Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Buy Nothing New for a Year - Final day

I haven't posted about my Buy Nothing New for a Year (BNN) quest for a while. In the latter part of 2011 it all ran so smoothly that I didn't really have anything to say about it. And then Christmas (and birthdays) came.

I was fully prepared with ideas for Christmas. I had all the kids kitted out with second hand and home made and home made by others, in my head. I made some lovely hot chocolate in a jar for the extended family, upcycled an old notebook with a cool new cover for Nugget's teacher, bought second hand books for some people, and some old jigsaw puzzles for others. But time got the better of me and in the end I caved in and bought some things brand spanking new.

I wasn't over the top. We did something you want and something you need, something to wear and something to read. But it new stuff in the most part. Santa didn't play by the rules either.

Initially I felt really ashamed about this, like I had ruined my whole effort in one lousy 4-hour shopping spree. But upon reflection I realise that it was just a blip on the radar. I was thoughtful with my selections. I just got them from a store instead of second hand.

I reverted straight to my 'new ways' afterwards.

The commitment I made to Buy Nothing New for a Year concludes today, but this journey is far from over for me. It has enabled me to reconnect with my eco-self and has changed my shopping mentality for good. There are so many ways to acquire things that you need. Buying them from a shop may be the quickest way but it is not necessarily the best.

I have experienced the true meaning of recycling, reusing, upcycling and going without over the past 12 months. I know where all the op shops are in my local area, even the best ones for different things. Making things for myself and others has given me more joy than I ever imagined it would. The fact that I *can* make things that others enjoy has been an eye-opener too. You don't have to be a sewer to create a gift for someone. Frog, Goose, Bear (a fab crafty blogger) even had me guest post! Imagine.

Life has changed in so many ways. I have changed the way I shop for food and the kind of food that I buy. I read books from the library. Read blogs instead of newspapers and magazines. I have stopped my junk mail. I bake. I shop at second hand stores again. I don't use plastic bags. I only replace things that are broken; good enough is good enough. I re-use/repurpose items around the home. I started a worm farm and built a chook pen (Well... the Geege did and the chooks still haven't arrived). And I have my own vegetable patch. I also started 2012 without any debt (except for a mortgage!).

Buying Nothing New has taught me to appreciate where things come from, how long they will last and who made them. It has been a revolution for me. I know my lessons have inspired some of you (Kymmie took the plunge this year) and that makes me even happier.

I am concluding my BNN with a Buy Nothing month with Simple Savings. I plan to save a few dollars for the trip to Bali we have planned in March!

So tell me, what do you re-use in your home?

Friday, 27 January 2012

Weekend Rewind - Most popular post (statistically speaking)

Hello and welcome to another Weekend Rewind. I have just gotten back from a quick barbecue with my old mother's group and am stepping out for some babysitting duties, so it will be a short and sweet introduction to this week's theme.

I have one post in my archives that has had more hits than any others by an absolute mile (we are talking 7000 hits). It isn't my best. It is just popular with the search engines. This week I want us to share the posts that have, statistically speaking, been our best (we may be able to work out how this whole SEO thing works?)

So if you are ready. Check your stats for your Most Statistically Popular post, become my friend (if we aren't already acquainted), link up your post in the linky-list below, and share some comment love with our fellow linkers. It is as easy as that! No wonder Allison (my sister and founder of the Weekend Rewind) calls it the "world's easiest linky".

I will get us started... Magda's Doppelganger

Now show us yours...

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Holding hands

Image from here
We went out for a little bush walk with some friends this afternoon (between rain showers!) before indulging in a casual Australia Day BBQ.

Nugget and his friend were deep in conversation throughout the walk. Talking at length about the latest Lego offerings, with some Harry Potter plots thrown in. They are two peas in a pod and have been the easiest company for each other since they both got past the parallel play stage.

