Sunday, 27 February 2011
This is a standard kids party.
Everyones happy, except me. I am the grinch of birthday parties. Oh I put on a good facade and smile and chat but really every inch of my mind and body is screaming 'get me the hell out of here!'.
Mostly, I despise kids birthday parties. Sure there are a few where my mood/kids/company all seems to work is some happy symbiotic way. But generally I can't stand them.
The funny thing is I can't figure out why. I mean fairy bread, good company, balloons, and a glass of champagne are all high on my list of favorite things.
Take yesterday's party. Ok it was one of my least favorite venues, the indoor play centre (oh the horror). But for two hours the kids ran, I sat and chatted with some lovely women, I ate some dodgy party food. I hardly saw the kids except to get them water, so why was I so grumpy?
There is something about hoards of kids running in a manic but happy kind of way that I think pushes memory about the old days when taking two kids to a party was just a crazy hectic affair full of meltdowns, sugar overdrive, loosing kids and my mind.
No matter how much I dislike parties of course we go. The kids love them and they are an important part of growing and strengthening their social circles. But if you're having a party the truth is I'm probably just grinning a baring it. It's nothing personal, it's not that I don't adore your kids or your company. It's just that I'm the grinch of birthdays.
Watching - Fringe S1, Big Bang new eps, Being Human new eps, Big Love new eps.
Listening - Joan Jett
Reading - Jacks homework, notes from school, waiting for the next book to pop off the shelves and grab me.
State of mind - a little crabby actually, for no apparent reason.
Thursday, 24 February 2011
- Spoke to a friend on the phone for an hour.
- Had a friend over for an hour.
- Emailed a friend who lives overseas.
- Emailed a client.
- Spoke to 7 different people at school drop off and pickup.
- Spoke to Andrew before work and on the phone.
- Talked to my children and a few friends children.
- Had a five minute chat with my neighbor.
- Commented on 6 status updates on Facebook.
- Texted a client and a friend.
- Read 5 friends and 6 strangers tweets.
With all of that communication you would think I'd feel like I had a social day.
The truth is that these days, with all these ways of communicating I think we actually say less. Or at least what we say has less substance The phone call was interrupted a dozen times on both ends by kids wanting something. The visit was the same. The text messages were just a way of touching base while I made lunch. As were the emails. The Facebook was my lighthearted way of saying to those people, I hear you but don't have the time, energy and/or inclination to actually call you or (god forbid) get into my car and drive to see you. And Twitter was my way of trying to stay in the loop without actually doing much.
These days I feel like we communicate all the time but, be it inclination or ability, we actually don't connect with each other much.
How many people did you talk today? Did you actually have a real conversation? You know one where you sat still and gave what they were saying 100% of your attention. Or did you (like me) only give the activity 1/2 of your attention, or less? With all these ways of communication are we actually loosing the art of communication?
For me, I blame it on the kids and my ability to find the time to truly spend time listening and conversing with others. I so rarely have the time away from my children that it seems wasteful not to use it productively. But its not only the kids, its the importance I put on that connection. Why do we not see connecting with other as productive enough?
Last night I received and sent text messages that were pages long, I could have said more in the same time if I had of called but I would have had to have given the person more of my attention than I was willing to give and I'm sure she felt the same.
In our own way most of us are crying out for two things connection and space. The availability of texting, Facebook and emails etc make us feel like we can almost do them at the same time. In reality we are doing a half-assed job at both.
My challenge to you (and myself) is to find time to really connect and communicate with someone this week. To talk face to face, or if you have to by phone, and give it 100% of your attention. Don't fold washing, or make sandwiches, or keep wondering what else you should be doing whilst trying to let the other person feel heard.
And if you are one of the people I spoke to today, I know you were all doing the same thing as you too had children and dinners, work and deadline to think about. And I truly understand. But I feel a bit sad for us and for the direction it feels the majority of the world is heading in and wonder, with all these ways of communicating will our kids actually learn how to really talk?
Watching - Big Bangs new ep.
Listening - Random radio hits.
Reading - Nothing, finished Sandman and haven't started anything else.
State of mind - A little bit preachy apparently. :)
Sunday, 20 February 2011
Since very little Hamish has hated putting any part of his face under the water. He didn't want to blow bubbles, he definitely didn't want to put his ears under the water, but mostly he didn't want to put his eyes under the water.
Swimming with him has been a very different experience than with Jack, who was quiet water confident very young. And while everyone else was doing swimming lessons, Hamish wouldn't even go in past his knees.
This is a country where we value being able to swim (as I do). But I know Hamish, the harder you push, the longer it takes for him to choose to do it.
So we haven't pushed, we let him at his own speed, decide when he was ready. And over these last weeks Hamish has started to try and overcome his fear and put his face in the water.
This week he even asked if I could take him somewhere that he could learn to swim. (of course we will!)
It's been a long and sometimes frustrating road, and I'm guessing it's not over yet. But he will get there, in his own time, in his own way.
I hope I can remember this next time one of my kids doesn't achieve something or conquer something in the time I feel is appropriate. Once again the gentler path, is the easier path and ultimately for them and for me it is a more joyous path. As they learn and achieve under their own steam.
