Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Dinner without Perfection after a day of no Perfection....

Today was the first day back at work for the fella in a month.  A full 28 days of rest and relaxation, and today he went back for 14 days.

Seeing this all unfolding wasn't a day I could do without planning.  I desperately needed to plan ahead, so I started it by loading up a heap of movies, cutting and preparing dinner - chicken and vegie soup in the slow cooker - and then sitting with the kids, pretty much all day.  We started our day at 5am, so I knew the kids would be tired.  And they were.

And although it isn't the perfect strategy, it worked just great.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Park Days without Perfection....

We had a seriously awesome day today.  This morning, we all woke up after a rough night of the fella's sleeping in the lounge room together after their movie night, and Alice woke at about 4.30am and found out.  To get her to go immediately to her 'resting so I won't lose my poo' mode, I let her sleep with me in my bed.

I've never slept with a 12 kilogram cat before, but I can tell you it would have to have been more comfortable!  That poor girl tossed and turned, and found me (what seemed like) every couple of minutes.  She hadn't ever slept in my bed before, which some attachment parenting gurus might be extraordinarily stressed about, but she has just never been a co-sleeper.  This was borne out of complete two year old realisation that her brother was getting something that she hadn't!

So where was I?   Oh, that's right - a rough night, and an early morning.  So what's the remedy for that?  A day out at the park!!!  There is an awesomely fantabulouso park in the middle of a place called Kings Park in Perth called Synergy Parkland.  We met up there with a girlfriend who I hadn't seen for a long, long time.  She has four kids, and her parents, who are full on adorable, were with her as well.  They are on their yearly holiday together, and we all decided a sausage sizzle at the park was a great idea.

So it was sausages in bread with sauce, sliced potato and mushrooms for everyone.  There was football being kicked around by all six kids, running, playing and having an awesome fun.  Four hours went by of playing and we decided it was time.

No planning, no pictures (that one is from an older trip!), no perfectionism.  Just the trip.  And it was a great day!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Whilst we're all talking about perfection...

Let me introduce you to our new girls.  I'm such a lucky girl.  A bit of a manifesting maniac at times, to be honest.  Or bloody minded to the point of obsession, you choose.  But it does seem, at least at times, that when I put my mind to something and really, really, obsess about it, it happens.

And so we have our girls.  But first, the story of how I came to receive these girls of ours.  I have a friend, a magnificent, hard working, amazing friend who often bites off as much as she can chew and then chews like hell to get it all swallowed and done.  She owns and runs two businesses, has three children, and works like a mad woman all the while being with her family.  From the outside, her life is amazing, at least - she might have moments of crazy, but we're all human, and humans are down right crackers.  If she's staying a shade of sane while working like a draught horse, she's getting nothing but admiration from me.  BUT!  This friend of mine decided that on top of her two businesses, her three sons, her border collie, her husband and her working from home, she'd also like her own group of fowl.  She had twelve chickens, a half dozen ducks and a couple geese.  She sure was chewing away at all she could bite!

And then she realised that she could not, in fact, do all of that.  So the fowl had to be rehomed.  And so it was to be that I received two beautiful, healthy, fully grown and laying like there's no tomorrow, Isa Brown hens.

I got a bird cage modified by a lovely neighbourhood teenager to house the girls at night for a grand total of $50.  We already had a garden bed completely blocked off because of it's angle and the ability for the kids to spread the dirt in it everywhere and actually kill the dirt more than the horrible aquaphobic stuff was dying at the rate it was anyway.  (I'd like to add I'm not a germaphobe, not in the slightest, the decision to fence it off was purely derived out of laziness and putting All The Soil back in every day that the kids rode their transport through it.  Every Day.)

Man, I have wanted chickens for about two years.  So long, in fact, that the lady I used to buy my eggs from probably got sick of me mentioning it every sunday.  And then BAM!  This opportunity arose.

As my dear blog-friend and urban-homestead-girl-crush Calamity Jane put it in her chicken herder post the impact on my childrens ability to see an immediate responsibility for these lovely girls was instant.  I was told pretty much immediately by Ethan that it is 'his' job to let them out, and that under no circumstances was I to check for eggs during his school time.  He took on their safety and comfort as his own position description the day they came home.  He is now amazingly aware of what colour foods they prefer (red), and even what is their favourite fruit (watermelon) and vegetable (corn).  He took drawings to school, took photos on my camera of them and named them with quick succession.  The love of this little boy toward animals is something that I learn deeply from on a daily basis, and I thought it would wane after a while, at least in these school holidays where he is sleeping in more.  But the sad look on his face if he isn't the one to let them out, and share the chore with Alice of giving them breakfast, oh my.  It is a hard thing to see, so I've actually started letting the chickens 'sleep in' if he does (he sleeps til 7ish, it's not long for them to wait!).

