Introducing Karina | The Laney Files

Hi everyone! Today I introduce another Aussie Blogger who's kindly offered to answer my interview questions. I've really enjoyed making these a monthly feature. If you missed my previous ones here they are...

Karina Lane's blog The Laney Files is a blog where she is "Getting Mummy Savvy", and maybe you can too! She has four young children including baby twins and has lots of parenting advice to share with her readers. Some of her latest posts have included; What NOT to say to a sleep deprived mumHow to help your child become more resilient and 8 Lesson my Threenager can teach me about life. Welcome Karina, thank you for agreeing to feature on Teacher Types today! :)

1. I loved your post – 7 easy ways to be happy in 2015. How is your 2015 going so far?

I have really challenged myself this year by continuing to work on my blog and hold down a part-time job. I would really love a career in writing so that’s why I’m pushing myself in this department. I’m a big believer in ‘if you want something, go for it.’ My husband is very bemused by my dreams and calls me a ‘go-getter’. But I say, if you never have a dream, how will you have a dream come true? So I’ve been really busy, sometimes too busy, but not once have I been tempted to stop writing. So I must be happy this way!

2. I am in absolute awe of how you get through the days with four children under 6 – including baby twins! What does a typical weekday look like for you?

Honestly, the day can go by in big blur. Someone is always up in the night, and someone always wakes up before 6am. Once all the kids are up, we prepare their breakfasts, which of course are three different meals! I try to get my coffee in at the front if the queue so my brain can start working. Getting the four kids out of the door on time for school drop-off  is extremely challenging.  The rest of the day is all about getting shopping done, finding time for some decent play, and making sure the babies get a sleep. Then, before I know it, it’s time to load the three kids back in the car to do the school pick-up! In some ways, my work days are good because I get a day off from this craziness!

3. How’s Mr B going since he started school?

He is loving school. I worried at first because he was in a class with no one he knew from pre-school. But he’s made friends and is coming home happy every day – and dirty! He is loving learning new words and going through the home readers with me every night. And I am loving watching him learn to read!

4. I love this quote I found on your blog “Coffee makes my world go round”. I too am a coffee addict. Anything else that makes your world go around?

Yes, without coffee, my world stops and starts and everything is blurry. I tried it once, when I ran out of coffee at home. I’ll never make that mistake again! Other than that, laughing with my family, cuddles with my kids, and catching up with friends also make my world go around. I also love writing, I get so much satisfaction from hitting ‘publish’.

5. You say on your ‘About Me’ page that you wear several different hats – mum, woman, wife, daughter, employee, (blogger). Tell us about what you do for work.

I work for Corrective Services. I am currently in the programs department, which coordinates the treatment programs for offenders and inmates. To mix things up a bit, I am going to be delivering programs in one of the jails, which means I will have direct contact with inmates. I used to do this before I had children and am looking forward to doing it again with a completely different perspective, now that I’ve got four kids.

6. What’s one of your favourite family outings or activities?

We are still not quite ready to take all four of the kids out at any one time. This week I took the twins and Miss P to playgroup and I found it quite stressful trying to watch all three of them wondering around, even if it was in an enclosed space! So I enjoy taking my big kids out to the park, beach or movies. It’s still pretty stressful but at least I can get coffee involved! Whoever gets left behind with the babies takes them for a walk. My husband and I love taking the boys out in the pram. Sometimes we have to draw straws for it, because we both want the easy job!

7. As I’m reading more and getting to know you – I realise we have a lot in common… My hubby and I met at a pub too! How long have you two been together?

We’ve been together nearly nine years, and married for four. Yes, we met in our local pub. It’s funny, because each of us had been going to that pub for years before we actually clocked each other. But if we had met sooner, it wouldn’t have worked, because we both had other things going on. I love the idea that we met when we were truly ready to fall in love. We’ve been in each other’s pockets since that night, really.

8. I see you started your blog in September 2014, so you’re about six months in. Where would you like to see your blog when you get to one year?

At one year, I’d love to have increased my readership substantially. I’d also love to be more at home with social media in order to promote it. I’m in a frustrating place – I have all these ideas and a big to-do list when it comes to blogging, but my time to actually work on them all comes in very small windows! So it’s going to be a slow and steady race, this one!

