Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas - Behind the Scenes

I've been thinking quite a bit about the Christmas story the past few days and weeks. Specifically, the things it doesn't say. Or rather, the things that we perhaps don't read into it, because we live in a different time and place. I have concluded that when the Bible describes Jesus as a man who understands sorrow, it is very accurate. Just think for a moment about his arrival in the world. Now sure, if he was an average baby he wouldn't remember that he was born in the feeding trough in a cave (the general concensus seems to be that the stable was likely a smelly cave hewn in the side of a hill). But his parents would have been oh, so aware. The Bible doesn't really talk about their reception in Bethlehem, except to say there was no room in the inn. What I think we easily forget is that Joseph was returning to his home town. While he might never have lived there, his family came from there. So it wouldn't have just been any old stranger ungraciously telling a pregnant woman that they didn't have a spare bed. Nope. These were Joseph's relatives. Imagine Great-aunt Gertrude standing there, glaring at you and your exhausted, terrified wife. Think of the humiliation, the shame, and the anger this young couple would have faced in being turned away from home after home by people who should have been looking out for them.

It was not exactly a forgiving time or place. Mary had conceived out of wedlock. She could have been stoned to death for it. Folks would have agreed that this was the 'right' thing to do with such a harlot. But Joseph turns around and decides to marry her anyway. That I think, would have been like saying the kid was his. Very few people would have doubted that they'd got up to mischief. Big no-no. Really, really, really big trouble. Lots of gossip. Lots of friends and family who would choose overnight to no longer recognise you. Anguished parents, humiliated, wondering what they'd done wrong in raising these two. Probably a lot of anger, possibly being yelled at and spat on. Mary and Joseph came from a small town. They would have known everyone and everyone would have known them. Suddenly, their reputations, and through them, the reputations of their families, were in tatters. Then they had to go to Bethlehem, right when the baby was due because some beaucrat decided to count all the people. So they took a dangerous, long journey. There weren't any other options. You simply didn't stand there and argue with the Romans. You'd be dead if you did. Probably after your wife was raped and your home burnt to the ground. So they went to Bethlehem to be turfed out by all the rest of their relatives. I wonder if the inn keeper who gave them the stable did so secretly. Did his wife approve? Was there a loud argument about harbouring such sinners? Did he do so out of guilt, seeing how tired and worried Mary and Joseph were? I wonder how differently the town of Bethlehem and Joseph's relatives would have reacted if they knew this was the Messiah they had all been waiting for. I wonder if they would have been so harsh, so condeming. This was Jesus' arrival into the world. I don't think things really got any better for him after that either. While the gossip would have died down over time, no one in the family would have ever really forgot his shameful beginning. He would have lived with whispers and taunts his whole life, and with the realisation that his very existence caused his parents incredible heartache and grief. I do wonder if Mary might have wished for another life, in living to see her son die brutally on a cross. We think of her as blessed, chosen by God. And she was. But I imagine that living the chosen life was neither easy, nor happy-go-lucky. It must have been incredibly hard.

So these have been my thoughts this Christmas. I am grateful that Jesus came. I am grateful that I can know God. But I am saddened that he, and those he loved and who loved him, had to go through so much for me to have this opportunity.

Amy
Wednesday, 29th December 2010

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Word for the Week

I have decided that it is well past time we had another word for the week. I've been playing free rice a little bit since stopping study for the year, and am enjoying seeing all these different words. So here we go...

Today's word is:

Impish


I just love the sound of it. Impish. As in, imp. It basically means mischevious. And another word with similar meaning and just as great a sound: rascally. Apparently impish can also mean "naughtily or annoyingly playful" (freedictionary.com).

I wonder if my son is impish? He does sometimes get one of those looks. You know, the sort that makes you wonder what crazy idea is brewing in the cogwheels of the mind. His daddy is impish. Although, to be honest, to me it seems like the word is more fitting for a kid, or a fairy or something equally smaller than average, not a grown man. That's just what impish makes me think of. Small and mischevious. But impish Boyo is. Yesterday he tried to trick me into thinking that we don't have any spending money left for the month. He held up the spending bag (currently a clear plastic, zip lock bag, labelled) stating there was only $4 or something in there. Of course I then wanted to know what we'd done with all the rest, and what he was doing with his other hand (behind his back). He pulled the hand out, still claiming that there was no more money, but then upon further scrutiny from me, bent down and picked up $10 off the floor. Then $50, then all the rest of the spending money (our spending money is meant to cover all sundry expenses during a month that does not fall under our main budget headings, so while we use it to buy hot chips or things equally yummy, it also gets used to buy cough medicine, extra bibs for Munchkin, and any other household items we need that I can't fit in the grocery budget). It appears that my rascally husband had carefully dropped most of the spending money on the floor out of my sight before claiming we didn't have any left. The only problem was that he is terrible at keeping a straight face, so of course I did know that something was up, just not where he'd put it all! Rascally is a good word for him!

Amy
Wednesday, 22nd December, 2010

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Munchkin's Favourites - 4


Another of Munchkin's Favourites. I was actually a bit surprised, as I'd expected him to go for something a bit smaller, but he took one look at his Dolly and fell in love. He loves holding him. He loves looking at him. He loves having him 'bumped' up and down his tummy, or wriggled across his face. Dolly now sits in Munchkin's bed, and gets picked up and played with whenever he wakes up (or doesn't want to go to sleep!). I think part of the allure is the bright colours, and another great feature is that it is so soft and pliable...little fingers can grip hold of the head, the arms, the buttons, pretty much any part of it. I know it is a scarecrow, but we have been calling it Dolly since he got it, so Dolly it still is. After all, boys can have dollys too. Such a good choice of toy from one of the great uncles and aunties!


Amy

Tuesday, 21st December, 2010

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas Preparations

Christmas is almost here. I thought I would share our preparations for this year.

We have the tree up, and some lights. I will have to take a few photos sometime. For the first time ever, we've had to remember to put the Christmas tree up HIGH, due to a certain small person who joined our family this year and his delight in eating anything he can reach. We have two stockings up. Munchkin doesn't have one yet. I guess I had better make one for him between now and next Christmas as he will be old enough by then to ferrit around in one. My stocking was made by my mum when I was little. It is felt, and has an apple tree and an A on it (for Amy, just in case you were wondering). Andrew has one that we made as family Christmas presents a few years back. Yellow, with a black star on it.

A small nativity scene sits on the china cabinet by the front door.

We will be making Jesus' birthday cake later this week, most likely on Thursday. It is a mocha fruit and chocolate cake, so easy to make and delicious, delicious, delicious...a perfect choice for Christmas I think. I only ever make it at Christmas, to keep it special. I don't imagine there will be candles on it this year. Maybe next year, as that part is really for Munchkin.


We do have a bit of last minute shopping to do. I forgot that I need custard powder to make the trifle. So Boyo will pick that and some potatoes and kumara up from the supermarket later this week when he is working (he works at a supermarket so it is convenient to give him a list instead of having to go myself). And there's the gifts. We don't give Christmas gifts to each other. Well, we're not meant to at any rate. A few usually do manage to sneak in each year. We give a small gift to our immediate families, and these have been all organised and sent, which I am rather chuffed about. But we still plan on heading out to Dollar Value or the Warehouse to get a few small things. These are to go in our Christmas Child boxes, to get them started for the year.

