Thursday, 26 January 2012

Life challenge - week 4 - wheel of life

Week 4 - Balance and the wheel of life was much easier for me than the last two weeks. I thought about my 8 categories and decided upon:
  • Home environment
  • Family
  • Friendships
  • Environment
  • Work
  • Finances
  • Health
  • Relaxation and recreation

The ones which I was most happiest with, scoring a 4 each were work, environment, and relaxation and recreation.
  • I'm happy with my job. I enjoy the work I do, it pays well, it's flexible and provides me with good mental stimulation. I like being able to use my skills and the flexibility means I can work around school drop offs, coming in late or leaving early if needed.  I'm able to take days off for important events in the kids lives such as first day (or week in my case) of school and excursions. And of course the money assists in my core value of security!
  • We try to help the environment the best we can.  I used cloth nappies whilst my kids were in nappies, we recycle, use environmentally friendly cleaning products, have solar electricity and reuse things and buy second hand when possible. At this point in my life this is enough for me.
  • I allow myself time for relaxation and recreation without the kids.  I go to a scrapbooking workshop monthly, where I get to do some pages and have a natter!  I enjoyfortnightly coffee and walking catch-ups with friends at work and going out for lunch at work monthly or so. I try to catch a movie with my sister every so often and my Mums group have Mums group dinners from time to time. I spend time for myself reading  - an activity I really enjoy, and whilst also promoting reading habits to the kids. I feel it's important, as a working Mum, to have some child free, non-work time!
I scored 3s for home environment, health, family and finances.
  • To me home environment encompasses organisation, cleanliness, tidiness and smooth running of the household. This is one I really want to work on this year. After working all day, we are tired and the last thing we want to do is clean and tidy. We have really struggled to keep the house in order in the past. I started the 52 week organised home challenge, which so far I've been keeping up with. The kids are lazy - leave toys around the house, and we let them get away with it. This is something we need to work on! I've hired a cleaner once a fortnight to keep on top of the cleaning tasks -my thinking being if she is coming in once a fortnight I need to keep the place tidy so she can clean, and then I don't need to the bulk of the cleaning - just spot cleaning in between.
  • Health is one I've been so big on in the past, but in the last few months have seem to let it slip. I want us as a family to eat healthier!  The kids expect treats everyday - and I'm struggling to get good food into them. I have a treadmill in my loung room and a gym across the road that I'm a member of - which I'm only using about once a week at the moment (either treadmill or gym). I'm in my healthy weight range thanks to losing around 8kg in the middle of last year - and I completed the Couch to 5k program. I used to have a good treadmill/gym routine but I've lost motivation.  Being at work 4 days per week, when I get home I want to spend time with the kids, and they want to spend time with me.  I feel guilty leaving them to go to the gym. On the weekends I try to do something (gym or treadmill), but often I'm just too lazy.  My plan for this year is treadmill twice a week (preferably in the mornings before work, on the 2 days that I drop my son at school - so we don't leave until 8.15am), and gym twice a week- one week night and one weekend. This means I only need to leave the kids one night per week for an hour - something we should all be able to cope with!  Just need to find the motivation!  And no one in my family gets enough sleep. We struggle to get the kids to bed at a decent time - Hunter is often still awake around 9.30-10pm, then I have to wake him to leave in the morning. Depending on the day we leave at either 7.30am or 8.15am - so sleeping in late isn't an option.  Then I don't go to bed early enough as I want some "me time" after the kids are asleep. I think if we all got a decent amount of sleep we would be healthier!
  • Family is important to me, and after a day like today (Australia Day public holiday) where we spent time together laughing in the pool it really hits home.  There is nothing like laughing with your kids! I've rated this lower as I feel we don't spend enough quality time together. I spend too much time on the computer, and the kids too much watching TV. Hubby will often watch something different on TV to me, or watch TV whilst I'm on the computer. We spend a lot of time frustrated as the kids don't listen - which leads to us being cranky. This year I aim for us to spend more quality time together, with less technology. More laughter, more fun and less yelling.
  • Last year we spent more than we earned more than I would have liked. We are lucky we have a nest egg stashed away in our home loan - but I had to crack into it more than I would like to pay the credit card!  My aim for this year is to develop a budget (I'm about 3/4 of the way there) and stick to it!  No impusle buys (hubby and I are both very good at this- him on food at service stations and me via online shopping). I want to actually get ahead with our finances, rather than just bobbling through.
And my final area was friendships, which unfortunately only scored a 2. Whilst we have many friends and catch up from time to time, I feel I've let connections and relationships slide. I prefer technology like facebook and texting as my means of contact, so haven't been calling people on the phone to make a real connection.  I feel I'm missing out by working 4 days per week - as it's so hard to catch up with everyone one day per week - and I feel that people generally don't want to catch up on the weekends as it's family time. I often feel sad that we have nothing to do on the weekends. I want to work on better connecting with friends this year.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Home challenge - week 4 - fridge and freezer

