Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sunday 27th February

Today we decided to have a day out with Van and Reynold. Reynold and Bill are business partners and Van and I are their long suffering wives who have to endure the late nights, the filthy work clothes and the endless talk about industrial chemistry.

We try to get together socially as much as possible as the kids love to spend time together and I love to go anywhere with Van as she is such a foodie.

Today we headed to Cabramatta for some Yum Cha.

Van of course, knows the best place to go. The food is plentiful and some of it is very interesting - chicken feet anybody????

Van talks through each dish as it comes out. What this woman does not know about food is not worth knowing.

The kids are great - trying almost everything.

After lunch we go for a gourmet tour around Cabramatta. Van shows me where the best places are for fruit, veg and fish.

The kids are bored stupid doing this of course and look around for anything that could be considered a playground. Unfortunately, there is only a horse statue to climb - oh well, any port in a storm.

After a quick trip to the most amazing bakery - we load up with treats and head back to Van's house to have them with a coffee. A fantastic day.
Saturday 26th February

The last weekend of Summer. A slow start to the weekend, we did lots of newspaper reading and coffee drinking and general lazing around.

Bill wanted to go out and buy some new runners but I was happy just to potter around the house.

I've been dying to get a new camera (a Canon Ixus 105) and as a little present Bill bought one home for me - I was very excited as the clarity of the pictures is just 10X better than what I've currently got with the Nikon.

Here's the very first photo I took with the new camera. Umm, I better clarify - it's my husband.

Rhianna stayed in her Pj's most of the day. She's been getting right into the computer lately - mostly researching. Her skills are developing rapidly.

We started work on our shark diorama. We painted water and sand and added some shells we had picked up at Cronulla beach Then we popped the sharks in. Still to go:: the seaweed and other little extras.

This afternoon we had our first Netball Muster day.

This is the first year Rhianna has played Netball. The Muster day is just a chance to meet the coach and decide on training days etc.

We knew lots of other people there - here are some of Rhianna's team mates - she knows them all from her school.

The other thing worth mentioning here is that I will be the Team Manager.
(Well nobody else was putting their hand up).

I'm not sure what that entails yet - but I'm sure they will let me know. I'm hoping it involves sitting on the sidelines with a nanna rug and a hot cup of coffee yelling encouragement.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Zen Habits

One of the blogs I like to follow is called Zen Family Habits.

One of their best posts is how to simplify your life. They suggest 43 immediate ways to begin.

Let's see how I go:

1. Turn off your cell phone. (I have an emergency only mobile. It's always off and in the bottom of my handbag :: No brain cancers for me haha!!)

2. Process email only twice a day. (Usually only twice unless I'm waiting for something important to come through)

3. Go to bed early. (yup)

4. Get rid of (or at least reduce) commitments that you do out of obligation. (I'm not doing any volunteer work at the school this year - anything else I do, it's because I want to)

5. Create a weekly meal plan. (Yup)

6. Automate your finances. (Bill in charge of this :: allows me to be very financially Zen)

7. Purge as much unneeded clutter as possible. (You KNOW I do this!)

8. Keep your paper shredder on top of your recycling bin. (This is a great tip - must do this)

9. Add items you want to a wish list as you think of them. (Kinda do this)

10. Get a label maker or write labels out by hand. (Have a million labels - thanks Christina)

11. Set your clothes out for the next day the night before. (I know this is a great idea but I never do it)

12. Make your lunch for the next day the night before. (No need for myself but I try to do this for Rhianna - no good at making lunches when I'm half asleep in the morning)

13. Make time to catch up with an old friend. (Always do this)

14. Just say no. (I'm good at saying no on the phone, not much good at saying no face to face)

15. Ask for experiences not things for your birthday and Christmas this year. (Well, I did ask for New York for my birthday this year)

