Just a lazy Saturday

We had a lovely, lazy Saturday today. I love those rare days where no one needs to go anywhere. No sport, no parties, no shopping – nothing. We slept in, played games, cooked, cleaned and decluttered and generally just enjoyed being around each other.

The decluttering took the form of Souljourneyboy cleaning out the kitchen pantry. Now, delving into the pantry in our house is not for the fainthearted. You never know quite where the journey will lead, how long it will take or what you might bring back afterwards. Today’s decluttering yielded an impressive artifact – an unopened bottle of Thai sushi ginger that expired 18 months ago (what even is Thai sushi ginger? When would I have ever needed to use that?)

Then there was this remarkable amount of chicken noodle soup:

I don’t remember buying ANY chicken noodle soup. How 3000 packets ended up in the pantry I will never know.

There was also a ridiculous amount of jelly:

I never set out to buy jelly when I’m at the shops – I think I’m just seduced by the fact it’s 99 cents and I grab it as I’m flying past in a mad panic to finish the shopping before one of the kids needs to go to the toilet.

Anyway, am under strict instructions not to buy chicken noodle soup or jelly for about three years.

While Souljourneyboy was hard at work the kids and I baked a rainbow cake which was heaps of fun. Here is the batter:

And here is the finished product:

Little Miss loves rainbows and thought this was the best cake ever. Most importantly, the baking experience was enjoyed by all, without ANY fights. Quite miraculous, really!

I taught Bookworm and Picasso the card game “Speed Demons” yesterday and so there were many pitched battles today. Souljourneyboy and I had a best-of-three face-off, which he thinks he won, but I am maintaining was a tie.

So..I guess it all sounds a bit boring, but it was a really great day. I think deep down we are all homebodies in our family. So much of life is rushing from place to place that it’s nice to just… be.

Hope you enjoyed your Saturday too xx

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Diary of a Teenage Girl Part I

As promised… here are the first lot of excerpts from the diaries I kept from Year 8 through to Year 11.

Warning : complete drivel ahead.

10-2-91

I feel awful! I’m crying all the time – I hate myself! I just realised I’m crying right now! I honestly feel like dying. I have been in my room for AGES. I don’t know how long because my watch has broken. I hate myself, but lunch is ready. ..I don’t feel like going anywhere ever again. I’ll probably just sit here all day in my room. Please don’t think I’m exaggerating. I’ve been in my room all morning, so there’s no reason to not stay in here ALL AFTERNOON. I feel like I’m about 40 years old. I just feel sad, tired, old and depressed”.

(NOTE: blanket apology to all 40-year-olds who are not sad, tired and depressed. But I digress).

“I just feel like lying down and crying. I wish I was someone else! I’m crying again! There’s nothing else to express how I feel – just full of tears. I wish someone would help me! I wonder when it will pass.

I hope soon.

Goodbye.

PS: I’m still crying.

Goodbye.

PPS: I meant and mean every word of this. It’s not written to make anyone laugh, so don’t. Please.”

Ah, teenage girls. I kid you not, the very next entry reads:

“Well, I DID mean every word of that then, but I’ve got other things to worry about now!

Now what brought about this change of heart, pray tell?  Well, a boy, naturally! The diary continues:

I’m in love yet again! I really, really like Boy1 (NOTE: names have been changed to protect the innocent). And he doesn’t actually know me! I’d heard about him before I met him, and I started thinking about him. Then when I met him and liked him I guessed it was just because I had made up this character with his name but the feeling hasn’t gone! So it must be more. But I still don’t really know him! It’s driving me crazy.”

Bye, love always,

Souljourneygirl.

PS: I love Jason Priestly

PPS: I love Christian Slater

PPPS: I love Boy1!!!!”

Oh dear. Will Souljourneygirl actually speak to the boy she apparently loves? The suspense is almost too much to bear.

🙂 Hope you enjoyed!

