How to Make White Dough Ornaments

As a special end of year celebratory treat we like to make a little Christmas gift to share with our classmates.  Last year we made White Dough Star Ornaments.  This was by far the cheapest and my favourite gift we have ever made!  Judging by the popularity of this blog post, I am guessing lots of other people loved it too!

So I wanted to give you an update.  An after the fact recount AKA what I learnt and a quick HOW TO.

Traditionally dough ornaments are made using a “Salt Dough” recipe.  This is an easy way to make the ornaments and you get a very natural appearance as a result.  But I wanted WHITE!!!!  After some research on google, and advice from the ever helpful “The Organised Nest” Facebook flock.  I found a new recipe! I have adapted it slightly for Australians and this will create enough dough for about 16 small ornaments.

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Dough Ornaments
Yields 16
A WHITE glistening dough mixture great for making ornaments and keepsakes.
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Prep Time
30 min
Prep Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 Cup of Corn Flour
  2. 2 Cups of BiCarb Soda (the same as Baking Soda)
  3. 1 1/4 Cups Cool Water
Instructions
  1. Mix Cornflour and BiCarb Soda in bowl.
  2. Add Cool water and stir.
  3. Once ingredients are combined place over medium heat, stirring constantly.
  4. The mixture will bubble first and then begin to combine.
  5. Once the dough mixture has formed one large ball in the pan, remove and place in a bowl to cool.
  6. Cover the dough with a wet cloth as it cools.
  7. Once cool, knead the dough with your hands. (this should only take a minute or two!)
  8. It quickly comes a beautiful smooth dough.
  9. Sprinkle a little extra cornflour on the bench and roll it out into 1cm high sections.
  10. Cut it out into whatever shapes your heart desires!
  11. Use a straw to press out a hole in the top of the ornaments (to allow for hanging)
  12. If you want to stamp or carve pictures into your dough now is the time to do it!
  13. Place each shape onto Baking paper and leave to air dry for at least 24 hours.
  14. Admire your handy work!
Notes
  1. You can bake these ornaments, but it will give them a golden baked appearance.
  2. Like any dough, once hard they are quite fragile so be careful!
  3. Use some ribbon or twine to create a hanging ornament.
  4. These make great gifts!
  5. * I used a "Cookie Stamp" to create personalised messages. These are available from kitchen stores and even large department stores.
The Organised Nest http://theorganisednest.com/

 THE INGREDIENTS

These ingredients are cheap, cheap, cheap!  After some trial and error I found that the Wooloworths Homebrand ingredients work just as well and are literally half the price.   BUY the Homebrand Ingredients from Woolworths and this recipe costs you less than $2!!! I mistakenly bought the branded items and it cost me about $6 which still isn’t too bad! Win Win!

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PERSONALISING

Nothing says thoughtful like a personalised gift.  We stamped each classmates name on the ornament using a Wiltshire “Cookie Stamp” Kit from Big W.  

Wiltshire - Sweet Messages Cookie Kit - From Big W

Wiltshire – Sweet Messages Cookie Kit – From Big W

Last year this Kit was found in Big W  in the Cooking/Kitchen Utensil aisles, it retails for about $18.

 

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The kit contained some predesigned messages (Thank You, I Love You etc) and then a whole heap of individual letters for you to design your own messages. This is seriously one of my favourite purchases and I have already used it over and over again!

LONGEVITY

The ornaments once dry are ready to go but personally I like to lacquer the finished product. For longevity and to hopefully make them look even better! You can find a simple spray on lacquer at Masters/Bunnings/Spotlight.

PACKAGING


Screen Shot 2014-11-13 at 1.49.12 PMI usually buy the bulk lots of resealable clear bags from the dollar stores but then I stumbled across these beauties.  In the Party aisle of Woolworths and they are the PERFECT fit. 

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I wrote a little poem and turned it into a bag topper just using some cardboard. 

DELIVERY
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Now they are ready to deliver!  Made easier if you have an extra cute delivery elf like this one! Oh I hope this Christmas dress still fits her this year.

