After Hours – Who You Gonna Call?

I just used this after hours medical service for the first time, and I can not believe I didn’t know about this sooner!

We were given a magnet at our local G.P. when our son was sick on a Friday, it was for an after hours doctor who does house calls. I never knew such a service existed that we could access! It’s amazing how much help you get when you have a child. Luckily we didn’t need to use the service then because our son got better, but we just used it for the first time on Saturday. On Saturday afternoon and I knew I would be in a lot of discomfort by that night and into Sunday if I didn’t get a script for some antibiotics. I really didn’t want a stranger to come to my house, but I started to feel desperate and decided to give this a try.

When we rang, we had to become members of the ‘Family Care Friendly Society’ so we would then be bulk billed. This membership was just under $45 for the year, and covers everyone who lives in our house for 12 months. Membership means that every doctor’s visit for the next year will be bulk billed, which I think is a fabulous deal. I gratefully agreed to pay, as I was expecting the call out fee to be well over one hundred dollars just for the one visit! So these doctors are not in it for the money, and are working to keep people out of crowded and busy hospital emergency rooms. We were told the doctor would come within 3 hours, but they came after an hour and a half. When the doctor came, she was lovely of course and the job was done in a very timely manner.

What a great service. I just wish I knew about it earlier, and that I didn’t have to suffer through many nights, weekends and days in discomfort waiting for an appointment to see a daytime G.P.

My New Year’s Resolutions

Last year, I didn’t have any resolutions, other than to survive my first year as a mum! The previous year my goal was to learn more about crochet, to try and learn how to read patterns. Well I did that, and my baby son is doing very well now too, so now its time to think of a new goal for the new year!

My goal for 2012 is to use up as much of the yarn that has accumulated around here as possible! I hope to make lots of useful items for friends and family, and perhaps try and sell some things on ebay. I really must try very hard not to buy any more yarn! I’m sure I have a lifetime’s supply here already!

My other goal is to sell a lot of other things on ebay, things that we don’t need or use and no longer have room to store. Our flat is pretty small and its made to feel smaller than it is with all the clutter. My goal for this year is to stream line my house, ready for a possible house move at the end of next year.

Of course, my other goal for the year is to be a good mum! I want to get Thomas into music lessons, and to take him swimming more. And we need to do some more socialising, too!

I think it’s useful to start the new year with a new goal, something that is achievable, and something that you will enjoy doing. A feeling of accomplishment is important as we look back over our past year, especially for people like myself who don’t work at a job. Even if you don’t achieve everything you set out to, it’s good to celebrate the gains you have made, even the smallest ones.

What are your new year’s resolutions?

How to have A Low Stress First Birthday Party

I did a little research before organising my son’s first birthday party and I must say I’m really surprised at the level of pressure out there to perform when organising this event, when personally I find that very unnecessary!

Themes? Seriously? You don’t need that. For goodness sake, talk about stressing yourself out when you don’t need to! I just strung up a couple of balloons with some recycled ribbon! Prettily printed invitations sent in the snail mail? Come on! Just email your friends, easy! Thankyou bags? Maaaybbeeee, if you really want to, but doesn’t that make it all a bit too formal? I’d rather have a relaxed affair where the mums and babies can have a good time. Well, I hope my friends had a good time at our party. We just had it at the pool area of my gated commuity, where there was plenty of space. I could have invited more people, several did say they wanted to come. But I was worried about the weather forecast which predicted rain, then we would have to all cram into my small house, which would have been ok, but not as nice. Luckily, it didn’t rain. But I do think it’s nicer to have smaller gatherings, then I can relax too, and get to chat to everybody. If I had everyone over on the same day, it would have been far too rushed and hectic, and I would have worried about neglecting some of my guests. It was far nicer, for example, to have my brother and family visit on the previous Sunday so we could hang out as a family without a bunch of people they didn’t know.

One dilemma I did have was the question of gifts. If you read my blog, you might know I’m not really keen on our tradition of gift giving. But I don’t want to be a kill joy either, nor do I want to offend my friends and family. So I did some research on this topic and discovered in some forums, that some people have quite a passionate opinion on this. I would have preferred to have said in the email ‘please, don’t bring gifts’ but in my experience, that never works and some people always bring gifts anyway, no matter what you say. I found some people find it really sad and it takes the fun out of it for them. I also read that it was polite etiquette not to mention gifts at all, that to say ‘no gifts please’ implies that people should bring gifts, which some people think is rude!

