Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Situational happiness

Big changes have happened recently in my life and things are continuing to change. Things that are putting me back in a similar situation to my life before I was happy. I worked a weekend in Sydney a few months ago and strangely I ended up staying in Meadowbank which is where I lived when I was working in the city. I also ended back there earlier this month doing some repairs on my rental property. It was such a low point in my life but as I looked around Meadowbank recently, and soaked in the memories and I realised that it was not my situation but my attitude that made me unhappy.

There was a lot of crap in my life, insomnia, a lying husband, a manager at work with a god complex, it wasn't easy. But my attitude also meant I allowed these things to really bring me down and I turned into a person I never wanted to be. I wasn't a kind person and I wasn't living a true life. Happiness is not about our outside situation it is about our attitude. Had I not been so whingy, maybe my boss wouldn't have been such a cock. Maybe if I drank less wine I would have slept better and not been so grumpy and angry. Maybe if I had been kinder to the beautiful friends I had, I could have focused on these rather than the shitty people. Maybe if I has discovered running, I could have found that love and peace earlier and been healthier in mind and body.

Now my life has done a turn around and life is mirroring my past, so it is natural to be contemplating what can I do to make sure I keep my happiness. What makes me happy now? Is it my job, my family, my home? Or is happiness based on the way you see things? Is it the way you see the sunrise, or feel the warm wind on your face. It is the way you listen to your body when it needs rest, good food or exercise? Is it the way you lap up the cuddles from your children but move on from the meltdowns? Is it the way you focus on the time your husband cooked dinner rather than the day he didn't?

Last weekend I had a hectic hectic week at work, long hours, writing in the evenings and trying to be a great mum with some unexpected curve balls from our complicated blended family situation. Friday night comes and the last thing I want to do is drive down the coast to my parents but it had been planned for months and lots of my family were going to around. So I get home late from work, everyone else has been home for hours, I rush around organising dinner, packing bags, tidying up and doing washing, you know that crazy mum stuff and I feel resentment. There were a lot of expectations, I had been working so much, so I promised my girls I would take them both on a date, I also promised Miss 15 I would take her for a driving lesson plus I needed to do some blogs and run 22km over the two days. Oh and hubby was staying with the boys all weekend so it was just me on board. I started stressing about not being home on Sunday to do the routine. a So much was going on in my mind on Friday that by the time I got to mums I just unloaded, how exhausted I was and how hard it is to work full time ect ect, it was a total whinge.

When I went to bed, I didn't feel great for offloading all that crap, I felt negative with an edge of bitterness. But my life is not bad, it is still great I was just feeling overwhelmed. It is hard to maintain your happiness when you are too busy to think.

I have had a pretty charmed life really so I need my attitude to reflect that. When I got home from work on  Friday night, hubby and the kids had cleaned the house whilst I was at work what an amazing thing to come home to. Last weekend, I got to run in the beautiful bush and along the ocean whilst my mum stayed with the girls. I had an awesome date with each of my girls, movies with Miss 5 and a delicious breakfast with Miss 15.



Thank god I run these days, a few good runs and my soul is renewed and my attitude back in place, how do you refresh your soul?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Time management when you have no time

Spare time, what is that? It seems of late my life is is at rocket speed. Sometimes I amaze myself by what I actually achieve in a day, but then there are other days when I run around like a headless chook and achieve very little.

I ran 14km on Saturday, a great run too, not sure how I managed it because my half marathon training plan at the moments is achieving an average of one run a week! Whilst runing I was thinking about all the stuff I had to do afterwards. There was washing, ironing, cooking, shopping, cleaning, blogging, emails, oh and be a  parent! Sunday we had to drive to Sydney to drop and pick up Miss 5 from my exes wedding, and visit my rental property as there were a few things getting out of hand, but that is a story for another time. I was wondering if it is even possible to continue to be an endurance runner, work, blog and still stay sane. I wasn't convinced I knew the answer, so in true geeky style I decided to do a spreadsheet of where my time goes each week.


Hours in Day
24

Days in a week
7

Total Hours in a week
168




Sleep
56
33.3%
Working
38
22.6%
Cooking,shopping and tidying afterwards
20
10.4%
Eating
10.5
6.3%
Commuting
5
3.0%
Blogging and Business
7
4.2%
Kids stuff
7
4.2%
Washing and Ironing Clothes
6
3.6%
Running and training
5
3.0%
Showering
3.5
2.1%
Cleaning
2
1.2%



Remaining free hours
8



After I did this I realised that sleeping takes up a lot of my time, but I love it so it gets a tick of approval. Then I spend a lot of my life working, not so great but I don't hate my job and I do love my pay cheque so that is ok. I was slightly amazed at how much time I spend preparing and eating food, but if you have ever met me in real life you will probably know that I am a little obsessed with food.

