Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Remember when...



What a wonderful weekend. Easter, my favourite time of year as I wrote about in my last post. This Easter weekend we managed to pack all my favourite things into one weekend, so that's very special.

Friday we spent relaxing at home, watching a documentary on Whitlam (I do love a good documentary, especially a political one), eating, taking a stroll and just being.

Saturday we hit the markets and bought herbs and fresh farm eggs, before coming home to frock up for the races. The sun was shining and the kids lapped up the horses, picking winners and cheering them home. Then it was home for a glass of delicious wine and a home cooked meal, while watching a movie.

Just when I thought the weekend could not get any better, Sunday, after eating some our chocolate goodies, we hit the road for Byron Bay. Buskers, good food and splash in the surf. Before heading home, we sat at Wategoes Beach and ate hot chips while licking the salt off our fingers. We were then tempted to jump into the waves again as the most glorious sunset framed us.

Diving under the waves, seeing the kids giggles their heads off and watching the sun set was one of those magic moments in life, where you take a photo in your mind and know that you'll remember this time for years to come.

Feeling so relaxed and content, seeing Skip and the kids so happy makes all the boring, stressful, mundane moments in life worth it.

Last night, over dinner, I asked everyone what their favourite moment of the weekend was, unanimously we decided it was that time at Wategoes.

Thinking about it this morning and after reading through some old blogs posts, I started thinking about memorable moments. Living in the moment is often touted as the key to happiness, which I won't knock, but I think it's more than that, it's also about building a library of memories you can reflect back on. As a family, sharing those moments, even the bad ones, are what bind you, what make you a family. "Remember when we flew that kite and ate fish and chips on the headland?" "Remember when Darbs stuck marshmallows all over his face?" "Remember when we yelled out PIZZA while skiing?" "Remember when we got locked out of the house on Dad's birthday?" "Remember when..."

Being a parent, I find I get preoccupied with making sure they brush their teeth, get enough sleep, have clean clothes, have a roof over their head, etc, etc, etc. This is important, of course, but I think my most important job though is ensuring they have a catalogue of wonderful childhood memories to look back on. To share with them. When everything else is gone, when I'm gone, this is what they'll be left with. I want them to remember laughing together until their cheeks hurt, how those chips on the sand were the best thing they'd ever tasted, how free they felt diving under the wave while so safe at the same time as their Dad was holding firmly on to their skinny arms.

I feel happy today knowing that we created some lifelong memories that won't fade anytime soon.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Egg-celling at Easter



As Darbs would say: "I'm a big fan of Easter!"

Easter time has to be one of my most favourite times of the year. The weather usually involves crisp, blue skies, there's a hint of coolness in the air. There's four days off work and school. There's none of the pressure of Christmas - you don't hear: "So what are you doing for Easter?" six months out. Friends don't utter the words: "We must catch up before Christmas!" There's not a great big meal that needs to be dished out. There's usually just relaxing and chocolate and doing whatever you want under those crisp blue skies.

I'm really looking forward to the next four days. There is nothing planned and they are spread out in front of us full of opportunities. What more could you want?

These holidays have been a much needed time-out for the kids. They were ragged with exhaustion and it made me realise that they had been dragged from pillar to post for the past few holidays.
These past two weeks we've hung out and chatted and relaxed together, albeit it it took me some time to fall into their rhythm. I've had time to just sit and chat with them about their worlds individually and together. We've done silly quizzes on the internet, I introduced them to my favourite movie when I was their age, we've talked about what's important in their worlds, there's even been a great trip to the beach. I feel like I know them a whole lot better than I did two weeks ago.

I haven't worried too much about having this done or that and have just enjoyed time with them, which is really precious. As a result, they've been delightful. Sure there have been tears and tantrums from all of us, but there have been a lot more laughs. They've been thick as thieves as a trio and there have been less fights. There have even been less eye rolls and stomping off when I dare to ask them to do something.

It's funny I didn't realise how much we needed that time until it was thrust upon us.

The whole time I've been thinking in the back of my head that we'd go to Sydney or go away, but life has intervened to stop that. Maybe just for this exact reason.

Happy Easter! I hope your four days are filled with fun, blue skies and chocolate.


Thursday, 6 April 2017

Street kids



 School holidays have been upon us for a week now, thanks to two extra days due to the 'extreme weather situation'. We have not done much I must say. A lot of time at home. Play dates with mates. But mostly the kids have been out on the street. Street kids.

We are lucky to live in a quiet cul-de-sac, filled with kids. This means that they all spend most of their free daylight hours 'on the street'. Games are played, balls are kicked, adventures mapped out. There is also bickering, a few tears and some yelling. When it all gets too much it's just a few short steps home to regroup before being lured out there again. It's the stuff of childhood dreams.

