Saturday, 17 June 2017


Kids YouTube videos.

You love them or you hate them. Generally if you love them you actually are a kid and if you hate them then you are an adult who, for 5 minutes of peace, lets your kid watch them and before you know it they've been watching for an hour and you are going to hear the theme song from whichever surprise egg video has caught their attention, in your sleep for the next week.

Our little Butterfly has her favourites. She gets an allocation of "YouTube time" each weekend in which to binge watch them and then that's it for the week. Every now and then I catch her playing a real life game in which she is a YouTube Kid. She pretends to be unboxing a toy or unwrapping a Shopkin from it's packaging. So you can imagine that then when she actually gets one she wants to do a real YouTube reveal video or unboxing video.

This week she had earned a treat and picked a Lego Minifig blind bag from the available stash.  Instead of tearing into it she asked if I could set up the camera so she could do a video. Now this girl has approximately 10 million words that she needs to use each day. At this point in the day, around lunch time, she was well on her way to beating her word count by more than double so when she asked to make a reveal video I figured it would be PERFECT! She could use up some of her words on imaginary friends!! My ears could rest and I wouldn't have to feel guilty when I realised I had tuned out of her 48 minute recount of a 3 minute event.

I did however tune in and out when she was recording and found that it was actually quite funny. I shared on my Facebook page that this is what she was doing and a couple of people suggested that we do actually put it on YouTube. Well later that night I watched it with Wolf and it was hilarious! Not so much the intentional content of the blind bag opening and then the second video she made of herself playing with play dough, but the "extra dash of crazy" that she brings to everything she does.  It gave a great insight into what life with our Butterfly is like. She actually dubbed herself YouTube Queen! So while I was out enjoying a coffee with a friend in between youth group drop off and pick up, Wolf got to editing... all the crazy into one almost 4 minute video. Actually, it wasn't even ALL the crazy, but 4 minutes felt like long enough.

So, without further ado, here is Butterfly McTavish, self professed YouTube QUEEEEEEEEEN!

Friday, 17 February 2017

Mopping up the remains of my mind.

Mopping seems to be the most futile of domestic chores. At least I feel like making dinner and washing the dishes serves some useful purpose, but mopping feels like it is truly a waste of my time. Washing toddler clothes feels somewhat pointless when they are just going to wear all 17 different outfits again tomorrow and somehow get tomato sauce on all of them (even though they didn't have tomato sauce at all that day), but at least that keeps the tomato sauce stains from growing into some sentient being and taking over the earth. Cleaning a toilet that is mostly used by boys feels futile, but then I remember that if it keeps our indoor plumbing from smelling like a long drop then it's never futile. Mopping just tips me over the edge.

I harp on some nights about how I love to cook, I just don't like to HAVE to cook so the drudgery of preparing 3 2 meals (I don't serve up breakfast, they get their own while I sleep... it really is as wonderful as it sounds) and snacks for my family of 6 every day can feel like it's futile and leaves me trapped in a never ending cycle of cooking and then cleaning the dishes just to dirty them again.

But mopping. Mopping. Mopping the floor is a genuine waste of my time. Sweeping I can see the point to, but mopping, unless there is a large spill or an obvious large sticky patch, makes me want to cry.  It's not that it's hard, it's just that it's pointless!

I mopped the whole house, for the first time in a LONG time (I have done here or there as needed often enough to not have the white tiles turn grey) the other day as I was stress cleaning while trying to decide if Lion had a broken arm or not (he didn't). Within an hour, there were at least 3 patches that a more mop-loving mother than I would have re-mopped. I just used the wet rag that one of the kids had wiped up a spill with to then wipe over the bits that "needed" mopping. And this is precisely WHY it's so futile. I live with 4 mess making creatures. If you see a tea towel, rag or old cloth nappy on our floor it is because it is our current "mop". The kids spill so much water just pouring drinks that there is always a wet cloth somewhere nearby so if something sticky is spilled then I just grab that, wipe it over, and that's the cue for it to go in the wash and we wait for the next water spill to find out what our next "mop" will look like.

