Thursday, 31 May 2012

Gross me out!!!!

I didn't take a picture.

Maybe I should have.

No, definitely not!

I've cleaned my toilet several times (as you'd hope) since we've moved it but it never seemed properly clean.  So I pulled it apart today.  You know, un-did the annoying plastic screw thingys underneath that hold the seat onto the porcelain?

If you have a weak stomach DO NOT CONTINUE READING!!!!!

So I pulled the lid off and there, on the porcelain where the seat rests, and on the bottom of the seat that rests there, was a relatively thick layer of poo!

I'm gagging just writing this!

Maybe I shouldn't post it?


I can understand pee spray (especially with a little boy in the house!) but how on Earth do you get poo in there???

I'm getting those horrible shivers up and down my spine!!!

The Big Fella was home when I was doing this and suggested we just chuck it and go buy a new one.  But I was able to clean it up (I had to get an old toothbrush out for the job and yes! it is now in the bin) and now we have a clean, sparkly loo!


Every time I use it now I see it sparkling back at me and it makes me smile :-D

(Yes, it is late and I should be in bed!)

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Solo shopping and popping chocolate

I had my first solo time this afternoon and even though I was only doing the food shopping, I really enjoyed it!

I loved driving 15 to 20 minutes to and from the next town.  By myself with no requests or complaints.

I loved doing the food shopping without trying to keep the Little Big Fella from exploding with excitement and running all over the place (no idea why this shopping centre makes him go nuts when he's always been pretty good before).

I loved being able to stop and look at things instead of doing a mad dash trying to pick everything up before everyone loses the plot!  It was almost relaxing!

I even bought a semi-trashy magazine for myself.

The whole shopping trip felt like a treat - and it was only food shopping!

One of the girls from playgroup mentioned that a guy sets up a fruit and veg stall opposite the shopping centre every fortnight so I got to check it out today.  I'm in love with this guy now!  His fruit and veg were fresh and smelled real!  He's looking at coming up every week instead of every fortnight too!  Yay!

Have any of you tried the new Cadbury's Marvellous Creations chocolates?  I bought a bar of the "Jelly, Popping Candy & Beanies" and was going to share it with the Big Fella.  I pulled it out of the cupboard this evening and had a piece...

I love the popping candy!  I'm pretty sure they called it rocket candy when I was in school.  I loved it then and I love it now!  But in chocolate, oh my that's good!

I savoured that piece of chocolate for several minutes.

Then I savoured another.

And another.

And another... until it was all gone.  Oops!  Sorry honey!

(I'm glad I only bought the little bar and not the big block!)

The Little Big Fella and I went to playgroup this morning and they'd set everything up out in the sun.  It was a lovely morning and I had got to play in the sand with the kids.

I'm probably also going to be helping out with selling food at the local footy games some time in the next two months, which will be interesting :-)

And we're going to a Lions Club dinner on Saturday night too.  We're looking at becoming members, partly to get to know people around here and become part of the community, but also I think because we're both at that point where we're ready to give back to our community.

And we really think of this as our community, even though we're just new.  Maybe it's just because this is a small town and I don't think you can survive really well in a small town if you don't integrate with the community.

I don't know, it just feels quite different to being in a city or even a larger town.  Probably has something to do with the fact that everyone waves and says hello when you walk around town too :-)

I've finally ordered some blinds for the kitchen and dining room windows so we'll be able to shut out the world a little at night time.  I feel very exposed without blinds.  Not that I'm doing anything that I'd be embarrassed by...

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

TV-less funny faces

I know I've said it before, and it's likely to be slightly boring to you guys, but I am completely blown away by the fact that people from around the world are reading my blog!  Apparently I have some new readers from Kenya and Brazil this week, and a few people in Russia who seem to be regulars.  Knock me out with a feather people!  G'day to all of you who are not in Australia, by the way! Thanks for reading and making my day :-D

So, what have we been up to these past few blog-less days?  I was going to say nothing much but then I looked at my phone and realised we've done a little bit.

Yesterday we had our first completely TV-free day in ages!  I know, I'm a terrible mother ;-)

The reality is, TV helped us get through 6 months without a husband/Daddy at home and then we just got into the habit of having it on at various points in the day or when I was completely stressed out.  So no, I won't be apologising for that.

But, we did have a TV-free day and I think it nearly killed us :-D  I have been a super-grumpy bum the last few days and I'd swear it was extra-bad PMS or something except it's the wrong part of the cycle for that (sorry if that's too much info).  I've been very easily frustrated and feel like everything I'm attempting is way harder than it should be.

So, of course, the Little Big Fella reacts to that.  That, and he's 3!  Whoever says terrible twos are the worst hasn't had a three year old yet!  They're really good at pushing the limits :-)

But, besides that, I've been in the garden trying to get rid of the huge amount of prickles and weeds.  Today the Little Big Fella helped me whipper snip (I had to keep reminding myself not to get annoyed because we were having a bonding moment and he was enjoying it) and I mowed.  I'm seriously thinking of getting a ride-on mower.  Although, I probably got more exercise today than I've had in a while :-D

We also did some crafty learning yesterday.  I got the glue stick, a piece of paper and some foam shapes out and let the Little Big Fella at 'em!  He loves glueing.  As he was going I helped him learn his shapes and review his colours (in a fun kind of way - "what colour should we do next?  Oooh!  What shape is that?  Can you see an orange triangle?").

And we played funny faces with my phone camera.  It's one of our favourite games.  (Don't mind the "at-home" face and hair ;-).)

Even with bits of apple all over his face, he's pretty cute :-D

Oh!  And it's been COLD!  Like around 5 degrees overnight!  And it's not even winter yet!!!  The houses here are not built for those kinds of temps!!!

The Little Big Fella ran out of cold-weather clothes (he has 3 or 4 pairs of long pants and two jumpers (sweaters for you lovely Americans), and they all happened to be in the machine or on the line... oops!) so I got on eBay and bid on nearly everything I saw in his size.

