Friday, 30 September 2011

Switching to Aldi Saved Me $1000 In 3 Months

I tried to resist, I really did. If you had told me at the beginning of this year I would be a regular Aldi shopper I would have told you that you were off your tree. My first grocery shopping experience left me feeling harassed, confused and desperate for a glass of wine – at 10am! It was brutal. I returned home and swore I would never bother putting myself through the chaos again just to save a few dollars. After sharing my experience with you all I received so much encouragement and handy tips that I decided to give it another go. With a little more preparation I could see my naivety in jumping in and assuming I would be able to just suddenly start shopping at Aldi as if it were like switching between Coles and Woolworths. It is a different world filled with unknown brands, haphazard product placement and of course the frantic race to get all your gear back into your trolley at the checkout before it avalanches. But the numbers don’t lie and after some nerdy spread sheet tweaking I discovered that we had spent $1000 less this quarter on groceries than we had the previous one. Winning!

Thursday, 29 September 2011

When Routine Becomes A Rut

I love a good routine, I like knowing what to expect and working to a plan. Once we established a routine for Skye I felt much more at ease because I knew what was suppose to be happening and when. Without routine and plans, I miss things, like paying the car insurance, or booking Bundy’s annual shots and this stresses me out. I am happiest when I have my whole week laid out so I can see where I am going long before I am suppose to be there. I don’t mind being busy, as long as I have booked it in, in fact, the busier the better. But what happens when your routine just becomes a rut?

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

10 Things You Would Be Happier Not Knowing About Me

You may have noticed a few of these popping up on blogs recently, I guess it’s kinda like the blogging equivalent to chain letters, but it is a bit of harmless fun so when I was tagged by a couple of amazing bloggers Daisy Roo and Two and The Crying Room, I was happy to play along. If you haven’t already had the pleasure of seeing the blogs of these lovely ladies, be sure to drop by for a visit. 

There are no wondrous or insightful messages in this post and I have already told you quite a bit about myself, in particular you can read All About Me coming clean, read about Skye’s Birth Story or even just check out my About Me page, but since I have been asked, here are 10 things you didn’t want to know about me. Feel free to file this one in the ‘who really cares?’ basket, but humour me and skim the list first, okay?

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

A Visual Planner for Skye

Something I have struggled with while Luke is away is getting Skye to understand why he is home some days and gone other days. I know she is too little to understand the concept of week days and weekends so I discussed the problem with her carer at Day Care and she suggested that I make a visual calendar with pictures of the activities Skye does each week. She explained how she had used it for another child who always liked to know what he would be doing each day and that it really helped him understand how each day differed.

She said it was not necessary to list the days of the week but it wouldn’t hurt as she may learn this as an added bonus. I figured it would be worth trying and set about making something that we could print out and laminate so she could see it each day and know what to expect.

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I played around with making a page for each day but thought this might work better for her to see how each day connects to the rest of the week.

Do you have planners or calendars for your children? Have you found them helpful in teaching your children about the regular activities they are involved in each week?

Make sure you have a look at all the other fantastic bloggers linking up with Diary of a SAHM for iBOT this week!

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Monday, 26 September 2011

Care Packages for New Mums

Something I remember quite vividly from those first few weeks and months of being a new mummy was how annoying it was to have to think about what to have for dinner and then finding the motivation to cook it. Fortunately I had been organised enough beforehand to cook some meals and have them ready in the freezer for those “I just can’t muster cooking a meal tonight” moments and they really helped to take the pressure off.

For my 2 friends who recently came home with their new babies I thought this would make a great welcome home present. It didn’t have to be anything complicated, just something that could be pulled out of the freezer and reheated, the only cooking required would be to add rice or pasta and you are ready to go. I chose to make Spaghetti Bolognese (minus the onion for breastfeeding) and Lamb Ragout in the slow cooker because I knew they both froze well and the flavours shouldn’t cause any protests by the newborns. Thank you to everyone on Twitter who offered suggestions for suitable meals too!

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Sunday, 25 September 2011

Happiness Is…

A little girl and her mummy hanging out in the garden.

