Saturday, April 30, 2011

Treasured Moments

My treasured moments for this week - which is waaay late! (click on the picture about to find out more, read others' and to join in yourself!)

1. I love the slow walking around the vegie patch with Timothy - everything is wonderful to him... he loves to come with me and it's his job (Thank You Very Much!!) to carry any vegies harvested, back into the house. This week as we're winding up the summer patch it was pumpkins - LOTS of them!

2. Out with Nj for some 'mother & son' time... I suspect the ice cream sundae brought him more joy than being with me did - I can live with that though, it's all part of making memories! I think it's Timothy's turn next, to come out with me for a treat. He doesn't mind what the treat is, so I pick lemon meringue pie for us to share... a rare treat!


Thursday, April 28, 2011

Too Funny!

We've not made the time to teach our eldest two to ride bikes without training wheels till this week - life has just been crazy these last 12 months and more!

So Pete takes Melinda out over Easter and sure enough, within 1/2 an hour she had a hang of it. Needs to practice more to develop the right muscles and reduce wobbliness etc, but all up she's 'good to go'.

On Wednesday afternoon, Nj (7.5) comes to me and asks if he can ride his bike out the front too. I say "without training wheels?" and he tells me "the bike with just one training wheel". I explain that that's not really learning to ride without the training wheels and that if he wants to ride out the front, he can remove his training wheels or wait until Daddy gets home and dad will do it.

Within 5 minutes he comes back in to say the training wheels have been removed and that he's heading out the front to practice. I remind him to not let his younger brother out the front, and then off he goes.

2.21pm I see him wheeling his bike through the side gate - it's about 15m to the footpath
2.25pm I'm BACK inside after heading out to watch him because his sister was YELLING "He's doing it, Nathaniel is doing it!!!!"

Yep, within about 2 minutes, Nathaniel was riding a 2 wheel bicycle.

I guess there are some advantages of leaving it 'late'?

Now I think we just need to raise the seat a little!


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Home Alone

I'm home alone at the moment - I love it. I love being with the family of course , the two are not mutually exclusive!

The chance to finish thoughts and plans without being interrupted. The chance to do a few more dishes and not see any created; to mop a floor and it dry before being walked on; to read a few more pages; jot down some  plans; order something we need; declutter without being 'sprung'; to add finishing touches to rooms or surfaces; to write letters and cards...

To just be.

We try and make it a weekly event around here. Usually on a Saturday, Pete will take the 3 children swimming. Easter Saturday ended up being too busy for this so we deferred it to the next day, and the next and then the next - and finally they are off! I suspect this is my last 'home alone' period that I can count on being a couple of hours long. Once bubs is born, home alone will consist of Pete taking the kids to the park and bubs in the pram, in between feeds... we live near a GREAT park thankfully... I'm probably looking at an hour at a time in this next season of life.

Until this Easter, Pete has also taken the children to his parents who live by the beach, for the Easter weekend. WOW - that time is so helpful to me in fulfilling my role here in the home... all that above list, all at once! Bliss!
This Easter we've played it safe with bubs due this week. It's different, a nice different... but next year, I'll be 'Home Alone' again.

I also love being home alone WITH Pete. It happens about once a year, though this year it will be twice. We had about 30 hours home alone for our anniversary in March and are looking forward to about 48 hours, mid November. With many thanks to my lovely sister (xx). We prefer to bundle the kids off and be at home ourselves... coming and going as we please. It's so important to do this and have this time with each other. It's just delish!

Do you manage to get all that thinking and doing done with with family around? I know some who go to the local library to get that head space for planning etc but me, I'd rather the family go to the library and ME be home alone! Everything I need at my finger tips. How do you get time alone at home? Or your planning done if you don't make time alone at home?


Monday, April 25, 2011

10 tips for being organised ~ Tip #6

Tip #6
Changing Habits

This is the foundation of organisation - if you won't change your habits, you won't beat disorganisation!
and I say 'won't change', not 'can't change' because 99 x of 100 it's a choice.. maybe even 100/100?

Having said that, change can be difficult. (*still a choice though* she whispers)

When it comes down to it, it is a choice. Make wise choices to change habits, and it doesn't have to be as hard as we can make it for ourselves.

1. Don't change everything at once. Write down what you want to be doing differently in order to become more organised and pick a couple to work on for a month, then add a couple more and focus on them for another month and so on.

