Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Easy Chocolate Pretzel Christmas Mix

If you know me, you know I like things that are insanely easy to make but look somewhat impressive. Anything that can make people go "oooh" when you present it to them, but hasn't taken hours and hours to make is perfection in my books. I have better things to do than slave away in the kitchen. Things like watch Netflix, check my Facebook or have a nap. IMPORTANT THINGS!

I'm the master of two and three ingredient yumminess:

Fudge Christmas Trees with only two main ingredients? Check!
Three Ingredient Choc Mint Truffles? Check!
Three Ingredient Choc Orange Truffles? Check!

I could go on and on, but I won't because you'll lose interest. Oh, look, something shiny.

So last year I had some pretzels and some Christmas M&Ms hanging around and I put them in my mouth at the same time because every bloody food blogger around was going on about the taste sensation that is salty and sweet and I thought it was about time I tried it.

Oh. My. Christmas.

Yeah. So they weren't bangin' on about it for nothing.

But I wanted more sweet so I had an idea and went about making this Christmas Pretzel Mix all stuck together. I figured I'd make some for friends and family, presented in gorgeous gift boxes, then also had some on hand at home because YUM.

  • Grab a baking tray and line it with baking paper
  • Place a bag of mini pretzels over the top, making sure they touch and overlap slightly
  • Rain down the Christmas M&Ms 
  • Drizzle melted white chocolate over the whole lot
  • Refrigerate for 20 minutes or until set
  • Break in to clumps and pop in a gift box, cellophane, or serving bowl

The clumps of pretzels and M&Ms with the white chocolate "glue" holding it all together create that amazing collision of saltiness and sweetness. So Christmassy and delicious, but you've barely done anything! 

Saturday, December 5, 2015

How to recycle old Christmas cards in to homemade Christmas baubles

I love Advent Activities for a few reasons:

1. My kids love craft. I love craft. Win win. 
2. It makes excellent bribe material for over tired children ("if you don't stop hitting your sister, you can't do today's activity")
3. It means it's nearly Christmas!!!

I don't like spending a fortune though, and I if I can get away with activities that don't require purchasing anything or even recycling things we already have, it makes it even better.

I have heaps of old Christmas cards hanging around, most of which are in unopened packets from the 1980s when it would appear my Grandmother bought half a store in one go. They went in to my craft drawers a few years ago and now each year we try to do something with them. 

This year I thought we'd make some baubles!

You'll need: 
  • Old Christmas cards or wrapping paper that you've glued on a sheet of cardboard to make it sturdier
  • A circle punch - I used a two inch punch and any smaller would be tricky, but you can use any size you like, or make a template and cut your own with ye olde scissors 
  • A stapler 
  • A piece of string

After you've cut your circles, fold them in to triangles (see images 1, 2 and 3), then staple the edge of one to the edge of another until you've created a ball shape (see images 4, 5 and 6). It's up to you how many you put together, for these I put eight pieces together to make small baubles, but you can do whatever you like.

Staple or tape a string to the top (if you're really clever you can do this with your first circle to make it easier - I was not that clever!) and hang it on the tree! Voila! I find the kids love seeing their own creations on the tree, and are quick to point them out with pride to visitors, and to me, that's what it's all about. 

Happy decorating! 

Friday, December 4, 2015

Best Santa Photos in Perth

Not sponsored
I'm a sucker for a Santa photo, and I think I've found the best in Perth!

There are a bajillion Santas around and not all are cut from the same plush, red velvet. 

As far as I'm concerned, to make the best Santa photo in Perth you need a winning trifecta:

1. Santa must have a REAL beard! This is non negotiable despite some very fancy fake beards getting around. A real smile is also preferred but I will accept a fake smile if the beard is legit. A lovely backdrop is also a bonus, but I will always peg genuine white whiskers above all else. 

Would you look at those whiskers!
Copyright Penny Butler Photography - used with permission
2. Allocated times. I did not understand the joy or appreciate the value that is booking for Santa photos until Bobbin the Explorer came in to our lives. I could not line up forever with this feisty femme and expect her to then smile sweetly at the camera - she'd be climbing the sleigh, finding out if Rudolph was a boy or girl (and proclaiming LOUDLY that it didn't have a penis so it must be a girl), and generally getting up to marvellous mischief. Which is all fabulous and entertaining except every other kid is doing the same thing and the frazzled mothers are scrounging in handbags for anything to bring some peace; snacks, toys, valium, you name it. 

Knowing that when we arrive, we have a few minutes wait at most takes so much pressure off and also means that there is less time for the kids to spill tomato sauce down their fronts. Plus with a 15 minute window there is no rush to get in, smile, get out while the next bored toddler tries to photobomb. It's SO much more relaxed and, shock, horror, is actually quite fun!

3. A real photographer. Once the realm of the rich and famous, now everyone can get a sweet deal with a real photographer. The best part is that they take a heap of photos and choose the best as opposed to five rushed jobs for you to choose from at a shopping centre where you sometimes have to pick the least bad - which I admit is better than back in the day when you got the instant photo with no choice at all! 

As an added bonus, a real photographer can touch up the pictures if you need, so if, for example, your two year old rubbed her face in the lawn and came up with a tiny little rash on her cheeks and forehead the morning of the photos, well, they could be touched up slightly. ASK ME HOW I KNOW! 

My mate Penny from Penny Butler Photography does Santa photos for the people of Perth every year and she ticks all three boxes with her awesome set up. 

Santa not only has a real beard, but he's SO good with the kids and his suit? Holy Nutcracker, it was divine! Beautiful embroidery which on closer inspection had reindeer, angels and snowflakes amongst the filigree. 

His set up is in his little work shed with his sleigh this year - which he built himself, and even has a letter box that you can pop your wish list in to - if you put your address in there, he'll write back. Tricky drew him a picture and asked him how old he was... Santa answered but we have been sworn to secrecy. 

Santa is very hands on, doesn't make the elves do everything
Copyright Penny Butler Photography - used with permission
To make it even more magical, the whole thing is at the Christmas Tree Farm in Mariginiup (north in the City of Wanneroo), and there are families wandering around choosing their tree, Christmas carols on the loudspeaker, and a real sense of excitement hangs in the air. The Christmas Tree Farm is where Santa hangs out when he's in Perth - a holiday house if you will. Can't be stuck at the North Pole all year. 

The man never stops, even on holiday he's in the Christmas spirit
Copyright Penny Butler Photography - used with permission
Penny knew I loved the funny photos she'd taken for another family last year, so after she'd snapped the usual ones she got the kids to ham it up. It's my favourite photo and is now our Christmas card! 

Considering I've spent $70 in the past for a handful of randomly sized prints in a rush job with a crappy Santa, I was more than happy to pay the $60 for these and support a small business rather than a giant multinational.

For your money you get 15 minutes with Santa (my two had about 5 minutes and then buggered off!), 4-5 digital images that you can then print yourself or email out, and a reply from Santa if you post your letter in the special mail box on the day. 

