Wednesday, March 27, 2013

What to do with the D

We are going dummy free.

Seriously, we are. 

I know I might have said it before, but this time we really are.

The thing is that Munchkin relies so strongly on his dummy to calm and sleep, and as I don’t get enough sleep as it is I’ve been putting off depriving him of it as I don’t want any  more sleep deprivation than what I’ve already got.  I know in theory it might only take a couple of weeks for it to all be okay again.  And yet I am reluctant.  I keep trying to find a time that is good.  Ha ha ha.  A time that is good?  With a toddler, two students, part-time work, coughs and colds, and everything else that goes with all of the above?!

Well, I am now convinced that it must happen.  And it must happen now. 

What changed my mind?

Realising his dummy might actually be making him SICK.

What an awful thing to realise, that as a parent you might have been contributing (perhaps largely) to your child’s poor health.  We thought it was hereditary asthma (which it quite well could be).  We thought it was the awful mould on the walls and ceiling of his bedroom (which it possibly could be too).  But now we also think the dummy might be a large co-conspirator in the quest to keep poor lil Munchkin sick.

Mum found a rather interesting article recently which she passed on to me.

It says that dummies harbour all manner of nasties, from thrush to things that cause respiratory illness, and others impairing immune response (hmm, I’ve had thrush a lot since having Munchkin too, after never having it before).  Apparently, by two weeks, the bacteria embed their roots so strongly into the dummy that even sterilising, bleaching, scrubbing, or boiling don’t completely remove them.  The researchers recommended replacing dummies every TWO WEEKS.  Now while this is a once-off study, so might not be completely accurate, for us it is enough to create LARGE warning bells.  Munchkin has had a dummy since a week old when we couldn’t settle him.  He also had bottles.  No one mentioned that bottle teats are often made of the same material as dummies, and you’re not even told to replace them regularly so we didn’t.  Arghhhh!!!!  Help, I may have poisoned my own child, however unintentionally! 

The full article - see next 3 pics for close-ups you can hopefully read if you so desire!

Ok, so I tried, and it's still pretty small...right click and save image if you like, then  you can  enlarge it on your computer!  Or message/email me for a copy...

The problem is HOW to get rid of the D???

Munchkin winds himself into such a state.

He does, however, sleep at kindy without one.  Hmmm, interesting.

I have decided that bribery is a sound option in a case like this.

Today, we bought a bag of jelly beans.  Jelly beans because that’s what Daddy offered Munchy baby when he went through a “I’m not going to poo in the toilet” phase a few months back.  Worked a charm.  When they ran out, we replaced them with dried apricots.  When they ran out, with nothing.  Poo-ing is still going strong.  Grin.

Munchkin helped put them into a jar, and got to eat one.  Only ONE.  Then he was later put to bed without his dummy.  Much to his horror and grief and the despair of this mother.  He cried.  A lot.  I had to go in and cuddle.  But then I had a brain-wave.  We negotiated the use of the stereo.  (When he’s sick, I put ‘sleep music’ on and leave his door ajar – it works when nothing else will to get him to sleep without me having to be there with him – which I don’t like because he insists on rubbing his hands all over my face, tugging my hair, pummelling my legs with his feet…you get the idea).  So I’ve just been blasted by Jack-in-a-box, Old MacDonald’s Farm, and If I Were a Butterfly (had to be loud enough to hear in his room with door locked as stereo is in the lounge).  I think he is now asleep!!!  Three jellybeans.  That’s what I promised.  He gets to choose.  It is highly unlikely he will choose any colour but blue.  Grin.

Now the question is, how long do we have to go through this?  And do I do it at night too, or just during the day until he’s ‘got’ it?  What about when he wakes screaming in the middle of the night?  The stereo isn’t really appropriate then!

**It is now two days later. We haven’t done night times.  So I’m a wuss (how exactly do you spell woos/wuss?).  But I figure that we can do day time rests, and then tackle nights after we’ve done days for a bit – it should be easier then, shouldn’t it???  I’m guessing that we might need to accept the use of the stereo for at least thirty minutes every evening to help in the first week.  We’ve also concluded that a note book and bunch of truck/digger/etc stickers will be a really good idea – perhaps to use for other discipline related rewards too, and we’re considering the purchase of a good quality dump truck for when Munchkin has thrown out  his dummies.  His current two cheap ones both have wheels that now fall off every thirty seconds, creating a great deal of frustration for Munchkin and both his parents, so it’s not like it will be a wasted resource!  What I’m really worried about though, is getting him to settle in the middle of the night when the D is not there!!!

Okay, my son has just helped himself to my last mouthful of toast while I’ve been busy typing.  The little sneak.  There he is, calmly sitting on MY chair, eating MY toast.  He who has already had breakfast today, and helped himself to some slightly over-done toast earlier already.  How am I going to keep up with feeding this child???!  “Munchkin’s hungry.  It’s dry…and wet… (a pretty good description of avocado on toast if you think about it)…Munchkin were hungry.”  He’s now helped himself to my pen and is doing some drawing on a bit of paper…after I removed the plate from under the pen!


Sunday, March 24, 2013


Well, the good news is that Munchkin is well.

I, however, am not.

Again.  Or should I say still?

Second cold in two weeks, as if living through the full range of symptoms wasn’t bad enough the first time, I’m now getting to do it all over again.

Doctors, here I come.  In retrospect, I should have gone Friday, but I didn’t think of it until I no longer had a car to get there.

The week in brief:

We had an unexpected day at home alone on Monday. 

Made a snake puppet for Munchkin.

This is what he did with the buttons while I sewed on the eyes.

Snakey then had to eat a very large quantity of buttons.  Snakey prefers gold ones.  Just in case you ever need to know (Mummy was ‘being’ Snakey and Munchkin was offering various buttons for Snakey’s gastronomic delight).

Then I made some shorts for Bunny.  Just a really quick flick, no proper hemming, no pattern.  Quite chuffed with myself as I’ve never made shorts before.  They are not quite right, but like my preschooler will care.  He hasn’t actually shown that much interest in them.  I made them because Bunny had to wear a nappy and shorts to bed one night last week.  Grin.

Later in the week we were again home and spent a lot of time with the playdough.  First we made numbers.  Then we did driving and tunnels and roads (which is the most frequent use of playdough in this car-mad house).

Poor Licorice was subjected to an excited preschooler.  She survived admirably.  She’s pretty tenacious really, which is useful.  Mummy intervened when the boy became too boisterous.  Meanwhile Squeek was privileged to enjoy the more quiet ministrations from Mummy’s hands.  Munchkin has a VERY decided preference for Licorice…has since day one.  Not sure why.

Made the most delicious pumpkin soup (and for less than 80c per serve including some basic toast!)!

Collected feijoas from by one of our walkways…very early, some not quite ripe, but those that are ripe are so, so tasty.  Boyo and I both love feijoas.  Munchkin does too, though he does keep confusing them with passionfruit!

