Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Being super smart

This is a good story. It is also a sponsored post. 
A sponsored post that is not selling you anything, just reminding you to get your affairs in order. Is also talks about cheese. And sheep poo.

My first ever real paying job was at the Meredith Sheep Dairy. You may have eaten the cheese or other dairy delights that they make. When they first started things were run on a much smaller scale, the husband and wife team who owned the business did pretty much everything for the whole business. Sheep were milked twice a day and it was my job to input into the database how much milk each sheepie baa produced each day.  I would be given scrap bits of paper covered in baa poo and spilt milk and sit at the database (this was 1990, no excel was being used) and put in the information. I did this for the school summer holidays.

Easy work, paid well and I thought I was the richest 15 year old that ever walked this earth.

I had money to burn and my wardrobe finally took a turn for the better. I headed straight to Portmans and Sportsgirl and spent the lot.

Fast forward about seven years and I had my first real job out of uni. A graduate position with a finance company and I was so excited. I was thrilled to have landed this job.

That excitement lasted about 4.2 hours.

I was placed with 15 other grads in the superannuation department.

OMFG – the most boring place in the universe.

We had to clock on and off, I felt like Fred Flintstone when the dinosaur bites his card.

The work was filled with people, even worse – old people, like the type that went to over 28 nights – calling and asking how much they should be putting in to super, or could they have information on rollovers and product classes. Which funds were making the best returns and why the heck was the one they were in not making decent cashola?

I had to learn fast about employer contributions and personal ones, about preserved, restricted and tax free components. Yawn.

I got out of that job and into the marketing department as fast as my Bobby Magee* legs could carry me. Phew, I had escaped the clutches of superannuation forever.

Except that Super just keeps hanging around doesn’t it.

Every six months you get that letter to tell you how much you don’t have in super. 

You get letters from the lost super office asking you to call them. I did this twice last year, the first account had a grand total of $5.45 in it and the second one had a whopping $0.05 – clearly the interest from an old closed account!

But I am lucky, I understand superannuation reasonably well and I worked for finance companies that paid higher super than many others and also matched employee contributions if you added more yourself, then ten years after I left the Meredith baa poo shed behind I was tracked down with more lost super, a substantial amount for the little work I had done, which will be compounding away for fifty years in total.

I have also been a tad stupid and while travelling overseas, when my funds got low I rang and took all my unrestricted and non-preserved money out of my account.  Silly, but too late to change it, and hey, I did a have a great time.

I was also really pleased when the Super laws were changed so that I could choose the super fund I wanted to be in. I selected Australian Super and have always been happy with them, now that I am working for a health provider I don’t get the choice and I found this really annoying. Staying with the one super fund no matter who you work for makes things so much easier. I am no longer with Australian Super simply because I don't get the choice.

But the hardest parts of Superannuation are:

1) Making the decision to sacrifice money now to benefit you later


2) Knowing how much you are going to need when you do retire.

Australian Super have a very simple tool designed to let you see how you are tracking. 

It is free to use the Australian Super ‘Super Health Check

Just four easy steps and it will suggest to you how you are travelling along for retirement. 

What you choose to do with that information is up to you. My advice is to remember the magic of compound interest and if time is on your side then adding a few dollars just by giving up a coffee a week, a magazine (or a jar of Meredith Dairy marinated fetta) will make an enormous difference.

It has always annoyed me that men tend to have so much more superannuation than women. It annoys me that while you are on maternity leave your super contributions stop and if you work part time after having children, well your super suffers again. There isn’t much I can suggest for this, but look out for government schemes that reward low income earners for making contributions. When I was on maternity leave with both the girls we managed to put in $1000 to my super account, this was matched by the government (because I was in the ‘broke as a church mouse’ demographic) which allowed $2000 to go into my super, which while isn’t heaps, it will be invested for 30 years. Doing that for both girls is $4000, and using a compound interest calculator with, at a rate of 5% for 30 years, that will turn into just under $18,000.

Australian Super have been keeping up the stats from the Super Health Checks and it seems that only 52% of woman even know how much super they have.

Don’t let superannuation be in the too hard basket, the pile of papers that you never get around to.

Add: do a ‘Super Health Check” to your to do list today. 