Special places, sacred spaces

I have been feeling reflective today. (When I’m like this it’s easy for others to think I’m being spaced out, but I  like to think it’s just that my mind is busy with higher things, and can’t be expected to remember where I left the keys or what we’re having for dinner).

Anyway I was given the chance to reflect as I helped the kids build this cubby house:

I love how excited kids get about cubby houses.  I have many fond memories of building cubbies when I was a kid – out of boxes, under chairs, and in the bush. I think this love of a special place continues into adulthood – there is some part of us that craves a space that is separate, set apart.

I think that this is what’s so appealing about really beautiful old churches – whatever religion they might represent. A group of people took time and care to create a space that was separate from the rest of the world, a place that was dedicated to the soul – for reflection and growth and spiritual commune.

I got a real sense of this on my recent trip to Italy, when we visited the incredible Duomo in Milano.

This cathedral took more than 500 years to build. I found it almost impossible to get my head around that timeframe. That’s nearly six centuries. Those who began building it knew they would never see the finished result – they knew their grandchildren’s grandchildren wouldn’t see it either.Yet they toiled to create a masterpiece of incredible workmanship.

It often saddens me that religion is responsible for so much violence and destruction – I understand those who, like John Lennon, would like to imagine a world where it doesn’t exist.

But there’s also something wonderful about how spirituality brings out the best in us as well. I sat in the Duomo and lit a candle on Easter Sunday and thought about how grateful I was that I could reflect in such a beautiful place, thanks to a brotherhood of faithful people who believed in the importance of sacred spaces.

Obviously we can’t all just pop down to the Duomo whenever we feel like being quiet and reflective (more’s the pity!) but I hope that we all have somewhere – a church, a mosque, temple, chair, room, quiet sunny corner or a favourite tree or garden – where we can find a sacred space that offers the same, private, tucked away feeling for our souls that cubbies brought us when we were little.

What is it with some days?

For all of you who were eagerly awaiting Italian Adventures part II – I apologise, because today was one of “those days” and I’m afraid I just have to share the pain.

The horror began early, when I accidentally used the nail-polish remover to wipe off yesterday’s mascara (the bottles looked the same because I have terrible eyesight – I’m probably eligible for some kind of pension).

Eventually the burning pain subsided and I was greeted by the sight of Picasso, who was still dressed in his pyjamas, trying to look sad and pale.

“I just can’t go to school,” he announced, and embarked on an impressive, theatrical coughing fit.

Now, this is the child who had stayed home from school yesterday with my Mum after convincing me he was practically at death’s door. I had arrived home to find him screaming with laughter as he raced up and down the hallway chasing Little Miss with a toy sword.

He was going to school today, and that was that.

Picasso was outraged. “I am CONTAGIOUS!” he kept shouting, “You are sending me to school and I am CONTAGIOUS!”

I wisely left Souljourneyboy to deal with that situation and headed to work – and things just went from bad to worse. I accidentally boarded the Quiet Carriage on the train and couldn’t make the urgent call I of course suddenly needed to make about three minutes into the train journey. When I disembarked I found out I needed to urgently email something to the Powers-That-Be, only naturally there was an IT drama and no one could email in or out. In the end I actually had to send a fax – I may as well have tied a message to the leg of a pigeon and sent it on its way.

Then in the midst of a presentation I was giving to a roomful of people I suddenly saw the cleaners had sent me a text. I had forgotten to leave the key out so they couldn’t get in to clean today. Oh, and as they don’t come in the school holidays I won’t actually see them for another three weeks. WONDERFUL.

Just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, I got a call from my darling mother, who was minding Little Miss for the day, and had taken her to gymnastics (Little Miss does gymnastics, not my Mum, in case that wasn’t clear). Little Miss didn’t want to walk on the high bar and the teacher got cross and now Little Miss is inconsolable and I don’t know that there’s anything worse than knowing how upset your child is, and not being able to do anything about it.

Why is it that some days the big boot of the world just squashes you flat?