16. Tell the truth. (Try to - unless of course it doesn't suit me - LOL)

17. Keep your list of addresses and phone numbers up to date. (Yup)

18. Consolidate debt. (Not much debt apart from small mortgage)

19. Create an organizing system that works for you. (Could do better)

20. Keep a bag for garbage in your car. (Another good tip I will implement)

21. Cary a notebook and pen with you where ever you go. (Ditto )

22. Unsubscribe from emails, newsletters or RSS feeds that don’t provide value anymore. (Try to do this once a week)

23. Apologize immediately when you realize you’ve done wrong. (Could do better)

24. Enjoy the present moment as much as you can. (Absolutely do this)

25. Take time to really see the little things in life.(Ditto )

26. Reduce the amount of TV you watch. (Not a big TV watcher - love to read)

27. Get outside. (When Autumn starts I'll think about it)

28. Create morning, daytime, and evening routines. (Yup)

29. Ask for help. (Don't do this very much but then I don't have much need to either.)

30. Do things at home as much as possible (eat, date nights, entertain etc.). (Yup but could do better)

31. Don’t get caught up in other people’s drama. (Good at this)

32. Let go of the self-imposed need to be perfect. (Trying hard but its not easy to let go of decades of negative self talk)

33. Focus on a simple, but healthy, eating plan. (umm, next question)

34. Share responsibilities. (With who? )

35. Reduce your wardrobe to a few versatile items. ( I only have a few items but I'm not sure how "versatile" they are)

36. Be positive. (Yup)

37. Start a gratitude journal. (This is a bit naff for me)

38. Finish old tasks before taking on new ones. (Yup this makes sense but it's so boring)

39. For every new item that enters your home set two free. (Yes, I am doing the one in, one out rule)

40. Want what you have not what you don’t. (Yup, I'm pretty good at this)

41. Revisit what you carry with you in your purse or wallet. (Wallet could do with a clean out)

42. Focus on one thing at a time. (Not good at this)

43. Store new garbage bags at the bottom of your garbage can. (Good idea except what happens if one bag springs a leak?)

Overall I thing I'm doing pretty well. A couple of good ideas to implement. I'll let you know if I get around to any.

A Great Week

We have been working hard here at green-ness this week.

Lots of reading and maths. The concept of time is proving to be a little harder to teach than money - which Rhianna picked up easily.

We have been doing a lot of shared reading in bed at night. I really do think this is one of the most enjoyable moments for me as a parent. I know I spent a lot of time laying in bed reading with Broc and I spend a lot of time reading with Rhianna. Not just her home readers which I find quite dull and uninspiring but lots of other sorts of texts too.

Today we did however finish a HR and then made a book about it.

We focused on the books orientation, characterisation and plot points. These were new terms to Rhianna but she picked up the concepts behind then easily enough.

Then some shark craft. We made some shark cut outs and painted them and then researched their features on the web. Tomorrow we are making a diorama for them.

For me, this week I have been focusing on the eco side of things.

A few more crocheted dishcloths to add to the collection....

...and yesterday I was in Katoomba so headed to the Food Co-op there to get some organic fruit and veg and found this little gem - I'm stockpiling for Winter.

Was pretty expensive but oh so worth it. (I hope).

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Three Degrees of Buying

I have been reading a good book lately called "Enough". It's about (funnily enough) having enough. Enough food, enough stuff, even enough work and happiness. It's got me thinking about stuff though today. In this house we definitely have enough possessions.

To create our current standard of living we have farmed one quarter of the land on this earth, overexploited our ocean life, increased the level of carbon dioxide by 30% and mutilplied the extinction rate 1000 times. Not much to be proud of there!!!!

Now when we have to buy something to add to the house I try to buy in the following ways.

I always op shop first.

Firstly, because the "stuff" in those shops already exists. Meaning resources have already been used to create them. So it's best to get as much use out of them as possible.

However, op shopping is an art. Yes, really.

Say I needed some jeans as mine are falling apart. You can bet your bottom dollar if I went to an op shop looking for a pair of jeans for myself I wouldn't find them. No way! That would be too easy.

No op shopping requires forward thinking. You have to browse with the future in mind.

last week I picked up a t-shirt foR Rhianna - almost new and she has very few shirts.

I also found two great non-fiction books to add to our collection. Both of them at her reading level and she has been interested in both these subjects lately.

Now, I am not perfect and I did manage to squeeze in a non essential purchase - a vintage handbag to add to my very small collection.

But really, it was only $2 and will be loved forever by myself and Rhianna who has taken a bit of a shine to it. It's the gold one.

After second hand I try to buy green and organic. For instance, I always buy recycled toilet paper and purchase things such as cosmetics and sunscreen from reputable organic sellers - usually off the net.

Lastly I'll buy new if I have to. Things that fall into this category are specialised clothing such as swimmers, electrical goods such as cameras and of course food that I can't get organically.