There you have it.  A cheap, easy, thoughtful gift for any occasion really but especially nice to spread some joy this Christmas. 

 

 

 

Breastfeeding – The new “Normal”

This is a Sponsored Post brought to you in conjunction with “Medela” Screen Shot 2014-08-05 at 8.33.17 AM

There he was.  My first born child.  A whopping 9lb son.  I had clearly defined expectations on what becoming a mother would like.  I pictured my birth.  Natural with no complications and drugs only as a last resort. I imagined what having a newborn child would be like.  I wouldn’t sleep a lot.  I would breastfeed.  I would gaze down at our newborn son as he happily nuzzled into me.

Oh boy within the first 24 hours all my expectiaitons had been thrown out the window.  After a complicated labour, there were no time for drugs as I was rushed in for an emergency C-Section.

My first days of motherhood were spent in pain, struggling to walk and shower, depressed at the loss of my ideal birth.  I appeared confident as I approached breastfeeding.  My baby seemed to be taking to it until…..the advice began. [Read more…]

Family Finance System Update

This picture was taken a long time ago (2012!) and although the space has changed the system has remained the same! (We have moved mail and finances into the study)

“Real organising is not just about sorting and storage.

To keep things organised, you need to establish a SYSTEM.”

Setting up systems in your home is like setting up routines or new habits. After a few months of sticking to them, you wonder what you ever did before!

So here is our Family Finance System

1. Mail In. This can be either the paper variety or most often electronically. As soon as the bill comes in it is opened. NO MAIL REMAINS UNOPENED FOR MORE THAN 24 HOURS. Yes sometimes you dread opening bills. But delayed bill paying adds to paper clutter, increases the chance you will misplace it, pay it late and have to pay more in late payment fees. Collecting and opening the mail is a shared task and part of our everyday routine. As we enter the house, after the school pick up, Master O collects the mail. He loves this job! Whilst the kids are having afternoon tea, I go through the mail (and all the notes in the school bag!) [Read more…]

The Family Finance Folder Update

Over the next few weeks, I hope to share with you how we manage our family finances.

  • Our Family Finance Folder
  • Our Family Finance System
  • Doing your Fiancnial Homework and
  • Using iCal to manage our bills.

Being on one income over the last two years, it has been more important than ever, that we manage our money carefully. Once a year, usually just after tax time, I re evaluate all of our finances.  This job is made so much easier as we have all of our financial details in the one spot.  Here is a peak inside our Family Finance folder.

 

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The Family Finance Folder [Read more…]

The School File It Folder 2

As part of our “School Station” set up we not only try to contain the constant stream of school paraphenalia but paper too!

As a teacher I was well aware about how much paper gets sent every day (and also aware of how many actually never make it into the hands of parents!) So before Master O even started school I got to work on a school File It Folder.

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This will be a place to organise and store EVERY bit of important paper for the school year.

 

Step 1. Gather Your Supplies

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I found these cute coloured “Marbig – Vivid” folders at Big W!
You will need

  • A4 Ring Binder (one with an insertable cover and spine works best for decorating! )
  • Extra wide Tabbed Dividers
  • Plastic Pockets
  • Scrapbook Paper (Optional)
  • Labelmaker (Optional)

Step 2. Create a Cover

School File It Folder

You will be looking at this folder a LOT, so why not make it pretty! Little Mis A chose a cute sheet of Scrapbooking Paper from Spotlight. 12 x 12 Scrapbooking paper makes the perfect cover as it the perfect size!

Cut about 3 cm’s off one side to create the front cover and use the offcut for the spine! Add the date and your child’s name and your ready to go!

Step 3. Create Dividers

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The dividers are whats make this folder functional. Extra Wide tabbed dividers work the best as you can still view the tabs when the folder is closed making access easy. Although we have had a school folder before the same sections didnt really apply to Kindy. Some ideas are

  • Calendars and Rosters
  • Class Notes
  • Rules and Regulations
  • Lists (Uniform/Books etc)
  • Newsletters
  • Fees
  • Receipts
  • Certificates/Awards
  • Photos
  • Reports
  • Artwork
  • Special Days (Excursions/Celebrations)

If you are creating a folder for school you might also want to add sections for;

  • Tuckshop
  • Excursions/Camps
  • Specialist Lessons

Simply use a labelmaker (or your neatest handwriting!) to create labels for each divider tabs.