I had to get out. I went out for lunch and wandered around Dymocks, which is always a calming experience. Then I came back, sat in my chair and remembered this…

This was taken when Soul Sister and I went on a day-trip to St Moritz as part of our Italian Adventure. The photo doesn’t do it justice – it was the most amazingly beautiful day; our souls felt clean. I told myself I would keep this scenery in my mind for days like this – so I could remember the truth of Marvell’s words, “Society is all but rude, To this delicious solitude”.

And so I suppose this post has ended up being about my Italian Adventure. Because wonderful adventures have the powerful ability to stay with you long after they’re gone, and make the bad days just that little bit better.

Italian Adventures I – take off!

Day 1…

A couple of months ago, Soul Sister and I left our children in the care of our very understanding husbands and flew to Italy for our very own two-week adventure.

I think you have to be a mother of small children to truly grasp my excitement.

For a whole 17 days and nights I would accomplish the following amazing feats:

  • I would sleep when I was tired
  • I would wake up when I was not tired anymore
  • I would dress only myself
  • I would eat what I wanted to eat when I was hungry
  • I would not wipe anyone’s bottom (I was very clear on that last point with the small group I was going with)

These points alone would have made for a great holiday, even if I’d decided to spend it in a cardboard box. But I was spending it in bella Italia!

There were of course a few instructions from Souljourneyboy. He seemed unaccountably worried that I would lose either myself, my passport and/or my plane tickets. Unbelievably, Soul Sister seemed to feel that these concerns were not unfounded, so immediately took command of both my person and documents as soon as we were at the airport.

Soul Sister and I have been best friends since we were five, and we’ve been on many holidays together – but this, or course, was the nadir of holidays. This is how we looked when we got on the plane:

Yes, we were nearly passing out with the excitement.

We boarded the plane and I very nearly made the rookie mistake of reclining my seat right away. Luckily Soul Sister – a more seasoned traveler than I – advised me otherwise.

“When you actually want to sleep,” she said, “you need to make that 2 degrees really count.”

How right she was.

I began loving my cosy little seat with its own TV and dinner tray – but after 27 hours of continuous night-time, two books on the kindle, five movies and about three hours’ sleep we looked like this:

I just don’t understand how people join the Mile High club. This is how you look on a plane on a long flight. It’s not pretty. Besides, plane toilets are tiny and sound scary and that weird light makes you look kind of green and even more unattractive.

Still, once the pilot announced we were actually in Milan we rolled up the bags under our eyes and perked up considerably.

The excitement continued that afternoon as we headed into the heart of Milan (and ate gelato):

We then rounded off our first day in Italy very appropriately with pizza for dinner – and take a look at the size of the pizza slices! We’d initially thought paying per slice was a bit cheap, but that was before we’d realised they were as big as our heads:

It became quite clear that we would have to walk about 20km a day with all the gelato, pasta, risotto and pizza we were planning to eat.

As we caught the amazingly reliable metro-rail back to the hotel we pondered one of the great philosophical questions of our time: why is impossible for governments to have both a punctual rail service AND clean public toilets? It’s a mystery, but one seems to negate the other.

That night, I feel asleep to the incredible sounds of…

Absolutely nothing. This was partly because I’d brought earplugs, but also because there were NO CHILDREN in my near vicinity. No one woke me up because they’d wet the bed or had a bad dream or had pins and needles in their arms. By the end of two weeks of course I would even begin to miss the night-time calls of “Mu-um!” but that first night, I have to tell you. It was BLISS.

Stay tuned for more Italian adventures….

I love Sundays…

There’s just something special about Sundays. For me, it’s the pancakes, the lazy pace, and the fact that the sun just seems more golden on a Sunday afternoon. I like the restfulness, the spiritual reflection, and that tantalising sense of freshness that the beginning of a new week brings.

Most of all, I love Sundays because it often means a big family lunch or dinner with Souljourneyboy’s family.

