Saturday, July 30, 2011

The First Candle On My Bloggy Cake

One year ago today, I lost my blogging virginity.

That sounds rather risque, doesn't it?? Ha ha. But it's true. After umming and aahing about it for a while, I sat down in my dressing gown one Friday night and wrote my first post. I felt exceptionally ridiculous. I was sure no one but my hubby would read it. And I was fairly certain that if, by some chance, someone other than my beloved took the time to peruse my ramblings, they would chuckle at my foolishness and turn away.

While I'm sure there have been many visitors to my blog who were not convinced enough to come back, over the past year I have received some amazing bloggy love. I have had readers from all over the world visit my blog, either by accident or happenstance. So a big shout out to all the beautiful people in Australia, America, United Kingdom, Latvia, Malaysia, Russia, Canada, Germany, Ukraine, New Zealand, Ireland, India, Saudi Arabia, Poland, Denmark and South Africa. I love youse all. (as well as anybody whose country I missed in my stats...)

By becoming a fledgling member of the blogging community, I have "met" some gorgeous people. It's quite funny really, but deep in the days of being a stay-at-home mum, sometimes the only adults I would speak to would be women whose blogs I followed. It sounds mad, I know. I always thought it felt as though I was being welcomed into a coffee morning being conducted in kitchens all over the country. Just as I was standing at the kitchen bench with my laptop, lukewarm cuppa in hand, kids running manically through the debris of breakfast, commenting on another mummy's blog, so too were hundreds of other mummies. More often than not, the same bloggers run across one another in commenting communities. And I like that, very much. It's socialising, without having to be presentable.

I still look at other bloggers and marvel at how pretty their blogs are; how cleverly they weave their stories about their lives; how many people comment on their posts. My brain lacks the IT department necessary to create a really whizz-bang blog spot, and I still think most of my writing would be absolutely smashed if given to a Year Nine English teacher. But I have, over the past year, received some absolutely delightful comments, and I have treasured every one. (Quite frankly, I'm a comment addict. It's terrible, I know, but I've got an addictive personality and comments are better than ciggies or alcohol, right??)

My blog has been many things to me. What began as a cyber-baby book (the lazy mummy's version of keeping a record!!) quickly morphed into a place for me to pour my thoughts, purge my emotions, and find the funny in the revolting. Most recently, it has become a true place of peace for me. And although blogging is therapeutic, I am sorry that many of you have had to plough through some fairly negative posts. Sometimes, not even black humour can negate a dark mood.

Thankfully, it usually doesn't take long until someone gives me a smack in the chops and gives me a giggle. My kids are pretty good for that. With any luck, when they're grown up they'll forgive me for telling you all about the funny and disgusting things they have done. Such as the other day when Phoebalina announced proudly, "Mummy, I don't let Maisie pick my nose any more." "Sorry?" said I. "Because then she takes my energy" she concluded, with a satisfied aren't-I-grown-up smile. I was still stuck on Maisie picking her big sister's nose. Ewwwwww.

It's not all disgusting, some of it is a little bit funny (but if you can't read about breasts, breastfeeding, boobies or nipples, stop reading now.) Maisie Mouse made me laugh out loud last week. Recently, we taught her to blow on her food if it's hot. It's pretty cute to watch her puff her cheeks out and huff on her dinner. But then the other night, in the middle of a breastfeed, she stopped drinking, blew on my boob, had a little chuckle, and started drinking again. So does this mean I'm hot, or what??? 

Over the past twelve months, I have blogged about babies, toddlers, pets, moving, building, happiness, frustrations, washing and vomit. Interestingly enough, some of the key words that find my blog on a Google search are quite revealing about the content of my ramblings. For example, the words "buzz lightyear party" or "buzz lightyear birthday" will lead you straight to my little place in the blogosphere. As would "heart tupperware" and "maisie mouse"( surprise, surprise). I wasn't shocked when I saw that someone had searched for "young baby chunky throw up" and had found me, nor did I flinch from "disinfect couch from vomit" or "red vomit chunks". Nope. It's all there.

What did concern me, ever so slightly, was that someone had found my blog after doing a search for "baby chick sleeps all the time". That didn't sound so good. But that was nowhere near as bad as seeing that someone, somewhere, had searched for "anal art", and had found moi. Sorry???? Anal art?? Firstly, what on earth is that?? And secondly, what has it got to do with my blog??? WHAT??????


So anyway, here we are. The very first candle on my bloggy cake, blown out. Yay. I'm sending you all enormous kisses and hugs to say thank you. Thank you to those who read me. Thank you to those who comment. And to those people searching for anal art...I'm sorry I wasn't what you were looking for (actually, I'm GLAD I wasn't! Sorry.)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Dear Mr. Telstra

Dear Mr. Telstra,

I don't like you very much. In fact, I would go as far as to say I detest your stinking guts. However, as you are an enormous business, I doubt very much you know or care what I think. I know for a fact three of your employees don't like me very much. Particularly after today's events.

I have never been fond of the arrangement in this country, which essentially dictates that for communication purposes, there are two options - Optus or Telstra. I've been to Optus. I won't be going back.

We've been with Telstra for a few years now. It's an uneasy relationship. I hate them. And they take our money. Tricky, isn't it?

Last November, we signed up for a "bundle" with Telstra that basically gave us our internet, home phone and mobile phones in a deal which wasn't terrible. Thanks to a promotion at the time, we also received a T-box thrown in for nothing. I didn't want it initially, thinking it would be terrifically expensive. Two separate "sales representatives" assured me that it was a special Christmas deal, and that I should take advantage of it, as T-boxes were typically $300.

So we said, yeah, ok, why not? A free digital recording thingy! Great! More telly for the kids! (Woohoo!)

And when the first bill came in with an unexplained extra payment for "hardware", I tried to query it. Only, I was put on hold for so long that I gave up, and thought I would try again later.

I ended up ringing Telstra so many times, and waiting through that ear-piercing waiting music (what is that?? specially designed ear torture?? It makes my ears bleed, no joke) that eventually, I kind of gave up. Until today.

The T-box stopped working. Which meant that not only could I not use the damn thing, but I was paying for it WHEN WE WEREN'T SUPPOSED TO BE IN THE FIRST PLACE!!!! So I bit the bullet, and phoned *ahem* "customer service" (*hack* *cough* *splutter*)

Today, I lost 45 minutes of my life that I won't get back in a hurry. I spent 45 excruciating minutes on the blower, explaining the same situation to three different people, all of whom would be paid regardless of whether or not my problem was solved.

I would like to congratulate you, Mr. Telstra, for training your employees magnificently in the fine arts of contempt and condescension. All three of them had perfected an impeccable phone manner, in which they repeatedly assured me that I would be taken care of, whilst simultaneously clearly implying I was an imbecile.

The first two told me that they would explain my situation to the next "customer service" representative that I would speak to. I'm not sure what information was passed on, but each new person answered the phone completely oblivious to who I was, or what I wanted.

