Friday, April 29, 2016

Life is a rollercoaster


One of the first things people say to me when they find out I'm having trouble conceiving is you just need to stop thinking about it then it'll work. I'm not even going to get into the logic behind that comment, because medical conditions generally don't have a habit of just disappearing by themselves if you stop thinking about them, but I know they kind of mean it from a good place. However, not thinking about trying to conceive is not as easy to do as people may think.

You see I try to stop thinking about it. I try really, really hard. There are even some days where its not consciously on my radar, but its always there in my subconscious. It becomes quite hard to not think about something when your whole life revolves around it.

Now I can hear people chomping at the bit to chime in with "but its not your whole life, there are so many other things in your life. You already have a daughter you should be thinking about her not a baby you don't have".... and various other well meant, but severely ill thought out responses, {yes this is my life, seriously}. They're all right to an extent. There are many other things in my life and my daughter does pretty much consume my whole day {all day, every day}, but that doesn't stop my mind wandering.

The reason I can't stop thinking about it is because days, weeks and months are no longer just arbitrary calendar days to me, they're now days before or after ovulation, weeks of a cycle and months since we started trying to have another baby. Every single day is a reminder of our struggle to conceive because we now live life cycle to cycle.

So while others may look at the calendar and see today as the 29th of May, I see it as day 4 of my cycle. This is week 1, otherwise known as depression week, a reminder that the last cycle didn't work. During week 1 I'm usually an emotional wreck for the first two days. I allow myself a day or two to wallow in the unhappiness of being unsuccessful again, then I need to start taking more medication and switch my focus to this new cycle. The rest of this week and next are filled with daily medication and specialist appointments. Even if I wanted to forget about it, I have physical reminders each day. 

After I finish my medication for the month I then enter the two week wait, where I wait {completely not patiently} to see if this month will finally be our lucky month. Ironically while the two week wait is devoid of pill taking, pathology tests and specialist appointments, its during those two weeks that I think about my maybe baby the most. Because these two weeks are full of renewed hope.

Experiencing infertility is like being on a rollercoaster that never ends, the peaks and troughs just keep coming, over and over again. During week 3 and 4 I'm climbing ever so slowly up to the peak and as much as I want to get excited that someone will come and rescue me off this godforsaken fearful, yet adrenaline filled ride; in reality I'm bracing myself for the inevitable huge drop that is to come. And then it comes, and around and around I go on this continuous ride. 

Did I ever mention I'm shit scared of rollercoasters? Yet I've been on this one for over a year now.

One day I will get to week 4 and instead of facing the huge emotional fall at the end, I will get off this rollercoaster ride and it will all be over. Only then will I be able to not think about it.

Please don't ever tell anyone experiencing fertility issues that they just need to stop thinking about it and it will work. Because we can't.

Toni x

Linking with Grace

*Image used with permission from Cate
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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Mummy Must Have Review | Pastel Creations

I've spent a lot of time lately on Instagram, in fact its fast becoming my favourite social media platform {don't worry facebook I still love you}. The awesome thing about Instagram is that its really easy to connect with other like minded people, you simply have to search the hashtags. It's a bit of a time waster though {but in a good way}. I've found so many cool accounts by getting lost down the Instagram rabbit hole clicking from one profile to another. Plus I've also discovered there are so many awesome handmade businesses on there run by fellow mums.

One of the coolest little businesses that I've come across is Pastel Creations. I stumbled upon Pastel Creations via a tag on someone's photo and I've been following along for a few months now. Her wooden creations are just gorgeous, so of course I had to share them with you all too.


WHAT IS PASTEL CREATIONS?


Pastel Creations is a small handmade decor business run by stay at home mum Laurin. Laurin creates cute, unique wooden decor pieces perfect for nurseries and playrooms. In a similar story to many other businesses run by mums, Pastel Creations was born out of Laurin's desire to stay at home and work around her children. Her love of creating decor items for her own two girls eventually blossomed into a business. This is Laurin's story:

"Pastel Creations started from my love of creating one off pieces for my girls. As a stay at home mum I decided to look into a market style business, something that I could work around family life. Having no idea where to start or what I should do I enquired about buying an already established business. However, my good friend Amy talked me into taking a risk and starting something from scratch. After tossing over a few ideas Pastel Creations came to life and Amy came on-board as my social media expert.

