Friday, December 28, 2007

We're all going on a summer holiday...

No more working for a week or two...
Fun and laughter on a summer holiday...
No more worries for me and you...
For a week or two.


Sorry if you now have that stuck in your head - I do as well :)

The van is packed and we're off on holidays up to Stuart's Point on the mid-north coast of NSW. We go up with Pete's sister Cheryl & her husband Lincoln (and the 20 month old triplets!) - Linc has been going up to the same caravan park since he was a kid - in fact *his* father went there as a kid, and they still go up there too, so it's a big family gathering. We feel like part of the family as well - this is our 4th year of going up.

I'm hoping for a relaxing holiday but unfortunately it won't be feet-up, read-a-book type relaxing - what with triplet wrangling *and* 5 yo wrangling.. It's good to get away anyway.

I just realised I haven't updated since before Xmas. Billy was spoilt (but not too much) by Santa, we had a great Xmas Day up at my mum & dads where we were all spoilt again, Boxing Day we kicked back & did very little! The last couple of days have been busy packing. That's it in a nutshell..

Well, an early start in the morning, so I'm off to bed. See you all in a week or so!

Monday, December 24, 2007

The stockings were hung..

Just got an excited boy into bed at 9pm - it could be a late night!

Yesterday we had our Xmas celebration with Pete's family at my SIL & BILs. 10 adults & 8 kids; luckily we rotate hosting between the 4 siblings and Pete's parents, and all put in for the food. We have another few years before it's our turn again :) A pleasant day - I got to cuddle all of my nieces & nephews (esp the new baby Cassie), there were no arguments (well maybe a couple amongst the kids!), the sun was shining, and we got to celebrate with family...

I spent today tidying up the house so that Santa could get in without tripping over and breaking a leg :) We did some baking (more shortbread - this time with chocolate on top!, and gingerbread to leave out for Santa) and Billy played with all of the toys he got yesterday. A pottering kind of day.. We opened family presents tonight (I got a dehydrator!!!), the newly created Santa sacks are laid out, Santa's snack is prepared - all is in readiness for the fat man.

Tomorrow we go up to my parent's house for lunch with my side of the family.

To me, Xmas is all about family & friends. To all of my blogging friends, I wish you a wonderful, happy Xmas Day filled with laughter and love. If you're travelling anywhere, travel safely.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Fun with fabric paint!

I'm not in the least bit crafty, but it's amazing what can be achieved with inspiration from blogs, some old t-shirts, pillowcases, fabric paint & lots of bits of fabric rescued from the "rag bag".. Voila, Xmas t-shirts and Santa sacks!! Like Kris said about her Xmas decorations (which look great btw Kris!), it may need to be seen through a filter of pride, but we're pretty proud of our efforts! (I may need to dig out the hair-drier to make sure Billy's efforts dry - he was rather heavy handed with the fabric paint lol).







Friday, December 21, 2007

2008 - Time to work smarter, not harder!

For the past few weeks I've had thoughts running around in my head about next year. My motto for the year will be to "work smarter, not harder". I tried working harder this year - all that happened was that I wore myself out & disrupted the family - and I don't know that we're much better off.

Here I sit at the end of another year and I am literally exhausted. Mostly mentally, although physically as well as I'm not sleeping well due to stress. Financially we are doing ok, but there is certainly room for improvement. I've been too busy to watch the pennies and they've been getting up to all sorts of mischief :)

My plan at the start of this year was to start ramping up the business so that when Billy went to school in 2008, I'd be able to work full-time at home, finish paying off our debt and start saving for a new car - how things change in a year! Instead my income will be reduced significantly due both to homeschooling and not wanting to be on the treadmill anymore. So I need to be smarter with what we have rather than trying to earn more money.

These are some of the goals I've come up with so far:

Financial

* finance hubby's microbrewery from savings/earnings only - no debt - hopefully we have enough saved for this now. Even more hopefully it will get underway and start earning some money next year!
* get down to $10,000 non-mortgage debt ($6,000+ to pay off)
* look at non-stress alternative income sources that can work around homeschooling - does such a beast really exist??! lol
* save at least $1,000 in appliance repair fund (washing machine is on it's last legs) by June
* reduce present/gift spending - more homemade? LETS? We had a shocking year this year with the present budget - several weddings, births, 40th b'days - all out of the ordinary. Hopefully next year will be better but need to be vigilant.
* Go back to tracking expenses!
* Actual envelopes aren't working too well for medical / misc household - try virtual envelopes.

Work

* only take on one large project per month (max) - that will leave time for other one-offs / fixes. I'm booked up until May already!!
* Try to work no more than a couple of nights / week
* start monthly newsletter back up
* Keep weekends free

School

* Enjoy it!!
* try to get into some sort of routine
* don't overcommit with activities

Me

* me time each week

Steps to achieve above goals:

* Utilise LETS more
* Concentrate on grocery budget - more from scratch, bulk buying
* Stop buying lunch every time we go out
* Get garden productive
* Track expenses
* Take time to do things rather than just spending money

I'm sure I'll add to this over the next week or so!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

All sorts of dough!

After a session with my wonderfully talented chiropractor today, I had so much energy when we got home! I felt better than I had for weeks. I expended my energy in the kitchen - made some more of Little Jenny Wren's Melt & Mix shortbread, a batch of tortillas to go in the freezer and tried out a new recipe for hot dog buns - http://frugalliving.about.com/od/breadsbakedgoods/r/Hot_Dog_Buns.htm?p=1. I made the buns with all white flour (since that's all I had), and on some of them, I sprinkled the top with garlic powder, dried basil & oregano - oh wow, it smelt like Subway while it was rising & baking. And the taste was sensational - will definitely be keeping this recipe!!! I felt very industrious!!







I had a bit of a re-org of money matters today too - closed my bank account with ANZ (I'd been using it for ebay sales but I'm not using it atm and it was costing me money), and opened another one at my building society for the TL sales. I also opened & counted the money jar that I'd been feeding sporadically (and occasionally raiding for parking money!) over the year - $81.65 - which will come in handy on holidays! It should buy a meal out at the club and lots of ice-creams at the shop :) I want to open a new ING account too, but have run into a bit of a stumbling block with that one as they need a bank statement which I don't have.

5 sleeps til Xmas!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

And now for the photos..





Preschool concert





Preschool 'graduation'

'Mess' journal

Looking around at the mess in our house at the moment, it's like a journal of our activities from the last few hectic days..

The Wiggles paraphenalia from the concert on Friday afternoon, the lollies & jackets from the Xmas party on Friday night, the water pistol prize from the b'day party on Saturday, the McDonald's junk (um I mean toys) from Saturday afternoon (yeah I fed my child that crap and am regretting it!), the pile of presents waiting to be wrapped from Sunday's shopping trip, the unpacked esky from the street party on Sunday night, the craft supplies unpacked from the trip to Spotlight yesterday, the ironing board still up from the urgent ironing job before the preschool concert last night, the unpacked backpack from the train trip we took with friends this morning.. We won't talk about the piles of dirty dishes, and the dishwasher that needs emptying, the piles of washing to be done, and folding to be put away.. We certainly won't talk about the state of the car - it's a little mess journal of it's own!

*sigh* - I think the clean-up fairies are on strike, guess I'd better go and make a start!!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Closed for Xmas

I hung out my virtual shingle today to say that I'm now closed for Xmas. I still have one website that I'll keep working on (in between Xmas stuff), but the rest will all have to wait until next year. What a relief!!

Yum - I made some of Jenny Wren's Melt & Mix Shortbread today - if that's what she "throws together" for her family, I'd love to try her special stuff lol!


I got all of the non-immediate family Xmas presents wrapped today - gee it takes a long time with a 5 year old helping! I still have a few things to buy and maybe some more stocking fillers - will see what the "pile" looks like once it's all in one spot. It's secreted all around the house (and at my parent's house!) atm :) I have to go hunting for one present - I know we bought it, but I have no idea where we hid it!!! (That sounds like I've bought heaps, but I haven't really - honest!)


