Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Too many toys, chocolate, austerity, upcoming resolutions

It's almost over. Just one more weekend of New Year's madness, and then peace and quiet.

Franklin got toys from just about every person on the planet, it seems. We're swimming in toys here. I don't like clutter, so we bought him four or five things; at this age he just wants to chew on things, or maybe bang them on the floor. Our relatives did not have such restraint. There were more presents under the tree for Franklin than for Partner and myself combined over our entire marriage, it seemed!

We spent two days at the inlaws' house in London, eating way too much chocolate and watching way too much tv. I don't even like tv, but their austerity measures meant the heating was off and only the fireplace was on. So tv it was. We watched World Championship darts. I'm not making this up: two fat old men loaded down with gold jewelry and facial hair from the 70s throwing darts at a dartboard. With slow-motion replays of them throwing, arm fat wobbling. Actually, it was kind of awesome.

Speaking of austerity measures, Partner and I have agreed to lower our monthly personal allowances by £5 each. I may put most of mine into my savings account. Also, I've made a commitment to go into town and open a bank account with a monthly direct debit for subsequent Christmases. We sort of did it for Franklin; he's got his own savings account, and we bought his presents out of it, and any left over after his birthday will go into his investments account for when he's 18--I sometimes wish my parents had done that for me. I might have gone to university after graduation, instead of waiting all these years. Of course, I wouldn't be where I am now.

So I'm looking for ways to save money and get us back out of debt. We're not too deeply in--but buying a car earlier in the year was a setback, and as I'm only working weekends, my pay has gone down drastically. Setting a monthly personal allowance has been a huge success as far as curbing spending. We have the rule that we get a set amount on payday in cash to spend on ourselves. Bank cards are only allowed for groceries and diesel. Since implementation this summer, we've saved more than a £1000. That £1.50 here and £5 there really added up, and half the time we didn't even remember what we'd spent it on. If anyone else has a good suggestion for saving, I'd love to hear about it.

I'm thinking about goals for the coming year. I had a huge list of things I wanted to accomplish last year and having a baby really put a spanner in the works! I had a spreadsheet covering each month, and the first two months (January and February) have all the goals ticked, and subsequent months have none. Not a single yearly goal accomplished from March onward...

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Melt, mud, sticks, neighborly neighbors, boobs

What could be more wonderful than the sound of melting snow? This week it's filled the air with silent slushiness. As soon as we saw it going, Partner dashed outside with his shovel and dug up the last of the potatoes. He thinks there are a month's worth left. Then he tracked mud all over the house because he neglected to put on his wellies... I walked the dog and Franklin this morning, and we all got very muddy too; I however, am pro-active about mud. I got the hose and sprayed us all down. Dog included.

Partner insists we're getting more snow this week. I'm adamantly denying it.

Actually, last week Franklin and I went out walking in the sling, and I enjoyed using a makeshift walking stick to help keep us from slipping. When I prune my shrubs, I generally keep any long woody sticks to save as supports for plants which tend to flop over, like runner beans or delphiniums. So I have a stack of tall trimmed sticks in my garage, perfect for walking. Then the last day before the big melt, as we strode confidently down our street, one of the neighbors (I don't know him at all, as he lives quite a few houses away and keeps to himself) hailed me and presented me with a sanded, varnished, rubber-bottomed stick. I think he made it himself. I was really touched. I don't see him much, but next time I'm going to thank him again, and tell him how wonderful it works.

I have a feeling that even though I don't recognize the neighbors at that end of the street, they probably recognize me. I walk past their houses nearly every day; but since we live at the end of the cul-de-sac, those neighbors have no reason to walk past my house. When I first had Franklin, Partner walked the dog for the first couple of weeks, and one of those neighbors we didn't know asked him as he passed if I'd had the baby!

Here is a boob I knitted for charity. I don't know if charity actually wants them though. As I was knitting, the further along I got, the more I thought, am I just embarrassing myself? Don't adjust your screen. It really is meant to be bright red with a powder blue nipple.

Christmas. Ten days until. Still not ready. Might never be.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Weather, mega-tater, last month's goals

Snow! This is my patio (last seen under attack by nasturtiums). That cap on top of the table? Partner measured it at 18 inches.

So the roads are even more atrocious than last winter. Our little cul-de-sac has never met a snowplow, and for a few days it looked like no one was driving out till spring. Then two energetic neighbors got out their shovels, were joined by another neighbor, and then Franklin and I went out to help, and we got all our drives and part of the street cleared. One of them was even kind enough to remember that Partner and I had done it last year.

It's been so deep that I haven't gone on my daily walk all week because the stroller can't cope, and I'm too nervous about slipping to use the sling. Today, Saturday, Partner stayed home with Franklin while I took the dog out. We saw another dogwalker we see quite often, and he asked me where my baby was. I sort of experimented on making some snowshoes, but need to improve my design. I also considered designs for a baby-safe sledge, but was unable to come up with a workable plan. So for the present, my baby stays at home when I go walking. And since Partner's only home to watch him at weekends, I only walk at weekends. I think Beauty was a little stir-crazy, because we met another little doggy at the park and they wrestled and chased nearly the whole walk (normally Beauty's very dignified and gets quite short with presumptuous canines). Never mind that the snow was up to their shoulders.

I think I may have lost my chance at digging up the remainder of my potatoes. Under a foot of snow, I can only hope that means they're nicely insulated and won't freeze by the time I can get to them. If ever. Here's one of my mega-taters. I grew it myself (Partner took exception to that when I told his mother; he says he dug the holes and watered them all summer).

For last month, I only achieved some of my goals. I managed to submit both assignments on time, and then on the last day of the month, I knitted mittens for Franklin (100% wool. Merino. Organic. What can I say? It was on sale), having done the matching hat quite early on. Though I wanted to make ten Christmas cards, I ended up starting five and not finishing any; it looks like I may not be sending any this year. I finished 50% of my Christmas shopping, however; that is, if you count that I've bought all Franklin's, and haven't bought any for Partner (that's 50%, right?). And my final goal, to be in bed with the lights out at 10.30 each night: FAIL.