An almost Staycation

I love the concept but completely fail in the execution!

Ok I admit, when it comes to a Staycation I am a complete failure!  “So what’s a staycation?” I hear some of you ask-quite simply it’s a holiday at home.  It’s when you down tools, explore your local area, dine at that restaurant you’ve always wanted to try, put your feet up with that pile of magazines that you get delivered but never get the time to read.  Or if you have kids you go bike riding, have a movie marathon night, play games, cool stuff like that.  You get the picture, right?

Well I find this simply near impossible.  I always end up finding something to clean, sort, dig, organise, label and did I mention clean? Watch out kids if you sit still for too long I’ll give you a job to do.  These habits for me are certainly engrained.  Even when I sit for too long I feel guilty and think I’m wasting time and go and find something to do.

So January holidays we stayed at a caravan park 40 mins from home.  This was a small compromise for me.  The positives were that the boys could fish, swim in the river, use the park facilities and not be hassled by me to ‘do jobs.’I spent the week, reading, blogging, painting and hanging out with the boys.  As my hubby had to work, he came to stay with us each night.  We’ve not had to worry about the house and pets as hubby checked on these daily.  As crazy as it sounds our holiday also supported local businesses too.

The only negatives were that we had to outlay $$$$$ for our campsite and we had very loud neighbours 🙁

Fast forward to today, so I am reattempting the staycation.  I have two words to describe it, EPIC FAIL.  I’ve managed to clean out the kids bedrooms, clear out an aging magazine collection, sort out the study, clean, iron etc.

So for my next attempt maybe I’ll take on some of my own tips:

  • set a budget
  • get input from everyone what they’d like to do
  • research your local area
  • clean the house the day before the official start of the staycation
  • use items only saved for special occasions (Royal Doulton darlings)
  • lock up electronics (if the family needs a break from these)
  • line up a good book
  • dust off the old boardgames
  • keep meals simple, go for a picnic, have a night out
  • don’t feel guilty
  • most IMPORTANTLY have FUN!!!

Christmas 2013 debrief

Christmas can be a crazy time of the year for many people.  It can be stressful, joyful and did I mention crazy.  For our family it has usually meant a pilgrimage back to our hometown, Brisbane. Whether it be the gift giving, organising food, trying to please family, drinking too much or putting differences aside just for one day of the year, it can be tough.  Some of us do it well, some of us fail dismally and the rest of us sit somewhere in between.

I have found the hardest thing to do deal with over the years are the Christmases our families have had where we have lost loved ones during the year. This year Reece (my hubby) lost his father, so when you have special moments like birthdays. Christmas etc you do feel it.

So what did I do well this year??? Well I was happy with the gifts we gave.  I worked right up to the 20th this year, which left me little time to do my usual baking etc.  However my parents came down a couple of weeks before Christmas and my Mum spent a day baking with my boys.  So coaches, teachers and scout leaders received some homemade bikkies and something extra special in a Christmas card.  This year I decided to donate to the Australian Red Cross and the Smith Family as part of our gift to those involved with the boys.  The best part of this was that I inspired others to do the same.

In regards to gift giving and family, that can be a tough gig.  I really struggle with this every year. Years ago I sat down and showed Reece how much we spent on Christmas, it was a very expensive ordeal especially when we use to fly home for Christmas.  We use to forgo pressies for each other.  Even now it’s usually only something small. Let’s face it, none of us need anything….we do it out of tradition.  Thankfully over the last couple of years our relatives have decided to embrace Secret Santa, where everyone just gets one gift.  This is a work in progress and I’m learning to just go with it.  But the pressure I put on myself, CRAZY!  The pressies I love giving are the ones I’ve made, others that are made by local craftspeople, experiences (movie tickets). I find kids are sometimes the toughest to buy for mainly because I hate plastic toys!

Reece and I got through it fairly unscathed. How??? Maybe we were just lucky?  I have to admit I did try to be on my best behaviour.  Reece and I did share a few moments reflecting on 2013 and we are so grateful to have each other and our boys.  We have our health, home and hearts.

I’d like to dedicate this post to those loved ones who are now with us in spirit.