Then I realised that I didn't need that many pants and jumpers for him so I had a serious case of bidder's remorse.  Thankfully I didn't win them all!

So hopefully the post office will have some parcels for us this week!  Yay!  I love parcels :-D

Other than that, it's been normal housework, playtime, puppy training, cooking (the Little Big Fella loves cracking eggs!), collecting more rocks for our garden and playing at the park.  I like my life :-D 

Saturday, 26 May 2012

A week in pictures

Well, first of all, welcome to my two new followers!  It's seriously exciting to me to have you here!!!!

Secondly, Mum, I ordered that book today.  It'll take about a month but then I'll let you know :-)  I love you heaps!

And thirdly, I'll quit with the vague references so everyone can feel included :-D

Yesterday was our first fully rainy day here.  Because I'm not quite set up yet, it was kind of sucky.  Although, the Big Fella made bacon hock and vege soup and I made some bread rolls to go with (I've nearly perfected my recipe!!!) and we had a mate come and eat it with us.  It was tasty and perfect for the weather.

I just realised I have some photos to share!  They're a little random but I'm sure you'll enjoy them :-)

I took the Little Big Fella over to the next town the other day (I think we were trying to give the Big Fella some sleep time).  We played in the park and did some other bits and pieces then I helped him climb up into this old steam engine and we looked around and pretended to drive.  He loved it!

Last week the Big Fella and I took the Little Big Fella to the park.  Someone had left their skateboard there.  After watching the Little Big Fella for a while, the Big Fella decided to have a turn.  Yep, you guessed it, he fell flat on his butt!  I think he really bruised it and his hand/wrist but it didn't stop me laughing!

The Primary School held a special day for under 8s on Wednesday so I took the Little Big Fella down.  After starting out being quite shy, he had a ball and ended up crying when we left.  He made a kite (above), played with coloured water and playdough (below), played in the playground, bought a book at the Book Fair, played with blocks, and raced on the race track on the oval with some of the Prep and Grade 1 kids (I think that was his favourite part actually).

Another Pinterest find (sorry, I can't find the original)!  A combination of fairy bread and cutting shapes out of sandwiches.  A definite hit and great on a rainy day to break the monotony!

I don't think I mentioned that we went to the PCYC playgroup on Thursday for the first time.  As we walked into the Centre the Little Big Fella was all shy and clingy.  But as I was talking to the lady at Reception, he looked through some glass doors and saw the room pictured above, asked if he could go in and disappeared without me.  He had a ball (and slept for a couple of hours that afternoon)!!!

I've been thinking this week about the fact that the Little Big Fella no longer goes to daycare, and that he is missing out on the craft and learning time that he received there.  So, after coming across something similar on Pinterest, we did a little experiment with bicarb soda and vinegar this afternoon.

In the original version they added food colour to the vinegar and had it in an ice cube tray but I discovered we had no food colouring (obviously cleared out during the move) so we went with plain white and clear today.

The thing I really loved about this was that the Little Big Fella started doing things his own way after a few minutes.  Instead of using the dropper to put vinegar in the bicarb, he started sticking the bicarb onto the dropper and mixing it in the vinegar.  Then he decided he'd had enough of that so he poured all of the vinegar into the bicarb tray.  After it stopped bubbling he mixed it around and played a bit using the dropper, then he poured the whole lot out on the concrete and we used the straw to blow it in different directions.

I love the creativity of his mind and how he loves to experiment with things.  (I especially love it when we're outside and his experimentation doesn't involve cleaning up huge messes when I'm in the middle of cooking or something!)

We sat in the sun (it rained all day yesterday, remember?) out the front today to have our chocolate chip cookies for afternoon tea.  The horses came up and had a drink and a sulfur-crested cockatoo flew in and landed on the post with his crest sticking up.  Nice way to spend a few minutes :-)

We also went to the park this afternoon (can you tell Daddy was trying to sleep?).  We played in the sand (finally found the sand toys after the move), had a swing, talked to some friends and the Little Big Fella decided to have a scoot.  I wasn't sure how he'd go because it was so wet from yesterday, but despite a couple of falls, he loved it.  He especially loved "making splashes" :-D

I've just finished a whole block of Old Jamaica chocolate!  What was I thinking????  Besides the obvious calories, I now have a sugar overload and feel a little ill!  Ooops!

So there you go!  Our last week or so in pictures :-)  I hope you enjoyed it as much as we did!

Thursday, 24 May 2012

I'm losing it!

A couple of days ago my hubby told me I was losing weight.

I didn't believe him but said thanks anyway.

Later I looked in the mirror (did I mention I can actually see myself in our bathroom mirrors???) and wondered if he was right.

Yesterday I finally bought the batteries for our scales and today I finally put them in and weighed myself (shoes, jeans, belt, phone and all) and discovered that yes!  I have lost weight!  Probably about 3 kilos since I last weighed myself about 6 weeks ago!

Over the 6 months that we lived apart my eating habits got worse and worse.  And I got "too busy" to exercise.  And in that last month where I was cleaning like a madwoman and didn't see the Big Fella at all, I got rather lonely and hit the ice-cream, biscuits and lollies pretty hard.

Turns out that unlike when I first got married and started living with the Big Fella, living with him again is good for my waistline :-D

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Under 8's, shopping and Origin

What a day!  You know how some days just seem to drag out forever (yesterday) and some days seem to be so full (today)?

This morning the Big Fella was sleeping off a night shift and the Little Big Fella and I headed around the corner to the Primary School for their Under 8's/Biggest Morning Tea/Book Fair morning.  At first he was quite shy but he eventually got into it and had a ball.  I think it was when he started recognising people from the park that he really started to enjoy himself.

They had a great set up!  Lots of activities, crafts, music, playing, play dough, stories, water troughs with coloured water (a HUGE hit for the Little Big Fella and the little girl from next door), magnetic stuff, police and fireys...  it was awesome!  Add the CWA with plates of cakes and sandwiches and tea or coffee, plus the Book Fair (always one of my favourite times of year in Primary school) and it was a huge hit!

