Friday Free-For-All – A Book Week Celebration

Last week was Book Week. Run by the Children’s Book Council of Australia it celebrates the best Australian Children’s Books released this year and is also a national week of celebration throughout all Australian Schools, Preschools and Libraries.

So I thought I would get into the vibe of the celebration (if a little late!) and list three of my favourite books for preschoolers. (These books are both favourites of mine and of my two kids (2 & 4 years old)). Ohhh… and I will also just say these are not necessarily my favourites of all time (Dr Seuss would probably fill all three of those positions) but rather  books that you may not have heard of that I would like to recommend as additions to your library.

1. The Gobbling Tree by Mark Carthew and Susy Boyer

Ever had a ball stuck in a tree? Ever tried to use other objects, be it a stick or another ball, to get it back? When Zac’s cricket ball is swallowed by The Gobbling Tree he is not detered – he will get it back! Even if he has to send every available object he can find, up into the tree after it.

This story is told  with superb rhyme and rhythm and is beautifully illustrated. If your kids are not yelling out “Swish, Crick, Crack – Oh No cried Zac” with you by the end of the book I will give it away (note: this is just a saying I am not actually giving anything away 🙂 ).

2. The Pirate Cruncher by Jonny Duddle

This is a book I only discovered a few weeks ago when I borrowed it from the local library but I can guarantee I will be buying it the first chance I get. (I should probably insert a warning here that this book does not end well for the pirates, so if your kids are a bit squeamish or prone to nightmares I might skip this one. :))

Click here for a link to amazon.com.

When a fiddler comes to town spouting tales of a vast treasure, that he just happens to have a map for, he attracts the attention of the dastardly Captain Purplebeard. But perhaps they should heed the Fiddler’s warnings! This book is hilarious and comes with an awesome twist (that makes for great re-reads as it really isn’t much of a suprise if you pay close attention). The illustrations are fabulous and it is easy to realise that the author, Jonny Diddle, has his roots in arts.

Keep a look out for the Pirate Cruncher’s tentacles hidden on each page! And don’t forget to check out the names on the map at the start of the book.

3. The Things I Love About Bedtime by Trace Moroney

Now this book could actually be any of Trace Moroney’s ‘The Things I Love About’ Series, or even any of the books from her ‘When I’m Feeling’ Series. All of these books are fabulous and I highly recommend them all. But the ‘Bedtime’ book is a favourite for my kids, particularly as we normally read it at bedtime ourselves. My daughter particularly likes the page that mentions talking about your favourite things you did that day, and since reading this book that has become a regular discussion point for us at bedtime.

Once again the illustrations are beautiful, and when the rabbit reads his own bedtime story he just happens to be reading the same book as you 🙂 which is a very clever touch.

So, have you read any of my recommendations? Did you like them? Do you have a favourite children’s book? Do you have any recommendations for me? I love to hear from you.

Jody Moller

Friday Free-For-All – Chicken and Chicken… Hey That’s Funny!

Telling fibs is naughty – we tell our kids that everyday, and yet sometimes as a parent we lie to our kids without batting so much as an eyelid – you know the ones, like don’t make that funny face if the wind changes it will stay like that! Othertimes we know that we probably should tell our kids some version of the truth but we have to decide what is age appropriate.

This got me thinking about some of the things we tell our kids. I have heaps of examples I could use about small fibs I have told my kids, but I am going to stick with two of my favourites and not suprisingly they both involve Daughter.

Story 1: The Fairies In The Dining Room

Daughter is a phenomenally bad eater, that doesn’t mean she eats bad food it is just that she doesn’t eat much of anything. For most of her life we have had to bribe every mouthful of dinner off the plate and into her mouth. One night as we are sitting at the dining table, the light from the new downlights we had just installed reflected off my husbands cutlery and low and behold there a small dancing lights on the ceiling.

Daughter is mesmerized. Hubby and I don’t think, the fibs just burst forth of their own accord – The lights are fairies, they only come when you are eating your dinner. Sure enough she stops eating and the lights miraculously disappear, she puts food in her mouth and they are back. Amazing! And OMG she is eating! The fairies became a regular occurance at the dinner table.

Then one day, not long after she turned 4, Daughter turned to me and said Mum, the fairies aren’t real are they? Just like the monsters and witches, the fairies aren’t real either. *Sigh* Daughter had been having nightmares, we had told her witches weren’t real and she had decided the rest by herself. So what do I say? No sweetheart, fairies aren’t real. I go on to explain how Daddy made the lights appear (she now loves doing this herself).

I nod to myself, satisfied that I am a great parent – then it hits me. Crap! What about the tooth fairy? So far she seems to be okay with the concept that the only fairy that really exists is the tooth fairy – I will keep you updated.