There are still some spots available so contact Penny at Penny Butler Photography for bookings.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Of water phobias and crying poolside

TRIGGER WARNING: this post mentions child sexual assault and may be distressing to some readers.

Tricks has long been afraid of the water. In particular, having water on his face and head. I'm talking full blown phobia. Aquaphobia, to be precise. Not hydrophobia, that's a rabies thing.

Swimming was never on the cards, though occasionally he would paddle ankle deep, at the beach or pool as long as there was no splashing. The first time he got completely in a pool was January this year. It was a momentous occasion and I took about one hundred photographs. If he was splashed in the face, or water got on his hair it would be the end of the world, but THE KID WAS IN A POOL!

Even hair washing was highly traumatic (for both of us) until a few months ago. We tried every contraption, every technique, every "failproof-no-more-tears-this-worked-for-my-water-phobic-child" suggestion we heard. Nothing worked and I was always afraid that the police would be called when we washed his hair, such were the screams echoing down the street from our house.

Lights and sirens, a hard knock on the door and "Excuse me, ma'am, there's been a complaint made against you of child abuse" until Tricky walks out with only half the shampoo out of his hair and they go "Ahh, never mind, I had one of those kids, too".

We never knew the cause of his phobia. Sometimes I would think it was because of his craniosynostosis surgeries because it seemed head related: he would also panic at the hairdressers and very infrequent home haircuts with massive amounts of bribery were the only way forward for quite some time. But at other times I'd think it was just his personality. This introverted, slightly anxious, sweet and sensitive little boy just did not like the sensation.

When a note came around at school that swimming lessons were to start soon, I didn't quite know what to do. Excuse him from the lessons, or pay the money and hope that the combination of someone other than me telling him what to do and a little bit of peer pressure would work wonders? I consulted lots of other mums and they were all very helpful, ensuring me that the swim teachers are very gentle with the "dry heads".

The day before lessons started we headed to my bestie's house to have a swim in her pool with her boys. Tricks got in for a while, but began to panic when it got a little bit splashy. The fear was obvious as tears rolled down his face. He spent the rest of the time on the side, not even wanting to put his feet in.

With the previous day's tears fresh in my mind, I headed to the pool to watch his first lesson. My head was cloudy with an emotional hangover thanks to a horribly timed medication change. A few other mums were there and while we waited for the kids to arrive we talked about how mums cry at things like this.

I told them I've never been one to cry over my kids' milestones. I'm the type to fist pump, high five and happy dance (complete with spirit fingers, of course) but not shed a tear. Which is weird because I cry over bloody everything else. I'm the one smiling and cheering in a sea of wailing mums who appear to be the reason waterproof mascara was invented. They're just so damn happy and proud. It's beautiful.

"You know what?" I said to one of the mums, "If this goes well, I think I will cry".

In hindsight it probably wasn't great for me to head out to the pools when I was feeling low, but there was no way I was missing this lesson.

The bus load of eager little bodies arrived, draped in too-big towels, with goggles covering half their faces so you had to piece together gap-toothed smiles and hair colour to figure out who was who.

As they were led in to the pool in small groups, Tricks was standing bolt upright, making him easy to spot amongst the others who were relaxed and happily bobbing up and down to wet their whole bodies. The teacher, Danni*, knew he was scared and asked him to squat down so his shoulders were under water. He half followed her instructions and made it to chest height. As she spoke to the other kids she took his hand and started trickling water over his shoulders. She was paying him just the right amount of attention - the focus wasn't on him, but she was fully aware of his phobia the whole time, and never stopped easing him in to the water.

Slowly she moved to trickling the water over his head, and her own, laughing as she did it, making it a game. He was still standing stiff as a board, and I could see from the way he held his jaw he was holding back tears.

It came to blowing bubbles... simple enough, but a task that has previously been met with straight out refusal.

He touched his lips gingerly to the water, and stood up. He touched again and blew the tiniest bubble. And again, this time a few more.

I looked to the mums, "Yeah, gonna cry now" I squeaked out.

With the biggest smile on my face the tears started to fall. I was so proud you'd have thought my kid was winning Olympic gold for the 50m freestyle not blowing a few bubbles.

I was handed a tissue and for a moment there, I enjoyed those tears. Everyone knew how momentous this was for him, there was no judgement for crying, the other mums were happy for him, too.

I continued to watch and to my utter amazement, he dipped his whole head under water as they crawled around the shallows pretending to swim. A moment ago he'd never had water on his lips and now his entire face was submerged! He rose up and Danni gave him a little affectionate squeeze on the shoulder.

That was all it took. Watching her (completely innocent) physical contact with him while she smiled.

With my already emotional state, I was transported back to my own horrific swimming lessons where my teacher, Garry*, started off encouraging me with those same little affectionate squeezes, and ended up sexually assaulting me under the water while other children swam laps right next to us.

Garry taught the top class, level twelve, and it was the aim of every kid in the swim club to get to his lane. The furthest from the parents; from the admin; from eyes that could see what he was doing.

He would teach from the deep end where we couldn't stand and would "help us stay afloat" as he gave us instructions for our next lap. Though his idea of help and mine are quite different, with his fingers exploring where they shouldn't have, week after week, month after month.

I would kick away as soon as I could, embarrassed, ashamed, unsure.

I was 10.

When the term ended, I didn't go back. I never got my Bronze and everyone was really surprised that I'd just given up on something I had enjoyed so much and was doing pretty well at.

I look up and I'm watching Tricks again, only a few moments have passed and it is his turn to duck under the water again. He does it, and she squeezes his arm, this time it elicits the smallest of smiles from him.

I feel bile rise up in my throat, and the chlorine, which was fine until now, starts burning my nostrils. My thoughts are all over the place, racing wildly from motherly pride to thinking that I've put my child in harms way.

I excuse myself from the other mums, lying that I want a better view, and I exit the rear of the centre. I suck in fresh air like my life depends on it and flip my sunglasses down so that the others don't notice my happy tears have turned to acrid, trauma tears.

I move to the doors and keep my eyes on him. Trying desperately to focus on how well he's doing and the fact that the teacher is not stealing his innocence. My ears are buzzing and I'm light headed, but I keep staring; counting his kicks, the number of times he readjusts his goggles, anything to pull myself out of my own head, to stop this panic from turning in to a full blown anxiety attack.

Toward the end of the lesson, I regain my composure and rejoin the other mums. I text MG and tell him how well the Trickster is doing, that he has blown us all away with how hard he is trying. My bestie walks in to watch the next session, and I hurriedly tell her that OMG Tricky blew bubbles in the water, and knowing that it's a HUGE thing especially compared to just yesterday in her pool, she tears up, too.

The kids exit the pool and Tricky beams a mega watt smile at me. We high five. We knuckle bump. I tell him how proud I am of him, and I can see he is proud of himself, too. Within a minute they're back on the bus and on the way back to school, and I'm heading to the car.

I don't hold it together long. I drive away crying, amazed at how a shoulder squeeze combined with a bit of an unstable mood could set this off. I've been to pools before since it happened without much of a thought, but it dawns on me I've never sent my kid to swimming lessons before. Put him in the exact same situation that did so much damage to me. Triggers are a bitch and you don't always know where they'll be.