This morning we went grocery shopping (Aldi & then Bilo), posted the Xmas cards, and bought a pair of swimmers for Billy (30% off at Best & Less - does anyone remember that really horrendous Best & Less ad from years ago with the old lady??? - what a shocker!). Aldi wasn't too busy and is outside of the shopping centres so it was easy to get a park, but Bilo is in town and was shocking - had to park miles away and walk - luckily I didn't need much there.

Best things about today:
* Got heaps done

Currently Reading:
The Grass Memorial by Sarah Harrison - still! Having trouble with the sections on the Crimean war - reading about men dying of cholera while you're eating or just before bed is a little hard to take!
Jane Eyre via Daily Lit

To do tomorrow:
Home - well not really at home!
* Swimming
* Wiggles concert
* drop assignments into WEA - they want to keep of copy of the work I did for the Cert IV!
* work Xmas party

Work

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Baker's Clay / Salt Dough

I made up a batch of "baker's clay" (I've also heard it called salt dough) this morning and Billy had a ball making Xmas decorations out of it.

****

This is the recipe I used:

1 and 1/2 cups hot water
1 cup salt
4 cups flour

Mix the salt & hot water in a large bowl. Add the flour and mix until sticky. Knead the dough for about 7-10 mins until smooth (I did it in the mixer). Bake your clay creations at 180 deg C for about 90 mins, turning once. The clay should be hard all the way through so leave it in longer if necessary.

Clay may be stored in the refrigerator in a plastic bag for later use.

***

I'm not sure if the recipe is wrong or if I lost count while measuring - not outside the realms of possibility lol, but I "think" I only used 3 cups flour, and we only baked for about 40 mins Let me know if anyone makes it!

I guess you could add food colouring while you're making it to make different colours - we stuck with plain and plan on painting it tomorrow - or another tomorrow!

****

On another note, Billy's preschool concert & "graduation" was postponed tonight due to inclement weather which was disappointing. It will probably be held next week - let's hope we can squeeze it in lol. Personally I would've thought that given the fact that it's been raining on and off for the last few weeks, they would've had a back-up plan in place, but hey, that's just me!!

It did mean that I was able to get a bit more work done. I'm very, very slowly reducing the list.

Billy was quite sooky today - wanted lots of cuddles - and took himself off for a sleep this afternoon (which was rudely interrupted by the delivery man). Most unusual... Pete came home from work with a headache & aching, and has gone to bed early.. Could be something going around. I don't have time to be sick, so I'll have to be ok!!

Best things about today:
* Lots of cuddles
* Nice, peaceful day on the whole
* Realising that I don't have to frantically rearrange my life if B isn't well tomorrow.

Currently Reading:
The Grass Memorial by Sarah Harrison.
Jane Eyre via Daily Lit

To do tomorrow:
Home (in addition to the usual washing, cooking, tidying etc)
* grocery shopping
* make biscuits
* post Xmas cards
* comment on a few outstanding blog posts / memes
* wrap / finish making Xmas presents that I need to take on Friday

Work
* create & post install CD for H
* send CD to K
* work on K's website
* answer M's email

Xmas cards..

all done..



I like to write one of those ubiquitous Xmas letters to send to people we like to keep in touch with but don't get to see much of. It was quite interesting looking back at all of the stuff we've done this year - not to mention pulling up last year's letter to use as a template and seeing the photo of Billy from 12 months ago! I personally don't like to send Xmas cards - I send a couple but am not into the whole "oh they sent me one, I'd better send one back" deal. Most of the ones I send are to distant (in terms of location) aunts and great-aunts.

I also wrote in a couple of cards that I've been putting off. One was a thinking of you card for someone I used to work with that I've recently heard has breast cancer. I'm not very good at writing cards like that - I agonise over whether what I write is appropriate, but I would be far worse in person so it's better for me to write than ring!


While getting the Xmas cards out I found 2 very organised Xmas lists from 2005 & 2004 - present list, budget, Xmas card list - very neatly written, stapled together & filed! 2006 was scrawled on a piece of scrap paper, and this year hasn't even made it to that lol.

Best thing about yesterday:

Having some time to browse in the library in peace while Billy was listening to the story at storytime!


Currently Reading:

The Grass Memorial by Sarah Harrison.
Jane Eyre via Daily Lit

To do today:

Home
* Ring customer re TL order and then finish placing order
* Finish gifts for preschool teachers
* Decide what we can have for tea that's quick & easy
* Preschool concert / graduation
* Maybe go grocery shopping - it's raining and I don't think I'll find the motivation :)

Work
* Return H's call
* create install CD for H
* work on K's website

Edited because I started the post yesterday and it kept the same date & time!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Homeschooling: Spain

A couple of weeks ago we finished our unit on Spain, but I've only just been organised enough to take a photo of the end result!



Billy painted the flag as the background of the poster, and we looked at things like the geography, culture (bull-fighting, flamenco dance, football), famous people (Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali), agriculture, and currency.


We also created castanets out of bottle-tops and learnt some Spanish words. The memory cards have been used a couple of times as various games in learning 1-10 and basic greetings.






To do list - trying to get organised!

Well, the microwave is clean, but I'm still scraping hardened jam off the pyrex jug :) It's slowly coming off with the soak & scrape method!

I really need to get organised - 14 days til Xmas!! So I'm going to post my to-do list on here - feel free to ignore :)

Currently Reading:
The Grass Memorial by Sarah Harrison - getting into it more now.
Jane Eyre via Daily Lit

To do:
Work
* continue working on K's website
* create install disk for H
* put 1st TL order in

Home
* storytime at the library
* write Xmas letter, start on Xmas cards
* write on other cards that I've been putting off

Monday, December 10, 2007

How NOT to make jam....



When you try to make strawberry jam in the microwave - remember to READ the recipe to see what size container you need, and not just rely on a rather faulty memory of what you used last time!


Do you think this will fit Lightening's Smiley Saturday criteria??! lol I'm sure someone out there is laughing :)

Saturday, December 08, 2007

*yawn*

Oh what I'd give for a sleep-in! I can't wait for a teenager that sleeps all morning rather than a child that wakes at the crack of dawn!

It's been a busy week - we were only home for 1 day so the house is a bit of a mess from stuff being dumped, dishes not washed etc. (actually that's probably an understatement!)

Monday we met up with friends for storytime at the library and then back to their house for a papier mache making day! In hindsight, it's probably not the best activity for a 4 and 5 year old - needs too much of an attention span - but Kate & I found it strangely therapeutic lol. We didn't leave there until late afternoon. The box of craft stuff is still sitting on the table :(

Tue was an early start as we had to drop the car in for a service at 8am. A long day hanging around in town waiting for it to be ready. There's not a lot open at that time of morning so we walked to a "cheap shop" that was open, looked around in there for a while & picked up a b'day present. Did a bit more shopping once the rest of the shops were open, then went to a nearby play cafe. I think after 5 years I was able to achieve nirvana - Billy went off to play quite happily with the other kids that were there, and I sat and read a book! It's an enclosed playground so I only had to look up every now & then to check he was ok. It only cost a couple of $ entry, but then I bought myself a cup of tea, and got Billy a biscuit - probably didn't get a lot of change out of $10. Could've been far worse!! (Like the lunch that we then bought at another cafe.. *sigh* Yes I could've packed a lunch to take but then I would've had to carry it around town, and quite frankly I couldn't be bothered...).

We visited the art gallery after lunch which was fun - the paintings in the current exhibition weren't really my cup of tea (too floral lol). They had a great kid's activity though - a worksheet with 3 different activities on it - firstly that had small sections replicated of 9 paintings on the sheet that the kids had to find on the big paintings and tick off their sheet. It really made us look closely at the paintings. One of the paintings was called Postcard from Port Fairy (or something like that), so the 2nd activity was to think about what kind of place would be called Port Fairy (thinking mythical creatures), and draw a postcard. The 3rd activity was to colour in a painting like the ones in the exhibition. This is the 2nd time we've been there while they've had kid's activities, and I was so impressed with them I decided to email the co-ordinator and tell (and thank) her and her staff. I got an email back on Thursday to say I'd made her & her assistant's day!