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Saturday, 24 September 2011

Grateful For… Having A Daughter

I couldn’t tell you why, but I had always thought that when I had children, I would prefer to have boys. 2 boys to be exact. Throughout my pregnancy, people (in their infinite wisdom) told me that I was carrying a boy and after hearing this for so many months, I had all but convinced myself that I was. After I delivered Skye, it was a while before we found out that she was a girl, we were so caught up in the moment and I was so relieved for it to be over I didn’t think to find out. I distinctly remember not believing the midwives when they told me and for the most fleeting moment, I felt disappointed. Having a girl had never really crossed my mind even though we had never had confirmation of the sex during pregnancy. I had always assumed that Luke would want to have a boy too, he is such a mans-man that I had the crazy belief that he would not feel the same about a daughter as he would if he had a son. It is quite obvious that this could not be further from the truth, Skye is his world and she had him wrapped around her little finger from the moment he laid eyes on her.

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Friday, 23 September 2011

When Did I Become A Grown Up???

I have had a rather unsettling revelation this week – apparently I am a grown up now. What gave it away you ask? No, not the fact that I will 30 soon, or that I have a mortgage or even that I have a child for that matter. The realisation came following a meeting with the bank to discuss Income Protection and Life Insurance which lead to the suggestion that Luke and I should have a Solicitor and (gulp) the writing of our Will’s. These things have been so far down on my list of priorities that they had never even rated a mention.

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Thursday, 22 September 2011

Honey Mustard Chicken and Rice

This week I tried a new easy dinner option and was pleasantly surprised by how easy yet tasty it was! Sometimes I find bottle simmer sauces to be a bit overpowering and plastic in flavour, but this one had just enough flavour without being overpowering. I will be keeping a jar of it in the pantry at all times from now on!

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Ingredients
Jar of Honey Mustard Chicken Simmer Sauce (Aldi brand)
500g diced chicken breast
Half a Bag of Frozen Stir Fry Mixed Vegetables
Boiled rice to serve

Method
1. Heat oil in large frypan over high heat.
2. Brown chicken
3. Add vegetables and simmer sauce
4. Simmer for 15 to 30 minutes
5. Serve with long grain rice

The fiddliest bit was cutting up the chicken which of course could be eradicated by buying pre-diced, or using a BBQ chicken if you are really in a hurry. It made enough to serve 4, but I made a double batch and took some down to my friend who had arrived home with her new baby on the same day (cos I’m awesome like that).

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Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Procrastinating

I was writing this post about how I am procrastinating about a specific issue, but I wrote the title, then faffed around for another 10 minutes before starting. Maybe I just have a short attention span… more likely I am totally avoiding the issue.

I have a phone call to make, it is long overdue and has been on my to-do list for months but I have managed to put it off with a million reasons for why I haven’t just done it already. Maybe like the no excuses To-Do list if I tell all of you I will actually do it.

 

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Skye’s Birth Story

This week I have had 2 of my close friends welcome their first born children into the world. It has been very exciting (and making me a little clucky) meeting these tiny little bundles. Since becoming a mummy myself I also love hearing about people’s birth stories and sharing the horrors and elation with them in a way that can only be appreciated fully when you have been there yourself. I realised that I had never actually written Skye’s birth story down so to celebrate the new babies in our group, I wanted to share it with all of you now. In case the title wasn’t clear enough, if you are squeamish (or my dad) you might not want to read this one because I assure you I will be over-sharing.

Monday, 19 September 2011

The Holiday Wrap Up–A Checklist

It’s been roughly 5 years since Luke and I had an official holiday and we have not taken a family holiday of any kind as yet. But 5 days in a holiday house on the Mid North Coast of NSW seemed to qualify and just in case there is any doubt, I have made a checklist to be sure (because I am still a nerd, even on holidays).

Signs I Have Been On Holidays:

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Happiness Is…

A little girl and her daddy taking a walk on the beach.

