Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Port Stephens and the Big Move

Would you go for a free shark scuba experience at
the Shark and Ray Feeding place? I wonder what
they feed the sharks.....

Its been a massive school holidays for us in our household with a weeks stay in Port Stephens and then the big move the day after we returned.

The holiday was fabulous, with beautiful weather the whole time. I'd definitely take the kids back to Port Stephens again sometime. Here's a quick summary in photo's.

Got to make special mention of Red Neds Gourmet pie shop in Nelsons Bay who have made a business out of slopping leftovers into pastry - 50+ pie varieties. I tried out the Spag Bol pie and hubby gave the green thai curry pie a whirl. Neither of us was game to try the crocodile pie.

The move however, was disastrous. I meant to write a FFS Friday post about it, but just couldn't get the energy together on time. If it could go wrong, it did.

It coincided with my first day in a new part time job so I couldn't justify a sickie already.

We meant to load up a small truck together the night before, and have husband unload the contents of our granny flat in time for me to finish work and help out with the unpacking at 3pm. The plan was to have everything ready to go for the kids to sleep in their own beds that night. We would worry about the 3/4 of our belongings in storage later.

Husbands father decided to rally my 10 million brother in laws to help with the move. And of course he thought it was a better idea to move EVERYTHING in one hit. And since I wasn't around to insist I didn't get any say in the matter. Coordinating that many relatives was always guaranteed to fail.

It was 6pm before the truck turned up along with all the BIL's and my kids. By 8pm all my belongings were stacked up in the double garage or strewn semi randomly about the house. Everyone waved cheerio and left me wondering how to feed and bed my children that night. Husband was in a foul temper and not inclined to take my whining about the change of plans.

4 days later I am still searching for the things I need most and keep turning up random crap that I was happy to have stored for a year or two.


On the plus side, I was invited to a cooking demonstration that I attended yesterday with my sister in law Salwa. Anyone that knows me will be splitting their sides laughing at the idea of me attending a cooking demonstration, but there is a fabulous post in it so you will have to wait to hear more. Watch this space.

Linking for love

Monday, April 22, 2013

Everything is Negotiable

We found a rental property this week that we fell in love with. Its almost everything I wanted, and I'm realistic enough to realise that I'm not going to get 100% of my list.

It has:
5 bedrooms (I only wanted 4!)
Floorboards - perfect when you have a pukey baby and don't want to wreck someones carpet
An extra living space that I can shuffle all the babies toys into as an informal lounge
Reasonable walking distance to Madeleine's high school
Ensuite (YAY!)
Dishwasher (Triple YAY!)
Air Con
Directly opposite a nice big park

What is also has though is:

Dated and daggy bathrooms
Minimal backyard space
In your face feature walls in every room that are very much personal taste (not mine though)

The property had been on the market for 4 weeks before I noticed it. I originally wasn't looking for something around $450 per week so hadn't noticed it, but realised after a few weeks of looking that I wasn't going to find anything big enough at that price. So I raised my limits and found this one (among others). But it was originally listed for $500, which I definitely didn't want to pay, and actually didn't think the property was worth.

After doing the initial property inspection and having a chat with the agent about the state of the backyard (debre EVERYWHERE), I left it a few days to see if the property would come off the market. Since it had been there for weeks, I had a feeling it wouldn't.

I sent an email to the agent with an application and all supporting documents, but let them know I was only willing to consider the property at $470 per week. I pointed out that the owner would be better off financially taking us at $470, than having it sit vacant for another couple of weeks, particularly as I was interested in a 12 month lease with a view to staying in the property 24-36 months.

The agent sounded so wary and surprised when she rang me to discuss the application, I really don't think many people try to haggle on rent. I discussed the comparable properties I had looked at, and the condition of the bathrooms and backyards with the agent, and she eventually agreed to discuss my offer with the owner. 
Time to get packing again!
He came back with a counter offer of $480 (!) which I happily accepted, $480 being the maximum I had decided I would be willing to pay for rent anywhere, and this house really did have much more living space than anywhere else. 

