Sunday, 4 November 2012

Life challenge - weeks 33-34 - exercise and food

Move your body
 I enjoy exercise, when I do it. Before kids I was at the gym 4-6 times per week. I would go before work and on the weekends. Since having kids (my son is now 6), my gym membership comes and goes. I'm currently not a member as I've prioritised spending time with the kids. I get home from work at 6pm and I want to spend time with them. At the gym I prefer the classes - and the last one is 7.30pm - so I just can't fit it in as well as spending time with the kids. I have a treadmill at home, along with Jillian Michael's exercise DVDs and the wii with wii fit and wii active. I was a

I ran the city to bay (12km) in September in 1 hour and 5 minutes! I was so proud. But since then my exercise has been lacking. This week I decided it was time to get back on the bike (or treadmill as the case may be). I aimed to do 3 sessions, with the plan to increase it back to 4 as I was doing before the city to bay in a few weeks. I felt like I failed....but if I really think about it, I think I did okay in the end. I ran on the treadmill on Monday.  Then nothing, nothing, nothing until Saturday. On Saturday I did the wii. I started a 30 day challenge on the wii fit. So I did day 1 (only was 15 minutes), followed by 20 minutes or so of wii fit - yoga and hoola hoops and balance exercises. Then today I did another 30 minutes on the wii (day 2 of the 30 day challenge - tomorrow is rest day for the challenge). It is quite different to a full  on work out at the gym - and even different to running on the treadmill. But I need to get a more rounded workout, rather than just running. So even though I didn't feel I had worked that much, today I was sore in the muscles - I certainly felt it.

I'm planning to get more even with my exercise this week. I've planned a work out for Monday (treadmill), Wednesday and Friday. I'm going to mix up treadmill, Wii and the exercise DVDs.

Eating habits
I want to lose a few kilos, so decided I was also going to start watching what I eat better this week. We meal plan already, have done for years. It's too stressful without it!  I have a thermomix so can cook things from scratch.  I thought I had done quite well with the eating, but did have a naughty lunch on Saturday with my sister in law (pizza and pasta at Caffe Primo). But when I weighted today I had put on 400g. Hmm so something isn't working. My hubby wants to lose weight too - so this week I'm going to monitor what I eat again. Less snacking and more healthy options.

Life Challenge week 43 - Holidays - visions and expectations

Our Christmases have changed over the years from being very busy and full on to quite quiet. To be honest I prefer the livelier gatherings. As I kid we used to drive from our house around 3 hours to my Dad's families and have a big lunch get together. Then we would rush off to dinner with my Mum's family. This was busy, tiring but fun! When hubby and I first got together we would have big Christmases with his extended family - but along the line we lost those too. One of Hubby's brothers decided they didn't want to travel on Christmas Day to see both families - so now we do Christmas Day one year with Hubby's family, but the alternate year we catch up with them sometime before Christmas Day. These years are always quiet for us as my parents/sister's family are busy at lunch so we are often on our own at lunch. I want to catch up with my family each year - so we do dinner with my family each year. 

When thinking about what I enjoy and don't enjoy about Christmases of the past I get the following:

Don’t enjoy

  • Christmas cards – writing them/sending them/feeling guilty at receiving them
  • Eating a big lunch and a big dinner
  • The stress of buying presents, what to buy and so on
  • Last minute shopping – can’t get a park at the shopping centre
  • Being rushed


  • Putting up the Christmas tree as a family, listening to Christmas Carols, decorating the house
  • Spending time with family
  • Giving presents to the kids
  • Seeing the excitement from the kids
  • Advent calendars
  • Giving World Vision gifts as the Cards for school/childcare teachers/staff
  • Sharing with those in need - giving food for hampers etc, discussing this with the kids
  • Christmas pageants

This year I want to start the Elf on a Shelf tradition. I thought about it last year but wasn’t organised in time. This year I’m following My Elf on a Shelf series and have just purchased my girl elf and book.  I hope this will be a great tradition!

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Life challenge - week 36 - beauty

Given I'm a bit behind I'm choosing which challenges I want to do as I go...last week I decided to tackle the beauty, rituals, routines, indulgences. I'm very low maintenance when it comes to beauty. I get my hair cut every 6 months or so - colour at home inbetween (this is a necessity, as unfortunately I have had grey hair since 15). Then I tie it up in a pony tail flipped under style (hard to explain but same every single day - I may do something different once a week). Make-up....hmm what's that again? Well actually I know what make up is - I have some good stuff. Had a clean out not too long ago and purchased some nice new stuff. But don't wear it much. Only if I'm going out for the night (which lets face it, isn't often). Clothes and shoes etc, I've just started to get some nice new dresses. I was never a dress person but am starting to like them - so my wardrobe is doing okay (not great - but okay).

I do like to treat myself to the odd massage now and then (I had one on Friday actually), and will get pedicures and manicures from time to time as an indulgance.

And I did have laser eye surgery a few months ago - so I guess that was beauty related. NO MORE GLASSES!!!

At the beginning of the week I set myself 2 mini-goals for the week:
1. Wear lipstick/lipgloss every day
2. Not to wear my hair the same 2 days in a row

Then I planned to write what I did each day, e.g. Monday I plaited my hair and wore Atzec bronze lipstick. Tuesday I put my hair in a bun and wore my light pink lipstick and so on. I was doing well, until I got to Thursday - and I didn't have enough time to work out how to do my hair. So my hair was the same from Thursday onwards. And then the weekend came and I forgot about lipstick. I did have a Mums group dinner and did a full face make up - but no lipstick. I think one reason was my daughter had her ballet concert and I was helping her get her costume on etc and didn't want to risk lipstick getting on her costume.

