We have clearance Clarence

My leave has been approved at work. There’s a form for special leave so I can go into a negative balance at work and pay it back. I’ve also had an initial conversation with the lady who will cover the role while I’m away.

Word

Then the rest of the day went a bit crazy. I’ve had a crash course in Visio, which is now my new favourite Microsoft program. I am disdaining Word so hard right now, I want to put a table in and ….

I tried changing the section to landscape, then the header went phut. Unlinked it. Got that sorted out, saved it; it reverted to the stuffed up one. I tried a couple more times, then I gave up. I’ll have another play tomorrow.

Hanno was down for the weekend, I quickly cleared the bed (onto the floor, so far so teenager) so he could visit. I’ve stripped the bed, I’ll make the bed in a minute and start the packing herding again.

I’ve also stopped taking the extra anti-depressant meds. I’d only gone up by half a tablet; but it was enough to make me feel slower and dopier. Not what I needed.

Aside from that, the weekend was good – Archie enjoyed his birthday. We had a great meal out with Hanno, Manny and Auntie Susie. We pottered about the house, caught up on the washing – which given the weather was no mean feet. Thank goodness for a tumble dryer.

Quiet couple of days. #BoringBlog

Trust the process

I started doing 8 Weeks to Wow at the beginning of September. Yes, yes, Osher pointed me in the direction of Chief and Emilie Brabon; but it was more the exercises that have helped his head-space that I was interested in.

I’ve not deviated from the eating plan, mainly as it’s ridiculously easy. Barely any carbs, which isn’t an issue for me as I don’t have them often anyway. Minimum of 150g of salad leaves a day, have you seen how much that is? Unlimited egg whites, 2 egg yolks a day, palm sized amounts of lean meat and low fat cheese, yoghurt with <6g of sugar per serve, plus practically every other vegetable, herbs, spices etc.

I’m having bacon, mushrooms, tomatoes, spinach, an egg, plus another couple of egg whites to scramble it all together for breakfast. An epic salad with a boiled egg, or smoked salmon, or cheese, roasted veggies for dinner, and if I get hungry there’s unlimited celery and cucumber to munch on, with the additional egg if I’ve not had it at lunch time.

My head is clearer, I’m sleeping better and combined with the Steptember challenge at work I’m hitting over 10,000k a day on a regular basis, I’ve also been for a couple of runs. I’ve not drunk anything since Sunday 2nd September. And I’m very happy with that.

But man, the exercises are hard work. If I sneezed, coughed, laughed or stood up or sat down, it hurt. I shuffled up and down stairs, creaked and groaned for the first couple of days, I had to stop exercising as I could barely move. Just as I was getting ready to get going again, Arch woke up with a temperature and sore throat on Friday. Saturday we were all ok, Sunday I woke up feeling weird, lightheaded and dizzy. Monday I had a thumping headache. Tuesday Hubs woke up coughing, and went to the doctors on Wednesday. He’s still not right, and is starting antibiotics tomorrow (Sunday) as per GPs directions; I did suggest today as he had to go back to bed this afternoon, but as I’m not the GP… If he’s no better in a couple of weeks, he’s being tested for glandular fever. Yup, you read that right.

Hubs and I joke about having a normal week. We don’t think we’ve ever had one where what we’ve planned has panned out. At least we’re happy going with the flow. Trust the process, the end result is worth it, even if the route there is less than direct.

Be like Christine

Yesterday, the world lost a kind, gentle soul who spent her whole life looking after others. Chris held her family together with love, and then shared her love with countless others through a lifetime of teaching, before it reached our little family to boot. Hanno’s mum was my heroine, for so many reasons, but mostly for the love she sprinkled through the world so freely.

We’d meet at Hanno’s house for races, or his plays, in between swapping texts and the odd game of Words With Friends, (that she wiped the floor with me in). Occasionally we’d call, but mostly to organise food; nevertheless, when we were together, we picked up where we left off. Fitting into the banter and laughter of familial insults of longstanding relationships. Archie has grown up with her in his life as someone who talked with him, not to him.

From the devilled egg standoffs with her daughter in law, to the roast dinners; from the chicken salads, to the breakfast rolls; from coffees to copious amounts of wine, our relationship revolved around food. Us ‘ladies what lunch’ drove to Rutherglen for some downtime away from the boys and endless football codes. We sampled wines, had lunch, went to the chocolatier, Rosie (my cousin) and I chatting in the front seat on the way home, Chris snoozing in the back.

