Sunday, November 30, 2014

Meet Husband

I'd like to introduce my readers formally to Husband. Readers, meet Husband. His real name is Ahmad. Ahmad is a Lebonese/Australia Muslim who lives in the Western Suburbs in our little home with a yellow door.

He was born in Beirut as the oldest of 7 kids, and migrated to Australia with his parents, Aunt and Uncle when he was just 11 months old. He's never been back to Lebanon, even for a visit although all his siblings have, and doesn't know any way of life other than Australia. It just hasn't worked out for him to visit, but one day we'd love to go as a couple and meet the multitudes of relatives over there. I can tell from Facebook that they all look just like him, which is no surprise as I often mistake his brothers and he in old photo's.

Ahmad mows the lawns on the weekend. He spent this weekend putting up Christmas lights to make me and the kids happy.

He works as a technician repairing drills for a major German distributor. He cooks dinner more often than I do and makes a mean lamb cutlet that makes me drool.

When his kids need their nappies changed, he changes them. He got up at night for all 3 of our kids, and actually took a year off work for our first daughter when I felt the need to return earlier than expected due to some severe PND.

He waves a flag for Australia day, and cooks snags on the BBQ. He enjoys some hummus and tabbouleh next to everything, takes his daughters to dancing, and jumps on stage to dance with them when the opportunity arises.

As a family, we celebrate both Christmas and Ramadan, we respect our different religions and we raise our children to be respectful of all religions.

You know what he isn't? He isn't a terrorist. He doesn't spend time making bombs or planning world domination.

Next time you feel a little suspicious or scared of a Muslim, please remember that they are a minority group in this country. They make up no more than 2% of our population, and the majority of them just want to live and be part of this wonderful country. They aren't terrorists, and they aren't raising terrorists. 

What prompted this post? A few too many stupid comments this week by people I know and people I don't. Use your brains before opening your mouth. And FYI - any sentence that starts with "No Offence" is almost certainly going to cause offense.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Saving For Those Milestone Purchases

In my kids early years, I find that milestones creep up often and quickly! As soon as all the nursery items have been purchased, they are needing a new big kid bed complete with doona, bed sheets and mattress, and then barely a year or two later you are purchasing their first uniform and school bag bundle! Blink and High School is letting you know they need an iPad, and your teen is hinting they would like help buying a car.
While none of these expenses are massive on their own, (um, except the car and iPad), they can exceed our disposable income for one or more pay cycles, making it a challenge when more than one come up at once!

So that we don't get caught out unawares for these major purchases, we transfer $5 every pay to a bank account for each child. This money is earmarked for the bigger items for our kids and means that as one of those milestones start to creep up, I can take advantage of a sale at a moments notice and not end up paying full price at the last minute, or worse, not being able to buy it for the kids when I need to.

Birthday, Christmas, and Ramadan gifts go into these accounts too, although I usually try to buy them something little with the cash before I bank the bulk of it. When I'm spending the money on them later, I feel justified in getting them something a little more expensive because it's partly gifted money. So I might buy the Mermaid quilt Lorelei wants instead of the pretty unlicensed version I would have gone for.

13 year old Madeleine is the exception. Just before she started High School, we opened a second bank account for her to have an ATM card attached to. This is the account that her pocket money goes into, that she can decide whether to spend or save in. She buys all her clothes from her pocket money, so has had to learn to budget to make sure she can buy new things as the season changes and she grows out of things. She is getting very good at letting her money accumulate for longer periods of time so that she can buy bigger ticket items now.

Her savings accumulate for longer periods now, but when she needs something it tends to cost more than when she was little! We know we have some household bed changes on the horizon, Lorelei is ready to upgrade from her toddler bed to a big girls single bed, Seb is showing signs that he should be moving to the toddler bed, and Madeleine has been complaining that her feet touch the bars at the end of her single bed. It looks pretty simple! Everyone will hand down their bed to the next sibling, and we will dip into Madeleine's savings account for either a double or a king single bed.

This system works well for us, but when opening account for children under 16, just remember they can only earn a maximum of $419 interest each year before you need to declare their tax file number to the bank.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Bloggers Brunch 2014

One of my favourite perks of being a blogger is being invited to events. The big red circle on the years calender is the Kids Business Bloggers brunch which is like a big expo just for Bloggers. It's awesome. The room always has a variety of brands targeted towards Bloggers with kids, and all those Brands are keen to make some relationships for outreach work. 

Not every Brand is a great fit for the blogger, and not every blogger meets the Brands criteria. Some Brands aren't looking for anything further than the social media saturation they will get by being in front of so many influencers all at once, some are keen to work with every blogger that shows interest, and others have a select amount of opportunities for a handful of Bloggers that can provide the reach and influence that fit the campaign.

Not every Brand will rate a mention or follow up email from me. At this event, Breville launched
'The Boss', their answer to the Thermomix. It was definitely an impressive machine, and having seen the Thermo in action recently I know the Boss is a bargain at just under $1,000. But even at half the price of a Thermo, it still isn't an appliance I could justify purchasing at this stage in our lives, so I probably follow that lead through!

Brumby's on the other hand provided the sweets for the day. I've never heard of the company before, and was a little disinterested when I found out they only had a few stores in NSW, and none near my home. But once I ate some of their insanely delicious Christmas treats, I was hooked. 

The Christmas balls? Amazeballs. Especially the White Chocolate ones. I was disappointed when my take home goodie bag felt light on baked treats, but jumped for joy when I realised that there was a $10 voucher tucked inside to make a purchase at my nearest store.