Saw some silver-eyes eating not-quite-ripe figs on the way home.

Spent a day socialising on and off with friends on Friday. So nice.  So, so nice, despite the fact that I could barely talk, my throat has been that bad.

Enjoyed the company of Munchkin’s grandparents on Saturday.  We had pikelets with jam and cream to celebrate Poppa’s birthday (happy birthday, Poppa!), then went out to a model shop to browse.  Very impressive.  Note to self: excellent source of future birthday material should small boy continue with car-truck-digger-anything that moves-interest!

Aww, three generations, all car, plane and model mad in one form or another!

Munchkin has enjoyed mashed banana and yoghurt recently…he helped put the yoghurt in this one.  Plus we added a dash of honey and cinnamon and served it in his blue bowl.  Very posh.

I have a new book to read.  Very inspiring, a great one for anyone who wants to see the world, visit other cultures, or just read some witty comments!  As I am spending most of my time sitting down doing very little, trying to nurse my head, my cough, and my poor tired body, I’m making slow but steady progress.

The boys are watching motorbike racing this afternoon.  I’ve been knitting, reading, and pretending to be asleep with the occasional burst of activity, such as now!  Our pastor came and prayed for my health today, such a blessing.  We’ve enjoyed a walk in the warm sun without feeling over-done by the time we got home, another blessing.  There is chilled water in my fridge and a reasonably large supply of cough syrup on top of the microwave (what I haven’t yet used already!).  I think I might go and get a ‘piggie’ to cuddle after my next rest.

How has your week been?

ps - linking in with Sunday Snippets

The Great Opportunity

Following is a little fictional story that ran through my head this morning.  I hope you like it.  I haven’t fiddled around much with it, not a great deal of editing to make it read better, this is pretty much just the words that came to mind as I typed.  Typed and tried not to cry at times (surprising myself at how much emotion was sitting just below the surface).   I’d been reading “The International Bank of Bob” about some workers Bob met once, and suddenly it was as if a light switch went on and I realised how easily this could have been our story…now obviously if you know us and where we live, you would know we considered sending Boyo back to Australia to work for a year, because he couldn’t get work here.  This little writing is entirely fictional, though based on my own thoughts and feelings about how things might have been if we had been living in a country other than NZ and had gone to work in a country other than Australia (which for the most part has really good working conditions!).

The Great Opportunity

“It’s just for twelve months,” he said.  “The money’s so good, we could probably live on that for two or three years.”  “You can move back in with your parents, they’ll look after you.” “And I’ll email every day, I promise.”
He kissed me goodbye, and boarded the plane.

It seemed like a great idea.  It felt like our only option.  It wasn’t like there’s been work here, after all.  Years of trying, years of disappointment, slowly watching as my man gets more and more discouraged, as our finances dwindle ever smaller, as we feel more and more concerned about being able to raise our son.

He thought he’d make mega-bucks.  After all, it’s the land of opportunity, just across the ditch.  My husband, the eternal optimist.  I wanted to believe him, more than anything.  Wanted to, but wasn’t sure.  “What if you don’t find work?” I asked.  But he was so sure, so desperately sure that this was the only way.  And we kept reading about all these amazing jobs on Seek.  It was the recruiter that sealed it though.  Boyo responded to an online job advert, and within a hour Paul had called him.  Paul said he had just the right job for Boyo, good working conditions, nice boss, accommodation supplied, and the best part, great wages.  They provided meals and everything, so there’d be so much money left to send back, we’d really be able to make some headway.  It all happened so fast.  I told him to slow down a bit, but he reckoned Paul said the jobs would fill in days.  We had to make a snap decision, Paul had made it really clear that he could easily find someone else for the role.  So we did.

I brushed off my tears and headed home.  To our new home, in the basement at my parents.  My son asked where Daddy was.  “He’s gone to work hard and make money for us.” I said.  I checked my emails.  Nothing yet.  But then, he’d probably only just landed anyway.  The next day, nothing.  The following, still nothing.  “Well, he’s probably really busy settling in, after all it’s a new job.  Maybe he doesn’t get time off right away,” I reasoned with myself, trying to still the small voice of panic growing daily in my mind.

Three weeks later it came.  A small, dusty letter in the post.  A single piece of paper, signed by my husband.  A small amount of money.  “So little?”  I sat down and read,  “I’m so sorry it’s taken so long to write.  Would you believe, there’s no email here.  I’m working really hard.  It’s incredibly hot, and it’s so tiring, pretty much all I do is work and sleep.  The guys are great, there’s a lot of Kiwis as well as some guys from Indo, and the Philippines.  It’s really funny trying to communicate sometimes.  We’re out in the middle of nowhere, not much to do other than work.  They’ve changed our wages, too.  Said that profits have been lower this month, apparently it’s in our contract that it’s all based on that.  I’m so sorry, I’ve saved everything I can.  I’ll send more as soon as I’m able, and write again soon.  Things are sure to pick up in a week or two.  I love you. I hope you’re doing okay at your parents.  Give Munchkin a big hug and kiss from Daddy.”  There was no return address.  I couldn’t even write to encourage him, tell him we were doing okay, that we missed him, that I was proud of him.

I gave my baby the hug and kiss from his daddy..  Then I found a quiet corner while he played with his truck.  I held that letter to myself and just cried and cried.  It felt like the sobs would never end.  Then I picked myself up and carried on.

Three more months passed.  Munchkin stopped asking where Daddy was.  I worked every day in my parent’s garden, trying to supplement the wages from Boyo.  I found a small job at a local store, only on Saturdays.  Mum and Dad had Munchkin.  They were both exhausted from their working week, then being woken by us in the night.  I felt so guilty adding yet another burden on them, but there wasn’t any other way, especially since Munchkin had been sick and we’d used the last of Boyo’s wages on medicine.   We needed the money; we all did.  I couldn’t have them covering our expenses, they barely had enough for themselves. 

Finally, another letter.  One single flimsy scrap of paper, a jagged tear down the side, as if it had been torn from a notebook or something. “Really love my workmates, but miss you so much.  How are you both?  Wages still the same.  Tried to get out of it so I can look for something else, but the contract sounds so darn airtight, I have to wait it out till the end of the year.  Can’t wait to see you again.  Hug Munchy for me.  I love you.”

I didn’t tell Munchkin.  What was the point?  I just sat him on my knee and squeezed till he wriggled like a worm in a birds beak, while tears trickled down my face.  I handed the letter to my parents.  We didn’t talk about it.  They understood.  I did the only thing I could do.  I prayed.  I begged, I pleaded, and I bargained.  Not that I really had anything left to bargain with.  Then I carried on again.  We waited. I waited here, while he waited there.  I couldn’t even tell him I was waiting, that I was praying for hope and strength for him.

