The Great Dollhouse Renovation!

My girls were the lucky recipients of a hand-me-down dollhouse from their Mardie and Pardie (is anyone else noticing that none of my children’s grandparents have normal names yet?) a couple of years ago. It’s wooden, beautifully handmade, and very solid.

But kind of old-fashioned.

And as you might have figured out if you’re familiar with my Instagram page, I don’t really do old-fashioned at home.

*cue music* It’s time for a makeover!

I had hinted to Benji for quite a while that the dollhouse could use with a bit of a face lift, but my whinging hinting fell on deaf ears. So there was only one thing left to do – get the job done girl.

With special thanks to Ryobi tools, this is how I made our little dolls house go from drab, to fab.

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“She’s wearing overalls, she must know how to use tools”

Now, I know what you’re thinking, “she’s wearing overalls, she must know how to use tools.”

WRONG!

My idea of DIY, is getting stuff out of the shed and then standing behind Benji, loudly offering my guidance on what I think he’s doing wrong as he goes about the task at hand. But this time I was determined to do it myself. I’m a woman, I can do anything!

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Benji: “Are you sure you want to do this?” Getouttamyway Benji.

Using the One+ 18V Compact Drill was easy, but kind of counter intuitive to start with for a thinking girl – “So I have to push the drill into the dollhouse to get the screws out? Huh?” Once my brain got over that little fact, and realised that this was going to make my life approximately 1052 times easier, I got into it and removed all those screws holding the house together quicker than I can make my way through a packet of Tim Tams.

The backing board was next to come off, and that was just a matter of using a little elbow grease and some pent-up frustration. A few strong taps (“like you mean it” according to Benji) and it was off.

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Eek, there’s no turning back now.

It was at about this point – five minutes in, that I got a little bored out in the shed and needed a little something to keep me going. Luckily, this is where the One+ 18V Bluetooth Radio comes in handy. It’s small, lightweight, has AM/FM, aux and Bluetooth capabilities and uses the same battery pack as my drill. Sorry neighbours, but this bad boy is getting turned up and I’m getting my shed-oke (totes a word) on.

Now, the wall of the dollhouse was probably the part of the house I disliked the most and was most keen to replace. To get rid of the old wallpaper, I set my 2000W Corded Heat Gun to low and warmed up the backing enough to scrape that bad boy off. Good riddance! Using my limited computer skills to good use, I made up some wall paper, printed it on card and using 84 2 rolls of double-sided tape, lived out my fantasy of having a house with beautiful wallpaper in every room, in miniature form.

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New versus old… Ugh, get rid of it now!

In hindsight, I should have used PVA to glue down the paper, as the taped paper buckled slightly. If I was a perfectionist, I would have redone it, but it isn’t noticeable to anyone but me, so I’ve left it as is!

Next came the part I was dreading the most, and more than likely was the reason I avoided doing the renovation myself for so long – the sanding. Ugh…

Thankfully though, thanks to the 100W Multipad Sander, the old varnish came off that bad boy fast and easy. I decided not to disassemble the entire dollhouse because I’m lazy like that, which meant there were lots of little nooks to get into. The sander handled these with ease and I was able to sand the timber back to its former glory without too much mess or fuss. Smooth as bruh.

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Super easy to use. Dare I say it made sanding fun? Too far?

Because I’m a narcissist at heart, I decided the colour scheme for the dollhouse would mimic that of our renovation that we’re about to undertake, so off I went to Bunnings and picked up some sample pots of the colours I’ve had my eye on – Dune for the exterior walls and Basalt for the Roof. Snow Peak for the interior walls which I watered down to whitewash the floorboards to show the beautiful wood grain.

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The whitewashed flooring and herringbone “marble tiling”. So chic. So what I wish I could have in my actual big house.

Finally, it was time to put the house back together and see if it actually looked any good…

Drum roll please…

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Time to see if it’s been worth the effort or if I’ve just ruined a perfectly fine dollhouse…

Success! Avery running out to see the finished product and looking at me with delight was a major highlight. “I love it!”

*heart swells with pride*

I made this for her. Me. Not Benji. Just me. I must admit, I didn’t realise how proud of myself I would be at the end of this project. It wasn’t particularly difficult, or challenging, but it was something that I would usually make Benji do for me. I feel a real sense of pride in my achievement and I must admit, I’ve developed a bit of a taste for DIY…

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Happy girl, happy Mum

Watch out shed, I’m coming to see what else I can play with next!

This has been a sponsored collaboration with Ryobi, but we do not endorse or work with any products or brands we do not use and love.   