Wednesday we were at home - but other than a bit of baking I don't think we did much but recovered! We had road works right outside our house which was rather annoying (and very unusual since we live in a no through road!) Oh and my "T ot al Lea rning" start-up order arrived (I'm not allowed to advertise on the web at all even to say I sell it apparently in case I usurp their google ranking!) so that's why the split up letters - from henceforth it will be known as TL :) That was fun unpacking the boxes - Billy jumped on everything and declared it his! There's some wonderful books there - I love books :)

Thursday was Billy's last day at preschool! He was very excited! It also meant it was my last day of uninterrupted working :( I did 3 hours of work and then had to go and see a client to install some changes for them. On the way back from that I picked up a Xmas present (and looked in vain for a couple more).

Friday we had the ute in for a service - yes it's been an expensive week! (translation for the non-Aussies - a ute is a utility vehicle / pickup / vehicle than you can use to haul stuff around). Again an early start to drop it off - walk to swimming, then Mum & Dad picked us up and drove us back to their house. Mum offered me their car to go and do some Xmas shopping while they looked after Billy which was fantastic - I managed to get about 90% of it done, most importantly I got the stuff done that I couldn't do with said child in tow! That stuff is still hiding up at their house! (and the rest is spread out on the kitchen floor :( ) It was a late night by the time we got the ute back and then Pete was late getting home from work, so we had to hang around for quite a while before his train arrived.

Borrowing unashamedly from Crazy Mumma's layout :)

Currently Reading: The Grass Memorial by Sarah Harrison. "A sweeping story of love and loss over continents and generations" - only 88 pages in to it so far of 600, and it hasn't gripped me yet but will persevere.

To do this weekend:
Work
* finish report for H
* continue working on K's website
* get photos together for J's website

Home
* B'day party tomorrow - wrap present & write in card
* WASHING!
* CLEAN KITCHEN!
* Decide what to make for preschool teachers & do it / help Billy do it

Right - best go and throw a load in the machine, and empty the dishwasher as a start.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Memes - The Big 8 and 7 random things

I've been tagged for a couple of memes recently and have just had a chance to look at them!

This one was hard!

8 Things I Am Passionate About
1. Family
2. Education choices
3. Frugal living
4. Being careful with the earth's resources
5. Friendships
6. Homecooking
7. Additives in food (see 6!)
8. Reading

8 Things I Want to Do Before I Die
1. Visit Egypt
2. Travel Europe again
3. Meet Helen (hi Helen!!)
4. Have grandchildren to spoil!
5. See more of Australia
6. Become more self-sufficient
7. Be debt-free!
8. Write a book

8 Things I Say Often
1. Billy, please stop talking!
2. Who left the light on???!
3. Quick, hurry up and ... (get dressed, get in the car, eat your tea.. ad infinitum)
4. I love you!
5. Are you listening to me?!
6. What was the best thing about today?
7. Argghhhh! I have so much to do!
8. There's no blood - you'll live :)

8 Books I've Read Recently
1. Lots of light trashy romance crap that don't need the brain turned on when I'm reading :)
2. Nurture by Nature by Paul Tieger
3. Blockade by Derek Hansen
4. Jane Eyre (currently reading it online via DailyLit)
5. Sole Survivor by Derek Hansen
6. Gardens of delight by Erica James
7. Secrets & Shadows by Mary Nickson
8. Getting started with homeschooling by Beverly Paine

8 Songs I Could Listen to Over and Over
1. Summer of 69 - Bryan Adams
2. Khe Sahn - Cold Chisel
3. Don't dream it's over - Crowded House
4. I don't like Mondays - Boomtown Rats
5. Daniel - Elton John
6. You're the one that I want - John Travolta & Olivia Newton-John (Grease soundtrack)
7. Constant craving - k.d.lang
8. To her door - Paul Kelly

8 Things that Attract Me to My Best Friends
1. Sense of humour
2. Similar interests - frugal living, vege gardening, homeschooling (not necessarily all in the same person!)
3. Non-aggressive
4. Honest
5. Similar philosophy in life
6. Positive
7. Make you feel good when you're with them - not constantly "taking"
8. Love of books

8 People Who Should Totally Do This Meme
1. Anyone who wants to! But beware - it's hard!

7 random or weird things

I was tagged by Lightening to do this one too.

Here are the meme rules:
Rules:
1- Link to the person that tagged you and post the rules on your blog.
2- Share 7 random and or weird things about yourself.
3- Tag 7 random people at the end of your post and include links to their blogs.
4- Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

So here goes with 7 things about ME:

1. I have vitiligo so I have blotchy white patches all over my body.

2. I am addicted to flavoured chips, particularly chicken & 'cheese & onion' - put them down in front of me and I will keep eating until they are gone!

3. I get obsessed with learning all I can about a particular topic - then once I've done it I move on to the next without doing anything about it!

4. I used to read the encyclopedia as a kid (see no 3 lol)

5. I used to own a copy of every book written by Jack Higgins (of "The Eagle Has Landed" fame) - including his pseudonyms.. I still own them but I'm sure he's written more by now!

6. I could live quite happily without a TV - but have a husband & child both addicted to it..

7. I had cravings for Hungry Jacks (like Burger King) when I was pregnant.

I'll tag:

Kin
Libby
Emma
Mrs P
Julie
Kate
Lisa

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Christmas is coming...

.. I've got no idea if the geese are getting fat, but I do know it's time for this ostrich to take her head out of the sand about Xmas!! What is it about turning the page over to December that makes me go arrrrggghhhh??!! I still have a few people to buy for - which unfortunately means braving the shops - and a few things to make (still undecided as to actually what though!) Every year I vow to be more organised, but it certainly hasn't happened this year! Next year maybe? :)

I'm glad I wasn't taking part in NaPoBloMo or whatever it was called! I think I blogged less in November than I have for months. I've been head-down, tail-up trying to get work completed - I haven't made my self-imposed end-of-November deadline. Billy has one more day of preschool left, so that gives me one day left of child-free work (and I have to see a client in that so that cuts out several hours). I can see a lot more late nights in my future for the next couple of weeks if I want to get done anytime soon.

Everytime I blog lately I seem to be stressing over all of the stuff I have to do. Sorry everyone :( This is my outlet valve - if I don't stress on here, I might explode (which would just mean more mess for me to clean up lol).

So some positive notes - we've had a fairly social week - had a playdate with homeschool friends on Wednesday afternoon, and met a friend from the Simple Savings site & her son for a swim and play yesterday. Learning-wise, I can now count to 10 in Spanish lol, and more importantly so can Billy :) He's been learning "skip-counting" eg counting by 10s and 2s, knows lots about Spain now and has been busy being a kid.

Today we're dropping Pete at a cricket reunion day (ie they'll stand around, drink lots and swap tall tales!), while we go to Mum & Dads for lunch and the afternoon. Then we're all meeting back at my parents-in-law's house for tea. We've just made some Cornflake Nutties to take up with us. I seem to have done nothing but cook this week - 'we' made banana muffins (12), and a batch of Anzac biscuits on Monday (?) - there is now 1 banana muffin and about 3 anzac biscuits left! We made a carrot cake to take over on Wednesday - there is a smidgen left! I'm sure the Cornflake Nutties won't last past today either!

I was very thankful for a freezer meal yesterday - I hadn't gotten the fish that we'd planned to have out of the freezer and just couldn't be bothered cooking anything. I was *this* close to reaching for the emergency bag of chicken nuggets I have stashed in there when I remembered a meal of chili con carne lurking in the bottom of the freezer. It was a bit cooler last night, so perfect for it! I took it out of the freezer, dumped it in the saucepan and threw in an extra can of tomatoes. I took the meal-size portion of rice out of the freezer and nuked it - tada, dinner with no effort!!

Time to get ready to go.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

What a weekend!

Yesterday was a significant day - my cousin got married, it was my parent's 45th wedding anniversary and of course, we started a new chapter in our country's history. My cousin's wedding went really well - she looked lovely dressed in a medieval style wedding dress. Her husband is from Chile so the reception included some Chilean traditions as well, like a Spanish wedding dance. The ceremony itself was in a park - luckily the weather stayed clear!!

