5 Tips to Teach your Kids to Swim

Friday, June 29, 2012

For a few years I spent my days as a Swimming Teacher. I know so many parents think that they have to pay for swimming lessons to make sure their kids are good swimmers, personally I'm not planning to pay for lessons until kids are at least 5 years old. I know a lot people don't feel confident teaching their kids if they aren't great swimmers themselves.

So I thought I would share some easy, basic tips to teach kids to swim and gain water confidence. I have never really officially taught babies, but I am taking Ezra to the pool a lot and just having fun. I'm sure I am stating the obvious, but just remember to be safe, make sure the pool depth is appropriate (where they can stand), and always swim between the flags at the beach. It's a good idea to learn CPR and basic water safety. These tips are for toddlers and children who are old enough to understand what you are telling them, not babies, although I think it is important to get babies used to the water.

1) Go swimming regularly. When I was teaching swimming would always get parents so upset with us if we moved their child back down a level, they would bring in last years certificate to prove their child should be in the higher level. But guess what, their child hadn't been swimming since the last lessons, and has now forgotten everything we worked so hard to teach them. They are struggling in the higher level and need to re-learn everything. They need to practice, develop that muscle memory and spend time enjoying themselves in the water, it does so much more for their confidence than a couple weeks of lessons.

2) Make it Fun. When I plan lessons for littlies I know they have short attention spans so I break my lessons into five minute blocks. So if your going to the pool with the intention of helping your child learn to swim, this is a good idea, have a plan of 5 minute activities that you can use. I would usually start with a little game, Ring a Rosie or similar. Great activities are encouraging them to reach under water for a toy. If you have more than one child you can throw a bunch of little toys or flat stones and get them to race to collect them from the bottom of the pool (in a shallow pool), swimming (or being pulled) through a hoola hoop. Don't push too hard, let them go at their own pace, but if it is fun, they might just want to participate!

3) Get them Underwater. Before you worry too much about kicking, or form or any of those things you want to teach them to 'blow bubbles underwater'. Being able to go under and blow bubbles is vital, and gives you extra time if they accidentally fall in, you know they can blow bubbles and won't panic. You can start by just getting them to blow bubbles with just their mouth under, and push a ping pong ball along the water with the bubbles. Like I said above using toys that they have to fetch underwater is a great way to get them under. You can put things underwater for them to look at as well, so they get their whole face in water, and keep reminding them 'bubbles,bubbles,bubbles'.

4) Floating on their back. If your child knows how to float on their back it can save their life. Start by lowering them into shallow water and supporting their head and shoulders, they should be able to look up at you and know you are there. Get them to put their arms and legs out like a starfish, wait till they relax and just keep them there for a while. As they get more confident you can give them empty milk bottles to hold onto with straight arms out, support them as they enter the water and let go so they can float on their own. Their eyes need to be looking up at the sky or roof, and their belly needs to be sticking up, or they will sink. I tell them to pretend I'm holding it up with a piece of string, or to make it stick out like Santa Claus. When they are ready, you can remove one or both bottles. You should also teach them to float on their back with one hand waving in a fist, to signal distress, so they know what to do if they are in trouble.

5) A Torpedo. This is one of the first things we taught, it is a basic skill that comes before kicking. A Torpedo is like it sounds. It is where your arms are straight in front, one hand is on top of the other, elbows are straight and should be squishing their ears. Their face needs to be in the water looking at the bottom of the pool and of course, blowing bubbles. Legs are straight out behind them, feet together. The goal is to get them to push off and glide through the water. The hardest part I found was getting kids to keep their face in the water looking down, but this is a foundation for freestyle (front crawl for the Brits), it is an important skill to learn to tuck your chin in and look down, and of course blow bubbles. Even if they are just running in the water with their arms out and face down this is a good first step. You can use a little kick board or the milk bottles for them to hang on to as they learn, as they gain confidence you can remove it. Some will pick it up quickly, some need the extra time to get comfortable, just encourage, encourage, encourage.

I was only going to do five, but I thought this was important too!

6) Be prepared to make a fool of yourself. Yes other people at the beach or pool may think you've lost your marbles as you jump, dance, sing and demonstrate all sorts of funny things to kids in the pool, but who cares, your kids will love it. I did all sorts of ridiculous things, like trekking through the kids pool going on a bear hunt, very loudly. But I found if I acted super excited like the people on Hi-5 then they were happier to participate.

