Friday, 30 September 2011

TGIF...


It seems like we took all week to get here, but thank goodness it's Friday.
Final day of school before the holidays.
Long weekend.
Ah, Friday, I love you.

I was going to post my recipe for home baked healthy fish and chips.

But, you know what? It's Friday, and we all need to chill...

Grab a pack of oven chips, a box of frozen fish fillets and some frozen peas and a lemon and maybe a jar of sauce. Dinner is done.



Have a wonderful weekend everyone...


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Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Ring of chaos...



I am in a ring of chaos.

This week is spent driving around and around in circles.

It is the final week of term and I am, quite frankly, bloody exhausted.

Last week was all pink and glitter and fairy birthday parties.

This week is a lot of deadlines, a lot of school swimming lessons, a lot of opthamologist appointments and a lot of snatched chores between driving from pillar to post.

Coffee is not enough.

I have had to pull favours from a lot of school mums (Amanda and Mica and Karen and Tammy - if you are reading - thank you so much...) and I have had to juggle appointments and interviews and work and the gym.

This post is bought to you by my iPhone in the car as I wait to help out at school swimming lessons.

From which I will have to fly back from and break all speed limits to make it in time to Lexie's kindy graduation.

Oh god, it is too depressing to start listing all the places I have to be today.

I am knackered, the kids are exhausted.

I screeched at them pleaded with them this morning to put their listening ears on. They didn't hear me, and I lost the plot.

It pissed it down with rain and thunder just as we got into the car to go to school. My bum got so wet doing their seatbelts up that it feels like I have wet myself.

I am starving as I forgot to grab breakfast and the revolting aroma of chlorine from the swimming pool is making my existing headache even worse.

I got less than four hours sleep last night, and the deadlines are still looming.

Give me strength. 


And bring on the school holidays.  Let me break out of this ring of chaos..


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Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Career Girl Me (Updated...)

I first published this post a year ago. So I am posting again - with an update...

Someone asked me the other day, about what my life was like before children...

Before I had children, I was a career girl. I worked for a leading telco, from the mid 1990's, as a sales manager, as a marketing manager and as a project manager. In Sydney, Adelaide and Darwin. I worked full time. Full full full time. It was where I met my lovely husband. And good job I did - I was working so hard, I had little time for much else!

I was never the clicky clacky heals corporate suit flicky hair type of career girl. I was not a glamour of the Sydney business world. But I did get recognised for objectives really well executed. And dare I say it, I was promoted more quickly that my better dressed, more beautiful counterparts...

I loved my work. I was lucky to work with the best talent that the telco industry had at the time.  Without a doubt, I was paid extraordinarily well for campaigns well done. I thrived. I worked really long hours and was on schedule and on budget every time. I was lucky that I found a knack of getting the best out of other people, and I repeatedly was lucky enough to experience the thrill of making things happen, seeing things evolve, through the hard work of some phenomenal teams of people.




I was lucky that I had some amazing mentors through my whole career.  Men and women that saw flickers of potential in me that I could not see in myself. I always knew I could and would work hard. Other people saw the occasional flashes of "brilliance". I put that in inverted commas because I always doubted myself. Lucky for me, they didn't.

I worked, and played, to win.

At the peak of my career, I finally fell pregnant. And whilst riding that high, I lost my baby. It was a late, late loss and the most heartbreaking thing I have ever had to deal with.

We, the lovely husband  and I, we chose to retreat for a while, to the Northern Territory.

For his career, this time; and so that I could lick some wounds and heal: we left Adelaide for the Darwin adventure.

Again, I scored. And landed an amazing role working on a huge construction and IT project. With the best in the business across government and private enterprise, I blossomed again. Crackled with the energy and vibrancy of success. And felt some peace in my heart and mind, up there, in that amazing tropical land.

And I fell pregnant again, this time with my beautiful eldest daughter.

I got huge. I got hot. I got happy. I got my project, me and my pregnant belly, in my hard hat and steel capped boots.

I finally waddled away at eight months pregnant.

It is now over seven years since I worked on my career. I have always managed to work part time, usually from home, around the kids. As a method of keeping my marketing skills and my brain ticking over. But such part time work has been secondary to my main "job" as Mummy to my three kids.



