A Guide Makes Good Use of Her Time

The Guide Law

  1. A Guide is loyal and can be trusted.
  2. A Guide is helpful.
  3. A Guide is polite and considerate.
  4. A Guide is friendly and a sister to all Guides.
  5. A Guide is kind to animals and respects all living things.
  6. A Guide is obedient.
  7. A Guide has courage and is cheerful in all difficulties.
  8. A Guide makes good use of her time.
  9. A Guide takes care of her own possessions and those of other people.
  10. A Guide is self-controlled in all she thinks, says and does.
I was a Girl Guide, Junior Leader, Assistant Guide Leader and Gumnut Guide Leader in the days of my youth.  Guiding still holds a very dear place in my heart and many happy memories and some embarrassing ones. My bra being flown from a camp flagpole was not a highlight!
It is interesting the things that come back and stick with you.  I could not recite the entire Guide Law to save my life but I often think to myself “A Guide makes Good Use of Her Time”.  This seems to have become more and more relevant to me as I get older.  Obviously I now have multiple roles in life and never enough time in the day.  Being on crutches and having impaired mobility for so long was a salient lesson in what can be achieved in very small pockets of time.  At this stage of my rehabilitation I can be standing around for 30 minutes at most before my back starts hurting so I have had to make sure that I make very good use of those 30 minutes (or smaller) intervals.
The smaller intervals are perhaps the most interesting.  I try to get as many little things done as the kettle boils, as the toaster toasts and when I have set the oven timer for something.  I have loaded or unloaded the dishwasher at one of these time, put a load of shopping away or cleaned down the sink. While I’m waiting for my computer to boot up or shut down or for the printer to work I can tidy numerous things off the desk.  When there are bigger tasks like folding washing, cleaning and the like I often set a kitchen timer for 15 minutes to get myself started and then keep going in 15 minute intervals.
Then there are some other ways to consider good use of time.  A big one for me recently has been sleep time.  I am often turning my light off when there is a 9 at the front of the time on the clock!  I then have a far better chance of getting the 8 hours sleep that I really need.  And what about when choosing what to do?  I had a  an afternoon with Daniel this afternoon as Anthony was off playing Bowls and Eric was at a friend’s place.  I would have been very well justified in continuing to plough through laundry and tidying up especially after yesterday’s Dinosaur Hunting party but Dan and I headed for the local park with his Big Bang Rocket and in true Daniel fashion he soon adopted four other random children and organised a series of test flights making sure that everyone had a turn and that they knew the correct technique.  Now that was good use of time!
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Websites I Am Always Talking About

I probably don’t frequent as many websites as most people, sticking to Facebook and Google Reader for the blogs that I enjoy.  However when I am talking to people about the things I love I often mention certain websites and am not always ina position to write them down.  The goal of writing this post is for people to refer to my blog for my favourite sites!

The Book Depository – There is a UK site as well as others in other countries.  It is a place to buy lots of different books at greatly reduced prices and there are no shipping costs.  They seem to send the books as soon as they have them available so when I made my first order a few months ago I actually received three separate parcels in the mail – good fun all in itself!  As an example of the possible savings, I bought two knitting books which sell for $45 each here and by using Book Depository I paid about $22 each.

Strawberry.net – I was put on to this site quite recently by a good friend when my skin was suffering from the cold and dryness and I was finding that my products froma rather cheap direct sales company were irritating my skin and not being very effective at all.  Back in the day, before children, mortgages and financial strife I used to use Clinique products and loved them.  I had given them up because they were simply too expensive and I was finding that I used them too sparingly to do any good.  Now I am back to using Clinique, having paid very low prices to get some items and my skin is really showing the benefits and feeling fantastic.  There is no shipping coast and extremely fast service.  Just as an aside, the same friend put me onto Blinc mascara. It is seriously the best mascara ever and lasts through absolutely everything because it actaully puts little “tubes” of mascara around each lash which stay there until rubbed gently with a wet washcloth.  When you rub them off you can actually see the little tubes on the washcloth and there is no residue smudged around the eyes.  Obviously they are very fine tubes and there is no ill-effect on the lashes. To quote Molly Meldrum, if you are a mascara wearer, “do yourself a favour” and try some of this stuff because it really is wodnerful!

