Saturday, May 30, 2015

Focussing on What is Important

I use google mail for my email to avoid being tied to any particular ISP.  Over the past few weeks I have had a few problems with not receiving emails. I had checked the usual junk folder options, but nothing appeared amiss.  A few days ago, I accidentally stumbled on the problem.  For some reason google mail is taking emails and adding them to the trash!  I have checked all the rules, but I cannot find the reason why.

In reviewing the contents of the trash I discovered several blog subscriptions about personal finance had found their way into a new home.  The funny thing was I had been so busy with life, I had not really noticed that they weren't in my inbox. I spent some time recovering the articles and moving them to my inbox, and as a temporary measure I monitor the trash each day to grab them out.

In reading an article this morning, it was talking about a process to journal what you are doing each day and how happy you are doing it.  The concept is that you find the times when you are most happiest and then spend more time doing those activities.

It has been an introspective week of mulling over a few things, so it was a timely read, and an epiphany that I had wandered a little off course.  By trying to focus on making everyone else happy, I had forgotten to take time to focus on what made me happy. 

I am most happiest when I am organised.  And in turn being organised allows me to focus on things that make me happy, and it improves the quality of the family life.  Each weekend the youngster has free range of technology or television, or any activity of choice up until 9:00 AM.  From there, there is a technology switch off.  We have followed this routine for many years, but of late things have slipped.  I have also noticed that stepping in the footsteps of an older brother has meant that there is some mimicking of the types of games he likes to play.  Within the bounds of what is age appropriated, I have allowed for this to occur.  But what I have noticed is that there is a distinct behavioural problem that occurs after playing time battling opponents. 

When being better organised, I am better able to ponder life's mysteries, and in turn this enables me to be a better parent.  The iPad has been lost at about 9:05 each morning, and has not been played any evening during the school week.  The result is that there is a forced down time to focus on other activities.  This in turn has resulted in the youngster being better organised, and an improvement in our relationship and her behaviour.

This morning at 9:05 AM she rushed out to advise that technology is to be off.  Initially I was annoyed, I bet that is her reaction at the 9:00 AM announcement!  I had spent the time working on reviewing the finances for end of month, adjusting the progress on goals, filing away some of the stack of paperwork that is on the desk and transferring photos ready for new blog updates.  I quickly recovered and put a note on the schedule for how I felt about the morning..  I remember that I actually like to cook each weekend.  To prepare options for lunch boxes and advance meals, and to take time to prepare for the family dinner night that occurs. 

I also love to minimise wastage, and reduce our grocery budget as much as possible.  Our weekly budget is $100 per week, and it has been this for several years.  Despite our family of two often being five, we still have not adjusted the weekly budget.  I have actually had time to go back and start menu planning for each week, tracking our progress against budget, and organising to have our groceries delivered.  In short, we eat better when we have more time, and it costs us less to do so.  I love the conversations from the youngster that occur about what is planned for dinner.

We took a look at the surplus items in the fridge and pantry, and made a bee line to whipping up a weetbix slice, complete with the Easter egg chocolate topping.  Instead of me doing all the cooking, I stepped aside and let the youngster take charge.  Now I am the first to admit, I have kitchen control issues, and they do not cope well with the cyclone child.  Despite all of this we managed to spend time learning about fractions, weights and temperature of melting chocolate.  This was a nice opportunity to review maths homework and to look at real life examples of how it is useful.

Unfortunately there is a requirement for some new winter pj's, so a trip to the shopping centre will be required, and that will not be chalked up on the happiness meter, I detest shopping.  But perhaps we can stop in to the nursery on the way home and grab some new herbs to replace the ones that the turkey pulled out over the weekend.  Now the pool table is gone, I have some spare room inside, so they can grow safely on this side of the glass!  We also need to wash the car, fill up the garbage bins and potter around the yard doing some odd jobs.


Cultural Goal 2015 # 2 - Paniyiri

It's the cultural goals each year that are the hardest to achieve.  Not because there is anything particularly difficult about them, but more due to the fact they do not normally roll around my little brain as the possibility of something I may consider.  I naturally gravitate towards concerts and sporting events, and my annual goals in this area serves to more anchor me back rather than inspire me to do more!
This year I went to see the acclaimed "Wicked" stage show, and it was fantastic.  When I saw that Dirty Dancing had made its way to a stage show, I was quite enthusiastic to pick up a couple of tickets to that.  But alas, said partner was not enthused to attend that one, and I was sent back to the drawing board to look at alternative cost effective options.
As we were driving past Musgrave Park on the route home, the youngster asked what was happening with the setup in there.  We then had a conversation about what Paniyiri was all about.  It must have been on her mind, as the next night she announces that apparently honey puffs are awesome, and she would like to try some.  We then made plans to find a spot in the weekend calendar to attend.

