Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Photo Routine Chart

I have three kids.
So I need routine.
Without routine, I have three kids and a whole lot of chaos.
As a result I am a bit of a drill sargent in the morning.  And that isn't fun for anyone.  I found myself constantly reminding, over and over.  Frustrated.  Yelling.  Talking to walls, for what they heard from me. 

Alexis, having ASD, means she requires a lot of direction, reminding and assistance in completing tasks.  Directions must be simple, one thing at a time, broken down bit-by-bit.  Despite doing the same thing every day since the beginning of last year, she still required me to prompt her to go and get dressed, or brush teeth, or put on shoes.  So it was time for a routine board - as recommended by her psychologist.

I lived on Pinterest for a few days, mulling over what would be an affective system for Lexi and came across this awesome post: DIY Chore Chart (My Sisters Suitcase)

Lexi is a visual child, and so doing a photo chore chart, where she featured was going to work best.  I made one for Zavian also, where he features in his photos.  I thought this would be more fun for them, seeing pictures of themselves that they could really relate to, instead of just using random cartoon pics from the internet.  It also made it easier to include things like "Feed Saffron" using a picture of her, or for Zavian turning off his special star light.

I purchased a great magnetic board that had a little box at the bottom, that would become the 'finished' box.  These were on sale for $10 (from $20) each at Big W (Oh yeah, I totally went and bought 3...  A normal white board would work as well, which was my original plan.  I decided against gluing picture to magnets and found some magnetic paper from Officeworks for $23.80 (5 sheets).  I printed the pictures at home, using my very basic printer, using 2 sheets.  I took all of the photos on my phone and edited them to add the border and text using the "A Beautiful Mess" app.  I used that because I already had it on my phone.  Any app that adds font will work.  To make printing easier, I used the PDF layout that is in the link from above linked My Sisters Suitcase post.

I took photos of the things they kids do each morning as part of their routine.  Even
though they can't read, they can see very clearly what they need to do.

Magnetic photos are easy to remove for the kids.

The completed charts hang.  These are now hanging in our entry way.

Using a visual reminder is a good way for Lexi to understand what comes next.

The finished box allows them to keep track of what is left to complete.

Lexi enjoys removing the tasks she has completed.

Our reward system is simple - 1 gem for each finished morning routine.
A chosen amount of gems will equal a reward.

So far, with implementing the chart, mornings are a much quieter affair.  Less yelling, nagging and frustration from me.  The kids are finding it to be a bit of a game, especially to see who finishes first.  Lexi will follow the chart one task at a time in the order that they are on there.  Zavian puts more thought in to it and will do whatever is easiest to what he is doing.  Eg once he is dressed and his pjs are off, he puts them straight under his pillow and makes his bed, then will remove all 4 of those tasks.

The reward system at the moment is that they will receive a reward after 5 gems are earned.  These will be something basic, like an ice cream or a chocolate.  Nothing too big.  Once they are used to that, we will then move on to allowing them to cash in 5, or to save (for example) 15 to cash in for a bigger prize.  I purchased the gems from the garden section of our local cheapy shop, as well as the glass jars.  The jars are only little, and Lexi also uses one at school as a rewards system (she receives a "prize" for filling the jar).  

I strongly recommend every one puts something like this in place!  It is a godsend on a school morning!!  The next step is to implement our afternoon/evening routine in to the chart as well.  Whilst that is no where near as chaotic as our mornings, it would certainly have its place!

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

101 in 1001 - Take 2!

The new - 101 in 1001.

I completed only a percentage of my last one - I still need to work out WHAT percentage.  However I have transferred the incomplete items I still want to do and have started a new list!

This list will begin 15th July 2015 and end 11 April 2018.

And so we begin.