The whole purchasing thing is such a juggling act sometimes that often I do without.

Then there is always the law of the universe that says when you need something it will come to you.

Like yesterday, I mentioned to a girlfriend that I was going to begin teaching Time to Rhianna and she mentioned that she had an old magnetic clock set that she was finished with - a match made in heaven.

Do you buy green or organic or second hand. Or are you trying to reduce your consumption in other ways. I'd love to know.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Overdue Update

Well I know the posts are getting few and far between now. I guess I feel it's because I don't have a lot going on at the moment. But here are a few random things I have been doing and thinking about the past week.

The thing taking up most of my thought processes is Rhianna's education.

Last year she had a brilliant teacher and I was resting easy about her learning. This year I am not so sure.

Rhianna is in a Year 2/3 composite. She is in the year 2 portion of the class ( the minority). That is not the problem however. It's the teacher I'm afraid. I didn't really "warm" to her when I first met her but hey, I figured I don't have to like everybody!!!!

No, it's a couple of other things - like the fast finisher work that she has given Rhianna - it's basic Kindergarten stuff. Laziness or bad teaching - not sure yet!

Then the other day Rhianna came home and she had wet her pants!

After much prompting and crying she told me that her teacher said if the kids go to the toilet during class time then they have to "make up" the time at recess and lunch.

So basically, a detention for having to go to the toilet. These kids are 7 and 8 years old. Not only had she wet her pants but she was too afraid to tell the teacher and had sat on the bus all the way home in soaked pants.

Of course I was furious.

I went up to see this teacher and asked her outright if this was her "toileting policy".

Well, yes she said. After all she said, she can't go to the toilet during class so why should she let the children? Well, ummm, because you're an adult with a few years more practice with bladder control than a 7 year old! Because you have the cognition to understand that you have to use the toilet when you have the chance!

So I told her that Rhianna was to be able to go to the toilet 20 times a day if she needed to and she was never to be kept in during recess or lunch unless a phone call was made to me to explain why.

Gosh, I have rambled on a bit here haven't I.

I actually started this post to tell you about the home schooling I intend to start with Rhianna. I am not pulling her out of school or anything (yet) but I am going to be focusing more on her literacy and numeracy at home.

We have been doing a lot more shared reading at home. I noticed she had slid backwards with her reading over the Christmas holidays.

We've been borrowing these Aussie Nibblies books from the library.

We've also started on some basic grammar work and maths.

Align CenterWhen I was teaching year 2 (many moons ago) I recall money and time being the two most difficult concepts to cover in maths so we've started on money for this week.

We set up a little shop at home with her toys and priced them accordingly. Rhianna then has to "buy" something and create the exact amount of money with the notes and coins available to her. During the week I intend to make it progressively harder.

The Sunday Shop

The Sunday float

The weekend is the perfect time to sit around and do these activities but unfortunately it seems that Rhianna is never home. Yesterday a bowling birthday party and today a play date.

I wish I had her life sometimes.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Love Your Stuff

One of the hardest things to do when trying to live a sustainable life is to love your old stuff.

It's just so tempting to buy new stuff. All the time.

New stuff comes in nice packaging. It smells good and has some fancy tags and looks....well, new!!!

Your old stuff doesn't.

It's crushed up from being in a drawer or cupboard. It's smelly because it needs a wash or it's really, really old. It might have some marks or stains on it, if it's a real favourite.

But your old stuff is great because you and it have a history.

Like this bear.

Mum's had it hanging around her place forever.

Nobody is really sure where it came from.

Then I found my old brownie Guide badges from when I was 10 in the bottom of a cupboard at Mum's. That means that she kept them for 32 years.

I sewed one onto the other to create Brownie Bear.

He got to come home with us.

So love the stuff you've already got. To bits.

Monday, February 7, 2011

New York here I come......

Yesterday bill and I spent the better part of the day at the travel agent booking our June trip to New York. This is quite a big deal for me as I have never been further than Fiji on a plane before.

The travel agent was great. We managed to book flights, accommodation and most of the sightseeing we wanted to do all at the one time. Who knew?????

There are a couple of things I want to do that I will have to book online but I have already managed to do some of that myself today.

Also we are going without the children so I am very grateful to the two sets of babysitters who have offered to look after Rhianna and keep on eye on Broc and Finn while we are away.