By the end of the week, my new meds had started to kick in and the withdrawal of the last lot has gone (halle-fuckin-lujah), so my mental state is returning to "normal" and I can visit the pool again feeling completely different. I can look at it for what it is for him, not what it was for me.

I watch my little guy float on his front, on his back, swim under four kick boards, duck dive down to retrieve a toy and ENJOY every bit of it. I marvel at how far he has come in five lessons and a tiny little happy tear forms in the corner of my eye.

I smile, the tear slides down my cheek, and I don't wipe it away. Now it's my turn to be so damn happy and proud, and beautiful.

*not their real names

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Gotta love the good stuff

Brought to you by Heinz
#S1 For full details please see my disclosure policy

Growing up, my sister and I were Heinz kids. I have the best memories of eating Heinz pureed apples… wait, what? How can I remember shovelling the good stuff in to my gob, you ask? Well, because we ate what we called “baby apples” well in to our teen years.

Mostly we’d eat it if we had a sore throat or had just had our braces tightened and couldn't stand even the thought of chewing, though there were definitely a few times it ended up in our cupboards just because it was delicious. We’d eat it straight out of the tin with a teaspoon, scraping away to make sure we got every last morsel. There were no fancy pouches back then!

Bobbin is past the baby food stage, but we usually grab some pouches to keep for emergency snacks. I'm one of those mums that scans through the empty pouches because my kid has already eaten it while we've done the rest of the shopping. Here’s a tip: don’t go through self-serve checkouts if you do this - it plays havoc with the scales! I may or may not choose the flavours based on the hope that she might not eat it all and I’ll get her leftovers. C'mon, apple, strawberry and passionfruit? You’d do it, too.

I like to incorporate a pouch of the fruit puree in to pikelets to make an easy, take anywhere snack that Bobbin and I can cook together. Measuring, pouring and stirring not only help kids get interested in the food they are about to eat (making them more likely to eat it), but it’s also a bit of a maths lesson. But mainly, it’s FUN! Making memories, and a little bit of mess, well, that’s the good stuff.

1 cup of SR flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 pouch of Heinz fruit puree in one of their delicious flavours
1 egg – alternatively, you can use Heinz apple puree! Roughly 85g of puree is equivalent to one egg.

Pin me!
Combine the flour, baking powder, Heinz baby food and egg. Stir! If the mixture is a bit thick, add some water a little at a time – the amount will vary depending on which product you use and which age range it is aimed at.

Place heaped teaspoons of batter in to a hot frypan and cook for around 30 seconds each side. You’ll know when it’s time to flip them when the pikelet loses its shine – don’t wait for a million bubbles to form and pop, that’s letting the air out! Fluffy pikelets

Allow them to cool before serving, because duh.

These apparently keep well in an airtight container for a few days, but I wouldn't know because ours are usually eaten within a few minutes, especially when we visit our dairy-free friends.

Being completely honest, I've only tried these with the fruit purees, but a savoury version would probably be yummy, too!

I actually didn't know until recently that most of the ingredients are sourced in Australia – the apples, pears and peaches are from Goulburn Valley, the pumpkins from Victoria, and all the meat is all sourced from Aussie farms. Then it’s turned in to the good stuff in Echuca in Victoria where it’s taste tested daily - *ahem* I'm available for this job, if you’re hiring, Heinz.

For more details, recipes and competitions you can check out Heinz for Baby on Facebook.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

6 tips to make your kids "good eaters"

Background image - Creative Commons via David Saddler
There isn't a week that goes by when someone doesn't have a peek at Tricky or Bobbin's lunchboxes and say "Your kids actually eat that?! What's your secret?". It could be an opportunity to go all 'smug mother', or show off, but it has been little things we've done since they were introduced to solids that have been the biggest factors.

It is no secret I'm a bit of a food freak when it comes to my kids (if only I could be so vigilant when it comes to my own food). I was extremely strict with what Tricks was and wasn't allowed to eat as a toddler, and, as is often the case, I've had to relax my ideals as school started and every second day there was cupcakes for someone's birthday, and cookie decorating for fine motor skills. Which means Bobbin has been exposed to a shed load of food long before her brother ever was... to the point where we drive past McDonald's and she says "chips". Ahh, second children.

No food groups are out of bounds for my two, but I do try limit the amount of processed food they eat, keeping it mainly for birthday parties and holidays as a treat. Oh, and at the grandparents' houses, duh. Because sometimes, the memories being made take precedence over the nutritional value.

Me from four years ago cannot believe I just wrote that. Heh.

I've been a no-nonsense mama from the get go when it comes to food, and I think that has really helped turn my kids in to so called "good eaters". Some of our simple approaches have come naturally to us, and others we have adopted after reading about them.

1. We eat dinner as a family, every night

I think this is SO important. It's a way to connect after a busy day, but it also lets us model eating and social behaviours so our kids have seen that "we sit down, we talk, we eat" is part of our routine. MapGuy usually eats breakfast with the kids (while I'm trying to get a few more minutes of sleep), and whoever is home eats lunch together. Lately, with just Bobbin and I at home during the day, we have a little tea party together in the playroom.

2. No TV or devices on during meal times

We are really strict with this at dinner, but I will admit that a phone has been known to come out at the breakfast table to help us figure out what is going on that day! On the rare occasion that the TV is on, I find my two will forget to eat, then pick at their food and only eat their favourite bits off the plate before declaring that they are full, only to be starving an hour later.

3. We eat the same food

It doesn't matter what it is, we all eat the same food. Tricky and Bobbin have been exposed to a wide range of foods and will now happily eat almost anything you put in front of them. We dish up their food first, pop it in the fridge to cool down, add extra chilli to the pot because I like it spicy, dish up ours, and then serve it together.

4. Involve the kids in meal times

Tricky, and more recently Bobbin, help MapGuy with the grocery shopping every Saturday. Yes, you read that right, MG is in charge of the dreaded grocery run with both kids while I sleep in - dude, I've got it good. They help pick the food (tiny slaves, FTW!), get a life maths lesson, and learn the names of the different fruits and veggies as they go. They help with some meal prep, and a bit of baking (spoon licking counts as helping) and Tricky is in charge of setting the table. Soon, his job will change to clearing the table and Bobbin will take over the cutlery.

5. We have rules about trying food

Is there a food you like now that you hated at first? I used to hate olives, cheese and wine and now those things make up a glorious trifecta for this chick. You have to try a food a few times in our house before you can declare you don't like it.

I've lost count of the amount of times Bobbin has said "YUCK!" and pushed her plate away just as we sit down to dinner. When this happens we put it back in front and say she has to try it. If she refuses, we say she has to sit there while we eat dinner... every time (so far) she has started eating. Usually saying "ooh yummm" within two minutes and making MG and I covertly roll our eyes.