So what are we doing for Christmas?
We will have lunch with my parents Christmas Eve. We usually have a meal with them most Fridays anyway, just moved this to lunchtime as it means we don't have to rush off to get Munchy into bed. Boyo's parents visited last week and delivered their Christmas presents which are sitting under the tree (unopened still, which is unusual for us - we are not really big on opening on the day and often open any presents early...I guess that might change now we have a child?). We generally don't spend Christmas with our extended family. We decided when we got married that we'd like to focus on our family unit at Christmas, and avoid all the mad travel and stress associated with big family Christmas Day do's. We do try to see family around this time though (just not on the day), and like to have celebrations with them at other times of the year, such as birthdays. This is part of our trying to keep things simple and low stress at Christmas, I guess - not travelling much, not having loads of food or presents, etc. But in saying all that, I do want our kids to grow up experiencing the joy of Christmas, tingling with anticipation and delight, having traditions they can hang onto, and being surrounded by love and fun at Christmas. I just don't want it to be all about getting and getting and getting, and eating and eating and eating. We probably do enough of that throughout the year, without needing to go overboard at Christmas.

On Christmas Day, our menu consists of roast chicken, roast veges and salad, followed by trifle (Boyo's favourite). We also have some dip and chips, the Christmas cake, and hopefully some fresh cherries if my mum manages to get to the market later in the week. I think that will more than amply provide enough food for us to stuff ourselves to overflowing. Boyo was a little shocked when I told him that he can help with the sponge cake for the trifle and making the Christmas cake. I gather I am getting more feisty and demanding as I approach my 30s! I figure that there's no sign on my head designating me as sole preparer of all things Christmas, and that if the family wants to celebrate, then the family should be involved in the work. Besides, part of the fun should be preparing for it together.

Other than eating, our plans include wrapping some shoe boxes. This is our family tradition. Instead of gifts for each other, we are focusing on gifts for people who have less than us at Christmas. The shoe boxes head off into the Pacific Islands to kids who have most often never received a single gift before in their lives. I love doing these boxes, but they are collected in October each year, so I wasn't sure how we could incorporate them into Christmas. So what we are doing is we wrap some shoe boxes on Christmas Day together as a family. Then we pop a few little gifts in each box, to get them started for the year. Each box receives a number of little gifts, which I usually collect on sale through the year, so this is a good way to enjoy giving and the festive spirit, but still have the boxes ready at the right time of year. I wonder what we will buy? Skipping ropes, tennis balls, soaps, hats....should be quite a bit of fun choosing things. Usually I get them on my own during the year when I'm doing our grocery shopping, so it will be really nice to go out as a family and choose some gifts.

We will read the Christmas story too, I think. After all, that's the whole point of the day from our perspective, that God chose to send his son so we could be friends with God.

So that's our Christmas in a nutshell. What special family traditions do you have?

Amy
Monday, 19th December, 2010

Munchkin's Favourites - 3


Here's another of Munchkin's favourites...his VERY favourite at present.

This small ball provides all the incentive necessary to learn to roll. He has spent the past few weeks reaching for it, and 'chasing' it across the floor. Being just slightly soft, it allows for easy grabbing by little fingers. He just loves it. I don't even remember where I got it from, except that it would have been a cheapie.

Incidentally, my son decided that he desperately needed to get up an hour early this morning. Despite my reassurances to the contrary. Opps, now he's just managed to pull some of the filing out of the filing tray. I obviously put the highchair too close! After all, paper is so much more interesting than soft toys! Grin. I think it is time for breakfast. Peach, apple, pear and baby rice this morning (we are using up bits and bobs!).

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Disappointed

I'm feeling a bit disappointed, really. I had gotten myself all excited thinking about the different tap photos people might send in. And no one has even commented. I even put it on my Facebook page, where it appears to have been ignored. My husband has consoled me, with the sage advice that people are busy and I really shouldn't have expected much. I have been a little rash, perhaps...it has only been a couple of days, so maybe you are all still out there with cameras clicking away? I guess I didn't really expect much, just hoped. It is frustrating, because I can do so little at the moment to help those in desperate need. And I believe it is just so wrong that here in New Zealand (and other developed countries) we have sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo much, while others have nothing (and there are great disparities within our own society too, I am not wishing to overlook that, but at least in NZ you can get government assistance to help pay rent and buy food, get your kids to the doctor or into school, etc). So I'm disappointed. I just wanted to make a little difference in someone's life who is facing the desperation of not having a safe water source. I can't even imagine what that must be like. We currently have a broken cold tap in the kitchen. It is waiting repair. It drips constantly, and we have stopped using it, for fear that once we get it on again we might not get it off! So when I want a cold drink, I head into the bathroom and fill up one of our tallest glasses, which I then sit on the dining table and sip from until I need to refill it again. It feels like such a drama. I know it really isn't. It is still purified, drinkable water. I'm not going to get sick from it. It comes from the same place the kitchen stuff does anyway. And it is such a long way to go. Not. I mean, it is all of 10 paces or something. Not like I have to head out with a bucket and hike around our local walkway for half an hour to get a drink. Anyway, I was wanting to do more, without actually doing more myself...because I have limited time and resources, and particularly at the moment, limited money. I figured that if we all did something little, like sending in a tap photo to raise $2 for safe drinking water, that together it would make a much bigger difference than anything I could do on my own.

I guess we are all too busy. I keep forgetting that it is the end of the year, and that Christmas is nearly here. I am the least busy I have been all year, you see. I have finished study for the year. And we have a simple Christmas planned, without much shopping or preparation involved at all. So I forget that for most people there's the kids presents to get and wrap and such, and the family gatherings to prepare for. And to top it all off, in the Southern Hemisphere, there's the countless end of year gatherings, and family summer holidays to plan. It is our summer holidays you see. School has just finished for the year. Kids get six weeks or so of summer freedom, and it just seems like everything combines into one big, mad rush. So it is understandable that there's not much interest in taking photos of taps for people we've never met. Maybe I will try again in February, after all the holiday hype is over? How bizzare is that - we are too busy because of Christmas! Christmas, of all things.

Amy
Sunday, 19th December, 2010

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Baby Proofing?!?

I think it might be time.

Munchkin started rolling last week. He is now a proficient roller. I leave him in one position, turn around to do something, turn back, and he is in a different position. Usually gazing at me with a smug expression of delight. This evening I realised that we need to do some baby proofing. Immediately. I had thought we might get as much as another month, as it's not like the kid is crawling yet, just rolling. But no, Munchy baby has decided that he quite likes being mobile, thank you all very much. In the course of half an hour, he managed to roll his way off the plastic mat he was on (having nappy free time - help, please do NOT pee on the nice new rental carpet!), and grab his dad's boxers from under the desk, pulling them off the pile of other stuff they were up on (Boyo leaves all his bed time stuff in the lounge on nights he works so that he disturbs my sleep as little as possible when coming to bed). Once the boxers were retrieved, the nappy on and the baby again released, he then proceeded to roll in the opposite direction towards my desk. He missed the chair (narrowly), the potty (kicked it) and grabbed my knitting bag. Opps. Sharp objects. Not such a great play thing. I gave him my wooly hat instead, also from under my desk. Do you get the feeling that we are somewhat short on storage space around here?? When redirected back towards the middle of the room, Munchkin then found his trousers hanging on the side of the couch and pulled them off for closer investigation (read: putting in the mouth). He is now happily sitting surrounded by pillows with a container of toys between his legs, trusty wooden spoon in his mouth, gladwrap roll and chilled teether handily nearby. His first tooth poked through this morning. Now the question is: where are we going to put all this stuff that has lived on the floor until now?!? And just how high up are we going to need to put it?! Hmmm...

