Mount Eliza

’tis the season…

Well hello festive season!

Yes, it is the 1st December, and we launch into the festive season…possibly the most stressful time of year.  But I love it!  I have always felt that Christmas time is like having a new born baby – it is an absolute joy and special time of your life, but you are just too tired and stressed to enjoy it.  Who agrees?

Each year I vow to enjoy it, but usually end up exhausted and stressed and can’t wait for it to be over.  But this year will be different.  This year I have a plan!

So what is it that makes Christmas time stressful?

Well, too many activities on for one.  Everything costs a bundle of money. And I am exhausted – not enough sleep, too much heavy food and alcohol and not enough sleep, and then add worries about the spending of money and remembering each activity.

So what is different his year?

I have done most of my Christmas shopping already, and have done mostly it online. I have also spread it out over a few months, so we don’t get one big financial whack.  We try not to go overboard.  Kids get a present from us, a present from Santa, and then a Santa bag/stocking with bits and bobs. So the boys shopping is pretty much done.  My side of the family is big.  We usually do a Kris Kringle, but this time we have decided no presents. So just the in-laws side to shop for.

I am really making sure I get enough sleep.  This is such a big thing for me as I can be such a flaky sleeper which can lead to all sorts of stress and anxiety (as well as being a result of all sorts of stress and anxiety – bitter cycle).  So for me at the moment, down time and sleep are important.  I like to be an early riser, so I am making sure my nights aren’t too late.

There are so many activities this time of year – catch ups with friends, work do’s, school activities.  I am trying to be mindful and make sure that I enjoy these rather than feeling exhausted.  The point about getting enough rest and down time helps with that.  I also drop activities if I can.  And whilst I would like to make it to all the work functions and consider many colleagues to be friends, when it comes to family and friends, the work ones go on the bottom of the list, and if they need to be dropped, they are.  When the kids say they are not keen on the school disco, I don’t push them to go; I just give a sigh of relief.

I am conscious of practicing mindfulness and gratitude.  I have spoken to the boys about the trap of getting caught up in the ‘season’ and at least once each day we need to stop, take a breath, and think about the things that we are thankful for. I am also very guilty of looking forward and not enjoying the moment.  I am always rushing ahead.  So this year I am deliberately practicing mindfulness.  Being in the moment, and enjoying the moment.  Enjoying my boy’s last year of primary school and his year 6 graduation. Enjoying what could be the last year that my baby believes in Santa.  Enjoying my big boy in his last days of year 8 before he moves into the boy-man world of year 9. Enjoying catching up with friends and appreciating them.

Part of practicing gratitude is giving.  It is hard to give when you feel you have so much to do and pay for at the moment.  It is not just Christmas, but all the school things that need to be paid by the end of the year for next year.  Don’t worry, I get it.  Boy do i get it.  But there are so many ways you can give.  Rather than buying normal cards from Officeworks to go with teachers gifts, I have bought cards from Christian Blind Mission (I try to buy them from different places each year – it was World Vision last year).  It costs the same as a card from the shops, but has a greater impact.  The cards I bought pay for the lenses that are required for cataract surgery.

I know this sounds easier than it really is, but being organised is a big one for me! I review the calendar several times a day and make sure I am on top of everything.  It doesn’t always work though – I thought the sports carnival was last Friday and was all prepared, but it is this coming Friday!  I was a bit disappointed not to get that out of the way! I do list after list – which teachers gifts and Kris Kringle gifts do we still need to get?  What activities and appointments are coming up?  Is there anything going on at work or work trips that will throw a spanner in the works? Where do I need to get others to help?

I am really trying to eat healthily.  Christmas time in Australia is good for that – great summer fruits and veggies, and lots of glorious seafood. And along with that I am actually planning to do exercise in December.  Hah!  We’ll see about that one.

I am deep breathing.  A lot.

So what am I doing this 1st day of December?  I am playing Chris Isaak Christmas Carols, having a coffee, reviewing what needs to be done today, and just enjoying the moment and the sunshine. Oh, and will probably put up the Christmas tree later! (And yes, I am not mentioning all the mundane crap about getting school uniforms and work clothes ready for the week, lunch box food, exchanging something that didn’t fit for Ed’s graduation clothes, getting the school booklist done and paid for, getting Ed to a party etc – everyone has all that stuff to do).

