Saturday, August 31, 2013

Circus Party On The Cheap: The Decorations

When I first thought of a circus party theme for Seb's first birthday my mind was going all out thinking THEME. I was thinking along the lines of buying the Ikea circus top, and possibly renting some signposts and props. Maybe hiring a clown for the day, and hey, what about a fairy floss machine while I'm at it?

At the risk of scaring the pants off the kids, I abandoned
this idea.

Eventually though, I realised that kind of expense really wasn't necessary and I could create plenty of nice atmosphere myself. At a fraction of the cost of renting just one prop. At the end of the day, some bright colours, yummy food, and a little fun is all that is needed to make the party great, and spending hundreds of dollars on atmosphere is not going to change the outcome.

I started by purchasing the Vintage Carnival word art and element digiscrapping bundle over at The Lilypad. I like to digiscrap all my photo's, and although I don't often purchase supplies (there is so much free stuff out there) I knew I would use this bundle a fair bit and could flog it for decorations sake too!

A little photoshop magic, and the Summer Fair and Circus fonts,  and I had a series of fun signs that set the tone, that cost me only a few dollars in ink and paper to print out at home.

Some of the signs we had around the house

Instead of splurging on the circus themed plates, cups, napkins, balloons, party hats etc, I stuck to simple plain colours that locked in the theme. Red, blue and yellow were my main colours, and whenever possible I purchased ones with dots on them. The plain colours were alot cheaper than the themed stuff, and I actually thought it all looked nicer, less tacky.

Typical, I forgot to take photo's BEFORE the party, so you
have to make do with leftovers

The colourful cupcake stand was on the Woolworths clearance rack for $1, and the straws and popcorn containers were my key splurge items at $2 a packet. Unnecessary I guess, but such a cute touch!

I also found it much cheaper to have balloons on sticks instead of helium balloons. The packets of coloured sticks were $1 for 8, and the balloons were $2 for 8 polka dot coloured (I had red, blue and yellow, but you know, I forgot to take photo's before I gave them all away!)

And instead of the big top canopy I wanted to purchase/rent, (for $60), I shimmied up some streamers over the food.

Do you know what? People had a great time. It's not necessary to spend a fortune prettying everything up. The party looked good, my 1 year old will never remember, but we have some good photo's. And this result cost about $300 less than my original thoughts.

For more circus party posts see here and here.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Sleep? What Sleep?

These two are conspiring against me.
Heaven help me when Seb is old enough
to plot with her

Lorelei turned 2 a few months back. And overnight she went from having a 3-4 hour deep sleep in the middle of the day, to deciding she didn't need a nap at all anymore.

It's possible we disagree on this point.

Without a nap, she is a hideous mess by 5pm. She just can't cope with the long haul yet. And neither can I. So we battle through a 1 hour afternoon nap each day, with her insisting she doesn't want to take it, and me insisting that she bloody well will.

She demonstrates her point by throwing blankets, pillows, and comfort items onto the floor, then screaming for the damn things back again. She further makes her point by gagging herself and throwing up if these items are not returned within a reasonably prompt timeframe.

It's fun and games. I know it's a phase, and I'm sure we will get through it. I just don't know when. And to improve on matters, Seb turned 1 this month, and has decided he too, does not need day time sleeps that last more than 30-60 minutes anymore. And then he will only take 2 of those. Once he wakes up around lunch time, he is awake for the rest of the day. Till bedtime. Around 8-9pm.

What the hell?

I cannot begin to emphasise how much I looked forward to that little window of time each day that the 2 of them would overlap their naps and I would either

a/ Catch a nap myself
b/ Get some genuine housework done, that is not supported by the 2 year old "helping"
c/ Sit on Facebook and write blog posts

Admittedly I was far more likely to adopt a & c. B only rarely got a lookin.

