Sunday, 22 December 2013

Christmas joy

This evening has been one of those "essence of Christmas" times for me.

I've been watching the "Carols in the Domain" re-run (one of the two major Christmas carols productions here in Australia), and baking macadamia and white chocolate shortbread.  The Christmas lights are on, I finally finished my outdoor decorations and installed them this afternoon and they're looking good.

I'm thinking about my family and the things that have made Christmas for me in the past.

As a kid it was definitely presents.  Actually, as a late teenager/early adult, it was about presents too, but the fun, cheap, gag presents that we all bought each other for our Christmas stockings.  There were an awful lot of laughs involved in that!

Carols are definitely a major part of Christmas too.  I love singing them, listening to them, and watching them on Christmas Eve on TV.

Growing up, a big part was church as well.  Not as a tradition or religious element, although there was that as well, but more as a celebration and fun with my friends, who I definitely felt were like family.

I remember sneaking out of bed when I was a kid to sit by the Christmas tree and just look at the lights.  Then as I got older, I got that same sense of wonder and magic and "special-ness" from wandering around and looking at all the homes with outdoor Christmas lights.

This evening we also booked tickets to see "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" on Boxing Day.  Seeing a new-release movie on Boxing Day became a bit of a tradition around the time the Big Fella and I got married.  It started with the first Lord of the Rings movie, actually!

I guess I've just been enjoying the quiet evening, the break from the rush and chaos that this season can bring.

And being thankful for my life and those around me, past and present.  I am so blessed in every way.

In these last few days before the BIG day, I wish you love, laughter, excellent friends and family, and a few moments to reflect and relax and simply enjoy the season.

Friday, 20 December 2013

ScooterShell rides again!!!

Before I had the Little Big Fella, I used to ride a little 50cc scooter to work at the backpackers.  It was so much fun and cost me something like $3 a week in fuel.

It was also where I got the name "ScooterShell".

I just found a photo of my little old scooter.  It's not a great pic, but gives you the idea of the size.


You gotta love the tough expression, hey?

Well, when the Little Big Fella came along, it was time to ditch the scooter.  I ended up getting an awesome camera with the money :-D

But today I'm back on the road and am, once again, ScooterShell!

The Big Fella has bought me a brand new scooter for Christmas.  The idea is that I can ride it to work and free up the car, as well as reducing our fuel costs.  The new scooter is a tad bigger than the old one!


It's shiny and zippy and has SO much room and is fun and quiet and comfortable.

The Big Fella drove it home and I was just a bit jealous.  Okay, I was very jealous.  But because I'm on my Learner's, and hadn't ridden in four years, and the "bike" is so much bigger and heavier, we decided to let him do the hour drive home.

But once we got home (and put all the shopping away etc.) it was my turn!

Seriously, it is SO zippy!!!  I turned the throttle a little and was suddenly doing 60kms!!!  You should have seen the smile on my face :-D

I need to do a little practice at the slow stuff though.  I nearly dropped it twice on the first drive around our little town, both times when I was going slow and turning right.  I can't wait to practice some more!

Oh!  I forgot to tell you it's a Honda Forza 300, for those who want to know.

And it really is kind of heavy.  I just couldn't get it onto the centre stand without the Big Fella's help and I was so frustrated about it.  But after showing my new baby off to my neighbor, I finally worked it out.  I literally jumped up and down and did a little dance.

I'm hanging out to have another ride tomorrow!  This afternoon the Big Fella had to go to work and we ended up having the Little Big Fella's best friend and his brother here until bedtime.  Even though we were having fun, I was itching to ride!

But tomorrow is a new day and the Big Fella will be home and you can bet I'll be riding around our little town, getting used to my new scooter.  I can't wait!!!

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Muddy puddles

Sometimes I discover things that my son gets to do that I never did, simply because of the location we're in.

Yesterday we had a very intense little storm go through here.  It didn't last that long - maybe half an hour altogether, and it only rained for about 5 or 10 minutes.  But the rain was almost horizontal, and it was very hard, and you could hear the crackle of the lightning, as well as lots of thunder.

Once it passed, the sun came out.  And so did the kids!

It had rained hard enough for a mild flash flood, so the Little Big Fella and the three kids from next door were out in the street, running up and down the gutters, splashing and generally having a great time.

And it occurred to me that I don't think I ever did that as a kid.

Where I grew up, it mostly rained in winter, so it was too cold to go out and play in puddles! We had summer storms, but again, the particular place we lived meant that most of them went around our town, so we'd sit out in the heat and watch the lightning in the distance.

Most parents of young kids in Australia will know the character "Peppa Pig".  She and her family love jumping up and down in muddy puddles.

Well, the kids discovered a VERY muddy puddle on the opposite corner from our homes and they not only jumped up and down in them, but sat in them, and lay down in them!  Then they'd run across the road to a watery puddle to "wash off".

Their clothes were absolutely filthy, but they had a ball!

And us mums enjoyed watching them play too :-)

Saturday, 30 November 2013

Blown away

Today I was in charge of running a fundraiser for the the CWA.  And I have to say, I am absolutely blown away by the generosity of people, and the willingness of those around me to help me fulfill my goal.