Step 4. Fill!

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I use post it notes to help categorise the papers I already have. Then simply amke a divider for each category!
Time to say goodbye to the random paper piles! Firstly fill each category with plenty of plastic pockets, you dont want to be searching for more half way through the year. Now categorise your papers and start adding!

Step 5. Extras.

I also add a large clear plastic envelope with velcro closure into the front. I keep all of the kids name labels inside it! I am also on the hunt for some specific “certificate” plastic pockets!

End Of The Year.

At the end of the year, I go through the folder and cull whatever we no longer need and add reports and any other end of year extras to create a School Memory Folder. It is so nice to be able to grab a folder and look through everything your child has accomplished and experienced during the school year! I have even thought about creating a Project Life school album with all the folders contents!

Be warned having a folder doesnt ensure you will always be on top of the paper pile! You need a system!

THE SYSTEM

A folder doesn’t fill its self. You need an effective system in place for dealing with the paper.

READ. Check for notes DAILY. Check bags, lunchboxes, communication books and if you can the school website.
WRITE. Write down ALL DATES immediately. We write them on our family calendar and in my Planner. Be sure to write in your diary

a) when the note needs returning AND

b) when the event is taking place.
ACT. What do you need to with this information?

  • Does it need returning? If it does, fill it out and put it back in their school bag immediately!
  • Do you need it for future reference? File it away in your “SCHOOL FILE IT FOLDER”
  • Do you need to tell anybody else about the event?
  • Organise different pick up arrangements or a day off work?

And now you are ORGANISED!

You have a storage place and a system to help you manage the school paper clutter!

My Planner- Pages – DIY FISH Inserts

My Planner With DIY FIsh

My search for a new planner was prompted by my need to better manage my time. For the last 3 years I had been using the week on 2 pages format of the Erin Condren Life Planner. It worked well to keep track of appointments, but I needed a more indepth system that could not only track multiple areas of my life but where I could manage my time on a yearly, monthly, weekly and daily basis.

The beauty of customising your own planner, is that there are a smorgasbord of planner pages available. You can buy pre printed inserts for discbound planners but I was more interested in creating my own “hybrid” planner at home, using downloadable pages and my home printer. Etsy and Pinterest have a massive assortment of planner pages and templates for everything from meal planning to cleaning schedules. Most are dirt cheap and sometimes even free! Using this method, you can create your own personalised planner, customised to meet your family’s and your lifes needs.

Whilst on the hunt, I stumbled upon the brand DIY Fish. DIY Fish is a store on Etsy that offers a new planner page system, unlike anything I have seen before. THe “Packs” Consist of Monthly, Weekly and Daily pages. The range is MASSIVE and you will literally get lost in her store trying to work out which pack you like the best. I strongly suggest you go in with a clear idea in mind of what you need in a planner page.

What I need/want in a planner page

A Monthly Calendar

An overview calendar of the month ahead to record birthdays, swimming/ballet/soccer/tennis lessons, kindy days etc.

A Weekly Overview (peek at my week)

This is what my Erin Condren offered me I wanted something similar but in a different format. It has to have space for me to plan out blog posts, meals, Tot school, study and of course appointments.

A Daily Page (or two!)

This was afterall the whole reason I was looking for a new planner. I wanted somewhere to schedule my day, write out to do lists, plan in more detail the days activities, write reminders and basically brain dump (more on that later!)

With all this in mind I settled on

Version 2.1 – With a Day On 2 Pages (DO2P) and also bought a 3 Year Chart (for my yearly planning)

The system an be bought in 3 month packs (which is what I did) so after the 3 months if it’s not for you, your not stuck with a whole years worth of planner pages.

