Making a community

There was a horrid ad on the radio tonight.  Someone pretending to be an old woman, bemoaning ‘today’ and fondly remembering the past.  When you could leave your back door unlocked, when you knew your neighbours – blah blah.  

We moved to our suburb in the year Squidge turned two.  We didn’t really know anyone.  We nodded at our neighbours, said hello but had no real connections in the area.  While the suburb isn’t a new one, it’s taken a while for it to take off and it’s only in the last few years that we have a little shopping centre that we can walk to.  Before that, everyone drove out of the suburb to get what they needed, even just if it was milk or to post a letter.

I met a lovely lady at the park one day – both pregnant with our second child.  We chatted, found out we lived near to each other and later on that day dropped my phone number in to her house.  She’s moved out of the suburb but we’re still friends.  Our boys started kindy together, our second babies born 2 months apart.  Our children still go to the same school.

It’s been through school that we’ve made most of our connections.  First with Squidge’s class.  The connections we made in kindy are still strong now which is good – for us and the kids.  As Squidge progressed through school his friends often resulted in friends for us in their parents.  And now Bruce.  It didn’t really happen in kindy like it did with Squidge, but in pre-primary I’ve again found a lovely group of people to connect with and forge bonds that I think will last a long time.

We’ve grown close to some of our neighbours – again the bond being our children, their strong desire to play with their peers ensuring the parents connect (the occasional Friday evening drinks on the front lawn don’t hurt either!).

I love that I have friendships which mean I can call on them or they me to collect kids after school because something’s cropped up.  I love that our children can, to some degree, wander freely between houses on our street and we know they are safe, having fun and are well fed (always well fed).

I really enjoy our little community that we’ve found ourselves in and have built around us and I appreciate that my boys, through making friends, have in turn made friends for us too.

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Real Life Wednesday – Ew

This is a linky to Picklebums and Real Life Wednesday – “…those crazy little things that happen that make up the every day”.

DB does the school drop off and pick up twice a week.  Bruce‘s class has reading before the school bell and parents are encouraged to stay and listen to kids in the class read the books they’ve taken home the night before.

DB enjoys this.  The kids enjoy it as not many dads have the opportunity to do it – it’s fun getting to read to Bruce’s Dad.

DB noticed one of the girls in the class looking a bit glum and asked her if she’d like to read to him.  She perked up immediately, headed on over and gave him her book.

Before he’d even had time to say hello she said:

“I’m going to the Doctor today because this morning I wanted to vomit”.

Real Life Wednesday Ew.
Real Life Wednesdays

It’s been HOW long?

There are so many weeks when I get to the end of them and think, it can’t be Monday already?

The same can be said for the past 21 years since I left high school.  On the weekend, some of the class of ’91 crashed a reunion that the class of ’92 were having.  Fortunately one of the ’91 guys had the good sense to marry a lovely and very organised ’92 girl and it turns out that ’92 crew are entirely more able to organise a piss up in a brewery (or a  pub as the case might be) than we are.

I regularly keep in touch with 2 of the people from my year that were there and via the wonders of Facebook have a fair idea of what some of the others had been up to.

In the end, the slightly awkward, so what have you been doing preamble could be summarised as – kids? work? what do you do?  Of course today, the day after the reunion, I have my answer.  Married to a lovely man for 12 years, 2 kids, a dog and 2 chooks, work part-time. Yesterday though it was hard to summarise the last 21 years.

Just where has it gone?  Uni –> job 1 as a receptionist for a small oil & gas company –> job 2 for a uni –> job 3 for a different uni.  Been there ever since in different capacities.  Been with the same lovely fella since 1994.  Built a home & life with him.  2 beautiful babies.  Time just FLIES.

I guess the people who I’ve really kept in touch with are the ones I was most connected with, I still count several of my high school girl friends as my closest friends who can pick-up where we left off, regardless of whether it has been a week or 12 months since we last saw each other, but it was great seeing the others.  Our school was a small one in a small country town and it’s wonderful to know that they’ve built their lives in their ways and we can still re-connect after all these years.  But damn it’s hard trying to condense 21 years into a few words!

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Easy Peasy Party Food Cooking

This month my baby turned 6.  6!  It was his turn for a party this year.  It’s fair to say that by mid July I was pretty much over party foods that involved cereal and puff pastry.

But you know, while I made most of the food myself, it wasn’t hard because I had two basic criteria – I had to be able to make most of it ahead of time; and it had to be simple to make.

Bruce’s party was on Saturday at 10:30 – I had a plan of attack.

Wednesday:

Made the Mars Bar Slice.  Nothing easier than this microwave version.  I doubled the quantities as we were expecting 20 kids (plus parents).  We came home with 6 or so squares left over.  It kept in the fridge really really well.