How super is your super?

* Only Melbourne people of a certain age will understand this comment (think two for one pints of vodkas people, but only from 5 – 9 pm on Thursday)

Monday, February 18, 2013

The Truth about Ironing

I have seen many a facebook comment or photo indicating that little Sammy just asked Mum what she was doing, so long has it been since the iron saw the light of day in the house.

There are women everywhere trying to fold things fast and properly to prevent having to iron them, we pick school uniforms that require as little (or no ironing) when possible.

I am guilty of all this. I hate ironing.

But the truth is, I love it when everything is ironed.

There is no way you can get little girls frilly dresses to look as fabulous without an iron touching them.

There is no chance I can wear a business shirt un-ironed.

Mr H would never turn up for work without ironing his clothes.

I really love my pillow cases ironed before they go on the bed.

Until recently my Mum used to pay for the sheets on her beds to be ironed. Ironed sheets are good I tell you. There is no off the line straight in to a fold position that can beat ironed fresh sheets.

There is also the messy drawer situation. Mine are hideous, I shove things in when in a hurry and pull them out and with it the remainder of the drawer falls out too. I know if everything in there was ironed it would fit better, sit in the drawer better and feel better when I put it on.

There is the packing a bag issue too - ironed clothes allow for more things to fit in the bag. It's a fact.

Yet I continue to have a basket of clothing that never gets ironed, eventually an item might get ironed before someone needs to wear it. I call this Emergency Ironing, it's done as a last resort and it is very poor time management on my behalf. I have even known a parent to consider ironing an outfit while the child was still in it (don't do this).

So the truth about ironing is, while many boast of how they live their lives ironing free, I wish I could find the time to do more....

Am I mad? Does anyone else prefer things flat, smooth and wrinkle free? 

Friday, February 15, 2013

Out on the town

Wednesday night was parent - teacher interview night for us and we learnt from last year that this means PARENTS AND TEACHERS  - not kids, last year the girls had to entertain themselves running up and down the hallway, quietly of course.

This year we got Nana to come and have a sleep over.

With Nana in town we also took the chance to go out for dinner sans kids for the first time in a gazillion years. We had no destination booked and no exact plans.

Then we both remembered the restaurant that we drive past nearly every day and say one day we should go there.

It was fancy inside, one of those places that pride themselves on being all things red meat.

It could have been called Feed the Man Meat cafe. Which is good as that would be Mr H's dream restaurant.

So we ordered our preferred meals and the waitress asked Mr H which of the sauces he would like to accompany his meat, she also said the meals come with chips and salad or baked spud and veggies. He mixed it up and had spuds and salad, as did I to go with my salmon fillet.

Food was glorious. There were no children in the whole restaurant. We had free babysitting.

Then the bill came and we had a little laugh.

The pepper gravy on the steak - that is an extra $5, the salad side dish of lettuce garnish, another $7...we stopped looking, laughed and paid, but basically Mr H had steak and salad for the bargain price of $67.00!

We finished the night at another restaurant along the river near us. They had a dessert menu...and the cheesecake is history.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Four for the month: Found around the online spider webs

Sometimes it is just fun to share things I have clicked on during the wee hours of the morning.

Number 1:

Selling your house? Is it a great place - then tell the world, don't leave it to traditional sales avenues, if you live there and you love it then you know what people need to hear. Which is exactly what this family is doing and doing it so well that this place is now on my dream house list.

Number 2:

For when you need a dose of funny to cheer yourself up, head to UberHumor they can't spell humour but they do post a lot of images that will turn that frown upside down.

Number 3:

When you can't find what you want and you are not even sure exactly what you do want, etsy is likely to have the answer.

This week I wanted a new diary to carry around so I can stop double booking myself and stop missing appointments and losing very important bits of paper (like referrals to doctors and cheques received in the mail...opps)

So coming from Germany is this little number. I don't speak or read German but hopefully it wont matter.

Number 4:

The bloopers at the end of a movie are fun, animated stupid that I love them

Can you share anything interesting you have found lately?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Is Chitty Chitty Bang Bang appropriate for kids? A Review

I actually don't remember the movie of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang from when I first watched it. I know I did watch it because I can remember the car and the song - the song that is an ear worm for me right now.