The goal was to raise funds to send through the Red Cross to those recovering from Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.  We ran a BBQ, with a cake stall and a "guess how many lollies are in the jar" competition.  I was expecting to make somewhere between $300 and $400.  But in just under 4 hours, we raised $747!!!!

Our very first transaction of the day was a man donating $10 while we were setting up.

Throughout the day we had many people tell us to "keep the change".

And at one point a man came over to find out what we were raising money for.  After we told him, he walked over to the ATM, came back and dropped $200 on the table!  We managed to convince him to have a sausage.

Then there were all my wonderful friends who baked delicious cakes, slices and cookies that we could sell on the cake stall!  They looked wonderful and I'm pretty sure the people who bought them definitely enjoyed them!

And, of course, the wonderful people who made themselves available to stand out, next to a hot barbeque, on a really hot day, for no personal gain, who gladly paid for their own food and drinks, to cook and serve and set up and clean up.  I am incredibly grateful for each of you, and the time and effort you gave to help make today such a success.

My husband, without whom I think the day would have been very difficult, even though he was desperate for sleep after a night shift.

My son's best friend's mum, who came and helped to set up, serve, and then took the Little Big Fella back to her place so that we didn't have to stress as he became bored and hot and cranky.

My friend who came and helped out for more than the hour she'd agreed to, and her friend who looked after her oldest two children so that she could.

Our CWA Treasurer, who really struggled in the heat, but hung around and helped all day,  including packing up in the high heat of the day and counting all the money.

Our CWA President, her daughter and grandkids, who kept things running smoothly when I started to lose the plot this afternoon through exhaustion.  And the re-supply of home-made baking that kept the cake stall running hot!

Our CWA Secretary and her husband who kept the stall running with enthusiasm when I was ready to end it early.  And they stayed around to help deal with the pack up in the heat of the day, which is really the worst part of any event!

After working for three days at the end of this week (more about that in another post soon), I know that I wouldn't have been able to do this without all of you.  And I would never have dreamed of being able to make such a wonderful donation without every one of the people who visited our little stall today.

Thank you!  Thank you all so much!

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

My first day

I got a phone call yesterday, just before lunch time.  The HR and security processes are finally complete and when can I start two weeks training, full-time?

I'm sorry, what????

Yep!  After weeks (okay, it's been months, but who's counting???) of waiting, the bank is finally ready for me to start my potentially long career with them.

Of course, I freaked out a little.  Even though I've been semi-prepared for this, the actuality of it has been somewhat overwhelming.  Working out the logistics of caring for the Little Big Fella, and the fact that we only have one car, and the Little Big Fella has a fairly full schedule... well, it's been mildly stressful.

So this morning I left my Fellas home together and returned to the working world for the first time in four years.  I was SO nervous!

Would I be able to get my head back into work mode?

Would I be as good as I think I am?

Would I be overwhelmed by the amount of information I need to learn?

Would I get there on time?

Yeah, I was definitely nervous!

But it was a good first day!  I got the impression that I'll fit in pretty well, I got there on time, and my work brain did switch on.  As did my study brain because I spent an awful lot of time reading information and answering questions!  Which also meant I ended up with a tension headache, which, thankfully is almost gone already.

My body is not used to sitting still for that long, either!  At lunch time I walked up the road to a park and my legs definitely enjoyed the stretch.

Apparently tomorrow I'll be doing some more online learning in the morning, then I'll start learning how to be a teller.  I'm looking forward to the challenge of it, and getting back into a customer interaction role too.

I really want to acknowledge my friends, too.  The Little Big Fella's best friend's mum took him with them (after his final Prep Transition afternoon) to their swimming lesson, then to the park, then home today.  Tomorrow another friend is taking me in to work so that the Fellas can have the car.  Our neighbour is looking after the Little Big Fella on Friday and taking him to the school's swimming carnival.  And a bunch of others have offered to have him over the next two weeks.

I am so grateful.

Those four little words really don't express it well enough though.  I wouldn't be able to accept this job without them because there are no casual childcare options here.  And with the Big Fella's crazy work schedule, it just wouldn't be possible without them.

So thank you to all of you!

And obviously I want to acknowledge the Big Fella too.  He's kind of been thrown into this as well.  So now, as well as working crazy shifts, and attempting to sleep sometimes, he gets to experience the joy of predominant carer.  And he's doing an awesome job of it.

Us mums sometimes get so caught up in the stuff that we think is important, that we don't allow the dads to do important dad-stuff with our kids.  This week my Fellas have been for a drive to the wood mill, visited friends, done yard work, smoked meats and a bunch of other stuff that I would never do with the Little Big Fella.  And seeing the way they relate to each other is enough to melt my tough mummy heart :-)

Anyway, enough rambling.  I need to go get stuff ready for tomorrow, and Saturday's fundraising BBQ, and Christmas.  Okay, that's not all going to happen tonight!  But it's definitely time to get off the computer (actually, I'm on my tablet because the computer died this week) and get moving.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

I couldn't help it!

I've been trying so hard but today I caved.  I mean, I've been tempted by my neighbour, tempted by stores, tempted by crafting and today my resolve crumbled.

I played Christmas carols.

I know!  It's not even December yet!!!

But I didn't put up my tree.

Or lights.

