Wednesday, January 11, 2017

In the blink of an eye

When Eldest Son (almost 15) was a baby, I was standing at a frozen yoghurt stand one time, waiting for my order (love that stuff - frozen yoghurt, that is, not waiting) when a gentleman commented on how cute my son was. I thanked him, and then he said, 'Enjoy this stage, because before you know it, they're all grown up. It happens in a blink of an eye.' He had that Believe me, I know kind of look on his face.

Yeah, yeah, I thought, whatever.

One thing you soon discover almost immediately after giving birth is that everyone suddenly becomes an expert and wants to offer advice and/or their wisdom. For some reason, even complete strangers feel compelled to offer it. One time, an old lady noticed Eldest Son chewing on a toy while sitting in his pram and immediately launched in to 'teething' remedies she felt I could use. He wasn't teething, he was just chewing. Sometimes babies do that. Another time a woman noticed me feeding Youngest Son some Heinz bottled baby food as we sat in a cafe (minding our own business) and quickly advised how her daughter NEVER feeds her son 'bottled baby food', but instead makes it all herself, and how 'real' food is better than 'that bottled stuff'. I smiled knowingly. 'Her first child?' I asked, a hint of sarcasm in my voice. 'Yes,' she replied. 'Hmmm, I thought so,' I replied. 'Good for her,' then scooped another mouthful of baby food in to my son's mouth, smiling at the lady as I did, that he eagerly consumed.  

In truth, when the man commented about time flying, I was probably wishing time along back then, because Eldest Son was not the best sleeper. It took about 7 months for him to finally sleep through the night, and, in turn, I was perpetually exhausted. The idea of him being more independent was incredibly appealing at that stage.

Over the last year or so, my first born has started to venture out more and more on his own. He jumps on a bus and meets his friends, sees a movie or swims with them at the beach. (Something that made me incredibly nervous the first time he did that solo - what if he got caught in a rip? What if he forgot to put sunscreen on? What if he got his bag stolen and couldn't get home?) He even flew overseas last year during the school holidays for a school trip to New Caledonia. It was the first time he'd flown without Mr A and/or I, and he wasn't the least bit concerned about that. (Unlike myself.)

He's becoming so independent, and heads in to Year 10 this year. Before we know it, he'll be driving (gah!), sitting the HSC then perhaps heading to university.

It seems like only yesterday I had that conversation with the man at the yoghurt stand. Unlike the other advice over the years, his was spot on. It really does all happen in a blink of an eye.


Thursday, January 5, 2017

More is more

Well, Christmas has come and gone and a new year has arrived. Happy New Year!

The family and I headed to Perth for a quick trip to celebrate Christmas with our families. Whilst there, we also celebrated my sister's birthday and Youngest Son's birthday (he finally reached double digits)! We also managed to catch up with a few friends.

The trip was hectic. Manic. I returned ill and exhausted. Eldest Son continues to have a terrible cough since the trip. It was too short and too over-scheduled. (Live and learn.) Still, we returned with some lovely memories and a sense of satisfaction that we managed a Christmas back in our hometown for the first time in five years.

In truth, the lead up to the trip was difficult for me. I wasn't certain that I really wanted to go at all. I felt rather stressed at the idea that I would be spending my first Christmas in Perth without my parents there. However, once I was there (and all the shopping had finally been completed - adding to the stress!), I managed to enjoy myself without thinking too much about my parents' absence. In fact, the whole experience felt more weird than it did sad in that I kept thinking I should see my parents, but I couldn't. I did, however, visit their shared grave on Christmas Eve, after visiting my sister's grave first. (Going to cemeteries is a very natural occurrence for me, as I spent most Sundays as a kid climbing in to my father's car to make the trip with my parents to visit my sister's grave. My boys find it just as normal as I do seeing that they end up visiting a grave site with me at some point during our return trips to Perth.)

Actually, the morning of the day I 'visited' my parents, I did feel quite sad. I desperately needed some alone time (I'm not great being around people constantly - thanks to growing up like an only child!), so I escaped walked to the local shopping centre to drink coffee and wander aimlessly pick up a few things. As I walked in to the main centre, I realised I should try the Red Dot store outside for a small gift box. I had just walked past some Christmas carollers, and on hearing the music, I felt an overwhelming sadness suddenly hit me. I missed my parents. My mum, especially, LOVED Christmastime.

