Skinflint Sunday: Reduce your bills by evicting one of your kids!

There he goes!

Evan21 has finally decided to do tertiary study and is going to Federation Uni in Ballarat to do Acting for 3 years. Seeing as a  2-hourish commute each way isn’t the most viable of options, he moved into Res on Friday.

Here’s his room. Living in Res doesn’t exactly come cheap at 10K a year. Thankfully, he’s a good little saver and once he realised that he was ready for study, he started hoarding his wages. He should get the living away from home allowance from Centrelink, but the student allowance won’t kick in until next year.

We were halfway up the Western highway when he sighed and said, “I forgot to pack coathangers.” This was after starting to get organised at about 5:30 on the day before and packing my car to the roof with all of his stuff. Realistically, he’s not coming home again to live for at least 3 years, so it makes sense to take practically everything he owns.

We met another family in the lift, also carrying boxes and bags up to their room. The mother said that her daughter had started packing 5 months ago!

After a while, I mentioned to Evan21 that it was funny to see that all the girls had obviously taken such care with their appearance, while the boys were all bearded and scruffy. he looked at me, cocked his head sideways and said, “I give it a week!”

The mothering instinct kicked in and I put together a care package for him to take up there. I don’t want my little vegetarian going without his lentils and chickpeas. I was going to go to Aldi with him and put it all together… together… but he was out seeing friends all weekend so I did it alone. When he came home late on Sunday I showed him and he looked, then said, “Actually, all of this is perfect.”

I knew that I must be fond of him when I voluntarily put in a $20 bag of Costco chia seeds for his morning smoothies.

The apartments all share a couple of kitchens. One has 10 kids sharing, the other has 4. He’s lucky enough to have the smaller kitchen, sharing with 3 girls.

Some friends came over on Monday night before he left to have dinner and say goodbye. You can see how long Evan21’s hair is when it’s released from the man-bun. He’s the one in the hat.

He’s been with most of these friends all through high school. The only one who sees me taking the photo is Cho. He’s been one of Evan21’s mates all the way through. I taught his older brother EAL in year 12. I just adore Cho. He’s always so chilled and cheerful… a bit like my boy.

He actually posed for this one.

After we finished moving all of his stuff up to the 4th floor – why he has so many vinyls when he has duplicated them all digitally I’ll never know – I swept him off to lunch. Most kids had 2 parents to help them move. Halfway through, when we were lugging some extremely heavy weights to the lift, he looked over at me and said, “And this is why you should’ve stayed with Dad!”

He’s a funny fella sometimes.

 

 

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It’s round 2 of the competition on Rockstar Finance…

Hi everyone.

Remember when I asked for your help for my blog post in the competition last month?

Yes, it’s now up for voting in the second round. The competition is live for 48 hours which, judging from the time stamp on the email they sent me to let me know I was in the current round, started at roughly midnight this morning. (Friday.)

Thos pesky Americans have had a head-start while we were all asleep, which means that when I zipped across to vote, I was behind. *gasp*

I’d really appreciate it if you could duck across and have a look and (hopefully) sling a vote my way. I’ll be unable to keep an eye on how it’s going for much of the day, as today’s the day I take Evan21 down to Ballarat to move into his new place to begin his 3-year Uni course in Acting. I’m proud, (following in his mother’s footsteps) and a bit sad, (3 hour’s drive is a long way away.) I’ll miss him being around the place. He’s so funny and he makes me laugh every single day.

http://rockstarfinance.com/rockstar-rumble-round-2-posts-17-24/

It’s game 9 and my post is the one labelled ‘mistake’. It’s the same post as last time, just up against a different competitor. Thanks so much for taking the time. 🙂

I’d better go and drag Evan21 up out of bed and get us both on the road. I want to try and beat the peak hour traffic through the city, especially with the car loaded up to the roof with all of his stuff. Side mirrors, don’t fail me now!!!!