Total savings: $1040 per year in rent for being willing to negotiate and doing my research first. I have no doubt the owner will put the rent up first chance he gets, but at least I have 12 months guaranteed at a price I am happy with.

Have you ever haggled on rent? Or something else surprising? 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

It's Time To Go

Granny flat living can be a little squishy

We've been living in this granny flat for 3 months, and the time is just about on us to move out. I've shared the flip side of living in the granny flat, so the question is, 3 months on, would I still reccomend it to others?


Although there have been plenty of times when it feels a little like Alice after she eats the grow me cake there are some major perks to living like this.

1. Saving costs on rent/mortgage. Even though we pay a token amount to my in-laws, it doesn't come close to being the amount we would pay for a proper house/unit.
2. Saving money on utilities. Powering up and watering such a small zone is much cheaper than a house.
3. Saving again on internet/phone costs. By sharing these costs with the in-laws instead of getting our own the expense is halved.
4. Built in baby-sitters. Enough said.
5. Less maintenance. There's a lot less lawn to be mowed, repairs to be completed, etc and more people living on the property to share it round
6. My kids are a lot closer and have had to learn to share zones, belongings, and themselves. By not having anywhere to go we are always together. We watch TV together since there is only room for one TV, we talk while I do chores like dinner or laundry putting away, and play together for lack of escape. I never realised how easy it is to not have any togetherness time in a generously sized house.
7. Less housework. Oh hallelujah there is so much less housework when you only have 4 rooms in total
8. Community living. There is always someone around to talk to, and we see so much more of the extended family living here. This experiance has drawn us closer than ever to the people we love.
9. Milk. There is always someone to borrow a cup of milk off. Or an egg. Or sugar.

Have I convinced you to sell up shop and go move in with family yet? For all that I am looking forward to having a big house again, I am sad about moving. I think I would have been happy to do this a while longer if it weren't for the need to get my family settled and comfortable closer to Maddy's school.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Putting her big girl knickers on

"Mum, did you use my toothbrush"?

I wondered if she was going to make a fuss out of that. Yup, I most definitely used her toothbrush. During a surprise stay in hospital last month Husband packed the wrong brush for me. Rather than grow moss on my teeth waiting for a replacement, I used her toothbrush. She'll be right.

With all kinds of indignant disgust, the kind only a 12 year old girl in the right of an argument can dish out, she insisted on a new toothbrush.

So it was with an absolutely fiendish pleasure that I noted a very familiar pair of pink underwear discarded in a pile of laundry.

They looked suspiciously like 1 of a set of 3 I bought upon getting out of hospital last year when I realised my size 18 knickers could no longer hang off the butt that seemed to have disappeared. I had to invest in some new clothes in size 10's and 12's (oh woe is me!) which created it's own problems. Madeleine is a size 10-12 girls, and I am now a size 10-12 ladies.

He he.

It might not have been a problem if MIL were not doing my laundry for me at the moment (again, woe is me, I have it so damn hard). And although I put Husbands, mine, and the babies laundry away (the sacrifices!) I make Maddy put her own away. And since Teta is a great big softie, she will often put Maddy's away when I'm not looking, but frequently mixes up our clothes.

Which brings us back to the pink knickers. Which I most definitely didn't wear.

The look of horror on her face when I rubbed her face in she realised her mistake was priceless.


Ever mixed up clothes with your kidlets? Shared something completely inappropriate with someone like knickers or toothbrushes?

Hooking up with Essentially Jess for IBOT

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Hey Mama Welcome To The Sixties!

Oneof my Aunties celebrated her 50th birthday last night with a 60's themed costume party. From the minute I got the invitation I was consumed with the idea of channelling my inner Samantha and getting my Bewitched on. I always loved her style (except when dressed in pregnancy mumu's).

