Monday, June 16, 2014

An Unaccomplished Day

I was just moaning to my husband about my lack of accomplishments.  When I commented that I should blog about it, he promptly agreed.  So here I am.  Of course, he just wanted to be left alone.  His annoying wife had been perched, leaning against the window seat in the dining room, rabbiting away at him, disrupting the nice quiet evening he’d planned ensconced in his armchair, headphones in, laptop on his knees.

But I shall be nice and leave him to his internet wamblings and rant and rave at you lot instead!

Today I had a day at home.  Quite a luxury, and one that is far too infrequent.  No classes.  No assignments.  A genuine day at home.  You’d think, having a day at home, that I’d have gotten a lot done.  Ha.  Yeah, right.  Why is it that almost nothing ever takes as long (or less time) than I think it will?  Why does it always take longer?  Way longer…

I guess today I was hampered by the small snotty boy.  Snotty in both mind and body, I might add.  He has a cold.  Not a terrible cold, but none the less a cold.  In all honesty it has been a bit of a shock to me (and probably also to him) as he’s been so well lately!  He’s a bit miserable.  Not terribly miserable.  Not even really miserable enough to warrant a Mummy day, but grotty enough that he stayed home from preschool today, seeing as we had the choice.  Figured that they’d appreciate not having to cope with his fragility and he would appreciate being at home.  Which he did seem to.  Sometimes it was easy to forget he has a cold, he played so happily.  Other times it was hard to forget (like, every time he wanted something and it came out in a whine).  Over all though we had a good day.  I was still nice tucking him into bed.  He was still happy.  His daddy likewise is fine (especially now his wife isn’t chatting away at him! Grin).

But I got what feels like nothing done.  Not true of course, but I’d had grand hopes of my day, of getting a whole lot of big jobs done.  All of which remain undone, of course.  My list just keeps getting bigger.  And bigger.  And BIGGER.  Ugh.  Back to my refrain:  why does everything take longer than I think it will, all the time, every time?!?

I accomplished one thing that I’d written in my diary for today.  I made breakfast pikelets.  That’s it.  They will at least feed us again tomorrow morning, but seriously, an entire day at home and that’s it?!  Now, if I could at least say I’d played for hours with my son instead, but I can’t really.  We did jump on his new trampoline in our bare feet then sit in front of the heater to warm up after.  We did play on the floor with his train track and his duplo.  We did do some puzzles.  But overall, I didn’t really do THAT much with him.  Boyo was home, so spent time with Munchkin too.

What did I do? Well, it took an exceptionally long time to get the Munchinator dressed today.  He’s usually rather reluctant, but today was even longer than usual.  Then we went out and bought some turmeric because darling husband had forgotten to tell me it had run out.  And I’d made some more throat tonic this morning while flipping umpteen pikelets, only to find there wasn’t enough turmeric for it.  Got kumara, pears, and butter while we were at it.  So I guess I can cross that off a mental list at least, even if it wasn’t on a physical one.  We also returned a zip to a fabric shop and came away with two others (different size from original one).  Then I ironed, and pinned fabric to make one of Michael’s friends a special bag.  I then sewed the fabric together and ironed it again.  That was about when I realised that the thing I’m trying to do with the bag still won’t work the way I want it to, even with my two new zips.  Text friend who is a wiz with a sewing machine.  Project postponed till Friday when I see her.  Hope I still have time to get it finished on time after that.  Ugh.  Another half finished job.

I did do some amendments to our budget.  That means adding in things that were unbudgeted, yuck.  Still need to pay that bill I meant to do.  I did sign up to Google +, something a few folks have been waiting months for me to do.  Well, I did it.  Not that I know how to use it or anything, but I’m on there!

Aside from going for a walk (alone!), heating up some soup for lunch on this rather cold day, and making smoothies for afternoon tea (the usual run-of-the-mill stuff in fact), I also mended Dog, who has had yet another batch of stuffing removed from him.  Munchkin just can’t seem to leave things alone if they are falling out/peeling off/etc.  Dog’s ear has now been reattached and the hole concealed from prying fingers.  He is happily sleeping with the boy, who now that the hole is no more will be more than content to leave Dog’s stuffing where it belongs.   While I had the hand needle out, I then also reattached a bit of my small umbrella to its metal frame.  Wa-lah.  Like new.  I am able to report a good deal of satisfaction from this one small act.  It had been bothering me.  It can bother me no longer.

But I’m still annoyed.  Yup, even though I did something I’ve been meaning to do for a few weeks. 

The issue is that I couldn’t find it on my list.  It’s not on today’s diary list.  Or yesterday’s.  Or even last week’s.  And it’s not in my big book of monthly stuff-to-do for this month, last month, next month, or even the list of random ‘when we get to it’ ones in the front.  I know I’d written it down.  I guess it must have been weeks ago in my diary or something.  I feel completely thwarted.   I wanted to write it down just so I could cross it off.  But that seemed so juvenile.  So unnecessary.  I should just be glad of finishing something I’d meant to do, shouldn’t I?  I mean, really, do I need to have it written and crossed off?  I guess moaning about it to you all isn’t really a great deal more mature either, is it?  Oh well, I do at least feel better for my moan. Wink.