So we are up to week 4 - organising the refrigerator and freezer.  After organising the pantry and spices I'm actually quite excited to do this!  I'm quite good at using everything in the freezer - but often have to chuck out food from the fridge as it goes bad before we eat it.

The first task was to clean up the front of the fridge. Ours is magnet city and lots of art work! We have the kids chores charts on the fridge, but you couldn't see them!  I choose a few magnets that I liked and the ones that provided contact information and threw the rest and put the artwork in my box on top of the fridge.  I also took the opportunity go sort out the top of the fridge - which was a little out of control!  The snugglers box up there is full of kids art - but I wasn't very selective and just put everything they did in it.  So I sorted through that and put heaps out to recycling. Sorry kids - just your best stuff now (given they are only 5 and 2 I'm sure there is heaps more to come!!)

                                         Before                                                                       After

                                                                     Top of fridge after

I then took the opportunity to sort out the cork board - which is just around the corner from the fridge.

                                                     Cork board - before                                                                      

Cork board - after

Next I moved onto the freezer.  I took everything out, threw out anything out of date (really it was only the hydrolite - which we bought in 2007 when my son had gastro), cleaned out the shelves and then put everything back in.  Whilst I put it back in I wrote an inventory.  I wrote in in pencil and put it in a plastic sleeve and stuck it on the fridge around the side (so it's out of sight).  I'm not sure if it looks any neater but it has organisation!  My problem is I have 4 different types of ice cream. There was a sale on cream and I went a bit crazy making ice cream!  I have vanilla, apricot, hokey pokey and chocolate!!

  Freezer - before

Freezer - after

And finally onto the fridge. This was the hardest bit. Lots of half empty containers and once all the food was out the shelves are so so dirty.  I actually found there was quite a lot of space in my fridge after I organised a bit.

Fridge - before

Fridge -after

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Life challenge - week 3 - mission statement

Week 3 - creating a family mission statement. This one, like the values, scares me. I feel there is so much we are not doing right, and so much we should be doing and how do I tackle that.  I thought I would wait for some linkys and read other people's mission statements for ideas.  Then decided it's better if it's our own, and it doesn't matter if we do it differently to others.
I started by asking Nigel to think of his 5 core values. He didn't take as much thinking as I did, but he came up with respect, caring, loving, honesty and accpeting. And mine were organisation, security, family, give it a go and happiness.

I thought I would ask the kids some questions - just to see what they said.  I think they are a bit young (Hunter is 5 and Savannah is 2) but their answers were funny so I'm going to record them.

From Hunter
When are we happy? - at Christmas (that was easy Mum), when I asked why I was told because of the special treats.
When are we not happy? - when I made a hole in the wall with the screwdriver!  I then asked him is this when you are not listening to Mum and Dad and he said yes.
What would be your best day? - with ice cream and chocolate and metal.  Me - why metal?  Hunter -to build something great.  Me - who would be with you? Hunter - you, Dad, Aunty Kim, Grandma, Grandpa, Savannah
Are there things we see other families do or how they behave that we would like to have in our home? Yes a refrigerator in the garage
What is important to us? - computer, TV. Me - what about people?  Hunter - yes being with Mum and Dad and Aunty Kim and Grandma.
At which Savannah chimed in with, can Aunty Kim be there?  Can Leila be there?  Can Blake be there? And Grandpa?

Savannah then came out with this beauty:
Hunter needs to be gentle with me. I'm very little!

The biggest thing I got from the discussion with the kids was that they enjoy being with family.