Words simply can’t describe how this system works so beautifully, so I have taken you for a walk through my planner in this YouTube clip.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oxm1CFzAd10

Just after this video I bought the next 3 month pack (Jul-Sept) I bought the same version that has a new slightly different name

Version 2.2 Day on 2 Pages

It has very minimal changes. Here is a quick closer look at the pages.

Yearly

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Monthly

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Weekly

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Daily – Day On 2 Pages

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It also comes with “Charts” to help track other areas of your life. On this Monthly Chart (the Monthly Calendar is on the back) I am tracking my household cleaning zones. It also comes with weekly charts as well.

Monthly Chart

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You simply purchase the planner on Etsy, it is emailed to you within 48 hours (as a downloadable file) and you print, cut and punch at home. If the whole print, cut, punch bit is overwhelming for you, I know a few kind people who will do it for you for a small fee!

Over the next few weeks I will show you a closer look at each section of my planner (starting with the Daily Pages) and how I am using it!

So what do you think, would this work for you?

The Love To Dream Swaddle UP


As any new Mum can atest there is nothing like a good nights sleep.  I can’t tell you how many nights I have spent counting how many hours or even minutes of sleep I plan to get, will get or didn’t get.  We have wrapped babies, played white noise, rocked, patted, bounced and willed babies to sleep.

Third time around I am trying some new tactics.  The first one being a swaddle!  I have wrapped both Master O and Little Miss A when it was sleep time and found I had no end of problems.  Escape artists, unwrapping and rewrapping between feeds, wraps that never seem to be the right shape or size, babies being wrapped and still managing to kick blankets off! We have experienced it all.  So once our newest arrival was here I called for help on our Facebook page.  What could I do differently this time?  The overwhelming answer from our community was a SWADDLE!  

A Love To Dream Swaddle UP.

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The Love to Dream team also read my cries for help and sent me “Swaddle UP” to put to the test.

After a good laugh at how our big buddha baby looked all snug as a bug we put him to bed.  From that first night on I found he slept for longer between feeds and also was able to resettle more quickly after a feed!  Brilliant!

So what do I love about this product?

  • The Startle Stopper. Love To Swaddle UP has a unique design that helps calm the startle reflex.  You know that sudden jerky movement the baby does with its arms that “startles” them! Well by having their arms wrapped it calms the reflex allowing them to stay asleep!
  •  Arms up. Unlike wrapping, the Love to Dream Swaddle UP allows babies to sleep in their natural position with their arms up. Our bub was already an arms up sleeper so this swaddle was perfect!  It also allowed him to suck on his hand which he loves!
  • No escaping! The swaddle also offers an easier, safer way for babies to sleep as it reduces the risk of them wriggling out or getting tangled in loose wrapping. 
  • The twin zipper.  It was just so easy to do a midnight nappy change!  His arms and body could stay warm and snug whilst I only had to unzip the bottom!
  • Works with the weather.  We live in South East Queensland.  With an April baby we have experienced warm nights AND Freezing mornings all in the space of a week.  I love that I could put him in the normal swaddle on average nights and then layer him up in the Love to Layer On Merino when it got cooler!  This meant there was no need for blankets!  

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Possibly the only con was that he outgrew it so quickly!  We are already into the next size!  But then again he is one big baby (6.3kgs and 64cms at 2 months) and very broad across the shoulders .

Love to Swaddle UP is available in a range of styles, sizes and colours.

I can only dream what it would have been like to have this product for my previous two babies.  It’s on my baby shower gift list for all pregnant friends!

and because caring is sharing…..

I have a Love To Swaddle UP to giveaway to one lucky reader.  

Just enter via rafflecopter below and tell me…

What feature of the Swaddle UP would you love the most? 

 

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

When Chocolate ice-cream is a preventative medicine.

I dread nightfall.  Experience has shown me, that the hours ahead hold, an obnoxious concoction of one part leg cramps, two parts Braxton Hicks and a massive dose of heartburn mixed with indigestion.  In preparation, for the nighttime pregnancy side affects, I create a pillow tower, in the hope that sleeping in a disastardly uncomfortable upright position, just might soothe the pain.

