Olympic Birthday Party

Our darling lad, Isaac is turning 7 this weekend. When you hold a screaming baby, people tell you, “It’s only a short phase. Before you know it they will be at school and playing soccer.”

How true are those words. The speed of rearing children is comparable only to Usain Bolt running the 100m sprint. Surely even HE couldn’t compete with how fast my beautiful son is growing up.

Our lads are old enough to appreciate the Olympics this time around, and Isaac thought it would be fun to have an Olympics birthday bash. We timed it so it was on the day that the games opened. The boys spent the morning watching the end of the Opening Ceremony while Matt and I did last minute preps before our guests arrived, clad in their country of choice.

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Asher donned the green and gold head band for Australia, Isaac was in the USA zone, as he is convinced he can “speak American.” Matt was all black for New Zealand, and I got on the Brazil bandwagon. All of our gear was purchased from one of our favourite op shops for a crazy bargain price.

The list of events for the day:

Cheezy Olympic Rings. All you need is some string and Cheezels. Then the competitors had to eat their cheezels as fast as they could. Yummy and fun!

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The Nerf shooting range was held under the carport due to the rain that was on and off. Some children had never used a Nerf gun and their expressions as they focused on the target was hilarious.Image

Lego Minifigure Diving was possibly the biggest hit amongst the kids. They had to drop their minifig from the top of the deck and attempt to land it in the bowl of water on the ground.

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Mighty Beanz Luge. We cut a pool noodle in half to create two racing channels. Then the beanz were let go to speed down the noodle.

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Shot Put using these cute mini marshmallow poppersmini marshmallow poppershttp://www.realsimple.com/work-life/entertainment/crafts-hobbies/make-a-mini-marshmallow-popper-00000000039219/

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Balloon volleyball using the couch as a net.

Archery using these bow and arrows

The birthday boy decided he would like hot dogs and cold rock party food. Cold Rock is an ice creamery that is insanely overpriced. It’s a big hit for kids as you choose your ice cream flavour, then your add ons. These are various chocolates and sweets that are then mushed into your icecream. We make our own at home and the boys love it. I used cupcake liners and gave each Olympian guest some ice cream or sorbet with some “add ons”.

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So another year of birthday parties for the lads is done. We do have Isaac’s cake to look forward to still, this Sunday. I shall post pics on the weekend. Happy Birthday, Isaac. You are loved.

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Pinteresting!

Pinterest is fun. It gives us a view into the interesting and creative minds of people we will never meet. I have used quite a few Pinterest ideas, bit I keep pinning more than I could find the money, time or effort to create.

The idea that people spend hours pinning when they could be creating perplexes me. It’s not a win with my lads if I pin. It’s a win if I create something fun. So far the lads have had too much fun with our Pinterest projects that have made it off the board, into their world.

Mini bow and arrow

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Marble or Mighty Beanz racer

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Marble Run

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Car track

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Nature box

Body of mine…thank you.

I just read the most wonderful letter.
http://shelovesmagazine.com/2012/love-letter-to-my-body-i-am-thankful/
It inspired me to speak life and kindness to my own body.

Freckles, if you have them you would know, bring a love/hate factor to life. I hated them until I was about 20. I used to try and cover them, avoid too much sun for fear of more. Now I love them. I love that they tell a part of my story. My Celtic heritage, my sun-kissed, outdoorsy childhood. I love that they hide wrinkles nicely! Freckles, you are cute!

Curly hair, I love you. My hair is thin, so you add volume and for that I am thankful. I hated you as a child and wished for straight locks. Now I am thankful for the fun and ease of curls.

My bunion. Ah, dear old thing. I have often thought of starting a new business to celebrate you rather than hide you. Bunion Bling! You hurt me sometimes, but I am grateful that I can still walk with ease.

My breasts, wherever you are! I used to long for you girls to grow. You did, temporarily to allow me to feed my lads. What a blessing. Even though you have now shrunk, I see the perks. ( No pun intended!) I don’t need to wear a bra 24/7. That’s a good thing!