Birthday Party Dilemma(the price you pay for trying to be environmentally friendly)

hayden's party 2So Mr Four is now Mr Five!  Can I just say before I dive into my dilemma that we had a great party today despite what I am just about to moan about.

Mr Five wanted a little party with his mates at a local indoor playcentre.  No worries I thought, we’ll see what we can do.  On investigating we decided to go with the ‘just book a table option and bring your own food in’.  This appealed to me as I really didn’t want to pay for packaged food and I’m trying to make a more conscious effort to reduce the amount of palm oil, preservatives etc in our diet. However I did relent and ordered an overpriced hot platter of party pies and sausage rolls as I thought I’d do the right thing and purchase some of the food from the playcentre.  So as far as I knew I was up for $8.50 each child for entry and $35 (I know steep hey) for the hot food platter.  I spoke to 2 staff members prior to the party and neither said any different.

As we were setting up for the party, one of the employees informed me that as I had bought in my own birthday cake I would be charged an extra $10.  To add to this she also informed me that I would be charged an extra $50 for supplying our own food.

The bottom line is that because I chose to spend time making healthier home made food options for the party we were going to be charged more for bringing it along instead of choosing the playcentre prepackaged choices.  Keep in mind that I also paid for the ingredients to make everything too.

I voiced my disappointment with this to the staff more than once, she knocked $20 off the extra charge. However I was still not happy and as I explained to her that of the Mums and Dad that were there, several would buy cappuccinos and as it was so hot quite a few parents succumbed to pressure and bought iceblocks for their kids.

I don’t know, do I have a right to complain?  Should I have just booked a party and turn a blind eye to the food I am trying to eliminate from our diet?  I just wanted to make a few things for the party and for the kids to have a great time.  I just wish I could have turned up today fully informed. What do you think?

 

Giving back to your community

Sometimes life seems a little crazy, way too hectic and a big bloody effort.  Sometimes when it is all of these things you add more and it just seems to work out fine.  In fact it can be quite satisfying.  I’m talking about volunteering..

I’m writing this post at 8:30am, I’ve just managed to have a no effort breakfast, the kids are happy lazing around in the TV room-wait the phone just rang. Crisis averted, back to writing. I’m completely stuffed from a big day of volunteering but I’m glad I still do it. So if I babble in this post, you know why.  Volunteering is  a value I want to instil in my children too.  Mr 9 and Mr 12 have already been involved in a few things.

Yesterday, the whole family were super busy! We started at 7am helping the Scouts set up a stall at the TAFE markets (an annual event with about 140 stalls). I also helped my students get their stall ready for the day.  At about 8am hubby and Mr 9 and Mr Almost 5 headed off to help set up for the Annual Volleyball tournament.  Mr 12 and I volunteered at the markets until about 2:30pm.  We then headed over to see how hubby was going with the volleyball tournament that he had organised and has done so for the 5 or so years.  At 3pm I took Mr 12 to the Scout hall to help get organised for the Annual Float Procession. At 5pm I met back up with Mr 12 to help walk alongside the float handing out Scout information. I ran up and down the main street of town, dance bombed the dance troupe (they weren’t impressed), photo bombed a few tourists and made a spectacle of myself, all in the spirit of volunteering mind you. We got home around 7pm only to be informed we needed to head back out to socialise with all the volleyball teams..Okay at least hubby gave me 5 minutes to shower and get ready.

What makes me sad and sometimes downright annoyed is that it seems a lot of people of my generation and younger don’t seem to have time to volunteer. Why is this so?  Life seems to busy, other things are more important, people would rather get paid for their time?  I don’t know.. Sometimes I think there is also a fine line between paid work and volunteering.  I know quite a few examples when there has been a need in the community but there is an expectation that it is filled by a volunteer. I also know quite a few amazing people who seem to volunteer for everything…I’ve also seen volunteers burnout.

The best thing that came out of yesterday was a quote from Mr 12, “I’m kinda of proud of what I did today.” Don’t you wish you could bottle those moments.