Although it doesn't look like I do much kids stuff, I do. Our family life very much revolves around the kitchen which is the centre of our home,  we always eat all possible meals together and everyone loves to get in and help with the cooking or pouring me a glass of wine. Miss 5 loves helping in the kitchen or doing her writing whilst she watches me cook. Miss 15 will often unload her day in the car on the way home from school or whilst we are sharing a sneaky late night dessert or whilst we make the lunches for the next day. We often do chores together too, our Saturday morning routine is that we all just clean until the house is tidy, it usually takes the 4 of us just over an hour to do it all. Miss 5 loves to hand me the pegs as I hang out the washing. As a family we also try to work out together, Miss 5 does warm ups with me, hubby and I run together sometimes and we all do a gym class together weekly, except Miss 5 who has dinner with Grandma.

So at the end of the day, even if my life is a little nuts I still have 8 totally free hours a week after everything is done. This also means that there is no excuse for eating well, getting some decent sleep, nurturing one another and most importantly training for my next race - City 2 Surf in just 4 weeks!

Whilst I don't advocate everyone run out and start a crazy life, it is possible with some organisation and great family support to achieve more than we think possible.

How many free hours do you think you have? Are your priorities different to mine? Tell me all!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Some Alternative Ways to Get into University

If you have teenager kids you are probably freaking out with me over the proposed changes to university fees. With a daughter in year 11, I am a more than a little worried about the cost of her future education and how she is going to fund it. Since I went to university, HECS fees have pretty much doubled, cost of living has gone up and degrees are longer. If your child doesn't really know what they want to do or maybe they are not quite getting the grades they need there alternative paths for kids. I think it is important to talk to children about all their options so that they can think through the options over a couple of years and make the best choice they can.

There are plenty of options other than going straight to university, Mr 18 got into recruit school for the Navy straight from school and it now six months in and loving it. He enjoys being able to learn on the job although there are still lots of exams, he is able to work, study and party hard. It was a perfect job for him to utilise his sporty background, easy going personality, cleanest teenage boy ever and his ability to learn with his hands rather than just with books. Another option we discussed with Mr 18 was to look at getting involved in a trade, click here, for just one possible trade career pathway or read some of the following suggestions.

I think it is important to talk to all kids even the studious ones about other ways to get into university, perfect grades are not the only way to gain entrance and I think knowing there are other options can take some of that pressure off.

Talk to your Kids about taking a Gap Year

I went to university straight out of school but I was too busy partying and dreaming about travel to apply myself. So I left after months and travelled the world for five years, when I got back from my rather extended "gap year" I changed careers paths, was more dedicated to my studies and won a few scholarships to get me through. I strongly believe that kids should have the opportunity to travel and take a break from study after 13 straight years. It can give them some life experience and perspective and might guide them towards making better decisions on both their career path and how much they apply themselves.

Take a bridging course

If you kids didn't get the grades they needed but still want to go to university, many offer bridging courses to prospective students. These bridging courses are designed to equip students with the most appropriate skill-sets necessary for the successful completion of a degree. Bridging courses also prepare the student for the kind of writing style and critical thinking that is required to be a successful university graduate. Bridging courses often carry credit ratings that can be added to original high school results, which can push your application to the top of the pile. Be sure to check that your chosen bridging course carries appropriate accreditation as you don’t want to spend a year studying only to find out that your university of choice doesn’t recognise the work you’ve just undertaken. Bridging courses (also known as pathway courses) are often year-long, intense programs so it’s advisable to assess your abilities with maintaining concentration, managing your time and keeping your long-terms goals in focus. They can also add additional costs on top of the degree which can leave them with a large debt at the end of it.  

Go to TAFE First

TAFE has lots of courses that align with university degrees, as an accountant I often see cadets go to TAFE first to study before getting into university. TAFE is often more affordable too so it might end up slightly cheaper to do your degree. If your child does have their heart seat on a certain degree make sure they talk to the TAFE and the university to undertake the best subjects that will help them transfer over. TAFE tends to teach more practical subjects so students might find employment in their chosen field whilst still studying.

Mature Age Entry

This option is probably more suited for those like me who just aren't settled at 18 and want to explore the world first. Whilst universities might still look at your high school results, they care more about you current knowledge, work experience and application to your studies. Skills and knowledge gained in a job and/or informal study environment can even count towards credit when applying for a university course – this can include professional qualifications and/or training that you’ve undertaken throughout the course of your career. Most universities will insist on seeing some kind of documented proof regarding your experience, training etc so keep all your certificates and training records in case you’re asked to produce them at a later date. As a mature ages student, I really wanted to be at university and although I had a great time I was also dedicated to my studies.

So what path did you take straight out of school?