Thursday:

I work a half day on a Thursday.

I made the Honey Joys/Honey Crackles before I went to work – they are that simple. The recipe came from the side of the Cornflakes packet and Kelloggs have it on their website too.

After work I made the sausage rolls based on this recipe I found on Taste.com.au  – I did make a change to this one.  I don’t like sausage mince much so instead of the meat they suggested I used 500g pork mince and 500g veal mince.  It made around 36 which seemed to be more than enough.

After dinner on Thursday I made the pizza scrolls.  Again – too simple.  5 sheets of puff pastry, defrosted.  Spread a tablespoon of pizza tomato paste on each.  Scatter with chopped up ham, grated cheese and crushed (drained) pineapple.  Roll up tightly, cut each roll into 8 slices, arrange on a tray lined with baking paper and cook in a hot oven for about 15 – 20 minutes.

Friday:

After work I did the cake.  IGA make big slabs of vanilla sponge cake.  I bought one of these and chopped it in to a monkey shape and then decorated it.  A few problems – I should have left the coco-pop “fur” until the morning (they were all soggy) and I ran out of icing to properly cover all of him and ensure they stuck.  He looked a bit like a moth eaten toy monkey but Bruce didn’t mind.

For the parents to snack on while the kids were playing (we went to Jungle Gym in Willetton) I had tea & coffee supplies, a packet of Tim Tams and a yummy, but basic, lemon loaf that I had made as part of a big batch of loaves a few weeks before and frozen.  The night before I pulled it out of the freezer, iced it and chopped it into squares.  It was still delicious and moist.

Saturday morning only involved chopping up watermelon and strawberries for some fruit platters, packing the car and we were off.  He had a great party, celebrating his birthday with some wonderful friends.  Not a lot of food came home.  Perfect.

The birthday boy moving so fast, the camera could barely catch him

Things I Know about Boys – Chalk and Cheese

I have two boys, Squidge and Bruce.  I read Mrs Woog’s recent post – Genetically Non-Gifted which got me thinking about my own two boys and how different they are in personality.

By coincidence they were playing a ‘board’ game that day.  It was an A3 piece of paper with a game about recycling that Squidge brought home from school following an ‘incursion’*  by some people from the Henderson Waste Recovery Park.  Re-enforcing their message of re-use, they didn’t provide counters or a die with which to play the game – we recycled the bits from our Wiggles Snakes and Ladders game.

So Anthony and Murray were being pushed around the board.  At a stage in the game the boys had a choice.  Take the short – but risky – cut, or go the long – but safe – way round.

Bruce took the short cut.  It paid off for him first time and he won so he persisted.  Squidge, each and every time went the safe path.  Squidge won more than Bruce but that didn’t stop Bruce.

And that folks, in essence you have it – their personalities personified by a board game.

Are your kids chalk and cheese?

 

* one of my most HATED words is incursion.  Had the people who chose to use this word in this way bothered to look it up in a dictionary?  A hostile entrance into a territory.  I feel uneasy every time I’m asked for permission for a child to participate in an incursion.  Just what am I signing them up for?

Things I Know About Boys – Illnesses

This post should really be called Things I Know now that I’m a Parent as I’m sure that these equally apply to girls as to boys.

I have been surprised in lots of ways since becoming a parent.  Who knew that little baby boys could wee so much, so often and with such force as you change their nappy?

However, it would have to be ‘conditions’ that kids end up with that have been most surprising.  I remember as a child having mumps (should have listened when my Mum told me not to go and talk to my friend waiting in the car who had them), measles and chicken pox (that was a bad one – I went in to hospital with chicken pox).

Sure, my boys have had colds, flu, gastro (where DB has shown his true colours – didn’t ever have him pegged as a vomit catcher but he’s very good at it – doesn’t dry reach at all).  But it’s the other stuff that people don’t tell you about.

Squidge has been on the receiving end of a general anaesthetic 3 times, Bruce once. I’ve sat with them as they went under, struggling, jerking as if in a bad dream, and coming out of it crying or just hungry and grumpy.

It wasn’t until Bruce was born that I understood why when a baby, even only slightly premmie, has trouble breathing it’s not so much that they could die from a lack of oxygen. Instead the chances are greater that they’ll die of exhaustion as their little bodies work so hard to get sufficient oxygen.

Via Squidge I’ve come to learn not to trust asthma.  Sleeping in a chair next to his bed in the observation ward at our children’s hospital, he was ok and then suddenly he wasn’t and was being rushed to a resuscitation bay as a precaution.  I’ve learnt that a cocktail of ventolin, adrenaline, oxygen and steroids can pick them right up again and just about have them climbing the walls when all you want to do is cry and sleep.

