Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Wordless Wednesday

'Muuuuummmm! Do I have to?'

Dear Keisha
Happy fourth brithday. You light up our lives and put up with a lot.
Best Bear/Dog ever!!!!!

Happiness in a Weekend

Sometimes, I can have weeks on end of 'couch weekends' - you know, the weeks d where you don't venture out and only do the basic errands, but have no major events. Life has been like that for me for the past few months - and by no means isn't a bad thing to have that time to chill.
This weekend just gone however, was mahoosive (yep, new word alert!). It started off for me with Thursday night dinner at a Mexican sans child (woo hoo!) followed by the Tea Party gig. I was transported back to 1995 and loved every minute of it.

Jeff Martin from The Tea Party

Friday, I had a 'me' day. TBone looked after Master Z and I was able to have my hair done and spend the day shopping in Claremont - and I had a coffee and dessert that I got to finish to the end!


Saturday I had a birthday party for one of my beautiful mother's group friends followed by an engagement party for one of TBOne's friends from school. Sunday was then spent catching up with work friends in Freo.

But the HIGHLIGHT, was Friday night's Christmas in July for W.O.M.B.A.T. (that's 'Website, Online Media, Bloggers and Tweeps' for the uninitiated!) at Black Tom's. I was bricking it and very close to pulling out at the last minute. I was heading to an event with 25 other Perth bloggers, whom I had never met and only chatted to on a few occasions and I was petrified!

I had previously tweeted that I would most likely spend the night in the toilet - my go to place when I am uncomfortable - but I needn't have worried. The first person I met was Yvette from Delightfully Tacky Lil Squirts, who I speak to every Tuesday as a fellow #IBOT team member. She was lovely, bubbly and her conversation, mixed with some champers went a long way to helping me relax.

Yvette, Glow and Karen

There were several bloggers there that I have read from my first discovery of blogging and it was pretty intimidating and awesome at the same time to meet them. I was stoked to meet Glow from Where's My Glow?, who is as warm and funny as her blog and the beautifully serene Sarah from Dear Baby G, who has the most beautiful energy about her and is exactly how I imagined her from reading her words.

Georgia, Lani, Sarah, Catherine, Taryn

It was also lovely to meet Georgia, from Parental Parody, Taryn from This is Taryn, Feli from My Life in Mono, Kim - @RealJiveTurkey and Lani from Me & Boo - all blogs in my reader and I devour their words every morning.
Glow and Taryn

I met some other bloggers that I had not come across before, the gorgeous Karen from Yellow Dandy Dreams, Rhonda from Silly Mummy, and Cie from Pathetic to Pin Up - blogs I journeyed through on Saturday to catch up.
As with anything that involves a bit of wine, there were shinanegans, and I may have ended up in Leederville - where I was id checked for the second night in a row - woo hoo! Thank you to my two partners in crime - I had an awesome time getting to know you - and the random people we followed there because they showed an interest in our boxes.

Kim and Glow

Thank you so much to Colin from Superparents and the others who organized the event and the sponsor, Koo from Bubblerdeals for the beautiful Tiffany blue boxes full of goodies that were the envy of many other Black Tom's punters - particularly the guy below who we decided looked like David Brent in his music video.

David Brent?

I had a blast meeting everyone, some people I didn't get to, so will have to catch up next time and I can't wait to do it again!

My happiness cup was well and truly filled to the brim on the weekend!

Linking up today with Jess at Diary of a SAHM as its Tuesday!

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Photos taken on our trek through Tibet to Everest Base Camp in 2005.
Linking up with Trish for Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Neurotic Me

I was going to do a post with some facts about me, but as I was writing them, I found that they are all slightly weird, left of centre neuroses. I don't know how these started, but here are some random things that have become habit

1. My alarm is always set for :06 or :31 past the hour. Never any other
number. I don't know why, it just is. (OK, it's because they were Drew Banfield, my favourite West Coast Eagle's numbers when I was a teenager.....)

2. I avoid parking to my right if at all possible - this has seen me circling car parks on many occasions.

3. I avoid the number 13 where possible - even though I quite happily live at number 13 and TBone, my Dad and my brother's lucky numbers have always been 13 and it's usually their jersey number. I definitely won't fly on the 13th.

4. If I am reading a book at night, I can't go to sleep finishing at the end of Chapter 12. I always have to read up to the beginning of Chapter 15.