Finally, the year was up.  But there was no news.  When would my man come home?  Was he coming?  I just didn’t know anymore.  It had been six months since we’d heard anything from him.  What if he found another job, stayed longer, hoping to make good still?  What if he’d gotten sick, died even, over there far away from anyone he loves?  I just couldn’t handle the questions.  My mind shut down.  The numbness was a relief.

Then he came.  I was in the vege garden, trying to dig some horse manure into the garden.  We’d been given it last week, someone Dad did a job for.  I heard the familiar squeak of the gate, but assumed it must be one of my parents home from work.  But it wasn’t. There he was, standing in front of me.  Gaunt, so tired it looked like his legs might collapse under him at any moment.  The boyish smile was gone.  His hands were dark with calluses, his shoes looked like the were more holes than shoe.  I couldn’t believe my eyes.  Was I seeing things?  “Hi.”  He said.  And opened his arms.  I couldn’t seem to find my voice, but I did find my legs.  Before I knew it, we were hugging and sobbing together.

It’s so good to have him home.  I wish he’d never left; it wasn’t worth it.  All those false promises.  He reckons we’re lucky, some of the guys signed up for three year contracts.  One poor chap died of fever while the other workers watched on, helpless, the bosses refusing to get any medical assistance.  Boyo got sick too.  For two months he coughed and coughed all day and all night, before finally getting better.  I’ve noticed there’s still a lingering cough on cold nights.  Things are no better than they were before he left.  The last six month’s of those pitiful wages will last us maybe three, if we’re lucky.  He had to buy his airfare home out of it.  They’d promised return flights, just like they’d promised good working conditions.  Ten hour days, in the blistering heat?!  And as for the food and accommodation, our chickens do better.  Why are people allowed to do this?  They lied to us!  Recruiter Paul conned us into something that was inhumane, then disappeared off the face of the planet.  We tried to track him down, complained to the authorities, but while sympathetic, they just brushed it off.  “Not our jurisdiction,” they said.  “You signed a contract and went willingly,” they said.  Nothing they can do, it’s in another country.  Boyo said he tried to contact authorities over there, but his boss had his passport, and the people supposed to help him would have jailed him instead so he had to give up and go back to work.  I tremble, just thinking how close we came to being separated for good.  Things were bad, really bad, but they could have been so much worse.

So here we are, back at square one.  Still desperate, still without good work.  Still living with my parents, the three of us now.  My husband is terribly depressed.  It’s as if the year has just sucked every last ounce of courage out of him, a big vacuum hose that has left him flat and deflated.  I used to think he was too optimistic, that he needed to come down a peg or two.  Not anymore.  I wish I’d never thought that…to see him so down, so worried that he’s not providing for his family, it’s painful.  I wonder how we will manage.  He’s looking for work, but there’s so little out there at the moment.  Things have been so tough for years, and our ‘great opportunity’ nearly cost us everything.

This doesn’t have to be the end of the story.  I wanted to write a better ending, but to be honest I haven’t thought of one yet.  The basic idea is that while for so many people this is the reality of their lives, being either trapped into substandard labour conditions against their will, or alternatively struggling to survive on a pittance, for many their lives ARE changing.  A $25 loan can change their future.  That’s what is all about.  That’s what The International Bank of Bob is all about.  Amazing.  I’ll let you know if I come up with a good ending to my story, but in the meantime, I think it is simply enough that I’ve seen.  I’ve realised that but for the nation we were born into, this could so easily have been me.  It could have been my husband, my son, my life.  I am so grateful it is not, but also determined that it shouldn't have to be anyone else’s either.


Counting Up

We did a bit of number work this week. Munchkin is pretty clued up on almost every Capital letter in the alphabet.  We haven't worried about lower case letters just yet as they are harder to recognise (so many variations on them!).  But numbers are a different story.  While he can count quite happily, he doesn't really know any numeral except 2.  As we had some time at home, and he seemed keen on doing cutters with the playdough, we got into it.

Numbers 1-9 were lined up and cut out one by one, lined up again, and then we had some fun randomly standing them all up (seen below).

We added zero...trying to remember that we need to do that!  I explain zero as being nothing, and that it goes before number 1 when we line up all our numbers.  Munchkin still usually calls it 'O for Oh No' though!

Then I rolled balls of playdough to sit beside each number, the idea being to help him understand that this figure in front of him represents a number, i.e. a QUANTITYof something.

I know that's a really important concept for kids to get, so I'm hoping our short 'lesson' helped a little.  The attention span is not great, and I'm not trying to instigate any learning he isn't ready for, so a ten minute game like this is great before we moved onto making playdough roads for his cars.

Counting how many balls we have put in front of the number 5.

How do you/did you teach numeral recognition?


Friday, March 22, 2013

Rag Doll Me

This is a “real-me” post. The sort of post I’d actually like to write more of, but then worry about what people will think…especially those who know me ‘in real life’ (even though very few people who know me actually read my blog!). I wrote this a few days ago, because I just needed to say some things, lay them out on paper I guess. It helps me process, writing stuff down. And I’m not saying that what I’ve said is right, I know that it isn’t like that, I know that every person works through things in life differently, that we all come to relationships with our own ‘hang ups,’ myself included. It’s not about what has happened, but rather HOW I FEEL, regardless of whether it is deserved, valid, or otherwise. This is not about ‘pointing blame.’ It’s about me saying to someone, anyone, how I really feel just now, because it feels in many ways like I haven’t been able to do that. So here goes:

I feel like a discarded rag doll, lying in a bedraggled pile in the corner, usurped by the newer, the better, the more convenient.

I am last-years news and it hurts. It really hurts.

