The week that was…

It’s been a big week for us and lots of stuff happened. Here are some of the things that caught my attention:

Little Miss started school

Yep, it’s official; I now have three children at school! I honestly didn’t really feel too sad with her starting, mostly just happy that she was so looking forward to going, and of course deliriously excited there is now one central drop off and pick up point. She has loved it, although we hit a wall of exhaustion last night. It took me an hour and a half to get her to sleep, and I sang my entire repertoire of soft, melodic songs. I particularly like U2’s “Running to Stand Still” for this kind of thing. Only when I was half way through I realised I was actually singing about a drug addict’s slow and painful demise.

I visited the bank

I don’t really ever do this anymore, but I had to bank a cheque. I was very pleased to discover I didn’t have to fill in those small, rectangular, complicated forms you used to have to fill in (did ANYONE know what numbers were supposed to go where?) so it was very fast. One odd thing is that now banks have gone all customer friendly, there’s couches everywhere and it’s a bit hard to know where you’re supposed to line up. You think you’re just sitting down to wait and you find you’ve unwittingly applied for a business loan.

My eye got infected

Unfortunately, I suffered the consequences of wearing my contact lenses too much over the holidays and my right eye rebelled. I got worried and went to the eye hospital where there was a four-hour wait! It was all Ok in the end but I had to take very good care of my eye for a few days. It was like having a newborn again – I had to bathe it and rest it and not get it overstimulated.

We survived Week 1 of the crazy routine

For a long time I held off on extracurricular activities. But now they have become a full-blown part of our lives. Bookworm does tennis and science club, Picasso does tennis and piano, and Little Miss does ballet and acrobatics. I devised an intricately detailed rotating  fortnightly plan of who drops off and who picks up and where everyone has to be and what they have to remember, and WE DIDN’T STUFF IT UP. Yet. As my colleague would say, no one got left at the side of the road, so it was all a huge success.

Someone wanted to send me a fax at work

I don’t know what century they are living in, but it sure was weird.

So! Onwards and upwards for the rest of the school term now.

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Life as a Working Mum

I’ve been thinking lately that there are many ups and downs to life as a (full time) Working Mum. Some of them I’ve blogged about already here. But there are a few things any Mum who is thinking of taking the plunge into full-time work should know…

The day will come when you are hiding from your own child in a wardrobe

It’s happened to me a few times, generally because my boss/the Managing Director/ senior politician has called my phone and the only way I can drown out the cries of, “Mummy!!!!” is by suffocating myself in a heap of winter coats.

You will multitask in the toilet

It’s amazing how many emails you can read when you lock yourself in there for five minutes.

There will come a time when something very important gets forgotten

It could be a lunch order. A schoolbook. A jumper or hat. Occasionally, it’s a child. Hopefully that doesn’t happen too often.

You will feel unreasonable disbelief towards your young, single colleagues who complain of being tired

Look, I do recall that before children came along, I got tired. Actually I don’t recall it at all, however I am willing to accept that it must have happened. But I have to say, whenever some bright young kid-free colleague yawns and says, “Wow, I’m just SO tired today, I don’t know why. I mustn’t have slept very well,” I have to stop myself replying, “Really? Well I’m tired and it’s because I was up three times last night with one child who had nightmares and then another one woke up with a temperature and came into my bed so I slept with an elbow in my eye for the last three hours of the night and then I got up, made three children breakfast and got them dressed and did a school run which took twice as long because one of them forgot their library books and we had to double back and then I took  the sick one to the doctor’s before rushing them to my Mums so I could get here for a meeting.” Instead, I smile and say, “Really? Yeah, I’m a bit tired today too.”

You become convinced of the restorative powers of panadol and a good night’s sleep

Whenever one of her kids says they feel sick at night, one of my colleagues (and dear friends) who is a Working Mum always says, “A sleep’ll fix that”. If it’s in the morning, I always say, “let’s try some panadol”. Both are practically miracle cures.

“Breakfast dinners” are not just an occasional happenstance, but actually planned two nights a week

A bowl of porridge is much more healthy than takeaway, right?

You will be in a very important meeting and your Mum life will intrude in unexpected ways

It could be a text from your husband saying he forgot he was picking up the kids and can you leave RIGHT NOW to get them. Or a phone call because your child has hit their head at school or eaten a rubber. Or you might reach into your bag for a pen and out falls a half-eaten rusk stick or a dummy. Or you suddenly remember your daughter plastered a large butterfly sticker on your back as you were walking out the door and you can’t subtly reach around now and remove it. It will happen.So – be warned! It certainly is an interesting ride, and it’s not for everyone. But when you’ve done a good job and you get rewarded – you get a payrise, a promotion, a pat on the back, or when your kids talk with pride about the job you do – that’s when you feel like it’s worth it.:)

Farewell 2012

So 2012 is coming to a close.

