Saturday, December 19, 2009

I'm going on a diet...

An internet diet. I have come to realise, well, not really...I've finally admitted to myself, that for someone with two gorgeous children, I spend far too much time on the internet. It's not productive time, either, it's stoopid, window shopping, browsing other peoples' lives' time. I need to stop envying others, and start enjoying myself.

I'll still be posting, probably more often than I have been lately actually, but I'm not sure about the way things will happen. When I was given all the fancy stuff I inherited, I made a vow to myself that I would use it, and currently the computer is in the way. Right now, in fact, if it weren't connected I would be sewing or knitting on the machines while both of the kids are asleep. But I'm not. I'm being a lazy so-an-so and reading blog after beautiful blog wishing some of the other crafty bloggers would come and decorate my house. But they aren't, so I need to do something about that!

So I wish you all a merry christmas, may it be a relaxing one with loads of love and not much plastic (credit or present-wise!). Drop me a line and let me know how much you loved your time off, your new socks, or the scarf that nanna made you in june that she's just given you now (and yeah, I am actually giving a friend of mine a scarf - and it's about 40degrees celcius here today!). I will love hearing all about your xmas cheer!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The difference

I'm not coping very well with this new life of mine. I'm up at 4.30am about 5mornings out of 7 a week, and don't get any rest again until sometimes 11pm. My children seem to be in cahoots, making sure that at least one of them is wide awake all the time. And I'm trying to be tough.

Thing is, I'm not tough. I'm turning to water about once a day, because I get so sick of trying to negotiate with a near 3 year old about things all the time. It's not his fault, it's mine. I don't know, I just have my fingers crossed that this will pass. I'm too knackered to do much with him, the house is a complete poo-storm and I'm waiting until tuesday when my partner gets home from working away for his two week stint...

Anyway, better go and pull my poo in a pile...

Saturday, December 5, 2009

It's oh, so Quiet...

Good morning....

It's sleepy here at the moment. Well, it's also 5am here at the moment, so that explains why. I woke at 3.30am with Alice, as she needed a feed and a change, and by 4am Ethan was up as well. I'm not sure what woke him exactly, whether it was Alice and I or whether he just wriggled out of bed too much, but he's in my spot now.

I'm feeling a bit reflective lately. There are quite a few things that I've been thinking about...

I've been using a different tactic on Ethan for his behaviour, and I think it's working ok in my opinion. I get worried that other people see Ethan as nothing but a hassle, because of his age and his over-stimulated personality that just yearns to socialise with others. My sister is a good example of that. She used to think the sun shone clear out of his bottom, but now she hardly looks at him when she (rarely) visits us. It breaks my heart, because he still thinks the sun shines out of her bottom, he just doesn't realise that it's not reciprocated anymore. I also have quite a few friends with kids the same age, and it always feels like he is getting the blame for any hiccups that occur during play time. In my opinion, kids are kids. They fight and are best friends fifty times in sixty minutes, and as a teacher was once heard saying they are all "unique and special snowflakes...just like every one else". I think all kids at age two, up until about age 5 or 6, are absolutely unbearable half the time. But when I see my friends, they seem to err on the side of their own children all the time, and don't seem to think that there is a relationship between the kids at all, a to-ing and fro-ing of behaviour and reactions. I don't know, perhaps I'm being too sensitive lately? Having a baby can do that, in conjunction with a heavy dose of cabin fever!

I inherited the most amazing things a couple of weeks ago. My partners Nan passed away a few months ago, and left instructions that I was to be given as much of her fancy work stuff as I wanted. So I am now the proud owner of not only an overlocker, but also an Embroidery sewing maching, and two knitting machines. Basically Pop bought down the entire craft room and put it in my house. So we have been moving things around. A lot. My office is now going to be the new craft/fancy work room, and the computer is being moved to the rear of the house, near the back door. It made us cry, getting it all in the house, as I felt so lucky and loved by Nan to have been gifted so much. It really has made me think about her life a lot too, as she also mothered her five children while Pop went away to work. They were a real pioneering couple, and Nan knew that sometimes she wouldn't see or hear from Pop for months - their youngest daughter was nearly 6 months old before Pop even met her. I think, when I reflect on how hard Nan worked around the home, of how lucky I am now. My partner calls home every night he's away. If there is an emergency, or a death, or anything, he can be flown home within 24 hours easily. And without the distractions of malls, computers, mobile phones and the like, Nan did a lot of learning of her own, running those machines and making her childrens clothes and toys. She was such an inspiration.

Alice is settling in really well still. I'm just about ready to make up her cot and get her sleeping in there during the day, but she's still in the bassinette in our room during the night. She has been sleeping in her room in the bassinette in the daytime, as it's much darker than our room, and that's been going ok. We also were really lucky to be loaned a swinging cradle (battery operated thingamugig) and that has also given us much sanity when she's been hard to settle. A little colic, but nothing that doesn't sort itself out within about an hour, and she's still sleeping a lot. I'm guessing that all of that will change significantly over the next few weeks.

Anyway, that's the big report from here for now. I don't know if there'll be many posts over the next few weeks, as I'm considering moving the computer to somewhere that there's no net jack just yet, but I'll either keep you posted, or you'll notice the silence!

Monday, November 30, 2009


well, it's only week 3 and she's still sleeping alot. That said, I did just finish about 3 solid hours of holding her and making sure that her sore tummy/teeth isn't giving her so much grief that she thinks she's alone...

Now much else to write, very sleepy here and Ethan and daddy are at the Wiggles concert. I can't wait to hear all about it when he gets back!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Happy Families...

We've been harbouring a storm here lately. My son Ethan, as you know, is well and truly in to his second year. I am starting to believe they shouldn't give the ages of children numbers, but that they should label the year instead, to remind you of what you're in for. I'd label this year the 'Year of Defiance and Self-Determination'. It's so strange that the behaviour that Ethan is presenting is so challenging, yet, to be honest, if he were a teen I'd be ecstatic at his level of independence!

Ethan is an adorable, wonderful little boy. He is incredibly confident, self-assured and aware of his surroundings, he's gentle with his sister, and social with his friends. He is also a tyrannical child, who is bossy, demanding, emotional and high maintainance. We often find we don't know which way the winds blowing with him, and it's just a constant battle of wills some days!

That's why I haven't blogged much these past couple of weeks. In the sleepy house of the newborn, we've also been tackling a 2 yr old that wakes up at 5am, has no gears in his energy levels, just a go and a stop button, and who is dealing with the new arrival of a little sister who I'm sure (to him), seems like she takes up all of mum and dad's time. So we're on the battlefront, trying to both set boundaries and also to nurture and love him as he is, and that's why I'm a bit absent. Hope you can forgive me, this might endure a while longer...!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Well, we've got past the first week here in whiney fairy land and Alice is fitting in well. She's a seemingly contented baby, has taught me that she does NOT like mustard in her breastmilk (hey, I never knew!), and aside from that we've just had to start re-assuring her that the difference between day and night is that mum really likes to sleep at night! I think it's true what they say about mum's with more than one baby, because I am soooo much more relaxed this time than I was with Ethan.

We've been doing super-well with the stay at home challenge (as I now am calling it!). I am determined to get as close to pay day as possible without entering a supermarket or store (but the store part fell apart yesterday, as we had a birthday party and I forgot to pre-buy a present unfortunately). We've run out of fresh milk, but I just made up a load of powdered for myself and the uht is still going strong for the gentlemen of the house. We're having a couple friends around today, and I've even managed to not have to go out for them to be catered for too. I was having a mild panic attack this morning, because I 'always do potato salad' for our bbq's and thought I'd best run off to the market for the ingredients. Then I floated the option to my partner that we have coleslaw and pasta salad instead. "Yeah, sounds good" came the reply - well, good compared to going to the market I think!!!