Why my human loves me

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Purr… My name is Sugar Minx. I’ll try and keep this short and sweet.  I just wanted to let you know that domestic animals play a vital role in society and we should be taken more seriously. I’ve been with my current humans for about six months and to be honest with you my job is exhausting but so rewarding.  I make sure I share myself around the family as I’m sure you know what a calming effect I may have on them. They constantly need my attention so I endure about 50 or so cuddles and pats daily.  The male elder of our family needs extra special attention (although he is still somewhat resistant to this).  I see him off to work every morning and greet him when he arrives home.  At night when he is asleep with exhaustion, I sometimes groom him, which he has now turned into a game of let’s hide under the sheets!

My humans in return do look after me quite well too.  When I first arrived in their home they took me to the vet to have me desexed and vaccinated.  Rumour has it that there are thousands of unwanted domestic animals euthanized every year due to irresponsible humans. My humans also ensure that I am kept inside at night so I don’t  hurt wild animals.  I know, to look at me you would think butter wouldn’t melt in my mouth but my hunting instincts are still strong.

So if you are thinking about getting a cat, remember it is a commitment for about 15 years.  I’ll keep you posted on my humans progress.

A tough gig this Father’s Day

It has taken me a couple of days to get my thoughts together to write about Father’s Day 2013. I want to firstly dedicate this post to three great men; my husband, my father and my father-in-law.

This was somewhat of a tough Father’s Day for our family.  My father in law passed away in July so it was our first year that he was spiritually with us.  My husband and I have not had the chance to talk about this yet, so thank you blog you have made me realise this.  I do need to sit down with hubby and see how he is going.  There is a bit of an emptiness knowing that he has passed over.  I know that my husband loved his Dad very much and that he will be missed. When we lose people it gives us the opportunity to reflect on what is important in life.  I have been struggling with this for quite a while but for me I do know that good health, love and time are on the top of my list.

We were fortunate enough to spend time with my father in law a couple of weeks prior to his passing.  This in a way was a wonderful gift for us.  In some ways maybe he knew his time was up for he shared some thoughts with us that he had never expressed before.  This was out of character as he usually just stuck with safe topics like trucks and rally driving (two of his passions). During our stay, he expressed some very kind words about my husband.  This I will always treasure as I know that my father in law was not big on sharing these types of ‘feelings.’ This meant so much to me.

My husband gave his sons a beautiful gift on Father’s Day too.  He spent most of the day canoeing and fishing with them.  He was showered with usual preschool and school handmade gifts which were gorgeous and I know he got a buzz out of these.  I refused to give out cash to the boys and take them shopping to buy ‘stuff.’  When it comes to commercial gift giving, it always been fairly low on our priority list so I know that hubby didn’t feel disheartened when he did not receive the token socks, jocks, quirky coffee mug, chocolates or bottle of rum.

My Dad on the other hand was a different story.  I felt SO guilty about not producing a commercial gift of some description.  My Dad is far from materialistic but it is so engrained in me (years of advertising brainwashing I suspect) to go out and get Dad something that I really struggled this year.  Here I am trying my best to change habits (one being buying less useless stuff) that I have lost sleep and may get a cold sore over this.  This year I gave my Dad the whole day with me.  (Mum and Dad have just spent the week with us as they live 4 hours away.) So we did a little day trip, had a picnic and Mum and I arranged a special dinner at home for my Dad, hubby and the kids. I don’t know?? Father’s Day was kind of a fizzer for my Dad and it will never be the same because I know deep down inside the only thing I think my Dad would dearly love is my brother back who with us in spirit.

So it really shows us all that we don’t need all this ridiculous commercial crap.  What we need is time spent with loved ones; young, old and in between.  So give someone you care about a big hug today because you never know what is around the corner.

Blogs away!

We are go! I am so excited to be finally blogging! Hooray! This has been a while in the making.  So welcome to my blog.  My mission is to share with you all the triumphs and as one of my son’s would say, “Epic fail Mum,” of becoming a more sustainable family.

My focus is on changes we can make at home.  I will cover topics including health and well being, anything foodie and also any changes we can make to reduce our ecological footprint. Along the way our lives will hopefully improve through a slower and simpler lifestyle.  We will certainly be saving a few dollars too (that’s always a good thing)!

I would love you to be part of my blog as we  discover new ways to be more sustainable and improve our knowledge on environmental issues. So please share your thoughts too.