Sunday, 22 September 2013

The nearly finished reno.

Nearly kitchen.  No running water is cramping my style. 
I nearly have a new house.  Downstairs anyway.

Nearly lounge.  The couch is here, just not assembled.  
I have a nearly kitchen, a nearly bathroom and a nearly lounge room.  A nearly rumpus and a nearly laundry.  So close, we can almost move in, but not quite.

This week is one of touching up paint, carpet laying and a bit of Caesarstone.  And finally, a plumber to give me running water and a gas stovetop.

I have lovingly cleaned the stovetop but it remains inoperable.

We have given the ovens a trial run and cooked pizza in them for some friends last night.

We are seriously contemplating cowhide barstools.  They are so soft and cowy.

I am beside myself.  Mike is too, but not so much about the cows.

Front door with awesome 'mud cupboard' to the right.  

I can't wait to stop cooking in a kitchen with 1 square foot of chopping space, with light so dim I keep mistaking my finger for a chorizo sausage.

It's got light and benchspace, but no running water as yet.  
I can't wait to throw out all the crap old furniture.

We even have a new (unassembled lounge).  So close and yet so far. 
I will miss the views from the top floor which we won't see for 3-4 months.  They are sparkly at night.

I have very little to complain about.

Nearly bathroom. 
BTW it's school holidays.  Fun? I think so.  We are planning for beach, horseriding, Luna Park, cricket camp and even the Opera House for some kultcha.

What do you think of cowhide barstools?  Be honest, and brutal.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Education is a two way street aka My moment in the spotlight.

Empty classroom.  Scary.  Not as scary as full. 
So I did it.  I went into the class and talked about following your dreams, never giving up, and not feeling like you have to do the same thing forever.  

I told them about a few famous entrepreneurs.  Not that I'm suggesting they all become one, but because entrepreneurs have a lot of interesting stories about determination and persistence and triumph.

I told them it's OK to fail.

I told them how I began to write for a living at 35 and I didn't want ANY of them to wait so long to do what they love.

Then I taught them to play Name That Beer.   See point 6 for more details, it's not as bad as you might think.

I hope they learned something, took away a new idea or perspective.  I know I learned lots from them.

Education runs both ways you know.

1. They are all whip smart.  Some of them are book smart, some of them are street smart.  Some are both.  They are not to be underestimated or condescended to.

2. Don't let smallness and cuteness fool you.  Some of the cutest ones ask the curliest questions.

3. They are polite.  I've been to so many awards nights and events where people (and I've done it too), just talk through the speaker.  These kids sat up and listened.  Sure they got a bit excited now and then but they were far better behaved than I was at the rugby end of season dinner.

4. They put their hand up to talk or answer.  BEST INVENTION EVER!  So you know who wants to say something, and you can remember who said something so you pick someone else the next time.  I also assume as a teacher, you'd work out who never did and try and work on their confidence.  (Cause I'm such an expert now after 35 minutes).

Speaking of 35 minutes...

5.  Time went really fast.  I was terrified of having to talk for half an hour.  Turns out I didn't get to do my last bit on how to blog because we were so busy talking about other stuff.
Actually there wasn't a blackboard.  There was a white board and a smart board.  

6.  Name that beer is an excellent game for people of all ages.  Here's how you play it.

Brainstorm (preferably with 28 kids) about 10-15 colours and 10-15 animals.  Then get everyone to put one colour and one animal together.  Because of the beauty of individuality, no-one will have the same result (or very rarely).  Voila, you have now named the coolest new beer.  Or soft drink, or whatever.  Soon the kids were making up names and then deciding what business they'd like to have with that name.

By the end we had:

Pink Pig Productions (movie studio)
Black Wolf (clothing for extreme sports)
Purple Panda (soft furnishings shop)
Blue Tiger (construction company)

That's all I can remember but there were many more.  And the more they thought of, the more they thought of.  It was amazing.  Did I say that already?

7.  Sarah's teacher is awesome.  He is dedicated, personable, he clearly prefers them to love him not fear him, but he kept them firmly in line when they got a bit jumpy.  He has the cutest nicknames for every one of them.

8. Just half an hour gave me a new respect for teachers and a clearer understanding of why they do what they do.  Who wouldn't want to take these awesome little people and teach them stuff: help them when they got stuck, give them tools to get along with the world and each other.

9. Doing it full time would be absolutely exhausting.  I enjoyed my 35 minutes but I'm not tempted by teaching as a career.  Hell, I just became a copywriter!

