Mummy stuff - Packing your Hospital Bag

I remember the first thing I did on the first day of my maternity leave was pack my hospital bag. I have a couple of friends going on maternity leave (September seems to be the month for babies!) and I was thinking about what I wished I had known when packing my bag. I didn't anticipate a longer stay than about 4 days and I ended up there for 7 nights. Needless to say, I didn't pack enough clothes for me or for Miss M, and each day I sent Brendan home with a Coles bag of washing, which only made it to the car. I remember getting home from hospital, and it was a really hot day, and I had about 15 plastic bags of washing and other things to sort through - the absolute last thing I felt like doing when sleep deprived!

I packed two bags, one for Miss M and one for me. 

In Miss M's bag I had:

 - outfits (relevant for the weather, and easy to access their nappy) - as I said before, I should have packed double what I did, as she was a spewer, and babies wee and poo a lot more than I expected!

 - singlets (I like the singlet suits that snap together underneath - the other singlets roll up)

 - nappies (I used the hospital's cloth nappies, but Miss M leaked out of them, and therefore I used more outfits. Next time I will be bringing my own disposables)

 - socks

 - mittens 

 - light blankets (depending on the weather - the hospital does have these, but photos look a lot cuter with your own blanket!)

 - wraps or love to dream swaddles (the midwives should teach you how to wrap)

 - dummies (I was told not to use a dummy for at least two weeks until feeding is established, but I'd take some just in case)

 - wipes (these will be provided at the hospital though)

 - jacket (the hospital can get quite cool, even in summer)

 - beanie (newborn size)

 - baby powder

 - baby bath wash (this is provided though too)

 - car seat (make sure this is put in, and checked by a local mechanic/fitter/dealership - safety first!!)

I also took toys and books, but didn't use these for obvious reasons! I remember someone telling me that a set of jiggling keys is like an air show to a baby!


In my bag I had:

 - comfy clothes (I took clothes I assumed I would fit into, but I didn't! Take maternity clothes, and oversized normal clothes - you want to be comfy! Next time I will take about 6 or 7 pairs, as Miss M spewed on me a fair bit!)

 - pyjamas or nighties that allow feeding (I still wear the Bonds feeding singlets - they are $30, but I found them at Big W on special for $20 - they are worth every cent!)

 - lightweight dressing gown (in case it gets cooler, a heavier one for winter)

 - toiletries (shampoo, conditioner, soap/body wash, razor, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, hair ties/bobby pins, face moisturiser, makeup for photos)

 - face washer

 - nice soft towel (the hospital ones aren't great)

 - straightener and hair dryer (it felt good to wash my hair and do it again after labour!)

 - nipple cream and nipple shields (will be provided if you need it though)

 - old clothes to wear during labour, as well as massage oil/lotion and snacks (e.g. lollies) for your birth partner, and a spray bottle to spray your face with water during labour

 - lip balm

 - snacks for the middle of the night (my hospital provided sandwiches and biscuits, and I was told it was good to increase fruit intake to help with milk production)

 - books and magazines and dvds (I didn't actually get time to read anything that week though!)

 - phone charger, phone, wallet

 - ipod and charger

 - camera and charger

 - nursing bras

 - breast pads (disposable - you don't want to be washing straight out of hospital)

 - maternity pads (at least 2 packets)

 - large underwear that you can chuck out if need be!

 - socks

 - water bottle

 - thongs for the shower (especially if you share a bathroom)

 - fancy toilet paper (splash out on this - you will feel better for it!)

 - sanitiser

 - box of tissues

 - notepad and pen

 - own pillow (I couldn't stand sleeping on the hospital ones)

 - breastfeeding pillow (I didn't end up using mine, and have since sold it)

 - manual breast pump (the hospital have electric but I much prefer my manual pump)

 - An extra bag or two to take home all the presents!

The biggest thing I wish I had was a collapsible laundry bag or a giant Aldi bag so that through the week I could have collected all the dirty washing, and it would have been in one bag to take home and wash. 

