Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Some days I don't know whether to strangle him or laugh!

We were running late with bedtime and I told Billy to go and get into bed. When I went in to tuck him in, he was *under* the bed.

"Billy, I told you to get *into* bed, not under it.. "

"But I was in bed - I was in the basement!"

I couldn't help but crack up :)

Monday, April 28, 2008

Menu Plan Monday - 28th April

I did the fortnight's shopping today and was organised enough to mince, chop & divide meat when we got home - so it's all in the freezer ready to go. I'm going to try and focus on not wasting food this month - it was a disgrace how much I threw out when I cleaned the fridge out this morning :(

I'm checking out a few new recipes this week since I have time to think about it now rather than wondering what to do with the meat at 5pm!

Monday - tacos
Tuesday - pork kebabs - pork in honey mustard marinade, pineapple, spanish onion & anything else that looks good threaded onto skewers, cooked on the BBQ and served with couscous
Wednesday - steak & BBQed veges wrapped in warm tortillas (homemade of course!)
Thursday - cashew chicken & rice
Friday - balsamic steak with tomato, basil & fetta
Saturday - Roast pork and baked veges
Sunday - will depend what time Pete gets home from AFL - probably something easy like bacon & eggs or toasted sandwiches.

For more menu plan ideas, see Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Look at this!!

Sunshine!!! We've had almost 2 weeks of rain, so it was wonderful to see some sunshine this weekend - and get some clothes washed & dried!

Mum & Dad came over on Friday afternoon, so Mum could look at my sewing machine. It's one I 'inherited' from her - it's at least 35 years old, bright orange and as heavy as a small car - and needless to say, hasn't had a lot of use from me! Last time I tried to use it, it caused me all sorts of angst, so I wanted her to see if she could fix it, if not, I'd put my order in for a new one for Mother's Day.

She tested, tweaked, and twiddled with things I didn't even know were on the machine, and finally got it working.

So Saturday I got creative -

What is it, you ask?! A hanging toy organiser for some of Billy's little toys and stuff he uses at bedtime.

Here it is in situ - in hangs on the side of the bookcase next to his bed.

And here he is practising to be a 'Sale of the Century' model... (Don't ask me - I think he was a mix-up at the hospital!)

Sunday I got creative again - I picked up a bolt end of curtain material at Spotlight for $3 - it worked out to be $1/m!

Billy has pigeon holes in our school / craft / play room to hold craft stuff, and it always looks really messy..

Ta da - curtains to hide the mess!

I'm really impressed with myself - as long as no-one looks too closely lol.

Sewing has always been one of those things I thought I couldn't do - well, I think I've proven that I *can* do it. It may not be pretty, and I won't be dressmaking any time soon, but I can sew straight(ish) lines!

I'm finally realising that no, it's not as good as my mum could do, but then she's been sewing for 40+ years!

Speaking of stuff I never thought I could do, while at Spotlight on Friday I bought a set of those knitting looms that Lightening has been having so much success with, and some wool on special.

Let's just say a) there is a reason there is no photo of my 1st project lol, b) Billy liked it though and snapped it up as a 'blanket' for his stuffed animals and c) I really, really enjoyed it!

Does anyone have any easy patterns for them?

Stay tuned!!


Billy drew this for me this morning - the hearts are kisses :)

I think this qualifies for Lightening's Smiley Saturday! (even if it's a day late!)

Friday, April 25, 2008

Lest We Forget

Today was ANZAC Day in Australia and New Zealand. It marks the day the ANZACs (Australian & New Zealand Army Corps) landed at Gallipoli (Turkey) in 1915. It also commemorates all who have been lost in war.

They shall grow not old,
As we that are left grow old,
Age shall not weary them,
Nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun,
And in the morning
We will remember them.
Lest we Forget

While Australian soldiers were fighting overseas, parcels of biscuits were sent across and became known as ANZAC biscuits. (Or so the story goes anyway!)

We made some today to mark the day.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Flat Travellers

We're just about to join in with homeschoolers around the world as part of the Flat Travellers project.

It's based on a book called "Flat Stanley" written by Jeff Brown about a boy who is squashed flat by a bulletin board and is able to travel the world in an envelope.

You make your own "flat traveller" (or multiple) either as a photo, drawing or picture, laminate it and then swap with other homeschool families around the world. While your traveller is away, the host family fills in a journal of things they do, and shares information about their family and area.