And really, that smile says it all doesn't it?
Watching - Nothing, my hard drive with all our movies and series on it has crashed. Please cross your fingers that everything I have collected over the last 4 years isn't lost. (I have a lot of it backed up but not all the current stuff Argh)
Listening - The sound of 6 children playing in the pool in the backyard (last day of Heatwave #2)
Reading - Sandman Volume 6
State of mind - Hot, worried about the loss of data but generally pretty chilled out.
Wednesday, 16 February 2011
Hands reaching out for one another and limbs entangled
It used to be me they snuggled against as they slept
But now brothers sleep holding each other
I often watch them as they sleep and try to rearrange them
So as not to wake up with feet in face or legs thrown across backs
But every time I check, they have moved back, snuggled close to each other
And every time I resist the urge to jump back in-between them
Tuesday, 15 February 2011
For me, being in this long term relationship, means that I now see valentines as a mystery day that is seemingly for new loves. I may sound jaded but I'm not. Romance for me is Andrew taking the kids for the day, or cooking dinner when I don't feel like it, or my kids writing me love notes. I don't feel the need for a bunch of flowers on the 14th of february.
Saying that though I love valentines day for what it used to mean. Anonymous love notes in your mailbox, or random flowers turning up at work from a new fling. I love the idea of a day marked in the calendar when people feel free to express affection for someone they may not have the guts to express on any other day.
If you celebrate valentines, I hope you had a lovely day. If you don't (like me) I hope you had a smile at the 20 somethings buying or receiving their bunches of roses that cost a weeks wage, or the marriage proposals that scream kitch, or at least spent a little time yesterday remembering that once, valentines day was a day full of excitement and wondering if that boy you liked was going to finally declare his undying love. (even if he never did the anticipation is one of the joys of young single life I think)
Watching - Breaking Bad S3
Listening - The rain on our tin roof, the corellas and lorikeets making the most of the rain and the dogs snoring on their beds inside cause it's to cold and wet to put them out.
Reading - A million notes home from school. What to buy, when to pack what, and what's happening this year. (It's like a tree massacre in that school bag)
State of mind - I need a massage but am to lazy to leave the house and get one. Maybe tomorrow?
Friday, 11 February 2011
There are loads of cafes within a five minute drive or our house but so far very few of them are places I want to sit and relax for a bit. Normally I either get a takeaway or we drink as fast as we can and get out.
Today I went to a newish cafe just up the road. It was wonderful and ticked most of my 'needs' as a place to take the kids and relax over a coffee. Hamish and I spent 45 minutes there this morning. We could have happily spent a lot longer but I needed to get home and get some work/housework done. It's my favorite sort of cafe as it's set within a second hand bookshop. It's got big doors that lead outside to a park (although you can't see the equipment from inside). The coffee was a bit average, but I'll forgive that as it's a new cafe and maybe he's still learning and it had everything else on my essentials list in spades.
Here are my top 5 essentials for a good coffee shop:
1. A good vibe - You would think being the fussy coffee drinker I am that the coffee would be first but it's not. If the place doesn't have a good vibe, I'm not interested. It's rare that we go out to cafes and the vibe is what makes it feel like a treat. It's what entices me to spend money on coffee that I could just as easily make at home.
2. Good coffee - It's a given that I'm not paying $3 for a cup of bad coffee, when I can make myself a lovely cup of coffee at home. But sometimes (as with dinner) it's just so luxurious to have someone make it for you.
3. A well stocked kids area - Most cafes in our area have some sort of kids area. To often these are a crate of broken toys with a few books that have 1/2 the pages ripped out. If your going to try and have a cafe that is kid friendly you need to have decent toys and books and preferably some coloured pencils and paper. The cafe today was perfect. They had a little nook full of second hand kids books that were for sale and a big tub of toys that were a. Not broken and b. Didn't make any noise (also quiet vital as the vibe of a place can be ruined with toys that make buzzing sounds or require the kids to bang shake or click to play with)
4. Good music - If your playing to much classical or Brittany or even to much chillout I'm not interested. I also don't want to be listening to talk back radio or top 40. Today's cafe had one of the local radio stations play for a bit, which was great but then seeing as they also have secondhand CDs for sale they alternated between some of them as well.
5. Friendly staff - let's face it working in, managing or even owning a cafe is not rocket science. It's a job that requires a high level of customer service. The better this is the more likely I (and other customers) will be to come back. Again, to often I find cafes are filled with hipster staff that act like they are 'to cool' to serve you with a smile.
As a mum, these little moments that I get to just chill out outside of the home are few and far between. I'm left feeling quiet inspired that there is somewhere within relative walking distance that I can envision relaxing with a cuppa and a good book while the boys are equally enjoying themselves.
Watching - New eps of Big Bang, Being Human and old eps of Fringe and Vampire Diaries.
Listening - Still got Hottest 100 2010 on rotation.
