Archive | April 2012

No sick leave for Mums

I’ve opted out of my real world job today.  Given in to whatever this bug is I’ve managed to acquire. Made a phone call. Sympathetic colleague told me to take care. Tomorrow I’ll return, fill out a sick leave form, and our super efficient administrator will pay me as normal while calculating my leave hours. People will politely enquire if I’m feeling better. It will all be very civilised.

However, here at home I’ve searched high and low but be buggered if I can find a sick leave form for motherhood.

I may not be well enough for the job that pays the mortgage but the one that gives me grey hairs is still demanding my time and attention.

Reminders issued from my bed on the lounge – have you got your soccer boots? What about the change for the bus? No? Oh alright, let me get up and find that for you. Now I’m up I may as well pack the lunches. Look at the time – you are not going to make it to the bus stop unless I drive you.

It’s only when we are in the car that Hippie Child queries if I’m going to work. ‘Cause I usually head off to the office in trackpants, a stinky t-shirt and my Ugg boots. I’M SICK PEOPLE. HAS ANYONE NOTICED??? Apparently not.

Finally, the house is quiet. Just me and the dog. Why is he scratching? Great, the dog has developed a rash that looks particularly ugly,  the vet needs to look at – will they do an appointment after five when my husband can take him? It’s doubtful.

On my many visits to the bathroom this morning I have leapt over the pile of wet towels on the bathroom floor almost taller than a two-year-old, finally I can’t ignore it any more and as I’m home I’ll just pop them in the washing machine.

I need a coffee, something warm, while the kettle is boiling I see the splashes and spills of  last nights dinner are still decorating the stove top, I start wiping down, which of course leads to the bench top where the remnants of breakfast are coagulating, so I keep on scrubbing.

Settling back onto the lounge I notice the school newsletter that one of my darlings threw out of her bag as she rushed out of the door, I don’t know why I read it, there were a pile of magazines I could have gone for and not one of them would have anything I needed to do in it. But no, like some sort mothering junkie I read the newsletter. The information night for the high school is tonight at 6.30. We should be going and taking Princess Child. We did it for Hippie Child. But you are always more proactive with the first.

Princess Child is already in a state about going to high school. A supportive parent would be making sure she gets to the info night to help calm her fears. OK, she’ll have to miss dance. I’ll have to pick up husband from work at 5.00, Hippie Child from soccer training at 5.00 – yes I know I can’t be in two places at once but that’s never stopped me before. Home, dose up on drugs, head back out again. Or maybe I can bribe her with that book she wants me to buy to just go with her Dad? I’ll work on my strategy after I have a little nap.

The little nap is rudely interrupted by a telemarketer wanting me to change my mobile phone plan because I’m paying way too much with my current provider. The phone line to India is a little dodgy but in essence this chap can save me hundreds of dollars, he’s sure of it. I explain I’ve got a terminal illness, flusinuspoo, and couldn’t commit to a two-year plan because we don’t know if I’m going to make it to tomorrow.

I’m awake now so I may as well hang out those towels.

I think it would have been easier to have just gone to work.

Right, phones off the hook. I’ve set my alarm for 3.00 this afternoon. I’m going back to bed and checking out of mothering obligations for the next five hours. It’s just five hours that’s all I’m asking. Wish me luck.

Confessions of a Soccer Mum

The soccer season has begun again. Yet another year of trudging through muddy fields, to huddle on the sidelines whipping ourselves into a frenzy over the on-field antics of our wannabe soccer stars.

Mr Shambles was adamant our children had to play a team sport. Working together to meet a goal, playing to the strengths of each team member, sacrificing personal glory to ensure team victory, making a commitment and sticking to it because the team relies on you showing up each week, according to Mr Shambles these are important life skills that can only be learnt in the rough and tumble of a group game.