My husband was home from work on holidays, so we decided we would put some nice nibblies on for the grown ups, and I decided not to mention gifts at all. That way, if people wanted to bring gifts, it was up to them if they wanted to, and at least we put on some food as a thankyou. I do think that if people bring gifts, they shouldn’t have to bring food as well. It’s not that hard to put on a bit of food. My husband baked some pesto and sweet chilli scrolls, marinated chicken wings and rosewater biscuits which were very popular. I made up a fruit platter and some dips with crackers. To further reduce stress, I tried to open gifts as guests arrived. This way there would not be a big parade of gifts everyone has to sit and watch, which I don’t like. Unfortunately, I didn’t quite manage it as three mums arrived at the same time when we were busy, so we opened their gifts after we did the cake ritual.

The fun thing is, I now have presents to make for 5 more babies as they all turn one soon, because Thomas was the eldest in our mothers group!

Five dollar limit on gifts a Great Idea!

There are so many cute little gift ideas under $5, especially for babies and young children, there’s no need for the gift giving ritual to be excessively expensive!

Now I’m a mum I’m making more of an effort with Christmas this year. Granted I could make more of an effort than I have, but this year I’m just warming up! Next year I’ll be even more organised! Today I brought in our living Christmas tree and decorated it, it does look a little small, scrawny and sad, but not as much as last year! And next year, if all goes well, the Christmas tree should look better and bigger after a year of growth. I couldn’t put much decoration on it at all, it started to lean over so much, so I could only put one small star on it, and the love heart garland I made last year.

All the gifts I’m giving this year, or should I say Thomas is giving this year, cost $5 or less. As much as I’m actually not that keen on Christmas, I don’t want to be the mean spirited parent who makes my son miss out on something that is an undeniably big part of our culture. So Thomas is giving everyone a small gift this year, especially considering all the generous gifts he got from them when he was born! But I do wish others were not so extravagant with their gifts, because we can’t afford to reciprocate. But there are so many cute things you can give for just $5 or less! Some ideas for this year include books and a toy car I found on special for the kids, gluten free chocolate biscuits for my coeliac brother and framed photos of Thomas for the grandparents. I prefer to buy children’s books second hand from the charity stores, as they usually only cost 50c. Sometimes I can pay $2 for a second hand book, which is still a lot cheaper than most new ones, but I found some nice ones for $4 at the department store.

Its not hard, and when Thomas is older I hope to teach him some graciousness when it comes to gift giving, even if his mum is clearly lacking in that department!

My Early Ebay Adventures

There’s so much I’m doing at the moment that I’d like to blog about, but time is so precious right now, it’s been a matter of choosing between the doing or writing about the doing, so the doing has been winning out!

When Thomas was still in the hospital nursery, David and I decided we needed a new mattress on our bed, as my old one was starting to feel uncomfortable. Looking back, I don’t know why we didn’t take the delivery guys offer to remove the old mattress! Why did I think I still needed the old one? We had no room for it, so for the next 10 months, it stood up on it’s side in our spare room which cast a very gloomy atmosphere over it, and it couldn’t have been doing the mattress any good leaning up against the wall like that. I couldn’t think what to do with it, as most charities say they don’t like to accept donations of mattresses, so would they come and pick one up? Like most things around our small rented 3 bedroom town house, our possessions seemed to be taking over, crowding me in. I just didn’t know what to do with all this extra stuff we had accumulated over the last 4 years. Then it finally occurred to me that I could try and sell the mattress on ebay.

I had bought a couple of things from ebay in May 2010, including a beautiful cane doll’s furniture set that has featured on my blog before. But I had never sold anything. My overwhelming feeling was that I was too afraid to sell something in case the buyer would be unhappy, I imagined them harassing me for their money back, which would make me feel terrible! This was yet another avoiding behaviour of mine, while living like a hermit for 3 years, hiding from the world. But ever since David and I decided to start a family in early 2010 I’ve been getting braver, so I’ve been changing the way I live my life, the benefit of my child being the main motivator. So I had a go, and listed the queen size mattress on ebay!