Anyway what I learned during this week was, really, I'm low maintenance. That doesn't bother me. I don't mind having my hair the same every day. It's quick, it's easy and it works for me. I did enjoy wearing lipstick to work - but I don't feel any worse not wearing it. I will try and put lipstick/lipgloss on most days, but I'm not going to beat myself up over it if I forget!

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Life challenge - week 41 - marriage

Hubby and I have been together FOREVER. We were childhood sweethearts. We started dating when I was only 15, have been together 19 years and married for 13. As time goes on we tend to take each other for granted and with our busy lives don't get much time together (and haven't made it a priority to spend time together). This is an area I want to work on. I put it in my goals to spend one night per week together - well it's now October and yep you guessed it - hasn't happened yet. So this week when Deb asked us to look at our marriages I thought now is a great time to focus again on this area.

This week I've tried to be a better partner - listen more, show and tell him I appreciate him and what he does, say yes more.

I was out buying a card just recently and came across one which I thought was perfect for hubby - just to say I love you and I'm thinking of you. So I got that one too. I decided to list the ways I love him and pop them into the card and send it to him.

To to my husband, whom I've tended to take for granted, I would not be who I am without you. I've written 13 reasons why I love you, for the 13 years we have been married (in no particular order):

1.  You are outgoing and can talk to anyone - a characteristic the introvert in me envies

2.  People warm to you/you make them feel listened to

3.  You cook dinner - and are creative in what you make!

4.  You know lots of "stuff" - some useful - some not so  -but you still know it

5.  You can fix things

6.  You are good with directions - where would I be without you (the other side to where I want to be)
7.  You care about our family, the kids look up to you and want to be with you

8.  You are reliable with the kids - I can leave them with you without worrying what will happen, they are  
      happy to be with you

9.   You look after the kids so I can have time for myself for movies, dinners, massages

10. You get on well with my family

11. You set a good example for the kids by working hard, even when you don't enjoy it

12. You are not afraid to ask for help when you need it

13. You love me despite all my faults

Life challenge - week - 40 - negative or toxic people

Wow this one has come at the right time for me (okay we seeing as I'm behind I just grabbed it as it was appropriate right now). Negative or toxic people take a lot of time.

I have (had) a friend who wants a lot of my time, lets call him Joe. We are at different stages in our lives – me with a young family, Joe’s kids are older and more independent. For me, my family comes first, they are young, they need me.

I wanted to be friends, I did like Joe. I would try and keep up to Joe’s messages but would respond when it suited me, not when I received them. But this just caused more issues with follow up messages as to why I hadn’t responded. In short, Joe liked me a lot, wanted to spend a lot of time with me/communicating with me and expected me to feel the same. Joe wasn’t my best friend, but to him I was.

We had been friends for over 7 years. A few times this year Joe decided he needed to get over me and we would stop talking/messaging. Joe knew his feelings were stronger than mine. It would last about a week until I would get another message. And all would be well again. When I would get the messages about “taking a break” I would always thing WOW – it’s all or nothing isn’t it. We have to text/chat etc daily, or we can’t be friends at all.

Can a friendship last where one person feels more strongly about the other? I thought so, I thought I was managing it seems I was wrong.

This friendship has recently (just this week) ended. I’ve been un-friended from FB and have been told I won’t hear from Joe again....I’m not sure how I feel. It was my fault it ended – I know that. I think I feel it’s for the best. I didn’t have the time Joe wanted from me. I constantly felt smothered and Joe felt ignored or neglected. Now Joe feels hurt and resentful. Joe had an unhealthy obsession for me. So I’ve got to come to terms with the fact the friendship was probably toxic for both of us. Time to move on and try and foster my positive friendships.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Life challenge - week 32 - balance