It looks like a great way of learning about other countries and how people live. We're learning already - our first swap is with a family from Minnesota - and apologies to my US readers, but until today I had no idea where Minnesota was!

I'm really looking forward to participating in this!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Menu Plan Monday - 21st April

Finally joining in with Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday - to see what everyone else is eating this week, check out her post.

Not very exciting this week in our household.

Monday - Quiche (ham, roast pumpkin, spinach & corn) with salad
Tuesday - Pork chops with balsamic glaze & steamed veges
Wednesday - Beef stir-fry & brown rice
Thursday - Panfried Fish, mashed potato and steamed veges
Friday - Thai chicken curry & rice
Saturday - Spaghetti bolognaise
Sunday - Steak & veges

Sunday, April 20, 2008

'My imaginary friend'

On Friday we went to the Theatre! The play was called 'My Imaginary Friend' and is one of a series of kid's play on at the Civic Theatre in Newcastle throughout the year. It was absolutely delightful - about a 5 year old girl called Tori (played by Giverny Lewis) who is supposed to be playing inside quietly while Mum is cleaning the house ready for visitors, but instead has wonderful adventures with her imaginary friend 'Charlie Dog' (Tim Shearman) - and creates lots of mess! They become pirates, astronauts, jungle explorers - all sorts of things with the help of the dress up box.

Billy loved it. It was the first actual play that he'd seen and he thought it was great. It was interactive enough for the kids not to get bored (and contained the ubiquitous gross snot jokes lol), but clever enough for the adults to enjoy as well. (There were a couple of references to movies like Star Wars, 2001: A Space Odyssey and one of the old ones like Casablanca). I thought it was wonderful too!

And to make the day even more special, we caught the train down to Newcastle. There is a station right opposite the theatre, and since that was the only reason we were going down, it was an ideal time to do it.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree

We saw this little fellow sitting up a tree in the uni car park yesterday. He was quite unconcerned by the people walking underneath him!

We were at the uni to see my niece dance in the Classical Ballet Eisteddfod - she came 2nd in her section which was wonderful!

And to amuse the 5yo while taking a break from watching a couple of hours of ballet routines, here he is in the teepee / shelter we built. (taken on my phone so not great quality!)

** Apologies if you're singing that song or variations all day :)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

If only you could smell this...

Mmmm chicken cacciatore..

I'm really loving my herb pot on the windowsill. The fresh basil just smelt divine!

A Day in My Life - April 14th

Yesterday I took part in Jenny's "A Day in My Life" where you document your day each 14th. It was a lot of fun!

5:45am Alarm goes off. Listen to our local ABC radio while waking up - answer quiz questions in my head. Did you know a "spat" is a baby oyster? I didn't!

6am. Up & dressed. Make Pete's lunch - roll out of a saved pork chop, spanish onion and cucumber. No fruit so have to open a tin of apricots & spoon into a container. Really must go shopping!

6:20 Turn computer on. Realise it's the 14th so grab a piece of paper & start jotting down what's happened, while chatting to Pete.

6:30 Check email - read a few that look important and / or interesting. Moderate Freecycle group. Pete gets B up.

6:35 Pete leaves - kisses & wave goodbye. Snuggle with Billy on the lounge and watch Bob the Builder. "Can we fix it??" One episode is enough, grab laptop and go back to snuggle. check a couple of boards, print list of books due back at the library this week, renew some books that I know haven't been read yet. Make a mental note to start reading more books with Billy through the day.

7am. Make breakfast - dippy (poached) eggs & toast for us both, water for Billy, cup of tea for me. (I drink water constantly through the day so I won't be writing down every glass I have!) While doing that water the seedlings & cuttings, help Billy write an email to his Ma (Pete's mum), clean off kitchen counter, dry dishes and deal with tired, grumpy, whinging, over-partied 5yo..

7:30. Have breakfast while reading emails, blogs.

7:45 Clean up breakfast dishes. Give fridge a cursory clean out, empty scrap bin to worms, wash dishes, fold basket of clean clothes that I dumped on the lounge yesterday while frantically looking for a pair of socks to wear out. Interrupted several times by Billy "watch me do this one" or "can you help me with this" as he plays on the Curious George website. Realise how much needs to be ironed because I didn't deal with it straight away. :(

8:15 Finally get to have a shower. Make beds, quick tidy of bedrooms. Load of sheets on to wash. Start making grocery list. Billy chasing one of those bouncy superballs around the kitchen.

