Saturday, October 22, 2011

Undomestic goddess

Some time ago, I was required to complete some form or another which asked me to list my occupation. At the time, my days were solely occupied by being a stay-at-home mum (and were they occupied!!!). Rather than writing 'unemployed', 'on maternity leave' (or worse, 'confinement leave' - ugh!!), or *shudder* 'housewife', I wrote in my lovely pink pen, 'domestic goddess'.

According to the ladies who received my form, this answer was gold. I appreciated their mirth and resolutely stuck to my belief that they were laughing with me, not AT me...

Lately, I have begun to think I should have written 'undomestic goddess'. Because there does not appear to much about me that is domesticated anymore. I am quite the disorganised headless chook, running hither and yon trying to catch up with my life. Hence the blogging hiatus, and the fervent desire that in my next life, someone designates a full contingent of staff for mine own self.

The past few weeks have seen countless bloggy stories running through my head, only to be chased away by other things, such as shopping lists, school work and bank balances. I sat down the other day to calculate where my time goes during the working week (not the weekends, mind you. They're a whole new minefield of ballet lessons, swimming lessons, boot camp and washing), and it went something like this:

Time spent at school (actual paid work): 16 hours
Time spent driving to and from school (including working days with two different drop-offs for childcare): 10 hours
Time spent looking after girls, cleaning house, food shopping, generally attempting (poorly) to alleviate domestic chaos: 15 hours
Time spent preparing, cooking and cleaning up after meals: 10 hours
Time spent trying to get children into bed (this includes the whole bath, pyjamas and book-reading malarky): 10 hours
Time spent making school lunches: 3.5 hours
Time spent preparing and packing for the next school day: 2.5 hours
Time spent hanging up, folding, or putting away washing: 5 hours (and let's face it, it's slap-dash at best)
Time spent at boot camp or travelling to boot camp: 4 hours
Time spent preparing work for school: 4 hours
Time spent tutoring: 3 hours
Time spent walking Archie and Daisy: 2.5 hours
Time spent standing in my loungeroom lamenting the mess: ??????
Time spent actually holding an uninterrupted conversation with my husband: ooh......ten minutes?

Given that there are 120 hours in five days, the above tasks leave me with 34.5 unaccounted hours. In other words, on average I have 6.9 hours a day for emergency runs to the supermarket late at night for forgotten items, phone calls to my mother and Telstra, watching Underbelly on a Sunday night, and sleep. Which means that the 'sleep' category usually scores a paltry 5 hours. Sad, pathetic, and entirely true.

As you can probably deduce, time spent blogging has been reduced to nil.

I blame boot camp entirely (not my undomesticated goddess-ishness and general disorganisation). There's four hours right there I could be using to spill my guts to all and sundry, when instead I am in a large church (yes, that's right - a church!!) attempting to minimise the gut spillage over the top of my trousers.

So I suppose that's the truth in a long-winded nutshell, really. I have selfishly sacrificed my blogging time for boot camp, thereby leaving my thoughts running wild and my mental health in sincerely dodgy shape!! But all is not lost. Boot camp only goes for another blissful, excruciating 6 weeks, which means that at the beginning of December I can rest my sculpted derriere on a comfy seat and blog to my heart's content. It also means I'll have to find some other way to keep the blobbiness at bay over the silly season....

Basically I can promise you (with hand on heart under sore pectoral) that I am still here. Collecting stupid and funny things my children say and do (said Phoebe yesterday, "Dad, if you have no bum, then you can't eat 'cause you'll die"). Thinking of random things to blog about (Seriously, George Calombaris, you try being a SAHM for an extended period of time, make all your child's food from scratch, wipe it off the walls after every meal, and THEN criticise mothers who feed their children store-bought baby food. Sheesh). Contemplating the finer points of managing household finances (So, we got two invoices for our unbuilt house in one week. With a grand total of $110, 000. In ONE week. How do you think the kids enjoyed their baked beans for dinner???) And missing my blogging community (Yes, I do miss you. Weird I know, but true).

You might ask how it is that I am blogging right now?? The fact of the matter is, the Mouse woke me at 5:50 this morning, inconsolable. I had planned to get to the 7am session of boot camp this morning (yes, lazy, I know!!) but she nixed that by screaming-crying until right about the time I should have been doing hurty things on an exercise mat. So I had a pyjama morning instead, and have already done the dishes, and the washing, sent the children to ballet with a proper breakfast in their tummies, and relieved my bloggy itch. Oh, and the Mouse is back in bed, fast asleep. Little cow.

If I sacrifice half an hour of sleep a night from here until the end of November, I would have my blogging time back again. It's do-able, sure. Just don't ask me to give up Underbelly, ok?

