Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Wordless Wednesday - the yummy edition

We found an old fashioned biscuit press at a garage sale this weekend...

We are a little in love with it. 

A lot in love actually.

$5 well spent. 

Linked with My Little Drummer Boys

May's Challenge

May has been a big month. Work has ramped up with everyone taking leave one after another. Frog turned three. WonderMan finally landed a steady, well paid job. 

So you could imagine nothing much else has been going on behind the scenes... but in fact I've spent the last 29 days challenging myself to Buy Nothing New In May!

Sounds scary doesn't it? In our fast paced world where you can have anything you want, customised to match your decor, your hairstyle, your dog... not buying anything new can seem a bit crazy. The world is at your fingertips! Buy! Buy more! You want this! You neeeeeed that!

We don't really. There are things I would like to have. There are things I have I don't particularly need, but they make life comfortable, and entertaining.

But we don't need all those little things that creep into our lives, piece by piece, until one day we turn around and shout "Where did all this stuff COME FROM??"

It's the small things, the insubstantial, the fast and cheap.

I challenged myself to be more mindful of what I buy, when and why.

With just two more days to go I have to say we have done pretty well.

Maybe it's because we don't have a lot of spare money. 

Maybe we have just become adept at looking at an item and working out the true value it is going to give, aside from the dollar figure on the price tag. 

Maybe we were just grizzly old cheapskates anyway.

Whatever. It worked.

I picked up on this challenge via the My Budget Money Talks blog.

(For those of you who haven't heard of them, My Budget are a company committed to helping ordinary Australians take control of their finances and build a stable future - I will be sharing our story and how we came to be involved with MB in the coming weeks, and no, they haven't been paying me to write about them, I love them so much I am paying for their services and choose to write about our experiences.)

I'm always up for a challenge. I'm always enthusiastic and drive everyone nuts for the first couple of weeks... and then I generally go quiet and forget about it as the next new one comes along. 

I've had a small fear in the back of my mind that once we did come out of the financial dark times and had spare cash occasionally that we would go crazy and it would all disappear on nothing as it so typically has in the past.

So I was sticking it out come rain or shine, come whinge or whine.

We made one exception for Frog's birthday, because as I said here "Mummy is a consumerism nazi" was not going to cut the mustard come present time.

Aside form that we have been getting more creative with our time and money.

Tiger had a birthday party to go to and I was not keen on buying some random present costing us an arm and a leg, plus I have a hard time coming to terms with the "Here's $20, go nuts in the cheap shop" thing which they seem to have going on nowadays - I believe in quality and thought going into a gift.

Instead Tiger chose some gorgeous teal paisley fabric from my stash and I made her friend a knotted fabric necklace and matching bird softie. From the squeals of thanks I received when I walked in the door to pick Tiger up the next day the birthday girl was thrilled.

After unsubscribing to all the Deal of the Day websites, and removing myself from all those mailing lists you have to sign up for every time you buy a pair of earrings in a chain store, I thought I was free of marketing.

Not so. Our letterbox is a seething mass of consumerist tree killing. 

After a week we had at least 15 flyers and catalogs, so we cut them up and made origami bows and paper chains. An afternoon well spent with my girls, and didn't cost a cent!

I have always been one for meal planning but could be guaranteed to bring something extra home in my trolley just because.  This month has seen me gradually decrease our weekly grocery spend, and consistently return home with only those things that are ON THE LIST. My biggest win was the week I carefully added up everything in my trolley and the final total at the checkout was more than $10 lower! Score!

I stopped taking the family to Woolworths because I can control my "but you really want that Top Gear dvd" urges but cannot contain a 6 1/2 foot man with go go gadget arms who can have a trolley filled with nothing but Tim Tams and fancy coffee sticks in a minute flat.

I am already an avid fan of op shops and garage sales, taking lesuirely walks around strangers gardens, turning over the excess from their lives and finding the gems under the rubbish.

Especially here in wine country, where even the rubbish is interesting. 

We have had some additions to our walls in the form of cute and quirky artwork, hiding away in dusty corners waiting for someone to love them.