At to make matters worse, each of them have adapted to the early starts required to get us all in place on time now that I am back at work in the office part time, far better than I have. The whole household is moving at sparrows fart these days, but on the 2 weekdays I get to stay home I'd really appreciate a sleep in. Nothing too extravagant. 8am would be the height of luxury. But no. The babies body clocks are well and truly tuned in to 5:30am, and I am lucky if the household can sleep till 6:00. LUCKY.

These 2 are almost operating on less sleep than me. And coping far better. I really miss nap time.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Circus Party On The Cheap: The Fun

We didn't do lots of organised games this year. No pass the parcel. No pin the something on the anything. Seb is only 1, so we figured most of the games would go over his head anyway.

Keeping in theme with our circus party, instead of organised games, we had a can toss, and a photobooth. I would have liked to have had a ring toss as well, but I've been so sick in the fortnight leading up to the party it just didn't happen.

The Can Toss

6 cans
3 variants of bright, fun, wrapping paper
Sticky tape

If you have access to a Tupperware can opener, this is the time to use it. The Tupperware can opener somehow deseals the lid so that it slips nicely off in its original format without a nasty, sharp edge. I borrowed one from a relative. If you don't have one, try to choose cans with a ring top so that you can avoid the jagged edge that a normal can opener leaves.

Step 1. Eat up the tinned goods big time for a week, collecting the cans as you go along. Give them a good wash and clean, removing all the labels.

Step 2. Using the can as a guide for size, cut a strip of wrapping paper. I used the stripey paper first as I could pick a line to follow with the scissors. Once you have this first strip, you can use it as a template for cutting out 5 more.

Step 3. Tape the end of a strip of paper to the can, wrapping the can around in full till its covered. Tape down the exposed end well, as this is going to be manhandled a fair bit. Try not to leave any little gaps for fingers to rip.

Repeat till all 6 cans are covered. Set up in a pyramid with a small bucket of soft balls nearby. This was a hit with adults and kids a like, and doesn't need to be played with at a certain time.

The PhotoBooth

Fun box for storage
Various costumes bits
Fabric background

Such a simple way to keep guests occupied! We filled a box with wigs, necklaces, clown noses, funny glasses etc and just encouraged everyone to go to town! Most of the costume bits we already had in our own dress up box, or as bits from Maddy's dance costumes over the years, but I did go and buy the clown noses and wig (can't have a circus without a clown!). 

I did source these really cute mustaches and pouty lips here - just cut out a few, laminate them for durability, and stick to shortened kebab skewers.

We hung up some bright coloured fabric that we already had from doing a photo of the month with Lolly back when she was a wee one. It would have been good if it was a little wider and a little longer, but I wasn't about to go and waste money when we already had this stuff on hand.

A mirror nearby finished it off, and pretty much every party guest had some fun with the booth at different times.

And as all bloggers will understand, no event is complete without its own hashtag, and of course I made my party guests hashtag all their photo's so that I could see them all easily on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter afterwards. Just in case you're interested - the hashtag was #sebscircus. Not all the photo's were public, but you are welcome to view the ones that were! We had a great time!

For more circus party posts see here and here.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Sebs 1st Circus Birthday Party

You mean today is all about me?!?

The can toss


Cake from cake2therescue

Circus food under the big top!

The photobooth

Mummy and the birthday boy in the photobooth - let me at those lips

Birthday icing is awesome

For more detailed circus party posts see here and here.

My Little Drummer Boys

Monday, August 19, 2013

Conversations with a 2 year old and a 12 year old

Upon picking up a grouchy 2 year old Lolly from her Grandparents after work today. It turns out she hasn't napped, so she is simply a treasure.

Did you have a good day at Teta's?

No. No Teta's.

The jumping castle looked like lots of fun. Did you have a jump? (small, personal sized, jumping castle had been set up).

No. No jumping castle.

Did Sebastian have fun on the jumping castle?


Teta's cake looked yummy. Was it yummy?

No. No cake.

I saw you eating the cake.


Conversation on the same car trip with my 12 year old Maddy, who is surly and obnoxious for no better reason than that she is 12.

Did you have a good time at school today?


Do you have any assignments yet this term?


