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Book Review – Tomas Loves… A Rhyming Book about Fun, Friendship – And Autism by Jude Welton.

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Recently I decided to become a reviewer on NetGalley as a way to read a whole range of books for free… what can I say – book junkie!

Also, as followers of my Author blog will know, my youngest has recently been diagnosed with High Functioning Autism (aspergers in the old ling) and so I’ve been opening my reading to resource books on this as well as other things.

And so here is my SECOND ever review on a book from Netgalley and I’m publishing it here on my ‘family friendly’ blog and hope you find a copy of this book and have a read too.

Tomas loves trains

My Review:

I was a little worried about reading this book to my newly diagnosed HFA son (5) as we don’t label him, we don’t mention he’s different as a negative and never use the term autistic in front of him as we feel he’s normal, if a little quirky, and don’t want to burden him with a label or shove him into a box he won’t get out of. So I read this book by myself first, and really enjoyed how there are no labels! Tomas is just what he is. A boy who likes trains, small toys, his dog and so on. It was refreshing and a relief it wasn’t a book putting autistic children in THAT ‘special’ box, rather accepting them as being normal… with a little quirk or two.

So I then read this story with his older sisters (10 and 7) who are aware he has autism and have had it explained to them. They loved this book and said it was cute how it was about a boy like their brother. Showing it was okay to be quirky as it was just a different level to normal. So thumbs up there too that siblings can recognise it and see it as a good thing.

After that I read it to my train loving son and… he loved it. He could relate to Tomas as he too loves trains. He covered his ears for the loud noises too, he repeated the silly sounding words and loved the interaction with Flynn the dog.

Summary – this is a well presented book, a good read for the whole family of a quirky child and a refreshing story that doesn’t label a child. Highly recommend it to families who have at least one autistic child in their life as it might help explain things to some people (children and adults) while reaffirm it’s okay to be like this to others.

Five out of Five stars.

Article 2: Diaries of a Haus Frau – Why Stay Home?

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Article from my “Diaries of a Haus Frau” where I take a moment out of my day of raising young kids in today’s over protective, really quiet silly, world. This one is from a couple of years ago…. They’re 9 and under now!

I know I’m not unique in being a stay at home mum who devotes my time to the care of young children, attempting to keep a clean house, tidy garden and books balanced.

Instead of being insulted by belonging to the employment status of “Home Duties”, I revel in the experience of being there to raise my 3 children aged 5 and under (despite any complaining you may hear, of course). It’s an experience you can’t get anywhere else, unless you happen to work collectively as a cleaner, zoo keeper, gardener, accountant, personal assistance, medical receptionist, taxi driver, not so secret shopper, peace keeper, laundry attendant (to name a few) each day. It’s a 24/7 job that doesn’t end just because the “apples of your eye” are asleep at night. There’s still cleaning, mending, sorting and, as I’m obviously a sucker for punishment, studying.

An example of the joy of parenting is that I co-sleep with our 14 month old. How amazing is it that someone so small can take up so much of a king sized bed that he’s meant to be sharing with myself and hubby? I also still breastfeed. So, combining these two, I’m pretty much an open bar all night and tend to get maybe 2 hours solid sleep…. Until my husband’s alarm clock goes off at 5:30am, at which time I seem to fall into a heavy sleep until greatly annoyed by my alarm clock going off at 6:30am.

Okay, so maybe a better example is trying not to interrupt my 5 and 3 year old girls breakfast conversations as they interpret their mummy’s anatomy and physiology studies over toast. Recently it was the correct term for your shoulder blade; one felt it was the scapula, the other the clavicle. Followed by whether fingers were metacarpals and toes were metatarsals, or visa versa. Where the phalanges came into it and, most importantly, could you really lick your own elbow? Or was assistance from a sibling just as good?

There’s always the fine line of what exactly the child is doing. My 5 year old, when about 3, was asked to not jump on the bed. Her sage reply was that she wasn’t jumping on the bed, but on the doona. It just happened to be on the bed at the time, which was a mere coincidence. Yes, we’re hoping she goes to law school too.

House cleaning with ones so young is another dream come true. That is, of course, if my sarcasm font is working properly. I’m just thankful the 5 year old spends all day at school as, despite the ordeal of getting everyone together for the school runs, it does make a difference in the in-between time at home. For instance, two small children play well together. Three small children tend to result in two ganging up, or totally ignoring, the one. To keep it fair, they tend to take turns which this is. If the older two get too bored, they can use their younger brother as a toy and see exactly what they can do to him before he gives the game away and screams for mummy.