Initially, I spoke to a rather obsequious young man who assured me that my problem was indeed unacceptable, and that he would personally ensure that a solution would be found. Enter handball number one.

The young lady who followed kept telling me that she was a T-box performance engineer, or some crap  thing like that. She patently didn't believe me when I told her the thing was broken. I told her that it had never worked properly, that we had developed strategies when it needed "help". I informed her that we had changed the batteries in the remote, disconnected the whole shebang, put it all back together, and still it didn't work.

She asked me if it was switched on at the power point.

She's quite fortunate I didn't stick my fist down the phone at her at this junction.

When she asked if the telly was actually turned on, or if I had forgotten to do so, I got a bit, um, authoritative. It took her 30 minutes to tell me to press this, and reset that, and hold this button, and enter this PIN that you will find underneath the modem on the other side of the room, only to find that none of it worked. At which point, I simpered, "So, now do you believe me? It's B-R-O-K-E-N".

Would you believe I was then tranferred to a new person?? This one, the lucky last, went through my personal details again, asked my life story, again, and then explained in the most condescending tones an 18 year old could muster, that I needed to pay for the service if I wished to use it.

"Look," I said, in my best teacher voice. "You might think I'm thick, but two separate Telstra employees told me and my husband that this was part of a promotion. The words "you will not be charged for this" were uttered, twice. At no point in time would I ever, EVER, sign up for a recording device costing $300, especially since all it did was stuff the telly up and break down all the time."

I was then asked quietly if I would like to return the T-box. Well yes, actually, I would. You can take your T-box and stick it in the proverbial sunshine-deficient place.

Long story short, Mr. Telstra, not only am I sending back your piece of plastic, but you're paying for the postage, and I'm getting a full refund. And all because I stopped speaking nicely and used the same tone of voice your company is famous for.

I'm not saying I'm going to start swaggering around being rude to all and sundry. Heavens to Betsy, no. That would be most unpleasant. No, no - what I learned today was that whenever I deal with your company, rude is the way to go. It's the only language you understand, you see.

So thank you, Mr. Telstra, for helping me find my chutzpah today. Oh, and the refund will be most welcome, too.

Yours (ever so delicately blowing a raspberry)


Sunday, July 24, 2011

The 200th non-event

Just a quick note before I pop off tonight. It's the last night of this year's Tour de France, you see, and after three weeks of late nights I'm a bit pooped. I stayed up last night to watch Cadel's triumphant time trial (which made sense, really, since I had a husband running between the telly in the loungeroom and the telly in the bedroom, barely able to contain himself. Not to make him sound effeminate or anything, but there was hand flapping. I kid you not.)

Anyhow, Cadel is already cruising steadily along in a Schleck sandwich, heading towards the Champs Elysee and the winner's podium. Christian and I have both been planning our lessons for tomorrow with one eye on the bikes. But I am so tired, my one eye on the telly is rapidly becoming my only open eye, so I am going to turn in. Otherwise my Grade Fives might be met by a snoozing Mrs. O'Toole tomorrow. Ha.

I don't really have anything spectacular to tell you today. Went to swimming lessons this morning. Jack's fingernail came off (did I mention how his little finger met the door of Grandpa's safe? No? Oh. Well, it did. And it was messy, to say the least. The nail lifted up due to the biggest blood blister known to man and hovered there for a week. We called it "the finger of doom". Then the finger burst in the staffroom at my new place of employment, while I was meeting the staff for the first time. Someone thought Jack had tomato sauce slathered on his potato chips. There was no sauce. Then it shriveled (the finger, not the sauce), and grew brown and manky. And today it fell off. Nice?!?!)

Um, sorry, right - swimming lessons, finger of doom fell off. Quiet afternoon at home (translation: kids played frenetically in a small space because of rain and washing strung everywhere; Christian tried to do work at kitchen table - not sure how successful that was - and I cooked three meals to cover my days at work.) Took the dogs for a walk in the rain. Maisie was so delighted to be outside in the rain that she didn't try to pull her beanie off once. Jack held Daisy's lead the whole way and was mightily chuffed with himself. Archibald practised being a gentleman.

Bath time.
Dinner time.
Story time.
Bed time.

Cleaned the kitchen; made the lunches; packed the bags; laid out the clothes; prepared the spelling words for tomorrow's lesson.

Sat and surveyed the destruction  toys distributed throughout the house. Observed three baskets of unfolded washing. Thought about it. Decided they wouldn't hurt anyone if left alone for another day.

Had a cup of tea and opened my laptop to check things out before bed. Realised that this would be my 200th post. Then realised I had nothing of note to say.

So now I really am off to bed. I am going to trust Cadel to make it safely to the finish line without me being conscious. At this point, I'm not sure my eyes will be prised open before recess tomorrow. But with any luck, tomorrow will be super-duper interesting so that I might actually have a story to tell you. Or not.

Saturday, July 23, 2011


So I think I owe you a few posts, right?

Not that you have to read them. I'm not demanding your undivided attention, or anything bossy like that. I know I just mentioned a few things I meant to blog about, and hadn't got around to actually writing them. So if you'd rather, you can just turn away now and go back to Facebook, or Twitter, or actual work, whatever takes your fancy, really. I'll just stay here for a few minutes and fill in my virtual baby book, ok?


So last Friday, we took the kids bushwalking. We were meant to go on the Monday, but Maisie and I were as sick as the proverbial canine. Since I spent all of Monday in bed (I know, right?), and the Mouse had a hacking gutteral cough, we waited until Wednesday...and then postponed the hike again, since by then Mousie's nose was streaming freely and copiously.

Jack and Phoebe were, understandably, most displeased at our delay tactics. They had been very patient and understanding on the Monday morning when Mummy's head did not separate from her pillow. They were grudgingly sympathetic on the Tuesday, and again on the Wednesday. By Thursday, there was open dissent amongst the troops. So Christian and I girded our loins, and prepared for our trip regardless of Friday's weather. The plan was that if the Mouse woke still snotty on Friday morning, I would stay home with her. Thank goodness, she was raring to go.

Clad in trackies, gumboots and warm skivvies, we hit the road at 7:30am. Did I mention we had borrowed Grandma and Grandpa's car? The clutch on my Tucson had given up the ghost on the Tuesday, and since our little Barina does not take three Maxi-Riders, we were going to have to ride our bikes to Tarra Valley if we ever wanted to get there....

Enter Grandma and Grandpa's Fairlane!! That poor car got stuffed full of backpacks and picnic rugs and books and snacks and coats and nappies and hand sanitiser, and off we went. Daddy had drawn a cunning little map for Jack and Phoebe so they would know what to expect. After two hours in the back seat singing classic 80's pop, we arrived at our first bush track.

Now you see, Christian and I used to do a lot of camping before the kids trampled their way graced us with their presence in our lives. We had panniers to carry our camping gear on our bikes, and would ride a fair distance before setting the tent up for the night. I knew it was only a matter of time before we took the kids on some sort of outdoorsy trip, so a spot of bush-bashing seemed to be the perfect introduction.