As luck would have it, I won a $200 voucher for Pottery Barn from the lovely girls at Omo that day, so we promptly scheduled a trip into the Bondi Junction store with a side trip via the Randwick Brumby's store on the way home. It's easily a 1.5-2 hour trip for us to go into the city like that, so killing 2 birds (and picking up some gorgeous Christmas presents at Pottery Barn kids at the same time) with 1 stone made the trip worthwhile. I almost cried when the girl in store at Brumby's told me that their Christmas balls won't be in store till next week, because I was determined to buy a double batch and freeze some for visitors. It was only the banana bread ($8.60) that saved the day. That is a surprisingly cheap price for a bakery quality banana bread, so I grabbed a few loaves to freeze. Because who knows when I will make it back into the city for those Amazeballs. If you live near a Brumby's, I 100% promise you will not be disappointed if you try them. Or anything else in their Christmas range. Or their banana bread. 

Over the coming weeks there is an excellent chance that I will be showcasing some of the products from the day. I will be pursuing some for a giveaway opportunity so that some readers get the chance for product sampling, and in other cases if the product is innovative or different I may do a review. Case in point, the "Intelligent Potty". I'm already intrigued.

Brands represented: Omo, Avicom, Arnotts, Infosecure

Fingers crossed that I can land some great giveaways!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Crohns Disease Can Suck Eggs

It's been two years since I landed in hospital, at the point of collapse. No only had I not recovered from Sebastian's birth, I'd had a series of puzzling health problems that my local Medical Centre did not address.

Sebastian was nearly 12 weeks old and I hadn't had a period yet. I was losing weight rapidly, not only had I lost huge amounts of kilo's during the pregnancy, I lost another 10 kilo's after he was born. I was 30 kilo's less than my starting weight. I was constantly dizzy, and experiencing agonising pains and discomfort to the right of my tummy. Sweats followed by chills at night meant that I was always waking up soaked for Seb's late nights feeds.

The doctors kept telling me it was normal. That I couldn't expect my body to behave the same way after my third child. That I was experiencing uterus pains, and it was normal for it to continue for weeks and then months, increasing the more children you have. I struggled on each day. I woke up, changed my children, fed my children and napped alot. I had trouble picking the kids up, it hurt my tummy so much, and my arms were getting weaker and weaker.

But I struggled on. I kept seeing the doctor, at least weekly, if not more often, because between my super premmie baby and my own health worries I was in their offices all the time. In hindsight, just seeing any doctor in the medical centre instead of one doctor was a big mistake.Maybe one doctor would have picked it up.

I was dying. My Crohn's Disease was eating away at my body, and had gone undiagnosed for years. With the benefit of hindsight all the symptoms were there but were overlooked as being hormone reactions to my pregnancy.

I've had two years to come to terms with having Crohns. Steroids, multiple operations. a stoma bag for 6 months and a cocktail of medicines. Today I am healthy. My weight is back to pre Crohns system - far too overweight. I'm in an education program for Crohns, which I guess is a blessing. Because I'm in the program I don't have to pay specialist fee's. It does mean I have a different student looking after me every visit, but as they are overseen by the same specialist I don't feel like my care is lacking, just that it is so frustrating to have to start my medical history and progress again at every visit.

The stoma bag is quite possibly the worst thing I have experienced in my whole life. I never want to wear one again. The Stoma care nurse told me that if I had it for life I would have adjusted mentally to it much faster, but as it was, that 6 months was a time of depression, hiding in my bedroom and never wanting to leave the house. We moved in with my in-laws for most of it, which was a good thing because for a little while I could barely function. Between my depression and my physical weakness while I recovered, the kids needed someone stronger than me to care for them.

I can't comprehend wearing a stoma bag for the rest of my life. Just writing this post is a challenge. It's typing the words that I could only skim the surface of back then, and am barely scratching at now. There are days when I think I would rather die than wear a stoma bag again. Is that terrible? I would rather die than stay with my family if it meant wearing a bag again. I'd rather die. Maybe I'm stronger than that, and I would find a way through it, but I hope I never have to find out. If I can't even write the suggestion without a mountain of tissues I doubt it.

I still don't think about my Crohns much. I avoid all the foods I have to avoid, even though it means I am packing on the weight in the absence of a new, Crohns friendly diet.

In that stressful window of time trying to settle our new house, I had a specialist appointment. I feel healthy. I look healthy. I take my medicine, avoid foods, and have mortifying bathroom behaviours, but mostly I can pretend I am normal. Sometimes I have tummy pains, but my terror of a stoma bag again means that I choke it down, I don't tell my doctors and I don't tell my husband. Eventually it goes away,

I feel like my specialists drip feed me the bad news. I must give out the impression I am on knife's edge. It's because I am. How can there be more bad news when I feel healthy? But there is. And as always my grasp on it is tenuous, I barely absorbed the detail. I'll have to write it down next time. They categorised me, in a series of medical mumbo jumbo I've been categorised as the most serious level, or bracket, or number, whatever. I'm pretty much guaranteed to deteriorate and need further surgery. They are also monitoring something in my blood tests each quarter. When it drops below a certain point, which it is gradually drifting towards, I will need to change medicines to some injection. An injection that costs over $2000 EACH FORTNIGHT because it is isn't covered by Medicare.

Oh wait. It's covered by Medicare for people who are serious and at life threatening risk. So that's me.

Mixed blessing much?

I hate my Crohn's. Join my pity party.