• All About Fern
  • The Week From Hell

    I’m not going to lie, I had a terrible week. The worst. My husband was sent away on a five-day training course for work, which left me home alone with the kids. All four of them. I spent a lot of time crying, and very little time sleeping. I always thought I’d make a good independent woman, but now I realise I was wrong. The dark is really scary when you’re the person in charge of keeping everybody safe. Plus I resent having to do the cooking and the washing up. Everything was too much for me.

    The kids were back at school and kindergarten after their two week break, which probably sounds like I was living on Easy Street, but no. I was not. Sure, it’s nice and peaceful when your children are away for a few hours during the day, but the morning, afternoon and evening rush is horrible. There is so much stress and pressure involved when you’re in sole charge of organising five people. Preparing meals and packing bags, tidying up and brushing teeth, putting shoes on feet and loads of laundry in the machine… And it seems like it all has to happen at once! I was constantly rushing from one thing to another, and without another adult in the house I had no one to vent to. Being unable to voice any little annoyances meant they built up into big annoyances. And that meant I ended up sobbing on the living room floor when the three-year-old managed to smear poo across the seat of my cream-coloured armchair. Why must toilet training take so long?!

    The worst (and most ridiculous) part of my week was being all worked up about a competition I had entered. A competition! The logical half of my brain kept reminding me that a competition is a gamble, that although I had worked hard on my video entry I couldn’t expect to be placed in the finals, let alone win. And yet the competition consumed me. I kept checking to see if there were any new entries. I began making plans for how I would earn votes when if I made it into the finals. I sent voice message after voice message to my friend telling her all about the latest video, wanting to know if she thought I was still in with a chance of winning. Being a supportive friend, she assured me I was in with a really good chance; she expected I would make it through to the finals. And though I loved hearing her say that, it filled me with a sense of false hope. As a grown woman who has never stepped foot outside of New Zealand, I managed to convince myself that I deserved the family holiday to Fiji. I was going to get it! But, of course, I didn’t. I didn’t even make the finals. Why would I? I was mortified that I’d spent so much time agonising over it all. There’s nothing more embarrassing than sharing something you’ve created with pride, and then realising that actually, your efforts were quite pathetic.

    In amongst the chaos of mustering children and obsessing over a holiday that would never come to fruition, I was struggling with feelings of jealousy. I’ve been at home raising babies for eight years straight, and I often feel like I have nothing going on. We do live in our own home (which means we are lucky), and I did conceive, carry and deliver four healthy humans with relative ease (which means we are incredibly lucky), but it can be hard to feel grateful for these things when the people around you seem to have so much more. While I was at home alone, my best friend was embarking on a new career – her dream job – and having an offer she’d made on an enormous section accepted, which means that she and her husband can build a house. She is also looking forward to heading off on a two-week holiday in Europe in the very near future (and let me just remind you, I’ve never even been to Australia). Meanwhile, my younger sister is having a brand-new kitchen put in and is remodelling her living area (which is miles bigger than what we have, despite the fact we have three times as many people living in our house), my parents are preparing to jet off to the United States, and my brother’s brand-new home is currently under construction. Though I do not need to be reminded that I have more than a lot of (maybe even most) people out there, it is hard to keep sight of that when the people closest to you are doing, achieving and receiving so much. It makes me feel like a nobody. It makes me feel like there is no hope. Where is my life going? Yes, I want to be a writer, but sitting at home and posting little snippets of my life on a Mummy Blog (god, I hate that title) is not exactly what I had in mind.

    My mother has suggested that I start keeping a gratitude diary, and maybe that’s just what I need. I do have a tendency to wallow (in case you hadn’t figured that one out already, ha!) and could probably benefit from looking at things from a more positive perspective. So, although an interruption from the three-year-old (yes, that child again) has me close to tears right now, I will give it a go.