This week Deb has us reflecting on our wheel of life we devise in week 4. Hmmm, I haven't looked at this in a LONG time so I'm curious to see where things are at.
The ones I was most happiest in week 4 were work, environment and relaxation and recreation. These each scored a 4. Work and environment are still 4s. My  job is flexible, interesting work where I'm valued and great company. I'm happy what we are doing for the environment - saving on electricity where we can, recycling, solar electricity etc.  Relaxation and recreation has shifted down from 4 to 3.5. A few of my regular activities (scrap booking workshop, weekly walk with colleague, fortnightly coffee) have stopped due to reasons out of my control. I still have a monthly lunch with one friend, and try to get to the movies with my sister or sister in law when I can. And I still squeeze in as much reading as I can.
I scored 3s for home environment, health, family and finances.
Home environment (which I said includes organisation, cleanliness, tidiness and smooth running of the household) is still a 3. The house is still messy and it still frustrates me. It's tidy fortnightly Sunday nights before our cleaner comes on Mondays, then on Mondays after she has cleaned, and the lasts about 1/2 hour. This relates to the habits and motivation task, where I really want to set aside 15 minutes each day for a quick tidy/declutter. 
Health is a funny one. If I did this back at week 32 I would have put health at 4.5. I was running on the treadmill 4 times per week (I let my gym membership lapse as I wasn't using it enough but running on treadmill instead). I did the city to bay fun run - 12km - in 1 hour and 5 minutes! I was so proud of myself...but then we went to New Zealand 4 days after the run - I was too busy holidaying so didn't get a chance (motivation) to exercise, then no motivation when we got home and then I got sick. So basically that leads to my running motivation gone and hard to get back into it. Hunter's bedtimes have improved (we got some help) - we are still struggling to get him to sleep by 8.30pm - but it's much better than it was. And we still aren't eating as well as we could (not too bad but not great either). I'm therefore going to score it at this particular time as 3.5. So improved from 3 - but I need to get back to where I was prior to the city to bay.
Family has moved from 3 to 3.5. I have scheduled in monthly family days - it's a bit tricky with hubby working most weekends now but we are trying to spend some time together. We were doing Friday night family movies - but channel 99 have changed the program on me and no kids movie Friday night now - will try and record shows though at other times to watch Friday night. I've been spending less time on the computer when home with the kids and more time with the kids. 
Finances I think may need to stay a 3, maybe moved to 3.5. We did manage to have a nice holiday to New Zealand - but I never did get to finishing that budget and our impulse buys are still high. We did sort out spending money for hubby and I so we have our own money to spend on "stuff' which has helped a little. But still room for improvement.
My final area of friendship was scored a 2. I was going to call people more - which I did for a few weeks, and then it seemed to slide. But I'm now scoring this at a 3. We have been trying to catch up with friends more often - and I'm starting to make some more friends close to home through childcare in particular - and Mums I chat to at school - not necessarily friends yet - but we are happy to hang out and have a coffee at a birthday party!

Overall I've had small upward movements. My plan for the next little bit is to get back into my exercise/running.

Life challenge - week 29 - paper and information management real time the Simplify your life challenges are up to week 42. I seem to have slipped and am up to week 29.  I had decided to give it up and stop the tasks because - lets face it - we are all so busy. But then I've decided they are designed to make life simpler and I really want to get back into it - so here I am...13 weeks behind!

Week 29 is paper and information management. I think I have this one mostly under control. I have a storage container on top of my microwave that has 5 trays. They are labelled miscellaneous, junk mail, Bec's mail, Nigel's mail and pens/stationary. Next to the microwave I have 2 magazine files - 1 for Hunter and 1 for Savannah. In her go important school/childcare/activity notes.
Bills get stuck to the pin board after I have checked the due date and put this on the calendar highlighted.

My emails are a little out of control. I'm subscribed to WAY too many blogs - the majority of which I don't read. I'm also subscribed to many useless newsletters etc. I've set up folders and rules and from now on I'm going to check each email as it comes in and decide if I want to stay on the subscription list. I've already unsubscribed to all the daily deal emails - I was getting so many I couldn't read any of them!

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Life challenge - week 28 - cleaning

This week Deb has us thinking about 3 questions relating to cleaning.

What's your minimum standard cleaning routine?
Basically my minimum is quite low. Every night after dinner I tidy up from dinner, load and start the dishwasher, make Hunter’s lunch for the next day and basically ensure the kitchen area is clean and tidy.

What is your cleaning approach?
My cleaner comes once a fortnight. We spend the Sunday before she comes (she comes Monday) tidying – so she can actually clean. She mops all tiled areas, vacuums carpets, wipes kitchen bench/hotplates etc and kitchen table, cleans toilets, showers, bath, bathrooms including mirrors and sinks. The bathrooms, toilets, showers etc only get done by her once a fortnight. We generally don’t do them in between visits. Nor do we vacuum the carpet in between visits. We will sweep the family room/kitchen floor as required – maybe every 2nd day or so. This includes sweeping up any toys that have been left on the floor for the kids to pick up. They then get a few minutes to grab what they want and put it away or it goes in the bin.
We are quite lax when it comes to cleaning.

Do you use any systems to save you time and effort with cleaning?
The biggest issue I have is the clutter around the house. I’ve been going on about it all year – it’s one of my goals. We need to work on getting the kids to clean up their “stuff” better. I say we will do it every night – make them do it before bed, but again and again I find stuff on the floor and the kids in bed and I’m too tired to pick it up/or feel the kids should really do it. I feel better when the floors and clean and the place is tidy.
So no, I don’t have systems in place. My system is my cleaner and my Sunday frantic tidy so she can clean!  Not a great system. I really want to get rid of the frantic tidy up.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Home challenge - catch up - weeks 24-27

Okay so I have slipped seems to be spiralling out of control - which is not what we I'm attempting to catch up!

Week 24: clutter prevention
Challenge: Identify what your clutter issues are and devise a plan to prevent it coming back or getting worse. What can you do from today to prevent clutter?

The biggest areas for clutter are kids toys, Hunter's craft and kids clothes.

Kids clothes I think I can sort out easily - be sure the kids actually need the item before buying it. I often get a lot of hand me downs for Savannah – which are fantastic – but often come after I have done the clothes shopping.  Not much I can do about this – but I aim to keep what we need, and pass the rest on. And seasonally go through their closets and pass down what no longer fits.

Overall I really like the idea of 1 in 1 out – but for some things this just isn’t practical – like the kids toys! I have just done a huge clear out of toys – in preparation of making room for Hunter’s birthday and Christmas. My rule is once there are no more spaces in the storage boxes, we have to get rid of something to get something new in.

