Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Saturday, January 19, 2008
I've upped stakes and gone to Wordpress.
http://dancingwithfrogs.com is where I live now. Come and see what's been happening. I've missed you.
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Yes. Frogdancer has now moved across to here.
I'm now a dot com! Not bad for a technophobe.
http://dancingwithfrogs.com for those of you who want to update your blogrolls before jumping over. There may be a few organised souls out there like that... who knows?
For the rest of us, come straight in. There's a Welcome mat at the front door I put there especially for you. See you over there.
Sunday, January 13, 2008
Get rid of half your family.
I have four kids, so that means that I've rehoused two. What a saving. I'm not sure I want them to come back....
(Only kidding. I'm relatively fond of them, seeing as how they're relatives and all. Plus the fact that I've made very few humans in my life, if you take into account 4 vs 4 billion. So I'm a bit curious to see how they turn out, so I want to keep them under my eye.)
But by gum! The money stays in your wallet a lot more when there's only half the amount of bodies to feed, entertain and clothe. Jack and Jordan have been gone for 7 days. There's a truckload of food right there that I didn't have to find. Cha-ching! (That's supposed to be like a cash register. Work with me here....)
Pimple cream, shampoo, deodorant, hair gel and computer use more than halved. Cha-ching! No arguments, so the money that I was going to need to put aside to send me to the mental home is suddenly able to be used elsewhere. Woo Hoo! Let's go to the movies!!!!
An aside here... I rarely take my boys to the movies. It costs around $60 to get all of us seated in the cinema, which is a lot of money for a couple of hours entertainment. So unless it's Harry Potter (Family Tradition is to see each movie on the first day of release... I don't care how much it costs. Same with Star Wars, but at least they're not making them anymore), ...........what was I saying? Oh yeah. So unless it's something really really good then we just don't go. We go to Bali or Phuket instead and buy the dvds for $1. There's another priceless Skinflint Sunday tip for you right there. I have over 100 movies sitting in my room that I haven't yet watched. Imagine all the money I saved by going overseas with all the boys to get these films. Sometimes I amaze even myself with my financial expertise.
But with only TWO kids (I made Brennan scrooch down at the ticket box so there wouldn't be any debate about his 'child' status. He's taller than me, so I wasn't taking any chances. 13 is still a child ticket, isn't it?) then a trip to the movies to see "I am Legend" was only around $35. There's $25 saved right there! Cha-ching! We took chips bought at Aldi, so there was about $20 saved from not buying the rip-off food at the cinema shop. Cha-ching!
Brennan was desperate to see this film, and I really wanted to as well, so we went on Tight-arse Tuesday to see it. (T.A.T is called that because tickets are cheaper on Tuesdays, so all of the ....um... frugal people with very unsaggy bottoms choose to go to the movies on this day.) I was so rapt when Brennan turned to me in the car going home and said, "Mum, that was the best movie I've ever seen." I loved it too, so if you haven't yet seen it, it's worth a look.
But movies aren't the only bargain you can get when you only have to cater for half your family. Takeaway is suddenly instantly affordable. Normally when we get fish and chips the boys are only allowed to get a minimum chips and either a dim sim or potato cake each. But this time.......... we were able to go all out and I lavished them with an abundance of minimum chips and a piece of flake each. The luxury!! We felt like we were living in Toorak. Can't go cha-ching, because technically we didn't save money. But nice it was.
Oh. I went a bit Yoda then. Must've been the Star Wars reference above.
So get rid of half your family. I'm not saying permanently. That would be wrong. But think of Hansel and Gretel. They found their way back home eventually, and think of all the money that their father and evil stepmother saved at the supermarket while they were gone. Someone else fed them while they were in the woods, so it was all good. Jack and Jordan are being fed by their father and they're working in a fruit shop that also sells lollies and chips for the week, so I'm sure they'll come back just like Hansel and Gretel: bigger, fatter and pimplier.
It worked for me. I'm sure it could work for you too.
Saturday, January 12, 2008
This is the look I got when I told them that they'd get $15 each if they did all the housework before they went to their Dad's for the weekend.
I'm now sitting here with a totally uncluttered-by-housework weekend stretching before me. I have a list of things that I want to have accomplished by the time the boys get back, but the list is mostly things that I want to do, not that I have to do.
*happy sigh* Pure bliss.
Friday, January 11, 2008
Thursday, January 10, 2008
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
But there's a reason why I love having my own place in this picture. It's not huge or profound, but it's a little secret surprise that pops up every year from the original garden that was here long before I moved in with my newfangled ideas about wide, sweeping garden beds. If you look closely you can just see it.... It's hard to do from this angle (from the driveway). From my bedroom window it's framed beautifully, just for me.
