Monday, 27 March 2017

Growth in the first quarter

I've been off-track this year. Lost in the HUGE pile of stuff I've got to do. And it's really impacted my writing. And my feelings.

I finished 2016 on such a high of all the things I was going to achieve this year with my blog, with my life. But none of it has happened. Or is even close to happening.

But I've had somewhat of an epiphany recently.

And it's come from the weirdest of places. Me!

So, a couple of weeks ago was my birthday. And it was a shit of a week, literally, because our sewerage pipes are blocked, and need replacing as soon as possible.

And when I woke up on Tuesday morning (my actual birthday day), I decided that I actually would follow through on a Facebook Live challenge I had randomly signed up for the previous week.

Now, if you've been around here for any length of time, you know that I sign up for all the things. My inbox is full of emails from people I'm not sure if I want to hear from, because I wanted their free thing. I fork out lots of money for classes (usually scrapbooking, but sometimes blogging) that I never even open, let alone work through and finish. And I'm always reading stuff about stuff on Pinterest. Follow through is not my forte.

But on that Tuesday, I did it. I posted my live video, shared it to my profile, and floated through the day from all the comments and support from people.

And then on Wednesday, I did it again!

I know!

Go me!

I actually completed the challenge, and now a couple of weeks later I'm still on a high for actually finishing (and discovering just how much fun video really is.)

But what I really wanted to talk about today was a little light bulb moment I had during that week.

The prompt for the third day was what matters to me. As I thought about this prompt, and making it purely about me rather than falling back on the kids are important my husband is important, I did a spot of google searching, and ended up talking about my core values. Take a minute to watch the video above, and hear me ramble some more.

Now, as I finished that video I realised that I was actually too hard on myself over my One Little Word® for the year GROWTH, because the simple fact that I had gone back and done the video that day showed that I have grown this year. And completing the challenge backs that up.

So, while I haven't achieved whatever goal I {didn't} set for this first quarter of the year, I have actually achieved something a little bit better than that, and trusted myself to follow my gut and do something completely out of my comfort zone.

And my success in finishing this challenge has spurred me on to actually go back to my original goals, and set newer ones for the second quarter of the year, and work hard at following through.

How are your first quarter goals going?
Have you kept touch with your word for the year? 
PS you can read what I learned from posting #5dayslive over here 

Linking with One Mother Hen, Denyse Whelan and All Mum Said
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Thursday, 23 March 2017

Supporting the youngest in the classroom

Sophie is the youngest in her kindy group, and will likely be the youngest in her school cohort next year. And while I don't have any plans to keep her back (once she finally started talking, learning things has been quick for her, thatnks to her siblings) I do worry a bit about how she will transition to school and cope with learning the skills required. So when I connected with Allison from Jack the Wombat, I asked her if she would help me out with some tips. And I'm guessing if they'll help me, they'll probably help someone else, too.

Supporting Kindy Kids At Home When They Are The Youngest In The Classroom

I wasn’t necessarily the most mature kid, funnily enough this is something that has seemed to have followed me into adulthood. So when I started kindy and was going to be one of the youngest kids in the classroom, obviously my parents were a little concerned. At five years old, was my lack of maturity, compared to that of kids almost a year older than me, going to place me at an academic disadvantage?

At the end of the day, someone is always going to be the youngest in the classroom, it is just a fact. It comes down to part luck and part cut-off date that makes it happen. If this is your child, no doubt you are experiencing similar concerns to my parents, and want to know how you can best help them succeed.

So did being one of the youngest in the class have a lasting impact on me or my academic performance? No, though at times it did pose its challenges.

These challenges will be different for each child, however there are some great ways that you can help support your child at home so they can succeed in the classroom even if they are the youngest!

Here are three of my favourite:

1. Reading to and with your child. 

Reading is a skill at the foundation of any schooling system. So what better way to support your child at preschool than to give them the skills they require to succeed! This is the easiest, simplest, and cheapest way to prepare your child for academic success.
Reading with your child has a number of benefits. These include, but are not limited, to:
  • Fostering a stronger relationship with you through the opportunity to cuddle, communicate, and bond.
  • A higher aptitude for learning. Numerous studies have shown that students who are exposed to reading before preschool are more likely to do well in all facets of formal education.
  • Improved speech skills. By listening to you read, your child is mastering the basic sounds that form language.
  • Enhanced concentration. Your child will learn how to be settled while you read the book.
  • Most importantly a passion for reading! When you read with your child, it becomes an indulgence rather than a chore.