This month I have picked up numerous tops, dresses, and the obligatory beads I seem to bring home every time I even walk near an op shop. I've been groaning quietly about the coming winter, and the realisation that every single member of this family need a coat in addition to a big wardrobe boost so we all don't turn into ice sculptures. Last week I unearthed a fabulous red wool coat for myself for $4.50! There's $100 I won't need to be forking out in the near future.

We even found an old fashioned biscuit press and spent the weekend trying out all the fancy biscuits we could make, while the rain fell down and we reveled in each other's company.

And what have we learned?

We've learned the simple life brings the most enjoyment.

Laughing with each other is worth more than anything we spend money on.

We've learned to appreciate what we have, and think carefully about what we want, and need, so that every purchase we make in the future will be made with care.

We've reset our thinking away from the now, and put our long-term spectacles on.

I'm proud of our efforts to stick to this challenge. But most of all I'm re-energised for the next stages of our journey to financial freedom.

So how would you go? Could you Buy Nothing New for a week? a month? a year?

Monday, 28 May 2012

Mondays are Stupid

Today was stupid. Really stupid. And it's still here for too many more hours.

A bit like dear old Garfield I had to take two or more goes at everything, including getting out of bed, and basic things like dressing myself.

Work is never easy on days like this. I generally get through and manage to find all my mistakes but I could feel things getting stupid when the first customer I had called me a "fucking bitch" as she walked out the door.

 If she had said it to my face I would have either melted into a flood of tears or flipped her the bird. Probably a good thing she didn't...

I felt sorry for her until she did that. 

I'm sick of feeling sorry for people.

I'm sick of taking on the frustration when I have to say no to someone and it's not what they want to hear. 

I had to do that a lot today. And it wasn't because I'm a fucking bitch. 

It's because they are asking me to do something that I can't, or they have done something stupid and they are asking me to make it better. 

When you work in the financial industry it's always going to be your fault. Even when it's theirs. And on days like today that pisses me off a lot.

It won't piss me off quite so much tomorrow.

I will be able to help someone next time I stand behind my counter in money land.

Someone will be happy to see me and give me a big smile in return.

So I keep going back. 

At the moment this job gives more than it takes out of me.

 When it's not giving anything back I'll move on.

Until then... I'll be your friendly "fucking bitch" behind the counter,  hoping yours is the day I can make today.

And a red hot tip - be nice to the people who serve you wherever you go - because you never know what someone can do for you until you piss them off and they don't do it.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Crashing back down to earth...

How quickly things can change...

Buoyed by a fabulous weekend with family and Froggy birthdays, I was unprepared when Monday morning reared up and smacked me in the face.

It's attitude central at Casa del Nat, with Tiger leading by disgusting example.

By the time I dropped her off after another shitty morning today I was in floods of tears and had to stop until I could get my eyes to stop leaking and I could see to drive home.  

We USED to have days like these.

Since we settled in to Wine Country, and got over the first few crazy weeks, I have not seen a performance like this.

The full force of her rudeness and attitude was there, along with an even more stubborn than usual refusal to do basic things like "Puuuuuut yoooooouuurrr cloooooothes ooooooonnnnnnnnn!!!" (Yes, I did sound like that by the end... interspersed with sobs).


Monday I rang the medical clinic and got myself fast tracked for a referral appointment with a doc so I can get Tiger to a child psycologist. We need an expert, because I can only do so much. 

The busy weekend had flared up her anxiety, and along with that comes the overwhelming floods of feelings about things she can't control - like her bastard father who disappeared four years ago.

I cop it.

I cop the nastiness, the name calling, the days and days of pure misery that only she can create.

I am better at understanding the whys. I can see the reasons so clearly.

I can't fix things, even though I desperately want to. This is something I can't do.

I can manage the outward behaviour but I can't heal the inside.

Tomorrow we are going to be referred to someone who can. I am not leaving until we do.

In the meantime we have to get some order back before she gets completely off the rails.

This morning she tried it on with "You love Frog more than me, my life is so terrible, you treat me like shit, it's not fair".

I could argue back but she will just call me a liar. Been there, done that.

Instead I went home and decided to deliver a quiet little reality check.

In order to keep a teensy bit of sanity during some of our toughest times, I abolished chores. The battle ground was too bloody to continue. No matter what I tried, she dug her heels in further, and when life was going to hell in a handbasket there was no way I was going to continue that fight.