Hunter’s craft/making/pictures etc are tricky. He LOVES making and as such as heaps of cardboard boxes, paper craft, paper and so on. He wants to keep it all. A few weeks back we had a clear out – in preparation for the next term’s work. I think we managed to get rid of just under half of his stuff – but there was quite a lot he just wouldn’t part with. The plan was we will take photos of every item and at the end of the year make a photo book of all his work. He has just bought home a whole heap of craft/paper work etc from the last 6 months at school. When I suggested we were to go through and see what to keep and what to photograph now he was horrified – as if we would get rid of anything Mum – it only just came home. So as this is his creativity I’ve decided we will have a clear out each term – photographing as we recycle so we can create the book at the end of the year. He has a couple of cubes to keep his papers, as well as on top of the cube storage box for his boxes etc. As long as these aren’t over-flowing I’m happy.

As an overall prevent clutter tactic we need to really think through purchases before buying. In the past we have bought just for the sake of it! This will also help in my goal of getting on top of finances. Where possible I would like to bring in a 1 in 1 out rule.

I also need to get back on top of my de-cluttering list. I've chipped away at a few more items - kids books I can now cross off along with jewellery box. Still a few more areas to look at though.
  1. kitchen 4 draws
  2. my bedside table
  3. my hanging clothes
  4. top of my walk in robe
  5. jewellery box
  6. big kitchen tubs and cube areas
  7. lounge room book case
  8. computer cabinet
  9. Savannah's dresser
  10. Savannah's clothes in dresser
  11. Savannah's built in wardrobe
  12. Hunter's clothes
  13. Hunter's built in wardrobe
  14. kids books
  15. kids artwork
  16. kids toys
  17. garage

Week 25: catch up
Phew...nothing to do here

Week 26: everything has a place
Challenge: Go through your home and clear your clutter hot spots by assigning homes to things.

I have been doing this as part of the home challenge and now have a draw on top of the microwave for pens/stationary, my mail, Nigel’s mail, junk mail (the ones we want to keep a little longer) and miscellaneous – for things that need actioning. I have big tubs/cubes under my kitchen bench – and each hold a certain group of items eg. library books/DVDs, cookbooks, cords, hats/umbrellas, paperwork, name labels etc.
Generally I can’t think of too much in our home that doesn’t have a place – the issue is keeping it in it’s place. But as I tidy up over the next few weeks I’m going to be on the look out for things that are homeless – and try to find them a home (or boot them out!).

Week 27: home routines and systems
Challenge: Examine your household's routines and find 1 or 2 systems or ideas that you will work on implementing of tweaking to suit your home.

I’m quite good with home routines and systems. I already have the following set up:

In the kitchen
-          Meal planning + shopping list

Time management
I have a personal diary and a family calendar – which basically keeps track of the same information – but my diary travels
-          The family calendar keeps track of hubby’s roster, kids activities, family activities, appointments, due date of bills, birthdays (so I know when to send cards/get presents)
-          My personal diary also captures my daily outside of work to-dos, and it’s where I jot down ideas such as kids activities we could try, and I have a couple of pages for our holiday plans
Nightly preparations: I do the following:
-          Kids clothes for the next day (school/childcare days only)
-          Hunter’s lunch for the next day (school days)
-          My lunch for the next day

Household planning/communication
This is an area we are lacking. We do our nightly what we are grateful for but that’s about it. I have ready many parenting books which highlight the importance of family meetings – and I keep thinking we will put it into place, but then don’t know what we would talk about. The kids are 3 and nearly 6, but I think I should just schedule an informal meeting to begin with so they get used to the idea.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Life challenge - week 23 - declutter your wardrobe

Decluttering - well I did some this week.  My problem is once I get started I don't want to stop.  Which is good - but bad in a sense that I tend to neglect everything else.  So lucky for me decluttering my wardrobe was at the top of my decluttering list as that was week 23's challenge.  I started with my bedside table - which had undies, bras, socks, long sleeved and short sleeved tops.

Who would have thought you could fit this much into 1 draw?  Each photo is of one of my three draws...

My top draw collected "stuff", so I had to be brutal with that one.  I also got rid of my 6 year old undies - that I bought for after labour with my son...big black knickers!  I was still wearing them which is sad - so they had so say goodbye! So I now have 3 nice and tidy draws.

Next it was onto my handing clothes and top of the walk in robe. I put summer clothes into bags on top of my walk in robe and then had a serious declutter with the rest. I'm not a huge clothes person so didn't have too much - but did manage to get 1 full bag for goodwill. I had some shoes to chuck out too.

Walk in robe - before

Walk in robe - after

Hubby even got into the groove of things and had a tidy out on the weekend and had a full bag for goodwill and just as much for the trash!

I was then in a bit of a decluttering mood - so hit the kids clothes. I have done all their draws and hanging stuff - the only thing I haven't done is the top of their wardrobes....

Then the big one - the toys!!  I knew this would be a big job and was overwhelmed where to start - which was why I put it at the bottom of my decluttering schedule.  But I also knew I would feel better when it was done. Monday arvo, public holiday, hubby offered to take the kids to a playground so I could declutter. Well they were gone for about 2.5 hours - and WOW did I get a lot done!  I'm proud to say I'm happy with the toyroom at the moment.  1 huge bag of trash (luckily it was our trash day today) and various other toys have been hidden in spots around the garage. My aim is to gather all of these up and attempt to sell them - possibly at the baby and kids market that is across the road. But that is another huge job in itself - so for now I'm happy to just have them out of the house. They are in the garage (hidden as last time I stashed old toys there the kids found them and bought them back in!!) and that is the last item on my decluttering schedule.