And I find myself wondering, what did I do wrong? Was it me? IS it me? Am I imagining things, over-reacting to what might be innocent forgetfulness, innocent diversion? Or is it really how it feels, that somehow I’m too much effort, not worth the work? That the “I’m too busy” is in actual fact just a really good excuse to avoid me and my friendship.
Is it my fault that friendship seems to have broken down? Did I not see, am I so poor a communicator that people really, honestly don’t want to be around me? Or was it just a poor fit all along and I was so hopeful of a good friendship that I ‘looked the other way’ to the flaws in our relationship? I just wonder. I know there’s always more too it than one thing, or even one person. After all, it takes two people to make a friendship. I was involved. I still am, so my decisions have played a part in all this. But what do you do when your friends seem to decide that you are surplus to requirements? What do you say? Or not say?
And what do I say to my son? My son who asks to play with his friends, who he loves spending time with. My son, who doesn’t understand that his friends can’t see us this week because their mum’s don’t want to see his mum. Or something like that. They are too busy.
But how can we honestly be too busy to spend thirty minutes with a good friend? Really? Truly? I just don’t understand that. I am busy. I don’t know many people who actually ARE as busy as I am, but I still prioritise spending time with family and friends. So I don’t get why others could be so busy that they don’t have time for even a few minutes with me, even those who don’t need people contact as much as me, surely catching up every few weeks isn’t such a terrible hope on my part? And don’t they realise that if they genuinely need to do a project at home, I’d probably be really happy to help out while we chat for an hour?
I find myself wondering, do I give too much? Did I want a level of friendship that simply wasn’t on offer? Have I given too much of myself to my friends? It feels like it’s been thrown back at me, unwanted. Discarded just like rag-doll me.
It hurts. A lot. And in all honesty, I am sick of being (or at least of trying) to be gracious. It feels like I’ve spent my life trying to be gracious and understanding of others, that I’m frequently the one who goes out of their way to help, to forgive, to repair, to build a relationship. And I’m over it. But if I give up, where does that leave me now? Friendless?
I actually need people. I am a social person. My son is a social person. Spending time just by ourselves all week doesn’t really work well for us. We have gotten used to it. We’ve had to in recent weeks. And I can do sewing or baking or gardening, no problem. I can ‘fill’ the time. But what about my boy? In the meantime he’s wandering around looking for something to do, someone to talk to. That or watching yet another episode of Thomas. And of course, while doing things certainly fills time, it doesn’t use much of my words at all. A day at home is lovely. I enjoy that. But more than one leaves me feeling house-bound and lonely. I crave meaningful relationships. Do other people not crave this, or not to the same level?

I’m trying to talk with God through this. Not exactly sure what I’m meant to make of it. Is he trying to separate me? To isolate me because there are things he wants to say that other people will get in the way of? Or is it that there are things going on in my friends lives that they need to work through on their own? How long am I meant to wait? Is it over? Or will we one day feel like friends again? And ultimately is the friendship worth waiting for, or should I let it go and move on?
I’ve made some progress in the last few days, realised that some of my current relationship issues are actually a repeat of past cycles. Have you ever felt like you seem to come up with the same issues your whole life through? I do. And that even though you work through them each time, forgive, learn some new things, etc, that somehow you still seem to come back to a similar situation (different time, different place, different people, but with echoes of that former thing that hurt you so badly)? Yup, that would be me. I have an area of friendship that seems to repeat. Not often, but when it does, it really hurts. It’s like a wound that never fully heals. Someone wise suggested this week that it’s to do with forgiveness. But not directly. Which would explain why even when you think you’ve forgiven, and choose to forgive every time a hurt comes to the front of your mind again, it doesn’t seem to stop you going through another similar situation. The way they put it is that we make judgments when we are offended. Judgments about the other party, and about ourselves. And that these judgments then hover around our lives, allowing a cycle to repeat over and over, around the same hurt, the same sore spot in our lives. It’s part of the laws of sowing and reaping. We sowed seed into our lives, and therefore we reap (with the measure you judge, so too shall you be judged). I can’t really explain it well, but it makes sense, especially when it was explained that often it is when we are really young that we first make judgments. So the theory is that while I can forgive those who hurt me now, I still also need to allow God to show me deeper, back into the past, to the first time I was hurt in this way. Then I can repent of the judgments I made (as well as forgiving), and hopefully be free of the cycle of that hurt in my life. I’m working through it, and I really hope it will help.
Sometimes I wish I wouldn’t think so deeply, care so much. Sometimes I really wish I could just brush things off. I do try to. But I don’t usually succeed all that well. Melancholic equals highly sensitive. It still takes me a whole lot of soul searching, working through every angle, every possible reason/outcome/nuance even, before I am ready to move on. Drives my husband nuts, I’m sure. Probably drives God nuts too! But then he did make me, so he knows. And while I do this in-depth processing, I do find little nuggets of truth, little things I’ve learned in the process, little bits of wisdom. I guess that’s a good thing, isn’t it?


Sunday, March 17, 2013

Two Weeks in One

At least half of the past two weeks have been a bit of a write off due to illness. 
Didn’t see very many people at all.
Didn’t really get up to much, other than way too much tissue and TV use.

Here’s what else we did (other than feeling yuck):

Munchkin watched Vege Tales. 

Mummy baked.  The chocolate slice Elizabeth did recently, but I cheated and instead of doing two layers of icing I did just the one: choc peppermint.  The slice itself is average.  I eat it for the icing, unashamedly!  Slice with icing, divine.  Won’t be making this often.  Simply because I ate nearly the whole thing on my own, not a good idea.  I also made a huge loaf from a recipe of my Granny’s.  It was originally a date loaf.  I made it with dates, zucchini and walnuts.  Very tasty.

Mummy refilled the honey bottle.  Feeling quite proud of that.  A squeezy honey bottle is very handy, but the pottle costs less.  Solution: refill!

Munchkin and Mummy made more toilet cleaner.

We had two visitors.
The first wanted to eat our sunflowers.  Boyo managed a few pictures through the bedroom window.

The second was just friendly.  It has been back multiple times, despite the fact that it’s owners came and picked it up Tuesday night after we cornered it into a box (okay, Boyo was the genius who managed that) and canvassed the neighbourhood to find out where it lives.  Down the cul-de-sac.  Not even a near neighbour, this bunny gets around.  It has visited at least four other houses that I know of.  Really need to go and chat with its owners about suitable corralling of bunny rabbits and all that.  Otherwise I will have to call the SPCA, it is obviously not safe for a tame rabbit to be visiting around the neighbourhood (and that’s if it manages to NEVER touch my vegetable garden!).

We have watched a lot of diggers, scrapers, bulldozers, and more next door to Munchkin’s preschool.  They are building a new road.  All very exciting, and apparently Munchy and another boy had a great deal of fun imitating them in the sandpit this past week.

Munchkin did some painting and drawing (this one got rolled up afterwards, and a ribbon tied around it by Mummy – to make it look like the rolling was part of Mummy’s great plan which of course it was not, Munchkin just decided that he felt like rolling!).

Munchkin’s been having a lot of fun carting all manner of things around in his dump trucks…with or without Mummy or Daddy also brmmming one along too.  Soft toys this time round.
We had a helium balloon inside.  Lots of fun for a day or two. 
Munchkin has had conjunctivitis.  As if two colds in less than six weeks wasn’t enough.  Ugh.
We saw a crane down our street and stopped to have a look. 

Munchkin successfully navigated pegs and hung up three items (without any fingers getting jammed either!).  Pegs are really quite tricky to keep open while trying to hold up a piece of clothing on a washing rack.

And having said all that, it is now time to get the Munchkin up from his afternoon nap.  I wonder what we will do this afternoon?


It's Raining!

It is raining.  Such relief.  The day is grey and drizzly and a little cooler than recent ones have been.  There are raindrops on the window beside my desk.  We got a little damp going from church to car and car to house.  It's raining.