I didn’t know about croup.  The first time Squidge barked when he coughed scared us to death and we rushed him to hospital.  We were taught croup first aid (sitting in a bathroom made steamy by the shower on hot and full) and as he kept getting it we were prescribed a steroid to give him at home.  I didn’t hesitate when I had to call 000 because he was just so much worse one time even after the steroid and I didn’t hesitate two more times after that.

I didn’t know about hand, foot and mouth.  When DB rang to tell me daycare had sent Squidge home with it I was speechless.  He’s not a sheep I thought.  And by then I was at the end of my tether having taken more sick leave in a few months back at work than I ever had in a few years of employment (and I only worked part-time).

Then there were school sores (impetigo) and streptococcal infections in places I didn’t even know you could get them (until I’d watched Everybody Loves Raymond I’d never heard of strep throat let alone strep other bits).

Throw in constant ear infections for Bruce in his first 18 months of life, debates with a GP about how many doses of antibiotics is too many for a baby not yet 12 months old (I still say 8 is too many) and the feeling that we alone are subsidising our pharmacist’s end of year Christmas function and this parenting lark has been a steep learning curve.

I’m sure there’s more to come.

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It’s all about moi

Recently I got an email from our local shopping centre inviting me to enter a competition to win some time with a personal stylist.

So I did and I did.  Last Monday saw me head off for the appointment.  I was very nervous.  What do you wear to an appointment with a personal stylist?  Trackies and ugh-boots so they have a ‘blank canvas’ to work with?  The green cardigan I bought from Colarado 12 years ago that I still wear today?

Hmmm – what to wear?

Perhaps not.  I went for the layer cake look.  Leggings, top, tunic and cardigan over the tunic.  Essentially I was black, beige and various shades of grey.

The first 30 – 40 minutes were spent on a bit of a sales pitch – the other services they provide and then down to what kind of style personality was I?  I wasn’t aware my style had a personality but it turns out I’m Classic with a sub-style of Natural.  So there.

We also discussed which parts of my body I liked and dis-liked.  The dis-like column was fairly long but Ashleigh (my personal stylist – cue nervous laugh from me) didn’t seem phased.

Ashleigh then took me through what fashion basics I should have in my wardrobe.  Am I stuck in a black and white rut?  Am I ever.  I defended this by saying it was economical.  All my stuff would always go together.  Ashleigh suggested I branch out and try some other colours with black.  Hmmm.  That seemed rather radical.

We put together a shopping list.  DB would have had a whole litter of kittens had he seen THAT list.  A suit, the classic white shirt, a couple of different coloured shirts, black skirt – that was just the ‘for work’ list.  On the recreational list were 2 long cardigans, plain tops, a trench coat and a dress.

Armed with the shopping list we hit the shops.  We don’t have many boutiques at our local.  We don’t have any big ones like Myer or DJs.  That was probably a good thing.  The boutiques we do have are, hmmm, for the budget conscious.

In the first shop, Crossroads, I found a long cardigan that fit nicely (not black, not frumpy – instantly a winner), a bright coloured top to go with it and a black skirt for work.  Even better they had a great deal where the cardigan was full price but the other two items were 50% off.

It was in Crossroads that another customer in the store asked Ashleigh if they had an item in her size.  “Oh, I don’t work here, I’m this lady’s personal stylist”.  I giggled like a little girl.

Then we hit Rockmans and I walked out with a suit for work, a couple of tops (not black!) and a chunky necklace that Ashleigh had used to demonstrate how it drew the eye away from the bits we don’t want people to notice (the jiggly bits in the middle).

Crossroads and Rockmans are two shops that I normally walk in to and then out of fairly quickly, I struggle to sort the wheat from the chaff.  I was pleasantly surprised to find more than one thing in them both that I liked and the time with Ashleigh has helped me to narrow down what to look for.

At the end of the 2 hours, I’d had fun.  That shopping adventure was about no-one else but me.  DB almost had one or two kittens about what I bought home but I can justify it.  I won’t need to buy winter clothes for work for years (because I’m a Classic and the basics just don’t go out of fashion); I’ve learnt how to use some of the stuff I already have in my wardrobe more efficiently – putting together colours I wouldn’t have tried before; and it’s my birthday in a couple of months and I’ve simply saved him of going to the trouble of finding me something I’d like.

If you’re interested, the stylist was from shopnfriends and the shopping centre with the reasonably priced stores was Gateways which is south of the river in Perth.

Disclosure:  I wasn’t paid or in anyway provided with incentives to write this post.  All thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own.

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