Both of the big kids insisted on carrying backpacks with their water bottles and a muesli bar in them. With Maisie in the Baby Bjorn, we trekked along a windy, hilly bush path for a kilometer or so. There were enormous tree ferns and lyrebirds singing, rushing creeks and little bridges, and an overriding sense of calm. The kids were delighted to reach the waterfall (the destination on their map), and then they ran back through the forest to the promise of a picnic.

There's nothing quite like a ham sandwich eaten on a damp wooden bench, in a still, dripping rainforest that literally rings with your children's laughter. We had a lovely little picnic, which was only marred slightly by the need to use the long-drop toilets nearby. Wouldn't have been so bad if I had just been able to nick in quickly was holding two children over the toilet while they took care of business and had lengthy chats with me that did my head in (not to mention my nose...)

Our next stop was a longer walk, this time to a suspension bridge. Originally, the plan had been for me to carry the Mouse in the sling for the first, shorter walk, and for Christian to take her on the second hike. However, she carried on so badly when Daddy strapped her in, that I ended up with her again. She was a bit stroppy on the 1.5km trek downhill, but nothing I couldn't handle. I let her run along the suspension bridge, and she flapped her arms and screeched with joy.

All three kids absolutely loved the bouncy bridge, and looked down into the deep gully filled with ferns from behind the safety of the barriers. It was worth every minute of the walk with eleven kilos of toddler strapped to my front, just to see our kids ignite a love of bushwalking right in front of us. I watched them running up and down, and thought, why haven't we done this before? This is magic.

And then came time to walk back to the car.

Firstly, we had to convince the Mouse to get back into the Baby Bjorn. We were not very successful. Even though we managed to force her limbs back into the correct bits of the sling, she screamed and flung herself around so wildly that I had to physically restrain her to stop her from falling out. Which is how I found myself climbing a steep bush path, UP HILL, gripping one arm and two legs of a wailing, flailing 18 month old banshee. There were no birdies cheeping merrily near us, peoples.

With everyone back in the car, safely strapped in and with food shoved unceremoniously in their gobs, we began the trip home. And I must say, I reckon our kids had a brilliant day. Considering we took three kids aged five and under on two (smallish) bushwalks, we came home relatively unscathed. Here is a summary of what we took home from Tarra Valley:

* some rather cute photographs of the kids running through the ferns and posing in front of waterfalls
* a few photos of me in my favourite brown beanie. (Not the most fetching garment, but warm.)
* a significant amount of mud gathered on gumboots, pants and hands. (Definitely worth it.)
* three carseats full of biscuit crumbs and bits of muesli bar
* a red-faced, knackered Mummy with permanent weals on her shoulders and back in the exact shape of a Baby Bjorn, and kick marks on her thighs which match the Mouse's booted feet
* a plan for a camping trip in the near future, which will expand on the fun had by all at Tarra Valley
* a decision that next time, Mummy will not wear the sling, but will instead lure the Mouse using sugary treats or whatever is necessary to move her. Tooth decay be damned, I am not wearing the Baby Bjorn up hill ever again!!

Thursday, July 21, 2011



You may not remember me.

I'm the girl who used to blog every day, or every second day, at least. I'm the chick who found it difficult to wander through the hazy days of housewifery without a little bloggy interlude to get her through. I'm the mum who always tried to find time to jot down the comings and goings of her brood, to prevent forgetting those delicious days of childhood.

I'm still that girl. Only now, I'm also a part-time teacher. And since Term 3 began this week, I have either been at school or desperately, scarily, wading-through-thigh-deep-water tired. So I owe you a post about our bushwalking trip last Friday. I owe you a post about puppy school on Saturday. I owe you a post about Maisie's adventures at Southland. And I owe you a post about diving back into the world of a working mumma (and by that, obviously I mean a PAID working mumma - pshaw).

But tonight? Tonight I am hurt. Confused. Extremely tired. And just a little bit angry. Peeved, you might say.

I'm the first to admit I have been a long-distance friend to a lot of my girlfriends over the last few years. There has been a combination of factors contributing to this - babies, moving houses, working long hours, post-natal depression. Without exception, my friends have been there to support me, regardless of how long since we last spoke.

I told you recently how I was reunited with Jen after four years. It took a funeral to get us back together, but the grief was all for Stan. There was not an ounce of sadness between us, no recriminations or blame - just joy at finding each other again. That's what I call a good friend.

On Sunday, I went to the funkiest baby shower I've ever attended to celebrate the impending arrival of Kirsty's little princess. Most of my high school girlies were there, which is a recipe for a good time. It was only when Fleur, one of my lovely friends, commented that it was nice to see me happy, that I realised that I probably haven't been the best company for some time. And I felt compelled to apologise, to explain.

So I told her about my struggles with PND after Phoebe's birth, and how I avoided seeing the lot of them when I could. How guilty I felt about that. How I knew that I had been a poor friend. And my words were met with understanding, smiles, and love. Not once did I feel judged, or found lacking in the necessary skills for friendship.

And I suppose over the last few years, Christian and I have dealt with our fair share of challenges. I don't need to tell you again. But a direct result of this, is that most of my friendships have been conducted via Facebook or text at some point or another, simply because I was clutching on for grim life. It didn't mean my friends meant any less to me. And thank goodness, my beautiful friends understood this, and never deserted me.

By this point, you probably think I'm a great big sook. Boo hoo, terrible things have happened and I forgot to ring my friends. (And most likely, you'd be right. I am a sook. And an ugly crier. Let's not forget that.)

But I do try to keep on keeping on, even when things are tricky. When we're not being traumatised in the middle of the night by men wielding weapons, or helping my husband recover from a stress-induced heart attack, or waiting to see if my mum's breast cancer has gone away, I'm a pretty happy person. And it's when I'm not expending every ounce of energy in my little family trying to keep things on an even keel, that I see my friends. Speak to them. Catch up with them. Have a coffee, even.

For the past two and a bit months, I've been dealing with a horrible, awful, stomach-churningly sad situation. Although it's been in the background of my life for about two years, recently it has come to a head. It's not my story to tell. Most of my friends IRL don't know about it. Certainly, I am not about to discuss it here. Nevertheless, it has affected me every day, and occupied my thoughts every night, for quite a while now. And there's absolutely nothing I can do about it.

So to get through the day without crying all over people, or having to explain the situation, or going out in public with a face that would curdle milk, I have done what I always do - poured my energy into my kids, and spent any left-over energy at the supermarket. The only difference is, this time I let a handful of my friends in on the secret. Rather than hiding away completely, I confided in some of my nearest and dearest - not those who were dealing with huge stresses in their own lives, but those who love me enough to cope with the ugly crier.