I also like to point out to Tricks that foods can taste different depending on what they're with; for example, he doesn't like avocado by itself, but if you put it with vegemite, or on a wrap, he likes it. I feel the exact same way, but Bobbin will eat it by the truck load by itself. It's all I can do not to dry retch at the site of it. So my two have to try a few mouthfuls of a food a couple of times, prepared in different ways before they can really declare they don't like it, but...

6. We're not in the Clean Plate Brigade

If they don't like something on their plate and they have at least tried it, they can eat around it, lick it, sniff it, push it around their plate, whatever. They don't have to eat it. Shocking, I know. If it is something that was declared their favourite thing ever the day before I will tell them to eat it, but mostly I try to respect that not everyone is as obsessed with roast pumpkin or whatever as me, and let them figure out their own palate, and their own hungry and full signals, trusting that they won't go around starving.

We follow this up by keeping their food after dinner if they haven't eaten much, and offering it to them later when they're hungry. I'm guilty of using saying "well you can't really be hungry" if they refuse dinner but are angling for dessert. Yeah, I've turned in to my parents.

These have worked wonders for our family, and with Bobbin being so small for so long, it's been really important to me to make sure she eats well.

What tips and tricks do you use to make sure your kids eat well?

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Vicious Cycle

MapGuy has been riding his bike the 26km round trip to and from work lately. He usually starts doing it in Spring when the weather is fining up and lasts until the scorching Perth summer mornings where we bake at 35 degrees before 8am, and the lure of an airconditioned train becomes too much.

When he leaves work he activates an app called Glypmse, a GPS tracker, that allows me to see where he is. On the bus, on the train, on a cycle path, crossing the park down the road, or about to walk in the front door. It's great because I can do the little dance that is "shit, the house looks horrible let's hide some crap before Dad gets home". Or start dinner. Or count down the metres until there is an adult to talk to or handball children to. Whatever works on the day.

A few weeks ago mid way through his ride it stopped working and I was quietly freaking out that he'd had a crash. As is the way, as soon as I shared my worry with a friend, he rode up the driveway making me look like I was a bit of a dick. But I do worry when he's riding because have you seen Perth drivers? Shocking stuff. No one knows how to merge, use roundabouts or watch for cyclists (or motorcyclists). It's one of my biggest fears and the morbid movie reel that is my mind has played me a few scenarios that would easily slot in to the plot line of Grey's Anatomy.

Yesterday MG sent me the Glympse as usual as I was figuring out what to cook for dinner. Tricky was playing cars in his room and Bobbin was on the couch "reading" Room on the Broom (for the millionth time). Then my phone rang and MG's smiling face flashed up on the screen.

"Yellooooo" I said.

No one replied and I could hear traffic noises so I thought he'd somehow butt dialed me.

"Hello?" I asked again to be sure.

"Hi, my name's Richard, I'm here with your husband, he's come off his bike. He's OK, he's awake now, but he's bleeding a lot and an ambulance is coming. We're at the corner of [gigantic road] and [major road], do you know where that is?". Of course I did, I had the app, showing me he was not moving at the intersection. My stomach lurched.

Richard, who neither of us had met before, was a good man to have around in an emergency. He and his wife/partner/female person in the car whose name I've forgotten, had seen MG come off (the front wheel fell off as he came down a kerb) and pulled over to help, then used his phone to contact me.

I took the kids straight to my neighbours house, much to their delight, and as they got out of the car (yeah, I drove two doors down - I thought it was quicker than walking them down and running back) she asked if they'd eaten. No. She took them by the hand, told me she'd make them dinner, bath them and put them in her kids PJs. What a legend. I pulled out and headed to the scene, absolutely petrified about what I'd see when I got there.

I arrived at the same time as the ambulance and couldn't see MG, but I could see his bike in two pieces. Richard and the woman (I can't believe I forgot her name!) came straight up to me and took me to the sign he was sitting next to. There was blood pouring out of his mouth and he had bloodied knees and a few scrapes on his arms. Next to him was his helmet with big crack in it, the plastic pushed in to the underlying foam. That could have been his skull. Dear lord, that could have been his skull!

The ambos were looking him over and I got the first look at his mouth. Teeth going in every direction, some half missing. Another man who had stopped, Jeff, started looking for MG's teeth on the road, but we were told not to bother because they'd been broken off, not come out whole. At this point I found out that MG had hit the back of Jeff's car as he went over the handlebars.

While I was sitting with MG, Richard and the woman (her name started with a vowel, dammit!) loaded up the broken bike in to the back of the car, which took quite a bit of manoeuvring because I had a leaf blower and a pram in there. They came back and stayed with me until they were sure I was OK, letting me know that they thought he'd briefly lost consciousness - so important to know! Such lovely people.

At some point as MG sat on the grass, he was bitten on the leg by a bug. Because smashing your face in to the ground isn't enough for this family. You have to hit a car and get bitten, too. Go hard or go home.

MG went off in the ambulance and Jeff made sure I was OK and told me not to worry about the damage to his car - but we swapped business cards anyway (and a lovely email checking up on MG was in my inbox the next morning). I dropped the bike home, grabbed Tricky's ventolin and some spare clothes and dropped them at the neighbour's house, then drove to the hospital. On the way I called my parents to pick up the kids for a sleep over, and MG's sister, Kitty. She works with people with brain injuries so it was a double whammy of letting his family know and getting some advice with what to ask the hospital.

At the hospital, they wouldn't let me see him. He'd been placed in 'fast track' which is for people who aren't badly hurt and will be shoved out the door soon, and they don't like visitors back there. That seemed like a good sign, but I was concerned they didn't know he'd been knocked out.

Kitty arrived to keep me company and we were finally allowed through, about an hour after he'd arrived. He was holding a spew bag to catch all the blood that was still coming from his mouth. When the doctor came in he said he'd stitch him up and he could go because the xray showed no fracture of the jaw.

I told the doctor that MG had been knocked out and sure enough, they weren't aware. Because of course MG can't remember it. I was really concerned though that they would have just sent him away after an hour when he's had a bike crash and hit his head. A bruise was forming over his entire forehead as we stood by, so it was obvious he'd hit hard, plus his helmet really showed the force of the hit. I looked back at Kitty and she gave me the universal "you said the right thing" micro nod.

He was transferred to the main emergency department and had neurological obs taken every hour which made me feel so much better. He remained alert, so with each set of obs they became less and less concerned about a possible bleed in his brain and the need for a CT.

The game plan changed a few times as the night progressed. For a while the maxillofacial surgeons were going take a look at him under general anaesthetic, but then they decided that a dentist would be the better option.

But he had to be stitched up before anything else happened. He had a chunk of skin hanging from his chin, part of his top lip hanging off, and the inside of his bottom lip was deeply lacerated from the top all the way to the gum.

The main doctor numbed him up and started suturing his chin. I'm so in to gory stuff - I watch real life medical shows, autopsy shows, and always watch any procedure I have done. I'm fascinated by it and have never felt squeamish... until then.

I was holding MG's hand, trying to be the loving, supportive wife and the room started to go black. I couldn't hear and vomit was rising up in my throat. I turned to Kitty... "I'm going to faint" and I stepped to the bottom of the bed and sat down. On the filthy floor. I was helped in to a chair and told to put my head between my legs, then proceeded to throw my guts up in to a bag. Niiiice.

