Working Life

Quick drying trousers an essential wardrobe item for the organisationally challenged working mother.

As usual my disorganised approach to life has come back to bite me in the bum.

HUGE day yesterday with a 7.45am meeting with the Principal of the High School where Princess Child will be going next year. The child is a little anxious about the idea of going to high school so I reassure her with the usual platitudes of how great it will be to meet new friends, how the teachers won’t yell at her ’cause she’s a really good kid (even the Principal wasn’t able to back me up on that one “I can’t guarantee teachers won’t raise their voices if the class is getting a little noisy but it doesn’t happen every day”).

I was up at 5.00am because operating under the prevailing chaos theory which is the core of my existence I hadn’t finished the paperwork – dear Lord the forms you have to fill out just to get into a high school – I can’t find the birth certificate – I run out of time to complete two of the forms – I’m beginning to fear a detention. I also imagine the Principal having an aaahh moment when she recognises I’m the mother of the Hippie Child who has been known to wear quite a few detentions, all completely related to disorganisation – forgetting the homework, not having her hat, not remembering the sports uniform for PDHPE. As I stride into the school foyer paperwork flying, pen in hand madly scribbling, jacket hanging from one arm as I try to finish getting dressed I imagine the Principal thinking “now it all makes sense – the Hippie Child has no hope of ever getting on top of things with THIS as an example”. We survive the inquisition interview, I’m reasonably relaxed after all they took Hippie Child so it’s not like they can knock this one back.

I’m only 15 minutes late for work (yay) and the rest of  the day is fairly laid back until that moment when I realise I’m off to a meeting at 6.00pm tonight. Hippie Child is joining me at work at 4.00pm to go shopping for “horror” clothes for a birthday party this weekend.  We have half an hour until it’s time to pick up husband – there’s a mad dash around the shops – she keeps talking Emo (is that Elmo’s cousin or what)? We end up with ripped black jeans, black midriff top, interesting jacket – I think I’m leading her more towards Madonna circa Desperately Seeking Susan but she seems to think she can make it work.

I throw the family into the house at 5.30 and race around trying to find my one good pair of work pants – the one pair that don’t have the hem coming down or the top button missing – and realise in my rush to the Principal this morning I’ve left them in the washing machine. I run the iron over them in a pointless attempt at combating the damp and as the family calls time “it’s 5.49” I put them on anyway. Suddenly I have a flash forward to what an incontinent future may feel like. Polyester doesn’t take that long to dry does it?

I rev up the heater in the car, directing the heat to my legs, the car steams up and I can’t see where I’m going, I wind down the window and endure the blasts of cold air on my face as my legs broil.

Arriving in town, I walk really fast hoping the wind resistance will enable the last of the drying to take place.

Surprisingly, it seems to work and by the time I waltz into the presentation, almost on time,  über professional me has dry pants!

One day, one day I swear I am going to be on top of things. All responsibilities completed ahead of time and the bloody washing sorted.


Winning the lottery

Well the 70 million dollar jackpot went off last night. Three people managed to get almost 25 million dollars each. I’m still clinging to the notion that I could be one of them. One was from New South Wales and my mobile phone isn’t charged so the lottery people could have tried to contact me while I ate chocolate, watched Missing and went to bed way too late. Sleeping the night away blissfully unaware that I now had enough money to legitimately buy my way into the George Clooney dinner party.

They say money doesn’t buy happiness but I reckon 25 million dollars has to dull a lot of pain.

The last couple of days we’ve played the “if I win the lottery” game. You know the one where for a few moments you get to live every dream you have ever had? Mr Shambles immediately heads to the luxury boat builder, I take off to the airport – look out world here I come! What would you do if you suddenly had unlimited funds?

The mathematicians were out in force last night – with their killjoy statistics making it clear that my one ticket with four games had, well a snowball’s chance in hell of taking off the big one. Is it a sign of an optimistic personality that even knowing the chances I still play the game? All I hear is the one in … that’s it one person has to win … whose to say I can’t be THE ONE?