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Saving Tips You May Not Have Considered

The other day we had lots of money in our daily bank account so I didn't redeem the free BBQ chicken, you know the buy 10 get one free deals but I would save if for a rainy day. Then I realised that now we are both working we probably won't run out of money each fortnight like we used to. These days everyone wants to save more money because kids are expensive and bills seem to rise quicker than salaries. Some people like us needed to be careful with money due to running a business which didn't always pay on time and way too much debt.

If you’ve done all the usual things, like cutting back on dinners out and ordering in, overcoming your credit card debt, and running a tight budgetary ship, you might think you’ve squeezed everything you can out of the household budget, but here are some other ideas that I have come up with, some more unusual ones. You might even consider consulting compensation experts like Sinnamon Lawyers if you have had an accident or something similar which put you in a bad financial position to start with. I have also written 10 great tips to save money in this post.  

Eat Before You Shop
Of course it is not hard to believe, people spend more at the shops when they are hungry. They also buy more poor quality food like chips and cakes, I am putting my hands up right now! Get into the habit of shopping after a meal; perhaps have lunch at home, make your list and, if possible, walk to the shops or if that is not practical only take the basket rather than a trolley, you will buy less rubnish. The entire experience is better for your health, wealth and wallet. It’s a greener way to go too. Buying less crap means you spend less and eat better. Reduced donuts that I don't need sometimes sneak their way into my trolley when I am hungry.  

Swap Houses

Instead of forking out massive amounts of money for hotels each holiday period, try house swapping. When we were kids my parents and my aunt used to swap houses for two weeks every summer, they both had great houses and animals so it was a holiday and a house sitter all in one. It is always great to be away to from home but in someone elses house you have all the home comforts. It’s a great way to holiday inexpensively, especially if you have children. You’ll be able to have an authentic experience in another city or country, and it won’t cost the earth. Some house swap arrangements include cars so you may even be able to day trip without paying for trains and buses.

Check You’ve Got Everything You Can

The most important money saving tip of all is to make sure you get everything you are owed. As an accountant I often talk with clients about how much money they are owed. Often they have people owing them lots of money they don't chase it, but they are entitled to it, so they should. The same goes if you have been hurt at work, or injured elsewhere due to someone else’s negligence, you should ensure you pursue the other party for any and all of your out of pocket costs. Most personal injury lawyers will meet with you for little to no cost to assess the claims of your case. At the very least, it’s worth asking the question, because if you’ve been hurt you could well be eligible for a compensation claim.

Saving money is a constant challenge for most people, right now we are saving up for our new bathroom and hot water system, it is hard to save. It is important to always make sure you collect all the money you are owed like wages, electricity rebates,  superannuation payments. Making sure you access all funds due can make a very material difference to your hip pocket, particularly if you are struggling.

What’s your most unusual money saving tip? Tell me in the comments.

This post has been brought to you by the lovely people at Sinnamon Lawyers.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Being in the blender

I haven't written about my blended family since this post about meeting with my ex to talk about co-parenting better. Since then things have improved a little but I still don't believe we have found a balance point yet with that relationship yet.

I read somewhere that it takes 2 years for a family to start blend and feel comfortable in their relationships, some studies say up to 7 years. This week we are celebrated 3years and I feel like we have finally found our feet. It is not perfect let me tell you, and some things still get me upset but we all feel safe and secure in our relationships. We noticed as the girls grew up we actually needed to do more things apart rather than together. It seems counter intuitive but it works. Mummy daughter days and daddy daughters days have become more regular. Mr Blended flew down to Melbourne last weekend with Miss 15 for three days with Mr 18! They went shopping a lot which Miss 5 hates. We stayed at home watching movies and drinking milkshakes which makes us happy.

Blended families have so many other parties and factor affecting the dynamics of relationships and it takes years to work this all out. Most blended family marriages break up before they have had a chance to truly blend and work through the difficult stages. It takes a lot forgiveness and a strong foundation to get through the early months. Most relationships have a lovely "couple only" first stage to work out their differences, blended families are immediately thrown into the blender on high speed.

This year we have dealt with Miss 15 starting the HSC, Miss 5 starting school and me starting work, we put our blended on turbo speed. But it is all coming together, everyone is happy and we are finally moving forward. When I laid in bed on Sunday night after picking up the other half of our family from the airport, I felt a sense of completeness that my family was back together again. It has taken a few years to get here but I now feel safe and secure in my little blended family.

Being a blended family isn't easy but it can be so worth it! My biggest tip for new blended families is just keep forgiving and trying, if you can stick it out and have kindness as your first thought, it does get better.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Confessions of a non domestic godess!

I talk a lot on this blog about cleaning, my favourite vacuum, which is a Dyson in case you haven't realised. I write about how I get the rest of the family on board including paying them obscene amounts of pocket money. I have written about how I like to use natural products rather than chemicals because I am one of those people who are allergic to everything. So I was worried that my readers might think I am a clean freak, so I am sharing some of the cleaning things I don't do very well.