It was late when we got home, Billy was way over-tired so it took ages to settle him down to go to sleep. Then I sat up to watch the election, so it was 11:30 by the time I went to bed. This morning Billy crawled into bed with us at 6:30 and promptly went back to sleep until 9! Unheard of for him!

Today Billy & I went to the local LETS picnic / trading day. It was the first time I've made it to one, and really enjoyed it. I bought a few Xmas presents, lots of herbs and another tomato plant (I'm going to have them coming out of my ears if they all take off!), and Billy got to buy lots of stuff that he claimed were necessities!

So all in all, it's been a busy but fairly relaxing weekend.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Ugh! I hate hemming!

In fact I hate sewing full stop, but being 5 ft 1, I seem to have to take up a lot of hems lol. I've just been sitting here trying to take up a pair of black pants under not great light - I've got one leg done and my eyes are just about crossing, so will do the other one tomorrow morning. They're to wear to my cousin's wedding tomorrow afternoon!

I had a big "splurge" yesterday at the op-shop - a pair of jeans, a pair of trousers, a pair of shorts, and 2 blouses - for the grand total of $27. I hate clothes shopping with a passion, so this was a big spend up for me!

Today I went to see a lady about becoming a Total Learning consultant - they sell educational books like DK. I'm going to do it, there's no minimum sell, you don't have to have parties etc, so I'll just be handing catalogues around to friends & family. Of course, the more you sell, the better the % you receive, but I'm happy just using it to bring in a bit of extra money and buy some great books at discounted rates with no pressure. I just need to send the form away, so if anyone wants any books you can order through me in a couple of weeks lol. I'm a bit like a kid in a candy shop though - how will I stop myself buying all of the books!!

Hmm, I'm sure I had something else I wanted to add, but my brain has shut down so I can't remember what it was!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Balancing the books

A very quick update before I fall asleep! I forced myself to sit down and get my bank account balanced today (I use M/S Money) - I haven't done it in about 2 months :( I'm usually religious in keeping it up-to-date but having the tax money go in there gave me a very healthy buffer, and I got slack about doing it. It meant Billy ran riot while I was concentrating on that (or at least that's how the house looks!) but it's done! I also redid my budget to reflect the change in lifestyle - no more preschool (in 3 weeks) and me really not working. My challenge now is to start logging all expenses again. I did it for years and then got out of the habit - it's been very difficult to start again.

We're about to get a storm here - I just lost my wireless network connection when the power flickered, so I'm off to give it a reboot, hopefully post this and go to bed.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Book Review: Nurture by Nature

Over the last few weeks I've been reading a book called "Nurture by Nature" by Paul D. Tieger and Barbara Barron-Tieger. It's about finding out your child's Myer-Briggs personality type. Most of the tests you find are aimed at adults, but this book looks at how your child plays with others, thinks, talks etc to determine their type. The reason is not to "label" your child but to help understand them and parent them better (and in my case teach him better).

What an eye-opener! No wonder I tend to regard my child as from a different planet!! From reading the book and doing a couple of on-line tests, I come out as an ISTJ (Introverted, Sensing, Thinking, Judging) but also very close to an ISFJ (Introverted, Sensing, Feeling, Judging) - I was 55% T and 45% F on one test I did. (This is one site that shows an overview of the types that I've copied below - http://www.capt.org/mbti-assessment/type-descriptions.htm). I am recharged by being by myself, like to get things finished, likes to be organised & follow a schedule.

ISTJ
For ISTJs the dominant quality in their lives is an abiding sense of responsibility for doing what needs to be done in the here-and-now. Their realism, organizing abilities, and command of the facts lead to their completing tasks thoroughly and with great attention to detail. Logical pragmatists at heart, ISTJs make decisions based on their experience and with an eye to efficiency in all things. ISTJs are intensely committed to people and to the organizations of which they are a part; they take their work seriously and believe others should do so as well.


ISFJ
For ISFJs the dominant quality in their lives is an abiding respect and sense of personal responsibility for doing what needs to be done in the here-and-now. Actions that are of practical help to others are of particular importance to ISFJs. Their realism, organizing abilities, and command of the facts lead to their thorough attention in completing tasks. ISFJs bring an aura of quiet warmth, caring, and dependability to all that they do; they take their work seriously and believe others should do so as well.


The diametrically opposite type to an ISFJ is an ENTP (Extroverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Perceiving). Guess what type Billy seems to suit?!!! Yep :) Recharged by being around people, likes to start things but not finish them, likes to make a mess lol.

ENTP
For ENTPs the driving quality in their lives is their attention to the outer world of possibilities; they are excited by continuous involvement in anything new, whether it be new ideas, new people, or new activities. They look for patterns and meaning in the world, and they often have a deep need to analyze, to understand, and to know the nature of things. ENTPs are typically energetic, enthusiastic people who lead spontaneous and adaptable lives.


It helps in some ways to know that he's not deliberately trying to drive me mad by talking to me all the time and needing to be in the same room. It lets me compensate a bit more and work to his strengths. It also emphasises to me that I really do need time to myself regularly.

It's really given me something to think about as we spend more time together.

End of week 3 - homeschooling update..

We were out all day yesterday with 2 b'day parties to go to (7th & 40th!) so I don't think we'll get much school work done today - we need a pyjama day I think!!


For those that aren't aware, there really aren't any hard and fast rules about how to home educate - I'm speaking as someone based in NSW, Australia - it's probably different in other states & countries. Families choices range from "school at home" - eg sit down with school books and work through them, right through to "natural learning" - eg let the kids learn what they want, when they want by participating in "life". We're sitting somewhere in the middle - nicely called "eclectic" - in other words taking a bit of everything! There are set curriculums (curriculi?) you can purchase to work through if you want, or there are plenty of resources on the internet. I've decided to work in "integrated units" - think of a topic and then create activities around that to cover aspects of English, Maths, Science etc. I'm working towards covering the NSW Board of Studies outcomes for each subject over the year. We'll supplement with worksheets where necessary, and also just embrace any other opportunity that comes along even if it doesn't fit into the current unit. That's the plan at this stage, anyway - I'm sure it will change as we go!



We're just about finished the first unit we're working on - "About Me and My Family". Some of the activities we've done are:



* take a big sheet of butcher's paper, get Billy to lie down on it and trace around his outline. He then drew his face on and wrote words around the outside to represent himself & things he liked. He also did a hand & foot-print painting to go with it.





* Family tree - another big sheet of paper. Create a family tree by writing all of the family names on it (starting with my grandmother - the only living great-grandparent) in a typical family tree format - Billy did the writing. I printed out photos of everyone and he cut the faces out and glued them on next to the appropriate people. It was a really good exercise in helping him understand relationships. This was quite time-consuming - we did it in a few goes over several days - first the writing, then the cutting, then pasting.



* Cousin's timeline - I wrote the years from 1992 - 2007 on a sheet of paper. We then went through all of the cousins - circled when they were born, and he wrote their names. We talked about things like who was the oldest, youngest, no of years between him & various other cousins. A great way to teach some maths concepts in a relevant way.


* Poetry - we read a few poems on the subject of "me" and then he created an acrostic poem (a word about himself for each letter starting with a letter in his name) - the final poem was:




Billy buys

Ice-creams and

Likes

Lollipops and

Yellow.



* Family drawing and story - he still needs to complete this one.


* Stories - we read a few books together on families.


As well as that, he's also done a lot of art & craft - created a puppet theatre out a box, a bird craft at storytime, a Xmas tree picture using scrunched up crepe paper bits, lots of painting etc; some maths & english worksheets; we've played board & card games eg old maid, scrabble; lots of play-acting play, lego etc; done some cooking; played lots of educational computer games and had lots of discussions that we've followed up with a bit of research. Eg "do ants have eyes?" - we caught some and looked in the microscope he borrowed from the library, and then looked at pictures in the encylopedia; and - "where did people come from before there were any people?" - discussed evolution and looked up an evolution of man chart.



There's also been a fair bit of social interaction - storytime, swimming, visits with friends etc.