Whilst honey puffs were on the list of things to try, for me I wanted a souvilaki, and I must say it was delicious.  Half way through the honey puffs, I get the question about how many she needs to leave for Mummy to have a try.  I responded with a "3 would be good".  A few minutes later there was a "how about 5?"  Honey puffs are very filling!

We watched some Greek dancing in traditional costume whilst eating lunch, and then wandered around for a short while before heading home.  It was a slightly cheaper outing than the Dirty Dancing show, but this was an event that we actually did together rather than an adults date night.  Sun, food and fun......what's not to love.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Project Front Fence Update

As with all the projects that need a tradesman, this one is progressing at the pace of a snail.  I get used to arriving home each night, driving over the boarded up drawbridge, and looking at the lack of progress.  Today however I was mighty surprised by the....well progress?  I knew that we needed to get power from the front fence to the house, but I had not expected the cyclone to whip down through the middle of the garden!

Long gone are our natives where the birds sit each morning having their breakfast, the frangapani tree that is the unique colouring on the property and a stack of other darn plant that lived here for the past fifteen years!  Big sigh, oh well I now need to create a new project called front yard renovation post new front fence.

On the other view, the bricks are now up which was good news after leaving angry three brick layers at 6:15 AM this morning who were looking at where the pile of bricks should have been!

In an effort to make painting around the future fixtures a little easier, I took the paint can up to paint the two posts.  Another sigh, yes the electrician thinks that we can have lights on two different places on the pillars.  One will be centred and the other will be right on the edge.  Bound to look lovely I am sure.  Back on the phone with the coordinating tradesman.


Time to Replace the Car

Replacing the car has been on the list of things to do for several years.  I had tried to delay it until I had paid down my mortgage to a certain level.  But alas after more than six months of filling up the oil every week, then the water started to vanish as well.  The Bluetooth stopped working...and the frustration started to mount. 

The local mechanic was not helpful in alleviating the oil issue, so eventually it became time to part, before the engine went up in a gush of flames!  After picking out what I would like as a new car, said partner weighed in with the reminder that there are five in the family, and therefore I needed to compromise for this vehicle.

My initial reaction was not so excited, but after awhile and a few more litres of oil, and a price check on other options, I started to come around to the idea.  After scouring the net to determine what the deal should look like, I headed down to the Coast to chat to a dealer who had a demo model listed for sale.  The sales lady made sure I was comfortable for the discussion.

Supposedly the mini muffin, English breakfast tea and the soft drink was to limber me up for a easy sale.  I had planned a teleconference with a customer at 3:00 PM, so after the spiel on the test drive and the very scripted process of getting me to the pointy end of the pricing discussion, I politely referenced the pre-existing appointment, and left the lady hanging with an unfinished negotiation.

Meanwhile back home, the negotiation had to continue.  After the test drive I was happy to purchase the compromise vehicle, whilst the partner had done the 360 and thought the compromise vehicle was too small.  After some discussions the green light was signalled.  Promptly at 9:00 AM on the Monday morning, the lovely sales lady had rung to continue the journey.  By this time I was looking at some $600 of tyres which needed to be fitted at the end of the week, so I was keen to get the price in the desired range, and exit before the weekend.  Now the sales lady was backing up on end of month, and she needed the deal to go through that week also!  Turns out the deal was struck within a few minutes.

Fate then through in a customer meeting back down the Coast later that week, so I modified the schedule to allow time to swing by and swap vehicles.  Very slick process of having the personalised plates zipped from one vehicle to the next, then off to the display room to have the unveiling of the personalised plaque, said photo with the ribbon, and a flash of what's in the boot?

Matching hats for us both, Moet Champagne, wine glasses and Belgium chocolates.  Very nice!

Partner Surprise
Each year I love to attend live concerts and sporting events, I actually plan them into my annual goals program.  However, I had not ever been to a netball game.  In a general conversation whilst passing an advertising sign, dear partner let slip that a visit to watch the Firebirds play, was on the list of things to do.