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Saturday, 17 September 2011

Grateful For… Turning Off The TV

Last week I read a post over at The Mummy Autobiography that was a bit of a kick in the pants, actually it was a much needed kick in the pants. The post discussed the over exposure small children have to television and some of the negative impacts this can have on their development and behaviour. Now I am not about to ban TV in our house, we are a family of couch potatoes and that is unlikely to change, but even I was noticing how much I come to rely on the TV for background noise and Skye has developed a nasty habit of asking for it to be turned on as soon as she gets up – I knew it was time to switch off, and I am so glad I did!

Friday, 16 September 2011

Things I Know About Road Tripping With A Toddler

Yesterday’s post for R U OK? Day was, like everyone else who shared a story, a bit confronting to put into writing, but it also gave me the chance to face how it was really hurting me and so I can begin to deal with the problem in a more positive way. Part of that was to take advantage of the holiday house Luke has been living in whilst working away and have a long weekend up there. This is only the second time Skye and I have come up here since the contract began 2 months ago and I hadn’t realised how much it had been getting me down until someone asked me if I was finding it hard looking after things mostly by myself. I have been looking forward to the break all week and was so caught up in the idea of staying by the beach for a few days that I did not put a lot of thought into the almost 3 hour drive I would be making with only myself to keep Skye entertained.

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I certainly know a few things today I was blissfully unaware of before making this trip.

  • I must be 5 kinds of crazy for thinking I would be able to squeeze a 9:30am spin class in before we started our drive. My grand plan was to have the car largely packed the night before so I could just get myself and Skye fed, dressed and strapped in, do a quick workout while Skye burned up some energy playing with the other kids in the crèche and then jump in the car and be on our way, with Skye sleeping peacefully in the back. CRAZY!
  • Toddlers instinctively know if you are on any kind of schedule and will set themselves to super slow motion in a bid to make you have a meltdown before you get into the car. I made my bed 3 times yesterday morning because as soon as I tried to sneak into my bedroom to grab something, she would dart in behind me to start jumping on the bed.
  • Packing tried and true snacks to keep said toddler amused during the trip is a waste of time. Skye developed a sudden aversion to every kind of snack I had packed, all of which she happily eats on every other occasion.

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  • Glancing in the rear vision mirror and seeing Skye had finally fallen asleep was possibly the highlight of the drive. Being stupid enough to take a phone call while she was still sleeping signalled the lowest point.
  • Planning a trip around there usual nap time is no guarantee they will fall asleep during a long journey, it is much more fun to sit in the back throwing your toys, blankies, dummies etc on the floor and expecting them to be retrieved instantly, particularly while you are doing 110km/hour along the freeway with no where to pull over.
  • I have a new favourite driving song, and I don’t care how crazy I look dancing like Elaine Benice (Seinfeld) when its on.
  • The 3 hours of hell journey I endured to get here was totally worth the final destination! The weather is beautiful, I can see the beach at the end of the street and I even have a kookaburra to hang out with when I have my coffee.

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Wednesday, 14 September 2011

R U OK? Day Is For Everybody

When I was first approached regarding R U OK? Day I was unsure whether I would be able to contribute something meaningful as I have to date been fortunate enough to not have such tragedy impact my life. Once I started pondering the broader concept of mental health and a person’s general happiness I realised that almost everybody is battling their own demons. People do not need to be suicidal to deserve support, sometimes it is those who seem to have no reasons for being sad that actually need the most help coping with their own emotions, because they do not know how to acknowledge them on their own.

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When The Universe Speaks–Listen!

This week I have been a little consumed with the prospect of finding a newer and bigger house for us to stretch out in. Luke and I regularly check what houses have come up for sale in our area but often the homes that appeal are way above our budget because they come with the bonus of being waterfront (ahhh, someday…). Usually the ones in a more realistic price bracket are little improvement on what we already have, or are so old they would take too much time and money to reach their potential. We live in an area that was mostly holiday homes when the suburb was first established and as such there are very few homes available that offer more than 3 bedrooms unless they are one of the mansions built along the waterfront when people were able to take advantage of cheaper land prices (bastards). While we were checking out the listings over the weekend Luke pointed out a property that seemed to tick all the boxes and then some, so I called the agent and arranged a time to view the house, and that’s when I should have started listening to the signs…

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Image Credit

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

I Am A Bad Friend

I am a bad friend, and I feel awful about it. I have no excuses other than I am slack and have the brain capacity of a goldfish so I tend to forget things as soon as I see something shiny, or you pour me a glass of wine. A couple of months ago it was birthday party central in our group and we seemed to have a gathering of some kind (sometimes more) every weekend. Here I was merrily dancing on stages and high fiving people in expensive restaurants and all the while I had forgotten about another friend who had invited me to her 30th birthday that same weekend.