Hopefully that helps to provide a bit of insight into what you might actually use and what you won't! I was super-thankful for my own towel and own pillow, as well as super-soft toilet paper. I felt a lot better each day once I'd had a shower, gotten dressed and tidied up my hospital room ready for visitors. It's just a small luxury in what was, for me, a crazy week!

Miss M at 2 days old

Our first family picture in Hospital - such a special time!


Organise & Declutter Part 4 - The Master Bedroom [Part 1 of 2]

When we first moved into our house, one of my favourite rooms was our master bedroom. 

This is what it looked like:

The owners before us had made the old loungeroom into the master bedroom. Here's an old photo (pic courtesy of the old owners):

The room is very big, has two quaint windows which sit either side of a fireplace (which has been filled in and can be used as a headboard), has beautiful green walls, 4 built-in cupboards, as well as an ensuite. Photos just don't show how big it is. 

Well needless to say, 2 and a half years on and the room is slightly more cluttered...

Ok, a lot more cluttered. 

We were given the bedroom suite (bed, 2 bedsides and a chest of drawers) from friend's of ours. We originally had them in the guest bedroom, but I love them, so we moved them into our room. 

I sleep closest to the ensuite/main entrance (easy to get up in the night for Maddi!) and Brendan sleep's closest to the wall and chest of drawers. 

This is the view from Brendan's side of the room into the ensuite:

This is the view from the ensuite into the room:

This is the view from the entrance door (from the hallway) into the room:

These are our built-ins:

This is our bed:

All I see when I look at these pics is clutter. I honestly hadn't noticed how bad it had gotten until I took these pics! 

Obviously I want to declutter and organise so that I can enjoy this space again, but also so that it is a more user-friendly and practical space, and so that we can stop accumulating so much DUST! 

Our cupboards are also very cluttered. 

In the first cupboard are my dresses, long pants and my shoes. Clearly, I have far too many shoes!

Next is Brendan's cupboard with his long pants, jackets, and collared shirts. 

Above these two cupboards is some more clutter up the top. 

Next are these wire drawers where I have cardigans, shirts, socks, underclothes, pyjamas and gym clothes. Too many clothes! 

The last cupboard has my jackets and some jumpers. 

Up the top is some more clutter. 

I've been putting this off for so long, because it's tough to know where to start! 

My plan is to declutter, clean and organise the areas you can see first, and then tackle the bedside tables, Brendan's chest of drawers, and then the built-ins. 

Today, I started with my beside table:

It is always the first place I chuck my wallet, sunnies, phone and everything else. This is actually not the worst it's been:

Much better. 

The top drawer was also very cluttered, so I tidied it up so that it just had my camera, a clutch bag, a pen, a notebook and my ipod. 

The second drawer has the pyjamas I am currently wearing to bed. 

The third drawer has my heat pack, hot water bottle, bedsocks, belts and gloves. 

Next I tidied up the top of Brendan's chest of drawers. Brace yourself for the before photos...

I clean this area often. Brendan does not share my love of cleaning and organising (it is an odd hobby to have!), and loves to just dump his clothes and everything else on the floor or on his chest of drawers. But the bigger issue here is that his drawers are so full, there is no room for anything else. He has agreed to donate a lot of clothes to Vinnies, but I need him to help me do that! (Fingers crossed for tomorrow!)

I need to create a system where 'everything has a place, and everything in it's place' - I'll talk about that in a future post.

Here is a 'work in progress' shot - sometimes to clean up, you need to make mess! 

Miss M is sitting on the bed admiring my work!

I chucked a lot of things in the bin, and rearranged some things...

Much better. 

The wooden bowl in the middle is a 'system' I have created - Brendan's small items (e.g. picks for his guitar) can be dumped in this bowl. 

There are lots of decorative items here, which means they do collect dust, but each has a special significance, and as long as the top is clean, I'm happy to keep on top of that every week. 

Basically when decluttering, you need 2 bags - 1 for charity/to donate and 1 for the bin. You also need a spot where you can organise things to take to another room (e.g. Brendan had 15 pens on his chest of drawers, so I have added them to my stationery drawers in the guest room [which also need to be organised, however at least now they are all together]. He also had pegs, which went back to the laundry, loose change which went into a money box, and lots of different chargers, which went into the baskets in the loungeroom which has all our cords. 