We will spend tonight farewelling the past year with new and old friends – although I think I’ll skip bringing in the New Year. There’s no way I can stay up till midnight anymore!

When I look back on it, 2012 was a bit of a mixed bag. There were lots of wonderful things – first and foremost, visiting Italy with my best friend, Soul Sister (you can read about our adventures here) finishing my degree, feeling like I did better with the working-mother-guilt complex, bidding farewell to preschool days and starting this blog 🙂

But there were a few hard things too. My grandmother passed away, as did my uncle, a dear friend’s father and my own father’s best friend. So much death and sadness in a small space of time.

And so now 2013 beckons. I’m really looking forward to Little Miss starting school – she’ll love it, and what a wonderful thing to have ALL THREE CHILDREN IN THE ONE PLACE. I think you maybe have to be a working parent to really appreciate the unique wonder that is the single pick-up and drop-off point.

I’m looking forward to writing and reading more, and to maybe rearrange things at work so I can have a better balance between work and home. I want to get fitter and healthier, and spend less money on stuff we don’t really need. I want to spend more time with Souljourneyboy (rather than feeling like we’re just co-parenting room mates) and spend more one-on-one time with the kids. I want to be a better person and engage more in spiritual reflection. In some ways, I don’t have the grand plans that I had in previous years, but that’s OK. I hope 2013 will bring fulfillment and refreshment in a quieter, more subtle way.

So here’s to experiences old and new, and a happy, blessed and fulfilling 2013 for all of you.

 

My life through magazines

As I purchased a Women’s Health magazine while out shopping the other day, I started thinking about the kinds of magazines I’ve purchased over the years, and what this says about the stages of my soul journey generally. Here’s a rundown of my life, as evidenced through my magazine purchases:

Dolly/Girlfriend

Yes, it’s shameful, but come on, I was a teenager. I’m sure other Gen-Xers out there spent as much time as I did plastering posters of Christian Slater all over my walls and drooling over Luke Perry. And I was always a sucker for one of those ridiculous surveys, like “What Kind of Girl are You?” etc etc.

Cosmopolitan

Naturally, this magazine was reserved for my young adult years! It was quite educational, I must say, particularly when I was first married 🙂 

Wedding magazines of all descriptions

The flowers, the cake, the dress, the corsages, the reception… there’s a magazine for every bridal decision to be made. And we spend a fortune on them!!!!

Home Beautiful/Home Design

Shortly after we were married, Souljourneyboy and I built our first house. And I think if we counted up all the money we spent on magazines we could have actually built an extension on the house itself.

Parenting/Real Life

Then along came the babies. It was suddenly very important to read all about how to wrap a newborn and whether bottle feeding a baby really will eventuate in them not achieving their full potential when they sit their HSC. OK, I’m being facetious –  actually I did read a lot of good articles during this time of my life, and more than anything, it made me realise I wasn’t alone in navigating the sometimes horrifying minefield that is motherhood.

Super Food Ideas

When the kids grew out of being babies, I got really into cooking. Especially the recipes that promised a delicious meal cheaply! As we were on one salary, cost was of huge importance. I still love to cook – and now I could actually afford quality ingredients! – but alas, don’t have a great deal of time for it anymore.

Women’s Health

And finally, that brings me to the current time of my life. I never thought I’d be interested in a Women’s Health magazine, but find I am now seduced by promises of weight loss and more energy. I’m also thinking of signing up for Foreign Affairs, now I have finished my Masters degree. And I do love my World Vision freebie mag, that keeps me connected a world beyond my immediate horizon.

I’d love to hear what kinds of magazines you’ve read through your life!

 

A day in my crazy life

I thought I’d share what a day in the life of this Working Mum is like…

6:30am: Wake to the sight of Bookworm looking down at me with mournful eyes. Apparently his sore throat is now of gargantuan proportions, and he can’t possibly attend school. Can’t be bothered arguing the point. Luckily Mum already has Little Miss for the day, and can mind Bookworm as well.

6:50am: Picasso upset by thought of catching bus alone. Successfully bribed with a lunch order. Souljourneyboy leaves.