I did put up a string to hang cards on, because both the Little Big Fella and the Big Fella have received some already.  So instead of having them taking up space and gathering dust on the side board, they're hanging up where they belong until the New Year.

And besides, it wasn't my fault!

My next door neighbour was hanging Christmas lights... again!  I just couldn't resist adding a little Christmas spirit.

But don't worry!  I won't play them again until December.  Well, that would be next Sunday, when the Little Big Fella and I set up our Christmas tree.

I can't wait!

Saturday, 23 November 2013

In the dark

"Aaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrggggggggghhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

That's the sound of eight kids completely freaking out when the power went out last night.  But I need to describe it in a bit more detail for you, because a single scream really doesn't cut it.

We'd been watching the storm coming our way, and I'd picked up a couple of the girls who'd taken their cars home in fear of them being ruined by the hail we'd been told was coming.

The wind picked up and there was a bit of rain.  That was it!  Oh!  And lots of lightning, mostly without thunder.  Really, it was a bit of a fizzer of a storm.

We'd gotten together for a party plan, and most of us had to bring our kids.  The kids had been running around and getting completely revved up, but had moved inside and were watching a movie.

The rain had pretty much stopped when suddenly the power went out.

Now, most of our kids aren't overly fussed by storms.  Most of them aren't overly fond of them, but they don't tend to really freak out about them either.

But they'd been SO revved up already, and someone started screaming.  So they all joined in!  At first it sounded like they were playing initially, but then they managed to really freak themselves out and the screaming got more realistic.

What do us mums do?  Pull out our phones, of course!  I mean, is there a more accessible form of light these days?

Our hostess found a bunch of torches and candles and the kids played torch games and we chilled out, taking a mid-party break to have a drink and something to eat and, for some, a smoke.

A phone call to the electricity company determined that we could be waiting a while, because the fault was somewhere in a 100 kilometre (around abouts) stretch.  So we continued the party in the semi-light, as you do.

The lights came back on, to the cheers of the children, and we continued on our merry, partying way.

And I have to say, I have some nutty, awfully fun, friends!  Most of the funniest stuff I won't repeat because it definitely isn't G-rated.  But it was a great night, with a LOT of laughter, and those moments that join you together with the others around you.

And that's what I love most about living here - practically in the middle of nowhere!  When we get together, we have a good laugh and become even better friends.  And isn't that what life is all about?  That awesome sense of connection with others!

Thursday, 21 November 2013

The midnight visitor

The night before last, I wasn't tired.  Not even a bit!

I tried playing mindless computer games (normally a clincher for me).

I tried just laying in bed for a while.

I tried writing everything in my head down on paper.

I didn't end up asleep until around 1:30am.

Unsurprisingly, last night I was tired.  Okay, truthfully I was exhausted!  I've been a little busy lately, and the addition of a less-than-full night of sleep really wasn't helpful.

So when I went to bed last night I had that wonderful experience of collapsing into the mattress, feeling completely surrounded by blissful comfort.  Of course, I was asleep almost immediately.

Fast forward a little.  To just before midnight.  I was torn from my blissful slumber by my dogs going completely off their rockers!!!

Now, I need you to understand the sound that wrenched me from that peaceful oblivion.

Imagine a small dog barking.  No problem!  Everyone knows that sound.  It's annoying if the dog isn't yours, and annoying and embarrassing if it is.

Now, imagine, if you can, that sounds going up a couple of octaves.

This takes annoying small dog barking to high-pitched, small dog barking.

Now, you need to make it loud, of course, and add some significant yelping.  I'd imagine it might be a similar sound to what you'd get if a crocodile had attached itself to the dog's leg, and the dog was barking because there was something in its territory, and yelping because it was in pain.

I think you now have a bit of an idea of what awoke me, just before midnight, when I was in a deep, much-needed, blissful sleep.

I did what any dog owner would do (yes, that's my tongue in my cheek) - I yelled at the dog through the window.

No response whatsoever.  The bark-yelping continued completely unabated.

I put on my "now I'm really angry with you" voice and yelled again.

Nope.  Not even a flicker of acknowledgement.

A BIG sigh preceeds me throwing on something more appropriate (in case any of my shift-working neighbours, or those awoken by this awful ruckus were to investigate) and stomping outside.

Meanwhile the "crocodile has my leg and is in my territory" bark/yelping continues.

We have two little dogs.  A male, Frankie, and a female, Choccie.

Choccie is the one that normally wears the bark collar (although she's having a break for good behaviour at the moment.  That, and I haven't gotten around to putting it back on after their last bath.).

Frankie is a much more settled dog and rarely barks for longer than about 20 seconds.

You can imagine my surprise when Choccie comes up and submissively rolls over but the bark/yelping continues!

I try yelling at Frankie, using his name this time.

No response.  He's still losing the plot.

What on earth is going on here???

I go downstairs and finally get his attention... for a moment.

I don't know if it was a full moon last night (I didn't look - I just wanted to get back to sleep), but it was very bright, and I couldn't see anything around the place that would cause my dog to completely lose the plot like this.

Eventually (after getting and losing Frankie's attention about a dozen times) I walk over to the garden area where he keeps going.

I see nothing.

So Frankie helpfully decides to come right over and bark/yelp some more.