9am Ring Smash Repairs to find out procecedure (damage from bingle earlier in the year). I've been putting off getting it fixed because a) it's going to be a pain to have the car out of action and b) I was trying to save up the money first without dipping in to emergency fund. But Pete got a phone call from the insurance company on Friday to say they can't settle the other guy's repairs until we get our car fixed. Sounds ludicrous to me but there you go!

Take a quick break to check emails, answer a couple of work ones and type up day so far otherwise I'm going to be typing for hours tonight!

Read an email from a client that basically contradicts everything he told me on the phone earlier so I'll need to go out and see him. Flag it to get back to him once I know what's happening with the car.

9:30 Hang load of sheets out. Put load of towels in. Billy now making something (?) out of boxes. I'm afraid to ask what it is! Make a note as I walk past the vege garden that there are spinach & snow peas ready to pick so will have to add that to the menu plan. Get back to making the grocery list.

Watch "The Billy Show". He's dressed up with a clown's wig, blue gloves, headphones and singing & dancing! Oh and jumping out of aforementioned box creation. I'm still not sure what it is - maybe a jack in the box??

Dry dishes, get drink bottles filled and have a couple of vita weats with plastic (sliced) cheese for morning tea because that's all that's left in the house!

10:15 Give Billy a hurry up to get dressed. He stomps off to his room in a huff because I won't play the game on his computer. Hang load of towels out while looking anxiously at the clouds in the sky. Radar still looks clear though.

10:30 off to the smash repairers. He took photos etc etc - they need it for 3 days! It's a tiny scrape but he claims they need it for that long for the paint to dry. They're taking bookings from 28th April, so have to ring back and organise a time that's less incovenient than any other!

Off to Bilo. Was distracted by the fact that it was freezing in there - even in the normal aisles so standing in the meat aisle searching intently for decent looking meat at a reasonable price was torture!! It ended up being an expensive shop with needing things like washing powder, plus I bought nuts and some nice fetta cheese.

Came in just under budget. Had to put up with a tantrum on the way out by a very hungry boy (well I'm excusing him for that reason) because *he* wanted to press the OK button on the EFTPOS machine. (I used a prepaid Visa that I'd purchased with points from Homescan).

12:45 home to dripping clothes on the line (so much for the radar!), a parcel at the front door that I tried to distract Billy from (a b'day present for him) and a message on the answering machine. I brought the groceries inside, put the cold stuff in the fridge / freezer, got changed, and started making us some lunch. Macaroni with grated cheese and a strawberry milkshake for Master B and a toasted cheese sandwich for me (oh and a nice warm cup of tea). Went back for some rice crackers and a banana. Checked email, moderated freecycle groups and read a few blogs.

2pm Scanned groceries & put away. I'm part of an AC Nielsen project called HomeScan where they provide you with a scanner, and you scan all grocery items that you buy so they can see shopping trends. You earn points by doing it regularly - that's where my prepaid Visa came from. It gets to be a pain sometimes but luckily I don't shop very often!

2:30 Checked & answered emails. Booked car into smash repairers. Tested Billy's invention that dispensed afternoon tea.

3pm Foot's hurting so sat down with a book. Was interrupted several times to help Billy do stuff. Put roast on to cook for tea. Billy watched Backyard Science and then tried to duplicate a couple of the experiments. Did the ironing and put clothes away.

5:15pm Pete home. Peeled some veges to go with the roast. Parboiled potatoes and put on to roast. Picked spinach and snow peas, and steamed them along with a carrot. Washed up the dishes, containers & cooking utensils that had magically grown on the bench since this morning!

7pm. Pete watching football, so jumped back on the computer. Answered a couple of emails, updated Money with new transactions.

7:30pm Start Billy's shower, help him dry & dress afterwards. Pete goes in to practice reading with Billy and say goodnight. I tidy bathroom & choose a book to read to him. My turn. I read a book to him, he reads one to me, then we snuggle, talk about the good things that happened today and what we'll be doing tomorrow.

8:30pm Out to the kitchen to wash the dishes from tea, fill water bottles for tomorrow and sweep the floor.

Back in to turn Billy's light out.