One lone gladdie. Very Dame Edna, I know, but it's a splat of colour in an otherwise silver-green world.
And my window is the only one that sees it.
I love how life has little rewards like this. It makes it worthwhile paying the mortgage!
In other news, I finally found out who started Shoestring Sunday. Those of you who have been reading for a while will know that I sometimes do Skinflint Sunday, which was an idea (ramped up a bit) taken from a blog. Someone else's blog. I read the Shoestring Sunday thing, thought "What a good idea" and moved on. But the idea stayed with me. (But I had to call it Skinflint on my blog. Shoestring is too polite a term for my frugality kick.) But I committed the cardinal sin of forgetting who had the brilliant idea to start with. Well tonight the lovely Lis left a comment letting me know that it was she who has shoestring tendencies. I'm so glad to be able to give credit where it's due. (Lord knows it's too good an idea for me to come up with on my own.)
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
Friday, January 4, 2008
Why blog at all? What have I received from blogging that encourages me to keep doing it? I'm certainly no masochist. I'm not going to keep coming back to an activity that gives me pain. I signed off from that when I left my marriage.
That was a joke.
Well, sort of....
I think that if we were honest, we'd have to admit that when we first heard about blogging, very few of us instantly hopped on and started pouring out our innermost thoughts to the world. My initial reaction was pretty negative. Why on earth would someone want to do that? Hasn't the good old locked diary hidden under the mattress been a perfectly acceptable way to investigate thoughts and feelings for the last however many thousand years? What sort of pathetic wanna-be's are out there anyway? And most importantly, who on earth would want to read someone else's outpourings about their life unless they personally knew them (which would then be slightly stalker-y.) Yuck.
You can tell from this that I'm a very tolerant, open minded person. However, I kept my thoughts to myself, nodded and smiled and moved on with my life.
It wasn't until I hopped onto a blog via a link left in a thread on the Simple Savings forum that I realised that there could be something in this blog thingy. Rhonda Jean writes about simple living, a subject that tickles my frugality kick. She writes clearly and positively, and most importantly, she writes well. I'm pretty sure that if my first blog experience had've been a goth, emo or leather-clad bondage kitten one, then it would've been my last.
I found myself popping back to have a look. And so it goes....
I love my blog. I call it my new toy. I love the way that it has me writing again. I used to write an awful lot when I was at home with the kids ( and most of it was pretty awful, too) but once I began full-time work then the writing pretty much fell by the wayside. I enjoy the way that the blog has me shaping the experiences I have, instead of just living them, then forgetting them. I've always been a bit of a storyteller and this is just another way of sharing. (The people in staffroom 1 will be glad I have another outlet. They prefer a deathly serious working environment.) I've always liked to play with words, to muck around and get a laugh. I especially don't mind making myself look like an idiot, because in the interests of accuracy that's often what ends up happening in my life anyway. And comments! I don't know about anyone else, but I love getting comments. I haven't had any trolls leave their slimy negative thoughts yet, so that might explain it; but it's nice to hear that you struck a chord with someone, or tickled their funny bone.
However, if anyone has noticed the huge list to the side of this post, you'd deduce (correctly) that I don't just enjoy writing my blog, I also enjoy reading. At first, all I could find were craft blogs and mummy-with-baby blogs and I thought that maybe that was all there was, but gradually as I kept blog hopping from people's lists, a wider world opened up. There's a lot of puerile garbage out there, but every now and then you find a nugget of gold. I began to see how creative some people were.
The photos on some blogs I read are extraordinary, which has started an interest in photography in my two youngest boys. (Plus I've realised that I really have to lift my game.) I have seen the most incredible nature shots from the other side of the world, as well as some truly glorious shots of the most everyday items you could name. It's all in the way a person looks at things and instead of just glancing at them, really sees them...
Other people make the most amazing quilts, clothes and toys, which has inspired me to branch out and attempt things that I vaguely thought I'd like to try 'one day'. I'm in the throes of quilting 3 different quilts and knitting not only the the biggest afghan in the history of the world but also socks and maybe mittens. I'm having so much fun, and my brain is buzzing with new ideas and colours and combinations. As Mum said to me yesterday when we were in a quilting shop looking at the hundreds of different fabrics, "There's really no excuse to be bored in this life, is there?"
Other people simply write beautifully. Write so well that I could cry, if I was a maudlin self-pitying loser. Instead, I simply enjoy. There's nothing so fine as a well-turned phrase, or a piece of writing that makes an experience sing in the reader's mind. I've always been a reading addict, so words are the thing that really do it for me. (Trust me, I've been out with some absolute bastards in my time, but I kept going back because they made me laugh, or had a way of describing things that hooked into my brain with their originality. Words are dangerous beasts in the wrong hands....)