Amy
Saturday, 18th December, 2010

Friday, December 17, 2010

Taps - how many do you have around the place?

I just uploaded 4 photos to Turn on the Tap:










This initiative is run by Samaritan's Purse, to give clean drinking water to some of the many people in the world who do not have it. A sponsor is donating $2 for every tap photo that is uploaded to their website!!! I took the photos months ago, and am pleased to have finally done something with them. This was my decision regarding World Water Day (written about in a previous post months ago!) - I took ages and ages thinking about what to do, way past World Water Day, between multiple assignments and baby commitments, and ended up not doing anything. Which is very slack and not at all suitable, as far as I am concerned. So finally I have done something. It is a very small something really, but even very small somethings can make a world of difference to someone living in extreme poverty.





Could you spare a few minutes, and help change a person's life by taking a few photos of the taps around your place? I am hoping to do some more in the coming week...watch this space. Please let me know in the comments if you've uploaded any, so I can go and check them out! This is where you go: http://turnonthetap.org.au/gallery/recent.php?id=1


If you email me your photos, I can post them here on my blog. I wonder how many we can get? So upload them at Turn on the Tap, then email me a copy at: soonarmy at gmail dot com. How creative can you get? What unusual places might you find a tap around your place? What kind of different photography do you think we could do? I am so excited about this! A patchwork quilt of tap photos, that's what we'll have. And the knowledge that we've helped others while having fun!




Amy





Ps...the thing that amazed me when I was looking for taps to photograph, is just how MANY we have in our 2 bedroom unit. I mean, there's the kitchen taps, the handbasin, the shower, the washing machine, and the laundry tub. Then there's another 2 taps outside that I haven't got photos of yet. I did this once when I lived in North QLD and ended up sending in taps from local parks, rest areas, public bathrooms, etc. I was just blown away by how frequently and easily we can access potable, clean, safe drinking water. We water our lawns with it, for crying out loud. While so many people in the world walk kilometres every day, to collect dirty, disease-ridden water for their family. Because that's all they have available and they don't have the money or resources to change it. I'm so glad organisations like Samaritan's Purse do have the resources, and that they can find the money through such a fun activity like this Tap photography. I'm so looking forward to seeing yours! Grin.



Friday, 17th December, 2010

Cards Galore

I recently joined my mother-in-law on a card purchasing expedition. She gets all her base cardboard for card making once a year, from a local printer. This year I headed in with her. We chose the colours we wanted from what he had available, then the printer cut it all down to A4 for us. Some sheets supplied 9, others 6 per sheet. I am very chuffed with my new stash of card. I use a lot of white card as my card bases, and have found it really hard to get hold of a decent amount of it here. I was tired of buying it in packs of 10 A4 sheets, for exhorbitant prices at local stationery shops. So this has proven to be an excellent solution!


Here is my pile. I managed to stay very focused, and only got the colours I will actually use regularly for my cards. There were some other lovely colours and textures, but I know that I already have lots of coloured paper scraps so really only need the actual 'card' to set everything up on. From experience, these are the colours I will use most. I tend to make simple, layered cards using cut pieces of coloured paper, ribbons, buttons, etc. I did do stamping for a while there, but have reverted back to my youth. This is how I learned to make cards each birthday, following my Mum's example. There is red, navy, black, cream, speckled/tan, and white. Beautiful!


All this cost just $22!!! Now for some time to use some of it! One of my less-urgent/less-important goals for summer is to make at least 20 generic cards, as my thank you/thinking of you/no-name card stash has all but run out. Plus there's a few birthday cards I could work on too...


Amy

Friday, 17th December, 2010

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Glicks

And here are photos of the adorably cute Glicks, as we aptly named the Burrowing Frogs before we worked out what they actually are. It is a pity they make such a loud noise...they are incredibly beautiful, I think. I had to very carefully stalk one to find it at all.



Amy
Thursday, 16th December, 2010

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

More Garden Recycling

Here's some more recent garden recycling.

We found a whole bunch of old narrow, concrete blocks in under the trees. So I got Boyo to haul some out for me, and I used them to edge the little vege garden left by the previous tenants. I combined them with some wooden edging I found round the back of the house. The grass likes to make major inroads into the garden every time my back is turned, so I figured edging was the way to go. Of course, being a rental property I didn't want to spend money on something in case I have to 'love it and leave it.' This was a good solution. The materials were already on site, and we just moved them to suit us. There are several other benefits though. I have just this week put some bird netting over our little strawberry patch. The blackbirds were going to town on the strawbs and we were not getting very many. The netting tucks in under the top row of blocks quite nicely, and is still up high enough for the fruit to grow underneath largely undisturbed. I also thought that with the garden edging in, I could build up the soil in this garden. Once again, I've been putting off doing anything because it isn't "mine" and I don't want to expend too much time or money on something that I might not get to keep. Plus there was the issue of overflow onto the lawn...you can only mound things up so far before gravity (and digging birds and/or cats) takes over and it all heads downwards. So I figured that I can now build up the soil with compost and such, and if we do ever have to leave the unit, I can always barrow or bag my lovely compost/topsoil out with me. If I can be bothered at the time. Who knows, I might or might not, but I do like knowing it is an option. So there you have it, garden edging that didn't cost me more than a few hours work, and is helping to make our little garden more productive. Just as an aside, I do find it fascinating seeing what is lurking in the undergrowth in the places we live. In a previous house, in which I thought there was no garden to speak of, I discovered several lots of spring bulbs popping up. I was delighted, as they promptly got used for the floral art course I was taking (doing a floral art course without a flower garden requires some level of creativity, believe me!). In this house, I have found some nice little rose bushes...they are doing much better now I've cleared most of the grass away from them and given them a prune. And I found a little viola growing in the path by the front door. it now adorns a pot instead and seems to be much happier there, if size and flower production are anything to go by. Didn't really find anything interesting in our last place in North QLD. Except for the Northern Green Jumping Tree Spider. There might be words missing or muddled in that title. I always did get it a bit muddled. But it was a very odd looking green spider that apparently was best to avoid. Oh, and the Burrowing Frogs that appeared our last summer there when we had a really decent wet season and they all decided to come out of hibernation. Gorgeous looking. But very noisy. Glick, glick, glick they went. Glick, glick, glick. Then, just as you were sort of used to the noise and were finally drifting off to sleep something would spook them and they would all go silent. You'd be almost asleep that time, before they all found a new spot and started glicking again! Ah, life in the tropics. But no interesting plants. No one had gardened there before, I gather.

What interesting things have you discovered in the garden when you've moved into a new place?

