Monday, December 31, 2012

A Special Posting for a Special Friend

One of my BFF's (I know that's a young kids term, but it's so darn cute), who lives in Melbourne, has a wee crush on my little dog, Scruffie. So as a little surprise I thought I'd finish the year by posting photos of Scruffie's year that was, just for her. So Chess, here you go ...


 
January; "Mama, stop teasing and open my treats jar ... I've been good"
 

 
February; "I bags the beanbag."
 
 
 
March; "Great, yet another photo shoot. Seriously girls enough with the camera already!"
 
 
 
April; "Yes please Fashionista, I always enjoy a cuddle." 


 
May; "Yes, even dogs can have bad hair days you know!"


 
"Oh no, don't give the clippers out. I will brush, I promise.
Maybe if I put my paws over my eyes she wont see me?" 
 
 
 
June; "Hmm, it's nice and warm here."
 
 
 
July; Snoozing on Agent Smelly's empty birthday present box.
 
 
 
August; "What are these little creatures? And why is one of them wearing one
of my coats and butting me? Get out of my house!"



September; "Mama, I think you should spend less time on the laptop and more on me!
Or else I am going to keep laying across it, despite you moving me numerous times,
until you simply give up".
 
 
 
 
 
October; "Just chillin'  - it's so hard doing nothing all day."
 
 
 
November; "Those Guy Fawkes fireworks scared the crap out of me ... so I ran away
 ... to the swamp!!!"
 
 
 
December; "My special tree is back ... now to spend the month sleeping under it!" 
 
 
HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU ALL FOR 2013
with love from Scruffie and his family
x x x x x
 
 

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Cooking Outdoors

The girls just love BBQ sausages and onions and asked if I would make them for dinner tonight. As it was too hot inside the kitchen to cook, and The Papa was away at work, and I couldn't be bothered to get the BBQ going I suggested the girls cook the sausages on one of our portable burners.



Agent Smelly got sidetracked playing on The Papa's tablet, so The Fashionista cooked dinner all by herself.

She had so much fun that she even went and set up the dinner outside on the table and served us all.

I must remember to suggest they do this again whilst the weather is so nice. Maybe they could make pancakes out there, one morning for breakfast.


Friday, December 28, 2012

Cleaning the Bathroom with Kids

Well as anyone with children would know, it can be difficult to keep up with a good proper house clean with the kids clamouring for your attention or simply getting in the way. Thankfully my girls, who are now 8 and 10, are in the position to start to be of a real help around the house which is making life a little easier.

They are of course expected to tidy their rooms and I also ask that they keep their bathroom tidy as The Papa and I have a separate ensuite and theirs is the one visitors use.

On Christmas eve I asked The Fashionista to tidy her room for Christmas Day. After a wee while I went into her room and there she was laying across her desk stool like superwoman! I asked her if she thought that she had super powers and that her room would get cleaned by her simply laying on the stool? She cleverly detected my sarcasm (I know but sometimes it's just slips out) and she replied that she just simply didn't know which bit to do first. This seems to be a common problem with both girls and then they get sidetracked and the room stays untidy until I step in to help ... sound familar?

It got me to thinking, that even when they do finish cleaning a room, I am often not satisfied with the end results. I unwisely expect them to meet my adult standards. The Fashionista thinks that her wardrobe is there to simply shove things in when I ask her to tidy her bedroom floor. As for Agent Smelly, she just plays, and then at the last minute, when she realises her Mama's near boiling point, shoves things anywhere that they'll fit and then she can't find anything later.  I have also found a few items in the laundry basket after they have "tidied" their rooms that I am sure have only been tried on and then simply thrown on the floor. Apparently it is easier to throw things in the hamper than to hang them up or refold them to put away.

Rather than me nag, or repeat myself over and over again, or simply end up doing things myself, that it would be easier if they knew exactly what was required when I asked them to tidy or clean a room ... hence my new cleaning checklists.

I have just starting printing room by room cleaning checklists onto A5 paper and laminating them. They are in big type so that they are easy for the kids to read, This means each room's checklist will end up taking a few pages which I have popped onto rings for ease.

I decided to start with cleaning the main (their) bathroom, so that I could write down the procedure as I went along. When I explained what I was up to, both girls very eagerly came along to help. They really seemed to enjoy giving the bathroom a thorough clean, in fact a couple of times I had to tell them to stop as it couldn't possibly get any cleaner. The funny thing is now that they know exaclty how much work is involved in cleaning the bathroom properly they decided to put some stuff away that they had sitting on the window sill and vanity, so that there wont be quite so much for them to move next time.