Once again, I have neglected to phone or catch up with a number of friends for a few months. But we're talking two or three months - not years. So it was absolutely gutting tonight to pop onto Facebook to see that one of my "good" friends had 'unfriended' me. Sorry? Are we in primary school?

I have absolutely no idea why this has occurred. I last spoke to this person in late April. Whatever heinous crime I have committed, I can assure you it is a mystery to me. But there it is - I have been dropped. Which I suppose, is simply long overdue judgement that I am a crap friend.


I wouldn't blame the lot of you if you dropped me for being a whinger. But before you do, know this. When I am running around busily, I often think of you. When I am hiding my sadness away, I am doing it because I don't want to inflict it on you. When I am only 'talking' to you on Facebook, it is because I crave your company but don't have enough hours in the day. When I am baking a cake, I'm wishing I could eat it with you. And when you have something go wrong, no matter how busy I am, I am there for you. And I would never, ever unfriend you for not phoning me. That would be hypocritical.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Happy-Sad Smile

Are you familiar with the happy-sad smile? You know, the little smile that plays around your mouth when you see or hear something lovely, but falters slightly when your brain registers the bittersweet edge to the moment? And then, to cover the wobble which inevitably occurs in your facial region, you concentrate on bringing back the smile so that no one notices?

Usually, it's easier to recognise a happy-sad smile after the wobble. You can pick it from the extra effort required to maintain full-wattage in the grin; the slightly strained look around the mouth; the way the smile drops out of the eyes.

But people work hard with their happy-sad smiles. Especially mothers. Sometimes, it's only a little thing that makes us wibbly, so maintaining the countenance is not a true hardship. Other times, however, holding a calm outer shell is excruciating. But we do it, because to allow your children to see a chink in the happy armour would upset them.

IAll good mummies know, it's very important to keep a cheerful expression on your face, even if your heart is breaking. Even when the tears are spilling down your face.

I have worked hard at keeping my happy-sad face at bay recently. The reasons for my melancholy are diverse....we shall not visit them here. Rest assured, my children are keeping me occupied enough for twenty mummies. And it is because of them, that I have practised my happy-sad four times today...

Last night, the Mouse coughed and coughed and coughed. The poor little girl sounded like an emphysemic old man. Being under two, there is very little we can give her other than Panadol and cuddles. So this morning, I tried to breastfeed her before breakfast, to see if I could comfort her tickly throat at all. Unfortunately, every time she coughed, she bit me - needless to say, our 'cuddle' lasted all of five minutes.

It did not seem to bother my baby at all. She toddled off after Jack and Phoebe, shouting instructions at them in gibberish, and soon had them playing a game completely of her own design (Not bossy at all for an 18 month old?!) I sat on the couch watching her, marvelling at how grown-up my little string bean is becoming. She kept flashing her pearly whites at me, in between hacking coughs, and lunging at me for 'tuddles'. And my smiling face wobbled slightly, when I thought briefly about her growing independence, and how my last baby was rapidly growing into a little girl.

And then I felt like a bad mother, wishing for the Mouse to stay little, rather than relishing her growth, her confidence, her wonderful, strong little personality. So I plastered the smile back on my face, and went to make breakfast.

Later, I took the two big kids to a playdate while Mousy stayed home in the warm with Daddy. Jack was happy playing with his mates from school (who'd have thought they could survive two whole weeks without each other??), and Phoebalina was in heaven playing with the other little sisters. There were Iron Man games, Buzz costumes, and fairy dresses galore. Kid paradise!

The mums stood in the kitchen, fielding requests for drinks and preventing the smallest children from hurling themselves over the baby gate. The most exciting topic of the day was undoubtedly the imminent arrival of Sue's new baby, due in two days. We took turns rubbing her bump, trying to get the baby to kick, and attempting to guess it's weight. Such an incredibly thrilling time in your life, the days before a birth. I remember feeling as though the air was different. Everything had a hint of sparkle to it.

I would give anything to be able to have another baby. If this makes me selfish, well, then I'm selfish. But the fact that my body is unable to carry another child simply makes me want one even more. So I watched Sue's baby bump today with a smile, which wobbled very slightly when I thought about being pregnant, and how much I enjoyed it. Most likely, Sue saw the wobble. She knows how much I'd love Number Four. My wobble doesn't diminish my joy for her. But it was there, nevertheless.

So I slapped myself mentally, and reminded myself that I have three perfectly presentable children already. It would be greedy to ask for another. It would also be foolhardy to leave my husband to raise four children by himself (!) Besides, I can cuddle Sue's baby, and then in November, my own niece or nephew, and then hand them back to their mummies when they become stinky or unsettled. Happy smile back on face.

Back at home, Jack accompanied me on a doggy walk with Archibald. Being a freezing cold afternoon, we donned hoodies under our winter coats and walked like blimps up our street. I love walking with Jack. He keeps up a little patter of conversation while trotting beside me, about things like how he is going to be a dragon killer when he grows up. Today, a girl went past us wearing short shorts. Like, really short shorts.

Now, last year, Jack went through that phase all small boys go through, in that he would only wear shorts, regardless of the thermometer. Except, he called them "up pants". It followed, naturally, that long trousers were "down pants". You get the gist. It was one of the little things that made him so endearing, and I'll admit I encouraged it shamelessly because it was so darned cute.

Today, that girl went past us, and Jack said, "Mum, why was that girl know...those pants?" I replied, "Do you mean up pants?" "No," he said, frowning. "No.....oh! Shorts! Why was she wearing shorts?" He was so pleased and proud to have found the correct word he was looking for. And I, oh, I faltered badly. I smiled, pushing harder and harder until it reached my eyes, and said, "That's right, darling! Shorts! Remember you used to call them up pants?"

Inside my head, I was thinking, "Please call them up pants. Please. Otherwise, you're a bit more grown-up. And just a tiny bit further away from me." But I didn't let him see that. How could I, when it would only take the shine off of his growing vocabulary? He wanted me to be proud. He needed me to be proud. So the happy-sad got happy again.

We came home, and brought Archie in from the cold. We sat around the dinner table, eating roast chicken and chatting (or coughing, in the case of the Mouse). Pyjamas were put on, teeth were brushed. A chapter of "The Faraway Tree" was listened to, snuggled on the couch. My brother rang from Queensland, to say goodbye before his big trip overseas, and I listened to my kids chatting sweetly to their big, exciting uncle. And the Mouse cuddled me on the couch, sobbing because she felt so miserable. Eventually, she fed quietly and calmly, until the coughing stopped and she slept deeply in my arms.

There was definitely no happy-sad smile by then. By that point, the smile had reached the eyes, and stayed there.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Shell, I'm sorry I dragged you to Planet Kids!

Back in the day, before my uterus was stretched beyond recognition and my life became noisier, messier, and cuddlier than I ever thought possible, playcentres made me shudder.

Not because of the masses of children. Oh no. I've always loved kids - doting big sister became busy baby sitter, became camp counsellor, became nanny, became teacher - being around kids is what I do. (Some might say because I am on the same intellectual wavelength...I say, don't insult the children).