Story 2: Chicken and Chicken

My daughter has a fasination with words. She is almost 5 and has just started learning to read. She loves books and has already started correcting her little brother’s grammar.

A few weeks ago we were at the shops, we had just finished a big grocery shop and had headed over to the butcher to buy some meat. She listens to my order (I am buying chicken wings for the dog) then she laughs. I turn to face her. And she says this “Chicken sounds the same as chicken – that’s funny.” “What do you mean sweetie?” “You know the chicken on the farm and the chicken we buy at the shops, the words sound the same.”

Oh dear. This is a conversation that I am not ready to have. Now maybe this one does make me a bad parent but I don’t think my daughter is ready for a knowledge that the animals that we sing about in McDonalds farm are the same animals we are eating for dinner. So I laugh with her and say “Yes, you’re right, that is funny.” This is a fib that I know I can’t maintain indefinately – at some point I will need to tell her the truth, and I will, eventually.

What about you. Have you told small fibs to your children? Did your parents lie to you? Were you scarred for life as a result? Love to hear from you.

Jody Moller

Free-For-All Friday – How A Few Kind Words Can Turn Your Day Around

As some of my regular readers probably already know I am currently reading Kristen Lamb’s book ‘We Are Not Alone’. This book is specifically for writers wanting to expand their reach through social media.
 
Disclaimer – in the following paragraphs I am going to sound a bit negative towards both Kristen and her book, so any of you that only read half of this post are going to leave with the impression that I don’t like the book. Don’t be fooled – this book is great, and I highly recommend it to any and all writers out there. So please… keep reading, this story has a happy ending. Okay, nuff said, let’s get on with it!
 
So picture this – it is yesterday afternoon and I have found some time to sit and play on my laptop, Son is playing happily with his puzzles, and all is good with the world. I am reading the e-book of ‘We Are Not Alone’ so far I am just over half way through, already I feel like I am an expert in all things social media. This book is highly instructive in nature – that is, it has tasks that it recommends you complete as you are reading the book. So yesterday I reach a section entitled ‘MySpace’. *sigh* The book tells me I MUST sign up (to quote “All new writers must have a MySpace page”) *even bigger sigh*. I am already on Facebook and Twitter (and spend far too much time on both) so adding another time consumer to my repertoire does not sound particularly appealing – but hey what do I know, right? Kristen is the guru, so I will do what Kristen tells me.

I sign up. Not only that but I end up spending the better part of two hours playing around trying to get the background I want (in the end I give up and decide I will do it later; two hours is about my upper limit for patience on a single task, particularly as by this point it is time to pick up Daughter from preschool). 

By the time I get back to my computer kids are now in bed and I decide to try and work out how I am supposed to use this whole MySpace thing, another hour passes, and I still haven’t achieved much (let’s face it other than loading my photo and inputing my high school everything is blank and I still can’t get a background to work!)

Then I notice the friends box – perhaps adding a few friends would make me feel like I am accomplishing something. As I don’t actually know anyone that has a MySpace account I decide to do the only thing I can think of – I search for Kristen Lamb, she wrote the book and is telling me how important it is to have a MySpace page, obviously she must have one herself. And she does. I locate her page – and click the ‘+ friend’ button (or whatever that happens to be called on MySpace) then my eyes naturally gravitate towards her MySpace comments.

Hang on… that can’t be right? Kristen Lamb (who has now spent almost 15 pages of her book telling me how important it is to not only be on MySpace but to also make sure you regularly update it) has not added a new comment (the equivalent of a status update) since sometime last year. I decide I must be mistaken and also check out Bob Mayer’s MySpace page and find a similar result.

By this point in time the steam is quite literally pouring out of my ears, I have wasted hours and hours playing around with MySpace when it is quite clearly not the be-all-and-end-all of all social media outlets (which, quite frankly, I already knew). Not only that, but I have already been onto Kristen’s blog and raved about her book! ARGHHH! Think of how many words I could have added to my novel if I hadn’t been playing around on MySpace… well that will teach me.

About this time is where I would have thrown the book across the room (one of the distinct disavdantages of the e-book age I have to say!) Instead I go to bed angry and swear that I am not even going to bother finishing the book.

So… what changed my mind? Well, Kristen did.

This morning when I logged onto my computer, there in my inbox was an email from Kristen. When I happened to mention on her blog that I was in the process of signing up for MySpace she took the time to email me and tell me (and I hope she doesn’t mind that I am quoting directly) “Just a heads up. MySpace committed digital suicide two weeks after WANA hit shelves. I no longer recommend it as a platform, so don’t worry about it.” The email had alot more in it than just that – and I was honestly quite touched that she had taken the time to email me (if not a little confused as to how she got my email address… but anyway).