If you won more money than is reasonably healthy would it change you? Would it change the way the people around you behave? What happens when you can no longer bond over struggle street? Would you tell anyone that you had won? I’m not sure I could keep a secret that big.

Then of course there’s the children, it’s character building to have to do learn a trade, complete a degree, survive crappy jobs, sell your soul to the bank. Would you remove that experience for them?

Oh the decisions! Well, I’m off to charge the phone and you know, go to work,  better not burn my bridges, just in case I’m not the “one winner from New South Wales”.

Dinner with George Clooney

George Clooney at the 2009 Venice Film Festival

George Clooney at the 2009 Venice Film Festival (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There’s dinner at George Clooney’s house up for grabs in a fundraising campaign for Obama.

I’ve scrounged under the cushions, in the pockets of the kid’s uniforms and through every crevice in the car and I’ve got $8.50 to put forward.

It’s got to get me in, George can’t possibly have a dinner party without me.

I bring so much to the event.

I’m a great conversationalist, I can talk about my kids for hours. Oh you’re not that into kids? Alright let’s forget I’ve got kids.

How about we go straight to the important stuff – are you in camp Jennifer or camp Angelina? C’mon I know Brad’s your pal surely you took him to one side and said Maaaaate that Angelina is trouble?

OK you are above tawdry gossip, I get that.

But I’ve got to say this rich crowd, I don’t reckon they are gonna be a lot of fun. I think you could do with someone from the wrong side of the tracks to add some light and shade to the event.

Seriously, after a couple of glasses of wine I can be highly entertaining – and if multi-millionaires can’t take a joke that’s their problem.

No, no, I promise I’ll behave, I won’t even swear. Unless they are really up-themselves and then maybe just a little bit to, you know, shock them, ’cause that could be funny.

I’ve got perfect table manners – and what I don’t know I’ll fudge my way through – but let me tell you too much cutlery is unnecessary.

When I brush my hair and slap on a bit of make-up I can be halfway presentable. Frankly, you’ve been spending too much time with high maintenance chicks who take days to get ready for a night out – 10 minutes I can be showered, dressed, made-up and out the door. Think of how much time that will save!

Remember George it’s all very well to raise millions but I hear election campaigns are expensive you don’t want to run out of cash at the last hurdle do you? This $8.50 could be the difference to getting over the line.

I reckon I’m a must-have addition to your dinner party Georgie you’ll put me on the guest list won’t you?

Whose dinner party would you like to go to?

I Make S’Mores

The internet is a wealth of information. I’m sure if you search hard enough you could find the cure for cancer or the solution to third world hunger within its trillions upon trillions of pages of facts, figures and general whinging.

In the six months I have spent trawling the internet in my quest for blogging glory I have learnt one thing, how to make s’mores. ‘Cause I’m the kinda person who picks up on the important stuff.

Just a couple of weeks ago I didn’t know this sticky, sweet concoction existed. But today I do. Thanks to Chrystina Noel, a twenty-something blogger in Pennsylvania who for some bizarre reason finds my stories of parenting and disaster amusing (I’m probably setting her up for a life as a childless spinster too traumatised from my tales of birth and chaos to ever procreate herself).

In one blog post I mentioned Princess Child and I had bought lamingtons. Chrystina googled lamingtons and left a comment that she wasn’t sure about them at all. Later she Instagramed a photo of s’mores she had made – I gave the insightful comment that given she thought lamingtons were weird what the hell was this strange looking mixture – to satisfy me Chrystina posted a blog about mass producing s’mores.

So yesterday I made s’mores. It wasn’t pretty people.

Apparently it’s an old campfire treat, Graham crackers, Hershey chocolate bar and marshmallows. You roast the marshmallows and then squish them all together – I can see how out in the cold of the wilds this would be fun.

The first difficulty was I don’t know what Graham crackers are, Chrystina had a hard time explaining, no they weren’t really salty or sweet. But she isn’t a woman to be beaten and in a meeting with her boss’s boss (an Australian) she quizzed him on what the Australian equivalent of Graham crackers were. I love the image of this girl discarding the meeting agenda to go on a mission for a middle aged mother on the other side of the world she has never met. Her superior’s superior may not have been as entertained as me but never mind. They came up with Anise biscuits (I don’t know what they are either).