Beginning with a simple rainbow everything flowed from there. Instagram and Facebook accounts were created, sanding equipment brought, along with a few other tools. We remain a small but very lucrative business that I do in my spare time {while children are sleeping or hubby/grandparents are home entertaining them}. I'm overwhelmed with the love and support that I have received along the way. All our products are released as available. With a high demand I strive to produce quality unique original wooden kids decor, with love from my home to yours."




Pastel Creations started with a simple pastel rainbow and now offers a whole range of wooden decor items; including swans, watermelons, ice-creams, foxes, deer and little villages, just to name a few. With such gorgeous designs its easy to see why Pastel Creations has gained such popularity in a relatively short period of time.

As Laurin works around her children, Pastel Creations pieces are solely released as they're available so its first come first served. For this very reason I have my notifications switched on so I never miss a release. They sell out super quick {sometimes in a few seconds, not even kidding} so if you want to get your hands on something I strongly suggest you turn on Instagram notifications so you don't miss out. Even though I've already got a rainbow, watermelon and little village set, I'm still lusting after a fox and swan so I'm constantly stalking her feed.



PASTEL CREATIONS AREN'T JUST DECOR


Most of the items sold at Pastel Creations also lend themselves well as wooden toys. The thing I love about wooden toys is that they are so open ended, leaving a world of possibilities with the help of your child's imagination. Bub wasted no time exploring her Pastel Creations items as props for her imaginary stories.

She quickly turned her play table into a little wooden village for her sonny angels. They've gone on many adventures, leaving their wooden houses to climb up and explore a series of rainbow slides. The rainbow layers also make great tunnels to hide under when the scary dragon {aka Clarence the cat} attacks. After their big adventures they go and snack on a "big, big watermelon". I love watching her imagination come to life through play.

What I love the most about all the items Laurin creates is that each and every one is unique. Each item is carefully hand crafted, sanded, painted and sealed, so each piece is slightly different. I actually really love that the rainbows aren't perfectly curved because I think it adds character. Plus its a reminder of all the time and effort that went into making the gorgeous pieces that now decorate our home. If you're after beautiful, well made decor items for your little ones {or for yourself} then I definitely recommend you check out Pastel Creations and Laurin's gorgeous designs.


I you'd love to have a pastel wooden rainbow at your place too {and lets face it who wouldn't?}, head on over to my Instagram feed where you can enter to win your very own pastel rainbow*. All you have to do is tell me what your favourite item from Pastel Creations is and tag a friend who might be interested.

Good luck!

Toni x

*Prize will be handmade once the winner has been chosen, as such please allow a 3 week turnaround for prize delivery.

Disclosure - I was provided Pastel Creations items of my choice for the purpose of review after contacting Laurin and requesting to feature her items. I did not receive payment for this post and all opinions expressed are my own {except where otherwise noted}.

Linking with Jess
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Friday, April 22, 2016

How to encourage toddlers to enjoy reading

When I was younger I loved reading, so I've always wanted to foster that same love of reading with bub. I started collecting children's books before she was even born, in the hope that she would enjoy reading as much as I did. Thankfully she's already starting to show an early love of reading by regularly selecting books off her shelves and "reading" them by herself. Of course at the moment she only recognises letters and numbers, not words, so she makes up the story based on the pictures.

I've been quite lucky that bub has a natural interest in books and reading, but I'm still not entirely sure how to capitalise on this and help her learn to read for real. So, when I was offered tips from an expert, I jumped at the chance and I thought I'd share them with you guys too. Ryan Spencer, Dymocks Literacy Expert and State Director of the Australian Literacy Educator's Association, has kindly put together a list of ways parents can encourage toddlers to enjoy reading. I was thankful to learn that I'm already naturally doing a few of the things he's recommended, but I also didn't know about some of the others {I definitely would've been a word pointer if I didn't read this list}.



