Monday, December 28, 2009

Holiday time..

We're on holidays at Stuart's Point caravan park - this is the 6th year we've come up here and each year gets easier & more enjoyable. The weather has been ok - yesterday was lovely, today has been quite rainy for much of it. Billy has rediscovered a friend he made last year - they've been busy fishing, swimming and hanging out together - he calls back into the van for food :) I've been reading, a bit of knitting, some puzzles and generally relaxing.

So far so good - hopefully some pictures soon.. (if I can be bothered taking anyway lol)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The stockings were hung...

Billy is finally in bed, 'Twas the night before Xmas' has been read, Santa's food is out, the Xmas pillowcases (in place of stockings) have been spread out - all is in readiness.. I just checked the Santa tracker and the big man in red is buzzing a fishing boat somewhere, so we still have a while to wait!

I hope everyone has a wonderful Xmas and / or holiday celebration. Enjoy the day - don't stress too much and don't expect perfection. Celebrate whatever the day brings.

We're heading off on holidays on Boxing Day - I'll try to post the odd post while we're away - but until then have a great time and be safe!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

I never understood...

why my mum would practically kill herself every year cleaning the house before we went away on holidays.. Now I do... :)

Monday, December 21, 2009

To the homeschoolers..

Do you feel like you always have to justify why you homeschool?

Do you ever feel like you not only have to show that your child is doing well without school, but they are doing *better* than they would at school?

Do you think every time your child makes a social gaffe, or is rude, or shy that people are thinking "He'd be better off at school"?

Do you think that every time your child doesn't know the answer to a question someone asks that they are thinking "They'd learn that at school"?

Or is it just me?

Saturday, December 19, 2009

6 days to go!

Posting has been sporadic this month (to say the least!)

So what have we been up to in the last couple of weeks..

Billy finished Joeys with a pool party and drama with a class performance of a play they'd been working on.

We've visited with friends who have finally finished school, and did our first official Waterwatch testing of the local river with other friends.

Billy & I went along with his young cousins to see the Wiggles - fantastic show, but Mr "I'm too old for this at 7!" wasn't as impressed as me :) I think that will be our last year of seeing them :( (Maybe I can borrow a small child and go along??!)

Pete's had some time off work (in lieu of overtime for a huge amount of extra work he's done finishing a project). He's been busy with my dad building some fantastic bookcases and desks to go along one wall of our office.

I've been busy getting paid work finished off so I could close for the Xmas break. I didn't quite get done all I wanted to by my closing date, but will try to get it finished off on Monday.

There's been a lot of soul searching and decision making going on as we've been tossing around a fairly major life change. It's involved lots of meetings with other people, phone calls and families conferences, but a decision has now been made. Hopefully in the new year I'll be able to say what it is - stay tuned :) (I hope that's suitably cryptic lol)

I blogged before about how the washing machine died, and then the sewage pump a couple of days later. The pump man came and installed a new one - all was sweet (except the bank account) for almost a week - and then the same thing happened again yesterday. They seem to think now the problem is further along the line than the pump - they're sending an excavator out on Tuesday afternoon to dig up the mains pipe and see if they can find the problem there. At the moment I am sticking my head in the sand and not even thinking about how much that will cost...

We've had a couple of Xmas parties already. Tomorrow we head down to Sydney to do Xmas lunch with Pete's side of the family, and possibly go to our street Xmas party in the evening (depending how we feel).

So is that a good enough list of excuses for why I haven't been blogging??!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Emergency funds & savings

When I wrote last night that I was stressed about money, it's nowhere near as stressed as I would've been feeling if I didn't have an Emergency Fund.

There's so much peace-of-mind in making sure you have money set aside - mine are set up ala the financial "guru" Dave Ramsey. I have a "baby emergency" fund of $1000 - part of it is in readily accessible cash and the rest is in a high-interest account that I can get to easily (but not too easily!). I've also got a partly-funded "Big Emergency Fund" in that same account - I'm aiming for 3 months expenses in there as the first goal. It's about 7% full - a long way to go!

So the pump breaking is classed as an emergency and will wipe out much of my "baby emergency" fund. That'll now be my first priority (above saving for the holiday *boohoo*) to get that filled back up.

The washing machine money came out of another pool of money (also in the high-interest account). I call it the long-term savings fund - I use it to save up for stuff that I know will need replacing over time (longer than 12 months). Things like the washing machine, fridge, tyres for the car, glasses for me. I've just added the sewage pump to that list as it obviously seems like it's going to be a regular expense!! It was so nice to know that the money was there to just go out and buy one.