Husband on the other hand wanted more of a Jackson 5 look. I think he may have overshot Jackson 5 and ended up with Jackson Pimp, but to each his own.

Not wanting to spend a fortune on an outfit that would only be worn for one night, I jumped straight on facebook to petition friends and family for any items that could be used to put towards costumes. I wasn't so lucky with clothing, but we were able to borrow jewellry that completed the outfit.

Next step was to scour the op shops where I found platform shoes for me - brand new with their original shoe shop sticker - for only $6, and the most hideous shirt for Husband for $4. Darn it, if I had only shopped on blue ticket tuesday they would have been half price! Once we added my chunky, heeled Clarks schoolwork shoes to Husbands outfit he was set. And as tall as me for once with the wig and heels.

Right when I was starting to despair of finding a dress for me in the op shops, Husbands sweet little grandmother offered to make me a dress. After looking briefly (once!) at a picture I showed her, she proceeded to run up a little item using fabric from her stash, that she jokingly tells me is probably from the sixties anyway. At least I think she was joking.

Adding a little costume shop bling and a wig for Husband and the total cost of our outfits for the night was $26. Not bad considering the costume shops wanted $60 EACH for hire. Going all out for a costume party doesn't HAVE to be expensive if you use your connections and what you already have before spending any money.

However in my enthusiasm, I overshot the mark and we ended up being the most overdressed at the backyard BBQ style party. Not the first time that has happened. I really really love me a costume party.

Know someone in Townsville or QLD who would LOVE to go to the V8's? Send them here for their chance to win passes.

Pimp or Jackson 5? What do you think? Do you have any tips for pulling together a costume on a budget?

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

It takes a village to raise a child......

I've heard that phrase more times than I can count. But now I live in my own little village granny flat out the back of the in-laws it makes more sense.

Even on the days when I have best intentions of not taking advantage of the Grandparents living only 5 meters away, Lorelei overrides them by calling out from the door to one or the other. Of course they can't resist her. I can't count the amount of times one of them will come to collect her. Daily. Possibly hourly. Who's keeping track.

I should care more. Instead I am enjoying a little down time from active parenting and loving that my toddler gets so much pleasure out of her her time with them.

And let's face it, my swing pushing time has an expiry. I will usually bring her back in to feed Sebastian, make dinner, or just because I plain old got bored. After all, she is happy to go for hours, me, not so much.

Teta on the other hand seems to have infinite time for swing pushing. Sucker.

Or maybe I shouldn't say pushing. I mean pulling. Teta has tied a rope to the swing and kicks back with a cuppa while Lolly happily rocks back and forth. Genius I tell you.

What genius idea's do the oldies pull out in your kids lives?
Linking up to With Some Grace for FYBF! Check out some awesome reading material

Friday, April 5, 2013

Giveaway: Disney-Pixar Fun Zone at the V8's!

***Sponsored Post***

We are all huge Disney fans in this household. Some of us (me) can recite word for word most Disney Classics and we all count down till we can go visit Disneyworld again one day.

Husband loves his V8's wtih a passion too. He's been asking for years now for us to go to Bathurst when the V8's are on and for one reason or another we haven't been able to do it.

So what do you get when you marry Disney with V8's? A match made in heaven of course!


2013 sees brand new Disney-Pixar Fun Zone featuring Mack the Transporter at V8 Races all around the country.

Following the success of the 2011 and 2012 national Disney-Pixar Cars Truck Tour, the popular family attraction has been supercharged and in addition to Cars now includes three new worlds of entertainment from Toy Story, Finding Nemo and Monsters University. It’s another world first for Australian and New Zealand fans, thanks to the unique initiative between The Walt Disney Company, Australia, Mack Trucks, V8 Supercars and the Entertainment Store, which sees the launch of a brand new travelling attraction called the Disney-Pixar Fun Zone in 2013.