2. Little things do count and they do add up. So take them seriously.
I spend a lot of time washing dishes here, probably 4-5 loads a day. I spent months losing the plug - not in a big way, but my habit was to put it on the left side, where the dirty dishes get stacked. It would get lost amongst the dirty dishes in a short space of time, so every time I was starting a new load I was lifting things and moving them around to find the plug. Probably only 30 seconds, but still... that's 2 minutes a day, 14 minutes a week, and MORE THAN 12 hours a year looking for a PLUG!! I spent a few moments (while washing dishes) thinking of how to solve the issue and those moments have gained me 12 hours a year that can be better used elsewhere... for conquering other organisation issues, which will in turn save me weeks every year... which means I will be able to finally get around to those things I was convinced I'd never have time for! Gotta love that!
So now, I simply place the plug on the right hand side, between the dish drainer and the edge of the sink. Every now and then I forget but because I deliberately chose to think it through, I am quickly reminded and the next few weeks I am error free as the plug gets placed in it's 'can't get lost' place, once again.

3. Visual Reminders are great for changing habits. The key thing I found with trying to change habits is that the old habit that is not working for me is sooo heavily ingrained that I actually FORGET about the new habit I am wanting to swap it with!
A few 'system cards' on the corner of the bench has solved that for me. Anything will do, scraps of paper, sticky notes - whatever... it just has to be a short reminder of what you want to be doing, in a place you will see it often.
Let's say you're wanting to implement some of the tips from #5 Maximise Your Energy.
Take some cards or sticky notes or whatever you're using, choose the ones you want to work on first and write them on separate cards.
At the moment I'm working on drinking more water and also avoiding sugar so my 2 cards read
-Drink a glass of water, and
-Eat natural, avoid added sugar. Followed by a few easy healthy snacks that can be grabbed almost as thoughtlessly... carrot, low sugar yoghurt, crispy nuts, apple etc
Make your cards more of an instruction, not a 'nice idea'. 'Drink A Glass of Water' will have more impact than 'Drink More Water'.
Use this for other organising habits too.
Trying to keep a surface clean and decluttered - leave a sticky note saying 'Put It Away!!' is a great reminder.

4. Set Alarms. Pretty much every person has a mobile and every mobile has an alarm that you can 'label' as being for a specific purpose. Use it for changing habits!
I found us to be starting 'bookwork' at random times, and usually after when I'd like to have been starting each day. So now I have an alarm set that goes at 8.40am as a reminder for 'fruit snack and bookwork', which means we're at the books by 9am... and we can now be done by around 11am. Knowing that alarm is going to go off, also means we're better at getting the house up and going for the day. Most times it rings now, we have everything done that needs doing by this point in the day... cooked breakfast eaten, dishes done, beds made, load of washing on, bathroom wiped over, floors swept/vacuumed as needed, dinner under way and so on. Before the alarm, these basic tasks could drag on for an extra 2 hours... now add up those extra 2 unnecessary hours even just 2 days a week and that simple alarm is saving me more than 200 hours each year! And we're looking a whole lot better at 9am than before the alarm - loving it!

It may not be the things I've mentioned that you're wanting to change. So what? Pick what it is you want to change and just APPLY THE PRINCIPLE - no excuses!



was made a whole lot more real to me by my friend's facebook status this morning
To the men who fought to get me out of Saigon when it was falling and the women/ aid workers who cared for me on the plane flight out who risked their own lives... I owe you mine ! Lest we forget...

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Meal Planning ~ What's working at the moment

aah, remember the days when groceries were still packed in paper bags?

Life has it's seasons and at the moment I'm in two at the same time - Pregnancy and Uncertainty!

Pregnancy is pretty self explanatory - I can plan meals all I like but all too often I just can't stomach the thought of what is on the meal plan!! I've never had this before in pregnancy so it's taken me till about 8.5mo to figure out what was going on LOL

What have I done about it? I've cooked as planned most of the time - occasionally swapped things around i.e. tomorrow night's option swapped for tonight's and so on, as that can sometimes work.
When cooking up what was already planned, I got over the guilt if I didn't want to eat it. I served it up to the family and then prepared/ate whatever it was that I felt like! The family didn't seem to have issues with it and hubby graciously didn't complain even on the couple of occasions that I was sitting eating a small steak while he was eating a chicken pasta casserole. Thankfully he LOVES 99% of my cooking anyway!

