Monday, November 25, 2013

Redballoon: Experience Happy!

This is a sponsored post for RedBalloon.

Tell me, how pretty is this box? Wouldn't it be lovely to receive a box like this every month for 3, 6 or 12 months?

Last week, I was given the fantastic opportunity of trialling a RedBalloon subscription. They currently have 59 different subscription offers from which I was able to choose - it was a very difficult choice to make, so many yummy things to try! I finally put my hand up for the Ningana range of fine jams and relishes and soon they were on their way to me via courier. Don't they look lovely?

The Grumpy Old Man and I had a chuckled over the playful names on the label; 'Jam I Am' and 'Wam Bam Man Jam' - which came in the flavour of 'spicy pumpkin', and then got down to the serious business of taste testing. We were very impressed with the quality of the orange marmalade and the strawberry jam - which reminded me of the jam my grandmother used to make! The big winner was the  Man Jam pumpkin relish - we've only had it for four days and the Grumpy Old Man has nearly completely polished it off!

Moreover, I was excited to see that through this subscription, we were supporting a very worthy cause! This was purely coincidence, but how serendipitous that I - a person with a disability - should have chosen a product that supports employment for the disabled! We're hooked!

I am completely happy to highly recommend RedBalloon subscriptions! Delivery was fast and hassle free, the product was beautifully packaged and of very high quality! I think a subscription like this would make a wonderful Christmas gift, birthday present, or even something special for a new mum!

We certainly did Experience Happy!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Have Laminator, Will Makes Household Chores and Rules Posters!

I took a break from reading about Creative Writing Research Theory this afternoon to make a folder full of household posters!

You see, my friend Robbie loaned me his laminator... Oh, the power of laminating! The things I will do!

Like most parents, I'm so very sick of repeating myself. So, now I'm going to have all these signs up around the house, to which I will drag my kids when they refuse to toe the line and show our home some common courtesy!

Here are the posters I have created!

This will hang on the front and back doors and isn't only for the boys, but for everyone who visits the house - especially tradies. (yes, I'm for really, they're the biggest muck draggers I've ever seen!)

With this one, I intend to hang a white board marker next to it, so each boy can tick it off before they leave the house.

This gives a fairly clear picture of the issues we have in this house most night!

These are screen shots which I have roughly (very roughly!) trimmed for the purpose of posting here. There may be more to come - I'm going to trial these first and see how they go. I might add 'leave the toilet with the lid down' one, for example... 

I know some of my readers will feel this is an exercise in futility, or that I'm being far too strict with the boys, but routine and order work in our house, the boys respond well when they know - in clear terms -what is expected of them and I'm hoping this will reduce the whining about 'But I did it last time.' or 'I always have to do everything!'

I'll let you know!

Friday, November 15, 2013

There are no public holidays in parenting...

I commented to Dave this morning that it feels like we never stop. He laughed - in the kind of way that puts his very existence in danger if I'm not in the right mood - and said, 'We are never closed for business!'

This is so true, of course, and every parent knows it. There is no real down time. Even when you're having a 'break', you really aren't, because from the moment you know there is a child on the way, you cannot ever really delegate the responsibility for that child. Not even when they are fully grown - just ask my parents, or your own for that matter...

It's been a busy weekend. We had the school fair at the primary school and despite a forecast of rain, we managed not to get wet, and there were even lengthy sunny patches, though the wind was bitter at times. I think numbers were down this year, but still a very good turn out (just not crowds and fewer long queues to negotiate).

I started out the day on the fairy floss stall (the most loathed of all stall because it is almost impossible not to leave covered in whispy, stick pinkness). There I met and talked to some prep mums from Bryn's class who I had not had the opportunity to meet this year - I don't think - certainly, I hadn't spoken to them at length. They told me they were going to 'wait and see' about getting their little ones an iPad for school next year. I thought that was interesting.

Mum and s-dad turned up for a little while just after I finished on the fairy floss stall. So we went and had a look at the art show. It was great this year - and not only because I had four paintings in it - because there was a far greater proportion of abstracts. My paintings fit right in, which was very exciting!

Teacup ride! We couldn't afford ride bracelets this year, but the kids did get a couple of rides each.

Minecraft 'Creeper' face painting!

Lukas' landscapes painting in the kids art gallery. Some has asked if they can buy it because it reminds them of their childhood! Lukas is chuffed!

Lukas hanging out with me at the 'Cloak Room' stall at the end of the day.

Okay, folks! The first part of this post was written on Monday, the rest of this post will be written today - see what I mean about busy? I don't even have time to finish blog posts these days!

On Wednesday Ari had his first transition session for going into prep next year. I took the opportunity to take a photo of him with Lukas and Bryn, seeing as Lukas will be at high school next year and so we won't get this opportunity to have the three of them in RMPS uniforms together then.

Below, you can see Ari in Ms Butler's class for his first transition session (he is the child second from the left at the back). He sat very still and paid attention, I was very proud of him.