How about you, are you feeling festive?

 

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STOP. Slow down. More time please…

Easter was lovely.  And now I have this whole week off work, which has been really nice so far.

But the problem is that it is Wednesday already and I haven’t done anything!!  I wanted to do sewing and writing, painting (as in walls) and painting (as in canvases).

But I have done none of that.

I really want to.  But I just can’t be bothered.

Today I have done….well….I took one of the boys for a haircut and I did some washing.  Then I had a snooze on the couch.

And now, before I know it, it is time to put dinner on.

Where did the time go?

So, tomorrow I need to get some motivation and some energy to do some little projects to kick start me.

Maybe I just need to get off the computer…off Facebook…off Pinterest…off blogs…off craft sites…off Ebay….off my arse…and actually do something.

Hmmm, I’ll just wait and see….

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^^^ Enjoy your sunset wherever you are….

Breathe….

Breathe in for 3 and out for 6….am repeating this to myself at the moment.  It is just one of those times where there is a lot going on and it is easy to get overwhelmed.  I am generally wobbly physically, but can also get a bit wobbly emotionally!

In for 3…Out for 6…

It seems like it is such a busy time at the moment.  Kids have school things on such as camp, remembering which day they need to take sports uniforms, what day who goes where for soccer training, and the constant annoyance of doing the school lunchboxes.

Then add on parent teacher interviews, and an early pickup for 2 of them (I forgot last time, so have definately remembered this time!). And not to mention an after school detention to remember and pick up a bit later than normal. Grrr.

What day was Max’s drum lesson, Ed’s guitar and piano lessons, and Arch’s violin lesson???

Of course I am doing none of the running around as I work full time, but I need to make sure that we have organised people to do it.

And to top it off, Richard goes to America on Thursday for a bit over two weeks….

So a word of warning.  I will be late to work everyday for that 2 weeks so I can take the kids to school.  Homework may not be done. I may buy wine in bulk. We may have takeaway on nights other than Friday.

So my mantra at the moment is…

Breathe…In for 3…Out for 6…

I hope the Autumn weather keeps on being beautiful like this, and you may find the boys and I having our takeaway dinners down on the beach!

Beach

Words and pictures…

I don’t really have new year resolutions.  But I do have goals. But sometimes there are so many things that I want to achieve, that I get caught up and stressed about it, that I am not really enjoying the process, or what it is that I want to achieve. Oh well.  Will have to work on keeping that one in check.

Like most people, I want to do more exercise.  I want to increase my fitness, energy levels and health. Then hopefully the by-product will be a bit of weight loss!!

I would like to be more creative and take time to enjoy the creative process.  I want to produce more words and pictures.

I would like a more simple life and relaxed approach to life.

I would like to work less and spend more time with our children doing simple things like helping them with their homework, going for walks and cooking dinner together.  And also spend more time with my husband rather than just passing ships in the night (or day!)

So, my words for the year are:

Simplicity

Stability

Creativity

I don’t really know how I will achieve those things, but I will work on it.

And since it is not all about me, my thoughts early in this new year are with my nephew and his fiancé.  They became engaged a couple of days before Christmas, which is very exciting, but his fiancé very sadly last her mother 2 days ago after a lengthy battle with cancer. Thinking of you. x

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All’s well that ends well…

I guess that on the last day of the year it is natural to look back and reflect upon the past year, what you are grateful for and what you can kick to the curb.

When I look back, all I can think is …….FAAARK!!!  What a year!

It is no secret that I bitch and moan about working full time, having 3 kids, house, husband, kids homework etc.  I shouldn’t really complain though.  I do have a good job, with people I like, and we do good things.  Having said that, I have struggled a bit this year keeping all the balls in the air, and sometimes they drop and smash, but I have realised that at the end of the day it doesn’t really matter.  I now just shrug my shoulders, pour a glass of wine, and move on.  I have become REALLY good at stress management.