As I walked back outside, I averted my gaze away from the carollers, swallowing the tears that were threatening to surface. Then, as I entered the store, I spotted a friend from Sydney - also a 'Perth girl' - standing in line, looking sadly out towards the singers. Up until that point, I had felt rather anxious all morning, and on seeing my friend, I felt a sudden sense of relief and calm wash over me. We both knew we were going to be in Perth and that we were staying not that far from each other (a happy coincidence), but running in to her seemed a blessing. You see, her father passed just months before Christmas and I knew when I saw her that she was feeling the exact same way I was. We didn't have to say too much about it, because we knew how each other felt. After hugging hello, we did a mixture of crying and laughing, and both felt better for it afterwards.

Days later, we were back in Sydney in time for New Years Eve. We hadn't planned anything, as we knew we'd be too tired (spot on), so it was a quiet night at home watching the fireworks from afar.

As I've written here before, I don't really 'do' new years' resolutions, but I always have thoughts about what I want out of a new year. There were a couple of years in the past that I wrote I wanted to write and read more, yet I didn't. This time last year I pretty much wrote the same wish for 2016, and guess what? I did it! Since starting this blog in 2012, I've written anywhere from only 9 to 14 blog posts in a given year. However, 2016 I topped them all by writing a total of 24 blog posts! Win.

I've also read more books in this past year. I was a member of a book club until I pulled out late last year, and with that I've felt less pressure with my reading. I can finally focus on my (still ever-growing) reading pile. I'm currently making my way through all the Liane Moriarty books. (Big Little Lies - which I actually read with my book club - and The Husband's Secret are my current faves.)

Together with my reading and writing, I also want to continue to do more paddling. (I'm bummed I didn't get to paddle in Perth. It was a mixture of having no time coupled with a very windy trip!) I expect, like last year, the majority of my paddles will happen in Autumn when the weather and water temps are the best. (Fingers crossed for the long Autumn days we experienced last year.)

I'm quietly confident 2017 will be a good year for me. Here's hoping I'm right.

Hope it's a good one for you too.


Monday, November 7, 2016

Cutting corners

I despise formal exercise. DESPISE it. Funny, because in my late teens and for most of my twenties, I loved a good gym session or workout class. In the early nineties, I started with step classes, then I tried mixing it up a bit with the occasional cardio-funk class (which was more like a dance class than anything else - ie, FUN)!

Not long after our move from Perth to Sydney in the mid-nineties, Mr A and I joined a gym. I continued my step classes for a bit there, but then turned to cardio and weights workouts until I realised I preferred the structure of classes. Circuit classes were my workout of choice - I could move from station to station doing various exercises and before I knew it, the hour was up. Perfect.

After the birth of Eldest Son, my only form of exercise for a long time was walking. I did a LOT of walking with him, taking him out in the pram most days, and that pretty much continued once Middle Son came along two years later. My arms maintained their tone due to all the lifting I did with my babies. In the car, out of the car. In the bath, out of the bath. In the cot, out of the cot. In to the high chair, out of the high chair. You get the picture.

However, after Youngest Son was born, time was of the essence and conflicting sleep times coupled with Eldest Son commencing school meant that the time to exercise became less and less accessible. Before too long I realised that my body wasn't returning to my pre-pregnancy weight like it had after my first two sons were born. What a shock that was. I was always one of those annoying people that could eat pretty much anything they wanted and never gain a single ounce of weight. Not anymore, people.

I tried joining a gym once after all three boys were in school, but I didn't like it. It wasn't me anymore. There's nothing more boring to me than working out in a gym amongst other sweaty people - it's just not fun and I found the hour I was there dragged along. I soon realised that I'm not a 'formal exercise' kinda gal. Not anymore, anyway. When I'm exercising, I don't like it to feel like I'm exercising, you know?