All of that aside, the real kick to my mop bucket (I don't use a mop bucket, I have a microfibre mop and a steam mop) came the next day when the kids who had been refusing for days to weed the side yard suddenly decided that now, while I have shiny clean floors, on the muddiest day of the year, is the time to get in and do the job they've been asked to do... but to walk inside 2984757 times while they are doing it spreading wet mucky garden junk through the house every time they did.

I love those kids.

But I think I need to teach them to mop.

Just kidding... cleaning up after a kid who has mopped is probably worse than mopping myself in the first place!

What's a chore you feel serves no purpose?
Or one that you feel the returns are hardly worth the amount of effort required.

Friday, 16 September 2016

Don't be this dude.

My oil light flicked on and off the other day so this conversation happened with Wolf...
Sounds pretty easy, right?

I popped by an auto shop to grab some oil. I had just spent the morning sitting on a non-waterproof picnic blanket on the wet ground so my pants were wet... I was looking forward to getting home, not to this.  I had Wolf's assurance that it was as simple as walking in and grabbing some oil. What could go wrong? (Other than that my pants looked like I had wet myself... and I had a sense of impending doom rising in the pit of my stomach... Auto shops and I don't get along, I've never had particular success in finding what I need without running into some kind of issue.)

Well this is what could go wrong.

Apparently it's not as simple as all that. It seems there is a choice of 37493 different oils and when you use their handy dandy little oil selector iPads strapped to the shelves they only tell you the 35 options for your car from that one brand... they don't consider that you have 639 different brands to pick from.

So I sent Wolf another text...
Stupid phones cutting down the image for a preview
made it look like there was only 375 choices.

Thankfully a kind assistant came to help me hurry up so I could get my 4 kids who were touching their stock out of the store. The assistant dude helped me pick some and said I needed to put some in immediately if it's so low that the light is coming on. So out to the carpark, kids safely in the car, I pop the bonnet and start trying to get the oil cap off. I can get it to move a tiny bit, but it's pretty much stuck. I wrestle with it, move around to get a better grip, battle it as best I am able but it won't move. The benefit of this is that my shorts have dried now while doing oil cap battle in the sun. Short of climbing up in the engine cavity to get a better handle on it there is nothing left that I can do, nothing other than to use my finely tuned mother skills on it. I stand back and stare at it hoping to frighten it into submission with my displeased gaze... I hear laughing. Surely the cap is not laughing at me. There's nearly 12 years of practice in that displeased gaze... I can break a child's will with that gaze. A ute a few cars down has two blokes in it, one about my age, one in his 60s, I soon realise it's them laughing, and they are clearly laughing at me. Not even trying to hide it. 

Their arrogance makes me more determined. I grab a tissue to try and clean the cap to maybe get a better grip... It continues for what seems like a very long time out in the Townsville sun.

Eventually, defeated, I gather my stuff and load it in the car with one last displeased stare at the now closed bonnet. Out of the corner of my eye I notice one of the guys, the younger one, walking over. "Do you need a hand at all? I saw you struggling." I resist the urge to vent my frustrations about his arrogant laughter and accept his help.

He goes to twist the cap... It doesn't budge.

He uses a little more force... It stays stuck.

He makes a lame joke about how it's been put on really tight... I am not feeling like joking.

He tries to not grunt as he uses all his effort to finally make it loosen.

It's off.

Old mate in the ute cheers for him.

I thank him, he gets in his ute, and they drive off (making it appear they were hanging around for the show and nothing else, though I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt and assuming there is more to their story). I stay and fill my engine oil then take my kids home with yet another undesirable auto shop experience under my belt.

An artists cynical impression of the events unfolding

The moral of this story, for those who desire a point to blog posts, is that kindness is free, and laughing at someone who is doing their best at a task and still failing, instead of offering to help, is not only unkind, but a waste of their time and yours.