They never keep still for a photo together.

Today I surprised Popps by letting her take the day off school and come along with Immy and me as media guests to see the production at Her Majesty's Theatre in Melbourne

I was expecting good things from other reviews I had read but I was unprepared for how the kids might be.

Popps (who is now 7) was thrilled with every moment. There were many one liner comments that she clearly didn't get but it made no difference, to her it was light hearted, filled with surprises, the dancing and singing was so enthralling that all she has talked about since is how does she get to be one of the kids on stage. The darker moments didn't bother her as they have in previous films or productions and she could have easily watched more, she has already asked if there is any chance we could go back again.

The haircutting machine, another funny moment, Popps thought was hilarious.

Immy (who is now 4) enjoyed the show but struggled a bit with the length of time. What I loved watching from Immy was how she tried to analyse how the show was all happening. At one stage the eccentric inventor father, Mr Potts, is singing a lullaby to his children (Jemima and Jeremy) when Immy screamed out "I can see the moon, I can see the moon, is it really night time now?" I whispered that the moon was pretend. "Oh" she says "did they make it from paper?"  When the cast sang a ballad and looked out to the ceiling in the crowd she kept looking back there to see just what they were looking at, and who were they singing to. "Can they hear me?" she asked "Are they real?"

I am not going to go on about what happens in the story, you can find that anywhere but I will tell you that the show is filled with lots of surprises, from the bangs and fire when the car is presented to the way that Chitty Chitty Bang Bang flies in certain scenes but also with snippets of humour thrown here, there and everywhere. Small moments but excellent just the same - the drive to the beach for a picnic is one of these moments to look out for.

Here kiddie widdie winkies...

Personally I really enjoyed the character of the Kid Catcher. In Vulgaria (where the 'c' word is not to be used)*  the kid catcher is a villain that had some of the small children watching lean in or on to the lap of the closest adult, but it is a small part and not a scene that was overly distressing.

For parents concerned about adult themes, this production is perfectly fine, there is one moment of kissing when Mr Potts and Ms Scrumptious decide to get married and there is the implied threat of violence when Grandpa might be turned into a sausage and when the children are taken away in the kid catchers wagon but none of these scenes is shown aggressively or inappropriately on stage.

The theatre supply cushions for the kids which fit nicely into their chairs to sit them up higher, Immy needed two and Popps was happy with one, these were very useful.

The theatre is just at the top of China Town, if you get there like we did with time to spare, walk down Little Bourke Street about 30 metres and there is a food hall (on the left) filled with Asian foods that are cheap, quick and easy for you and the kids, otherwise there is a cafe in the theatre with a basic range of items.  I also packed snacks for the show, it is a long performance so I do suggest packing your kids a snack box of some kind (or expect the usual high prices for food at such an event). There is an intermission for a quick toilet stop and stretching of legs.

In summary, I give Chitty Chitty Bang Bang a big high five and suggest if your children haven't made it to a production before, this could be a great one to start with, especially for children aged 5 and over, though younger will enjoy it if they are happy to sit there for that long.

*c is for children of course

Other than the image of my daughters all other images are from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Monday, February 11, 2013

The dirt on the rainbow - it happens.

The other night I was scrolling through facebook when I saw that one of my fave kids clothes shops was advertising a new range of clothing. One little dress really took my fancy but I had also spent the night folding washing (surprise!) and telling myself that Immy in particular has way too many dresses and that I should be buying myself some clothes before anyone in the house gets one more item.

Then I typed a quick comment saying 'please hold a dress for me, I will pick it up tomorrow'.

Foolish lady I am. I know. I can't help it.

I tweeted into the empty night asking if other Mums were so stupid to spend all their spare cash on kids (un-needed) clothes rather than themselves.

And guess what - there are heaps of us!

Kids clothes are cheaper, kids clothes are cuter, kids clothes tend to fit perfectly, if you need size 4 and buy online, it is going to fit. Not so much for Mums whose bodies are changing a bit, lumpier or bumpier than at other times. Dragging kids into change rooms is no fun, it's easier to just buy for little people.

So off I went and bought the gorgeous rainbow dress. Immy loved it and wore it all day long.