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Image Credit

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Listography–Games I Used To Play

The lovely Kate from Kate Takes 5 is encouraging us to relive our youth this week and remember some of the games we used to play. A couple of them came to mind immediately but others took a little head scratching before they surfaced. Nothing like a trip down memory lane to make you feel a bit old. I am sure once I hit publish I will think of an absolute doozy, but this is what I have put together.

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Grocery Store/Video Stores
Mum has two fold out corner cupboards in her kitchen that when positioned just so could be made to look just like a little store cart. One of the cupboards served as mum’s pantry and other other held all the pots and pans. My brother and I spent hours pretending to serve customers and discussing how busy our respective businesses were that day. It saved mum and dad trying to find the money and space for some garish play kitchen and for some reason it never occurred to us to move any of the stock beyond the store front so there was little clean up. Being the eldest meant that my brother was the one that had to run the pots and pans store. 

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Murder in the Dark
Basically hide and seek in the dark. Someone would have to wait outside a room while the others hid in the dark. After counting to 20 they would enter the room and proceed to search for the people hiding.

Popstar
Please tell me someone else remembers this game??? You and your opponent would stand facing each other roughly 4-5 metres apart with a half way marker of some sort (the squares of concrete in the school walkways seemed to work best) one person would call out the name of a song and the other would have to name the artist. Once the artist was guessed correctly both would run to their opposite side, return to their original end and then back to the middle line, the first to reach the line and call out "Popstar” won and got to lead the next round. I recall spending the better part of Year 3 and 4 playing this game in my little and big lunches.

Handball
This one carried on well into High School, played in pairs, round robins or quads this pretty much signalled the death of “Popstar”. Best described as human table tennis on concrete squares for court markers.

My Lounge Room’s Got Talent
I doubt very much we called it that at the time but one of the older ladies that lived down the road had a granddaughter about my age and we would spend many weekends dressing up in the clothes that were stored in the spare room and staging performance mime to the latest Top 40 hits and being critiqued on our skills. I can distinctly remember Transvision Vamp “I Want Your Love” being a favourite, possibly because I desperately wanted pink lipstick. Even the guy second from the right is a little freaked out by Mr Far Right and his pants holding…

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Saturday, 10 September 2011

Friday, 9 September 2011

Things I Know About Living Apart

We are about half way through Luke’s contract that has him working away and while there are many things that I prefer having him home for, Skye and I have settled into our own routine pretty well now so this week for Things I Know I am sharing what I know about being married part-time.

  • We get channels that play things other than football
    It’s five hundred versions of Real Housewives of somewhere at our place this week, with the occasional visit to Geordie Shore.
  • A box of Drumsticks last much, much longer when you don’t have to share

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  • Our bedroom is no longer a site of chemical warfare
    Monday to Friday I can stretch out across my whole bed and not have to worry about surprise assaults on my sense of smell if I lift the sheets – you all know what I mean
  • The novelty of seeing Skye’s eyes light up when Luke comes home for the weekend will never wear off.

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So what have you learned this week? Hop over to Yay For Home to read about all kinds of useful things people have learned recently.

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Thursday, 8 September 2011

A Month of Meal Planning

In the constant pursuit of saving money on the weekly groceries I have made a number of changes over the last few months such as making a weekly menu plan, cooking in bulk and freezing future meals and on a couple of occasions attempting to convert myself to Aldi, which you can read about here and here. All of these tactics have given us some relief both financially and in time saved so I thought I would take it a step further and try to plan a whole month of meals buying as much as I can in one transaction. I have found a number of great pages that do this as a standard procedure, especially Stay At Home Mum, the secret to living on one wage.