Monday, October 3, 2011

Hot, sweaty buns of steel

So I suppose I should give in and tell you what you're all dying to know. I've been holding out on you, I'll be honest. I mean, really. Who wants to know all the hot and sweaty details? You do? Ok.

Let's talk about boot camp. You didn't really think I was going to talk about you-know-what, did you?? Did you??????

Yep, boot camp. Two little words that elicit hilarious reactions in people. Since I began attending boot camp three weeks ago, I have had friends and strangers react with delight, horror, fear, intrigue, revulsion and curiosity. Admittedly, the horror and revulsion were usually from those confronted with my sweaty, scarlet-faced post-boot-camp self. I don't blame them, not in the slightest. It's a foul sight.

But what is boot camp, really? Why the controversy? Why the interest?

Do I go to get thrashed? Screamed at? Maimed?
Do I have to get up at 4am? In the pouring rain? To pull tyres attached to chains around my neck?
Will it turn me into a bloke? With rippling muscles? And deplete my oestrogen levels?

Um, well, no. It's not as dramatic as all that.

The truth of the matter is, I'm loving boot camp. Absolutely adoring it. Even on a Saturday morning, when I crawl out of bed at twenty past five to make the 6am session (once I'm up it's's the initial groaning heave out from under the covers that kills me).

During the week I go in the evenings, after the kids have been fed. For someone who has always struggled with fatigue at the pointy end of the day, I find it suprisingly easy to don my runners and scoot out the front door. On Saturday mornings, there's a choice of 6am or 7am. And one thing I've learned, having been to both time slots, is that at that end of the day, there's not a whole lot of difference. It's all early.

There's no screaming or whip-cracking (it's exercise, people, not an S & M parlour...) but it is quite gruelling. Most of the exercises use our own body weight, rather than equipment. We are always told to complete a movement slowly and properly, rather than rapidly and risk hurting ourselves. Every routine is different, and challenging, and guaranteed to pinpoint muscles in places you didn't know you had places.

And it's exhilarating.

After every boot camp session, I have left with a red, sweaty face, a body that feels as though it's been wrung out, legs almost too wobbly to walk, and a huge grin. Christian thinks it's hilarious to watch me wince when I attempt to play with the kids on the floor (because my glutes are so excruciatingly sore that I literally cannot sit down). I have, for three weeks now, been completely aware of my muscles with every movement that I make. Mostly because they all hurt.

So if it's so painful, why am I enjoying so much? How has this roly-poly lazy bones with the leftover baby belly suddenly acquired a taste for strenuous exercise? (No one was more surprised than me, let me tell you!)

I love the comraderie of the group. In every session there's men and women, all ages, all shapes and sizes, all giving it their darndest. I love the simplicity of the exercises, and the fact that there's always a version I can do without falling over. I love that there's no frou-frou. It's just Haydn, the instructor, telling us what to do. And we do it. I love the fact that I can feel my body getting fitter. Even though it's only been three weeks, and I am truly a slug, I am already getting faster and stronger. Even if it's only in my mind.

And it's the little things outside of the gym too. Like hearing the cacophony of birdsong beginning as I leave the house at 5.40am on a Saturday. Like being absolutely ravenous for breakfast, and knowing I can enjoy every mouthful. Like having my kids interested in 'Mummy's boot camp', and wanting to exercise with me. Like knowing that I am finally doing something for my own mental health and wellbeing.

Yes, I am completely knackered at the end of the day. And yes, I could eat the legs off a horse after a big session. And oh my lordy me yes, it hurts (today is Monday. My last session was Saturday. I'm only now starting to walk properly again...) But I've got three months of boot camp up my sleeve, and I intend on using them. Even though I know I won't be a supermodel by Christmas, as least I'll have buns of steel.....

Now, if you'll excuse me, I must pop off to bed. Being a 'break' week, there's no 6.15pm session tomorrow, so I'll be creaking my way to the 6am group.....ouch *insert wincing face* I'm loving it, seriously. I am. Now, if someone could just remind me of that at 5.20am tomorrow...??

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Happy Days at Pennyroyal Farm

Uh, did I mention we were going away on holiday last week?


Whoops. Sorry. It's not that I forgot about you...I just forgot to tell you. In case you were wondering why I had gone suddenly silent. (Or perhaps, you were thinking to yourself, oh thank god that woman has FINALLY shut up...!!!)

Anyway, last week we took a little family trip away. It's important, don't you think? To have some time away together, just enjoying each other's company. I'm not talking expensive, indulgent, extensive holidays at exotic locations - heavens, no. At this point, we'd have enough moolah to cover the cost of the long-term car park at Tullamarine. For a short time. I'm talking cheap, local, activities-like-walking-on-the-beach, budget family holidays.