10.  I may speak publicly again if the opportunity arises.  I am not as afraid as I was.  Thanks kids for being kind to me.  

Images courtesy of freedigitalphotos zirconicusso and criminalatt

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

My public speaking debut. Hope the crowd is friendly.

This is me.  Tomorrow.  I'm scared. 

Tomorrow I have to face a class full of 9 and 10 year olds and give a presentation.

It's the one where you go in and tell them what you do for a job.  Which is easy if you have a proper one.

One Mum went and talked about tax.  I wish I'd been there, because I could have learned something.

One Mum went and talked about making silver jewellery.  I wish I'd been there too, I love silver jewellery.

So it's quite eclectic.  Luckily for me because I don't really have a subject.  Or a job.  Well, not like a fireman or a doctor or a teacher sort of job.

(BTW in my opinion there should be more firemen. There aren't enough fireman around here.  Is that so wrong?)

Anyway, so tomorrow I've decided to talk about what they want to be when they grow up, with a definite slant towards making it clear that they don't have to STAY the same thing all their lives.

This is how I felt, way back in 1988 when I had to choose a uni degree. 

Because these days, they're just as likely to do a Commerce Law double degree (which costs thousands) and after a few years in a big law firm, quit to become a stand up comedian.

Or become a handbag designer after completing an Engineering degree and then round it off with a bit of yoga instruction after having kids.  

Or start studying medicine and become a heart surgeon after 7 years working full time at KFC.

Of course I am making all these up scenarios up, but I don't think they're far from reality.  And I feel that the worst thing we can say to my own 10 year old aspiring make up artist (and I mean costume make up for movies, not the pretty stuff) is that it takes too long to break into, or all the good jobs are in LA (and I'll miss her terribly) or she'll never make enough money.

I think making kids decide at 18 (or earlier because they have to choose subjects before they start their HSC) what they want to be forever is mean.   Not for all of them, some school leavers (my husband was one) are amazingly focused, choose what they want, work towards it, and never waver, but many of them (and I was one) have NO idea. Like none.

You know, like, I've got to grow up and have a career? Huh?

Now, I'm Gen X.  That's the generation who graduated from Uni when jobs were like hens teeth.  My incredibly focused and unwavering husband got great marks and was accepted into a highly coveted grad program while I doodled around at my casual job for another year and then started another degree (Nursing if you can believe it- don't worry, I quit after a year, I'm not nice enough).

I was 35 (THIRTY-FIVE) before I finally gathered the courage to write for a living.

Now Gen Y seem to have much less career driven angsty and many of them are very comfortable  being slashies.  You know, hi I'm an actor/business analyst/pottery maker/cruise ship entertainer.

I don't know what generation our kids even are.  Gen Z? Gen i?  Whatever.  Mainly, I hope they don't let themselves become funnelled into a career they hate.

Like I did.

So I'm telling them whatever they choose, they can change.  They don't have to stay it forever.  Although ideally they should show some focus and commitment to each career.   Change jobs by all means, but not every 6 months.  Give your career choice a red hot go first.

Maybe I'm preaching to the converted when I tell them not to worry, they can change careers.  Maybe they've already absorbed this with their breakfast cereal, watching talented teenagers follow their dreams on shows like iCarly and Victorious.

Maybe I should be delivering my talk to myself and my peers in 1988 or 1980.  Sheesh.  Or maybe I'm trying to justify all the stuffing around I did before I finally realised what career would make me happy.

I'll find out tomorrow.  Wish me luck.

Images courtesy of freedigitalphotos jscreationzs and artur84

Monday, 9 September 2013

Grumpy and over scheduled.

Too much to do.  Term 3 is always the same.
I bought Issy a new sports shirt.  Today when she came home it had texta, orange juice, paint, mud, glue and yoghurt on it.  She showed no remorse.

I told the kids when we move downstairs there were going to be new rules about eating, table manners, lunchbox emptying, homework reminders.  They stared at me like deer in headlights.

Josh had today off.  He wasn't really sick.  By lunchtime he thought he probably should have gone to school.  He wasn't allowed to have a long anticipated playdate because if you're not well enough for school, you're not well enough to play.  He wasn't happy.

I am NOT out to be their best friend.  And not even make them happy all the time.  Some of the time sure, but not all of the time.

We do too much.  At least training for soccer, rugby and netball is finished.  Although we now have touch football training, and Josh will soon have cricket practice.   Sarah will soon have choir.  Because heaven forbid that anyone should drop an activity and not immediately fill the gap.