Did you know that as a parent you have the power to boost your child’s learning and set them up for success in life, simply by reading to them every day?

Evidence shows that reading for pleasure from an early age increases brain power, boosts self-esteem and strengthens language and communication skills. So even if your little one is still a toddler, now is a good time to start building their reading habits.

Toddlers are generally in the emergent stage of reading, when they are just gaining an understanding of how a text works. They will display good book handling behaviours, they will know where the book begins and ends and they understand that print and pictures convey a message. In this stage readers can usually recognise a small number of high-frequency words (5-20 words) that occur regularly throughout a text.

When your child is displaying these reading behaviours, you can assist them in their reading development by pointing out environmental print (words on signs, around the home, at the supermarket), talking about the meaning of favourite books at bedtime and making links between these stories and the child’s own experiences.

Here are a few great tips on how to encourage toddlers to enjoy reading

  • Read with Your Child Every Day
Regular reading routines are essential to developing effective reading habits. Set aside a time every day when you and your toddler can read together, and another time when you can share your favourite parts of the book.
  • Let Your Child Choose What They Read 
Book choice is an component of the reading process. As adults, we very rarely read anything that we either don’t love or enjoy. Why then do we insist that children must read cover to cover something that they don’t necessarily enjoy or like? Often these imposed choices on children come from a place of love – we are trying to support the children in accessing a text that is at their reading level. It is often hard to let go and let children choose their own books. This is vital, however, for developing strong, self-sufficient readers.
  • Relax
The simplest way to encourage children to engage in reading is to relax around the process. The physical location can make a real difference to how the reading is perceived and enjoyed. Try lying down on the lounge room floor, Mum and Dad’s bed, or outside under a tree. Make it a time that is quiet, safe and warm.
  • Make Reading Time Fun and Quick
It is easy and necessary to make reading together the most fun time of every day. Read together with funny voices and try humorous books to engage the reluctant readers in your family. You should aim for no more than ten minutes reading together – just enough to encourage the kids to come back tomorrow. Set a timer if you need to, it will encourage them to ask for a minute or two more when reading time comes to an end.
  • Don’t Be a Word Pointer

The core of the reading process is making meaning. When a child changes a word in the text, they are being a resourceful reader. They are working towards making sure that the text that they are reading makes sense for them. Getting stuck on a word in many cases results in pointing at the unknown word and sounding out, or the parent becomes the “instant word factory” and supplies the word to the child. Both of these strategies are unsustainable. When figuring out unknown words, sounding out is the least effective strategy because the clues aren’t in that word – they are in the rest of the sentence or the pictures. Encourage your child to skip the word and read on for more information, use the pictures for a clue, or even leave the word behind and continue reading.
  • Have A ‘Screen Free Night’ Each Week
Make a screen free night part of your family’s regular routine where everyone in the family picks up something to read. Having your children see you read and talk about books adds value to this reading time. Different approaches to the screen free night may be to invest in reading lamps or book lights so that children can read in bed before sleep.
  • Visit The Local Library and Bookstores
Make regular visits to the local public library and bookstores as part of your family’s routine. These trips are simple ways to drive reading passion.
  • Give Books As Gifts
Whether it’s a birthday or Christmas, give books to your kids as gifts. Encourage your child to lend and swap their books with friends once they have read them.

DYMOCKS BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS FOR CHILDREN UNDER 5


Spark the imagination of little readers with a range of picture books, perfect for toddlers and pre-schoolers.


I'll have a review of the books mentioned above on the blog soon. In the meantime if you want more book recommendations, check out the great range of children’s books from Dymocks online. We're constantly adding to our book collection and a number of books from the Dymocks range are now on my wish list. At the rate we're collecting books I'm sure we'll be able to open a library by the time she starts school.

Do your kids love reading?

Toni x

Disclosure - This is not a sponsored post, I did not receive compensation of any form, I simply wanted to share these great tips with other mums.