CafePress – I am very happy to be the owner of two knitting t-shirts and one teaching t-shirt from this fantastic site.  There are shirts, sweaters and a range of other products with slogans and graphics for almost any occupation or hobby you could dream of.  It is worth a browse just for the entertainment value of what sayings they have on offer. My knitting shirts are “I knit so I don’t kill people” and “Keep calm and carry yarn”.  My teaching shirt is “I teach, what’s your superpower?”  There is some shipping cost but the service is faultless and they are a very good quality product.

Ravelry – Whenever I am talking to someone who is beginning to knit or crochet I invariably ask them if they have been on Ravelry.  It is a networking site for knitting, crochet and spinning and has thousands of members who share patterns, yarns and finished projects.  You can sign up for free and either browse through what’s on offer or start your own Ravelry “notebook” with pictures of your projects and links to the patterns and yarns used as well as where you obtained them.  because of all these notebooks you can search for a type of project or yarn and find almost countless results.  It is very useful for when you want ideas for a particular item like beanies or tea cosies or if you are deciding on whether to use a particular yarn or pattern.  Just make sure you have a spare 4-5 hours to spend browsing if you decide to have a look.

FlyLady – As I get back on my feet quite literally I am using and will continue to use FlyLady.  It is all about organising yourself and your house to take the best possible care of yourself and your loved ones.  I could write pages about how good her system is but it would be far better to just pay the FlyLady a visit and check her out for yourself.


Life Skills

Since my tumble down the stairs resulting in two injured ankles, I have learned many things – how to use crutches, how to go up and down stairs on crutches, the best way of calling a cab and the best sort of socks to wear when you have to wear them under splints 24/7 for SIX weeks  – only three to go!

Eric has learned a few useful things too.  He now knows:

how to make a cup of coffee (very important for his mother’s survival)

how to make a toasted sandwich (necessary for his survival)

how to change the shelves in the oven and turn it on

which things I need on my trolley when I go from place to place

He has also walked to the local chemist by himself when I was stranded at home and really needed prickly heat powder to put on under the aforementioned socks.  As the days go on he is using his school diary to keep track of the pick-up arrangements for each afternoon which is very useful given that the arrangements are different every single day!

I wish I could say something similar for Daniel but he’s just not into trying new things without a lot of help. His main interest in my injuries is the fact that I have much more time than usual for reading stories to him and listening to him read to me.  So he is learning in a more indirect way from what has happened.  To be fair, he has filled a few water bottles for me and he quite enjoys getting me a Berocca each morning.

All of this has really made me think about the times at which we begin to teach life skills to our children.  I think about it more, when I’m stranded somewhere at home needing something done and I wonder whether I can ask one of the boys to do it.  Will they be able? Will they be willing?  I’ve got a long mental list of things they do know how to do already but I’ve been thinking about how to move them on and some more things I could teach them.

Given that Eric is 10, I’d like to teach him to do simple ironing, start a load of washing choosing water level and temperature, do some vacuuming and where to access the electricity box and water in an emergency.  For Daniel my ambitions include stacking dishwasher, hanging out small washing on clothes airer, folding things and taking simple phone messages.  That’s just off the top of my head and I’m sure there are many more things.

I’d like my boys to get into very familiar routines for mornings, after school and evenings so that the jobs we wanted them to do and homework requirements etc were all just happening instead of coaxed out of them step by step each day.  That means of course that I need to have better routines for myself and I do recognise that.  I’d like them to develop their problem solving skills so they can see that there is often more than one solution to something that is bothering or perplexing them.  I’d like to help them develop their emotional resilience while also leaving them secure in the knowledge that it is ok for a boy to cry.

Eric and I are going to a funeral on Thursday and it will be his first one.  His teacher’s mum passed away last week.   Other students from his class are likely to attend with their parents so he is feeling some safety in numbers. A friend and I had a conversation with Eric and her daughter this afternoon about the sorts of things that happen at a funeral and why they are important. We talked about what it means to the family left behind to see that their community supports them.  Both children now have some concept of what they will see, hear and perhaps feel.  Dh and I decided that it was important for him to attend a funeral now for someone he didn’t know well because there will come a time when he has to attend a funeral for someone he does know well.  When that time comes it may be a bit less overwhelming because he knows the sorts of things that will happen.