Uncertainty though? At the moment it's because bubs is due this week. Any day now. In fact, today would be great (Please Lord?!) Other times it could be because we know we have to head off at short notice for something and need to be ready to go.

In times like this I find the best thing to do is 24 hour planning - and plan according to what needs using up most urgently from the fridge. For 2 reasons - coming back to science experiments in the fridge is never fun and most importantly, to be a good steward of all we've been given, food wastage is foolish. It's a waste of both the food that could feed SOMEONE and the money spent to buy it in the first place.
You know that pumpkin you bought for $1 a kilo but then had to toss half of it out? Well, the half you used then actually then cost you $2 a kilo! Those strawberries for $8 a kilo but then 1/2 went mouldy and were thrown out - the ones you ate cost you $16 a kilo!!!! Get the idea... food wastage is mighty expensive!

So look in the fridge and make note of what you have that is heading towards your needed 'use by' date and plan those things into the first meals FIRST.

Even when not in times of uncertainty, this is one of the best ways I have found of keeping the grocery budget down. Look and plan every 3 days. Or more often. This often because once you plan, 'day 3' may have a meal on it that will use up some capsicum and mushrooms but then mother in law invites you for dinner that night. If you don't reassess frequently (and it only takes a few minutes) then before you know it, the capsicum and mushrooms will be furry and dried up and in the bin!

At the moment, this is what I am focusing on. It's one of the basics of home making and doing the right thing by the family budget. It's not an added extra for when life is quiet. It's the home makers job. It gives you the choice of either spending less, or of being able to buy higher quality foods.

Track your wastage for a couple of weeks (I will be!) and see if you can have ZERO edible food wastage in the kitchen... even those celery leaves can be finely chopped and used in a salad, soup, stew or casserole...


Saturday, April 23, 2011

Not For Loan

How cute are these stickers?! These arrived this week from Vistaprint, ordered after I figured out that I don't want to loan out all of our home ed materials that may grab the attention of others. For a variety of reasons.
- I've got a miminum of 4 children to educate, we'll wear out out items soon enough without additional help and it's pretty awful to loan something to someone and it's visibly aged by the time it's returned. Happens a little too often. Any time I've borrowed a book from someone and had this happen, I've actually purchased the book and given the new one in it's place. Not everyone is as careful as this though.
- Too many have no hesitation in copying things that are not allowed to be copied... cd's, dvd's, paper curriculum's etc. I don't want to aid others in breaking laws, and so things that have a much higher risk of being copied are no longer for loan from our house.
- Items that were hard for me to get in the first place. For example, we are enjoying 'The Tale of Jeremy Vole' as a read aloud and it's also a part of the Grade 3 English curriculum we'll be using for all children. It is no longer in print and I could only find 2 second hand copies when I tracked one of them down for us. Having this item lost or not returned would be a PAIN... so this afternoon, I'll be popping a 'Not for loan' sticker on it.

Why the stickers? It saves me having to remember or keep a list and it's a whole lot easier to explain than appearing to be applying random 'borrowing rules' as someone browses our bookshelves.


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Home Education Budgeting

I've often wondered what other people spend on home education and those around me IRL seem to be quite random with it, no set figure or plan other than 'as little as possible' or 'whatever I need to'. Glad that works for them... neither would for me LOL

I have a budget of $200 a month - most of those that know this, before I've now shared it with the world, are a bit gob smacked by it and indicate they think it a great & generous amount. I'd guess though, that it's about what they're possibly spending themselves and they're just not as aware of it.

So where does $200 go every month and super fast at that?

A year's maths materials for Melinda (8yo) will cost me $208, so there is one month gone. In the last 6months, I've already had a similar outlay 3 times (approx. $150 each time as I already had a reusable part, which this time I need to get a duplicate of)
Thankfully from now on Melinda is the only one I need to outlay for at that cost and once a year should be plenty. It buys the teacher book, test book & dvd as well as the student work book. For each of the other children I'll only need the to get the student workbooks each year at about $60 per child per year.

Swimming - yes, all activities have to fit into the budget as well... and so they are well thought out. Most I know don't count the activities i.e. gym, ballet, music lessons etc as part of their home education expenses.
I've chosen swimming to focus on, because I believe it to be an important life skill and the lack of can have life and death issues as well as social issues. Things like ballet are nice but not something I could fit into the budget along with swimming, piano and curriculum! Swimming costs approx $200 a term for two children (no rebate available as I mention below). That's up to 1/4 of the year's budget! We won't be doing it this next term as a new baby will take priority but I hope it can be managed for the remaining 2 terms of the year - the children love it and seem to be doing really well.