No, I'll admit I recoiled from the idea of playcentres because the only ones I had seen were a bit grubby. A bit dingy, without any natural light, and with dubious ball pits for the babies. I wasn't entirely keen on the idea of my precious sprogs running around on sticky carpet or hurling themselves into enclosed curly slides, ending the ride by kissing the dirty mat at the bottom.

However, being a rational (yes, you heard me. Rational. Moving right along...) person, I have come to see the value of a good playcentre. We are lucky enough to have two centres within 15 minutes of home, both of which we have visited for birthday parties, emergency coffees, and desperately rainy days. Both have excellent sectioned-off areas for babies, are clean and well-presented, and offer more than hot chips on the menu.

On Friday, I had organised to meet two girlfriends of mine at Planet Kids for a morning playdate. Casey, the uber-housewife extraordinaire of Milkncookies fame, and Michelle, much-envied overseas traveller. Now see, we were all looking forward to the day, because years and years ago, the three of us had worked together in Shell's parents' newsagency. In actual fact, Shell and I had spent the majority of our teenage years together. We went to the same high school; shared a swimming coach and trained together (although she was by far and away one of the best swimmers I have ever seen - I was Mrs. McAverage, coming up the pool lane spluttering chlorine...); and when we worked together in the newsagency, we were regularly mistaken for sisters.

Since Shell has lived in Saudi Arabia for several years now, we had arranged this playdate months ago when she planned a visit home to Australia. Which meant that when Casey's little boy developed an ear infection on Thursday night and needed to see the doctor on Friday morning, our plans were going to go ahead, regardless! Casey dropped her daughter off with us, so that she could at least have a run with Phoebalicious, and took her poor sick little bundle off to get some medi for his ears.

Shell and I spent several hours catching up amidst the hubbub of a playcentre filled to capacity. It was so lovely to see her - incredible to think that I had not seen her for such a long time, but so grateful to have the chance to see her while she was home. Thank goodness she was there too - I kept losing sight of Jack and Phoebe in the swarms of children herbing around, and Maisie had developed an unhealthy obsession for the slide. If it weren't for Shell, I wouldn't have known which way to run!

Seeing Michelle was the best part of my day. But I can tell you this right now - I will not be gracing Planet Kids with my money again. The staff are always friendly and helpful, without a doubt. But any playcentre that cannot cope with a rainy day on a school holiday is not being run properly. That is their business. They should know what to do.

Firstly, I had to park a few blocks away and walk through mud and along a busy road with three small children (no footpaths, anyone?!?) because the playcentre's ten car spaces were full, and the marked parking on the road out the front is also a designated "No Standing" zone. I know this because the last time I went there, the friend I went with got a huge parking fine.

Once we had trekked our way to the entrance, we were charged $33 to enter. Bear with me. I may not be a genius, but the large, clear, laminated sign on the front counter said $8 for four years and over, $6 for three years old, $5 for one year old. 8 + 6 + 5 = $19, right?? The girl went to turn away, and I asked her how it possibly came to $33, thinking perhaps there was a holiday surcharge or an exorbitant fee for parents that was new?? Not only did she not see anything strange with the price she had just charged me, she could not work out how much to give back to me.

When Casey arrived to drop her daughter off, not only did she have to pay to bring her son in for five minutes, but they tried to overcharge her too! When she corrected them, the girl got confused and couldn't deal with it. She literally had to get another staff member to "deal with" Casey's refund. Considering Case had been standing at the entrance for ten minutes, waiting for someone to grace the cash register, this did not go down well.

The average wait for a coffee was 20 minutes. And when I say average, I mean I saw and heard people leaving because half an hour had passed, and their lattes had not appeared. There were tables with 'Reserved' written on them, yet there were not enough for the people actually present to sit down. Shell and I had to crouch in the babies' area for nearly an hour before we snatched a table. Even then, Phoebe had to sit on my knee because there were not enough chairs (and those reserved tables stayed empty the whole time I was there. Should have just sat there.)

No one told the ten year olds to get out of the babies' area. I eventually got my teacher's voice out of storage and used it on some pre-teens who were about to crush my daughter's fingers. They waited until I had retrieved the Mouse from underneath them, and then continued merrily on their way.

I got particular joy out of nuking the tiny hairs inside the noses of passers-by, when I had to stand for ten minutes at the front counter, screaming, flailing Mouse in arms, waiting for a plastic bag to contain the heinous mess inside her nappy. Her poo can stop a man in his tracks - on this particular day, I was glad.

Don't get me wrong - I felt sorry for the staff at this playcentre. They were overwhelmed by the sheer number of children that were given (overpriced) entry that day. There were not enough people to oversee the whole operation, and for that, I am sad. But it is their business to be prepared for rainy days. In the winter school holidays, they should have been ready for the deluge of money coming their way via crazed mummies needing their chai fix and kids devouring sandwiches and the jumping castle in equal measures.

But they weren't, and it wasn't pleasant. So on the next rainy day, I shall be visiting the other playcentre in our area. It's a bit smaller, and quite a bit older, but it is always a nice place to visit. The food is fresh and prompt, the coffee is hot and plentiful, and it has a dress-up corner that Phoebalina adores. The only drawback is that the Mouse can escape from the babies' I shall just have to teach her not to climb the enormous inflatable ladder into the kids' labyrinth. Or perhaps I might just don socks and join her - they can't kick me out for that, can they?

Friday, July 8, 2011

Sleeping Like A Baby

Ask anybody about the first thing that comes to mind about the early years of raising a child, and you can bet the majority of them will answer, 'sleep'.

Sleep deprivation.

Sleep training.

Sleep schedules.

Sleeping babies.

Sleeping behind the wheel.

I think all of us have joked more than once, "If someone put ME to bed at 7pm, you can be sure I wouldn't come back out! No problems with monsters under the bed here!" Guffaw. Chuckle.

Most people try to put their children to bed at a reasonable hour. Not only is sufficient sleep essential for a child's health and well-being, but it's downright necessary for a parent's mental health. And I suppose, given that little children typically have bedtimes between 6pm and 7:30pm, it's a safe assumption that they'd wake between 5 and 6am. I mean, we couldn't really expect them to sleep longer than 10 to 12 hours, right? Right? *sigh*

Look, I know I have very little to complain about. Jack slept through at 11 weeks. Both of my girls slept through at 5 weeks. And by 'sleeping' through, I mean they did eight hours at a stretch, during the night - the fact that it was 7pm to 3am was not something I could quibble about.

Jack has always been a great sleeper. Narcoleptic, even. As a baby and toddler, he would sleep from 7 til 7, with two naps of an hour each. Quite deceptive really, given that he is a first child. If he was your first child, you'd be forgiven for wondering what all the malarcky about sleep deprivation with toddlers was about. (And by the way, peoples, we're not counting the early days as a newborn. Oh no. Back in the day, Jackie boy breastfed every two hours, round the clock. Round. The. Clock. Did Mummy lose her baby weight? Oh my lordy me, yes. Did Mummy nearly lose her mind without the calming, restorative effects of shut-eye? Do you need me to spell it?)