Now is the time for us to be mindful of the learning opportunities that are out there in everyday life for our children and to make the most of them even if it does take longer to get things done and they may not be done as well as we would have done them.

You may have noticed that I didn’t put on Eric’s list that he knew how to make toast with honey.  To explain I give you (as accurately as I can remember) our conversation on the Sunday morning before last.

“I’m going to make you a coffee Mum.  Would you like something for breakfast?”

I take frantic mental inventory – what can he make and bring into bedroom without spilling it?  I think that rules out cereal so I settle on toast with jam.  He disappears.

“There’s no jam anywhere Mum.  Can I put something else on?”

“Um, yes. How about some honey?”

“Sure!”

At this point the kettle stopped boiling ages ago, he’s been to the fridge several times but no smoke alarms have gone off.  Then he appears again.

“I’ve sort of made a mistake.”

“Oh yes?”

“I sort of put the margarine and honey on but I forgot to put the bread in the toaster.  Should I put it in now?”

“Um, no, that will be fine, you can just bring it in to me the way it is.”

As it turned out, he probably could have put the bread in the toaster quite easily because he eventually appeared with barely lukewarm coffee and two slices of stale bread with a tiny smear of margarine down the centre of each and about 1 teaspoon of honey altogether between two pieces.

“Thank-you gorgeous, it was so nice of you to make me some breakfast!”

“That’s ok Mum, nothing to it” and he struts away, chest out feeling very proud of himself.

We might still be learning but I’ve got very good material to work with!

 

 


Sorting my Surroundings

One of the Weight Watcher’s catch-cries is to “Sort Your Surroundings”.  And I have been doing that in more ways than one in the last week or so.  I’ve certainly sorted more than just the food surroundings but more on that later.

Last week Mum and I attacked my kitchen.  Dh actually helped in the initial stages so there was a frenzy of pulling stuff from cupboards and throwing stuff out.  One of the plans that has come de-railed since January was the one about the boys taking charge of dishes.  Dh complained that they couldn’t reach the cupboard to put them away. So, Mum and I cleared out and cleaned the top shelf of our pantry and the dishes are now happily living there – not all our dishes but a good supply of what we need for everyday use.  Our pantry is a very annoying cupboard, under the microwave shelf in our kitchen and so deep that it reaches back to the wall – so deep that things can be lost in its murky depths for like – years!  I can almost swear some things had been breeding in there.  If anyone has need of creamed corn or chick peas, I’m your girl!

We moved on from the pantry to the dreaded “corner cupboard”.  You know those ones with folding doors that look so convenient but then you find that they stretch back further than any normal human arm can reach so stuff get lost in there almost forever?  Well, we nearly climbed into the cupboard tog et everything out, only to find that there were many things we didn’t want to put back – more space.  I now have a Breville Kitchen Wizz and a large Tupperware strainer that are looking for good homes.  E-bay – here I come!

Another thing I was very happy about was the Tupperware situation.  I bought several containers a while back and never got around to actually putting the stuff in them that was meant to go into them.  They had gradually crept to all corner of the house to store things like receipts and toys!  This was not ok!  I am happy to report that almost every Tupperware item I own has been re-purposed to its intended purpose, labelled and stacked.  The label maker almost had a nervous breakdown from all the work it did that day.

But the best thing of the day was finding two items which I thought had gone forever.  I was absurdly excited which means I probably need to “get a life” but I found the two seals that go with my Tupperware sifter (and Tupperware sifters are the BEST in the world!) and I also found the metal bits that go into my double cake plate.  This is the double cake plate that has NEVER been used as I had lost the metal bits to put it together.  Now I need to have a posh morning/afternoon tea to use my beautiful plate.

Photos are coming but I thought I’d publish this now as it has been a LONG time between blog entries and I’ve really enjoyed writing this one.

I is about 7:00am Saturday morning.  I’ve sat quietly at the computer for long enough to let the rest of the family sleep in a bit so now I’m off to put the kettle on which will cause Vera to go into a frenzy of excitement because some is awake.  Roll on Saturday!