Only, there's still not nearly enough.  We desperately need more.  A whole lot more.  Right across the country.  Boyo and I were talking about it this week.  Firstly, about how unusual it is that almost the WHOLE of New Zealand is in drought at the same time.  Usually it is one or two regions affected so you can kind of move stock out of your region then hopefully repurchase again after the worst is over, but at present the whole country is affected.  And we were talking about how isolated we are from both the knowledge and the effects of drought.  I mean, how many of us have stopped having showers?  Or curtailed our other water uses?  Boyo read that Wellington region now has a total outside water use ban in place.  But they've only got 20 days of water left in reserve, so one would expect that...I just hope it isn't too late.  We started bucketing water onto our lawn recently, but only the cold water before we actually get in.  The rest still goes down the drain.  Too much effort.  Isn't that sad?  We must waste so much good drinking water all the time without even realising it.

This rain is no longer looking like it will be as much as we were originally forecast, and we know it won't keep our garden or lawns going for long at all.  So we've gotten a bit creative.  Here's our lean-to.  In desperate need of attention... every time it rains we get a river, a raging torrent of water just splashing down onto the concrete because the spouting needs fixing.  But not today.  Today it is running into Munchkin's paddling pool, after we realised that the large buckets we put there this morning were overflowing!  Going to be a bit of a mission getting the water from the paddling pool onto the garden, but hey, at least it isn't going to be wasted.


Planning for Winter

I've managed some much-needed gardening the past few weeks, in between being sick and nursing the sick boy.  With everything so terribly dry, it is hard to get anything to 'take' well in the vege garden.  The pay-off on the other end of the spectrum though is that we've had a decent tomato crop for the first time in at least three years.  I pulled up half of my plants this past week.  The other half I'm leaving for a couple more weeks as they are still laden.

Here's Munchkin's handywork while I was busy:

Firstly he tipped over the table.

Then he moved the chairs.  I suspect he then planned on lugging the table over there too...but I'd finished by then.  Or rather, I'd done my usual 'half of what I really want to do but as much as I dare as Munchkin is starting to get too rowdy.'

Ah well, I got something done.  There were tomatoes here before I started.

Yesterday we went and bought seedlings from Palmers.  Bought seedlings.  What am I coming to?!?  Well, firstly I'm a student, so the growing of seedling department is short a few hours.  Secondly, the seedlings I did grow and plant got dug up by birds or scorched to death by heat.  So in order to get anything into the ground and producing for our winter greens, we had to get seedlings.  A car boot full.  Okay, not quite, but still quite a few.  I planted most in my parents garden, and thanks to a very helpful tip from the Palmer's lady, strung up my birdnetting over the top.  So far we'd already tried the cloche (got too hot), shadecloth (birds got in underneath), and nothing (nothing left at all!).  But I'd completely forgotten I have an almost entire roll of bird netting that we never ended up using for the raspberries.  Wahoo.  Hopefully that will keep the birds off.  And hopefully the rain will come.  Discovered an amazing thing too.  My dad thought he'd dug up some more oxalis bulbs, only to look down and realise it was a worm, all curled up into a tiny little ball.  Trying to stay alive in the dry earth.  We saw a number of them after that, all rolled up in survival mode.  I hope they make it.

I've also planted a few seedlings in my own garden, but as it was drizzling by then, I haven't got any photos yet.


TV 'Free'

I have just had three TV free nights in a row, and I’m still here. Grin. You know how it is when you get really, really, really tired? And the only thing that you think you can possibly do after finally getting the child into bed and hurricane-ravaged house set mostly to rights (oh, that’s right, it was only one small child!)? Vegetate. I’ve been experiencing that far too much lately, and as we were loaned some DVD series by friends, even when there hasn’t been anything we wanted to watch on TV, we’ve still managed to sit down in front of the box for an hour in the evening. Nothing terribly wrong with that, I don’t think. It’s more that I’m getting into some really lazy habits. Lazy thoughts (“I can’t do that or that or that, I’m too tired.”) and lazy action (bum in lazy-boy, feet up, immobile).

I’m trying to cut back. Trying to find other things I can do in the evening that don’t leave me wound into a corkscrew waiting to explode at bedtime. Yup, I do really struggle with being too wired for sleep if I do much of anything in an evening. I think I need to do a few experiments. For instance, does blogging in the evening actually keep me awake at night? Or is it a suitable wind-down exercise? Could I convince my spouse to play some boardgames instead? Books are good, but there are some that I just CAN’T put down until they are finished, so that doesn’t work well in the sleep department. How do I know before I start a book whether it is in the ‘can’t put this down’ category, the ‘nice, enjoyable read over several nights’ category or the ‘this is terribly boring and I don’t want to finish it’ category? And exactly HOW LONG do I need to be doing something quiet and non-stressful if I want to sleep well? I’m not really sure. I know I can’t study and then sleep. I have to do an hour of (you guessed it) TV in between!

Last night I gardened until it was too dark to see whether the seedlings were going in the right way up. Then I stroked a guinea pig and listened to a cricket by my front door. It was really nice. I did feel a bit wired when the light was turned out. But is that because of my activities, or some other random reason? It was actually quite a while between gardening and eventual light-turning-out. We read the Word For Today and pray together at night after getting ready for bed, so you’d think with it taking me about 30-60minutes every night from starting to get ready, to actually turning off the light, that it wouldn’t matter what I’d done before hand. You’d think that. Sigh.

The other issue with doing stuff in the evening is that it actually requires self-discipline on not one, but two fronts. Firstly, I have to use my brain to decide what to do rather than watch TV, and motivate myself to actually DO something. Then secondly, I have to remember what time it is. Set an alarm perhaps, or simply be disciplined enough that when 8:30-9pm comes around, I start getting ready for bed. I take ages to get ready. And we’re trying to get to bed earlier. But I’m struggling still with having to get ready at 8:30. That seems WAY too early! I’ve only had an hour since finishing the post-Munchinator routines. It just doesn’t seem like long enough. It doesn’t feel like I’ve had an evening. Even though I have. I recall days when he was little when he went to bed and I was in bed thirty minutes later. I had no hobbies, no interests, and precious little sleep back then. So glad that’s over. But still, I find that if I watch TV, usually there’s a designated end point. An hour of NCIS for instance, the end of a movie, or I might watch half an hour of Mamma Mia while I knit. I rarely want to watch hours and hours.

Blogging, or sorting photos, or doing a bit of sewing, or gardening…hmm, that’s much harder to have a designated ‘end point’ for. I could set one before I start, I guess. I could say, “I am writing one blog post, then going to bed.” But how long is a piece of string, or in this case, the time required to write a blog post??? Sometimes only a few minutes, but very rarely. There’s the photos to edit, the writing, then editing of that too, then putting it all up online, checking it has formatted at least close to what I wanted, and so on. It can become quite a long winded business and I’ve been caught out many times before thinking I’d blog for half an hour and finding it has turned into an hour and a half by the time I’ve done everything I wanted to do. Tricky. But at the same time, if I want to be able to keep blogging while studying, I need to be able to manage some manner of boundaries so it doesn’t become too consuming at the expense of other things, or get left to stagnate instead. Blogging rather than watching TV once or twice a week is a good payoff, if I can only manage to do it in such a way that I do still get to bed and to sleep at a good time.