I interrogated an American friend at dinner, and he too couldn’t explain Graham crackers. We suggested a variety of aussie bikkies and he replied “no” to every one. So the table decided Chrystina had misheard the Aussie accent and it was really meant to be Nice biscuits. Never mind she graduated with a degree in architectural engineering and now travels the States as a construction consultant helping large corporations when their construction projects go over budget or over schedule. No indeed, a table of soccer mums come to the conclusion she couldn’t deal with the Aussie twang and had misheard the name of the biscuits.

Second problem, the chocolate, I may be able to get Hershey bars somewhere in Port Macquarie but obviously I lacked a bit of commitment to the project because I wouldn’t go any further than the local supermarket which is walking distance to my house. So I improvised again with a block of Aussie chocolate.

Then came the marshmallows. Again, probably shouldn’t have gone for the homebrand on special variety. Rather than the petite little pillows Chrystina used mine were, well more like giant nipples.

I than grilled them (Chrystina said she put them under the “broiler” which I’m assuming was the grill – if these yanks could just talk English it would be so much easier).

I may possibly have taken my eye of the ball slightly and left them in just a second too long. My nipples deflated somewhat, became kinda like well gooey.

So the result.  Nice biscuits aren’t a substitute Graham crackers and Chrystina probably did mean Anise biscuits – they made it a VERY sweet treat. My chocolate was a bit too thick. My marshmallows were super sized and nipple like with a tendency to spread. The verdict from the family – Hippie Child – we are not American you know, I don’t think I like them (she ate three), Princess Child – this is different – she even ate them cold later in the afternoon. Mr Shambles – don’t think this is in the Heart Smart diet but I’ll take another (think he got through four or five). I enjoyed one with my coffee very much.

I know what you are all thinking – it’s a wonder this woman doesn’t have a food blog. Aren’t you?

Thank you Chrystina for introducing us to the delights of s’mores.

Not Sure I’ve Mastered the Self-Help Advice

If you are going to write a book I reckon self-help is a pretty lucrative sector of the market. While the authors in the literature genre struggle to make a dollar from their beautifully descriptive, emotionally challenging works of fiction the self-help crowd have the mighty dollar flowing in. They have learnt the skill of a multi-pronged approach – take one great idea, whip out a book, package up a seminar, hold private consulting which you can charge a bomb for ’cause you are a best-selling author, develop on on-line members course – there is no limit to the marketing options.

To this day I find myself drawn to the self-help section of the bookstore. The titles suggest ways to solve my financial problems, create happiness, unearth my life’s passions, fulfil my secret ambitions, manage my relationships. The solution to each one of my life’s dissatisfactions seem to lie on the shelves of the self-help corner.

I’ve spent a fortune on the books and here’s the result of my attempts to live their advice.

Mothers of young children can find some “me time” by losing their perfectionist tendencies – ignore the dishes in the sink and take 30 minutes to yourself.

I may have embraced this one a little too enthusiastically. A bio-hazard team remains on constant alert to fumigate our house due to my neglecting household duties to blog, read and write the great Australian novel.

The Power of Positive Thinking

Like Pollyanna I’ve tried to think happy thoughts, always looking on the bright side of life. Unfortunately bad, sad and shitty things happen even when you are sitting in the garden chanting to yourself “I’m feeling positive we can overcome these challenges”.

The Law of Attraction

You attract success to yourself. Yes you do and then you proceed to question whether it’s the right thing for you and decide you just really can’t manage with all your other responsibilities and then wave it goodbye while you fluff about.

A Budget is the Key to Retiring With Millions In the Bank

So help me the budgets I’ve written. Unfortunately, they never seem to add up so I tend to forget about them and go back to juggling. Retiring with millions in the bank is no longer an option – unless my blog suddenly goes viral and develops millions upon millions of followers and I figure out what the whole “monetising your blog” is about. Retiring at all is looking doubtful. Meanwhile the children’s inheritance is a mortgage-from-hell with the hope they can sell the unfinished house for as much as the bank is demanding. Note to self, don’t die until you’ve built up some equity in Shambles Manor (and at least got the flooring down).