But it is more than just the normal stuff that made this year full on.  The year started well, went a  bit pear shaped in the middle, and but has then ended well…let me tell you all about it….

It started in Feb with Ed & Arch starting at a new school.  Max had already been there for a bit over a year and we were so happy with the school (& still are!) that we decided to move the other 2 over as well.  In theory, it started well, in that they weren’t late on their first day, but it took them at least 2, if not 3 terms to settle in, feel comfortable and decide that they liked it. So that was at least 6 months of encouraging them about going to school through to full on threats of taking every single thing they own away from them if they don’t stop carrying on.  It worked.

Also in Feb, I got a phone call my Mum. My brother, in his late 40’s, found the main artery to his heart was 95% blocked and was being flown to Melbourne for an emergency stent to be put in.  Now that all was successful and he is healthy now, but it triggered not only concern for my brother, but there are 5 kids in our family (I am the youngest) and I think it made us all look at ourselves and realise that we are not immortal, and that, oh my god, we are getting to that age where health shit happens!!

In March I got a phone call from the school.  Ed had fallen off the monkey bars, and could I come and get him.  I’m glad it was a Friday when I was working from home.  The poor love looked so pale.  I took him home and dosed him up on panadol.  We had a suspicion he had broken a wrist.  But you know…it WAS the school carnival that night, and he really did want to go.  So the choice was…go to school carnival, or go to emergency at Frankston Hospital…Ed begged for the carnival.  So we poured more panadol down his throat and off we went.  He had a great time.  We had put his arm in a sling, but he took it off so they would let him go on the rides (!), he bought treats and novelty sunglasses, and had his hair spray coloured.  A successful carnival by all accounts.  After the carnival we decided to take him to the late night doctor, but when we got there we found it was the one night of the year they decided to close early.  Sooo…more panadol, and the next morning I washed the colour out of his hair so it was no longer green, and took him off to the Doctor. Doctor got cross at me for waiting overnight (thank god I didn’t tell her we went to the carnival instead of the hospital!) and sent us to the hospital.  Just to shorten the story (because it can go on a fair while about Doctors making me feel guilty, neighbour and friend with his son in the bed next to Ed making jokes about breaking wrists etc), we found that Ed had broken BOTH his wrists.  Yes, both.  Both in plaster.  Yes, BOTH.  I think the realisation of what that meant for the next 6 weeks set into both Ed & I and we shat ourselves and cried!  Poor Ed.  At least he could wipe his own bum (one plaster was up to his elbow, the other up to his shoulder ).  But that was about it. For 6 weeks. And the poor love had his birthday with 2 arms in plaster.  And we had already bought his present.  A longboard skateboard.  Hmmmm. More about that later.

And then another big thing happened.  The week after Easter my gorgeous, incredibly fit, healthy nephew was diagnosed with cancer at 24 years of age.  That started his own journey of tests and chemo.  But as an Aunt who wanted to support but not be a pain in the arse, it was a really hard thing to do to stand on the sidelines and watch.  Probably the hardest this I have ever gone through, and it wasn’t even about me!  I am pretty sure my brothers and sister as Aunt and Uncles felt the same way.  And my poor sister who is his Mum…so hard to watch your son go through that.  But our beautiful boy has come through it with the support of his family and lovely partner, and though I am sure he wished it never happened, these things make you the person that you are.

That led us into winter, which was pretty uneventful.  It consisted of soccer training 2-3 times a week and soccer on Saturday AND Sunday mornings.  I quite enjoyed the soccer season, even though it was bloody cold, it did make us get out of the house.

I had my own little health concern, which I think was paranoia which was started by my brother’s heart probs. Again, to cut a story short, I wore a heart monitor for 24 hours (which is not very slimming), did a heart stress test with nothing on but a pair of knickers and a hospital gown which is left open at the FRONT. Mortifying. And then I realised it was all just stress about a big project at work, trying to juggle kids, their school, dinners, and homework, and a house that is crumbling around me.  I am much better at juggling that all now.  All I need is deep breathing, a bottle of wine and some ‘Rescue Remedy’.  Works a charm.

