Friday, December 29, 2017

'No spend in 2018...

As I've mentioned on the blog before, I have a problem with shopping.I might even go so far as to say that I'm a shopaholic. When I first got this job I remember writing that we didn't even need the kind of money I was earning and that I couldn't think of anything I needed to spend the excess on. Well, that certainly changed, to the point where I ended up taking out a Centrelink loan over Christmas. I'm definitely spending too much money.

So, anyway, like signs from the universe, articles about no-spend projects have been springing up all over the place signposting a way out of this spending labyrinth.

 So, I'm committing to a no spend year in 2018. Here are the rules.

  1. I will not buy anything new or secondhand for the period of 12 months, starting January 1st, 2018, and ending midnight 2019. Things as part of  the 'no shop' include, but are not limited to:
    1. Clothes, shoes, gadgets (both tech and household), nic-nacs, makeup, jewellry, take away anything, and headscarves.
  2. Things I will spend money on include:
    1. Rent, utilities, food, petrol, insurances, school fees, necessity clothing for the boys, Birthday presents and Christmas presents for the boys (but within a strict budget), new tyres and car maintenance,and a birthday party for Ari where he can invite his classmates to help him build stronger friendships.
All leftover monies will go in savings. I'll update at the end of each months what I spent money on (on both lists, but hopefully not the first list), and how much money I've saved.

I really hope this has the affect on my compulsive spending I'm looking for.

Let's talk education...

Two things have come to my attention this past week. The first was an article in The Guardian.

This quote, in particular, caught my eye:
Added to this, the university’s relatively new status as a business means that it desperately needs students, and will make it as easy as possible for everyone, anyone to enrol. When I began teaching here the Atar for education was officially 60, but many students were entering the university through alternative pathways: Tafe, bridging courses at the university itself, written application. Universities are businesses. Students are customers. The more customers, the better the business does.
And of course, the best way to retain a customer is to keep her happy. I’d suggest that happiness for students might arise from challenge, from hard work fairly rewarded, or from the acquisition of new skills. But there is of course a quicker route: you keep students happy by not failing them. And then – surprise! – when they graduate they are not literate, or numerate, or knowledgeable enough to perform the work they have been studying for.
This explains a lot of what has been happening with Erik. The school is letting him pass classes he doesn't attend, doesn't submit work for, and doesn't show up to exams for. Why? Because he is costing them money, with no hopes of that ever changing. The sooner they graduate him the sooner, they cut their losses. Meanwhile, the Department of Education doesn't really care because he'll get into Uni get himself a HELP debt which he'll have to pay off once he gets a job. It looks good on paper that the numbers of secondary students entering university is increasing - whether or not they are prepared to do so.

Meanwhile, Lukas isn't academic. I looked at his scores in various measures (AusVels, VCAL, NAPLAN) and he is uniformly underachieving across the board. However, in music he is excelling. Gardner's theory of intelligences argues that his intelligence lies in music and that that is as valid as intelligences in English or Math. For some reason, Lukas isn't afforded the same leniency Erik has been afforded. Possibly because he isn't a loss for them, he is good for business. At the same time, we are hassled constantly because he doesn't attend classes he is falling behind in (when he was attending them). Where is the logic in that?

One son is being failed by a school which simply wants him off their hands and is happy to send him out into the world with no skills or comprehension of what will be expected of him when he lands there, the other is being failed in that he is criticised for what he struggles with rather than celebrated for his intelligence in a 'non-academic' field.

I wonder what the coming yer holds in store for Bryn. Bryn is academically intelligent, and Ari excels academically (both scoring well above their peers across the board on their reports). Will this mean an easier path for them? I know I'm doing my level best to make sure our fees are all paid up so that he is on an equal footing with other students when he starts school (and Lukas as well). Will that and his academic prowess, be enough to give him a fair shot at an education which will support his future choice in employment? I hope so.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Low key Christmas...

Last Sunday, we had Christmas dinner with the parentals, my brother (his girlfriend was going to come, but didn't feel well on the day), and Erik. Excepting that I burned the mushroom sauce and had to send Dave out for more cream and champignons - resulting in the dinner starting an hour later than planned - it went off without a hitch.

It was dinner, and then some gift giving. We gave the boys small gifts as we're still doing the Christmas day thing in full Aussie swing this year. They did alright though! A small gift from us and money and vouchers from my parents and Uncle Mike and Aunty Anja. Erik has been paying off his school books and also had to pay insurance on his replaced laptop, so he couldn't afford presents, but is coming over early Christmas Day or on Boxing Day. He has to avoid his nanna because she's still angry with him.

Anyway, it was probably the first time I didn't lose my shit with him or have a fallout reaction after he left - that is progress.

He told me about a lot things he is doing, and worse stuff his friends are doing (one is looking at jail time). These things scare me, but as I said to him, he's an adult now (such as it is), and he has to work this stuff out himself. I said I'd support him as far as it is possible for me to do so, but I can't support his choices because they scare me. Not that Luey is some kind of angel, but at least I can keep an eye on him.

It was good though, low key, but good.

Dave wasn't well afterwards. By the end of the night he had a very high temperature, fatigue, and thirst. I'm sure he has diabetes, but he's not interested in having himself tested. I'm not sure what it is going to take but I'm really hoping it is bad enough to force testing, and not so bad that it threatens his life.

Work finishes on Friday, and then I'm off for two weeks. I've decided to split my holidays so I can be there when Bryn starts high school. He seems very cool about it - his biggest concern right now is that he get an Android phone to use with his new smart watch (obviously not an Apple watch). Priorities, right. Bryn and Ari's presents are sorted. Luey, not so much, he had a list but then he bought one of the things on his list with his Christmas money. Oh well, we'll figure it out. I have one of Dave's presents, but haven't picked out the other. Next weekend will be busy again.

All that said, it feels like much more of a relaxed Christmas this year. Splitting it in two was a good idea. It is definitely going to be the new tradition.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Goodbye 45...

No, I'm not talking about Trump, though wouldn't that be good?

Tomorrow I turn 46. It's been a big year for me. Just recently, I've found myself too busy to update this blog. Coming into my twelfth year of blogging next January, though, I'm not ready to let go yet. Hopefully, I never will feel that way.

So, 46, hey? I'm about to be closer to 50 than 40. How on earth did that happen? Ari turns 10 next year, and Bryn went for his high school orientation day yesterday. Time is marching on. I have always said I wouldn't expect my life to begin until I'm 55. Well, that isn't so far off.

Today I'm having my first ever skin check. My cousin died from melanoma last December - he was only 37, I think. I thought it might be a good idea to get my skin looked at. Especially when work is arranging it. I'm a bit apprehensive about the outcome, but hopefully I'll get a good bill of health. I had my hearing tested a couple of months ago (again, through work), and that was 100% okay, it seems I have the sight and hearing of a bat!

If I live to be as old as my great grandmother, then I'm only half way through my life. That is a nice though, I think. Not that I'm afraid of dying, I'm not, I never have been. It would just be nice to see my boys grow up well into adulthood. It would also be cool to experience the '60s - seeing as I missed them the first time around.

So, there you have it. Time marching on and me trying to step to the beat.