My friend and I were walking along behind them and they started holding hands. They didn't miss a beat with their chatter. We exchanged a smile. How lovely it is that they do what feels good. A moment of solidarity and connection brought on by a shared experience.

It is such a shame that men in our society are not really 'allowed' to do this. My friend and I discussed this as we wandered along proudly behind our boys. We reflected on countries we have discovered in our travels (like the Solomon Islands) where men do hold hands and connect as women in our society do. Why can they? Who says they can't here?

It will be such a pity when these little boys grow up to be men and lose the ability to connect in this way. They might get away with a bro-hug upon greeting, but in all likelihood it will be handshakes and slaps on the back all the way.

When do little boys become big boys? Why can't men in our society show affection towards each other?

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

The Food Patrol 90 day challenge : a staggering beginning

Image from here*

I woke up on Saturday morning and amidst the chaos caused by the nit infestation I caught sight of myself in the mirror. 'I look flatter in the tummy' I thought. Don't be ridiculous came my inner critic. You've only been on the Food Patrol program five days.
______________________________________________

I have been following the rules of the diet to the letter. At times I feel like unknowingly I joined the army, with my regimented meal times. It feels like I am eating constantly and yet I am not particularly hungry. There is a lot of meat involved.

It is quite a 'macho' kind of program (which adds to my army impression) run by Commissioner Anis, with much talk of revealing your inner 'six pack' once the coats of fat have been burnt. I am under no false hope that I will get a six pack. It would be nice to be able to see my toes though.
________________________________________________

I arrived at work on Tuesday morning for my first weigh in. I felt confident that I had lost weight, how much was anyone's guess. My colleague caught sight of me as I was slinking into a nearby doctor's office to use her scales. She gasped "You have disappeared. In a week!".

I stepped onto the scales. Five kilos down*. My measurements have reduced significantly too. In eight days. Beyond my wildest imagination.

The Food Patrol is a sponsor of And then there were four.

* The macho is wearing off on me...
**For those interested in the fine print, this means that I now weigh 81.6kg

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

No kisses please

Image from here
It has come to my attention that Doo Dah doesn't like kisses. The other kids lavish me in kisses. More kisses than a person can bear on some days. But the Doo Dah? Not so much. He likes to hug. And pat my arm.

I asked him about it the other day. He giggled a bit and said he prefers 'squeezies' (hugs).

"Any particular reason?" I asked.

"I just don't like kissing" he said.

I asked him to plant one on my cheek. Just to see his form.

He brushed his scrunched up lips against my cheek, then giggled behind his hand.

"That's it." He announced. "No more kisses from me. They are yucky!"

So we are on hugging terms only. He is a funny thing.

Are you a kisser or a hugger?

Monday, 23 January 2012

The wet patch - the perils of co-sleeping Part 4

Image from here
As if nits weren't bad enough?!?

Last night, Nugget had trouble falling asleep. He was scared of the dark, had imagined a monster living in the cupboard, and didn't want to return to his bed.

We assured him he would be okay. He wasn't alone. Doo Dah was in the room snoring like a truckie in the bottom bunk. But it wasn't enough.

The Geege appeased him by allowing him to slink into our bed, unbeknownst to me. I got the shock of my life when I flicked the light in the bedroom as I got ready for bed. I think I even let out a short scream as I realised someone was in my bed, until I realised that someone was Nugget. The slink.

I assumed that the Geege would relocate Nugget to his own bed when he came into ours, so I read for a bit and then turned out the light. Only, last night the Geege didn't come to bed. He was found with his feet hanging off the edge of Nugget's bunk bed this morning.

Nugget slept the whole night in our bed. Not a peep. Including, importantly for this story, no midnight wake-up for a pee (his usual form). Consequently, he did his midnight wee in our bed. With me next to him!

I was horrified when I realised in the morning that I had slept inches, inches I tell  you, from Nugget's wee.

This co-sleeping has simply got to stop.