Our next unit is on Spain, since there was an interest because Pete was over there. We haven't done any formal activities for it yet, but we've done some informal stuff - he knows where Spain is on the map, what the flag looks like and we've read a bit about Spain.


Written down like that it actually looks like we've done a lot but we don't spend that long each day on "formal" stuff - maybe an hour or so.


One of the great things is the flexibility. I had a few activities planned for one day that would need a fair bit of concentration but he was in a really hyper mood. It wasn't worth the angst of making him do it that day, so we did some other more active stuff and got back to the concentration stuff another day!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Noisy Day..

Firstly thanks to all who enquired how I was doing and whether Pete got back ok. Yes he did, and we're all fine, just busy! He seemed to enjoy his trip, but is suffering pretty badly from jetlag.. I'll put some photos up when I get a chance.

Today was a very noisy day, and my ears are still hurting :( Firstly we went to swimming which is at an indoor pool. Several younger kids who have just started lessons protested loudly at the indignity (ie they screamed the whole way through the lesson!), and then after Billy's lesson, the aqua aerobics starts in the other pool . So there were kids screaming & yelling, plus loud music, all echoing in an enclosed space.. Not great!

After the lesson and a play, we went out to lunch at a local club with some ladies I know online from our Freecycle group. I struggle in a group - I find it hard to hear everyone especially with multiple conversations happening in a noisy restaurant. I don't think I have a hearing problem, I think it's just that I'm not used to being in groups much any more.

Then after we left there we went over to the local shopping centre to get some socks & thongs for Billy (I swear I don't know how he goes through socks like he does!). It was loud, crowded and was about the final straw for me!! It's good to be back home!!

Yesterday was a busy day with a trip to Newcastle - chiro visit (my back wasn't as bad as it usually is so staying off the computer is having a positive effect!), meeting with a client, meeting with my course teacher and a bit of shopping. The meeting with my course teacher went well - she marked me off as competent for the whole Cert IV which means I've really finished!!!! It's not official I guess until I get the piece of paper but it means I don't need to worry about it anymore.

I had a positive experience with a salesman which restored my faith in human nature! I forgot to charge my phone the night before and it was starting to beep with a low battery warning. I went into the Telstra shop to see if I could buy a car charger - he didn't have one for my model, but when he found out why I wanted it, he offered to charge the phone for me with a normal charger while I went to the chiro. Very nice of him. It was particularly timely since we've been having a bit of trouble with a new Freecycle member for a couple of days, with yet another abusive message that morning. It was good to remember that not everyone is like that!

The shopping was a bit of a worry - I seem to be in a spending mood atm. Letting me loose in Officeworks in that mood is a bit dangerous :) I was buying bits & pieces for "school" - scissors, sticky tape, cardboard etc... $100 later :(

Speaking of which - homeschool is going well - will update in a separate post.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Routines and other ramblings..



I've been slowly settling into a new routine over the last week (and now Pete's on his way home I'll have to start again!). The most important thing has been to limit my time on the computer through the day.

I haven't been setting the alarm of a morning, so it's been wonderful to wake up whenever Billy comes and gets into bed with me - usually too early for my liking, but I love our early-morning snuggles! I check the e-mail after we get up to see if there's anything urgent, moderate any freecycle messages that are outstanding and while I'm having breakfast try to reply to any emails that I can and read some blogs. After that I've been trying to limit the computer usage to checking email & freecycle every now & then through the day, and the times I need to use it for Billy's schoolwork. I might read some more blogs at lunch or afterwards if I get a chance.

After he goes to bed, I get to start on my paid work - which sadly means I'm limited to an hour or two each night if I want to get a decent night's sleep. Not ideal & I have to admit I'm not at my best by then, but it means I can focus on Billy through the day. (I do still have Thursdays when he's at preschool, so I'm saving anything too hard for then!) It's been quite freeing actually - by giving myself permission NOT to be working through the day if there is a spare minute, I've been able to not only play more with Billy (not that that's the highlight of my day, but he loves it!), or be with him while he works, but I've also done more around the house while he's busy with other stuff - and even taken a bit of time for myself to read or do a jigsaw. (I have to be careful not to let this get too much either!!)

Speaking of cleaning around the house - I cleaned the dishwasher filters out today - ewwwww! I have no idea how it got to be so bad since we rinse the dishes before we put them in, but let me say again - ewwwwwww! :)

I had a brainwave this morning of a way that I might remember to water the garden! Flylady suggests adding the routine on to something you already have as a habit which makes sense and has worked for me in the past. As I was hanging the clothes out this morning, I realised that it made sense to tack it on to that task. I usually wash every day or two, and after I'm finished, I can just make a quick detour via the garden and give it a water. Well, it worked today anyway!!!

Oh btw, the jam I made the other day worked perfectly! I don't know that I'd go and buy strawberry, apple & pineapple jam lol, but it tastes pretty good to me! Yet another thing on the list of items I no longer *have* to buy - yes I can if I want but I'm now capable of making it myself :)

Pete should be home soon, so time for this little duck to sign off! Night all.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

A "pottering" day..

We had a bit of a pottering day today. After having a bad dream through the night (he's woken up with bad dreams 4 out of the last 5 nights), Billy came and got into bed with me at 6:30 and then to my shock, went back to sleep for another hour. So a slower than normal start for us. After breakfast & a shower, we went outside - me to tackle the garden, and Billy to start organising his "new" cubbyhouse. Mum & Dad brought it down yesterday and we put it up - it's an old garden shed that I got as a cubby 30-odd years ago! It's been in constant use since in some guise or other :)

In between playing shops with Billy in his new cubby, I managed to get a few things planted. In the back vege garden, I planted watermelon, cucumber and capsicum - all seeds. I haven't attempted to grow & transplant seedlings yet - they either grow by direct planting or they don't! While doing that, I also harvested 1kg of potatoes that I had no idea had grown in there! I didn't plant potatoes this year - they've grown from last years crop!!

In the containers near the back steps (styrofoam boxes from Freecycle), I planted some more lettuce & spring onions, and some passionfruit seeds. In the front garden, I planted some very out-of-date rosemary seeds. I doubt they'll grow but what the heck!

I still need to get some pumpkin seeds, and Billy wants to grow more flowers.

I'm a very slack gardener - I get interested, plant lots like I did today, but then I find it hard to sustain the interest while nothing is happening. Then I usually forget to water! I have this picture in my mind that I want to be a cross between Jackie French, Linda Woodrow, Linda Cockburn and Tom & Barbara from the Good Life :) But unfortunately, the reality is far from that!! I'd like to think that given heaps of spare time each day it might happen...

We had a picnic lunch outside - the weather was wonderful after the overcast & rainy days we've had. Not that I would dare complain about the rain! I even managed to get 2 loads of washing dry outside - yay!

After lunch I made a kind of "fruit salad" jam.. I went to make Crazy Mumma's Microwave Strawberry Jam with the rest of the strawberries languishing in the fridge, but had nowhere near enough to make up 500g. So I threw in a couple of apples - and then some pineapple from the fridge as well! Breakfast time tomorrow morning will tell if the experiment was a success :)

What else did we do? A bit of cleaning, lots more play acting with Billy (which bores me to tears to be frank!) - oh I even pulled out a jigsaw to start - it's the first time in 5+ years since I've done one.... I didn't get far - I'm just hoping all of the pieces are there since it was a hand-me-down from my sister!

Billy is reacting badly to all of the take-away & treats he's had lately - his defiance & cheekiness are not great atm.. I've stopped any treats so we just have to "de-tox" now.. Should be a fun few days.. Wish me luck!

Friday, November 09, 2007

I got my hotmail account back!

Microsoft just reset my password for me (after several days of going back & forth with questions to verify that I owned it) - I now have my old hotmail account back.

I guess it wasn't so hard to verify that it had been hacked - all of my emails were obviously in English but the little #$%^@ had changed the language to Chinese!!

I've changed the password etc etc on it - will still keep using the new one, but at least I'll be able to keep an eye on the old one in case something untoward turns up. Or in case someone who doesn't know the new account contacts me.