So we've been becoming the masters of 'making do' this week. We have not done much other than have a couple of visitors, leaving the house only when necessary (trying to make our fuel last for two weeks instead of one is a huuuuge challenge for us, but luckily there's a lot of home-based entertainment: more on that in a moment) and have pretty much left the bank balance alone. Last pay I got a bit excited and paid too much off our debt, leaving us with very little in our actual spending account. Silly move! I usually wait to put the excess on until the end of the pay cycle, but for some reason (can I blame enthusiasm and pregnancy brain?) I sent our excess off to the bank at the beginning of the pay cycle, and that's why we're really watching our money. I don't think we'd be behaving any differently than we would have anyway, but it's really bought home how much difference there is between what we think we need when we have got spare money and what we actually really need when we don't.

Ethan is still doing really well, and despite our 'house-boundedness' we've kept our little adventurer happy and healthy. Yesterday we made delish Zucchini and Orange Cake from Womens Weekly's "Creative Cooking on a Budget" (also known as my Favourite Cookbook of All Time), and that will see us entertain our morning visitors, with maybe even a bit for afternoon tea after our bbq lunch. I like to think that in his future Ethan will make a great cook, because he's always encouraged to help me in the kitchen - so far he's learned many things that I won't go in to, but suffice to say he'll sit on the floor with me and find recipes in our cookbooks and natter away about 'what we gunna make' quite a lot. I love it. We've also put together some fantastic playdough from my friend Kristi's recipe. She makes a cooked playdough, and it can't be beat!

Kristi's Playdough....
Add 1 cup plain flour, 1/2 cup salt, 2 tablespoons of cream of tartar, 1 cup water, 2 tablespoons oil and some food colouring (but only a few drops!). Throw it all in the saucepan, over a low heat and stir, stir, stir, until the mix resembles playdough. Turn it out on to a hard surface once it's cooled a little and then give it a knead. Leave until completely cool and then let the kiddies have loads of fun!

So that's the relatively relaxing pace to our week this week. We'll have things to do this week, more visitors and some adventures to plan (zoo visit this week, as Ethan has decided he "needs to show baby sissa the efalents" so we've arranged a free pass and I'll pack the lunch). Aside from that, we're hoping to make it another 5 days at least until the next big grocery shop....Fingers crossed for me!!!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

It's just another day here at the ranch...

I don't know how to start this post today, except to say that everyone is asking me how my son is dealing with his new little sister. The short answer is that he loves her dearly. The long way around that is that it seems that he has developed a real issue with his mum and dad. He has always been head-strong, but the streak that has come out of him lately around my partner and I has been quite astonishing, to be honest. On Tuesday night I sat down and had a revelation...

I realised I had become The Screaming Mother. My son, who's a lovely, well-developed, conversive, co-ordinated like a mountain goat, gorgeous all round kid, has a real issue with listening. Well, der, I hear the voices in my head saying...He's nearly three, that is relatively 'normal'...

But the frustrations that were mounting about simply Never Feeling Listened To were just getting too much, and they peaked on Tuesday night when I realised that I had been arguing with Ethan since about 7am, on and off, all day. Put your shoes on, no. Eat some breakfast, no. Don't jump on the bed, yes. Wash your hands before you eat, no. It was just never-ending, and it isn't the first day of it. It was however, the second day of this kind of defiance for a mum who's trying to deal with the new addition, breastfeeding, re-couping from a c-section, scheduling in midwife and child health nurse visits, getting dinner ready, getting children bathed and fed...the list goes on. In fact, writing the list is making me tired, let alone doing the daily in and out of it all alongside the constant defiant argument of a near-three yr old boy who's just trying to create, establish and enjoy his first senses of independence.

So I asked my partner how he felt, because he has been taking the same kind of dictatorship that I had. He also, was exhausted by it. And very upset with himself that even though we love Ethan with all our hearts, we were quite honestly ready to smack him in to line. Now, I'm not going to debate smacking with anyone - in fact the only wise thing my mother in law ever told me was to never talk about parenting or politics with people you don't know - but I will say that smacking doesn't work for Ethan. He sees it as a red light to do the same to others, and to be honest I really don't like the look of my own childs face when he is afraid of me.

On Wednesday we took Ethan to the library and alongside his books we got ourselves a couple of parenting books that have seemed to help - and that has been where the last two days have kind of changed our stress levels. We stopped using the word "dont" with him and have replaced it with as many positive alternatives as possible. Instead of "don't jump on the bed" we say "beds are for sleeping on" for example. And it's done wonders. We got through the whole day yesterday, for the first time in a long time (as he's been very defiant and independent since way before Alice was born) without having to drag him inside screaming, having him hit us, or him having a complete meltdown because he's not getting his way. In fact, at about 5pm last night, just as Ethan was getting a bit demanding (5pm is "Arsenic Hour" around here - the worst time of the day, because it's so busy) my partner said that he was ready to crack. He felt better that he hadn't 'lost' the day to screaming, but exhausted through the changing of how he communicated. So I reminded him that we only had about 2hours left until we had really, literally 'won' the day and survived without screaming. We trundled on, and it's been fantastic today too.

I don't know why I've posted this, but I guess it's because I didn't want to give the impression on this blog that I know all and have a perfect family life. Far from it. We struggle and muddle through, just like everyone else. And when we found our little victory yesterday, I wanted to share it.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Well, she has arrived....


Alice was born on Wednesday 4th November at 1pm, under c-section. We have found that so far, she's loving the world very muchly! Ethan and Daddy became besotted custodians immediately, and Alice cannot cry, squeek or pop off without the assistance of the narration of Big Brother Ethan giving us a fantastic run-down of all movement and noise. Alice, in return, coo's and calms immediately upon the presence and touch of her Big Brother, and they seem to have been in cahoots for quite sometime, as they are coordinating their movements and night-wake times very closely thus far!

It's so good to have her home. To know now that Ethan thinks that she is just the bestest little sister he could have asked for. To have a loving partner that is looking after every single detail that his non-domestic brain can remember (hey, I even had hot porridge for breakfast this morning...I don't even make hot porridge!). To be home a day early, lucky enough to live not too far from the hospital that we have a visiting midwifery service that are coming to check her all out. It's all so incredibly lucky for us to be in the right here, right now, that it is a little hard to believe.

Ethan meets Alice

We had a pretty predictable first afternoon home, and Ethan was keen as mustard to take his little sister out in to the world to meet everyone he knows and see everything he's discovered, but luckily we managed to negotiate a play on the floor with the cars and blocks, and a very handy assistant helped Daddy give her her first bath at home in the kitchen sink. Ethan's job was to rub some lotion on her feet, from where the hospital bands had scratched marks on her, and that was a pretty magic job apparently. He then sat very nicely last night and we made a farm all around her to show her the animals and have a big play. Sure, there were moments where he'd chuck a little tantrum because Mum or Dad wasn't doing things properly, but let's face it, Mum and Dad barely know what they're doing most days of the week anyway! So aside from that, Alice is settling in well, and Ethan is the happiest Big Brother he thought he could be. It's been a lovely start to our new additions life amongst the family.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Well, not able to sleep again....

Good morning fairy cyber land! I've been awake about an hour and a half...and counting. It's D-Day here, the final countdown. The day when I become a mother of TWO. Holy cow.

I have the most amazingly generous friends and family really. I'm very lucky. Last night we had arranged for friends to come up and spend the night with us in preparation for today, as our friend Nat is looking after Ethan today. She's fantastic - if anything a bit TOO fantastic! Ethan carries on like it's a day at the fair when she's around!!! So we've clued him in to the fact that he'll be spending today doing a couple of 'Very Important Things' with his Auntie Nat, and dropping me at the hospital, then letting daddy come back and help mum get the baby out, then he'll be wrapping the baby a present and coming to meet her later on today. I have absolutely no doubt that he'll carry on a beauty when his dad leaves to meet me in the hospital later, but that it will last about five minutes, he'll make sure that the show was a really good one and then keep playing with Auntie Nat all day.

Aside from that, I'm a bit nervous. I know there are people out there, in the world, who had no doubt that they would have a huuuuge family, that they knew how their life-path was going to go and worked really hard to make it all happen properly, following role models, parents and friends and family throughout their lives to see 'how it's done'. But not me. I was never going to really ever have children, or settle down. I was a gypsy travelling lady, moving my way from place to place and never letting myself get bored of the ho-hum of a job or a lifestyle for more than a year at a time. But that all changed about four years ago, when Ethan's dad and I reunited and settled down in to our own home. Now look at us! We're about to become a family of FOUR!!!