Did your friend tell you about her bedroom?


It's really cool. She has an attic bedroom and they had to buy her all new flatpacked furniture just to get it up the manhole.


And so on, and so on. I could write a whole monologue from my conversations with these 2. So is my 12 year old acting like the 2 year old, or is the 2 year old acting like the 12 year old?

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Hovering Man - An Adrenalin Rush for Fathers Day

***Sponsored Content***

2/3 years the best Husband can look forward to for Fathers Day is the assortment of goodies from the Fathers Day stall, lovingly handpicked from the backs of closets by frugal mums determined to use the stall as a spring cleaning mechanism.

We've had opened packs of lollies. A pen set with half its ink gone. A small personal hygiene set including an ear scratcher thing that looks suspiciously like it has wax on it.

Our favourites though are the handmade goodies from school and daycare. Usually there's some cute little item with a photo of our cherub on it. Maybe it's a toobox made from paddlepop sticks. Or a framed picture with a magnet on the back. Whatever, we both have drawers full of the handmade and handpicked treasures. We wouldn't throw away any of them, because there is alot of laughter and love in our home on Fathers Day, served up with breakfast in bed, eaten for you by your own personal 2 year old taster.

Occasionally I muster myself to improve on the situation. Husband loves it when I come out with some kind of experience or tickets to something. It's not often, but often enough that he will hopefully browse the different experience websites at this time of year.

So you can imagine how tickled he was when I was approached by Giftitnow to do a review of their Jetpack Experience. And even though I have vowed to cut back the sponsored work now that I am back in the office, I took this one on.

Wow. Was it worth it.

We turned up without doing any of the right research first. Husband asked tentatively in the parking lot, "was I supposed to wear speedo's?".

Uh, yes dear. You were.

Husband was packed into a wetsuit in the parking lot, cheerfully stripping down to his knickers first, and strapped onto a ginormous looking backpack. A comprehensive safety conversation first, and he was out in the water (bahaha in August, brrrr) with instructions to make like superman on his first run through and stay low with his arms out. We were reassured that everyone dunks it in the water first time round, and I eagerly awaited the moment with my camera.

Didn't come. Husband was a natural and hovered around the lake with water streaming at high volume from the pack strapped to his back. The jet ski acts as the power, but the flier controls mostly where they go. 2 runs around the lake and my husband was flying high (no idea how high really) and doing the running man in midair as well as various other encouraged stunts.

The grin never left his face, and he was bouncing on the side of the lake waiting for his next turn. The team at Jetpack Australia were so friendly, supplying chairs to sit on lakeside for us watchers, an eski full of drinks for everyone, and plenty of fun chat.

If you're looking for something a little different for Fathers Day, and opportunity that will have your Husband showing the complimentary video off to all friends and family (tediously) for the next few weeks, this is definately something to consider. We had a blast, and Husband is hinting that he won't say no to another go.

Jetpack experiences are available in various locations, and retail from $249. BUT, right now for Fathers Day, Giftitnow have a sale on reducing the price, and just to sweeten the deal, I've negotiated a 10% discount for my readers.

Just use code mummyheartsmoney at checkout, for a 10% discount sitewide, specially for Fathers Day.

10%! Just because we got to have a go. Yay us. Cannot recommend the gift of memories enough - we will be talking about this for years.

For those of you wondering - yes - Husband came home with no knickers on. They were saturated.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Taking His Time

Every morning on the run to Teta's, my babies hold hands.
Or maybe Lolly holds hands. Seb doesn't get much choice.
I was super excited last week. After lots of coaching, leading by example, bribery, positive reinforcement, basically every strategy under the sun, my soon to be 1 year old finally showed an interest in rocking backwards and forwards on his hands and knee's.

That's right. Sebastian's not crawling yet. He's too smart to crawl. He worked out some time ago that he could kind of shimmy himself into position, and ROLL anywhere he wanted. So why would he put any real effort into crawling when he can maneuver himself into just about any position by rolling?