Amy

Wednesday, 15th December, 2010

Creative Garden Stakes

When I needed to plant tomatoes a few months back, I realised that I don't have any stakes. I also don't have a spade, fork, hose or most other garden implements. In fact, I personally own a bucket, rubber gloves, and a hand trowel. Plus some seed raising mix, seeds, and punnets. But that's about it. One of the costs of moving - my spade and fork got sold in a garage sale before we left Townsville, along with our garden hoses. However, in saying that, I must admit that I do now own a garden hose. This is thanks to my wonderful in-laws, who had a spare. It even came on one of those fancy reels with a handle so for once in my life I have a TIDY garden hose. Anyone ever have the 'garden hose won't jolly well stay in a nice neat roll or pile or anything' issue? Yeah, that's usually what my hose is like. But not any more, now it is neatly wound up on its reel each time and I feel rather satisfied with the spic and span-ness of it all. But I digress. I didn't have garden stakes, among other things. I didn't want to go out and buy some, just for tomatoes. My parents have stakes, but they all get used every year for their tomatoes (some of which I do hope to eat too - the ones in my garden are a kind of back up/over flow just in case things go wrong somewhere along the line). So I got a bit creative. I'd borrowed the long handled loppers from Dad anyway, and was pruning camellia trees, so I figured, why not make use of some of those branches?! Here's the result.


Not your tidiest looking stakes. And some of the tomatoes against the house (not seen here) are in need of taller stakes, but all things considered I am rather happy with my tomato stakes. They didn't cost me anything. They were going to be rubbish anyway. All I had to do was strip the branches and leaves off, and pop them in the garden. My tomatoes don't seem to mind that they are not kept exactly vertical. In fact, they don't seem phased at all. They are merrily producing fruit with no regard to their staking whatsoever. Whenever I head out to the garden, I am greeted by this crazy leaning jumble of stakes and tomato plants, and find myself thinking that recyling is a very creative, cool thing to do...no one else is going to have a garden that looks quite like mine, are they?!?

Amy
Wednesday, 15th December, 2010

Eating

I was thinking about Munchkin's food yesterday. He loves his solids and we have been gradually trying lots of new tastes. This week, he tried out silverbeet and peaches (an odd combination, I know!). For his dinner last night he had: carrot, potato, kumara (sweet potato), silverbeet and peaches (to sweeten up the silverbeet!). Yesterday I bought our fruit and veges for the week. Half of my shopping was for Munchy baby. There was the box of baby rice, which I use to thicken up his pear and apple for breakfast and sometimes mix with his mashed banana at lunchtime. Then there was some broccoli and zucchini to try in the coming week or so. And some pork and chicken too. He's tried fish recently, so I thought we could try a couple of other meats now, along with some lentils and rice which I still need to prepare. I spent awhile cooking, pureeing and freezing it all in tablespoon-sized amounts.

So what I was getting to with all this, as that as I fed him dinner, I thought about this very careful process of introduction to solids. The way I'm trying to introduce him to varied tastes and textures. And the varied nutritional value each food provides. Banana gives potassium. Silverbeet has good iron. Each food offers him something special, and that is why we are encouraged to give babies a range of foods, even when they are little and just starting out like this.

I thought about other families in the world, and found myself wondering what babies in Africa or India eat. I realised how blessed Munchkin really is. He gets to have all these different foods. So many babies of his age would be having just one. Rice, maybe? Or corn? I'm not sure. I just know that for so many mothers around the world, meal times is not a matter of choosing what to feed baby, but rather wondering if there IS anything to feed baby.

The World Food Programme identifies the first 2 years of a person's life as critical in terms of nutrition. I've read in some of my Child Development paper this past year that nutritional deficiencies in infancy and toddlerhood contribute quite a lot to a child's future growth, in terms of physical size, but also in terms of their ability to relate to others, manage emotions, perform mental tasks...the list is phenomenal - basically, early nutrition sets the stage for a child's later abilities in all areas of life. I had no idea it was so crucial. I'd not thought about whether nutrition could affect a child's brain capabilities, their grades in school or their socialisation skills, but now that I think about it, it makes sense. Our bodies are highly complex organisms. They are incredibly adaptable. Amazingly so. Just look at the ability of the brain to compensate for damage to parts of itself. But the body can only adapt so far. It relies heavily on receiving the fuel it needs to function.

In all this thought process, I find myself more aware. Firstly, more aware that Munchkin has dietary needs and that he is very much relient on me. My knowledge of food. My eating habits. These all greatly influence how he will treat food. I can't expect him to eat well if I am not providing a good eating example. I can't hope he avoids lollies and chocolate and all that, if I eat it in front of him constantly. I can't expect him to be able to make good food choices if he is constantly presented with salty, faty or sugary foods...of course he is going to want to eat those, they taste so good (after all, our bodies are hard wired for these foods - not God's fault that we happened to create a whole lot of them!).

Secondly, I find myself more aware that food is in many ways a luxury. It is a luxury that far too many people cannot afford. I can't even begin to imagine the trauma of having to decide which of my family will eat or not eat today (something I think many mothers do have to choose on a daily basis). And I can't imagine being able to give my baby only one food, and precious little of that. And hope that somehow that one food will provide him with everything he needs to grow into a strong, healthy boy when I know full well it can't possibly do that. I can't imagine not seeing those funny faces as he tries something new. Seeing his wide open, gaping mouth waiting for some more banana or apple, and his slightly shocked, questioning look when he tasted silverbeet for the first time (what on earth is this, Mum, and are you really sure it is meant to be eaten?!?!).

Well, my baby has managed to roll himself off his plastic mat several times while I have been typing. I think it might be time for a nappy and his apple and pear. He will, no doubt, sit there with mouth wide open, arms waving madly, gulping each delicious mouthful. And I will think about how blessed we are to eat today. Opps, there he goes again...carpet, carpet, carpet, please do not pee on the nice new rental carpet! Better run.

Amy
Wednesday, 15th December, 2010

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Munchkin's Favourites - 2

Here's another of Munchkin's favourite toys as a young baby.


This rattle belonged to me, or my brothers. So it is at least 20 odd years old, and still going strong. Munchy has other rattles. But this is his absolute favourite, particularly when he was around 3-4 months and just starting to hold things. You might notice that this rattle has a nice big hole in the middle, with a narrow ring perfect for little fingers to get around. The rattle pieces are also thin and delicate. I've noticed that a lot of rattles seem to either have a ring that is too small (can't get hand around it, or fingers inside it) or rattle pieces that are too chunky (and get in the way of holding the rattle, which kind of defeats the purpose, don't you think?!). I do get somewhat frustrated that items which have supposedly been designed with a purpose in mind, have really had so little planning involved in reality. To me, this seems to be pretty simple thinking. If designing stuff for a small baby, then you need to make sure they can actually hold it.

So this one is just perfect.
Amy
Tuesday, 14th December, 2010




Monday, December 13, 2010

Munchkin's Favourites - 1

Here is one of Munchkin's favourite toys, made for him by Chrissy over at Silver Jandals (see my blog roll).


It is one of the most amazing baby toys I've seen! So simple. It is fabric, with folded ribbons all around the sides. Inside there's something that crinkles every time you grib the fabric.

When he was really little, Munchkin would just grab the fabric. Then of course there is the sucking. Now, at 6 months old, he loves to use his fingers to grab individual bits of ribbon, touching and stroking, pulling, and of course putting in his mouth.

It has been puked on and through the wash several times. It fits in a small corner of his bag if we need a 'going out' toy. It's colourful. It engages his senses and encourages him to explore and develop coordination. And he just loves it, which is all that really matters!

I think this toy should be given to every newborn. Never mind all those fancy store-bought things. This is the real deal.