When the morning was over, the kids from the school were having impromptu races along the race track around the oval and the Little Big Fella loved joining in and having his own personal races too.  Yes, there were tears when it was time to go home.

After a little interval at home, we decided it was shopping day so drove over to the next town.  The Little Big Fella fell asleep on the way so the Big Fella dropped me at the supermarket to get started while he went to collect new jumpers for work and some home brew stuff.  They met me in the supermarket when I was three quarters done and the Little Big Fella was so much happier than he'd been before that (thank God!).

At home I lost the plot slightly.  The puppies and the Little Big Fella were under my feet while I was trying to get two weeks of shopping put away.  Then the puppies found the bags with the meat in them and I lost it.  Big yelling, cranky Mummy!

Puppies went out, Little Big Fella disappeared downstairs with Daddy and Mummy cooled down a touch (thank God!).

This evening is State of Origin football.  For anyone who doesn't live in New South Wales or Queensland, that means pretty much nothing.  But here it is everything!  I felt so out of place today because literally everywhere I looked, everyone had their State's jerseys on!  Seriously, I'll be purchasing them for at least me and the Little Big Fella before the next Origin match (there are 3 in the series each year) because otherwise I'll be a social outcast and people will possibly never speak to me again :-).

So, in the spirit of Origin, we had pies for dinner.  The Little Big Fella totally crashed so the Big Fella and I had a plate of bikkies with plum paste and blue cheese (it was so good - we ate the whole thing!!!).  I had 3 large glasses of wine in just under an hour so I'm... let's say I'm a little tipsy given that I rarely drink and when I do it's 1 or 2 glasses over a whole evening.  The Big Fella has been on home brew scotch and is quite relaxed :-)

So, overall (except for my meltdown after shopping), it's been a great day!

Can I go to bed now???

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Adding happiness to today

I get e-mails from The Happiness Institute every Monday.  Most of the time I skim over them and delete but today I read two of the articles it linked to.  One thing from each article caught my attention.

On the list of happiness killers, the one that got my attention was "focusing all your efforts on trying to fix your weaknesses - instead, spend more of your time working with your strengths".

As a girl who loves anything "how to", and being somewhat perfectionistic (I know, it's not a real word but I like it anyway), I know I am very aware of my weaknesses.  But I'd never thought of that being a happiness killer.  It makes sense, though, that focusing on your strengths and making the most of them would be more likely to foster a sense of happiness and well-being than focusing on your weaknesses.

I wonder what "working with your strengths" actually means though.  Is it focusing on them?  Thinking of ways to incorporate them into your daily life?  Or just trying to discover them and define them?  I'm guessing any of that would probably help build happiness.

I also read about some habits of happiness.  I never knew that doing kindness to others sets off the same pleasure centres in the brain as food and sex!  Actually, I never knew food and sex set off the same pleasure centres :-D

So what am I going to do with these two bits of information today?  I think I need to start with kindness to my son.  We're not having a great morning, mostly because he is a toddler and is still learning what needs to happen when Daddy's trying to sleep after night shift.

So, after Daddy's awake, we'll make cookies like he wants to.  And between now and then I might try a little crafty project with him.  Maybe the cookies could be the afternoon snack at the park today?  And of course, using my nice voice and trying to engage with him rather than telling him off all the time would probably be useful.

And I'll be trying to recognise my strengths today.  Other than organising and filling out paperwork correctly, I'm not really sure what my strengths are right now.  I think I've just forgotten them in the daily grind of parenting and housekeeping.  I'm sure they're there, I just need to rediscover them :-)

So there you go.  Two tasks for the day, aside from the standard.  Speaking of which, I should probably have a shower some time soon!  :-D

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Wee wee wee wee all the way home

Being a Mum, you get to experience some amazingly beautiful moments with your child and partner.

This is not one of them!

WARNING:  This is a bodily functions story from a Mum.  If you think it might be too much information, please don't keep reading.

Yesterday morning the Little Big Fella woke up around 4:30 having wet his bed.  No big deal, we change his sheets (thank God for the invention of mattress protectors!), give him a little wash, put on clean pjs and get him back to sleep.

Later he wakes up complaining of a sore tummy and doesn't get out of bed to eat sausages for breakfast.  Then he didn't want to go with Daddy to cut down some trees with the Lion's Club using the new chainsaw.

Something was definitely wrong!

The Little Big Fella stayed in bed all day, only getting up to use the toilet and crying when he had to do that.  I ended up changing his sheets 3 times throughout the day, and giving lots of hugs and reassurance.

He ate nothing!  And only drank some lemonade and cordial.

By the afternoon he had liquid green poo (you can't see the face I'm making but it was gross!).

I think he watched almost every kids DVD we own yesterday and was only out of bed for a total of 20 minutes.

On the up side, I did get to put away a lot of things that didn't have homes yet so now the dining table isn't surrounded by junk!  And I've moved a few things around in the office so I can actually find things.  We might even do a craft project this week!

In the evening the Little Big Fella woke up crying again.  I picked him up and gave him a hug and carried him with me to the kitchen because I was in the middle of making pizzas.  All of a sudden I feel warmth... and start moving very quickly toward the bathroom!!!!  Yep, I got peed on.

We then had a little shower together, with him crying the whole time, then put him back to bed.

Overnight he woke a couple of times and had a light fever at one point, but no more accidents (yay!).  And this morning he came into our bed for about an hour (and thankfully, no accidents there either).

He actually sounded quite cheerful first thing this morning and has eaten a little bit.  His tummy doesn't seem to be hurting him as much now, but he does still have a temperature.

I'm hoping that he's just had a little 24 hour bug that apparently is going around town.  He's certainly having more moments of normality and even sat on the couch for a while this morning.

So there you go.  A day in the life of a mother with a sick child.  Really makes you want to be a parent right???