  • I often leave the wet cloth in the sink overnight, or I don't hang the face washer out after Miss 5 has scrunched it in a ball and hidden it inside her bucket.
  • I often leave the lid of the toothpaste off, drives my hubby insane
  • I don't know why I do this, but I can never seem to automatically shut a cupboard door, but 
    hubby also shuts the cupboards but never the fridge!
  • I hate my shower so much that it rarely gets cleaned and it is mouldy and gross.
  • Some of my blinds also have mould on them, I do every so often clean them but it takes hours and they need replacing so I have gotten gotten good at turning a blind eye.
  • When I am at home with Miss 5 and hubby is at work, I  only clean up 10minutes before he gets home and leave the toys strewn across the house the rest of the day.
  • A few months ago, I saw a mouse, I forgot about it. That mouse had babies, lots of fucking babies, I had to kill baby mice. They are all gone now and I stuffed the hole they were coming in through with steel wool. If you see a mouse act immediately don't be lazy like me and wait till they multiply. Trusted Pest Management will even come and get rid of the filthy animals for you!
  • I don't have a sheet or towel cleaning routine, it is whenever I feel like it or if they get a bit stinky!
  • When I was a kid, I hated sandwiches so much that I never ate them at school and just let them pile up in my school bag going mouldy. Every few months my mum would sniff out my digusting school bag and she would find mouldy food in it! I will never live this down.
  • I rarely dust, no one really notices!
I have improved my house keeping over the years, I wash up everynight and make my bed most days. I like to keep it hygenic but you often find clothes strewn from one end of my bedroom to the other. Luckily I have a constant stream of visitors to our house so I am regularly doing the 5minute rush to keep the house looking tidy!

I cling to the old saying a clean house is a sign of a wasted life! I would prefer to run 20km rather than spend 2 hours cleaning so I guess that says something. My style is pretty clean, hygenic, somewhat messy but nothing that can't be sorted in a rushed 10minute tidy.

What is your style? Do you have a perfectly clean house or do you try to do as little as possible?

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Best anti aging tip!

is.............

Have beauty lights in your house, the soft ones that soften your lines and dry spots and avoid bathrooms with fluro lights!

Yesterday I wrote about how we are installing a new bathroom but one thing I am still a little worried about is the proposed new lighting. You see, our bathroom as ugly as it is, has beauty lighting, I kid you not, the lights are great for a self esteem boost. It seems to hide wrinkles and dry skin, I didn't realise this magical affect until I started working and the office bathroom has ugly lights! Every blemish and dry patch shows up and I leave feeling a little down.

Something that I have let go since becoming a mum is my regular facial treatments, I used to get proper facials at least four times a year. I love face peels and laser treatments that work so well as taking the years off. Maybe I am just getting old but I am looking forward to a laser session very soon thanks to my beautiful mum and sister who gave me the best birthday present!

I used to have spider veins on my face what a terrible name for them, according to Dr Joseph Ajaka from Cosmos Clinic they are called that because they look like spider webs due to their short jagged lines. I actually always thought that the spider veins on my face was a birth mark, but at my first ever laser session it was removed and I was a little shocked! I also used laser once after pregnancy to get rid of the pigmentation and darkening on some areas of my face.

The older I get the more I don't want to age, I hate the fact that my skin is losing it's elasticity and getting dry and wrinkled, I am too young for that crap! I find myself paying more for my skin creams each year but I know they do very little for me except maybe make me feel better. Anyways here are my tips to feel better about yourself and maybe take some years off.
  • Have facials at least twice a year, not the crappy ones that feel nice where they do little more than you could do at home, I mean the serious type with peels and lasers, just make sure you go to a reputable place because I have read about some bad laser treatment stories.
  • Drink more water, 2-3litres a day keeps my skin hydrated
Fresh food is good for the skin
  • Remember skin health is mostly from the inside so try to eat lots of green vegetables and healthy oils.
  • Have beauty lights in your bathroom, if you feel great when you leave the house, that is really all that matters! Get rid of ugly lights!
  • Swap to a BB cream rather than a foundation, it doesn't show up the wrinkles as much, I love the Garnier anti ageing BB cream for it's hydration. I am still looking though for a BB cream with more coverage but similar hydration, all hints are welcome! 
  • Spider veins are not birthmarks and are really easily gotten rid of. People with vein systems like me and every other redhead on the planet are more suspectible to them but with lasers the treatment is easy and not expensive. There are a couple of other treatment options including injections, but I might stick to laser.
Do you hate when you look old? Are you fighting aging or doing it gracefully? Can you recommend an awesome BB cream for dry skin with great coverage?

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