My Mum called herself an ambulance when she had some chest pains, and spent a couple of days in hospital.  My poor sister stayed by her side for the whole time.  Hospitals are Yuk.  Again, all ok.  I am starting to feel like we are hypochondriacs!!

Getting towards the end of year now…late Oct. Ed and that bloody longboard.  He was pushing it up the hill near our house.  Trips over.  Smashes face into the footpath.  On a Sunday night.  We live on the outskirts of Melbourne down the Mornington Peninsula. No emergency dental care there on a Sunday night.  That is without even addressing his smashed face and swollen lips.  His front tooth that was hanging 5mm lower than the other one.  So I race him to the late night Dental Hospital in the City.  They race him in.  Shove his tooth back up (ugh, awful.  We both cried), glued a wire splint on.  And sent us on our way.  Vitamin E oil worked a miracle on his face, wire splint came off in 5 weeks, and it was another event to add to Ed’s list of injuries (am not even going to start about his infamous eye accident of 2009). FAAARK.

And as I have 3 boys, so there are constant non-event injuries that are forever going on.  Well, that is just Ed & Arch actually.  Thankfully Max is adverse to taking risks and therefore never injures himself, and rarely gets dirty.

My husband decided to leave his job in Oct, bless him.  Not convenient.  The timing to do that is never good.  But in his defence, it was a crap job.  So after a few weeks of no job, and a stressed cranky wife, he got a new job.  Yayyy.  And it is a job he will like, so even better.  But that did mean he had to go to America for 10 days before Christmas and got home on Christmas Eve.  Not great timing.  School was over for the year and I was working.  A bit of a juggle, but my mother-in-law and several friends came to my aide.  So all good.  But again, all’s well that ends well.

There was other good stuff in the middle.  I have been getting back into photography, and had pieces in 2 separate exhibitions, so that was good.  We spent lots of time at the beach.  Spent good family time together.  Spent great times with friends. What else could you want?

So all in all, not a bad year.  Some things could have been better, or eliminated altogether.  BUT…

All’s well that ends well…

Happy New Year to all our friends, old and new, and of course to our lovely families.  Love you.

xxx

I made it!

Wow, I made it to Christmas and beyond!

I do love Christmas, but like most things you get so busy and there is so much stacked on with school, work, juggling school holiday child care, and other social activities that you lose the feeling of ‘joy to the world’ a bit. And you are pretty exhausted at the end of the year anyway without heaping all that on it.

And really, that LAST thing you want to do is go to the School Presentation night where you have to sit through 500 kids being called individually on stage – kill me now!  Luckily the teacher’s band at the end was great and finished it on a high note.  But I’ve said it before; I am not one that loves a school concert, production or music night.  It generally gives me a stabbing pain at the thought of sitting through it.  And just because a cute little girl does singing lessons, doesn’t mean she can actually sing and should do a solo!

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Why is my child always the one behind the pole or microphone!!

It didn’t help that Richard was overseas for the 10 days leading up to Christmas, and got back on Christmas Eve! I had to do all the events: school, church, and social, SOLO!  It didn’t worry me going by myself, but it did mean that I couldn’t fob anything off onto Richard.  I went to a Christmas Breakfast that I had booked for us as a family before he went away.  I didn’t realise they would seat the kids on a separate table, so when I got there, they showed me to a table set for 1!  That was a bit sad.  Luckily the boys thought they were too old for the kids table and asked to be seated with me.

And during that lead up to Christmas I had so many blog posts I wanted to do in that time, but like sands through the hourglass, time escaped me.

But I am back…

We did have a great family Christmas full of great food, great company, and good cheer.  And I managed to do most of my shopping online or with local Mt Eliza shops (check out http://boutique.kaamer.com/).  I tried not to go overboard and get crap for the sake of it, or get the boys stuff just because other kids their age have it.

But it is almost a relief that it is all over.  I don’t mean Christmas Day, but the whole season and lead up to it.  Now we can just chill out and relax and get into the business of having a great Australian summer.