Amy

Monday, 13th December, 2010

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Happy Birthday Haji

Our sponsored boy had a birthday in November. The little man turned 7.

Because he lives so far away in Tanzania, letters take at least a month, if not more, to reach him (they go through a careful process through Tear Fund/Compassion who we sponsor through which does also prolong the process, but so worth it to know that he will receive and enjoy them, and write back to us).

This year one of my goals was to start treating our sponsored children more as family members and less as social obligations. A lot of people sponsor kids, which I think is awesome. But I have felt a little convicted that for me personally it is important that I treat my sponsored kids with love and respect. This, for me, means that I am not sponsoring them just to 'do my duty' but because I genuinely want good for each of their special lives. I want to get to know them, as much as is possible across the distance and language barriers that separate us. I want to pray for them, write to them, and remember their birthdays. This last one has been a sore point for me over the past years. I always seem to forget their birthdays. I've realised this is partly because I don't treat them as family birthdays. Family birthdays are REALLY important in my family. A birthday is your one special day of the year. You get to choose the food for a family celebration. The silverwear and crystal come out for the meal. The night before you basically got locked in your room as most family members were making birthday cards. I owe a lot of this to my mum, who really values birthdays and works hard to make them extra special. So, I realised that I don't treat my sponsored kids birthdays as equally important as family birthdays, and decided that this needs to change. The next issue was how to do that, when I know very well that I can't send them a big package (customs issues means the organisation can get huge fees to clear them, plus the items might not be appropriate, etc). I also can't just send them a card a week before, like I do with my brothers who live in Australia...it would be way too late. So what I figured out is that I need to put the sponsored kids in my birthday list. We increased our giving allowance, to include small financial gifts for their birthdays (Compassion encourages a small monetary gift, which their local worker then spends with the child and their family members - Haji has bought a mattress in the past, and Mariam shoes. This way the gifts are relevant and useful, and they also support the local community economy where the kids live). And what I've done is instead of celebrating their birthdays on the actual day, I've decided we will celebrate them at least a month early.

So here's what we did in October:


This is made of A4 paper, folded up easily to post, and coloured in by myself, Boyo and my mum. I did invite a few friends to come and have desert to celebrate with us, but no one ended up coming. The poster idea comes from my childhood. For quite a few years there we used to make these posters for each others birthdays. Many happy hours were spent drawing and colouring, then the poster would be displayed for the week on the wall, usually near where the birthday dinner was to be held.

He should hopefully have received it by now. I wonder what he thinks?


Amy

Sunday, 12th December, 2010

Friday, December 10, 2010

I'm back...

I'm back. Mostly. One of my friends has a very apt saying that goes something like "kinda-sorta-nearly-but-not-quite-really." This describes me very well just now. I have reached the end of the year with a screaming halt. My brain, body and emotions are telling me that I am, indeed, a madwoman. But I have made it. This past week I collected a cold on top of a cold. Or is just a really long, multiple-symptom cold? Probably just my body telling me it has totally had enough and some rest is in order right about NOW, thank you very much. Exam results are in. End of year results are in. I did really well, especially when considering that I had a baby half way through the year. One of my lecturers made the comment that my year has been a 'little unsettled in some ways.' I would have to agree! But here we are, at the end. I survived a three week full time practicum in a great kindergarten (with 3 and 4 year olds) and learned a lot. Munchkin enjoyed his time with his Suzz (grandmother) and Daddy. We even made it to Australia for a wedding the week after (travelling with a baby is an interesting experience!). So now I get to relax a little. This morning Munchy and I are going to garden after he's had breakfast. I've enjoyed a few mornings without setting an alarm clock. I'm gradually going to sort through some of the boxes in the garage which have been in storage for 4 years now. It will be interesting to see what I find! And there's a few friends who have been promised 'catch-ups' for months. I think we will just take the next few weeks as they come.

Amy
Friday, 10th December, 2010

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Taking a Break

After a couple of recent 'foot in mouth' incidents (or should I call them 'keyboard in mouth'?!) I have concluded I need to take a break, at least until after exams are over - or maybe prac?. I love blogging so much, I've been trying to keep it up despite really not having the time or energy to devote to it. I can write some funny stuff at times. The problem is when I am trying to be funny or smart, and it comes out all wrong. Doesn't help that you can't hear voice inflections, or see body language online...something I often tend to forget. Anyway, I've been rushing and rushing because I (of course) still want to do everything else as well as study, having rediscovered the enjoyment of life beyond study. As it is not fun discovering in retrospect that a few of the things I've said have not be ah, quite what they should have, and I have also lost a lot of the enjoyment of doing the actual writing to start with because I've been so stressed out over exams, I figure it would be best to just put the blog down for a few weeks. It's not like it is going to go away, is it? I hope you enjoy the next few weeks, and we can enjoy some more conversations when I return!

Amy
Tuesday, 2nd November, 2010

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Finished Boxes!


The first shoebox...

It was with a sigh of relief that I handed over my 12 shoeboxes to the regional coordinator on the second-to-last day for collection. I had spent several days in a marathon shoe-box-wrapping session. To be honest, I find shoebox wrapping a walk in the park these days. It wasn't always so. I originally found them quite hard to wrap. Being a fussy, perfectionistic wrapper sure didn't help, but it now stands me in good stead. I can wrap a box beautifully, with minimal effort. I have my own little system, which after all this practice has been honed down to include the least amount of effort for the nicest possible wrap. Grin. I used to use a big ruler and pencil. Now, it is all done by eye. I used to use a lot of double sided sellotape. Now, I use hardly any.
A shoebox-wrapping-in-progress

A single 10metre roll of Christmas wrapping paper, bought at halfprice last year (or was it less than that? It was awhile ago now!) wrapped 12 shoeboxes. There's still paper left on the roll. As I had another 10metre one, yet unopened, I gave the remainder of this role, plus a 5metre roll to my mum to use for her boxes this coming year.
Over halfway there!

Filling them up!

Ready to go!


And now, on to next year's boxes. Hmm, maybe not quite yet. I'm doing donations for the postage on these ones for a bit. But I do have a stash of 6 boxes, waiting to be wrapped on Christmas Day, ready for filling next year.

Amy - Shoebox Wrapper Extraordinaire!

Sunday, 31st October, 2010

Christmas Child Bits and Bobs

Here are some of the photos I promised when I was making up the Christmas Child boxes.
Firstly, I realised that I hadn't taken photos of the clothes when I bought them, so here they are...



Clothes for the girls!


I find that 'something to wear' is the single most expensive item that goes into my shoeboxes. In the past, I've tried to get the clothes first, as that way I have a better idea of the agegroup I'm buying for. This year, I ended up getting them near the end...but that's okay because I'd decided to buy the generic things for 5-15yr olds (soaps and flannels can be for any age, after all) first, and just buy the toys last. I managed to pick all these items up at the Warehouse, averaging $5 each (they were on sale). Another issue I find is that it can be hard working out what would be considered appropriate clothing in the recipient's community. To avoid any discomfort, I avoid anything sleeveless for girls, and anything with advertising and/or words on it. This time round the boys ones ended up with some words, which are quite cute really, as they were the only things I could find. I do know not to buy socks or undies. Apparently, they do not get worn in the Pacific areas that our New Zealand shoe boxes go to (this information was from an Operation Christmas Child regional coordinator so worth going by). Hats and jandals (flip-flops, thongs) have been a favourite of mine in past years. Kids get a lot of use out of a pair of jandals.