Both Phoebe and Maisie were terrific sleepers when they were tiny. I could literally put them down anywhere and they'd snooze away happily (although I will admit to more than a few afternoons spent holding them while they snored, simply because I could...) Phoebalina has always had a different body clock to her brother, preferring to go to bed later, and wake up long after Jack has been up and racing. More than once I crept into her room at 7, 8, 9am, just to check that she was still breathing. But since she had her own bedroom, it didn't matter.

It matters now.

You know how we're renting a unit while we build our new house? Well you see, the new house was supposed to be finished by now. We were meant to be residing in a beautiful townhouse, complete with three (count 'em, people!) bedrooms and two and a half bathrooms (which translates into three toilets. Three. What a blissful number. Never mind I am the turkey who has to clean them. One might think, with three lavatories in the house, one might actually find one to use on one's own??)

Anyhow, long, angry story short, our house is not finished. Not unless we wish to throw sleeping bags down on a bare concrete slab and call that home. We recently received a letter from the builder, kindly informing us that our house is scheduled to be completed by June, 2012. No, that's not a typo. And yes, that is 12 months over the June, 2011 date given to us by the builder, after purchasing the "house" in April 2010. Do you think I am a happy camper?? Not so much, no.

So in the meantime, we are renting, which I understand makes us more fortunate than many, many people. And I hate to whinge, but it's just the fact that we have three children, three YOUNG children, all sharing the one, small bedroom. One who likes to go to bed early, and wake up early. One who prefers to go to bed a bit later, and sleep in a bit. And one who is still breastfed morning and evening, who babbles herself to sleep and chatters when she wakes up, who cries in the night if she has a bad dream, and who thinks it's a lark to have her brother and sister readily available for entertainment purposes.

I suppose they've worked it all out for themselves, clever kids that they are. They seem perfectly content with the situation, now that they've sorted it. Jack and Phoebe go to bed between 6:30 and 7pm, which suits Jack completely. Phoebe lies awake and whispers in the dark, most nights until about 8pm. Maisie conks out around 7pm, but doesn't get carried in until the other two are quiet. If she is unsettled, such as when molars are coming through, we may have several bouts of screaming baby and crying children before everybody calms down. But they all do. Eventually.

Not counting nightmares, monsters under the bed, getting thirsty, needing the toilet and miscellaneous reasons for needing Mummy and Daddy at 2am, our kids sleep pretty soundly once they are asleep.

Until 5:30am.

(At this junction, my mother would remind you that I, too, once woke religiously at 5:30am. I am more than aware of this. I am not unfamiliar with the foibles of toddlers and their sleep/wake times. And I do not think that it is karma that is biting me on the bum. I just think my kids are waking up early, because that is what kids do. Especially when there are three of them in there, and one turns on the light. Hopefully, one day my grandchildren will wake my children at 5:30am. One can only dream.)

At 5:30 every morning, one of them wakes. It's not always the same child, but it matters not. Someone wakes up, which causes the eyelids of the other two to flutter and open. Typically, I take the Mouse into bed to feed her, because my own eyes don't open that early in the morning unless there is a holiday in a tropical destination being offered. The big kids play in their room and the Mouse dozes, until the gaiety next door becomes too much to ignore. At which point, Maisie stops feeding and starts shrieking for Jack and Phoebe. This typically takes ten minutes.

I am not shirty about my kids being awake at such a godforsaken hour. Goodness knows, I don't need beauty sleep. Heavens no! Isn't there a country where dark circles under the eyes, grey skin and general bleariness are prized beauty traits?? No..???????? Oh.

Well. At least during these years of rising at sparrow's fart, I have the advantage of not needing to spend money on batteries for my alarm clock. I can also rest easy in the knowledge that I will never miss the 6am news bulletin. That's important. And one day, one day, I will have teenagers that I cannot get out of bed for love or money. That's when the real fun shall begin. You want karma? I'll give you karma.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

17 years

Once upon a time, there was a 17 year old schoolgirl.

At the end of her final year at school, her aunty gave birth to a beautiful, brown-eyed baby boy.

From the day he was born, that tiny cousin was adored. He grew into a gorgeous little boy, funny, sweet and obsessed with trains. The schoolgirl spent a lot of time with him, and loved every minute.

When James was two, his brother was born. Another beautiful, brown-eyed babe.

Together, James and Andrew spent a lot of time with the schoolgirl.

By this time, she was at uni, and lived not very far away from her baby cousins in the city.

Her favourite days were the ones spent building train tracks on the floor, playing outside in the sandpit, and watching the (fledgling) Wiggles on video.

She loved her little cousins to bits. They were never naughty for her, only mischievous. Even when, one Christmas Day, Andrew stuffed his cheeks with the entire contents of the bread basket and then vomitted all over the kitchen floor, she thought those boys were awesome.

Still does.

Today, a 17 year old schoolboy played for hours with the Mouse.

His 15 year old brother did too.

The two of them were endlessly patient and indulgent. Every giggle she burbled was adorable. Every miaow she uttered was hilarious.

The Mouse's mother watched James and Andrew play with her daughter, and smiled. It had been magical, knowing her cousins since the day they were born. Watching them grow from chubby babies, to cheeky toddlers, to towering, clever, funny, kind teenagers.

It was even more magical, watching them continue the love with her own baby, 17 years later.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Absolute gold for the 21st

One of the best things about being a parent, is the collection of funny and embarrassing stories your children hand you on a platter, sometimes on a daily basis.

I know I was a source of amusement (and sheer squirm factor) to my own parents, because I've heard the stories many times. But I wouldn't dream of sharing them here. Oh no. I'd hate to bore you with tales of my loud-mouthed two-year-old outbursts. It wouldn't be fair.

My own kids have given me so many hilarious stories at their own expense that I'm assuming their 21st birthday parties will have to run for several days. The speeches alone could take 24 hours, given the gold that has poured from my children in their early years.

Like the time Jack had gastro so terrible, he was in Monash Medical Centre for five days. He was only coming up to fifteen months old, the poor little bugger. The doctors had given him medication to stop the *ahem* symptoms of the gastro, which meant that he didn't poo for a week. On the day of his follow-up appointment, we parked in the Monash carpark, and went to get Jack out of his carseat. As I (7 months preggers with Phoebalina) lifted him up, a sudden noise and smell pervaded the still winter air.

Christian and I ran through the car park, holding our boy as gingerly as possible, while a look of complete relief settled on his cherubic face. Scooting through the Emergency Department, we spied a disabled toilet / nappy change area and locked ourselves in. When we stopped to inspect our now deliriously happy child, the damage was considerable.