I finally see some movement.

It's not even in our yard!  It's on the other side of the fence, in our neighbour's yard, in the shadows.

And it's attempting to bury itself to get away from the awful noise my dog is making!

Folks, last night we had an echidna problem!  And it wasn't going to go away easily!

There's no way I was going to try to pick it up to move it along, and the dog was freaking the poor thing out, so it wasn't going anywhere.

What am I going to do???  I'm exhausted, my brain is definitely not kicking into gear and I am just about ready to strangle my dog.

Fine!  I'll lock the noisy thing under the house!

So I cajoled the dogs under the house and went in there with them for a minute.  I patted them and tried to calm them down (rather unsuccessfully really, but at least the barking had stopped!).  I hoped that somehow the echidna would get the hint and move on, preferrably quickly!

After a minute or two (I really didn't have much patience at that point), I let the dogs out (on the other side to where the echidna had been) and they ran around to the garden, thankfully not finding anything to bark at anymore.

I dragged myself back up to bed then lay there for about 10 minutes, unable to get back to sleep.

Stinkin' wildlife!

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

In too deep?

One of the things that's kind of awesome about being an at-home mum is that you have a lot of time.

Sure!  It gets filled with the needs of a child, the messes of a child, the friends and activities of a child, but as the parent of only 1 child I recognise that I have a lot of control over what happens and when in our house.

You may have noticed in reading my blog over the nearly two years I've been writing, that I tend to have periods of intense activity, followed by periods of totally boring domesticity.

With the development of Pinterest and the on-coming Christmas season, now is not a period of totally boring domesticity!

I have a few things on my plate right now and I'm starting to wonder if I'm in a little deep.

I've been Treasurer of our playgroup this year, which is a really easy job.  But we're planning the end-of-year party and there's a few bits and pieces that need doing for that.

The Little Big Fella is starting Prep next year, so he's having Transition afternoons at school over these three weeks.  And after meeting his teacher last week, we've been convinced that the more he knows in terms of letters and numbers, and the more independent he is, the easier starting school will be for him.

So he and the Big Fella have decided that the Little Big Fella can learn to spell his name (and then all the other words Daddy wants to teach him - he already knows the names of the letters but can only write 3 of them), and tie his shoelaces.

Which, of course, means that I'll be involved in support and supplementary teaching ;-)

Christmas is coming and I've been busily making cards, tree decorations, indoor decorations, outdoor decorations, trashing my house in a creative frenzy...

I joined the CWA this year as well and recently found out that our local supermarket offers the facilities to run fundraising BBQs.  After seeing the effects of Typhoon Haiyan on TV, and my family having various connections with the Philippines, I suggested that we run a BBQ to raise funds to send for their recovery.  You guessed it!  I get to organise it.

Just to make it clear, I'm excited about it, and I'm hoping to get a decent turnout so we can make a reasonable donation, but it's another thing on my list.  And, of course, I decided to make it slightly more intense by adding a cake stall, so I have to do a little cooking for it (as well as all the awesome people who've offered to contribute as well.

Then there are the various parties, events and Christmas gatherings over the next five weeks.  And the housework and feeding and entertaining of my Fellas.

Then we need to add a final, and potentially apple-cart upsetting element.  Last week I received an e-mail containing a letter of offer!

Back in March I applied for a 4-day-a-week position as a teller at one of the banks.  I didn't receive it, but was contacted in May, I think, for an alternative position.  Over the past months I've been waiting and going through various processes and have been offered a position as a casual relief teller, both in our closest town, and our closest large town.

Funnily enough, I spoke to the branch manager the next day and she hadn't heard from the Human Resources Department yet.  But once all of those processes have been completed, I will be required for two weeks of full-time training.

Most likely before Christmas.

No doubt at some point in the very near future I will feel completely overwhelmed by all of this, but at this point, I'm actually feeling exhilarated!  I have lots to do and I'm interested in what I'm doing.

All these crafty activities are encouraging to me because I'm good at them and I'm very satisfied with the results.

The organising tasks are exhilarating because I'm pretty good at that too!  Hopefully I keep remembering to delegate - not only to keep from overwhelm, but also to allow others to participate and enjoy these activities, which are often the kinds of things that strengthen friendships.

Oh!  And I finally caught up with the ironing tonight and have relocated the ironing board to the cupboard for the first time all week!

Am I in too deep?  Probably!  But all this activity, right now, makes for a pretty happy stay-at-home mum.

Now to reclaim my dining table from my frenzied craft activities, finish the stockings for the fence, put up the Christmas lights, finish the Christmas cards, make that wreath out of roadside weeds... and make sure I clean my oven before my grandparents get here for Christmas :-D

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Another step

This week my Little Big Fella took another step in growing up.  On Wednesday afternoon, he had his first Prep Transition Day.

Here in Queensland, Australia, children can attend kindergarten in the year before school.  In most cases the kindy is a separate location to schools, but sometimes they have their own area in a school.

The first year of "official" school is called Prep and my not-so-little son will be starting that at the end of January next year.  To help the kids get used to the school and the routines and rules, they're joining with this year's Prep students for three afternoons this term.