So, I tried other stuff. Like a ladies tennis clinic. I'd always loved playing tennis and always, in truth, dreamt of playing weekly tennis once my munchkins were all in school. After our move to the northern beaches in 2013 however, my tennis playing soon fell by the wayside. I had intended to join a local club (there's a great tennis club right by the beach I coveted - location, location, location), but getting a spot in one proved more difficult than I realised.

However, I was also playing weekly netball by then too and decided to keep that up. Which, at first, I did until, that is, I hurt my ankle and started to get some pain in the other one. (Hello, forties...!) I wasn't keen on injuring myself any further and besides, by then our team had changed and we'd moved to another comp where the really competitive netball players came out to play. I was there for fun - and at first it was fun - but I soon realised that perhaps not everyone else took it quite so casually as I did. Five minutes in to our very first game in the new comp, one of our players went down, hitting her head as she did. I immediately stopped, as did most of our team, but a player on the other team, after seeing our team mate fall, ran past our fallen player and shouted, 'PLAY ON!' Well, okay then. I'm out.

These days, my workouts include walking the dog and SUP - both of which feel more like enjoying life than exercising. When I can't do either of those though, I sometimes do The 7 minute Workout - a high intensity workout consisting of exercises you can do at home (I use the app on my phone). I try to do at least two of the workouts at a time (so, 14 minutes in total). I love that it's quick and NOT in a gym. But of course, getting outside is my preference. (And on rainy days, I can walk on our treadmill at home - but that's definitely my last resort option!) Oh, and I still dance in my kitchen like it's a night club on occasion too. (Thank you, 90s Digital Radio Station!)

I like my new 'workout' routine. It feels a bit like I'm cutting corners, which actually pleases me no end. Life's too short to spend it in a smelly gym. :)


Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Internet Rules

This past week, there has been a war or words brewing on the interwebs between a couple of Aussie bloggers. Apparently.

I say 'apparently' because, to be honest, I've only read a couple of Facebooks posts and blog posts on it - I haven't read the original post that one blogger wrote that the other responded to, creating what many are referring to online as 'a shit-storm'.

It made me realise how much it isn't my world anymore. Back in my Mummy Mayhem days, I'm sure I would probably have been on top of it, perhaps even involved (respectfully) in the conversation. (And for the record, I believe everyone should be able to express their personal opinion on anything, so long as it is done respectfully.) Not anymore.

A long time ago, I wrote a blog post on MM about blog comments and how they can be a bit of a double-edged sword. Although feedback, communication and interaction can be a great thing in the blogging and social media world, it also opens the opportunity for some to take advantage of that and get, well, nasty. You see, it's easy for people to hide behind their computers and express an opinion they'd never ever probably express in public, face-to-face. Especially those who choose to comment anonymously, or have very little (if any) kind of public profile.

To be honest, I think people often makes this stuff a hell of a lot more complicated than it has to be. I have my own set of rules when online:

1. I don't have to read EVERYTHING on the Internet
If I generally don't like what a certain blogger/writer writes, then I don't read what they write. Simple. This past year, I have unfollowed a handful of Facebook pages because, generally, I disagree with most of what they write. I don't see the point in continuing to read stuff that is only going to elevate my blood pressure!

2. Any comment I make, I have to be 100% certain I want to make it
Any comment I make has to be one I'd happily make in person, and would be comfortable seeing quoted up on a billboard with flashing lights surrounding it, positioned beside a busy highway. It's not always the popular comment, and I may disagree with someone (RESPECTFULLY), but I stand by it. 100%.

3. Don't engage with trolls/haters - Ignore, ignore, ignore
This is the thing that really bothers me - people who give too much time and attention to trolls and haters. I know it's sometimes hard to not take things personally, and in the past on MM I had a couple of posts that became unintentionally controversial and, in turn, attracted some rather, er, interesting comments/direct messages on Twitter/emails towards me. But you know what? I owned what I wrote, I dealt with those commenters as respectfully as I could, and ignored the rest. Engaging with people like this only emboldens them, because for the most part, they're looking for attention. They will also, more than likely, not see your point of view anyway, so why waste your breath? As for those who just make hateful, nasty, negative comments about you - and you don't even know who they are - block/report/disengage/delete. Cut them. Easy.