9pm. I was supposed to be doing An Hour for the Planet tonight but Pete didn't go to squash, so will postpone it til Wednesday night. Review a document for a client and send her feedback.

9:30 Off to bed to read for a while and then lights out.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Exploring our local area: Maitland Gaol

Isn't it amazing how we visit tourist attractions and explore an area while travelling, but don't explore our local area. I'm trying to rectify that!

Today a friend and I took our kids to visit a local attraction - Maitland Gaol. The gaol was built in 1848 and closed in 1998 after 150 years - it was the longest continuously operating prison in Australia. It's now been turned into a tourist attraction. During it's time it housed some of the country's most notorious prisoners, including serial killer Ivan Milat.

We took a self-guided audio tour - it was absolutely fascinating. The tour took us almost 2 hours, just going at our own pace (like a snack stop mid-way). The kids seemed to enjoy it - luckily some of the commentary went over their heads - I wasn't looking forward to answering questions about some of it! It wasn't gruesome, just factual, but terms I'd rather not be explaining at this age.

I'd like to go back one day and hear the bits that I missed while kid-wrangling, but I really enjoyed what I heard!!

The Adventures of Spiderman and Ninja Turtle

Almost every night Billy likes to make up adventures with his toys. I'm often "privileged" to watch them. The heroes are always Spiderman and Ninja Turtle - with a supporting cast. When this photo was taken (by Billy - he was making a movie!) the supporting cast were Mr Tickle, Buzzy Bee and Dinosaur - the bee and dinosaur have now been usurped by a rocket.

The adventures almost always include harm befalling one of the characters (falling off a cliff / down a hole - ie off the bed; getting lost in a cave - ie under the covers etc) - tonight Ninja Turtle fell off the cliff. He uses a variety of tissue boxes as props - stage, vehicle, buildings - whatever the situation calls for - I even get used as a prop at times (eg ramp!).

Ninja Turtle's backpack (aka Rescue Pack) transforms into a variety of useful tools ('Ahhh rescue pack, coming to the rescue' for those familiar with 'Go Diego Go'). And what adventure wouldn't be complete without a song and / or song and dance routine.

Ah the fun of having an imaginative child!!

(Oh and seriously - despite the fact that I think most of those things in the photo above are McDonald's plastic crap - we really don't eat it that often. Honest!!!)

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Impressions of "An Hour for the Planet" challenge

This was written last night:

"I'm sitting here in bed taking part in my first An Hour for the Planet challenge. It's 9:19pm, I started at 8:30pm. The only light left on in the house is Billy's toilet light - he doesn't like to go to sleep without it. I must find an alternative.

I've been sitting here by candlelight jotting down impressions - it's hard to find a comfortable spot where I can actually see what I'm writing so I've finally given up and turned the torch on so I can write. I feel like I'm cheating!

My strongest impression is how tired I feel. You don't realise how strongly electric lights interfere with our body clocks and internal rhythms. I feel like I'm camping when you're ready for bed by 7:30!

The air is quite chilly tonight. My arms are feeling the nip of autumn while my legs are toasty warm under the doona.

It's quiet now. Earlier the gentle sounds of night were all but drowned out by the CD Billy was listening to as he went to sleep. I've just been in to turn it off and cover him up again.

Now I can hear the tick of the clock, and the occasional "creak" of the frogs in the pond. Before there was the calling of a bird flying overhead - I can't identify what it was but it brought back memories of sleeping in the van outside Gram & Pop's house at Bonnell's Bay.

I have a single tealight candle burning in my oil burner. The oil I used last was a "relaxing" blend - I can smell it subtly on the air. There's also a hint of eucalyptus - I was burning it this afternoon to help Billy's cold.

I feel very relaxed - the hour seems to have lasted much longer. I've learnt that it's impossible to do anything by the light of one candle!

I'm about to chase away the mysterious shadows and the warm yellow glow of candlelight and return to the world of electric lighting - but only long enough to turn a light on to welcome Pete home. Then I'm tucking myself back into bed to sleep."

Sunday, April 06, 2008

An hour for the planet

Melinda at Elements in Time is running a new challenge to extend Earth Hour (I saw in mentioned over at Crazy Mumma's blog). Melinda's challenge is to continue turning our lights etc off for an hour each week until the end of May (and by then it will hopefully be a habit).