2. Create authentic learning experiences. 

Most families have a full schedule, and it can be hard to find time for that extra focus we want to have on academic success. So my tip is to use your everyday experience to create learning opportunities. For example, when cooking dinner you can ask your child to measure out ingredients to help with their math skills. You can also discuss the ingredients or finished product to help build their comprehension skills. How it tastes? What does smell like? How does it feel?

3. Talk about kindergarten. 

School can be scary, so it’s best to help your child become familiar with the idea of kindergarten. Build enthusiasm by acting excited and positive about what is to come. Encourage your child to tell you about their day. Asking questions about your child’s day will help to build cognitive skills, as well as provide you with an opportunity to gauge their development both emotionally and academically. 

How do you support your child at home? We would love to hear from you! 

Allison, creator of Jack the Wombat, is a mother and an early literacy advocate. She strongly believes early literacy is a critical building block for everyday life and future success. She also believes that learning to read and write needs to be fun, inspiring, and engaging. This is why she created Jack The Wombat. To help spark your child's imagination and fill their childhood with play, adventure, and inspired learning.
Find out more about her early literacy program today at
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Tuesday, 21 March 2017

What I learnt from posting 5 days of live video

Video is going off on social media. It ranks higher in the Facebook newsfeed, is regularly shared by people, and translates across all forms from blogs to Instagram.

But until a week ago I hadn't even considered using video in any format. Not those cool cooking videos, or a photo montage, or Facebook Live. Never Facebook Live. Me, in front of a camera? Speaking to people? No thanks!

But I was wrong.

At the start of the month, I noticed an email from Erin Shebish, discussing her #5daylive challenge. Now, I've only stumbled on Erin in the last couple of months as she's started co-hosting the Blog Fuel podcast with Kirsten Thompson from Sweet Tea LLC. I don't know much about her background, or her blog, but as a sucker for free things, I signed up, then immediately regretted it (as you do when your inbox is full of things you're really not sure about.)

The challenge started last Monday (Tuesday, my time), and I completed every day of it.

I know! I was just as surprised as you are.

But complete it I did, and I have to tell you, it wasn't nearly as scary as I thought it was going to be. Erin broke it down into easy-to-follow tips (although I haven't mastered an image to share yet), and encouraged participants with her own Facebook Live stream in her Facebook group each day (and before snowmageddon hit, she checked out participants videos and gave encouragement directly on them!)

So why was Live steaming for 5 days easy? Honestly, I'm not entirely sure why I enjoyed it so much, perhaps because I finished something I started, or perhaps because it was birthday week, or topics were chosen for me, or just because I'm getting more comfortable in my skin as I get older. But whatever it was, this is what I learnt from the week.

Have a plan for the kids

On the first day I didn't have Sophie at home, but day 2 she was here. If you watch the video (on my Facebook page) you'll see I lost my composure. I let her presence fluster me, and by the end I finished and cried. But on day 4 I was prepared to entertain her. I set her up beside me, so she could see the screen, she had some toys, and some lollies. And we both handled it much better. If the kids are home when you're streaming, either figure out how to do it when they're asleep (or have big kids entertain them), or involve them somehow.

Have a topic and some brief notes

Live streaming is a lot about off the cuff talking and connection of thoughts, but it also needs to have just one purpose. It's ok to share stories that relate to the topic (for example, on day 5 I shared the story of my favourite writing desk) because stories are why people are tuning in, but try to stick closely to the topic. Brief notes will help you stay on track, and make sure you share all the points you wanted to share.

Have plenty of light on you

As you can imagine, I've watched lots of Live streams now, and one thing I've noticed is lots of streaming from dark rooms. Now, a webinar is slightly different, because that usually involves slide sharing, so light on the presenter isn't as essential, but on a Live stream people are tuning in to see you, make it easy by shedding light and presenting you in the best possible light.