Have you had the joy of a wet patch in your bed? (tee he)

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Sharing the love - the perils of co-sleeping Part Three

Image from here
Regular readers of this blog will know how I feel about co-sleeping. We do it, but not by choice. Never by choice. That is what you get when you have four children, only one of whom is a decent sleeper. They creep in. They slink in. They are dragged in. But it is never fun for us.

I discovered another peril of co-sleeping this weekend.

Following a frenzy of activity to get the boys out of the door with the Geege to attend Little Athletics on Saturday morning, the twins and I were taking it slow.

I was having a sneaky quick lie on the couch while they watched a re-run of Playschool. I scratched my head and to my absolute horror, plucked a full-grown nit from my hair! Eek!

I promptly ran to the bathroom, pulled out the nit comb and proceeded to run it through my hair. I was living in hope that that nit was the first one and I had removed it before it could lay a single egg. Alas. I was riddled! I combed and combed and combed and combed. And still they came.

I trawled through the cupboards and medicine tub, searching for some kind of nit killing shampoo (how unBuddhist of me!). I found some old conditioner and smothered my hair in it. Combed again. Washed again. Combed again. No signs...

After my rapid departure from the loungeroom, Dew Drop and the Minx popped into the bathroom on several occasions during my crazy hair combing extravaganza. They heard me muttering about 'nits' and 'eggs' and 'getting them out of my hair'.

When I had finally completed Round 1 of what will be a seven day program, I called in Dew Drop and the Minx. The Minx got checked first and was given the all clear a few moments. But Dew Drop?  I knew it would be him he would have nits. He had spent the last week in our bed, sharing my pillow no less, star-fishing like mad.

And I was right.

He had more nits than I have ever seen in my life. I picked out each and every one (I hope) with my bare hands. Strand by strand. The comb did not cut it in his fine hair. I conditioned and combed. And combed and conditioned. He was incredibly patient (the jelly beans helped!).

And throughout it he kept saying "Are they gone Mum?" "Are all the eggs gone?" Bless.

When the boys returned from Little As (which was cut short by a lightening storm. A stellar morning we were all having), I greeted them with the news of the nit infestation. Nugget is a seasoned nit survivor and he retorted with "Check my duck tail Mum. I am nit free". Doo Dah said "I never get them Mum. My hair is too wiry" (a direct quote from some undisclosed parent...). Both were given the all clear after a thorough check.

The Geege was the only other victim. Nugget, Doo Dah, and the Minx got a prophylactic condition and nit comb experience, but not a single egg was found.

Just the Dew Drop. And his parents. Another peril of co-sleeping.

You know you are a parent when you have had a case of nits. Have you been lucky?

Friday, 20 January 2012

Weekend Rewind - Yellow edition

I can't but feel sorry for poor ol' Sam Wiggle. After five years donning his yellow skivvy (and five before that as a back up singer), it is all over for him. You'd have to feel like you drew the short straw to wind up wearing yellow everyday of your life anyway, right? Maybe not when it comes with a lucrative contract.

Image from here
Apparently there has been behind the scenes drama. Apparently Sam has been getting flack for being the 'salaried Wiggle'. All that workplace bullying is over now because Greg Wiggle is re-joining the Wiggles after being given the all-clear from his medical condition. It might have something to do with the fortune he lost in bad business decisions during the GFC? Or maybe he misses the pre-school set? Either way, Jeff, Anthony, Murray and Greg are a team again. And Sam is O.U.T.

This week I am dedicating the Weekend Rewind to the colour yellow. I thought Anthony Wiggle's teeth were controversial, but it seems that the rights to wear yellow is far more so.

So this week, find a little 'yellow' in one of your posts (image, words), link it up for some new comment love and share your thoughts on some other posts on the linkylist. You should Facebook, Tweet or Stumble posts you love, and ask your peeps to join in. Don't forget to follow me if we aren't already acquainted, and answer me this: Are you team Greg or team Sam?