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Skinflint Sunday: Buy useful souvenirs.

I’ve talked about podcasts before and how much I rely on them to make my new commute bearable. Long-term readers will know that while I was paying the horrendously high bridging finance on The Best House In Melbourne for 18 months, I spent money on NOTHING. But when the deal went through on the old house, I was able to live a little.

I celebrated by buying a last-minute ticket to see k.d lang in concert. Front row in the dress circle. Since then I’ve seen Midnight Oil, Paul McCartney and bought 2 x seasons tickets to the MTC to take people with me to see plays all this year.

On Friday and Saturday nights I went to see 2 different stage shows by one of my favourite podcasts – ‘Welcome to Nightvale.’ Here is a Starter Page for anyone interested in seeing what it’s like. Unfortunately, the only other person I know who listens to this podcast is Spo and he’s in America, so I didn’t bother asking anyone else to come. I just booked 2 single tickets, like an independent woman would. *nods*

Cecil Baldwin plays Cecil Palmer, the voice of Nightvale Community radio. On Friday night I had front row centre seats. Saturday night I was 3 rows back. (Bummer.) He looks NOTHING like how I pictured Cecil in my head. When I got home I showed the boys and they all laughed, having the same reaction as I did. I have no idea what we were all imagining, but that’s the magic of radio.

Here is the woman who voices Tamika Flynn – a young teenager who is an avid reader and who also is the leader of a teenage militia. Click on the link to read more about her character. I imagined her as a Katniss Everdene-type of person.

Here is Cecil with Deb, who is a sentient cloud of haze. She reads the proverbs at the end of each episode. 

The writers of Nightvale, Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Craynor, were also there playing different characters. You can imagine how rapt we as an audience were to see them.

I didn’t buy the $20 poster pictured at the top of this post. What use would I have for a poster? However, when I saw this bag, I knew that it was PERFECT to use at work to carry my laptop, books, thermos and pencil case to class. Friday was supposed to be a no-spend day, but when I saw the crowds of people mobbing the merch tables, I had a funny feeling in my waters that I’d better play it safe and not wait for Saturday.

Fortunate Frogdancer strikes again! They’d sold out of the bags on Saturday night. It’s good when you make the right decision. 🙂 I’ll be using this bag for years to come, you just mark my words.

 

Posted in Quality of life, shopping, Skinflint | 2 Comments

Who says males aren’t romantic?

Before long-term readers get into a lather of anticipation, believing I’m about to make a big, soppy announcement, I’ll quickly say that no, this plate full of dessert has nothing to do with me.

#foreveralone  #happilysingle  #somedaymyprincewillcome  #thetvremoteismineandminealone

David24 is in love and a couple of nights ago he cooked a romantic meal for Issy, his girlfriend.

It was so nice. Fortunately, because he worked in a kitchen in the city for 3 years, he can cook, otherwise it could have been a tragic end to a beautiful relationship. He made a spaghetti marinara with home-made pasta… (he dished up a bowl for me too and it was DELICIOUS), and for dessert he made a salted caramel icecream to go with a couple of slices of mudcake, (sadly, from The Cheesecake Shop), but LOOK how he decorated them! The kitchen taught him how to present dishes beautifully. He bought her a rainbow-coloured rose and wrote her a card that took him ages to write.

He set up a table in the Man Cave, with the Christmas tablecloth, a candle, (that a kid gave me as a Christmas gift last year, but Issy doesn’t need to know that!!), and they had their dinner out there, while the rest of us made ourselves scarce. She’s a sweet girl who does the same course as he does. She’s a singer; he’s a keyboard player. I’ve only met her a few times, so she’s still a bit careful around me. Very smiley and nice… but David24 says she can be feisty and ‘take no prisoners’, so that’s good to know. A woman needs to have a backbone, after all.