7:29am: Breakfast done, Picasso and I head out the door and into the car. Car won’t start. Mum to the rescue – we drop Picasso to the bus stop, then she takes me to the train station with Little Miss and Bookworm piled in the back wearing their pyjamas. Text Souljourneyboy to tell him car has flat battery, and suggest he call NRMA. He says he will look at it first in the afternoon.

8:30am: At work, all-essential coffee in hand.

9am: Meeting number one. Less than half the people who are supposed to be there turn up, so it’s shorter than usual – happy days.

9:30am: Meeting number two. This one is more interactive; we get to use red markers and butchers paper, which is always fun.

10:30am: Pack up my desk and head to a company car. I have to drive out to one of our work sites and meet a TV News crew to show them around for a story.

10:35am: Start my long drive. I have a confession to make: navigating large roads fills me with a kind of low-level anxiety. Just the sight of big green sign gets my heart palpitations started; I never seem to understand if I’m meant to turn RIGHT NOW, where the sign is, or at the next turn. I either get it wrong, or I’m one of those annoying people who basically stall, undecided in the middle of the road, while everyone is honking at them. Last week I ended up turning the wrong way into a bus-only lane – yeah, that was fun. And I seem incapable of getting onto freeways the right way! I always end up headed the opposite direction driving for miles at a time. Anyhow I digress – despite a rather stressful drive it’s a miracle that I get to my destination with NO WRONG TURNS.

12pm: My phone rings but I don’t answer as I’m driving and concentrating VERY hard on the roads.

12:15: Arrive at my destination, only to realise that, 1 – the person who rang my phone is the journalist and I need to call her back urgently, and 2 – there is no mobile phone coverage at the work site. I make my way into the admin building and ask to use the landline phone. I quickly call my colleague and ask her to call the journalist as there’s no coverage and I can’t use my mobile. There is a pause, during which it sinks in that I am actually ON A PHONE MAKING A PHONE CALL. My colleague asks, “Why don’t you call her using the phone you’re calling me on?” Yes, indeed, that is another option which makes perfect sense. My colleague hangs up, crying with laughter, while I try and regain a semblance of dignity before calling the journalist myself.

12:45pm: The geotechnical specialist who is going to be interviewed arrives. Quick briefing.

 1pm: Travel to the site for filming with the TV crew. Geotechnical specialist is interviewed, all goes well. Then the journalist tells me she’d like to interview another person to make the story a bit more interesting.

1:25pm: I am the only other person available. Jump in the car for 30-second briefing on everything I could possibly ever need to know about the work site.

1:20pm: Interview proceeds. Fortunately, there is a spare hard hat in the car. And you know what they say – slap on a hard hat and a fluoro vest, and anyone’s a geotechnical engineer.

2:30pm: Filming’s done! I misplace my phone and keys. Keys are found in one of the work utes. Phone is eventually found – apparently I carefully put it inside the upturned hard hat and covered it over with the fluoro vest before putting it all away inside a cupboard. Go figure.

4:15pm: Home again! Nearly went the wrong way at an intersection but just decided to follow the car in front. Luckily they were headed the same way as me. Quickly catch up on emails and phone calls before anyone gets home.

4:45pm: Jump on treadmill for 20 minutes.

5:15pm: Souljourneyboy home with kids after swimming lessons.

5:30pm: Loud and unnecessary argument between Picasso and Bookworm over a piece of paper. Ipad privileges removed and Bookworm sent to room.

5:45pm: Picasso and Little Miss start a game where they run around the house, occasionally stopping and screaming at each other, then laughing their heads off. It’s really loud.

5:55pm: Souljourneyboy and I suddenly remember we sent Bookworm to his room. I tell him he can come out of room. “Do I have to?” he shouts back. Well, no, actually. It was much more pleasant without him glowering at everyone and everything and I am quite happy for him to stay there.

6pm: Souljourneyboy and I discuss the fact we are literally overcome with exhaustion.  Dinner is tuna jaffles and weet-bix, all we can manage.

6:30pm: I read “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish” to the kids, as well as a book Picasso got from the library that day. It’s a strange tale about potato people and Bookworm has issues with the plot line.

6:45pm: We remember the car battery is flat. Souljourneyboy goes to have a look. It turns out the car is fine – I had accidentally left it in “drive” instead of “park” while trying to turn it on. My feeling of embarrassment is replaced by relief that we don’t need to spend any money getting it fixed. Still, I kind of wish I hadn’t told everyone at work that my car had broken down.

7:15pm: Wrestle Little Miss into bed. Make lunches for the next day.