  1. Donate blood/plasma/platelets (whichever they need at time) 20 times. (0/20)
  2. Make annual family photobooks covering 2015, 2016, 2017 (0/3)
  3. Create an alphabet book for Memphis
  4. Make "1st Year" photobook for each child (0/3)
  5. Create a Memory jar and write happy memories in it over the course of 1 year
  6. Learn to crochet
  7. Visit an Australian State or Territory I have never been to
  8. Take a Mummy & Lexi only trip
  9. Take a Mummy & Zavian only trip
  10. Take a Mummy & Memphis only trip
  11. Upcycle an item to use a photography prop
  12. Create something from a pallet
  13. Send 5 care packages (0/5)
  14. Complete the 50mm in 50 Day Challenge (Photography)
  15. Commit 10 Random Acts of Kindness
  16. Buy a new camera lens
  17. Update all of my blog with the completed tasks for the previous 101 in 1001 challenge
  18. Complete my Diploma in Education Support
  19. Enrol in University and start a degree
  20. Photograph a birth
  21. Self-love project - 100 images that I am in
  22. Lose 2 dress sizes
  23. Go on a camping trip with friends
  24. Take an unplanned road trip
  25. Complete an adult colouring in book
  26. Go horse riding
  27. Take Lexi to the ballet or theatre
  28. Take Zavian to a footy game
  29. (Experience for Memphis - TBD)
  30. Turn the master bedroom balcony in to a usable space
  31. Create routine/organisation boards
  32. Learn sign language (auslan)
  33. Fly a kite
  34. Complete an #ikeahack or #kmarthack 
  35. Do 1 art project a week for 3 months with the kids (0/12)
  36. Play in the snow & build a snowman
  37. Meet three online friends (0/3)
  38. Get my manual car license
  39. Do a first aid course
  40. Have a makeover
  41. Get my tattoo for the boys
  42. Have a pamper day with a friend
  43. Throw/host a baby shower for a friend
  44. Get a new car
  45. Buy a new pair of converse
  46. Do something on Danni's bucket list
  47. Make macarons
  48. Have a girly weekend away
  49. Take the kids to Dubbo Zoo
  50. Go rock climbing
  51. Skydive
  52. Have a big 30th birthday
  53. See three theatre productions (0/3)
  54. Clean out my inbox
  55. Roller Skate
  56. Read 15 books (0/15)
  57. Create a new workspace
  58. Have one week off facebook
  59. Watch 25 movies I have never seen (0/25)
  60. Make a list of the top 5 people who have positively impacted me and write them a letter (0/5)
  61. Make profiteroles
  62. Play in the snow
  63. Become debt free
  64. Update my resume
  65. Complete another 365 Day Photo Challenge
  66. Complete a 1 year Project Life album
  67. List 100 things that make me happy
  68. Attend an art class
  69. Do the ropes course at Mount Tamborine
  70. Clean/organise my wardrobe
  71. Learn to play a song on the piano
  72. Watch a sunrise and sunset on the same day
  73. Buy flowers for myself for no reason
  74. Send flowers to a friend 
  75. Grow a herb garden
  76. Create a photo wall
  77. Have a girls night out once a month for a year (0/12)
  78. Stay up for a New Years countdown with friends
  79. Go to Aqua Aerobics once a week for three months (0/12)
  80. Organise my jewelry
  81. 30 x 30 Challenge (30 mins of exercise for 30 days)
  82. 10,000 steps a day for 30 days
  83. Make someone a birthday cake
  84. Send a stranger a card
  85. Make a pie on Pi Day (March 14)
  86. Build a sandcastle with the kids
  87. Make bread from scratch
  88. Tie-dye something!
  89. Grow a sunflower
  90. Leave a note in the letterbox of my two NZ homes with a memory of my time there (0/2)
  91. Make a video of the kids that tracks them over 12 months
  92. Take pictures in a photobooth
  93. Do 3 "Day In The Life" Challenges (0/3)
  94. Do the "50 Questions That Will Free Your Mind" survey
  95. Visit a place that was used as a film set
  96. Stop biting my nails
  97. Make a fairy garden
  98. Participate in a charity event
  99. Leave 5 inspirational notes for someone to find (0/5)
  100. Maintain a blog for the duration of this journey
  101. Save $10 for every completed task

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

80. Do five random acts of kindness (The Second)

My day started off shit.  A jumble of routine-gone-wrong, children procrastinating and arguing and mucking around and doing anything other than what they were meant to be.  Poorly timed pooing from the baby (oh yeah... he sure knows how to pick his moments!)  No clean school hat.  Forgotten items of clothing.  Zavian taking off out the front door to the car with my phone and wallet but not telling me, cue me frantically looking.  The kids going to the car before I've said.  Skipping breakfast.  Running late.  YAY MORNINGS!

