a kiss and a whisper

a kiss and a whisper

arms holding on tightly

glimpses of  love

glistening and shimmering

sparkling eyes

~

a kiss and a whisper

caress ever so gentle

glimpses of love

beaming and shining

radiant smiles

~

a kiss and a whisper

precious gift-wrapped moments

glimpses of love

reflecting and treasuring

togetherness time

.

Linking this post up with Kate Says Stuff – Thankful Thursday.  Make sure you pop over to her page and see what she is thankful for today.

© 2012 mum-speak.com

May not be used elsewhere without permission.

Hand to Mouth… in a first world kind of way…

I woke up early this morning in a panic realising that yesterday I forgot to pay the weekly instalment on my energy bill. Stressed and harrowed, I got out of bed immediately and phoned through the payment before 7am.  I just have my fingers crossed that everything works out okay.

“That doesn’t sound so bad” I hear you say. “Why the panic?”

The stress stems from the fact that our energy bill for the quarter was over $1000.

I hear you gasp and mutter under your breath…

“Oh my goodness, why is their bill so high? Those inefficient energy users! Wasters of energy! They are singlehandedly using up all of Australia’s Coal Reserves!”

Maybe you are not saying that and what I am hearing is just the guilt-ridden, judgemental voices in my own head, followed closely by voices of justification…

Think rental property. Think open plan kitchen-dining-lounge area.  Think large old inefficient box airconditioner struggling to reduce the oppressive tropical summer heat and humidity. Think 2 box bedroom air conditioners overnight. Think clothes dryer to help cope with the laundry on those many rainy days (and also because I work full time and don’t get a chance to hang things on the line as much as I would like to should). Think 5 overhead fans to keep the air in the house circulating as much as possible. Think ridiculous light fittings that are linked together so that when you turn on one light, you turn on two.  Think kids being afraid of the dark and leaving bathroom light and bedroom lights on all night. Think Dishwasher. Think 2 computers. 2 Televisions. 2 fridges.

I could go on, but our house is starting to sound like the electronic version of Noah’s Ark and I think you are getting sick of me saying the word think you get the picture.

I am not proud of our energy bill.  I live in dread of each meter reading and when I discover an envelope with the energy company logo has arrived in our letterbox my heart starts flipping over in my chest.  To make matters even worse, they have these nifty little graphs on the back of the bill that shows you how much energy you are using, compared to the rest of the people in the world in the region.  The graph on our energy bill always shows our power consumption being 50 gazillion times higher than everyone else in our area.  Oh how I wish we could have solar power. If we owned our home, rather than renting, installing Solar Power would be one of the first things on our to-do list.  But that is not our reality right now.

Because we have a tight budget, and we don’t have a lazy $1000 hanging around, I made a payment arrangement with the energy company to pay off the bill over several weeks.  I am meant to pay $120 each Friday and the energy company is quite militant about this.  If you don’t pay on the day, you have broken your arrangement and it can hurt your chance of getting another payment arrangement in the future.  When I made this arrangement, I was warned that i MUST pay on the date.  And I was also warned that I had NOT paid on the date once before, so basically, I was on my last chance for arrangements.

So far each week I have been trying to put between 10 and forty dollars more on top of each week’s installment, so that by the time the arrangement is over, I will be in front and will already have paid money towards the next bill.

My aim is to then keep paying the same amount each week so that by the time the next bill comes, it will already be paid for in full, or at least down to a manageable amount.  The trouble is, by the time the arrangement is over, the strain of paying these amounts has left our cupboards so bare and our list of necessities so high that it is almost impossible to keep paying money towards the next bill. If feels like we are operating in a never ending hand-to-mouth cycle. I am starting to feel like a professional money juggler.

Sometimes I look at the amount of money we have left to buy groceries and I don’t think we are going to make it last for the week.  But miraculously, we somehow always do survive.  No one goes hungry.  Even if that means that I have baked beans on toast for lunch.

The baked beans on toast thing doesn’t happen very often, though.  My husband does most of the cooking becuase he loves doing it (yay me!) and has a knack for making everything we eat super tasty.  I am not too bad at this myself, but the hubster sets the bar so high that on the rare occasions that we do lash out and eat at a restaurant, we often find ourselves wishing that he just bought the ingredients and cooked it himself at home.

Usually our ‘budget’ food is healthy.  We try to stick to fresh ingredients – and tend to steer clear of processed food as much as possible.  Spaghetti bolognese with heaps of fresh vegetables and fresh herbs. Chicken Curry with heaps of vegetables and rice. Tuna pasta using fresh cream, onion and tinned Corn. Bangers and Mash with Peas. Teriyaki Chicken with vegetables, rice and salad.