The Little Big Fella is pretty excited about going to school next year.  They've been talking about it at kindy and we've talked a bit about it at home as well.  And we've spent some time at the school for various events since moving here, including Kindysports this term, the school fair a few weeks ago and other events since moving here last year.

He has a lot of friends at the school already, and knows most of the kids who will join him in Prep next year, so he doesn't seem to be anywhere near nervous about it all.

In fact, when we arrived at Prep Transition the other day he didn't even turn around to look at me when the teacher came out and told them what would be happening.  She asked if he wanted to give me a kiss and cuddle!  It's such a contrast to dropping him off at kindy, where he still wants me to come in and sit with him for about 10 to 15 minutes before he's happy for me to leave.

We have two more Transition sessions over the next two weeks, and I'm hoping it goes as well as this one!

During the hour he was there, Miss I, his teacher, read them the book, "The Very Cranky Bear".  It's one we've borrowed from the Library previously, and I'm certain they've read it at kindy a few times as well.  It's a really good book.

They got to do a painting after that, and told Miss I what their favourite part of the book was.

When he came out of the classroom at the end, he was SO excited and wanted to tell me everything they'd done.

Instead of going home (the Big Fella was sleeping), I hung out in the canteen with our next door neighbour.  I saw all the Prep kids holding hands with the Transition Preps, going around the school and showing them where everything was.  It was gorgeous!  I wanted to get a photo, but didn't want to distract the class so you don't get to see how cute they were.  Sorry!

Now I need to start thinking about school uniforms, backpacks, pencil cases and so on.  Hello Christmas stocking fillers and presents :-D  Yep, this marks the start of practical Christmas presents like socks and jocks!!!!  Mwah ha ha haaaaah!

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Lucky 8?

I just checked in to my blogger dashboard.  That's the place that tells me how many people are reading my blog, which posts and what countries you all come from (hello all of you lovely, random people who I've never met in real life (I don't think, anyway) in Canada, South Korea, Poland, Ukraine, Israel, Russia...).

Today's brief, and rather pointless post, is because I have 8888 pageviews today!  Given that my birthday is the 8th of the 8th, and that 8 is considered a lucky number in Chinese culture, I'm somewhat excited!

I wonder if something awesome will happen to me today?  Maybe I'll get money!

Oh!  Wait!!!  I already did!!!!  It was paying me back for flights to Melbourne next March, but still... it's exciting!

Mmmmm, maybe I'll meet a spunky man.  Well, he's downstairs getting spunkier by the minute as he pushes those weights around.

Well, then maybe I'll finally get a start date for this new job???  That's possible too - I have to go to the bank to deposit that money I got this morning.

I guess 8 is a lucky number then!  :-D

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Planning for Christmas

Yep, it's started!  There's Christmas music in my head and I've spent way too long on Pinterest already!!!

I am preparing for Christmas.

I've started making the cards (there were photos here), I've got my card list and my list of what I need to do and when (I love lists, remember?).

I'm also on a bit of a budget, which probably means it's not a good year for completely changing my decorations!  But I really wanted to, so I'm going with a natural/vintage style.

Today we were going to spend most of the day at the shooting range with the Big Fella for their big, annual shoot.  But the Big Fella ended up getting called in to work, so we were home alone for the afternoon.

But, of course, it's smack-bang in the middle of my most hormonal days so I ate lots of junk, lounged on the couch and started feeling rather sorry for myself.

Cue Pinterest!

After fluffing around for a while, playing Candy Crush and whatever else, I started looking on Pinterest (again).  And I came across paper snowflakes!  Now, I remember doing them in school, and they were kind of fun, but when I saw these, I was inspired!

So I spent an hour or so folding and cutting paper into cool shapes :-)  Now I'm thinking of adding some glitter, and making some out of coloured paper and then turning them into a garland or something.

And tonight I'm hoping to try out a star made of sticks.  Sounds pretty easy, but usually these things are harder than they look :-}

So besides the rest of the cards and decorations, all I have to do is buy presents for the family, make the presents for the friends, decide on what we'll be eating and make up my shopping lists for that, possibly try to talk the Big Fella into a Christmas photo shoot and relax and enjoy all the festivities!  Sounds potentially stressful and lots of fun!

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Success at the swimming pool

Last summer we spent a lot of time at the swimming pool.  So this year the Big Fella decided that we should buy a season pass and try to get there at least 3 times a week.  He wants to do laps as a kind of self-massage after weights workouts, as well as a cardio, and the Little Big Fella will jump at any opportunity to play in the water!

So, locals, any time you're headed to the pool to play, count us in :-D

We were talking about how to squeeze a swim in when the Big Fella works day shifts and one of the solutions we came up with was to go after work, even if that means leaving home at 6, or even 7pm.

But, but, but...

Yep.  That's dinner time and time to be getting the Little Big Fella ready for bed.

Ah ha!  A solution!

They have BBQs at the pool!  We could prep meat and salad and all the utensils and everything else you need for a barbie before the Big Fella gets home from work, then take it with us to the pool.

Brilliant!

So, last night we tested our theory.

We got to the pool just after 6pm.  The sun was nearly down (silly Queensland that doesn't have daylight savings!), the pool was really quiet and still, and the water was almost warm (which is saying a lot because this pool is renowned for being practically icy).