But actually, it reminds me how grateful I am that my son is generally healthy.  Yesterday I read the birth story of a lady who had a little girl with Downs Syndrome.  They didn't know before she was born and the pain agony of grief in those first 24 hours broke my heart.  Of course, she loves her daughter and reading how she overcame the intensity of that grief and how it became absolute unconditional love was amazing.

Her story reminded me to be aware of the great gift my son is.  And to make the most of every day as much as we can... even the gross ones :-D

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Out with the trees (or, hubby bought a chainsaw)

We had to go and get some things for the puppies today.  You know, collars, leads, dog shampoo, food...

The Big Fella took us to a farming supplies store first and we ended up with some cat collars (the dog ones were way too big), a couple of leads, some dog bowls, puppy shampoo, a chainsaw!

Yep, the Big Fella finally owns his own chainsaw.

I did know, but had somehow forgotten, that when he gets his hands on chainsaws the garden tends to get a severe haircut...

The front of the house when we first moved in.  Note the conifer on the left.
The right side of the house, again, a conifer and the mango in front of the little shed.
The left of the house.  Note the tall yukka type things and the papyrus looking thing.
The new front of house.  No conifers and a little line of rocks.
Here are the rocks a bit closer up :-).  We collected these from the side of the road.  They have some great colours and shapes and make the yard look like it's going to be a garden already!  Yay!

The right side of the house with the conifer removed, the mango trimmed so we can get into the shed a bit easier, and the neighbour's bush trimmed back to his side of the fence.
And here Frankie is showing the now cleared left side of the house.

Now we're ready to finish putting in our rock edging, kill the grass and dig it out, fill it with soil and plants, get rid of all the prickles in the lawn and make it green and lush, make a vege garden and herb garden, and build a chicken coop.  Phew!

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Meet Frankie and Choccie

Today turned out to be more full than I'd expected.

We woke fairly late, around 7:30 and I thought I didn't have anything to take to playgroup for morning tea so I started to make a batch of choc chip cookies.  Unfortunately the butter was in the fridge and the morning was cold so it took forever to get the butter and sugars creamed.

I realised we were going to be late to go to the kindy to put the Little Big Fella's name on the waiting list for next year so I put the dough in the fridge and found a pack of chips in the cupboard.  (Which, by the way, is kind of weird because I rarely buy chips when I do the grocery shopping but just happened to this week!)

The Little Big Fella and I drove to the next town and visited the kindy.  He loved it!  Their playground is awesome; it has a massive sand pit with not one but two diggers!; they have mowers; an awesome, rather large cubby; all kinds of fun looking play equipment; and swings!  He was in heaven.

Unfortunately the paperwork only took a couple of minutes to complete and then we had to go.  He was not a happy camper!

After dropping a couple of large boxes (!) of clothes at the Salvo's we went back to our town for playgroup.  I felt much more comfortable at playgroup this week, which I think is mostly because of the time I've been able to spend talking to people during the week.  Continuing the long process of friendship :-)

By the way, have you tried the Smokey BBQ Grainwaves?  Yumm!!!

When we got home the Big Fella bundled us into the car and drove us to a home where we met Frankie and Choccie.  Before we moved here we'd half decided that we'd like the Little Big Fella to have a dog.  We didn't really know what kind of dog but it wouldn't be a toy dog breed and it wouldn't be big.  He absolutely fell in love with these mini Fox Terriers!

The Little Big Fella with Choccie, a female mini Foxy

Frankie, a male mini Foxy
When we left the Little Big Fella cried like his heart was broken!  But we decided to go home and sleep on it - it was a big decision that shouldn't be made on a whim!

At home we had lunch and some rest time.  I did a little research on registering pets in our area, basic dog obedience (the Big Fella and I had a Jack Russell who wasn't trained well at all), and general new puppy tips.  I think we'd pretty much decided to get one of them, but maybe we should get both?

Late in the afternoon we received a call from the lady selling the dogs, had a chat and decided we would get them both.  We got a few things ready then headed out and picked them up.

For the third time in one day the Little Big Fella was in heaven!  He was so excited when we told him the puppies would be coming home with us!

At home he just wanted to pick them up (I think that's going to be an issue for a little while).  Frankie and Choccie started checking out their new home, thankfully didn't try to escape under the (now we've noticed) large gap under the gate, and settled in after a play and some food.

The little girls from next door came over to have a play with them too and I got to have a good chat with their mum for the first time.

When it was time to go upstairs for dinner, the Little Big Fella had another meltdown.  He wanted the puppies to come in the shower with him and sleep on his bed!  It was kind of cute but really annoying when he didn't stop crying or whining for ages.

Frankie and Choccie are sleeping in a box (with a blanket) inside downstairs.  I've only been down twice - once because they were barking (the light was on so after a little pat and reminding them where their bed was I turned that off), and once because there was a yelping sound and I needed to assure myself they were okay.  No doubt they'll be up bright and early and ready to play.

So there you go!  We are now a two adult, one toddler and two puppies family.

(I'm pretty sure I can hear groans and giggles and see rolling eyes from certain people.)

Monday, 14 May 2012

The long process of friendship

As I was growing up my family moved towns a couple of times.  I also lived overseas for a year.  With each new location I got to (had to?) start the long process of developing friends.

I've realised a few things about me and making friends through these experiences:

  • Although I normally get along with people pretty much straight away, it generally takes me about 12 months to really feel at home with new friends, longer if we have infrequent contact
  • After about 3 to 6 months the previous town no longer feels like home and I tend to feel home-less
  • I can appear to be a bit of a snob initially.  I think this is because I tend to be a bit guarded until I get a feel for how new people or groups interact.  And I am a tiny bit shy in new situations (I know, some of you just won't believe that.  I've learned to override it a lot but it's still there making me uncertain to begin with).
  • I think I am a bit of a chameleon in that I change to look like the group I'm in until I feel comfortable enough to really be myself.  I love it when I just click with someone and can be myself straight away though.
I've been watching myself as I meet new people and then run into them around the place here.  (Go the over-analytical part of me!)  I've deliberately tried to talk to people and introduce myself.  I've tried really hard to remember names, which is okay if I meet one or two people at a time but a bit harder in a group.  I've tried to join in conversation rather than just observe.  And I've tried to remember to ask questions about others and their life, rather than just making them lead the conversation.