For our bathroom and seperate toilet, all the cleaning supplies are in blue (I have also use blue for the checklists) and only let the children use natural cleaners. 

Here's a copy of what's on our bathroom checklist, remember it is aimed at children so I have made it rather detailed. Feel free to copy and paste if it would be of any use to your kids. (Cleaning windows and mopping floors is something that I have not included as it's something I do for the whole house.)


BATHROOM CHECKLIST
  Gather supplies in the blue plastic tub:
·       cleaning cloths (blue)
·       one sheet of newspaper
·       old toothbrush
·       a general natural spray cleaner for the shower, mirror, etc
·       sponge / squeegee for the shower and bath
·       plastic gloves (optional for you to wear)
·       vacuum Cleaner

  Pick up everything up off of the floor and counters, and put it away.
  Remove items that are left permanently on the bench (whilst you clean basins, mirrors, etc so they don’t get broken) also out of the way outside the room.
  Place floor rugs and rubbish bin just outside the door but not in your way.
  Place dirty towels and flannels in the correct laundry baskets

THE BATHROOM SHOULD NOW BE EMPTY!

  Spray shower cleaner in the bathtub and shower, be sure to get it on both the walls and shower door.
  Spray mirror cleaner onto the mirror.
  Use a crumpled piece of newspaper (or mirror cloth) to wipe the mirror.
  Wipe the mirror frame with a clean cloth.

Use a cloth, which you must rinse when it gets dirty and between each activity to:
  clean the sink tap(s) and chrome sink plug hole(s). You may require the toothbrush to get around the edges of the taps and the edges of the sink hole.
  Ditto with the bath tap(s) and chrome bath plug hole(s).
  clean the sink(s), then counter, and the vanity cupboards. Don’t forget the cupboard skirting board.

Spray cleaner and then with a new damp cloth
  wipe off any marks on the walls
  wipe the window sills
  wipe the skirting boards down

Use another new clean damp cloth to
  wipe the items that sit permanently on the bench, and then return them to their places on the vanity bench top.
  wipe around power points and light switches. Make sure cloth is slightly damp, not wet, around electrical fixtures!
  wipe the doorknobs
  Wet your sponge and squeegee to scrub the shower. Remember to do the outside of the door too.
  Clean the shower taps and shower head.
  Scrub / wipe out the bathtub.

  Vacuum the floors. Pay special attention to the edges of the floor, near the walls, and under counters.
  Vacuum the bathroom mats
  Let Mum know if the floor needs mopping, otherwise replace the mats on the bathroom floor.
  Empty the rubbish bin and return it.
  Put out fresh towels and a flannel
  Put away supplies; dirty cloths into the laundry tub and your blue plastic tub with supplies into the laundry cupboard.

If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right!


 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

A Pool to ourselves ... such bliss!

One of our neighbours was going away for a few days so we offered to feed their chickens for them. When I say neighbours, we are rural, so it's a jump in the car and a drive down the road ...



They have the most beautiful pool and said that we were most welcome to use it in their absence. So today whilst I fed the chickens, after much nagging and whining, I let the girls have a dip with their new flippers, goggles and snorkel set that they had received from Aunty H for Christmas.



Not a bad view from the pool is it?



After I had fed the chickens, I sat on the deck for a half an hour to so whilst they swam about. It was 6pm at night and so humid that I even took a quick dip.

Sadly there is rain forecast for the next couple of days so I am not sure we'll be able to use it again.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Tala Icing Set

.
 
The Fashionista received a Tala icing set from her Grandma J for Christmas. It is in a tin box and has a retro look about it, which looked vaguely familiar.
 
 

I went to my pantry and voila ... there was my Nana Rose's Tala icing set. I can't locate a date on the box but from some online investigating, I think they were produced in the 50's. 

The difference between the two sets is that the modern set had an icing bag and two extra nozzles and the old set used a tin barrel (syringe) to hold the icing.

I hope my daughter has fun using hers. I can't bring myself to use my Nan's set ... I am far too sentimentally attached to it.I'd like to display it but don't want the lovely box to fade either ... how sad am I.



Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Our 2012 Boxing Day Game; Rummikub

Each year we Santa get the girls a board game to go in their sacks. They often play them after Christmas lunch when we adults are all lazing around with our full tums, and as a family we play them on Boxing Day.

When looking for a game, I firstly look for something age appropriate and that can just be played by the two girls without any parental help. It also important to me that the game is challenging and educational so that they are learning something. Mindless games are a waste of time and the kids soon lose interest. At the same time and really very importantly, it has to be fun.


 

This year my choice was Rummikub by Kod Kod International Games which is aimed at ages 7 and up and is for 2- 4 players.