5. I won't wear odd socks, or let TBone wear them.

6. If I see a number plate with CGH or CGP in order, (my initials before and after marriage) I feel butterflies in my stomach and know its going to be a good day.

7. I won't wear, or have any peacock feathers around me.

8. I don't like spikey things. There are no things in our house with a spikey or pointy end as I worry about them jumping somehow into my eye. I don't use umbrellas and don't like being near someone with an umbrella.

9. I tend to have a right sided neglect. I will bang my right shoulder on door frames fifty bazillion times a day and not recognize to correct it. Probably why my right shoulder can dislocate on command........

These are all unfounded, often olde worlde superstitions that I have gathered along the way and for some reason, they have become a habit to me. Fortunately, I can alter if I need to without anxiety (I know some people aren't that fortunate) but they are such a part of me and how I do things.
Do you have any idiosincracies? Please let me know so I don't feel like the only odd one

Monday, 23 July 2012

Nature Play

When we were kids, we grew up in a small country town, where our back yard was limitless. Our play ground was wherever there was a patch of bush between the houses and we would get home from school, grab a snack and then head off, not getting home til the sun went down. We played wars, with the bush being our battlefield, we played house, made cubbies and shops in the trees, collected tadpoles and lizards and we did 'pottery' in the creek beds. Life was simple.

Unfortunately the world doesn't seem to be as safe a place as when we were kids. Whether or not this is the case, or if we as parents are just more aware of what is going on outside our front doors from being exposed to news and media stories of all the bad things that happen, I am not sure. It does mean however, that we are more cautious about what our children get up to and it is very rare that we would let them play outside of the yard unsupervised. 

Urbanisation and location is also a factor. If we stay where we are living at the moment, Master Z is 10 kms from the nearest natural bush area. There are no trees around to build tree houses in, and no creeks to go traipsing through in his wellies, or even better, in his bare feet to feel his toes slip through the cold mud.

Nature play is so important for children of all ages. There is research to prove that children benefit from appropriate risk taking outdoors by helping them refine their motor skills and gain confidence in being physically active. It has been proven that older children who spend more time outside tend to be physically active and less likely to be overweight, and children who play regularly in natural settings are sick less often, are more resistant to stress, have improved cognitive skills, have lower incidence of behavioural disorders, anxiety and depression and have a higher measure of self worth. There is also evidence that bullying behaviour is reduced when children have access to diverse nature-play environments.

Some ways that we can bring nature play into our children's lives are:

  • Taking a walk through bushland - Pointing out the different plants and animals you may come across and encouraging them to register the different noises and smells that come from the bush.
  • Growing your own fruit and veges - If space permits, a small patch is all that is needed for them to help prepare, plant and take care of a vege patch. If you don't have any yard space, planter boxes, or pots can be planted out with flowers or herbs.
  • Beachcombing -  if you are close to the beach, take a walk, collect shells, or cuttlefish. Let them build sandcastles and forts.
  • Backyard camping - the fun of camping under the stars, without the hassle of having to pack the car with everything but the kitchen sink. Your children can watch the sun go down, star watch and eat camping food - with a comfortable toilet close by.
There are also several nature playgrounds that have been built in our cities recently, to bring the bush to the city kids. In Perth, an excellent one has been launched by Rio Tinto at Kings Park - check it out here

What other activities do you do to encourage your children to play outside? Do they get the opportunities to explore the natural environment?


Nature Play WA - an excellent website with information and resources, particularly for those of us in WA
Children and Nature Network - excellent site with the latest evidenced based research on play and development
Richard Louv - this guy is the nature play guru - if you ever get a chance to hear him talk, do! He is inspiring.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Murphy or Mercury?

Sunday was 'one of those days'. It was nothing dreadful, but nothing seemed to go right from the beginning.

Saturday night, the water had been turned off, so we went to bed without doing the dishes. Sunday, I woke up early to cook for a family get together we had, where I had to make a savory and a dessert, only to find the water was still off.

The main problem with this was that I couldn't clean the thermomix, so was unable to crush the biscuits for my jelly slice base and I had to do it with a mortar and pestle - I know, first world problems!

Then, the focaccia I made didn't rise - it was flat as a pancake, more
Iike a cement pancake and I realized the water I had used (the only water we had) was straight from the boiling kettle, so obviously burnt the yeast.