Linking with Grace
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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Mummy Must Have Review | Love to Dream Swaddle UP Original

When I was pregnant one of the first things I was told by midwives, friends, family, drs {and even well meaning strangers}, was that I had to swaddle my baby because it would help them sleep. And boy were they right about that. Swaddling definitely made bub sleep for longer. The thing they all forgot to tell me is that swaddling is some what of a complicated art form. You need to practice, practice, practice to get it right... and then hope you don't have a houdini baby like I did. Seriously pretty much every single time I swaddled her she'd get out of it within minutes {unless by some miracle she was already asleep when I swaddled her up}. She'd start by poking out a few little fingers, then an arm, then another arm and then it was party time... sleep, what's sleep?

I remember constantly thinking surely there must be an easier way to do this? 

Of course there was {and still is}, I just hadn't heard of it yet. A few weeks later my friend had her baby and when she started sharing photos of him sleeping {as all new mums do}, I noticed he was in this fancy swaddle pouch looking contraption. My first thought was what in the heck is that, soon followed by where can I get me one of those?

Love to Dream baby Swaddle UP original grey xs

After a quick chat with my friend I discovered the awesome swaddling contraption was a Love to Dream Swaddle UP and she got it from a baby shop a few suburbs away. So from that point on I was determined to go get one. However, I was still recovering from my emergency c-section at the time and couldn't drive yet, so I had to wait until I could co-ordinate a lift with my mum. As luck would have it, the day we went to the baby shop they didn't have a Swaddle UP in the right size {I swear this stuff always happens to me}. Instead they convinced me to buy a larger muslin wrap to try and keep her better contained {which I bought because I didn't want our half hour trip to be pointless}, then I went home still annoyed I couldn't buy the Swaddle UP.

What I didn't realise at the time was that I could've bought it online directly from Love to Dream. Why didn't anyone tell me this? Probably because like me, they didn't know. It turns out it was right at my fingertips all along.

So what exactly is the Love to Dream Swaddle UP?


The Swaddle UP is an ingenious zip up swaddle that allows babies to sleep in an arms up position giving them the same snug feel of being swaddled, but with their arms up they can still self soothe. Without doubt the best feature as far as I'm concerned is that it requires no wrapping at all! Simply put baby in, zip it up and you have a perfect swaddle, every single time. Helle-freaking-lujah.

If that wasn't genius enough, it also has a twin-zipper so nappy changes are quick and easy, no need to take baby completely out. The Swaddle UP design is hip-healthy, allowing the recommended fexion for hips and legs. Using the Swaddle UP also eliminates excess loose fabric in the cot {which is a huge plus for me being an anxious parent} and the covered arm wings prevent baby from scratching their face {no need for mittens, which we all know just fall off anyway}.

But did I mention the best part is how easy it is to use....



By the time I found out all this info though bub was already starting to roll on her side so we went straight to using the Swaddle UP 50/50 which was a lifesaver and a great way to transition her to sleeping bags later. I'm still devastated that I didn't get to use the Swaddle UP Original in the beginning though, because I could of avoided so much stress and frustration trying to contain my little escape artist. I'm definitely getting one for our next baby.

My friend was lucky enough to use one pretty much from the birth of her son though, so I asked her for some feedback.

What made you decide to use a Swaddle UP?

I was completely useless at swaddling and had seen these previously in a baby store. 3 days after leaving the hospital we picked up a few.

Do you think it helped him sleep better?

He slept really well in them and he slept for longer as he wasn't waking himself up when he wiggled out of the cloth swaddles. We also found we slept better, as we weren't freaking out the cloth swaddles would come loose and smother his face.

What did you find was the best benefit of the Swaddle UP?

It helped Liam sleep longer {and was less stressful for us}.


The Love to Dream Swaddle UP Original is suitable for babies from 0-4 months {or until they start showing signs of rolling} and retails for $39.95. They can be purchased from David Jones, Baby Bunting, Bubs Baby Shops and other leading baby boutiques. Check the Love to Dream website for you nearest stockists. You can also purchase online from Love to Dream.