I'm nervous for my partner, because he's never spent a whole big chunk of time with Ethan before. Like most two-year olds, Ethan spends most of his time with his mum, at home, while daddy is away at work. When daddy's home, I say that I cease to exist unless it's a mealtime or Ethan has hurt himself or something similar, but even then I'm mostly here and there on adventures with them both. But not for the next few days at least. I guess I shouldn't be overly dramatic, as I am not as nervous as I sound - yesterday Ethan got his daddy to make him some noodles, which he did, and then they proceeded to share them straight out of the jug. So I kind of thought straight away - "this place is going to be the man-cave for the next week!" - because they're going to be doing all that gross boy stuff that us mother's Never Allow. Like eating with out a bowl, leaving the toilet lid and seat up, and not soaking dishes....not to mention wiping our hands on our clothes, throwing snails on the roof and sharing icecream with the dog. And that's just the stuff my partner will do!

So today I'll meet my baby, which I am getting to be a bit excited about. It will be a better day tomorrow, when the operation has worn off and I'm able to shower and go to the toilet without a bag attached to me, and then the fun will really begin for us all. I have prepared as much as possible, and will finish all this this morning with the packing of bags for myself and getting a bit of fruit ready for Ethan and daddy to bring me this afternoon. After that, who knows? The great big new horizon for us all!

Monday, November 2, 2009

I can't sleep....

Well, cyber world, I have a confession. It's a confession only very few know, too.

On wednesday the doctors are going to put a sunroof in my tummy and my baby will be born. I know that c-sections aren't very often smiled upon amongst mums who've 'really given birth', but a couple of the ob/gyn's at my hospital have viewed and reviewed and then basically given me the best medical advice that they can. My body, unfortunately, is deciding that it's not quite sure what to do next. Inside, the baby is much the same. She's active, growing and in all other senses a regular 39week gestation baby. But she just will not engage and she will not turn to face my back. Much the same as with Ethan, I have been 'diagnosed' (?) with Failure to Progress.

I like to think of it as being such a good hostess, the guests don't want to leave the premises. When I was pregnant with Ethan, I had Gestational Diabetes, and the doctors do not let you go 'over' your due date with GD because of the risk of an early-aging placenta (and not feeding the bub right), and the high amount of complications such as jaundice. Ethan was born ok, but within about 24hours developed jaundice that took nearly 3 full days of treatment to get rid of, and another 3 days of tests after that to be completely clear of. I went in to be induced with him, and after 4 failed attempts, still had not had any contractions.

So in a nutshell, what I'm trying to say is that I kind of feel like I've cheated the system, and am about to do it again!

But I am excited! I didn't think I would be, considering it's all very 'clinical' in the delivery and we're well ahead of time what is going to happen, but I am. I can hardly believe I will hear her tiny voice for the first time in about 36 hours, and see what she looks like.

So here's to fingers being crossed, a safe and happy delivery and a fast recovery. I'll try and post tomorrow night before I go to the hospital, but otherwise, have a great week everyone and I'll be sure to share a pic or two when I return.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Two Weeks To Go...

With only two weeks to go, this is how large I have gotten. Excuse the Jarmie's, we had just gotten out of bed!

No grand post this morning, the house is a bit dis-com-bob-ulated because of a whiney fairy's dog and little guy who kicked me out of bed and a partner with very sore teeth.... Off to make some breakfast for us all.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Afternoon Adventures...

We are lucky enough to live across the road from a creek. It doesn't always flow, only usually when there's been significant rain, but the frogs usually let us know when there's been enough for them to approve. This year, Ethan was old enough for his first pair of gumboots, as although we'd visited the creek before, he noticed that some of the other neighbourhood kids didn't stay out of the water - they had those special boots that you couldn't destroy on! So we went down to a local store and got a pair on sale for about $8. They have trains on one side, which is a great thing to teach you how to put them on the right feet! He'll line them up right and then say "trains on the outside" before putting them on.

discovering the ants

So yesterday afternoon, after the drizzle had stopped from a day and a half's rain, he went and grabbed his boots from the laundry cupboard and informed me that we had to go check the creek. It wasn't flowing anymore, not rigourously, anyway, and the animals were mostly back out - especially the ants and the mozzies! We had a very amatuer lesson on what ants do (my apologies to all future science teachers, as I am sure that the reason the walk in a line in NOT because they're following a teeny tiny road), and why mozzies bite if we don't go inside at a decent time.

following the trail for frogs and ducks

And then we followed the creek to see if we could find some frogs or ducks. We didn't, and often don't because my eyesight for well-disguised frogs is appalling, and there is a lake up the road that the ducks enjoy a whole lot more than a creek that isn't running.
learning how to take the lead

After our meander we returned home to some yummy muffins for afternoon tea -the orange afternoon tea cake ones that we'd made a while back and I'd frozen a couple for just such a treating time.

So I think I did a good job on the mummy-front yesterday. Today isn't going to be very adventurous, as we've got a few things to achieve around the house and since deciding that full-time mummyhood and no work for as long as possible it has meant metering out the petrol use to do several things at once if we leave the house. And today we just don't need to leave the house to do anything significant enough to warrant the use of the car. We might go adventuring somewhere, even over to the lake with the stale left-over bread, but we'll just see what the boss would like to do first!

Monday, October 26, 2009

The best things in life really are FREE!

Well, it's true. Look what I just got in the post from my beautiful Nan last week...

She is just a gem, my Nan. Every week, her and her friends go off garage saling. This is just the little booty that she has found so far - and the items are just beautiful. Two woolen jackets, with name brands, a couple of jumpsuits and the tiniest little dress! The plate and bowl are both Winnie the Pooh, immediately claimed by Ethan and I have to wash it three times a day for his snacks.

Garage Sale Finds from Nan!

Today I went to the op shop with Ethan on the way home from the library. The ladies that run it raise money for their local parishoner (excuse the spelling on that one possibly!) and also for the local Youth Emergency Accomodation Service. And guess what? It was One Dollar Day! The entire bounty in one shot

All I originally pulled in for was because I had a feeling that the $20 that my Nan sent me for my birthday would find good use in there. Well, was I right or what?!!! I spent $13. And I got about three gifts, as well as a sheet that is going to turn in to two sheets for Ethan, an outfit to put away for the baby, a tank top for me, a set of cups and saucers for Ethans playgroup, some beads and a 'special cup' for Ethan (his wording, not mine!), and a beautiful bedding set that I seriously don't think money could buy anymore! It is beautifully made, a bed throw and two pillowcases and I'll be making it beautify my ugly couch that needs a cover. Our bed will be too big, but I just knew if I didn't buy it I would kick myself big time!

Bedding Set

So my little adventure, sorry, Our little adventure, got me thinking about how Ethan and I have always op shopped. He knows that he's allowed to find a couple of 'special' things, and that so long as he behaves while hunting for them, and then tidies up after himself, he will recieve a special item or two, depending on how much money we have. He doesn't often throw tantrums in any shops (which I'm sure won't be the case forever!), but he certainly knows that the way to Mamma's purse isn't through throwing a hissy fit to get what he wants. Which is why I love op shopping with him. He is polite to the people, he helps me no end, and the staff are generally not at all precious about how he touches things, plays with toys, or tries to find things in the colour orange. They often also delight at his making them cakes and biscuits with the kitchen utensils as well - hey, he's a friendly guy!

I find op shopping to be the ultimate in thrifty-ness, because if a brand new item was available at a cheaper price, wouldn't you buy the cheaper one? It's also so much more fun looking for uniqueness among everyday items, and then taking those 'one off' items home to show them off! I hope you like the little items I found, because I certainly do! The bright pink trousers (Fred Bare brand) and the denim vest are brand new, and the white leggings, although home-made I'm sure, look to have never been worn. The little flower dish is going to be a gift for a friend for xmas, and so is the mini-milk jug if I can bare to part with it!