I use a budgeting program called Simply Budgets - there are a few quirks and things that I wish that it did have, but on the whole I love it. It really helps to work out where you need your money to go (rather than working out in hindsight where it went which is what a lot of programs do). With the long term expenses, you allocate a life span for whatever it is you're saving for (eg the new washing machine I've put down as 10 years) with a replacement cost, and then it graphs to show you when you need the money and helps you work out how much you need to put aside each month to have the money at the time you need it for all of the long term expenses. The hardest thing to wrap your head around if you're used to a traditional program is that you can't track expenses in it. It's simply a forecasting tool. I've been using it for just under a year now and financially I think we're in better shape than we have been for a long time.

So while I said I was stressing about money - it was more because now I have to take away from my holiday savings to replace the emergency fund, and I don't like "living on the edge" without one! I don't have the stress of having to put it on the Credit card and wondering how on earth we'd pay for it. That's the position I would've been in this time last year..

Friday, December 11, 2009

Jinxed myself...

On Sunday I wrote a post saying how calm I was and how organised... No stressing for me this year... Huh! If I ever do that again, would someone please slap me up the side of the head???!!

Tuesday morning, while doing a load of washing, our 15 year old top-loader washing machine decided to die. For about the last year it hasn't filled with hot water - that was ok, I've just been washing in cold. For the last 6 months or so, it would keep getting unbalanced during the spin, stop & beep at me until I started it going again. Tuesday, in the rinse cycle, it decided it would stop filling with cold as well... I finished that load off by filling it with buckets - not fun!! At that age, I decided it wasn't worth getting it fixed, so I set Pete to work researching a new one. (He was home, and that's his forte!) We ended up deciding on an LG front loader, he went over to the local appliance store, had a look and ordered one in.

Meanwhile, I was trying to finish off a job for a client so I could go and install it. I went to their office after lunch ready to install the changes - only to get asked about another urgent change - needed yesterday of course - and naturally, it's a major one that will require quite a few hours work...

Pete picked the washing machine up on Thursday but we were in and out all day, so we didn't get to install it til about 9pm that night. I didn't want to do the 1st load of washing while I was asleep - just in case there was a problem - so still up to 3 days worth of washing in the laundry..

This last week we seem to have only been home long enough to dump one lot of stuff, pick up the next and go back out. I've mentioned the washing, but the kitchen is looking much the same...

And then today - I finally got to do a load of washing. When I went to hang it out, I noticed that the pump on our sewer system was making an odd, thumping, shuddering type noise... I'd heard it before - several times in fact - and each time has meant a new pump :( So I rang the service guy - he's sending someone out to look at it tomorrow (which means I'm back to not being able to do washing!!) but assures me it will mean a new pump. About $600 worth.. Yep, it's been an expensive week...

So now I'm stressed about time AND money... Gee, that karma biting me in the butt is sure hurting :)

Sunday, December 06, 2009

The obligatory Christmas preparation post...

Just 19 days until Xmas!

I'm a bit worried this Xmas as I don't seemed to be stressing about it at all. It makes me wonder what I'm forgetting to do and if I'm going to have a big stress-out in the final week :)

I still have a few presents to buy but with the exception of 2, I know exactly what I'm getting and I don't need to go anywhere near the shopping centres to get them. I've written the Xmas letter to send off to distant relatives - I just need to address them tonight and post this week. Billy has written out his own Christmas cards this year - yay! I do need to wrap presents - that's probably the most time-consuming task I have left to do.

We're on the downhill run with all of the activities - just 1 or 2 of each of them to go. I have 2 more weeks of work to go and need to pull my finger out to get a couple of projects completed, but I think it should be reasonably ok.

We've got a few social things on over the next couple of weeks, but other than that, we seem to be having time to make gingerbread cookies, Xmas decorations and generally not rushing around..

I'm just not used to this!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Dry ice is soooo cool!

It's so great when your best friend is a Science teacher at TAFE and not only gets to bring home the leftover dry ice - but invites you over to play with it (oh, and Billy too! lol)

Measuring the temperature

Determining the pH

Floating bubbles on a layer of CO2

Add some food colouring & dishwashing liquid and voila - towers of bubbles...

Blowing up a balloon with CO2

Recording and graphing the temperature at 1 min intervals for 10 mins