Thursday, February 13, 2014

School days have begun!

It's been a big couple of weeks in our house. B started school two weeks ago. So far it's all been going well for both of us. I spent a bit of time in the planning and preparation during the holidays so that both of us were ready for the big day. He was really ready for school, me not so much. I knew that I had chosen the best school for him and that he was ready to go, however, I knew that I would miss him.

I have set aside a drawer for B's school clothes. His school is not really strict on uniform, however, they do ask that the students wear school colours if possible. As you can see his colours are red and blue. So all his clothes that are suitable are all in the one drawer to make it nice and easy for him to dress himself in the morning.

We also organised a special place near the door for him to hang his bag every day (the hat stays at school now). He has also started putting his shoes underneath the bag every day which is another little thing which makes getting ready in the mornings.

It took a lot of time to find a suitable lunch box. Trying to find one that had enough space for his lunch and that he is able to manage himself easily was very difficult. We finally managed to find this one and had a trial run one day during the holidays to check that it was big enough and he could access everything himself without mum to open containers. And according to him there are a few other kids in his class with the same lunchboxes!! I was searching for lots of ideas for his lunchbox but he seems to be quite happy with just the same few things each day. I was told this was the case that it's more the parents than the children who want variety. I will mix things up a bit over time probably.

The school settling in process has gone really well. He is loving it and I'm hearing so much about what he does everyday. Starting school is such a big step for both of us and has really involved some adjustments to our routines and days. I'm sure we'll move into the new normal soon.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

We have a dog!

A big event in our house over the last few weeks is that we adopted a dog. B has been asking me for ages for a dog. However, as we rent I was reluctant to get one. At our last rental inspection I asked the agent whether we would be allowed to. We got a yes from the landlord so that barrier was removed.

I chose to adopt a dog from a shelter. There were a number of reasons for this. One, there are many dogs that need to find their new forever home. Two, it is much cheaper - $300 for a desexed, vaccinated, micro chipped and vet checked dog. Three, I didn't want to get a puppy as I thought it would be too much work with B being only 5.

Cosmo is a 6 year old Shih Tzu cross. He has brought a lot of joy into our lives. It's nice for B to have him to play with and take responsibility for. It is his job to feed him.

Here is Cosmo rocking out his new jacket. He sleeps outside so I was worried about him getting cold at night. I found the pattern for this here and it was super easy and quick to make. I had the fabric lying around already so it didn't cost me anything.

One of the other nice benefits to having a dog is the necessity to walk him. It's nice for both of us (especially me) to get the exercise. In addition, it's a great way for B and I to connect. While we are walking we can chat about a whole range of stuff without the distractions of home.

I'm so glad that our family has expanded to include this cute little fellow.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Loving my Library

I love my library. With money being tight I can't afford to buy too many books. Also, with my ongoing attempts to declutter and have less stuff I can't justify having lots of books around.

I used to use the library a lot when I was younger, however, with moving around into different areas I got out of the habit. In addition, the last area I lived in charged for reserving books which kind of put me off.

However, I have got back into the swing of using my library. I tend to use it just to reserve books rather than browsing the shelves. I have to sometimes be careful with how I manage my holds as I had few times where I had a couple of books out at the same time and had to read very quickly to make sure they were back on time. If somebody else has a hold on them you cannot renew the item so have a deadline of 3 weeks to work to. Also, you need to be prepared for sometimes a long wait for a book. I had one book that I had to wait 10 months for - thankfully it was a good read so I wasn't too disappointed!

My library also operates a system where you can create a wish list of books that you want to read. This has been great as I am trying to work through Oprah's book list so whenever I need a book I can just request it from my wish list.

It's also been great for B now that he is into chapter books. I can pick up books at the library that I think he may enjoy to test the waters. This way we have been able to find out what authors he loves. Usually once he enjoys one book he is keen to read other books by the same author.

As I was preparing this post I was watching Tim Winton being interviewed. Prior to the show I placed a hold for his new book and was 27th in line (and they don't even have the book yet). Another one I may have to wait awhile for!