My tummy, once flat and firm, you are now a tad soft and not quite so flat. You are like a trophy that reminds me of the greatest achievement of my body – pregnancy and childbirth.

My eyes and ears, how can I begin to thank you for the beauty that you enable me to see and hear every day of my life. The sound of my children giggling, the opening of the door when my husband arrives home. The looks on the lads faces when they see me waiting for them after school. The sunsets, the colors of the seasons. Gratitude forever.

And my taste buds, to you I have so much to be grateful for!! Wine, Thai food, chocolate, coffee. I do need to learn to make you less eager for attention!

My hands, to you I say thank you for enabling me to practically care for my loved ones. To cook and clean. To create fun things for the lads to play with. Using you, I can express so much creativity. But your most valuable role, hands down, is touching. Feeling those I love. Offering a caring touch to a stranger in need. A playful touch on the arm in jest with a friend. Hands, you are amazing.

Too often I focus on what I want to change about my body. But today I am reminded that the body I live in is a huge blessing.

A-Z of Gratitude: V is for View

We live in a small house with a great view. We have 180 degree water views and gaze upon Mount Wellington. I know many people take their outlook for granted, but I am deliberate about enjoying the beauty outside of our windows. I make sure I include the lads in the gazing game. The mountain is ever changing so there’s plenty of opportunity to enjoy. Usually by this time in winter we have had many days of snow covering the mountain, but this has been slow to arrive this year.

If I had to choose mountain or water views one day I would struggle! Looking at water is calming, but looking to the mountain is powerful and energizing. Thankfully, at this point in our lives, I can enjoy both at the same time.

I’ve included images of the various aspects from our living area.

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A-Z of Gratitude: U is for UNO

UNO is a classic card game. It’s simple enough for young children to grasp, yet competitive enough to keep adults interested! Our lads discovered UNO this year and get their kicks out of using the Skip/Reverse/Draw Two/Draw Four cards on their mum and dad. Meanwhile, I am trying to resist the urge to slam them with all of my ouch cards. I’ll let them enjoy the taste of victory for now, then BAM! I’ll show my true competitive colors.

Some days you just don’t feel like being in the bard game zone, so UNO comes to the rescue. It’s fun and fast.

I had a dream…about toffee apples!

Asher told me he had a dream about toffee apples, and he decided it would be great fun to make some. So we did.
Isaac is having a birthday party on Saturday, so we will make another batch for the guests to take home in their party bags.
They turned out pretty well for our first try.
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A-Z of Gratitude: T is for Tea

Tea is a simple, yet indulgent experience if we take the time to make a ritual of it. Boiling the kettle and jiggling a bag in a mug and splashing milk in is nothing special. Transform the usual, lazy way of making tea by using a tea pot and a quaint tea cup and you have a different experience altogether. One to be enjoyed alone with your own thoughts, a book or staring out at the view blankly. One to be enjoyed with friends and conversation.

I adore teapots and tea cups. My dear grandmother left me her beautiful Glade Green bone china tea set. I rarely used it until a year ago when I decided that it was crazy to hide such a beautiful thing away for fear of it being damaged. Such things are to be appreciated and enjoyed. When I drink from these with friends, they always comment on the experience. It’s noted that the tea experience is different when we make a ritual of it.

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Each of my teapots have been gifts. This one was a gift from my brother and sister in law.

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This cast iron beauty was a farewell gift from young people when I resigned from my youth work position last year.

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This miniature was a gift from my hubby and is perfect for solitude tea moments.

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Sharing a pot of tea with friends somehow makes for better company than mugs of sploshed together tea. The experience is rich and the conversation benefits from the small effort of brewing a pot and laying out the china.

