Thursday, December 31, 2015

The last Sentence of the year


This year ends with a smile as I'm a whole lot smarter, organised and healthier than I was last year. 

Bring on 2016!
 
 
 

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The end of the year... reflections and plans

As the calendar year draws to a close, people are reflecting on the year that was and making big plans for the year ahead.  What did 2015 bring you?  What do you want to do in 2016?

Facebook started the Year in Review App in early December.  It automatically selects 10 photos from your newsfeed over the year.  Then, you post it as a status update.  If you want to you can choose different photos to have on your Review instead.  My sister said that 10 photos was simply not enough.  She would post at least 10 photos each week - sometimes more.  When there are 8 growing children in the house there is always a lot happening.  There are sporting events and birthdays and holidays and learning.  Then there is the extended family too. 

Some bloggers like to do a year in review as well.  The re-post the most popular articles from the year.  I think my "Best Of" is doing that well enough. 

My year has seen some interesting things.  Boyfriends.  Girlfriends.  Family Illness.  Parties.  Milestones.  Accidents.  Holidays.  Funerals.  Celebrations.  Gifts.  Mistakes.  People moving away, forward, onward.  Heartbreak.  Confusion.  Learning.  Great Revelations.  Achievements.  Loss.  Discoveries.  Hurts.  Joys.  Healing.  Rest.  Hard Work.  Surprises.  It has been quite a ride. 

For the first time in quite a few years, I feel like I am ending the year, a different person than I was when I began.  I feel like I'm a better person.  I have lost friendships, loves, possessions.  I have gained closer relationships, love, my independence.  I have let go of many things that were holding me back.  I'm ready to let go of more things.  I'm ready to be that very real and much better person that I have been hiding. 

I didn't think I had plans for 2016.  I like to think I'm not going to make grand plans and not follow through with any of them.  Truth told, I will make plans - for my home, for my classroom, for my time, for this blog.  Some of those plans will prove to be pipe dreams.  Some of those plans will happen.  That is how life goes.  Sometimes, life happens and the plans have to wait. 

My plan for the coming year is a simple one... Be Real - Put my Family First.

It sounds simple anyway!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

The Best of AGT: On Christmas Eve

NOTE: This short story first appeared here at AGT on Christmas Eve 2010.  Our family had a pet bird at the time and my sister had a pet dog at her house.  When I wrote this I was thinking about her pet dog.  This particular "Best Of" isn't based on number of page views, but on the fact that I really enjoyed writing it and I think it is one of my best stories.  AGT had a super small following in 2010 so maybe it will get to more people this year.  :D

A short story through the eyes of a family pet


There is an awful lot of excitement around here today.  Everyone is very busy!  No one wants to play ball with me and I'm done sleeping.  I have to say it's really noisy.  There are these really silly songs playing, they are about bells and sleigh rides and snow (whatever that is).  Mum is in the kitchen whipping cream and cutting up fruit.  Dad is playing computer games with the boys.  The girls are hiding in their room with shining stuff and scissors and they are really giggly.  


I don't know why I'm surprised though, this happens every year!  Mum (I don't think she's my real mum, we look nothing alike) has been preparing for months.  She keeps circling things in catalogues and shopping on the Internet.  Then, a few weeks ago there was a terrible raucous.  The big box came out of the cupboard and the kids went nuts.  There were big long snakes of shiny stuff everywhere, and little balls with cotton on them.  It was very confusing, no one let me play with them... they kept hanging them on the plastic tree and laughing at me!  


Last week the craziness continued.  Mum and Dad came home during the day with gigantic boxes and coloured paper.  There was ribbon and toys everywhere.  I have never seen so many batteries.  I couldn't understand what they were doing, it is usually the kids that play with toys.  Perhaps Mum and Dad wanted to have a turn before the kids got hold of them, they do have a tendency to break things. Not me of course, I can't be broken, I'm a tough guy.  It doesn't matter how often they scratch my ears or pull my tail.  I love them just the same.  There is nothing better than a nap on the couch with a kid curled up next to you.  Oh wait, yes there is.  Fetch!  It's the best game ever! Oh dear, here it comes...