The corollary is that if you are going to laugh at someone struggling to do a task, you'd better make darn sure that you are confident in your ability to do it effortlessly!

I am honestly thankful that he offered his help when he didn't have to. I also appreciated the chance to share with my kids how it made me feel to be laughed at and that I expect great things of them, kindness even when it's not expected or necessarily your responsibility is the least of these.

Monday, 25 July 2016

There's Gaps in Our Diet

I hate diets.

I don't particularly like being told that I can't have certain things... it tends to make me want them more.

I don't really care for cutting out whole food groups either, it just feels kind of... not unhealthy, but unbalanced.

But things here had to change.

Lion is diagnosed Aspergers. Monkey is undiagnosed something... I feel like it's Aspergers but with different traits to Lion (since we homeschool I'm not pursuing a diagnosis, it won't get extra funding or extra help or extra anything so we'll just plod along). Dragon has an unhealthy gut, without too many details, lets just call it "Mother's intuition". Butterfly is an unknown as yet. She shows a lot of the same "quirks" as Lion and Monkey, but is much more of a mimicker than any of the others were so I'm not sure how many are naturally her and how many are learnt behaviours. Wolf has his own gut issues which I'm sure he'd rather I didn't broadcast. Then there's me... My body is currently not absorbing iron like it should which as you an imagine presents issues when I lose a lot of iron on a monthly basis. I also have nerve damage that we suspect is from B12 deficiency related to the low iron (they are buddies and do everything together, apparently) or possibly Raynauds. I have mood swings that frustrate me and I know are better when my iron/B12 is where it should be, but I'm also so incredibly forgetful that remembering to take my supplements is not happening (and they make me feel sick).

So I researched. I looked into how our diet could help at least some of our issues. I was leaning towards a paleo-ish style menu but would probably still eat those treats that I like because the occasional treat wouldn't be that bad, right?  So I researched and looked and I knew that heaps of people had successfully eased many Aspergers symptoms/traits (I have no idea what to call them) on a wheat free diet so I assumed that would be a large part of what we did, but I'd just replace those things with wheat free replacements... how hard would that be... But I kept looking and coming back to this "Gaps" diet. I researched it some more and it seemed to offer the potential relief of so many of each persons issues. But I wanted something that wasn't just some quack offering to heal everything if you spend a million dollars on all their products. I wanted something backed by science, that still contained good food and wasn't going to leave my family lacking vital nutrition. The further I looked the better it looked. Then I started to see it mentioned on one of my favourite blogs/facebook groups, Quirky Cooking.  Except I realised that I was only just really noticing something she had been talking about for a long time. Jo had even written a program that is similar to what she implemented for her family to take on the Gaps diet. And the best part yet... it wasn't a forever diet! You heal your gut and get it functioning properly, at the same time you are figuring out what foods your body doesn't like, what doesn't work well for you and then you start to add back in foods that you can tolerate and slowly increase the variety you are eating. I LOVE VARIETY!!!

"But I don't need to spend any money, I can do this." I say as I keep researching and researching and slowly become more and more overwhelmed with what I would have to do. Okay, so I spent the money.

Lamb Tagine
One of the Stage 6 recipes Jo has produced

I am so glad I did. There is so much support and help and it's step by step... seriously, how good is that!!! There's a Facebook group for those on the program to chat and help each other and to reassure each other that whatever stage you are struggling on, it will get better.

Even better than all of that... it's not a 6 month membership. It's not a 12 month membership. It's a forever membership! That means that you can take your time to wrap your head around it, go through all of Jo's helpful videos and cheat sheets and read up on what helped other people and THEN start. You can slowly build the recipes into your family's menu plan before kicking off so that it's not such a shock (both to them and their gut) and if you fall off the wagon you don't have to worry about not completing the program, you can go back as far as you need or start again from the beginning and you won't run out of time, you won't get out of sync with the others on the program, you just do it at your own speed.