It’s a lovely thing to see your child happy in a relationship. They were here on Boxing Day and I was in the lounge room while they were in the kitchen getting things ready for lunch. They were giggling, mucking around, hugging each other – I said to them, “Do you realise how nauseatingly sweet you two are?!?”

Issy laughed and said, “We hear that all the time!”

Ten years ago David24 had depression so deeply that we were extremely lucky to still have him with us. Today, he’s happy, studying a course that he loves, dating a girl who lights up his life…

Life and the passage of time is a beautiful thing. 🙂

 

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This post will be deleted in 48 hours. (Edited… no it won’t!)

Good news and bad news.

The good news is that The Other Blog has a post that was accepted in a competition. It’s like a tennis tournament… 2 blog posts get pitted against each other, people vote and the winner goes through into the next round.

I was stoked to be accepted into it. However…

I looked to see who I was pitted against. ONLY one of the most famous personal finance blogs in the world…

Bugger.

I was really hoping that my post would be read. Seriously. Just read. By people. My fear is that some people will look at who I’m against, say. “Oh, she’s fantastic!” and that’ll be it.

Make no mistake. She IS fantastic. She has a huge blog, a new podcast that I’ve started listening to and she and her husband (no kids) recently retired in their early 30’s. I first heard her speak on a podcast last month and I was really taken by her philosophy on life.

She’ll win the game. No doubt.

However…

I don’t want it to be a landslide. I want to think that people have read my post as well as hers before making a decision. Could you please take 5 minutes and zip across to the site and vote? I want you to read Tanja’s post as well as my own. After all, I’m proud of what I wrote and the seeds that I hope I’ve sown and I’m sure that she’s proud of her post too.

Cheers. Here’s the link:

http://rockstarfinance.com/rockstar-rumble-round-1-posts-33-40/

I feel a bit embarrassed to be asking. Like I said on the Simple Savings site… I feel like it’s a David and Goliath match and I don’t know how to use a slingshot.

Thanks again.

UPDATE!!!!

Thanks SO much everyone! We won!!!!!!

I honestly thought that the numbers would be around the other way. What a terrific way to end the holidays.

I’ll let you know when the post is in the next round of judging, but it won’t be for a while. Round 1 has a lot of entrants to get to.

Thanks again, everyone. I really appreciate the support.

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No picture… it’s too dark out here.

I’m sitting on the old couch on my front verandah. It’s the night before Australia Day. The rain is beating down on the tin roof above my head and every now and then I feel a thin spray of water vapour from the rain. The dogs are beside me on the couch, asleep.

Every now and then the sky lights up with sheet lightning. Sometimes, just to vary it I guess, a forked streak of lightning comes down instead. The rain is hammering down, while cars drive past, their headlights showcasing the lines of driving rain heading for the road.

It’s warm. I’m sitting here in cotton Bali pants and a singlet top at 10.45PM at night. No mozzies, thank goodness. Just the dogs and I, sitting in the dark watching the rain.

To anyone walking past I suppose my face would be strangely lit up by the laptop. I’d probably look like those people you see in the movies when they hold a torch underneath their chin and tell ghost stories.

I’m pleasantly tipsy. Several wines over dinner and then I decided to taste the Kraken spiced rum that Ryan 23 gave me for Christmas. Tip a little of that into a glass of Coke and it’s delightful… OMG who knew.. I’ve been sitting here sipping the spiced rum and coke and watching the storm – feeling like a bit of a bogan because… you know; rum and coke… but feeling so contented.

Last year was a stressful year. I posted so rarely because my whole being was tied up in getting the development done and stressing about the property market. When I paid off my house in 2013 I thought I’d never be in debt again. It was such a liberating feeling. When I risked it all on the throw of the dice in 2015… I knew it would all work out fine… the property market in the McKinnon school zone is fail-safe… I hoped it would work out fine because prices can’t rise forever and they’ve been steadily rising for 2 decades already… but what if I timed my jump in the market catastrophically wrong….?  Smarter people than I have been caught out, and if I got it wrong it would ruin all the hard work I’d done to get us to where we were.