The other doctor, Dr Anthony - awesome guy - sutured up the rest of MG's face while I sat just outside his cubicle drinking sugar water and being told I looked green. I was listening in to some of it, hearing the doc say how it was an impressive injury and that MG was doing well.

I rejoined the bedside party after all the gory stuff was over and was so disappointed I had to miss it. The mouth wound was epic and I only got to see it once. Boo. It's all about me, obviously.

Kitty and I had been cracking awful jokes the whole time, because joking about inappropriate things at inappropriate times is a talent we both possess. It reached a new low when, almost crying with laughter, we high fived after a particularly hilarious tooth fairy gag over him as he lay, still bleeding, in the bed. Ahhh, stress does great things. Nothing was safe - grills, Harrison Ford scars, Indiana Jones whips, Smashmouth, and even "All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth". We are terrible, terrible people, and will no doubt go to hell.

Some morphine, a failed albeit valiant attempt at a splint made from a scalpel packet, and some paperwork later, MG was discharged with instructions to see the dentist the next day.

He got an emergency appointment in the city and the dentist was a bit excited he got to do something cool instead of just a boring old filling. The xrays showed that four teeth were smashed - two could be built up, one was exposing the nerve and needed a root canal started, and the other was too damaged will have to be extracted once the area heals a little.

For now he has had two teeth capped, one temporarily capped, and one of his front teeth just smoothed off at half height, and they're braced together for support. He never had braces as a teen because he had perfectly straight teeth - but now he has them to stop the bastards falling out.

He says it wasn't too painful, that his mouth is still quite numb, but when the dentist had to lean on the stitches and use a bit of oomph, you could see it was agony.

Because I'm horrible, I went and bought MG a really inappropriate present while the main drilling bits were being done. I presented it to him saying it was the only bike he was allowed to ride from now on.

His teeth won't be fully fixed until next year, likely February, because of all the time needed for the bone to re grow around the roots where they have shifted, and for some stability to hopefully return. If it doesn't, he'll have two implants instead of one.

He's swollen. He can't eat anything but puree for a while, and looks exactly how you'd expect someone to look when they stop a fall with their face. But we don't care. He doesn't have a brain injury, he doesn't have two broken arms, he doesn't have a broken neck. He's alive. A smashed up mouth is nothing compared to the what ifs that have been running through our heads.

Now to prepare for the pain of the dental bills.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

I'm with the band

After eleven years together, you'd think I'd know all there is to know about my husband. 

I know his favourite bands, foods, drinks, activities, sports, and yaddah, yaddah, yaddah. Well, most of the time I do. I think. Let's not test me on it, OK?

So it came as a HUGE shock to me to find out that MapGuy was in a band when he was in highschool. I knew he was in the school band, but he also rocked out, the way hormonal teenage boys do, in a grunge band.

"This totally ups your street cred. How did you play trumpet in a rock band though?"

"I was the lead singer"

"Oooh that's a bit sexy. Until I remember you were underage at the time. Yeah, not sexy any more. At least you weren't the bass player. What was your band called?"

"Lesbian Sumo."

"Wait. What?"

"Lesbian Sumo."


I had so many questions, but all I could do was laugh and mock him mercilessly. Which is what marriage is all about, isn't it?

Any surprises from your partner?

Friday, October 30, 2015

5 things I love about our Hyundai Santa Fe

Not sponsored at all. I just fucking love my car.

We've had our new (to us) 2013 Santa Fe for a year now, and I am still head over heels in love with it. Our old car was cool, but whenever I get in to this one, I feel like I'm living in the future and spontaneously break in to song.

So here are the things I absolutely love about it

Inbuilt sun shades on the rear windows
Duuuuude. DUUUUUDE! These are so freakin' cool the way they stow away in to the door and then pull up whenever you want. Gone are the days of the "wind sock" or the stick on things that meant you couldn't open the window, or the other slightly better stick on things that mean they only sometimes get caught when the window opens. I'd get it on with these things if I was in to the whole Objectum Sexual shebang.

Reversing camera
I've had the sensors before, but never the camera. It is so bloody awesome for reversing in to a space and knowing just how close you can get. On the dashboard it lights up if the object is left/right/centre and the colour it is depends on how close you are to it. Handy. I'm paranoid about kids in driveways, so this has given me so much peace of mind. But I mainly use it to double check I'm parked straight in a car park bay, this is how it goes: pull in, put car in reverse, see the lines, see that I'm smack bang in the middle, give myself a high five.

Sat Nav
I've never had Sat Nav before - I have Map Guy, the human Sat Nav instead. But I use it all the time and map obsessed Tricky loves it if I leave it on. The lovely "Jennifer" (the name of the Australian female voice - there is Aussie and British male and female) tells me where to turn and the little screen shows me the map, which lane I should be in, what the overhead signs are going to look like, even the speed limit or if there are hazards ahead. I usually talk back to her, which is a bit weird, but hey, we all need to talk to someone, right?

Speed warning
I hate speeding. I try my hardest not to do it and I hate it when other people speed near me. When someone hoons around all I think is "Clark! I don't want to spend the holidays dead!". But the afore mentioned Jennifer lets me know if I'm going too fast. "You are over the speed limit" she says in her sultry radio tones. The only issue is that sometimes she gets it wrong because the limit has changed recently, at which point I usually tell her off along the lines of "Eat a dick, Jennifer" or "Fuck off and die, Jennifer". No, I'm not proud of myself.

Third row seating
Seats go up, seats go down, seats go up, seats go down. I'm Homer Simpson on that cloud every time I get to use the third row. It's like magic: it's a boot, no it's a seat! We've used it more times than I thought we would and it's no doubt going to be used heavily when we're ferrying kids and their friends around.

There are heaps more things I love, but those are definitely my top five.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Strawberry and Rhubarb Pie in the Cuisine Companion

This is a S3 post - I received a Cuisine Companion for review purposes
For full details please see my disclosure policy

The Cuisine Companion bloggers were challenged to bake on the theme of Spring this month, which is perfect because a) it's spring here, and b) I'm all for seasonal eating, so Strawberry and Rhubarb Pie it is!

There's a few reasons I like to eat with the seasons:
  • It's better quality (i.e. more delish)
  • It's cheaper (and I'm all about saving money)
  • I'm supporting local businesses
  • There is a lower carbon footprint getting it to my door
I'm not against buying produce from overseas or out of state if needed (hello, Valencia oranges in Winter), but I do prefer my fruit and veg to have less frequent flier points than me.

I got a whole stack of beautiful fresh, local ingredients delivered to my door for the challenge, and as soon as I saw rhubarb I couldn't go past a pie. Plus we'd just been strawberry picking in Gnangara, and the two are a match made in taste bud heaven.

My family are rather obsessed with rhubarb, and we were even hoping to plant some to harvest in a few years because we go through so much of it.