Once the water was on, I made up some jelly to put on the top layer of my slice, and then transferred it back to the fridge, only to spill the jelly mix all over the floor in the process. As I was cleaning the jelly, I slipped - just like a cartoon slip, with legs and arms going everywhere - and landed on my side. That was the straw that broke the camel's back and I just burst into tears. I blubbering mess, covered from head to toe in sticky raspberry jelly, now with my back going into spasm. Awesome!

It always seems to be that when I need to do things perfectly to take something somewhere, that things happen to thwart my best efforts - that's Murphy's law.

Or was a stronger force in action? Apparently in astrology circles, they would say my misfortunes were due to Mercury turning retrograde on Saturday for a 2 week period and things won't work out quite right. I thought 'Mercury in Retrograde' was just a cool Bloc Party song, but its an actual thing! It happens around 3 times a year, and often brings with it losing items, broken electrical appliances and stupid inconveniences. I am not that much into astrology - except I do show classic Leo traits - but I do read my horoscopes if I come across them and if they say I am having a four star day then I think "wow, I am going to have a great day". If they say I am having a tough time, I usually think "bah, that's hocus mumbo jumbo"!

Further info here.

I am a big believer in what you put out there, you get back, but after Sunday, I might just lay low for the next few weeks and hedge my bets!

Do you have days that just seem to go wrong from beginning to end?

(Sorry if my links don't work, using iPad as computer broken - more of Mercury's influence!!!!!) Linking up today with IBOT head over to Jess's place to catch the posts!

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Marriage Equality

This video is beautiful, heartfelt and so tragic. It is the reason marriage equality is so important.

Shane has an opportunity to turn his story into a documentary and has a Kickstarter page here.

They had just reached the goal yesterday.

Linking up with My Mummy Daze for one of the most important causes of our generation.

The 52 Week Project

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Retro Jelly Slice

My 'go to' sweet dish for anytime we have to take a plate for an afternoon or morning tea and I always get asked for the recipe. It is simple, it is very 70s, but it is awesome!

150 g melted butter
2 pkts finely crushed sweet biscuits ( I usually use gluten free so mum can have some)

Mix together and press into a rectangle biscuit tray. Bake 5 mins at 180 degrees C, allow to cool, then pop in the fridge to chill.

2 tins condensed milk
Juice of 3 lemons
6 teaspoons gelatine
3/4 cup of boiling water

Empty condensed milk into bowl and add the lemon juice. Mix gelatine with the boiling water and then add to the milk mixture. Combine well and pour onto the chilled base. Return to the fridge.

Jelly Topping:
2 packets of raspberry jelly
3 cups of boiling water
1 teaspoon gelatine

Make the jelly and add in the gelatine, stirring until dissolved. Allow to cool. Once cooled, and the condensed milk filling is set, pour the jelly onto the slice over the back of a spoon (so it won't make a hole in the filling)
Return to fridge to set.
Once set, cut into squares. Store in fridge.

See how simple that was? Not quick, but worth it for the taste.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Callum or Darryl? Easy way or Hard way?

In January, we got a proposition. It was a bit left of centre, would take around a year to organise and would be life changing. I did my research and looked into what the proposition - let's call it Darryl- would mean for us. What changes would we have to make, how our day to day life would be affected. We investigated, we met Darryl and we started to get excited. 

Darryl was going to provide us with so many opportunities. He would set us up for the future, shape how we were going to live. He had a rough exterior, he was an eyesore to look at, and he didn't really have a fun side. People thought we were crazy to even consider Darryl, but we knew it would be short term and we would adapt. We would have to work hard with Darryl to make sure things didn't get too mundane or we regretted our decision. If you scraped at the surface however, Darryl had some hidden beauty. A little effort and there are so many breathtaking features about Darryl. We had planned our future with Darryl and I whiled away days picturing what our life would be like. 

Then today, there was a new proposition placed in front of us, we will call it Callum. Callum is similar in many ways to Darryl, and he will help us head on the path we want. He is still rough around the edges and very dusty, BUT, he is bigger than Darryl, he is more fashionable than Darryl, he is more cultured than Darryl and is much more athletic. I think he will be funnier than Darryl and he will be much more hospitable when our friends and family visit us. He is also more accessible than Darryl and it will be easier for us to leave him alone. 

I think what it comes down to is that Callum will be the easier path.