We had a good half hour swim.  The Big Fella did his laps, the Little Big Fella splashed and played and even did a lap with his kickboard!!!  Then we got out, showered and got the Little Big Fella into his pjs (one of his Superman onesies Grandma and Aunty Loz!) then cooked up the meat, piled salad and the meat into bread rolls and enjoyed our little feast.

It was really, really good and we'll definitely be doing it again!

Sometimes we might even grab an icecream cone from McDonald's on the way home :)

The Little Big Fella was completely tuckered out and fell asleep on the way home.  Bummer.  No bedtime fights for us!  Not that we have bedtime fights very often, but still...

This afternoon the Little Big Fella had his first swimming lesson for the season.  Once he was actually in the water (it was a bit cool today) he did really well and the teacher was very happy with how well he's retained his skills over the winter.

Another tick in the success box.  Yay!

On another note, the Little Big Fella and I ended up doing a big cook-up yesterday morning - a double batch of ginger snaps, and a double batch of chocolate chip cookies (which he wanted to make into giraffe necks, in the same vein as the witches fingers from the other day, so they were green (???) and log/neck shaped).

So now the freezer is full of biscuits, ready for the silly season and any visitors that want to randomly drop in (hint, hint, nudge, nudge).

Things may not always be going right, but little things like swimming with my Fellas, baking cookies with my son and having a freezer full of them make me feel satisfied.  This is the life!

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Crafty Capers

At last!!!  The promised post with all the creative stuff!!!

One of the reasons I love Halloween is the opportunity to make stuff!  This year I made paper mache pumpkins, tin can luminaries  a silhouette for our single front window, and body part cookies.  Let me show you!

Paper mache pumpkins

Okay, I found these on Pinterest and they looked so cute and easy!  Turns out they're really not!  In the end I was happy with the results, but it took a lot more effort than I'd expected.


Here's the basic idea of what to do:  You blow up a balloon with string around it so that it bulges out in a pumpkin shape.  Paper mache a couple of layers.  Ta da!  All done!

Ha!

First of all, getting the string around the balloon took a bit more working out than I'd thought.  I ended up with a slow and careful process of blowing up the balloon, measuring the string around it, letting all the air out, tying the string, half blowing up the balloon and putting the strings around it (while not letting the air out of the balloon), blowing up the balloon a bit more, moving the strings so that they were a bit more even around the balloon, blowing up the balloon some more, moving the strings so they didn't slide around to one side of the balloon, blowing the balloon to bulging point, and finally attempting to tie off the balloon without the strings sliding around or the balloon popping.

It was great fun.

Anyway, I eventually got three done.  Because there's no stores nearby that have paper mache glue, I made the glue from plain flour and water.  I did about three layers of white and one layer of orange tissue paper (using watered down PVA glue so that I didn't end up with white flour glue spots all over the finished product).

I learned that the Little Big Fella really likes to eat flour, even when it's in the form of a glue paste.  Doing this project with a child around is fun but messy.



Oh!  And by the way, if you attempt this, I highly recommend having a nice big end on the string tie point.  Hanging them on the washing line to dry was slightly tricky with my little ones.  They all fell several times and ended up with a few dents.


My pumpkins sat on my buffet for a couple of weeks and I wasn't quite happy with them.  So at about 4pm, before our 6pm departure for the Halloween walk, I decided to paint vines and leaves on them.  Probably not a good time to do it, but I was finally happy with the results.


Pity it was too dark for everyone to see them when they came trick or treating!!!

Tin Can Luminaries

Another Pinterest find, this is just a bunch of tin cans, washed and with the labels removed.  Fill with water and freeze, then punch holes in patterns with a hammer and nail.  If I did these again, I'd draw my designs on with a black marker before freezing the cans.  This time I made do with a pencil, but it really would have been easier the other way.  Let the ice melt and the tins dry, and if you need to, hammer the base back in so that it'll stand up straight.  Spray paint (so they look nice during the day) and pop a candle in.  Ta da!




Window silhouette

Pinterest is definitely my friend for these kinds of things.  I get to find easy and effective ideas, and also be inspired by other peoples' efforts on the not-so-easy stuff.  This one was pretty simple: Draw a shape on cardboard, cut it out, pin it on the sheer curtain.  I had to add an extra step of spray-painting the cardboard because I made mine using two different, light colours and it would have driven me nuts.  And it looks much more effective in black.




Body part cookies

Again, thanks to Pinterest I came across witches finger biscuits.  I didn't look at the recipe though - just used my chocolate chip cookie recipe.  At the last minute the Little Big Fella and I decided to make them green, which meant a lot of really hard mixing to try to get the green to spread evenly through the dough.  Next time, I'd add the colour at the liquid stage!

The other thing I didn't really take into consideration is that my cookie recipe spreads.



So we tried a few more, making them skinnier and they were better.  But I got sick of making fingers so we switched to eyeballs.


In the end we made little bags with a finger and an eyeball for about 50.  I tried to make the "eyeballs" bloodshot, but they just looked like weird starfish on the biscuits.  Luckily they tasted alright though!


So that's my Halloween creativeness done and dusted.  I also tried these spooky eyes, but they weren't as effective as I hoped - the glow sticks didn't glow enough to give the full effect.