Its the heart burn that is the worst.  I have dealt with it in each pregnancy and true to the old wives tail, I have had babies born with full heads of hair.  Can I offer to receive a bald baby in exchange for no heartburn?

As with most of my ailments I shy away from doctors advice and seek medical attention via Facebook. Chew on some fruit tingles they say, eat Chocolate paddlepops, is the overwhelming response of the majority.  Who am I to deny the chance to become a medical experiment in dealing with heartburn.  I buy both in ample quantities.

Night falls and in preparation I devour a chocolate paddle pop followed by one or two fruit tingles.  I place the rest of them by my bed and hope that this is one experiment that has overwhelmingly positive results.  

NO HEARTBURN.

Perhaps it is a fluke or maybe just all in my head.  One trial does not conclusivly end the experiment. So the next night I continue with the Facebook doctors orders and take my preventative dose of medicine. 

NO HEART BURN.

For a whole week I continue my new ritual.  It has side effects.  I start craving chocolate Paddle Pops at other random times of the day.  My children begin to develop addictions to whinging at me for a fruit tingle.  But I persevere, in the name of medical science of course. 

Yesterday.   In the middle of the day, my old friend heartburn seeks his vengeance.  Feeling abandoned, he has snuck up on me and tricked me into taking my medicine at noon instead of night.

Nightfall.  Perhaps I should skip my dose tonight.  Afterall I have already had a chocolate ice cream today.

As I lay down it is only minutes until that old sensation overcomes me.  He is there lurking and laughing.  Heart burn is back and struck with a greater force then before.

HE WILL NOT WIN.

Today I am stocking up on my medication of choice.  Who am I to argue with my now conclusive experiment.  In order to avoid preganncy related heart burn, one must take a dose of chocolate ice-cream and pop a few fruit tingles before going to bed.  EVERY NIGHT.  You must complete the full course of the prescription.  Do not try to skip a dose. 

So thankyou Facebook Doctors, for your Chocolate Paddle Pop and Fruit Tingle prescription.  Together we have started the good fight against heartburn.  

EXPERIMENT COMPLETE.

Teaching Children To Save Money – A New Approach

Money, Money, Money.  I am the worst saver.  I am putting it out there, I can hunt out a deal, by discount and in bulk but when it comes to “saving up” for a big purchase, I am hopeless.  In fact, hopeless doesn’t quite cut it, I actually have never done it! 

When it comes to teaching children to save, I was struggling.   It seemed whenever people talked saving money and children, it was the old chores and pocket money system. I am sure, this system is secretly written somewhere, in that magical parenting guidebook, that I have never seen, because everyone seems to be doing it.  But to be honest, the principal behind it didn’t sit right with me.  I don’t want my children to only help around the house because they are getting paid.  I am constantly teaching them how to work smarter and to work hard and do the right thing because it feels good or because you are helping others, not because you are going to be rewarded.

So we are taking a new approach.

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 LOVE JOBS:  Making your bed, unpacking the dishwasher, tidying up toys.  These are not chores.  Doing these things is about;

  • being responsible for your belongings,
  • respecting your environment by keeping it neat and tidy
  • showing respect and love for your home and family by contributing to daily life
  • teaching children the value of hard work, not because you will be rewarded but because it feels good to help others and contribute to the greater good.
  • creating self sufficient and independent children that will one day be adults who arent afraid of a little hard work! 

We don’t make these jobs into “chores.”   Children do not receive financial reward for them.  We do these things together as a family and everyone contributes.  We make it fun, we praise them, turn it into games, chat whilst we work or get the music pumping.  They are jobs we do because we love our home, or belongings and each other.  Love Jobs.

So if we don’t give pocket money how do we teach children to save?  We take a bigger approach.  We want our children to learn how to use your talents and hard work to make money,  and then make that money work for you.  

