Too many blessings to count

Posted February 4th, 2011 by Penny Wise

Blanket - check. Bikini - check. Sunblock - check. Laptop - check. Yep, it's another day at the office for me! Today is the most fantastic day! No special reason, just lots of little ones. Such as getting back into a proper routine for the first time in two months. My two gorgeous boys went off to school this week looking so handsome and healthy as they headed into Year 8 and 10 respectively. 'Wow - we have a son in Year 10!' Noel and I wondered at each other. 'That's getting seriously grown up!' And they are. These school holidays have been fantastic for them. They have gained a huge amount of maturity, knowledge and independence. They know their home town like the back of their hand and have many great friends. They have part time jobs, have trained to be life guards and have learned to surf. They are very lucky boys and they know it.

They are also quite well off in the pocket money department at the moment! This weekend just gone was a long weekend and the last real chance to make the most of the huge influx of holiday makers in town for a while. Garage sales are hugely popular in Whangamata but our little cul-de-sac is so quiet, it doesn't really get too many passers-by. Not to be deterred however, the boys cleaned up all the furniture that has been sitting in our garage for the last three months and with their dad's help hauled it up to one of the main roads, where they sat by the roadside advertising a new home wanted for our old lounge suite, coffee table and goodness knows what.

I didn't like their chances - I mean, I was happy to give the lounge suite away, I didn't think it was worth anything! Neither did the boys. The prospect of sitting out in the street in the hot sun all day didn't appeal to them and they also didn't think anyone would want the stuff. So Ali took it upon himself to bike down to the lady at the second hand shop and ask if she would like to come and view the goods. Who knows, perhaps she would take the lot of their hands? Little did he know that by the time he got back, Liam would have sold the whole lot! For someone so shy, Noel and I particularly liked his negotiating skills with one particular punter. When handed a $20 note for a $10 purchase, Liam told him 'Oh - I don't have any change. Why don't you take something else as well and I'll keep the $20?' Amazingly, it worked! They returned home less than an hour later wearing proud smiles and clutching $80 in cash. I couldn't believe it - someone had happily paid $50 for the lounge suite - to think I was going to give it away!

The boys and I spent their last day of freedom at the beach. The holiday makers have almost all disappeared. Town is once again bearable and the beach has been restored to its usual peaceful paradise. I know I'm biased but to me Whangamata beach is the most beautiful place on the planet and I'm not alone in thinking that. Every time I hear people suck in their breath and say 'Look at that!' or 'Where else in the world you would rather be right now?' I thank my lucky stars that we get to go there every day. That we never have to go home, because this IS home! And it's even better now I'm starting to make friends. The Lions club want me to join, two people have offered to be my running buddy and I've started a twice-weekly Zumba class. The people here are lovely - even the local police! One of which unfortunately I've got to know rather well. Just last week I was driving home from visiting my mum and just coming into Whangamata when I saw a police car coming towards me. 'Hmm, I wonder what speed I'm supposed to be doing?' I wondered, not quite sure but hitting the brakes to be on the safe side. A lot less than the speed I WAS doing as it turned out, as pointed out to me by the policeman who immediately did a U-turn and pulled me over.

'Oh heck, this is embarrassing!' I grinned sheepishly. 'I'm sorry, I was just wondering what speed I was supposed to be doing when I saw you! I thought I was in a 70km zone!' 'No Ma'am you were in a 50km zone', the constable said sternly. 'Hang on - don't I know you?' 'Yes!' I said. 'You called round the other day checking out a suspected break-in next door! I gave you our neighbour's phone number. What happened there?' 'Oh that's right!' the policeman smiled. 'It turned out OK, it was a false alarm. So - can you think of any reason why I shouldn't right you out a ticket?' he said, tapping his notebook. 'Um& I'm very sorry, I promise I won't do it again. I'm a very nice person and I did already help you the other day?' I tried hopefully. 'Yeah, you did, didn't you?' he shut his notebook and grinned. 'Alright then, you can go - but I'll be watching you!' I couldn't wait to get home and tell Noel my good fortune. 'Good grief! You were looking at around a $600 fine!' he said. That was an expense we certainly didn't need! Once again I was counting my blessings!

So No Spend Month has started for another year and I'm finding it an interesting exercise refreshing my memory on wants vs needs. I mean, us Simple Savers all do that to some degree but this month we really crank it up and already I can see what Fiona meant in this month's newsletter about how as individuals we confuse wants with needs. Things I would consider essential to me mean nothing to anyone else. Like my Zumba classes. They're a whopping $8.00 per class, which could save me $64 if I don't go for a month. A significant saving and not exactly an essential considering a) I already run for free and b) I can also do Zumba in the comfort of my own home using the DVD's. However, as far as I'm concerned getting to know people in my new town is also essential long term and could save me a lot more than $64 in things such as learning Hidden Gems and so on, so I am going to rebel on this occasion and keep it up. I also admit to having a hair cut today. I know hair cuts are technically non-essential but I'd been trying to get an appointment for weeks and could literally no longer see out so for once I consider it an essential. I figured $17 for a haircut was a small price to pay compared to crashing my car through driving with poor vision!

We're going to leave doing the $21 Challenge until the third week of February; partly so we can get fully into the swing of No Spend Month but also because this week is full on with visitors and activities (either free or paid for in January *grin*) and next week Noel is away for his annual three-day fishing extravaganza so it should be a pretty frugal week for me and the boys anyway. Liam as you may know has been gluten free for some time but Ali has also been fully gluten free since before Christmas and we're finding food shopping is much easier now they are both eating the same food and we don't have to buy or make one thing for one child and another for the other! Another blessing in disguise. Yet another blessing on the dietary front is that I lost over five kilos over the Christmas / New Year period and am back down to a size 10! Although I don't really recommend the Marital Stress Diet as a good way to lose weight; it's rather drastic but now it's off I'm determined to keep it off!

Talking of marital stress, we're trucking along OK. We're happy and why shouldn't we be? We both want the same things. We have both achieved our dream. We have the most fantastic kids, a home we love and paradise on our back doorstep. We have had no floods, cyclones or earthquakes to endure. We have so many blessings to count! We feel, and indeed are very, very fortunate. Just as long as we don't mention the elephant in the corner!

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