I got to hang out for a while this afternoon with one of the mums I met at the local park.  It was so good to just spend time and have the kids playing happily together (mostly).  I found out a bit more about the area and how things work and what's here and so on.  And I discovered someone who enjoys making things from scratch like yoghurt and butter and cheesecake :-D!!!  I got to begin the long process of friendship.

So now I think it must be my turn to start having people over for a cuppa and a playdate and a chat and the start or development of friendship.  Because I don't want to get a few years down the track and feel like I know people but have no friends.  I think I deserve better than that... and so do they! ;-)

Saturday, 12 May 2012

My 100th post, dedicated to my Mum

Wow!  I'm up to my hundredth post already!  Who'd have thought I'd keep going this long and that people would still find it at least slightly interesting!

Now, what could I say that would be worthy of this milestone?

I think, especially with tomorrow being Mother's Day, I'm really don't have any other choice but to dedicate this post to my Mum.

I'm the oldest of four children and Mum stayed home with us until my brother, the youngest, started school.  Times were often tough and Mum somehow made the budget stretch to keep us all fed, clothed and entertained.

I think Mum sometimes feels like she didn't do the best job (I wonder if that's just how most all Mums feel, at least sometimes) but I know that my sisters, brother and I know she's awesome!  I mean, how many people do you know that could successfully keep 4 kids in line, not only with strong discipline but also plenty of love?

Although I know she was strict, that's not what I remember.  I remember the fun dinners with a colour theme, dressing up, baking slices, learning the 1-2-1 formula for a basic white sauce, tramping around in the bush and lighting a campfire, her incredible wisdom and the best hugs in the world!

Mum is creative in a million ways!

  • She has some great crafty skills and style.
  • I don't think I've ever read or heard of a thrifty skill or idea that I haven't seen her employ.
  • She can make a meal stretch from feeding 6 people to feeding 20 with barely any notice!
  • She can make a meal when there's nothing in the cupboard!
  • She can turn a boring wet day into an awesome adventure.
  • She can make the Women's Weekly birthday cake book cake of your choice and it will look awesome :-)
I got to work at the same place with my Mum for several years and the thing I noticed, the thing that stood out about her compared to everyone else there, was that the Mum I grew up with, who made me feel safe, comfortable and at home, was the person others got to meet.  Mum has a wonderful sense of hospitality and an amazing ability to put people at ease.  Whenever we had new staff she'd just take them under her wing and make them feel comfortable and relaxed and welcome.  She'd help them settle in.  And it wasn't her defined role that made this happen, it was her personality and unique skills.

My husband jokes that when I'm in a bad mood I need to speak to or visit my Mum.  When we lived in the same town he'd bundle me into the car and we'd drop round for a visit.  He says that she somehow makes me happier in a way that he doesn't know how to.

I remember as I was growing up, so many times wondering how my Mum got to be so wise.  She always knew the right thing to say (even on the odd occasion when I didn't want to hear it).  She was my comfort, a source of challenge, my most trusted adviser and confidant.

Since having the Little Big Fella I have appreciated even more how unique and wonderful my Mum is.  The hours of care, the constant encouragement, the wisdom, the stamina and the love my Mum has shown to me and my siblings blows me away.

Mum, I love you!  If you couldn't tell, I think you're awesome!  I miss you and I always love talking to you.  I hope you have a wonderful Mother's Day and that the others still in Victoria do their best to spoil you like you deserve (I know they will).  Big cyber hugs and kisses (and a tissue coz you probably need one too).  I love you Mum.

Friday, 11 May 2012

Our first party, vacuum cleaners and blinds

This morning we had to go to the Post Office to post a package to my grandparents, and collect our mail of course :-)  It is so quaint living in a town that doesn't deliver mail and I'm (just quietly) getting a bit of a kick out it.  This was only our 2nd visit to the Post Office and the lady had our mail out ready for us before we'd even gotten the parcel sorted out.  Now that's what I call customer service!

Anyway, on the way home we were passing the home of one of the kids we've played with in the park and her mum ran out and invited us to the little girls' birthday party this afternoon.  How cool is that?

The party was a really easy plate of sausage rolls and party pies, lollipops, cordial and, of course, a cake, in the park where all the kids play after school anyway.  Call me a middle-class snob if you like, but I've never seen such an easy party... and I loved it!  Especially after the huge effort of the Little Big Fella's Cars party, it was really refreshing.

The kids ran around and played happily (although there were a couple of injuries), some of them ate when the food came out and we sang Happy Birthday, and the adults sat around and chatted.  It was so relaxed!

Although, I did come across this amazing pinata biscuit idea on Pinterest last night...

Yesterday, after the Big Fella got home we decided to go to the closest big town to try to buy a new vacuum cleaner and some curtains/blinds for the house.  We got there at midday, had to wake the Little Big Fella and then didn't know where to go.  We had a bit of lunch at a nice, busy cafe with man-looking food then found our way to the new shopping centre.

The vacuum cleaner is absolutely awesome!  It even sucks the little prickles that make their way into the house on our shoes out of the carpet in 1 or 2 pass overs!  I just about threw the old one into the bin but the Big Fella said to keep it as a car cleaner so I moved it downstairs.

Blinds we didn't do so well on.  After getting rather discouraged I ended up doing an internet search on my phone and called a curtain maker in that town.  He came down straight away and gave us an idea of what they could do.  It'll take a few weeks but we'll probably get the kitchen and dining windows covered by them, then maybe replace some of the others over time.

On the way home we ended up stopping at a little weir outside of the next town over.  The sun had started to set and it was incredibly peaceful and beautiful there.  We're talking about camping there for a few days if we can hire a camper trailer (the Big Fella doesn't do tents or caravans but thinks he'd cope okay with a camper trailer).  It'd be awesome if we could hire or borrow a tinnie too and do a little fishing - the Little Big Fella would love that!