(Fun Pool Game)
We're Going On a Bear Hunt:
When you say "you can't go over it" get them to jump up in the water and make a big splash.
Then "You Can't go Under it" get them to dunk under water
And when you say "You have to go through it" then they can do a Torpedo

I would love to hear if you find these helpful. If you have any more swimming related questions I am happy to answer!

Karen xx

Wordless Wednesday

Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Some of my favourite pictures from the last two weeks!
Mum and Dad this is mine skateboard now k?
Lunch at a favourite (Old Shanghai)
This guy came to lunch too!
Super Baby
Biggest Bump he's had yet.
Finally started on this project (ouch sore fingers)
New PJ's.. so so cute
The novelty hasn't worn off yet
Highlight of my week, meeting my Nephew for the first time! Isn't he so adorable!!
Linking up with Bree HERE

Going nuts over Knits

This winter I have been on the hunt for some lovely comfy and cute knit jumpers/sweaters. They are everywhere this winter, which is helpful! I find knit jumpers to be perfect for life with a wee one. They are simple and easy to throw on with a pair of jeans, and you can dress it up or down. 

This isn't a great picture, but this is the knit jumper I picked up on the weekend. I love it. So warm and cozy and I was surprised, it is really flattering. Yay. It is by Quirky Circus, from Myer (The Miss Shop Department, I'm not too old for it yet) it retails at $50. I was pretty stoked that I got it at a cool 40% off.  But I am kicking myself that I didn't buy another one in a different colour. 
Here are a few I have been eyeing off for a while now. I especially love the multicoloured ASOS cardigan pictured at the top and the mint Minkpink sweater at the bottom, I am a big fan of Mint right now. 

Photo from Asos.com cardigan found HERE
Photo from Surfstich.com Minkpink Jumper HERE
Photo from Freepeople.com sweater HERE

Photo from Dangerfield.com.au Friend of Couture Sweater HERE
Photo from Asos.com cardigan HERE
Photo from Surfstitch.com, Minkpink Sweater HERE

5 Things You Might Not Know About Me

Saturday, June 23, 2012
Something a little bit fun. I haven't really shared these things about me on here before, so here you go you can learn some weird and wonderful things about me!!

1. I can stick my whole fist in my mouth (it isn't pretty).

2. I have only had stitches once. It was in the back of my head, and was the result of a failed backflip into our pool.

3. When I was 18 I bleached my hair and got dreadlocks. A year later I cut them all off to raise money for a missions trip to Japan.

4. I worked as a waitress at an Amish themed restaurant in Florida , USA for almost two years. (Troyer's Dutch Heritage). I miss my lovely work colleagues, you ladies are awesome!

5. I am slightly addicted to watching The Bold and The Beautiful. I got suckered in somehow and now it had become a regular part of my day (don't judge me). It's my guilty pleasure.

So, that's it! If you knew all 5 then you probably know me really well. But that would mainly only be family and I have kept number 5 a secret from everyone for a long time!

In Perth it is the weekend already, so I'm going off to enjoy it!

Karen xx

Dreaming of a new Summer Style!

Thursday, June 21, 2012
My evenings are my down time, as with most people. I can never just veg out and watch TV or a movie, I have to be multi-tasking. I guess I feel like the time is too valuable. So I watch TVor a movie and blog or go shopping online, or do something crafty like embroidery. I think Joel gets a little frustrated at me, because we will sit down to watch a movie, and then he thinks I am not really watching it. I am, its because Women are so great at multi-tasking!

Well last night I was online window shopping. I just fell absolutely in love with these clothes and the style, and the price. This is the Tuscan Sun line from Shop Ruche.  It made me want to throw away everything in my wardrobe and start again next summer. Maybe I will.

This was a really dangerous find, I just want to buy EVERYTHING, and I mean EVERYTHING. Good thing it is all pretty affordable and all pieces are under $50 (USD) but the shipping costs to Australia I think are a little steep.
You can see the rest of the collection HERE

Hope you liked it as much as me,

Karen xx

Dear Teeth, Please break through.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012
I have had all of these grand ideas for creative blog posts, I have ideas coming out of my ears. Someone else this week so far, has had other plans. The last few days have been the worst teething days we have had yet. Ezra already has six teeth, but it feels like this next lot of teeth have been causing discomfort for about a month. Since Sunday they hit a whole new level of ouchiness (yep, it is that painful it requires the use of a made up word)

The poor kid has been in so much pain. I know something is wrong when he sits still on my lap and watches tv, munching on a cruskit or an icecube in his mesh thing. Usually he isn't interested in tv or sitting still.