I started bidding at $0.99 thinking I really just needed someone to come and pick it up. Oh, please won’t someone come and take our old mattress away? And sure enough, bidding started that night, and by the end the auction closed at $10.50! More than I expected, that’s for sure. And the sale went just fine, the lady came and pressed the money into my hand and took the mattress away in the back of her station wagon. We were worried that she didn’t have enough room, she had 2 teenagers with her, and one had to crouch down below the mattress in the back seat! And then later that night, I had some positive feedback! I was on my way to becoming an ebay seller!

Since then I’ve sold David’s old fish tank, which sold at an amazing $52 from a starting bid of 99c, a near new blender for $16.50, a wok for $5.50 and a plastic cheese grater for $3! Its surprising when these people came to pick up their items that most were under prepared. The fish tank ended up being put on her sons lap! But I’ve also made a couple of reckless purchases which I now regret and promise to be more careful of in future! I got it into my head that I wanted to buy a doll that I had from my childhood that I had lost. I saw a picture of her on facebook, and now I knew what her name was so I could find her for sale, she was a Beauty Secrets Barbie from 1979. I saw a listing for a group of 8 dolls, most I didn’t recognise, but there she was, as well as the Ballerina Barbie from 1975, which I also had as a little girl. So I bought it, and after postage, it cost me $51.56! /gasp! But it gets worse, I also bought some doll furniture which I recognised, which included some dolls clothes, for about $55! So feeling guilty, I now need to clean it all up and sell it, to try and get my money back for making such frivolous buys! Oh, ebay how yee tempts thee!! I hope to find more time soon to blog about what I’m doing with these vintage dolls and clothes from the 1970s, and the journey I had learning to identify them!

My goal at the moment is to get rid of possessions we no longer need or use, which in this place we just don’t have the room for. I’ve now learned its far better to offload these things sooner, rather than to keep carting them around from place to place for years just in case we might need them one day. I can finally see a light at the end of the tunnel that was an incredibly disorganised and cramped house. Now I dream of a streamlined, Spartan home that is easy to clean, and most importantly, easy to move when the time inevitably comes to do so.

Colourful ABC 123 Cube for a Baby

Here is an upgrade of my first attempt at a baby block. This one is for a gift, as we are part of a Kris Kringle this year. This cube has numbers and letters on it, as well as a bell inside to make it jingle!

I find our culture of gift giving at times very challenging. I’d rather give gifts as a matter of course, when things arise that someone needs or wants, then you give it to them if you can. I don’t like having to wait for a special occasion, then there is this culture of having to give a gift,  giving gifts the receiver does not need or want. This, in turn, increases the consumerism and rubbish that piles up on our planet. But unfortunately, I am a social creature, being a mammal and all, so I’m compelled to participate in this ritual and not cause offence to my friends and family. But sometimes I just wish we would get more practical with this gift giving thing! I think even gift vouchers are better than an unwanted gift, but for some people this is not in the spirit of it, and they don’t like it. I just loathe to see people on modest incomes waste their money on expensive gifts that are not needed.

A month or so ago we had a hail storm here in Brisbane, which caused some damage to the roof of my friend’s house. She lost her potted basil plants, so a perfect gift for her (I think, anyway), is a new basil plant! I took a cutting from my youngest plant, and put it in a vase on my kitchen sill. Now it has lots of nice new roots and is ready to plant in a nice pot. I just have to get some more potting mix and it will be ready for its new home.

Yet another Christmas, here we come!

Our Potted Garden, Spring Update 2011

Every spring I like to do an update on our potted garden, to look back and see what has survived the winter. Each year, we’re learning which plants are worth investing effort so we get as much enjoyment out of our garden as we put in. Here’s a link to last year’s update. During last summer, our baby son arrived 2 months early and I was also very ill, so our garden was severely neglected. But some plants really hung in there and have perked up after some recent tender care. The pumpkin and chamomile didn’t survive the winter though, and a new addition that’s been a success so far is the capsicum!

BASIL
I still have the three bushes of all-year-round basil. The eldest just doesn’t seem to want to give up, I keep removing the flowers, it keeps going on. Last summer the basil was very neglected and ended up very scrawny. I pruned it harshly, and now the three bushes are looking much better, even the eldest is still producing fragrant leaves. This is a surprise, as it must be 3 years old by now. The second season of sweet basil that the landlord Rose gave me finally died, but David’s father gave us some basil seeds planted in a pot when they last came to visit. These are now sprouted and David has planted the biggest of these into pots, we now have several new sweet basil plants for this season.