I had low-level stress eating away at me for 18 months until the sale of the property finally went through. I didn’t realise how much energy it had sapped from me. I’ve just had 5 weeks of holidays. I’m still taking a nanna nap every day. God help me on Monday after lunch when I’m in a meeting and the nanna nap impulse strikes! I’m sure it’ll take a few days before I get back into the swing of things.

The rain is pelting down now. It’s loud on the tin roof. Poppy just went out to bark at someone running past, but she intelligently realised after a couple of minutes that she was getting wet, so she jumped up and tried to rub herself dry on me. Yuck.

She’s now curled up next to me, having nudged Jeff out of the way. The lightning is scrappy and less frequent now. David 24 is driving home from work in this storm, so I hope he takes care. He’s happy and in love and it’s lovely to see.

It’s 11PM now and it’s very dark. The street lights and the occasional car headlights are the only bright spots until the sheet lightning happens. Thunder is still rolling over us. The dogs are with me on the couch still, but I think they are wondering why we’re out here instead of inside where it’s warm and cosy and Netflix is on. All I can hear is the sound of the rain on the roof and the sound of my fingernails tapping on the keyboard. Oh! And the thunder that just decided to make a reappearance.

My summer holidays finish in 3 days. I’ve been unforgivably lazy and I’ve achieved very little, but if I have any honesty in me, I’ve got to say that I’m well rested. My gamble with the property ended spectacularly well and I’m now coming to grips with the fact that maybe… just maybe… I don’t have to be a tightarse out of necessity.

Now, exercising my free will to choose to be a tightarse because I’m not an idiot and who would want to waste money if they have any brains about them because the more money you save the earlier you can choose to retire….. well… that’s going to be a path I’ll take going forward. I have a feeling that Skinflint Sunday won’t be disappearing anytime soon. On the other blog I’ve started Frugal Friday. It’s ingrained in the Frogdancer DNA, I guess.

Having said that, I’m looking forward to the seasons tickets to the MTC that I’ve bought. 7 shows, with an extra ticket to each that I’m bringing a different person each time to. We’ll meet in the city, grab dinner and catch up, then see a play. I think it’s going to be excellent. David24 and I are kicking off the season by seeing the London cast in ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time’. This year is going to be great. I’ll be taking another trip overseas in the term 1 holidays, so it’s all happening! Stay tuned. It’ll be like when I blogged by Europe and UK trip in 2015, except I won’t have internet while I’m there, so it’ll be April before I can share it all with you.

The thunder has moved away behind the house and the rain sounds like it’s slowing down. My drink is finished and it’s getting a little bit cool. Time to wake the dogs, move inside and get ready for bed. Thanks for sitting here with me.

Let’s see what 2018 brings us all.

 

Posted in Quality of life | 3 Comments

Skinflint Sunday: see a musical for less than half the price!

I’ve never seen ‘Wicked’. It was playing when I was in London in 2015, but we chose to see ‘Elephant Man’ and ‘Book of Morman’ instead. Well, Scott chose, as those who were reading the blog back then would be more than aware. But to be honest, ‘Wicked’ was never really on my radar anyway. But still… as a Theatre teacher it was a gap in my knowledge.

Just before term ended last year, a couple of people in my staff room were talking about going to see ‘Wicked’ because a few of our students, both past and present, were in it. One of these kids is in my 2018 Theatre class, while another was from my gorgeous 2015 class who threw me the surprise going away dinner before my trip.

The show was in the summer holidays, the other teachers were taking their kids so they wanted to do the matinee, that sounded ok to me so I was in. The ticket was $45.

The show was FANTASTIC. The performers ranged from a few 10-year-olds up to 21-year-olds and there were about 40 of them. Imagine the sound of that many people singing in 3 and 4 part harmonies? It was amazing. Even the orchestra was all under 21 years old. The leads were incredibly good, despite their ages. Seriously, if we had’ve seen the same show in Her Majesty’s Theatre in town it would have been just as good as a professional show. We had an amazing time.