I am now going to soak my tired, aching body in a nice hot bath.  After I go out in the cold wet and feed my poor guinea pigs and give them some extra hay.  The ‘clean guinea pig hutch’ note remains uncrossed on today’s diary page.  It will have to wait until tomorrow.  Hopefully I remember then, seeing as I forgot today.



Sunday, June 15, 2014

What Jewellery Suits You?

I’ve been pondering jewellery recently.  Jewellery and children.

Some of us love our necklaces, studded with jewels.

While some prefer a simple diamond ring.

Is the necklace more valuable than the ring?  Maybe.  Maybe not.

If you don’t like necklaces, you might say yes.  But if you love your bling and a ring simply isn’t your thing, then a necklace might hit your ‘ah’ spot just nicely.  The value isn’t merely in the cost.  The value is in it’s worth to the wearer, the person who uses it, who enjoys it’s shine, who delights in being given it (or working hard for it!).

Families are like jewellery.

There are many sorts, many shapes, each with a beauty quite uniquely all its own.

Why do we so often compare?  Why this pressure to conform to the 2.5child average family (come on people, it’s not like you can actually HAVE 2.5 children anyway!!!).

I just love this picture I found recently.  It’s part of a photo shoot challenging our need as women (and men) to make judgements about our choices or the choices of others.  Check out the whole shoot here.

I love how they’ve used the bunk beds on this particular shot, to frame the statements and make us think about the choices we all make.

Why is it that we have such tightly held views about how the ‘perfect’ family should look, despite very few actually fulfilling those expectations?  I know a couple parenting their grandchild.  We had a foster brother for much of my growing up years.  I’ve got a friend who is home schooling five children, friends with children in state schools, and others going private.  I know some folks with children just a year apart, and others who span a decade gap between siblings.  You name it, someone somewhere is doing it. This is family.  It’s different for all of us.  There are the core things that matter.  Having someone who loves you, someone who will protect and be there for you, someone to raise you (train, develop, mentor, coach, guide, discipline, encourage, support, and generally parent you!).  And we each have our ideals, often closely guarded, and closely aligned to our values and our heritage.

I’d always thought I’d have three or four children.  But how much of that was because I grew up in a family of three-to-four?  Now that I’m living my own life, I’m not so sure.  The realities of raising a child are suddenly before me.  The great responsibility it is.  And our lives simply haven’t happened how I thought they would.  Being sick for four years.  Having a terrible labour and post-recovery.  Trying to finish a degree while raising my family.  These are all part of the scenario for us.  But not just for us.  Every family faces their own challenges, and their own ways of dealing with those.  Some choose a large family.  Some choose small.  Some don’t necessarily even ‘choose’ but rather have it thrust upon them. That career driven woman you see, who might seem selfish and absorbed in her job?  Well, she might just be that way because they’ve been trying by every means possible to have a baby for more years than you could imagine.  That chaotic family of six children might have had an unexpected pregnancy or a cousin needing a home and have simply widened their circle of love to squeeze everyone in.  You just don’t know.

We seem incredibly skilled at guilting ourselves and others around us into feeling like we should be choosing x number of children.  Which isn’t true.

Children are like jewellery.  Some of us just love necklaces in a rainbow of colours, glittering about our necks.  Many jewels together create the perfect necklace just as many children join together to form the perfect family.

Others like theirs in twos.  A matching pair of earrings, so to speak.  One of each.  Or simply two.  One for you and one for me, that’s what makes a happy family.

And others are drawn to a single gem.  A pearl or diamond ring perhaps, or a pendant on a chain.  One is all we need.

Once I read a post on Facebook about how children are a gift from God so why wouldn’t you want more to fill your cup to overflowing?  I felt like replying that some of us have smaller cups than others.  Mine is pretty full with one child!  Hers sounded like it needed quite a few more than me to reach that overflowing blessing point! 

Here’s a challenge for you:  Think of at least 2 families you know that are at polar opposites in some way, and what it is that makes them beautiful.  What do you admire about them and why?  And do your two opposite families in fact have commonalities?

Amy – the diamond ringer.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Menu Madness

I have a little secret to let you in on.  I'm not very good at staying within my grocery budget.

Shhh.  I won't tell if you don't!