Mental note made, and off I went to pick up a couple of surprise tickets, and an afternoon babysitter.  The games was really excellent, much better than I had anticipated.  The middle child is a sporting nut, and was quite disappointed at not making the starting two to see the netball.  Given the low price of the tickets in comparison to other professional sporting events, I will pick him up a ticket for a match next season.

Project - Front Fence

With a block of land spanning more than 3000 square metres, it feels like the fencing has been a never ending process over the fifteen years.  Thankfully, this is the last piece of the puzzle.  Although not scheduled to be done at this stage, the migration plan for cohabitation has commenced, and the family of five comes with a Golden Retriever.

Tonight upon arriving home, the hedges of the past decade have been torn out, and the foundations for the new wall are underway.


New Pets

After some local rain during vacation time, the girls managed to locate a tribe of snails.  Apparently Sam is a water snail, and Crystal is just your run of the mill snail.  After living at school for the past few days, the Director has instructed that the snails are relocated.  Given my child was one of the finders, she was desperate for her two snails to come home.

After several days of nagging me about what snails eat, do and how they live with friends....I finally agreed that the two gross little critters could come home.  We stopped by the cheap store to pick them up a new container, as I refused to let any of my current food containers become a new habitat for slimy and disgusting creatures, even if they do have names.

The next challenge was air holes for breathing.  I managed to find a very small drill bit and create some very professional air holes.  The child was bounding up and down with excitement.  She also whisked off the milk lid to create a bath tub of filtered water fun for the newbies.+

Lettuce was dished up in small bite sized bits, and the snail "schedule" was consulted.  We can feed them apples, mangoes, lettuce, carrots, limes...blah...blah...did I mention they I still think they are disgusting, and they have been banished to the laundry to live.  I have been told that they sleep and are awake at random times, of course I think that they are dead, but then Ruby the aquarium snail did lots of random things as well, and I often thought she was dead.


I am hoping this is a flash in the pan, well not literally given that we are not French!!  I have said at the appropriate time they should be set free to live their lives on the acreage :-)


Friday, May 22, 2015


I really don't understand the onesie craze.  I mean, "onesie" how is that even a real word.  Regrettably my 20 year old niece has decided to hand down her onsie to my nine year old.  Understandably the 20 year old is tiny, and the nine year old is tall....but the small adult size onesie is really way too big for both of them.

As you can imagine from the picture, eeyore has a long tail that seems to entice Mummy on the way up the hall each night.  So I skip along behind trying to land on it, giggling away that eeyore seems to have a really really saggy butt! 

The mornings are the funniest, you can never see the youngsters head, just a donkey lying on the pillow. 

Nutty Professor Lives Here

When we get birthday or Christmas gifts of things to do, I usually pull out a stack of the items and place them in the cupboard for future use.  This saves the everything open at one time, without really taking in each of the gifts. Consequently we have a misc cupboard of fun that gets used on those times when technology has been mandated to off and the instant boredom cry erupts "but I have nothing to do!"

On this occasion when I returned to the living room, the following spread was in play. 

Certainly looks like the Nutty Professor is in the middle of more than concocting bath bombs.   Hmm, maybe I should re-check the internet usage to ensure that no other ingredients are on the way for making bath bombs!!

Easter Bunny Lives On

As we approach ten this year, the chances of Easter Bunny continuing, diminish.  So it's a small blessing to still get to experience these precious moments.  These days the amount of help required by Mummy is almost negligible, with self sufficiency kicking in.

This year Easter Bunny also got a hand made carrot card.   But what she wanted most was for Easter Bunny to wake her up, so she could just get a glimpse of him.  When I explained that as old I was, I had never been able to meet him myself. After a few days of pondering, she decided that if he could just slip a photo under her pillow, that would suffice.

After a few days of pondering myself, I came up with a solution that may just work.  I decided to create a desktop background for her laptop, with an image of Easter Bunny, but his face wasn't facing the camera!

Of course, the. I needed to get her to turn the laptop on to see the handiwork!

Then to carefully arrange the display for completeness. 

The end result was super, and there was a shriek of delight very early the following morning, as well as some light hearted amusement at being outwitted by the Easter Bunny. She has vowed next year to be more specific on the photo requirements.