It is a strategic game with numbered tiles and the object of the game is to be the first to place all your tiles from your rack onto the table in certain formations (groups or runs). When the first player to empty their rack calls "Rummikub"  then the other players add up their remaining tiles and everyone gets a score. That way you can continue to play again if you want as some games are quick and others can take a while to play.

The only change we made was, that you are supposed to be only allowed a certain time limit, they recommend 60 seconds, when it is your time, so that you aren't waiting for ages for a person to take their turn. We didn't do this as we were all new to the game and were often explaining moves to each other. We have since decided that we'd give Agent Smelly 120 seconds, The Fashionista 90 seconds and The Papa and I would get 60 seconds for our turns, the next time we hold a Rummikub competition. It's actually a shame that they don't put an egg timer, or something similar in the box, for you to use for timing.



The girls picked up the game rather quickly and to my surprise were winning some of the games in no time at all. And no we weren't letting them win ... we are terrible parents like that, we play to win in this house! Some of the Fashionista's moves were really amazing, and both the Papa and I were blown away by her rearranging a few groups at a time in order for her to get rid of more of her tiles. In fact she seems to be the best at this game and had the lowest score by far. 

This game could easily be played with a deck of cards and also online at www.rummikub.com

All four of us enjoyed the game. It wasn't too simple for we adults, in fact we had to think quite a bit about our moves, and the kids enjoyed the challenge of it too. So if you are looking for a good, fun, challenging game then I would recommend trying Rummikub. It's a keeper.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Day 2012

 
Straight into those sacks they went. Agent Smelly is hanging on to that metal detector! The Fashionista got a beautiful Trelise Cooper skirt, her favourite designer!
 
 
 
The Fashionista is totally in  love with babies and toddlers and can't wait until she is old enough to become a babysitter. So Santa brought her a Wii babysitting game to practice on in the meantime. The Wii control goes inside the baby doll. Cute ey!


 
The Fashionista found the most beautiful Mermaid lamp for Agent Smelly. She was in raptures over it!



She also made the most beautiful mermaid card to accompany it. She spent ages on designing a card and then much to our amusement she had forgotten to write inside it!


 
Come bedtime The Fashionista kept telling me she wasn't tired ... sure looked it to me.



Agent Smelly didn't even make her bedtime ... she fell asleep on a couch.


Hope you enjoyed a glimpse of our day. Sadly I was too busy to remember to get any pictures of our beautiful lunch but I do have the most hysterical pictures of Grandma J, Aunty H and Uncle B all asleep on the couches after their lunch, which I wont publish so as not to embarrass them. You know the ones mouth open, heads lolling ... priceless!


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

WWCS; Our UK Parcel

We received the most lovely package from our WWCS family in the UK a week (or could it even be two now?) ago. I have been hugely rude and not thanked them yet. It was a case of the package arriving as we were leaving for yet another pre-christmas activity and me not finding the time to properly write and tell them how much we appreciated their package. It has been preying on my mind in between running around like a headless chook these past couple of weeks. I know it's just Christmas for some people but over here in NZ it's also the end of our school year, so we have been pushing to finish certain curriculum that we don't want to have to finish next year and attend end of year break ups. It all gets a bit manic at this time of year.
 
 

The girls quickly ripped the package open, and removed the item then we had to run off. It is only today that we have had a chance to take a proper look at it and yes, eat the goodies!
 
 

The girls tried to tell me the teabag was for me ... ha, I had my eye on that chocolate!
 
 
  
 
I love that they made a poster for us about their area! They also did a page on famous UK bands, old and newer and some cute jokes, which I thought great because it's aimed at the children, who after all this experience was for.
 
They also included an English book which was sweet. We had thought to include some books ourselves but could only find some aimed at littlies.
 

This is the Fashionista pointing out the CD they included with family, homeschooling and area photos. She looks like she's screwing her face up but she was saying "LOOOOOK" ... haha, not a good snap but another clever idea. We all enjoyed sitting and looking at all the photos. I have a feeling our UK family would have a great time in the NZ outdoors..

By the way The Fashionista has decided she is shifting to the UK because their chocolate coins (kindly included) are also in white chocolate, her favourite, not plain old milk chocolate like ours! Agent Smelly adores the Love Heart sweets with all their cute sayings. I am not sure whether she likes reading or eating them more.
 

Culture Swapper

Monday, December 17, 2012

The ever useful Sit-upon

What is a sit-upon? For the uninitiated -- in Guiding, it is a very handy and useful insulated and (usually) waterproof pad, often homemade, used to protect the user's bottom from the cold and damp while "sitting upon" the ground.