Here's mine: People don't eat those fish, they are for penguins

Now show us yours...

Thursday, 19 January 2012

The countdown begins

Image from here
I realised today that I only have a little over a week to get organised for school.

Doo Dah is making his grand entrance into the world of schooling on January 31. He is super keen to go. We have been working on it for awhile now and I even have a certificate from the OT saying he is ready to go! It is me who is not ready. It is time to crank up the volume on the action front.

We have school shoes to buy. School uniforms to attain. Haircuts to have. Stationery supplies to acquire. And the Harry Potter exhibition to visit (I promised we would go in the school holidays).

And then there is the issue of letting go.

I remember feeling huge amounts of angst as Nugget started school. A lot of this, I thought, was about whether or not we had made the right decision about sending him. Being an April birthday, it felt like a choice. Send or 'hold back'. We chose to send. He has coped really well, most of the time.

I have discovered though that I feel much the same about sending number two to school. He seems so little; so young. Surely he won't be able to manage all that is expected of him in the kindergarten?

With him at school, it is a case of two down, two to go. All of a sudden their early childhood seems to have gone so fast. Can't I keep him a bit longer?

We had a 'dry run' of how life will be with just the twins and me at home today. The boys had a sleepover at their Nan's place with their cousin and Auntie last night. I missed them of course, but boy was it easy doing the rounds of the fish shop, chicken shop and local farms for fruit and veges with only TWO kids in tow. I could get used to it...

But then they came home, and although the bickering commenced almost immediately, it felt whole again.

Have you got a child starting school in 2012? How are your preparations going?

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

The Food Patrol 90 Day Challenge: Preparation

Image from here
I started The Food Patrol program on Monday. I cheekily updated Facebook with a message that I was "too busy dieting to blog" last night. I has been quite a mission.

In preparation for the big kick off, "before photos" were snapped (dear God weren't THEY an eye-opener?). Especially the ones from behind! Gasp! Measurements were taken, menus planned and shopping completed, so that by Monday, I was completely prepared.

I have been concerned about my inability to go 'cold turkey' after free-ranging my diet for the past four months. I have been out of control and really in need of a serious shake-up. A more conscious approach to eating.

As I went to bed on Sunday night (after consuming gourmet pizzas and more than enough wine with friends!), I heard a niggley little voice in my head saying 'I don't think you can do this'. Another voice responded with an enthusiastic and resounding "you bloody well can". I hope *she* is in charge!

But Monday morning came, I took a deep breath, and instead of cranking out a bowl of museli, I packed my breakfast, morning tea, lunch and afternoon snack into my cold bag and left for work.

I weighed in at work* (dear God. Wasn't THAT an eye-opener?), spent at least the next 2 hours dwelling on the state of affairs on the scales, and then had a quiet word to myself. It is done. Move on.

The Food Patrol insists on regular meal times. Our kids eat very routinely. 7am breakfast. 10am morning tea. 12.30 lunch. 3.30pm afternoon tea and dinner by about 6pm. No snacks after dinner. Me? I am all over the place. Three meals a day. Grazing between meals. And snacking for Australia as the sun goes down.

Having fixed meal times has its benefits for me I have discovered over the past couple of days. The biggest one being (drumroll please), I don't get hungry! I know. It is like rocket science isn't it? And without that burning hunger at 4.30/5pm as I pass the vending machine at the train station on my way home from work I am not tempted. See? Already functioning like a skinny person, right?

I will report on my first weigh in next week. I hope I do as well as Mandy!

When do you eat? Are you into 'regular' meals or are you more 'ad hoc' like I was**?

* For those of you interested in the fine print, I weighed 86.6kg. I hope they were 'heavy' scales because that is one very big number! And no. There won't be any photos shared!
** I am already using the past tense. It feels good to be moving forward.