CAPSICUM
We collected some seeds from some capsicums and planted them in some pots. The strongest of the seedlings were planted into bigger pots, three to a pot. Now they are growing  fruit for our cooking! David keeps up the seaweed fertiliser on these, as with all the other flowering plants, to encourage them to keep fruiting and stay healthy.

CHILLIES
We’ve discovered to keep the chillies really happy, they simply need to be re-potted into new compost rich pots every year. We had several 2 and 3 year old plants that were looking terribly miserable and sure to die, we replanted half of them and they have done amazingly in a very short time. There are 3 very small 2 year old plants left that are in desperate need of a re-pot, which we hope to do this weekend. Even when they are scrawny, they still keep producing the red fruit so we always have some for our cooking. David’s father gave us a new variety of chilli plant, which now has its own large pot and is doing exceptionally well and is full of white flowers.

CHIVES
When the garden was being neglected, the chives suffered from a terrible case of a pest infestation, we think they were tiny black aphids. David had to spray them several times with pyrethrum until now they finally have perked up to their former happy selves. The problem though is that I’m guessing its because of that they haven’t flowered this year. Hopefully they will flower next season so we don’t loose our crop. David’s father has also given us some new chives, so we should be ok.

LAVENDER
After I pruned it last year, it has grown back and is flowering nicely, but now has some more branches growing in odd directions. It looks like it needs another prune, but I’ll wait till after the summer to do that. No cuttings of this bush have ever taken, so I still have just the one plant which is now 3 years old.

MINT
The mint was not happy at all after last summer, we lost the lemon balm and also the peppermint that was in the same pot. Luckily I had some peppermint in another pot and that is going fine. The mint looked awful, so we bought a special pot for it, a self watering one, because it really wants to be in the sun but also to be kept moist. Now the mint is doing great! These mints all used to be in hanging pots, as well as the strawberry, but we’ve given up on the hanging pots. They were the kind that has a coconut fibre lining which turned out be way too dry, all the moisture just seeped right out. The lining has been thrown into the garden for the birds, in case they want to use it to line their nests like they did last spring, and the metal cases are stored in the garage. Maybe one day we’ll live somewhere where they’ll come in handy.

PARSLEY
I don’t know what to do with our parsley! Its become very thin, with just a few individual plants, it doesn’t seem to be reproducing. It was supposed to flower and seed, which it has never done, and some of it is now 3 years old. David’s father has given us some new parsley so hopefully that will grow a bit better. Its so sparse at the moment that we can hardly use it in our cooking.

OREGANO AND MARJORAM
I still only have the two plants, one of each. They are looking very modest, but at least they survived last summer! They are now out in the sun with the rest of the plants. We’ve put all our pots where they can get rain, so no more pots under the roof. The oregano and marjoram are still in the same small pots on the shelf, which is now by the fence where they can get some sun.

DWARF LIME TREE
David’s mum helped him prune the lime tree when she visited us in the summer. This spring, it has sprouted shoots all over, even in the bare section that’s persisted all this time. Last season we did get a few more limes than the 3 we got the year before, and these got used in David’s cooking, mainly his spaghetti and meatballs. We lightly top dressed it again this winter, as we were just not brave enough to prune the root ball. Looks like it is doing fine without us doing that!

ROSEMARY
The rosemary is doing so well that I decided to invest in two new big pots for them. These plants seem very tough and managed the major neglect just fine! They were just kept in the sun the whole time, had good drainage, and didn’t complain at all.

ROCKET
Our amazing crop of rocket seeded in the winter, and we just finished collecting the last of the seeds. We have many, many seeds from the rocket now, it did so well. Now we don’t have to always wait for the rocket to flower and can keep up new crops for eating. I’m looking forward to making some salads, instead of just having rocket on sandwiches.

TOM’s GARDEN
When David’s dad visited us, he brought with him many seedlings from his home in Stanthorpe where he grows his own food. He also made a special planter box for Thomas with all sorts of plants in it, like beetroot and broccoli. There is lettuce and spinach, which we eat and there is plenty for us, as well as David has used the shallots in his cooking. Its busting with plants right now, and is a great addition to our potted garden.

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