Fabulous freebies

Posted November 28th, 2006 by Penny Wise

My luck certainly seems to have changed since my last blog, maybe I should buy a lottery ticket while the going's good! I must tell you about Ali's eczema for starters. He has never suffered from it in his life before, but over the last couple of months he developed a small patch under his armpit, which over time got bigger, and bigger and bigger until it smothered his entire underarm area and beyond. The poor little guy was really suffering, with deeply broken, weepy patches. I remember Fran Sheffield the homeopath telling me I should avoid treating eczema with steroid creams such as the ones I had given to Liam in the past (the reason being, it only suppresses the existing problem and doesn't actually cure it) but he was in such a bad way I was close to giving in. I emailed Fran and told her the symptoms and she suggested a remedy which my Mum happened to have. Twenty four hours later I remembered to ask Ali how his armpit was and we were both absolutely amazed to find his eczema 100% gone – disappeared without a trace! Honestly, you had to see it to believe it, I don't know who was more stunned, Ali or me. That was it! A severe condition cleared up completely thanks to some free advice and in this case, a free remedy.

Mind you, I was lucky not to have had to give my poor boys another remedy for food poisoning as well! I picked up a packet of meat pies for the kids from the local store and cooked them one each for dinner last weekend. Both of them had upset stomachs not long after and I didn't put two and two together until the next day when I was delving in the freezer and spotted the expiry date on the packet - 30th September! No wonder the poor things had been feeling queasy! Once again I found myself thanking the person who sent in the Shoebox hint; the simple system I use to save all my dockets. The receipt I needed was stashed safely in my little shoe box and I was able to take them back to the shop with proof of purchase for a full refund and a replacement. Just as well that little problem was so easy to fix, it could have been much worse!

We all have niggling worries now and again - you know, the ones when you almost drive yourself batty trying to come up with a solution, only to find that it really wasn't worth getting in such a stew about after all? For me it has been trying to find a new home for my donkeys, Bentley and Jade. For a long time they have been in desperate need of a decent farrier to care for their feet, but being rescue donkeys from a remote island, no amount of gentle cajoling or bribing with treats has ever brought a successful result. As far as my two are concerned, humans are very nice people who give you lots of carrots if you serenade them loudly enough, but that's where the obligation ends. When it came to regular donkey maintenance, I failed, the vet who owned them previously had failed and so had the two farriers I begged and bribed to have a go at trimming their feet. No chance of getting near them with a grooming brush either, and not for lack of trying! Over the past few months it became apparent that what Bentley and Jade needed was a new, more experienced owner, but who would want to take on two scruffy donkeys with behavioural issues? I kept putting off the inevitable but in the end I could stand it no longer and rang a woman whose phone number I had been given weeks before but had been too embarrassed to contact, for fear she would think me a neglectful mother. I admit, another huge concern was how much rehoming them was going to cost. While I didn't want any money for them, only a loving home, I was dreading to think how much it would be to get them transported to a new location – potentially hundreds of dollars. I took a deep breath and confessed all my donkey woes to the understanding voice at the other end of the phone, who reassured me I was not a bad owner and in fact she knew someone who took in donkeys and might be willing to help. I couldn't believe it when I found out my guardian angel lived just ten minutes away, how could I not have known about her? So I made a second call, regaled the whole sorry tale once again and couldn't believe it when straight away she asked 'Do you want me to take them for you?' In fact, I don't know who was more excited, her or me! Turns out she devotes her 30 acre property to training and rehabilitating donkeys and has successfully transformed animals with far worse problems than mine. Instead of the hundreds of dollars I had feared to transport them, she is making the ten minute journey on Saturday to pick them up in her own horse float, costing me absolutely nothing! If only I had known of her existence I would have made that call months ago!

A fortunate outcome indeed, but the saving I am most proud of was made yesterday on what I am sure is going to be Ali's favourite Christmas present. Remember how he had requested Stephen Larkham's autograph on his Christmas list? I really wanted to make his wish come true, so decided to bite the bullet and give it a go. I searched online for the Brumbies rugby team website and rang the contact number given. I explained there was a little boy in NZ who was a big fan and desperately wanted Stephen Larkham's autograph. The receptionist put me on to their team manager, who straight away said he would love to help. By the time I had finished the phone call ten minutes later, he had arranged for Stephen to send a personal message to Ali, complete with a signed photograph and a Brumbies beanie hat! I was blown away and it was all I could do to keep from spilling the beans when Ali got home from school. I can't wait to see his face on Christmas morning! While I was on a roll, I sent an email to the Wellington Hurricanes, team of Liam's idol and former All Black captain, Tana Umaga. While they were unable to source an autograph as Tana was overseas, they offered to send a giant poster of the whole team for Liam's room. Two brilliant gifts that the kids will love and they both cost me absolutely nothing! Now – if only I could find some pyjamas for Ali's platypus...

I was particularly impressed that I had managed to come up with such special, low cost gifts after a conversation I had with Liam the night before, which left me reeling. He has always been popular at school, even though he doesn't think so, but lately several of his friends have been fighting over him in an attempt to monopolise his friendship. Like any Mum, I was naturally proud to see my boy so sought after, but Liam hates confrontation of any kind and the stress of his friends all trying to pull him in different directions was really getting to him. 'I think I know what the problem is Mum,' he confided that evening. 'It's because I have so much stuff. My friends don't have anywhere near as many things as I do, so they always want to come over, but I just end up feeling sad because when they come to our place - they never want to do anything fun with me, they just sit inside and play my video games. They don't realise I save up my money to buy the cool things they like. They don't realise that you buy heaps of things for half price on your computer or find us stuff for free - they just think I'm spoilt.' I have to admit, I could see why his friends thought that – the boys' rooms still resemble a toy shop from my Sad Sally days, even though they have grown out of many of those things now. 'So how do you feel about having more than them, does it make you feel lucky, or does it make you feel sad?' I asked him. 'I don't know', he admitted, to my surprise. 'Mum, you know all the things we don't play with any more? Can you sell them please, because then it won't look like we have so much stuff and then maybe my friends will want to play outside with me instead of sitting in my room.' He didn't have to ask twice! I would never have believed it, but contrary to the old saying, I guess you CAN have too much of a good thing - I just wish I had realised it years ago.

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