Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Budget Gardening

Given the acre of land I live on, landscaping tends to be an expensive exercise.  So whilst in between roles I went off in search of some options.  I managed to find this little gem;

It is a Queensland based company, and the plant prices are fantastic.  I did have to order 12 or 15 plants to fill the box as a minimum order quantity, so I selection a random sample of plants to check it out.  Within two days the box arrived at the door, and the inspection began.  Seriously great at packing this company is.

After unpacking, here are how things looked;

Only one snag, I somehow managed to order Port Wine Magnolia and not Magnolia Little Gem!  So they will be on the list for next time.  All up with postage the plants cost around $50, and although they would be bigger from the local nursery, the cost would have been easily 3 or 4 times more.


Right of Passage

It is almost a right of passage for young girls, as they move from Mummy deciding on what hairstyle I will have, to controlling one's own destiny.  For the past six months I have been avoiding the request for lopping of the curls!

It was recently that several others over heard the pleas, and then made a comment to me about who really loves the curls the most!  OK, it is me, the parent with the dead straight hair, I love the tiny blonde ringlets that I managed to create over on the child!  So it was with a heavy heart that we headed to the hair dresser.

As the first snip went, I asked "Maddy, can you hear that?  It is the sound of Mummy's heart breaking!"  There was raucous laughter from the chair, so it appears that my comments were well received! 

I look forward to the few years time when the stage returns that OMG my image is everything, I must have my locks back.   Of course that stage also comes with other issues, but I shall await the return.


Am I Fat?

Got to love the family humour, do these clothes make me look fat?


First Strings Concert

It is really hard to imagine that my daughter was so afraid of being in the lime light, that she would cower in tears.  She refused to go to the stage to accept her student awards at assembly, and each little performance for Easter, Christmas or anything was met with a shower of tears and flat out refusal.

Fast forward a few years to a new school environment, and this kid is flourishing.  Doesn't matter the cost, the outcome is amazing and her transition to finding herself is a wonderful one to watch.  Violin lessons have only been a handful, and well what I have heard at home was bound not to be the reason that parents flocked to the auditorium for the first performance after less than a term of playing!

This rendition from the teachers was fantastic for all those who watched the Never Ending Story, and it certainly set the benchmark for what the parents would love to be hearing at home at some stage in the future!

But the proudest moment is watching the intent on the little face as she goes through the paces and routines of the concert.


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Additional Time

In the time off between roles, it was pleasing to spend some quality time with the youngster.  So often with work, life priorities are harder to juggle, and although we have time together, the quality of that time is sometimes not what I would like it to be.  A careful reminder was an excited conversation after library day at school.  She is developing a passion for reading which is really great, but the cookbook coming home surely was a surprise.  I did have a big smile when the page was already marked, discussions had been held amongst the peers, and tomorrow she was bringing in these delicious little treats.....

Your reactions are priceless, and mine caught me a little by surprise.  On auto pilot the excuse for why I couldn't assist was already out.  I did react fast enough to say, actually we do have time, so let's swing by the supermarket and pick up the ingredients.  We also used that as an exercise to continue to hone our shopping and financial literacy skills, carefully selecting the right eggs for the best price.

With some additional free time I also took advantage of being present for extra swim lessons, time in the class for helping with lessons, working on presentations, being there when they were delivered and also setting the pace for the class with the first ones to make a movie for our demonstration.  We had a stack of fun doing it.  The out takes were hilarious, and it was fantastic to see the shy one evolve in front of the camera.



Wednesday, April 9, 2014

What was the last thing you quit?

I am not known to really be a great conversationalist.  I am more minimalist in terms of how I live life, and this also goes for verbalising!  If I think it is important, I will talk about it.  If it isn't, well I generally don't.  I am completely comfortable in a car on a long drive, lost in thought and not in conversation.  In my mind, I do have moments of communication brilliance, and decent thought provoking conversations, but as an introvert, communication it is sure not my most admired trait.  Although in saying that, I have managed to overcome most obstacles to be able to survive in the workplace, and lead successful teams.