We sat in a Laundromat drying bedding and towels in companionable silence, getting coffees on a cold, wet day, again getting out the house from the football! Walked round Farmer’s markets and brought fresh veggies, cooing over the soil still damp on the carrots, exclaiming at the crispness of the greens. I loved cooking for her, because it meant she sat down and didn’t do anything. From when she woke up to when she went to bed, unless she was sitting down to have a cuppa; she was on the go. Looking after Keith, cleaning the kitchen worktops, sorting laundry, if it needed doing and you didn’t stop her, Chris did it.

We cheered Hanno on from the back of the hall at his first play, slowly being allowed closer to the front of the hall through the years as his confidence grew. Archie telling me loudly to ‘Be quiet Mama!’ when I got the giggles.

The time we spent with Chris and Keith was filled with laughter, food, joy, food, love and more food. From my first trip over in 2007 where Chris had changed the bed in the spare room for Hubs and I, smoothing the sheets over with love. Folding the towels like a hotel, she made sure we were welcome. Never knowingly under-catered, we always had more food than we knew what to do with, Hanno’s house had elastic sides with people crashing on couches, in beds and cousins joining for breakfast after sleeping in a caravan on site just down the road.

Archie and I visited a few weeks ago, taking some flowers he had chosen for her. We only stayed long enough for Archie to eat his lunch, and a quick catch-up and a hug. He’s missing her already, trying to explain it all to an almost seven year old is hard work. While Archie knows that she’s gone, Chris will never be forgotten. Forty years of teaching, almost fifty years of marriage, two proud sons, four indomitable grandchildren, family, friends. All of us who knew Chris are better people because of her.

Be like Christine, pay your love forward. Greet the world with open arms and an open heart.

 

 

Out of the war for attention

I’ve not posted before about this, simply as life has been crazy-busy. However the world is quiet and an opening gambit to the conversation wandered into my head today, which is usually a sign that I need to write it out.

Here is said gambit:

This month our family received a mild ADHD diagnosis for Archie. Six months of interviews, appointments, tests and questionnaires were funnelled down to a half-hour long conversation in a small breeze-blocked room, in an almost impossible to find building on La Trobe campus. A diagnosis arriving on a train too late to make a difference to this school year.

On a scale of 1-10, 1 being fidget-bottom to 10 being someone who cannot sit still and charges around like they’re on speed, Archie ranks between 2-3. Low. So low that on some tests, he didn’t even reach an ADHD diagnosis. So low that he will probably grow out of most of the obstacles he’s facing now as his processing awareness increases. So low that with the help of some routines across home and school, (the new school year starts at the beginning of February here), and supplemented by breaking down instructions into smaller chunks, it’s manageable. We’ve talked with the school and are heading in to see his new teacher early in the term.

We’ve already begun making changes. Hubs and I no longer listen to the radio or podcasts when we’re trying to get Archie to concentrate on anything. Before we get out the car when we’re shopping, we talk through what we need to get, where we’re going, ask him to choose what shop is first. We talk through in the morning what each day will roughly look like and what he needs to do to help us out. If there is too much going on, Archie goes into passive mode and just tunes out. He’ll sit there quite happily watching the world go by, this can be because he has done something to his natural conclusion, or because he’s got too much in his head and can’t hold on to any more. One suggestion from La Trobe was if Archie can do something ten times, making him do it twenty times will. not. help. him. Processing auditory instructions is also hard work for him. Therefore, if you ask him to take his shoes off, put them away, empty his bag, get changed and choose a snack after school <overload of information going in> <switches off>

So instead we do, ‘Archie shoes off and away’.

Then, ‘Empty your bag buddy’.

Then, ‘Do you want to get changed?’

Then, ‘Do you want ham or cheese with your biscuits while I get dinner ready?’

In the morning he has four things he needs to do. Get dressed, eat his breakfast, clean his teeth and do his reading. Then he can play, or watch or have the iPad for 10 minutes. It’s taken a while, but we’re now at ‘What do you need to do in the morning before you play?’ stage and he will remember. He won’t always agree with it, but he knows that these things have to get done first, despite what he wants to do. Archie has always been busy, he didn’t want to sleep in case he missed anything. He also used to take himself off to the book corner at Kinder when it got too much and too noisy for him, he can regulate himself and his emotions well. If he’s interested in something, he will follow that trail to the nth degree and not come up until he’s done, or he’s hungry.