I hope you're enjoying your day's adventuring, where ever it may be. I have a feeling we'll be wrapping up our day with a trip to the creek over the road, seeing as though it's been raining a couple days. I don't often get to have a day of rain followed by a day of not going to check for frogs!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Hello everybody!

I am uuuuunnnncomfortable! Very much so. In the middle of the night I wake up with leg cramps, I'm having a few brackston hicks, and the little lady in there is now big enough to make me feel like my sternam is located in a very inconvenient place - where her feet are actually meant to be.

But enough about that. Yesterday I held my own birthday/baby shower afternoon tea! It was soooo lovely to be surrounded by my half a dozen or so favourite-est girlfriends, people that I know I don't want to miss the opportunity to have one last really good gas-bag with before the bub comes in two weeks and I lose the art of conversation to the art of breastfeeding and managing a toddler, holding down the fort in the run-up until xmas and having my partner home from work for a month to help me keep on top of things and settle in to a routine. It was fabulous. I baked up a storm, made a pavlova look very appetising (I confess the pav part came from a box), and made some lovely fruit salad and some even lovelier percolated coffee. I love having my girlfriends over, and with the table being just the right size for seven of us it was a beautiful way to spend the afternoon, gorging ourselves on cake, fruit, and coffee. What an excellent excuse!

It makes me think this morning, while I just ate the last of the fruit salad with a little cream, about how it really was an important thing to do - to take a moment to savour the sweet things in life. My friend Mychelle will often remind me that as I pass a rose in full bloom, stop, like a small child and smell it. Breathe it all the way in, until you can taste the sweetness and really appreciate all the work that this little being has done, the rain water it has stored, the messages it has sent to the ground and back again, and the pollen that it has given to bees in exchange for a little tlc in the landing on her petals.

And that's one of the reasons that I decided to do the very unorthodox thing and have a baby shower, even though I've been there and done that before! I wanted to take time, with my favourite women, and welcome them and thank them in my home for looking after me during this time, and the time to come.

Friendships are fantastic, and there was a time when I didn't have any female friends at all. Back when I worked with all men, which I've spoken about before, I happily skipped over this fantastic part of being a woman. Well, not I love the company of other women, and thank goodness I've been blessed with quite a few who feel the same way about life as I do, and have deep souls that they don't mind sharing...

Friday, October 23, 2009

Sorry but absent...

I'm a bit blank today, hence no post until 6pm. It's been a long one, first with rising at 4.30am with Ethan who had a morning full of so much energy it started super early. From there I've babysat for a few hours for a friend, and then after that had another friend visit with her three daughters. So at 37weeks, with only about 5 hours of broken sleep under my belt, I am too tired to function. Ethan and his dad have gone to get chips from the shop to compliment the 'out of the box' kievs we're having for dinner, and I'm sitting here wondering what to tell the cyber world....

I am tired. I could rant and rave today about the injustices of the little world I live in, but luckily for your ears I'm even too tired for that!

Tell you all about them another time.....

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

What a confusing day for my wallet...

Well, today is the day that we get some electrical work done to the house - I'm so so excited! We saved some of our tax return (an amount we BOTH know is a lot in total but is also a bit of a bargain because my partner knows the sparky), and we have him coming today. In 20 minutes no less.

So it is a funny day for our wallet. On the one hand, we have only the bare minimum to survive on at the moment, because we are still instigating our simple savings plan of pretending to just get by and survive at our means, and not above it. But on the other hand, by the end of the day, we will have spent nearly one thousand dollars and have a few of the things done to the house that we've wanted to do for about 2 years. So it's happy, happy, joy, joy on both fronts I think, because that one thousand has been hiding in our wardrobe for quite sometime, and we've been pretending, quite successfully, that it doesn't exist!

We've tried very hard to do this, a couple of times, but never had the skills to follow it through. Very much folks that want to stay out of credit card debt, we try as hard as possible to keep away from that nasty bit of plastic, and truly only use it when there is either no other way to purchase something (and the money is transferred immediately back on it), or quite literally when things happen like our dog "C" got the big C and we had to spend a lot of money at the vet's that we didn't have.

In my personal life, a lot of people ask 'yeah, but how do you Reward yourself for all the hard work budgeting?'. It's a toughy, to be honest. The answer doesn't make a whole lot of sense to some, and seems even more difficult than the budget is to others. So I try to explain that it comes on a case-by-case basis! That makes the Spenders' head's spin!

It's hard to explain that the reward for us IS the budget working, so I often skip that part and go straight in to what we get out of it. Like a few weeks ago, I did a deal with my friend on an Enjo-for-Clothes swap party. It was brilliant! I got $475 worth of clothes for only $77. That $77 was my reward to spend on some things for myself that I would NEVER have paid $475 for. The rest of my 'out of pocket' wasn't 'out of pocket', but my commission that I'd earnt by doing the Enjo demo for my friend. I hope that makes sense? I recently tucked away some money from selling a car seat, and some other children's items that were outgrown, unloved, and not used, and that helped me treat my partner and I to some very nice, high quality liquers that are going to last us from xmas through the new year. It did cost me well over $100, but in actual fact it only cost us the loss of some stuff that was laying around the house and getting in the way. So there is reward, even if there is more effort involved to create the income for that reward.

So today is a great day to be in our house! By the end of it we'll have exhaust fans in the toilet (so that as our boy grows and thinks his poo doesn't stink, we never have to find out if it does!), and one in the laundry (stopping mould growing on the occassion I need to use the dryer), dimmer lights in the kids' rooms' (hush little baby, no more feeling like you're undergoing a surgical procedure with those spotlights above your bed!), and a gallery of lights along my kitchen bench (so that some food surgery can be undertaken!) along with some other little bits and pieces. We've waited a long time for this, and we can't wait.

So I must go get dressed, because the last thing we want is the price to go up because the back end has fallen out of my pj's and the sparky has to work with sore eyes!

Have a great day!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Pulling Double Shifts

Can you be "too" tired? I think you can, at the moment! With the seasons changes that have only really hit our home in the last couple of weeks, Ethan's sleeping has gone out the window. He's never really been much of a kid that can just have a 'wind down' period in the middle of the day...he's busy looking for fish in buckets of water, cars in the sandpit, and someone to talk to. Even when he attended daycare, that all-toddler-exhausting exercise where children bounce off each other and have a fantastic time all day socialising and playing, I would often be told he had sat up during nap time and watched other children, or layed next to one and whispered and giggled instead of having a nap.

So, in the world of stay-at-home-mummying, you might say I've been pulling double shifts lately! I think I deserve a pay rise!!!

And yesterday, we kind of got one! It was so nice to check the bank account and find some of my partner's hard earned back pay in there, that I used it to pay down some more debt. I have no illusions that when the bub comes it isn't going to happen so often, but we have managed, in one year, to pay an extra $6000 plus on a personal loan that we could really have been lazy with and only paid the required $1500 for the year on. I had done a couple of Enjo demos last month, and the income from that is still paying my kit off, but because I had some customers pay cash, I transferred the necessary from my partners pay in to the credit card and we're now going to try and function for our second month on $400 in total for groceries, petrol and family entertainment.

Last month was a bit of a breeze, and I think I got a bit too cocky because I even managed to squeeze in a couple of op shops. But this month I just tallied up the christmas laybys - I still have $300 to pay! Fair enough, those laybys are for every child we know, and there are a couple of extras thrown in for Ethans birthday, but geez that's a lot of money isn't it?! Well, I thought so. Until my neighbours were talking yesterday and one mentioned that she is struggling with the fact that her in-laws spend $400 on each of their grandchildren!

So how do you decide when 'enough is enough'? I am doing as much of my own presents as possible - including making the most of my Enjo business while I still get a higher commission, and making some of my gifts - but after that I am under no illusion that there's going to be a point where I will have to buy some things for people. So I am going to have to be tough, raid the gift cupboard and set and re-set my budget. I'd honestly like to approach all the adults that buy for us (meaning my parnter and I) and tell them that we'd appreciate no gifts from now on. It's hard enough to buy for eachother, let alone come up with extra for others that we're just trying to find a 'token' present for. But we shall try. Very hard.