I was fortunate enough to pick some cushion type ones up from a store closing down a few years back which the girls use, alternating with a piece of tarp that they stays in their backpacks for places where it would be a nuisance to carry the cushions.

They were just plain cushions so today I pulled out some fabric paints and told the girls to decorate them so they are unidentifiable. I keep meaning to write their names on them but you know how it is.


The Fashionista decided to do all the Guide emblems on hers (green cushion) so of course to her disgust her little sister followed suit.  The Mama had to help Agent Smelly a bit though. She did the Pippin apple and Brownie sun and with a marker I drew Gidget Guide and the Ranger's Woozle and left her to go over them with her fabric pens.

They are going to put their names and their units across the other side of the cushions but have to wait for this side to dry.

They are pretty pleased with them. The Papa and I also have them, so I may even get them to decorate ours, although I am not sure the Papa will want Guiding emblems on his! Maybe something sports related ...



Sunday, December 16, 2012

Another Christmas Craft

Well we actually started and finished a decoration today ... yeah!  This one is all over pinterest and simply too easy. I actually wanted to do them last year but I could not find baubles big enough for the girls hands. I ended up finding two rather large baubles in Spotlights post Christmas sale last Christmas and they have been sitting in my study ever since.


 
Firstly paint one cute, chubby hand with white paint and listen to that wee person giggle whilst you do it.
 
 
 
Press said hand firmly against the bauble. I had to push a couple of The Fashionista's fingers down flat as she couldn't push hers directly onto the ball for some reason.



Here's a hand print on the bauble. We did one on each side.

 

We let them dry for quite a few hours and because it was hot, hot, hot here they dried pretty quickly. Then I gave the girls some Sharpies and left to decorating. Note the Fashionista had to put a vest and a dress on some of hers.

 

Agent Smelly drew a cute skirt and handbag on one of hers.

The snowmen on the ones on pinterest are usually all matching but I quite like the unusual flavour the girls gave to theirs.

I so love it when we can start and finish a craft in the same day!



Friday, December 14, 2012

Guides on Parade

Our little town holds a Christmas parade every year. The main street (co-incidentally name Main Street) is closed off and the residents gather along the street and watch the local entrants. It really is very cute, with the local groups like rugby, creches, retirement village, churches etc all participating and it is extremely festive and friendly.

They also have a few carnival rides set up, sausage sizzle and a band or two for when the parade finishes. Lollies and ice blocks are handed out to the kids and Santa comes to visit on the back of our towns antique fire engine. 

This year one of the guiding parents organised a float for us to participate. The kids love going in the parade but we leaders are usually too exhausted by the end of the year to bother, so if a parent isn't interested in organising it then we usually give it a miss. This year I actually had a parent respond to my email asking if anyone was interested in doing it, so that was pretty pleasing.



Here are our girls going so slowly (so slow it was funny; people walked past us faster) down the road to join onto the end of the parade. Our theme was Guiding is Fun with a tent, fake camp fire, trees, etc set up on the truck. The girls either had fishing rods that they made or marshmallows on the ends of toasting sticks. The feedback that we had from the crowd was that they just loved the girls with their rods and marshmallows and singing.


 
 
"Dad please go away and stop taking our photos!"
 
 
 
The 20 or so girls (we could have lost one or two along the way) were all singing Guiding songs as we drove along the parade.
 
There was actually a fair bit of work that went into it but it was great PR for the unit and the girls really enjoyed themselves.








Thursday, December 13, 2012

Practically Perfect Mary Poppins

Last night we girls headed off into Auckland to see the stage production of Mary Poppins.
 
 
The girls got all gussied up. It doesn't really take much for them to need a reason to dress up. It was interesting how many people commented to me how nice it was to see girls looking so lovely in dresses.
 
 
 
Here they are again, with their friend Country Girl, who came with us, outside the very beautiful Civic Theatre right in the middle of Auckland. For those who haven't seen the Civic, it is a lovely old theatre right on the corner of two main streets in the centre of town. In order to get a photo I would have had to go right across the road, which I didn't have time to do before the show started.
 
 
 
Eating cotton candy during the intermission.
 
Even though the stage production was just brilliant, the first half was rather long and they were just starting to get a bit fidgety before the break. I had a couple of whispered "how long before we get a break?" across the seats.
 
The show was so well done and I even saw the girls clapping and singing along in parts. Of course I threw myself into it wholeheartedly ... much to their embarrassment and my mirth.
 
 
 

 
On the way back to the car the girls enjoyed the lights and decorations set up throughout town for Christmas.
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