So wow - when I revisit my decluttering schedule - I've managed to cross of 9 items this week!! 
  1. kitchen 4 draws
  2. my bedside table
  3. my hanging clothes
  4. top of my walk in robe
  5. jewellery box
  6. big kitchen tubs and cube areas
  7. lounge room book case
  8. computer cabinet
  9. Savannah's dresser
  10. Savannah's clothes in dresser
  11. Savannah's built in wardrobe
  12. Hunter's clothes
  13. Hunter's built in wardrobe
  14. kids books
  15. kids artwork
  16. kids toys
  17. garage
My plan is to now keep chipping away at the smaller easier areas, but I'm pleased with my efforts so far.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Life challange - week 22 - declutter

WOW, this is a biggie for me! We moved into our house nearly 2.5 years ago. At the time it was a nice fresh start! We decluttered before we packed, and then some more as we unpacked. Fast forward 2.5 years and oh my's found us again!

In week 22 Deb has us looking at decluttering. She makes it clear this isn't going to happen in a week - and could take a year - but chip away at it!

Okay step 1 for me - read the articles on decluttering. I read Deb's articles:

I realised I keep many things 'just in case'. I'm conscious of money - and don't want to get rid of something if I'm going to need it in the future and have to pay for it again! I've got work shirts I haven't worn in over a year - but keep them just in case I decide to wear them next year (of course I won't - I've grown bored with them and changed style a bit!). The kids have heaps of toys which they don't play with anymore - but what if they decide the want to again?
I also have some memorabilia. Craft is a biggie for us too. Savannah is at childcare 4 days per week and brings home paintings and pictures on a daily basis! Hunter loves craft and during their play sessions at school, along with at after school care, he is continually making something that just must come home and he must keep! I recently went through my box on top of the fridge with all the pictures in it and kept just the best stuff - but I want to go a bit further and photograph each item and keep only a few.

I visually went through each room and thought about what needs decluttering...I then made a plan and a rough order:
  1. kitchen 4 draws
  2. my bedside table
  3. my hanging clothes
  4. top of my walk in robe
  5. jewellery box
  6. big kitchen tubs and cube areas
  7. lounge room book case
  8. computer cabinet
  9. Savannah's dresser
  10. Savannah's clothes in dresser
  11. Savannah's built in wardrobe
  12. Hunter's clothes
  13. Hunter's built in wardrobe
  14. kids books
  15. kids artwork
  16. kids toys
  17. garage
The kids toys and garage are huge ones that will take a while, which is why I have left them for last - although if I think about it I will be much happier once the toys are done - and they need to be done before Hunter's birthday in September. I aim to tackle one toy tub at a time.....The garage needs more storage solutions - as identified in my home audit. I'm happy to leave that one until I'm happy with the house.

I started on the kitchen draws yesterday - and they are done.

So now I need to stick to the plan. My aim will be to do one area per week (and I've realised Sunday's are not good decluttering days for me - I'm tired then)...I will need to priorities as one of my top 3 tasks for the day to declutter an area.

Wish me luck!

Friday, 1 June 2012

Home challenge - week 22 - dining room and eating area

In our house we don't have a formal dining room as such. We have the main kitchen table (6 seater), which is in the family room and an larger (8 seater) outdoor table.  We like eating outdoors in summer but lately, despite the cold, we have been eating outside. And the reason for that is our kitchen table looks like this:

If it's really too cold we just push things aside so we can all have a spot to eat. So the challenge to organise the kitchen eating area is timely for me. Eating together as a family is very important to me. It's the one time we get to be together and we say what we are grateful for! I couldn't imagine not having an evening meal together at the dinner table (before we had the kids hubby and I used to eat our dinner on our laps watching TV - not a habit I want to get the kids into!).

Decluttering the table isn't a biggie....hubby and I did a quick run around and in about 5-10 minutes we made it look like this:

Now the big challenge for me is keeping it like this! Our cleaner cleans the table if it's clear - so we tend to clear it up once a fortnight so it can be cleaned properly - but I would like it to stay in this clear state constantly! Now that it's clear again I'm going to give a good crack and keeping it clear!

Monday, 28 May 2012

Life challenge - week 21 - home audit

Week 21 - we are onto the home section. This week we are to do a home audit. I haven't completed a full audit yet - which I do want to do - but have pulled out the major problem areas.