Disclosure: Food Patrol is a sponsor of And then there were four. I am completing the program at no cost.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Weekend Rewind - The planning edition

Ahoy there! Welcome back to the usual home of the Weekend Rewind. Thanks to EmmaK for a superb hosting job last weekend.

The new year is upon us and I am meandering along. It is like I forgot to hit the reset button and I am still in the year 2011. I am usually so into signing up for challenges and setting myself ridiculously long lists of resolutions to tackle throughout the year. It is about the only planning that I do. But I love it.

But this year? Nada.

So I am seeking some planning inspiration from you.

Scour your archives and link up a 'PLANNING' post for some new comment love. The rules remain the same each week. Follow me if we aren't already acquainted, link up your post, share some comment joy with others and use social networking channels to spread the word to others. Easy? Totes.

I will get us started with this little gem .... The anti-organisation stand off

Now show us yours...

Does my bigh look big in this?

Image from here
I was more than a little horrified whilst at the park yesterday when, after dropping her dacks and doing a 'bush wee' in the middle of the park, the Minx did a nudey run over to me so I could help her re-dress.

So wrong on so many levels.

After she waddled away, one of the other Mums I was with said something along the lines of "those clothes hide a multitude of sins". The Minx is, well, shall we say, well endowed in the thigh department. She always has been. From the moment she graced the world with her presence.

She is solid all over, but her thighs are a whole different kettle of fish. It makes no difference, of course. She is gorgeous and healthy and well, three. She is confident and happy. I hope she always will be. Despite inheriting her mother's physique!

A running joke between the Geege and I is that she has her father's eyes and her mother's thighs.

I have always wanted a 'crease'. You know, a distinction between my bum and thigh (or bigh as it is affectionately known). I coveted my friends' creases as a teen. And those who had a crease and a gap between their thighs... could there be a more heavenly state for a girl who has spent her life wearing 'anti-chaff mechanism'?

Alas, that is not my shape. It will be interesting to see how the Minx changes as she gets older. I hope she doesn't have the weight loss roller coaster ride that I have had.

I am preparing for my 90 Day Body Transformation Challenge with the Food Patrol. I am both excited and frightened. I am so far off track that a fresh direction is just what I need, but I totally dread the sugar withdrawal!

I will write a weekly post about how I am going. At the end of it, I hope I can stop saying "Does my bigh look big in this?"

Are you trying to lose weight? How is it going over the holiday period?

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

The Geege turns forty

A big smooch from me! Image from here.
The Geege turns forty tomorrow. 40! That is 18 with 22 years experience.

I met him when he was just 25. He has gotten 15 years older, gained and lost 10 kilos and grown an inch in the time that I have known him. I have loved him through all of it.

He has been spruiking about how his is totally cool with turning 40. Being forty means he no longer cares what others think of him, he says. He has come to terms with the fact that he can't flirt anymore because he will be perceived as a sleazy, old man (I may have pointed that out to him). And he can finally admit to liking country music without being accused of being a grandpa (by me who has been finding the TV channel stuck on the country music station for some time while he is up late 'working').

Here are a few things that I have noticed about my husband as he has approached this milestone.

Like many men in their forties, hair grows in all sorts of places that isn't his head. In fact, his head has become the least likely place to see a hair on his body. All my wisecracks about 'human carpets' in my youth have come to haunt me!

Grey is the new black.

The Geege is marrying the mid-life crisis with the peak of his endurance running and doing the North Face 100 ultra-marathon in May. Just because he can. Just because he is not an old man. Right? All the training should at least help stave off the black dog that statistically likes to come calling as people reach 40 (but do precious little for my mental health!). And, let's face it. It is much more environmentally and financially friendly than a red porsche.

He doesn't get all the stuff about social networking all those young folk go on about. There is no need for him to join Facebook or LinkedIn and enter the 21st Century, he says. He knows who his friends are. And he loves them. Almost as much as he loves his clan.