The choice of sport was really left to Mr Shambles to decide.  Given he’s only got daughters he was a little limited in his options. Let’s be honest, football (the ARL or AFL kind) is still a boy’s game. Netball, well that was just too girlie for Mr Shambles, he had enough females in his life he didn’t need to spend the weekend with a team of them. The potential for massive dental bills deterred us from hockey. Cricket and basketball didn’t generate much interest in the kiddos. So we settled for soccer.

We eased ourselves in gently, one child, Saturday morning games. We liked the crowd on the sidelines, ’cause that’s important if you are going to be in the trenches of weekend sport you want to be with parents you get on with, otherwise it would be a bloody long season.

Our second season was tougher, two children playing, one on Saturday mornings the other on Friday nights. FRIDAY NIGHT. The night of relaxation, wine and takeaway and with the endless opportunity of the weekend laying before you.

Now the wine is corked, the takeaway is MacDonald’s eaten at 110 km’s an hour on the highway as we trundle off to the multiple “away” games you must attend when you play sport in a regional area. It’s not just a 20 minute dash to the next suburb, its an hour up the road, home at 10pm and into bed because Saturday’s game is at 9.00am, back up the highway.

You shiver in the mist and hope your kid doesn’t miss a crucial kick or, worse, score an own goal. When it is their turn in the goal I can’t watch, the pressure is too great, and quite frankly they both suck at goal keeping.

The rules remain a mystery but that doesn’t deter me from voicing my opinion on where they went wrong in everything they did on the field.

I am amazed to discover the woman who deliberately selected the non-competitive, do your personal best, early childhood education of Montessori, is now yelling from the sidelines. You are not going to WIN if you don’t pay ATTENTION! In my defence Hippie Child was at the time doing a little dance number to music in her head with the ball approaching. There there is the encouragement for Princess Child to STOP BEING NICE, get in there and go for it! I know it contradicts the manners I’ve nagged her about for years but if I’m going to freeze my butt off on the sidelines they could at least let me hope for a chance of victory.

We always seem to be the team with potential. We’ve made the semi’s a couple of times, but luck goes against us on a regular basis. In both our teams we often struggle for numbers, playing with less than the opposition or with no subs. It’s character building to play an entire game with no breaks and covering twice the distance of your competitors because you are short of players. Toughen up, it’s just cramps, run it out, you’re not coming off unless you’re unconscious because we’ll have to forfeit!

It’s a tough gig sometimes but it’s clear win or lose, the children are making memories. The team (including coach) doing running slides through the giant mud puddle in the centre of the field to celebrate a win. Working together to set up a miraculous goal.  Watching each other’s back. Standing up for team mates against particularly tough opponents. Laughing about the stuff-ups. Celebrating the achievements of skill when it goes right, the kick that lands in the perfect spot, the impossible save by the goalie, stealing the ball for a run the length of the field.

So off we go again, bundled up with our coats and rugs, hoping for enough wins to hold our interest.

Ever done the weekend sport thing? How did it go for you?

Reading This Week – Silent Fear by Katherine Howell

I love a good crime novel, mystery or thriller. The obsession began with Enid Blyton’s Secret Seven, moved through Agatha Christie and into Patricia Cornwell, PD James, Ruth Rendell. If I’m left to my own devices to choose a book to curl up with on a rainy day I wade straight into the murky world of corpses with secrets,  fascinating forensics and crafty characters with issues.

This week I read Silent Fear by Katherine Howell. It’s the fifth in a series of novels centred around Detective Ella Marconi. Set in Sydney the novel has a strong sense of place, with the descriptions of steaming hot summer days, suburban streets and familiar landmarks combining to create an authentic Australian experience.

Paramedic Holly Garland attends a call-out to a collapsed man in a park, only to discover her estranged brother is on the scene. When the suspected heat stroke/heart-attack victim turns out to be wearing a bullet wound Marconi is called in to investigate.

The opening of the novel is strong with Howell’s own experience as a Paramedic resonating through the descriptions of procedure and treatment. The mystery is set up early. Why is Holly so dismayed to see her brother? What is his relationship with the victim? Are the innocent bystanders really innocent? Who would want to shoot a bloke playing touch footy? What role will Holly’s past have on this case?