I was in a mood.  I was ready to call off my walk with Mandy and come home from school run and eat an entire block of chocolate.  Possibly two.

I decided to push through, simply because I wanted to put Zavian on his bike and make him ride well away from me instead of getting couped up in the house with him driving me crazy.  I won't lie.  Me and Zavian didn't really see eye-to-eye this morning!  It would be easier to see eye to eye with him if he didn't keep throwing himself on the floor every 5 minutes in a fit of rage or protest or defiance or just plain to get attention.  Oh I wish I was kidding.

I hate mornings like that.  I am thankful they are few and far apart.  Honestly our routine is usually pretty easy, pretty straight forward and we run on time.  Maybe I am a bit OTT about the way I run this rather tight ship of a morning, but honestly?  When you have an autistic child, a 4 year old boy with a stubborn streak, and a baby, as well as someone elses child here for the morning... you kind of need a routine!

Anyway.  I was grumpy.  I was teetering on the edge of having a meltdown of my own.  My solution was to eat.  Once Lexi and her friend were in class, me and the boys decided to zip to Coles prior to our walk with Mandy (I decided it was a better option than a sugar high).  I grabbed a water and a yoghurt and Zavian wanted a banana milk.  I decided to zip out to the cafe out front and grab a juice and piece of their absolutely bloody fabulous toasted banana bread... Yep.  Get in mah belleh.

I was still flustered and frustrated and hoping that the baby would not lose his shit in the time it took her to make my goodies.  He was in my lap.  Losing his shit could potentially result in loss of an eye sometimes.

Whilst waiting, an elderly gentleman struck up conversation with Zavian, who happily chatted to him.  He overheard me on the phone talking to Mandy who was getting her daughter sorted after discovering a flat bike tyre.  I must have repeated the words "flat tyre" as he asked me if I was ok and how was I going to deal with my tyre, did I need anything?  He was quite elderly and I think he had come on the bus from the retirement village, so I am not sure what he would have been able to do, but his kindness in asking was certainly lovely.  It was the first time all day someone thought about me and what I needed, despite it being entirely misguided and not my tyre!  I said it was fine and it was actually a friend and it was being sorted.  He was happy and told me it must be the day for mishap, he had forgotten his wallet!  Clearly a regular, they had started to make his breakfast before he paid.  He asked if I had a pen, and then he wrote an IOU on a napkin, with his signature, and gave it to the girls behind the counter.

I decided to make my day good at that point.
So I went up to the counter, gave Zavian some money to hand over and we paid for his breakfast and coffee.
I asked for his IOU note, and wrote You have recieved a random act of kindness.  Have a great day.  :)

The girls didn't speak much English, so I am not sure they really understood what was going on there.  But I asked one of them to wait until I was gone and take the napkin back to the man and tell him his breakfast was paid for.  She didn't quite wait, but I was off before he realised where I had gone.  I didn't want him to say or do anything.

And from then in, my day was good.  Do something positive, and you will feel positive.
These moments present themselves for a reason, I think.

I challenge everyone to commit a random act of kindness this week.

Monday, 25 May 2015

60. For one month get up early and go for a walk

Adjusted - regularly walk for a month

I decided to adjust this one.  Getting up early for one month and going for walk was never going to happen, but walking needed to happen.  Morning schedule here is just so crazy and getting a walk in before Ty goes to work means going in the dark, which isn't ideal around here.

For the last 2 months I have been regularly walking, either with just the boys, or with Mandy.  Zavian loves to ride his bike and we often walk around Tygum Lagoon with Memphis in his pram and Zavian on his bike.  He will happily ride his bike 3 times around the lagoon now (3.6km) which is great.  When I don't have him I tend to go around 5 times as Memmy often falls asleep.

It's working well for us - Zavian uses up his energy, Memphis gets to yell out to people as they walk past, and I get to work on my weight loss with regular exercise.

A little bit of now.

I have deactivated my facebook account in an effort to take more notice of unfinished projects.  Eg.  This.  As well as multiple others.  I removed it from my phone to also minimise the temptation to log in.  It is only for a couple of weeks, but it is needed.  That is the biggest time wasting tool there is.

Life, as I know it, is chugging along. I've not updated here in so long.