Reading - Catching up on some blogs I follow and/or playing with the iPhone and some new apps. (I know that's not reading but it's taking up my usual reading time)
State of mind - Relaxed but busy. (playing with apps and drinking coffee isn't all I do you know :)
Wednesday, 9 February 2011
But there are just some chores I can't abide. Saying that, it's either I do them or they don't get done. So this is my top 5 chores I despise (but do anyhow).
1. Bring in the groceries - I always thought that I disliked grocery shopping as a whole, but I have realized that I enjoy the shopping process. I mean what's not to like, I put on my iPod and walk slowly around browsing and picking out lovely food. But once I get home, dragging those heavy bags into the house. Clearing out the fridge and pantry shelves because space is limited and trying to find space for all the new bits is challenging is just painful. Plus (even though I have a shopping list) I often realise I have forgotten important things and even though I have spent a lot of money, the house isn't bulging with food as much as it feels like it should.
2. Mopping - well really I don't like any of the floor cleaning activities, but mopping is the worst. With a house full wooden floorboards, two dogs and two kids, it's a mammoth task. Pulling out lounges and picking up rugs. Vacuuming between, around and under everything so that all the bits of food and dog hair are out of every nook and cranny. If a jobs worth doing, it's worth doing well. And mopping can take me 1/2 a day to get them done. Then more often than not someone or something walks on them before they are dry and leaves dusty footprints over my newly scrubbed floors.
3. Hanging out the washing - the problem is that the best days for drying, are the days I least want to be standing outside in the sun.
4. Packing lunchboxes - every morning five days a week I have to find my childrens daily food intake and put them in a little box. Seeing that both of my boys eat a lot during the day it needs to be healthy, tasty, cover all the major food groups and able to last unrefridgerated. But seeing I'm not a baker, or a well organized mum it also needs to be quick grab and low maintenance. Not exactly what I want to be doing at 8am.
5. Making the beds - it's not really the making of the beds, it's the fact that more often than not, I have stripped the beds, forgotten and then as I go to go to bed realise their are no sheets on it. That feeling of being ready to snuggle in after a lazy evening on the lounge and then having to make the bed just feels like a cruel joke.
So that's my top 5. Truly ironing would be one of them, but I don't iron and scubbing the bath would be another (but I don't do that often enough for it to rate) and there are heaps more that would be in my top 20. The fact of the matter is that chore are just that, chores. No one really enjoys them but they have to be done to make life move forward. On days like today (when I meant to wash the floors but the day got away from me) I can see why so many people love their cleaners.
Watching - Big Love, season 5.
Reading - Still reading the Neil Gaiman edited compilation 'Stories'.
Listening to - Triple Js Hottest 100 of 2010.
State of mind - reflective, tired and a little glum. (nothing to worry about, just normal cloudy weather and just brought in the groceries state of mind)
Friday, 4 February 2011
It's an interesting path, parenting siblings. I often wonder if I find it even more so, because it's a relationship that in the finer details is foreign to me. I wonder if parents of only children, who grew up with siblings have similar wonderings?
Truth be told as much as the fighting is one of the hardest parts of this mothering gig. The love my boys show each other is the most enjoyable (and honestly it is more frequent than the other).
Today while Jack was at school, Hamish and I went to spend some time at the park. At one point he found a feather. It was from a lorikeet and very small. He picked it up and said he needed to take it home to give Jack. He needed a box to put it in and he wanted to wrap it up like a present.
We came home, found a box and put the feather inside. He then made a card that he decided was too small and instead added it to the box as a note with a love heart on it. Then he went off to make a bigger card. He came and asked me how to write happy birthday Jack and I mentioned that it wasn't Jack's birthday. What else he could write on the card? I asked him why he wanted to give Jack a present? And he answered that Jack was good to him and looked after him. We decided that the card should say 'I love you Jack'.
He then spent 45 minutes making, writing in and decorating the card. Put it under the rubber band he had used to hold the wrapping paper on and put it under Jacks pillow.
Later as we browsed a second hand shop he found a few little treasures that he wanted to add to the box. So we bought them and popped them.
I wondered if Jack would appreciate the love that Hamish had put into the gift. Jack is often so loving and sweet to Hamish and has been since Hamish was born. But it is quiet recent that Hamish has started to reciprocate. I worried that if Jack didn't see how special the gift was that Hamish would be reluctant to do something like this again.
I need not have worried. Jack was beautiful when he recieved it. He wasn't even interested in the ice block I had bought. He cuddled and kissed Hamish and Ooh-ed and Ahh-ed over ever little thing in the box. And Hamish sat and looked extremely pleased with himself.
It was a beautiful moment to watch and I felt humbled that I had ever worried about the connection my boys have or would have in the future.
Watching - Rewatching 'Big Love', it always makes me wish for a sister wife ... or two.
Reading - 'Stories', a compilation of short stories gathered by Neil Gaiman and Al Sarrantonio. (so far so good)
Listening - Still completely obsessed with Temper Trap and Little Red. It's actually becoming a problem ... I may need help (or a copy of 'The Nationals new album).
State of mind - Cranky, I don't do well in weather extremes and this heat wave is kicking my butt.