Do you have some non-TV winding down habits that enable you to spend an enjoyable evening getting ready for sleep?  I wonder how many TV free nights I could manage before going into withdrawal?


Friday, March 15, 2013

Apple Biscuits and Mushroom Fest Friday!

Today is Friday (in case you had forgotten).  That means Munchkin and Mummy get to eat MUSHROOMS for dinner without anyone complaining about the smell!  Boyo feels somewhat queasy when mushrooms are cooked anywhere in his proximity.  As I really like mushrooms, and Munchkin also seems to feel similarly about them, we quite enjoy having the occasional evening with mushrooms on the menu.  Not every week.  Mummy's too lazy for that.  Many weeks we simply have leftovers on a Friday night.  It is simpler.  Less stressful.  Munchkin is more likely to get to bed almost on time.  Grin.  But this week, this week is mushroom week.  We had them on Monday night, in our fried rice (Boyo was at Polytech).  Quite tasty.  Then tonight we used the other half in a casserole.  I bought a little packet of beef just for it, and popped it all into the slow cooker after Boyo headed out to work this afternoon.  It was rather good.  I'm having the leftovers for lunch tomorrow.  Looking forward to that.

Just starting to cook.

Then while the casserole casseroled, I did a kitchen experiment.  I tried making Two Ingredient Cookies with grated apple instead of banana.

Ready to mix.

Because we have a good source of apples at present (my parent's Golden Delicious trees) and bananas have gone up a little in price...not much (yet), but still, I thought it would be interesting to see if they work without bananas.  Well, they do, but they aren't as good.  The apple isn't really mushy enough, you know.  I had to add an egg and a dash of milk to help it all stick, plus a couple tablespoons of flour.  They certainly taste good though!  Just not quite as simple to make.  I'm wondering if they'd be better with apple puree though?  Our apples turn into quite a good pulp when cooked.  They are pretty terrible stewing apples to be honest, but they make nice apple sauce.  I could do apple sauce and oat cookies perhaps?  What do you think?

Ready to eat!


Changing Routines

Have you ever thought about how having children changes things.  EVERYTHING.  ???

I always kinda knew that it did.  Especially the big things.  You know, like quality one-on-one time with your spouse, quality of sleep, the number of new places I am going to have to find in order to keep a chocolate stash hidden (grin)...those sort of things.  It comes along so gradually though, that while some of these changes DO feel momentous and sudden and life changing, others just seem to creep in on me gradually.  For instance, it never occurred to me that we would possibly spend more money on toilet paper.  Until about a week ago.  Grin.  Food, yes, toilet paper no.  I have no idea what I thought was going to happen.  Did I imagine some little paper elves would be busily working away in my garage by dead of night, fashioning some extra pieces to surreptitiously insert into the middle of each toilet roll, unbeknownst to the sleeping inhabitants?  Now that would be rather interesting.  But no, I just didn't think of it at all.  But then it's not like we've run out or anything.  That would be unusual.  We are loo-paper stock-pilers, you see.  We buy on good sales and hoard.  Not tonnes and tonnes (at least I don't think so - would you consider 2-3 12roll bags to be tonnes?).  But there are other things I am running out of.  A good sleep routine, for one.  And designated exercise time, for another.

The sleep issue is problematic and apparently, long-term.  I am beginning to admit what I have suspected for some time.  Once you become a mother, it is all downhill in the sleep department.  Yup, that's about it in a nutshell.  Very deep, I know.  What I've noticed, from talking to other new mums, is that most of us have trouble sleeping well.  We all seem to suffer from the same dreaded disease of disturbed sleep to some extent or another.  If it isn't the toddler waking us in the middle of the night, it's a new baby.  If it isn't that, then it's a neighbour's barking dog, or a sudden need to use the bathroom, or we simply wake up wondering why on earth we are awake, again, in the middle of the night.  And the older women I talk to (or my friends talk to then tell me about!) don't seem to be doing much better.  That sucks.  Completely.  Here I'd thought things would get better once Munchkin started sleeping through the night.  And I guess they are gradually getting better, but he's nearly three and still wakes probably once every second night, at least.  When he is well, which he often is not.  Then of course there's Boyo coming to bed at 1-2:30am two nights a week.  That sure doesn't help in the 'trying to get more settled sleep patterns' department. I was thinking though, that once Boyo was off night shifts and Munchkin was sleeping through consistently (as in every.single.night - please, please, please can it be soon?!), I was thinking that then I'd get to sleep better.  But it appears that things do not ever simply return to pre-motherhood days.  It sounds like far too women simply sleep more lightly, less soundly, and generally less well once they become mothers.  Ugh.  So I'm running out of sleep.  Good quality sleep in particular.  Waiting for cooler night-time temperatures.  At least those will hopefully come this year.  I can always hope better sleep will too.

It is not really surprising when you are a student with a preschooler that you would run out of time.  But HOW the time factor is outworking is interesting.  I am struggling to get enough consistent exercise.  Now this is important.  I really value being as healthy/fit as I can be.  I'm not worried about weight, I've spent too much of my life trying to put weight on/being told I look anorexic or that people wish they were me.  I realise that weight is only one indicator of a healthy body and one we focus too much on in our culture.  But I want to be able to walk without puffing, to know that my heart and arteries are getting enough of a workout to keep me ticking along for many years to come.

At the moment, I know I'm not.  It's the ever present changing routines thing.  One of those other things that having kids does to you.  Routines change.  A lot.  Frequently.  Not usually of my desire or benefit.  I try not to run my life around my child.  I really don't want him growing up thinking that the sole purpose of his parents is to pander to his every wish.  I want him to know that we love him deeply, but that we are also people with dreams and hopes and other responsibilities as well as him.  So I try not to change everything just for him.  But still, there are some things that just NEED to.  I don't 'do' lunch, for instance.  If you want to have lunch with me, you can't.  Unless you want to come to my place, or are happy to eat at 11:30am at the latest.  Because I have a child who actually still needs a sleep, so we head home every day to ensure he gets one.  I've worked out it is simply not worth the trauma of evening tantrums to miss a sleep, so it's got to be a pretty good occasion these days for Munchkin to be up at lunch time.  Even on Christmas Day he headed to bed while the rest of us had our Christmas Day desert.  So there are some things you just don't negotiate, some things you do because your child needs it and they are the child and you are the adult.  But still, I try to keep some balance between being Mummy and being Amy.  And in the exercise department, there has been too much Mummy lately.  And too much Student.