Anyway, sorry for the muddled post. Like I said, I'm pulling double shifts and that means my thinking processes aren't that clear at this time in the morning! But this is the only time I might get to pop in and say hello. And, well, my son didn't get his enjoyment of talking to others from no where, you know!

Monday, October 19, 2009

The baby's room and economic strategy!

I said a while back that I would post about how we have 'decorated' the baby's room and fully stocked it for not much money. I reeeeaaaally wish now that I had kept a tally on a notepad or somewhere so that I really could know the exact dollar amount I've spent, but silly old moo me didn't do that, so I'm estimating as I show you these pictures.

We knew before we even fell pregnant that I no longer wanted to be working in family day care when Ethan started school. Although it is a great way to earn money, and not 'that' bad a job, I didn't begin it until my son was 15 months old, and I certainly got a bit of a shock when I realised that if I really had to, I would be opening up just after having a newborn and also learning how to be a school mummy and ferrying Ethan off to 3 year old kindy as well. Not something I was happy thinking about. So early on in the pregnancy my partner and I decided that we would budget as closely to the grain as possible, and that the skills I developed over the previous months of using the simple savings website, as well as the resilience I'd built up for shopping since Ethan's birth, would really come in to play. So I made a plan....

The first port of call was to do things along the lines of a strategy. We made some major decisions, renegged on some big plans (sorry, still no plasma tv from our tax money this year luv!), but still carried through wisely on others (gotta love it when you know a butcher, a baker and an electrician, no?). We made economic and rational decisions with the cash we had, the money we knew would be coming in, and the money that came up as a surprise to us as well.

One of the decisions we made was to find out the sex of the baby. It's a very personal decision and we decided with Ethan we would know, so this was I suppose a little easier. I liked calling Ethan by his name, and keeping that name a secret from everyone was also fun. This time is the same, and it has also helped us to tell friends who've had girls and ask us what we need because they themselves have mountains of clothes etc to give away that we'd more than love hand-me-downs of every shape, colour and size. I've already 7/8ths filled her dresser with clothes that range all the way up to size 1's because of my friends' generosity. So in the coming months, when I post pictures of her online, you can bet that about 95% of the clothes and bedding and wraps you see will be from either op shops or friends secondhand stashes.

But on to the room....! We couldn't think of any place to buy secondhand paint, and my partner was very keen to get started asap, so he first looted his shed. In there, because the people who lived here prior to us built the house, he found an array of handy painting and decorating tools. He invested in some new rollers, but recycled the paint trays, and lucky for him I'd done a fair bit of painting before, so I knew a couple of tricks!

This is the room before it all began. Bare bones, with the cabinet doors removed, the tarp down and the blinds off. I cannot stress the importance of taking EVERYTHING out if you want a really good finish! My partner was amazed at how many cracks there were in the walls, and feet marks from where the daycare children had been laying down to sleep with their feet up on the walls. So we cleaned the walls first with the green Enjo glove (the kitchen one!) and it was such a good thing to know we didn't even need sugar soap! The walls came up mark-free, and my partner then
set about fixing the cracks and resealing the window to stop drafts around the frame.

We picked the colour together - Milan Breeze, and although it is blue, it's a nice grey-tinted blue that isn't all that bright. We went to an actual baby shop for the decals (they were $50 a pack, pretty exxy but they were exactly what I was looking for), and I bought the cane baskets from markdowns at shops like Crazy Clarks and Things. I was lucky in that they came lined, too, and I think they set me back about $20 in total for these four and another one like the one on the left.

The decals are fun, animal themed and I think not really all that gender-specific. I found when I was pregnant with Ethan that it's hard enough to give their imagination free-reign, without subscribing to either having boys rooms that are filled with cross bones and pirates and girls rooms filled with fairies and princesses. Now, please don't get me wrong, I'm not standing on my Germaine Greer textbooks burning my bras, but I just figure my children will have plenty of time to learn about damsels in distress and pillaging pirates when they grow older, right now I'd like them to believe that they can tame a lion or swing on monkey bars like a real monkey.

In August we were lucky enough to get a fantastic tax return, mainly because of my pregnant brain. I had emailed my partners' work and 'thought' I'd asked them to with hold an extra $100 tax a month. Turned out I'd written 'per week'. So that put us high up just to start with! Then I told centrelink that because I was working I would like to Not recieve any parenting payments until the end of the financial year, to ensure that we didn't end up being over paid and owe a whole lot of money. Well, as a result we had the money it took to re-paint and buy decals for less than $100, and we also had enough to do extra special things like start a stockpile and hire an electrician.

My stockpile, my beautiful stockpile, is going to last us fantastically for the first month or two. I tried to find secondhand laundry cupboards, as they all seem to have just shelving, but in the end conceded to buy new because it was actually cheaper! We fixed them both to the walls, because of the ability to pull on the handles and then pull them down on oneself if, say, you are only 2 yrs old. And then I began to stock them. I have everything food-related in one, including uht milk for days that I just do not want to wander out with two children 'just for milk', cereal and pasta, sauces and ingredients for a world of things I can make from home with Ethans eager help. We also invested in a chest freezer, that was also new because we could at the time afford it and wanted the ability to follow a warranty back to the manufacturer. We stocked that just a month ago with a whole lamb and a side of pork - enough meat to last from september to january, at a guess. We are looking in to buying some more chicken and some beef, but because of the abundance we don't feel a need to rush just yet!

I also overpaid our periodical bills. We are now far enough in front with a couple that we should recieve full credit notes on them the next time they arrive. Just in time for the mad rush of christmas, too, which is when it might be sorely needed (even though we are trying to keep it cheap and cheerful!).

Now, don't get me wrong, we did treat ourselves here and there to things that we could afford along the way, like a bottle of bourbon for my partner and some new clothes for me for post-pregnancy. But we did it smart. Never ever did we get a pay that we thought we could just 'blow' on something huge, and we always discussed things before getting them. It was just how it was, and it still is that way now. We both know that a penny saved is a penny earned, but more than that, it's a penny further that I won't have to work for down the track in a job that I don't like doing or can't do with my children in tow.

Ok, I have a feeling that I'm going to go on too long here, so I'll cut it out for now and let you look around our special new room. Anyone that tells you that you need everything brand new is really being a bit false with you. Keep your eyes peeled and I'll share more photos down the track of the rest of the booty that I've stored along the way, and all for less than a couple hundred dollars.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Are you busy?

It's always a busy day here on sundays. Kind of. Well, there's the obligatory catching up on folding and sorting washing, the putting away, the making of know, all that jazz. But then there's our regular outing to the farmers' growers' market. Ethan and I toddle (well, I'm closer to a waddle now) off there every sunday, even though now I get a lot of my fresh produce delivered. It's too hard to miss out and then find out, for example, that I could have bought strawberries for about $6 a kilogram, or got a box of apples for only $5 - like I did today with both of these fruits! The dehydrated apples were such a huge success with Ethan that I'm already dehydrating about a kilo of apple now, and I've preserved some lemons this morning that I bought last week for a dollar a kilo as well. The lemons are for my sister, as her and her partner are in to Indian cuisine and I think they'll make a lovely gift at Christmas. I will take some photos of them in the next couple of days, along with a few other pictures that I want to share of the presents I've been making and storing for my friends and family.

I wasn't sure about making people gifts, and my partner isn't really over the moon about it either. He comes from a family, like me, where it's usually just the size of the wallet that counts. But this year I'll be trying to stay afloat with one income and a family of four to feed and keep sheltered, clothed and happy, and I figure that the sewing machine was a gift to me, meant to be used, and if I can make a little boy or girl happy with a new library bag or a nan happy with a heat pack full of lavender and orange oil, then so be it. At some point, my friends and family are going to have to realise that just because my partner works away, it doesn't mean we have a huge expendable income. I feel rude saying it, but that's just how it is this year, and has been before but we've blindly gone in to credit card debt to pay for presents.