And some people are brave. There's no other word for it. Simply brave. They write about their experiences with autistic kids, or their grief at the loss of their kids, or whatever disease or event that has happened to them or their loved ones, and they write with stark honesty, with grace, with (often) humour and with a dignity that I can only stand back and admire. They open my eyes to conditions and situations that (thank God) are outside my personal experience and fill me with awe at how the human spirit can rise and thrive. These people are strong, loving and so much bigger than me, which doesn't do me any harm at all to realise. Perspective is a very valuable thing.
Others are experiencing the same things I am. Inner life vs outer life. Family. Work. Friends. Finances. Joy. Sadness. It's great when you read something and think, "Oh yeah! I know exactly what that's like!!" It's a connection thing that I think we all need.. that feeling that we're not alone, that we're all in this together.
Except for the crazy winter weather that all of those wild and wacky Americans willingly live through year after year. Oh. My. Giddy. Aunt. I can feel chilblains popping out on all my extremities at the the mere thought of living in all of that snow.
I read blogs every day from all different sorts of categories. Book blogs, Knitting blogs, Mummy blogs, Quilting blogs, Humorous blogs, Savings blogs ... the list goes on. I love the fact that I can feed so many different aspects of my life in this way. I've gained so much from my few short months of experiencing this world and I look forward to all of the further things I will learn about, laugh at and cry about as time goes on.
I'll finish my 100th post by thanking all of you who write so well, who take pictures that make my heart sing, who make me laugh, who slap me across the face with your life and make me empathise and those who open my mind and make me think. I feel very fortunate to have stumbled across this whole world of sharing that I had no idea about. So thank you all. And now I'll wave goodbye and go back to my life that, while not dramatic, glamorous or full of nobility and self-sacrifice, nevertheless is full of the people and events that enable me in my own small way to join you all.
My name is Frogdancer, and I blog.
Thursday, January 3, 2008
I read a lot of books in January about investing, prior to me buying some shares and taking a bit more control of my future life. Taking 10 years off work to raids kids and withdrawing my pre-kids super to pay off a block of land that my ex and I subsequently sold at a 30K loss has left my super in a ridiculous position. So I researched. What exciting holidays I had last year....
Other books show the new interests I took up after blogging. (Quilting and Jane's book on Domesticity.)
The rest are novels of course. Got to feed that addiction.
Sorry that this is a boring post, but I've been finishing off Sara's book and Brennan's quilt. God I love holidays.... Plus I figure that every year I can simple add the boring book list to this post with a link, and I won't inflict this on anyone other than the intelligent, highly personable and good looking people who love books.
I sort of promised mp I'd tell about the hows and whys of my beeyootiful hair, but the day has gotten away from me. I'll post tomorrow.
I've added * next to the books that are damned good reads.
# if these are non fiction but still interesting and worthwhile.
Again, apologies for the boringness, but I'm a Virgo and I don't like clutter...
Books read in 2007.
The Wounded Hawk - Douglass *
The Nameless Day - Douglass *
Crusader - Douglass
Sinner - Douglass
Rich Woman - Kiyosaki
Nice Girls Don't Get Rich - Frankel #
Starman - Douglass
Quilting for Dummies - Fall #
The Encyclopedia of Quilting and Patchwork Techniques - Guerrier
The Gentle Art of Domesticity - Brocket #
Enchanter - Douglass
Love and Other Infidelities - Townsend
Delicious - Pelligrino
Circle of Flight - Marsden *
The Boleyn Inheritence - Gregory ** (Ok.. I loved this...)
Your kids' money: How to earn it, save it, and set them up for life- Bell #
Your money: Starting out and starting over - Bell #
Shopping for Shares - Edwards ###########
Time and Chance - Penman *
Rage - Bachman
The long walk - Bachman *******
Cell - King
The time traveller's wife - Niffenegger ********************************* (My favourite book of all time)
The barefoot investor - Pape #
Top Stocks 2007 - Roth #
Eleven Hours - Simons
Prey - Crichton
These Happy Golden Years - Ingalls Wilder ***************** perenial favourite
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Rowling *******************************
Battleaxe - Douglass
The Spirit Stone - Kerr **********************************
The Gold Falcon - Kerr ************************
Gerald's Game - King
Sandworms of Dune - Herbert & Anderson *
The catcher in the rye - Salinger
The torment of others - McDermid *
Rich Dad's guide to becoming rich - Kiyosaki
Trading Secrets - Bedford
How I made $2,000,000 in the stock market - Darvas
What is value investing? - Cunningham
Your mortgage and how to pay it off in five years - Bell ########
The successful investor - O'Neil
Hamlet - Shakespeare
The Andromeda strain - Crichton
The tenth circle - Picoult
Vanishing Acts - Picoult
A short history of nearly everything - Bryson ###################
Oryx and Crake - Atwood
Artemis Fowl and the lost colony - Colfer *
State of fear - Crichton
The ship of brides - Moyes
The Devil that danced on the water - Forna ******** (Sierra Leone... oh my God. I never knew...)