Now clearly this doesn’t give me back the 3 hrs that I lost yesterday playing around with a platform that I am never going to use. But I can tell you it makes me feel a hell of a lot better about it. In fact I feel so much better about it that not only am I going to finish reading her book but I am also on here recommending it to others as well (just ignore the section on MySpace 🙂 ) And what is even better is that this is exactly what Kristen is referring to when she says ‘We Are Not Alone’, personal interaction really does make all the difference!

You can find Kristen’s blog here and information about her books and how to find her on various social media sites on her website here.

Have you read We Are Not Alone? Are you on MySpace? Do you like it? Have you had someone completely change your opinion of something with just a few simple words?

I hope you all have a great weekend.

Jody Moller

Friday Free-For-All – Yeah thanks, way to make me feel appreciated!

Not five minutes ago I was tucking my delightful (I use that term loosely) 2-yr old son into bed. Stories are finished, I’m giving him a kiss, telling him I love him – you know the usual. Son turns to me and says “Mum…” (pause, my heart prepares to melt, I’m sure he is going to say ‘I love you too’…) “Get out.” I kid you not. My 2-yr old just told me to get out of his room so he could go to sleep. Yes, son, I love you too.

This got me thinking about all the times our kids manage to make us feel totally unappreciated. I think back to when I had a ‘real’ job (the inverted commas are for those people that have never considered any of my jobs ‘real’ jobs! You know who you are!) and I used to feel that my boss didn’t appreciate me – well step aside PK you ain’t got nothing on my kids!

My favourite moment of unappreciation (is that even a word?) was about a year ago when I was having a conversation with my then almost 4 yr old daughter. We were discussing what she wanted to be when she grew up, which was and still is one of her favourite topics (just this week her future ambitions have ranged as far as a rock star, a fisherman (don’t know where that one came from) and a policewoman).

Daughter turns to me and says: “When I grow up I am going to be a Mummy” (ohhh… nice, so you want to be just like me, my heart melts a little, but then she continues…) “But I am going to clever Mummy, not like you, I am going to have a job and be a Mummy at the same time!”

OMG my daughter thinks I am stupid because I don’t have a job?!?!

It took me a few days to convince her that once upon a time (before nappies and sleepless nights) I actually had a job, and eventually she agreed that I was in fact clever!

This is a topic that she often brings up – the fact that other people’s mothers work and hers doesn’t. It is difficult to explain to a 4-yr old (without her taking what you say and repeating to her friends – thereby offending their parents) that you have chosen to stay home from work so you can spend as much time as possible with her. I just hope that one day she can see this from my perspective and perhaps appreciate the sacrifices I have made – at least a little bit (plus realize that I am infact very clever 😉 )

Have you had any moments where your kids have left you feeling unappreciated? Would love to hear from you.

Jody Moller

Friday Free-For-All – Death of a Laptop

I have some bad news to share with you all. Yesterday when I switched on my laptop to complete my daily word count – disaster. It wouldn’t turn on. Several hours of attempting to reboot, reformat, and reload and it still wasn’t working. So now my computer is at the computer shop to be fixed (apparently it is likely to be a failed hard drive).

So you will not be hearing much from me over the next week – once my laptop is back in my possession my posts will be back to normal.

For those wondering – my last back-up of my writing was last Sat so I only lost 5 days of work. (take a break and back up now ;))

ROW80 goals will definately not be met over the next few days but I think having no computer is a reasonable excuse 🙂

Hopefully I’ll be back before you know it. See ya.

Jody Moller

Free-For-All Friday – When Toddlers Go Into Deactivation Mode

As I am writing this my son playing happily at my feet, oh wait now he is pushing the dog off the lounge, and in the time it took me to write that he is now across the other side of the room pushing his brand new nano-bugs into the eye pieces of a pair of binoculars (“Son please don’t do that!”) Anyone that has a boy (or possibly any toddler) knows that they are not reknowned for their ability to perform any one task for an extended period of time.

I think in alot of ways, Son is like any other toddler, and then just when I think everything is going great – he goes into ‘Deactivation Mode’. When my daughter was a toddler I was fairly fortunate that she never really went through the screaming tantrum throwing performances some children are prone to. Son, however, loves a tantrum  – and his are way worse than the screaming hissy-fit kind.

When something occurs that my son is not happy with (and this can be anything from me not letting him have a piece of cheese, to him getting into trouble for throwing something at his sister, to me trying to make him go to the toilet BEFORE he brushes his teeth, heaven forbid!) he goes into the dreaded deativation mode. What this entails is him quite literally, collapsing onto the floor and failing to function for an unspecified period of time.