    1. I had a crap time without the husband, but now he is home and I appreciate his presence so much more than I did a week ago.
    2. Since I cried over his poo, Mr. Three has really stepped up his game in the toilet training department (the new Thomas the Tank Engine undies I bought him could be a contributing factor).
    3. The birthday party I was dreading taking the girls to yesterday actually ended up being a lot of fun. I spent the whole time gas bagging with the other mothers. There was a lot of laughing and a little bit of swearing. My favourite things.
    4. My YouTube channel is almost at 300 subscribers! I’ve only been making videos for six months, and I started from the absolute bottom, so I am proud of how far I’ve come.
    5. I successfully organised an ongoing collaborative series with a small group of vlogging women. This is a first for me, and I’m excited to see how it all pans out.
    6. I wrote my first ever guest post discussing my recent decision to give up sugar. This was posted over on my friend Glutey Girl‘s blog, and I have had positive feedback (the best kind of feedback, obviously).
    7. My new Facebook page is growing slowly but surely. I was dreading the return to FB, but so far I think it has been worthwhile.
    8. Even when I was crying myself stupid on Thursday evening, I resisted the urge to go on a chocolate binge. That is definitely a first, and is a huge achievement, believe me.
    9. Our broken ranchslider (that’s a sliding door, for those who aren’t from NZ) is finally fixed! Hurrah! The kids can open the door unassisted again.
    10. OK, so I didn’t make it into the finals of that competition, and I’m still practically dying to go on an overseas holiday, but! At least I don’t have to spend hours and hours hounding everyone I know (and even those I don’t) to vote for me. No doubt I would have become incredibly annoying with my constant begging, so knowing I can leave everyone in peace feels like a pretty good thing.

    Do you ever struggle as a parent? How often do you find yourself turning green with envy? And what is happening in your world that you are grateful for?
    I’d love to hear your answers in the comments section below.
    Come on, make me feel slightly more normal?

    – Fern xxx


    This is my first video in the Time For A Change collab. series I organised. Have a watch and let me know if you’d like to join in! The more the merrier. 

    fortheloveofblogwp HappyDaysBadge2016_zpse8eh7ami TheList-bade-new

    Linky! Blog-Fair-Button-3

  • All About Fern
  • Congratulations! Oh, wait…

    It was our wedding anniversary on Monday. The husband had planned all sorts of special things to celebrate our seven years of marriage. We spent the morning wandering along the Haiku Trail – a walkway accentuated by rocks engraved with short poems. We held hands as we strolled through the park. With our three biggest in the hands of their grandmother, the baby was our only chaperone. No one whined or begged for ice cream. Everything was right with the world.

    That evening, after a casual lunch of doner kebabs, we prepared to head out to a local French restaurant. The husband had made the reservations after reading online reviews of all the eateries in town. The French place was popular. I was excited.

    I took my time getting ready: showering, hair straightening, making up my face. I tried on (and discarded) two dresses before I settled on a deep orange tunic that didn’t even fit the last time I attempted to wear it. With shapewear holding my stomach in, I felt good. Confident. Mr. P whistled at me. My efforts hadn’t gone unnoticed.

    We arrived at the restaurant and waited awkwardly at the bar, unable to locate our server. Until –
    “Bonsoir!” boomed a voice from across the room.
    Everyone looked. How could they not? A Frenchman yelling in the middle of a restaurant is not something you can easily ignore. I imagine my husband, the shy one, hated every moment of our introductions. Being forced to say hello to someone halfway across the room, with an audience, is not exactly his idea of a good time.

    The Frenchman acted like he knew us, ushering us to our table with forced familiarity.
    He asked how we were, were we good? were we good? and then –
    “And the baby..?”
    It took me a moment to realise what he was implying. His hand held, fleetingly, a few inches out from his stomach.
    The bastard thinks I’m pregnant. 