As we were driving home I was reflecting on the spontaneous nature of our trip and the kilometers we'd travelled.  In our last town I'd developed a bit of a closed mind about travelling, and being spontaneous I guess.  Most of that was in reaction to the Little Big Fella, who used to be absolutely painful in the car and made being spontaneous a little more than difficult on occasion.  So I'd kind of given up and we didn't travel more than 15-20 minutes without planning at least several days in advance.

But here, especially after such an easy drive up with the Little Big Fella, I don't have any of that.  Give me 15-20 minutes to get myself together, make sure everyone has had a toilet break, and gather some food and drinks and we're good to go!

And I love the sense of freedom that comes with that!  It feels so good and, for some strange reason, I feel less weighed down and restricted than I did before.  Which makes me wonder what kinds of changes I'll go through in living here!  What will be different about me in 5, 10, 20 years because we've lived here?  And that's a challenging and exciting thought!

Thursday, 10 May 2012

The guided tour

So I thought today, seeing that the house isn't completely trashed, I might give you a little look around our new place.

Here's the view from the driveway.  I love sunrise and sunset here.  It feels a bit like we're in the bush and the sunlight on the gum trees is definitely food for my soul.

Here's the front of the house.  To say I was underwhelmed when we arrived is probably a bit of an understatement.  And this is after it's been mowed and whipper snipped.  Yep, there's a bit of work to do outside.

Here's the western side of the house.  The Big Fella just bought a roller shade to put on the verandah and keep the house a bit cooler.  We'll get a little table and chairs too so we can sit out there and have breaky or a drink in the evening :-D

You can see (just behind that mango tree at the back) a little garden shed.  We'll possibly put the chicken coop on the left side of that (so that they get plenty of shade on the hot days).  Although, I quite like the idea of a chicken tractor - a coop that you can move around the yard so that they can fertilise all over the place and dig up the vege garden or whatever.

This is under the house.  Still a work in progress but it's going to be quite useful.  We can fit two cars and the motorbike on the one side.  The other side has the laundry (against the wall, behind the blue tool box - you can just see it) and will be the workshop area and possibly hold our gym equipment too.

This is the back yard.  Lots of space but kind of un-useful at the moment.  It gets shade for most of the day between the house and the washing line so I'm thinking that might be where we'll spend time in summer.

In the corner, behind the washing line and near the fence, is where we're planning to put the vege garden.  I'm not sure if we'll do much more because we'll have to undo any changes we make before we leave.  We'll see...

Here's the eastern side of the house.  This side is shaded in the hot parts of the day so gets the most use as an entrance.  We're probably going to take out that straggly bush on the right and the two tall plants and possibly put a herb garden along the fence - the kitchen is at the top of the stairs.

Here's the dining and lounge rooms entering from the eastern stairs.  On the left is the kitchen.  And yes, the Big Fella does his own ironing for work (although I do it for him sometimes, just because I love him).

Here's the kitchen.  You know, I think we have way too many kitchen items!  The cupboards and drawers are chockas!  But it's so much better than our last kitchen and works pretty well.  I'm going to have to get some kind of sliding storage system in the pantry because it's deep and stores lots, but is useless for finding stuff.

The hallway - facilities on the left, bedrooms on the right, office at the end.

Yucky old loo, lovely new bathroom.  Although, the bathroom is impossible to keep clean!  I wipe it over all the time!  I think I'll either be cleaning it every day or lowering my standards or I'll go nuts.  Mmmm, probably lowering the standard a little - cleaning constantly would probably drive me nuts too :-D

Master bedroom.  We are going to have some serious issues in here.  We have too many clothes for the storage space.  And there's still at least three boxes to unpack in here.  Sigh.

On the bright side, we're due to replace our bedding, and probably our bed in the next 12 months or so.  Yay!

The Little Big Fella's room.  There are no cupboards in here so he has the tallboy, a bookshelf and the bedside drawers.  Luckily his toys were already in stackable boxes or it would be a complete disaster zone!  But it's so much bigger than his old room and will work well for us in the end.  It's fairly cool in this room and nice and dark during day time naps, which are, unfortunately, becoming more rare.

And last, but not least, the office/craft/playroom.  Again, no cupboards but we'll work out a solution for that.  We'll replace the "desk" at some stage but the current plan is to have the office basically where it is, a craft storage space on the opposite wall, and possibly use the floor area as a play zone with the Little Big Fella's road mat on the floor, and the "toys of the day" in maybe a small 4 or 6 box cube shelving next to the craft stuff.

Great things about the house:

  • fans in every room (including the kitchen)
  • floorplan works well for us
  • lots more storage in the kitchen, bathroom, and hallway/linen press
  • air conditioners in the bedrooms/office and space for one in the lounge
  • nice, new bathroom with awesome hot water and lots of pressure in the shower head :-)
Not so great things about the house:
  • prickles in the grass :-(  The Little Big Fella still hasn't learned to put shoes on when he goes outside
  • the floor creaks so walking around quietly is actually impossible - really sucks for the Big Fella when he's doing night shift and trying to catch some daytime zzz's
  • the carpet is average (but serviceable), the tiles in the loo and bathroom are ugly
  • not enough storage in the bedrooms, and the wardrobe doors in the master are falling to pieces
  • no curtains!  We brought a few with us but we'll have to get some more pretty quickly
So there you go!  A look around our place.  I've been dreaming of lovely storage solutions and have a Pinterest board with some of the great ideas I've come across.  I've just ordered an Ikea catalogue and we'll probably visit the one in Brisbane in a few months so I'll have my shopping list ready :-D.  I think most nights I go to sleep dreaming of beautiful, practical options for the various areas in the house, which pretty much means I go to sleep smiling.  I love organising and sorting and setting up systems.  I wonder if that's an illness???  ;-D

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Continuing to discover

The Big Fella took us for a little drive this morning to see the rest of town.  We took a drive out of town past the paddock across the street to discover the best trail bike area here, the rubbish tip, and the horse racing track.