My audit found the following:

  • Lounge and bedrooms -
    • carpet (we have a dog who has ruined the carpet) - it's stained, it's ruined and it's depressing
    • we would like to replace with tiles in the lounge room - but it's a large cost
    • hubby wants tiles in the bedrooms - but I'm not convinced yet (I like carpet on my feet in the morning) - we are not putting in new carpet whilst the dog is still around
    • First action - get some quotes for tiles and laying, decide on option for bedrooms
  • Lounge room
    • Computer cabinet is cluttered
    • Declutter
  • Family room
    • hole in the wall
    • first action - fix it!
  • Toy room
    • cluttered - WAY TOO MANY toys
    • first action - declutter (when the kids aren't home as they want to keep everything - this is the issue - finding time when I'm home and they aren't)
  • Main bedroom
    • would like a comfy chair for reading in my room
    • Solution - told hubby and he moved a recliner chair from the lounge that wasn't used - I now have a nice comfy reading area in my bedroom - and the lounge room is a little more open!
  • Main bedroom
    • I wanted a full length mirror for the bedroom - we bought one and the kids broke it before we got a chance to put it up
    • Hubby bought another one and put it where I asked for it on the back of the door - and I realised it wasn't a good spot (could only see it with the door closed which made the room too dark). It was also slipping so we took it down and it's currently sitting against the wall
    • first step - hang it up!
  • Ensuite
    • towel rack broken
    • first action - I've actually bought some large hooks for the back of the door for the towels - need to stick them on the ensuite door
  • Garage
    • cluttered
    • First action - more shelving/storage solutions, along with a declutter
  • Sliding doors
    • fly screen destroyed (again the dog)
    • Will replace fly screen - but not until dog is no longer with us
  • Entries - front door, family room door, laundry, toy room
    • with this wet weather dirty shoes are coming in and dirtying the floor
    • First action - rubber backed mats

To me replacing the carpets are a priority - but it is a large cost. Given our overseas trip in September I'm not sure if we can afford it. But the first thing we need to do is get some quotes so we at least know how much we are talking about, and work out how we can fund it.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Life challenge - week 20 - revisiting goals

WOW week 20 already. I'm glad this one was about revisiting goals as I've been away for work, then it was my birthday and I had no time to look at anything.  So I'm grateful for a chance to catch my breath. I know I've come a long way, but I've still got a way to go.

In week 6 Deb had us set goals. In week 13 we checked in, and now we are revisiting again.  Update 1 is for week 13, update 2 is for now.

Goal: Reconnect with my current friends
Update 1:
Yes I have been making an effort to talk to a friend on the phone or meet face to face.  Still need to continue with this and make sure I do it each week.
Update 2:
It is still one I need to focus on. I do it most weeks, but not all.  I've organised monthly lunches with one friend who I lost contact with but I've let the phone calls slide a bit as life got busy.

We had "new" friends over for dinner on Saturday night. Their son goes to school with my son and their daughter and my daughter are best friends at childcare. This is a friendship I want to encourage and continue.

Goal: Go to bed by 10.30pm at least 4 nights per week (Sun-Wed, the nights I have to work the next day). 
Update 1
Sometimes, but not 4 nights per week. It's my reading that gets me.
Update 2
Hmmm, no change from update 1

Goal: Walk up the stairs at work once, everyday I'm there.
Update 1
Yes, I do this everyday I'm at work. Have it as a task in my calendar and it reminds me until I mark it as completed!
Update 2
Yes - I'm still doing this 4 days per week (my work days)

Goal: Undertake 3-4 exercise sessions per week (mix of gym and treadmill)
Update 1
Not so good on this one.
I walk once a week with a colleague at work, but I've not been so good at getting to the gym or going on the treadmill.  Averaging about once per week.
Update 2
No - I've let this area slide. I'm still walking once per week with my colleague. I'm not renewing my gym membership - but I need to focus on treadmill and exercises at home.

Goal: To brush my teeth twice a day and floss each night.
Update 1
Brushing - yes. Still can't get into flossing regularly.
Update 2
Very similar to last update. I had a dentist appointment last week though, and I'm motivated to get back into flossing. I have done it every night since my appt. in Thursday (only 4 nights - but a start).

Goal: To not spend more than we earn so we don't feel stressed about money
Update 1
Hmmm, just spent over $1800 on electrical appliances (new fridge and washing machine) and hubby bought a new car. So our finances are looking a little sad. But we do plan for a trip to Thailand this year so need to take another look at the budget to save!
Update 2
Trip to Thailand has been changed to trip to NZ and booked! Finances an area we need to look at!

Home environment
Goal: For our house to be free of CHAOS (as fly lady would say - Can't Have Anyone Over Syndrome)
Update 1
I have a cleaner once a fortnight! Yay, the place is lovely those days!
We are getting better at making the kids put their toys away before getting out new ones. Still room for improvement.
I'm still undertaking the 52 week organised home challenge, although am a little behind due to being sick and birthday planning etc. Need to do 2 weeks worth this week.

I've noticed if the kitchen bench is clean and tidy the whole place just feels nicer. I'm making an effort to have this tidy before I go to bed each night.

Update 2
I've let the 52 week organised home challenge slip a bit.  Still have my cleaner and tidying the kitchen each night after dinner. Still lots of clutter and we need to work harder on getting the kids to put toys away.

Goal: Spend quality time together doing things we enjoy (this is from our mission statement)
Update 1
We haven't put "family day" into practice yet. Things have been busy - we need to schedule in and make it a priority. I'm aiming for April (after we get through Easter) for our first family day.

We have started family movie night. Friday night's channel 99 (Go) has a kids movie from 6-7.30pm. We record it and start watching it when we are ready (usually 6.30pm) and then as we fast forward the ads it's usually done around 7.30pm. Just in time for the kids to go to bed.

Update 2
Family day is in practice. I have scheduled the days on our calendar. We went to the beach and playground in April and yesterday we took our family day to the zoo.  It's been great spending quality time together.

Family movie night a bit haphazard now that Hunter has footy until 6pm on Fridays - but we are fitting some in - just going to bed later (more like 8-8.30)

We each say something we are grateful for each night. The kids usually say playing with their friends at school/childcare, but it's great they are getting the idea.