There are always wonderful teapot and tea cup bargains at thrift stores. Mismatched tea cups are fun. If you don’t already have a pot and cups and saucers, why not spoil yourself, and those who will drink tea with you. Head to a charity shop and buy some fine china and go home to sit for a few moments, sipping your tea without hurry.

We could go on and on about the many types of tea we can enjoy together. My personal favorites are French Earl Grey, licorice, ginger, and rooibos. I always have fruit tea on hand to share with Asher. What fun he has when we brew tea. He feels very sophisticated!

I found these quotes on Pinterest to sum up my gratitude for tea time together with friends.

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I trust you will enjoy many pots of tea with your loved ones.

A-Z of Gratitude: S is for School Teachers

When I was a kid, I thought some teachers were out to make life harder than it needed to be. You know the ones, the teachers who are insanely grouchy and have forgotten what it’s like to be a kid. The ones who are overdue for retirement.

I’ll never forget the names of my woodwork teachers: Mr DOWLing, Mr BURR and Mr HaDRILL. Seriously does it get any better than that?! Woodwork teachers with woody names.
One of them really didn’t like me. He used to get so agro with me that I had to ask him to stop spitting in my face while he yelled at me. Not cool, Mr D.
Another time, a substitute teacher threw a chair at me. Bad move on his part, but in hindsight, can’t say I blame him. Lucky for me he didn’t have a Hulk moment and tear the blackboard off the wall and throw that at me.
They weren’t all bad though. I was blessed enough to have some top notch teachers who really impacted my life. These were the ones who encouraged us, laughed with us and made us feel like we mattered.

When I was old enough to appreciate their worth, I decided I’d like to marry a PE teacher with sideburns. Sports teachers are always the best looking and the most likable. I thought it’d be great to spend my life with someone who’s good to look at, fit enough to outlive me and on holidays 13 weeks a year.
Guess who I married? A Physical Education teacher with sideburns. I was hated by his year 10 female students when our engagement was announced.

My hubby is a teacher that will be remembered by many. He’s dedicated, fun and he really cares for his students. He works his butt off, so when people whine about the amount of holidays teachers get, I want to bitch slap them. Some teachers probably don’t deserve their holidays, but good teachers earn every last second.

Yay for me. I got the hot PE teacher.

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Wardrobe Cleansing

Tonight I pulled every item of clothing I own out of my wardrobe. The mountain of clothes on our bed made for some giggles and jumping fun for the lads, but was a stark reminder to me of the insanity of fashion! I rediscovered a number of items that have been hiding amidst the mess that I tackled tonight. I’m sure you can relate to the, “Ah! I forgot I had this!” moment.

It’s almost 2 years since I made the decision to quit buying new clothes. I was never a shopaholic, but I did want to change my spending habits and reinforce the values I want my children to take a hold of. I have purchased just 3 new items of clothing since November 2010. I love the challenge of scouring op shops. Recently, all of my jeans had started tearing at the knees, so the hunt has been on for the perfect op shop jeans. I’ve found a few pairs, and have paid around $5 each. I’m not in love with them, but I refuse to pay $100 for the ideal jeans. I love to look good, but I refuse to be caught up in the ever changing tides of fashion. I’ve got better things to do with my time and money. I know some people are totally freaked out that someone else has farted in my second-hand jeans. I understand it’s not everyone’s thing to recycle fashion. But I’m more than happy to share bum pockets with previous wearers if it saves my hip pocket and gives much needed financial support to charities. Not to mention the environmental benefits.

Tonight I tossed 50+ items of clothing to the charity store. My wardrobe is still full, but now that it’s not bursting at the seams, I’ll actually be able to see each item, and try a few new looks.

I was stoked when I found three pairs of shoes in superb condition for $18 at St Vinnies a few weeks ago. I scored some Chuck Taylor high tops,, near new, for $8 and Asics runners or $4. For Matt, some Merrell walking shoes for $6. Brand new, these same shoes would’ve set us back somewhere around $300. Now that’s retail therapy.