 Uh-oh, reindeer ears.  The stupid girls are putting them on my head and taking photos.  My head feels crooked.  "AAAWWWW" they are saying.  Apparently I'm soo cute.  In actual fact, I soo have a headache.


They are putting out biscuits and milk, not for me, but for some guy they call "Santa."  I don't get it though,  I have never seen this Santa dude.  This time of year all the humans just go silly.  I worry about them.  But then after a few weeks the plastic tree gets put away and the shiny stuff goes back in the box.  Eventually everyone settles down, the kids go back to school and we all go back to normal.

Finally!  They are all going to bed.  I have to admit, bed time is a lot easier tonight.  Mum is saying that Santa won't come if they don't go to bed by 8.  I wonder how Santa comes in the house without me seeing or hearing him? I'm an excellent guard dog, you know!  Last year I got a present from Santa too. So maybe he waits until I'm asleep and tip toes through the house.  Ah well, he doesn't take anything... he just leaves gifts.  He must be a pretty cool guy!

Aaaahhhh, the lights are out and everyone is in bed, I'm just going to curl up on my bed and relax.  Apparently tomorrow is a big day.


Merry Christmas to All and to All a Good Night!






 





Wednesday, December 23, 2015

On Lonliness

 


Being alone is hard.  Being alone at Christmas time is even harder!

I have always had family around me.  I have not always had a significant other.  Even when surrounded by family, it is possible to feel very alone at this time of year.  You look around and it seems like everyone else is having more fun than you. Cousins are bringing their new partners to Christmas lunch, There are young children in shopping centres, at the dinner table, at the pool and in your spare room.  Lots of women seem pregnant. 

You wrap gifts for everyone you know and some people you don't know.  You know that you will not receive nearly as many gifts as you are going to give... even though it isn't about that.  The gifts you get are impersonal, unsuccessful attempts to show kindness to the single, childless aunty/uncle, sister/brother, friend.  These gifts usually come in the form of chocolates that you don't like, shortbread biscuits that you don't like, low fat  recipe books, speed dating vouchers, bath items or crazy cat lady coffee mugs (even though you don't drink coffee or have a cat). 

Christmas can be a difficult time.

It isn't that you don't appreciate the effort people have made.  It isn't that you aren't happy to see the family.  It isn't like you don't love playing hide and seek and sitting at the kids table because the adult table is full of couples.  It isn't like you are would rather be at home in your P.J's drinking wine and eating ice cream from the tub.  It isn't any of those things.  It isn't that you don't want to be loved.  You do want to be loved and appreciated and included. 

The thing is, sometimes it's easier to stay home, than it is to spend the game on the bench!  (Look at me using an appropriate sports metaphore!)

This is so true.  Loneliness is a terrible thing and struggling to communicate is a lonely experience!!:


I say a lot about choices and consideration around here.  I believe that happiness is a choice.  I know that we all get along better when we simply take the time to consider the feelings of other people around us.  Maybe you can't see things from the perspective of some people.  Maybe their view of the world is so messed up that there is no way you could anticipate their reaction to the fifteenth fruitcake they have received this Christmas.  That's okay.  You can't be perfect.  Maybe we should consider the idea that no one can be perfect.  No one has a perfect Christmas.  No one! 

The mum surrounded by husband and kids at Christmas time - the one you watch with a bit of envy and disappointment in yourself - sometimes looks at you that way.  You see smiling children in cute Christmas outfits and a husband with an arm around her waist.  She sees a mess of wrapping paper, more toys to tidy up, extra loads of washing, streaky silver to clean, children on a sugar high and all she really wants for Christmas is a nap! Sometimes the grass looks greener but is actually synthetic. 

What is my point? 

Your Christmas experience might be a bit depressing, but rest assured you are not the only one.  Your efforts are appreciated.  Don't buy bath products or chocolate for the single childless aunty who is dieting and don't send her on a singles cruise!  Focus on the positive and if all else fails;  Write a blog post about it and accept that you will probably be misunderstood. 




 

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Wrappin' around the Christmas Tree!

Well, you have had another look at the wrapping I did a few years ago.  Today, you can see the wrapping that I did this year.  Some of my best yet.  :D

I pulled out the entire ribbon stash that we had and used up everything I had.  I used a little bit of curling ribbon and lots of fabric ribbon but my favourite was the stiff wire edged ribbon.