Some for the boys!


And here we have the toys under 'something to play with'...all purchased at a local Dollar Value store, costing $2 each. I'd like to point out the woven plastic balls. These were advertised as cat toys. They have a little bell inside a ball, inside another ball. I thought they were a fabulous idea for younger kids - imagine throwing around a ball that jingles, rolling it down a hill, using it to hit other balls, and so on. I generally try to get toys that are going to be active, imaginative ones. No batteries allowed due to customs issues anyway. So skipping ropes, marbles, and this year some chess and connect four (instructions are on the back of the little box). I like to get craft things too, such as puppets to make, but find that they often require sizzors and glue. While the recipient might have these items, they equally might not, and I'd hate for them to be unable to play with their gift because of that. So my motto is that it has to be able to be used with just the items in the shoebox. If I can get sizzors in there too, great. Glue is usually a bit problematic as we can't have anything that might leak.



Toys - yay!



Anyway, those are the final items for my shoeboxes this year. What interesting things have you managed to find for your shoeboxes?

Amy

Sunday, 31st October, 2010

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Taking a Moment












I am studying for exams at present. Once I complete them (I have 3 over the next 2 weeks) I will be heading straight into Practicum 2, in a local kindergarten for 3 weeks fulltime while Munchkin spends time with Suzz (his grandmother) and Boyo. So I don't have a lot of time for posting on my blog. I have a mile long list, it seems, of things that I'd like to post, but the list gets longer each time I am on here, rather than getting any shorter! I thought it might be nice though, to enjoy a few photos of the garden again...these are from my parents garden, taken early this year - flowers, some Italian parsley (yum!) and a watermelon.
Amy

Saturday, 30th October, 2010










Another One?!

I want another baby. I feel compelled. This urge could be said to almost border upon obsession. It feels as if I almost NEED another baby.

Before you get carried away thinking that I’m all clucky after having Munchkin, let me just clarify that I have absolutely NO desire to be pregnant or give birth again. Nope, much as I love our little one, I don’t want THAT kind of baby. Now I’ve probably got you wondering if there are in fact more than one kind of baby. There are. And I want one.

Not this kind. At least not now, at any rate. Give me a few years to think about it…


Nope, not this kind either:
I could totally go with it, but my husband would be horrified. Sad.

No, I want one of these:


Every time I read about the benefits child sponsorship offers to kids, I want to do more. Every time I get a letter from our sponsored kids, I feel the same. And it’s not just what sponsoring does for children, although amazing for sure (clean water, clothes and pencils for school, immunisations, food assistance, schooling, and so on are not to be sneezed at). It goes beyond that. Sponsoring a child tells them that someone (me) somewhere (far, far away in New Zealand) thinks about them. Cares about them. Has decided that their life is worth investing in. Sponsorship tells a child living in desperate poverty that their life matters. It tells them that they can be someone, and help someone, and get somewhere in life. But on top of this incredible difference I get to make in one child’s life, are the differences that spread across their community, and across the generations. For instance, giving girls a chance at an education increases their self esteem, their position in society, and in turn the welfare of their future families as they later invest in the health, education and welbeing of their children. Then there’s the community wells that are dug, the agricultural training that can be accessed, the midwives that are trained, the businesses that can start, and on and on it goes, each benefit flowing outwards to enable more and more and more.

So, I want another sponsored child. The thing is that we already have 3. Most people are somewhat surprised by this. Don’t be. There is just no reason why children should be dying of hunger and water-bourne disease. Not while there’s something I can do about it. Why should I sit back and enjoy my cruisey middle-class, suburban life with my filtered tap water, electricity, and supermarket fare when other’s, through no fault of their own, have nothing? I want a large family. I just don’t plan on them being my birth-kids. I see this as one way I can change the world. One child at a time. One $45 sponsorship a month at a time. One letter wending its way to Tanzania, or Nicaragua, or Bangladesh at a time.

At the moment, I have to wait. Now is not the time. We are living on a student allowance, and managing okay, but there’s not much extra to go round and at present it is going on yet more clothes for the Munchkin. But I don’t want my son to become my excuse for ignoring the plight of others. Yes, he is my first responsibility. Yes, I need to make sure he is fed and clothed and loved. But this shouldn’t become my over-riding pursuit. After all, he is well-cared for. It won’t hurt him to have a few less toys and a few less treats, and to grow up learning that there are other people in the world who don’t get to live with the wonderful things we do.

I’m still hoping that someday soon I can have another baby. I’m wondering if there’s some way I can find that $45 a month…maybe I could make and sell stuff. Yeah, don’t have time to keep my house clean, let alone get out the sewing machine. Maybe we could eat less. Well, that is always an option, but I find that my mind is telling me that I ‘need’ to eat what I eat. Considering how much people eat (or rather don’t eat) and survive on, this is probably something I could debate with my self-centredness. But how much of this is me being selfish though, and how much is to do with our cultural expectations - we grow up surrounded by them, it can be so hard at times to work out how much something is a need, and how much it is an expectation built by what society says is a need. So for eating, if I were to eat less, eat lower quality, or eat different foods than what I do now would that be truly depriving myself of needed nutrients or is it that my society thinks it might? I'm still not sure on this one.
Funny how there’s always something more that we ‘need.’ Like more clothes (the truth is that I can probably get by with very little), and a garden hose (how many people in the world do you think bucket water to their garden?). Either way, it doesn’t seem right to me to just sit back and wait out the next 2-3 years, hoping that we’ll be able to ‘afford’ to sponsor another child after that. In the meantime, who is going to give these kids hope? And will we really be able to afford it later, if we can’t now? It is not as if we are expecting a huge windfall of money or anything. Our income will hopefully improve, but I don’t imagine it will be dramatically and instantly…and besides, there will be other pulls on it then, such as buying a house and sending Munchkin to school. So I’m just going to have a little chat with God about all this, and see what He thinks. When will it be ‘time’ for another baby from Africa? Whose life does He want to change, through my actions? And how can I go about enabling that to happen?

Whose life are you changing? Do you have room in your family for one more?

Amy
Saturday, 30th October, 2010

Monday, October 25, 2010

Bibs


Munchkin needs more bibs. Specifically, he needs some bibs with waterproof backing. Due to excessive dribbling and pukey-ness, his cotton bibs are simply nowhere near effective. At around $6-10 each, this is not really a minor expense for us. Combined with needing more singlets and other clothes for summer, a backpack, and various other things, and a rather tight budget, and we've had to get a little creative in saving up for some.

We have a 'cash' basis for our usual monthly expenses, such as petrol, spending, and groceries. Cash out at the beginning of the month. Once gone, it's gone. What I've done is create a bibs jar that now sits on my desk. After doing the big grocery shop at the beginning of the month, I apportioned $30 into 3 plastic bags, labelled Week 2, Week 3, Week 4. This is our fruit and vege money for each week (it should really be a bit more than that, more like $40, but I'd bought a big bag of apples, another of oranges, and things like kumara, potatoes, etc at the beginning of the month). The idea is that at the end of each week, rather than just putting any leftover money back into groceries and probably spending it on things we don't need, I now put it into the bibs jar. I find that I save so much better when I have a specific, measurable goal like this. I am much more likely to stop and think, "Hang on, this chocolate would be worth 1/2 a bib, which we really need. Maybe I don't need chocolate after all."