In Part 2 (hopefully tomorrow), Brendan and I will go through his clothes, and completely tidy up and clean his bedside table and chest of drawers. 

Through the week I plan to tidy each cupboard in the built-in's. 

Hopefully by next weekend, the room will be back to it's former glory! 

Organise & Declutter Part 3 - The Sunroom

This is our sunroom, which you step down into off our kitchen, and which leads out to a deck that my husband built. It is a bright, sunny room. When we bought our house, it already had a floating floor, and was painted yellow like the outside of the house. This room is already organised and decluttered, and is more of a 'tour of the sunroom' type post. 


In the past two and a half years, we haven't changed much in this room, but have recently changed the room's purpose.
When we made our small lounge and dining rooms one big loungeroom, we moved the dining table out to the sunroom, so that it became a seperate dining space. Before that, as you can see above, we had a small table and a lounge, but we rarely used the room (occasionally for a cup of tea, or to lay on the lounge in the sun). My plan was to make it a kids playroom/toyroom later on, but we desperately needed a larger loungeroom (more about that in future posts!)

This is our sunroom now:
The window looks back into our kitchen, and in the future we may build a bench just under the window to create a servery area. 
Brendan has painted the room grey to match the outside of our house - dark grey on this wall, and a lighter grey on the others. 
I found these folding directors chairs at a garage sale, and have painted them a dark grey, and added the red cushion. 
The trolley is just from the reject shop, and matches our kitchen well - it used to be in the kitchen. I'm not 100% sure what I want to do with it yet, but I quite like it, so don't want to sell or chuck it out just yet. 
The pictures in the frames are cut out of gift bags I found at a local $2 shop. 

We put the grey blockout curtains up, as the room gets really hot in summer and really cold in winter, due to all the windows. 
Brendan has also put insulation in the roof. 
The dining table and chairs are mismatched, but are a work in progress (my husband sanded back the table and chairs and has painted them). We would like an 8-seater table in here eventually. 

I love this futon lounge, especially the dark grey. There are still old louvres and blinds in here, but they are very practical, and let lots of breeze through, and I like a bit of old character. 

This room used to be very cluttered and a dumping ground for anything and everything. We had a heap of sporting equipment, but we moved that to our garden shed. We are attempting to keep it as minimalist as possible now, which makes it a much nicer space to be in. 
I try to keep on top of this room, and have as little as possible in here to make it easy to clean.

Brendan's plans in the future are to raise the floor to match the rest of the house, and put bi-fold doors in where the sliding door is, to open up the room onto the deck. I'll keep you posted!


Organising Travel Photos

In 2003 I hopped onto my first international flight to New Zealand, and since then I haven't looked back - I well and truly have the travel bug!

That trip was part of a Rotary exchange program, and I spent 3 months living with a host family in Westport, on the west coast of the beautiful South Island. In 2008, before I headed off to university after a gap year, my Mum and I went back to New Zealand, and this time we did both islands. New Zealand is so well set-up for tourists, and has so many amazing things to see and do. Often there are very cheap flights over there, and there are plenty of camping spots, so it can be done very cheaply. If you haven't been, start planning a trip!

In 2010 I signed up for a 3-week mission trip to Vanuatu. That was definitely a culture shock, as we were living on the island of Tanna without electricity, while we built a school for the Vanuatu people (Ni-Vans) who are some of the loveliest, happiest people I have ever met! 

Later that year I also headed off on my longest flight yet to the United States of America! One of my best friends was doing an exchange in Virginia with her university at the time, and I also had 3 really good American friends that I had gotten to know while at college. In a month I travelled through many states including California, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, New York, Virginia, West Virginia, Washington DC (and we travelled through North Carolina & Marylands as well). I absolutely LOVED this trip. I saw so much, stayed with all my friends, and because I only had 2 nights accomodation to pay for in the month, it was super cheap. I'd go back in a heartbeat!

At the start of 2011, a friend and I headed to Bali, Indonesia for what was a jam-packed and absolutely fantastic 2 weeks. I loved meeting the people, and seeing the beautiful sights, as well as lots of cheap shopping! I brought a whole extra bag back. 