We're all a bit tired and grumpy.  Sorry.

I need to dig deeply into my reserves of patience.  Problem is, my reserves of patience at the moment feel like that moment when you realise the butter tub is empty, with not even enough scrapings for the piece of toast you've just made.

They need more softness from me.  And more attention.  I'm only realising this as I type.  We also need to stop spending every weekend bouncing helplessly from one activity to the next.

Goodness I'm grumpy

Last Sunday Josh left home at 8:30am and didn't return until 5:30pm. Today he begged me for 2 hours at home next weekend, just to 'be'.  This weekend I can fulfil his wish.  Poor little guy.  

I am going to try 'being' right there with him.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

To my darling girl.

Dear Sarah,

I'm so proud of you.

You left the house this morning before 9am and got back after 6:30pm.  It's a Sunday.  Day of rest...not.  You were ready for family breakfast, and ready for touch football training straight after.

At breakfast, you played with your cousin, your brother and sister.  You were patient and kind and fun.  Then you made friends with the girls from the next table.  You approached them, found common ground in gymnastics and did tricks with them.  I watched you from the corner of my eye, making sure you were ok.

But you were fine.

You are so confident, and sure of yourself.  I love that about you.  I envy it, truth be told.

You joined in touch football practice despite us getting you there late.

You missed your presentation day for netball where you would have received a big trophy, and a big cheer.  You went to your gym comp instead.

Delayed netball trophy photo. 
At the gym comp, they gave you a red ribbon for your floor routine, then they took it off you and gave you a green instead.  You were gutted, but you were dignified and kept your cool.

Gym comp ribbonage. 
You ate dinner in the car, backed up with toast at home and now you're fast asleep.

You're so small and big at the same time.  This breaks my heart and fills it with joy.

I'm so proud of you.  You have guts, you have persistence, you have confidence.  You're not the best gymnast, or the best netballer, or the best touch footballer, but you give it a red hot go.

You're awesome.

You've had a massive day but you kept smiling til the end.  You have school tomorrow.  Sleep tight my angel.

Mum xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

PS. All the x's in the world aren't enough for how much we love you

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

And so the rant ends. And perspective is regained.

Firstly, thank you.  Thank you all.  It's happening to us all.  You know, what I wrote about in my last blog.

In view of my poor behaviour yesterday, I was a saint this morning.  This is in spite of the fact that at 6am I received a text telling me band rehearsal was off, which meant me and my compadre band parent had to contact 40 people before 7:45 (preferably 7:30) by email or phone and tell them not to drop their child at school early as no-one would be there.

Then, I sewed on a button without having a tantrum.  (Note: I can't sew and usually have tantrums when I have to do it)

I let Josh load up the ipod game he's been desperate for because he was ready for school at 7:45am.  I even let him play it for 5 minutes.

Issy made me a beautiful necklace.  I loved and admired it and wore it all day (except during yoga when it may have injured me).

Quite stylish no?
My kitchen came.  That's it.  No installation, just delivery.  Apparently installation is tomorrow.  It's sitting like a big white jigsaw puzzle in our family living room.   I'm glad it's not me working the jigsaw out.
It's like torture, I have a kitchen, but not really.  
But, it's real and it's in my house.  I thought this day would never come.

We also have a beautiful new glass pool fence.  On it's own this would have been exciting but unfortunately for it, the kitchen took most of my tiny attention span.  I haven't even taken a photo of it.

Oops, sorry, got distracted.

I know it's not just me, we are all trying to juggle too many balls.  And your wonderful comments on FB and the blog confirm it.  We are all overcommitted and sometimes it makes us grumpy.  And I also know we do this because we hate to say no, to let down a child, or a friend, to not contribute to our community.

I guess I'd rather be overcommitted than sitting around on my bum.  I've made some most totally excellent friends through my habit of biting off more than I can chew!

We (well I know I do this but I suspect I'm not alone) all say we don't care if we drop a ball, but we do.  Because it reflects on us.  These kids are reflections of us, and if they are rude and selfish and disrespectful and unpleasant and irresponsible, well, what does that say about us?

So we do nag, because, as a very wise commenter said on FB, because we care.  We LOVE these insane and irritating small people we have created.  We'd die for them.  And they, in their turn, despite us being just as irritating to them, LOVE us back.

And make us necklaces.  And snuggle into our laps, even when their legs are dangling off and they can wear our shoes.