There's freedom, there's dirt, there's a tree swing, there are scooters and handballs. There's also a touch of The Lord of the Flies. I so believe that at times they are learning as much about the world out there in the cul-de-sac as they are in school. While they play and laugh and fight and cry, they also inspire each other and create new ideas and fire up their imagination.

While it is magical, it's days like this I lose my little mates and I miss my constant companions. On the other hand it makes school holidays easier as they are entertained, there is little asking for theme parks or movies or even just trips to the playgrounds, because they have all they need on the street.


Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Cooking up a storm


Something weird has been happening to me the past few weeks, I've been cooking up new and wonderful things each day. This is unusual for me. Sure I've always liked experimenting in the kitchen now and again, but I boringly had a menu on rote, that I didn't really have to think too much about. I really like eating good food, but I wouldn't describe myself as a good cook, more of a competent home cook.

I've never really enjoyed cooking either. I do it more out of necessity than anything. I do it to provide nutrition to my family at the end of the day. I've always tried to make something nice for my family to give them a little bit of my love at the end of the day. It may sound corny, but it's true. What better kind of love can you give than a homemade meal to feed and grow your most important people. In reality though, I've never had the confidence or the intuition in the kitchen. Skip definitely has both and I've learnt so much through him.

Recently though, something inside has changed inside me. I'm whipping up new kinds of meals and salads. I'm blending up marinades and dressings like I'm on MasteChef. I'm making things that taste good, really good (with a few exceptions - looking at you last night's Jamie Oliver's Asian salmon with sweet potato). I've got this kind of kitchen Mojo happening. It's weird.

Just this morning I was blending up two types of marinade for tonight's dinner and since then I've been thinking about dressings and potentially making cauliflower rice. Who the hell am I?
Last week we had guests and I made up way too many salads and desserts.

I'm sure there's lots of deep dark psychological reasons these kitchen capers are occurring or maybe I'm just developing a new hobby later in life. Either way, it's giving me a little bit of happiness.


Monday, 3 April 2017

A Byron tonic

I've lived in 7 cities across four countries during my life. This makes it hard to call a place home. I've been thinking about this a lot lately. This idea of "home". While the most obvious place to call home would be Sydney, where I spent the majority of my life, where I was born, where most of my friends and family are.  But less and less Sydney feels like home.

The past week, indeed the past year, has been a challenging one. Yesterday morning, I woke up feeling drained and empty. One of those kind of mornings when I could have easily pulled the doona over my head and stayed there all day. I did think about it.

Instead, Skip suggested a drive. We took off down the highway, headed for the border and waved the Sunshine State goodbye, for a couple of hours at least. We drove into Byron Bay and within minutes of getting out of the car I started to fill up with goodness. There is something in the air there. The sky in a special colour, the grass is a special colour, even the dirt is a special colour.  The light is different and there is just a magic I can't translate to words or a picture.

There's always music in the air and as I took deep breaths I felt like I was drinking up a tonic. Before long all the anxiety melted out of me and I felt .... better. The kids laughed and ran, it has the same affect on them. Skips eyes brightened and I could see him visibly relax too.

I chuckled at the memories of my girls as tiny dots scurrying on the beach, loving their "Bine Bay", eating 'circle fish' and chasing sea gulls. As a busker played a Pearl Jam song I was taken back to standing on the same spot 22 years earlier feeling the first tastes of freedom of being a 'grown up'.  I really didn't want to leave.

We walked around and the girls pointed out places they remembered too. "That's where the pink lemonade got spilt", "That's where we watch the Anzac Day march", "That's where Uncle Jack bought us ice cream".

It's funny how a place you know so well, but has never actually been 'home' can feel so much like home. It's a place that has so many good memories, that makes me feel so good, I know that I will feel like that every time I return. Hopefully one day, I will have my own little patch there to call home. I know that it will always be my special place to go and regroup and feel like my true self. It was always be my tonic.

Byron Bay makes me as happy as these guys...

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Flood tide

Yesterday morning started off like any other morning. Crawling out of bed after a late night, making school lunches. The rain had been bucketing down all night as the remnants of Cyclone Debbie headed our way. I kept looking out the window wondering how I was going to make it to school drop off without an umbrella.

There was a knock at the door. Our neighbour checking in on us. Warning that our street may get flooded in, it's only happened three times that she could remember, but it was a chance. Oh and it you have anything under your house you may want to move it to higher ground.

Hmmm, I thought, but wasn't too concerned. I went under the house and moved a few odds and ends up. Cleared the drains around the house. Then felt pretty ready.