Discover Your Passion And Your Life Will Be Perfect

Really helpful if your passion could be something that brings in some cash.  I, however, managed to acquire a passion which doesn’t pay well. Hello to the other trillion wanna-be-writers out there. My failure at the budgeting rules (see above) means mortgage-paying activities are ahead of the passion every day.

Communication is the Key to Relationship Harmony

This one assumes you spend time with your significant other in a setting not involving interrupting children, misbehaving dogs, and a to-do list stretching metres.  Communication tends to involve dealing with the current crisis, tossing a coin to see who is cooking dinner while the other collects a child from band, sorted, moving on. We do communicate though  – just this morning there was lengthy discussion over who forget to buy milk.

Are you a self-help junkie? Has any of it worked for you?

Bucket Lists BEFORE and AFTER Children

The Bucket List BEFORE I had children.

  • Cruise the canals of Venice in a gondolier with the man I love.
  • Eat at a Michelin Three Star restaurant.
  • Buy an outfit from the Paris Fashion Shows.
  • Watch a Broadway show starring someone really famous.
  • Float in the Dead Sea.
  • Travel the Silk Road.
  • Party all night at the Carnaval  in Rio de Janeiro.
  • Dance and sing through a Bruce Springsteen concert at Madison Square Garden.

The Bucket List AFTER I had children.

  • Cruise the canals of the Gold Coast on a houseboat with a two-year old without killing the man I love.
  • Eat at a restaurant where the food doesn’t come accompanied by a plastic figurine.
  • Buy three coordinated outfits for a $100 from the Kmart Winter Catalogue.
  • Watch a pantomime, starring that kid from Home and Away whose name I can never remember, without slitting my wrists.
  • Float in the wading pool at the local swimming centre without thinking about why it is so unnaturally warm.
  • Travel the Pacific Highway without anyone throwing up.
  • Sleep an entire night undisturbed, in my own bed, alone.
  • Dance and sing through a Wiggles concert at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre without waking the sleeping child next me (this kid never sleeps you have to take your moments when you can).

Life’s Too Short for Uncomfortable Undies

Well I think it’s time to accept that age has engulfed me.

Today I have decided (a) I need to spend more money on my undies and (b) comfort is more important than anything when it comes to underwear. (We tackle the big issues here at Shambolic Living.)

The $5 for a pack of four briefs from the bargain bins at the chain stores just aren’t up to the job any more.

I’m tired of wedgies, visible panty lines, and undies that fail to contain  the plump tummy  (note not using the word fat here).

I have measured out my life in knickers. From the childhood Tweety Bird underpants (and yes you pressed the bird and it made a noise), to the lacy lingerie of the courting years, to the el cheapo briefs of motherhood to  the now sad realisation that grandma knickers are the way of my future.

My undies grow smaller through each drying cycle (because somehow I always manage to leave myself short of underwear after days of endless washing that sees everybody else in the family clad in clean and dry undergarments – hence the emergency wash/dryer loop of my workday morning). They don’t call it intimate apparel for nothing folks, as they shrink I find myself having to retrieve them with increasing regularity from personal spaces of my anatomy.

Today I’ve decided no more. I’m going for comfort and copious amounts of material that cannot possibly wedge itself into crevices best never explored.

It’s unusual for me to consider my underwear without it involving a hospital visit or a shared-room overnight conference. Why is it that I put up with unattractive, uncomfortable undergarments until the moment when I fear that someone might accidentally get a glimpse of what I’ve been hiding?

Not this time, I’m heading to the shops to the expensive and expansive section. From mid-section to tail I will be clad. Most likely white or nude coloured, it will be the sort of underwear that my Grandmother would have considered acceptable in the event of an accident. You know when emergency personnel are madly trying to revive your lifeless body the state of your knickers is always of serious concern don’t you?

Comfort all the way, middle age here I am.