I want my kids to feel taken care of and safe and sometimes indulged.  Because if I don't do it, who will?  They need a soft place to fall when the world is hard on them, and that's me (and Mike) but I think mainly me, because Dads are different.  Their role is different, the way they show their love for their kids is different, even if the how much is the same.

Mums are the soft fall of the world.  And the parachutes.  How does THAT work?  Both the cause of the soft landing, and the soft landing itself.  Is that even possible?

Goodness I am profound.  And questing for meaning.  Please bear with me.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Ranty McRanty Pants

At the moment, it feels like they're always wearing headphones.  With their backs to me.  

I received an email from a blog I subscribe to.  It's a planning organisation blog so I shouldn't be so surprised.  But I deleted this one.  It was titled "How to make your own pickled beetroot".

I just don't feel up to pickling beetroot right now.  I love beetroot, especially in a salad with goats cheese.  But pickled? Really? And can't you just buy it?

I just may have alienated all the pickled beetroot lovers who read my blog.  Sorry to see you all go. 

And just because this particular blog wrote about a topic I am not interested in, I won't unsubscribe, because the blog in question, Planning With Kids is truly fabulous, and has some excellent ideas on planning and home organisation and a lot of wow moments because the lady who writes it has 5 kids and still manages to run a successful blog and get out for a run most days.

She really practices what she preaches.  She's really organised.  And that's what really interests me about her and her blog, because I just can't seem to crack it.

I am struggling to please my family at the moment. There's a lot of talking back and much eye rolling.  And at the same time, they are not particularly pleasing me.  And as for organised, well, we're getting by, but at what cost of shouting, crankiness and privilege withdrawal?

I displease my kids by demanding that they pick up their stuff, put their lunchboxes in their bags (in the morning) and in the kitchen (in the afternoon).  I remind them to do homework, music practice, read their readers (Issy) or do their 15 minutes (Josh).  I remind them to do their hair, put on their shoes and put on their fleeces.  On hot days like today, I remind them to take their fleeces off.

They have jobs, emptying the dishwasher, recycling, setting the table, making beds.  NO-ONE in my memory has EVER done their jobs without being chivvied into it.  Except Sarah who makes her bed every morning without fail.

Do you know, they may have done their jobs without reminding, but in my current mental state, I can't remember.  I can only remember the times they've ignored me.  Because they hurt.

At meals I remind them about table manners and I go nuts if they get up and wander around when they should be eating.  But they do, all the time.  They don't care if I go nuts.  

I really feel like I'm going nuts.

A large (enormous) whiteboard reminds them about homework, library days and news.  I remind Josh to practice his speech.  I remind them who they are to go with in the afternoon.

My phone beeps reminders at me several times a day.  I'm like a parachute over the top of the family, like the Mum in that movie The Incredibles.  Yes, I'm a bit slow to that metaphor.  Sorry.  Every mum in the world is like a parachute, holding their family together and trying to give them a soft landing.


I am always, always striving and questing.  My goal?  To keep those "oh fuck" moments when I realise I have forgotten a major task (Sarah's excursion last year?) to an absolute minimum.  I am continually trying to have everyone in the right place at the right time with the right equipment.

But sometimes it feels like I'm the only one trying to do this.  No one else in the family really gives a shit whether they're at school on time with their hair done and their homework and their news prepared.  

And if our timetable isn't exactly calibrated, or something householdy isn't done, I'm the one who's made to feel like the failure.

Sarah cares a bit.  Issy is focussed on doing exactly the opposite of what she should be doing.  Josh is somewhere in the middle.

Meanwhile I rush around like a chook, screeching at people, and breathing the most enormous sigh of relief when they all go off to where they should with the right people and the right stuff.

Then they come home and it starts again.  I vow I will leave them alone, and just let them get on with it, and maybe even fail.  But I can't.  Not so far.  Not intentionally anyway.  So I'm definitely part of the problem.

My latest plan is to set the timer to minutes to school and let it count down, so they know how many minutes they have left to stuff around.

I am totally sick of it.  Beyond sick of it.  I am almost ready to give up.  Which of course, I cannot do.

It doesn't help that we're all together upstairs and with about three weeks left up here in our top floor situation, we are getting antsy.  Very, very antsy.  And I'm sure they would like me better if I wasn't so grumpy.  But I'm grumpy because I do all this stuff which goes largely unappreciated, and no one seems to notice what I do unless I don't do it.

And then they blame me for being forgetful/hopeless/not focussed on what's important (ie their stuff).

Forget the duck who looks serene on the top while paddling like crazy underneath, I'm just crazy all over.

I feel like I'm disappearing.    

And that sucks.