Goal: Focussed time spend with the kids
Update 1
Yes and no. We read to the kids each night, so spend time with them then. But I want to do more, more games, more fun!
Update 2
No change from last update

Goal: Nigel and I to spend time together one night a week
Nope we haven't got to this one yet. Still seems technology or my reading is ruling us!  We have different interests in TV shows so watch independently and then when Nigel wants to chat I'm busy reading. We must make an effort!
Update 2
No change from last update

So it seems I'm kinda going around in circles.  The next month I want to focus on my health/exercise..then move onto time with Nigel.

Friday, 11 May 2012

Life challenge - week 19 - routines

Week 19 is about routines. This is one are I'm not lacking in- if anything I may be too routined, at the expense of flexibility, go with the moment etc. I love routines. I used to have crumpet days, Mon, Wed, Friday - they were the days I would have crumpets for breakfast! And letterbox days - hubby and I would have set days to collect the mail. I've moved on a bit and can now have crumpets on whatever day I feel like it!

Using my 3 top to-do's I've scheduled fitness into my routine. Tuesdays I walk with Tomi and Wednesday night is treadmill night. I'm going to try and schedule at least one more treadmill session in per week.

Cleaning  - I have a nightly routine for cleaning the kitchen, dishwasher and so on, after dinner.  This is one of my top 3 to dos for every day. I've tried with having set days for chores - but that doesn't tend to work for me. Our cleaner comes once a fortnight on a Monday so our routine includes a big tidy up each Sunday afternoon so it's nice for Tania to clean.

Meal planning – I mean plan weekly- usually Sunday night. Then if hubby has Monday off from work (which he has a bit lately) he will shop on Monday - otherwise I put through an on line order to be delivered/picked up Tuesday night. My meal plan goes from Tuesday - Monday. I put it up on my meal plan chart so everyone knows what will be for dinner each night.  We had wraps on Thursday night and Hunter asked if we can have wraps every Thursday - we may schedule that in!

Laundry routines – Hunter has 2 blue school uniform tops and 1 yellow. Therefore my routine is for him to wear the blue ones on Monday and Tuesday and I wash them Tuesday night and he wears the yellow on Wednesday.  Tuesday night is therefore "darks" night. Friday I have off of work so I usually do a load or 2 on Fridays - lights perhaps, towels/sheets and then Friday night darks again (once Hunter has taken off his school uniform). I will then do some over the weekend if needed.

Family life –  we have the standard morning and bedtime routines. We have an pick up Hunter from school routine- Monday/Tuesday in OSHC, Wednesday Nigel picks him up, Thursday is Grandpa's turn and I do Fridays. The kids have their sport - footy for Hunter Friday nights and Ready Steady go for Savannah on Saturdays. We tend to go to the library after school on a Friday once a fortnight (toys and DVDs can be borrowed for a fortnight). We have temporarily put Friday family movie night on hold whilst Hunter as footy as that doesn't finish until 6pm and then we need to go home for dinner.

One area I do feel like I could do with some help is tidying! Besides our fortnightly tidy up - I feel like the house is always untidy. I need to try and schedule daily tidy ups - I have tried, but unsuccessfully. We really need to get the kids to put away their toys each night (and it is on my nightly chores chart) - but this is one we let them get away without doing. By the time we get home and have dinner and are ready for bed etc, it's late and we don't want to delay bedtime further by putting toys away.  I'm really going to make a conscious effort to work on this over the next few weeks.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Life challenge - week 16 - slow down

You want me to do what Deb?  What are you saying? What, just one thing at a time? Nooooo, don't you know I'm the Queen of multi-tasking???  Week 16 is where we are to slow down and focus. Now this does not come naturally to me. I find myself attempting, and yes that is the word, attempting to do many things at work. This is in both my personal and professional life.

At work- I will often have 3 or 4 tasks on the go, and am 3/4 of the way through all of them, but not finished anything. This is actually quite overwhelming! Of course I can concentrate better on one task at a time- complete it well and then move on! Much easier said than done.  And boy do I get distracted.  Hmm, I wonder what's on the news website - better just go check. Okay now that I'm caught up with the news better check my email....too many distractions!  I can see that focusing on one task at a time would definitely help me at work!

And I tried, I really did. I just didn't do very well. But I think that I'm more conscious of it - I'm definitely going to keep trying.  Keep distractions to a minimum (how about set times to check the news and email- not just cause I'm a little bored with the task at hand) and one task at a time.  I just get change task. Or someone asks me to do something and what do I do? Drop everything and move onto it - nope, finish what you are doing first.  Okay these are good tools for me...I will try again this week!

I did identify 3 important things to do each day. These were personal things, not related to work, and ranged from quick and easy (pay a bill online) to more time consuming (such as an hour at the gym). My time outside work is generally limited - I get home from work around 6pm each night and am exhausted so my tasks on work days will be slightly easier/less time consuming than those on non-work days.  They generally consisted of things like cleaning up the kitchen after dinner, put a load of washing on, treadmill/gym, afternoon fun with kids, Savannah's sport, Hunter's footy, and I even included "me time" on my important things for today - as I had annual leave and the kids were at school and childcare so I spent the day shopping with my sister (after the gym). I did feel like I had achieved something when I could tick the tasks off (I wrote them in my diary).  And once these tasks were completed- I didn't feel guilty, or like I was wasting time, watching TV or reading my book or having some Internet time.  I'm going to try and schedule 2-3 daily tasks in my diary again next week and see how I feel.