Before I became a Mum I heard people talk about teething, but didn't give it much thought. I was so naive. I thought the process of getting the top front teeth was bad, but this round (I think two more bottom teeth and perhaps top canines seem to be almost through and is it too early for molars? - I know the order is supposedly wrong) is horrendous.

I just want my happy baby back, I feel so terrible for him. I haven't been able to get much done, but that's ok, my number one job this week is chief cuddle provider. I am glad however that I am still breastfeeding, such an easy way to offer some pain relief and comfort.

So, here goes.

Dear Ezra's Teeth,

Please hurry up and break through the gums. Please stop hurting my baby. Please let us all get a good rest. Is it because he inherited really big teeth from his parents?

I know you are necessary but right now I dislike you a lot,


Ezra's exhausted Mum.

At this moment: 10 months old

Sunday, June 17, 2012
I was just reading through the post I wrote when Ezra reached 8 months (read it HERE) and it seems like he has grown and changed so much in such a short amount of time. I love these posts because they are a great reminder to me of what my little man was like at exactly this age. I know will cherish these posts  and the memories they refresh so much.

So at this moment, right now Ezra is learning to walk, what an amazing thing. He is getting more confident every day. A couple of weeks ago he learnt how to go from sitting to standing by himself, without pulling up on anything. Now he stands up, then picks up the full size Basketball and walks a few steps holding it. I cannot believe it. He is starting to try to walk around instead of crawling, but the most he can do is about ten steps without falling. If he really wants to get somewhere fast, he will still crawl.  I wonder how long it will be until he is just walking everywhere? At least it will save the knees of his pants from becoming worn through!

He now has six teeth, with more coming through, I feel like the next ones aren't coming through in the 'correct' order, it just seems like his whole mouth is in pain. Teething, does it ever end? It feels like it has been consistently happening from about 4 months old.

He just learnt to climb up onto the couch, and thinks it is so great to sit up there next to us, it is so adorable. He loves reading stories, it is the only time he ever sits still, apart from sleeping. He despises wearing shoes, and cries and screams whenever I try, I am hoping we can overcome this soon, the photo above he put up with the shoes, but I took them off about five minutes after the photos were taken, I think he may be a little hippy baby!His laugh and his smile are contagious, he makes me laugh so hard everyday, hasn't done much for my stomach muscles yet though. We are getting the the time where he is really starting to exert his own will and get upset when he can't do what he wants, I know a whole new learning curve is on its way for me.

It is hard to believe my baby is almost a toddler, and how fast this year has gone. I celebrate his achievements like they are my own, and feel it so deep down in my heart when he is hurting or upset, I never knew I could love as much as this. I'll do anything for him, and one little smile just makes me feel like the luckiest person in the world that I get to spend my days with such an amazing little boy.

Karen xx

Amazing and Easy Guacalome Recipe

Friday, June 15, 2012
I often get asked for the recipe for the Guacamole I make. So I thought this is the best place to share. I am a big lover of Mexican food, I developed a taste for it when we lived in Florida, so many awesome Mexican restaurants! Its unfortunate that it is so difficult to get really good, authentic Mexican food around these parts. This recipe was given to me by my friend Cyndi a number of years ago, and I have been making it regularly ever since, and I still have trouble not eating it all immediately, it's that good!


3 Ripe Hass Avocados

2 Roma Tomatoes

1 Lime

1/2 Brown Onion

1 clove of Garlic

A bunch of Coriander (Cilantro for the Americans)


What To Do:

Firstly, mash the avocados in a bowl, cut the lime in half and cover the avocados with juice from 1/2 lime

Chop the onion into small pieces and then mix in

Halve and de-seed the tomatoes, then chop tomato and mix in

Crush the garlic clove and add that to the mixture

Pick off a handful of coriander leaves, chop finely and mix in

Add a couple of pinches of salt

Use the remaining half of the lime and squeeze juice over mixture to your taste

Mix it all together and cover and put the Guacalome in the fridge, Or you can serve immediately but I like to let the favors have time to mix in.


When refrigerating the guacamole keep the avocado pits and put them in to help stop the avos from turning brown.