For the next week anyway, until I go back to work….


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Sunday, glorious Sunday….

Ahhh, like everyone, I love Sunday.  It is a day for family, a day for relaxing, and a day for gardening.  Sunday just gone was glorious.  Great weather…a day at our disposal.  And dispose of it we did.  We gardened, boys jumped on the trampoline, Ed partied, and we tended the chooks.  Arch stayed in his pyjamas until 4:30pm, and only got changed to go to the beach.  Here are photos that cover our day…

 

The chooks….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Vegie Patch….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The trampoline…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The beach…be patient, there are a few…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And lucky last….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We hope and pray that next Sunday is just as glorious…..

xxx

First World Problems…

First world problems crack me up in their absolute ridiculousness.  Do you know what I mean when I say ‘first world problems’? It is the frustrations and complaints that are experienced by people from privileged societies and lifestyles such as ours, which they think of as real issues. That is as opposed to third world problems, such as starvation, disease, war, no clean water.  I think you know what I am talking about…

Now, I am the first to admit that I am struggling at the moment with working full time, having 3 boys, a half renovated house, homework is never done, year 7 projects failed dismally last term, and other family issues where any one of the boys at any given time require more attention than the others and more than I have time to give.  So it is all crumbling at the edges at the moment, but I can appreciate what a privileged position we are in.  Now this isn’t a complaint but more to put the next paragraph into context and to perhaps highlight that I am not as sympathetic as I could/should be.

I was reading a blog by an American woman who works full time, has a nanny for her 18 month old daughter, has a cleaner, and husband does all the cooking.  She was talking about the difficulties of being a working Mother and finding balance.  So at this point you can imagine that my sympathy was fairly low.  And then she said she recently had a meltdown…. Now, just so I don’t misquote, I have copied this straight from the article, because I would hate to miss out on the full effect of her words….

A couple weeks ago I had a little meltdown and was like “I just. want. a fucking. pedicure.” Because I just could not fit it in, between the new job and the relocation and all that stuff, and it was eating away at my self-esteem that I couldn’t show my toes. We finally hired a babysitter for a few hours on a Saturday so I could go downtown and have a pedicure and buy a new pair of jeans.

Do I hear stunned silence?

I went on to read the rest of the article, and no, she was not poking fun at the ridiculousness of her meltdown, or being sarcastic to highlight truly how lucky she is.  No.  She. Was. Serious.  SERIOUSLY!!

To me, this is the epitome of a first class problem…

As my Mother always told me when growing up (much to my annoyance)…’if that’s the worst of your problems, things aren’t too bad’…I think I might stick this quote on the wall.

Now to change the topic slightly, speaking of princesses, this did remind me of a hilarious story my gorgeous friend told me at dinner one night.  She is an English girl married to an Aussie, and they have 4 great kids.  When she first moved to Australia and joined a mother’s group she was at a get together and just chatting with other mothers.  One of the mothers said to her “You are such a Princess”, and bless her, my friend took this as a compliment and replied with her best British accent ‘Oh thank you so much, that is so kind’….She went home and told her husband about the lovely compliment, who then enlightened her that perhaps it was not meant in the way in which she took it!

Then at another get together, and unfortunately this came from an in-law family member, the comment (or compliment as she likes to think of it) was ‘Your children are so precious’. Now, most Aussie would know that this generally is not a compliment. Again, came back the response that truly only a lovely sunny disposition allows was “Thank you SO much.  You are right, they ARE precious, *contented and pleased sigh while gazing at her children adoringly*’….

I still laugh about her responses…I can vouch that she is NOT a ‘princess’ and her kids are not ‘precious’, but she is a lot of fun and down to earth, and her kids are lovely  kids who are not afraid to get in and experience things. I love a positive response to a backhanded insult.

I leave you with a picture of mid winter sunshine at the beach this week…

Oh Long Weekend, how I love you…

If there is something that Australians love, it is a long weekend, and if that is the rule that defines nationality, I am a true Australian! I am so sad that the long weekend is over and it is back to work tomorrow.  It doesn’t help that Ed has lost both his school jumpers and his sports jacket, the babysitter sent a text to say she was sick and couldn’t pick the boys up from school this week, I have meetings that mean I can’t leave work and get them, and Richard is meant to be in a course for the next 2 days.  *Sigh*.  I do wish long weekends were every weekend.

