Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Ten - The Year of Nerf

X had his tenth birthday over a week ago now.  Gosh, time is zooming by, T's 8th birthday is this weekend!  It's all happening pretty quickly.  Let's recap:

X's birthday involved eight rowdy boys, about as many Nerf guns, and half a dozen laptops all linked together for Minecraft LAN gaming.  The original plan was a six hour LAN gaming party, but the boys had other ideas - a bunch of kids brought along their Nerf guns, and X ended up with four of them as gifts, so they spent a large chunk of time running around inside and outside the house shooting each other and yelling loudly.  I had my bff here for the weekend so we managed to avoid the first half of the six hour long birthday party (yes, that's right, s i x  h o u r s!!!  Madness!) but the three hours we were here for were complete chaos, so I can only imagine the first three were much the same.  Boys are a special breed - only they can consume such copious amounts of food while simultaneously shooting each other with foam bullets, yelling at the top of their lungs and playing computer games.  I do believe though, that my boys had an absolute ball of a time.  And the amount of food consumed throughout the day meant nobody was hungry for dinner and I didn't have to cook.  Hooray for small mercies.  So now my boy is ten.  Oh my, when did he get so big?  He reaches the bridge of my nose, and it will be a matter of months I'm sure before he's taller than I am.  Sure, I'm not exactly towering at 5', but still...

Last weekend he headed off to a birthday party of a school friend, with a Nerf gun in hand.  And guess what his gift to the birthday boy was?  Yep, a Nerf gun.  I shall declare that ten is the Year of Nerf.

T is literally counting the days until his birthday rolls around - he tells me every morning how many days are left, just in case I forget ;-)  We still have no actual plans for his day, all we know is that children have been invited.  I think we'll leave it at that for now.  I have learned from recent experience that kids birthday parties don't need too much structure - as long as there's food, drink, toys and games, they'll be happy.  Oh, and we can't forget the cake!  For T, chocolate cake covered in M&Ms.  Easy-peasy!  He has requested boiled eggs in little car egg cups with toast slices for breakfast, sausage sizzle for school lunch, and home made pizza for dinner.  My boy has simple tastes, and for once I'm not going to complain.  It gives me more time to get on with other things, like study.

Boy, this paper I'm studying at the moment is full-on!  Information Systems.  Very tech-orientated, with a bunch of e-commerce thrown in for good measure.  I'm learning stacks (particularly the recent work with Excel spreadsheets - colour me amazed at the stuff you can do with a spreadsheet!), which I have already managed to put to good measure by writing up the mother of all budgets.  Deane's been harping on at me for years about writing one up, and I finally got around to it this week.  I spent the better part of three days on it, but I finished it this morning.  It's the snazziest thing out, with the past six months' financial data input into it for averages, comparisons and analysis.  Worksheets are linked so everything I input automatically updates where it needs to so I don't have to re-enter information. OMG the formulas!  So many!  I have to say I'm pretty proud of my efforts, and I hope I can manage to stick to it and possibly save some money.  I'm on a bit of a roll actually, having started a weekly meal plan as well.  On Saturday I went to the butcher, the vege shop and the supermarket, then sat down and planned out dinners for two weeks with the meat and veges I'd bought.  So far, it's worked out pretty well.  Of course, we still have to get milk when we run out, and the occasional thing we run out of and need before the next shop (like honey, bread rolls and apples for school lunches - hopeless), but if all goes to plan I'll get better at this organisation thing and eventually be able to do one shop every two weeks.  We have a larger freezer sitting in the laundry, so we might as well put it to good use!

I'd fallen into the bad habit of going to the supermarket nearly every day because it was so close.  I'd run out of one or two things, then swing by on my way past and grab those things, plus a few extras just because.  Not good budgeting practice, let me tell you.  Our grocery bill was huge!  I know this because I just input all that data into my snazzy budgeting spreadsheet ;-)  So here's to a more organised budget-friendly future, and hopefully some spending money for (and airfares to) Vancouver!

I have also been knitting away as much as possible on Christmas gifts - I'm about a third of the way through my knits list.  With less than a month to go, it might be a tight squeeze but I may just make it.  Foodie gifts are mostly done except for the last-minute stuff, and I know what else I need to get so as long as Deane doesn't throw a spanner in the works, I think we're pretty much sorted for the silly season.  How about you?  Are you organised?  Only 26 sleeps to go...

Friday, 16 November 2012

I'm still here!!