Our bright as a button, walking encyclopaedia of dinosaurs, volcanoes and marine life; our noticer of bugs, shapes in clouds; the boy who can recall playgrounds he visited when still a toddler, our boy who’s got a memory like an elephant, now has a label attached to him.

My parents (known as Aged Parents after Port and Starboard’s father in Coot Club for as long as I can remember) and I have often joked about how I bred my brother as penance for me being such a horrible older sister towards him. P was exactly the same as Archie, one thing Aged Ps have stressed already is that the reports written by school and the psychologist are already trying to get Archie to conform to others. To sit down, shut up and take his lessons on board while not disrupting others.

On a FaceTime call this week over Christmas with Aged Ps; we managed to interrupt Archie, he waited patiently with his mouth open and then calmly finished his sentence. P used to do exactly the same thing, thirty odd years ago. We all had a giggle about it on the call, then we discussed how we could ensure our happy, vibrant, chatty boy remains so. Doesn’t get all his fizz drained out of him, doesn’t become apathetic and switched off at school. Hubs and I both want Archie to be inquisitive, challenged, strong, resilient and independent. When he struggles with things now, we ask him “What can you do?” not what can’t he do. We tell him “You’re a strong independent boy, let’s figure this out”. He said to me yesterday,”You’re a strong independent Mama, let’s figure this out!”

Indeed!

try

Down time

We’ve had a relaxing few days, and have spent today pottering about the house while Hubs and Hanno went to the Test at the MCG. Hubs has a couple of weeks off, the longest time he’s had in ages. Plans are afoot for the beach, Healesville Sanctuary and walks in the woods with Peanut, who’s also been taken out of Kinder for a couple of weeks before he starts school at the end of January.

We’d be sleeping later if we could work out what app sets off an alarm on Hubs’ phone at 5:30 each morning. It’s being firmly switched off tonight.

Australia has been hit by a heatwave the past few days, the weather is FUBARd I can tell you. Adelaide had it’s hottest Christmas Day for decades, the Boxing Day test was rained off and Uluru is closed due to rain. On Christmas Day we were in a park at 8am to beat the heat, then back home with the aircon on for the rest of the day. Today the weather broke, with the temperature dropping easily 20c in an hour, bringing big fat heavy rain.

Peanut and I were going to go to the zoo today, however he required a minor attitude adjustment, so we spent the day at home instead. We’ve worked on the three strikes and you’re out rule of parenting since he was old enough to understand it. Normally it only needs “I’m not going to ask you again” and he’s checked back into his normal happy self. Today he was in full little turd mode, culminating with “I hate Mama” whereupon Hubs sent him to his room. We then had a conversation about words and how they can aso hurt you, reminded him that we’d asked him to behave three times across varying things (from getting out the bathroom so Hanno could have a shower, to listening to what we’d asked him to do), therefore we weren’t going to the zoo. Cue more tantrums and tiaras, which sealed the deal completely.

I should now say, that he’s actually been great all day. We’ve been playing with his water bombs, his paddling pool, hot wheels sets he was given for Christmas, and have also read loads of books. I don’t think a day at home, considering how busy it’s been the past few weeks, did him any harm. He was climbing the walls a little by the end of the day, but I did ask him every hour or so if he wanted to go out to a park or for a walk; but he kept saying no, first it was too hot, then it was raining, then he was happy at home.

Peanut’s had an enormous growth spurt, he’s all legs and arms, gangly and uncoordinated. Also eating huge amounts, and hungry ten minutes after each meal; heaven alone knows what he’s going to be like when he’s a teenager.

I hope you’re having a good time with friends and family, although 2016’s Grim Reaper carries on apace – hang in there Your Majesty! I was devastated to hear about George Michael passing today. He was one of my first crushes. I can remember cutting out his picture from my cassette version of Make It Big and sticking it on my wall, (apologies for the crappy picture, it’s a screen shot of a listing from eBay).

screen-shot-2016-12-26-at-9-21-11-pm

I’ve got one more day off, then three days at work, three days off, three days at work, three days off and then back to normal on 9 January. Easing back into work after what has been a crazy few months. Hence the lack of blogging, I’ve not had the head-space or the time, but heck I’ve missed you all. Not that I make resolutions, but I’m determined to write more, mostly for my sanity.

