Wednesday, November 18, 2009

What Are My Chances?

Miss Berry is now 26 months and we have been trying to coax her into toilet training and failing miserably. Our last try ended like this:

Mummy: "Honey, why don't you do a wee on the toilet?"

Miss Berry: "I don't want to do a wee in the potty, I want to do a wee in my pants".

Mummy: "Oh, OK."

That was about 2 months age. I did not want to force the issue in case she realised she was able to manipulate the household with toilet antics, so things have continued as normal. Also, I don't think you have any where to go to when your 2 year old gives you a straight up answer like that.

Anyhoo, we were at Montessori earlier in the week and the teacher handed out an article on toilet training using Montessori methods. Brilliant, new ideas to help get the ball rolling again. One point they make is to put the child in training pants so they can get the feeling of being wet or dirty. The idea is the child does not want to be wet and will thus be encouraged to use the toilet/potty.

So, good in theory huh? I thought so and decided to dive in with a lovely colourful purchase.

Even if the plan goes straight down the toilet (pun intended) at least the training pants look adorable drying on the line.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Accepting Nature into the Backyard - All of it.

We tidied an area along the side of the back yard on the weekend. We removed all the pots, swept and then re-arranged them to create a more open area of paving next to the BBQ area (which is on the right of the photo below).
We were hanging some wall pots to the lattice under the pergola and I look up and just above my head are two huge huntsman spiders.

After making a ridiculous noise and making sure I wasn't covered in spiders, Mr Berry and I move to the other side of the pergola and began to hang another pot. Just as Mr Berry lifts the pot up, an even bigger huntsman crawls up over the back of the pot and straight towards him.

To illustrate the magnitude of the situation, arrow 1 is pointing at the first huntsman incident. Arrow 2 is pointing at the pot involved in the second huntsman incident. I am sure you are not surprised that the second pot did not get hung.

Yep, ew.

I did not take photos, nor am I going to search the web for photos of a huntsman (you can do that yourself). I am still feeling all crawly just writing this. Seriously, they were huge. The one that came out of the pot must have been a girl spider. She was at least 50% bigger than the other two, especially in the body.

To lighten the mood and wait for the adrenaline rush to subside, Mr Berry and I discussed whether the two boy spiders were hanging around waiting for the girl spider to, you know..... Which then led to the question of whether girl huntsmans eat the boy huntsmans after doing the deed. Which then led to a series of other questions; are the boy huntsmans going to fight it out for mating privileges and if they do and she will eat the successful suitor, would the winner or the loser of the fight have to go forth and multiply? etc etc. Finally, we calmed down and the questions got a bit more mature. And we headed inside to our old faithful, Google.

We learnt that most web pages gloss over the actual mating ritual (who'd have thought?) but the girls are protective of not only the eggs but also the babies (how cute). Huntsman spiders will not kill you (contrary to our reaction, we did know this already) and won't usually bite, but if they do it will hurt like buggery but you'll be fine in a couple of days. Also, a lot of types of huntsman are pretty social and can hang out together.

The most important thing though, is the benefit huntsmans can have in your garden. They eat a lot of pests including cockroaches, and are eaten by lizards and birds. Which as much as my scalp is tingling at the thought of them, whether they are the eater or the eatee I win both ways.

In building our backyard, we hope to encourage local wildlife to visit. I love watching the little skinks, ladybirds, local birds and the many insects that are beginning to frequent our backyard, but I must admit that spiders were not on the list of things I wanted to encourage. But, without them there would be a gap in the food chain and one more reason for the birds and lizards to stay away. If I want the pretty feathered creatures than I must accept the horrible hairy ones too. Nature is both of those things and each is as important as the other.

So, before you get your fences sprayed and knock down every spider web in your yard. Think of the important role they can play and try to come to terms with accepting all of nature, not just the cute bits.

In the meantime, I am a long way off not panicking at the sight of a large spider and inside the house is still off limits to them. (Any found inside are met with a big, heavy shoe - although a shoe would've just bounced off these three.) And I am staying clear of that area of the yard for a while - perhaps till Christmas - who knows. It's one think to be accepting of nature, it's another to comfortably play alongside it.

This entire area is off limits until I no longer have the heebie-jeebies or unless someone is with me (Miss Berry doesn't count).

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Spend-Free Days

Yes, it has been a long long time since I posted last. I have no excuses for being so slack (again) and I am not sure 'losing my blogging mojo' is the reason either. I have been very busy though, working on the house and garden.

Which brings me to the topic of today's post. I have dipped into our savings a bit too much lately and I need to rein in my spending. As you can imagine after buying the house, moving in, making repairs, laying turf, making the back garden and the odd furniture purchase, our savings are at a bare minimum. This makes me nervous. Christmas is just around the corner, the car needs servicing and there is bound to be something else around the house that needs repairing.

Some reasons for my spending lately - vintage school chairs picked up at Cobbitty Markets.

Ideally, I would like six months of essential living expenses in savings and we will slowly work back up to this. At a minimum, I feel comfortable with three months - as this is the waiting period for our income protection.

So, to get me in the spirit of reducing my spending, I am going to have two spend free days per week.

Another equally valid reason - My new toy shelf. Hopefully my lounge room will remain tidy for a bit longer.

Why spend free days?

I first heard of this idea from Frugal Trenches and I find it an excellent way to reinforce healthy finance habits.

  • Firstly, you have to plan your spending. You have to anticipate when you will run out of milk and plan to buy some on a spend day.

  • It also minimises impulse buys. If you want something and it is a spend free day you have to wait at least til the next day to buy it. Often you realise you don't really want/need the item and don't buy it.

  • I seem to spend a lot less over the week with a couple of spend free days. When ever I go to the supermarket I always end up spending $30-$50 on a handful of items. By reducing the amount of times I go to the supermarket, I am buying less products and therefore spending less.

  • It also helps you to remember your goals. I find that doing when I do the budget for the month it takes about 3-4 days after that for the motivation to wane and I forget about the budget and begin to increase my spending. By spacing out spend-free days, I am continually reminded to stay on budget and I remain motivated.

So, if you are trying to keep to your budget but are finding it hard, why not have a go at one spend free day a week?

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