I have to tell you about the tip because, just quietly, it blew me away (and no, it wasn't the smell).  I don't recall the last time I went to a tip that wasn't manned or signed as to where you should put your different kinds of trash.  Oh, wait!  There was one sign for a "domestic waste only" area.  No little booth with someone in it to make you pay for certain kinds of rubbish.  No painted lines on asphalt roads.  Just a dirt track to a big pile of rubbish that someone had recently set on fire (I guess that's what I smelled yesterday).

I also had my first visit to the little post office today.  There's no mail delivery here so you have to go to the post office to collect it.  I also had to post off our Mother's Day gifts, which brought a bit of a surprise.  The scales used to weigh my parcels were the kind where you place weights on a plate and balance it with the parcel on the other!  I didn't know they still existed except in museums!  Unsurprisingly they didn't have EFTPOS so I have to drop in tomorrow to pay the balance because I ran out of cash.  Yep, I live in a small town :-D

At the park this afternoon the Little Big Fella had his first go on the skate ramps with his scooter.  He only went on the little one of course, but he was so excited about it and ended up scooting around balanced with one foot in the air.  He's growing up before my eyes!

I also met a new lady at the park this afternoon who has only been in town 12 months.  She had a 5 year old son and a 2 year old daughter and was really lovely to talk to.  Amazingly, she was from the same area we've just left as well!  She did mention the gossiping part of living here and that she and her husband tend to keep to themselves a lot.

Tomorrow the Little Big Fella and I will go to the playgroup for the first time.  I'm excited to meet some more people and see how life here works in a little more detail.  No doubt I'll see a bit of that gossiping in action but I'm hoping to also meet someone/s that I click well with, who has a similar approach to parenting and life as me.  We'll see!

The Big Fella got annoyed in the kitchen this morning and cleaned the windows.  Seriously, I think my biggest memory from this whole move will be cleaning windows!  So then we got the benches cleared (we have enough cupboard space to put the dish rack away!!!!!) and I shined my sink (thanks Mum and FlyLady), clearing away the rust spots and gunk around the taps.  The sink has obviously been abused so it still looks a bit splotchy but it looks so much better and going in to the kitchen being able to see through my window, my bench empty and ready-to-use and my shiny sink makes me feel good.

We've decided to spend about an hour each day tackling a room at a time until the house is up to scratch and we feel like we can relax in it.  At the moment there are still boxes all over the place and things that don't have homes.  But by tackling a room at a time, together, it becomes less overwhelming and we'll get it done without killing ourselves (or each other).

I feel happy!  Not mostly happy.  Not happy when such-and-such happens.  Just happy!  I love living with my husband again.  I feel hopeful.

Sure, I have moments when I lose the plot or the Little Big Fella pushes my buttons, or the list of things to do overwhelms me.  But overall I feel happy, and even when I'm feeling a bit shirty or whatever, underlying that is happiness.  And it feels like it's been a long time since that was my main mode of operation!  I like it a lot!  :-D

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Settling in

Here we are in our new town, trying to get everything settled, getting used to a shift-working partner, and trying to get into the swing of life in this small town. And we're going okay.

The shift working thing is really going to take a while for us all to work out.  The Little Big Fella has a mild freak out every time Daddy goes to work because he doesn't realise that he'll be home in a few hours.  And trying to get him to be quiet while Daddy sleeps is... interesting.  He's doing pretty well so far, but when Daddy wakes up and is still tired and doesn't want to play or be climbed all over, well, that doesn't go down so well.

The Little Big Fella is so excited about living with Daddy too.  He just wants to play with him all the time and tell him everything and follow him around and jump on him and snuggle on the couch (while wriggling and totally getting in the way of the TV).  I think it's going to take a little while for them to settle into life together again but I think they'll do it well.

We have a few fun things we've started doing every day so far.

There are horses in the paddock across the road and we walk over there and talk to them and give them a pat.  

There's the park at the end of the street (about 200 metres maybe) that we go and have a swing and a play in the morning (normally no one there) or in the afternoon (kids and mums all over the place).  I've decided that, because it's "my" park now I'm going to pick up rubbish and left-behind items when no one else is there (don't want to make anyone feel guilty), and maybe do some weeding too.  The park is great but I want it to be even better :-)

I was talking to a lady this afternoon who is part of the Lion's club and the CWA and I think we'll probably get involved in the Lion's.  They help out the people in town who are older or incapacitated (permanently or temporarily) by doing gardening, cleaning, shopping or whatever.  They also do things around the town as they hear of needs.  I think I want to be a part of that.

And we've been given all the details to attend the playgroup on Wednesday mornings.  It seems to be the thing you do if you're an at-home-mum, especially with pre-schoolers.  I'm waiting to see the cliques and gossiping, because being such a small town you know it's going to happen.

We went for a drive last night to drop the trailer off to a mate who works in one of the mines "near" here.  One and a half hours there, two back (we went a different way).  Funnily enough, we stopped for a fuel and loo break and the lady behind the counter was my old boss!  She seemed happier and a bit more relaxed than when I worked with her.

I like it here.  I think we're going to enjoy it and I think our lives will feel richer (not just because of the increased wages).  Maybe I really am a country girl at heart :-)

Friday, 4 May 2012

We're here and back online

We're here!!!!  We're finally in our new (to us) house in our new town.  And the computer is back online :-D

WARNING:  This has the potential to be a long post!  I mean, I've been offline for 4 whole days!!!!

The first thing I want to say is that I quite like our new little town of about 360 people.  It definitely has that small-town community feel (although I've heard the gossip is amazing but have yet to experience that).  I like the feel of the place and the people I've spoken to so far have been so lovely!

The Big Fella arrived with the truck on Monday night.  He had a guy from work driving it for him who used to work as a removalist.  They looked around at everything that had to go in the truck and got really worried.  The Big Fella has a lot of mechanical equipment!

We did some more packing, slept and woke early feeling pretty good.  Things kinda went downhill from there.