Did you notice…

Did you notice the family pictures on the walls? Did the studio shots mean anything to you? Yes they are expensive, but they were a present. They would have shown you that we are a small family.

Did you notice our son is only five years old. Have you tried explaining something serious to a five year old? He now talks about catching robbers as if it was a game. Because that’s all he can equate it to.

Did you notice that despite turning out all our cupboards, we don’t have much? Despite us working; childcare costs cripple us, so much so that we make ends meet, just. In fact, we have had to sell possessions and borrow money from friends to keep afloat.

Did you notice that the jewellery you took, most of it was old? Heirlooms. Items useless to you, worthless to anyone else, yet priceless to us? We’re frantically trying to find images of my charm bracelet, which was slowly collected for over forty years, from family on the other side of the world. It was given to me when I was christened, I wanted to pass it onto my brother’s daughter. But now, it’s probably gone forever, with all the stories about the charms gone too.

Did you notice that I had business paperwork next to the desk, so by taking my computer – you’ve curtailed my business and set us further back again? You’ve also taken photos and videos of our son when he was a baby, a lifetime of notes and jottings towards books I’ve been writing. I’m too scared to look in the cloud at what I have moved over, because I’m worried I’ll break down over what I hadn’t.

Did you notice the medals hanging on the wall from when my husband served this country?

Did you notice the Get Well cards and messages in the house; as the week before you arrived, I was in hospital with breathing problems that are still unresolved?

Did you notice when you pulled out our belongings, that they were ours? We’ve changed the house locks, changed the car locks, have fingerprint dust all over the house. We’ve mostly tidied up, but have a way to go before we get back to where we were before.

Tidying up is one thing; but the hollow, empty feeling inside both my husband and I, knowing we’ve what we’ve lost, that’ll take longer to sort out. Counselling will help, if we take up the Police’s offer of it, but I want my Nan’s engagement ring back. I want my husband’s watches back, his cuff-links, binoculars, my Gran’s brooch, my charm bracelet. I want the DVDs back, the bags that you walked out with our belongings in. I want the computer back, so I can open up the files I’ve accumulated over 20 years of sitting at a desk and typing.

Did you notice that what for you was maybe ten minutes riffling through, has broken our hearts? Yes to you, it was only ‘stuff’, but the only stuff we had left was precious – and you stole it from us.

 

 

I’m on vacation!

Best said in Billy Crystal’s voice.

Last Sunday my brother and sister in law, with our five children, flew from Melbourne’s new(ish) Terminal 4 to Maroochydore, on the Sunshine Coast in QLD. We settled in to our apartments, a stone’s throw from the beach, unpacked, had a family dinner, a glass of chilled white wine and slept like logs. The next morning, we got up, hit the beach with all the rugrats, played in the surf and built sandcastles. In the afternoon, we went to the pool.

Then we did it again, and again, and again.

I’ve read a book and a half, Middlesex and All The Light We Cannot See, if you were wondering. Not watched much TV, we’ve been too busy outside. I’ve been walking around on the beach with my hair mussed up, in a bikini, not giving a flying foo-wee about what other people think of me. It’s not so much that I’ve suddenly become body-confident; more that this is a holiday I’ve desperately needed, so I truly CBA to worry about what other people think of me. Their expectations of a bikini-body, are just that, theirs.

I’ve unwound completely.

Yes, you did read that right. Me. I’ve relaxed. I’ve been too busy with sandcastles and watching the children in the waves or the pool to worry about my to-do list, my in-tray, or any other put upon me pressures. It’s been lovely. Considering five children of varying ages, we’ve had no major breakdowns or confusion, we’ve been in and out of each other’s apartments, giving each other a break when needed. We’ve only had one trip to emergency too, for a bad sprain.

Hubs flew up on Wednesday, he went fishing with his brother on Friday, there was a party for Pa for his 70th on Saturday, on Sunday I ran / walked 4km (it was 21c and 70% humid *puff*) with my girls. 

It is now Monday, we’re heading towards the end of our break now, with a trip to Australia Zoo on our last day. But I’ve given myself the headspace I needed, I can start breaking out my notebook and pens now.

