Yay! Our first Waikato SS Group get together is tomorrow! How exciting! I just hope I can remember how to get to Hamilton Gardens, it's been a few years! It's been a funny old week so far. The painter turned up on Tuesday, told us he wouldn't be here Wednesday as he was taking his two kids to the zoo but would be back on Thursday. It's now Friday lunchtime and we haven't seen him since. I know, I know... luckily the second painter was very understanding and has promised to wait in the wings for a while in case we need him to pick up the pieces. Egads, why are things never straightforward around here? Have had both the kids at the doctor's this week, firstly as Ali was off school for a day with suspected concussion. I can't stop laughing every time I think about it! Over the past fortnight I have been decluttering feverishly and I had left a pile of old kitchenware out to donate to charity - an old serving dish, frying pan and so on. I left them where I would trip over them so I wouldn't forget to get them out of the house. Unfortunately the boys got to them first and it wasn't until I heard the dreadful wailing that I discovered what they had been doing. Trying to play tennis using a Swiss ball and the frying pan. The moral of the story is, don't! As Liam threw the Swiss ball towards Ali, Ali raised the frying pan up to hit it and the force of the ball knocked the frying pan backwards, bringing it crashing onto his forehead. I would have loved to have seen it, it must have looked hilarious! He was left with a big egg and a pretty impressive gash on his forehead, I'm amazed it didn't need stitches. The doctor said to keep him quiet for a day or two and watch him to make sure he didn't get too sleepy or disorientated. Of course this happened in the early evening so I was up and down like a yo-yo all night, going in and checking he was still breathing! The next day he felt better but was still very quiet and didn't go to school. It took the school secretary quite a few minutes to stop laughing when I told her why he was away!
Still, he's gone back to school today, along with a very happy Liam, who emerged this morning after having the best night's sleep he has had in weeks. I took him to the doctor yesterday too, as I was despairing of what to do with him. He hasn't been sleeping properly for ages, often still awake at 11pm and beyond and of course it was really taking its toll, especially on school days. I even started a Forum thread about it and we tried all sorts of suggestions but nothing did the trick. In the end I gave in and went to the doctor. It was a last resort because I really didn't want him to have sleeping tablets or Phenergan but we needed to break the cycle. We were greeted by a lovely new doctor, an Australian chap and as we told him about Liam's sleeping woes he listened really carefully to what Liam was saying and talked things through together before writing him a prescription. It wasn't for sleeping pills though - he told Liam to go home and take the clock out of his room! I couldn't believe it but it made so much sense! Liam was a dreadful clock-watcher and was becoming more and more concerned about how little sleep he was getting. So we took the clock out of his room and he slept for 10 hours straight last night! I'm so thankful we saw this doctor by chance; if it had been any other he could well have given the poor kid something to knock him out with and wouldn't have solved the problem at all!
Apart from the doctor's expense, it's been a pretty good week for saving. I still have well over $100 of my grocery money left and that's with the doctor's fees and a Christmas present taken out of it too. I'm quite enjoying my new belt-tightening challenge so far. I saved $11 on two items alone at Mr Patel's this week by buying cheaper brands of wine and ice cream than usual. Wow, what a big saving! Unfortunately the wine was barely grape flavoured and the kids have left the ice cream uneaten in the freezer for days but it was still a big saving and at least it will last much longer at that rate! It really did feel quite rewarding though, saving as much as that on just two things. Another challenge I have set myself is to get two meals out of every one. Sounds pretty basic but we rarely have anything left over at our house (purely because we are piggies and scoff such huge portions!) so making a conscious effort to do this has been a big saver this week. We had Sophie Gray's Goulash one night and I froze half of it, just like it says in the 'Hide the leftovers from the family!' hint. Guess what? We didn't starve either! The following night we cooked steak and sausages on the barbecue, accompanied by salad and Noel smoked the trout Ali caught. There was enough salad leftover for my lunch the next day, Noel had the leftover steak the following night and I used the leftover cold sausage to make 'Lonely Sausage Risotto' from Sophie's 'Enjoy!' book. Everyone loved it! This recipe made masses and nobody could believe how a single sausage could flavour an entire pot full of rice. I have also made Honey Mustard Chicken this week, using Ezri's recipe from the Forum. Everyone enjoyed that too! I didn't even panic when I had a batch of strawberry Easiyo fail. It wouldn't set but I remembered a Forum tip about pouring them into ice block moulds and freezing them, so I gave it a go and Liam thought they were wonderful. Waste not, want not!
Noel's vegetable garden is starting to rocket away with all the lovely weather we've been having. Soon I shall have lettuces falling out of the fridge and the first of what will undoubtedly be a couple of thousand zucchinis was proudly brought in to me yesterday. Stan the sheep is still AWOL, nobody has seen him for 12 days now but we live in hope. He's quite an unusual breed of sheep in that he doesn't need shearing so he kind of stands out from the crowd. Just not enough to be located yet unfortunately. Tonight we have been invited to a pot luck dinner at a friends' house - they're celebrating their house being painted (pah, I bet they haven't had to wait two and a half years!) so once again we will have to pack up half the kitchen in order to provide Liam with some suitable wheat-free food. Fortunately we have an abundance of wheat-free sausages as when we recently bought a whole beef animal for the freezer, the butcher offered to make all the sausages wheat and gluten free for us. They're not bad either! Liam recently had his first sleepover at a friend's since being wheat-free. I was terrified he wouldn't have enough to eat so went completely mad, sending him off with his own sausages, loaf of bread, wheat-free cakes and cookies, the 'right' potato chips and porridge for breakfast, along with a huge list of all the things he couldn't have. I needn't have worried, he had a wonderful time, his friend's mum was lovely and now she has 'The List' he has been able to stay several times since without any problem. On the other end of the scale though, it's actually quite expensive having friends over to our place now because I have to make sure there is 'normal kid food' available. So much of Liam's food is too costly to give away to everyone! You never know where pesky wheat is going to turn up either - even when I picked up a bag of plain frozen chicken pieces to make the Honey Mustard Chicken the other day I jumped when I saw on the packet that it contained wheat and dairy. Since when did chicken stop being just chicken?!
I suppose I shouldn't be surprised really, I just don't know what the world is coming to these days. Noel and I are still horrified at two of the news announcements we have heard in NZ this week. The first one we were disgusted to hear of was the health board who announced they would be awarding new mothers with $100 grocery vouchers if they agreed to leave the hospital within six hours of giving birth! This initiative was soon scrapped after a national outcry but only to a certain extent. Uncomfortable with the scheme being tagged 'bribery' by its critics, it has now retracted its offer of supermarket vouchers but would still like the patients to get the heck out as soon as possible. It just boils down to greed, doesn't it? Like this second announcement, which really takes the cake. Anyone who calls Telecom NZ's 018 Directory service will shortly find their enquiries being transferred to a call centre in the Philippines! Now where is the sense in that? I've lived in NZ for 15 years and still can't pronounce half the Maori names! Talk about a recipe for disaster. Perhaps I should write to both these organisations and suggest they join Simple Savings - that's a much more sensible way of saving money!