Thursday, March 31, 2016

The two young girls at the supermarket

I was doing my weekly shop at Coles recently. It's my usual supermarket of choice, I go there at least twice a fortnight for our groceries so it is a rather mundane task. I am a stickler for routine so I know the aisles like the back of my hand and where all my usual products are so reaching for them is thoughtless. It's usually a peaceful part of my routine because I go alone, I purposefully choose that store because it's not usually busy and I can do the entire process without seeing anyone I know, I don't stop and talk to anyone or make much unnecessary contact with strangers. I just like to get in, get my shopping done and go home; but at the same time it's not a rushed experience either. Just quiet, in contrast to the rest of life being a parent.

This particular trip was no different to any other. I had worked my way right through the store and had two aisles to go before I headed to the checkout. I don't usually make much eye contact with passerbyers. But in the corner of my eye two young school girls up ahead of me, not even facing my direction had caught my eye. They were wearing a high school uniform. I don't know why they stood out to me that day because I don't personally know anyone who attends the local high school these days. But without even a second glance I knew who these girls were. I could feel it. I took a discreet second look to confirm my suspicion and I knew I was definitely right. I know this sounds creepy but as I slowly finished off my grocery shopping completely aware of them and trying not to stare, I just watched them. They were with their Mother, they were quiet as they helped her with the groceries and so totally polite. Beautiful young women.

It was such an emotional experience for me. As weird as this seems... I just wanted to go up and hug the younger of them. But I resisted the urge because that would be completely freakish. They wouldn't remember me. Even their Mother didn't remember me. So I just quietly watched from a distance soaking them up for as long as possible before they loaded their trolley with their groceries at the checkout and left for the carpark.

The young girls were apart of a family who attended the child care center I had my first job as an educator at. Way back in the early days. When I was brand new to the industry. The younger girl was in my room and I cared for her right from when she was a baby through to maybe 3 years old. She was a part of a bigger family and I had a connection with her. Throughout my career as an Educator only a small handful of children really touch you quite this way. I wouldn't call them favourites because it's so different to that. It's a connection. Like a feeling you get that if something awful were to happen you would welcome them into your home without hesitation.

So this totally weird emotional experience I had in the shop that day was, I think a mixture of feelings. Feeling proud of the beautiful polite young women they had become, the feelings of seeing them both for the first time in so so so many years. I guess I never expected to ever see them again, and the fact that I recognised them even though they grew up and changed so much! And that feeling of wanting to go up and hug them but knowing they wouldn't know who I was and not being able to. So, I returned home that day feeling happy, sad, content, so many feelings. Feelings that I need to cherish my own children's childhood because they grow up just so fast! Above all else rewarding, that in some way as a Child Care Educator that I contributed to the people they are today, even if it was just the tiniest contribution but a contribution all the same.

I think it's these tiny encounters throughout life that makes anyone in that industry, child care or education which makes it all feel worth it.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Oven Baked Wrap Chips

I am ALWAYS on the lookout for some great non-food-wasting ideas. The recipes you can turn to when you need to use up a food right before it goes off and has to be thrown out.

My kids love wraps. I like to include them in Hannah's Kindy lunch at least once a week. Or we often have chicken strips with salad wraps for tea. So occasionally we don't use them all up and after a week or so of being opened I wonder how much longer they have before I should throw them out. 

A while ago, we went to a friends for an outdoor fire and camp oven dinner night and she had brought out these homemade wrap chips. They were delicious! As she was telling me about how she made them and I was reflecting on whether I should start making them at home... I was thinking, considering that a packet of say 6 wraps is usually around $4, it seems like an expensive way to have chips when you can buy them ready to eat for as low as $1.50 when on special. Despite the fact they were really yummy and probably a much healthier alternative. Yes I am a tight a$s! Ha ha ha.

So, after throwing a the remains of a packet or two of the wraps in the recent months I remembered the wrap chips. And figured, I am not buying the ingredients especially to make the chips and I would be throwing them out anyway... these would be a really great solution to use them up! So that is what we did today.


We laid the wrap out on the chopping board, sprayed it with some olive oil. My friends recipe called for coconut oil but this was all we had in our cupboard at the time. You can get these really awesome spray bottles from Coles. Grind some sea salt over the top and then repeat on the other side. Cut the wrap like you would a pizza and lay it on a baking tray. I baked them until they started to brown and turned crispy.



They were really yummy. Hannah enjoyed helping me make them and both the kids enjoyed eating them afterwards. I think they would be really great used with a dip too. We personally love olive dip at the moment!

A big hit in our house.

Do you have any great food saver ideas you can share?

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Back to school for the first time.

I have a confession to make! I have a feeling I am going to be one of the uncool school Mums. I am embarrassed to admit how much I have over thought preparing Hannah for Kindy and how over organised I am Scrape that! I don't think what I am is organised because i'm not, I think it is that every aspect has been so over thought and as a result I have gone way past what is necessary. Therefore I think I'm at the point where I'm at geeky uncool status. It's a pretty straight forward list of things she needs for the year.

  • Hat
  • Water bottle
  • Lunch box
  • Sheet (which they specified should be a towel with elastic attached across each corner) plus drawstring bag to put it in... small pillow optional
  • Spare change of clothes
  • and a bag to put it all in.

I have worked in daycare for over 6 years so I have seen my fair share of what works and what doesn't and how difficult it is when things aren't labelled. Cause lets face it 20 or so kids with 20 water bottles it is way too much for one person to be able to remember which belongs to who. But being on the other side... the parent side, it's just so different. There is a huge variety of options, styles, brands and functionalities. How do you work out which way to go for each and every thing?