I’m a little bit distracted

I collect Mum from the airport tomorrow night. Going to get a coffee this morning with a colleague, I said that I all I can think about is: Mum is coming, Mum is coming! I need to do some work but Mum is coming, Mum is coming!

Tonight I’m going to watch Stephen Fry’s talk that he gave in London about his new volume of autobiography, More Fool Me. The talk was recorded and is showing in cinemas over here, I’m taking myself off on my own. As I said to KB when we were watching Gone Girl last Friday, it’s one of my guiltiest pleasures, as I get to watch what I want to watch. It also means we don’t have to find a babysitter if we go in separate trips. In the last week I’ll have gone to the cinema three times, which is unheard of, particularly since the arrival of Peanut. Until we saw Forrest Gump, Hubs and I worked out the last film we watched at the cinema was Life of Pi. Not that long ago, but still less than we both would like.

I’m hoping that by seeing my beloved Mr Fry I will relax a bit. Here’s hoping any way. I’ll drive Olaf off on my own into the sunset, swinging past the supermarkado to get some groceries on the way home. Does anyone else do about a million and one things at once, or is it just us girls? I can’t just get groceries, I need to drop dry cleaning off, or collect it, go to the post office or the chemist. Heck, I live for the day when I can wake up and think, ‘I do not have to do anything today’. I may get one of those in a week or so when Mum and I head off to Canberra, the biggest decision we’ll need to make is what exhibition to view.

I’ve also got Friday off work, I’d only taken a half day, but BossMan extended it to a full day – yay! Although, we’ve got a plumber coming out at some point as we’ve got issues with the sewer – boo! I’m hoping they can sort it out without having to take the whole bottom deck up, as that would be a right PITA.

I was going for a walk/run today, but sat at my desk and read the paper instead. My hip is hurting still, I didn’t think I’d do myself any favours running on it. It’s maddening. I’m doing my exercises, and it’s getting better, but so slowly.

I’m aware this is a bit fragmented, but Mum is coming, Mum is coming!

 

The weekend away: dragons, Uncle Fester and vamps – oh my

Hanno, Hubs’ best friend, is an “Am Dram”. His local society this year put on Haunted Halloween, being in a small country town with no theatre, the play is performed in the community hall. The ticket price also includes a meal, with the show coming after the main course and desserts in the interval. Every year since he started appearing on stage, we’ve travelled up to see him to offer our support and cheer him on, except one year as Peanut was only six weeks old, we understandably gave that play a miss. The following two years I had to miss the play as Peanut decided to pick that weekend to be ill. This year, Hubs was on point to be the parent-who-stayed-at-home-in-case-of-emergencies.

When we were encouraged to come in fancy dress it being a Halloween themed play and all, I twirled my moustache and started sourcing costumes for us. Finding a few toddler sized outfits on a couple of websites, Peanut said he’d like to be a dragon. From there I asked Hubs who he wanted to go as. After thinking for a nano-second he said Uncle Fester, reasoning that shaving his goatee off, wearing a shroud and covering his head in face paint was probably the easiest costume. And it was. Now to mine.

Apparently being female, I need to either get boobs out, or legs, ideally both. Searching for a costume for me proved problematical insofar that I didn’t want ‘sexy’ as an option in the description. August is also the middle of winter here and where we were staying was likely to be freezing cold: I would need some coverage. I spent a night on the computer, eventually buying all three costumes from the one shop online, including a pair of boots with 5” heels. The box of goodies arrived two days later at work, opened up to all sorts of ooohs and ahhs, mostly at the dragon costume. Taking it home, Peanut liked it, but didn’t want to put it on. The next morning, all went quiet in the house (with a toddler, that’s never a good sign), I found him with the dragon costume out its packet. He’d got the shoe covers on and was trying to get his legs in the main body of the costume. When I asked if he wanted my help, he changed his mind about putting it on.

Packing on Thursday night to make sure I had everything I needed for my outfit, I put mine on. Peanut was intrigued at me playing ‘dress-ups’,  saying I looked like a princess. I asked if he wanted his dragon costume on – it was a success, it took half an hour for both of us to persuade him to take it off for his bath. Continue reading “The weekend away: dragons, Uncle Fester and vamps – oh my”