Garland goes on to be a fascinating and complex personality and one of Howell’s strengths is drawing characterisations with depth and relatable human flaws. Although, as a newcomer to this series, I felt at times Garland overshadowed the character of Detective Marconi and I was a little confused over just who the star of the book was supposed to be. This two-lead alternating point-of-view between the Detective and the Paramedic does, however, give an interesting alternative to the traditional crime novel formula.

The storyline features a pleasing array of red herrings, which get sorted out nicely. There is also a complex arrangement of sub-plots with associated characters which sometimes seemed a little unnecessary but left me wondering if these would perhaps be developed in future novels. Overall the plot kept me guessing for some time and engaged in enough twists and turns to remain interesting to the very end.

I  enjoyed Silent Fear for the strength of its lead female characters and the highly effective portrayal of time and place. I’m left with a keen interest in reading the earlier books in the series.

I read Silent Fear as part of  the Morning Show Book Club on ABC Mid North Coast Radio.

What we need around here are some spreadsheets

It’s been 157 days since I launched into my “achieve every goal you have every imagined” year. There’s 209 days left until I will once again be facing a cake adorned with candles and lamenting the passing of my life.

It’s becoming increasingly evident that organisation is the key skill I am lacking when it comes to achieving my desires.

I get obsessed on one thing to the detriment of, well everything else in my life. Blog’s going well, housework, obligations with children, fitness campaign, decluttering, well that’s pretty well gone to hell in a handbasket. I get distracted – working on the first chapter of my absolutely sensational book, just as soon as I wander through Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram. I lose focus – I have goals, I wrote them down, I broadcast them to the world-wide web, I set aside time to meet them, then somebody suggests lunch at that new café in town and off I go.

In the meantime we lurch from one crisis to the next because I just don’t quite manage to get everything sorted before I sit down to meet my goals. I ask for the winter school uniforms to be brought out so I can wash them in time for the start of the new school term. Forget to actually check what I was washing and we don’t realise until the first day of school that we haven’t done the sports socks. An archeological dig to the bottom of the laundry hampers unearths them and the mad panic begins. We miss the school bus, have to stop at the ATM to get lunch money because I haven’t packed the lunch, then realise child didn’t eat breakfast so arrive at bakery to get a muffin, at the same time staff have to remove the pies from the oven, we wait patiently as the morning ebbs away.

It is obvious it’s one thing to have goals, it’s completely another to actually achieve them.

In my wasted hours on Twitter I discover an article How to Write a Novel When You Are Really, Really Busy I am shocked to discover this woman has a spreadsheet. In her spreadsheet she targets her word counts for each day. It is clear writing any sort of book will involve ditching any notion of meandering my way through the creative process to arrive at the finished product. SPREADSHEETS I thought only accountants used them!

So I’ve decided my life needs spreadsheets, and a to do list. I sat down yesterday and wrote down every single activity I need to do – and then I had a stiff drink. Seriously people – I used to be a list person, but now I see I stopped doing my lists when it became obvious there was no hope of ever getting to the end of one. When you see everything you do each day, coupled with everything you want to achieve laid out on paper the desire to give up before you start is overwhelming.

However, I will persist. I will make a spreadsheet. Dividing the remaining 209 days into tiny squares with activities assigned for each day. I’m not beaten yet.

Anzac Day

Today was Anzac Day here in Australia. The day was established as a memoriam to the Australian and New Zealand Army Corp (ANZAC) who fought at Gallipoli during World War 1. The odds were stacked against us in an impossible battle and it wasn’t a victory. At the end of the Gallipoli campaign 8,709 soldiers from Australia and 2,721 from New Zealand had died.

Anzac Day is now an event for remembering those who have died in all of the wars we have fought in over the years.

Lest we forget.

Grateful

Grateful – adj – warmly or deeply appreciative of kindness or benefits received, thankful.