On Wednesday evening we attended the opening of the High school's 'Visions' exhibition. It was just marvellous - so many talented students from across several electives. The food tech and music elective students also provided all the refreshments and ambient music. It was such a celebration of the students - I left there on a complete high knowing we absolutely could not have chosen a better high school for our boys!

Erik produced the 'Spike' image in the middle.

Erik with his optical illusion screen prints.

Erik's lino cut print of a wolf from early this year.

Erik's first every foray into oils (he wasn't particularly happy with this, but it's all part of the learning curve).

Painted shoes!

A glass TARDIS - the woman from the NGV who opened the show said she had never heard of any high school in Melbourne doing glass work as part of their art elective before, she was very excited to see this happening at our school.

Erik's copy of a Van Gogh painting.

And the art teacher especially asked for Surrey Dive to feature in the show as well - even though Erik actually painted this last year.

And finally Erik's 'Joker' painting in acrylics. The school has asked to hire this off Erik for display at the school for a period of time. Erik will receive an income from hiring his painting to the school! I love how the school respects their students enough to hire their works, instead of just asking for them.

 Of course, the busiest of busy weeks would not have been complete without Rupert the Kinder bear coming home for a visit! Ari has been looking forward to bringing Rupert home all year as he remembers him from when Bryn went to kinder three years ago. We were so busy though that instead of bringing Rupert back to kinder on Wednesday, we only go around to filling in his diary last night (well, 2am this morning, actually) and handing him in today.

Today I have drafted a letter to the school principal requesting a meeting with her to discuss mine and the Grumpy Old Man's concerns with the 1:1 iPad program being implemented next year at the primary school. They say family can opt in or opt out, but the reality is that if you cannot afford to buy your child or children an iPad, you don't have the choice of opting in. It is quite discriminatory. I attended a meeting on this issue on Tuesday night and there are many parents at our school who are concerned about the apparent rush of implementing this program. We hear the teachers having been planning this for two years, but we have only heard it will go ahead - regardless of our collective concerns - in the past few weeks, and at our cost. It seems very cheeky (putting it as nicely as I can) for the school to simply say, 'We want iPads and we want you to pay for them, but we cannot guarantee it will improve outcomes for your students, we just thinking it would make the classroom more fun for students and teachers.'

And of course, there is always study, and house cleaning, and meal making, and all the other stuff that must happen. Busy, busy, busy!

Monday, November 04, 2013

STOP obsessing about your post-partum body!

I am sick as a dog. I have next to no voice, which all and sundry are grateful for because I'm in a foul mood and would only spew a cascade of obscenities anyway. So, with that in mind, read on with caution because I'm about to put my ranty pants on...

Was in the car this morning morning, dragging my sorry self off to Uni to pick up my work to do from home, and was listening to radio national (I think) when life matters (again, I think, I was totally hopped up on painkillers and cold medication and barrocca) came on with the discussion of 'post-partum bodies' and the increasing need women have for plastic surgery to get rid of post baby jelly belly, stretch marks and droopy boobs.


I didn't hear the rest of the show because as soon as I heard the intro I felt compelled to kick the dash board of the car into a million tiny bits of plastic, so instead I calmly, but quickly, changed the radio channel to some hideous 'sound scape' of so-called 'music'...

How have women become so very obsessed with their bodies?

Oh, I know, its all men's fault, they stop desiring us when we get fat, or flabby or droopy...


No they don't. Go sit in any shopping centre in the world and analyse the couples, they come in all shapes and sizes, both men and women, and there are most definitely men with women who are fat, flabby and droopy - in fact, a considerable proportion of men are just as fat, flabby and droopy - seriously!

So, why are we so obsessed? Why are there entire sites dedicated to women propping each other up about how they are 'still beautiful' with their postpartum dodgy bits.

Why are there other women who won't have vaginal births or breastfeed for fear of making their bodies ugly (pssst, just so you know, it's pregnancy that causes skin elasticity to fade, not vaginal birth or breastfeeding)?

Why do we even ask men if they still desire us?

Why do we give them the option of saying no???

Are women stupid?

I don't get it.

I'll tell you this much, I think our society has made us all a tad too vain.

I mean really, we are all caught up in the beauty game one way or another, aren't we? Either we are fighting tooth and nail to stay conventionally beautiful (convention being an ass because no one looks like the ideal, no one!). Or we are desperately trying to convince ourselves and everyone who will listen that we are beautiful despite our flab, our stretch marks, our cellulite.

In other words, whichever side of playing field we're on, we're still giving the very concept of 'undesirable' air to breathe.

Let's just STOP.

Let's never mention it again!

Let's just live our lives and love and lust and get just get on with all the actual important stuff. Let's do away with mirrors - not because we can't stand to see our own reflection but because what we see is actually meaningless. It means nothing.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, that is why all shapes and sizes of couples exist. They haven't 'settled'. They have found beauty and love - and you can't tell them they're wrong, because they are not.

Sunday, November 03, 2013

The Self-reflective Teenager,,,

I currently - for the next 7 1/2 months - have one teenager. He is fourteen. People used to 'Hoohoohoo' and 'Just you wait until they're teenagers' at me when I complained about my preschoolers. To be honest, the first year and bit of the teen years hasn't been too bad. I hear fifteen and sixteen are particularly trying with boys, so I reserve the right to change my mind, but so far, so good.