I've been very blessed to be able to walk often since before Munchkin was born.  We live right next to an incredibly beautiful walkway, so the incentive to get out and about is quite high for me.  I love being outdoors, and will invariably head out in even the worst weather, if just for a few minutes of wind and rain.  I lost all the baby weight from having Munchkin (which was considerable - an extra 20% of my bodyweight), by a LOT of walking.  But lately, it's been missing.  I'm finding it harder and harder to get out to start with, and am then finding that when I do, it's still not enough.  We were walking to my parents 2-3 times a week to feed the chooks.  But first the hot afternoon weather, then Munchkin starting kindy (we now feed chooks 2 days a week on the way home after kindy) has meant that the car has seen far more action than my legs!  Then when we do head out for a walk, Munchkin wants out.  He insists on walking.  Which he should, considering he is an active, nearly three year old.  He loves being outside as much as I do, and I feel mean depriving him of the chance to walk, run, or meander (which is more usually the case!) his way along our walk.  I want to nurture a love of the outdoors and healthy exercise in him, so giving him the chance to walk every time we go on one is important.  But also INCREDIBLY time consuming.  He looks at everything.  I do understand.  I recall many walks with my family in which I was a hundred metres down the path from them (or so) picking flowers or watching a bird, to then having to run and catch up.  Boyo is still not used to my sporadic stop-start walking routine.  He is a 'get from point A to point B in the shortest possible distance and time' person.  I can walk fast enough to keep up.  I just invariably need to take off my sweatshirt, or pick a flower, or rearrange my sock or something.

Two days a week are now almost completely consumed with study/preschool.  That means less time to see friends on other days, less time to do housework, less time to do everything.  Including exercise.  It's throwing a lot of things out of whack, but the exercise is the most noticeable.  When we would used to have gone for a walk a couple of times a week, we are now either studying, grocery shopping, or popping in to see a friend.

So the issue is not Munchkin.  The issue is that we have entered a new phase in the exercise department and I didn't really see it coming.  I need some new routines.  Again.  Sigh.  Since realising I wasn't getting enough exercise, I tried walking in the morning before Boyo headed out to work/polytech.  But it got too dark after about two weeks!  So now I'm trying evening walks.  Once I got my head around the fact that they will take up considerable time in my evening and that this might actually be okay, I've been really enjoying them.  I've forgotten how nice it is to get out alone, to walk without having to watch over someone else, to just BE (Boyo stays home while Munchkin sleeps).  I'm still not getting enough, but some walking is better than nothing.  And the spin-off is that I'm also getting much-needed 'headspace' too.  Time to think, to pray, to process as needed.  Or to do not a single one of those things and instead just walk.  I'm only managing about 30 minutes at the moment before it is too dark, and only about 4-5 days a week.  I probably need to be doing at least 45mins and doing it every day of the week.  Especially coming towards winter.  I have terrible circulation, and exercise is one thing that makes a huge difference.  I've thought about walking during the day on a study day.  I even did it once this week, but that was more because my brain was so clogged up with glug from this cold that I couldn't think straight to save myself, so I figured a walk wasn't going to lessen my ability to get my study done!  I've also thought a bit about other forms of exercise. Not very much, I must admit.  I enjoy walking too much.  Running is definitely out, the other things I've considered have been in the 'I will most likely forget to do that, or be completely unmotivated even if I do remember' department.  So I'm left with walking, and wondering still what to do with our changing routines.  At least the basic routines might manage to stay the same for a couple of years.  Maybe.  Mostly.  Know what I mean?


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Old MacDonald's Farm

Tonight at bedtime:

Mummy:  Munchkin, what song would you like?

Munchkin:  Old MacDonald's farm.

Mummy: Ok.  But I can only do one verse, because Mummy's throat is still very sore and yucky.  What would you like on Old MacDonald's Farm tonight?

Munchkin:  Cars, and trucks, and diggers, and bulldozers, and dumptrucks, and tractors, and cranes.

(Or something along those lines.  There were too many for my level of accuracy tonight, folks!).

Mummy (singing): "...and on that farm he had cars, and trucks, and diggers, and bulldozers, and dumptrucks, and tractors, e-i-e-i-o, with a brmm brrm, honk, dig-a-dig, brrm, toot, brmm here and a brrm, honk, toot, dig, brmm there..."

You get the idea.  There was a lot happening on the farm tonight!

Got to the end, only to be told I'd left out at least two.  I think one was a crane.  Not sure about the other.  Grin.  And no, I did not do another verse.  The boy was happy enough.  If I had enough voice to, I might have, but as my voice is almost defunct at present, I refrained.  Perhaps we will do them tomorrow night.  Okay, I admit that I am secretly hoping he will ask for a different song.  I don't imagine my voice being in much better shape by tomorrow night.


Monday, March 11, 2013

My Week in Ruins

Munchkin got sick on Thursday night.
That means I've (currently) had four nights of very disturbed sleep.
To make matters worse, I also got sick by Saturday night.
So I had a raging sore throat (the kind you take panadol and ibuprofen for and still can't sleep properly!) and more than enough snot to start my own glue factory, if I could get it out...yup, I am a snot-ball which is not at all unusual for me when I have a cold, but doesn't help me feel any less miserable.
Munchkin had a temperature, threw up over me on Friday morning, and refused to be comforted by anyone other than his Mummy...and even that wasn't really enough.  As he stated, "This ear making funny noises, Mummy." we headed off to the doctor.  Antibiotics, plus various other things and Munchkin is, I am pleased to say, on the mend.  But he's now hypo from ventolin and redipred (prednisone) as he got yet another secondary chest infection...fortunately I wacked the meds into him early enough that he hasn't been labouring for breath this time round, just averagely miserable.  Sunday morning we watched over 3hrs of dvds.  I am SO OVER Thomas the Tank Engine!

 But I am grateful
Grateful he got sick on a Thursday night, after I'd done most of my study for the week.  Hoping he will be well enough for the study/kindy days this week as I can't afford to get behind.
Grateful Boyo cleaned up the vomit while I comforted the boy.
Grateful Boyo took Friday off work and was here to fetch and carry.
Grateful Boyo made dinner last night.
Grateful we got a doctor's appointment so late on a Friday.
Grateful we didn't have to spend a night in A & E.
Grateful it wasn't a vomitting bug.
Grateful my boy thinks that his Mummy is a safe place to cry, that he loves me.

But still annoyed and depressed and tired and grumpy.  Grumpy, grumpy, grumpy.  My attempt at an afternoon sleep yesterday backfired when Munchkin was unsettled.  I was on the edge of extreme exhaustion before Thursday.  Ugh.  Then there was the internet and landline that was malfunctioning when I needed to use them.  And then my mobile decided to go on the fritz.  Still waiting for techies working on that one.  Letting a good friend down this morning when she needed us most.  Just one thing on top of another, you know.  Will this never end?

Guess I might just go and watch some more Thomas now.  Or rather, lie on the couch and hopefully drift while Munchy baby enjoys his Thomas.  Tired grin.