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Here is my plan of action for the next 4 weeks:

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Lessons from Cleaning The Car

Yes I really am writing a post about cleaning the car. Mostly because its something I never really do. I realise that my shiny big truck does not stay that way on its own, and since I am the one that drives it, I probably should take better care of it, but honestly as I am the one responsible for the majority of cleaning around here including but not limited to randomly positioned bottle caps, play dough ground into the carpet and grotty bottoms, I just. don’t. care. Even this time the cleaning only happened out of necessity thanks to Skye nearly crippling me every time I get her in and out of the car with all her wriggling.

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Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Rekindling The Motivation

Last week Clever Baker Friend and I attended a networking evening to give us the chance to meet some other local WAHM businesses and of course get the word out about Push Delight canisters. The event consisted of a meet and greet mingle followed by a presentation on marketing and ended with some very generously donated lucky door prizes. Of course no networking evening is worth attending without the promise of sweet treats, thankfully we were greeted by this on arrival – YUMMO!

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Monday, 5 September 2011

Father’s Day Celebrations

10 points for imagination for me today sharing our Father’s Day celebrations over the weekend but I just have to! Thanks to our lovely Family Day Care we had the mandatory hand made card, I know they are often daggy and even an bit ugly but I really love this one. It’s the first hand print we have of Skye – what have I been doing?!?!

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Saturday, 3 September 2011

Grateful For... Family Day Care

Before I begin this post I will put my hand up and say yes I am one of those women, you know, the ones that only have 1 child, does not go to work yet still sends her child to day care. Truthfully I think that the whole family is grateful for it. I have a designated day to tackle things that are just not practical while Skye is buzzing around, or easier to do solo, I don't have to wait till the weekend when we should be enjoying time as a family to do them and most importantly Skye has the chance to mix with kids her own age and learn things I may not have the knowledge or facilities to teach her.



I love the Family Day Care she attends. It is no more than a 2 minute walk from our house, the kids are all sweet natured as are the parents and the Day Care Provider is everything you could ask for, she treats the children as her own, ensures that all procedures and paperwork requirements are strictly followed and very clearly loves opening her home to provide this service.

Skye's face lights up each Thursday morning as we get dressed and pack her bag. She can't walk there fast enough and excitedly bashes on the door when we arrive. If I felt that she was distressed by being there and did not enjoy herself of course I would not continue to take her, but she is so proud of her latest paintings and new skills she has learned that I know it is worthwhile. The fact that she cannot leave without giving her carer a cuddle and receiving a stamp on each hand just reinforces to me that I am doing the right thing.



The structure and programs associated with Family Day Care are far more involved than I realised. I had assumed that Skye would just spend the day playing with a small group of other children and maybe do some painting or play dough. But it is so much more than that. Her progress is tested and recorded each week and I receive detailed feedback on her acheivements. I never feel that there is any judgement of her abilities, merely a record if where she is at. The activities change constantly and can be adapted based on input from the parents. They are taught basic behaviours such as sharing and patience (which is no mean feat when you are talking about toddlers) in a practical real life environment. Skye's language skills have certainly developed quickly thanks to the older children in the group and she learns independance by not having me constantly within shrieking distance.



Knowing I have this day each week to get on with other mummy business has had such a positive impact on the whole family. I don't get anxious about trying to get some time to myself anymore and I am always surprised that I miss her and look forward to picking her up at the end of the day. I feel refreshed from the break and ready to embrace mummy duties again which can only be positive for all of us.

I am absolutely grateful for Family Day Care and hope that her first steps into the education system will make the later transitions easier for all of us to handle.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, 2 September 2011

Happiness Is…

A little girl playing on her new slippery dip.

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Thursday, 1 September 2011

Lamb Souvlaki Wrap Kit

We love a bit of Mexican fare around here, be it Taco’s, Burrito’s, Enchilada’s or Chicken Wraps its pretty regular on our meal plan. We even like turning the leftovers into Pizza when we get the chance, but every now and then I look for something equally easy but slightly different in flavours. When I spotted the Souvlaki Wrap Kit at Aldi recently I thought it might be just what we were looking for.

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