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!