Ideals and Expectations

I love the idea of making fun memories with the kids.  This includes mucking around home doing fun, everyday things, but it also includes rarer, and more special trips as a family.

Here’s the secret though – I’m absolutely rotten at doing them.

I’m good at getting the ideas.  I love coming up with the ideas.

“Hey, I know!  We’ll take all but the baby with us to Rotorua (3 hours away) for the day so we can do the luge!  It can be hubby’s birthday present! Like a birthday party / experience!”

Of course, it never occurred to me that maybe the hubby didn’t want to be stuck in a car / motel / tourist destination with three hot, tired, grumpy, unappreciative kids.  In my vision of a “great family mini-break” that never came up at all.   Nor did the fact that with virtually any family trip, it ends up being me packing for myself, and all four kids (although Miss 7 and Miss 5 are starting to halfway help with theirs, although this needs heavy supervision as it often leads to situations of having 4 changes of undies – “a hundred” – as Miss 5 says – and no suitable socks, footwear, or shorts / pants.  And bulky winter coats packed for hot summer days.)  Meanwhile the husband leisurely showers and as I’m trying to herd children into the vehicle of choice, he thinks about throwing some clothes together to bring.

Nevermind that.

I’m quite frankly not good in times of high stress, and especially not good with multiple whiny / tired / hungry / hot / bored / past-it children trapped with me in a confined space, whether in the name of ‘fun’ or ‘creating family memories’ or not.

So.  Rotorua, in slightly less than 24 hours round trip. Mainly, luging and a trip to the aquatic centre.

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I think the kids had fun though.  After a few days of being able to breathe, I might think I did as well.  Right now I’m just plain tired. Oh, and sunburned.

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Learning Little Things

Sometimes it’s the little things you learn – and perhaps, the most obvious – that make the biggest difference.

For the past week or so, I’ve been going to the library to ‘work’.  Largely I’m working on writing, and reading (aka research) for the writing I’m doing, but I’m also using it for my space from which I blog, a lot of the time.  Although there are times when I think the problem with the public library is the public, it still tends to be quieter and more peaceful than my house in the midst of the school holidays.  Not to mention I’m surrounded by BOOKS!

There has been learning involved, too.

I’ve learned to look at maps carefully.

The particular library I hang out at, chosen not because it’s nearest to me, but because of a combination of factors including location, selection, nice study spaces, and parking, is the Waitakere Central library in Auckland.  My main kvetch with this set up has been the parking, as there’s bugger all parking immediately by it.  On the other hand, for the past week it’s been glorious and sunny, and I haven’t minded a wee stroll from the readily available, but slightly further away, parking lot to the library.

Today it’s rainy, and as I hoof it in with a laptop and usually no less than three books on my back in a backpack, I wasn’t interested in a peaceful but damp stroll through the rain.

I was looking at the map on Google Maps and complaining to hubby about my plight, and reluctance to walk a block in the rain.

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The red line denotes the path I’ve been walking, from my parking spot, around the park, and courthouse, and Unitec building, to the library.

It wasn’t until looking at the map, that I saw the footbridge leading from the parking lot I use (admittedly the other end than I’ve been parking at) across the stream, leading direct to a path through the buildings and a side street, somewhat direct to the library.

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Apparently it’s not that hard to park by the library, after all.   And now I have far less excuse not to ‘work’ when it’s raining.  Which is likely a good thing, as this is Auckland and we get a fair bit of rain… even when it’s forecasted to be sunny.

Another thing I learned stems from earlier in the week, but also due to my hiding out in the library.  The table (or, sequence of tables) I like to set up on is facing a window.  Which is lovely and serene.  I like windows, in general.  Windows are rubbish for laptops though.  (Pun not intended… but left deliberately!)

I was finding it seriously hard to actually do anything on the laptop, as I was finding it seriously hard to see anything on the laptop, in such a bright area.

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I complained to the hubby (yes, I’m sensing a theme) that I needed a glare guard.  Something just to provide a little bit of shade / darkness around the edges of my laptop screen, and let me see what it is that I’m trying to work on.

It wasn’t until I was at home, on the weekend, working outside on the deck (oh, how I love laptops) that I realised it needn’t be that complicated.  I adjusted the brightness levels on my screen.  Y’know, using the little button on the keyboard put there for specifically that purpose.