Nigel and I had gone through some of the questions for our family
We are at our best when we are spending time together, relaxed, organised and on holidays.
We are at our worst when we are tired, stressed and using too much technology (which takes time
away from time together).
We can help each other by listening

This leads onto the mission statement:

We will look out for each other and put family first.
We will listen to each other and respect differing opinions and individuality. 
We don't expect we will succeed at everything, but will give things a go, even if we think they are hard.
We will make an effort to spend quality time together and with family and friends, doing things we enjoy.
We will make choices and decision based on respect, honesty and love.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Home challenge - week 3 - pantry

Week 3, we are still managing to keep the bench clean - tick.  The cupboards are still organised - tick. Now we are moving onto organising the pantry, spices and food. The scary thing is, yep once again, I did this not that long ago. Well not this detailed, but I did take things out, clean out and put back in. So once again, my challenge is to keep it tidy.

This took me 4 hours to complete. Who would have thought?  So lets start with some before pictures.

                                                                     Spices - before

                                                                       Pantry - before
                  Top 3 shelves                                                                 Bottom 2 shelves

First thing I did was take everything out.....who knew we had so much food in there - it took up ALL my bench space (did you see my nice clean bench in week 1?)

I even had to put some on the floor
Next to clean out the shelves - ewwwwww....

Next I went through all the spices. Checked expiry dates, chucked those out of date and straightened them up. I found I have 2 lots of thyme leaves! I made an inventory of what spices I have -which will come in handy when I do my shopping list - currently I have to go check through all the spices to see what I have and haven't got.
                                                                         Spices - after

Then I went through and decided where each type of food should go. I got rid of anything out of expiry date, or what I don't think we will use. And labelled all the shelves (the little yellow labels - hard to see in the pics). As I was going through I made an inventory list.

Top 2 shelves - after.  The top shelf still looks quite full - but things are stored in tubs (at the back where you can't see) and it's food I don't want the kids to be able to reach - chocolates, chips etc. The 2nd shelf is for cans and cereals, salt and pepper, and root spices.

Shelves 3 and 4 - after - here I've got vinegars (I have 5 different types), sauces/condiments, and tea/coffee/milo supplies.  And then I have all my tupperware things - sugars, flours, pasta/rice and dried fruits.

Then the bottom shelf is for drinks, potatoes and onions and dog food. Coles had longlife milk on sale for $1 a litre so I bought 20L.  We wouldn't usually have this much!

Then I made up my own inventory list.  The one from the website wasn't big enough. I typed up the general foods we have, and left some blank spaces for additiona things we may buy. I've put the quantity in using a blue temporary texta. This way when we use one we can change the number, and when we get low it goes on my shopping list, which is on the fridge.

Here is my inventory.

                                         Spices                                                                               Pantry

I'm quite pleased with how my pantry looks now and am ready to tackle the fridge and freezer next week!

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Home challenge - week 2 - kitchen draws and cabinets

Week 2 is about kitchen draws and cabinets. Okay that's not too bad, I can do that. My draws and cabinets aren't that bad.....or so I thought.....I think the before pictures would tend to disagree!

So as not to overwhelm myself I've decided to tackle 1 cupboard per night. A couple of them are going to stay pretty much as they are....they are working okay for me.  I use everything in this one (could tuck the cords in neatly!).....

And all I did to this one was chuck out the microwave rice cooker...otherwise top shelf is thermomix accessories (and thermos - as it's too big to fit anywhere else) and bottom shelf salad bowls and little bowls.

But now onto the ones that need a bit of work. Monday night I tackled this beauty.....

And turned it into this......

Tuesday night I decided to tackle the plastics went from this:

To this one is hard to keep tidy - It's Hunter's (who is 5) job to unload the dishwasher and put away the things that belong in here - lets see how he goes!

I also did under the sink......before


On Wednesday I did the 4 draws

After - not much to do here - just straightened up a bit


After - this one is tricky - I've removed some things but it still looks messy -and the scary thing is I cleaned this one out in November!


 After - okay doesn't look much different - but I was so surprised at what came out of this draw - it was all hidden and is now in the bin!



And then I only had 1 more cupboard to go so decided to do that too, so I could have a break for the rest of the week (we are away for the weekend so wanted it done before then!)