Monday, March 4, 2013


My mind is a whirlwind.  It’s constantly on the go.  Moving, thinking, processing, talking, very rarely still.  I’m normally a ‘busy’ person, but this is a bit extreme, even for me.

I’m studying.

That’s the problem.

Boyo and I have both noticed it, the change that comes over a person when they study.

Your mind is suddenly more active than before.  You find it harder to get to sleep at night.  You wake earlier, you wake more often, you sleep less deeply.  It’s a vicious circle that in some ways never ends.  Or at least not until you stop studying.  When we finish a semester, we sleep better.  When we start, we sleep worse.  Ugh.

But I have an additional symptom.  My entire system seems to speed up.  It’s as if the stimulation of study makes me go into hyperdrive.  You know, speed-of-light stuff.  Millenium Falcon flashing past you in a blur of light. 

Some days, I feel like I need to apologise to everyone I meet for talking their ears off.  I just can’t seem to help it.  With study comes more words.  I guess I have to find so many for essays and online classes, that my brain just starts coming up with them in oodles all the time.  I’m hoping it will settle down, but so far (we are in week five), it hasn’t.

I’m spending almost two whole days alone each week, studying, not using my 20,000 words a day or whatever it is.  Do you understand why I’m struggling not to talk too much!?  Plus we’re actually not seeing people as much even on the days we have available.  Ironically, I did think this might happen because I’m studying.  It just didn’t occur to me that it might be because other people are too busy.  Hmmm.

But that’s not all...

I watch more tv when I study.  Quite a lot more.  Because I need help winding down before bed and tv seems to help.

I eat more.  Just overall, but I’ve noticed I tend to eat more rubbish too.  Chocolate.  Nibbling and snacking.  A bit here, a bit there. 

Study changes so many things.  Things I didn’t necessarily expect, or remember.  I wonder, is it changing me?  Or are we simply seeing another side of the me that has always been here?


Our Poor Lawn

Things are getting pretty dry right around New Zealand.  We've had one of those summers.  Unpredictable.  Weird.  Like the last few, but opposite.  While the past two summers were quite wet and cool, this summer has been dry and hot.  At least since January.  December rained and rained and rained.  Then we've had almost no rain for the past two months.

See where the garden watering ends and the dry begins?
Hills are browning off.  There's talk of farmers selling stock, and milk drying up.  Some folks are having to truck in water, others are on water restrictions.

I usually only water my vege garden.  The roses get an occassional splash when in flower, but mostly everything else gets left to fend for itself.  If it doesn't feed me, it can wait for rain.  But our lawn is looking very sad.  We don't eat it, that's for sure, so I guess in the grand scheme of things it doesn't really matter.  But my guinea pigs do.  And they can wreak havoc on a healthy lawn.  So I've been deliberately letting the edges round the garden get some water, instead of my usual pedantic creed of keeping it all for the veges.  The piggies are getting carrot ends, apple cores, and long grass cut from around the trees to supplement their  feed. I'm moving the cage twice a day.

And we've just started bucketing water onto our lawn.

It seems completely wrong to me to water a lawn with good quality drinking water when there might not be enough to go around.  But taking water that is otherwise going to be wasted anyway?  Well, that's an entirely different matter.  We waste 7-8 litres of water every time we run the hot tap, waiting for the hot water to get to us.  That's a LOT of wasted water.  The past few days our lawn has had about 1-2 9litre buckets per day.  And that's just the water from our showers.  We simply put the shower head in the bucket till the water starts to feel warm, instead of leaving it to go down the drain.  Carry the bucket out, spread water over the lawn, return bucket to bathroom.  Can't be bothered with saving any other water at present, mostly due to the need to carry it outside, but doing this might just keep our lawn slightly alive until rain does eventually come.  Sigh.  We were forecast for showers this morning.  I walked to a friends.  I got some light spits, so light that if it hadn't been windy you'd not even have noticed them.  Big sigh.  I'm wondering how long I'm going to be bucketing water for?!?  But grateful that we aren't faced with no food, no livelihood, no water.  Very grateful.


My Menu This Week

I do a menu pretty much every week.  I’ve probably done one every week for the past nine years, except for a year right after Munchkin was born.

For me, it just helps.  A lot.  At the moment, an awful lot.  It helps me think and plan for my week.  It helps me use up food before it goes to waste.  It helps us eat well within a tight budget.  It’s efficient.   I know a lot of people who don’t menu plan, and many others who do in one form or another.  I’ve tried various ways, and done a few different things over the years, but this is what has been working well for me lately.

My Menu Planning
I sit down with my diary, a sheet of A4 paper, two coloured pens, pencil, and rubber (eraser).  I’ve also written up a list of meal ideas on another A4 sheet that lives in the back of my diary, so if I get stuck I’ve got ideas to hand.  I used to have an excel spreadsheet with meal ideas for fish, chicken, pork, etc but found it got to be too much work so this is my ‘budget’ version the same idea.

I try to have one meat-free (or very close to it) meal each week, one fish or seafood, and the rest balanced out between beef, lamb, pork, etc.  Boyo cooks once a week at present – he has a repertoire of about 4-5 meals that he likes to cook (okay, so saying he ‘likes’ to cook is not really accurate, but he has meals he chooses to cook when his darling wife insists he does!).  He gets to choose, provided the materials are in the house.  And no, we cannot have bacon and egg pie twice in a month, however much we all might want to!

During winter there’d be soup once a week, but at the moment we’re only  having soup every month or so…tomato last month due to a tomato glut, pumpkin this month as there are buttercups on sale for 99c each.

I’ve found that having my diary sitting right beside me is super helpful!  I can work out quickly if the crockpot meal I’m hoping to make will work with plans to be out all morning and most of the afternoon (ah, maybe we’ll move that to a day I know I’ve got at least an hour free in the morning to put it all together).  It reminds me that Tuesday and Thursday are study days.  That means simple, quick meals that work around study and kindy.  I write down if I need to make extras for another night (Boyo frequently takes a meal for night shift).  And if things change during the week, which they invariably do, I can erase, re-write, add to, or otherwise change my mind!  Since doing this menu (yesterday), I’ve already written a note on the bottom “sticky pork chops, roast lamb madras sausages and veges – recipe from packet” – both meals I think I might make next week.  Yum.  Some weeks there just aren’t enough nights to fit all the things I want to cook!

How do you like to cook?  Are you a spontaneous, decide today person, or a work-to-the-same-menu every week person?  I guess that there's probably as many different menu-ing ways as there are cooks!  Either way, I hope you have a delectably scrumptious, super easy eating week!  I am enjoying the delicious aromas of Thai Curry as I type this, thinking about how good dinner will be (it's in the crock pot).  Oh, I think I might have forgotten to have lunch!  Well, that would explain my rumbling tummy.  Better go and find something to eat!