I am currently on a weight loss journey.  Ty lost over 20kgs earlier in the year, and once he did that I realised how much I needed to do the same.  My goal is to lose 30kgs, and 2 months in I am about 8kgs down.  PCOS does make it a bit more difficult to lose it, but I'm getting there and aiming to lose it at a rate that I can then maintain it, so it's working well for me.  I am already down 1 dress size, also.  One of my 101 goals is to drop 2 dress sizes.  Considering I went up 2 dress sizes (well, I did have another baby!) in the duration of the time I've been doing this, I am probably better losing 4, but hey, lets stick with the attainable lol.  2 = good.  4 = bonus.
It is definitely a soul searching experience and I have realised that there is so much more to work on than the physical side of things.  I am really grateful though that I feel as though I have so much support and so many people on my side, cheering me on and helping me to realise my goals.  It really does make it so much easier.  I am loving having more energy and more confidence.  I was so miserable with who I was becoming.  I am an extreme comfort eater and chocolate lover.  This is not a great combo... I have made a conscious effort to really change the way I see food and the way I eat.  It's not always easy, and I have my moments when I fall of the wagon.  But I have seen what I have been able to do so far and it's encouraging enough to keep me going.

Alexis is almost 6, she will be in less than a month.  She eagerly counts down the days.  I need to start planning the birthday she is dreaming up in that little head of hers haha.  She was diagnosed recently with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) and this has been a bit of a game changer for us.  Alexis has always been on the quirky side, in a completely endearing and lovable way.  None of us really saw the diagnosis coming, we were more on the thought process of ADD or ADHD, but regardless, it is what it is and we embrace her as she is and we are trying to embrace all of the therapies and everything that is required to help her out.  She is starting a cocktail of therapies at the moment - Psychologist, Speech therapist, Occupational Therapist.  She is also now attached to the SEP at school and getting some additional support and in my opinion there's been a bit of a change in the way her behaviours are being managed (a little more understanding, a little less critical).  This is progress.  She is starting to become more happy at school, for the first time this year.  This is such progress for us and for her.  I will probably write about this a lot more, now that her therapies are starting.  We have so much to learn, about autism and about what is available to help her.  And luckily for us, we have this amazing little girl to help guide us through it all.  She is amazing.

Zavian turned 4 in February.  He is still such a 'dude'.  A real little footy loving, boofhead boy.  Bless him.  He is growing up so fast.  He started Kindergarten at the local C&K at the end of January and continues to thrive in his learning environment.  His number and letter recognition develops more and more all day, he writes his name really quite well, and he enjoys all of the fun physical activities that he gets to engage in.  Zavian displays a level of defiance and such a sense of his ownself that we are unused to (Lexi has never been as headstrong as he is) and we sit at a point right now where we are learning a balance in what battles are worth fighting with him.  If anyone tests my parenting and my patience right now, it is easily Zavian!  We are considering putting him in to some form of martial arts, or SOMETHING to curb a bit of his boundless energy.  I will be putting him in to footy next year and also in to musical theatre with Lexi.  That aside though, he is such an awesome kid with this cheeky, quick witted sense of humour and with a real spunk to him.  He is so lovable, and so helpful.  He is such an amazing big brother to Memphis and spends so much time just mucking around with him and laughing.  He is so eager to go to school next year, I will miss having him with me in the day when that happens though, as much as he likes to push my buttons!

Memphis is now 18 months old and I look at him and wonder how he could possibly be that old already.  He is still so tiny, still yet to crack 8kg and still rocking his 00's.  His hair is growing and is soft and fluffy and a darker shade of blonde than the other two.  His big blue eyes dance when he smiles and he is just an easy and cruisy little man.  He is suddenly saying more words.  A couple of weeks ago he would say Dad, and we struggled to get anymore than that out of him.  He now says Mum, Dad, Nonna, Nana, Zavian, banana, meow, Maya, no, ta, 'tank oo' (thank you), hello, ola, bye, see ya, shoes, car, door, out.  So he is having a bit of a word explosion at the moment.  He also has started to tentatively walk by himself in the last few days... we have sure been waiting!  He is still building up his confidence there, but he is making progress and so incredibly adorable when he waddles around.  Memmy is definitely our most feisty bub!  He gets frustrated (I believe it's a communication issue) and he will throw some (adorable) wobblies.  He is our first child to hit/pinch so we are now dealing with how to stop those behaviours.  I do see that he does it when he is extremely frustrated and can't get his point across, so hopefully as his language develops, these little traits will be laid to rest.