Strawberry and Rhubarb Pie

240g plain flour
120g soft butter (you can use Nuttelex to create a vegan base)
70ml water
pinch salt

A bunch of rhubarb, chopped
500g of strawberries, chopped
1 teaspoon of gelatin (you can use agar agar to make a vegan filling)
Optional: 1 tablespoon of sugar/honey/sweetener of your choice (or more if you like - my lot like it really tart!)

Place all the base ingredients in to the Cuisine Companion with the kneading/crushing blade, press pastry program and start. Yep, that's it. When it's finished, ball up the dough in cling film and leave it to firm in the fridge for 15 minutes, clean the bowl, but don't panic about being super thorough.

Chop your rhubarb and strawberries in to 1-2cm pieces and whack them in the bowl with the stirring blade. Set on speed 4, 100C, for 8 minutes. Your kitchen will start smelling amazeballs.

While that's happening, grab your dough out of the fridge and divide it. If you'd like a fully topped pie then use half the mixture, or if you'd like a lattice style pie with a bit of the ol' peekaboo happening, take out 3/4. This will become your base.

Roll out your pastry portion on a floured surface until it's big enough to cover a lightly floured 24cm/9.5inch pie dish. Gently lift the pastry on to the dish and push in to the edges, trimming any overflow. You can put the excess back with the rest of the pastry if you need to, but the more your work the pastry, the less forgiving it becomes.

Blind bake the base using baking paper and ceramic stones or uncooked rice in your oven for 15 minutes at 190C. When done, remove the stones and put aside until it is cooled slightly. If the Great British Bake Off taught me one thing, it's that blind baking helps minimise the chances of a "soggy bottom". Nobody likes a soggy bottom!

When your Cuisine Companion beeps, add your sweetener and the gelatin, set on speed 4, 100C for a further 4 minutes. When finished, pour the mix on to your base.

Roll out your remaining pastry on a floured surface and shape or cut how you'd like it. If you are covering the entire pie make sure to leave a steam hole somewhere or your pie will explode in the oven. It's not pretty. Trying to keep with the spring theme, and also because I'm a bit of a wanker, I used a flower cutter and arranged the blossoms around the edges and worked my way in.

Place in the oven for 20-30 minutes at 190C or until golden.

Allow to cool slightly before serving because the pie filling will be like molten lava at first. Serve with a dollop of vanilla bean icecream and enjoy!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Strawberry Fields Forever

I remember going strawberry picking in Perth with my mum and sister, way back in the day. We'd get in the car and drive forever to this insanely remote strawberry farm, I'm talking middle of nowhere. Or, at least that is how it seemed to us at the time, because there was nothing around - these days, it's tilt-up city right up to the farm gates as Perth sprawls and spreads.

My Facebook feed has been full of people picking strawberries lately, and with all the memories rushing back, I just had to get in to it and take the kids these school holidays.

As if she was reading my mind, my bestie was about to take her boys, so we went together. MG, me, Tricky, Bobbin, a preggo Mrs O, and her boys L and B. I had visions of us having a fabulous morning out together, but I underestimated the crankiness of a tired toddler who doesn't particularly like the wind on the windiest day ever. 

We rocked up to T & H Holl & Son Strawberry Farm on Badgerup Road, Gnangara at 9:30am, grabbed an empty box for $5 and proceeded up the hill to fill it! The boxes don't look that big, but strawberries are small and it will hold around 3kg of them.

Look for this sign and a big shed with T&H Holl & Son
Fat, juicy strawberries hung heavy on lush green plants all around us and the air smelled sweet. It was heaven. We couldn't wait to get started so the boys ran up the hill ahead of us all. The best strawberries were in the far corner - possibly because some people couldn't be bothered walking that far, but we were on a mission so we did it!

Super sandy! 
My lot were in gumboots because the weather bureau had forecasted rain and a friend had told us it was very sandy. The weather turned out beautiful for us, but the gumboots were still great - my two didn't have any sand in their shoes at all. Winning!

Bobbin complained incessantly about the wind, and demanded to be held in the carrier most of the time... except we didn't bring the carrier because, oh, we were meant to be bloody picking strawberries! I really thought she'd be in to it - she was eating enough at first to give that impression, but soon got tired and whinge, moan, grizzle. 


The boys had a great time and most of their conversations were:

"We picked one thousand strawberries!"
"Well we picked a million!"
"I mean we picked a billion!"
"Actually we picked INFINITY strawberries!"

Ahh, five year olds. 

The farm isn't open every day because the strawberries need a chance to ripen and buggers like us keep on going and picking them, but finding out when you can pick your own is like pulling teeth. The owners, although lovely, weren't sure when the next strawberries would be ready.

They have pre-picked boxes for sale there, too, so on days when you can't pick your own you can still buy. The "jam boxes" are $2 and have about 2kg of sub-optimal strawberries in them... although they looked pretty damn optimal to me. They also have drinks available for a few dollars if all that pickin' gets you hot, and when we were there they had local garlic for sale.

Tricks was so happy pottering around, trying to find the best strawberries and took great pride in helping me make jam when we got home. Which means I only have 2.6kg of strawberries left... um, what should I make next?

. . . ___ . . . ___ . . .

Other places to pick strawberries in Perth:

Ti Strawberry Farm - 263 Old West Road Bullsbrook. I haven't been there but my friends highly recommend it. They're open every day of the school holidays and charge a per person entry fee on top of the box fee. You're still getting a cheap and healthy activity. 

Monday, September 14, 2015

The sword of (employment) Damocles

One of the reasons I'm in a funk lately - and not the cool kinda uptown funk you up, dancing with rollers in my hair kinda funk -  is because MapGuy's work is laying off around 300 people.
The sword of employment Damocles is hanging over my head
And I've got a feelin' someone's gonna be cuttin' the thread
Oh, woe is me!
My life is a misery
Oh, can't you see
That I'm at the start of a pretty big downer
But life isn't the Rocky Horror Picture Show and I'm not wearing gold hot pants, because sadly, I don't own any.

We first heard of the cuts just before we went on holiday. Our paid for months ago, non refundable holiday. I was optimistic, though, and didn't get overly worried.

We were about to head away when his bosses made sure he could check his work email on holiday because all staff had to know if they did or didn't have a job at the same time.

I panicked. Surely they'd only double check with you if you're one of the ones getting the chop, right? It sure put a dampener on the first few days of our time in Malaysia (which I still haven't blogged about because STRESS! SICKNESS! PROCRASTINATION!). Then, he checked his email on the day he was told and PHEW he still had a job to go to! Up until then I hadn't bought anything on holiday except food. I went clothes shopping for the kids after that!

On his return to work, the atmosphere was very different. Morale was very low. The first round of cuts had been done and dusted - people had already gone and MG never got a chance to say seeya.

I still have some confidence that he'll be fine in the second and third round of cuts, but there is this voice in the back of my head. It's a bitch of a voice, I tell ya. It's saying all sorts of awful things - made more awful by the fact that at least some of them are true. Not many though, because my brain makes up the vast majority of my problems.

It's a tough climate to get a job in. (true)

I'll have to sell my computer. (highly unlikely)

Not many companies are hiring. (true)

The kids won't get new clothes for summer. (umm, hello, grandparents!)