To say we had to strip him naked is obvious. I'm not lying when I tell you we binned his entire outfit. I'm certainly not exaggerating when I tell you we had to bath him in the basin. And I'm sure you're not surprised to hear that Jack attended his check up with the doctor wearing a nappy, a singlet, and Mummy's jumper.
Most likely I will not tell this one at his 21st. I'd hate to scar him any more than I already have.

Phoebalina is not immune to being the brunt of funny stories. We have hours of video footage of her running around in a nappy, dancing and making up silly songs. One of my personal favourites is the one where Christian "interviews" a two year old Phoebe about the dinosaurs, who are going to come and "bite her in the yoghurt". It is screamingly funny. When she is fifteen, she will hate it.

Most likely, she will also detest the tale of how she broke her nose. Only eight days after Maisie was born, I put Jack, Phoebe, Maisie and Christian to bed (Christian had heart surgery the day before, so he was a bit more worse for wear than my caesarean-ed self). Christian, Jack and Maisie all went straight to sleep. Naughty Miss Phoebalina decided to turn her bed into a trampoline.

Five minutes after tucking her in, I hobbled to her bedroom in response to horrific screams. There she was, in the middle of her bed, covered in blood. She had been jumping on it, had stumbled and fallen so that the bridge of her nose cracked on the wooden bedhead. I freaked, thinking she had knocked out teeth, because there was so much blood I couldn't tell where it was coming from. It turned out that she had broken her nose, and for weeks she looked like a bruised version of Barbara Streisand.

After I had cleaned her up, calmed her down and changed the bed linen, I asked her what had happened. Was she jumping on the bed? "No, Mummy", insisted my two year old demon. For months, even though she told everybody about the "blut" on her nose and role-played with her dollies, she denied jumping on the bed. It was only when boasting to her teacher at child care one day, that the true story came out. Phoebe is now an expert on "blut". And we have learned how to interpret our eldest daughter's "truths"!

Yesterday we were all in the car together, driving to swimming lessons. We were discussing our (elusive, mythical, doubtful-it-will-ever-actually-happen) new house which will have STAIRS. Oh, the excitement about the stairs!! Jack told us, "When I grow up, I'm going to have a house with stairs, just like you Mum." "Are you darling? That's nice" I replied, making a shopping list in my head.

"Yes, and Phoebe and I are going to live in our house with stairs just like you and Dad. And Phoebe will be the Mummy, and I'll be the Daddy, and Maisie can be the sister. I'll go to work, and Phoebe will stay at home and look after the babies, and she'll cook tea for me when I get home. But if she gets sick, I'll cook the tea." During this monologue, Phoebe nodded her head vigorously. Maisie miaowed like a cow.

Christian looked at me sideways, smirking fit to burst. "Do we tell them?" he mouthed. And even though I too was struggling to hide my mirth, I thought, no. Our beautiful little son sees a Mummy and a Daddy who live together, and love their kids. He sees what I do at home, and why Christian goes out to work. He sees that we all love each other, and he obviously loves his two sisters enough to want to live with them forever. The fact that he wants to live in a house next door to his parents when he is grown-up is delightful (and a fact I will remind him of when he is fourteen and revolting). The fact that Christian and I are not (thank the sweet Lord) siblings has not entered his blonde little head.

So I turned to Jack, and told him it was a lovely plan. I asked if he would let me live with him when I was old like Argie. He looked at me and replied, "Mummy, we'll never be old. But you can live with me. I'll look after you."

I am gobsmacked with delight over Jack's little speech. I know it will never happen. But still, it's nice to know that right now, my kids love each other enough to want to grow up together. I am grateful to have a little family that enjoys spending time in each other's company.

I am also eternally grateful for that little vignette. It will be invaluable at Jack's 21st birthday.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Cycling Widow

If you've read my blog before, you'd know that my husband is pretty awesome.

If you know me IRL, then you might have also met my hubby...and chances are, you've seen for yourself what a top bloke he is.

My other half is funny, kind, sweet, smart (some might say a smart a#$e), intelligent, sensitive and thoughtful. He always remembers my favourite things. He brings me little presents, just because. He looks after me.

He makes sure he is home for dinner with the family every single night. He puts the kids and me before everything, every time. (Before you start thinking the man is a saint (or worse, a doormat), he knows full well how to stir the pot too...he knows exactly how to wind me up!!)

Despite not being a 'pet' person, he happily took on Ernie when we started dating. (I knew Ernie was a good judge of character already...he had completely dismissed the guy I dated before Christian. Smart cat.) When I came home from a day of Christmas shopping with my Mum, and told Christian I had seen a kitten that had "Mine" written all over it, he told me to go and get her. That was how we adopted Bella (and how Christian fell in love with the tabby kitten who adored him at first sight!)

When I decided I wanted a puppy....well. Let's just say it didn't take long for Daisy to join our growing family. And I'll be honest, when our friends' dogs had a litter of pups, I never expected Christian to acquiesce to my pleas for another doggy. Seriously, I thought he would draw the line at one dog and two cats. But since Archie is now fast asleep and snoring in his bed, it would seem that there is nothing my husband will deny me.

I know how lucky I am. I realise how fortunate I am to have such a wonderful husband. Add to the fact that my darling boy doesn't drink or smoke, and in fact his only vice is good coffee, I reckon I've got it pretty good.


My hubby is an avid cyclist. At our wedding, the story of how my mother met my husband was told. In a lycra-clad nutshell, before we started dating, my mum had an enormous huntsman in her car, and flagged down two men on bikes to help her. One of those gallant men was Christian, who was very embarrassed at his first "meet the parents" dinner since my mum had met him in his bike shorts. Since Mum was equally embarrassed about the whole incident, they agreed to laugh it off...and then the squirming began all over again at our wedding reception.

Since we got together in January 2003, I have had to learn all about the world of cycling. Now, we're not talking BMXs and Malvern Stars here. Oh no. My beautiful spouse is completely and utterly obsessed with road bikes and cycling...and as a result, I have heard tidbits about bike parts and famous cyclists on a daily basis for over eight years. Do you hear that, people? A daily basis.

All three of our children learned from a very early age to associate Daddy with bikes. Jack and Phoebe would point to cyclists on the telly, or on the road during the day when Daddy was at work, and would exclaim every time, "Look! It's Daddy!" (And when Jack pointed at Cadel Evans on the box racing his little heart out and called him Daddy, I think Christian nearly burst with pride!)

We can be driving past a cyclist on a busy road, doing 80kmh, and my hubby will be able to tell you every detail of the components on that bike, and who made it, and whether it's any good, and how much it cost. I'm not joking. The man is a walking encyclopaedia about bicycles.

So I suppose it's inevitable, really, that during the three weeks of the Tour de France every year that I am a cycling widow. Being a European event, the nightly coverage of the race begins at 10pm. Depending on the length of the stage, it can go until 2, or even 3 in the morning.