He is a wise, generous and handsome man. In the last decade, we have gotten married, travelled the world, had four kids, started two businesses, and bought a house. Time will only tell what the next 10 years will bring for the Geege, but I am excited to be in the passenger seat.

Have the happiest birthday love. Life begins at 40.

Have you hit 40 yet? Any tips for the Geege?

Monday, 9 January 2012

The camping chronicles - The glamping edition

We strayed slightly longer from home for our week long camping extravaganza between Christmas and New Year's than we did in October. All the way to Lake Munmorah* near Budgewoi**

Each time we camp with the crew we get a little bit better at it. We pack smarter (we actually managed to fit everything inside the car this time and didn't need to take two cars! Having said that we did forget the towels...), the kids contribute to the set-up a bit more and things run smoother.

I menu planned this trip and shopped from the pantry before we went to the supermarket for our supplies and only had to purchase 20 things (which lasted the entire trip without any wastage). Frugal and scrumptious, but nothing fancy like our fellow campers who were serious glampers. We are talking table cloths, fennel, solar powered lanterns and coordinated outfits.

I teased them for the first 24 hours and then lapped up the luxury, learning as much from the masters as I could. Glamping is great!

I prepared everyone for the obligatory rain and our kids were allowed to take two toys each (and their scooters). I took them some books and their craft supplies. Despite much deliberation about which of their prize Christmas gifts they would take with them, they spent precious little time using any of them. The rain never turned up for the party.

Instead their time was spent making up games, playing cricket, scooting, fishing, jumping waves on the seashore, swimming, bushbashing and generally making themselves scarce.

I had forgotten how absolutely awesome it is to camp sans rain. I hadn't been so relaxed in a long time. There is nothing like the sea breeze, a dip in the ocean, a few lazy afternoons punctuated with gin and tonics (courtesy of the glampers of course) and quality time with family and friends to brush your cares away.

New Years Eve went off with a bang and as we took numerous drunken group shots*** using the timer function and patted ourselves on the back for being the 'funnest' group in the whole campsite with our sparklers, glow sticks and disco tunes, we planned to do it all again next year.

How were your holidays?

* All the cool kids were there. We camped next to Polly and Woz from The Block.
**Does anyone else remember the bagging poor Budgewoi used to get in the Dolly Magazine in the 1980s? I kept getting the giggles every time I saw it written down. It is the small things...
*** We are regretting these now that they have found their way onto Facebook!

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Pencil sharpening is a health hazard

Image sourced here
The kids decided to have a colouring in marathon this afternoon. I agreed to be Queen Pencil Sharpener (QPS). I was run off my feet! They were working their way through those pencils at a rate of knots. No sooner was one pencil sporting a sharp tip than the next was needing a spruce up.

Grind, grind, grind.

"I need a black pencil, Mummy".

Grind, grind, grind.

"This red one needs some work, Mum."

After some time I realised that I had a 'hot spot' on my thumb. A little surprised, I considered my options, but my work was not done and the kids were so content and well, occupied so I carried on, frantically trying to keep up with the pace of the colouring frenzy.

Grind, grind, grind.

Their artworks were prolific.

When will it end? I thought to myself.

Two hours later, QPS had to retire from the game. Injured. A great big blister on my thumb. Who knew colouring in was an OHS risk?

Welcome to 2012! Have you got a tale of a motherhood induced injury to share?

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Weekend Rewind is on... but not here!

Welcome to 2012! I am still holidaying but am popping in to let you know that Emma from Mommy has a Headache has kindly offered to kick off the Weekend Rewind over at her blog. She is so keen it has already gone live, so you have a few extra hours to make yourselves comfortable and meet a few new bloggers (or reacquaint with old ones).

Drop in, link up a old post for some new comment love (the theme is cooking) and then pop over to some of the other blog posts and comment.

Here's mine... 52in52: Make Sushi

I will be back for regular programming on Sunday. I hope to see you then.

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