And I could see again!

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My final thing I’ve learned in the last few days also stems from the library.  It seems that being surrounded by books is not necessarily any less distracting… specifically for a bibliophile.

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It looks good… anyone read this author before?  😉

Another new baby

No no no… not a HUMAN baby!

But a blog, ABOUT my human babies.  Most of which are really not babies anymore.

Not your typical parenting blog however (well, I hope not at least!).  Specifically this is the funny moments that happen, usually either out of the mouths of, or caused by, babes – even the big ones.

Check it out at: Little Wonders and feel free to share it if you like. (Feel free to share this blog if you like, too…. just sayin’).

This blog will still continue, of course, but I thought I’d keep the funny stuff contained… cause I know that sometimes I (and my ramblings) can be depressing.

Simple Mama Moment

My baby is walking.

The hubby came to me in a rush this morning.  “We’re in trouble.  I’ve just realised that William is now walking more often than crawling.”

“Awwww, good boy William!”

“No!” the hubby says, as he pulls William away from the computer desk, where he was digging around to see what he could find.  “Let me amend that – I just realised he’s primarily choosing walking where it gives him an advantageous position to get into stuff!”

I guess he fits in well in this household.

Hello, Double Standards

Growing up, I was raised to believe that I could do anything – that women could do anything.

Up until very recently, I interpreted this as meaning that my mother’s version of success, for me, was to get into a decent career that I could be proud of.  She never pushed me into what career I should have.  Yet, from as far back as I remember, my vision of myself when “growing up” would be to finish highschool, go straight on to University, get at least a four year degree, and go from there into a career.  Marriage and babies was always an option, but really only a possible to-do once I’d done the career thing.

Life, and fate, intervened, though, as it tends to do, and I met my now-husband online when I was merely in highschool, and for inconvience’s sake, he lived in New Zealand.  It was only logical, at the time, that if we were going to seriously be together, we needed to be in the same country.  Thus, after high school I got married instead of going straight into a four-year degree.  At that time, my mother and grandmother’s biggest fears for me would be that I wouldn’t get the degree at all.

I did, though.  I had to wait a couple years simply due to immigration purposes (at least, it was beneficial for me to so do financially).  But I did most of my degree pre-children, whilst working at the same time, and in my final year, promptly burned myself out and got pregnant.  I had that baby, then another one 21 months later, and only then did I go back to studying – but I finished my degree, despite having two children under 3 at home.

I’ve yet to settle in to a true, traditional, “career”.  I’ve tried a couple times, but with more than one young child at home at any given time, it’s frankly not worth it – child care eats up most of the money I bring in, plus the loss of the family tax credit means we come out worse off instead of better.

Recently, I was thinking about my own daughters’ futures, and what I would like for them.  At the same time, I was feeling very proud, and grateful, that my children had more options than just getting married and having kids.

That was when it hit me – my mother’s wish for me wasn’t that I had to have a successful, out-of-home career, but that I could.  Her wish for me was the same as my wish for my daughters – that they grow up to do whatever they want rather than having no other options than to get married and pop out babies.  It was a true lightbulb moment.

That aside, double standards are still everywhere.

Right now, we’re seriously considering the option of me doing a year of post-graduate study.  That in itself is fine.  But the course I have my heart set on, that will (with any luck and a bit of hard work) lead straight into my ideal industry, and possibly in a more or less direct line to my dream job (or one of them) is a course based in Wellington.  Although there is a different form of the course offered that’s online only, the more digging I do, and the more reading I do, about the two options suggests it would be far more beneficial to do the Applied course, which is very hands-on and includes plenty of industry experience.

But, of course, it’s in Wellington.

The husband is pushing me to do it anyway.  To more or less live in Wellington during the week, and come back to Auckland for the holidays, and ideally at least fortnightly if not weekly on the weekends.  Financially, it’ll be a huge stretch, reliant in no small part on a student loan, and then some.

My heart’s telling me to go for it.  My husband is telling me to go for it.