Our English curriculum (Language Arts) costs about $100 for teacher and student books but then only about $40-50 for the student books which is all I'll need for the children that follow. After this initial lay out, I've added in 'optional but recommended' books - about 10 I think for the grade 2 level and only 4-5 for the grade 3 level. With clever use of booko these don't cost a whole lot. And remember, in Australia, we get the educational tax rebate of 50% on all books, curriculum, computers, stationary, internet etc so any of these extra books end up costing me even less.

We use Apologia science - again, about $40 for a year's curriculum, when bought carefully regardless of number of children, and 50% of that comes back to me at tax time too.

Books books books. I love books. And this is why it's good my budget is capped LOL

I want my children to be influenced by great books. Godly books. One can't readily access these without owning them. Even recently I went to the picture book shelf and put all the godly books on one side and the secular books on the other. I was devastated to see that less than 10% of books that are influencing my 1-5 year old's, point them toward God and to God's way of doing life. We're now working to rectify that!!!

Thankfully internet access doesn't have to fit into my monthly budget, but I'm sure glad I get the 50% back on it at tax time. It's not part of our home ed budget because we'd have it anyway - even if we were childless!

Tax time is around the corner and you know what? I've already 'spent' the rebate in my head. A lump sum of $500-$750 is the best time of year for me to be spending on computers don't you think? So this year the rebate will go towards a new laptop for the older 2 children to share. The bonus being that in the following year, I can claim 50% of that back too LOL

So why have a home ed budget?


I don't need to run each and every item past hubby! The budget as a whole was run through with him in the first place and he trusts me with our children's education needs - and LOVES browsing the home ed shelves for something to read himself *grin*


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

One day at a time

seems to have been the best way for me in the recent months of summer.
There have been so many things I would have liked to blog about, and hopefully, I'll still get around to some of them. Not having even the head space to start a draft or make notes for them it will certainly be some time before they pop up here LOL

So, where am I now?

Content. Content that I've prioritised my family when choices have had to be made. This has not been without cost. Blogging has had to be left - a low cost when on scale. Friendships have changed - those that either don't understand or accept the effect of MS on our family life have distanced themselves and easily taken offense by my limitations.

This does hurt as I am very much a 'my yes is my yes, my no is my no' person, and if there's any variation to this you can be sure it is with great cause and much grief at my end of not being able to live to my standards and values for that time, for whatever reason!

All up, I know it is just a reflection on themselves and their insecurities, and quite probably just highlighting a lack of genuine friendship.

Thankfully life does go on.

I've still kept up reading many blogs, though have rarely been able to leave a comment. I've celebrated baby births of blogging friends with joy - though again usually without comment... I'm still wondering what colour towels Erin's new baby will have LOL... and have a few Treasured Moments to add in.

I'm currently spending some time in England thanks to Cassie... it brings back memories I have from a trip as a child... maybe one day I'll get back there?

And I'm preparing for OUR baby's arrival. I am soooo excited and looking forward to meeting this little one. We feel so blessed that God has chosen to give us another and even now wonder if God has more in store for us - only time will tell. Having chosen to not find out the sex of the baby, I'm really looking forward to finding out when the time comes... though having chosen this path means we are super low on baby clothes. We have 2 outfits in green and yellow so hubby will be taking me for a quick shopping trip super soon after birth! I don't want bubs in neutral colours for months, which is why we're waiting. I want a girl to look like a girl and a boy to look like a boy, so waiting on clothing preparations is a must.

Home schooling has continued and adjusted - does anyone ever keep to the same plan for long? Lovely books have been arriving by post - I love this way of shopping... packages are such fun! Organisation is continuing to happen - the bulk of decluttering happened over the Christmas break, and now we're down to the fine tuning... there is much fine tuning to be done... if bubs doesn't arrive before the Easter break, I'll get a bunch done. Otherwise it will have to be in baby steps!

Last but not least, I'm still amused  at my reaction to a recent statistic that I read... 'only' 70% of people on incomes averaging $90/pa use dishwashers... sometimes I feel like I'm almost all alone in washing dishes by hand so it's nice to know that I'm doing the same thing as about 30% of much higher income earners :o) 

I can be sure though, that their kitchens look nothing like mine ;o)