9. Can you please share with us a link to either your favourite post or one of your most popular posts?

My most popular post has been Secret Parenting Behaviour, which tells me a lot of mums must have been able to relate! This post was all about the ways I've changed since becoming a busy mum, including some ways I've let myself go! Only, I pretty much accept who I am now without much care. I've got better things to worry about these days than whether my legs are perfectly hairless! And because so many mums read the post, I don't feel alone with this behaviour! Great news!

10. Favourite quote?

I keep coming back to this quote, which I think is so true:

For me, funny stories are always borne of those insane, hair-pulling moments!

Thanks so much for your thoughtful answers Karina! And best of luck with your blogging goals!
Lauren :)

7 Easter Gifts that AREN'T Chocolate

Most parents these days are conscious of how much chocolate they give their little people - babies are advised to avoid it all together and toddlers may have the tiny piece now and then. Easter is a time of year when we all want to spoil our little ones, and these days there are some great alternatives to chocolate Easter eggs and bunnies as gifts.

Here are 7 ideas I've found - not sponsored.

1. Egg and Spoon Race Kit - from Woolies.
(I had the idea of hiding little things inside these eggs)

2. Plastic Eggs for the Easter Egg Hunt - from Woolies
(and a super cute basket to put them all in)

3. Mugs & Egg Cups
(or plates, bowels, cups, cutlery etc)

4. Easter themed play dough kit - from Woolies.
(I've mentioned before play dough is one of Miss M's favourite things at the moment)

5. Soft toys
(this is a collection of Miss M's Easter toys from previous years)

6. New (warm - if you live in my part of the world) PJs
(I've the idea of making this a tradition every year. Great gift idea for the grandparents to give)
There's are just a few from Target (shop here - not sponsored)

7. Books about Easter
Here's just a few...

And just because...
 I grew up with these old school Peter Rabbit books. My Nana used to give me one every birthday/Christmas until I had the whole collection. Anyone else remember these?

Happy Easter shopping! One week to go!


10 Hands on Ways to Learn Numbers

One of my all time favourite posts was Twenty Six Letters - a post full of hands on ideas to teach young children the letters of the alphabet.

I've always wanted to do a similar post about numbers - so here it is!

The thing with children learning number - is that there is so much to it. Recognising the numeral, writing the numeral, counting and most importantly knowing how to represent that number (e.g. the number 4 corresponds to a group of 4 counters).

As with all early learning - young children are more likely to be engaged if the task is hands on and play based, and that's what I've tried to keep in mind while coming up with this collection of ideas.

1. Pegs
Place the right number of pegs onto the number or dice pattern flash card.

2. Threading
Thread the right number of beads onto the number flash card.

3. Numbers & Gems
Place the correct number of gems on the numeral (get the printable here - 1+1+1=1)

4. Pom Pom Garden

5. Towers of Blocks
Extend this idea by using a whole bingo board full of towers. Just like a 'number city'. (Click here to see an example).

6. Linkies
My students love playing with these linkies in class - but it's great to give them a bit of direction during their play.

7. Cotton Bud Painting
Here's is the link to these printables :)

8. Anchor Charts
I've got a set of these all ready to display in my classroom! I just blew them up to A3 size. Click here to visit Lavina Pop's TpT shop if you wish to purchase :)

9. Play dough
Little Miss M (2 years old) cannot get enough of play dough at the moment! We made numerals and represented the number with play dough marbles.

* Extra Idea! Number Puzzles.
Extend this idea by providing counters or gems and ask the children to line them up next to each number puzzle piece (as pictured below).

I hope you found some useful ideas in this number post!

Until next time,
Lauren :)

The Big TWO | 2nd Birthday Party Ideas

This past weekend, our darling girl turned two! So in true blogger form, I wanted to share a couple of my party ideas with you. Here's a look back on her first birthday party - a casual family BBQ at home.

This year we celebrated with her little friends at Amalie's Play Space (read my previous review here). Even though Miss M was a bit overwhelmed with all of the people, and had a bit of difficulty sharing - we were so pleased with the venue and everyone commented that their children had a fantastic time. Amalie's took care of the decorations, setting up the table and cleaning up afterwards - such a benefit when you don't host a party at your own home. 10am - 12noon and it was all done and dusted. There is the option for them to do the food and party bags, however we chose to do these ourselves.