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  1. The job must be the child’s idea. We are teaching them to find work for themselves instead of waiting for someone to create a job for you.  Use your intitiative and be self motivated.  Instead of an adult telling them what jobs need to be done they should be able to look around and find jobs to do.  For example Master O,  when playing in the yard noticed that the mulberry tree had left a mess of leaves on the ground.  He asks if he could clean them all up for us.  Little Miss found me sorting baby clothes and asked if she could help me. 
  2. They set the price.  This is mainly for Master O who is 7. We are teaching them to value themselves and their skills and to ask for reasonable reward for those skills. He is learning to negotiate with us and set a price based on a per hour basis, or difficulty of the job or wether its a big job that he could share with his sister.  
  3. You only get paid for good work. Do a shoddy job, whinge or complain during the process or dont finish the job, guess what?  Just like in real life you may not get paid.  Or even better do a fantastic job and go that extra mile, you may get a bonus. 
  4. Now make that money work for you.  Putting the money in the bank makes your money work for you.  We are teaching our children that having money in the bank makes you more money.  Even better find ways of  investing it wisely can even make you more money.  We offer some extra incentives for savings.  Once they reach $10 we will add $2 ourselves (like interest).   As they get older we will also encourage them to  put the money towards something that may help you do a better job and earn more money.  Like your own car cleaning supplies or flyers so you can then do the same job for others and make more money. 
  5. Find a good bank.  It always helps to have the bank on your side!  I strongly suggest you do your homework and find an account tailored to children.  These accounts offer special rewards and benefits for children to help encourage saving.  One with a passbook is great or even an online account and you can show them their statement and how the money is adding up! A quick online search will help you find banks like Newcastle Permanent that offer a kids “Money Minder” account with no fees and some great rewards. 

This is a new approach for us and no doubt we will have to reassess it regularly as our children mature.  

So are you a spender or a saver?  

Do you have any tips for teaching children about money? 

 

This is a sponsored post from Newcastle Permanent.  I have been paid to share my honest experience about teaching children to save money.

 

 

 

35 Weeks PREGNANT!

Time is curently speeding beyond my control.  I am sure it was just a month ago that I thought it was dragging and now I just can’t keep up.  As time hurries me through the pregnancy, my body is failing to keep up with the momentum.  The lack of sleep, pelvic pain, achey legs and the fact that someone enjoys kicking me swiftly under the ribs, has me moving slowly, cautiously and strangely.  Imagine something between a duck waddle, old lady shuffle and someone walking on eggshells. 

Baby Number 3 Belly

I’m afraid my body is also failing to comply with the memorandum that is NOW IS THE TIME TO GET ORGANISED!  My motivation hastily sent the memo but it takes me so long to do anything, that I have made little progress. The nesting instinct has taken affect and I have the urge to stockpile food in ridiculous quantities. Not one to miss out on the action, hubby has begun plans to turn our under stairs storage room into some kind of “Armageddon Stockpile Storage Facility.”  Me thinks he is slightly scared about the impending catastrophe that could be having three children.  We all know a third child is a bit like preparing for the unknown consequences of a natural disaster.  It has the ability to swiftly sweep us off our feet, causing a path of destruction through our highly routined life, leaving us struggling to prepare meals, have a hot shower or contact with the outside world.

Or perhaps if he thought like me, it could be just a whole lot of media hype that eventuates in the storm disintegrating into nothing more than a short lived monsoonal trough, with a few rainy days that only make the grass greener.  

However, failure to plan is planning to fail and I personally have a love affair with planning.

On the planning agenda.

  1. Pack Hospital Bag including Toiletries Bag – Weekend
  2. Pack Babies Bag/Nappy Bag – Weekend
  3. Book in capsule and pick up 2nd Capsule (we are renting one from the Qld  – Ambulance Service just as we have done twice before and borrowing a second one from a friend) – Monday
  4. Pick up 2nd Changetable. – Wednesday
  5. Pick up Swing. – Wednesday
  6. Organise Changetable. – Tuesday or Thursday (buy baskets) 
  7. Organise Change Area in Master Bedroom.
  8. Rearrange the living room. – Thursday

All this WILL BE DONE BY FRIDAY!  

 So I am making progress!  The size of my belly is an unavoidable reminder that the end is near and now that the list is out in the public domain for all to see I have no choice but to GET ORGANISED! 

Were you super organised for your impending arrival? Or a little less organised for each baby (like me!)?