It may feel like a struggle sometimes.  It may feel like we are living hand to mouth.  But to be brutally honest, in a very first world kind of way.

I complain about my power bill, but the reason my bill is so high is because of all the ‘necessary’ devices that we run in our household, yet there are so many who don’t even have access to power at all. There are so many people in this world who don’t have access to fresh clean water, let alone the fresh food that we do.  My anxieties, my worries, pale in the face of the cruelty, hopelessness and despair these people face every day.

There are people right now all over the world that don’t have a safe place to sleep tonight.

So as I ponder all of this, I will stop whining.

I have a lot to be thankful for.

I will stop the panic.

I will just ‘BE’.

Thankful.

Falling Off The Wagon

Right now I am feeling like a bit of a failure.

I have failed.

I have fallen off the wagon.

Not so much in the alcohol drinking sense.  I don’t have a problem with alcoholism.

However it is true that while I am writing this I am drinking a glass of Wolfblass Red Label Semillion Sauvignon Blanc.

It was on special at the Bottle-O for $10 and because I am a really classy chick, that is about all I am willing to spend on a bottle of wine that I won’t finish.  (Ok who am I kidding! I probably will finish it and if I don’t, I will probably finish it tomorrow night, diluting the old wine taste by topping up my glass with orange juice).   Yes, I am that classy.  Jealous?

In all seriousness though, having a glass or two on a Friday Night is my reward for putting up with a week of stressful weekdays: getting the kids to school – getting to work on time – spending the day at work trying to recover from the school run –  dealing with the kids fighting in the car on the way home – trying to organise homework – laundry – lunches – housework – bedtime.

“So if not alcohol then, what wagon are you falling off?” I hear you ask.  (Ok, so even if you are not asking, I am going to tell you).

About 6 months ago, my husband decided to he wanted to get fit.

He joined a gym (costing us $16.94 per week – it might not seem a big outlay of cash to some – but with our tight budget it is sometimes hard to make sure we have that much in our account when the direct debit is due to come out).

I told my hubby that if he was going to sign up for the gym, he had to make sure he made proper use of it.  No going for a few weeks and slacking off.  I wouldn’t accept us paying for a $16.94 per week for nothing.  My hubby promised that he would use the gym as much as possible and stuck to his word.  He goes almost every day, with a couple of other people that he works with, doing pump and yoga classes as well as generally using the gym equipment.

The gym work has been paying off.  He has lost a couple of pants sizes and is starting to look good. Really Good.

Meanwhile, since I have had the kids I have gone from size 8, to size 16 (and even size 18 depending on what brand of clothing).

And I don’t have the time for exercise.

Or at least thats what I tell myself.

And I am 20 kilograms more than what I should be.

Spurred on by his success at the gym, my husband has been trying to encourage me to try to improve my health and fitness.  I couldn’t see a way clear in our budget to be able to afford a second gym membership.  Even if we could afford it, with hubby going to gym after work, when could I fit my gym sessions in?

But I do really want to improve my health and fitness.  I want to lose that 20 kilos.

So I jumped on the fitness bandwagon.

We decided to embark on a “Family Fit Project”.  The plan was to try to exercise together as a family as much as possible.  We started our “Family Fit Project” in April, bushwalking on one of the popular local tracks (I like to call it the Stairs of Doom as it is over a kilometre of (mostly) stairs and on your first time up the mountain,  it feels like those stairs are never going to end).

I was seriously unfit and literally thought that I was going to die, but after I had finished, I felt an amazing sense of accomplishment and even though  I was exhausted I was inexplicably happy.

The next day, we went on a 3km bushwalk around Mossman Gorge.  Once again – enjoyed every minute.

On Anzac Day (two days later) we did the staircase of Doom again.  It was still painfully exhausting, but was a bit easier than before.

Something weird happened.

I began to want to do the Stairs of Doom.

Over the next 10 days we did the stairs of Doom 3 more times.

Then Mr S got an Ear Infection.   We were about to do the stairs of Doom, began the first flight of stairs, when he became hysterical with pain.

No stairs of Doom for Me.  Hubby and Mr J did the stairs, while Miss O and I took Mr S to the doctor.