I haven't updated for a wee while, but it's been a little busy this week.  Organising X's 10th birthday party which is on this Saturday, the same day I will be trying my best to watch every Twilight movie there is with my bff.  She arrives tonight (so excited!!) so maybe we can watch the first one this evening, then while all the boys are downstairs LAN gaming tomorrow (yep, totally nerdy) we'll be upstairs watching New Moon and Eclipse, and maybe Breaking Dawn Pt. 1.  We will of course be on feeding and watering duty - nine boys and a man will need fuel for their activities - so there will be breaks in between.  Whether we manage to watch all of them or not, I can't say.  But some time this weekend, we will be going to watch the last Twilight movie - Breaking Dawn, Pt. 2.  We have been waiting for this movie for some time, and are really looking forward to seeing it!

Otherwise I have been studying my butt off, trying to get ahead on this paper so I don't have to study over the week of Christmas, and so I can (if all goes to plan) head off to Vancouver in late January without having to worry about assignments.  It's been quite a mission as this paper is on Information Systems.  Something I'm not very clued up on.  Why do you think I have Deane? ;-)  I have managed to get comfortably ahead this week I think, but had to sacrifice a few things, namely, exercise.  Last week I ran 25.5km, and cycled a little under 59km.  This week...     *cue chirping crickets*

To be honest, my knee was quite niggly after the 12km I ran on Sunday so I intentionally avoided heading out for a run earlier in the week to rest it.  However, I really got stuck in to the whole study thing (I'm learning heaps!) and made excuses (to myself, because nobody else cares), filling in non-study time with Christmas knitting, running errands, housework, various child/adult appointments etc.  I probably could've squeezed a run in this morning (in fact, still could) but... eh.  There's always next week, right?  This week is for eating terribly bad food (although really, how bad could a chocolate muffin be if it is made with beetroot?  Certainly not as bad as two chocolate muffins made with beetroot.  Must stop eating the chocolate muffins) and put on a kilo or two, and next week I will run it off again.  Seriously, that does happen.  A lot.  Could this be termed yo-yo dieting?  Or yo-yo exercising?

Yes, this weekend I will be enjoying all sorts of fine fare - frozen yoghurt from the most awesomest of awesome places - Whites & Co., like this one I had earlier in the week:

Vanilla frozen yoghurt with fresh strawberries, chocolate brownie, and valrhona dark chocolate covered biscuit pearls.  Yummy!!!

...and birthday food.  I asked X a few questions about what he would like to eat on his birthday, and it was quickly decided that we would have chocolate chip waffles for breakfast, pizza for lunch, and roast pork with 'crackle skin' for dinner (I'll be skipping that I think.  Not a fan of pork).  And of course, 'classic' chocolate cake for the birthday cake.  Sweet as :-)  It'll be the usual early start to Saturday morning to get the waffles made, so we can head to Britomart by 8.30am for the market where I'll be gathering vegetables for dinner, and fruit for the attempt at a slightly healthier party snack (amidst the pizza, lollies, chocolate and chippies that is standard at any kiwi kids' party).  And the aforementioned frozen yoghurt of course ;-)

I have also been knitting as much as possible, but you can't see any of it because it is all for Christmas pressents.  The big reveals will have to wait until after - I'll have to do a big post with all the pictures.  I did however manage to knit a cute little Milo vest for the receptionist at the physio - she's pregnant and going to have a boy, so I couldn't resist using up some gorgeous light blue yarn I had in my stash:


Milo vest with aran braid, knit with Naturally Loyal DK (8 ply) - 3 month size.  I had also intended to knit some cute little baby socks and give her those as well, but I managed to knit each sock with a different sized needle.  Because I am freakishly amazing.  Really, I even have a t-shirt that says so:



 So the socks didn't exactly match:


Although it only takes a few hours to knit one, I figured it wasn't that important and the time would be better spent knitting Christmas gifts and doing other stuff, so they've been put away for some other time when somebody else needs a quick baby gift.

Anyway, must dash.  I have an appointment to get to, then housework to finish amidst baking and decorating a birthday cake and preparing a temporary bedroom for my bff's stay.  Have an excellent weekend people, I know I will!!

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

'Tis (nearing) the season...

Gosh, can you believe it?  Christmas is less than two months away.  Only seven more weekends left to prepare!  Are you getting organised?  Or are you one of those people who are in denial until days, or even hours, before 25th?  Good on you, keep on ignoring it ;-)  Or are you somebody who doesn't celebrate Christmas at all?  If so, feel free to laugh at my craziness for the silly season so far, which I will lay out for all and sundry in this post.