Ryobi delivers affordable power tools with pro features, all backed by their 6 Year Warranty* and are available exclusively at Bunnings Australia and New Zealand.

* 6 year warranty applies to cordless products registered at http://www.ryobi.com.au. Batteries and chargers have 3 year warranty only. Corded tools have a 4 year warranty.

 

The Problem with Preschool

2018 marks a big year for the Morrison family, Avery in particular. You see, in February, Avery will start what we in the Nation’s Capital refer to as “Big School”. What we are actually talking about is Preschool, or for those of you who live in most of the other parts of the country – Kindergarten. It’s the year before you start actual school. Ugh can we just have a nationally standardised school system already please?

Anyway, I digress.

Next year, Avery will be breaking free from the shackles of childcare and making her way into the public school system and she can’t wait. She asked for and received a new backpack from Santa this year, and we just braved the Boxing Day sales with Noonsie (AKA Grandma) for a new pair of school shoes.

It all sounds a little too fantastic, doesn’t it…

Of course. Here it comes…

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Swinging into the new year like…

BUT

2018 is going to be a major pain in the butt for the parent’s of the Morrison household, because Preschool in the ACT is only five days a fortnight. Two days one week, three days the next and repeat.

I’ve been chatting to many a parent over the last couple of months to get a feel for how they are going to navigate this weird and wonderful year in the schooling calendar and for most, it’s easy. Pay for a day a week at childcare and then only use it once a fortnight, or pop the kids over with the grandparents once a fortnight for free babysitting family bonding time.

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The Pre School year is a balancing act for many Canberra families

At this stage, Avery is booked into childcare, but to be perfectly honest, I’d rather burn a $100 note once a week than continue to put her in childcare for another year. I’m ready for her to move on. And as for the grandparent option, well… That’s just not an option for us. We don’t have any other family here to rely on. *Cue the violin please reader* Yes, we chose to move away from our families and set up in Canberra, but there’s still a massive amount of jealousy when I hear people talk about how their parents look after their children. I have tried in vain to convince my Mum to move to Canberra, but alas, she’s staying put interstate for the time being. Probably until the kids are both through Preschool and she knows it’s safe to come here without being hit up for a regular babysitting gig. Smart woman.

So where to from here? Ben and I are toying with the idea of us taking a day off once every four weeks, but realistically I don’t think we can actually afford to do that and we have to save our annual leave for the bloody school holidays (don’t get me started on those.) We could look at a nanny, but again, there’s the whole money factor. I’ve tried to hit up parents who have kids in school the same days as us to see if they want to do a sharing arrangement between the four parents so we would only have to take off a day every eight weeks, but haven’t had much success with that yet either.

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Someone is hanging to start Preschool. It’s not me, give you the hot tip.

So, here we are, with six-ish weeks to figure something out, I’m a little bit stuck. Not quite sure how this is going to work. And to be honest, I’m probably going to let it be Future Amy’s problem, because Present-Day Amy is still a little full and tired from Christmas to be thinking too hard about schooling schedules.

Sorry ’bout that Future Amy x

 

My Day with Anxiety

They say that drowning isn’t actually like you see it in the movies. There is no thrashing, no shouting, no waving hands. Just your head above water one minute and then it slips under, never to resurface… For me, that’s what anxiety is like. It’s silent. Calm on the surface. No major “red flags” for those around me to know everything is not okay. Drowning in plain sight.

BAM! The first wave crashes over me ferociously before I am even aware that I’m standing in the water. I’m on the ground, gasping for air. I get to my knees just as the next wave comes. BAM! Down I go again. Wet, confused and disoriented.

Of course, I’m not really in the water at all. I live in Canberra. There are no oceans here. No waves to knock me off my feet. Well, at least, none that you can see. But here I am. Gasping for air where moments earlier, I was going about my day. I’m actually walking through the local shopping centre on my lunch break as it happens. I don’t know what’s caused it. One minute I’m going through my Christmas shopping list and the next I’m telling myself to “act cool” as I walk through the crowds with a silly smile on my face in an attempt to “look normal”. Whatever that looks like.

The waves keep coming. It feels a little like an asthma attack. Struggling to breathe. Unable to fill my lungs up with air. Each breath harder than the last. Wave after wave after wave. And naturally, because I know this isn’t normal, I focus on it more. “Just breathe Amy” I tell myself as I walk into the book shop.

“You’re going to be okay”…

“It will pass soon”…

I buy some books for the kids and head back to the office.

“Breathe”…

I breathe in as deep as I can, but the air continues to evade me. I sit in meetings and answer emails paying very little attention to anything that doesn’t require my utmost attention. I have more important things to worry about. Like breathing. Who knew it was so difficult? I am focused on getting through this.