So this is where we are at right now!  I have some more updates I will need to add, and that will happen eventually :)

Friday, 22 May 2015

54. Attend a yoga or zumba class

A few weeks ago I was invited along with a couple of friends to come along to a yoga class with them.  So yay for me, I get to tick off this baby from the list!

I chucked on my ol' comfy leggings and had to make a quick stop at Big W to get myself a yoga mat... because you know, I don't have one of those laying around anywhere!  Haha.

The session itself - held at a local wellness centre in Beenleigh - was really cool.  No one told me the class wasn't a beginners class, so here I am rocking and rolling and incredibly un-glamorously flailing around.  Lets just say my balance was a lot better 10 years ago.  Not that I had ever tried yoga before.

Overall though, happy dog (or unhappy dog) pose aside, it was pretty enjoyable.  And the meditation at the end?  Exactly what I needed post yoga workout AND just in general!

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

A New Mission

You know when you see a photograph of yourself and you stop and you think Wow. What happened to me? (No.  Not sharing. But thank you to my cousins who take pictures all the time... lol like I can talk.)

I am me, and I am learning to love that person.  And it is hard, because I have been body conscious my whole life, but I have never ever been this big.  However, I am in probably the best headspace I have been in quite some time and as a result I am feeling motivated and proactive.  My goals aren't like the ones I had as a teen, landing myself in hospital and having people sit outside the door if I went to the toilet.  You know.  Just in case.  I have absolutely zero desire to be 46kg ever again.  No my goals are more related to what I see.  What I wear.  I have a pair of size 14 jeans that I have had squirreled away in my wardrobe for the last 7 years, just waiting.  Because I do want to wear them again.  Although they are probably more teenager-jeans than pushing-30 mum type jeans.  But hey.  I loved those damn jeans.

In the last few weeks I've started to change my relationship with food.
I have also decided to get on top of my health.
This is something I need to do physically and mentally.

PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) and a problem with comfort eating, lazy cooking (or not cooking) and 3 kids later... I am not in a good place.

I am tired, I am unhealthy.
I am not the best me that I can be.
My kids deserve more.
I deserve more.

Ty recently went on a juicing diet and lost approx 23kg.  I don't like juice, this wasn't an option for me, however I do notice his energy, his mood, the way he sees himself has changed.  I need that.  I am really proud of him.  It took willpower and motivation to sit at a table day in and day out whilst the rest of the family ate meals that he loved.  I refused to change our cooking to suit a juice diet, as obviously it is entirely unsuitable for a family.  But I do applaud him for the effort and the results.  He is looking fantastic.  And he has given me the motivation that I needed.  Because I really hate being that fat girl walking beside that trim guy!

I have made my start.
I cut out caffeinated soft drink 3 weeks ago.
I dramatically cut out soft drink (now when I'm out only.  I don't want it here!)
I've started walking.
I'm getting back in to Aqua Aerobics (when I can)
I am have started taking 1000mg of metformin a day (I am insulin resistant due to PCOS)
We are moving from a rather average diet, to a paleo diet.
I'm cutting out gluten, dairy, sugar.  (Well, trying!)
I'm trying new recipes and foods I wouldn't normally go for.
I'm trying.

The key here is I want to change.
I don't want to look in the mirror and see what I see now anymore.
I'm not sure how much I will document here.  But I need to write it down to be accountable, as a starting point.  I've only recently come clean to Tyron as to my weight, admitting what number was on the scale.  That was hard.  But it was a step towards something better.  What's the point in hiding it.  He's not blind.

My name is Gina.
I am a mother of 3.
I am 167cm tall and I weight 107kg.
I am wearing Size 18-20 and I hate it.
And I am going to be open, and accountable.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Got boobs?

Very very very proudly at 14 months breastfeeding now!  Go Memmy!

Monday, 12 January 2015

98. Get a haircut that is a big change from what it was

58. No caffeinated soft drink for one month

For the month of October I didn't have coke/pepsi/caffeinated soft drink.
Thankfully I didn't have any of the expected withdrawals, but I actually LIKE the taste of Pepsi Max and I missed it.  So whilst I stopped for that month and completed it (actually 6 weeks), it was pointless because I am drinking it again!  