Last year, in 2014, my husband and I planned a month trip to Europe and the UK. This has been on my bucket list for years, and I wanted to travel there before we had kids. We got to see so many countries while over there - France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Italy, Vatican City, England, Scotland, Ireland, Northern Ireland and Wales. It was a very busy month, but absolutely the trip of a lifetime! I actually found out we were pregnant in our second week over there while we were in Belgium, which made it all very exciting, although I was sick A LOT, and this was a challenge! My favourite countries were Germany and England, and I'd love to go back and check out more of these places. It was obviously our most expensive trip, but definitely worth it, and we used our wedding gifts/money to fund part of it, which made it a special 2nd honeymoon. Because we wanted to see so much of Europe and the UK, we decided to travel the first couple of weeks by ourselves, and then join a Contiki tour of Italy (the 'couples' version of Contiki), and then a Trafalgar tour of Europe and the UK. As a lot of that part of the world was very unknown to me, I contacted Flight Centre, and our very helpful consultant walked me through the entire process, found some great deals for me, and suggested many cool things to see and do while over there. Do your research first so you know what prices are available, and make sure they price-match. And if you ever go to Paris, go on a bike tour, it was probably one of the best and most-fun things we did while there! 

When you get home, the first thing I recommend once you get over the jet-lag is to organise your photos. I create a folder within my travel folder (in documents) and put the place and date I travelled. [Excuse the blurry photo, I took a pic of my computer]

If I have been to many countries or places, I create seperate folders and organise the photos into each one. I also create another folder titled 'best photos.' From each place, I drag the best photos and ones that will tell a story of our trip into the best photos folder. Then I'm ready to create a travel book!

I've created these 5 travel books with Big W Photos Online. I choose Big W because I can get free delivery to my local store, and then I just go and pick it up when they call me. The best bit about Big W is that you can spend almost as little or as much money as you want, depending on what type of photo book you want. I have been really impressed with the quality, and most of mine have only cost $30 each. 

I think travel books are an excellent way to present your memories, and can be kept on the coffee table or in a bookshelf to be looked at at your leisure. I have chosen to keep mine looking the same, and have chosen black pages and white writing so the photos really stand out. 

This is a page in my USA travel book:


Europe & the UK:

Tasmania (2011):


I plan to not only use this idea for travel books, but as a record of Miss M's 1st year. Every time I upload photos from my phone of Miss M, I add them to the relevant month's folder (e.g. January, February etc.) - this way I will remember how old she was in each photo. In December when she turns 1, I plan to create a best photos folder and create a Big W photo book. The plan would be to do this every year. A wonderful, easy to make, and cheap keepsake. 


Mummy Stuff - Heading back to work after baby

Today was my first day back at work after having Miss M, and after being off for around 8 months. I cried a little when I left her this morning, and missed her most of the day! 

I love being a stay-at-home mum, but to be completely honest, I miss working for a few reasons:
 - I love teaching, and working with teenagers
 - I missed using my brain in a different way - to plan lessons, and problem-solve in the classroom (don't get me wrong - I use my brain in other ways while at home! My brain is on overdrive most of the time!)
 - I love the social interaction with other teachers, and as I attended the school I am at and have been teaching there on and off for 3 years, I had developed some great friendships
 - I miss the money! I have been very blessed to have received maternity leave, and with a tight budget we can live off my husband's wage, however I really enjoy having a bit of money just for myself

I will be doing 1-2 days per week, depending on when I get called for casual days. This enables me to still be at home most of the week with Miss M. As Brendan's shifts are mainly at night or on the weekend, he is home most days, and is happy to look after Miss M while I teach. My mum doesn't work on Thursdays or Fridays and she is excited to look after Miss M then. It was important to me to only return to work if I felt comfortable with the people I left her with. This is purely my decision for me at this moment, and I think that day cares are wonderful, but of course there is that added cost as well. You need to do what works for you and your baby, and that will be different for everyone. 