Before I know it, an hour has passed. It’s not getting better. I need to retreat, so I make my apologies and leave for the day. I need to be in my nest. My safe place.

Home.

“Distract yourself Amy”, I think to myself. I make lunch, I put on a DVD. I snuggle into myself. But those waves are still there. Every breath is hard. Laboured. Noticed. I can’t escape it. It’s wet and raining outside so I can’t (or maybe I just don’t want to) go for a walk. Plus, all of a sudden it’s four o’clock. It’s time to go get the kids. Time to put my game face on. The kids need your attention and all of it. No more time for thinking about how to breathe and why you’re having trouble with such a simple task.

Time to be a Mum again Amy. If you need to, you can lose your shit later, when the kids are in bed. But for now, get your game face on girl, because it’s go time and you’re needed…

The kids are a mess. They’ve been stuck inside all day and have too much pent-up energy. There are tears, tantrums and everything else imaginable. Two adorable mini tornadoes, ripping the house apart. But you keep your cool. You have to. You have to be strong for them.

“Breathe”…

Thai Red Curry for dinner, cooked by the husband, bless him. He really is a good egg. The girls of course, don’t want to eat any of it. “It’s DISGUSTING!” Bath time is next. Water everywhere, but squeals of delight and lots of laughter.

“It will pass soon”…

Bedtime comes and the girls are asleep. Peace and quiet again. But there I am, still on my knees in the water, floundering in the sand as the next wave approaches. Unable to get on my feet and walk away. Hair stuck to my face and body exhausted from the experience. Wave after wave after wave, just waiting for it to stop.

If you want to read more and find out where and how you can access help, start here, here or here.

You’ve got this Mama and so do I.

Unpopular Opinion: Why I Won’t be Buying my Kids Christmas Themed Outfits

Christmas is eight weeks away. Actually, it’s more like seven and a half. If you are a good Mum (I most certainly am not…) you will have already started your Christmas shopping. If you are an AMAZING Mum, you may have already finished it. Ugh, I feel dirty just writing that. To clarify, I’m usually the Mum who is still shopping for presents on Christmas Eve. I can’t be perfect 100% of the time okay? Give me a break.

Anyway, enough about me, back to the good Mums…

I know there’s a lot of you around, because I see you everyday on Instagram and Facebook, filling my feeds with questions about where I can buy the perfect Christmas outfit. And look, I get it. It’s super cute. Christmas is a day to get dressed up, take photos and document our cute little cherubs in all their glory before they turn into grumpy teenagers who do nothing but glare at you when you point a camera their way.

But…

It’s not for me…

Sorry.

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Love this dress so much I just realised I bought one close to identical for myself on the weekend. Not sorry.

I’m all for dressing the kids up in something special, but I can’t justify the cost of dressing them up in something that they’re going to wear once. Literally once. You can’t re-use Christmas outfits. Those snowflakes (why do our Christmas outfits even have snowflakes on them… It’s literally 35 degrees some years), trees, reindeer and Santas cannot be recycled for birthdays, Easter, even New Years one week later. From December 26, that outfit you just spent a chunk of money on is effectively useless.

Again. Sorry.

As you may have read, I am currently on a bit of a spending slowdown, so I guess maybe I’m a little oversensitive to this sort of thing this year. If you’re all for Christmas cheer and you’re reading this thinking I’m the biggest Grinch on the Internet, then that’s cool. Let’s agree to disagree. I’m still going to coo at the adorable pictures of your kiddies in their Christmas finest. I’m just not going to do it myself.

Like in years past, I will potentially get the girls a new dress to wear, but I may not. The dress Avery wore when she was two is perfect for Niamh this year, It’s white and sparkly and very festive. Just not Christmassy festive. And, while I think about it, the dress Avery wore last year is still sitting in her wardrobe and will probably fit her still if I choose that for her to wear on Christmas Day (haha, she’s four. She will choose what she wants to wear.) And yep, I know, I’ve just said that Avery might wear the same thing two Christmases in a row, so why couldn’t she do that with a Christmas themed outfit? She could, and then she would have worn that particular item twice, not once. Great, but in contrast, the outfit Avery wore last year has been used many times during the year for all sorts of special events. In my eyes, much better value for money.

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Cute AF and got to wear this outfit (sans hat) a crapload

So yep. While I’ll be trimming the tree, going all OCD with the wrapping paper and nagging Benji that we really do need Christmas lights on our house this year, I won’t be shopping for Christmas-themed outfits for the girls. May the mums of Instagram still see it in their hearts to double-click on my pics come December 25.