When Son is in deactivation mode he refuses to communicate, he doesn’t speak, he doesn’t make eye contact, he pretty much refuses to even acknowledge that you exist. Often he can be walking along – happy as anything and suddenly he falls (as if hit by a sniper) onto the ground and ‘Deactivates’.

Sometimes when he is in Deactivation Mode he is completely silent. Other times he cries and completely inconsolable – if you try to go anywhere near him to comfort him, he scoots away from you (many a time he has ended up under the bed where I can’t reach him). But he never has the full out screaming tantrums that you see on You Tube and most of the time Deactivation Mode occurs at home (I can only think of a handful of times where this has occurred in public). Still it doesn’t make it any easier to deal with.

My biggest problem is that because of this he is really difficult to disipline. With Daughter whenever she was out of line she was placed in time-out. Five minutes in the time-out corner and she was blubbering mess, voluntarily apologising and promising to never to it again (and for the most part she was good on that promise). But with Son, if you even try and place him in time-out he goes into Deactivation Mode (which you might think is great as effectively he puts himself in a time-out) but when the deactivation can go on for up to 2 hrs (yes that is right 2 hours!) I often end up apologising to him and comforting him because by that time we are half an hour late for dropping off Daughter at preschool!

Everything with Son is a negotiation, he just plain doesn’t cope with things not going his way. If he wants a piece of cheese before dinner but I say no, somehow he ends up with the piece of cheese sitting next to him on the table so he can eat it after dinner (he wins the small battle but I win the war). If I put on his undies only to find out that he wanted to do it – I take them back off and let him do it himself (is it really worth a 2 hr tantrum over who put his pants on?) I know I shouldn’t give in – but somedays it is just too difficult.

So, why am I telling you this? Well, I am wondering if this is normal for a two year old to be so stubborn, or do I need to go and get an appointment to see a behaviour specialist?

Would love to hear from you – maybe you could tell me stories of your toddlers chucking tantrums – it might just make me feel a bit better!

Jody Moller

[By the way – Son is now placing a plastic container over my head and telling me I am a robot – I guess I better go!]

Friday Free-For-All – If Girls are from Venus, Boys are from Pluto!

Heard the saying Men are from  Mars, women are from Venus? Well, not my kids, those two planets are too close together, you would expect some cross-over, perhaps some similarity in traits between the Martians and the Venetians – my kids are complete polar opposites.

I still can vividly remember the shock when I discovered my second born was a boy. The entire pregnancy everyone (including myself) assumed it would be a girl (we never officially found out it was just a gut feeling). After a brutal child birth (let’s face it when is child birth not brutal) a small child is placed onto my chest, all muck covered and crying – naturally in this burst of emotion the first thing I say is “Well what is it?” noone responds, apparently they didn’t bother to check. So I lift the baby up and low and behold there are bits dangling there between his legs “Oh my god it has tackle – IT’S A BOY!”

Being from a family of all girls (i only have one male cousin) I have no experience with boys – can they really be all that different from girls? In my family we played barbies and put on dance concerts and sang every song from our favourite musicals when we went on road-trips, but then again we were all girls. Surely all that talk about boys being rough and tumble and girls being prissy and into dress-ups is because they are raised to believe that those are their gender roles, instilled upon them by their parents – if I didn’t set up those expectations then where could they come from?

Yeah right! Boy was I naive.

From the moment my kids exited the womb they have had their own, very defined, personalities. My daughter is into dolls and dress-ups and will delicately paint pretend make-up on anyone that will sit still. My son would rather drive a truck straight into a wall. This isn’t because we have pushed them into any particular gender roles, for some reason my son has just loved anything with wheels from the time he was born. 

Not only is Son rough, he is soooo much stronger than Daughter, I would insert at the same age here but I don’t think I need to, despite the 2 year age gap between them Son is already stronger than she is (helps that he builds up his muscles by regularly throwing toys at people’s heads!)

And stubborness, oh my lord. I didn’t know the meaning of the word stubborn until Son came along. Son is still stuck in the terrible twos (i think he is going to be there until he is fifteen!) but discipline is almost impossible when he refuses to give in and apologise – he will happily sit in time-out for hours instead of giving in and saying sorry – in the end most of the time I have to give in and let him out because by then we are running late to whereever it is that we are going. Daughter was never like that – 5 minutes in time-out and she was (still is actually) apologising through her tears.

Son is also a complete class clown, I don’t know if this can be attributed to the fact that he is a boy or the fact that he second born and is constantly being cheered on by his big sister. There is no self-preservation gene  – if jumping from the lounge and landing on his head will get a laugh then he will go ahead and try it, tears may ensue but once they have dried-up it is well worth another attempt!

What about you? Do you find there are vast differences between your kids? Can these differences be attributed to differences in sex or are all kids just different? Love to hear your thoughts.

Jody Moller