I miss the passion, and the cut and thrust of being really good at something, something external to my personal world.

I miss the thrill of the negotiations, the thrill of the wins. The completions. I miss the life cycles of projects. I miss that secret internal feeling I get: "They think I can't do that,but I know I can and will, and I cannot wait to prove it."

Lexie starts at school in term four of 2011.

Time to start investigating what to do next...



Updated - a year later!

Term four of 2011 is nearly upon us. I am revelling in my last few weeks of having my youngest at home with me.

This past year, I have managed to work from home, doing a fair amount of freelance writing and marketing work. I also stuck my toe in the water and secured some part time work for a local real estate company, working on their database, their marketing and their social media. It has stretched me and been a lot of fun.

So much so, that the minute Lexie goes to school, I am signed up to study for two terms to complete my Certificate IV in Property Services: Real Estate. (This is the qualification required to become a real estate agent in South Australia.)



I will undertake the study part time, around the kids, and around my existing work in the real estate office. By April I will be fully qualified, and able to secure a career role as a real estate agent. It is an industry I have always been attracted to, and I have always wanted to "get into real estate".

It is also an industry that is notoriously hard work, and, in the current property climate, I am anticipating some tough challenges.

That said, it's also an industry that I realise can eventually be very flexible. With my lovely husband supporting my choice, and some carefully planned team work over who drops kids off at school, and who picks them up, around BOTH of our careers, I think know we will manage. We will make it happen.

He and I have talked it over long and hard. We realise we will give up some weekend times together. Real estate work means working weekends. But this also means we have the flexibility in the week to pick kids up after school without the need for after school care. I intend to still help with the school canteen and school reading support regularly, at the same time as planning my days around my clients needs.
I am looking forward to studying again. I am really looking forward to working with lots of different people again, in a team environment. I am really looking forward to the day when I start earning a decent salary again, so that the pressure on my lovely husband can be eased.

I am looking forward to giving my children, particularly my girls, the knowledge that you can have a career and be a brilliant and present Mum as well. You can. "They think I can't do that, but I know I can and will, and I cannot wait to prove it!"

Monday, 26 September 2011

A Fairy Party (and recovery...)

As I mentioned last week, it was my youngest daughter's fifth birthday last week. Lexie revelled in every moment and the celebrations lasted from Wednesday to Sunday, just as they should, when you're five.

One of the big events was her birthday party.

Lexie attends Fairy Dancing classes every week for an hour. She can move, my girl. She has a funky little groove and a lot of confidence in her movement. She has a sense of rhythm. Combine that with a fairy dress, some glitter, some fan-fairy-tastic fun and some fairy manners, and she is in utter fairy heaven.



Her dance teacher (Miss Julie-Ann, who has, to my mind, the patience of an utter saint...) is delightful, and the dance glass is currently rehearsing as support act for The Fairies Concert. So, Lexie will be on stage, performing. Which, she feels, I suspect, is her natural place in the world. I have turned, momentarily, into a stage mother!

Anyway...her birthday party was held at The Fairie's House. Harmony and Rhapsody were present in spirit, as was Minuet, Wizzy and Buzzy. Fairy craft, followed by fairy dancing followed by fairy cheffing. Fairy snacks and fairy cakes were worked off by more fairy dancing and some fairy singing. Fairy games and fairy songs, all hosted by The Rainbow Fairy. Boys in wizzard costumes and a lot of little girls in pink and purple fairy dresses, wings and wands optional.







It was a riot of pink and sugar and floss and fun.

Lexie had an utter ball. In a pink froth of a dress, surrounded by family and friends, she was in the limelight and in her element.

She curled her arms around my neck last night as I tucked her into bed and told me it was the best birthday anyone had ever had in the whole wide world.

It's now 10.54am on Monday morning.

Lexie has partied HARD this weekend. She is now asleep on the floor. Thankful for a peaceful day, I suspect. (Me too.)



It is not often we indulge our children with so much outragoeus branding and treats. But if not on their birthdays, then when? 


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Sunday, 25 September 2011

Roots and wings...