Stick with it

Just like building a Facebook group of your own, people are slow to notice that Live streams are happening, so you need to talk for longer, and do it regularly. Facebook says that the sweet spot for Live streaming is 30 minutes, but if that feels like too much, just start with 10 minutes. Once you start talking about your topic, it will be easy to keep rambling! And keep posting them regularly. Pick a time and day (consult your audience if you want - mine said weekends or evenings) but do what works best for you.

Tell people you're doing it

Most people turn off notifications for Facebook pages these days, so you need to tell people you're going to be online. Try creating an event, or an image that tells people the time. If you've got a group, share your page stream straight into your group (don't Live stream in other people's groups, unless they give you the nod), or share to your profile so your friends can see what you're doing. And don't forget to share the replay around! You can even embed videos in blog posts! Just select the video, click the 3 dots to the right hand side, and click embed.

If you want to see how I do Live stream, I'm going live every Tuesday evening at 7pm AEST, tonight's topic is finding time for Mum-care. I'd love to see some more friends there!

Want to try Live stream, but not sure what to talk about? I created a free printable just for you!

linking up with Kylie Purtell for IBOT and Mumma Morrison for Hump Day Hype

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Monday, 13 March 2017

Hello Monday

hello plumber Last Monday we discovered that our drains were blocked. After an emergency call to a plumber, he came, drilled, and said if it happened again we'd need a camera. Just this morning, as I hung the washing out, I discovered that the drain was blocked again. The plumber is booked for tomorrow, and chances are high our terracotta pipes have collapsed and need replacing. So much for actually getting some savings together with this job change!

hello birthday It's my turn to get older tomorrow. And it probably will only be celebrated with cake and photos to remember the occasion (see the aforementioned blockage) but I had an idea last year for a way to commemorate another year, and I'm thinking this year is the year to make it happen.

hello friends I often lament "I don't have any friends" but I've recently realised that I haven't been a very good friend to those that I do have. So I'm trying to change that, and be a better friend. It isn't easy, because so many of my friends are juggling life, just like me, but I can do little things, like take a random opportunity to say hi, how are you. [and make them cry, sorry friend, but thank you for confiding in me.]

hello planning That lack of friends feeling extends into most areas of my life. Not achieving goals? Not really working on them. Not getting on top of the mess? Not really working on it. It's been a bit of an eye opener to realise that the house is never clean because I never clean it. Or that I don't send newsletters because I don't take time to write them. So I really need to get serious about the plan, figure out what it is, and put things in place that can help it grow. 

hello baking With birthdays comes cake. In the last week we've had a cheesecake and a red velvet cake, so I'm thinking this week we'll have a mud cake. Can't beat chocolate for celebrating birthdays!

hello Monday, a new start every week.

linking up with One Mother Hen, All Mum Said and Denyse Whelan.
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Thursday, 2 March 2017

Updating Family Photos

Us Right Now is a monthly series of photos + words, sharing our right now stories.
Since way back in 2009, I have taken regular photos of all the kids. Whether that's the memory keeper in me, or the adult that has no photos from their childhood, I have my big camera or phone at hand all the time. But getting professional photos taken isn't something we've done in the last 8 years (and in all honesty, our last set of "professional" photos were taken at Portrait Place in a room over-stuffed with silly props and a white background.)
So when I spotted a link from a local photographer, offering a session for $50, and I knew Steve's schedule was coming up to have a weekend free, I jumped on and booked us in. Of course, in typical-Cate fashion, I almost backed out at the last minute, coming up with a myriad of excuses that I knew I would hate myself for voicing, so I just pulled up my big-girl panties, ironed the boys shirts, raced to the shop for a tshirt for Sophie because everything was stained, and straightened my hair, and off we went.
The day turned out to be the windiest I've ever seen on the shore front, and still stupid-crowded at half past 3 in the afternoon! We dodged birthday parties, kids randomly climbing trees unsupervised, and a whole playground full of people to end up with some images that I'm really excited about.

Now to actually get the images printed and hung on the walls!

When did you last have family photos taken?

thanks to Spotted Hart Photography for working with us!

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