I've also been doing a few Christmas cards ready for the upcoming season.  Here's a sneak peek!



So now it's on to Christmas!  Two months of creativity, carols and celebrations!!!  Woo hoo!!!!!!

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Play time!

Oh my goodness!!!  It's been so long since I've written a post, you probably thought I'd disappeared off the face of the earth!!!

So!  We need to do a little catch up on all the play time we've been having this past couple of weeks!

A couple of weekends ago, the Big Fella was away fishing so I had the girls over for an evening.  I wrote a little about that here.

The Big Fella came home and we had three big days in a row.  Thursday we went to our nearest "city" - 2 hours away on the coast.  The Big Fella had a specialist appointment and a medical test to do.  And we did some shopping and had a restaurant meal.

The Little Big Fella and I spent some time at the major shopping centre getting a few bits and pieces done while the Big Fella was doing his testing.  They have the trolleys that look like a car and the Little Big Fella just fit in.  It was the easiest shopping I've done in ages!

I also let him have a go on one of those shopping centre rides.  Can't make it completely painful for him, right?



We found out that the Big Fella's kidney issues are in remission, which is amazing!  He's been working really hard to lose weight and eat better, and he's mostly cut out alcohol except on special occasions.  Turns out that looking after yourself can make a major difference in his particular case.  We also got a bit more information about what's good and bad for him and other things that can help.

I got to spend over an hour in Spotlight (a craft supplies and homewares store), and even though I had the Little Big Fella with me, I had a ball!!!  Sigh.  I miss living near a Spotlight.

The next night was the school fair.  I helped with some of the preparation in the morning then got all dressed up in the evening and tied balloon animals and swords all night.  I had lots of flashbacks to previous balloon-tying events (like Easterfest for you Mountsiders who might remember it, and Master's Commission).

I made myself a tulle skirt.  It's the first sewing I've done in ages and didn't quite come out how I'd hoped, but it worked well.  I ended up wearing it for our Halloween walk too.


I also did some fun, fairy-style makeup.


This was taken at the end of the night and I'd lost some of my diamantes.  It's not quite as dramatic as I wanted, but I think that's because the makeup I have is for every day, not for stage or events.  Oh!  And I was wearing a bright pink wig.  I'd forgotten how hot and annoying wigs are!!!!

The Little Big Fella mostly loved the fair.  They had a merry-go-round, jumping castle, huge slide and 4WD buggies.  You could buy tickets for each ride or a wrist band for unlimited use.  Because I was tying balloons all night, and the Big Fella was at work, the Little Big Fella got to just go from ride to ride all night.  I stood near the rides and he just came over whenever he needed me to drive him in the buggies (you had to be 8 years or older to drive them).


By about 9:30 the Little Big Fella was done so I tied my last balloons and carried him to the car.

That night the Little Big Fella was sick.  He woke at about 11:30 and then we were up and down until about 3am.  As horrible as it is being sick yourself, watching your child go through it, and not being able to relieve it, knowing you just have to go through it... it's pretty hard core.

Thankfully he was feeling much better and even had some food on Saturday afternoon.

Saturday night was a "Girl's Night In" breast cancer fundraiser at the football club.  Like having the girls over the week before, it was fun and full of laughter.  There were games and prizes and costumes and dancing.  There was even a mob of kangaroos on the grounds... until the girls chased them in an attempt to catch one.  And there was fire twirling too.  It was a really fun night.

I was pretty tired after the last few days and the night of little sleep.  And the Big Fella had to start work just after midnight, so I headed off around 11:30.

And that was another weekend down!

We had the Halloween walk last night, which was brilliant, and we're off to a craft night at the CWA hall tonight.  I did a bunch of crafty things for Halloween, but I'll do a post on that (I already promised it last week, didn't I?) separately because there's a few photos and I want to give you the time and space to admire :D

So, for now, adios amigos!  Thanks for sticking with me when I go through the less write-y times :)

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

While the cat's away...

I've had lots of things to tell you all, but I've had no time to tell it!!!

The Big Fella was away fishing for a week.  So, to keep myself from getting sad and lonely, I planned a few things to do.

I've cleaned almost as if I was moving house (we're not, by the way) including exhaust fans (bleuch!) and windows (double bleuch!).

I've woken up my (very sleepy) craft bug.  I think it's the time of year.  Halloween is a little bit of a deal here in our little town, so I've made some paper mache pumpkins, I'm still working on some luminieres made from tin cans, and I need to paint my window silhouettes.  I'm also working on a costume for the school fair/ladies' pink night/Halloween walk.  And all of that gets me excited about Christmas so I've been planning and buying stuff for that too.  But there'll be more about my crafty capers in another post (possibly next week).

And what else should you do to fill in time without your husband, but hang out with friends???

We've had playdates and craft sessions and buy-at-home parties.  And I had a few of the girls around for an evening on Friday.  No, there'll be no telling!  But I think it's okay to say that none of us has had a late night drinking and laughing with the girls in a while, and it hit us a little hard the next day.

I have to say that I have some brilliant friends, too!  I love that we talk about a wide range of things and we can say some pretty outrageous stuff and not be shot to pieces for it.

And laughing!  Oh my goodness I love laughing!!!