WIN A LOVE TO DREAM SWADDLE UP ORIGINAL


Thanks to the fabulous team at Love to Dream I have a Swaddle UP Original to giveaway to 3 lucky Finding Myself Young readers. Winners can choose their preferred colour {grey, white, blue or pink} and size. To enter simply leave me a comment below letting me know why you need a Swaddle UP Original in your life

Please remember to also fill out the rafflecopter widget below {so I can contact you if you win}. The easiest way to comment is to choose the name/url option and leave the url section blank. If you're having issues leaving a comment, message me on my Facebook page or email me and I'll help you out.

Good Luck

Toni x

a Rafflecopter giveaway

TERMS & CONDITIONS Competition commences 12:00am April 19th 2016 and ends 12:00am May 3rd 2016. Entry is open to Australian residents only, excluding ACT. Three readers will win one Love to Dream Swaddle UP original. Prize is not transferable. Prize will be delivered by Love to Dream, Finding Myself Young takes no responsibility for prize delivery. This competition is a game of skill and will be judged as such. All mandatory entry steps must be completed to constitute a valid entry. Incomplete entries will be deemed invalid and excluded from judging. Winner will have 72hrs to respond or prize will be redrawn. This competition is in no way endorsed, promoted or administered by Facebook.

Disclosure - I was gifted a Love to Dream Swaddle UP™ in exchange for this post and giveaway, I did not receive payment. As per my disclosure policy I only accept reviews for items we would genuinely purchase and use. The Swaddle UP™ gifted to me is being passed on to a friend from my mothers group who has just had a premature baby.

Linking with Jess
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Monday, April 11, 2016

Clarence the cat


So we have a new member of the family. Meet Clarence the cat.

We went to visit T's mum and came home with a kitten.

Clarence joined us a little over a week ago and seems to be settling in well. Max and Shelby wouldn't talk to us at first, but it appears they've now forgiven us for bringing this crazy little monster into their home. They're even starting to warm up to Clarence too. Max has given him a few kisses on the nose and Shelby has started ignoring him when he pokes her tail. Hopefully by next week they'll all be living harmoniously without any hissing and random hijinks.

Speaking of hijinks, I forgot how crazy kittens are. Its like having all the disruptions of a newborn baby {sleepless nights, taking care of its every need}, but it can already walk and climb and get everywhere its not supposed to. Like behind the tv cabinet, on top of the benches, on the table while we're eating dinner and into the kitchen cabinets. And did I mention they bite? Holy hell. I know its just play biting, but sweet jesus it can hurt when you're being mauled by over zealous little razor blades attached to a hyped up fur ball.

Despite all the drawbacks, he's also been a blessing for so many reasons.

He's filled a hole in our hearts. Going through infertility can leave you with a feeling of emptiness because you long for a baby to love, but can't have one. That feeling of something missing and aching for something to love just grows stronger and stronger the longer it takes to conceive. It's been a year now and the gaping hole in our hearts has been growing and growing. For a few weeks now T has been suggesting we get a kitten {considering he's not overly fond of cats, this was a huge flashing light that something wasn't right}. He admitted he just wanted something he could hold and cuddle and love. Clarence came along at the perfect time. He's healing our hearts and captivating bub's at the same time.


He's been bub's little shadow ever since he arrived. He follows her around and plays with her all day long. Although sometimes she revs him up too much and the over zealous teeth come out then she starts wailing muuuuuuuuuummmmmmy, mummmmmy get the kitty, get the kitty! Of course five minutes after I've rescued her she's looking for him again caaaaaaaaawaaaaaaaance, cawance, where ahhhhhhh you.... And so the cycle continues all day long.

He's the perfect companion for bub and us. For bub he fills the role of a younger sibling while she waits for her baby sisters. And for us he fills the gap in our hearts and gives us something new to love, until our baby comes along. I honestly couldn't imagine my life without my fur babies.

Do you have any pets?

