Archive for the ‘Behaviour’ Category

13 Things I Have Learnt This Week

  1. It’s not actually possible for your head to explode.  You may want it to, but that’s another story.
  2. I’m ridiculously in love with my big girl.  She has been so worried about me being sick and she’s been adorable, cleaning, playing with her little sister and a pleasure to be around.
  3. The little one can sleep for 5 hours straight.  Several other nights there’s been a lot of crying, but that one gives us hope.
  4. I’ve never had sinusitis before.  I thought I had, but a dull ache above and below the eyes is nothing to the drill/knife/jackhammer that’s been active this week.  My entire eye socket and even my teeth hurt.
  5. There are actually about 15 trains a day from Rome to Venice, but for some reason I can’t get tickets after the 12th of December.  Later ones had better become available in the next couple of weeks.
  6. There is a Charlie and Lola live show in London on the 23rd of December.  My girls are going to LOVE it.
  7. I’ve worked out how to put together a yoked jacket with a lined hood and bodice with minimal instructions.  Now I just need time to finish the hems and buttons and for baby girl to actually try it on.
  8. It’s ok to let something go.  I always over-commit myself ridiculously and stepping back from something has changed my stress levels enormously.
  9. There is a local woman who does clothing alterations/repairs who put a new zip in my favourite jeans.  Now I just need to lose the weight so they’re comfortable again.
  10. It’s much less painful if you don’t look at everything as you sort it.  Two big boxes of baby clothes ready to go to playgroup and be passed on.
  11. I should have left the corn on the cob for both girls.  They ended up hijacking ours and we ate the kernels I’d cut off for them.
  12. I love my husband.  He’s helping deal with baby girl at night, doing his normal job and painting our new investment property after work.  And he’s been looking after me while I was sick.
  13. Between 1 and 2 is such a happy, loving, exciting, adventurous age.

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MONDAY MONEY – INVESTMENTS Paying off Debt and Investing for the Future.

My strongest recommendation is to pay off the debt you have, and then plan further investments for the future. Many of us have debt, usually 2 or 3 loans, ranging from short term to long term. With all the loans there are fees and interest that we are paying. It is worth doing a few calculations to see how much you are paying back on all the loans. Once you have done this you will realise how much money you have for future investments.

Starting with the loan (credit card included) with the highest interest rate, how much is the monthly repayment on this account. If it is a credit card then there needs to be a plan not to make any more purchases using the card, the aim is a zero balance and then to get rid of it altogether. Pay the minimum on all other loans and put everything into getting rid of the highest interest.  Once this is achieved, using the monthly payments from the loan you have just paid out, add these to the next highest interest rate loan and pay it out. Adding the 2 amounts together will reduce the loan in next to no time and save you a huge amount in fees and charges. Keep doing this until you have no more loans left.

This sounds so simple, so why is it that we don’t do it? A big reason is discipline! We are not good organisers and really do not handle our finances as well as we would like to. There is always something more important than getting ourselves out of the financial mess we are in from week to week.

I think a fairly new product on the banking scene is the Offset Account. I know more and more people are finding this and starting to use it. I certainly did and it made a difference to my situation. Basically it is an account you have your savings or pay go into. Any interest on the funds is used against a nominated loan account. It is worth talking to your bank about how it all works. They should be able to explain it clearly. The interest that I saved on my loan I added to the repayments and I was able to reduce the loan faster, and in turn save more money.

There is a fine line between investing for the future and paying off debt. I strongly believe that we should be investing for our futures, and those people who make money from having us put money into their funds would agree with me. But I would say that we need to be a little cautious in this area, as we try and sort out what is sound advice and what is perhaps helping keep others employed.

It is all the harder when interest rates are low, there is a real chance to build some savings as I don’t have to pay as much in interest each month. Another way to look at this would be to say, here is a great opportunity to reduce the loan faster and reduce my debt! How many people have looked at this and kept paying the larger amounts into the loan, or have they gone ‘whew’ less strain on the budget and used the money elsewhere. I would hazard a guess to say lots of people have done the latter! I know what I have done in the past, lessen the strain on the budget is usually the path people take.

So how do I plan to make some real changes in my financial situation? My starting point was to look at all my expenses, then my income. From there I developed a budget. 3 simple steps. Making sure that my income was greater than my expenses each fortnight, including payments for loans. Once I had this information I was able to establish what amount I had per fortnight over and above my expenses, and what I could reasonably add to one of the loans I had. With this in place I made sure that I stuck with paying out the first loan. Next as I said before, adding the first payment to the second loan and paying it out. Not long before debt is being reduced very rapidly.

Once you have paid off the loan/s or repaid the money to someone else, you can start to seriously look at your future savings. Over the life of a 30 year home loan, you will have paid back in interest about the same amount as you borrowed. So it stands to reason that if you can repay the money sooner then you will pay less, and therefore start to save sooner.

I really do hope this is understandable as I have had a deal of difficulty putting it together. The main point is to not be paying interest on loans to banks as you try to save for the future, look at paying off your debt and then build a positive investment.

Monday Money – CREDIT CARDS – What a misnomer!

I like my credit card, it gives me a sense of power, control and a feeling of financial wealth. When I first got a credit card I had a limit of only $2,000, something small and manageable. It was relatively easy to keep in check, paid off at the end of each month and a really convenient way to pay for things. As time progressed the priorities for the budget changed and the paying off the credit card changed, and before long the card was at its limit. Sound familiar. Minimum payments became the acceptable norm for the month, sometimes a little extra went towards the bill. It wasn’t a debt, it was only the credit card.

Through the post came the first increase, an offer from the bank to increase the limit, take the pressure off, and couldn’t I use the extra money. The limit was now $5,000. More power, hey, look at what I can now use to buy things, bigger and better. Stroke the ego somewhat. Great way to pay the various bills on time, and leave the cash for other expenses. It was terrific, but in the long run a huge trap. The card remained out of control soon reaching the limit again, now the problem was even greater. Still the same income, but now the bill has increased, no wait, it is not a bill at all, just the credit card, make the minimum payment and things are sweet. Next bill in, the payment from last month only just covered the interest and charges.

As I said, I like, no, loved my credit card. I eventually let the limit increase to over $20,000. So much power with that amount of money. I refinanced the housing loan a couple of times to pay out the card, the aim was to get rid of it because I couldn’t control it. When completing the paper work the bank encouraged me to keep the card, and I let them. I worked with the best of intentions to keep the card zeroed each month, for the most part kept it that way, then the odd big item on the card, not so easy to get back to zero, slowly but surely it crept back to its limit, back in the same situation.

The name ‘credit card’ needs to be changed! It is not credit at all, and if we change the way we view and use this money then I know that people’s financial situations would be completely different. It is not your money that you are using; it is over and above what you have as an income. This money needs to be returned to its rightful owner, and it comes with additional costs, the money you use is probably going to cost you double what it would if you paid for the item up front with your cash. So the big ticket item that you want, need right now, on the credit card. Intention to pay it off in less than 6 months, at say 20% interest, the catch is that you don’t and the charges keep adding to the original cost.

To replace the credit card with something else is not easy. Firstly you will have to pay off the card, then what is there in its place. I suggest that you pay the card down, attack the debt, have a planned approach to reducing the amount. I liked to see on my statement at the end of each month an increase in the balance available and a decrease in the amount owing. Online banking is great for this as there is immediate gratification as you pay it off. Print out your statement and celebrate your success. Take control of the card altogether and start to reduce the limit available, this doesn’t have to be huge amounts, small is good, as the balance goes down, look at increasing the reductions on the limit as you take charge over the card, not the card over you.

As I thought about the credit card, I realised that to replace the card I would need to have the same amount in savings as I had as a limit. This is a really daunting thought. Think about it, if your card has a limit of $5,000, and then to replace it you have to have $5,000 of your own on in saving account. That is a swing of $10,000 if you are to be in control; perhaps this is why we don’t do anything as the cost of setting this up is beyond what most of us see as even the remotest of possibilities.

Have a look at your credit card statements for the last 12 months, go through and total up the amount of interest that you have paid? Think about the items you purchased and make sure these are items of need, not wants! The money you borrow needs to be for very special, emergency situation, and then a strategy put in place to pay it off as soon as possible. Keep a track of what it is costing you for each item, it will change the way you use the card.

I used this process to reduce the limit that I had on my credit card. I didn’t totally get rid of the card, I have a much smaller limit and basically use the card for emergency purposes only, and the balance is paid at the end of the month if I use the card, costs me nothing otherwise. I now have a Visa Debit card, the convenience of a Visa card, but using the funds that I have in savings. It really means that I have to have the money saved for the purchase, rather than just wanting something.

In the long run, the money you save by not having to pay additional interest and charges will help you gain control of your financial health.

Monday Money – WHAT AM I WORTH AND HOW DID I GET HERE

This is a little personal history about where I am coming from when I am writing about the financial achievements which have occurred during my life. Hopefully this will give some insight into where I am coming from and that there is some real experience that I am basing my comments and information on. There are many experts in the field that are worth listening to, Paul Clitherow and Robert Kiyosaki are two authors that I would recommend reading and listening to the suggestions they make, following their advice is an even better choice.

I left school as soon as I could, not one for the classroom from a very early stage. I am left handed, so what you might say, but a year 2 teacher decided that I should use my right hand and broke several rulers across the back of my knuckles. Not character building or anything like that, just put me off school for a very long time. My first job lasted for a couple of years, full time employment, working for a children’s organisation on the grand sum of $85 a week after tax, heaps of money to a young man who didn’t have many over heads still living at home. I had some savings, not much and to my shock, was fired along with a couple of others, down turn in funding and we cost too much, replaced by a couple of 17 year olds.

My savings depleted I decided to look for a job, that very morning a call from my mother asking me to help her out and cover a job due to a bus accident. Not a big issue as I didn’t have anything else to do, and I knew it would be paid or at least I was able to stay at home and not feel guilty about not working. Without dragging out the love book and all the soppy stuff, I moved out of home at the age of 19, and for the first time had the experience of having to fend for myself. No one taught me how to manage the situation; hey I thought it would be a piece of cake. Wrong! After a few weeks I was in a total financial crisis, more money going out than coming in. The results of which I moved into a shared house with 3 others, and boy did that make a difference. Things started to change, financially as well as long term as one of the house mates later became my wife, we lived together for 4 years, gradually not replacing flat mates until we were on our own.

If this isn’t interesting, then skip a paragraph or two and pick it up later. I am sure that it will or won’t make more sense later; it is parts of what has helped shape the decisions that I make today, ones that I hope you can look at and perhaps think about how these might change things for you. I bought my first house after having a lease on a rental come to an end and looking at what we paid in rent and what we could afford to pay on a mortgage, 2 incomes and no children sounded good at the time.

Oh how quickly things change, and I am sure that some of you will be reading this and gasping, saying that is what happened to us! In my case, it was the most fortunate things that could have happened we moved into the house in May, found out that we were expecting our first child in February, got married in September, and experienced the eighties increases in interest rates, up to 17.5% in 1987. I learnt a lot about managing the financial running of the house.

We struggled from pay to pay for a number of years, the credit card became maxed out very early on and meeting the minimum monthly payments was usually all that I could manage. The insurance on the car didn’t get paid more and more often, more good fortune than management that we didn’t have an accident because that would have really stretched things further. As I have said before, there was a limit to making ends meet, and having a 2nd or 3rd and even a 4th job became the only way to keep things going. I could ramble on about the next umpteen years but that would be rather dreary, but suffice to say things slowly improved, especially when the interest rates went down. We didn’t change our lifestyles; rather I was able to cut back on the hours that I worked.

So jumping further forward, I divorced a number of years ago, with 1 child to support, as well as leaving most of the contents of the house and a significant part of the savings. We had a year before sold the family home so only had cash and possessions to sort. The credit card debt and loan on the car became mine, some $50,000 all up. There are no winners from this; both parties are going to come away with their own perceptions of who got what and what it was all worth. At the end of the day, I believe that I was left with what was reasonable.

I had a new lady in my life and we settled in together. It took me a couple of years to sort things financially. We took a punt on buying an investment property, something we talked about and researched for a few months before going ahead with. We looked at areas of growth, costs of housing in the area and what the rental returns could be. Fully armed with all the information we thought we needed we looked at 2 bedroom units, we set our price at under $100,000, armed with a newspaper and street directory, drove around looking. We had our finances organised, knew from our discussions what we wanted to buy and set about doing exactly that. Within a short period we had bought 4 units staying within our budget and the rules we had laid down.

We purchased our house over the Internet, using the photos online and asking the agent to take and email others to us. We found several houses and set about researching each of these, the purpose for the house was to get into the market, not as a life long commitment to the place. We found a place and put an offer in what we were prepared to pay, if the vendor was unhappy with this then we would move on, I made this very clear to the agent. So when he phoned back saying the vendor wanted $5,000 more than we offered, we thanked him for his time and hung up. A day later the offer we had put in was accepted. Sounds hard nosed, it was but we wanted into the market at the lowest price we could get and were prepared to work to get what we wanted.

So where has this put me now. We sold 3 of the units as they had increased in value by about 200% in four years, paid off the house, and have now bought another 2 properties. Our property portfolio is worth about $900,000 with less than $150,000 in loans. The $24,000 limit on the credit card is gone! We have no other debts.

This isn’t bragging, I want to show you what can be achieved. It does require work to get things in the right place, yes there has been an element of luck in what we have done. This sort of thing can be done anywhere with the courage to get in and have a go, not just hope that things will work. And yes there are risks involved, hopefully managed so they are minimal.

13 Milestones of Parenting

”thursday-13″

1. The Emergency Shower…

Yelling “Come here quickly and take your clothes off!” to my husband and watching his face as he realised that it was never going to mean what it used to mean…now it meant getting in the shower to wash our son down after a ‘poo-nami’

2. The Poo Scoop…

Along the same vein as number 1. The horror of realising that your child has ‘number two-ed’ in the bath and the best way to get rid of it is to scoop it straight into the toilet with a bare hand. (Please note: My husband is very open to suggestions of better ways to deal with this situation)

3. The ‘Burmuda Triangle’…

Formally known as ‘the car’, the day you realise that toys, half eaten biscuits and odd shoes have all become part of the Burmuda Triangle in the footwell. Perhaps that’s where all the odd socks are too…

4. The Family Bed…

Anyone who tells you sleeping with a baby will kill any chance of romance needs to think outside of the box. While I know it’s not for everyone, there is nothing so special to my husband and I as waking up to our son’s big morning grin stretching across his face as he sees his favourite people.

5. The Public Tantrum Solidarity Nod…

Ok, I admit it. I used to be one of ‘those’ people in the shopping centre who always thought there must be a better way to deal with tantruming children. Now, I don’t pretend to know what parents should do…I just give a sympathetic nod of solidarity. There but for the Grace of God I go!

6. Time Share Toileting…

The day I left work to begin maternity leave I assured my boss that I would never, under any circumstances, allow a child into the toilet while I was in there. Two weeks later I was eating my words as I sat on the toilet, breastfeeding my baby. Ah, it begins…

Flash forward a year and we are still time sharing the toilet, only now my little boy sits on his potty and sings, until it’s time to press the button, clearly one of the favourite parts of his day. How can I deny him this very special treat?

7. The Public Stripdown…

This may occur if you unwittingly decide to try on clothes in a small change room with a gap underneath the door. Unfortunate timing may mean that your child crawls underneath and you find yourself with a major dilemma…the unwilling nudie run to retrieve them, or the child on the loose. Now I understand why people use strollers.

8. Those first few words…

They give everything away about your family. Smidge’s are:

“Tiggle tiggle” (tickle, tickle)

“Oooh look!” (along with pointing finger, which translates as “Mummy, tell me all about that!!”)

“Pat, pat, pat”

“Kiss Daddy, kiss Daddy”

“Blab-blab” (the new name for the dog. She even comes when called this)

And of course “Ooooh, gentle!”

9. The Mini-Me…

This is the day that you flashback to your childhood, when your own child does something so totally you that the last 25 years just drop away and you are the little boy laying on the rumpus room floor driving a Matchbox car back and forth as you rest your head on your outstretched arm. Grandparents love seeing these ones!

10. The “Oh no, why did I teach him that” moment…

The other day my son lifted his shirt, and with a look of surprise in his eyes, poked himself in the belly button. At that moment, without a single thought in my head. I made a raspberry sound. And now our life will never be the same… Every day since I have woken to the lifting of my shirt, the poke in the belly button and that sound, followed by a hysterical laugh and then the same process repeated on Daddy, then himself, then me again. And 13 month old children apparently have no sense of when and where it is appropriate to lift up your Mum’s shirt.

11. The joy of Christmas…

It’s back. The feeling of anticipation…the endless wait…the magic! It’s all back. Last year Smidge was just 4 months old and I had spent most of the last 6 weeks in and out of hospital, so the magic wasn’t as strong as it already is this year. I love that Christmas is the time of year where anything is possible, that wishes really can come true.

12. The Mummy Lioness within…

I expect every Mum will know what I mean by this one. The day that you have to protect your child. It doesn’t matter that you are the least confrontational person, or have never defended yourself.

I experienced my first Lioness moment the other day when I saw 2 older children hitting my son on the back as he climbed out of a ball pit. I looked around for their Mums, but seeing no-one, knew it was up to me. I calmly picked him up out of their reach and said “Oh dear, we can’t hit babies, we pat them gently” and stroked his back. The little boy repeated “Pat bubba, gentle” And I felt proud of myself. Because as much as I would have liked to freak right out on those rough kids, I know that a Mummy Lioness treats other kids the way that she would like other people to treat hers.

13. Falling in love all over again…

While I sit here, trying to think of a last milestone, my husbands voice drifts up the hallway. He is reading Smidge a story as he puts him to bed. Every few pages I hear a yawn- Daddy’s, not Smidge’s. Even though he has had a long day at work, he still has time to give me a break, time for his little boy who he adores and who adores him so much. And so, even though our life has become all about our son, we have these precious moments where I fall in love with my husband all over again.

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others’ comments. It’s easy, and fun!

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13 Things that are normal baby behaviour!

The range of normal is wide, if your baby doesn’t do these things they are probably normal too and you’re very lucky!  If your baby does all of these, my sympathy but they really do become toddlers eventually.

  1. Newborns feeding 8-20 times a day and averaging 11, NOT every 4 hours.
  2. Feeding every 2 hours.  Or less.  My second fed every 45 minutes around the clock for the first 3 weeks or so.  She still doesn’t manage every 4 hours at 18 months and she loves her solids as well.
  3. Waking up at night until at least 12 months.  ‘Sleeping through’ means 5 hours, not 12, and quite a few don’t even manage that!
  4. Starting to dribble at 3-4 months – they haven’t learnt to swallow it yet, it’s not teething (necessarily).
  5. Getting much quicker at feeding suddenly around 12 weeks – it has nothing to do with supply, they’ve worked out how to do it!
  6. The 4-month monsters at, well, 4 months.  They start waking up and feeding what feels like all night, because the world is just far too interesting to feed during the day.  And if they’ve been sleeping through it’s a rude shock 🙂
  7. Starting to reach for food, keys, pens, phones, … basically anything you have in your hands from around 4 months.  It doesn’t mean they want solids any more than they want to drive, write or talk, they just want to be like you.
  8. Feeding pretty much continuously in the evenings – it’s called cluster feeding, and yes, they can be hungry again already.
  9. Wanting to suck, and suck, and suck, and suck, and suck a bit more.  It’s got nothing to do with hunger or supply, it’s a comfort thing.
  10. Only sleeping in 40 minute blocks.  This is the length of a baby sleep cycle.  While some will go for 2 or 3 cycles, some will only do 1 no matter how much you pat them.
  11. Waking up 20 minutes after you’ve just got them to sleep – there is a dip in the sedative hormones at that time, a top up should get them back to sleep.
  12. Having days, weeks, months when they just don’t want to be put down.  A good carrier is essential for living with koala baby!
  13. Needing help to learn how to go to sleep.  It’s weird, but it’s a learned skill.

You may also be interested in ‘The Human Baby as an External Foetus’ to explain some of it.

(As an aside, see if you can now describe my children’s feeding and sleeping habits :D)

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others’ comments. It’s easy, and fun!

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It’s not cannelloni it’s tomato pasta…..honestly!

I often find myself having a giggle at the song and dance I have to put on around normal day to day activities – partly to keep the peace but mostly because I enjoy making life as easy as possible for my kids and also for myself! I have a relative whose suggestion in moments of meltdown is a “clip around the ears” but given that isn’t an option for us, making everything as fun as possible (within reason – there are some things we just must do “because I say so”!) gets us through pretty much everything!

It was almost dinner time the other night and we were travelling home from my folks house in the car. My daughter and I were chatting and I asked what she felt like for dinner – already knowing cannelloni was on the menu (so perhaps I shouldn’t have asked!). She said that she wanted mashed potato! I said “how about we have some cannelloni?” which I know she loves but wasn’t sure she knew the name of. To which she replied “I don’t like cannelloni”. Thinking fast I said “oh really? Well how about we have tomato pasta then?” I could hear the smile in her voice as she said “Ok Mummy, let’s have tomato pasta. I really like tomato pasta”. Tomato pasta is our new name for Cannelloni! 😉

Reverse psychology is just starting to come into play with my 3 year old too. Actually perhaps I have been subtly using it for much longer! However if I think she will need a jacket on when we go out and I make that known to her she won’t miss a beat before saying “No Mummy, I’m not cold, I don’t need a jacket”. So it’s not uncommon for me to now suggest that she doesn’t need a jacket so she will race straight off to her room to get one! 😀 Or if I want her to get another wear out of a pair of pants before putting them in the wash and know that suggesting that will be met with “I think they need a wash” I will say that I’m putting the pants in the wash and then suddenly they are the flavour of the day!

What I am really enjoying lately though is my daughter’s ability to come to conclusions all on her own if left to do so. I grew up being told what to do and even if it fell into the “don’t sweat the small stuff category” it was sweated! It had to be done because it had been mentioned and not following it through would apparently mean my parents would look weak in our eyes so they would insist.  I don’t insist. I suggest, give reasons why I think it might be a good idea, remind, and then leave it up to my daughter (if it is not a safety issue of course). For instance the other day I suggested she might want to zip her jacket up because whilst running around at the park it was falling off her shoulders. She told me “No Mummy, it’s fine I don’t want to zip it up”. About 15 minutes later I did remind her again because it just looked annoying sliding down and again she said no. I decided to leave it at that point – who really cares if the jacket is zipped up or not. I know mine would annoy me sliding off my shoulders like that but she is not me, she is my 3 year old daughter. About half an hour later I was pushing her on the swing and lo and behold the jacket was still falling off but I had really stopped noticing at this point. Isabelle said to me “Mummy can you stop the swing, I need to do something” (red alert! red alert! red alert! We are NEVER asked to stop the swing so I wondered what might be up!). When I stopped the swing she turned around, looked me in the eye and said “Mummy, you were right you know?” I asked her what I was right about having forgotten about the jacket, and she said “You were right about my jacket being annoying falling off my shoulders. I am going to zip it up now, OK? Then you can push me again”. It might seem like a small thing to some but I was just so thrilled and proud of her. Such a big girl, thinking about things and making a decision for herself and finding what works for her – not just doing things because I say so.

This has really diverted from the initial cannelloni thought but I think it all fits into the “thinking about parenting” category – what works for you? What doesn’t work? What could you do differently” And what are you doing that you like? What works for one of your children and does it automatically work for another? If you are even thinking about one or any of these things then good! I think you need to think.