So what did we get up to?  We squeezed in so much this weekend, specially since it was a whole weekend off soccer! As much as I like the boys soccer, I love a weekend off!

On Saturday we went for a drive up in the hills for the day in South Gippsland.  The highlight of the day was going to a place called Poowong.  The boys were really looking forward to it, just because of the name.  I think they were disappointed to see it consisted of a CFA brigade and a shop – not sure what they were expecting of a town called Poowong, but I don’t think that was it!  We took a picnic lunch which of course as soon as we setup, it started to rain – so it was a quick pack up and dash to the car.  It was a wet and dripping day, and the last sort of day I would want to go camping in, but every time we saw a nice spot to stop it was full of campers!  Who would want to go camping in wet, cold, drizzling weather??  I think it just confirms what I (and everyone else) already know – I am not a happy camper!

 

We stopped into lots of gorgeous little towns up in the hills, which the boys were not so interested in.  But one place they did like was the suspension bridge at Loch.  A nice little sports field, war memorial, a suspension bridge, and about 5 families camping!

   

After our Sunday drive on a Saturday, we had dinner at our neighbours-over-the-road.  We really love where we live.  Not just Mt Eliza, but we love our street, our location and specially our neighbours-over-the-road.  It is always guaranteed to be a good night, and we are looking forward to reciprocating in a couple of weeks, as seems to be our routine.

On Sunday it was so nice knowing we had another day to enjoy, so instead of doing school uniforms, works clothes, lunch box food shopping, I had the pleasure of having lunch with one of my best friends from high school. It was so nice to see someone that I have known since high school  in Wagga who I so rarely get to see.  She lives in Canberra, and I in Melbourne.  Her daughter does Irish Dancing and has a comp down here on the June long weekend each year.  I love it. Being a long weekend it also meant that I could take the boys to the Park with the lake in Mt Eliza (I can never remember the name of that park).  We took bread to the ducks – they weren’t hungry – and went for a big walk.

     

So today was my Sunday.  School clothes (missing the 2 school jumpers and a sports jacket), sewing, photo editing, work clothes, baking sausages rolls and slice for lunch boxes, and planning the week and wondering who the hell will pickup the kids from school. Also managed to squeeze in an hour long walk with the boys to get rid of their (& my) irrits while Richard finished laying some flooring.

A week stretches ahead of work, meetings, lunch boxes, music lessons, soccer training x 3, and a shit load of other stuff that I can’t even begin to get my head around – stuff I know so many of you can relate to – nothing special I know, but still stuff I have to work out, and I know things will get forgotten.

Oh long weekend, please come back…

Wowee, where did the time go?

I don’t know if you are thinking the same as me, but where in the hell did October go?  It has been such a crazy, busy, whirlwind, fantastic month.  It came and went with such force that we have been left dizzy and still spinning.  I am still without words to describe it.  I seemed to take a lot of photos in October (new camera and all), so here is my month in pictures…

Ok, just a warning, my month in photos is really just pics of the stuff the kids have been up to!

I can’t workout how to put a comment to each photo, so in summary, the month started with a bang for AFL Grandfinal Day with a bunch of great friends, Max’s very belated birthday party which involved a fire truck and a silly string fight, Arch dancing to Michael Jackson (as always), tricks from showbags Ed bought back from the Melbourne Show for his brothers, Arch jumping on the tramp in his pj’s (again, as always), Ed did his clarinet exam and passed with an A if you don’t mind me saying (!), Ed skateboarding, the boys with great friends, Ed dancing to Michael Jackson AGAIN – in his PJ’s AGAIN, Max playing drums at the school melody night, homework, general photos from playing with my camera, Ed not happy about me making them pose while I play with my camera, and last one….Arch spotted a stage and of course had to dance (and sing because there was no music) to Michael Jackson!!

And that is the month that was….bring on November!