I think my problem is that I don't cope great with change (something I learned about myself over the years) and my baby going off the Kindy, her first time out of my care for any longer then a few hours is a HUGE change! And it is very confronting! That this stage is coming to an end. The stage where you have your babies at home. That wonderful fulfilling, warm, fuzzy, sometimes-pull-your-hair-out stage where it's just us hanging out, being together. And now entering the next part of the rest of their life. Where they are that one more step towards independence, that one step closer to being out in the big wide world. And that moment where you feel like you wasted that 4 years, that you didn't make the most of it and that i'm not really ready to let that go. I know I can't control time and I think that is why I am over doing it all because I need to feel that sense of control over some part of this transition. That, and that I want this new experience for Hannah to be perfect and everything that she has hoped it would be.

So, let me confess that I brought her a $40 lunch box :-/ and thinking about it now I feel so ridiculous! And I am so so embarrassed to admit it! But to justify that, it was my one splurge out of everything we needed. Mostly everything else was pretty cheap. And it is pretty awesome! The Kindy requested not insulated, so I did a bunch of research and found that the Yumbox Original was really popular. And for good reason. The inner tray is removable and dishwasher safe and when the lid closes it actually has inbuilt seals that stop food from mixing and spilling preventing soggy sandwiches and the risk of losing lids and containers and less time opening things means more time for eating her lunch because she is a very slow eater. That... and it's pink and has pretty pictures and I know she will love it. 

Because of its small compartments It doesn't fit a whole sandwich in it's original state so that led me to look into all things Bento and how cute they can look if you have a couple of sandwich cutters, or even try some other great alternatives to sandwiches. There are a lot of options out there. 


So with the most embarrassing item on the list over and done with I will briefly touch on the other items I have lined up...

I got a cheap/not so cheap water bottle from the reject shop, Hannah chose a frozen straw type water bottle which was $7. It was a good choice cause it seems to hold a fair amount of water which is great. Then because she loved it so much she broke it a week out from Kindy starting so I went and bought another one. Now I have some spare parts up my sleeve.

Hannah picked out a cute little girls flower backpack from Big W for $15 in a great size to fit everything but isn't too big for her to carry. The front pocket seems to be just the right size for her lunchbox and it has a wet clothes section and a regular section and a pocket for her water bottle. 

I did think about getting her a personalised backpack, I wasn't going to mention it but I am bringing it up for the exact reason why I decided not to. I think it is an important message to share. Having your child's name visible on their backpack opens them up to stranger danger. A stranger can see what the child's name is and call out or approach them and spin whatever story they may need to coax them into their car. I believe the same rules should apply to their hats. No largely printed names on the front or outside of the hat. I opted for the Stuck On You label pack which included iron on labels and a bag tag which I will position to sit between the bag and Hannah's back when being worn and I also applied a label inside the bag for in case the tag is lost.



An amazingly talented friend Peta from A.E Handmade knocked up the required towel with elastic sheet for me because I am the world's worst sewer and I grabbed a cot flat sheet and a little pillow we already had at home that has a handle. Perfectly suited for the job. To throw it all in- my overthinking brain kicked in and I ordered a personalised drawstring bag from Harvey Norman.



And now I am getting to work labelling everything with the Stuck On you Labels I mentioned above. We also went and had a haircut and I have even given thought to the up and coming Head Lice situation which is inevitable. When I was at school we used to mix lavender oil and water in a spray bottle and apply it each morning which seemed to help keep them at bay. I don't know if it works but I am going to give it a try. Hannah and I both have long hair so prevention is definitely a better option for us than a cure.

Now I think all that is left to do is pre make some lunchbox fillers for the freezer.

Please don't pick on me!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Craft day it is!

The buzz of Christmas and New Year's is over but the beginning of all things 2016 has yet to start. The novelty of all the Christmas presents has started to wear off and we are home from holidays and getting back into our regular routine of things. Ben has resumed work, nightshift in fact meaning added pressure to keep the kids as quiet as possible and I am still trying to catch up on sleep and rebuild my energy levels after a particularly hectic couple of months so leaving the house is being avoided as much as possible. But lazy days in are not as welcomed by the girls as they are by me and cabin fever is creeping in. It is mid summer so it is scalding hot outside and I am starting to run out of ideas to entertain the kids.

Today, my strategy of choice was a craft day. I reorganised the girls desk and included some drawers to contain all of their art supplies; and when I began to think about where we should actually start I remembered the Artine Stix that were sent out to us recently. Perfect, something new to explore and try out. We decided to pull out some giant colouring in pages that I keep for rainy days and I let the girls go for it.


Knowing full well that colouring only lasts so long; but there is so many things they can do with this set. Colour, build, play. So while they were busy I decided to do some research. I went straight to the website artlinestix.com.au and found some great pages including the Play Inspiration page where you can learn from other Artline Stix "inventors" or upload pictures of your own creation and it could become the "featured creation". Or you can even join the Artline Stix Play Club for games, competitions and freebies. Click here to go to the registration form.

It also includes a step by step guide to build a bunch of different things and downloadable, printable colouring pages. Perfect!



So, armed with all my findings I returned to the girls determined to make craft time span out as long a possible. Hannah was particularly interested in having a go at building with the pens and their connector parts. She was trying to build a "long wiggly snake".



Both girls really enjoyed craft time today and it kept them quiet and entertained for quite a while so I say it was a success. We enjoyed exploring the Artline Stix pens. I really loved the Brush Markers, they are lovely to use specially for colouring. If you would like more information about these products check our their website artlinestix.com.au or if you would like to know more about our opinions or have any questions please feel free to post a comment. I'd love to know if you have used them before or if you have done any great crafty projects lately that we can try.