It doesn't look like anything was touched - no sent emails from it etc, but who knows how far the info has been spread in hacker land..

Random ramblings

Don't you just hate it when you get half way through telling off a child and realise what you are about to say is just totally ridiculous... Case in point: "Billy, stop saying silly words - just keep your mouth shut (it was about this point I realised how silly I was about to sound but continued regardless!) and finish eating your dessert" :) Thankfully he's not old enough to have picked up on it yet!!!

Pete rang about an hour ago, although he had been keeping me updated with text messages - they arrived safely last night and had slept for 13 hours so were ready to face the world today!

Last night I went to hear Sue Dengate of Failsafe / Fed-up fame talk. Even though we started the diet 4 or 5 years ago, I had never actually heard her talk - I was impressed with how approachable she was, and how she made it sound achievable. Unfortunately I would lay money that the majority of the people in the room will dismiss it as "too hard" - but even if most just cut down their "nasty" consumption it would help tremendously. It was a stark reminder to me of just how slack we have been lately - how many little "treats" have crept into the diet, so I'll be getting stricter again (after the promised bought pizza night tomorrow night lol). We're not totally failsafe - mainly just "nasty" free, although I watch my amine levels as they give me migraines..

My mil & fil looked after Billy last night while I went to the talk, so I had to spend some time yesterday afternoon making the house "mil clean" :) Actually she's pretty good and wouldn't say a word, but it's my pride on the line! The house looks much better and has reduced my stress levels a lot - now to maintain it. I really have to clean the fridge out tomorrow though - something is whiffy in there and I don't want to guess what :( (Someone keep me accountable on that please?!!!!)

Today after swimming we spent the day up at my sil's place - it's so great spending time with her & the kids (I'm trying hard to stop calling them "the triplets"!) They are really developing their own personalities, but to me, the best thing is to see their faces light up when they see me, and know that they "know" us and like us! Billy is getting better with them - as an only child, to suddenly be swamped with 3 toddlers is very overwhelming to him, but he's getting better.

I really must set up a routine - now that I've finished work outside the home and Billy only has preschool one day / week, I'm finding it hard to even know what day it is! The days seem to be passing by and I'm not achieving much - I need to get back to a routine and lists..

OK enough procrastination for now - time to get to work. I'm working on a new website for Joliv (www.joliv.com.au) - a facelift and some enhancements to help grow her business.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Adios Senor!

We've just waved Pete off on his trip to Spain. He has a long couple of days of travelling ahead of him - from here, he's driving down to Sydney (2 hrs), he'll leave the ute at Grant's place and they'll catch the train over to the airport. Their flight leaves about 6pm tonight - flying to London, then something insane like a 75 min transfer to another terminal, and a 2.5 hr flight to Madrid. They'll get in late Thursday night our time - and I bet they'll be exhausted!!

They spend 4 days in Madrid and then reverse the process to come home - arriving back in Sydney on Tuesday night. He'll stay overnight at Grant's place and drive home on Wednesday morning...

I think he'll need a holiday to get over that one by then!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

The race that stops a nation..

I thought I'd stumbled into a parallel universe this afternoon when I went "down town" to get some stuff for Pete to go away.. I had to double-check that it *was* Tuesday afternoon, and I hadn't driven in on Sunday afternoon instead.. There were literally 3 people in the mall, it was really easy to get a car park, and some of the shops were shut. Then it hit me when I saw all of the shopkeepers huddled around TVs - Melbourne Cup day! As you can obviously guess I have zero interest in horse-racing, and even less interest in fashion or drinking, so it's not high on my priority list! In fact I think it's a wonderful piece of marketing - to convince people who don't care about horse-racing for the rest of the year to stop what they are doing and watch a race that they don't know much about and will forget the winner of 5 minutes later!!

Anyway I apologise to the bank teller who had to serve me while the race was on :)

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Weekly wrap-up

Well I wouldn't say that this has been my most productive week ever!

I've had a migraine of varying intensity since Tuesday (hopefully gone now), and then woke up this morning to find my paypal account had been hacked. That got rapidly worse as they then tried to get into my ebay account, failed since it had a different password, but they hacked into my hotmail account that had the same password and hijacked that so they were then able to get my ebay password via a reset. They then listed 2 laptops on my account.

eBay Live Help were far better than I expected and I got that one sorted pretty quickly - still no useful response from paypal or Microsoft about the hacked accounts. I did manage to change my paypal email address and password before the hacker did, so I hope it's safe, but they still have my hotmail account. I've spent most of the day setting up a new account and changing passwords on everything I can think of, as a lot of passwords were stored in my hotmail account. I think they're just after ebay / paypal ones, but I can't afford to take chances. Luckily no bank account details were stored in there. Lots of valuable lessons learnt today, and I know it's my own fault but I'm still pretty annoyed with the scumbag that did it... I've had that email account for about 10 years and I feel like part of my identity has been ripped away..

On the plus side, it did give me a good chance to really think about what things I wanted to be subscribed to! (I wouldn't really recommend it as an ideal way though lol).

On the homeschooling front - at the end of our first week, to be honest, there hasn't been a lot of "home" or formal "school" go on lol. We started on Tuesday - did some worksheets in the morning and then went to the local homeschoolers picnic at lunch time. As I said in a previous post, Billy got on well with one of the boys there so we were invited over to their house on Wednesday afternoon. We did some school work before we went over. It went down hill from there though - Thursday was preschool, Friday we had swimming in the morning, and my head was so bad that school was out of the question in the afternoon. Saturday I worked and Billy & Pete went to a beer show - not sure if I can put that into a school outcome or not lol. Today I was busy changing passwords :(

Oh well, next week is a new week! It should be an interesting one actually - Pete is off to Madrid on Wednesday...

I've been hacked :(

I woke up this morning to find that somehow while I was asleep through the night I'd made a paypal transaction that I don't remember to a Chinese name that doesn't ring any bells.. Grrr! I guess that's what I get for not practising what I preach about changing your passwords regularly. It's *only* $350 - it could have been much worse - but I hope it gets sorted out soon. Thank goodness for the Baby Emergency Fund...

So now I'm frantically trying to think if any other places might have been compromised as well.

Please, go and change your passwords now!

Saturday, November 03, 2007

It's all Lis's fault :)

Guess who found themselves in Big W this afternoon buying a donut maker... Yes Lis, it's *all* your fault!! (http://alteredcutlery.blogspot.com/2007/10/donuts.html). I must say they are very delish and very easy to make! I think these will be a staple in the freezer for treats. I don't let Billy have a lot of bought treats because they send him feral so these will be something special!

I would've taken a photo, but oops, they disappeared before I could :)

Friday, November 02, 2007

Recipe: Rice Bubble Nutties


We made this recipe from The Commonsense Cookery Book (Book Two) to take over to Billy's new friend's house on Wednesday - they were all pratically inhaled by all of the kids (and the mums didn't mind them either!) so he bugged me to make some more today. He did the measuring out of the dry ingredients - a bit of a maths lesson in fractions along the way :)


We made the Cornflake variation.


Rice Bubble Nutties


1 cup rice bubbles

1 cup rolled oats

1/4 cup flour

1/2 cup coconut

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup melted butter

1 tablespoon honey

1/2 teaspoon bicarb of soda

2 tablespoons boiling water


Mix rice bubbles, rolled oats, flour, coconut, salt & sugar together. Add melted butter, honey & bicarb dissolved in 2 tablespoons of boiling water. Drop with a spoon on a greased tray, leaving space between each to spread. Bake in a slow oven and leave on tray till cold.


Note: Cornflake Nutties can be made the same way, substituting conrnflakes for rice bubbles.


* My note - our oven has a mind of it's own, but I cooked them for about 10 mins on 180 deg C.


Thursday, November 01, 2007

Actor's Studio Meme

While I'm busy catching up, Lightening tagged me ages ago for a meme, so here goes.

The Actors Studio 10 Questions Meme -

1. What is your favorite word?

I love words that roll off the tongue like "quintessential" or "penultimate". When I was a young teen I went through an obsession with the word "cute" - every thing was described as cute! It drove my parents mad - understandably!!