After 22 months of dating, I have had moments of reflection about how to continually improve my relationship, and my/our communications could sure use a leg up.  I would like to know my partner, in a deeper manner than I do.  So in a random moment of shopping recently, ok it was really filling in time whilst my car was getting serviced nearby, I stumbled across a book called 'A Sentence a Day'.  The concept is that for three years you answer a question each day.  So as the years pass, you cross each day and then reflect on your thoughts of the same question throughout the years.  Pretty cool concept I thought.  But even cooler is that I can use this to help create conversations which bring deeper understanding to my relationship.

Today's question is 'What was the last thing you quit?'.  Not keen to rush into a response, I have pondered this for a time.  By nature I am a planner, with an extensive 65 year life plan, broken down into yearly goals.  So mostly I don't quit, I am actually quite stubborn, I hang on for dear life, willing goal attainment.  I do it at work and at home, it is a constant.  For example, I have an auto immune disease which often does not play nicely.  It impacts on my health and fitness goals, it impairs my ability to concentrate as my mind focuses on how to block out the pain enough for me to lead the life I want, it restricts my progress on housework, landscaping and many other activities.  But, I will not let it beat me, I will not relent and acknowledge that it has won.

My yearly goals hang in the shower, so at best I may lose focus for awhile, but my constant check in and realignment means I am never too far from where I planned to be.  I do have moments in life where the goal needed some tweaking.  For about five years I planned on moving from an enlisted troop in the Air Force to a commissioned officer.  This actually required me to get a degree and pass a commission board.  Trouble was I managed to land three lots of knee surgery in 12 months which wreaked havoc on the plans.  Not to be deterred, I took some time out, rebuilt to the best of my ability and then used the Reserves as a method to gain my commission.  I did manage to do this, and during my training I suddenly had an epiphany.  The goal was to prove to myself that I could be an officer, and I had actually done that.  What I really didn't need to do was to spend large chunks of time in another state, and away from my darling toddler.  When I left the Air Force, I did so without regret, knowing that I had set out to do what I wanted, but other priorities were more important at this stage in life.

I am a natural left hander, but I grew up in a time where teachers thought that left handed kids should actually be write handed.  So I learnt to write right handed at school.  This of course has an interesting impact on someone who spent a childhood playing any sort of sport, as much as she could.  I bat left handed, kick right handed, throw right handed and hockey proved to be something I could not overcome!

Now the interesting thing is that the ability to write with both hands is a skill.  It also allows your brain to use both sides, and supposedly fosters moments of creativity.  So each year I have a goal to continue to use my left hand.  If you ask me to write left handed, I can, but the legibility is not as good as it used to be, because I haven't continued to practise.  I have also been tardy this year in my daily quest to reflect and document my top 5 moments of gratitude.  I also started this concept with Maddison when she was younger, but she struggled with the concept.  Fast forward a few years, and she has now picked it up by herself, and I help her write in the her own journal her top 3 moments for the day.  We still need to hone the gratitude part, but it is a delightful concept that she will be able to look back on later in life.  One of today's items involved the pin the tail on the horse for the western themed day at vacation care!  Tomorrow is a visit to the aquarium, so that should also be amusing.

Naturally I have quit jobs, like most people in my generation.  Although I don't reflect on this as moments of quitting, they are more junctions in life where I have chosen a different path, or a career step change, and they are pieces to the broader strategy in the life plan, rather than OMG moments of despair!

In seeking balance in life, I have quite my obsession with OCD.....oh all right I haven't actually quit, but I have relented.  I can actually sleep at night knowing that there is ironing in the pile, an odd dish in the sink, and the edges of the lawn that have not been trimmed!

In reflecting on the concept of the question increasing my ability to communicate.  Well I managed to trot out a few things, which may or may not be insightful to my better half, but I am sure that they will spur on some future discussions.

Amendment 1 - it is noted that I have been an um, well serial dater since the demise of my decade long partnership.  So sure, I have quit a few relationships during this the past ten years.  I also quit my MBA whilst over half way through.  It was a decision made not long after ending my time in the Air Force.  When I first put it on hold, it was time and an awful non English speaking lecturer that was terrorising me.  Sometime later in life when I looked at the potential return on investment from the MBA in terms of time and money, I couldn't make a good case for continuing as the only real reason was it was set into the life plan, and would result in a few extra letters at the end of my name.  My quest for financial independence over ruled continuing the MBA.