Money Too Tight To Mention

Unfortunately we did have to mention it to someone who could help us out of our current financial crisis when we asked for help last week and unfortunately we got completely dragged over the coals, interrogated and thoroughly criticised for nearly all our life choices including but not limited to – choice of jobs, choice of hobbies, child care arrangements, activities in which our children are involved, the things we eat and the list goes on.  I’m the first to admit I am not perfect by any means.  My house is messy, we’re eating too much take-away and sometimes I sit down and play on the computer or knit something when perhaps I should be doing housework but is was just awful to have just about everything we do turned into a negative.

Suffice it to say, we didn’t chose to get into a financial mess and we’re sure as heck going to make sure we never do again.  This time has just been an unfortunate melding of council rates, car registration, massive tax bill, power bill and a range of medical expenses occurring all at once along with the normal end of year things like school book orders, piano lessons, chess lessons and the list goes on.  I’m ona much reduced salary compared to teaching and it just hasn’t worked for us.  It isn’t like we are going out every night or having caviar on our crackers.  We spend very little on clothes and entertainment of any description.  Now I sound like Im trying to justify our spending which I shouldn’t have to do.  We make choices – some are right and some are wrong but ultimately they are our choices.

I never want to go down the path of needing to ask for help again from the source we used last week. Never, ever.  So I’m taking baby steps to regain some control of the situation.  I’m going to to ring and try to organise some sort of payment plan for the hideous tax bill.  I’m selling my wedding dress.  I’ve started the process of frogging a garment I knitted a while back but decided that I would never wear.  The yarn is too good to wastes so I’m re-claiming it all and knitting coffee cup cosies to sell on e-bay or etsy.  I’m also looking into what I can make rather than buy for Christmas presents.

I’ve also got huge amounts of stuff that can all eventually go on e-bay – clothes, toys, baby things, furniture etc etc etc.  It will take a long time but I will do it and I’m sure I will feel better to having a less cluttered home.

I felt dreadful about this whole situation until last night when I sat down and started unravelling knitting.  Then I felt I had some tiny measure of control back.  Hopefully that feeling will grow.


What Would You Tell Your Best Friend To Do

I’ve got a rather nasty cold/upper respiratory tract infection – sore throat, coughing like one thing, head full of gunk, constant headache, aches and pains – in fact I think even my fingernails are hurting.  The trouble is, there is never really a good time to get sick.  There is a lot on at work getting ready for an event that starts next week and of course the demands of this household are never ending.

But this morning I had to bite the bullet, call in sick and retreat to the bed/recliner for the day.  It felt bad doing it because I already had the mental list of things I wanted to get done today and no doubt my memory would have been jogged when I opened up my e-mail and saw even more reminders.   But today I needed to let it all go and I asked myself what I would tell one of my best mates to do and then I did it.  I slept a lot, watched TV, did a bit of knitting and spent a bit of time on line.  I did tidy some things up and empty the dishwasher but I didn’t do washing or heavy cleaning.  I kept up with my fluid intake and the salt water spray for my nose.  I didn’t wonder if I might need the asthma inhaler – I went and got it out and used it.

I’m not better yet but it has been so nice to just not struggle and surrender if even for just one day!


The week that was

It is sort of a Limbo between Christmas and New year.  The old year isn’t over. The new year hasn’t started and I always feel a bit blah.  This year I found the Christmas preparations a bit stressful so I was sort of glad it was all over. A has started a mad cleaning and tidying frenzy all over the house but nothing is exactly clean and tidy yet – it’s just – re-arranged.  He had nominated a date for a garage sale however which is very very good.  He also has plans to get rid of the old microwaves (yes plural) and dishwasher that are under the house – oh joy!

My biggest project in the past week since seeing the dr on Tuesday is re-adjusting my sleeping patterns.  My “official” getting up time is 7:00am and I’m not quite there yet but I’m pleased to sat that I have two lots of cyber friends (the girls from the FLYing in Australia Yahoo Group and the girls from Courtney’s Women Living Well Message Board) that I can be accountable to.  So my party trick of the moment is getting out of bed as soon after 7 as possible, logging on to the computer and then staying awake for the rest of the day.  I’m sure it doesn’t sound very exciting but I assure you my life will become more exciting when I can get my 8 hours sleep at the right time!

See more of the Company Girls Here.