out for a quick trip with a toddler you will probably be unprepared and it always pays to bring a snack and a drink

12. Going grocery shopping with a toddler is like organising a cross between a covert manoeuvre and a cruise. You have to have enough activities to keep the troops entertained or they will go rouge and you can't tell them about it before you get there or they will over excite themselves.

This is by no means the complete lessons - those little devils teach me new things every day! I would love to hear some of the lessons you have learned since becoming a parent so don't forget to share them in the comments section below.

Cheers,

Lee

PS. If you haven't already filled out the survey to win the awesome Personal Planner prize which is being drawn next week - the link is here.

 
 
I am such a sucker for nice stationary it always makes me feel like I'm more prepared (whether I actually am or not is beside the point). Sometimes I go into stationary shops just to look at (oh, alright and touch) all the shiny new things and imagine what I could do if only I had more lovely pencils, pens and planners to do it with.  With that note book I could take over the world! Perhaps not - but it does make me feel a bit special to put my to do lists down in my pretty new planner and tick the things off as I go.

At this point either you're with me on the stationary love or you're shaking your head thinking I need a hobby. Well, don't you judge - what's your poison?? Garden shops, nic-nac shops, shoe shops.... don't pretend you don't know what I'm talking about.

I was recently introduced to personal-planner.com.au and I have to say I LOVE the idea of being able to make your yearly planner a bit special and personal. Go check out their website at http://www.personal-planner.com.au/AU/ and see all the lovely things you can do with a planner. Their specially designed website enables you to change the colour, text and design on the front and back cover of your planner as well as inlay and choose the start date for your planner.  There are also clever boxes for to-do list, gym session, preschool, idea of the week and weather. Friends and family member’s birthdays can also be added to the inlay directly from Facebook! Actually you can go and say hi to them on Facebook here and make sure you like them while you are there. A lot of paper products you buy online now are e-products so you buy it and have to print it out at home yourself. The thing I love is that personal-planner.com.au print and deliver the finished product to you. Nice.  

OK, so here's the thing - I need your help (it will be painless - I promise). In line with my vision to make 2013 something big and wonderful I have put together a short survey so I can get to know what you know and love and need more of to make Mother Load (and your world) even better. Just click and fill in the survey here. Now, here's the exciting part - I am not asking you to take a few minutes out of your life without thinking about how I can make your day nicer, so once you fill out the survey you go into the draw to win a planner from personal-planner.com.au  . Yep, you heard it right! The winner will be chosen in two weeks time and will be announced in the blog post on Friday the 8th of February.  The winner will be able to  choose any planner in any size and the shipping is included!! Woo hoo!! I have already had friends ask me for this one! But the prize will be drawn fairly and taken from the list of people who fill out the survey. (You can get to the survey by clicking here).

I wanted to let you know that this post has been sponsored by personal-planner.com.au  - not as in paid for but as in they have generously given me a planner and this prize to give to you and talk about it. Hey, it's stationary - not a hard ask for me.

So there it is my very first sponsored post, woo hoo - look at me go!!

Firstly, I wanted to let you know that because I am all about being open and honest with you and secondly I was quite excited about it. Mother Load started as me wanting to find some kind of purpose (let's call it retaining my sanity) and it has become something bigger than just myself and a handful of friends reading it. I have had comments on posts from all around the world  (I  can't tell you how exciting that is) from mums who are going through the very same things, or just letting me know that I made them laugh. How  wonderful to know that we are not alone!

So go ahead and help me out and fill out the survey and throw your hat in the ring to win this awesome planner to plan out all the exciting things you are going to do this year... and so you don't forget anyone's birthday!! Now is the time to start getting your organisation on for 2013 (don't tell me you already let some of your New Year's Resolutions beat you).

Just in case you missed it the link to the survey is here and don't forget you can always subscribe to Mother Load with the little box up in the right hand side of the page and never miss a post!

Cheers

Lee
 
 
Not only is 2013 already upon us but we are quickly closing in on the end of January and as retailers would have us believe Valentine's Day, Easter and Mother's Day. What!? You haven't seen any Mother's Day cards yet?? Wait ten seconds after Easter Sunday and I'm sure they will be out in full force!! The fact that hot cross buns were out on shop shelves before New Year's Eve had even hit drives me absolutely crazy... OK. Rant over. 

Today dear friends I present my first post for 2013. Dum de da dum! (Imagine trumpets playing and symbols clashing here... the visual image helps with the drama of it all. I want you to have the full surround sound, 3D experience that Mother Load is).