We don't eat fancy.  I don't often buy treats.  Nope.  My downfall is specials.  Not specials of stuff I don't normally eat.  Just the regulars.  Especially meat.  I have an upright freezer, with a drawer (or so!) dedicated to meat.  I rationalise that by only buying meat on special I'm saving us a lot of money over the year.  I buy chicken drumsticks at $5 or less per kg.  I buy prime beef mince at around $10-11/kg and pork mince at $10 or less.  A lot cheaper than full price.  But this habit can have a downside:  running out of cash before the days in the month have run out.  I used to do a big grocery shop just once a month, and buy fruit and veges in between, but have gone back to fortnightly/weekly shopping recently.  I'm finding it a bit hard to get my head around.  I've been either buying too much, too early (like that tube of toothpaste I thought I needed a few weeks ago that I still haven't opened yet).  Or I've been forgetting things as I've not had my big master list to jog my memory and remind me to check the sugar container, and the spice rack, and so on.  So I've re-worked the big master list into something more compact, and am trying to get into a good rhythm of shopping once a fortnight at the supermarket, with the Farmers Market and bananas in between.  Work in progress.  But I did manage not to go to the supermarket last weekend which was a bit weird and somewhat liberating.  Grin.

I've also concluded that I will probably still have a 'bigger' shop at the beginning of each month. It's just easier to stock up on staples for the pantry and we still run a monthly household budget anyway.  So I did that this month.  Lovely full pantry.  Slightly skimpy wallet.

I have $100 left for the rest of the month.  NOT what I'd hoped for.  Not what I'd usually have at this point.

I'm feeling a little apprehensive.  I nearly gave up instantly.  I so wanted to rationalise that we bought 4kgs of gluten free pizza mix which cost $35, a significant amount out of the month's grocery budget.  But there's often a big purchase like that.  I can't keep 'borrowing' from next month.  I mean, eventually there will be nothing left to borrow!

So I'm going to have a go at sticking to it.  $100.  Two and a half weeks.
I'd already put aside egg money for our free range egg lady.  I've worked out I need about $15 for my Farmers Market veges on Saturday.  And $25-ish for fruit and a few other items later in the month.  So that leaves me $60 for the supermarket.  The list came out.  The tomato paste moved to 'next time' (a secondary list scribbled on the back!).  I don't NEED it, do I?  Hmm.  Just what am I going to cook anyway?  A new menu was created (I usually do one every fortnight around shopping time).  And I discovered that I do not need to buy ANY meat.  After a look through the pantry and fridge I now know that we need pears, carrots, bananas, kumara, and onions.  A tin of pasta sauce, one of pineapple, some grape seed oil (for the breadmaker), some dried fruit and some dairy products.  I will be taking a calculator.  I might or might not get the oregano and marjoram on my list.  I suspect the vanilla will likewise move to 'next time.'  After all, I managed to bake this week too so I really shouldn't need vanilla. **Oh, just remembered, I FOUND an unopen vanilla bottle in the cupboard after writing the shopping list.  Bonus!  In my defence, the cupboard is up way above my head.  But I should have known I need to stand on a chair to make sure I haven't missed anything.

As requested by the lovely Elizabeth, here's my menu for the fortnight...
I create it with my diary in front of me, as I have to take into account late classes, what days my husband will cook, when he's got work after dinner so we need to avoid soup and go for rice instead, etc.  The days are written in pen, with everything else in pencil as it usually gets multiple changes before being blu-tacked to our microwave.

Sausages and veges (probably do sausages in a devilled type sauce with potato/kumara and some stir-fried veges as we have pak choy from the garden to use)

Chow Mein with shredded chicken and pak choy

Coconut curry and rice (chickpeas, pumpkin, kumara, coconut milk) 

Tinned tuna or salmon bake (with breadcrumbs on top as there's a bag in the freezer waiting to be used!)

Honeypork and rice (pork mince with veges done in a very nice sauce - Destitute Gourmet meal and a favourite!)

Pea Soup and toast, perhaps with fruit pudding dessert (soup in freezer - I love soup so we have it pretty often, this one is super fast and easy and uses frozen peas and bacon, very good!)

Boyo cooking spaghetti bolognaise (tin of pasta sauce)

Sausage casserole (probably use tin of pineapple)

Pork and lentils (my own variation of this recipe from Stonesoup - amazing, I have my man loving LENTILS!!!)

Meatloaf (to use up more breadcrumbs with some mince)

Rice paper rolls (with pork mince and hoisin sauce)

Brown rice and (our last, boo-hoo-hoo!) homemade pasta sauce (Boyo the non-brown-rice-eater says this is surprisingly tasty!  Will use fish stock again to cook rice as it was even better I think than the usual chicken stock when I'd run out last time!)

Egg Fried Rice (our Share Meal - eating simpler so others can share in our wealth, we donate what we save on dinner to supporting girls go to school in Cambodia)

Boyo cooking Sticky Chicken and veges (family recipe)

Fish 'pie' (thus labelled because I hate the fuss of fish pie, so will probably do the hoki in a white sauce, and serve it beside mashed spuds instead of baking it under them in the oven!)

There you go.  And I still have available in my freezer a meal of blackbeans (leftovers from this week), a meal of chicken pieces, one lot of mince, 1 of fish stock, 1 of chicken stock, 2 of sausages, and enough bacon for bacon and egg pie.

Here's hoping I stick to my resolve and come in on budget!!