I am buying bibs from my friend, Lydia, at Little Kiwis (www.littlekiwis.co.nz). She makes gorgeous kiwi-flavoured baby and kids gear. She custom makes a lot of things, so we have been able to get bibs that have towelling top, bamboo inner for extra absorbancy, and waterproof PUL backing. Last month I managed to get Munchkin 4 bibs (they cost $7 each). They work so much better than the non-backed ones he has, which he manages to dribble and/or sick through in half an hour! So nice that he rarely has sopping wet clothes now. We just need to get a few more than 4, as they still get filthy. Yesterday we were trying to work out why he smelt so bad. Turns out his bib had gone a bit rancid. It didn't even look dirty, but obviously it was! So we obviously need enough bibs to still change them several times a day...plus some bigger ones that cover everything for eating.
I only managed to save 20c in Week 2. Weeks 3 and 4 should hopefully result in a few dollars saved each. We might also have a bit of spending or petrol money left to contribute too.
What do you find to motivate yourself to save?
Amy
Monday, 25th October, 2010

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Boys Can Wear Pink Too!

Our local Plunket Nurse was horrified when we chose a pink toothbrush for our infant son. Why not, said we. "But he's a boy!" she replied. SO? What is it about having to genderise colour??? And why does it have to start so jolly young? I get fed up with the limited range of colours to chose from in clothing. It's either all blue for boys, or all pink for girls. I found it really hard finding neutral clothes before Munchkin was born. I guess everyone making clothes assumed we'd find out what we were having. Well, we didn't. Anyway, back to Plunket. So we chose a pink toothbrush. Not that anyone is going to see it anyway. And why can't a boy like pink? Boyo used to wear fluro pink tshirts back in the 80s and thought he was very cool doing so. My brothers have worn pale pink shirts from time to time (and looked rather stilish in them, I might add - they are snazzy dressers, both). Munchkin has a pink outfit too. It is bright pink, and has animals in yellow, green and blue on it (i.e. lions, etc). I think it's really cute, but still find myself cautious about dressing him in it when we are going out. How silly. If people think my son is a girl, because they only see pink and don't look at him, that's their own fault. I don' think anyone could say he looks girly otherwise. He wore his pink top to church today, teamed up with some blue pants to match some of the animals. Didn't get a single comment! It just seems bizzare to me that here I am worrying about what colour my son's clothing (or toothbrush!) is, when there are so many more important things. Things like, what kind of attitudes will this child grow up with, is he learning to persevere, to interact with people, to be grateful, to laugh.

Amy
Sunday, 24th October, 2010

The MUNCHINATOR

We have nicknames for nicknames in our family. Munchkin is also known as Munchy, Munchybaby, my Munchykin, and the Munchinator. These are names we used on occassion when he was in the womb, and which have become more or less common since he was born. The Munchinator is one of my current favourites.


Munchkin is living up to his name. My son is an eating machine! He has been trying solids since just before turning 5months old, and absolutely loves it. He sits there, waving his plastic spoon around, mouth gaping, as if saying, "Come on, Mum, I was BORN to eat!" In the short space of two weeks, he has graduated from eating from an egg cup, to a normal cup (bowls being too big still to bother with, as it is easier to mix and heat food in a smaller container). His current dietary delights include baby rice, apple, and some kumara, carrot and silverbeet. We need to get more icecube trays. We broke the one we have, trying to remove frozen apple from it. One would think that people would design ice cube trays with a bit of flexibility. How else do they expect you to pry a frozen lump of ice from the plastic tray??? Needless to say we wish we could find the receipt for that purchase.


Meal-in-an-egg-cup!
I was hoping to avoid solids for a bit longer, but gave up after Munchkin's eating needs well outstripped the feeds he is having during the day and he started waking at night to eat again. Can't exactly fault him that, but I do so miss my sleep now I've gotten used to having it again! The plunket lady was amazed we'd managed to get him sleeping through to start with, being such a 'big' baby...yes well, it did take some doing...I was feeding him at 1:30pm, 3:30pm, 5:30pm, 7:30pm and 8:30pm before bed to get him sleeping through, before he gradually decreased the number of feeds and increased the volume of the remaining ones. Just can't seem to find anywhere to put another feed now, or get him to want more at each sitting. Never mind, he is happy, and doing really well, and we will just continue plodding our way through solids and the 1200-15oomls of milk he has each day.

Giraffe

Munchy is a bit of a giraffe. He has inherited some tall genes. Not from me. I have the recessive genes in my family. All the short ones. Grin. Munchkin does not have a single short gene in view. He is the average size of a 9 month old baby and he's only 5 months old. That does at least explain why he's been wearing 6-12month clothing for awhile now. I will need to organise yet another batch of clothing before summer...I'm just trying to put it off as long as possible hoping he will growth spurt before, and not after, I purchase more clothes!
Having a tall baby has challenges all of it's own. These are, of course, heightened (no pun intended!) by my small frame. Munchkin is nearly 9kgs, and my arms do not have any muscle tone to speak of. I am currently developing some by lugging him around. The front pack is rather useful for us, as I am actually unable to carry him for any length of time without him heading ground-wards. Only he is getting too big for that now too. He can't fit it the proper rear-facing way, only forward facing. This is apparently not as good for babies (called 'crotch dangling' - oh, what an elegant term, referring to the fact that they kinda just hang there, whereas facing into you their thighs also take some of the weight). Well, it's just too bad really, as it is several degrees better for him than a sudden landing on the floor. It is also a heck of a lot better on my back than trying to balance him on one hip or the other (never terribly successful).
So we are going to head up to "Zero to Five" and have a look for a good secondhand backpack. We will need it when we head off to Australia in December for a few days. I hate to think what 2 days of airports would do to us otherwise! While I can find it in my heart to wish he would stop growing so fast, I do so love my giraffe!

Amy
Sunday, 24th October, 2010

Creative Wrapping 'Paper'

I realised (as I went to wrap a present, duh) that we don't really have any wrapping paper. Okay, so that's not true. We had over 10metres of Christmas wrapping paper, purchased for shoe box wrapping. And we have some smaller bits of used wrapping paper - these with things like 'welcome baby' on them as they are from gifts given to Munchkin. Not really what I was looking for. My spur of the moment solution was to check my sewing cupboard. Here's the result.




The fabric was leftover from a small blind my mum made years ago. The ribbon was actually part of the gift (a little stash of ribbons, sequins and odd bits for Maxine over at http://kiwimeskreations.blogspot.com/ to use with her cardmaking)...it was just convenient that it matched the fabric so well!