A little side note for me: The National Theatre in St Kilda is where I took my first drama lessons back when I was doing year 12. It started my whole career in teaching Drama and English. This is the first time I’ve been back since then. When we were standing in the upper foyer I was looking around, remembering learning Tai Chi there, running around doing warm-up exercises, making up our plays and thinking that this was something I wanted to do forever. It was a nice feeling to be back.

 

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When it’s this hot outside, I’m glad it’s the holidays!

This is the new look. Happy 2018! When I went into the hairdressers and said I wanted to get rid of the 4 bright colours, she persuaded me to go for this look. My Mum has silver/white hair, so it was a bit of a shock to see my Mum so clearly on my face when the hairdresser had finished dying my hair, but for now it’s a nice change. I need to get my visa photo taken and then re-evaluate my life when I get back from my holiday in April.

I saw the old year out by seeing The Black Sorrows with Vika and Linda Bull. Fortunate Frogdancer struck up a friendship with a woman who was seated at the front of the balcony. I was standing behind her family, with a pretty good view of the stage, but when some of the family left before the Black Sorrows came on, guess who was asked to take a seat at the balcony? The show was awesome and I had the best time. I only own one Black Sorrows album from the 80’s and it was one that the Bull sisters sing on, so I was hoping that I’d hear some of the songs.

They sang SO MANY of them. I was so happy. It was a terrific way to say goodbye to 2017.

Tom25’s quilt has been dragged out again and more squares have been put together. If I’d had any brains I would have cut the squares for this at 5″ rather than 2.5″. I’ll be 73 before this behemoth is finished.

I’ve already knocked over a few books this year. At the moment I’m tackling ‘Enduring Love’ by Ian McEwan. I saw the movie years ago and I’ve never forgotten it. The school library was many books the poorer when I left it just before term broke up.

My sister Kate drinks white wine, (I’m a Shiraz girl, myself), so I thought that when she was here I should educate my palate in the white stuff. I went to Dan Murphy’s, grabbed a trolley and wandered up and down the chardonnay and sauvignon blanc aisles, choosing bottles at random. It’s been quite nice actually, selecting a bottle or two from the fridge and then settling down for a good goss or Netflix or family game.

The dogs are enjoying having them here too. This was the view this morning, as they were waiting impatiently for their furry cousins Gus andTilly to appear for the day.

Today is a scorcher. It’s supposed to get to 42C/108F today. I know I’ve said that I live in the Best House in Melbourne, but honestly, the ridiculously expensive refrigerated air con system that the previous owners installed is making this day slip by very comfortably. There’s an out-of-control bushfire a few miles up the road in Frankston and Carrum Downs, but here by the beach, it’s all cruisy.

ooo! Only 15 minutes till Wine O’clock. I wonder from which bottle we’ll partake tonight?

Posted in family., holidays, pets, Quality of life | 10 Comments

Skinflint Sunday: Where the hell did that year go?

My sister and her husband have rented out their house on Stayz for the next 2 weeks, so they’ve moved in here. The photo is of Gus and Tilly, 12-year-old mini schnauzers who get along really well with my dogs, especially Scout. I think the bearded ones like to stick together.

The Christmas tree is down, the tinsel packed away and Kate and Francis have moved into the Man Cave for the duration. The Man Cave is the second living room at the other end of the house. Normally it doesn’t get much use unless the boys decide to play a game on the tv together, so it’s nice to see it get some love.

New Year’s Eve today. David24 is going to see the stage show ‘Aladdin’ with his girlfriend’s family, my sister Kate and brother-in-law Francis are off to Port Melbourne to spend the night partying with friends, Evan21 is house-sitting in the city and Ryan23 has a night of drinking with mates planned. Me? I’m going to see The Black Sorrows with Vika and Linda with a friend in St Kilda. Should be a good night.