My teenager is probably somewhat emotionally immature for his age, or introverted, or whatever it takes for him to not be too much of a pain in the posterior. Yes, he wants to stay up all night and sleep all day, but actually that isn't much different from any time after the age of four - except then he didn't want to sleep during the day, so this is actually much better.

He is totally self-obsessed. He spends much longer in the bathroom grooming himself (that is what we tell ourselves he is doing in there with the door locked for 45 minutes every morning) than all the other people in this house put together.

He is interested in girls, has had a couple of girlfriends, has kissed a girl.

He is constantly plugged into his iPod. We're beginning to worry they have grafted themselves onto the inside of his ears and he can't actually take them out, even if he might want to - which he doesn't.

Given half a chance he would eat all the food in the house by himself and then ask for more, his ever-growing legs are apparently completely hollow.

So, yep, he's pretty much a typical teenager.

It would be easy to view him as a stereotype, to believe there is nothing going on between his ears except girls, food and rock and roll.

Recently though, he has said a couple of things that have made me realise there is a lot more going on in there.

The other day, he told the Grumpy Old Man that he regrets selling his tree painting. It was really good and he liked it. He said at the time he really just wanted to buy some Vans, but now he realises he was always going to outgrow the Vans and so he traded something permanent that he really liked for a temporary item that he is no longer holds any interest for him.

Then yesterday he told me that he has realised that he is the kind of person who loves looking forward to getting something, but who is never that happy with the thing he wanted so badly once he has it.

So, okay, he's pretty much admitted to trying to make himself happy by acquiring stuff he thought would make him happy - which is pretty shallow - but you have to give him credit for realising he is never quite as satisfied as he thought he would be once he has his heart's desire. A lot of adults still haven't figured that one out!

This is really the first step in asking himself what really makes him happy and whether or not having something that might impress others in the short term is worth giving up something that will satisfy him in the long term!

I'm so proud of him!

Here you see the teenagers standing on tippytoes - but in all reality, he doesn't have long to wait until he will out strip his dad in height! Also, apologies for the poor quality of the photo - it was taken on the only thing I had to had at the time, the iPad 2.

Friday, November 01, 2013

Let it be NOVEMBER!

Ever since I was very young, November has been my favourite month. I'm born in December and so you might think I would love December the most because my birthday is then and Christmas is then - and I love Christmas - but no, I heart November.

I was due in November, maybe that is why?

November has all the fun of December, but is more laid back, if you know what I mean. There is more time to just enjoy the warmer weather and the lead up to Christmas without having to stress so much about Christmas grocery shopping (my most loathed activity - why can't the food just appear in the fridge???).

But more than that...

November, for me, starts with Beltaine - the feast of fertility! This has always been my favouritist of favourite sabbats. In the northern hemisphere this day is most commonly known as May Day, or Maypole day, but as spring in the southern hemisphere happens later in the year, we celebrate May Day around now. Some celebrate Beltaine on the 31st of October and blend it in with Halloween celebrations, but I'm one of those who likes to keep those things separate (as Halloween has nothing much to do with Samhain anymore anyway, and certainly nothing to do with Beltaine).

Last night I was inspired by everyone's Halloween posts on Facebook to paint this:

As you can see, in my mind Halloween is still part of the harvest festival with the harvest moon. 

The astrological date of Beltaine these days is actually on the 7th of November, but I'm a bit of a traditionalist, so I celebrate on the first, but keep in mind that this is more of a Beltaine Week thing really...


Blessed Beltaine Everyone!
May the coming year be a fruitful one for you!

So, what else does November have to offer?

Well, the school fair at primary school - and as of this year the school fair at high school as well!

Our family looks forward to the school fair every year. If there is one thing our school does so very, very well, it's the fair. We all have a great family day out, with rides and fairy floss and face painting and catching up with other families and being part of a community. There is also the Artist Camp Exhibition which we have participated in for the past few years. First Erik submitted for three years, and this year I've submitted. I would love to get the Grumpy Old Man to submit something - he is very skilled - maybe next year.

This year on the same weekend (EEEEeeeee!) we will have the high school fair day as well. I'm excited to see what they come up with - as they are also full of fun!

In the middle of the month the Grumpy Old Man and I will celebrate fifteen years of marriage - and seventeen years of being together - which is quite a milestone. I was going to have a vow renewal at our 10th anniversary, but then Ari was just two weeks old, so I put it off to our fifteenth, but guess what, I still haven't organised it! Maybe for our twentieth anniversary...

November is also the month of NaNoWriMo! I have participated - but not won - in the past two years, but this year I'm giving it a break because I need to concentrate on my studies. Still, there is something heartwarming thinking of all those hundreds of thousands of writers around the world busily beavering away to reach their 50 000 word goal! I wish them all well!

And there is no forgetting that November is the first true month of warm weather here in Melbourne each year - that is always something to celebrate!


Good Job!