 The cupboards where I keep my plates, bowls, mugs, cups etc are up high above the oven range-hood and they have always been quite neat. So I haven't touched them.

I also have Ikea cupboards and baskets around the other side of the kitchen (as shown in my week 1 blog) - and I'm not sure if they belong in this challenge or in the lounge/family room one. I think the latter given I don't keep kitchen function things in there....I have made a start on tidying them up though so it will be eaiser when we get to them!

Week 2 challenge complete - 2 bags of stuff (broken or unused) to dispose of and feeling a little cleaner!  Again, my challenge is to keep them clean!

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Life challenge - week 2 - values

For week 2 of the life challange we have been asked to define your personal values. This one scares me. I feel like I have no real values.
What do I stand for?  I don't know.....and then how can anyone else. I feel like I'm muddling through life with no real purpose..

So I cheated a bit...I found a website that listed out 374 values and printed it off!  Went through and highlighted the ones that spoke to me and crossed off ones that didn't (and had a lot just sitting there not highlighted and not crossed off!).  I got my list to 33.  Still too many!  I went through the list again and managed to cut it to 16.   Appreciation, contribution, curiosity, credibility, education, family, honesty, organisation, friendliness, happiness, learning, motivation, perseverance, respect, security/stability, willingness.

Okay getting there!!

Now to cut it to 5.....this was tricky.....there were 3 that I just knew were going to be, security/stability and organisation. I really value security and stability (much to Nigel's dismay - he would love me to take a risk- but nope it isn't me). So whilst I would love to drop this one for something 'sexier', it just has to stay in my top 5.  So I only have 2 spots left and 13 values to choose from.

There was another one I really wanted but I had trouble labelling it. It's the reason I've included willingness in my 16 values, but it isn't quite the right word. It is important to me that we give things a go. It doesn't matter to me if you can't do something, as long as you at least try. I'm thinking in particular of Hunter and his school work. He has just started and is finding some of it so hard - I can't do it he says (in particular to reading new words). My response is, I don't expect you to be able to do it (that doesn't mean I don't think you can do it!), I expect you to try.  In the end I've settled on the phrase 'give it a go', for this one (listed as try in my word cloud above).

Now to the last spot.  I think this was the hardest of all....I wanted to put at least 4, respect, honesty, appreciation and happiness. I've gone with happiness, because at the end of the day, I just want to be happy! I'm not 100% happy with it (haha love it), but given values don't have to be permanent, I'm going with it!

And to rank them:
Family- my family really are my reason for living. It's important to me that we look out for our family, and stand up for them. My family is what pulls me out of a funk, just listening to a child giggle or seeing them play together is enough to bring a smile to my face.
Security - security is important to me, and therefore my job, which provides security, is important to me. I don't have huge ambitions, I just want to be able to pay the bills comfortably.  I like to know what to expect, hence my need for stability/routine.
Organisation - I like to be organised. It's important to me to know things are organised. This fits in with my need for routine/stability, I'm not a spur of the moment person, but plan, plan, plan.
Give it a go - this one I mentioned above. It's important that everyone in my family gives things a go, at least try's. I don't mind if you don't succeed, as long as you try your best!
Happiness - at the end of the day I just want myself and my family to be happy. For me this includes some "me" time, either scrapbooking, reading or getting a massaage, but it also includes spending time with friends and family.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Home challenge - week 1 - kitchen bench

Home challenge week 1 is all about Kitchen countertops & sink.  It can be found here.

Nigel and I did this together whilst the kids were at Grandma and Grandpa's. It was fun and quick to do together.

We use the bench as a drop everything as we come in the door place!  Early in 2011 we put some storage in from Ikea so we could store bags and things like that, so that wasn't so bad, but it's all the paper and clutter.  So we did a big clean up and took all the crap off the bench. I didn't take before photos (really should have)...but here are the after's.

For storing bags etc (actually we didn't do anything to this - was already like it)

Clean bench - oh how nice you look!

Spot for coins (brown bowl), fruit and mail/papers etc

Coffee machine and kettle have got to stay - can't miss out on my daily good coffee - andNigel has both needed!

And of course the Thermomix must stay on the bench - cause that's just awesome!

Okay so week 1 complete. But to be honest getting it clean was the easy part.  We have done this before.  Keeping it clean is the real challenge...and will last my lifetime!