    I sat at our table wishing we could leave. Every good thought I’d had about myself over the course of the day had been destroyed. Tears pricked at the back of my eyes. I’ve been trying so hard, I’ve given up sugar for fuck’s sake, and I still look like a whale. I’ve carried four different, full-sized babies within my body in the last seven years. Each one stretching my abdomen further than I’d ever thought possible. Each one leaving new scars, extra padding, looser skin and weaker muscles. Why am I being judged for this?

    I’ll never understand why so many men feel the need to comment on women’s bodies, as if it’s their place to pass judgment. This Frenchman was the second man this year to ask me if I’m pregnant. And on both occasions I’d been making an effort to look good – paying attention to my hair and makeup and purposely selecting clothes that concealed my saggy mummy tummy. So what gives? I can’t walk down the street without passing a man with a stomach large enough to house two infants, yet I put on a dress and go out and men assume my slight swelling must be a result of pregnancy. Are they really that stupid? I can’t imagine any woman, ever, approaching another woman to ask if she’s got a baby on board. Unless you’re 100 percent certain that someone is pregnant, you do not comment. You just don’t. Surely that’s not a difficult concept to grasp.

    I see a lot of blog posts and tweets these days about body positivity. They say society has unrealistic beauty standards for women. They talk about accepting everybody for who they are, and say that every woman is beautiful no matter what her size. Rolls, cellulite and stretch marks are to be both expected and respected. We need to stop judging. We need to stop assuming. We need to look each other in the eyes and ignore the rest. And I agree. I agree with all of it. But right now I just don’t see it happening. I don’t see anyone making that change in thinking. After the comment, the hand gesture, made by an obnoxious restaurateur,  I feel like less of a person because of the body I’m in. I feel like I’m not enough.

    We ate our dinner at that French restaurant. I sipped my soup, burnt my tongue on my coq au vin, and ordered petites choux for dessert because I’d been made to feel like the fattest woman in the room, and that’s what fatties do, isn’t it? They order dessert? I regret eating the custard-filled pastries now. I didn’t enjoy them, couldn’t enjoy them, and they just made me feel guilty. I’ve been harping on about life without sugar, but I ate more than my fill that night. It was meant to be a celebration. It felt like anything but.

    Thankfully my husband took me out to a feel-good movie afterwards.
    Hunt for the Wilderpeople is well worth the money if you get the chance to see it.

    – Fern xxx

     

  • Health & Wellbeing
  • Righting my Wrongs – Taking my Kids Offline

    Imagine putting your kids on stage to entertain an audience of 100 people. Their performance is cute, funny and completely innocent, and you’re happy with the thought that other families will be watching and enjoying the show…

    Now imagine that halfway through your children’s act, a concerned parent approaches and tells you that while 80 of the people present are fellow mothers and their families, there are also 20 men in the audience. 20 men whose intentions are unclear, but it’s almost guaranteed that at least some of them are enjoying watching your kids for all the wrong reasons. Some of these men are recording your children, and are secretly storing the files away to share with their perverted buddies.

    Could you, would you, allow the show to go on?


    Watch this video and read this blog post if you don’t know what I’m talking about…

    This analogy may seem far-fetched, but the moment this thought occurred to me I knew what needed to be done. I privatised every single video I’d uploaded to my YouTube channel, and I announced that my days of family vlogging were over. From here on out, the only people you’ll see featured on A (mostly) Kiwi Family will be me, and maybe some other consenting adults here and there. End of story.

    I had a lot of arguments for continuing to upload my Weekly Wednesday videos. There are sick people everywhere. I can’t stop them looking at my kids as we walk to school, just like I couldn’t stop them watching my kids when I shared their videos on YouTube. At first it didn’t feel any different. My children weren’t being harmed directly. The chances of them being truly affected in any way were slim. But at the same time, I couldn’t bear the thought of some pervert adding my videos to their disturbingly sexual playlists. I couldn’t take the idea that people could be sharing the links to my YouTube channel on pornographic websites. I just couldn’t go on.