Amy

Sunday, 24th October, 2010

Friday, October 22, 2010

Make It Yourself

Ever felt annoyed by the non-user-friendliness of things you've bought before? I sure have! My solution? Make it yourself. Obviously, this is not always an easy thing to do, nor always practicable in our busy lives, but sometimes I come across something that is really bugging me that I can actually change with a few simple adjusments that don't take too much time or money. Our address book is one. I got so frustrated with an address book that had teeny tiny lines for addresses...nowhere near enough when you've got friends overseas with 6 or 7 line addresses! Then there was the fact that it had nowhere for email addresses or mobile phone numbers. Yup, I've had this one for years. Then I found it kept getting out of date. I had crossed out and twinked over addresses so many times you'd think the book itself would be fatter from all that extra ink! After thinking over my frustrations for some time and concluding that I definitely don't want to spend money on an address book right now, I decided this was a project I can tackle myself. I bought a spiral folder that fits A5 paper. I titled it "Stylie Addressbook" scribbled on a bit of paper stuck on the front. I used my gillotine to cut some computer paper down from A4 to A5, and hole punched each page. Each person or family unit has a page (no doubling up on pages, or writing on the backs of pages, as I wanted to be able to throw a page out if it ever got too messy and start again without it affecting anyone else's details). I write in pencil, so that way it is really quick and easy to make any changes. Out comes the rubber (eraser) and pencil and it is all done and dusted in a few seconds. No waiting for ink to dry. No grimacing at all my crossing out.


I recently updated our address book, and added some colour coding and organisation (previously there was no rhyme or reason to where each person's details were kept). It now has blue for family and red for friends on the top right corner of each entry. Each entry follows a set order of Name, phone, email, address, birthday. Plus on the bottom right corner I'm writing when it was last updated. This because the last few times I've gone to send things to my brothers, I haven't been able to remember if the address is current or whether they've moved since.


So that's it. A simple solution to my dilema. It only cost a few dollars for the folder (which I could use again for something else if I ever want to) and is easy and cheap to maintain.


Have you recently done any 'make it yourself' projects instead of buying something ready made?


Amy

Friday, 22nd October, 2010

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Shoe Box Show Down

The 'count down' is on. Shoe box collection sites for Operation Christmas Child close on Monday 25th of October around New Zealand.

I am currently in a shoe-box-wrapping marathon. The finished pile is getting close to the ceiling. Soon I will have the fun part of filling each box with the goodies I've collected throughout the year, before labelling and dropping them into our local collection point. I'll probably do this on Saturday, as I've just realised that Monday is a public holiday so I'm not sure if the business operating as a collection point this year will be open.

I have become an expert shoe-box-wrapper over the years. Is this a marketable skill, do you think??? I am efficient, and very tidy in my wrapping. My finished boxes look really good, and I feel some amount of pride in my accomplishment. Pity I can't add it to my CV. Grin.

Photos will come once I have finished the boxes...focus, Amy, focus. One thing at a time!

Amy
Thursday, 21st October, 2010

Birthday Cheer



I completely forgot to show you another of my birthday presents this year! I just realised as I was going through photos and came across some of them. Both items were on my birthday wish-list:



Apparently my sister-in-law has never seen such delight over ribbons before. Yup, I am a sucker for pretty ribbons, as mentioned in an earlier post. I just love the colours! They are so beautiful. As I have a pretty small craft stash at present, after moving countries, my sister-in-law and my parents-in-law decided to get me something for the stash. I think my favourite is currently the multi-coloured one on the left, with the red, pink, and orange stripes. They also got me some wool for my Operation Cover Up knitting. Lovely large hanks of wool, 200g each. I will get at least 16 squares out of this lot, but most likely closer to 20. Yay. Haven't managed to knit any yet, but I am hoping I might get the chance over summer.
What a wonderful birthday present! What have been your favourite presents, and why?
Amy
Thursday, 21st October, 2010

What Do These Things Have in Common?



Exhibit A: Packet of chocolate Tim Tams

Exhibit B: Bunch of daffodils from local roadside stall

and Exhibit C: One red capsicum imported from Australia (didn't get a photo of this one, sorry).

So, have a guess at what these three things have in common. What did you guess?

Answer: They each cost $2. I found it fascinating that three very different items all cost the same. So what gives the best value for my gold coin? I'm really not sure. And if I only had just $2, which would I choose to buy? The answer might be quite different than if I had $4 or $10 spare...

The capsicium and biscuits can be eaten, which is helpful. But they've both had high energy input and travelled great distances (we do get NZ capsicums over summer, but this was taken a few months back before NZ glasshouses were in good production). The daffodils can't be eaten, but look at how beautiful they are. A packet of chocolate biscuits only lasts a few days in our house, if that. And invariably I end up eating the biscuit too fast, woolfing it down and then wishing I'd taken more time to savour the chocolate. The daffodils lasted about a week, I think. They were grown just up the road from us by a small scale grower. I could use a capsicum to make some quite nice dishes, but I'd need to use the whole thing in one sitting.

So there you go, a bit of a dilema. I'm thinking that so often we are faced with decisions like this. Probably every week, in fact. What should I buy, and what should I leave? Which of these seemingly unconnected items is the best value for me at this moment in my life? And if I have to pick and choose, how do I go about making that decision?


Amy

Thursday, 21st October, 2010

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Tomatoes

Tomatoes are a must-have in our garden, and in our climate we have a good chance of tomato success. Our major issues are usually around mildew, due to summer rain and humid conditions. Last year was a bit disappointing all round, as we not only dealt with the usual wet summer conditions, but also had some kind of viral something-or-0ther (of the nasty kind) infect most of our tomatoes...they still produced fruit, but some was no good, and there was probably less over all than we'd expect from our 18 odd plants. Our early tomatoes lacked flavour, but things improved as the summer progressed (the dripper line we put in probably helped!). I also tried several varieties that I'd used in North QLD, but found they weren't as good in these conditions. So this year, we won't be doing any Brandywine - they split in damp conditions, so we hardly got to eat any last year. Just not a smart choice on my part.


This year, we are going to be having:

San Marzano - a roma tomato, that I used in Nth QLD and found to have good flavour and more pulp than the usual romas I've previously come across - it made some fabulous soup.

Cocktail Cherry - these are a mix of cherry tomatoes from Kings Seeds. I love cherry tomatoes so this way I didn't have to choose which sort to get!

Uncle Roald's Super Tomatoes - these are from seed handed down by my great-uncle. They are a fairly standard supermarket sized tomato, only taste better!

Principe Borghese - I'm putting in just 2 plants of this, as the fruit were not what I'd expected last year, but I thought I'd better give them another shot incase the viral disease affected things badly and it turns out I like them...they did make nice dried tomatoes so I will at least use them for that again, if I don't eat everything first.
Here are the first batch waiting to be taken up to the 'big garden' and planted out.
Amy
Wednesday, 20th October, 2010


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Strawberries

Our strawberry harvest is looking very promising.

We have over 100 plants under the cloche at my parent's place, plus 20 extra runners that I found a home for here in our little garden. Now I just have to get a bit of netting to protect ours from being pilfered by birds. I would like to eat at least some!


Amy


Tuesday, 19th October, 2010


Gardening in Style


I just couldn't help but share this lovely shot with you. Munchkin joined me in the garden for a few minutes recently. Suzz (his grandmother, my mum) came up with this creative 'seat' for him. He seemed to quite enjoy it, until he got too hungry. We've a gardener in the making, I'm sure!


Amy

Tuesday, 19th October, 2010

Garden Gems



Tuesday, 19th October, 2010

Here are a few little snap shots of things I found in the garden recently...

Mint. It is running rampant down under the babacos.

Here's a calendula. They are such pretty flowers, and useful too. Mostly I try to keep flowers away from the veges, just in case we got a petal or two in a salad by mistake, but calendulas and borage are both safe to eat, so I was able to squeeze this one into the herb strip in the main garden.
Amy