It is not unheard of in our house for Daddy to stay up to watch a particularly exciting stage, with the telly turned down low. When Jack was only 10 weeks old, Christian got so excited watching the Tour in the middle of the night that he yelped. Loudly. Do I need to tell you I wasn't the happiest camper?

Even though he records the footage every night, there's also a daily recap at 6pm. We record that, too. So basically, for 21 days in the middle of winter, every year, my house is hijacked by cycling mania. The Tour magazine is consulted each day to see the degree of the incline being climbed, or the road map of the team time trial. The possible winners of each stage are discussed, and then reconsidered in light of poor time trials or injuries.

It is completely insane. And I love it.

I love the fact that my husband is so passionate about his cycling. I love the fact that he is infecting our kids with his passion, so that they see sport as a positive, fun element in their lives. I love the fact that we watch the race as a family. I love that not only are we seeing bikes, but there is also the gorgeous French countryside and ancient Gallic towns as the cyclists zoom through them. I love that Christian tells me and the kids about the history of the Tour, and stories of how riders in the olden days had to fix their own bikes, and ride lonely journeys up the mountains.

I love the fact that this is being woven into our family's fabric. That our children will grow up feeling the benefits of something that makes their Dad happy. That this might be something they can do with their Dad when they are older.

Even though I call myself a cycling widow, secretly I love it. My husband calls these three weeks "The Festival of Christian". I think that's fairly apt. And I'm fine with it.

In fact, I'm currently planning my own festival. Just like the Tour, it will run for three weeks. Just as a working title, I'm calling it "The Festival of Sal Reclining On A Banana Lounge In A Tropical Destination With A Rather Large Cocktail In Hand And An Enormous Paperback Without Any Interruptions Whatsoever". What do you think?

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Luckiest Girl In The World

I believe in Fate.

You know what people say. All things happen for a reason. It meant to be. It was written in the stars. Kismet. All the things people say when something lovely occurs, such as two people meeting and falling in love against all odds.

When things are slightly askew in my life, I still try and apply the same sentiment. Rather than focusing on the specific negative event at hand, I try and see the big picture. Sometimes it's more difficult...such as when a beloved friend passes away at the age of 51. It's very hard to find the silver lining then.

But generally speaking, I like to think that life on Earth is a great, big jigsaw puzzle. Sometimes, it just fits. Sometimes we try and make a piece fit, but no matter how we jam it in, there's no way it would work. Other times, we're given a piece that seems incredibly ugly, or misshapen, or just does not seem to fit anywhere. And that's when I have to trust that it's been given to me for some reason, and one day, I might discover what that reason is. Or not.

Lately, I've felt as though my jigsaw has been stomped on, chewed up, and spat out by some irate toddler. There's been so many things that have knocked us for six in the past 18 months, I think I'd be forgiven for wondering what was coming next.

After Maisie's birth 18 months ago...
Christian had heart surgery...and recovered beautifully.
I contracted septicaemia...and didn't die.
My mum was diagnosed with breast cancer...and is in remission.
We had a violent home invasion...which we survived.
The school both Christian and I worked at went into administration...and he got another job.
Christian had a prelude to a heart attack...but he didn't have a real heart attack (thank Buddha!!)
I applied for four jobs at the end of last year, and didn't even get one interview...but I got to stay at home with my babies for a while longer.
We lost so much money when the school went under, and then even more living on one, sorry. Nothing positive there.
Our builder is nowhere near finishing our house, even after 15 months...nope. I've got nothing shiny to say about that one either.
Our money is fast disappearing paying for furniture storage, rent, and a mortgage on the new house....but....

Yesterday, I got a job!!!! How about that for luck?

Oh, you don't need to tell me. I'm the luckiest girl in the world.

I was already pretty excited yesterday, because besides being the last day of term, the Prep mums had organised to have a few drinkies together at a local establishment (without the children, obviously. Sheesh.)
At school drop-off yesterday, the mood was high. Cheeks were flushed, scarves were flung jauntily over freezing shoulders. The mummies were heading out!! It was indeed a day to remember.

I popped into the school office to speak to the AP about doing some relief teaching next term. Let's just say our bank balance moans every time we approach an ATM. Despite our best efforts, we just can't afford for me to stay at home full time any longer. So I bit the proverbial and signed up to cover absent teachers two days a week. I thought if I was lucky, I'd get one day every few weeks or so. Better than a kick in the backside.

I arrived home to a ringing phone. Would I like to teach Grade Five for two days a week for the rest of the year? Would I? Um, let me think about that for a nanosecond....Are you serious?

After I finished jumping around like a deranged person and punching the air (if anyone was watching, I sincerely apologise. I will pay for your eyes to be lasered at your earliest convenience), I started thinking. I'd need to spend the holidays planning. I'd need to get into my classroom and organise myself. I'd need to collaborate with my teaching partner. I'd need to pay the hairdresser a long overdue visit (quite possibly, the poor girl will shrink away from me. It's been so long since my last colour my tips have cobwebs).

Quite simply, it was the best news I have had in a VERY long time. And only now that this has happened am I able to see the bigger picture. Now, stay with me. If my school hadn't closed, and if I hadn't been rejected by four different schools sight unseen, and if Christian and I hadn't spend a year and a half becoming poorer by the minute due to my unemployment and our builder's inability to build a house, and if I hadn't been desperate enough to relinquish some of my time at home with the girls to doing CRT work, which quite frankly I don't enjoy, then I wouldn't have been able to take a job at a school I love, with my favourite year level. Not only that, but I get to work two days a week and then spend the rest of my time with my kids.

I told you. Luckiest girl in the world.

To top the day off, Christian took the kids and I out to Taco Bill for dinner, which made me even happier because a) I didn't have to cook or wash a dish, and b) if getting fat wasn't an issue, I could eat carne con chile colorado every day. Every. Day.

When the kids were in bed, I slapped on some makeup, threw on clean (ish) jeans, and hurtled out of the house to meet the other mums at the designated watering hole. In the end, there were only five of us from Jack's class, but it was really nice to get a bit dressed up (although, I had realised while getting dressed that I literally had nothing to I wore an ancient blouse and hoped I could pass it off as vintage), have a glass of bubbly and chat to some really gorgeous women.

So what did we talk about? Our kids, to start with. And then the chat got juicy. We discussed hot doctors (and why they're no good because you can't tell them anything personal), the frustration of having five episodes of Greys on the hard drive, the need to stay up until midnight simply to get some "me" time, and toilet paper versus baby wipes. Yep. And even though I'm not going to share the ins and outs of that one, it was hilarious!!

That's another piece of the jigsaw puzzle that's exactly the right shape - my new school posse. How lucky am I to meet a such a fabulous group of women? Renee, Anna, Trish (our adopted member for the night!) and Sue - thanks for completing my bestest day! Amazing how much fun you can have on only one alcoholic drink...

So there you have it. New friends, new job, glass of champers, no washing up. Best day in a long time. Hands down, I am the luckiest girl in the world.