Yesterday Kate and I went to Chadstone to see ‘The Greatest Showman’ at the LUX cinema. Evan21 had free tickets that were due to expire today and he wasn’t going to be able to use them in time so he gave them to us. After the movie, (which I didn’t mind but Kate didn’t like) she dragged me out clothes shopping. I now have my summer and autumn clothes sorted. That’s one holiday job ticked off the list.

What has 2017 been like for the Frogdancer household?

Financially stressful for the first 8 months, while we were paying the bridging finance and inching ever closer to building the units. I absolutely hated being back in debt and I was mentally bracing myself through all of 2016 and most of 2017, waiting for something to go wrong. It all ended up ok, however, it really took a lot out of me. I was exhausted, so getting to the end of the year was a bit of a marathon. This summer holiday is going to be Frogdancer not straying too far from the couch where her books and Netflix are.

Financially rewarding. I knew that when I decided to sell my lovely little cottage with its food forest that it was opportunity knocking. We lived in a highly desirable high school zone in the Bayside area of Melbourne, where property values were inflated a further 15% in an already ridiculously inflated Melbourne property market. I knew that the chances were that it would end up being a good financial move, but of course, these things are never guaranteed.When I decided to sell the block with plans, instead of going through the building process, the weight of the financial burden was lifted… thank God! I was able to catch up with my work colleagues’ superannuations with the amount I could sock away into super… those 10 years spent at home raising kids had cost me dearly. It also brought the possibility of being able to retire a decade earlier than I ever thought I’d be able to. Barring a zombie apocalypse or a deadly meteor hit, doing this has set me up financially to look forward to a reasonable retirement. Long-time readers of the blog who were with me when I was stressing over child support issues and money dramas… who would’ve guessed???

Frugal but social. Having no money to be able to spend on extras means that you learn very quickly to be happy with what you’ve got. I decided when we moved here that I’d subscribe to Netflix. I figured that $18/month was a tiny sum to pay for entertainment. I discovered the joys of borrowing ebooks from the local library and the school library, while I’m LOVING the world of podcasts. I commute just under 2 hours a day and I listen to those free podcasts every single trip. I was reluctant to spend money going out to restaurants and bars with friends, so I started throwing dinner parties. For pretty much what I’d pay for just my meal and drinks, I could feed 6 of us and my guests would bring the wine. During the school holidays I now have the ‘tradition’ of hosting a massive potluck with the women at work. I send out a google doc with a table on it, people put down whether they’re bringing a savoury or sweet dish, while I supply the champagne. It’s a great way to catch up with work friends outside of the pressures of the school term, with as few as 6 or as many as 20 people turning up, depending on their holiday plans. (You also get to hear a lot of gossip… I love a good goss session!)

Early rising. When we lived 2 minute’s drive from school, I’d get up at 7AM, puddle around until 8:36AM and then drive to work, always skating into the classroom bang on 8:50, when period 1 started. I had it down to a fine art. This last term, I’ve been getting up at 5:30AM, leaving the house at 6:20AM and getting to work just before 7:30AM. Why? When my car was damaged and it cost a lot to get it fixed, I decided that going to work by train suddenly became a lot more attractive. Then I remembered that if you travel by train in the morning and touch off with your Myki before 7:15AM, you get the trip for free. That would mean that I’d be paying only $2.80/day to commute to work and back. Each trip also includes a 10-minute walk from the station to the school, which gives me around 3,000 steps on my fitbit. I’ve been keeping a tally of how much I’ve been saving. So far, it’s up to $160. That’s not bad. When I get to work I put the kettles on, have a cuppa and eat my breakfast. Then I read blogs, write posts, look at Facebook and generally ease into my day. By the time everyone else arrives I’ve done any photocopying that I needed to do for the day, any correction has been started and I’m ready for the day. I’ve had some really good talks with the other early arrivers and all in all, it’s a pretty good way to start the day.