A girlfriend of mine and I were talking about it (we've both agreed to op shop for each other, and I'm soooo excited about her present I've already shown it to her!). It occurred to me that in years previous to this, when I've bought presents from shops and poured my thoughts about them for hours in to hours more of shopping for family and friends, the presents are often not really any better recieved than if I had just given them a card. I think that in life, we all think that the salutations we'll receive for something should be much higher, and the anticipation for times of year like christmas are too severely waited for, even as adults.

So that was what helped me come to terms with what many in my family (and my partners' family) will probably find a bit mortifying, if not humourous. But oh well, I don't care if they laugh behind my back to be honest. It's the thought that counts, right? Well, how much more thought in to a gift is there than when you've spent nights up sewing beautiful things, knitting, or preserving fruits so that people can enjoy a beautiful gift from your heart or a special treat on top of their morning toast or a late night treat on top of their icecream? Sounds pretty good to me!

So that's where we've been today and yesterday. Although I can't sew when I've got Ethan up, I can certainly do things like preserve lemons, make jam (although that is waiting until my partner is home!), and prepare other special treats. Ethan has loved the lemon preserving today, and the making of jelly for him as a treat, so it's been a busy day, well spent. And the total cost? About $15 all up for two kilos of lemons, 3 kilos of apples, and 4 large tubs of strawberries. The rest I already had, or was free!

Happy days, unless you count being asked if the "jelly is ready yet?" every ten minutes!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

It's busy here today...I hope.

Ok, so just a quick one today as it's already 6.50am and I've been awake (but not up) since 5am thanks to Ethan and his new sleeping habits! I did get him to lay in bed with me and talk for about an hour, but I'm still up, we're still here and we've still got our pj's on....!

Today should be a busy one. I've had a couple of party plan things lately; a liquor tasting night (without tasting any, which was an achievement considering I still bought stuff!); a clothes party (posted about a few days ago); and I did an Enjo demo a couple weeks ago that I've just taken delivery of. The first two I am actually receiving items from, and they should be here today, in the arms of my friend Sam. I'm very, very excited about them, because I get to finally show my partner what I bought him as a bit of a surprise. We don't usually do presents unless it's actually celebrating something, in fact, buying Crunchy Nut Cornflakes for him is a bit of a celebration around here, but next tuesday when he arrives home I'll be presenting him with a lovely bottle of bourbon as a gift for just being great (most of the time, anyway - he's not the messiah for goodness sake!).

I've got an ante natal appointment today, as we are at week 36 (or is it 37?). Hopefully the doctor will be able to give me some sort of indication about how the bub is going in terms of delivery, which I'm very nervous about. My partner is due home only 2 days before our due date and if he's away when the bub decides to arrive, I could be in a bit of a pickle. So fingers crossed all's going well and the baby will get to stay in the dark until then at least!

I've also got to go and get an apple corer. I don't have one, and I'm about to try my hand at dehydrating some apples today. So that's a job for first thing this morning, Ethan and I are going to grab some fresh milk and an apple corer to start up the dehydrator I borrowed from my friend the other day.

So a busy day here today, and hopefully all will go well and smoothly. We might wrap it up with a trip to the creek, and give Ethan what could be a last chance at wearing his gumboots before the heat arrives and dries up all the water over there!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I met a lady in the park yesterday....

And she had a boy and a girl. Same age difference (give or take a month) that I will have. And she was soooo happy! She admitted that her son (the elder child) was 'a full-on boy' (ditto) and that he did make it hard sometimes, but that all in all, she felt "blessed".

I love it when people use the word 'blessed' when they're talking about ordinary things. Not religious people, talking about the gifts from their lord or god, but ordinary people, with no obvious religious armour or agenda that see themselves as lucky enough to be in a situation where something happened outside of their control that turned out to be a significant and amazing thing for them, a life changing event that made their lives Better. Blessed. I love it.

It got me thinking about how my life has been pretty lucky, especially since the last 9 or so months have ticked over so quickly. We often find ourselves in a money panic, because of the whole big mortgage/old car/kids/one income combo, but so many people out there remind me very often that we are indeed lucky. My partner has a good job - no, an amazing job. He's one of 'those' men that is known as a great worker and although just before our son was born he was made redundant (along with a plane load of about 100 workers), he was the only one on that plane owed a pay-out, and shortly after that he was offerred a job with one of the biggest mining companies in Australia. He was no longer a contractor, he was employed by the actual mine company that owned the whole kit and caboodle. We thought, when he lost his job, that we were in all sorts of strife, and now, looking back, it was the best employment outcome that could have happened for us, and has continued to serve us amazingly well.

We have a school locally that I am in complete love with, and all things going well this term Ethan will be attending next year. Our timing with the new baby can be seen two ways - I've been asked 'what was I thinking' by those of the mindset that once your kids are at school you are 'free' to do what ever you want, and I've also had discussions about how with a new baby on the way, Ethan will be very blessed to start school, expand his social circle and his learning, only about 12 weeks after the baby comes. I like to think that he's going to love having a baby around, but I know that the things that 'tied me down', so to speak, when he was a newborn, will bore a three year old no end! So with this timing, just enough to get the baby started in life, and get myself practiced in to a routine of getting ready for school, I feel so lucky that he will be finding the most amazing new things in his life at school at such a time as he is going to need people to show him.

And as for me, well. I'm sometimes very aware that my level of luckiness is just a bit silly really.

I am lucky enough to be in a relationship that is real - no drama, no carry-on, a settled in, well worn and well known partnership that both parties are used to, AND enjoy. It hasn't been blind luck - we've worked very hard at our relationship and we've had long breaks in the past that have helped us both develop in to the people we really needed to be. But here we are, ten years later with our second child on the way and the adventure is no where near the end.

In work I'm lucky enough to be able to take time off if I need (or have to!). To take care of our family in aspects such as finance, organisation, nutrition and the like, is the thing that I like to be employing myself in. It's pay-less in cash, but my family are benefitting every day with the new things that I help them do, discover as well as the routines that are in place to help us be together as a group. Even when I'm having a nesting day and cleaning the grout in the tiles, the benefit to the family isn't just that our home remains clean and tidy, but it also helps us retain the value of our home. I could go on....but Ethan is standing here and telling me that my one minute on the computer is up, and well, he is the foreman of the job I guess!

Have a great day, enjoy the work that you find yourself doing, and if you can't enjoy parts of it then enjoy looking forward to the days when those aspects will be gone from your day and you'll be able to do as your foreman tells you to, too!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Good Morning!

Well, after a beautiful day out yesterday, and a not so early night last night, I've already been awake for nearly two hours. Ethan is slowly (and I mean very, stubbornly, slowly) learning that he's no longer welcome to wake up and hop in to my bed during the night, and it is helping him sleep longer before waking up for his bottle (thanks for the tip on mixing milk with water Kristi, because I not only think it's stopping his hunger for milk during the night, it is increasing his hunger during the day). So he's sleeping for about 8 hours straight now before waking and then trying it on. Which gives me a bit more sleep myself, in a big long block, which is suuuuper nice after 2.5years!

So, long story short, I'm feeling well rested. I also changed my focus on food last week, and started to get my fruit and vegies delivered to my door. I am proud to say that we will have eaten nearly 9 kilos of beautiful fresh vegies since last wednesday! I usually use frozen, or skip them and have eggs on toast or cereal a lot, because basically it was easy and sometimes I just couldn't find quality produce for a decent affordable price. But no more! I got 9kilos delivered to my door with a dozen eggs last week and it only cost me $32! We have had salad and loads of yummy dishes, including Orange TeaCake (care of the Stephanie Alexander recipe below), and hopefully this week I'll try my hand at some Carrot Cake too. I've got some big plans to start learning how to store fruit and vegies in the forms of jams, cakes and preserved in oil, vinegar, etc. It'll be a bumpy ride, but you're welcome on board!

Orange Tea Cake in Muffin size

Prior to having the delivery, my iron levels were 17, and before pregnancy they were 53. I have no real idea what that means, but the doc said it's not great. Wonder what they'll be this week!

Anyway, I've just come in to share my delicious eggs this morning. Well, they have been shared, with Ethan, but this is what they looked like at first....