Why Wearing my Hair Curly is Brave

I’ve got curly hair. Not tight ringlets, not wavy and effortlessly cool. Just some middle ground kinda curl. Meh.

The kind of curls that for a large majority of my life I have avoided. At 8, Mum cut my hair short because she was sick of having to deal with the bird’s nest on my head. When I was 12, I would tie my hair in a ponytail at the nape of my neck and let it dry that way to try to get it as straight as I could. At 18, I would try furiously to blow dry it straight with very little success. Finally, when I was 21, a wonderful new invention revolutionised my hair routine – The Muster Hair Straightener. Yes, that’s right. There was once a time where GHD’s weren’t a thing and there was a big, clunky, heavy new kid on the block. I loved that bloody thing. For the first time in my life, I could have hair that was straight. I never looked back.

But now, 15 years later, I have two girls with the most beautiful curly hair and I want them to know that their hair is amazing just the way it is, so I’ve made a decision. At 36, it’s time to come to terms with my own hair. It’s time to own it. Embrace the curls.

So I’ve bravely been letting it air-dry over the last couple of weeks and wearing it curly.

“Ha. Good one Amy. Curly hair is really brave of you”

I know. It’s such a little thing. But for me? Not so much.

I’m brave because I’m not going to listen to the voices of all the people who think having an opinion on whether or not they like my hair curly or straight better is welcomed or valid (PS, it’s neither).

I’m brave because I’m dulling the memory of the controlling ex-boyfriend who told me he only liked straight hair on girls and so like a fool, I immediately went out and got my hair chemically straightened because I was so desperate to be loved.

I’m brave because curly hair is everything I’m not. Carefree, unpredictable and wild. walking out of the house in the morning not really knowing what my hair will look like for the day is a big deal for me. I’m trying to be okay with that. For a person who likes being in control of pretty much everything, it’s hard to let go.

I’m brave because changing the way I wear my hair everyday is changing my identity. I’m going through a bit of a style upheaval right now and the curls are a part of that. Who am I now? Changing my hairstyle has made me reflect on a lot more than what’s going on on top of my head.

It’s like I don’t even know who I am anymore…

But, really I do. I know I’m the most confident I’ve ever been in my skin. I am okay with heading to the shops in my trackies, sometimes even in uggboots, because Canberra is one cold sonofabitch and I have no interest in freezing in the name of fashion like I once did. I am happy going makeup free. Sometimes. And so slowly, I am becoming okay with my curly hair. It’s going to take me some time, because for as long as I can remember, I have tried to make it something it’s not. So please, be kind if you see me rocking my curls. I’m just a Mum trying to set a good example for her curly-haired girls.

On my Way to Financial Freedom – The Day I Decided to go Barefoot

I’m a spender, no question about it. I love having new things. Pretty things. That thing I saw in that magazine that looked like it’s going to change my life. Need it! You get the idea. I love stuff.

Thankfully, I also have pretty good will-power and a basic understanding of “don’t spend more than you make” so I’ve never gone into large amounts of debt or lived well beyond my means…

But…

I admit, being on two lots of maternity leave left my credit card looking a little dire and upon my return to work, my fortnightly pay was mostly paying the bills and mortgage first, and my credit card second. No money left for pretty new things. Wahhhhhhh! Doesn’t matter! I just paid $500 off my credit card, I’ll use that! And the cycle continued. You get the idea. I was constantly chasing my tail.

I knew something had to be done, but what?

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The magic cards of the Barefoot Club

Enter dear Husband, who sat me down one day and told be about this book that his mate had read. “A finance book? Yawn! No thanks!” was my first reaction. But I’m a good wife (ha!) so I sat and listened to what Benji had to say. Saying goodbye to debt, paying off our mortgage, setting up our girls with good nest-eggs, setting ourselves up with enough super to live comfortably until the day we bid this world adieu. It all sounded pretty good. All I had to do was read a book, and if I didn’t like it, I didn’t have to go ahead with anything. Simple enough.

Enter The Barefoot Investor by Scott Pape. You’ve probably heard of him before. He’s on the TV, in the paper, he’s bloody everywhere. Turns out there’s a reason why.

I’m not going to go into the specifics of the book for you here, but what I will tell you is I’m hooked. I’m in. All in.

His book is simple, easy to understand and gives you a great plan for how you’re going to set yourself up. It makes you THINK about your money more and I’m pretty sure most of us could use a little reminder to do just that. Especially those of us with a nasty internet shopping addiction…

Since reading the book, I’ve cut up my credit cards, opened new, zero-fee bank accounts and have set up my buckets of money so they are now working for me. Now I just have to stick to the programme.