This idea was from somewhere... I used A5 coloured paper,
the green one was cut in half long ways.

This one is two lengths of different coloured ribbon.
Wrap around 4 fingers (or a jar lid of the size you want)
Tie a piece of ribbon around the middle.
Separate the loops from each side to make the puffy look you want.
 

I conquered the loopy bow!



Another puffy bow with two different colours and types of ribbon. 
I am really happy with this one.

I saw instructions for how to wrap cylindrical gifts on television.
So, I found that so much easier this year!
So, the basic rules with wrapping... my basic rules for wrapping are:
1.  Use what you have in the house... or buy something specific... do what is easiest for you and within your budget.
2.  Consider who will open the gift wrap.  A beautifully wrapped gift that is taped into perfection, is appreciated by an adult, but won't be appreciated by a child who just wants to get to the gift.  On the other hand, a gift in a brown paper bag will not be attractive to a kid either.  Make it bright and fun, but don't spend too much time making it 'perfect'. 
3.  Have fun with wrapping and if you don't find it fun, then spend more time doing what you love. 

That's that then.

Only 3 more sleeps!  Appreciate it!


Monday, December 21, 2015

The Best of AGT's Christmas: It's a Wrap


This post was first published on AGT on 19 December 2012 as part of a Countdown to Christmas series.  It doesn't feel like 3 years since I wrote this post and the series.  I have finally finished all the gift wrapping for this year, so when I show you some of my wrapping this year you will be able to see what has changed about my wrapping.  I think I have improved.  We will see.
 


I promised I would share gift wrap stuff and here it is.  Our family are Salvos –common knowledge- and Mum used to volunteer for the Salvos wrapping presents at Myer –not so common knowledge.  Anyway, I learned a lot about wrapping from her.  Myer had a quality assurance thing about how wrapping was supposed to appear.  I have that perfectionist thing happening and when wrapping gifts I want them to look awesome! Since my first knee injury (11 years ago), the family gift wrapping has seemed to land on me and I’m known for my wrapping style.  I tend to go just a little bit over-the-top with the curling ribbon.  As far as I’m concerned, when you are wrapping presents, there is no such thing as too much ribbon!!!
See... there is not enough ribbon on this gift! 

This year, I have been accessing a lot of genius wrapping ideas from a number of craft blogs I follow and random things I’ve seen on Pinterest.  My main source of wrapping inspiration has come from Older and Wisor’s series: How to Wrap Your Crap.  I love this name.  She has Seasonal ideas as well as wrapping tips for all year round.  


From
Pimp Yo' Presents Series
on OlderandWisor.com
I also dropped by 30Days of Pinspiration and discovered Britt Morin.  She has pinned a bunch of ideas for wrapping and decorations for the festive season, although heaps of the ideas are adaptable.  You will see I have hyperlinked to boards and sites above, but I have also hyperlinked original sources under each picture.      


I love this idea from brit.co using coloured electrical tape to dress up plain paper
Now, let’s look at some of the cool wrapping I have done so far (not much).   I took a few ideas from above and gave myself permission to do what works for me.  If you are anything like me, it won't look like the picture, so don't stress!  


Gotta wrap the calendars!  Just tie it in a bow!
Don't forget to cut a triangle from each end of the ribbon for pretty ends!

When it comes to wrapping, I am not ashamed to admit that I put thought into which paper goes with which person.  The girls get pinks and the boys get blues.  The multi-coloured papers go for anyone.  In the past I have tried to avoid using the same paper for people in the same family.  For instance, Mum’s gift is wrapped in different paper to Dad’s.  I feel like I’m revealing some weird obsession as I type this.  Many people don’t fuss over gift wrapping like this, I know.  Other people buy only one or two paper types and wrap everything the same so that it co-ordinates with their tree.  Check out yesterday’s post about Tree D├ęcor

I love the loopy bow (click for directions), but it doesn’t love me.  I think I have successfully pulled off, exactly ONE of them.  Below you can see the original loopy bow and my loopy bow.  I have resigned myself to the fact that I’m not going to do any more of these (at least not this year).  But it looks good and if you can do craft with little fuss, than you will find this easy.  I don’t do anything with little fuss, so you can imagine! 