So as long as I return the books on time my library is free so it's nice and easy on the pocket. Also, if I get a book that I don't enjoy I don't need to worry too much as it hasn't cost me anything except time.

I would love to hear any suggestions for good reads to add to my list!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

I'm in Love!

Yes I am in love........with my whitegoods!

I had a small fridge/freezer which was great before B was born. However, I now eat at home more often, take a lot more care with my food these days and don't want to shop with a 5 year old too often (I know, crazy!). So the fridge/freezer I had has been too small for a long time. Earlier in the year I purchased a new fridge and just recently got a new freezer as well. And I am soooo happy!!!

I am getting so much use out of the freezer. In addition to storing meat, bread and frozen veggies I keep it full of other goodies. Some of the things are:

1.  Extra meals. I often make larger meals and freeze the left overs to have on days where we are super busy or I just can't be bothered cooking. It's lovely having the extra space to store a variety of meals.

2.  Stock. I have also started making my own stock. A couple of reasons for this. One, it tastes so much better and two, I know what is in it and that there are no nasties.

3.  Beans. Rather than having tinned beans/chick peas I have started cooking my own and freezing them in individual portions ready to go.

4.  Rice. This one was following a suggestion from a friend. Usually I am just fine with some meat and veggies, however, B needs a bit of carbohydrates with his dinner. I just cook a bit of extra rice and freeze in small portions for him.

5.  Ice cream. I have an ice cream maker and enjoy making my own ice cream. Again, I freeze it in small portions so that you can serve a lot easier rather than waiting for a big container to get soft enough.

6.  Soups. Good for lunches during winter and also depending on the type even sometimes for dinner.

7.  Cooked meats. I really don't like the amount of chemicals, salt, etc. in processed meats so I have been starting to do my own. I just steam a couple of chicken breasts, break them up when they are cool and freeze them in individual portions for sandwiches, salads, etc.

New Fridge!
I am planning to start making a few sweet treats as well to store in the freezer. This will be particularly helpful for next year when I go back to work and B starts school.   
New Freezer!
I would love to hear any other ideas of things I can pop in the freezer to save time or money or just so I can keep working on having as little processed food as possible. 


Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Progress Report

I did intend this to be a half year report and publish at the start of Term 3. We have had a crazy couple of months and it hasn't eventuated. So I will just call it a progress report on my year at home with B. For details on how this came about see here.

It has been a challenging year. B took quite a while to settle into kindergarten and still has issues occasionally. It has been a blessing to be able to be present for him during this time. In the meantime, I have made some really great connections with the other families at kinder. I'm excited about this because most of our kids will be together at school.

A few of us have been meeting to craft together. The kinder teacher wanted us to make some more of these which the children use as reins whilst pretending to be horses. She also asked for some animals made out of felt for the children to play with and for her to use in storytelling time.

The reins we had to copy.

One of my lot of reins along with some starfish and dolphins.

One of my goals for the year was to spend some time nourishing myself. It is not something I have done much of in the last few years and I have been feeling the effects of not enough exercise and just time on my own. I'm not complaining as I love spending time with B I just know that I am a better parent when I'm feeling good about myself. I am lucky that a really good friend also has a free day on one of B's kinder days. We have been able to catch up either for a coffee and chat or a special trip to the movies on those days. A lovely way to recharge!

And I have started exercising! I was looking for something that was casual and I could attend while B was at kinder. I was also looking for something cheap and if there was a bit of fun that would be great too. During the April school holidays we went roller skating with some friends. As this was the first time B had been (and the first time I had been in 20+ years) and he understandably very tentative. However, he really enjoyed it so when I found out they offered lessons for pre-schoolers I asked if he wanted to go. He was really keen so he's been doing that for the last two terms. Before the pre-schoolers class there is an adults back to skate class. After watching a few times I thought it looked like fun. I then started going myself on his kinder days and really enjoyed myself. I did have a fall a while ago and sprained my wrist, however, I did get back on the rink as soon as I could.