Aspiring young cow-girls and boys will love the colourful Toy Story themed attraction within the Disney-Pixar Fun Zone, as they test their roust-about skills in Woody and Jessie’s Lasso Challenge. They’ll also get creative in Woody’s workshop, and build their own bandit moustache and sheriff badge to take home with them!
You won’t want to miss the Disney-Pixar Fun Zone in 2013. Get lost in the Monsters University maze; bounce and slide on the awesome new Cars-themed two-track giant inflatable slide; or just chill-out in the Finding Nemo 3D Movie Dome.

The Disney-Pixar Fun Zone will be appearing at V8 race days all around the country. See here for more information about dates and locations. Tickets to the V8's can be purchased at Ticketek.

As a plus for budget conscious families, the Disney-Pixar Fun Zone activities are included in the entry price for the V8’s!  Kids under 12 are free to enter, making it possible to take the whole family along for a great day out.

Now for the best part – I have a Family pass to the V8 Supercars Sucrogen Townsville 400 to giveaway to one lucky reader. The Townsville dates are Fri 5 or Sun 6 July.

For your chance to win, entry via the rafflecopter below. And and don't forget to tell me who your favourite Disney character is!

This competition is closed. The winner was Stacey S. Thanks to all that entered. xx

Thursday, April 4, 2013

High school and bullying

Madeleine started year 7 this year. Although she was originally at a school that went from Kindergarten to Year 12, we made the decision a few years ago that we would change her to a new school in Year 7. Purely for financial reasons unfortunately. The fee's had been extremely challenging for us to meet all along, and we realised that if we wanted to build our family we had to consider sending Maddy to a different school.

Instead of being at an ultra expensive grammar school, she is now at what we consider to be the best Catholic school in the area, one whose results were very pleasing and have a strong focus on performing arts.

Maddy went into the change of school with a bit of a mental block - she was convinced she wouldn't make any friends, and even now has days when she wails about how her day went socially. But for the most part I can read between the lines and what I hear are the very normal social interactions that a whole bunch of 12 years old girls go through when presented with a lot of new people and circumstances. I have confidence that she will settle down soon enough with a group of close friends and in the meantime is developing a nice group of girls that she is friendly with.

But something really ugly happened last week. Maddy came home from camp with a tale of a girl spreading a rumour. That she had seen Maddy and her new friends kissing, and that the girls were lesbians. This girl was making loud nasty comments whenever she walked by Maddy, and had made threatening comments as well.

We never had to deal with anything but the mildest bullying in primary school. We were always able to coach her through it and the school was quick to react. We even had one instance once of Maddy bullying the daughter of a good friend which WE were quick to deal with through talk and expectation setting.

This is just ugly. And knowing what high school girls are like, a rumour like this could also be crippling
socially. What is a 12 year old girl doing throwing around concepts like that anyway? These girls should be barely out of playing with their littlest pet shops and not have any real thoughts yet about sexual orientation or activity. Hearing the label used now in such a nasty way is just going to make it that much harder later in life for the girls who do find themselves leaning towards same sex relationships.

I honestly didn't know what to do. Coach Maddy to handle it? Tell the school? Try to confront the girl or her parents?

In the end I called the school. This is ugly and vulgar stuff and I expect them to nip it in the bud. And I don't think that Maddy is equipped to handle this kind of nastiness alone.

Well triumph for the dobber Mumma. Our young bully was singing a different story at school yesterday begging Maddy to tell the Vice Principal that it was another girl so that she wouldn't get in trouble with her parents. Her attitude and aggression seem to have died down, and although I'm sure she and Maddy will never be friends, the hostility won't be there now as our bully seems to have been shaken up by getting in trouble for her actions.

I talked Maddy through handling this girl at school. I want her to avoid sinking into name calling, and to avoid a physical fight, but I don't want her to be a doormat. Bullies like weaker prey, and my gorgeous girl does not need to be that mouse.

I'm proud of Maddy who was indignant and angry about how she was being treated, rather than upset. She's a friendly puppy who would be mates with just about everyone if they welcomed her. And I'm proud of me for not letting it go. Because bullying is ugly in all its forms and I won't let my child be a casualty.