OMG the mortgage. (yes, you have one)

We'll starve. (no, don't be a dick)

If they got rid of the guy who had been there 13 years, MG with his 8 years doesn't stand a chance. (well, fuck)

We'll be fine. No, really. I honestly believe that (most of the time). But I just can't get these doubts out of my head. They swirl and flip and before I know it, it's 2am and I've been laying here for hours clenching my teeth so tight I need the jaws of life to open it up again.

My doctor asked me recently if I wanted to try coming off my anti anxiety meds. Normally, I'd be all for moving on up and seeing what happens. But right now? Nope! I will keep my little psychotropic security blanket snuggly tucked around me, thankyouverymuch.

So we wait. And hope for the best. And don't spend too much money. And take Ativan.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

I was just trying to be nice, dammit!

On the tail end of #lungsbehavingbadly v2.0 that saw Tricks hospitalized for a couple of nights, Bobbin coughing her lungs up and me sucking back on a puffer every hour, our Ventolin stores were getting super low so I nipped out to the pharmacy while MapGuy was making dinner.

I walked all the way to the back of the store where the meds are, past the makeup, past the bath gels, past the nail polish on special and I did not deviate. Don't succumb to the specials! You can do it! It was like a little chant in my head. You don't need a hair brush, even if it is only $3.50 and guarantees no more tangles.

I grabbed my little blue life savers (as opposed to lifesavers which are much more delicious though less capable of actually saving a life) and headed back through what really has to be the most enormous pharmacy ever built. At the front of the store my resolve was tested. Kid's sunglasses marked down from $12.99 to $5.99. Oooh. They're cute. I'll just have a quick look.

I don't know what it is about kids in sunglasses, or glasses in general actually, but it hits me straight in the ovaries. Oomph. All the cute. I rummaged around and found some funky purple frames with white polka dots. Bobbin didn't neeeeed them, that's for sure, but at $6 I couldn't say no so I grabbed them and lined up at the checkout.

There was an old bloke, Paul, in front of me, counting out his coins, trying to pay for his script. He seemed quite confused and kept recounting. The checkout dude didn't help him, just kept saying he didn't have enough money.

"How much do you need?" I asked.

Paul couldn't tell me how much, just that he had to have this medicine before his operation on Monday. So I looked to rude dude. "He's 80c short".

Oh for fuck's sake. You can't let 80c slide for a confused old bugger?

I handed over a dollar coin.

"Oh, I think heaven has sent me an Angel!" Paul exclaimed.

It was sweet. Then he kept saying it and wanting to tell me all about his surgery he was about to have and I'm all smiling and lovely but inside I'm saying hurry up, Paul.

With his coins in order he then pulled out his key card for the rest of the payment... and it was rejected. He still didn't have enough money. For a $6.10 medication. It was sad.

I was just trying to be nice (but maybe I was also tired of waiting) so I told Paul I'd pay for his script. $6 script, $6 glasses. It wasn't going to break my budget, and this guy needed it more than me.

I placed the sunnies and the Ventolin on the counter while Paul professed to anyone within earshot that I was indeed sent from above.

The previously unconcerned checkout dude was impressed. Well I assume so, because his deadpan expression twitched for a moment. Then he blipped through the sunnies and they came up as $24.95.

"No, those sunglasses are from the sale tub just there" I pointed out. "They're all $5.99"

Checkout dude, who was by now completely over hearing Paul tell the world about his surgery and my fabulousness, just wanted it to be over, so he didn't even blink and started to override the price.

"I'll give you a discount" he said, and rung up a 25% discount on my ventolins. Score.

A face twitch and a discount. Naw, I melted his cold heart after all.

I paid, wished Paul all the best for his surgery that he was still talking about, and extracted myself from the store, feeling pretty damn good about myself to be honest. So damn good that I walked up to the bottle shop and grabbed a bottle of Maker's Mark as a reward. Forgoing the bag, I walked back out in to the centre with the bottle in my hand looking super classy, and glanced down at my receipt from the chemist.

I'd been charged $18.70 for the sunnies.

For fuck's sake.

I headed back to the pharmacy and lined up again.

The checkout dude had no recollection of our previous encounter a whole five minutes earlier, but I figure that when he applied the discount it must have wiped his override price.

He tried a few times to refund me but couldn't figure out how to do it so along came another equally enthusiastic employee with a similar level of job satisfaction who had a few goes.

She was stumped at why the sunnies were scanning at $24.95 yet I'd only paid $18.70.

"But why did she only pay $18.70?" she asked the dude. Silence. He shrugged his shoulders.

Jeezus, does it matter? Either way I was only meant to pay $6, who cares?! The man just stood there, he wasn't forthcoming with any information. Stunned silence. Perhaps he thought he'd get in trouble for an unauthorised discount? Either way, he was not talking.

"He gave me a discount because I'm awesome".

Holy shit, did I just say that? What a bitch. They looked at me blankly.

"Sorry, I was just trying to be nice".

She stared at me (possibly with undead eyes, I can't be sure) and tried again to figure out how to refund me the difference.

"Would it be easier if I returned them?" I asked, looking at my watch? It had been five minutes now and the line of people forming behind me were not pleased. All over a pair of cheap plastic sunnies.

They didn't respond and kept clicking away at the screen.

FINALLY, after three hours (OK, six minutes) I got the difference refunded.

I was just trying to be nice.

After the rigmarole that was their purchase I am now highly encouraging Bobbin to wear them at all times. I'm close to duct taping them to her head.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Letter to Bobbin - two years

I've taken your photo with this doll since you were born
Happy birthday, my amazing girl!

It has been two whole years since you made your entrance earthside in a gentle waterbirth, which to this day still gives me tingles when I think about it.

And you are just like your birth; you are joyful, hard work, beautiful, frustrating, gentle and simply wonderful. Oh, and also a bit of a pain in the ass! Heh.

You've not had the best run, health wise, in these last few months. You are such a robust chick that we were all surprised you needed two weeks in hospital with pneumonia! But while you were there you charmed the nurses by singing renditions of 'Shake it off', and made friends with the other kids. Then you got chicken pox from somewhere, although it didn't really phase you at all. A few spots on both your hands was all that showed up, and you were slightly grumpier than usual. You loved having your big brother home to play with while you were both quarantined, so all up, it was quite a nice time.

You're seeing the doctors at the childrens' hospital at the moment because your guts are funny. But don't panic, your brother had a funky head and he turned out fine. They are investigating you for Hirschsprung's disease, but if you have it, I think it's a pretty mild case.

You are the most verbose toddler I have ever met. Which has helped immensely when you were unwell because you could tell us what hurt and how much. You talk and sing non stop, and I adore hearing you make up little scenes with your toys. The funny little things that I want to remember are how when you drop food you'll say "Sprocky will eat it" if we're home or "ahhh, leave it for the birds" if we're out. The last few weeks you've been declaring that everything you have you "got it my birthday" - be it a toy, food, socks, anything!