Apart from one foray to Bali when we were engaged, Christian and I have always enjoyed relatively inexpensive holidays. Pre-children, we would pack our mountain bikes and a tent, and ride along a rail trail for a few days, camping as we went. Or we'd camp somewhere central and do day trips on our bikes around the local area. We tended to favour tents over caravans after two rather dodgy involved my first experience of morning sickness, and the other had peanut brittle stuck to the mattress....instead of a mint on the pillow, perhaps?

We first holidayed at Lorne when I was nine weeks pregnant with Jack (hence the caravan instead of a tent). Lorne being Lorne, we loved every minute. I wanted to go back there when Jack was about six months old, so we searched for a little self-contained unit that would make holidaying with a baby a bit easier. After much teeth-gnashing and hand-wringing at the exhorbitant prices being charged for lodgings in Lorne proper, I found Pennyroyal Farm out at Deans Marsh, a 20 minute drive inland.

With the September holidays looming, I managed to score one of the houses at Pennyroyal Farm for my worn-out husband, my tired and cantankerous children, Daisy the long-suffering Cavalier, and myself. I even managed to persuade my mum to come too, because goodness knows she needed a break! It was only for three nights, but it was so worth it.

All I knew was, the house had three bedrooms and two toilets. When we arrived, we were greeted by a charming little cottage set in an orchard, with views of farmland and sweeping hills, a wood fire, and clean, warm beds. The kids had so much space to run, they did backflips. Daisy pottered around the garden, Mum and I had endless cups of tea on the verandah, and Christian...well....he relaxed. Finally.

Every family holiday that we have been on, I have remembered with clarity. I can give you details of the trip to Bright we took when Jack was 11 weeks old. I can tell you about being swooped by maggies in Myrtleford when we were engaged. I could paint you a picture of my three cherubs bouncing on the giant pillow at Merimbula, laughing fit to burst. And this holiday? What will I remember?

I will remember the sunshine, the breeze, the scent of jasmine on the wind. I will remember the freedom of allowing my children to run unfettered outside under blossoming fruit trees.

I will remember my kids having the times of their lives at the playground on the foreshore. How my big kids rolled down the hills again, and again. How Maisie went down the 'big' slide all by herself, and was astounded at her own cleverness. How Phoebe made up little ditties about the things going on around her. How Maisie had learned how to say "Bee Bee" for her big sister's name, instead of "Baba". How Jack just wanted to kick his footy, no matter where we were.

I will remember watching my mum play on the beach with Jack and Phoebe while they ran in and out of the waves, screaming with laughter. On the first day, they went in wearing their undies. That is, until Phoebe took hers off....and then stripped off her singlet, so that she was doing a magnificent nudie run on Lorne front beach. Jack wore Superman undies. A memory to treasure, for sure.

I will remember how the Mouse sat quietly in the sand, wearing a nappy and a skivvy, happily ladling sand into her bucket and tipping it out again.

I will remember cooking meals in our little cottage, and sitting around the table with my family enjoying a early dinner. I will remember sending my children off to bed early, warm and clean after a deep bath, ready for another day of running in the sand and the sea.

I will remember how my littlest baby cried most of the week and clung piteously to my leg. How she was only mollified when she was in my arms. How her head cold seemed to settle in her chest, and how she snuggled into me with her fists tucked in. How she was calmed by the 'Diddles' (the Wiggles) and the 'Uh-ohs" (the Teletubbies), which I willingly played over and over again, just to keep her happy.

I will remember how, on the last morning when we were packing and checking and packing, Maisie found the underside of the wooden mantelpiece and gouged a hole in her forehead. How we stemmed the blood, called the doctor, and made plans to leave quickly. How, in the five seconds I put her down to open the car door, she found some dog poo and fell straight into it. And then proceeded to wipe it all over herself and anything she touched.

I will remember how Mum, Christian and I managed to somehow clean the Mouse up without retching, got two cars, three kids and a dog packed up, and somehow tore ourselves away from paradise.

Our trip was home was fairly uneventful. The kids slept quite a lot. Mum and I watched Maisie anxiously as she snored and coughed. We arrived at our lovely local GP early in the afternoon, and got some antibiotics. The poor baby - here's me thinking she's got a head cold, and administering cuddles and Nurofen, and the child had a chest infection. Mother of the Year? I think not.

Thankfully the doctor decided Maisie had suffered enough, and even though she should have had stitches, he decided to let her heal under a Dora bandaid. So the last memory I shall have of our holiday will be of the Mouse pointing to her bumpy little head and saying proudly, "Rora. Dore." (Translation: I've got a Dora bandaid on my head, which is uber-cool and confirms my status as a big kid. And it's sore. I really, really like strawberry Nurofen, Mum. I'll happily drink as much as you want to give me...)