Now, my in-laws are unlike any other family I have ever come across. The very first time I ever visited Souljourneyboy’s house, at the age of 15, someone had left a large Christmas tree in the hallway (no one ever found out who that was). The second time I went there, Souljourneyboy’s Dad had lost his computer, which he later found in the boot of someone’s car. I have lots more stories like that, but you get my drift. They’re special.

Souljourneyboy has three brothers and part of what I’ve always loved about his family is that it’s always been so chaotic. There was always something (often inexplicable) happening at their house, there were lots of people and noise and laughter, and as an only child I found it all absolutely wonderful.

Years later, all Souljourneyboy’s brothers have married. By some lovely twist of fate, they all married girls who don’t have sisters – so we’ve all embraced each other as more than just sisters-in-law. We’ve all now had kids – there are 12 cousins in all (11 living) and we all love hanging out together. So I thought I’d share what characterises a typical family Sunday spread at the in-laws’ house…

  • A lamb roast cooked to perfection by Grandpa
  • Lots of red wine
  • Mischief. Today the mischief came in the form of Bookworm deciding to try aforesaid red wine by sipping near-empty wine glasses around the table
  • Mayhem. Generally Uncle E (who, at this stage, has just one newborn) letting the kids do something outrageous. Today it was letting them build and light their own fires in the yard
  • A delicious baby to cuddle. With 11 kids under 10 there’s almost always been a baby around
  • A LOT of noise. Did I mention there are 11 kids under 10?
  • More red wine
  • An opinionated philosophical debate – today we discussed patriarchy in organised religion
  •  Minor misdemeanour…let me say nothing more than today it involved Aunty K and myself climbing a boundary line fence in heeled boots. Much to the amusement of the children.
  • The kids eating as much sugar as possible (did they REALLY need triple-decker ice cream cones?)
  • And perhaps a little more red wine
  • A birthday. There’s so many of us now we’ve kind of given up having specific birthday get-togethers. It’s more like, “anyone who has a birthday in the next three weeks, line up and blow out a candle”
  • Some kind of electronic/mechanical/electrical/technological device Souljourneyboy and his brothers have to put together or explain for their parents
  • A discussion about how really we should all be drinking less red wine
  • An indescribable sense that you’ve found somewhere you belong.

I hope you all enjoyed your Sunday as much as I did 🙂

A little more about us

I thought I’d share a little more about the small members of the family  for those who are interested.

Bookworm

This is all we really see of Bookworm these days, since he caught Potter-fever a few weeks ago.

Most adorable quality

His busy brain.

Most challenging quality

The fact that his busy brain prevents him from doing other things, like remembering to take his lunch to school and where he last left his hat.

Wants to be a…

Doctor. I feel that Bookworm’s rather slapdash approach may prohibit him from a discipline – such as neurosurgery.

Picasso

My complicated little personage. Here is one of his early works, “Cliff Face”:

Most adorable quality

His soft heart. Put it this way: we can’t watch Nemo without a lengthy follow-up debriefing session.

 Most challenging quality

His tendency to view the word “no” as a minor and very temporary setback to his plans.

Wants to be a..

Pediatric nurse. He happened to be watching TV a few months ago when a recruitment ad for nurses came on (“Mummy,” he asked, “can boys be nurses?”) He may be slightly younger than their target audience, but there’s nothing like planning for the future. I actually think this would be a great job for him – he’s capable and compassionate and loves babies.

Little Miss

My little free spirit who refuses to wear any clothes to bed, has a menagerie of imaginary pets, tells absurdist knock-knock jokes and sometimes talks in her own made-up language.

Most adorable quality

Her unshakeable belief in the utter goodness of the world. She regularly sings songs and writes notes about how she loves everyone in the world, and how they all love her.

Most challenging quality

Her tendency to quietly disappear when cleaning up needs to be done. Or possibly her current obsession with playing “Mums and Dads”, especially when I have to play the Mum and she has to be the little sister. I’m not quite sure how this differs from real life.

So that’s them! More on Souljourneygirl and Souljourneyboy another time xx