Our breakfast - we often just eat together,
I find Ethan eats more if he thinks it's mine!

I put in some baby spinach, mushrooms and some lemon zest and pepper. They were served on homemade bread, and only took me about 5 minutes from start to stacking the plate.

Which brings me to todays little lesson for me...I really am loving being a full time, no-job-that-pays-cash mum. I'm going to continue to have my moments, but today is another beautiful day, Ethan is already adventuring around the house, making roads for his car out of cardboard boxes (I MUST show you the car one day, his Auntie Kylie painted it herself and we think it's fantastic!) and looking out the windows at the people gardening and trimming the park across the road. We've got to go on our monthly book hunt around the house shortly, I've got to get dressed and we're going to our friend's home for morning tea before going to the library and then returning home again for the afternoon. So although I'm economising our outings to focus our centre more on our home, we are still keeping ourselves in the community and making even the most spend-less activities exciting.

Hope your adventures are many and frugal today, and that you find some inspiration in your children to keep a smile on your face.

Afternoon Orange Tea Cake Recipe (c/o Stephanie Alexander's The Cook's Companion)
1 Large Orange or Mandarin
2 Eggs
125grams softened butter
1/4 cup castor sugar
225gram self raising flour

Preheat oven to 190celcius, butter a 20cm ring tin (or a muffin tray!). Combine all ingredients in a food processor and whiz for about 2 minutes or until smooth and creamy. Pour into tin and bake for 30-35 mins (or about 15 for muffin size). Cool for 5 minutes before turning on to a wire rack. Cool before icing.

Icing: Beat 2 cups icing sugar, 1 teaspoon melted butter, 1 tablespoon orange or mandarin juice, 1 tablespoon Grand Marnier until smooth, and then mix in 1 tablespoon of sugared or candied peel. Spread over cake.

*I didn't put on the icing, and I hardly ever do with any cakes I make. Ethan isn't confirmed as being 'sensitive' to anything, or having any allergies, but I myself notice a distinct change in his behaviour and ability to concentrate if he has too much added sugar in his diet. So I try not to add it to much at all, unless it's cooked in to a meal or snack. That's not to say that I would recommend an icing with liquer in it for any other children either! But it's in the recipe, so treat your self if you like!

Such a Gorgeous Day!

A painting I bought years ago from a cafe, without Mychelle knowing I was the buyer!
The Tangerine Bird has travelled to many of my houses!

I was spoilt today....we went on an adventure to my friend Mychelle's beautiful home. I'm in love with her home, and not just this one, but each one I've known her to have. She's just the most amazingly beautiful creature, calm mother, happy wife and fantastic gardener. And she's an artist. A Real Artist. She made me a gift for my birthday, and even though my birthday is another two weeks away, she couldn't help herself but give it to me over morning tea...

The dining area with Scott's turtle creation on the wall - more detail below!

My birthday present - notebook holder and purse, made by Mychelle.
She also made the fruit bowl using doilies pressed in clay, but gave this to me years ago.

Her morning teas - no, her Meals in general - are amazing. Mychelle has been very food conscious since I've known her, and is really super healthy in her eating habits and often is lucky enough to be eating directly out of her own garden for nearly every meal, I'm sure. These pictures of her garden are mainly from the front of her house, and this is on a suburban size block. Amazing fruits and vegetables combine to create a food forest of fun, that Ethan and I explored with amazement every time we have visited. We left today with a bag of treats - snow peas, beans and broccoflower to munch on when we got home. We had the most wonderful salad for dinner, full of yummy green goodness!

The garden from the front gate

A true woman of finders-creaters-keepers kind of attitude, Mychelle and her husband Scott make an amazing couple, with art - their own art - on nearly every door, wall and surface. Projects of all shapes and sizes, stages and inventions of prototype are like a labyrinth of awesomeness throughout the house, which feels like a real, welcoming home of treasures. Mychelle has a passion for textile design, sewing and so many other things that I can never wait long to see her and find out what her newest creations are! I hope you like this little look around their home and please comment at will about what you see!

Ethan about five minutes after we left Mychelle's.
No doubt, with these images in his head...

A whale, same method as the turtle below....

Scott's Turtle up close -it's 3D, and awesome!

A couch Mychelle painted a while ago, one of my favourite things.

Monday, October 12, 2009

We're just not trendy....

Good morning blog-world! Well, just a quick one to say good morning (done!) and let you know that Ethan and I are off on an adventure to Pinjarra today to see a fantastic friend of mine. I love going to my friends home, because her and her friend are artists (must remember to ask if I can share the link to her husbands website!) and they just have a 'knack' for turning ordinary things in to the home and garden of their dreams. Ethan will enjoy a day spent with chickens and their dog, and their daughter will happily play with him as well.

So I'll update you with some photos, and maybe a link or two when we return. I've been a busy little lady myself these past few nights, as I am making a very large bag to take to the hospital with me when I have the baby in one month from now. It's huge. It's monumental. It's the first bag I've ever made that wasn't just two panels folded in half and sewed up the sides (and I've only made one of those too!). I managed to get shipped around the country in my first year of highschool, so after four different schools I found myself in cooking and woodwork for the first year of highschool, and until my partners' grandparents bought me a sewing machine I'd never even ever turned one on. So stay tuned, there WILL be brag photos for my first 'big' creation!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Talk about four seasons in one day....

Yesterday started off with me in a pretty foul mood. Actually, considering I'd had six hours of broken sleep, and not even the kind of sleep that mothers are used to, but really, really awful quality, broken sleep, I was crabby as no one who'd walked the earth! So I tried my hardest to pull myself out of the funk. I decided real early on that I wasn't going anywhere with such an ugly attitude, and got myself and Ethan dressed in comfy but do-able clothes. I opened the baby-on-its-way's bedroom door and we got stuck in to our little jobs that remained.

Ethan asked for the back door to be opened, which I happily obliged because he just loves the backyard - our dog is just super friendly and they play chasey, have tea parties and all sorts of things if you sneak up to the window or door and watch them. So Ethan had free riegn to come and go inside as he pleased, which made him happy (and easier to deal with in my crabby-bottomed haze!). So together, as he felt he wanted to, we cleaned the cabinets down, put together the bassinette, placed our wall decals, and packed a basket for my partner to bring to the hospital in case I'm in there for longer than we hope for. So not counting the cot, which is assembled but doesn't have the mattress in it, everything is just about ready. I'll do another post in the next few days with some pictures of the bub's room, because I'm so proud we managed to do the whole thing without really spending much money at all. Very simple savings of me!

With that sense of achievement under my belt, my crabbiness abated a little. My next irritation came in the form of my disgusting bathroom tile grout. It's been disgusting me for quite some time. I don't know if it's just me, but I notice where feet go. We have pretty cheap, thin carpet throughout the entire house except for a couple of strips of lino in the kitchen and laundry, and tiles in the bathrooms. And man, can you see the spots where we walk in the bathrooms! It's not that I don't wash my floors, it's those greasy marks that your feet leave behind on the grout that was starting to show up pretty bad. I've never cleaned grout before, but found a fantastic biodegradable product through Enjo call Calcium Disolver. I diluted it and sprayed the grout while I sat on the floor with a toothbrush and scrubbed the marks out. It worked amazingly, and I did all of the ensuite bathroom floor in under an hour! So my mood lifted even further with the theraputic scrubbing back and forth, and the fantastic result that I achieved without a nasty chemical in sight!

Then came the real fun....I have a girlfriend who is a party planner for a clothing company. I did an Enjo demo for her when I first started, and she mentioned that we could demo swap back then so I signed up to do a party for her in exchange for mine. The total that she owed, I asked for in credit on her products, so basically we both got products from each other for free. Well, the clothes department in my home is not the most loved and definitely the LEAST paid attention to in the whole house. I hardly ever buy clothes for myself, and if I do it's more secondhand, usually to replace something that is long overdue to go in the rag bag anyway. Well, yesterday was retail therapy to the MAX! I managed to get $475 worth of clothes for a measly $75 out of pocket! I walked away with about 9 items, because the company she works for are having a party special where for every $100 you spend you get a half price item as well. Then we factored in the credit I had from paying my friends items of Enjo, then the credit my friends generated through their spending (they also got the $100 special), and then the host rewards of a free garment, a $20 voucher and a half price item. So all in all, I'm going to look pretty fab over christmas, which is really quite exciting for me! I was soooo excited!