But at least half the people I’ve told about the opportunity say that no, I should wait.  Wait til the kids are all in school (another 4 years or so, or 5 if I want to wait until the kids are all settled in school).  Then it should have less impact on them, they’ll be older, better able to understand the circumstances.  The children need me now.

There are several things about this that bother me.  One, is the fact it just doesn’t seem to be true.  The husband and I do roughly equal work in terms of parenting and hands-on childcare – if anything, he does more than I do.   He’s the one that gets up to them at night.  He’s the one that gets them sorted in the morning.  During the days, now, we have Rose, our au pair, who is wonderful – but she’s the one doing the brunt of the childcare when Don’s not in the house.  Even when I’m there, I take a backseat role.  I get cuddles, and play the odd game with them, and certainly am kept abreast of all the major happenings.  Now that it’s the school holidays I’ve been taking the big girls out once or twice a week, both to get out of the house, but also to have some time with them.  So, I’m involved.  But I don’t know if my physical presence is truly critical to the family.  How damaging would it really be, if I primarily lived elsewhere for 9 months?  Keeping in mind I’d still be in frequent contact, I’m not leaving through any great time of distress (i.e., not a separation or abandonment or what have you).  And I’d really like, and hope to, and plan to, come back at least fortnightly anyway, to still get that physical, can’t-be-beaten time with them.

Still, the societal resistance to a mother leaving her children is huge.  Fathers can do it all the time.  Fathers travel regularly for work.  Fathers work in the military and are gone for months and years on end with much less contact than I’d be able to have.  Parents split up, and almost always, the mother gets the custody and the fathers get fortnightly visits, or less.  People don’t blink an eye.  But a mother wants to do any of the above, it’s a big deal.

I guess the difference is, mothers aren’t supposed to put themselves first.

Redefining Myself

Sometimes life isn’t as hard as we make it out to be.

I’ve done a lot of work – primarily, internal work – over the last two years or so, and I’m finally coming to a place where things are truly starting to make sense again.

I’ve been struggling with the dilemma of “What I Want to be when I Grow Up” for many years now – or I guess you could say, since growing up.  I can’t find any careers that are both suited to my skill and experience level that fire me up, or even entry level ones that lead to careers that fire me up.  Seemingly everything takes more than a BA to start with, or no degree at all – and whilst I don’t mind working in a job that doesn’t require a degree, despite the fact I have one, the ones that I can actually do are really just entry-level office administration work.  Not to knock administration, but it’s something I ‘can do’, not necessarily something I’m passionate about.

Not that long ago, however, I had a lightbulb moment. In truth, I’ve always known what I wanted to be when I grow up – I have always (at least, from the time I could read) wanted to be a writer.  Nearly anytime I mentioned this, however, I was met with limited enthusiasm.  “That’s great…. but what will you do to make a living?” In response to that, I did briefly explore journalism, but quickly found that journalism and myself are not a great mix.  I’m really not cut out for dog-eat-dog, beat-everyone-else-to-the-scoop type stuff, and journalism is rife with that.  Furthermore, my true dream is to be an author of books.  Journalism would be writing, and aside from the nasty atmosphere, a lot more desirable than administration – but being an author of books is my true calling. 

Instead, I’ve been getting hung up on how I’m going to make a living, under the blatant assumption that being an author would not make a living.   More importantly, I haven’t been doing anything about being an author.  Frankly, I’m not ‘earning a living’ at the moment anyway – but I could be writing.

So, I’ve started writing.  In my true style, I have not one project on the go, but about four, not counting my blogs.  Some, by their very nature, are progressing faster than others, but that’s fine.  They may not become books.  But I’m writing and that’s what’s important.  If I wait “until” before I start writing, I’ll never be an author.

And I’m blogging again.  (Says Captain Obvious).  Stay tuned for more, and more frequently, at this blog. Or, for a breath of fresh air (or at least pictures of such), check out my new baby – Walking to Wellness.

Gratitude, Attitude, Prayers, and a ‘Moment’

I don’t consider myself a religious person.  In part, because religion – as an institution – has repeatedly let me down. 

I do, however, consider myself a very spiritual person – and there is no convincing me that there is not a God or some form of higher power. I don’t care if it’s ‘logical’ or not, it’s one of the truths about me that exists to the core of my being. 