The Kite Runner - Hosseini ************ (Same as above; just substitute Afghanistan)
Wednesday, January 2, 2008
I just fell across a fantastic blog that has had me LOLling all over the place. (As a sideline... is it just me who hates to see LOL everywhere? Honestly, how often when we read do we really do it, yet people (apparently) spend their time LOLling here there and everywhere.)
(Ok, maybe they're just jollier than me.)
Anyway, this guy would've had me spraying my champagne all over the keyboard and screen if I had've been drinking champagne at 8 in the morning.
Here he is. I swear, if he was in Melbourne, single and older than me, he'd be number 87 on my list of eligible-men-I've-been-on-a-first-and-usually-only-date-with. Unless he's a smoker. Or wears white trousers. Or says "Woo!" when he dances. Or dyes his hair a blatantly unnatural shade of dark that just makes him look like a pathetic wanna-be. But I don't think this guy would do any of those things. Anyone who writes this well would clearly never commit these cardinal sins. The power of humour in seduction should never be overlooked......
After reading his post on ESL teaching, it got me thinking about the times that I've had similar heartwarming situations in class. I too, have had to explain to an adolescent male from Korea who had yelled out a genial greeting to a friend what the word 'cunt' actually means and why it isn't a socially acceptable word to use in a mixed gender classroom. He had no idea of the connotations, so I had to go through why 'vagina' is one thing, and the good old C word is quite another. The whole class hung on my every word. They didn't take notes, though. Obviously I'll have to lift my game.
Then there was the time that a beautifully demure, softly spoken Chinese girl in year 11 asked me to explain what a 69 was. She'd heard the expression being bandied around and she didn't understand why it was so funny when boys in her class asked her to say that she'd like it. I began to tell her, and then imagine my horror when it became obvious that she'd never even heard what oral sex was.......
We both got an education that day. She learned a few things about human behaviour that she'd never dreamed of, and I learned just how coddled and protected some of these kids are. Still, she'd never be bullied by those infantile wagsters in year 11 again. (I just asked her to never tell her mother that I'd talked to her about this. I really didn't want to have an outraged parent up at the school, even though I was clearly fulfilling my duty of care.)
Earlier this year I had a girl in my year 11 ESL class who is a bit of a tomboy. One day she thought it might be amusing to take an unused tampon, colour it in with red texta and then throw it at the boys. I came into the room and saw it on a desk. I went ballistic. In fact, I was more than ballistic. I was operatic. I practically had the viking helmet with the horns and long plaits on by the time I'd finished. After a good five minutes of me talking about boundaries, about some things being private, about how even though feminism has broken down the barriers between men and women there are still some things that women with any degree of class don't stoop to do and there are some things that guys simply don't want to know too much about etc etc.....
I stopped for breath. Then Chris from Korea (the same guy from earlier) gingerly put up his hand.
"What?" I snapped.
"Umm.... what is a tampon used for?"
I looked at him. At first I thought he was trying to be funny, but he was honestly bewildered as to why I was going mental about this. My heart sank. It was going to be the 69 situation all over again. Then Jason from Hong Kong raised his hand.
"Yes Miss. I don't know either."
I sighed. Then I glared at the girl who'd started this.
"Ok, hands up who doesn't know what a tampon is for."
A few of the boys who'd been here for a while knew, as did most of the girls. Amazingly though, some of the girls didn't know either. This is 16, 17 and 18 year old here. So they had a quick biology lesson, which wended its way into the wonderful world of feminine protection products. A couple of the boys looked as if they'd been clubbed over the head by the time I'd finished. But by gum! They were educated that day.
It's not just these delicate topics that have to be covered. Melbourne isn't a tropical climate, (though after yesterday you'd be pardoned for not believing me .. 42C/108F), but we certainly have a climate where God's Greatest Invention (deodorant) is needed. Some of these kids come from cultures where they've never seen, heard of or used such a thing. So nearly every year there comes a time where I sit the class down and we talk about why daily showers are necessary. What deodorant is and why Aussies would rather step in dog poo than reek of B.O. Why their shirts have to be washed every day, not just every week. Why people who stink are never actually told about it.... people just avoid them.
