Monday, September 28, 2009

Today's Clarity....

Ah, the sound of silence...

I just got home from visiting a friend and her daughter (both our children are around the same age), and Ethan quite literally flaked it in the carseat and has been transported asleep in to his bed. I just needed to remove his jeans, as they were wet from a morning of running around a wet backyard with his little friend, where they squeeled with delight, fed the pet rabbit, made sandy lunch and jumped on a trampoline.

But back to the main issue....Clarity.

The thing is, I am trying very hard not to panic about the impending addition to our little family and budget. It will take some further adjusting, some careful planning and some minor lifestyle refocussing, but I'm sure that when we sit down to consider our position, we will still feel like very, very lucky people. Our second try for a baby wasn't even really a try, but I hate the word 'accident' when used in relation to a family member, so I'll use the word, um....'surprise'. I've had a couple of conversations with my little-bit-anxious partner about the surprise we were lucky enough to receive, because he sometimes (like most men in their early 30's, I've come to believe) forgets that in comparison to The Joneses, some of those other couples think we've got it made!

We weren't trying to have another baby, it was more of a weekend romance for us because we'd gone away without our son for the night to attend (ironically) a wedding. We came back pregnant, and then later to find out it was a girl and we are still being told how 'lucky' we are because this is apparently a good thing to have - a boy and a girl. I don't understand why still, and wonder often if it is because of the old mindset that you have one for mum, one for dad and one for the country (although there'll be a sewing kit making sure that we don't end up with the one for the country!) and that is why we're considered blessed. I think also that two is a good number, but for all intents and purposes I'm a bit worried about the financial side of things.

We've never financially indulged Ethan, hoping that surprise outings to things like a circus, the zoo, and wildlife parks when we can afford it will fare him better than knowing that no matter what he does or how he behaves there are outings and treats planned way ahead of time. So far, so good. He is not the two and a half year old that demands take-away at the sight of a big yellow M (although he is addicted to the search for icecream, because we don't keep it at home!), he knows that things can be purchased from stores but doesn't demand anything, and is quite happy to see how toys work and walk away from the shelves tantrum free. He also loves to look in op shops, which I'm super pleased with because it's often not just the best place to find things, it means that those four 50cent coins he earnt last week putting his washing in the laundry will actually buy him something, and something of value far beyond the $2 outlay that he has spent.

He does know how to help around the house, without instant gratification such as lollies or chips, because he's never been able to open our fridge and find a local deli in there. We are basic eaters, with meat and three veg most nights, breads and cereals and fruits during the day. I joke to my partner about how, once he starts visiting his school buddies and seeing the contents of other peoples' fridges he'll think that he's visiting a magical land of processed cheese in stick shapes, biscuits which come Ready Made in plastic packets and cakes that can literally be opened and eaten. Here, because of both monetary and voluntary restrictions, if we want sweet things, we make them, and if he wants biscuits, Ethan never says 'can I have a bikkie out of the cupboard mum?', he says 'Can we make some biscuits please?' because that's how he knows they appear- first as raw ingredients, then as dough and then as cooked creations. We make bread together every few days (more if Dad's home with us), and it always turns out delish. I can't take all the credit for that though, because a girlfriend of mine has a partner who is an ex-baker and he gave me a tip to make every loaf fantastic and fluffy, and in case you are wondering it is:

*use a whisked egg in your bread's liquid ingredient component. For instance, my pre-mix (Laucke wholemeal if you are wondering) calls for 370ml water. Instead, I use in that measurement 1 whisked egg and half a cup of milk, and then the rest of the weight in water. It makes the bread beautifully fluffy and a little softer than normal plain premix on it's own.

the latest loaf that Ethan and I have made

So that is a skill we have between us that is developing by the week. And that brings me back to being clear and decided about how my family are benefitting from my being at home.

I often am a creature of much guilt, assuming that because I'm not currently contributing with finances that I am taking a short cut in to being the lazy partner, the blood-sucking leach that takes, takes, takes. But lately I've been reassessing all of that. It's occurred to me that I DO contribute financially, through the work I do at home with our son, and through my everyday work like making the house a home and doing what I usually consider 'basic' chores and every day run-of-the-mill activities. Alongside of making bread, I am in continuous stocktake of our home. I love our home (well, the parts that I still need to improve might annoy me, but I wouldn't change location based on those minor things!), and I love that although my partner goes away to work and pay for our home, I stay home and improve the running of our home to benefit the entire family. So I am putting together my lists, my projects and my desires at the moment to try and collaborate them with one another to better our household-running-ability.

I hope that this all makes sense. Some days I'm convinced my pregnant self only understands what I am saying, but basically I am trying the best I can, to do the most I can, with what skills I have and am developing. I think there are a lot of us like that here in blogland, and I hope you are enjoying your home and your life as much as we are here, at the moment and in the moment.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Turning over new leaves.....

What do you do when you suddenly find yourself unemployed? I panicked for about a day. Planned and schemed and budgeted and moved money for the later half of that day, and then set my plan in to motion the next day.