For your actual birthday you are getting a walking pig, a Cabbage Patch doll (mainly because I always wanted one), and a Duplo set. You continue to be really eclectic in your tastes and will often leave the house with "baby" and a motorbike toy or monster truck. You love to dress up as superheroes and swoosh around with a cape, but refuse to wear shoes or pants every other day, randomly undressing whenever you feel like it. Including in the middle of shopping centres. You tend to leave your 'Elsa shoes' on a bit more often, so they're in high rotation right now which is ace because I think they're awesome. Blue sparkles, what's not to love?

You like dropping Tricky off at school and would love nothing more than to be able to stay there and play with the others. His friends swarm around you, and you relish the attention. You were allowed to stay when I was parent helper recently and you thought it was brilliant. You go to playgroup once a week and love spending time with the other kids. You and your little bestie are so cute together - you both have older brothers and are quite similar, so you get along really well.

You're rough, robust, caring, funny and fearless - you climb things at the park that some kids twice your age don't attempt. We step back and let you do it, just spotting you on new things, or we'll be met with screams of "I DO MYSELF!". If you fall and I offer you a hug or for it to be kissed better, you declare "No, I alright". So independent. So tough.

I'm not sure if it's the way you play, your immense vocab, or your general understanding of the world, but you seem so much older than you are. You're already in a big girl bed, and you took it in your stride like a champion. I've always said your brother was an old soul and you were a brand new one - that intense wonder and amazement at the world, the way you just want to get out and experience everything. Maybe that's it? Whatever it is, I feel like you're turning three or four today, and not two. But there you are, my teeny two year old.

You are a mighty girl and I'm so proud of you.

Thank you for being you.

Love Mama xxx

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Don't get the Book Week blues

This is a C1 post
For full details please see my disclosure policy
I freakin' LOVE Book Week.

Because my love of all things literature, (particularly children's books and reading with kids), and my love of costumes can triumphantly combine to ensure adorable children get dressed up and get excited about reading. BOOYAH!!!

Seriously, it's my favourite time of the school year.

The peeps at Costume Box sent some costumes for Tricks and Bobbin to play in, and because we're well in to our costumes and have a few already, they made sure to send me some that weren't just for this week, but forever. Because costumes are not just for Book Week. You have to love them, and take care of them, and clean up after them, and oops, I've gone off on a tangent.

Tricks is lovin' his Batman costume. It lights up, so he is well chuffed. He went in to MapGuy's work for a few hours the other day and insisted on wearing it. "Mum, do you think people will think I'm the real Batman?". Yeah, dude, you've got the Christian Bale voice going on, they'll all think you're him.

A video posted by glow (@glowless) on
It's a smidge too big for him right now because he's at the beginning of that size range, but it means he will get a good two years out of it and for now I just roll up the legs. It's all built in muscles or "boobies" as he'll tell you, utility belt, and a freakin' sweet mask cape combo with ears that actually stay up! Because there is nothing worse than Batman with sad, droopy ears.

Bobbin was sent a monster costume, and it could not be more appropriate. Because she's cute, and growly, and has fangs. Or something like that. She adores it and keeps picking up a little monster puppet we have and saying it's her baby. TOTES ADORBS! It makes me think of Boo from Monster's Inc and she keeps saying "Raaaar" at everyone when she wears it.

168 photos and these two of Bobbin were the best. Kid doesn't stop moving.
If the idea of dressing your kids up fills you with dread, check out the Costume Box blog for Book Week costume ideas (it's quite gendered, but you can ignore that - I do) or head straight to the store and get a cool costume with free express delivery for orders over $75 (or $5.99 for orders under $75) - yes, even to WA!! I couldn't believe it when I got my order the next business day, I'm used to waiting 7-10 days even for "rush" mail.

What are your kids dressing up as? I'm gonna dress up at school pick up time :) 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Slow progress is still progress - a #GlowGetsFit update

The last time I joined I gym I was 18 and in my first year of uni. I was around 55kg and thought I was fat (oh, the hilarity!) so I joined the campus gym all "yeah, let's do this, let's get totally smokin' hot".

That feeling lasted about three weeks. After a handful of sessions did not see me looking like a supermodel I gave up. Because motivation and I are not usually on speaking terms.

But this time, something has shifted. I'm enjoying going to the gym. I can hear you now: "Wait, what? Who are you and what have you done with the real Glow? I mean c'mon, really?". But I mean it. At least right now I do, who knows what next week will bring.

It's been about five weeks and I've gone to the gym at least five times a week. More times in the first week than I ever went to the uni gym, actually. I do pump class, combat, yoga, weights, or sometimes I'm just a cardio bunny and I jog on the treadmill. I have no idea about jogging, but I can sustain 7km/hour for 1.6km without stopping. Everyone else on Instagram is running marathons and here I am rejoicing at 1.6km, but for me that is huge. HUGE!

As someone who has suffered from a diagnosed chronic pain disorder for over a decade (and the decade before that when it was non diagnosed and involved a shit load of trips to the childrens' hospital for nuclear scans and what not), exercise is still very new to me.

I mean, I had an ACROD pass for ten years for Christ's sake. Disabled parking! My muscles and ligaments were so pathetic at their job that I was allowed the same parking privileges as those with exploding hearts and peeps in wheelchairs. Granted I rarely used it because I was always abused by people who have no idea what an invisible disability is, but still, I had the pass. I was on a disability pension because I couldn't always get out of bed (I was also a bit crazy at the time, but let's just stick with musculoskeletal shiz right now, OK?) and here I am now, running on a freakin' treadmill and attending pump classes.

I still feel my usual pain, though it has lessened over the years a bit (I gave up my ACROD permit). Well, either that or I just got used to it with the help of hundreds of hours of mindfulness training and therapy. It's definitely still there, but the post exercise pain drowns it out. Like when you're super itchy and you shove your hand under hot water so the heat cancels the itch, the work out pain is cancelling out the "me" pain.

I'm not really sounding like a good advertisement for the gym right now, am I? Go exercise and you'll hurt way more! But it's different pain. It's pain for a reason. I did something kickass to elicit these aching muscles, rather than just waking up unable to walk for no reason.

If I can't get to the gym, I spend about twenty minutes on the elliptical (the one I scored for free at bulk rubbish which is AWESOME and works perfectly except for the temperature gauge - why do I need one of those though?) and will do some sit ups and kettle bell work at home. Or yoga so the kids can join in.

I haven't weighed myself since I started. I don't feel the need to because this isn't about being skinny. I want to be strong. I want to be fit. And I can feel it happening already, slowly but surely. I can ride further, jog further (the fact I can jog at all is awesome, really), lift heavier things, walk up stairs without needing the handrail. So many things I couldn't do before. But saying that, I wouldn't turn down some associated weight loss, just so I could fit in my damn clothes again. It would be nice, not gonna lie.

So here I am, getting fitter. Getting stronger. Feeling the urge to share inspirational fitness memes (it's a sickness, I apologize). Wanting to buy new workout pants. Listing the pros and cons of Garmins vs Fitbits. Taping my aching feet and shins. And feeling fucking awesome.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...