I've put my hand up for it. My chosen hour is Monday nights - about 8:30 - 9:30pm. By then Billy will be in bed - he's scared of the dark so it wouldn't be pleasant trying to do it while he's awake! Pete is out at squash on Monday nights - I can't see him being keen on it.

My challenges will be:
* I leave the toilet light on for Billy at night because he's scared of the dark. Maybe there's some kind of solar light that would work instead?
* Instead of leaving the loungeroom light on for Pete to come home to, I'll switch it off until just before I go to bed.
* I'll try reading & writing by candlelight. Computer will be switched off.

I'm looking forward to it!

Wonderful Morning Coffee

On a recent post by Leo at Zen Habits ("12 powerful ways to keep your online life simple and peaceful"), I came across a wonderful add-on for Firefox called Morning Coffee. I wasn't much of a Firefox user, but the add-on sounded so good I had to give it a go.

In a nutshell, Morning Coffee lets you say what web sites you want to open automatically every day or on particular days.

It's been very handy - there are a couple of forums that I like to keep up with but they don't warrant remembering to go to them every day. I tell Morning Coffee I want them to open on Sundays, and lo and behold, when you open your browser and press the morning coffee button, up it comes. No more remembering to go to websites!

There are other sites I like to visit daily, so I mark them as Daily and with the touch of one button, all the sites are loaded. If you use Firefox, go and check it out.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Bush walk - The Pines, Watagan State Forest

Some photos from our homeschool bush walk yesterday at The Pines, in the Watagan State Forest. About 7 families came - I'd only met one of them before so lots of new faces to meet. Once we all eventually found the place, we had a short bush walk and saw some lovely baby waterfalls. I'm a sucker for creeks & waterfalls - I find them so restful.

We didn't see a lot of wildlife - with about a dozen kids tramping through the bush it wasn't really surprising! We did see these Crimson Rosellas just before we left though.

Our picnic lunch was followed by toasted marshmallows and a chance to play with fire :)

Finished with a couple of ball games for the younger ones and lots of free play.

It was a lovely day. Mr Collector filled a bag with pine cones so we'll be adding some to the nature shelf, and I'm sure the rest will be used in craft or something!

A productive window-sill

Rising bread, raising seeds & growing herbs - gotta love the power of the sun :)

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Are we a more selfish generation?

I don't remember my mum ever moaning that she needed "me time". I don't remember her ever taking time out for herself. (Then again my sister and I were probably such angels that she didn't need it!)

Did that generation (I'm 37) just put up with it, or were they more content with what they had?

How do you learn to be content and to appreciate what you have? Or is it a case of having opened the Pandora's box of discontent that it can't be contained?

I'd love to hear any thoughts.

ETA Twilight zone music - I just read the latest post from Zen Habits. I've skimmed it and will have a proper read in the morning..

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

General Round-up

A few little things to update on.

Garden: Well, I successfully killed my seedlings :( They died a few weeks away when we got that hot weather (not quite as hot as Adelaide but I couldn't keep the moisture up to them). Since then I have successfully grown some herbs in a pot on my windowsill, so I'm starting again and seeing if the seeds will grow there too. I've just planted some more lettuce seeds, pak choy (since it doesn't seem to get started by direct sowing), silverbeet, cauliflower & broccoli.

Hopefully I'll be able to update in a week or so with good news!

In better news, I picked a 2nd watermelon today (another 6 kg one) and it was ripe! Yay! And yummy. I used my FIL's recommended technique of telling ripeness by pressing on it - if you hear it crack inside, then it's ripe. It was even more pleasing to be able to give half away to family - I love blessing others with home grown produce.

Work: I have 2 new projects for this month, a couple of old ones that I'm finishing off and a small handful that are on my list but stalled waiting for the client to be ready. That's enough to keep me going this month. I just wish clients would pay in a more timely manner - I'm owed over $5000 from various sources. Most of that is owed by 2 clients :( It certainly doesn't help with cash flow..

Me: I've decided to start walking of an afternoon once Pete gets home from work - by myself. It will give me some exercise *and* some time to myself. Now to actually get started! I was going to go yesterday but we got home late. I can't go tonight because Pete has squash. I *may* be able to go on Thursday depending on when we get home.

I've started writing and am currently caught up in researching the setting. Some of the things I'm discovering are absolutely fascinating!