I have also been spending some time thinking about what I would like to do career wise in the future. I have been thinking about doing some study next year which I am a bit excited about.

So, to summarise it's been a hard year emotionally and financially but also a great year emotionally and to connect with each other before B goes to school next year. I certainly don't regret this time and I am very thankful that I have had the opportunity to do this.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Crafty Joint Project

As with most kids B has a fair few stuffed toys. However, in that collection there is no cat. He has been asking one for a while and I said that after his birthday party I would make him one. Of course, with his memory he remembered and held me to it!

I am so not a cat person at all. As such, in my collection of patterns I did not have any patterns for cats. Upon turning to Pinterest there were very few patterns there and B didn't like any of them. I was then thinking that this could turn out to be a very involved project.

For some inspiration and to try to get a handle on what his vision was I asked B to draw a picture of the cat he wanted for me. This is what he came up with:

From there I decided to replicate his cat almost exactly rather than muck around trying to come up with a compromise. I traced around his cat onto interfacing making a few of the pieces a bit bigger and manageable.

I had some felt and the stuffing already so this was actually a free project. It only cost me my time which was about 2 evenings of work.

I think it looks cute and quirky. He took it to church with him this morning and various people called it a dog and rabbit but he was very quick to correct them. He really loves it and I think it does have a lot to do that he was the creator.

I would love to know what you think. I only hope I haven't started something here!!!!

Monday, June 24, 2013

It's Birthday Time Again!

Well it's that time of year again. B's 5th birthday has been and gone.

After a few changes he finally settled on a dinosaur theme a couple of months ago. I was happy with this as I could instantly think of a few activities and games to do. Of course to see what other people have done for dinosaur themed parties I consulted Pinterest and found lots of great ideas for games, decorations and food.

Table all set ready to go. Dinosaur themed tablecloth and I copied a dinosaur picture and laminated them for placements. The kids then took these home.

This was the first year he had his party in the afternoon. Previously they have been in the morning running into lunch so I have felt like I needed to provide more food. As this was just afternoon tea there wasn't quite as much as other years. Although I still over catered but that is just the way I do it. I prefer to have leftovers than not enough! So the menu included sausage rolls (I even made my own pastry this year thanks to Maggie Beer and her Sour Cream Pastry), dinosaur salad (home made tzatzki and hummus with carrot, celery and cucumber sticks), a fruitasaurus (courtesy of Play School), fairy bread (not healthy I know but I cannot do a party without it) and a dinosaur cake.

Cake fresh out of the tin (hired from the local cake decorating shop)
All decorated ready to go! I don't claim to be a expert cake decorator by any means but it makes me happy to do this myself.

Fruitasaurus - got this idea from Play School.
There were a few games for the kids but all with a dinosaur theme. We played a follow the leader game where each child got to be a dinosaur and go around the backyard and all the others had to follow. The other games were:

Pin the horn on the triceratops

Musical Dinosaur Feet. Instead of musical chairs I laminated some dinosaur feet and put some Velcro on the back so they would stick to the carpet and not move.

Sandpit with plastic dinosaurs buried in the sand (picked these up of a Buy Swap and Sell Site over 40 dinosaurs for only $5!). I included some buckets, brushes, shovels and other tools to do the digging.

I don't like doing party bags full of lollies. Instead I like to send the kids home with mementos from the party.

Each child got a calico bag with their initial embroidered on it. In it was a little magnifying glass and then they could put in the dinosaurs they found during the dinosaur hunt.
I made a number of dinosaur tails which the kids got to wear during the party and then take home. They were all made from fabric that I had lying around at home so it was great in that I got to make these for the party and clean out some of my fabric stash!

The bags and dinosaur tails all ready to go.

I have been really lucky with the weather for B's birthday parties. For the end of June in Melbourne we have been lucky not to have rain. It's been cold but not much else to be expected in winter.

Everyone had a great time and the birthday boy really enjoyed himself. So much so that when he woke the morning after the party he asked how many sleeps till his next birthday!!