2. What is your least favorite word?

At this time of year - "politics" or "election" :)

3. What turns you on [creatively, spiritually or emotionally]?

Time by myself to recharge; watching a bubbling stream

4. What turns you off?

Rude or aggressive people

5. What sound or noise do you love?

Silence!

6. What sound or noise do you hate?

Finger nails down a blackboard, bottles sliding into styrofoam boxes

7. What is your favorite curse word? *

Unfortunately I use the F word too much. :( I wouldn't call it my favourite, but certainly my most used.. I'm trying to do better!

8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

Writer

9. What profession would you not like to do?

Childcare, Nursing

10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

Well, we've had to wait a while for you!

*If you do not wish to use the curse word on your site that’s ok and understandable - try and find one not so offensive instead, if you can, or alternatively star out some of the letters.

I think everyone's probably been tagged since I've left this so long, but if you want to do it, consider yourself tagged!

Picture Me Meme



I've been tagged by Lisa at The Tin House and Lis at Altered Cutlery to take part in the picture-me Meme. (I think that was all - sorry if I forgot anyone!) This was started by Kate at Our Red House:


"The rules are simple: post a picture of yourself on your blog. As some may feel uncomfortable posting a current photo, a baby or childhood picture is fine. Post the picture, tell us the story behind it, copy the logo, and tag three others (without forgetting to tell them that they have been tagged!)"



This photo was taken 3 or 4 days after Billy was born. The local paper used to send a photographer around to the hospitals to take photos of the new mums & bubs, and it then appeared in the weekly paper (I'm not sure if they do it anymore or not). Just before the photographer arrived, the "baby blues" hit me and I was a complete blubbering mess! The nurse ended up telling the photographer to come back later :) So my smile isn't quite as genuine as it could be - along with the fact that I hate getting my photo taken!

That done, I tag:

Emma at Em's Blog

Libby at Life is a Journey not a Destination

Mrs P at GoLightly Place

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

First official homeschool event

Today was our first official homeschooling event. The local homeschoolers group had a picnic at Maitland park - quite a few families there with a multitude of kids of various ages. Every one seemed quite nice - Billy hit it off with another boy the same age and has a play date organised with him tomorrow! They only live about 5 minutes away too which is handy if they get on.

And now back to the grindstone!

We had a great weekend, very relaxing! It was our belated anniversary weekend away (our anniversary is in Sept, but we put it off until we weren't in the middle of all of the b'day parties!) - we had 3 nights in Sydney by ourselves! Billy stayed with my parents, sister & nieces and had ball.



Our accommodation was great value for money - we stayed at the Holiday Inn in Darling Harbour - Pete used points from his work travel, and then we got a free upgrade because he's a "platinum" member, so we scored a suite for absolutely nothing :) The hotel is right on the edge of Chinatown so we ate "real" Chinese one night, Japanese Teppanyaki BBQ another night and steak & chips at the pub the other night lol. China Town was amazing at night - young Asian ladies were standing outside all of the restaurants to try and get people to come into their restuarant. It was a lot like Lygon St in Melbourne but Asian not Italian lol.


China Town entrance


The view from our room - Paddy's Markets (mostly cheap junk but great fruit & vege markets as well)

The monorail went straight past our hotel - this was taken from our room!



Mostly we relaxed, read, slept, did a bit of shopping (and lots of walking). Saturday was our day of "culture" :) - we saw 2 plays over at the Opera House. Firstly we went to a matinee performance of "The Government Inspector". It was a Bell Shakespeare production adapted from a Russian play about a down-on-his-luck traveller being mistaken for a government inspector by the corrupt town officials and showered with bribes. He plays the con for all it's worth and even sleeps with the mayor's wife - and daughter!! It was absolutely hilarious - normally it has a cast of about 20, but it was done by 2 actors - Darren Gilshennan and William Zappa - with lots of costume changes and voices! It was so cleverly done, lots of slapstick, and a bit Charlie Chaplin-esque in some scenes! I laughed so much my cheeks were aching by the end of it!



That night we saw the Sydney Theatre Company perform the David Williamson play "Don's Party". It was set on Election night 1969 when Labor's Gough Whitlam was expected to win (but didn't) - it wasn't all that political though. "Don" and his wife Kath were throwing a party for his Labor voting friends, throw a liberal voting couple in the mix, and fueled by lots of alcohol, lots of sexual by-play and that's the plot in a nutshell :) It was a lot funnier than I was expecting but quite confronting in a few places. All of the characters were well played but my favourite was Rhys Muldoon playing Cooley - an oversexed, opionated "oaf" - I'm a big fan of his :)



So all in all a good weekend - it was lovely to eat a meal in peace or just sit and relax without having to keep an eye on the munchkin. I couldn't sleep in though - I seem to have lost the ability :(



Back to the grindstone today!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

A much better day!

Thank you for all the online hugs I received - they're powerful things :)

I got another website redesign sent live today - it's a new look for the one I recently finished (www.divapromotions.com.au). That leaves me with two more website re-designs, and 2 programming jobs to finish before I can stop work for the year. Yes Lisa - I will be taking time for myself very soon :)

We went out to dinner tonight for my b'day - a new Hog's Breath steakhouse has opened near us, so we went with my parents, sister & nieces. The food was quite nice - I ate too much though! Pete insisted on ordering dessert for me! I was very spoilt and felt very loved.

I'm taking a break until Tuesday so I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend.

To: GOD.com

I hope this doesn't offend anyone, it's not my intention in any way - I just found this particularly apt with this wonderful online blogging community.


TO: God.com

Dear Lord,
Every single evening
As I'm lying here in bed,
This tiny little Prayer
Keeps running through my head:

God bless all my family
Wherever they may be,
Keep them warm and safe from harm
For they're so close to me.

And God, there is one more thing
I wish that you could do;
Hope you don't mind me asking,
Please bless my computer too.

Now I know that it's unusual
To Bless a motherboard,
But listen just a second
While I explain it to you, Lord.

You see, that little metal box
Holds more than odds and ends;
Inside those small compartments
Rest so many of my friends.

I know so much about them
By the kindness that they give,
And this little scrap of metal
Takes me in to where they live.

By faith is how I know them
Much the same as you.
We share in what life brings us
And from that our friendships grew.

Please take an extra minute
From your duties up above,
To bless those in my address book
That's filled with so much love.

Wherever else this prayer may reach
To each and every friend,
Bless each e-mail inbox
And each person who hits "send".

When you update your Heavenly list
On your own Great CD-ROM,
Bless everyone who says this prayer
Sent up to GOD.com

Amen

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

A bad day at work


I have over 60 blog posts sitting unread in Google Reader and I just haven't had time to read them yet :( I had over 70 yesterday - I got through some last night, I think I was down to around 50, but it's up again!

Thank you so much to all of the people who leave comments on my blog - you have no idea how much it's appreciated. I'm not being very reciprocal atm, but that will change some day I hope!! To those who have given me awards or tagged me for a meme - thank you, and I will get to it, I promise!!

I've been doing well in regards to Muffin - until a letter arrived from the vet yesterday. I opened it, expecting it to just be a receipt for the final payment but it was a condolence card - complete with Muffin's paw print and a small amount of her fur tied with a ribbon. I dissolved again :(

I really must get my BAS done tomorrow before the tax man harrasses me. I always put it off until the last minute; I just hate dealing with tax!

Pete's off to Madrid next month for a quick trip. His mate won a fantasy tennis competition with the winning prize being a trip for 2 to Madrid - flights, 4 nights accommodation, 3 days entry to watch the women's tennis in Madrid, a tour of Madrid, a behind the scenes tour of the venue and to meet one of the top players. And lucky Pete gets to go with him! They'll be exhausted when they get back though - the flights go via London, so will be a minimum of 27hrs. Plus I don't imagine they'll sleep a lot while they're over there lol. We're not sure of dates yet but it's somewhere around the 8th of Nov that they'll leave. Looks like we'll be doing a unit on Spain with school!

