Well I guess we have a little catching up to do! I've been officially on my own for over a month now and what a month it's been. Some days I feel I can take on the world and others I just want to run away from it. Take my first night on my own. I came home to find the house in darkness - oh no, a fuse must have blown, why now? There was no way I was going to call out an electrician after 9pm on a Sunday but I didn't know what on earth to do! Blind leading the blind (quite literally as it was very dark), Ali and I hunted around until we found what I thought was the fuse box. By chance I flicked some random switch and there was light! High five! Maybe I could do this after all!
My spirits were still high the next morning when I went to cook the boys breakfast and came up with a cunning plan. I had some bacon which needed using up but Liam will NOT eat bacon unless it's of the hideously expensive thin, streaky kind. Mine was of the cheapest possible fat and watery kind. So I got a pair of sharp scissors, cut each rasher into three strips and sizzled them up in the pan. They turned out a treat, Liam couldn't tell the difference and wolfed down the lot!
Day 3 however was not so great. Ali had an appointment with the orthodontist an hour and a half away so I thought I had better take the dogs for an early morning walk. There I was, lost in my own little world on the beach when I turned around and saw Minnie the spaniel chomping her way through a poisonous puffer fish. In a mad panic I rang the vet who said to bring her in straight away so he could induce vomiting. 'This will only take a few minutes', he said confidently. Half an hour later we were still standing there like a couple of idiots over a very bemused dog who had no intention of throwing up whatsoever. In desperation I had no choice but to leave Minnie with the vet so I could get Ali to his orthodontist appointment in time.
The orthodontist clinic was so cool! Boy have times changed. How many dentists have you been to that have an Xbox in their waiting room? Ali could even choose the flavour of his dentist's rubber gloves! It was all very pleasant as he sat in the dentist's chair, watching surfing video's on the TV above his head as the orthodontist prodded around and took x-rays. Until he presented us with the verdict - braces needed top and bottom for two years, cost $6,000. Poor Ali was a mess; not because he needed to have braces but because he felt so dreadfully guilty about the cost. 'I'm sorry Mum, I'm sorry', he kept saying woefully. 'It's OK, you don't have to pay it all now', the orthodontist said brightly. 'We can pay it off over time. All you need is a deposit of $2,000 on the day, then you can pay the rest off'. The braces are due to be fitted next week and I still have no idea where I'm going to get that $2,000 from but we don't really have too much of a choice. It's all there in black and white - if Ali doesn't get his braces and soon he's going to wind up looking like Shane McGowan from The Pogues!
I tried to remain upbeat for Ali's sake on the journey home but we still had one more job to do and that was buy him new rugby boots for training the next day. While it was an expense I'd rather not have, I was confident we could pick up a bargain pair from last season's stock. Unfortunately it wasn't to be. Try as he might to squeeze his size 9 feet into the cheaper pairs, it was obvious the poor kid wasn't going to be running anywhere in them. Eventually he found a pair which fitted perfectly - but they were new season and $150. 'I'm so sorry Mum!' he said once again, looking at me with big, sad eyes. 'It's OK', I sighed, 'You need boots'. 'Can I help?' came the friendly voice of the shop owner. 'We need new rugby boots, but we don't have a huge budget', I told him. He also went through all the bargain boots for us but had to agree, there was nothing. He checked out the boots Ali was wearing and agreed how well they fitted - but also how much more expensive they were. 'Hmm, let's see if we can do you a bit of a deal', he smiled at Ali. Ali and I looked at each other - well even $10 off would be better than nothing! 'How does $90 sound?' Ali almost fell over and as for me, I almost burst into tears right there in the shop. $60 off! That meant Ali's brand spanking new boots were only $10 more expensive than last season's old ones! I couldn't thank him enough. I will always, always be grateful and in return he has two loyal customers for life.
Feeling full of the joys of human kindness, Ali and I went to pick up the now recovered Minnie from her doggy daycare and $88 later we finally returned home. I'm pleased to say there have been no more expensive days like that since! In fact, in the last five and a half weeks I have only been to the supermarket twice so I think I'm managing pretty well. It probably helps that I absolutely loathe supermarket shopping so race around as fast as is humanly possible but I attribute it more greatly to the fact I can make a meal out of absolutely nothing. Whoever thought the $21 Challenge book would be helping ME out in such a big way! How ironic!
The boys and I are proving to be a good team. Obviously it's a tough time for them but they still see their dad a lot. Liam doesn't say much but will often come and give me a hug for no particular reason and sit with his big shaggy head on my shoulder as I write. Although I have had to give up one of the benefits of being single and buy a decent razor after he begged me to shave my legs. 'For heavens sake Mum, you still have to look after yourself!' he chided. He's right of course - but for a couple of weeks I really didn't look after myself too well and lost 4kg in a week. I guess it was one way to get rid of the stubborn post-Christmas bulge I was trying to shift but it was a bit of a drastic diet, I don't recommend it! Still, am back on track now, baking up a storm and I've been told my dinners have got MUCH better. Although I still haven't had the heart to tell Liam when he poked his head down the stairs the other night and said 'Yum, dinner smells good!' that it wasn't his dinner cooking at all, it was the cat's jellymeat he was drooling over!