With his first birthday looming though, I was kind of hoping to have him a little more traditionally mobile. Maddy walked at 10 months, and Lolly took her first steps on her first birthday. All kids are different, and I always knew premmie Seb would take longer to hit his milestones but I know he is ready to crawl, but just being too smart for his own good.

If he starts to crawl he will develop all the muscles that will let him defend his toys from his sister.

So I was thrilled when I spotted him doing the old rock motion on his hands and knee's. For the other 2, that meant crawling was only a few days away.

Lorelei was less thrilled when she saw all this action. While I was tearing up the kitchen looking for the camera, Lolly took matters into her own hands. A few seconds later I heard indignant yells from Sebastian, and raced back to find Lorelei sitting calmly on his back watching TV.

Sebastian was spreadeagled on the floor flapping his arms. With her solid weight on top of him, he had zero chance of making it back up again.

Sadly, he has since shown no interest in getting back up again, despite Lorelei's best efforts at setting the example. She just wants a comfortable seat to watch TV. 

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Domestic Violence is Never OK

This is not a fluffy post about my kids. Its also not a fun product flog. This is quite possibly the most serious post I will ever write, so I am absolutely OK if people choose not to read it. This post is not really geared towards my existing readers (I'm talking to you, guy in Latvia). It's geared more towards the people who may stumble upon me with the right search terms.

Someone who is very important to me has finally walked away from an abusive marriage. It has been a heart breaking journey of learning what this person has been through. For every word out of their mouth, I alternate between devastation, and fury. And that must only be the edge of what this person is feeling.

I think Elle meant for this to be sexy. I find it the perfect image
for this post.

I have a message for every single woman out there.

Violence within your relationships is never OK.

You did not "make" him do anything. You did not deserve it because you provoked him. Each of us is responsible for our own emotions and actions, and anyone who tries to make you accountable for their violence is just trying to keep you in submission.

You are not "lucky" he did not choose to hit you this time. Do not think you need to repeat whatever behaviours that got you that reprieve from violence.

It is not "normal" for marriages to have this particular kind of up and down. Anyone telling you so does not truly have your best interests at heart.

Love, and fear, are not good enough reasons to stay within a violent relationship. You do not need to make a go of it, and hope they will change.

Once, is too often. If they hit you once with no consequences, they will hit you again. Don't wait for it to happen.

Don't ever feel ashamed of your bruises or marks. The only person who should be ashamed is the person who gave it to you.

Speak up at every opportunity. Don't be afraid of the consequences. Don't be afraid that you might get hit again. He was going to hit you again anyway. Do not lie to cover up their actions.

RUN, don't walk. Get out of this relationship. Turn to family, friends, the police, I don't care. Yes it will be hard emotionally. Yes, it will be challenging to set up a new life as a single women. For every bruise you DON'T get anymore it was worth it.

And lastly, this message is even for those of us in loving, supportive relationships. If you think it doesn't look right, it's probably not. Don't wait till you are certain to speak up and ask the question. Ask at the first opportunity. And ask again. And again. A battered women will probably lie at first. Every time you ask you create a window of opportunity that eventually they may take. It may mean that you are a confrontational and uncomfortable person to be with. It doesn't matter.

If you are in an abusive relationship, please consider calling the Domestic Abuse Hotline on 1800 737 732. There are a number of resources available that differ from state to state. Just google Domestic Abuse Hotline and your state to get some very specific results. There is always help out there for you.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Make Me Rich. Please.

I'm booked in to see a Financial Planner this week. And it's the first time. I don't even know what I really want from him. He's going to ask me to articulate what I want, and all I can really say is, "Make me rich".

I always feel like this before I see a professional for the first time. I put off getting my eyebrows waxed for years because I was scared she would ask me questions about how I wanted them that I wouldn't know how to answer.

I wanted two. Not one.

My first pedicure, hiring someone to add a room to our previous home, even now toying with the idea of buying a franchise or starting my own business - something I think about but do nothing about because I simply have no idea where to start and don't want to seem stupid to the franchisees (franchisers?)