I recently lost the only family I worked for in family day care, without any warning, and for reasons I can't really go in to for privacy purposes. Needless to say it was a differing of opinions, a lack of information on household rules, and possibly also a bit of fault on my behalf because I am too relaxed about childrens behaviours. But anyway, I really can't go in to it, so please don't ask!

The night after I found myself without a job, it was pretty obvious to me that there aren't really any prospects in the employment land for me at the moment, what with:
*A two and a half year old son
*A pregnancy with only 7 weeks left to go
*A partner who works away.

So I sat down and made a resolution that night. I am going to become the full time homemaker I know I can be. My list of skills isn't very long, but the skills and interests that I desire to learn and develop are many. Meanwhile, as I develop those skills, I can sure cook and clean and look after the well being of my family!

Today I taught myself thriftiness - how to take my son Ethan out for $9. We went to the zoo, believe it or not! One of the most expensive places in Perth, at $19 an entry on average, but I already have membership, so that part was free. We packed a HUUUUUGE amount of snacks, including crackers, carrot sticks, cheese cubes, muesli bars, and a few little muffins that were hanging out in our pantry. Honestly, most of it is still in the bag because Ethan loves the free-reign he's allowed at the zoo and hardly ate, but still, he was too full to even contemplate a snack bar meal, so that was lovely! We payed $5 for parking (of which I left the ticket back in the machine when we left, to maybe get some parking karma later on!), and I paid $4 to have a ride on the carousel. That was the total cost. We got to see Tigers playing, Elephants and their keepers talking about their lives, gibbons flying from rope to rope, just to mention a few. Oh, I should always say that we went to the Australian Exhibit as well. Ethan loves nothing more than to go and see Kangaroos. So for our $9 we got about 4 hours or more of fun, Ethan is now sleeping and dreaming of how he was Captain of The Trip, and I got some fantastic photos of him in his new Fijian shirt that his Aunty Kylie sent him from her holiday.

So we've had a fantastic day and now we have an activity to do to remind him of it all tomorrow - we can make our own zoo from his blocks, cars and animals while we talk about where everything was and whether it was worth all our walking feet's efforts!

Hope you have a great weekend, and that you get some time to plan an outing so as to not spend more than you have.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Good Morning!

Well my new bedtime is working wonders. I've been in bed before 10, every night, and it has helped to promote a less sleep-deprived mummy. We've been up at about 6.30 am still, every day, and the days are going a lot better because of the level of alertness that I have gotten from just that extra hour of sleep at the beginning of the night!

There's not much to report this morning, but will try and check in a little later. We're busy with dr's appointments and visiting today, and hoping that we're going to have time for a little tidying up this afternoon when the rain clears. I cleaned all the dog-hair and dust and mud off the patio yesterday, and it took nearly 2hours for a good enough job that I was happy. Perils of owning a 35kg German Sheperd though, I guess!

Friday, September 18, 2009

A brand new shiny day....

Well, I decided last night that if I can't beat them, join them!

My son doesn't sleep at all during the day, and then he sleeps intermittently (sorry, that spelling is a guess!) during the night, with at least one visit to my bedside at about 1am. So last night I went to bed at 8.45pm to ensure I got enough sleep before his usual visit, and also before his usual wake-up time of 6am. I feel like I've slept for a thousand years! Even though I was up at 1am, and again at 4am, I still got that initial 4hours of sleep that I think my batteries needed. I have tried every trick in the book, on the net and at a sleep clinic to try and get him to sleep all night, and it just doesn't happen. I think he may have inherited his dad's fast metabolism, and although he's as full as santa's sock when he goes to bed, he's waking up hungry through the night and needs a bottle (or two) to keep him sustained. He's not even close to weighty with all that milk, and he'd easily drink nearly a litre a day sometimes, as well as having three well-rounded nutritious meals and at least two snacks! So I've given myself a new bedtime of between 9pm and 9.30pm. Now my routine will have to change a bit!

I borrowed a book of pure inspiration from the library last week, called "The Family Manager Takes Charge", and if you are anything like me, and have sometimes felt like the blind leading the blind in your quest to create a happy, comfortable home, I recommend a scour at your local library. Author Kathy Peel admits openly that when she was first married she had no idea how to 'run a house', and I feel the same way sometimes! So she attacked the job of homemaking like a businesswoman - as she had watched her mother be a businesswoman for many years. I'm only a little way in, but it's helping me figure out in my mind what steps to take to improve the life of myself as a Domestic Dweller and Provider, and to hopefully have those improvements then benefit the family I do it for.

Anyway, as the one who is providing her love and care to both her own family and someone else's today, I'd better go and get out of my pj's and in to the day here. Hope you all have a lovely weekend, and please feel free to share your thoughts on the book if you take a peek on amazon!