And please don't feel sorry for Rhianna - she has stated adamantly that she has no wish to sit on a plane for 22 hours and is thrilled to be spending part of the time with my BFF Natalie.

Now to start saving that spending money .......

Saturday, February 5, 2011

February 6th 2011

We had a late minute change of plan today as something we thought we were going to do didn't pan out.

Never mind, always a Plan B to fall back on.

The school swimming carnival is on in a couple of weeks and Rhianna is busting to compete.

Not sure if she is eligible or not at this stage but this morning she begged Bill to take her to the local pool to "train".

I said it was a good opportunity to see whether she could swim 50 metres of anything.

While Bill and Rhianna headed to the pool, I took some "me" time and went for a nice long walk.

I was so hot by the time I got home, I was dripping in perspiration. I jumped in our pool fully clothed :: well, I did take my joggers off first!!

So we hung around home today. I am trying to use up some of the multitude of art and craft stuff we have around here.

I had a canvas behind the door in the laundry and Rhianna asked if she could paint on it.

We even got the easel out so she could paint like a professional.

A whole afternoons worth of entertainment and I didn't have to leave the house or open my purse. Yah!!!!!

Then the southerly hit and we walked around all afternoon smiling at each other like idiots saying how nice it was to finally be cool.

I did some long overdue housework and we just sat and chatted about our trip to new York.

We are going to the travel agent tomorrow and need to decide on all the activities we want to do and book them now. For instance, you can walk to the top of The Statue of Liberty again but it is a 3 month wait list so we'd need to book that now if we wanted to do it. I think we do.

Since it's cool, I finally dared to put the oven on again and cooked Tuna vol-au-vents. Basically a cheese sauce with a tin of tuna and all the old vegies left in the crisper and poured into a pastry case. Yummy.

Even Finn likes Tuna Vol-au-vent night.

He's in there somewhere.

Saturday 5th February 2011

A slow start to the day. Boy, the heat was amazing this morning. I went for a very quick walk before a swim to cool off.

Bill took Rhianna up to register for netball. This will be the first year she has played. One of Rhianna's friends asked her to join up and they will be in the same team together. Here she is in her netball uniform - she is so excited.

Then we headed down to Castle Hill for a BBQ at a friends home. Julie and I went to high school together. She has two girls, one of which is the same age as Rhianna. They played in the pool all day, only getting out to have lunch.

Julie and I.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Friday 4th February 2011

This week was the first week back at school for kids in NSW.

It has also unhappily coincided with the hottest week of the summer so far. So other than dropping Rhianna off and picking her up from school I've been barricading myself in the air conditioning.

My son Broc had an operation last week so he is home as well keeping me company.

As I tidy the lounge room this morning I can't help but be a little sad when I look at Rhianna's cubby that she built in the lounge room during the holidays and spent much time reading, playing and watching TV in there. Now there are no little brown legs poking out from under the sheet - bit sad really.

The up side is that we are having a fantastic time every afternoon after school when we both flop in the pool and play games till dinner.

One of the books I got for Christmas is called The Happiness Project.

It's a bit of a bio about a a New York Mum who decides that although her life is very nice there is always room for more happiness. She sets out to explore every month the things that she can do to increase the happiness in her life.

The book is set out in a monthly format running January to December with a challenge for each month.

For January she decided to get more sleep and exercise every day to see if it increase her general happiness with life.

For the month of January I did the same.

Not too hard to sleep in this weather though is it?

I started to go to bed earlier, no late than 10.30pm and I exercised every day. I mainly walked but did some swimming too.

Yes, I did feel happier. I felt more in control of myself and the house. I found I did not lose my temper as much with the family and had plebty of energy to do things with Rhianna through the holidays. I also lost 4 kilos.

For February she focuses on her relationship with her husband. I'll let you know how I go with that at the end of the month. Bill says he can't wait to see how I go either haha....

In retail therapy news, I have continued to buy with sustainability and no chemicals in mind.

In Priceline this week I found this lovely Sukin facial mist spray which is lovely in place of a moisturising cream in this heat we are having.

I also found another brand of aluminium free deodorant to try.

And for winter some foot and hand gloves made from sustainable bamboo. After moisturising your hands and feet at night, you pop these gloves and socks on and wear them to bed and they help to your hands and feet retain the moisture. I do tend to suffer from very dry hands in Winter.

Another busy weekend coming up for us. Keep cool everybody.