Once again a turned to Vistaprint for the invitations. So easy, they always have special deals and I'm always so pleased with the quality and often quick postage (even if you select standard postage). Click here to see find this template. {not sponsored}

I found a cute little rhyme to include on the invitations... "Little Miss M is turning two and she wants to celebrate with you". Awww...

I always love to display photos at parties! For my 30th and Miss M's first birthday, I hung photos up on some string with pegs. This year I tied photos to helium balloons. My initial idea was to have two photos back to back & laminated, but after a tester, I discovered they would be too heavy. So I just went with a single photo.

Our morning tea menu was quite simple and I was so thankful that family and friends helped out with the food;

  • homemade sausage rolls
  • pinwheels
  • fairy bread 
  • fruit platter
  • crackers, ham + cheese
  • veggie sticks + dip
  • jelly cups
  • mini blueberry muffins
  • plus water and fruit juice pop tops

The humble cookie cutter can be your best friend in transforming popular party foods such as fairy bread and watermelon into special treats!

Another great tip that I got from a friend was to make jelly in special cups with lids. I was just going to use regular plastic cups and I was so grateful for this tip! It made storing and transporting the jelly cups so much easier!

I was so lucky to have a dear family friend offer to create Miss M's birthday cake. A Peppa Pig themed Number 2! We just loved it. Here's a link to her Facebook page - Kimberley's Cakes & Pastries.

Party/lolly bags are a nice way to say "Thank you for coming" and I included a mixture of treats and toys. The playdough was a big hit! I had one of those huge dulux paint tins full of jelly beans so created these cute little butterfly lolly bags (inspired by 'Your Modern Family'). And to top it off Miss M painted the party bags herself :)

Miss M was so spoilt with many lovely gifts. If you are looking for something for a two year old - here are some suggestions.
  • kitchen toys or tea sets
  • play dough
  • money box, posting toys
  • books & puzzles
  • art supplies
  • clothes & PJs
  • dolls
Here she is playing with her new Ikea Kitchen {not sponsored - just love}. 

Finally I'd like to thank our dear friend Sandy from Memory Bank Photography who took some stunningly beautiful photographs to mark the occasion of our daughter turning two. I added text to these and gave them out at her party as a thank you to those who have been a part of her life for the past two years.

Happy 2nd Birthday Miss M!
We love you and are so proud of you!
Mum + Dad


Alphabet Sorting Box

Two posts in one day! That's not like me at all! But I have been so looking forward to posting this post... I hinted that I had something special in the works at the end of my Alphabet Treasure Baskets posts the other week - so here it is!

I call it the 'Alphabet Sorting Box', and it's designed to be used with children who have learnt most letters of the alphabet and can start to identify the starting letter of various objects. I'm planning to try it with my class towards the end of their first term or school, or start of their second term. It would make a fantastic partner or early finisher activity once introduced to the whole class.

Now I purchased this box from Neds - as I really hadn't seen them anywhere else (so please leave a comment if you've seen anything like this in any other shops). The only issue with it is that it only has 24 boxes and obviously there are 26 letters of the alphabet. So you'll notice I had to double up on w/x and y/z.

It's important that you find little objects that are small enough to fit in the boxes. Here's a summary of what I included;

a - apple
b - block
c - car
d - duck
e - elephant
f - fish
g - grapes
h - horse
i - insect
j - jug
k - keys
l - lemon
m - mouse
n - number nine
o - octopus
p - Peppa Pig
q - queen
r - rock
s - smile
t - tree
u - umbrella
v - van
w - watch
x - (cheated - magnet letter x)
y - yo yo
z - zebra

I really like how this activity is self correcting - meaning for example, if the child mistakes the queen for a 'doll' - and then go to place the duck in the 'd' box, they'll have to stop and think and consider where else the 'queen' might go.

Another idea could be to turn this into a 'match the capital letter to the lower case letter' activity.

Can't wait to try this one out at school with my class! Will leave a comment when I do and let you all know how it goes.

Lauren :)
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