    In the scheme of things, my family was one of the lucky ones. When I checked my analytics I couldn’t find any evidence of exploitation. It didn’t look like our videos had been added to those types of inappropriate playlists, and the majority of our views were coming from women, most of whom lived right here in New Zealand. But, there have been two disturbing changes since I announced my children would no longer be featured on my channel…

    1. I’ve been losing subscribers. Not a huge amount, but the numbers have definitely dropped. So, out of my 210 subscribers, at least seven of them were only interested in my channel as long as they could see my kids. My husband reckons it could all be innocent, and while I’m not saying he’s wrong, there’s nothing to prove he’s right.
    2. The percentage of views coming from men has dropped significantly. When I first checked my analytics, the pie graph showed that around a quarter of the people watching my videos were men. That number is now sitting at 16 percent. I can’t help but conclude that those people unsubscribing from my channel were men, and their intentions were not good.

    I’m not trying to say that no one should be putting their kids on the internet. I understand why people want to share their children with the world, and I still respect any parent who chooses to continue doing so (especially those who are now taking extra care to ensure their kids’ safety). However, for me personally, I cannot go ahead with uploading videos and photos of my babies. I just can’t. I’ve been deleting and privatising images and social media accounts like crazy. I’ve been blocking anyone and everyone who appears even remotely suspicious. I’ve even removed the photo gallery from my website. I still feel awful, but I’ve learned from my mistakes. I’m doing what I can to right my wrongs. I’m trying to do better by my children.

    – Fern xxx

    What do you think about my decision? Am I taking things too seriously? And what, if anything, can be done to stop these sick individuals from sexualising our innocent children?

    Joining Aby (You Baby Me Mummy) and Amy (Mr and Mrs T plus three)
    for The List.

  • Health & Wellbeing
  • Putting my Kids in Danger

    The most important part of my job as a mother is keeping my children safe. I hold their hands when we cross the road. I strap them firmly into their car seats any time we’re heading out in the van. I talk to them about good touch, bad touch and saying No, and I would never, ever, leave them with someone I don’t trust…

    And yet here I am, feeling like I have jeopardised my children’s safety.
    I’ve been filming my kids and uploading the videos to YouTube. I’ve been encouraging people to watch them. Now that I’m thinking about it seriously, I’m realising that I’ve been making my kids freely available to any creep who wants access to them.

    It all felt so innocent to me. It was all in good fun. I was sharing my life with other mothers from around the world. They were watching and commenting and encouraging me, and I was doing the same for them. I never mentioned where we live, and I never disclosed our full names. I felt like we were safe.

    But.

    Two things happened this week that have made me feel uneasy. The first was a message from one of my subscribers.
    “Do your children go to ***** School?”
    Shit.

    It turned out that this particular subscriber was interested to see how easy it would be for someone to watch her videos and figure out where she and her children lived, which schools they attended, and what places they frequented. So, with limited information about me and my family (the general area of the country in which we live, plus the colour of my kids’ school uniforms), she jumped on Google. Within moments she was able to pinpoint where my girls go to school.


    I uploaded a video last night sharing my safety concerns surrounding vlogging, as well as the future of my channel. I still feel like there’s a lot more I need to say.

    Realising I’d made a huge mistake, I came straight to my website and deleted the references I’d made to our location. Now, I thought, as long as I don’t film the girls in their school uniforms again everything will be fine.

    But.

    The next day I received a private message from a fellow YouTubing mum from New Zealand. She told me that she would no longer be making videos, as she had discovered that a certain sick individual had been adding some of her vlogs to a playlist. A playlist that sexualised and fetishised babies and small children in nappies. A playlist that also featured disturbing “adult” videos starring women wearing diapers. Seeing these videos grouped together like this, innocent footage of sweet little babies alongside inappropriate pornographic films, made my stomach turn. Anyone anywhere can make a playlist like this. And, with my vlogs out there for public consumption, I can’t stop them from including my children in their sick, perverted round-ups.