Now first off, you may have been wondering what had happened to me - seeing that I was so prolific with posting in 2012 and you have not heard from me until now. Well, I think I was suffering a little blog post burn out (well, that and the kids are at home .. all day, all the time and it's a little hard to focus on my own special little things) but fear not. I am back in a big way baby!! Motivated and really looking forward to seeing what 2013 brings.

To start 2013 off I give you my holiday show and tell.... I promise it will be brief and interesting. (I was once sent into a Prep - one class to look after the small people while they presented their show and tell and it was neither brief ...... or interesting)

Christmas was awesome. Lots of time to kick back and relax with my family and I know it's not supposed to be about consumerism - but I got my first iphone.... and I love it so very very much. 

New Years Eve - before you start thinking that yours was uninspiring read this - I spent a good deal of the evening combing nits out of my youngest child's hair (God only knows where he even got them) and went to bed early. (Yep I know, party animal)

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I know! Looks like butter wouldn't melt in his mouth but he was breeding a nit farm .... Motherhood after all is ALL about the glamour.
New Years day was another quite affair and then soon after it was my birthday. Wow, I'm really glad I got that out of the way so quickly in the year (not) so It's all over for me for another year. We spent the day at Barwon Heads frolicking on the beach, it was a little over cast and nobody else really wanted to go... but it was my day and we will go where I want to on my day.  So we went.
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Ice cream cake to celebrate my birthday (yay, my favourite). Look at that cheeky little face waiting to get in on the ice cream!
We headed up to visit my Mum by the beach near Newcastle (visiting a few friends and family along the way). Met a dinosaur, ate too much and had an enjoyable time.
Way too soon we were on our way back home to Melbourne from Port Stephens (near Newcastle) on what felt like the never ending road trip. We stopped in on the Toulouse- Lautrec exhibition at the National Gallery in Canberra on our way past - well worth seeing if you are in the area.
Sorry, to disappoint but the show and tell portion of our show is now over... told you it would be painless.

It's great to be back in 2013 and I am really looking forward to sharing lots of new stuff with you all this year. Most excitingly I will be adding competitions and giveaways to the Mother Load roster - woo hoo - I can't wait, I love giving presents!

Hope your Christmas and New Years was just as eventful as mine.. without the nits.

Cheers,

Lee

(P.S. You can stop scratching your head now - I promise not to mention nits again)
 
 
Siblings. Sometimes they fight like mortal enemies and sometimes they fit together like two little peas in a pod.

Hope you had a wonderful Christmas and wishing you a healthy and happy New Year with your family.

Cheers,

Lee
 
 
So here's the thing. It's hard to be all glamour at Christmas time with a two year old because it's really just a fight to keep him from kicking the tree baubles around the house every time I turn my back. So in an effort to keep him entertained and do something a little crafty (and by little, I mean not too much effort or expense on my part) I did a little searching on Pinterest and came across this nifty little crafty idea to keep the kids entertained. I first came across this idea on Sol and Rachel Do a Blog but there are heaps of different versions on Pinterest and now here is mine!

This felt Christmas Tree can be decorated over and over by the kids (felt sticks to felt - so there is no mess) and packed up and brought back out the following year.

I headed down to Spotlight for the materials and all up it cost about $11.  I purchased 1 metre of green felt for the tree and five squares of different coloured felt for the materials.

Here are my tips for making the experience as pain free as possible.

Fold the tree green felt in half. Pin the two sides together and draw your tree design on one side and then cut through both sides at the same time following the lines you have just drawn. If you try and draw the whole tree onto felt to cut out you will never be able to get it symmetrical on both sides!!

Draw templates for your Christmas decorations like the bows, balls and candy canes onto paper once and then reuse the templates by sticky taping them onto the felt and then cutting them out. You can cut through the tape and carefully peal it off the felt when your decorations are cut out.

I outlined a glass onto paper to create my template for the balls. But you could use a range of different circles like  a roll of tape or egg cups to create different size balls, which means the kids can overlay them on top of each other or put them up separately.

I stuck my tree to the wall using bluetac and the felt "sticks" to itself - so you can hang the decorations again and again and again.
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How could you not LOVE this idea!? Look at that happy little face!

I am going to be taking a bloggy break from my usual posting schedule over the school holiday period so that I can spend some time with and on my ferals... I mean children and the rest of my family. I will be doing more the occassional post rather than my usual schedule of posts over this time.

As I will probably be knee deep in kiddy activity stuff up until Christmas and beyond- I would like to take a moment to wish everyone a wonderful Christmas period and a safe and healthy start to 2013. See you in the New Year.

Merry Christmas,

Lee