So when she screamed at me today about how hard her life is, and how much I expect from her, I figured it was about time the chores were reinstated.

On her arrival home this afternoon I had four freshly printed pages stuck to the cupboard doors where she puts her school bag away. A morning and afternoon routine, one for her, and one for Frog. Both including two small chores to be completed every day.

She seemed enthusiastic and immediately took her afternoon tea and went off to do her homework. The chores were completed with a smile.

She needed that strict, uncompromising routine back, to help her head straighten out. 

The real test will be tomorrow morning, and the morning after that, and the one after that. And every day when I'm tired and I want to take the easy way out. Or when Frog doesn't want to brush her teeth or pick up her shoes, just like all three year olds do, and I'm fast losing patience and running out of time.

But I have to do it for Tiger. If this is what it takes to help her feel safe, secure, grounded, to stop her world shifting under her feet, I will do it. I will heal the outside, and together we will heal her heart.

Tomorrow is a new day.

UPDATE: The routines gave Tiger something to focus on so her mind could quietly get back to normal and her behaviour settled almost immediately. 

On Wednesday we got our referral, and Tiger has been triaged into the waiting list for a top psychiatrist from the Adelaide Women's and Children's, who visits up here regularly. 

 All your comments make my heart feel full and happy, you are a very special extended family and I want to squish hug all of you xx

Sunday, 20 May 2012

On the crest of the wave....

Surfing... racing... leaping...

Poised and ready to race towards the future...

Three is the tipping point, the crest of the wave...

The baby behind... the girl ahead... tumbling and splashing towards the shores...

My smiling babe... 

My garden elf...

My free bird...

Who gave so much to my big, troubled girl...

My seaside sweetheart...

Bringing light to the darkness...

Holding our hands through every day...

Loving with such fierce and unbridled passion...

Growing, and building...

She can "do it by I self you know"...

She who appears in my bed... 

Who explores every where she goes....

And does it in style... 

She lives fast and hard....

And knows what is precious...

She gives me the giggles...

Adores her big sister...

Makes her own way... 

There are times when living this vivaciously is just too much...

My little dream-eater....

My paper stealer.... My creator...

My big little girl.

Tomorrow, three is here.

Frogive me a tear... a reminisce... a little heartache...

As we surf down the crest of the wave into the sparkling future...

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Photobomb - Tiger's Tenth Birthday

With a week to go until Frog's birthday, I thought I better clear the camera and upload all of the photos from Tiger's birthday......

which was in February.....

I'm not a dedicated photographer by any means.

So I'm photobombing you with some snapshots, please don't judge my photography - my camera is old and I keep promising myself

"one day I will learn how to take photographs...... one day"

We made tissue pom poms!

We had plenty of bubbles

Super Granny getting into musical dress ups

Crazy dress ups!

All she wanted was a chocolate cake with flowers - I delivered.

Party packages for lovely girls

Baby niece discovering balloons
I will get Frog's party photos on here before Christmas, promise!

Friday, 11 May 2012

FFS Friday -The "It's ok I didn't really need my second kidney" Edition

Energy bill arrived. FFS.

It was double the budgeted figure, messing up my healthy budget once again.  FFS.

Despite all our energy saving efforts, and an air con that was not working for six weeks of a twelve week period, it still looked like this. FFS.

Mother. Fucker.

I have a Visa Debit card to avoid further ridiculous debt through the devil spawn known as credit cards. These cards are simple and functional and I love them. So I happily pay for things on the internet or phone all the time. Until now. FFS.

I tried to pay for something on the internet today, and it refused my card. Despite the fact that it fully functional through the Visa system, they will only take CREDIT CARDS. FFS.

I would reluctantly use the credit card as a last resort but I CUT THEM UP BECAUSE THEY ARE THE DEVIL. FFS.

So now I have no options and I'm a weeping mess. FFS.

We had another repeat of the "let's play a stupid game all day" teacher at Tiger's school. FFS.

It seems I have the only child in the class who comes home pissed off because "We played a stupid game and didn't learn ANYTHING at all." Everyone else is more interested in how they can get that substitute back again so they can goof off. FFS.

There's only a week until Frog's birthday party. FFS.