As I came back inside the TV had "Queensland schools closed today!" in red across the screen and Skip relaying the news. What? I thought. That can't be!n Crazy! Like Dubai, when a drop of rain could cause a school to close!

So I abandoned schools lunches and got on the phone to let my class (that I class parent of) know not to bother to turn up to school today.

A quick trip to Woolies to get some food for the rest of the day and the rain kept on coming down. Dreams of cuddles on the couch with the kids, popcorn and movies.

Movies were put on the telly. Toys were dragged out. I kept checking around the house that the drains were cleared. Slowly the backyard was beginning to fill with water, but nothing too remarkable. I drained water from the pool twice as the rain kept coming down. Of course we were fine, what could happen? We're not near the river. Or anything. It will just be a wet day.

The street began to fill with rain water and the gutters poured out a water fall. More and more and more water. Hmmm. I worried about the front path, looked at the door. We'll be fine.

Skip arrived home from work drenched. The office shutting for the day mid-morning. Overboard! We looked around and he decided to get changed before taking a look around outside. While he changed I went outside to take a look around, just as I had many times already, and just as I did a torrent of water came gushing down. Filling up the underneath of our house. A wave. A brown wave of water.

"We're flooding!" I yelled. "Kids let Dad know that we're flooding."

I looked up near our pool and it was a river coming down. The water was up to my knees and rising. I looked under the house and our washing machine  was floating around in a couple of feet of water. I looked out the water kept coming. Rushing around as the water kept rising and rising. Dark brown water, I sloshed through. Every moment or so hoping there was no snake. No lizard. No toad. Especially no snake. Kids leaned out their bedrooms windows. "What's happening! Look at the water!"

After what felt like a lifetime the water stopped rushing through. Calm came over. Water sloshed under house slowing pouring out. The pool was a brown swirling mess. Branches, trees, rubble mess.

The news report said "This is nothing, the worst is to come". Seriously? Shit! It felt like calm but we were braced. What else could we do?!


Thursday, 23 March 2017

Returning to middle earth with a thud

Last week, the husband and I went away for a week. It's the longest we've spent away from the kids since Lil-lil arrived 10.5 years ago.

Returning this week has been a thud back to reality - school lunches, tuck shop duty, parent/teacher nights, netball organisation, bath/dinner/bed routines, being woken up to  "Muuuuuuuuuuum" in the wee hours of the morning. Winery lunches and late nights at whisky bars it's certainly not.

Of course, coming back filled me with all the things I need to focus on and would like to achieve for the rest of the year. Becoming an employed member of society, making our home more of a home, expanding our social circle, entrenching ourselves into life in Brisbane, worrying about the kids.

Feeling like I haven't ticked nearly enough boxes and feeling a little of the post-holiday blues, I've been rather down at the mouth the past couple of days. Those times when everything just seems like too much or too much hard work or too something.

As hard as the post-holiday blues are, it's worth it in so many other ways. Spending time with Skip, seeing new sights, just chatting away or soaking up the spectacular scenery in comfortable quiet, being adults -  not mum & dad. Doing what we want on the spur of the moment and not having to hear "Can we go home now?" Now that's special.

Next week, we'll have been married 12 years. This is our 20th year together. So many stories, adventures and life tales we've created together. We've lived in many different cities and even countries together. We've packed a lot into the half a lifetime we've spent together. It's a rich story. Above all else, he still makes me laugh.

On the plus side of returning home was seeing the kids. I've had a whole week of being appreciated, which is almost unheard of! The eldest keeps telling me how happy she is to have me home, she even stopped and chatted with me at tuck shop today rather than pretend she didn't know who I was. The middle one keeps giving me little notes that say "Even though I don't always like you, I love you more than anything". The youngest keeps cuddling me and telling me "You're the best!". So I'm soaking up the love before it's replaced with eye rolls, door slamming and "Mean mummy!"

Life can never be all winery lunches and whisky bars, or I love you notes and adoration. It's mostly scrubbing pots at tuckshop and remembering to have clean uniforms ready for the morning. It's scraping uneaten dinners that were lovingly made into the bin. Arguing over whether "Neighbours  really existed in the olden days" (it did and Toady was in it even then) and buying outrageously expensive netball uniforms. It's about explaining why you can't tell the tuck shop that you were supposed to have tuck shop when there's a bread roll you know full well about sitting in your lunch box and there must have been 'some kind of mistake'. "Real life" is annoying and frustrating and unpleasant and boring, but at the end of the day as I scrape those uneaten dinners into the bin I hear that laugh. That laugh that makes me sigh deeply and then chuckle myself.


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