Life challenge - week 17 - decision making

Decision making is one that is baffling for me. I manage a project in my job so have to make decisions on a daily basis. I have no problem doing this. I acted as the Manager of the branch once and a piece of advice that was given to me prior which stuck was - The worst thing you could do is not make a decision - a lot of times there are many different answers, so make a decision and stick to it. I can manage this at work, but when it comes to personal decisions I really struggle. Things like choosing a restaurant for dinner, what to order at a restaurant, what to do on the weekend etc. These decisions don't come easily.

So I'm baffled as I find it easy at work, but not so much at home. Deb has us looking at decision making in week 17.

So I've tired to think about it a little simpler. I need to tackle my personal decisions the same way I do my work ones.

A few examples....
I needed to purchase ink for the printer today. Usually this would have taken me a long time to decide. For example my thought process is something like this:
Should I get the compatible brand or the genuine brand? Hmm the compatible is much cheaper and last time we went through the ink in 4months...but did we go through the ink so quickly as we got the compatible brand? Would it have lasted longer if we got the original? Hmm, check out the Big W catalogue for price. Umm I think I will get the compatible one. Hunter has been printing heaps lately and it's better to get the cheaper one. Log onto the website where I have bought ink from - hmm the one I want is $42. Free postage if you spend $50 - or $6.50 for postage. Hmmm, do I pay the postage, or buy more so I spend over $50. Hmm I could get 2 lots for $84 and save on postage - but then I will need to pay all that now, compared to $48.50 for 1 lot. Ohh look, there is another deal - $119 for 4 blacks and 2 colours - well that's 2 extra blacks from getting 2 lots and is only $35 more - I wonder how much blacks are on their own?  Hmm maybe I should get that?

This can go on for ages until I get myself confused. This morning I decided, at the end of the day, all we need is some ink to print. We had a situation on Saturday when we ran out and I had promised the kids I would print them colouring pages. I don't want to run out again, so if I get extra, then when we run out I can grab the spare, and then order another one then! So I got the $119 pack and stocked up for a while! Decision made in about a minute - I'm sure this decision took much longer last time.

I've also been looking at accommodation options for our NZ trip coming up. I made a spreadsheet- and of course got myself confused with the different options, prices and different prices depending on which company you book through. Ahh so confusing. At the end of the day - what do we need - comfortable accommodation that isn't too expensive! Easy, we were recommended one by the travel agent - check it out - yep it looks good - good location, good price - lets stick to that!

Decision making is something that I am going to have to consciously work on. 'm going to ask myself is it a small decision or life changing? If it's a small decision - it only warrants a small amount of time. I'm sure with conscious effort- I can make making personal decisions a easier process!

And now I'm deciding to press publish - despite not having read over the post properly....go me!

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Home challenge-week 17 - cleaning schedule and cleaning supplies

Week 17 is about creating a cleaning routine and organising cleaning supplies. Reading through the post I thought this seems familiar to me - I'm sure I have done this. I had downloaded Taylor's free cleaning checklist in the past so obviously did some work then.  I had a look through my saved files and found on the 14th August 2011 I had created a cleaning checklist.  Both hubby and I work most days so can only fit cleaning in the evening, and therefore want to do the bare minimum.

My previous checklist looks like this:

Cleaning checklist!

Cook dinner

Clear/wipe dinner table


Clean hotplates/sink/benches

Make lunches for next day

Pack bags for next day

Get clothes out for next day

Clean up toy room

Tidy floor in family room

Tidy floor in lounge room

Sweep kitchen/family room

Load of washing (if needed)

Fold and put away washing (if needed)

Toilet brush

Clean bathroom sinks       


Mop tiled floors

Vacuum carpet



My aim was to try and keep the kitchen clean and tidy, along with the floors in the other main rooms, on a daily basis. This  would then eliminate the need to spend lots of time tidying prior to cleaning. 
I've obviously not been following the checklist and the place has become a little untidy. I'm going to print this out again, stick it on the fridge and my aim is to follow it daily.
I now have a cleaner who comes in once a fortnight, who I didn't have when I wrote this checklist. She does (among other things) toilets, showers, mopping and vacuuming. The things I had as my weekly tasks. I'm happy for these to only happen fortnightly meaning we don't need to do them. Obviously if mopping or vacuuming needs doing in-between our cleaner coming we will do as required.
Our wonderful cleaner actually came on Monday, and hubby went around and did a quick tidy up before she came. This means the house is in pretty good shape now, on Wednesday. If I can stick to the daily tasks - it shouldn't be too hard to keep it like this. My aim for this week(and next) is to consciously complete all tasks on my daily checklist, until they become part of the routine and second nature!
Cleaning supplies
I have 2 main places for my cleaning supplies - under the kitchen sink for all things used around the kitchen, such as easyoff bam and spray and wipe - and in the cupboard in the laundry for all other cleaners such as floor cleaner, bleach, toilet cleaner,shower cleaner and so on. I went through the kitchen cleaners earlier in the year as part of one of the challenges. The laundry sink I went through and decluttered when we got our new washing machine a few weeks ago. So my cleaning supplies are all under control. My cleaner brings her own so don't need to worry about what she uses.