So I echo CJ's words to 'just jump in' on the chicken thing.  They are the easiest animal I think I've ever cared for.  Yep, there's crap on the pavers, and coop modifications have had to be made to stop it.  We have more flies, but whether that can be all chicken scrap related I'm not so sure (it's humid here at the moment, so it can't be all the chickens fault!), and I have to keep the night cage cleaned out about once every four days, but we have two eggs a day most days, we know exactly how our birds have been treated, and the garden - oh. my. god. - the garden soil, it has literally changed colour in six weeks.  It used to be a useless sandy grey looking thing, that water rolled off like it was allergic.  Now it is going black, rich, thick and black like it's been completely dug out, shipped off and replaced with that fancy stuff people pay lots of money for.  And there's hardly any compost, either, except grass clippings, onion and citrus scraps, and chicken poo that's been pulled out of their night quarters.

I love them!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Running away from Perfect.

Ok, so I've not just been MIA from blogland, I've completely absconded and fecked off to godknowswhere.  But here I am, with a few things on my mind, that need to get off my mind.  Maybe in to the grand open world, they'll make sense.

I've been thinking about perfection lately.  No really, a lot.  I've joined a gym (I thought hell would have to freeze over before that would happen), I have one kiddo in private school, another in daycare once a week and who's also about to do swimming and dancing lessons, and then I've decided to go back to school.  And then the husbeast has got a job offer, which he's taking, to bring him home and away from the fifo life.  Should be yippee's all round on that last one, for sure!

But it makes me wonder, because ALL of those above points bring me crashing to my knees in relation to our 'budget'.  We're usually great with money, to a point.  If you didn't count our whopping mortgage, or the solar panels loan, we are amazingly good on paper!  But the reality is, I just cut all our vegies up to make chow mein for dinner, which means we might have enough milk left by this afternoon for a cuppa each.  Or I could use it in some baking.  The reality of it all was that mashed potato, or baked pasta, or other ideas had some sort of milk or cheese in them, of which I'm out of both.

We have a pretty big budget cut coming when the husbeast changes jobs.  In reality it will probably halve, which will be JUST our mortgage per week.  That doesn't allow for anything else.  But I could wallow in my sorrow, lolling around whining to myself about how my flipflops broke last week and I can't afford another pair for $3 (which did happen, and yeah, I haven't got new ones yet!), or I could make the most of it.  I highly recommend this exercise, if you are about to pop up your bunting and have yourself a wee pity party.

Grab your blog, or a piece of paper, and write down these things:

* I have GREAT kids.  And they are just getting more and more awesome by the day.
* I have the ability to walk and talk, and I may not have bucketloads of friends, but the ones I have are FANTASTIC.
* I have an amazing life.  I do.  There's a Xavier Rudd song that always makes me aware of this - it's called Food in the Belly.  Here's a link from youtube - Xavier Rudd's food in the belly.  If that doesn't cheer up the most mediocre mama, I suggest listening to it twice more.

Now my next hurdle is that my house is NEVER perfect.  Ever.  Not even one square centimetre of my home is clean at the moment.  There is awesome untidyness in every part.  But you know what?  My kids can still find what they need, I'm not a box of stuff away from my own episode of hoarders, and we all have clean, functional clothes and a kitchen that manages to feed us all.

I've come to a conclusion about all of this.  None of it matters, this perfection shit.  I do, sew, mend, grow, clean and cook what and when I can.  I do the best I can, and if I can't, I'm not beating myself up about it.

Here's a picture to make you feel a whole lot better about it all.  I took it earlier this year, when I was cooking something with my son.  It really captured what was going on that day.  He wanted to cook, I wanted to clean.  Guess who won?

I remember that day well.  The house looked trashed to me.  But look at how lucky I am!  See those to sideboards/buffets in the distance?  Both of those were free.  No shit.  Storage?  Thanks!!!  You can see my dishwasher, and I know some people hate dishwashers - I am not one of those people.  Today I've been cooking up a storm, with eggs for breakfast, cereal for the kids as well, apple pancakes for morning tea, banana bread made, noodles and sandwiches and left over pumpkin soup for lunch.  Then I prepped my chow mein, and put on a loaf of bread.  I've run the dishwasher twice today, and lemmetellya, that sucker holds ALOT of dishes.  It also fries bacterial bugs if we get the gastro or a cold, too.  And I know there is dispute, but this honestly saves me at least 1 or 2 hours per day - especially today!