4. Sometimes walking away is the best option
Every now and then, I come across a post that I disagree with quite passionately, but when I think about it, I realise there's no point commenting. I ask myself, How necessary is my opinion here? Walking (or clicking!) away is sometimes the best idea. Same applies to people who may reply to a comment I have made on a post in a negative way. Sometimes I reply to their replies a couple of times if I think it could be beneficial and/or necessary, but if I feel the person is just looking for a fight, and appears to not be very educated on what is being discussed in the first place anyway, I just stop replying. There's a saying I remind myself of all the time that Mr A has always said: If you get in to an argument with an idiot, then you are the idiot. 

5. Ignore attention seeking
You know those posts on Facebook that people sometimes make, like, 'I can't take this anymore'? Unless you know that person, and know that they wouldn't normally make posts like that and so, perhaps, really need your attention, then just IGNORE. You know these people. We all have them on our social media feeds - they constantly like to make vague posts/tweets etc (known on Facebook as 'Vaguebooking') to induce comments like, 'What's wrong, honey?' You're not helping them by replying.

Sometimes, life - especially online - only has to be as complicated as we make it, you know?


Sunday, October 16, 2016

The tale of the lap-dancing spider

* This is an edited re-post from my previous blog, Mummy Mayhem

Above is a photo of a Huntsman Spider that happily nestled itself in my sliding door the other day. As soon as the weather gets warmer here in Oz, it really is only a matter of time before one of these charming, large spiders come crawling in to your home and settle themselves somewhere in your house. 

Often you find them high on a wall towards the ceiling (they don't like vibrations, hence they usually position themselves far away from the floor), and, unfortunately, they seem to often like the powder room. By the time you realise it's there, it's too late: you're mid-wee, and you have no option (especially if you've given birth - three times) to finish and get the hell outta there. You keep one eye on your little friend, willing for it not to MOVE or, God forbid, JUMP (as they sometimes do), until you can make a haste exit from the room, vowing never EVER to go in there again.

I've had to call in Mr A's services on occasion to get rid of a Huntsman on our wall. His method is the old empty-ice cream-container-over-the-top with a piece of paper slid underneath, captured and then dumped back in to the garden. I've tried this method myself in the past, but couldn't even get the container over the spider without hyperventilating. I prefer the high pressured vacuum cleaner method myself. Ssssuuuuuck! Gone. *dusts off hands*

However, these massive and ugly creatures of God are smarter than you might think. One time, in our old apartment, Mr A humanely removed a visiting Huntsman with his container trick one evening, taking it down three levels to release it in to the garden, only for me to find it BACK the next day in the EXACT SAME SPOT it was captured from the night before! Well, ok, I can't prove it was the exact same spider, but really, what are the chances of that happening? I was convinced (still am) that the spider was messing with my mind. But I won. I used the vacuum cleaner that time. Take that, Huntsman.

But the worst meeting I ever had with a Huntsman was many, many years ago back in Perth after I collected the mail from the letterbox. I pulled out a nice little pile of store catalogues, took them inside and got comfy on the couch eager to sort through them. I arranged them neatly on my lap, slowly flicking through each one - leaving my favourite until last: the Target catalogue. I took my time, relishing each page, making a mental note of all I needed to buy in their latest sale, and then, as I turned over the last page, sitting on the back was the biggest, hairiest, scariest HUNTSMAN SPIDER I had ever seen!!!

I instantly THREW the catalogue high in to the air, leaping up as I did, and screaming for good measure. Then I ran around the house, frantically running my fingers through my hair in case the spider had landed in it, then promptly ripped off my clothes down to my just my bras and knickers. 

Finally satisfied the spider was not on me, I shakily fetched the vacuum cleaner, determined to get rid of the lap-dancing Huntsman.

As I positioned myself, having finally located the pest behind the couch where I had been sitting, Mr A walked in. He smiled - a sort of, Alriiiiight, I'm gettin' me some action kind of smile until I threw him a look of despair, and in an incredibly abridged version of the events that had just occurred (because time was of the essence), explained what had happened. Mr A took over. I insisted he suck the little bugger up, and that particular time, he obliged.

Note to all Huntsman Spiders: Don't mess with me. Me, and the vacuum, are at the ready. (Or, at least - and preferably - Mr A will be.)