Growing up, as a child, we moved, a lot.

Before I was thirteen years old my family had lived in eight different houses across several different counties of England, and I had attended a handful of different schools.

Through the work of my father, real estate wins, schooling choices, and an open mind, my family moved a great deal.

We were still secure, and loved, and routines didn't deviate all that much, but I do recall a sense of movement. Or rather a lack of feeling truly settled.

I left home at seventeen, to go to uni at the other end of the country, and so my slightly nomadic existence continued. Between student digs, shared houses, live-in accommodation in hotels and live-in relationships, between my late teens and mid twenties I have actually lost track of the amount of times I shifted and moved addresses...

I made friends everywhere I went and retained many of those relationships.  I am still in touch with many of those friends in varying degrees - Facebook and email has made that possible. I still chat and email with the best friend I made in the street we lived in in 1976. As well as that, I am still close to a great number of my school and uni friends from the heady days of the 1980's, along with the friends I made through my early working life in the '90's.

School friends still live in the villages they were born in.

Uni friends have returned home to the places they grew up in, to have their own children, to further develop the roots still deeply embedded.

Old work colleagues have bought homes and now have their own families growing up in the same streets.

I don't think I realised, when I made the decision to move from the UK to Australia in the 1995, how much my life had been a chain of moves, a long list of uprooting. It stood me in good stead, for the move to another country, another life, was seamless and easy.

Upon meeting my lovely husband, we "settled" quickly, in Sydney's inner west.  He is a boy from the Northern Beaches but he chose to move to the other side of town. And he and I, since then, have bought, renovated, sold, moved, relocated and resettled seven times in fifteen years. I am not sure whose sense of adventure has driven this. Both, I suspect. Between three states, we have made homes in Sydney, Adelaide and Darwin, all successfully. Each move has bought new challenges, new excitements, new friends and new lives to explore.

We are now firmly and finally wed to the house and home we live in here in the leafy foothills of Adelaide. It is an area that is safe, beautiful and everything we need in terms of people and facility. I love it.

And we are surrounded by people who have lived here their whole lives. They may have moved a street or a suburb aside, but whole families grow up together and do not move.

At my children's school, I am surrounded by parents who also attended the school before their children, some over thirty years ago.

There is a deep and incredibly secure vibe of confidence, community and well being to all of these new friends. They have lived here their whole lives; they know every corner of the area - every street, every park, every shop, every character and every tradition. And their children are safely harboured in the same enviable sense of security.

They have not moved for career or adventure or habit. They have met partners locally and bought homes locally. Their parents and relatives all live nearby: a constant supply of support, knowledge and babysitting available. Even if they have travelled, they have the homing bird trait - and always land back where they started.

If I am honest, I am envious of this status. It is this deep placement of roots that I wish for my children, and the reason, I suspect, that I baulk at moving home again, and the reason I will resist a change of schools for my three little ones.

But then I think of the adventures I have had, the things I have experienced, the openness of my eyes in the face of travel and change. And I know some of my new friends are in awe and envy of my nomad adventures, and crave this for themselves.

Who knows?

I am never sure, and will never be sure of the "best" way. It is too late for me to change my history now. Will my children resent that I will keep them secure and settled in one house and in one school and in one town, until they are ready to leave home? Will they percieve that as boring and unadventurous? Who knows.

What about you? Roots? Or wings?



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Friday, 23 September 2011

Hot date...


At the end of yet another very busy week, I am grateful to be able to slow the pace a little by snatching five minutes to write a blog post.

I have a date with my husband this evening.

I love him an awful lot; to smithereens in fact, and going out, just the two of us, for dinner, is sublime.

I am grateful for this love we have, and eternally grateful to friends who offer to babysit.

We will recharge our respective batteries, he and I, and top one another up with energy and laughter and gossip, and perhaps a little wine. We will untangle the weeks we've had, and catch up with all of each others various goings on.

We will give anecdotes as gifts to one another and share our wins.

We will, as we do, thrash out issues, plan, anticipate, and verbalise dreams, together. We will exhale and play footsies and flirt, as we sink into the weekend...