But I often get so caught up in the busy-ness and stress of daily life that I forget to see the funny stuff.  Life shouldn't be so serious!  Keep reminding me about that, okay?

It was my nephew's 5th birthday the other day!  I got to talk to him on the phone and I miss him (and his brother, my sister and brother-in-law) so much!  That's definitely one of the sucky things about living away from family, and friends too.

The school is running a fair this Friday and I've offered to do balloon animals for them.  I was trying to get my juggling skills back in time, but it just hasn't happened.  I think I stress out about it too much and end up throwing the balls all over the place!

I'm excited to do some kid-based stuff again, though.  It's been quite a while!  I'm hoping to get half an hour to practice some of the trickier ones before then.  Or at least jump online and look at a few!  I think my very basic repertoire of a dog/giraffe/monkey/elephant and a sword won't quite cut it.

We're off to the big town 2 hours away tomorrow.  The Big Fella has a specialist appointment for the first time since we moved here.  It's been very exciting lately, because his most recent pathology says that his weight loss and exercise are improving his kidney health, significantly reducing his potential need for intervention.  I just about did a happy dance in the doctor's office when he said that!

While we're over there, we're going to be doing a spot of shopping (hello Spotlight (fabric/craft store) and Bunnings (hardware store)).  Just a tad excited about that one.

Anyway, I need to go finish the dishes and get to bed.  The Big Fella is working tonight so there's a decent possibility that I'll be driving tomorrow.

Okay, side note:  I want to kill my dogs!  Obviously not literally.  But when that stinking cat comes by every, single, night, and they bark like there's no tomorrow every, single, night and it doesn't matter what I do they do it EVERY, SINGLE, NIGHT.  Sheesh.

Right.  Time to post this (sorry, it's been a while and this really hasn't been a very exciting post) and get to bed!

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Damn you, hormones!

We had a wonderful day today.  We took a drive to our nearest "big" town, did some shopping, had a lovely lunch then came home and spent the afternoon/evening with friends.

That's if you take out the damn hormones that side-swiped me today!

I got up this morning and did my workout.  No worries.

Got ready and we drove to town.  No worries.

Got there at pretty much the exact time we wanted to.  No worries.

Started looking at a new mobile phone for me (my contract is about to end).  No worries.

Went to Big W and picked up almost everything on my list.  So far, so good.

Went to the other phone company to look at mobiles.  The Big Fella took off to do check out some stuff and left the Little Big Fella with me.

No worries.

Until 10 or 15 minutes later when the Little Big Fella wasn't getting enough attention and started jumping all over the place and whatever else, scattering all coherent thoughts and causing my stress levels to rise.

Okay.  Finished up the conversation, having got the info I needed and headed to the next place on my list.

The Big Fella catches up with us and asks a question about the phone place and I nearly tore his head off.  What the???

I apologise, explain what happened and we move on.

For the rest of our time in town I was on the edge and every little thing the Little Big Fella did just about drove me nuts.

We did have a nice lunch though.

When we got back home, we unpacked then headed to our friend's place to chill out.  After about half an hour I was daydreaming of sleeping on the grass and feeling sick in the stomach.

I ended up coming home and trying to sleep but had a very restless nap.  I'm pretty sure I was having nightmares but I can't remember.  Eventually gave up, got up (still feeling completely wrecked and sick), watered the plants, fed the dogs and prepared some dinner then took it back to our friend's place.

Had a lovely dinner with them then came home.  The Fellas went straight to bed and now I'm nearly sleepy enough to join them.

I just hate it when my hormones attack me and ruin what would have been an awesome day.  And even though I spent the whole time fighting them, I just wasn't winning at all.

Bleuch!

Friday, 11 October 2013

An introvert's paradox

I am an introvert.

And I love hanging out with people.

I love playdates, and girl's nights out, and dinner parties, and BBQs, and events, and movies, and restaurants, and just being with people.

But when things get busy, or tough, or overwhelming, or confusing or whatever, I need time to myself to refresh and regroup.  To re-set myself to take on life and the world.

Which is kind of how I'm feeling at the moment.  Life has been busy these past few weeks.  Full of fun stuff like playdates with water-based jumping castles and slides!


We've been to parties for birthdays and footy finals.  We've spent plenty of awesome time hanging out with friends.  Being the school holidays, the Little Big Fella has been home so we've had a sleepover and friends over.

It's all been absolutely awesome and fun.

And because of all this awesome fun-ness, my normal routines haven't been working for me and my most productive time of day has been filled with other things.  Which leaves me feeling overwhelmed by the mess in my house (particularly the dust!) and the long list of things that need doing that I just don't seem to be getting to!

Which, of course, has me mildly stressing because I'm supposed to start working soon and I'm wondering how that's going to work out.

The Big Fella is about to go off on a Northern fishing adventure for a week.  I'll miss him heaps, but at the same time, I'm kind of looking forward to having the chance to catch up with myself.

It's kind of funny though.  Time by myself, refreshing and re-setting normally includes a whole new bunch of "to-do's".  But because they're often craft or organising, and I can set my own schedule and pace, it works for me.

I'm working on some Halloween paper mache pumpkins, and I have some sewing to do, and a costume to create, and some balloon sculpting to practice...

Hmmm, maybe I need a holiday! ;-D