53. Go to the pool once a week for a month

In honesty, I didn't think I'd get this one ticked off.
I hate to swim.  I hate to wear togs.  This one was going to require me to actually SHOP for a swimsuit and I hate that more than probably anything. Cheers to Kmart for my cheap, boring, black all in one and some comfy baggy swimming shorts.  Probably not a good look, but meh - at least I know well enough not to wear a bikini, right!?

Anywho... I went to the doctor who tsk tsked me about my weight, refused to help me control my PCOS symptoms until I tried something else in terms of exercise.  So I decided to do aqua-aerobics.

Turns out aqua-aerobics is one of my favourite things ever.  And thanks to the Live Well Logan program put in place by Logan City Council I got to do it for a whopping $3 a session.  I'm super disappointed though as it runs from 8am-9am and 100% clashes with school run which now starts earlier due to Zavian starting C&K. Ty's fortnightly RDO means I can at least do it fortnightly though, so I shouldn't complain too much.

I did the program during October and November and it was great.  I surprised myself by actually getting in to a cold swimming pool at 8am - but I always felt SO good afterwards that it was 100% worth it.  Mandy was my aqua buddy, and we were the youngest there by about 40 or 50 years!!!

Try it though!  It's refreshing and fun, and honestly it made me HAPPY.  It's the only form of exercise I have ever enjoyed.  

Roti Bread

I'm lazy.  Butter chicken made from a jar.  Heck I even microwave the rice, because I'll be damned if I can make it without burning it on the stove top.  I even microwave the poppadoms!  Did I mention lazy?
However, I am trying to change!  And that started today.  I made sure I started with something simple - so I made roti!  I used my Bellini, but I could easily do it using a wooden spoon or my regular mixer.

I followed this super simple recipe found on the thermomix recipe communty.  I used a frypan, nothing exciting!  It made 20 pieces of roti which I found was way too much for us for one meal (and that was with 2 extra mouths at the table!)  So half the recipe to make 10.  Alternatively, make the 20 and use them as a sandwich wrap the following day.

Image source: Recipe Community

620g plain flour
50g oil, canola or grapeseed (I used sunflower, it's all I had)
600g boiling water
1/2 teaspoon salt

In your thermomix, bellini etc mix for 6 seconds on Speed 7.   By hand, just mix until it brings the ingredients together.  It will have the texture of playdoh, which is normal.  When a bit cooler to touch, turn out and knead in to a ball.  Cut in to 4 pieces.  Then make 5 balls from each piece.  Roll the balls in to a thin circle (this isn't about perfection, it is safe to say maybe 4 of 20 of mine were "circles").  Heat fry pan to the hottest heat on the element (NO OIL), then add each circle (one at a time).  The take a bugger all time, will be ready when they start to bubble, flip and do the other side.  Yum.

Wish I took a picture but I didn't.  OOPS!  I will update with one next time I make them.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Broken links... noooo

I have quite the task ahead of me and I am frustrated.
A ridiculous number of my images have broken links and I now have to go back and re-add photos to at least 50 entries.  Ugh!  What a time consuming waste of time!  So bare with me as this happens, because it's going to be quite the process.  

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Jump Rope for Heart

81. Donate to an important charity or cause (Completed 15/05/14)

Alexis was the driving force behind this but it really was a family effort.  Jump Rope for Heart came to Lexi's school and she decided to aim big.  She wanted to raise $2500.  I was pessimistic, I won't lie.  I told her (and shame on me really) to aim lower.  So we aimed for $500.  And I'll again be honest, and didn't think even that would happen.  But with a lot of effort from the family as a whole and yes, that did include a donation from us (although that was nothing compared to some donations).

Via online donations mostly, and some cash donations - from people who we knew, to strangers, to A PLANE FULL OF PEOPLE, Lexi raised $4420.  

Some big moments included:
- Alexis and Memphis being in the newspaper
- the flight crew on our flight from Melbourne getting behind Lexi and taking up a collection ($200 in coins!)

- Jump Off Day
- Prizegiving and meeting Happy Heart.