Keeping leftover coriander (cilantro) in a glass of water can help it for last a lot longer than it would in the fridge.

Hope you enjoy, I like to eat this as a dip with cornchips, in a burrito, on top of enchiladas or you can use it as a spread in a salad sandwich.


Wordless Wednesday: Instagram

Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Last week I wasn't able to do a wordless Wednesday because my phone was in meltdown, on Friday I took a trip into the Apple store to get it replaced under warranty, I was lost without a working phone. 
Hours of entertainment from one wheel
I like it when this guy plays for us
Someone else really likes it too
Cold and Windy in Perth today, perfect for my Moo boots
Way too much cuteness for one picture
Angus has discovered that Ez can do more than just drop good.  He wants to play too.
Are these the storm clouds rolling in #Perthstorm
I love my hot rollers, easiest hair styling ever!
Rollers out and big Curly hair. 
This week I am linking up with Frugality is Free, Washing Line Revelations and Shashers Life

Do What You Love

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

I am finally back on the embroidery band wagon. After too long without really stitching anything, I have started the process of getting calluses on my fingers again. So this is my little contribution. I think I might keep it for myself to hang in my 'study' area. Just as a constant reminder to myself to focus on the things that I love and am passionate about.

I know that so many people don't get the option to 'Do what they love' it might be because of circumstances, the country they were born it, money, disabilities, lack of opportunity, responsibilities, choices made years ago, afraid of failure, family support, race, gender and a whole range of other things that make it more difficult.

I was watching the season finale of Mad Men last night, oh man this season has been so good! Anyway in this episode Meghan's (Don's Wife) Mother said to her:

“Not every little girl gets to do what they want. The world could not support that many ballerinas.”

It struck a nerve with me, because I think we should be able to follow our dreams. So what I say is: You only get one life, so make it the best life you can. And along the way help others to follow their dreams too. 

If you're working for a job that you hate, or you're not in the place that you want to be, and it is seeping into every other aspect of your life, start to plan on how you can change your circumstances and reach the place where you get to 'Do what you love!' It often takes sacrifice, I know this, I did a job that I loved once that didn't pay a single cent, I did it for almost 4 years. I've been lucky lately because I have a husband to support me in doing what I love, because he earns most of the money, I loved my last job it didn't pay a whole lot, and it wasn't full time, but I loved it, because it was fulfilling and meaningful and I know that by doing it I literally saved lives.  But I know not everyone has this option.

It often takes Courage, putting yourself out there, and stepping out into the unknown. I did this at 18 when I bought a one way ticket across the country, leaving everything and everyone I knew behind. We did this just after we got married when we just packed up and moved countries, then decided to move states after that, before moving countries again a couple years later. We didn't know what to expect, and it was a massive step.

But it will be worth it! I believe in living a life that fulfils you and is meaningful.
Do you have a plan? Do you have a dream? What is stopping you from reaching it?

I often think to myself, when I am 80 years old and I look back at my life, what do I want to think about it? That I should've, could've, would've but I didn't. Or that I took a leap of faith, and took on a challenge and lived a fulfilling, meaningful life that I loved.

I am a firm believer that Goals and Aspirations in life are extremely important, and so are the steps that get you there. Moving forward, step by step, to live the life you want, so you can Do what you Love.

I didn't really plan for this post to turn out like this, but it is truly something I have been thinking about a lot lately, and so it feels good to get it written down. I hope that you enjoy!

I would love to hear some of your dreams and what Doing What you love means to you!

Karen xx

Who am I?

Sunday, June 10, 2012
I have tried writing and deleting this post a few times now, why is this so hard to answer, I really want to be a part of this, but it feels so difficult, and it is because of this that I don't want to give up. I know I need to get out of my comfort zone and be real, no glossing over, but it is so hard.

I'm a Woman. I'm a mother a daughter a wife a sister a friend.

But that is too broad, what distinguishes me from everyone else, what makes Me, ME! Because I know I am unique, original and one of a kind (so are you) there is no one the same as me. That is amazing, and frightening at the same time. That means, I have something to offer that no one else can, so do you. It means even though I do, I shouldn't compare myself to others, or try to be someone I'm not, because I don't believe God made a mistake when I was made, or when you were either.