I also bought Popps some different coloured ink pads for this great book she got for Christmas where you use thumb prints to do all the images. I must admit, I really like the book and have spent some time printing my thumbs on a few pages. So rather than waiting til school finished we unwrapped the ink pads and had a play with them until Immy said enough.

Two hours later and I see that the new rainbow dress is ruined, she has been sitting on the ink pad! And then she sat on the floor where she added some ink and then, just for fun she watched TV and now the white leather couch has hot pink smears all over it. I scrubbed so much the leather was starting to peel away, but no luck, that pink is there for awhile.

I now have a rainbow dress with ink on it, and after I sprayed it and put it in the laundry sink the ink spread to the other side of the dress where it was touching. I have a huge pink mark on my white leather couch and I still have no new clothes for myself.

So the moral of this story is to stop buying the girls anything at all and to use the money for a new couch.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Do we know each other?

Totally random photo of Immy dancing all the way to school pick up.

Last week someone asked Mr H if his wife was a blogger. As he is a silent partner in this blogging thing and terrified of social media he was a bit caught out. But they had recognised him in a post.

We had a conversation where he asked me "Who actually reads your blog?'

My answer is simple. "I don't really know".

This is what I do know - I know there are just under 500 of you that get me in an email or your reader, and that you hardly ever click out of those emails to come and comment - you send me emails (which I love) or text me, you send me messages on Instagram and on facebook and if you are a blogger we have likely chatted on twitter.

But I don't really know much about you all. If this was a work project and I didn't have any idea of my target audience I would be pretty annoyed, but I guess as this is a selfish pursuit, where I get to write what, when and how I like, when it comes to readers I love anyone to read!

I love visiting other bloggers too - though I have been rather slack of late, I am getting back in to things and catching up all over the place.

So this weekend, I would love to know who is reading, who are you out there? Where are you from, how did you find me, do we cross paths in real life? What's the weather like where you are, I hope it is sunny! If you are a blogger please leave me a link to your blog so that I can come and say hello too.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Are you a picker?

Do you watch late night television. I must admit to often being sucked in to the trash that fills the box late in the evening. In recent months there have been shows all about "Pickers". I love the word 'pickers'. At first, I think of nose pickers. Or garbage pickers. Pickers sounds foul.

But pickers are the people that pick the junk and see value. They could also be considered finders of vintage, searches of antiques, designers, recyclers or artists.

They search through trash and find the treasure that other people want.

I recently found my own little bits of treasure, I am not really sure exactly how they will end up yet, but I knew they couldn't just be added to the wood heap.

I have scrubbed the dirt, the bugs, the cobwebs and probably a few memories off these drawers and I am considering putting them up on my walls as a shelf type thingie.

They are the only thing I took from a shed full of stuff that had been hiding away for some time.

The drawers were built in the late 1800s, the one with the compartments was actually the till draw of a pub. The counter is still inside Mum's house with some minor alterations. People were clearly 'pickers' back then too, with wood scarce or expensive or whatever, they have used old packing cases to make these drawers, the print is still on the sections of wood.

The kids spent hours together playing shops and making cafes. The trash really was their treasure, they were disappointed to see it get packed up and thrown away.

Some people love modern, others love anything old, I am a bit of a mix, loving clean lines of new things but old things just tell so many stories and are so much more interesting.

Note the old meat keeper above, it was found in the underground pantry behind the maids quarters.

Are you a picker of any kind? What would you do with these old drawers?

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Awards are good. People are better.

On Australia Day, people all over Australia were provided with awards.

There is a lot of work,  filling in nomination forms, reading of forms and judging panels that goes into such things. Some people filled in those forms, others made the decisions and the week of Australia Day we were informed that my Dad was to receive a Citizen of the Year Award.

I don't know what he would have thought about this.

I expect he would have been really embarrassed and if he had known about the nomination he would have politely requested it be withdrawn. Way too modest to accept such a thing when there are so many wonderful people in the world.

But he wasn't around to say what he thought and instead, as a family, we very proudly accepted the award for him.

These things are funny though aren't they? Good to have because it shows other people thought great things about the person you thought was so great. But annoying too, annoying because you don't want the frigging award on the wall to remember him by.

You just want him here.

That's all.