I’m going to be more mindful about what I purchase now. Do I really need that 6th pair of jeans just because they are a shade lighter than the ones I have already at home? No, I almost definitely do not. Do I need that face-cream that’s going to help reduce fine-lines and stop me from looking like a dragon in the morning? Yes, yes I do. For a spender, it’s tough – not unbearable, but Benji and I are making it work. We have savings goals in mind and I tells ya what, we are going to smash them. That I’m sure of. Because like I’ve said before, I’m a stubborn thing and once I get a goal in my head, I get it done.

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Who knew that you could read a finance book in bed and stay awake?!

And you know what? It feels really bloody good. Knowing that I’m taking control of my money and setting my family up for financial freedom is giving me all of the feels. More feels than having all the things in the world can give me.

So if you feel like you’re a little overwhelmed with your money, take a deep breath and go find a copy of The Barefoot Investor. You might read it and think nothing of it, but for some of you, it might just change your life. What have you got to lose?

*Please note this is NOT a sponsored post – I’m just super excited to share something I’ve learned with you all!

** If you do decide to go barefoot like me and open an ING Orange everyday account before February 28 2018, email me at hellojadedmonkey@gmail.com to receive a promo code to receive $100 (conditions apply).

The Six Stages of Preparing for a Kid’s Party

Here I stand, in a friend’s kitchen, close to 10pm. Four piping bags cluttering the bench, bowls and gel icing everywhere. I’m exhausted because 9:30 is usually my bedtime #doiknowhowtoliveorwhat but yet I persist. This bloody cake is going to be the death of me…

It’s birthday party season. You see, apparently September is the most popular month of the year to be born, mostly because people seem to get, ummmm, busy during the Christmas/New Year festivities. True story. So for all the Mums and Dads out there gearing themselves up for another onslaught of birthday parties, this one’s for you.

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So pink. Much glitter.

SHOCK

“Are you sure? It’s only a month until Avery’s birthday? Really? Seriously, didn’t we just have her third birthday party?”

This is a common conversation I started having with my friends and husband around August. There’s that lovely quote about how the days are long but the years are short… I’m pretty sure that was written by a parent that was in shock that they already had to start thinking about another birthday party. FML.

DENIAL

“She’s only turning four. Do we really have to have a party? Surely she won’t notice…” Usually heard coming out of Benji’s mouth.

“Nope, she’s my baby. She’s never growing up.” Usually heard coming out of my mouth as I scoop up my “baby” and smother her with kisses as she rolls her eyes at me and reminds me that, “I’m not a baby anymore Mum. Actually I’m turning four soon”. Ugh.

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This one is still a baby at least. For now…

ANGER

“This is bullshit! Why do we have to bow down to society’s expectations of what a birthday party should entail? We are setting our children up for a life of keeping up with the Jones’, one iced cupcake at a time. I’m taking a stand. No cake! No lolly bags! I’m going to be the change I want to see in the world of kid’s parties!”

This stage looks a lot like me stropping around the house only to sit in front of my computer to trawl through Pinterest for party inspo… Sigh.

BARGAINING

“Okay. So obviously we have to have a cake. And lolly bags. We’re not monsters. But how about we buy a sponge from Woolies and just ice it? And let’s look into a play centre so we don’t have to turn the house upside down making it party ready. How does that sound?”

This is when it all starts to come together. Plans are made. Negotiations are heard and conditions agreed upon.  Breathe Amy.

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Because I’m not a monster

DEPRESSION

“Ugggggggh, fuck. Why did I say I was going to make a unicorn cake. Whyyyyyyy? Benji, does this look like a penis? Seriously. I’m going to stick in on the top of our daughter’s cake. I can’t have it look like a cock.”

This is when I start to doubt everything. RSVP’s are due tomorrow and I haven’t had a single reply yet… What if the kids don’t want to come? What if Avery doesn’t like the cake? What if her dress doesn’t fit? What if it rains? Oh calm down Amy – you’re having the party indoors! But seriously, what if the unicorn looks like it’s got a cock on it’s head. It’s 10:30 the night before the party. Wahhhhhhh

ACCEPTANCE

And finally, about five minutes before the party starts, “Let’s just enjoy ourselves. I’m sure it’s all going to be fine.”

And of course it always is. Even when things don’t go quite to plan, the kids always have an amazing time. All the effort, sweat and tears is worth it just to see the smiles on their little faces.

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100% worth it

So if you’re about to enter the six stages of planning a kids party, just remember you’re not alone… and just in case you were wondering, I’m pleased to report my unicorn didn’t receive any cock-like comments #nailedit