Where do you want me to start? What a week we're having again! First I took Dudley to the vet on Monday. He had been limping badly with a sore, infected foot but he had had to wait days for them to fit him in with an appointment. At last the day arrived and I bundled the kids and the dog into the car and drove into the vets - to find there was nobody there, the vets had all been called out to emergencies and the receptionist had forgotten to let any of the clients know. She promised faithfully we could come back the next day and there would be somebody there, so the following afternoon we turned up and waited almost an hour in the overwhelming heat for the vet to turn up. By the time we did get Dudley seen, it turned out that his nailbed had indeed had a nasty infection but due to the lengthy wait of almost two weeks to get an appointment, it had cleared itself up and there was nothing they could do. What a waste of time and money! By the way, poor Duds is still as blind as a bat but we have agreed with the vet that all the time he is happy and pain-free, he'll be sticking around, bless him. The following day, Noel received his first speeding ticket ever in the mail, nabbed on his recent trip to Gisborne. While this did result in an $80 fine, the mileage I got out of ribbing him mercilessly about it was worth every cent. Unfortunately it was only a few hours before I went and outdid him well and truly in the stupidity stakes. It's no secret that I'm a huge rugby fan, but as far as cricket is concerned I would rather watch paint dry. Unfortunately Noel is just as fanatical about cricket as he is the rugby, so seeing as he was glued to the box watching NZ play Australia the other night, I felt it was an ideal opportunity to catch up on some work. Seeing as it was also around 10pm I thought I would pour myself a wee glass of red wine to sip delicately as I went about my work. Unfortunately I had barely taken a mouthful of the aforementioned before I inadvertently knocked the entire glass of Shiraz over my laptop. Which, not surprisingly died instantly. Needless to say, the panic which ensued was enormous and the language wasn't too flash either. Typical isn't it - the kids have never been allowed to keep drinks near the computer and then what does their mum go and do?
I mopped up as best I could and first thing the next morning leapt out of bed to check on my poor laptop. Only a small flicker of life was present so I packed it up ready to take to my local technical gurus for emergency surgery. I was running late but all I had to do was make the kids' sandwiches and drop them off to school. Now, where was that packet of ham I bought yesterday? It wasn't in the fridge where I expected and I thought I was going mad, until I found it - still on the kitchen bench from the day before, hidden under a pack of AA batteries. It had never even made it to the fridge. After being left out for a stinking hot day and night I knew there was no way I could put that ham in the boys' sandwiches but it was all I had. As far as Liam is concerned, there are only two varieties of sandwiches that he will eat - ham and cheese and Marmite and cheese. The supermarket had run out of Marmite and now I had stuffed up the ham option. Ali, who will eat absolutely anything, did his best to be helpful. 'It's OK Mum, I can have lettuce, cheese and mayonnaise and Liam can have - chippie sandwiches!' On seeing my expression he explained 'Honest, chippie sandwiches are fine, Mum - Corey has them all the time!' Well if they're good enough for Corey, they're good enough for us, I decided. 'Well done Ali! Excellent Simple Savings!' I patted him on the back. At least potato chips were one thing we had plenty of but before I could dive back into the pantry, Liam announced loudly 'I DON'T WANT CHIPPIE SANDWICHES'. Turns out he didn't think that was a healthy option and I couldn't really blame him for that. Time was running out so I shuffled them out the door with a promise to grab them something nice for lunch in town while I was dropping the laptop off and would personally deliver to them at school when lunchtime came around. Three hours later I duly arrived at the school gates with two bags of McDonald's. Excellent saving strategy Penny, you plonker. Not that the kids seemed to mind - the boys were soon surrounded by hangers-on all vowing to be their bestest friend in exchange for just one chip. Funnily enough, Liam didn't seem to mind not being given a healthy option on this occasion either. Thank goodness the kids were too busy yesterday to mention to their dad that silly old Mum had wasted a week's worth of ham and brought them McDonald's for lunch, he would have thought I had finally gone bonkers!
Regarding the laptop, I'm still waiting for the verdict. 'You don't have much luck with your computers, do you?' laughed Greg the owner. I hastened to remind him that in the past the only problems my computers had encountered were being struck by lightning twice, which was hardly my fault. This didn't stop his young assistant Luke from falling about laughing however. 'That's so funny! I mean - it's bad, but it's so funny!' Yeah, well I never did do anything by halves but I did feel ever so slightly better when Greg told me it still wasn't as bad as the call he got to repair a laptop which had fallen into the water when its owner was using it in the bath. He then went on to describe how their entire workroom had been engulfed in waves of Banrock Station when they took my laptop apart and that Jeremy his chief tehcnician would probably have to be signed off with a monster hangover for at least three days. I returned home to find that Liam's beloved dog Hubble, who has never harmed a thing in his life, had sunk his teeth into the new neighbour's leg. 'I knew he was mean, look at his teeth!' the poor man glared indignantly. 'They're always like that, he's got an overshot jaw!' I defended Hubble. Not the most auspicious start but at least he didn't rip his trousers or I'm sure I'd be looking at another expense.
It's not all bad though. When paying the bills a few days ago I was pleasantly surprised to find we still had some money in the bank. Things have been so topsy-turvy lately that I was almost scared to look, convinced that there would be nothing left. Whatever we're spending it on, it's certainly not on food. Noel's garden has grown so tall and dense that I almost need a map to navigate it. We still have zucchini coming out of our ears, along with tomatoes and cucumbers and cooking dinner is a no-brainer these days, we just use whatever we have harvested that day and find something to go with it. I honestly can't believe how much money growing our own food is saving us and now we finally have some eggs too! Maxine's chickens have settled in well in their new home and Big Girl is in her element that now she gets to plonk herself happily on everyone else's eggs as well as her own. I was interested to see a new hint entitled Lush green lawns with nature's help as we have also recently discovered the exact same thing! I also managed to score some free professional swimming tuition for Liam too! One of the things I have learned most about saving money is that if you don't ask, you don't get. Liam could basically swim, but not terribly well. I was resigned to having to sign him up for a semester or more of expensive swimming lessons, but being a shy wee chap I thought he would benefit more from one-on-one tuition than to join a swimming club. So I asked the local swimming club tutor if he could recommend someone that would just be able to give Liam some pointers to sharpen up his technique and he immediately asked me to point him out in the pool. Four laps of the pool later Liam was swimming beautifully - you had to see the difference to believe it - and it didn't cost me a cent!
Last night's news was interesting. As well as describing how the new sustainable Department of Conservation building will now be able to save itself as much as $38,000 a year, it also mentioned how NZ was looking at following in Australia's footsteps in that it will soon become compulsory for all lightbulbs to be the energy saving variety. Good on 'em! Apparently the number of people currently using these bulbs have already reduced our carbon dioxide emissions by between 60,000 and 70,000 tonnes a year, so imagine the difference it could make if the entire country was to change over! The biggest news story at the moment however is of the earthquakes which shook Auckland last night - the strongest felt in the city in 32 years. Made me very glad to live in the Waikato I can tell you! Although I wonder if any of the insurance companies would believe me if I told them my laptop fell off my desk during the tremors? It would certainly be less embarrassing than telling the truth. Now there's a thought.... I'm joking....honest!