Old and new habits

Posted February 12th, 2006 by Penny Wise

Here we are, mid way through February and I haven't even told you what my 'habit changer' on my calendar is for this month. Probably because I'm too embarrassed to admit I'm still working on the same one - is it alright to carry the same habit over, do you think? I was supposed to be giving up the grog, but I kept making excuses - 'it's a long weekend', 'today was SUCH a busy day' and so on. However, I'm happy to say that this month is much, MUCH better, as I have found something that is really working - crossword puzzles! Instead of a bottle of wine, I have been treating myself to a copy of That's Life and Woman's Day magazine each week. While I consider magazines to be an unnecessary luxury as a rule, they still work out much cheaper than a bottle of wine and they are serving a valuable purpose! Now after dinner, instead of pouring myself a glass of wine, I sit and do some puzzles. It is very important that I do these, because if I don't complete them and send them in before the deadline, I have no chance of winning the competitions and I feel like I have wasted my magazine purchase. Doing the puzzles keeps my mind occupied and is a great way to unwind. I have found doing these means I don't even think about drinking as I am too busy! So, while my magazines may cost up to $10 a week, I am still saving $40 a week on wine. My reward is being able to enjoy reading the rest of the magazine in the bath!

An unexpected bonus of keeping busy at night is that I am much more organised. Instead of flapping around every morning making school lunches and so on, I make these at night and keep them in the fridge, so school mornings are much less stressful. I am even saving on water and power! Usually when I fill up the dishwasher after dinner, there are still enough dishes left to do another load. I used to leave them until the dishwasher had finished and then load them up again (which was a really bad idea, because sometimes the cycle wouldn't finish until after I had gone to bed, meaning as well as having to make lunches when I got up in the morning, I would first have to clear the bench of dirty dishes!) Not any more! Now I load up the dishwasher as usual, but instead of leaving left over dishes for the next load, I keep a dish rack on the bench and simply wash them by hand and leave them to drain. I even keep up with the ironing better, as I stand and do it in front of the TV at night, instead of just sitting in front of the TV with a drink. It's so much nicer to go to bed at night and feel like everything is done! All that, just as a result of ditching wine!

I was particularly proud of myself for not drinking last week, when Noel was away in a week-long game fishing competition. I don't cope with being on my own at night very well; in fact I become totally paranoid. When I am finally brave enough to turn the lights out and go to bed, I have both the home phone and the mobile phone under my pillow. Noel's large hunting knife is within easy reach under the bed, with a large heavy torch beside it. On the bedside table is an empty wine bottle (not a good look I know, but highly necessary for clonking intruders over the head if needed) and a can of hairspray (to spray in their eyes if need be). I have even been known to push tables in front of the doors so nobody can open them before now! Usually I have to have a fair few glasses of wine to help me get to sleep when Noel is away but I am proud to admit I got through the whole week without doing so. Mind you, I still ended up being totally sleep deprived as the kids wanted to come and sleep in my room, so I was forced to endure night after night of being snored at, kicked, elbowed, freezing from having the blankets constantly dragged off me and generally pushed out of bed. All in all, it was enough to drive anyone to drink, but it was still better than being on my own!

I found it to be a very frugal week with Noel being away. I didn't need to make any trips to the shops because we didn't run out of anything the way we usually do (which just goes to show how much bread and milk he consumes!) and I only needed to do ONE load of washing all week! He may be expensive to maintain, but I did miss him terribly, which is probably why for once I intend to surprise him for Valentine's Day tomorrow and have been picking up some great ideas from the Vault.

Noel and I may well qualify for the World's Most Unromantic couple. It's not that we love each other any less, or are any less thoughtful towards one another - we're just totally unromantic and have no problem admitting it. When we got engaged, I pointedly hinted that I would like a ring for Christmas. Noel waited until Christmas Eve to drag me out to a jeweller, because he couldn't think of anything else to get me. When I found a ring I liked, the man behind the counter smiled 'Now, which finger is it going on?' at which Noel replied 'Oh yeah, you might as well put it on that one I suppose, it'll save me buying another one later!' The marriage proposal was much the same. “Hmm, I suppose we had better get married before we climb too far up the farming ladder and get too busy”. Such was my proposal! The two of us can never believe it when we go to weddings and find the bride and groom and everyone else in floods of emotional tears - we spent our whole wedding ceremony laughing! As we stood in front of the church altar back in 1994, I remember commenting that Noel's fingernails were very clean (he was farming at the time). “Yes”, he said proudly, “my Mum gave me a manicure - she did my toenails too!” I couldn't help thinking at the time 'Here we stand before the face of God, our lives are about to change forever and we are talking about my new husband's toenails'.

Tomorrow will be our 15th Valentine's Day together and I haven't received anything since 1992. We both went all out the first year; the second year Noel came home and said 'Here you go, I was going to buy you some roses but they were too bloody expensive so you can have some carnations instead'. Not that I'm any better, which is why this year I want to surprise him! Remember the glow in the dark stars I recently gained from swapping bedrooms with the kids? I just read a new hint by Tamara Hamann, which suggests buying a pack of glow stars, which cost just a few dollars and sticking them on the ceiling to read 'I love you' or whatever. So when the lights go out, your special message is revealed! I thought that was really romantic and costs next to nothing, so will be giving that one a go tomorrow, but I still have plenty more tricks up my sleeve yet thanks to the Vault. My unromantic hubby won't know what's hit him!

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