Despite a strict RSVP date of tomorrow (including "Things you need to know" note stating I have to give definite numbers by that day) the only reply to Frog's invitations have been my parents. FFS.

I am alternately having nightmares about having A) hoardes of people turning up that I haven't catered for; or B) tumbleweeds blowing past our mountain of party food and my child crying in the corner. FFS.

The next person who tells me "Oh no one RSVP's anymore" will get a fork in their eye. I always RSVP, and anyone who doesn't is a fucking rude bastard. FFS.

I have signed up to the 12 Week Body Transformation which means I have to do that exercise stuff that crazy people do. FFS.

And stop the denial about my midnight snack habits. FFS.

All this while WonderMan stocks the pantry with baking for the work/school lunch week ahead. FFS.

If Michelle tells me I can't have wine I will Lose. My. Freaking. Shit. FFS.



Monday, 7 May 2012

Muhnday Schmunday

Hello Monday.

Yeah, that's what this little black duck looks like on any given Monday.

But despite the Monday air, I managed to kick butt and achieve something.

I let my excuses go and finally sorted and tidied Tiger's room.

She has been living with "moving box furniture" since we got here and I was so disappointed with myself for leaving it this long.

The problem is hers is the only room without built ins, so there's just nowhere to put anything. She has a toybox bookcase, a dresser and a desk. I sorted her books and stored some in the box compartment, leaving some room for her special things that she wants to display and also wants to keep out of grabby three year old Frog hands. 

I also used some bright baskets to add some colour between now and when we style her room and start purchasing some new furniture down the track. She now has a place for her crafts, a basket with toys that are safe for grabby Frog hands, and one for her ever expanding collection of shoes (JUST like her mumma!).

Sunday was spent cutting out Frog's birthday dress, and deciding on fabric for a birthday gift for Tiger's friend who is having a sleepover party on the same weekend. I started sewing today and hopefully will get my sewing room tidied later this week!

I'm sticking to my Buy Nothing New In May challenge - with a couple of small exceptions:

 the printable party pack for Frog's birthday, which I bought from Etsy, and I found cheaper than budgeted (why pay double just to add four letters to a banner that I am going to print myself??);

and some stuffing and various sized wooden beads to finish the birthday gift. It was a case of a few dollars to make something individual and special, or buying a random gift for a lot more dollars.
I managed an afternoon snooze without the complete system shutdown that normally results.

I even remembered my OSHC advisory meeting tonight and am now propped up with a cup of strong coffee trying to digest the new NQS documents. If I don't blog tomorrow you know my brain has exploded.

So on balance I think I'm winning, but I'll still step carefully over the next hour and a half in case Monday is hiding in wait, to pounce on me in my unsuspecting smugness.


Friday, 4 May 2012

For Fuck's Sake Friday!

Dear Baby G

Huzzah! It is Friday, go forth and whine my friends!

Don't mind if I do....

I have missed two (or is it three, I forget) FFS Friday's due to absolute complete screaming exhaustion. FFS.

And no, I didn't get to go to bed early... instead when I wanted to be blogging I was washing clothes, baking for lunches and trying to find my children underneath the mess that was threatening to suffocate me FFS.

On Saturday I decided to quit being a lazy bitch and do some exercise. FFS.

That afternoon, while cutting up one of WonderMan's old tshirts for rags I snipped the webbing in my hand with my fabric shears. FFS.

No-one believes me when I tell them these two things are related. FFS.

I haven't been able to do any more exercise because I couldn't use my hand so now I feel guilty and fat. FFS.
WonderMan spent the entire time at the hospital playing on his phone, letting ME take the children to the toilet, and wondering out loud how many stitches I was going to get. FFS.

It mofo hurt. FFS.

I got away without any stitches, but was reduced to doing sweet FA for the entire weekend. FFS.

So it got me out of the housework and the cooking but also meant I couldn't do basic things like read my book and drink my coffee at the same time. FFS.

Everytime I did do one of the few things I could do one handed WonderMan came and told me off as if I was pregnant with the second coming of Christ. FFS.

He wasn't that fussed about me moving furniture and painting entire rooms while I WAS pregnant. FFS.

WonderMan had to change jobs again. That or come home with a black eye because his boss is a bastard bully boy. FFS.