Have you experienced bullying in your household? Did you dob or was your kidlet up to the challenge?

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Coming To An Understanding: Crohns Disease

My name is Elise, and I have been diagnosed with Crohn's Disease. It has been 7 days and 4 hours since my specialist told me. And I still don't know how I feel. I'm not even sure that I feel anything. I have known there was a possibility of Crohn's since last November. And I have been taking medication to control/manage Crohn's all this time.

My surgeon was giving me mixed signals. On the one hand she was telling me that she would hate to diagnose me with Crohn's, and that there were other possibilities that she was hoping for. On the other hand she was telling me how so many people have Crohn's that manage it easily with little to no impact on their lives and not to worry to much. Lifestyle wise, it's like being diagnosed with diabetes she said.

 My specialist seems to be spoon feeding me my fate in bite sized portions. Each appointment seems to bring some new, awful information that seems like something I can't handle. But handle it I do. There was a time when the prospect of a week in hospital had me sobbing and depressed, begging the doctors to release me. But I made it through a 6 week stretch. The concept of a ileostomy bag had me in hysterics (you may have heard of a colostomy bag? same, same), but I am living with it day by day, and no longer cry when I have to deal with it. The latest is that there is a possibility that I will need to inject myself daily with medication. Me, who am a needle phobe, who has learnt all kinds of restraint to allow cannula's and blood tests but still cannot accept a vaccination or medication needle from a trained nurse may need to inject myself daily. I have not had a needle putting something into my body (unless under a general anaesthetic) other than a cannula since the Rubella needle in high school. And I was held down for that.
Photo taken 2 days before admission to
hospital in October. I should note that 18
 months prior I weighed 110 kilo's.  All those
bones have some flesh on them now & my
face has filled back out after losing even
more weight while in hospital.

He tells me something incredible with the straightest face. He tells me that Crohn's can be terminal when not managed. That I was slipping down that corridor of an unbelievable outcome when I was admitted to hospital last October. From the vantage point of April, 15 kilo's heavier, the stamina to pick up my children again, and the ability to do so without pain, this seems incredible. Completely unbelievable, melodramatic, you name it.
He doesn't tell me much beyond the current treatment. We don't really talk beyond what will happen between now and my next appointment. So I'm starting to be scared of my appointments and what new information he will introduce. I know now that my operation in March and the upcoming ileostomy reversal procedure in June is not to be my final hospital stay. I can expect another Colonoscopy in September. Is it possible I can expect regular Colonoscopies for the rest of my life?

My mother speaks to me about my diagnosis with a hushed voice, as though to a dying person. Friends who know someone with Crohns are incredibly positive, almost dismissive in their reassurance that this is nothing, I am strong, there is nothing I can't handle. A friend who has Crohn's looks at me with sympathy in her eyes, and doesn't say much. She just offers to help if I have any questions. This scares me a little, because if she's not rushing to reassure me that it's no big deal like everyone else, then maybe it is a big deal.

The treatment and lifestyle changes sometimes upset me till I come to acceptance. But the diagnosis doesn't. I feel like it should but Crohns Disease is still just words to me. I've read the pamphlet and it still doesn't give me any emotional reaction. It talks about "flare ups", avoiding them, managing them, but it doesn't tell me what a flare up actually is. Is it indigestion pain? Is it a recurrence of damage and deterioration to my organs? Vomiting? Why do I care about flare ups?

It's time to start understanding my condition better I think. People who care for me have done their own research in an effort to be a part of what I am going through and to be there for me, but I have been living with my head in the sand. I think I will start by looking for blogs of people who share this disease with me. I have read the clinical information and it's not enough. I want to understand the lives of people who have this disease.

If you know of a blogger with Crohn's disease who sometimes writes about it, please feel free to share the link. If you live with Crohn's disease yourself, I'd love a comment to tell me how you find life.