Toni x

Linking with Kirsty & Alicia
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Tuesday, April 5, 2016

My favourite educational toddler toys from Kmart

If you follow my facebook page or know me in person then you'll be well aware that Kmart is like my favourite shop of all time, well maybe its on par with Ikea, but Kmart is closer so I go there more often. I'm pretty certain I could go there every single week and still find more awesome things to buy. I'm totally obsessed with their homewares and craft items and lately they've been bringing out some pretty awesome kids toys as well. Now that bub is a toddler I've been incorporating learning into her play as often as possible and Kmart seems to have hit the nail on the head with a great range of educational toys for toddlers. I'm all for handmade and high quality toys, but sometimes the cheaper ones have their place too {and lets face it sometimes cheaper is better for the budget too}. So here's my favourite toddler toys from the current range and how we use them for learning.


MY FAVOURITE EDUCATIONAL TODDLER TOYS FROM KMART




THREAD THROUGH BEADS $5


I love threading beads in general because they help improve concentration, co-ordination, dexterity and fine motor skills all in one. I specifically love these ones because they're chunkier making them great for toddlers {as opposed to a lot of beading sets that have really tiny beads}. These beads also have a variety of colours and shapes so they can also be used for colour and shape recognition. I found the string and needle were still a bit fiddly for bub {she's only 2} so for now she threads the beads onto pipe cleaners because they're sturdier and easier for her to control.


BALANCE PYRAMID $12


colourful wooden balance pyramid toy from Kmart

The balance pyramid is a relatively new item to Kmart and is on my wish list for bub's birthday {if I can't sneak it into the house before then without daddy noticing}. Its such a great little toy with so many teaching possibilities. The premise is to balance the 22 coloured blocks to create a pyramid without knocking it over. This introduces the concept of balance whilst also using fine motor skills, cognitive skills and improving hand eye co-ordination. In addition to this the blocks can also be used for colour recognition and sorting, number recognition and sequencing, shape recognition and sorting and also for building individual towers during imaginative play. 


CHUNKY ABC PUZZLE $8


The chunky abc puzzle is hands down my favourite kids item I've bought from Kmart in the last few weeks. We use it everyday, every single day. Quite obviously we're using it for bub to learn the alphabet, but there are many more ways to use it than just as a puzzle. We made a game putting all the letters in an empty wipes container where bub pulled out a letter and then said what it was and found the spot on the puzzle. We use it to match up with letters in her abc book. We also use the letters in sensory tubs and I've got a heap of other ideas on my list to try with these. There are so many possibilities beyond using it as an actual puzzle. Seriously the best $8 I've ever spent.


WOODEN BLOCKS $12




You really can't go past a good basic set of wooden blocks. There are so many open ended play opportunities. We often build towers, houses, rockets, trees, bridges and castles with our blocks. I also originally taught bub colours while we were playing with wooden blocks and we started introducing basic shapes this way too. They're also great for stacking, sorting and counting.


3 IN 1 BLACKBOARD AND MAGNETIC WHITEBOARD $12


I bought this 3 in 1 blackboard for my niece at Christmas and have it on my list to buy for bub for her birthday. This product is great because one side is a magnetised whiteboard and the opposite side is a blackboard so there are many different ways for kids to be creative. It also includes chalk, pens and a set of alphabet magnets. The board can be used to learn the alphabet and practice letter recognition, to learn spelling and also for free drawing. I also love that its portable so it can be taken to appointments, restaurants and play dates.


SHAPE SORTING EGGS $12




Bub has long been fascinated with "surprise eggs" ever since she started speech therapy and they used stacking eggs during her sessions. When I saw these shape sorting eggs I knew she would absolutely love them, and she does. The thing I love about these ones is that they also include shapes and colours on the inside rather than just yellow yolks. They're great for developing fine motor skills as well as shape and colour recognition. They're also good for making breakfast in a play kitchen.

I couldn't find these listed online, but they're a relatively new product and the keycode is 42303848

Follow me on Instagram for more fun ways of incorporating learning through play.



Linking with Jess

Disclosure - this post is not sponsored by Kmart in any way, I just spend most of my money there so thought I would share the things I've been buying lately.

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