Monday, 19 August 2013

Birthday Party Angst

My oldest child just turned 7.  And it's birthday party year (we only do birthday parties every other year in our family).  I have a love-hate relationship with birthday parties.  Right now I'm having a hard time figuring out the love part of that relationship.  And I really wish I'd worked harder at outsourcing this party.  I feel that's a cop-out.  It's not a cop-out.  But I feel like it is.

So we have a theme - we're going on an adventure "Around the World".  And we came up with some cool invitations (boarding passes - can't say I came up with the idea myself - the internet is a very handy tool!).  Little people have said they're coming and now begins the hard part.  Menu, games, cake, prizes, agh.

The thing is, I pride myself in not making waste.  I hate the plastic kitch the children get in loot bags.  I despise loot bags.  They're wasteful and not at all environmentally friendly.  So the last time we had birthday parties we made cookies (biscuits/bikkies).  Beautiful butter ones that we iced ourselves.  It was a LOT of work.  I'd done it for my middle girl's 3rd birthday and so was obliged to do it for her sister's 5th but by then the baby was crawling and though I wasn't working it was not easy and I vowed that I would NEVER do it again.  

Planning a birthday party when you're not working full time is tricky.  Doing it when you are seems downright impossible (I know it's not, but at this point I'm still at the bottom of the hill mountain looking up).  So the question now is what do I do for prizes and "loot"?  We're going around the world.  I thought we'd visit China where they could paint a paper lantern/do something with chopsticks.  Then we'd visit Italy/Mexico where they could make pizza/tacos (and eat them).  Then Australia where we'd play a game (haven't figure out which one yet).  We'll go to India where my sis-in-law will apply some henna (have to get permission from the mums before I firm up this one!)

And finally we'd head to "Treasure Island" for a Treasure hunt.  I thought perhaps I could put some back to school supplies in the Treasure chest.  But the truth is, children have all that stuff.  Way too much of it.  Erasers, pencils, stickers, markers, crayons, we have them coming out our ears.  They're happy for a minute and then it's discarded for the next thing.  Sigh.  How do you teach children to be appreciative?  To value what they do have?  Perhaps I should just get a bunch of change and put that in the treasure box.  Can I do that?

The party will be fun.  I'm obviously someone who waits until the last minute to sort these things out.  I've got until Saturday at 5p.m. before the first guest arrives.  I'm not at all artistic and my creativity is limited (thank goodness for the internet!).  I love designing and making the cake.  It can be fun.  It will be fun.  Really.

I've been hesitant about blogging.  There's a level of anonymity that I want to maintain and it feels like the world is so small I'd get found out.  And then there's my state of mind.  It hasn't been very positive of late and really, who wants to be around a wet blanket.  If you're working hard in real life to maintain a certain level of togetherness and happiness it's difficult to do that in your writing and thoughts as well.  I have to say though this venting thing might work for me.  I've been invigorated.  I have some fresh ideas.  Onward and upward.  This party will be awesome.  Yay!

Monday, 12 August 2013

Same same but different

Living in Australia was very much like living in Canada but not.  The people are friendly (though Australians take friendliness to a whole new level), we love the outdoors, and our histories are somewhat similar (I think - actually don't take my word for it, I was just looking for a third thing to finish of that sentence).  But though we speak the same language, are a part of the commonwealth and have a high immigrant population (particularly in the urban areas), there are things that set us apart.  The weather for one but that's easy.

When I moved to Australia there were a number of things I had to get used to.  For one, they drove on the other side of the road.  Not a big deal since I didn't really drive - I just had to get used to looking the other way first when crossing the road.  (I can't actually tell you if it was right or left because I can't tell the difference in my head and have to go through a convoluted physical process of figuring out right from left which is impossible to do and type at the same time - but that's a post for another day perhaps). 

Anyway, there were things I had to get used to.  For one, instead of "How are you?" or "How's it going?" or "How are you doing?" they said, "How're you going?" to which I almost replied "on foot" on more than one occasion.  I was chatting once with another mum.  Both of us pushing our prams.  She was pregnant at the time and was asking me how it was with two children.  "How do you go with them?"she asked.  (How do I go with them?  Where?)  "Oh I just use the double stroller" I replied, a little confused.  Well you can see how that went.  We speak the same freakin' language and yet...

There were differences that I quite liked - they put sauce on pizza (in addition to the base sauce in case you were wondering if we don't put sauce on ours), they put rocket on pizza (which I love!), they call rocket, rocket (as opposed to arugula which is more difficult to spell), their love mom&pop type cafes (Starbucks closed up shop in Sydney which I think says a lot?), there was always poached eggs on the breakfast menus (and they were always done well - as opposed to well-done) and of course the banana bread.  They toasted it.  Once you've had toasted banana bread (with butter if you're feeling particularly indulgent) you really can't go back.  Well you can but it's not the same.

It's funny how when you move somewhere the differences are so apparent and then you get used to them. And when you get back you wonder why we don't do it that way.  We complained bitterly (ok not quite that much) while we were there that all four wheels on their shopping trolleys swivel.  Over here it's just the front two that swivel, the back two just go backwards and forwards.  When all four swivel, it can be difficult to navigate.  Until you're stuck between two stopped trolleys and decide that going sideways is the only way out.  Then the four swivelling wheels are something you remember fondly.

Same same but different was the name of a hotel that we saw in Thailand.  We didn't stay there but we loved the name.  It's a phrase we use often in my house.  Same same but different.  It's the way things are sometimes.