The Original Loopy Bow
Picture from Older and Wisor
My Loopy Bow
(I used ribbon and for my centre I used a pre-cut  stick-on bow).  













 





My Sister's boys!!

My sister and I were not great athletes.  She enjoyed playing netball in her youth and when we were both very little girls we learned ballet and tap dancing.  Both of my feet pronate - I'm flat footed- which means that walking is quite tiring at times and I don't run with any kind of efficiency so I was always last in the running races and was not that great at sport.  You experience failure enough times and you realise that there are better things in life.  For example, reading and writing and all those lovely things you can do sitting down. 

My sister has 5 sons.  Her husband loves to play soccer.  So, when the boys came along (they didn't all come at the same time, they are different ages) it was natural that Dad's love of soccer would be passed on to the offspring.  They love soccer.  As soon as each boy was old enough, they were signed up to a soccer club.  I just love going to Saturday soccer- 4 games in a row.... the highlight of my weekend! 

Anyway, do you know how much soccer stuff is nice and square? None of it!! Unless you buy a book about soccer!  These boys don't want to read about soccer, they want to play soccer. 

My sister couldn't have signed them up to a book club? NO.  She had to sign them up for Soccer!

Do you know how difficult it is to gift wrap a soccer ball?

Check out what I found...

You want to see the result of  my own ball wrapping....?
I'm so clever!! :D
For more wrapping tips, check out my Pinterest board: Gifts, Wrapping, Cards

Our tree looks great this year and surrounded by huge pile of presents!!  Wrapping seemed so much easier this year, although my back is very sore, now!!

Just for the record... I LOVE DOUBLE SIDED TAPE!!!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Minion Massacre

 


 
I've always said that I need my very own minions.  If you don't believe me, check this out...



What kind of minions would you recommend?:
Source
So, I was quite excited when I got to work the day after my birthday and found my very own Mini Minion Play set on my desk.  Talk about a perfect birthday gift from one of my team.  :D



I set up my minion friends and their little world on the bottom shelf of my cube cabinet.  They were sitting comfortably beside my nesting soldier doll and my Find-Its.  Everything sitting nicely on the shelf ready to be scooped up by one of my nieces or nephews on a quiet afternoon. 



Find It Kids
Source

Source
 
Shelly watched me set up the Minions with cautious fascination.  In the morning I found the Minions laying on the floor. 
 
Like this.
It was a Minion massacre. 
 
I don't think Shelly likes them. 
 
 

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Christmas Shopping

Today, I went Christmas Shopping.  I spent an hour at one shopping centre and mostly browsed.  I went to another shopping centre and spent another 2 hours there.  After buying clothes for myself and picking up several small items for Christmas gifts.  I did not enjoy shopping today.  I'm tired and I'm ready to go to bed!

...and to all a good night








Monday, December 14, 2015

HOLIDAYS HOLIDAYS

I'm VERY EXCITED. 

There is so much to do!!

Christmas wrapping
Christmas shopping
Birthday celebrations
Leftovers to eat... yum
Naps
Housework house work housework
Craft to Make
Supplies to organise


So many stories to tell

So much to do.

see ya soon

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Thank You Cards and Glue and Stuff

If I don't see another thank you card until next year, I will be a happy lady!!

I have been making thank you cards and compiling gifts for the teacher aides who supported in our Learning Support Programs.  There were a lot this year! This was mostly due to timetable changes and the extra funding we decided to spend on TA support. 

The teacher aides who support in our classrooms are amazing.  They really do make a huge difference to me and my students.  I feel it's important to acknowledge their effort - especially when they go above and beyond - and tell them how much I appreciate them. 

I have to say, I do love my circle/ square cutters and my washi tape collection which made it so much easier to create this little collection.  None of these are perfect, but I'm really happy with most of them and I got better with practice so that's a good sign!  Each card will go with a small paper bag containing Freddo frogs, a pen, a pencil and a highlighter.  Each bag will be tied with gold ribbon.  :D Here are photos of the cards I made.