7:30pm: Begin the arduous process of getting Bookworm and Picasso into bed. Have to convince Bookworm of the restorative powers of Panadol and a good sleep. Have the usual going-to-bed routine of Picasso and I arguing over who loves the other more (I always win).

8pm: Collapse into bed and look at the TV screen for half an hour. Not sure I actually watch anything. Feel like I should be studying for my upcoming Uni exam but can’t muster the energy.

8:45pm: Sleep….love, love, love that feeling of going to bed early and drifting off to sleep knowing you have a whole glorious 8 hours ahead of you.

So that’s it!

It’s the little things

While there are many significant moments in life which are obviously life changing, I find that often it’s the little things that make all the difference.

You know – they’re the small day-to-day happenings that have a disproportionate affect on your day, your mood, and thus the world and life in general.

So I thought I’d share a couple of these small yet powerful events that have shaped my week thus far.

The Good

On my way driving Bookworm and Picasso to school on Mufti Day, I had a horrible sinking feeling as realised I didn’t have any gold coins. Just as I was about to scour the car for coinage and send them off with several handfuls of 5 cent pieces – I found two shiny gold coins in the hidden zipper pocket of my handbag! I had literally struck gold! Happy days were here again and my joy over this seemingly insignificant event was indeed exponential.

Another small yet wonderful happening occurred when I cleaned up my desk drawers at work and found this beautiful tea-cup:

Tea in a pretty cup can make any day seem better!

The Bad

After a weekend of lying flat in bed with a head cold, I took a sick day from work on the Monday. I had blissful visions of a restful day in bed, watching TV, napping and recovering, when Bookworm theatrically announced he was sick as well and needed a day off school. May I just say I have not actually had a weekday sick day where I get to rest without looking after children for ABOUT EIGHT YEARS NOW. I would like to say that I lovingly put my own needs aside and then proceeded to fluff his blankets and organise homemade chicken soup, but the sad truth is I think I slammed the door and yelled a little bit.

The Ugly

Fortunately, I spotted the gigantic huntsman spider on the car door BEFORE I opened it to get in. But I still had to run screaming for a broom, bash the spider off the car and kill it before it slunk away and planned a counterattack. I HATE spiders. Even though the whole ordeal was probably only a minute or so, I felt the aftershock all day, and spent a great deal of time frantically brushing non-existent spiders off my shoulders as I drove.

Sometimes it really is the small things that count!

A Traveller on a Quest for Organisation

Today I bought sports bags.

I know it doesn’t sound exciting, but there is more to this story.

I sometimes feel like the grand narrative of my life is actually a Quest to be Organised. I get really excited when I discover a system or product that I am convinced will magically change my disorganised mess into neat, labelled, easy-to-use orderliness and thus revolutionise my entire body, mind and soul.

I was discussing this with a colleague today and she too confessed to harbouring the errant belief that boxes would somehow redeem her household disorganisation – and yes, I have to admit I’ve been there. Sadly, after spending hundreds of dollars on plastic crates of all colours and sizes from the Reject Shop, all I have really ended up with is a stack of broken plastic in the garage after the kids played Pirate Ships in them one too many times.  

Wicker baskets have been another trap for me. I spied them in a catalogue and was immediately convinced that pretty white baskets lined with pink-and-white or blue-and-white striped cloth inside would save the world (or mine at least). Now, of course, they are stained with texta and have old glue stuck to them and got chewed by the cat and one had a cup of coffee spilled on it and there seem to be five dedicated to old pens that don’t work anymore.

Tupperware parties are the worst. I was seduced by those green-lidded Smart Series containers with little air valves that allow your vegetables to “breathe”. Last time I looked, the one that is supposed to be for broccoli was being used as a paint container for Little Miss.

And yet another one – charts. When the kids were little I had beautiful charts detailing naps and snacks, then as they got older, afternoon playtime and homework time and unpacking-the-dishwasher time. It was all very SuperNanny, the idea being one activity would flowinto another without stress, complaint or argument.

Hmm. I’m not even going there.

So anyway, this brings me back to bags. After many years of holding out against extra-curricular activities, our family has now embraced tennis (Bookworm and Picasso), soccer (Picasso), ballet (Little Miss) and swimming (all three). After all five of us spent last Tuesday afternoon frantically searching for Picasso’s soccer socks, I decided right then that sports bags dedicated to each activity were a COMPLETE NECESSITY, you know, along with food and water.

And so I went and bought them, and feel the Holy Grail of Organisation may indeed, finally, be mine….