Why are there some days when it is so difficult to conjure up gratitude? When all around you see the difficulties of your life and fail to appreciate the good stuff that is still happening.

After a particularly grumpy time I saw this Grateful Linky over at Maxabella Loves and decided that to help get me in a better frame of mind for the coming week I better play along.

What I’m grateful for …

1. The paddock. I’m grateful that the developers haven’t yet got to the paddock behind our house. So of a morning when I sit at my computer trying to think of blog topics I can look to the left and see kangaroos and cows enjoying the green, open space.

2. The sun. I’m very grateful that the sun is finally shining. The brightness, the warmth and hopefully the chance to try some clothes are all good things.

3. The blog. I’m grateful that by exploring this blogging world I find things like grateful linkys which force me to readjust my thinking and improve my connections with the real world.

What are you grateful for today?

My Pinterest Life

In my bid to create an award-winning blog that gains world-wide recognition and acquires me a Prius, a round-the-world holiday and a Thermomix  (cause they are the sort of things you get offered as a top blogger  – don’t anyone kill the dream) I am trying to embrace all the social media/apps/fads that are currently flying around the blogosphere.

I have a tendency to sign up for these things and then have absolutely no idea of their purpose or even how to use them.

This weeks favourite is Pinterest.

I have been a magazine addict for as long as I can remember. Mountains of them. Strewn around the house collecting dust and eating into my children’s opportunity to go to university. No dear we can’t afford that Visual Arts degree Mummy just had to have those magazine subscriptions.

I have boxes full of tear sheets that I simply can’t throw away because one day it may be important for me to know just what Collette Dinnigan had on the runway at the 1998 Fashion Week or I will urgently need to cook the Double Roasted Suckling Pig with Recado Rojo, Salsa Crudo and Parmesan Encrusted Potatoes on the side (because seriously I’ve got a couple of days to devote to a single meal).

Then I discovered Pinterest is really just the grown-up, on-line version of my ripped up magazines that I have carted from house to house for years. It’s a lot cheaper and takes up far less room.

When I log in (particularly to my “likes” page) I see my ultimate life spread out before me. Let me tell you in Pinterest world I am stylish (I’m also a size 8). No really I have great taste, classic and refined. Bearing absolutely no resemblance to the hurriedly put together, barely brushed hair, slightly ill-fitting clothes of my reality. My office is a quirky, book filled sanctuary with a comfy, overstuffed chair next to a sunlit window. Not the spare room with an assortment of junk that I am still trying to sort,  a fold-up chair in the middle next to half unpacked boxes I’m desperately trying to empty and ditch the contents as a form of therapy in overcoming my hoarding tendencies. I live in a beautifully landscaped home with an azure pool inviting us all in for a dip, not a building site with a gaping hole that fills with muddy water every time it rains.

Aside from fanning the flames of my discontent I am still trying to figure out how the hell this site is supposed to generate readers for your blog? To my surprise I discovered Mamamia (one of Australia’s biggest most successful websites) and Oprah’s Things were following my fantasy life on Pinterest. Now if they were following the BLOG that would be exciting but now I’m a little confused at what my value is in this highly visual, style swamped world.

Obviously I still need to figure out what a text-based blog has to “pin” – there’s my brother’s photos of course but considering they really belong to him probably not a great idea to have them repinned to the point where nobody knows where they came from in the beginning – he’s agreed to let me put some up but then he has no idea what Pinterest is so not sure how valid his consent will be when somebody else makes millions from one of his shots – probably as likely as the Prius arriving in my driveway but you never know.

There are genuine concerns over the copyright issue – it’s one thing to cut out my favourites pictures and articles and keep them forever and day – another to take other’s images and post them online. Blogging with Amy had a useful post on this issue.

In the meantime I continue to “like” and occasionally “pin” the images of my dream life while wondering if there is any actual blogging benefit.

So bloggers has Pinterest generated readers for your blog? Any bloggers happy to be “pinned”? Readers is anyone else addicted to magazines or is it just me?