The day ended with one of my friends staying behind for dinner, and that boosted my spirits through the roof, making the perfect end to what started out as a very cloudy day. How lucky I am to have friends who'll do so much for me in mood and in smiles!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Blog Award Acceptance and Excitement

Well, I got an award for Blogging from a lovely lady called Amanda, who writes at My Life...Badly Written for the Over The Top Award - Thanks so Much Amanda! I was so excited to receive this that I waited for this long so that Ethan is asleep and I can focus some proper attention on it and spread the blog-love!

Ok, so the rules of this award are as follows:
~Answer the questions below using only one word (I am trying to stick to that!)
~Thank the blogger who gave it to you
~Pass it on to 6 of your favorite bloggers (See below)

So, on with the questions:

1. Where is your cell phone? Mousepad
2.Your hair? Bun
3. Your mother? Angels
4. Your father? Self-reliant
5. Your favorite food? in one word? Are you outta your mind?!!!
6. Your dream last night? Panicking
7. Your favorite drink? Lemonade
8. Your dream/goal? Family Together
9. What room are you in? Office
10. Your hobby? Learning
11. Your fear? sharks
12. Where do you want to be in 6 years? Together
13. Where were you last night? Learning
14. Something you aren't? Ruffled (easily, anyway!)
15. Muffins? No thanks...
16. Wish list item? Ability
17. Where did you grow up? Everywhere
18. Last thing you did? Ate
19. What are you wearing? Stretchy
20. Your TV? Off
21. Your pets? Dog
22. Your friends? Amazing
23. Your life? Sustained
24. Your mood? Tired
25. Missing someone? Yes.
26. Vehicle? Big
27. Something you're not wearing? Makeup
28. Your favorite store? None
29. Your favorite color? Green
30. When was the last time you laughed? Today
31. Last time you cried? Ummmm...
32. Your best friend? Fantastic
33. One place that I go over and over? Toilet!
34. One person who emails me regularly? Bestie
35. Favorite place to eat? Table

Ok, so these are my six favourite blogs that I'd like to also hand over to.....

Aussiemade : a beautiful blogger from my home state of Tasmania. She can make me homesick with her fantastic photos and beautiful words!

Consumption Rebellion : a fantastic rebel who tries amazingly hard and successfully to withdraw from consumerist ideals and spreads the word on social equality through her words and pictures.

Secret Hippie : a lady who shares little tid bits of her life when ever she can and shares her life so generously.

The Wonder Years : a montessori-based blog that teaches me so many things about my sons abilities and interests, with beautiful activities that anyone can make and teach.

Towards Sustainability : a blog that shows you how no matter what you have, you can begin to make a difference to your life, and the lives around you, and the life of our planet.

For Sale: One Thousand Things : A blog about a family that decided one day to see how they might reach a goal. It went from there! The writers of this blog are truly inspirational, a family of four who are determined to go on holiday by raising funds out of what they can do, see, find and make.

Again, thanks Amanda. I hope the blogs I've nominated feel as surprised and happy about knowing that they've made a difference in the world that I live in, just by writing every now and again!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Today's Clarity....

Ah, the sound of silence...

I just got home from visiting a friend and her daughter (both our children are around the same age), and Ethan quite literally flaked it in the carseat and has been transported asleep in to his bed. I just needed to remove his jeans, as they were wet from a morning of running around a wet backyard with his little friend, where they squeeled with delight, fed the pet rabbit, made sandy lunch and jumped on a trampoline.

But back to the main issue....Clarity.

The thing is, I am trying very hard not to panic about the impending addition to our little family and budget. It will take some further adjusting, some careful planning and some minor lifestyle refocussing, but I'm sure that when we sit down to consider our position, we will still feel like very, very lucky people. Our second try for a baby wasn't even really a try, but I hate the word 'accident' when used in relation to a family member, so I'll use the word, um....'surprise'. I've had a couple of conversations with my little-bit-anxious partner about the surprise we were lucky enough to receive, because he sometimes (like most men in their early 30's, I've come to believe) forgets that in comparison to The Joneses, some of those other couples think we've got it made!

We weren't trying to have another baby, it was more of a weekend romance for us because we'd gone away without our son for the night to attend (ironically) a wedding. We came back pregnant, and then later to find out it was a girl and we are still being told how 'lucky' we are because this is apparently a good thing to have - a boy and a girl. I don't understand why still, and wonder often if it is because of the old mindset that you have one for mum, one for dad and one for the country (although there'll be a sewing kit making sure that we don't end up with the one for the country!) and that is why we're considered blessed. I think also that two is a good number, but for all intents and purposes I'm a bit worried about the financial side of things.

We've never financially indulged Ethan, hoping that surprise outings to things like a circus, the zoo, and wildlife parks when we can afford it will fare him better than knowing that no matter what he does or how he behaves there are outings and treats planned way ahead of time. So far, so good. He is not the two and a half year old that demands take-away at the sight of a big yellow M (although he is addicted to the search for icecream, because we don't keep it at home!), he knows that things can be purchased from stores but doesn't demand anything, and is quite happy to see how toys work and walk away from the shelves tantrum free. He also loves to look in op shops, which I'm super pleased with because it's often not just the best place to find things, it means that those four 50cent coins he earnt last week putting his washing in the laundry will actually buy him something, and something of value far beyond the $2 outlay that he has spent.

He does know how to help around the house, without instant gratification such as lollies or chips, because he's never been able to open our fridge and find a local deli in there. We are basic eaters, with meat and three veg most nights, breads and cereals and fruits during the day. I joke to my partner about how, once he starts visiting his school buddies and seeing the contents of other peoples' fridges he'll think that he's visiting a magical land of processed cheese in stick shapes, biscuits which come Ready Made in plastic packets and cakes that can literally be opened and eaten. Here, because of both monetary and voluntary restrictions, if we want sweet things, we make them, and if he wants biscuits, Ethan never says 'can I have a bikkie out of the cupboard mum?', he says 'Can we make some biscuits please?' because that's how he knows they appear- first as raw ingredients, then as dough and then as cooked creations. We make bread together every few days (more if Dad's home with us), and it always turns out delish. I can't take all the credit for that though, because a girlfriend of mine has a partner who is an ex-baker and he gave me a tip to make every loaf fantastic and fluffy, and in case you are wondering it is:

*use a whisked egg in your bread's liquid ingredient component. For instance, my pre-mix (Laucke wholemeal if you are wondering) calls for 370ml water. Instead, I use in that measurement 1 whisked egg and half a cup of milk, and then the rest of the weight in water. It makes the bread beautifully fluffy and a little softer than normal plain premix on it's own.

the latest loaf that Ethan and I have made

So that is a skill we have between us that is developing by the week. And that brings me back to being clear and decided about how my family are benefitting from my being at home.

I often am a creature of much guilt, assuming that because I'm not currently contributing with finances that I am taking a short cut in to being the lazy partner, the blood-sucking leach that takes, takes, takes. But lately I've been reassessing all of that. It's occurred to me that I DO contribute financially, through the work I do at home with our son, and through my everyday work like making the house a home and doing what I usually consider 'basic' chores and every day run-of-the-mill activities. Alongside of making bread, I am in continuous stocktake of our home. I love our home (well, the parts that I still need to improve might annoy me, but I wouldn't change location based on those minor things!), and I love that although my partner goes away to work and pay for our home, I stay home and improve the running of our home to benefit the entire family. So I am putting together my lists, my projects and my desires at the moment to try and collaborate them with one another to better our household-running-ability.

I hope that this all makes sense. Some days I'm convinced my pregnant self only understands what I am saying, but basically I am trying the best I can, to do the most I can, with what skills I have and am developing. I think there are a lot of us like that here in blogland, and I hope you are enjoying your home and your life as much as we are here, at the moment and in the moment.