A friend reminded me recently that doing my best does not mean working myself to the point of a breakdown. And I thought I had been doing quite well with this whole work-life balance thing! Oh well. Sometimes we are good at kidding ourselves.
Last week I made myself very ill. It started with a cold. I went to work. I spread my germs around. Then I went to Sydney for a conference. My daughter said to me “Mummy I don’t want you to go to Australia, you don’t have to work when you are sick”. I said I do, and her response “but not always Mummy”. I could put this conversation down to childhood innocence and idealism. But she was right.
The Beartooth Highway is a 68 mile All American Road that winds its way through Montana and Wyoming, leading its travellers to the iconic Yellowstone National Park. At 3,337m high, there is some serious elevation – a bag of chip bursting elevation in fact! Starting from around 1,600m in elevation, you start your climb starts in grassy meadows, travelling through switch-backs and steep zigzags, past banks of snow, and skiers blasting past your window.
We flew into Billings Airport, as the closest airport we could find to Yellowstone National Park, that didn’t cost an extremely exorbitant amount (i.e. Jackson Hole). Billings turned out to be a great place to pick up a rental, stock up the car, and find cheap accommodation. I have to provide a recommendation here for the Hilltop Inn. This was the cheapest hotel accommodation in our entire trip, and it provided free breakfast. The room was huge, and to top it off there was a microwave and a fridge so we could self-cater a family dinner (with the help of a hot chicken from Walmart!). Would love it if they didn’t use disposable plastic for EVERYTHING though, a little better for the environment if they used glasses, plates, knives, forks etc instead of the single-use plastic variety – wrapped in another layer of plastic for hygiene.
The Beartooth Highway
We had three amazing All American Roads on our bucket list for our US Trip – the Beartooth Highway, the Big Sur Coast Highway, and the Tioga Pass (technically a National Scenic Byway). Unfortunately for us, a storm took out a key bridge on the Big Sur Coast Highway, and the snow didn’t clear from the Tioga Pass by the time we travelled through in early July – which left only the Beartooth Highway.
Even then, the Beartooth Highway was CLOSED the day before we left Billings. Hubby was devastated, knowing the Big Sur was closed, watching the snow reports daily for the Tioga Pass, and refreshing the Beartooth Highway website hourly for updates to see if it was going to open. In the morning when we were due to leave Billings the hotel staff gave us the good news – it was open. For now. Get moving… We knew we were still hours away from the start of the Highway, but we took the risk. We were very lucky. It was closed again the next day!
On 1 July I pledged to give up alcohol, and I signed up for Dry July to raise funds for people affected by cancer. A month later and I’ve reached my goal, I’ve abstained from alcohol and I’ve raised $249.75 for Look Good Feel Better, to help people living with cancer. And I’ve been surprised with what I’ve learned along the way.
Why I gave up alcohol
I had a number of reasons for giving up alcohol and signing up for Dry July. Firstly, I was looking forward to the health benefits of not drinking for a month. Secondly, I’ve also lost too many people I love to the hideous illness.
I lost my father to cancer over 15 years ago. Despite his fight, he didn’t make it to my graduation. He wasn’t there to walk me down the aisle at my wedding. And he never got to meet his beautiful grandchildren.
It’s Friday and it’s time to celebrate the weekend!! Unfortunately, I’m still doing Dry July so I won’t be seeing in the weekend with the traditional Friday night glass of wine (OK, the reality is it’s probably more like a bottle!)
I’ve been back at work this week after our beautiful holiday in Taupo. Here’s a little snapshot (proper blog to follow shortly):
Miss M and I exploring Taupo whilst Hubby and Miss T are off skiing without us…
I’ve also been a bit quiet on the blogging side. But truth be told, there is a reason for that!
As promised we have headed to Lake Taupo, broken arm, sniffly noses, croaky coughs and all. We will get out there these school holidays and WE WILL HAVE FUN!
Luckily for us, at least the weather was lovely for prawn fishing.
So what is prawn fishing? Well, to start with we are at Huka Prawn Park on the banks of the Waikato River. The Park is a working prawn farm. The tropical prawns are raised in ponds heated with waste geothermal heat (steam) from the geothermal power station next door. They have added the prawn fishing park and other family activities, as well as a restaurant – a platter of prawns and a cold glass of white wine with a view of the river meandering past anybody?