This pic from the Albert & Logan News

Lexi's teacher helps her with some skipping
One of the easier activities at Jump Off Day
Go Lex!
Lexi's facepaint for the Tiger Airways crew that helped her out!
Prizegiving at school
Meeting Happy Heart!!!
Happy Heart and her prizes
Memphis having a hole in his heart was the driving force behind the whole thing.

Being Mum in front of the camera.

23. Have (updated) professional family photos done (Completed September 21, 2014)

This was a goal I was both excited about ticking off, but also dreading.

I was one of those mothers.  I was going to lose weight and have photos!  Except instead of losing weight, the number on the scale was going up.  And I realised that if I waited until I lost weight, I was never going to have photos of my family that included me.  Because despite the fact that I take photos of families for a living, and despite the fact I am constantly telling mothers to get in to photos with their children - I did not practice what I would preach.  

I cried when I went shopping for an outfit.  I came home empty handed and frustrated and in a very self depreciating mood.  Ty hid from me.  It wasn't a fun experience for either of us!  I went back without him.  I went back in to one shop, decided I wanted something in navy blue, and set myself the task.  I didn't look for long.  The first thing that looked ok was what I got.  Turns out, I rather love that dress.  It's pretty, it's comfortable, and it doesn't cling to my fat rolls.  Fingers crossed, Gina.  Hope for the best.  

Still, right up until I actually got there?  I wanted to cancel that shoot.  I made up many excuses in my head as to how I could put it off until I lost that weight.  For the record, if I did, I'd still be waiting.  And our photographer was not going to let me out of it - she knew exactly where my head was.

Mandii from Xanthe Photography is my kind of person - fun, silly, natural.  We've developed a friendship through our love of photography, and I am so grateful to have her in my life.  She was having none of my self-hate.  And despite not loving myself very much, I trusted her.  And she was great.  And she is amazing at what she does.  And I am so in love with our family photos.  We now have 2 beautiful canvases hung in our lounge room - a family portrait, and one of our 3 gorgeous kids with their favourite soft toys.  I am soon to create a photobook displaying my 60 favourite images.  And I 100% LOVE showing our photos to people, and absolutely do not care what people think of me in these photos.  Because they are so beautiful, and they are so us.  And they make me SO happy.

And here's the thing.  I surprised myself.  The first image that Mandii gave us a sneak peak of made me cry.  Me and my baby boy.  Not "OMG look at how awful I look", but "OMG I finally have a stunning photo of me and my Memphis".  And it is.  And I actually kinda love myself in it.  I look at it and think wow, he's so tiny yet suddenly not so tiny.  Look at his cheeky grin and those little fingers.  Those beautiful big eyes.  And look at me.  It's nothing to do with the fact that I  actually don't look that fat and everything to do with the fact that I look HAPPY.  That's me and my baby.  (The colour version is amazeballs, by the way... I've attached it further down!)

The first image I saw from our shoot.

All of our images captured our family exactly as we are.  Silly, cheeky, fun.  The kids had fun, and were able to explore.  Ty and I were comfortable.  The end result is a beautiful gallery full of happy photos.  So many people have made comment on how happy we look.  How much fun we must have had.  And fancy that, not one person has commented about my weight.  I've had nothing but positive comments.  And sure I still need to lose weight, but I needed to have these photos more.  It wasn't really about waiting for me to lose weight, in the end.  It was capturing my family as it is now.  Young, fun, silly.  Memphis just before he turns 1, Zavian as his cheeky 3 year old self, and Lexi, our 5 year old school girl.  Still in those stages of innocence that seem to evaporate far too early these days.

I needed these photos as much for the kids as I did for me.  They'll look back on photos I myself have taken, sure, and there are many many many images of the 3 of them and also a lot of them with their Daddy.  But images with Mummy are sparse because I hide behind the camera.  Ty rarely takes photos of me with the kids and a lot of the photos of me with them are selfies from a camera phone.  So now they have beautiful images.  Images that they will look back on and say hey look, there's my mum.  I can pretty much guarantee they'll be looking at our family and how happy we are.  And that they won't give a rats ass about the size of my body.

Go and have photos taken with your children.  Every child needs a beautiful photo with their mum.  But more than that, every mum needs one with her children.  Lucky for me, I now have quite a few.