This meant I had to change our budget and add more bills.... now there are red spots in it again. FFS.

I've had two weeks off work and we're leading up to Frog's birthday and the budget already has red bits. FFS.

I can guarantee my magenta ink is going to run out while I'm trying to print Frog's birthday invites, and I don't have the funds to get a new one. FFS.

I didn't think about the fact that moving away meant that when one of the kids had a birthday we would have to have all the parents in our house for a long weekend. FFS.

And that they would be equally generous in their guilt tripping about having to come so far because it seems we are an inconvenience. FFS.

I just want to tell them all to fuck off but I can't because it's my daughter's birthday. FFS.

I started working out a list of daycare friends for Frog to invite and got a lecture from mum about "only having four, and don't spend too much money on .... blah blah blah" as if I was The Bitch and had no freaking idea. I've only hosted twelve kids parties of various styles and sizes before. FFS.

I don't want to have to see my MIL for four whole days. Her passive aggressive disapproval makes me want to cry and stab her alternately. FFS.

I am already feeling stabby and there's still three weeks to go. FFS.

No wait, there's only two. FFS.

WonderMan hasn't put the recycling bin out for six weeks, and it was full four weeks ago. FFS.

My invisible gardener turned up and trimmed my hedges. But not the top of the border hedge because that is a big job that requires an assistant. So my hedge looks like Peter Andre in the nineties. FFS.  

I can't work out if the ducted heating is going to cost more or less than buying wood and I can't afford either. FFS.

Frog is almost three. Which means she has more energy than her little body can hold, and goes at 100mph from eyes open to eyes closed. Super fun and super draining at the same time. FFS.

She is finding new and creative ways to have contrary hysterical tantrums to use up said energy. FFS.

She's also stopped sleeping unless spread out over our entire bed while we hang on to the edge of the mattress and shiver because she is allergic to the doona. FFS.

I've taken to sleeping in her bed through absolute desperation and discovered it's a million times more comfortable than mine, and is too small for WonderMan to share therefor warding off the wandering hands syndrome. FFS.

I'm getting the guilt trip for being too fecking exhausted to put up with the wandering hand. FFS.

My hand still hurts. FFS.


I've had my whine, and a wine or two.

I'm popping over to Dear Baby G to have a laugh at everyone's week, you should too. 

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Thankful Thursday - Schools Week

Today I received an email from Tiger's teacher.

I always wonder what I'm going to find when I open one of these, considering the first few weeks at school which were a pretty big struggle.

But this message made my day.

Not because of what happened, but because of what was done.

Apparently, during PE class today another girl said some pretty rude things to Tiger.

This made my heart break a little, because there's always that lioness inside you waiting to pounce on any unsuspecting human who upsets your cub. It's a normal reaction.

And I didn't find out about this after school when a note came home, or in a week when she finally breaks down and cries on my shoulder about it.

I found out within the hour. 

And in that hour the whole incident was dealt with and everyone was happy.

The teacher and the principal immediately spoke to the girl involved, and Tiger, and an admission and apology were delivered. 

 Everyone made sure  that she was feeling okay, that she was happy with the process and the outcome, especially considering this girl has bullied Tiger before.

I was absolutely blown away.

They did everything possible to make sure my little girl felt safe, secure, and happy after a bad situation.

I even got a teensy bit emotional when I received a follow up email after lunch, to say the school counsellor had caught up with Tiger in the yard and reported she was happy and secure.

For my anxious girl this is major.

I cannot say thank you to all the staff involved enough. I will be writing them a letter just to say how much their actions mean to me, and my daughter.

When she came home today I let Tiger know I had been told about an incident, and that it was all sorted out. She was happy and bright, and said "Mum, they made me feel great, and I don't feel angry, we all say stupid stuff sometimes". 

I don't know what was said, and I don't expect her to tell me, because I know she's okay.

We have never seen this level of care and commitment to the physical, mental and social happiness of our children.

There are a lot of schools who could learn by their example. 

And it's one more example that tells me we have come to the right place.

This is where we are meant to be, this is where our happiness begins.

And I am so thankful.

I'm linked up with Kate Says Stuff for Thankful Thursday.

You can also read a fantastic post by Denyse Whelan - here - saying thanks to our teachers and schools who are making our children's future brighter.