My planning started earlier this year when I spotted a few gift ideas in my foodie mags, which I stored away in my memory to recall closer to the time.  As soon as the calendar flicked over from October to November, the planning kicked up a gear.  I started writing my lists.  Giftee lists, gift-make lists, ingredient lists, supply lists, list lists... I'm kidding!  Sort of... (I get my list-writing habits from my mother.  I figured this out after several trips to Napier during which I noticed various grocery lists.  Not your average 'oh, we've run out of this stuff and need some more' lists, oh no, I'm talking 'this is on special at this supermarket, and these are on special at that supermarket, and this is how much they cost' kind of lists.  The very in-depth, well-researched variety of lists.  We're a list family.  I may have mentioned this before).

Preparation is well under way now - I know exactly what I'm making, who I'm making it for, have even managed to make some stuff already (more on that shortly), and have supplies for several other things.  A few bits and pieces will have to be made closer to the day, but I'm organised.  As for the Christmas knits, I have started, but production has had to take an unscheduled yet necessary break.  Here's why:

I decided this year to make my own fruit mince.  I like fruit mince tarts and pies, but I don't like mixed peel.  Hence, making my own.  Aside from removing the peel, I wanted it to be fairly traditional, which involved tracking down some suet.  I decided to try the trusty local butcher, and phoned them to ask if they had any.  They informed me that they had none in stock, but would put some aside for me to pick up.  So I went in on Monday afternoon to pick up what I thought would be nicely prepared, ready-to-use suet, but what I got was raw, some-meat-still-attached suet.  No matter I thought, I can clarify it myself, no problem.  The internet being as fabulous as it is, it took me no time at all to find good instructions on how to do this, so after helping the kids with their homework, I set to work.  Unfortunately, trimming meat from fat is a rather boring task, so my mind started to wander to other things.  Big mistake, because the next thing I knew my wonderfully long, sharp knife had sliced quite quickly and easily through the back of my little finger!  I grabbed a paper towel to prevent the blood from getting everywhere and called out (very calmly), "X, can you please go upstairs and grab the plasters out of the bathroom for me?", to which he replied, "Can you get T to do it? I don't want to".  Yes, my children are very helpful.  Needless to say, I had to trudge upstairs with my hand wrapped in paper towel to dig out the plasters myself.  I gave my hand a quick rinse under the tap and had a closer look.  The ability for the skin on the lower half of my finger to move quite independently from the top half made me feel a little queasy, so I went and sat down for a bit.

I tried phoning Deane, with the idea that he may be of some use.  This proved fruitless, as he didn't answer either his work or cell phone (apparently he was in meetings all afternoon).  So I had to get the kids to wander across the road with me to the doctors (they agreed to only if they could get a treat from the dairy afterwards.  Pfft).  The nurse had a look at my finger and kindly informed me that I had missed the tendons and it would heal nicely with steri-strips.  So here I sit, with my finger wrapped in bandaging - I have to keep it straight, and can't get it wet, which makes showering quite awkward, as you can imagine.  This has also make knitting difficult, so I have had to set it aside until I can bend my finger again.  It has, however, given me time to get stuck into my studies.  This paper is a challenge for me - it's all about information technology.  Stuff Deane knows by rote, but that I have never understood.  I've learned quite a bit already, but the real trick is getting that knowledge to stick!

It also gives me plenty of time to get out of the house, so I went out for a short, fast 5km run yesterday, and a rather fun bike ride today.  I'd bought a helmet over the weekend, as I'd been really wanting to get out for a ride.  Deane had kindly cleaned up my bike, greased the chain, and pumped up the tires a couple of weeks ago after I'd brought it back from Napier last trip, and today was the perfect day for it - overcast and a little bit breezy.  I set out around 10.30am with a vague idea of where I wanted to get to.  My plan was to bike about 20km just as a bit of a test ride (it's been years since I biked anywhere and I wasn't sure what a good distance would be).  I had just downloaded a phone app that would track my time and distance (OMG I love my phone!!), so I set that going and off I went.  I must admit the traffic through town was a little scary, particularly as I'm quite inexperienced in dealing with it, but once I'd gotten past the thicker traffic I was good to go.  I biked all the way out to St. Heliers, turned around, and came back again.  It was about 25km, and took me a little over an hour.  I'd forgotten how fun it is to ride a bike!  I'd also forgotten how sore your butt gets, particularly when your tires are very firm and the bike path very bumpy.  I'm thinking I may have to invest in some of those padded bike shorts...  Can't wait to get out on the bike again soon (after my butt has recovered) - I've found some bike routes other people have posted on the app that look quite good, so I'll give those a go.  There's also some interesting looking running routes that I'm keen to try out as well.  Ooh, looking forward to it!!

Finger injury aside, this has been a pretty good week so far.  I hope yours has been good too!  Enjoy the rest of it :-)