All the kids seemed to get sick, then eventually I did too.  The flu really knocked me for a six.  I was feeling a bit better by the end of the week, but I wasn’t up to the Stairs of Doom, so I dropped of Hubby and Mr J at the Stairs of Doom and Took Mr S and Miss O to the Esplanade, and we walked for half an hour, before Hubby phoned to say that he and Mr J were almost at the bottom.

Finally, on Mothers Day, I was well enough for the stairs of Doom again.  But since then, I have slackened off. A lot.

Last week we did two 50 minute walks along the Cairns Esplanade.

Miss O had her best friend sleeping over last weekend and I was worried that my exercise momentum  was slipping away,  so the kids and I walked the dogs for an hour (actually the kids rode their scooters).

But this week the kids and I have done nothing. No Stairs of Doom.  No Esplanade.

Nothing.  

On Wednesday morning, I woke up – tired but otherwise perfectly fine – started getting the kids ready for school, and at some point in the morning, hurt my knee.  (I don’t even know how!)  The pain was excruiating.

As I limped around in pain, I felt Fat.  I felt Depressed.

My knee was extremely sore for two days.  It is still slightly sore now, but I think by tomorrow it will be okay.

I know I should exercise tomorrow.  I know it should be one of the top five things on my to do list.

But I have fallen off the wagon.

Curling up in bed, watching the Pride and Predjudice Series that I got for mothers day, nibbling on grapes and chocolate sounds like a much more appealing way to spend the day.

I might just be okay with that.

Bedtime Bliss

Recently, I integrated something a little new into our bedtime routine.

Confession: The ‘something a little new’ part is actually a ‘creating a new routine’, full stop.

We used to have an extraordinary amount of excuses, bickering and crying at bedtime.

It would end with me completely losing it – and yelling – and when I say yelling, I really mean yelling! I sounded more like a fishwife or an army drill instructor than a loving Mum.

Last year, in order to combat this, I set a nightly Alarm on my iPhone, that goes off when it is bedtime.  The kids understood that once this alarm went off, there were no excuses.  It was time for bed.

This worked for a while.  It was a bit exciting! The kids would race to be the one who was first to find and swipe my iPhone to turn off the alarm, and they would all then dutifully trundle off to bed.

But ever so slowly, the bedtime boundaries once again began to get a bit blurry.

The excuses, arguments and crying about bedtime began to start again.

There was the usual ‘I need to go to the toilet’, ‘I need a drink’, ‘I’m scared’ excuses, as well as many other, more ridiculous reasons for not going to bed.

So on the odd occasion, I let one, or more, of the kids fall asleep on the couch in front of Disney Channnel or Disney Junior, just because after my day at work, and all the rest that happens after I get home, I am just too tired to argue about bedtime and it can be easier to carry them to their beds once they have nodded off.

Suddenly, before I knew it,  around about 4 out of the 7 nights in a week one or more the kids were falling asleep in front of the TV.  Sometimes I would even fall asleep on my own bed before they did!

Having a good look at my life and the lack of quality time that I spend with my kids, I came to the conclusion that lazily allowing this to become the norm instead of something that happens on the odd occasion really isn’t going to earn me the mother of the year award any time soon.

So I decided I needed to make a major change in the way bedtime is run in our household.

My kids need to have rules and boundaries about bedtime, they need to feel loved, and they need to have some relaxing one-on-one time with Mum.

So now, each kid gets a special ‘one on one’ story, talk and cuddle time.

In talk and cuddle time, I ask the kids to tell me what was the ‘worst thing’ about the day.

Then I ask them to tell me what what was the ‘best thing’ about the day.

It is amazing just how much the kids tell you when you ask these two questions.

The answers that they give you regarding the ‘worst thing‘ about their day can give you a deeper insight into their feelings and fears that they may not otherwise have shared. For Miss O (who has recently turned 10) it is a great opportunity to talk a bit more about problems that she is having, and on more than one occasion she has cried and poured her little heart out.

Getting them to tell you the ‘best thing‘ about their day helps them to get into the habit of being thankful for the good things they have in life, whether big or small.  It also helps to end the night on a light and positive note, so that they are thinking about pleasant things before they go to sleep.

How do I know I will try my best to stick to my new routine?  That it won’t fall by the wayside?

Because on the very first night, Mr S, gave me a wonderful answer about his ‘best thing‘ of the day.

What was his answer?

“When you loved me”.

That was all.

The best part of his day was when I made him feel special and loved.

And you know what?

That was the best part of my day too.

This is what I am thankful for today.

Linking Up with Kate Says Stuff for Thankful Thursday. Pop over to Kate’s page to see why others are thankful today.