As always, I am grateful to him, that lovely husband of mine...


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Thursday, 22 September 2011

Lexie's birthday...

We have a little tradition in our house, as a lot of families do, of allowing whoever has their birthday to chose their favourite dinner.

It was Lexie's fifth birthday yesterday.

Five years ago, she sped into the world. (If you want to read her amazing birth story, it's here.)

And yesterday, ffter she opened all her pressies (a whole load of Barbie and a whole load of craft stuff...) I asked her what she would love best for her dinner.

And she tells me:

"A little strawberry. A little bit of salami. Some cheese please. And a cracker. That is all, Mumma."

And so that is exactly what we had. I threw a few scotch eggs and some cherry tomatoes onto the plate for good measure, and dinner was prepared in less that five minutes...and it was delightful.

And then of course, a little birthday cake to finish it all off.



It was a lovely lovely day. I love her so so much.

What family birthday traditions do you have? And which favourite dinner do you or your kids choose?

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Wednesday, 21 September 2011

The Help - Winner


Thanks to all that entered my recent giveaway for The Help -  book and movie tickets. Your comments gave me a wonderful trip down memorie lane for some books and movies to revisit!

The winner is....


Miss Mandy from A Little Space Like Home - Congratulations!

Mandy - can you please email me with your postal address and I will Express the tickets and book to you?

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Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Ready for school?


This mornings post bought to you by my daughter Lexie.

She has her second school transition visit this morning.

She is so prepared to start it is not funny.

She scares me.

And next week, she goes in full uniform. And I will probably cry.
I miss her.

She is so ready. I am not.




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Monday, 19 September 2011

Homemade Lemonade...


When life brings you lemons, it may be tempting to grab the tequila and the salt, but sometimes it's just more appropriate to grab some sugar, and a jug, and make lemonade.

Which, with our glut of lemons that seems to be inexhaustible, we have done this weekend. The weather in Adelaide has been utterly glorious. We have taken some huge long hot and steep walks, and my lovely husband ran the Adelaide City to Bay Fun Run; so chilled lemonade has been the perfect tipple for us all.

Homemade Lemonade:

The squeezed juice of 10 lemons (about 2 cups)
1 cup caster sugar
1.5 cups boiling water
1.25 ml bottle sparkling mineral water*

1. Combine the lemon juice, the caster sugar and boiling water in a large jug
2. Stir well to ensure the sugar is totally dissolved
3. Add fizzy mineral water and ice cubes and lemon slices to serve

* And if you have none, normal water is nearly as good...it still tastes delish.
I have also made a batch of the lemon and sugar and water syrup and poured it into ice cube trays and frozen it. I figure it's an effective and easy way of preserving the lemon juice in syrup form, in readiness for a long hot summer of lemonade...

Do you have fruit trees?

Tell me your most refreshing tipple?


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Saturday, 17 September 2011

Is the book always better than the movie? (A giveaway)


I have not seen "The Help" yet, nor have I read the book.

I have heard rave reviews of both.

The tale is told from the point of view of three narrators: Aibileen Clark, a middle-aged African-American maid who has spent her life raising white children, and who has recently lost her only son; Minny Jackson, an African-American maid whose back-talk towards her employers results in her having to frequently change jobs, exacerbating her desperate need for work as well as her family's struggle with money; and Eugenia "Skeeter" Phelan, a young white woman and recent college graduate who, after moving back home, discovers that a maid that helped raise her since childhood has abruptly disappeared and her attempts to find her have been unsuccessful. The stories of the three women intertwine to explain how life in Jackson, Mississippi revolves around "the help", with complex relations of power, money, emotion, and intimacy tying together the white & black families of Jackson.
I have asked friends who have read and watched "The Help", and one reputable opinion (thanks Shannah!) said: "Usually I find film adaptations a ruiner but this film totally proved me wrong. Strong performances guaranteed to make you laugh and cry."

Another friend who has seen the movie just recently too, can be quoted as saying - "An excellent film. Not a chick flick but a drama. It was such a great film I would actaully watch it again. Good story line, interesting characters and I would highly recommend it."

My lovely "help" (our georgeous 17 year old babysitter!) sent me a text to tell me that "Yeah, can babysit. You'll  ♥ THE HELP. It rocked. Book is totes cool too."

So I am starting the book this evening, and have a hot date booked in to see the movie next Friday night.

And lucky for you, I have a brand spanking new copy of "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett to giveaway as well as an all season pass for two adults to go and see "The Help" at the movies too.

So, if you win, we can compare notes - is the book always better than the movie?

All you need to do to be in with a chance to win "The Help" package (book and movie tickets) is:

1. Make sure you are following my blog
2. Leave me a comment telling me your fave novel/movie adaptation, and why...

Open to Australian resisdents only.
This is a quick giveaway - entries close midday Tuesday 20th September, with a winner will be chosen by Random.Org and announced Tuesday evening. Tickets and book will be Express Posted out to the winner.



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Friday, 16 September 2011

Do you believe in fairies?




My elder daughter, Olivia, is nearly eight. She is mature and self composed, and fairly cool.

She is on the cusp of adopting all sorts of tweenager habits and interests.

She wears blue nail polish, wants to play the DS all the time, watches Lizzie Maguire and Naturally Sadie. She has tendencies towards a little bit of tweeny attitude at times.

But with the constant losing of wobbly teeth, and the repeat appearances of the tooth fairy for both Olivia and my son Charlie, it seems that a mature little girl can still be swayed to the magical belief in fairies.

Olivia and a crew of her little school friends have been collecting pebbles and flowers and writing notes over the past few days, to make a fairy ring.

To be honest, I am little fairy'd out, so I just let them get on with it, and didn't take much notice.

Until I went to collect her from school today, and was greeted with her beaming ecstatic face.

She and her friends had spent all recess creating a special fairy ring, in the hope of enticing a response from some magical little fairy creatures. A quiet spot on one of the school lawns had been picked out as the spot. Notes had been written, with, I believe, requests for chocolate, and fairy dust, and free wishes...


And upon returning to their fairy ring at lunch time, to survey their endeavours, they realised the fairies had indeed been!

Silver charms had been left, along with  a lolly or two, accompanied by an adorable little note from the fairies. All written in gold glittery pen, with some tiny petals added to the fairy ring.

I cannot begin to describe the joy and excitement that these fairy messages have evoked in my Olivia. She is utterly enchanted. The detail of the day and the activities and the reward all effervesced from her. She is so happy, she is holding the knowledge that fairies really do exist close to her heart.

So this evening I am grateful, so very very grateful to "the fairy" that created this magic for my daughter and her friends. Whether it was another Mum, or perhaps one of the older students, I am not sure. It could have been a teacher, or one of the school support officers. No one has 'fessed up. (No doubt they are holding the secret close too.)

But I am grateful that for the magical place we are can find ourselves in, when little girls can be little girls, and wonder and sparkle can be created from a little imagination and a little kindness.

Do you believe in fairies? 


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PS I am, of course, linking this up to Maxabella's weekly Grateful linky, which is being hosted this week by Brenda at Mira Narnie.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Motivation and the dreaded plateau...



One of my favourite Tweeters, purple_cath, and I were chatting the other day about the power of motivation, in relation to weight loss plateaus - and between us, I realised that there are physical plateaus and also emotional plateaus to this weight loss bizzo.

After a time, your body gets totally used to the plan you're following, What worked before, and the regime that saw you regularly lose weight each week no longer seems sufficient. Your body is used to it, it's adapted to the shortfall in calories, so your weight stays stable. Frustrating. Annoying, to know you have been as "good" this week as you were on previous weeks, but to not loose.

And the same too, for emotional plateaus. For months, motivation stays high. You have a vision, a goal, and you're fired up, working towards a healthier lifestyle, a lesser dress size, and slimmer body. Then all of a sudden, it's not that you no longer care, but a subtle shift occurs and for some reason the fire has dimmed and whilst your interest is still high, you mental and emotional dedication to the weight loss journey seems less?

Sometimes the physical and mental plateaus come together. Sometimes the mental slump is a result of a physical slowing. Sometimes the body may be raring to go but you just can't summon up the emotional energy to get back into the right head space.

I do not have any of the answers to either, sadly.



I know that in order to get over a physical weight loss plateau, I need to get more sleep, drink more water, and shock my body back into weight loss mode by dropping to 1200 calories made up of lean protein and fruit and vegetables only. No processed carbs and very low sodium.  I suspect a change in exercise also helps; in combination.

But the emotional plateau? The mental aspect of dieting? The motivated attitude that can knock down all weight loss hurdles? How do we keep that burning and firing on all cylinders?

For me, I revisit all the original reasons I started this weight loss caper. I have to go back and visualise what I want my body and my life to look like. I have to try and create environments where I can feel how brilliant it feels to be on the right track with my health. I have to put a little extra planning in. Maybe read a new book on weight loss, or find some success stories that remind me of how possible this all is. I need to feel it.

There doesn't seem to be any concrete answers for this one. There is no "one size fits all" answer.

But I do know that even if I am not speeding along the track, even if I am not at the destination yet, even if I feel I have stalled, I am still ON the track. I am still on the journey. And I will not ever give up.

How do YOU deal with plateaus?


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Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Kitchenware Direct Baking Set Winner...

Last week I ran a give away for a whole set of brilliant baking equipment from Kitchenware Direct. It seems it was a really popular prize - the entries were numerous and the baking memories evoked were gorgeous for me to read about, so a huge thank you to all that entered.



The winner, as picked by Random.Org is -

Amy (AKeeper) from Amy Keep Trying



Thanks again to all that entered, and watch this space for more cool giveaways...

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Wattle...



It is nearly five years since we moved into the "Seventies Monstrosity" as I tend to call our house.

The front garden, when we first moved here, was tended and perfect. Neat. Not a blade nor a rose out of place. It featured automatic watering and dinky little volcanic pebbles to minimise the weeds.

Some five years on, it has a more "lived in" look, a more rough and tumble appearance, and a lot more "native" a feel.

My lovely husband is a talented gardener. I have made mention of his gluts before, and yes, I love his gluts, for gluts sake. But he is not so keen on working on the front garden. Too public. He hates to "get neighboured" whilst he is gardening and resists lengthy small talk with passers by.

So, our front garden has evolved into a beautiful but rather random combination of herb and salad patch at the lower level, and native jungle at the top of the drive next to the street.

The pavement is gradually lifting, I notice. By the roots of a wattle tree that has grown, from nothing, in less than five years. It is currently in flower, and quite breathtaking. I see people on their evening stroll stop, and admire it's height, it's profusion and it's colour. As I round the corner into our street, and see the wattle, quite bursting with abundant flower and foliage I feel a swell of pride.

When I look at snaps of the front of our house from five years ago, this tree was not evident. It has grown in such a short space of time. Native to the postcode and loving the soil, it has thrived. I take photos today, and it is hard to fit the whole tree into one snap.

Which makes me realise, if you just let nature be, if you leave things to their own devices, beautiful things grow strong.

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Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Lovely lady arms...

I am slow to post today - apologies.

But the truth of the matter is that I can barely type.

I can barely move my arms, let alone raise my fingers to the keyboard.

Driving the kids to school and kindy this morning was excruciating.

All in my quest for lovely lady arms. Like Michelle Obama's. I aspire to arms like hers - they are the perfect combination of lean and toned without looking like they belong to a body builder, don't you think?


Anyway, when I was nearly 40kg heavier than I am today, the tops of my arms, were, quite frankly, like two pale fat slugs. Huge. Wobbly. Fat. Gross.

I have lost a lot of weight from the tops of my arms, and thankfully the skin here has snapped back. But I am still on a mission to get them from lardy to toned..

And, if the way my arms are feeling today is any guide, the exercises I am doing are evidently working!

Using 5kg dumbbells, I have been doing circuit sets of the following:
  • Overhead press
  • Overhead extension
  • Curls
  • Lateral raise
And if all that is double dutch to you, all it really means is lifting these in varying fashions:



My arms are aching like I do not know what.

But worth it to see my arms change from this:



To this:


How about you? Are you comfy going sleeveless?


Any tips for me?