I pray regularly – though I don’t always call it that.  But the essence of it is that I connect to the ‘other’ that is not me – which is, boiled down and stripped of religiously charged words – what prayer is. 

Last night, feeling miserably sorry for myself, head sore, throat raw and painful even despite pain relievers, and nose streaming with snot, I prayed.  I’ve done this before – in roughly the same situation – and always asked for healing.  I pray when I need things – which is part of the human experience, I’d venture to guess.  

And that’s when I had my ‘moment’. Outwardly, absolutely nothing changed – I was still sick, still hyper-aware of every swallow.  But, like a parent does with a child that’s whining after a long day, I had it pointed out to me exactly how much I had to be grateful for, and the true abundance in my life.  I started out complaining about a common, minor, illness, which I knew I’d recover from within a few days but merely wanted a faster turnaround than that, simply because it suited me.  But I finished at a completely different place.  I was able to burrow in my warm bed, just the way I like it, in a safe, warm, and dry house we own, and with the only thing troubling me a fleeting virus.  I was still sick – but I felt good. 

That is what my spirituality means to me. 

Hair Raising Organisation

I have three girls, and all of the girls have so far expressed a preference for medium length or longer hair.

We have a lot of hair ties.

We also have a lot of issues with hair ties. They go missing on a daily basis. They come out, seemingly, of their own volition, and just fall wherever they land on the floor. They then hide in corners, making friends with the dustbunnies that may also lurk there.

It’s made worse that I had no real system to control the hair ties. So far, they’ve been just dumped in a “hair tie box”, an open plastic small box that was overflowing, had everything from headbands to bobbypins to stretched-beyond-their-life elastics. The upside of this, was there was at least a general area for the kids to throw the elastics at if asked to pick them up / put them away. The downside of this, was that getting a hair tie in the morning was much the reverse – just dump the whole thing out, find the one we want, and deal with it later.

So I’ve sorted it.

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This was drawer style cubby hole organiser I found at the hardware store, marketed for small parts like screws and nuts and bolts. It’s sturdy, and whilst the individual drawers CAN come out, it’s not super easy, and worst case, only that small selection has been dumped out. I now have sorted small ties from big ties, flat from round, metal from non-metal, and even clippies with decorations on them vs clippies that are plain.

In addition, headbands, scrunchies, bun-makers, hairnets, are all stored (loosely) in the pink bucket on top. It’s easier to rummage through without dumping, but the girls also don’t need to go in there in the first place for the initial hair tie – it’s almost all the hair ‘accessories’ part. Similarly, brushes are stored in the green bucket – easy enough for the girls to put away themselves, organised enough that parents are happy.

Hair ties. Sorted.

Super Better

Depression sucks.  I have it (I know, big surprise ay).  I am officially a loon, but doing my best to embrace my inner-crazy.

I’ve also been fighting anxiety something terrible, which is a whole new experience for me – usually I’m just a melancholy sad sack.  Now, I’m a hyperventilating melancholy sad sack.

Awhile ago (1 – 2 years?) I read Reality is Broken.  It’s a very good read, particularly if you have any interest in video games (everything from facebook / iphone games through to epic things like WoW) but good, I reckon, even if you don’t – just possibly slightly less relatable.

Fast forward to today.

Out of the blue, my bestie from highschool forwarded me this link to a TED talk by Jane McGonigal.  Took me til about 5 minutes into the talk, thinking “gee this sounds familiar” until I realised it was covered in her book, see above.  Like all TED talks, it’s worth a watch.  Like her book, it’s even more relevant if you happen to enjoy gaming.

In both the book and her talk, she mentions SuperBetter. Clearly, I took in something when I read the book originally, because as soon as I realised she was the author (i.e., above while watching the talk) I thought – “super better!”

And after the video finished – SuperBetter.  There’s a thought.  Wonder if there’s an app for that yet?

Of course there is.  I’m officially signed up now.

The app doesn’t feature anything unheard of or particularly ground-breaking – but it just puts a different spin on it.  And honestly, this is the most positive i’ve felt about my chances of slaying the PND monster (other than merely popping pills and waiting for said monster to grow bored and find someone else to pick on).

Which is not to say that I’m not still a loon.  Just that now I’m a loon with hope.