I get so nervous in these situations, that it can be years before I ball up to organise them for the first time. I just really hate being in a situation where I don't know what I'm talking about. Of course, once the first time is over and done with, it just becomes something routine that I can organise or do.

We are in a really good financial position these days. We cleared the last of our personal debt a few months ago, and although we have been doing it tight this year while I have been on maternity leave, we haven't had to touch our modest savings to get us through.

We have no credit card debt, no personal or car loans, just a positively geared mortgage on our investment property. A really good position, and I know it's time we take some serious steps towards trying to build wealth. Otherwise, now that I am back at work part time, it could be very easy to just increase our costs of living and absorb my income into the household expenditures. And I think I would rather keep doing it tight, and instead start to build a financially stable future/retirement for us.

I've prepared a list of our assets and expenditures, copies of all our insurances, asset information, income streams, etc. I don't really know how else to get ready, but it seems like a good place to start.

So that brings me to an appointment with a financial planner. And the end goal being "Make me rich. Please". Or maybe not rich. Really I just want to be able to always pay my bills comfortably, live in my own home, and be able to provide well for my children. And travel sometimes. I don't expect first class, a mansion, or a BMW. But I do want a long term comfortable life where we are well enough off that we can extend our support long term to our children and parents.

I'll share how it goes, because I suspect there are alot of people out there who would never approach a planner because they believe they don't have enough money, or wouldn't know how a planner can help them.

Want to read more about the "Make Me Rich" series? Click here :)

Thursday, August 1, 2013

I'm THAT Customer

One of my very closest friends moonlights as a grocery store checkout chick as her second job - she's determined to put her daughter through private education, and as a single mother who has never recieved a cent of child support, that is how she is doing it. *Snaps* to her.

In chatting recently about my shopping habits, she looked at me in horror, and exclaimed "you're THAT customer".

I tend to do my shop late at night, once dinner is out of the way, they kids are clean and in bed and I have time to think. The beautiful thing about that, is late at night is when all the fresh items start to get marked down.

I start my shop at about 10pm with a swing past the bakery to see if anything is marked down yet. If nothing is marked down, I get the items I have on my list, and if there is something I am hoping will be marked down and there is only 1 or 2 left, I grab it as well.

Then on past the deli, fruit and veg, and meat sections, looking again for things that have been marked down. Things like combined soup veggie bundles, salad bags, pre prepared foods (soups, indian dishes, cheese platters etc) get marked down 2-3 days before their best before, then again 1-2 days, then again on the day. Often by the time I pick it up its down to 10-20% of its original price.

I swing around the store and do the rest of my shop, then I go back to the bakery, deli, and fruit and veg.

You see, by the time I am finished, often the mark down labelling machine has been put to good use and there are new items that have been discounted, or further discounted. And if the staff member is still sitting there marking things down, I sweetly smile, and lean against the counter to watch and wait. They hate performing under scrutiny and will often ask what item I am waiting for and mark it down just for me.

Remember the bakery items that I grabbed because there was only 1 or 2 left? I even produce it back from my trolley and ask for a discount. And if it's not being discounted I put it back.

And finally, I check the discounts. If the little orange label stated 40% off, I check to make sure it is genuinely 40% off. Sometimes the labeller will enter the wrong start price to discount, so the end value is wrong. If it says 40%, I make sure I am getting 40%.

The service counter girls watch me closely as I check the prices, no doubt dreading that it will be their checkout I approach to have it corrected. But at the end of the day, I end up with bakery treats at less than the cost I could make them for, to use as lunch box snacks, deserts etc, as well as meats and veggies as rock bottom prices to keep our budget down.

My final tip? Don't buy too much stuff marked down - its all close to expiry and you need to be able to use it before it becomes uneatable. Only buy it if you know it will be used on time, and only buy it if it substitutes something else. No point stocking up on bakery treats and also make a cake that week. You won't save any money if its just an additional purchase.