My appearance changed. I lost 15KGs in the middle of the year and I dyed my hair 4 different colours when I sold the block and the money came through. I kept it up throughout the rest of the year, despite my principal’s vociferous disapproval. I really enjoyed the compliments, but it started to get a bit tiresome. Every time I had it re-done I’d have to sleep with a towel over my pillow for 2 weeks, while any hair that landed in the bathroom had to be picked up immediately before it dyed the shower or vanity basin. Just after Christmas I went and has my hair dyed back to (almost) normal. I’ve got brown and VERY blonde hair now, with some vestiges of pink that survived the bleaching. I’m going overseas again next year and I need to look normal for the visa photo. I may do the 4 colour thing again later in the year, or maybe not.

No more cats. I bought Daphne and Maris for David24 for Christmas when he was 12 or so. When poor little Daph was hit by a car earlier this year I thought long and hard about getting another couple of kittens. Cornish Rex cats are so deliciously ugly… But in the end I decided that I wanted leather lounge suites, which don’t do terribly well with cats’ claws. The Frogdancer house will have to rely on mouse traps from now on in, should there ever be a need. (I hope not. Hate mice.)

All in all, it was a peaceful kind of year. Evan21, who has been out of school for 3 years and has been working, has successfully applied for Acting at Federation Uni in Ballarat. He’ll be out of home for 3 years while he does that. It’s an excellent course and I’m really proud of him for making it through the auditions, but by gum, I’m going to miss him. He makes me laugh all the time. I won’t miss the mess he leaves in the kitchen, though.

Ryan23 is enjoying his course in remedial massage, while David24 has one more year to go in his Music course. Tom25 finally found an accounting job, so he no longer has to pay the rent by driving for Uber Eats. We’re all pretty happy at the moment. The dogs are a joy and a delight and today is a glorious summer’s day as I sit on the verandah writing this. Who could ask for more?

I hope that everyone has a lovely new year’s eve and that 2018 is a good one for us all. See you next year!

 

 

Posted in balance, Children., family., friends, holidays, memories, pets | 2 Comments

Christmas.

We hope you all had a very merry Christmas. One of my friends at work gave me some bowties for the puppers to wear for the festive day. Don’t they look dapper?

The Christmas tree is now such a glorious memory of my fabulous trip to Europe. Scott’s idea of buying christmas tree decorations as souvenirs was nothing short of a stroke of genius.

The boys always assemble the tree. I love how they serendipitously put Mary Queen of Scots next to the Holyrood House crown. There’s no way that they knew about the connection – their vast knowledge of history is probably limited to bushrangers, explorers and sheep.

Here’s one for Deana. Remember that day?

Not too many people have Hamlet holding Yorick’s skull on their Christmas tree. But that’s how we roll in this house.

The spaniels even got into the christmas spirit.

Everyone came to our place, which is probably going to be the norm as we’re now geographically in the centre of the family. I catered for 11, being us, my parents and my sister’s family. It was a lovely day. I’m pleased to report that I was happy with every single one of my presents… people must really know me well!

This year has been a pretty stressful year, what with the whole building project dragging on and then the decision to sell it with plans and then THAT dragging on…. not to mention stuff at work. So these holidays I’m planning to stay very close to my couch, where I’ll be reading the 12 books I brought home form the school library and the 4 books I was given for Christmas. (I’m reading one now that my sister gave me. A biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder, the woman who wrote the ‘Little House on the Prairie’ books that I adored as a child.) I have an abundance of titles waiting for me on my Netflix queue, a comfy bed for nanna naps and a very efficient air conditioning system to escape the 30C+ days. To be honest, it’s probably not worth me even strapping on my fitbit – I won’t get anywhere near 10,000 steps until I go back to work.

I hope that everyone else achieves the Christmas break they’re hoping for. What are your plans?

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments