Monday, 28 July 2014

Scrimping and Saving for the Overseas Holiday

We are in the middle of planning a 3-4 week holiday to the UK for next year... exciting! 

Hubby and I have only traveled outside of Australia once and that was to New Zealand so we are both itching to explore the UK and spend time with my brother (who is studying at Oxford). But with two adults, three children and one infant, it will work out to be an expensive holiday.

We have been busy re-allocating parts of our budget and finding ways to scrimp and save to afford this holiday (even though it is still eleven looooooong months away). 

The first thing we have looked at adjusting is our food budget. Here is some of the ways we are trying to save...

1). Menu plan: Over the last month I have kept to a fortnightly menu plan and have managed to save $200 a fortnight! I have made two fortnightly plans and swap to and from each for variety. I also double cook so that the next night I get a night off from cooking (see menu below).

Each of our menu plans meals can be adapted to be Failsafe, healthy (I am trying to loose weight!) and low in spices and other IBS triggers.

Here is our Fortnight A.

T- Wraps + BBQ chicken & salad (I make my own wraps as store bought are so expensive!)
W- Wraps + BBQ chicken & salad
T- Homemade hamburgers (I make my own meat patties)
F- Homemade hamburgers
S- Home-made pizza (I make my own bases)
S- Home-made pizza
M- Meatloaf & Yorkshire pudding & veg
T- French toast/Cauliflower bake
W- Sausages & salad
T- Fried Rice (brown rice)
F- Fried Rice
S- Zucchini slice/sizzle steak & veggies
S- Zucchini slice/sizzle steak& veggies
M-    ??? Mystery night ???

Soup: Lentil soup, Pumpkin soup, Minestrone (all home made!)

2). Aldi first: We have always shopped at Aldi although now we make sure that we always buy EVERYTHING possible there and always visit Aldi first before Woolies. 

We love Aldi and the only thing we haven't found to be fantastic is their fresh fruit and vegetables (you really need to eat it the day or two after purchase).

3). Only buy items when they are on special: I have made a chart comparing the cheapest items from Woolies/Aldi. This chart allows me to know when Woolies really has a 'special'. There are some items that we can't buy from Aldi (mostly items for our Failsafer) and they are usually the most expensive items on our list. We now won't buy items now such as shampoo, cereal etc unless they are discounted (and then I stock up to last a few months if expiry dates allow it).

4). Longlife milk: Yes, longlife isn't as nice as fresh milk. But it saves regular trips to the supermarket and the limits the chances that I will buy items that I don't have to have (Hellllooo impulse buyer here!).

What are the ways you save money?

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Attentive: King Josiah

This week we have been learning about King Josiah and how he was 'attentive' to God and his Word (ABC Jesus Loves Me, Year 4 Week 6)

We read from the bible...

We listened to the B-I-B-L-E song which you can find here.

We watched a minute long story of Josiah which you can find here.

I googled 'scrolls' and showed the girls pictures of what scrolls looked like (they were curious!).
Paper bag scrolls: I wrote 'Josiah did what was right in the eyes of the Lord' in the middle of each paper bag. The girls scrunched up the paper bags to give them an 'old feel' and then carefully laid them out again. They used straws and sticky tape for the edges of the scrolls (I had to help them with this).
Hide n seek: The kids took turns hiding the scrolls and finding them again, pretending to be Josiah finding the 'book of law'. They looooved this!

Colouring-in: The girls coloured in pictures of Josiah and decorated our window with them.
Edible scrolls: The girls made scrolls using roll-ups and chocolate finger biscuits.

The girls also made paper plate crowns and pretended to be King Josiah.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

How to spend time with your children when you have no time

Most parents, like me, value time as a precious commodity. Whether it is work outside the home, keeping up with the housework, a new baby or just needing to make a coffee, we always seem to be wishing we had more time. We need more time. 

I wish for more time daily.

My children constantly require my energy and time. My 4 year old begs me to sit and colour in with her, my 3 year old pleads with me to complete a puzzle with her, my 1 year old tugs on my shirt and shoves her book at me, my newborn whimpers for a feed... all these demands on my time in a one minute window. I look at them, breathe in deeply, and often juggle all four things at once.

"Children spell love... T-I-M-E." Dr. Witham. Boy, did he know what he was talking about. Spending time with our children is so important for their happiness and general well-being. I've often found that if I let life consume me and I neglect my children in this area, their behaviour slips. With four kids in four years I find that giving them time can be something difficult to achieve. 

I live my day to day life following five simple suggestions...

1. Bye-bye TV: What a time-waster! Now, don't get me wrong. There is a place for TV, and I often use it (more often when I am desperate). Sometimes I use it as a reward. However, it is not a daily activity in our house. Instead of switching on the TV I might sit in the middle of the floor and see what happens. Quite often the kids and I will start an imaginative game of some sort. Other times they will all crowd around and for the next thirty minutes we will read book after book or the kids will ask to bring out blocks and we make towers together.

2. One on one time: I have seen how one on one time with my kids can make them blossom. I hear my children talk excitedly to their Dad about what 'special' things they did with me. It can be difficult to organise one-on-one time especially when you have a large family, but really all it takes is some time management. 

Miss 4 and I often play a board game before the others wake up from day time sleep. When I pop out to get groceries or run an errand I will often take one child with me and we might pop to the park and feed the ducks or grab a special drink and just sit and chat on the bench for ten minutes. I linger during my night time feeds with the baby and just enjoy stroking his little face in the quiet. When hubby is home I feed little Mr in my bedroom and chat and giggle with him without any other distractions.

3. Combine job + quality time: Children love to help. Even my 17 month old loves to help me. When I chop the vegetables, I let the kids help me (they sort the veggies, hand them to me to chop etc) and when they do it gives us time to talk and win-win I've also got the dinner sorted! Yes, it may be messier but if you do it often you begin to feel less stressed about the mess and more thankful for the positive memories you are creating with your children. I grew up with a Mum who let me help and those memories are ones I cherish now as an adult.

4. Family meals: Dinner is a perfect time each day where the whole family can sit and chat over food and spend quality time with each other. It is a great time to ask your children about their day and show a genuine interest in their lives. Hubby is a shift-worker and quite often isn't home for dinner but on those days we have our 'family meal' at lunch time.

5. Share interests: All kids go through stages of being 'into' different things. Most recently Miss 3 has been through a puzzle phase and I've made sure to enjoy that phase with her. While I am cooking dinner I will spare 10 minutes (turn down the heat on the stove etc) to do a puzzle with her at the kitchen table. Such a simple thing for me to do and seeing the smile on her face always makes me very thankful that I took that little window of opportunity. 

This precious time you spend with your children gives them opportunity to feel loved, to be heard and be valued. More importantly, it gives you and your children time to connect and grow together. So leave the dirty dishes, forget about the washing and instead spend time with your children. You won't regret it. You will look back and be so thankful you took the time to make memories and build relationships. Chances are you won't remember the times you left your house a mess- I know I won't.


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