A little bit of extra preparation went into going back to work. In NSW, when you have a break from teaching you have to let the Institute of Teachers know, and they allow you to have a leave of absence. When you return, you have to pay a fee of $100. I also had to begin my union payments again. Each year, it is compulsory to do an online anaphylaxis course, and very soon it will be mandatory to complete an online CPR course and a disability in education course. I also have to redo my working with children check. 

Once that was all done, I typed up Miss M's normal schedule, i.e. when to feed her, put her down to sleep etc, as Brendan hasn't been with her for a whole day on his own yet. I prepared some pureed pumpkin for her, and left a bottle of expressed breastmilk. 

I made up a batch of spinach, feta, corn and sundried tomato muffins to take with me for lunch, which are delicious. You can find the recipe here. It felt odd to pack my lunch again! I also made up a tub of stationery and teaching supplies to take with me. 

I had an excellent first day back, with just one hurdle! Miss M has never taken a bottle of expressed breastmilk off me (except for the first week in the hospital), but she has taken it off my husband and my mum before. I was counting on her being hungry enough, and with me being out of the house, for her to take the bottle. It didn't happen! Luckily I had 3rd period off and was able to drive back home to feed her. Of course I can't always guarantee to have a period off, and this is something we now have to work out! I am very happy to be back though, it actually felt like I hadn't left! 


Declutter & Organise Part 2 - The Laundry

In Declutter & Organise Part 1, I had made a list of all the things that needed to be sorted, chucked and cleaned. Guess what?! I have finished a page of items, just by doing 2 things everyday. 

The 4th drawer in my kitchen is still a work in progress. I have all our warranties and instructions manuals in there, and right now it is a mess of paper. I need to buy a folder to store these in. 
I am now onto the 2nd page of my list. 
Today I tackled the laundry!

This is my laundry. As you can see, there is quite a bit of storage, which I love. The only thing I would change is a bit of extra room so that I could fit our dryer in there - it is currently in our garage. 

It looks clean and tidy doesn't it? Well generally, the areas you can see, are easy to keep tidy. My cupboards however, are a different story! 

This is the cupboard above the bench, as you can see, a bit cluttered and unorganised. 

This is the cupboard below the bench - a nightmare! 

This is the top of the tall cupboard, where I keep old towels, my iron, tablecloths, serving platters and games. 

This is the bottom of the tall cupboard, which I use for more pantry space, and down the bottom is a clothes basket. I love that I can fit my brooms, mops and vacuum cleaner easily in this cupboard. 

So how do you go about decluttering and organising? The easiest way I find is to make sure you have a space where you can do your sorting. Decide on one cupboard or shelf to start, and pull everything out of the cupboard. Clean over the shelf. 

This is just the contents of the bottom shelf of the cupboard above the bench. I gave the shelf a wipe and the placed the items I use all the time back in neatly. Chuck out as much as you can. I did the same for the 2nd and 3rd shelf. 

Here is the finished product. In the bottom left hand corner I have 3 baskets - 1 with toothbrushes and a scrubbing brush that I use to clean with, the next one has cleaning cloths, and the 3rd has gardening items. I have all my cleaning products next (with the ones I use the most at the front, and the ones I don't use as much behind). 

On the next shelf are my card boxes, paper towels, and more cleaning products. 
On the top shelf are some vases, my popcorn maker, a cleaning caddy and a lunch bag. 

Next I tackled the cupboard under the bench. Here's the finished product.

We keep tools we use all the time around the house here, as well as BBQ tools, some car cleaning items and my mop bucket. 

Here's the top of the tall cupboard all day - it wasn't too hard, just needed some rearranging. I still don't like how my platters and trays are stacked on top of each other. 

 Here's the pantry cupboard organised. In the tin basket in the top left, I have now stored some potatoes and onions, as I have to purchase something to put these in. I had been storing them on a trolley in the kitchen, until we moved the trolley to our sunroom. It gets far too hot for any food in there, so I've had to move them. 

Once I had finished all the cupboards, I wiped over the bench, wiped down the sink and the outside of the cupboards, and then I swept the floor. I decided to mop the floor and then give it a good scrub, before giving it another mop. 

I think my laundry is now the cleanest room in my whole house! 

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