Darryl was such an exciting, adventurous proposition and then all of a sudden, we have Callum, an even brighter proposition in front of us. We are so blessed with choices really. Our decision should obviously be to go with Callum, but there is a small part of me that has spent the last 6 months convincing myself that Darryl will be the best thing for us, and we were so excited to meet him. In a very small way, if we choose Callum, it will feel like we are cheating on Darryl.
Have you ever made a big decision only to have a new, shiny option placed in front of you?

Monday, 9 July 2012

6 Top Things for Your Play Area


A play area doesn't need to be fancy or expensive to create - the ones above I found whilst trawling the web, would be a lotto win away for most of us. 

You also don't need a lot of space, a corner of a room is fine. We live in a small, two bedroom fibro with a sleep out. The sleep out has been enclosed and houses a laundry, what is supposed to be a third bedroom and an extra room that leads outside. We have used this for many things, but at the moment, it is where the computer and desk is, where the amp and a gazillion guitars and other stringed instruments live and tucked away in the corner is Master Z's play area. For the time being, I like Master Z to have his toys outside of his bedroom, so that he is really only in his room for sleeping. I know this will change when he is older and if we have more children, but for now, it works for us. 

A play area is an excellent idea to try to minimise clutter and to keep toys and activities in the one space. Kids are kids, and by the end of each day, there is always a trail of toys traipsed through the house, but we can only try  - I said try, I didn't say achieve!

There are so many elements that can go into a child' play area, my top six are:

It is thought that babies learn to distinguish colours right after they are born. They show a preference for bright colours, particularly yellow. Different colours have been shown to enhance our creativity and learning and research also shows colours affect our moods. 
Red, orange and yellow are known to promote learning and cool colours like green and blue soothe and promote relaxation.

Toys, books and furniture for children are often brightly coloured, so it is very easy to get some colour into your kids play area.

This is a big one for trying to keep things organised. Fortunately there are many things that can be used to keep toys in one place.
Shelving units can be found relatively cheaply - I got a second hand Ikea shelving unit off gumtree for under $50 - or can be recycled from old book shelves. Shelving with baskets and boxes is ideal to keep different toys separate - I have a box for cars, a box for blocks, a box for trains and a box for lego along the bottom shelf. On the next shelf, I have a basket of musical toys, a basket of random toys and then a shelf of puzzles and one of books.  
The top shelf is for toys I don't want Master Z to use without my supervision - paints, crafts, special books - I am fortunate he is not a climber, so I know he wont try to get those things himself. 
Another great idea for storage is a number of large tubs - the only thing I find with these is that usually your child will want the toy at the bottom of the tub, so everything gets flung out onto the floor in the search for it.

Table and Chairs
A kid sized table and chair set is perfect for craft activities, drawing, reading and puzzles. There are so many on the market and range from beautiful, hand crafted, expensive wooden furniture, to plastic ones. We have a cheap, plastic set and it is brilliant. It wipes easily, I can take it outside to hose it down if it gets too sticky and as it was cheap, I am not worried about the paint, or marks that are being scratched in. The chairs even take my weight (that is saying something - don't think that is what they were intended for though...), so it means I can be at Master Z's level when doing an activity without putting too much pressure on my ageing knees :o)

I had to include this one as this is Master Z's favourite thing to do at the moment. He spends ages drawing on the black board, or I will use a bull dog clip to put some paper on there and it becomes an easel for painting as well. I would love to have an area on the wall with blackboard paint for him - that is one of my dreams for our next house!

Pin up board
We have a pin up board that was actually from my room as a kid. I use it to put up Master Z's latest art masterpiece as our fridge is too full of birth announcements and bills to pay!
This way, he sees his art and craft on display for a while, and then when the new piece arrives, I can take the old ones down and file them in an appropriate place (the bin, or the folder I have of his special work that I am saving for him to throw out when he is 20 :o))
We also use the board to put up the day of the week (for days we are at home) and also for the season. When he is older, I plan on using it as a weekly calendar, so he will know what is coming up in his week - at 2.5, he is still a bit young for this. 

If your child has no other toys, blocks are the must have right up until primary school age. The educational value from playing with blocks is amazing. They can help improve physical, social, language and mathematical development. 

From a physical point of view, blocks come in different colours, shapes and sizes, so can help with fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination when building towers and sensory awareness with the different colours and textures blocks are made from.

They are excellent for counting, naming colours and shapes, facilitating spatial development (over, under, through) and for learning sharing if more than one child is playing with them.

And finally, blocks are great for imaginary play - a whole world can be created with a simple set of blocks.

These are probably just the tip of the iceberg - what do you think every play area needs?