We start school "officially" next Tue - we'll be meeting up with some other local homeschoolers for a picnic lunch on the same day, so that's not a bad way to start the school year! I'm still not entirely organised but I know Billy will be waiting eagerly to start at probably 6am that morning - he won't let me put it off :) I've written an integrated unit of work on "Me & my family" as a starting place and have some maths workbooks ready to go, so it won't be total chaos :)

I'm sure I had a point when I started writing, but it's dissolved into ramble - sorry! Too much on my mind, not enough sleep and too much caffeine!!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

It's over!!!


Do I need say more???!!!! Uni is over!!!!
No more dropping Billy at preschool at 7:30am!
No more prep work the night before!!
YAY!!!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Muffin..


I finally found the CD - this is one of my favourite photos of Muffin, taken about 6 years ago. It's actually quite startling to realise how much she had deteriorated in health from when this was taken. You know how you don't see changes when you are with someone all the time?




She was a Ragdoll cat - pure bred but not "perfect" enough to show so we got to buy her as a pet.


I still miss her & expect to see her at odd times - it still hurts but I've stopped crying..

Friday, October 19, 2007

Relaxing day.

We started back at swimming this morning - he did quite well, and luckily hadn't forgotten it all since we had last term off! Mum & Dad called in to see us while we were there and showed us where she's up to with the logo she's designing for our brewery. It's looking great - I really wish she'd passed some of the artistic genes on to me!!!

After that we headed off to visit with friends for lunch - Gem has been my friend since 2nd class - I worked out this afternoon that that's about 30 years which is pretty scary :) Ewan & Billy are the same age, and play pretty well together - or as well as 5 years olds can! It was good to sit, relax and solve the problems of the world - I hope I didn't take up too much of her day though!

We're making pizza for tea - I'm just about to start making the dough now, and then we'll head off to pick up Pete from the train. I don't know that I'll get much done tonight - I'm exhausted from not doing anything all day!! I have a couple of website redesigns to do, but I'm letting them sit in my subconscious for a while..

I've started to do a brain dump - I've got a lot of little tasks floating around in my head that I need to get down in a list before they send me mad :)

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

While on the nautical theme...

here are a few photos from our trip to the replica Endeavour last week. For any international visitors, the Endeavour was the boat Captain James Cook sailed in when he discovered Australia.



A few facts I didn't know:


  • the Endeavour was originally a coal ship, so to accommodate all of the crew they needed for Cook's journeys, they had to add an extra floor below decks. It's *very* cramped down there!

  • Cook didn't get the best cabin for the trip! Joseph Banks was a major investor in the trip so he got to have the best cabin - he had a bunk and Cook had to make do with a hammock!

  • the cook only had 1-arm - now that's a challenge!

  • the nautical term for measuring speed "knots" came about because they used to have a rope knotted every 47-odd foot that they threw overboard for 28 secs (counted by a sand-timer). Once the time was up they hauled the rope back in and counted how many "knots" they had travelled to calculate their speed.

Enough facts, sit back and enjoy the photos :)



Cosy sleeping quarters!

The "mess"

Billy and his cousin Ana "steering" the ship


The highlight of Billy's trip - the "toilet" over the side of the ship (left) and the "toilet paper" (right). They used to trail the rope over the side to wash it ready for the next person!

Brain strain

Uggh - talk about small jobs turning into big ones if you don't keep on top of them.. I was in a nice routine of invoicing my clients regularly until the wheels fell off a few months ago - it just took me 2 hours to catch up on invoicing :( On the plus side, I should get a nice amount of money coming in in the next few weeks now!

I feel like I'm going backwards with tasks atm - I cross one thing off the list, check my email and add 3 more on! I'm seeing very brief glimpses of that proverbial light at the end of the tunnel - I'm just hoping it's not a train :)

I was reading something in the last couple of days that has stuck in my mind. It was about how you flip forward in your diary and look longingly at the blank pages coming up so you can take a break, but of course, by the time you get there, the pages are no longer blank. I can't remember if I read it on someone's blog or in an article, or quite where - if you want to take credit for it, let me know - I'd love to acknowledge it! I had November "blocked out" for some time off - I'm still not taking on new jobs until next year but the existing jobs I do have on atm will run into that time. So now December is my time off - let's see how I go with that lol!

I had my penultimate day at uni on Tuesday (I love that word!) - next week is IT! I have also finished my last assignment for my CertIV, I just need to print it and post it off.

On the house front, the new lounge / family room area is slowly taking shape. We have at least finally moved all of the furniture! The new office area is a complete mess though - that's next on my list! We still have stuff piled in unusual places around the house :) We've been taking the opportunity for a good cull while we've been going - I've sent a few things off via Freecycle and there is a huge pile in the shed waiting to go to the dump/recycling bin. Funnily enough, no-one seems to want 15 year old uni computer textbooks!!! The new lounge area is really working well though - it's a great space and has really opened up that part of the house. Once we get organised again I'll be pleased I had the idea :)

Ahoy there me hearties!


This was the result of my "getting told at the 11th hour, Mummy I need to dress up like a pirate for preschool tomorrow" costume design :)

The pants were a pair of old trackpants that were halfway up his legs and already had patches on them! The shirt was one that was getting too small for him. The sash & bandana were made from an old pyjama top in the "rag bag". The patch was from his dress up box, and the tattoo was courtesy of his cousin's b'day party on the weekend.

The pose is entirely his own work :)

Monday, October 15, 2007

Today is Blog Action Day

Bloggers all over the world will be discussing the environment on their blog today - what a great way to raise awareness!

I'm not the type of person to campaign or demonstrate on a large scale. Instead I'm trying to change my own habits to tread lightly on the earth in the hope that that will make some overall difference. A couple of quotes I've read recently sum it up for me:

“Few will have the greatness to bend history itself; but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation.” Robert Francis Kennedy

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever does” Margaret Mead

I've listed before some of the habits I'm trying to establish to have a positive impact on the environment eg in water & electricity savings. I'm also trying to grow more of our food, cut down on packaging, reduce usage of disposal items like plastic bags, use non-toxic cleaners etc. It's the same sort of things many of you are doing.

For me, the biggest way I'm making a difference is by passing on a responsible attitude & habits to my son. If these sorts of things become second-nature to our children, then hopefully the picture won't be so bleak for their generation. I was explaining Freecycle to Billy this afternoon as a lady was coming to pick up some things I was offering. I explained that just because we didn't have a use for something any more, some one else may be able to make use of it rather than throwing it to the dump - he piped up with "I know - reduce, reuse, recycle"! I was a very proud mum :) (Thanks also go to Bob the Builder for reinforcing that message!)

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Thanks so much everyone

I wanted to say thank you to everyone who left a comment about our cat, it was very comforting.

We put her to sleep yesterday morning. I'm just about cried out by now but still get caught off-guard at times. I keep expecting to see her walking down the hallway, or curled up on our bed - every time I see an open door I think "oh I'd better close that so Muffin doesn't get out".

She had a pretty good life - we got her as a kitten 11 years ago, and she was our baby. Admittedly she got her nose pushed out of joint a bit 5 years ago when the real baby came along but she didn't have to share us for 6 years!

I'll post some photos of her once I can get to wherever the CDs have been put while we're moving stuff around.

She'd lost a lot of weight steadily over the last couple of years - she must've had it for at least that long in hindsight. It was never picked up in normal blood tests and it was only when the vet did a specific blood test for Feline Leukemia on Friday that it was found. It's actually a virus, not a leukemia and statistically speaking, she shouldn't have had it. It's mostly found in young cats up to 6 years old, outdoor cats & cats in multi-cat household. She was much older, never stepped foot outside and we've never had another cat in the house. The only time she could have caught it is at the vets or possibly when she was boarded a couple of times. I'm starting to wonder though if she had it right from a kitten - she was quite sick when we first got her and we thought we'd lose her - possibly she's had it that long and it's only flared up in the last couple of years. Who knows, and it's pointless even wondering..

The vet couldn't tell us how long she'd have left obviously, but did say she'd be in and out of hospital with secondary infections for however long she lasted. It didn't take much to make the decision to spare her that.

It's hard though..