So here is Clan McTavish, at the starting line of Gaps. We have introduced a few meals from the menu plans that have been met with varied responses (lets just say we have discovered a mutual dislike for a few items which are now off all menus). We haven't bought a loaf of bread for over a week (that's a long time to go without bread for these kids). We have had our last meal of pasta. We finished our last bottle of milk this morning. We are ready to start... but when.

The kids are not keen. They aren't outright rebelling... mostly. But they aren't all for it. I kind of had this fairy land idea that when I explained to them the things that might get better with a diet change they would give up sugar and wheat and potatoes and every comfort food they've ever had on the promise of potential health benefits. Yeah, sounds stupid to me too now that I say it out loud.

So just a word of warning... I'm likely to blog our journey, maybe... that requires remembering to blog it... but it also will mean that I can go back and see how far we've come.  The blog is pretty quiet now, not many visitors still stumble past even when I do post, so it'll likely go rather unnoticed for the most part.

Another word of warning. I'm tired. Chronically tired. Posts are likely to be longish and boringish because I can barely string together two sentences, let alone a blog with cohesive thoughts. Though I'm hoping that's something that might improve. There's been many women reporting that their brain fog has lifted as they improved their diet... so lets see how we go.

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Ring my bell

Butterfly is a little hard to understand most of the time. Not because her words aren't clear... it's her meaning that we have trouble figuring out.

About an hour ago we were playing a game where we were throwing this small pink frisbee inside and then when it was my turn to throw it she would leave and I would throw it and then ring the bell for her to come and pick it up for me and bring it back. It really was quite a lovely lazy game for me.

Eventually she got distracted, I didn't ring the bell and she didn't notice.

Fastforward an hour and she is in the bathroom blowing bubbles and I'm messing around on my computer when I hear a command... "RING THE BELL!"

I'm exhausted and it's time for my afternoon coffee so I ignore her and hope for the best.


*sigh* I ring the bell.

She comes running back and starts looking around on the floor, then looks at me exasperated and says "Why did you need me to come and get mine Tinkerbell frisbee right now?"

"I didn't," I reply, "you told me to ring the bell"

"Yes, I told you to ring the bell so I would come and find mine Tinkerbell frisbee for you." She counters.

"Yes, but... I... you... oh never mind."

Sunday, 6 March 2016

No Joke

Monkey read a 208 page joke book today, each double page spread had around 10 jokes on it. I'm his mother and his teacher and I am shocked by this... which I kind of feel bad about, you'd think I would know he could do this stuff.

He sounded out "Archeologist" and then struggled with a word further on and realised that because it was about an archeologist then the word must be tomb. Giraffe was the only one that really got him so stuck I had to help. Not bad for my little year one boy.

I was amazed, astounded, astonished. He even gave up some of his coveted internet time (where they get a bit of time on the weekend to watch their favourite you tubers play minecraft) to read.

But all of that aside... I'm not doing the maths right now but the number of mindless little kid jokes I heard today is somewhere between "That's a crazy lot of jokes" and "that's cruel and unusual punishment".

I'd burn that book tonight while he sleeps... except he's tucked it under his pillow.

No joke.

Monday, 29 February 2016

Old Maths Teachers Never Die...

...They just don't count any more.

Well today maths just about killed us... so just for fun I added a bit more to it.

While I sat with Dragon he took between 30 seconds and 1 minute for each problem depending on which times tables he needed to recall.

While I was busy helping other kids or getting dinner prepped for tonight he took an eternity... well, kind of.

So once he was finally finished we used the same skills he had just been doing in his maths work to figure out just how much time he wasted.

The boy is a professional time waster!

Consequently, this is where I am currently at. 

I put timers on to try to give them an awareness of the passing time and they have a meltdown because I'm "hurrying" them. I let them take as much time as they "need" and they get upset that their maths took soooooooo long. I sit with them to keep them moving and they get upset that I'm being bossy.

Can't win.

Better just drink more coffee...