If you’ve been following along you will know that it is currently school holidays in New Zealand. If you’re new to this blog, welcome! Anyway, it is currently school holidays, and I’ve got a week off work to spend with my girls.
It all started out great, with traditional hut making and sleepovers, and a touch of roller skating… And that is where it started to go wrong (unbeknown to me). Miss M was complaining of a sore wrist after a fall on the roller skating rink. She could still move her wrist in all directions, bend her fingers, and do everything else a wrist is supposed to do. So we decided to put an ice pad on, and give it a day or so to settle down.
A few days later and the wrist was still sore. The X-Rays revealed a sprain. The Doctors were a little more concerned. And this is the result:
I was so proud of the girls today. We managed to have a great day, without devices – wet and windy wild weather and all.
After a treat for breakfast (bacon and egg baps, with coffee from the cafe around the corner for Hubby and I), I took the girls roller skating. Although Miss M has been skating before, she is still very much a learner, and this was Miss T’s first time on a skating rink. After a few false starts, they had a ball. They raced each other and the clock. There were “musical spots”, “show off your tricks” (i.e. manage not to fall over), and skating “limbo” (not surprisingly, the tiny tots on wheels won this one!). A hurt tailbone and a sore wrist later, they can’t wait to come back! All for a $2 entry fee! A bit of frugal family fun for my new better budgeting segment I think.
The girls – in a good mood – even helped me with grocery shopping on the way home. Well, not sure if “helped” is the right word, but they certainly took it upon themselves to fill up my trolley for me…
After lunch we did the traditional childhood thing and had the neighbourhood children over for an afternoon of hut building, playing board games, making a banana cake for afternoon tea and pizza for dinner. Followed of course by ice cream sundaes.
Somehow we have been convinced that the neighbour should stay for a sleepover. They dragged the spare TV into the hut, snuggled up in the piles of cushions and blankets under fairy lights and sheets and watched a movie. And that is where they are now. In the hut, on the floor, snuggled up in blankets and cushions. Not quite asleep.
It’s school holidays! Well, to be fair the girls have been on holiday for a week already, but have been at school holiday programme. NOW I am also on holiday for a week!
Bring on a week of sleep ins, lazy mornings sipping coffee in the sun, reading blogs. Movies with the kids. A trip to the skating rink. And a few days in Taupo. A touch of prawn fishing (I will have to explain that one more when we do it!). And Hubby may even take the girls skiing.
I have also set myself a few blog goals:
I’m writing a guest blog on ‘teaching your children the value of money’, I have timed this to get it done on my week off.
I want to get my ‘subscribe’ button working.
I’ll keep you all up to date with our holiday adventures 🙂
And of course there are a few boring jobs to do around the house. I’ve already cleaned the linen cupboard.
So I might not win Mother of the Year, and I may not be the world’s biggest blogger, but one thing I do know how to do is set a family budget.
For starters, a family budget is a living breathing thing. It needs to be set, worked with, reviewed, updated, reviewed again … and so forth. Yes, strict accounting principles would say you don’t change a budget – if you can’t meet it, you failed and you need to examine why. And whilst there is a very strong logic behind that rule, this is a family budget, and family needs change.
I have outlined a number of steps below to help you along your budgeting journey.
Welcome to Better Budgeting, part of a new section in our blog – a Working Mother’s Guide to healthy living on a shoestring.
With my background as an Accountant, it makes sense for me to share some of the tips and tricks I have learned in the industry, and my experience applying them to the family budget. This page will be covering ideas for feeding the troops and frugal family fun. We will also look at the ‘Golden Rules’, saving for a big occasion, entertaining the family and staying fit. We will look at ways to track your hard earned dollar, and of course – how to keep more of it!
Frugal Family Food
This page will cover frugal family food ideas. But with a twist. One of my passions is good quality food on a budget.
To me, the affordability of food is not measured in its cost, but in terms of its value for money in a nutritional sense. That bulk bag of yesterday’s baked muffins for $2 may seem cheap when you have lunch boxes to full, but the reality is they are unlikely to have significant nutritional value. Yesterday’s muffins will fill the tummies for a short period of time, and then the kiddies (and husband!) will be asking for more. In the meantime, they have consumed excess sugar and refined carbohydrates that they probably didn’t need.