Ways I’ve learnt to adapt my cleaning methods include: strapping the 14 month old into his high chair so I can empty and load the dishwasher. This is because we have a dishwasher that sits in the middle of our kitchen and anytime someone decides to climb in and sit on the open lid, it tends to want to fall on top of him. And any dishes piled on top, wish to join him on the floor. When we can afford the kitchen renovation, this issue will be gone. I’d say he’ll be in high school by then and can do the dishes himself!

Another is doing the ironing from inside our hexagonal playpen. I mean, what is the point of a playpen? To keep the baby away from things you don’t want them to touch, right? Having had three children, I learnt early that it’s best if I set up my ironing inside the pen and let the children free range around me. Though the day they learn how to switch the iron on and off at the power point is the day you tend to wonder whether you applaud them for learning something new, scream from the sheer frustration, or say “fair enough, I needed a cuppa anyhow.”

Being a stay at home mum: Never a dull moment!

Article 1: Diaries of a Haus Frau (Aka The Haus Frau Compendium)

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Introduction to my column on the joys, fears, tears and every day living as a Haus Frau… It’s really just a composition of little household tips and tricks, dished out with a large helping of sarcasm in places and truthful, helpful knowledge in others.

The a slightly modified version of the following article won me a prize on the Kleenix Mum’s website some years ago. Lovely over night bag as my prize too. 😉 I still use it today. Thanks Kleenix!

And so, now the introduce is over, here is the first article:

 We will start with explaining what exactly a Haus Frau is to see if you qualify for the title. A Haus Frau is a female (though there is the rare breed the Haus Mensch; we will touch on him later) who may appear to stay at home so not having to go to a 9 to 5 job, but whose duties can consist of some to all of the following:

  • Head of the household (not in the sense of earning the most money, but as in the person who runs the joint).
  • Person responsible for majority of cleaning and maintaining of house and garden.
  • The carer of small to not so small children (ie: the bigger ones they married).
  • The account receivable and payable section of the home for all bills.
  • Main provider of meals, cooked or purchased as she was too tired to do so.
  • Purchaser of all items required by household, some psychic ability is required.
  • Washer, ironer, mender and remover of all clothing worn by entire household.
  • Garbage removalist (though she may have a man or child sub contracted into the role).
  • Mender of boo boos, fixer of toys and mediator of arguments.
  • The financial advisor and budgeter.
  • Buyer, wrapper and sometimes giver of all gifts.
  • Event organiser and reminder of the basic to important anniversaries, school excursions, holidays, etc.
  • The entertainment for none school aged children.
  • Animal welfare and protection (mostly from said small children).
  • Medical receptionist who troubleshoots before calling for specialist consultation.
  • Trainer of toddlers from food to walking to “not on the floor, in the potty!”
  • School taxi, school bus, call it what you like just get out and don’t forget your lunch!

There are many variants on these duties and others that are added depending on lifestyle. Being aHaus Frau is a full time job, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week… Often squeezed in on top of any actual “paid work” some women have the pleasure of also needing to do. However, I do wish to emphasise that aHaus Frau is not someone who:

  • Drops kids off, leaves a ‘to do’ list for the help and goes shopping.
  • Prioritises hair and beauty appointments over getting that odd stain out of the carpet.
  • Spends 80% of the week out with friends for coffee (possibly attired as if they’ve been to the gym, even though they haven’t).
  • Uses child care as a way to keep the house clean so she can spend her time socialising, rather than dealing with children.
  • Has a child as an accessory they can hand over to the help when it no longer matches her outfit or agenda.

As for the Haus Mensch, they are indeed a rarer breed and even rarer yet if they actually do more than 50% of the duties of the Haus Frau listed above and not expect the wifey to do it when she gets home from work. A true Haus Mensch also knows that just because his partner earns more than him, doesn’t mean he can’t leave her the last chocolate from time to time!
There is no holiday or sick leave given to the Haus Frau. Rarely any thanks either. But, in their own special way (when looked for really, REALLY hard through squinty eyes), she will see how much her family loves her, cherishes her and wouldn’t be able to manage without her. This last fact is usually obvious when the Haus Frau has to be away from the house for more than a day. The occasional pat on the bum at the kitchen sink, sticky cuddle or well meant “This is a picture of you with your angry face” drawing can go a long way, if allowed.
Best suggestion to anyone wanting to become a Haus Frau, go for it! The benefits of the little gems husbands and children share with you can make it worth while. Embrace their mess, their need for a referee, judge, cook, cleaner, driver, etc. Knock yourself out! And once you wake back up, remember to keep a tally and remind them when they’re older and its surprising what the rewards can be.