These aren't kids coming straight from a war zone or anything. These are well-off, middle class kids who you'd think would know all of this from the cradle. But they don't. They're coming to a different society where some customs and values are the same, and some are pretty different. And if I don't talk to them openly and honestly about this stuff, then who will?
But I have to say.... they don't cover this sort of thing in Teacher's College...
Tuesday, January 1, 2008
Brennan's birthday party was 'awesome', according to what he said to Mum. Pretty easy really; just lots of food (homemade popcorn, biscuits, chips, lollies and party pies), the chocolate game, a couple of 'Happy Tree Friends' dvds over lunch (what is it about boys that they find these gruesome cartoons so funny??), drama games in the backyard and Guitar Hero. This is the third birthday party in a row I've given where we went the traditional path. Homemade food, 'homemade' games, time where they're just chilling with their mates instead of being whizzed here there and everywhere by the professional party people. The kids love it. The sad thing is that this sort of party is now a novelty. They're so used to being catered for and run around after that the traditional home style party is new to them.
Plus, of course, it's far cheaper for me. I entertained and fed 11 kids for three hours for around $30. Far cheaper than paying $20/head for go carts or a bowling party. (Which I've done in the past when my frugality kick was sleeping.)
The last day of the year was going to be spent doing lots of little jobs around the place, but a combination of blistering heat and a really good book meant that all I did was read. I've been reading a lot of Sara Douglass over the last few weeks. She's a member of a forum that I frequent (Simple Savings) and so I started reading her novels. I started at the first one and I've slowly worked my way through 8 of them so far. I wasn't very impressed with the first novel, but I kept telling myself that it was a debut one, and that she'll probably hit her straps as she goes along. Thankfully, that's what's happened. The first trilogy got better with each book, and I really enjoyed the follow up trilogy (except for the ending. It was a tad airy-fairy, and the character of Faraday got to be so annoying I just wanted to slap her.) I've now embarked on another set... The Crucible trilogy.
The idea behind these novels is interesting. They're set in medieval Europe, but it's an alternate universe, which of course basically means that Ms Douglass can use whichever parts of history she wants, and it's ok to change the parts of history that she feels she wants to. Very clever. She's using historical characters and events (Joan of Arc, Henry Bolingbroke, the Hundred Years war) but the scenario includes the premise that angels and demons walk amongst the people, just as the real medieval people used to believe happened. There's a battle going on between the forces of good and evil, but not everything is as it seems. Also the exploration of the attitudes towards women in those days is something that makes me vastly glad that I live nowadays and not back in the good old days. It's fascinating. I knocked over the entire second book yesterday, and I'm champing at the bit to finish the third.Nicola has tagged me for a meme. 8 Random things about me. I have to link back to the person who tagged me, list 8 things and then tag 8 more people. Ok... just off the top of my head....
1. I really want to buy a female black and tan daschund. I've owned and bred Cavaliers for twenty years, and I adore them, but I want a change. But apparently if I get a daschund it'll probably boss young Molly around. That wouldn't be fair...
2. I loathe detest and despise bananas. Hideous evil smelling and revolting tasting fruit of the devil. Yuck.
3. I hate walking across dewy grass in the morning with bare feet.
4. Since my last relationship ended I've had coffee, drinks or dinner with 86 different men. I'm still single. I think it's a combination of me being a bit picky and the men in their 40s and early 50s being really screwed up. (Of course, I'm not at all screwed up. I'm delightful...) I've had a break from dating for the past 18 months, and I've loved it.
5. I have a collection of wooden masks that I've bought on my travels overseas. They live on the shelf under my glass topped coffee table.
6. When I was 40 I had my eyes lasered. I was so short-sighted that I needed to put on my glasses to get out of bed in the mornings, and the best thing ever after fixing your eyes is to be able to roll over in the middle of the night and instantly see the clock.
7. I wish that my name was Sarah instead of... um... Frogdancer. I called my first Cavalier Sarah, and if Connor/Tadpole was a girl he was going to be Sarah as well.
8. When I'm alone in my house and the next door neighbours' cars are gone, I turn up the stereo full blast and sing and dance around my lounge room. I sing and in my head I'm famous and adored. I've been doing this since I was 11, and it just keeps on being fun. I call it a 'party for one'.
I know. That last one is just plain tragic.
I tag Scott, Capello, Maybaby, Stuntmother, Suse, Kelley,Lightening and Kim.
Now I'm off to sit under the airconditioner vent and read. Or quilt. Or knit. Or something. I love holidays! So many options.