Monday, September 14, 2009

The FIFO Life-O

Wow it's been a long morning...
After being home for a month, my partner went and flew back to work today. We've had a pretty long month, his grandmother passed away three weeks ago, and then just as we were readying him to return to work after the funeral he needed to go 'for a quick trip to the dentist'. He needed root canal work! So that meant another week off work, which bought him to another rostered week off.
So today our son is really feeling the pinch. After a whole 30 days with his dad, this morning he saw him off at the airport and knows that it will be another 'long time' before we see him again. It's hard on them both, because they miss eachother terribly.
But also I am tired, which is why I'm going to cut this short and go to bed.
Hope you are all enjoying your day and have your loved ones in your heart, if not in your home.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Busy Lady and a skip off topic...

Wow, have we been busy. I won't say that that is the big reason for not catching up the cyber space with what I've been doing on a daily basis, but my goodness, I feel like my feet barely touch the ground at the moment.

You see, alongside the benefit of my lovely partner being home for the past month straight, has been the extra amount of baby-readying that we've been able to achieve. He's lovingly painted her room, put the cot together and moved the change table/set of drawers with groovy change space on top in to her room. We feel empowered by all of this, because aside from the paint and the wall stickers and one pair of organza curtains, we've recycled everything from Ethans babyhood. I'd kept it all, as we weren't sure of the whether-or-not we were adding to the family, so thought better to keep everything until we know that we do need it and also what we needed when we decided that decision!

So now we are at week 31/32, and only two months to go. I am going to throw myself a birthday afternoon tea two weeks before I am due as it's been a looong time since I had a birthday party and I had a baby shower when I had Ethan, so I thought I'd combine the two events. That way, just like the first time, I get to catch up with my most favourite girlfriends whom I won't have the capacity to enjoy conversation with again until probably after December. Not that I don't want to see them, but I'm guessing that after the bub has arrived, which is due November 12, then I'll see those who can make it to the hospital and within a week or two of that everyone will be involved in the Mad Dash For Christmas and all the frivolities it will entail for them. So a late October get-together with some yummy treats, coffee, wine (for the non-pregnant of course) and the likes for my closest girlfriends will be a great way to get together with everyone near and dear.

Which brings me to a new observation I've had. When I was in my early 20's, I worked with all men. I didn't much appreciate the company of women, and thought them tiring and boring. I worked with many different 'types' of men, but a man called Simon who became a very dear friend changed my world. He insisted I meet his wife. That had NEVER happened before. Most of the men I worked with whinged and moaned and complained about their wives openly at work, which in my experience (and now my little sisters', who now works in a similar all-male environment) is the way men behave when they are surrounded by all men in a blue-collar environment.
*Dear Men, sorry if this is not you, but I hope you realise you may well be just an amazing exception*

Simon and I were talking one day about god-only-knows-what when he decided I needed to meet more women, instead of just hearing about how terrible women all were from the men I was surrounded by. So I went to his house and met his lovely wife Teresa. They had two children then, now they have three. In all my life I'd never met a man who spoke so lovingly and respectfully about his wife. It was a real lesson for me - that a man could be married to a woman that he not only loved, but actually continued to respect and want to be with every moment of his life. I have no idea how long they have been together even now, but they are like newlyweds and I've known them about 10 years. They now run Teresa's business together hemphemphooray and it is just such an inspirational story that I wanted to tell you all how much of a great business they have and also what a great spiritual influence they have been on my life in the way I approach my own relationship with my partner.

It's funny, because a lot of people don't understand how men and women can be friends, but knowing Simon and now knowing another friend of mine's husband fairly well, it's quite easy to understand for me. I no longer have friendships with men like I used to, trying to be one of the boys, for instance. I now only have a few male friends, all of which are married to best girlfriends of mine that I consider amazing as couples. They are easy men to be around, not pretentious or under any illusion about their masculinity and don't seem to need to 'show' toughness or an exterior of solid steel. They are happy to be who they are, taking on the roles they know they are gifted to have and enjoy the life they lead. It has also helped me embrace who I am as a Woman. I don't Need to be one of the boys, because unfortunately for them I am something they will never be - a Woman.

But anyway, I meander away from the subject! My own partner is comfortable with who he is, but as I am, sometimes gets forlorn about certain things as his role of provider as I do with mine of homemaker. It's a confusing world, and I hope you and your family are happy and healthy and enjoying your roles within the family unit. Tell me about your lives - are you traditional, or are you not? Do you divide tasks or throw all in the ring and do it all as a team? Despite your best efforts, do you have days where you'd just like to run away with a thermos of coffee and pretend you are a ten year old runaway?!

I find couples and their dynamics amazing, and it's always inspirational to hear stories about how people make their relationships work for years and years on end, especially in a world that is so consumer-and-happiness-is-found-in-a-box driven. It would be so easy for many of us to find an 'out', and leave any day that a situation is deemed 'too hard', but there are so many of us that stay and work through things together, knowing that although today might be hard, by working together we can have a much, much better and brighter tomorrow. I also think that when we work together as man and woman, in an intimite relationship like that, we find out so much about both ourselves and our partner. It's not judgement either, but an intimate knowledge of the capabilities of each of us and how those abilities can be used from either side to benefit both. I hope you and yours are having productive times during this spring season, and that even in the runaway times you manage to pack a thermos for two!