That doesn't mean that I stop trying to be the best Me that I can be, because I know I'm not perfect. I can have a bad attitude, I can be rude, I'm not always the best communicator, I get jealous, I overreact, I feel lonely sometimes, I am not always confident, I make bad decisions, I like to wallow, I avoid rather than confront, I get too stressed, I'm selfish, I'm disorganised, I'm afraid of failure, I am overly sensitive, I'm not a great listener, I am not great at writing, I am bad at attention to detail, my house is a mess.

Everyday I keep trying and working on ME, and who I am, trying to be the best Me that I can. Trying to be less of the things listed above because they detract from who I really want to be, I know as well as those things I am also passionate about my family, I hate injustice, I fight for the underdog, I am smart, and analytical, I love to smile, I dream big dreams, I am kind and compassionate, I am loud, I love to speak to a big crowd, I am determined, I am supportive, I am an encourager, I like to laugh and have fun, I'm a good Mum, I will do anything for those I love, I am inclusive: I hate seeing people left out, I am funny, I am adventurous, I love a challenge, I am creative.

Who are you?

This is my answer to the question Who The Hell Are You? Posed by Eden Riley. Check out some of the other bloggers great answers by clicking on the link (image) below.

Edenland's Fresh Horses Brigade



Happy Birthday Dad!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

If you didn't guess by the title, it's my Dad's Birthday today.

Whenever I hear people say that they have the best Dad I never believe them, how can they?
When I have the best Dad!

My childhood was pretty awesome. I think back on those times and realise just how lucky I am to have such amazing parents. I didn't always appreciate the way my Dad looked after me, particularly those nights when we were camping in my early teens and I snuck away to parties on the beach, only to have my Dad march down and embarrass me by dragging me away. Or when I didn't want to be seen with my parents at the shopping centre, because I was apparently 'too cool' so I would walk a few metres ahead. My Dad would then deliberately start limping behind me and yell out in a silly voice with a lisp 'Wait for me KAWEN', completely shattering my coolness! I thought my friends with the laid back 'do what you want' parents had it made and I thought my parents were trying to ruin my life because they were trying to look after my wellbeing, but as a typical teenager I did not really see logic in these matters. Now, I am so grateful they persevered and stuck to their guns, because it was exactly what I needed.

My Dad was and still is always there to help, whether it be rescuing me from almost drowning in the pool, driving me to all my tennis matches, building lego, fixing my bike, listening to me rehearse for Drama plays or practice speeches,  helping me with my assignments,  resume and giving me financial advice. He even used to cut my hair, he's very practical so it involved putting gaffa tape in a straight line and cutting above it, so there was not mess to clean up! Genius.

My Dad is a fun Dad, some of my best memories are of Sunday mornings at the beach going surfing. Even when he used to drop in on me, I still enjoyed it! I remember our camping trips and family holidays, games in the pool, going to the park and just having fun. I used to love the Easter morning egg hunts, and was giddy with excitement when part of the Easter Bunny's tail got somehow stuck in the front door, and he left tracks in the sand pit. I can't wait to do the same things with my own kid(s).

My Dad always taught us to believe in ourselves. He always encouraged us, and still does, to follow our dreams. To do what we love. He didn't force us to follow a particular direction in life but supported us to do what we wanted to do. He didn't control us but let us make our own mistakes and to learn from them. He is a motivator and an encourager, and I always feel better and more confident after I talk to my Dad. He is so positive and always has a way of helping me out with my bad attitude towards something. He has great advice, and even at nearly 30, I still like to get my Dad's opinion on choices I am making. He is a wise man.

My Dad helped me to understand the value of hard work, taking care of things and money. We weren't in need growing up, but we also weren't given everything we wanted. I remember saving all our coins in big piggy banks so we could have spending money on a holiday to Bali, I think whatever we saved they matched. My Dad has an amazing work ethic, and has really been a great example to us in that, I still don't ever remember him taking a sick day. Growing up we occasionally had to work in the garden, and do the dishes, although we thought back then he was a slave driver, it really was barely anything, but it taught us we had to chip in and do our bit. Even though I know I could spend more time arguing about doing something than it would take to do it.

My Dad is generous, kind, loving, funny, loud and a pretty good dancer as well! He can tear it up on the Wedding dance floors!

My Dad Loves us! That is the biggest message that comes through loud and clear from all my childhood memories. Dad, I love you too! You have taught me such amazing things in my life and I can never express how grateful I am! So Thank You for being such an amazing Dad.


Love Your Favourite Daughter!