The few boxes I had left to pack took me until after lunch.

The guys had serious issues getting everything into the truck and, despite his mate's experience and skill, not everything fit and it took until after 4pm to finish packing it.

The Little Big Fella was excited about it all and wanted to help and see what was happening.  Therefore, he got in the way a lot.  And he talked like there was no tomorrow!  Especially calling out to "Dad" to "watch this" and so on.  He was really good but it was pretty tricky having him around.

The cleaning took so long!  Again, I have to give a big shout out to my sister who really rescued me.  She pretty much cleaned all the walls in the house while I was packing and she did an awesome job.  She had to go get her boys at 4, by which time I was pretty much ready to start the floors.  

Except the Big Fella needed help moving stuff out of downstairs into the shed so that Poppy could collect and store it for us for a few weeks.

By this time the Little Big Fella was tired and hungry and wanted to go to Poppy's and have lots of hugs.  I was tired and pretty much beyond it and my brain was completely frazzled.  The Big Fella was exhausted and sore but holding up pretty well.

We finally locked the doors at about 6pm.

We drove our two cars to my grandparents' place and I started bringing in things for our overnight stay.  At this point I remembered thinking as I locked the house, "I should double-check the cupboards.  No, I already did that earlier today." You guessed it, I'd left my clothes for the next few days in the closet.  I couldn't even have a shower because I had nothing to change into.

After a moment of being completely incapacitated, I decided to have dinner, shower the Little Big Fella and get him off to sleep, then go and collect the keys from the landlord, get my bag, return the keys then come back.  Poppy decided that he and the Big Fella should do that though so we all ate dinner (which tasted amazing!!! after such a long day) first then went off to do what needed doing.

After a shocking night's sleep, we woke at 3:30am and prepared to set off.  Again, the Little Big Fella was brilliant at waking up so early and was excited to be travelling in the new car with Daddy, while Mummy followed in the ute.

The drive was pretty good and watching the sun come up through the foggy patches was beautiful.  I also saw two falling stars, which I've not seen in the whole 6 years that I've lived in Queensland!

Unfortunately I was SO tired and really struggled for a while with driving safely.  I realised at two points that I'd actually nodded off briefly, having micro-sleeps.  Completely freaked out and called the Big Fella's mobile.  Talking to him helped me wake up then I turned on some Ugly Kid Joe and wound down the window (it was cold outside) and ate some Smarties and Jelly Beans.  At our next stop the Big Fella bought me an energy drink (I never drink them) and I didn't have any troubles for the rest of the day.

Driving behind the Big Fella on the highway coming close to our new town.
As we got closer to the new town I started getting a little nervous.  Would I like it here?  What's the house like?  Will I feel completely isolated?  Will we be happy?  Will we actually achieve our financial goals?

But as we came in to town and I looked around (while trying to drive and get a sense of direction in the town) and felt calmed.

Then we got to the house and I knew!  I knew it would be months of cleaning inside and I nearly cried.  The grass was overgrown, the yard was fairly bare, the edges had been burned with chemicals and there was dead grass all over the paths.

The Big Fella took me upstairs and it was better and worse than I expected.  

The actual house, its layout and furnishings were better than I expected.  The cleanliness factor was worse.

The windows (oh God!  More windows!) were milky with dirt and dust and the tracks were definitely not clean.

There were dead bugs and gecko droppings everywhere.

The floor needed a vacuum.

The walls weren't clean.


After looking around and assessing the "damage" I started prioritising in my head and realised that it wouldn't be clean this week, or possibly even this month, but I would work on each room bit by bit and get it to the point where I could look around and not think, "Oh, I need to do that too!".

The guys unloaded everything from the truck to under the house (it's enclosed and has a concrete floor, which I quickly swept out first - there was dried grass everywhere).  Then they had a drink and took the truck back to the next major town.

The Little Big Fella and I went for a little walk to the end of the street (about 200 metres maybe) to the little park.  There were kids everywhere and several parents camped out on rugs and camping chairs.  I met several of them and had a good chat and the Little Big Fella ran around happily.

While the Big Fella was gone I thought several times that I should check the hot water.  After thinking it the third time I finally stopped and checked.

Sure enough, it was cold.

No worries!  I'll just turn it on!  Ha!  There was no switch on the unit itself and I couldn't find where the power came from.  I was sore and tired and trying to keep the Little Big Fella happy and nearly in tears.  What could I do???

Mum to the rescue!!!  I called her and had a chat and she suggested checking the power box.  Easy as flicking the switch and the hot water was on!  Thanks Mum!  We had a good little chat after that too.

Over the last few days we've started unpacking, got the kitchen in useable order, cleared the lounge/dining area so that we can sit and relax when we're not unpacking, and set up the drawers and shelves around the place so that we have somewhere to unpack to.  We've also transferred the new car into our names, been shopping at the supermarket in the next town, and removed everything from the Big Fella's room at the quarters where he's been living for the past 6 months.

The Big Fella is now at his first work shift since our arrival.  The Little Big Fella kind of freaked out when he left.  I don't think he realised that Daddy wasn't going away for weeks, but would be back in the morning.  He'll get the hang of it soon enough.

There's a big festival on this weekend, including a rodeo, markets and free kids rides.  We're hoping to head on over to the next town to enjoy it, although I think the Big Fella might be working and we have to drive to one of the mines to drop off a trailer we borrowed so that we didn't leave so much behind.

I'm looking forward to becoming part of the community here and finding ways to contribute.  I can just imagine being one of those cake-baking small-town women.  Kind of like a Stepford Wife :-D

Oh!  And there's a paddock across the road with a mare and foal! The Little Big Fella wants to go over there all the time to talk to them and pat them.  Thankfully they're quite friendly and he's learning how to treat them properly.

The Little Big Fella eating and trying to say hi to the foal.
Hopefully I'll give you a bit of a tour of the house and town over the next few days so you can see a little bit of what it's like here.  But for now, it's way too late and I'm going to bed!  Goodnight all!