    After giving it some thought, I went ahead and made all the vlogs I’ve uploaded that feature my children private. I also disabled the embedding feature, which means no one can insert my videos into their websites or creepy forums. I then went through my list of subscribers, and blocked anyone who looked remotely dodgy. Still feeling dissatisfied, I filmed a video (embedded above) about how I failed to keep my children safe, in the hopes that other parents out there would learn from my mistakes. But what do I do now?

    I have a few options. I can delete my channel entirely and forget I ever started vlogging. I can keep my channel but drop the Weekly Wednesday videos I was uploading. Or I can continue doing what I have been doing, but approach vlogging much more cautiously: No school uniforms. No footage from around the city that could be used to pinpoint our location. No filming the children unless they’re fully dressed… I don’t know. Would that be enough?

    Somewhat typically for me, I’m in two minds about this whole mess. On one hand, some weirdo seeing my kids on the internet isn’t really any different than some weirdo seeing my kids at the park, or on the street, or at the supermarket. I breastfeed in public and my children get changed out of their wet togs at the beach, so it all feels much the same to me. There’s no way of stopping creeps from being creeps.
    On the other hand, when I know for a fact that these people are out there watching vlogs like mine, and they are creating inappropriate playlists for their own viewing pleasure, how can I go on pretending it can’t and won’t happen to me?

    I honestly don’t know what to do.

    Up ’til now, I have loved every minute of my YouTube experience. Filming and editing videos has been a fun and exciting challenge. Seeing my audience grow and reading new comments has been satisfying and uplifting. Creating memories with my children and keeping them all together in one place has been priceless. I was thrilled to have these videos for us all to look back on in years to come. I felt like maybe I was building something for my future, for our future. I was doing something constructive for the first time in a long time, and I don’t want that to end. Is that just me being selfish?

    I would really love to hear your thoughts on this post. If you were in my situation, what would you do? Would you shut down your channel, or would you proceed with caution? Do you have any ideas or advice for me? Do I need to forget vlogging and blogging entirely?

    At this point in time I don’t feel like I have any answers.

    – Fern xxx

    Linking up with Kirsty from Something Crunchy Mummy and Beth from Life As Mum for #justanotherlinky 

  • Health & Wellbeing
  • Controlled Snacking (A Goal for 2016)

    It’s only been a couple of weeks since I shared my goals for 2016, but it’s already time for an update…

    I hate to admit that I haven’t made any changes to my shocking eating habits. With an out-of-town wedding to attend halfway through the month, it was too easy to make excuses for continuing to eat all the sweet treats I could get my hands on.

    This week, however, I decided to take my goal to eat sensibly a little more seriously, by signing up for a box of guilt-free, portion-controlled snacks from Nibblish. And then, when my box showed up at the same time that I stumbled upon Aby and Amy‘s #vlogstars linky, my fate was sealed. I just knew I had to make this week’s Food, Faves & Fails Friday video (a weekly segment over on my YouTube channel) a vlog about my first impressions of Nibblish, and whether or not I feel like it’ll help me to achieve one of my main goals for 2016.

    Check out my #vlogstars linky video below:

    You may be surprised to hear that after eating the “Bee Nuts” pack this morning that I’ve found myself super motivated to make good food choices. Even better, when noon rolled around (my usual lunchtime), I was barely even hungry! All I ended up eating was half a banana, and a handful of crackers with hummus. Considering I can easily get through two salami and cheese toasted sandwiches (and still go looking for something sweet afterwards), the size of my lunch today was not normal. I am so excited! It’s beginning to feel as though I may be able to achieve this goal after all.

    – Fern xxx

    Please note, this post has not been sponsored by Nibblish. I just really wanted to give their snack boxes a try.

    If you want to try Nibblish for yourself, feel free to use the code
    RC-80-599 to receive your first box for only $3.50.

    This blog post and the above vlog were created as part of #Vlogstars, a logging linky which makes things easy for bloggers and vloggers by setting a theme each month.
    Check it out by clicking here.