Now, you know what else about this photo I love?  It has that big badass cookbook in the front.  I've had that book since about 13 years ago.  It's a Recipe Encyclopedia.  You can literally look up an ingredient, and whammo - there is a bit of info!  Or look up an item you want to cook - say 'cake' - and there are dozens of recipes on it.  With pictures.  Lots of pictures!  It's flour crunchy, that book, from all the thumbing through and holding of pages.  Especially on the cake and biscuits parts!

I think it took about an hour to clean up after that cooking session.  And I think we made choc chip cookies.  But it doesn't matter, here is a snapshot of the imperfect mother I am.  And absent of children too.  My guess is they were off eating the cookies....

Happy little campers they are!

So what's my point?  I'm trying to get to it, I promise!

Look, just be happy.  Or at least keep trying your hardest to be happy.  Relax about having people in your life that don't accept you the way you are, or that make you think that you should be more organised, more flush with cash, more tidy.  It truly may just be a reflection of their own wishes about themselves.  In the long term, look at your self lovingly, not with criticism, and look at your kids with joy, as they look at you.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Where have we been?!

These pictures are likely all backward, sideward, and upsidey the timeline.  I don't care.  It's holidays.  And both of my little lovelies are and have been pretty consistently unwell over the last four or six weeks, so I need - and want - to remind myself very muchly of their happy faces over the holidays, as days grew and blew out to be hours at parks, or resting at home, and enjoying and learning to play nicely with each other (thank god, it's been a long two years!).

The park near our home is only about a ten minute walk away, and we've only been once - can you believe that?  Sounds like I've been amazingly slack, and I probably have.  Ethan has had pnuemonia, gastro, and now our doc thinks he may have a secondary pnuemonic infection  so he's back to resting and some anti biotics to try and clear it all up.  But those two pics were taken about a week ago, on a beautiful, clear morning, when the glass bottles of water had stayed cool and the fella and I took a while to take them out and let them run, then rest, then run again...

These are the mutant tomatoes we've grown!  I could barely believe my luck when I went out to my (mostly abused and abandoned) vegie patch (and I use the term vegie patch very lightly!) and found the most amazing mutant wild tomato plant.  It's been kicking on since November, with most days until recently seeing us get about 4-6 of those beauties for our meals.  It sits not too far from our spinach-that-never-says-die.  And I recently put in a mulberry tree, and relocated a lemon tree to it also.  Our bedroom window is on the road, and I would just love to have a bit of a screen for the bricks on that north side of the house.  I must be careful to not let the trees get too tall though, as it's also where our solar panels are!  (did I even mention we had them installed?  We did- and straight away they're fighting our bill- it's BRILLIANT!)

 I've been making.  A lot.  This is an Olearia short sleeved cardigan, by Georgie Hallam in a Bendigo Woollen Mills Cotton in Blush.  I love Georgie Hallam's patterns - easy, simple, and usually seamless!  Perfect for the beginner, fancy and beautiful when finished and most gorgeous!  Her patterns can be found on - if you knit, or want to learn, Go There, Register and you will Know How!  It's just so good.

 More making - a pair of pj's for Alice.  I intended to sell these, but they look just too cute!

Two pairs of pants that I did sell - which I'm very proud of!

And the toys/pillows I made the kids.  Same colouring, so as to not have anyone have a hissy fit over who's got the best colour.  They worked a treat, and were just in time for christmas.

But most mornings are spent like this.  Waking slowly, watching the wiggles or Charlie and Lola, and eating breakfast and playing.  I gave up on the guilt of letting the kids watch hours of tv a day weeks ago, when Ethan was very unwell, and figured that they do a lot of 'other' stuff and deserve to relax how they'd like.  And the minute I stopped struggling with myself about it, and discussed with Ethan the importance of not 'just' watching tv but also playing, and building, and reading together, a lot of the mother guilt melted away.  I'm sure it'll be back, at some point, but for now, it's pretty at bay!

Hope your holidays have been good.  If not productive, brag-worthy and shiny when you finish holidays and return to school runs and the like, then at the very least relaxing!