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Aside

The pile of books beside my bed - a tad optimistic?  Borne of a compulsion for borrowing from the library that has got out of hand!

The pile of books beside my bed – a tad optimistic? Borne of a compulsion for borrowing from the library that has got out of hand!

It’s been all about me this week!  The boys have been fed, watered, clothed and ferried about to wherever they have needed to be, homework has happened, stars and black marks doled out but while all of this has been going on my internal focus has been on all the bits and pieces I’ve got going on.  I’m going to call this distracted parenting.  It’s new to me as until this year the boys pretty much ruled the roost in terms of time and energy – that’s collective family energy.  Perhaps this is more akin to life as a working mum (which I actually a now too!) in which case, wow, I truly take my hat off to everyone who has juggled all these components of life from the word go with kids.

I am trying to teach myself to compartmentalise which is hard.  I am realising it is not so easy to try and do a million things at once these days even or especially with constant global communication literally at our fingertips (sorry, I know as a woman I am able to multi-task, I’m just finding that these days it results in difficulties…bad feminist?).  Yesterday we had two very similar incidents to highlight this:

  1. On arriving at pre-school I just had to finish off a tiny email I had started while waiting at a red light while Sam and Edward hung on in the back.

Me:  Won’t be a minute boys.

Boys:  Silence (happily doing sticker books).

Ten seconds later.

Sam:   Argh, Mummy, when are you going to be FINISHED?

 Me:  Almost there, just a second.

 Sam:  BUT I WANT TO GET OUT (shouted loudly).

Me:  OK, alright, I was just…realise they couldn’t care less what I was ‘just’ doing.  I probably always seem to be ‘just doing’ something.  This time was Sam’s time, he adores Northern Nursery and I felt rotten for spoiling his arrival there.  Of course, my email could have waited, it’s just too easy to think I can fit another little thing in.

2.  While the soup was cooking (yes, I know that’s a bit show-offy, forgive me, I’m trying to redeem a pinch of self-worth while I admit to my faults) I thought I’d check to see whether my article had been published.  It had which meant I had to phone Andrew (who was wonderfully, joyfully supportive and proud, thank you) which went on for a bit during which Edward (who had been happily watching Rupert the Bear I’m ashamed to admit – but it’s Rupert right?  Could have been worse, could have been Seseme street!) appeared to say ‘I hungry’ in a plaintive voice.  I said, of course, ‘I’ll be there in a minute poppet’ and continued to chat and revel in my new-found, hard-earned writerly ‘fame’.  A minute later he came back and began physically tugging on my arm to wrest me free of the technology that was binding me.  I felt dreadful so allowed him nutella on toast and apple juice for lunch.  Rubbish.

We are a bit of a technophobic household it has to be said.  We have no ipad, ipod, foxtel.  But perhaps I’m kidding myself and it is simply down to finances as opposed to my strict moral compass (you can get up now from rolling about in hysterics) or rather old-fashionedness.  Those technologies we do have are getting in the way.  They are stretching themselves over the compartments I mean to impose.   I don’t think I’m alone.  I go to a soft-play centre or park with the boys and find it hard not to get my phone out just to check if there’s anything that I need to attend to. What?  I am not a member of the UN,  nor am I a medical or legal professional on-call.  The most important communication I might have will be something from a member of the preschool social committee.  So nothing that cannot wait for me to have some time with my amazing boys.  I have taken to leaving the distraction in the car – not Edward, the phone.

reliant on technology

 I give Andrew a row for working on his laptop in bed.  Not only is it deeply unsexy, he works until he’s cross-eyed then wonders why he sleeps so badly.  I use my phone as alarm which means the first thing I do after hitting snooze is check my emails.

As if to prove my point, Andrew has just appeared (it’s 6.47am) to replenish my tea with Blackberry in hand which he insisted on checking to see what had come in overnight, phew the email he wanted was there.  It really couldn’t have waited, certainly not until the office and his work time officially begins.  I have 13 minutes of my allotted work time left before the hand ticks over to the next compartment and today I don’t want to be late, or distracted.

Since when were these not enough?

Since when were these not enough?

Edward demanded this be put in, starting young.

Edward demanded this be put in, starting young.

Incessant technological interuption.

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Aside

Do you ever have a day when you just shouldn’t have got out of bed?  We had one yesterday – no, that’s not me and my doppelganger good-cop mum sidekick but the entire family.  From the moment the boys barrelled into the study/playroom at 5.50am the day was doomed.  I was faffing already, getting lost in reading other blogs (a brave, beautifully written post from Lisey Bendy’s blog to be precise check it out here www.shittytittiebangbang.com) and trying and failing to galvanize myself into writing action.  So having achieved nothing by the time they came in put me in a grump which, as it turned out, matched the one Sam had woken up with and as it happened Andrew.  Humph.  The sort of day where we need a bigger house in order for us all to be grumpy in our own little corner.  Except life of course isn’t like that and the day had to be faced.

Edward decided to well and truly face it when he leapt off the chest of drawers onto Sam’s bed, kneecapping his big brother with a salad server (previously pilfered from the kitchen) and breaking a precious new Lego Chima model in the process.  Oh the pitiful sobbing from the victim, the defensive yelling and flailing of arms and legs as the offender was put into time-out (never one to down without a fight is Edward), the tears and snot and dribble from both.

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This set the tone – before breakfast.  For the rest of the day I felt like my witty aside of ‘ha, ha, UN peacekeepers have nothing on me!’ should have been stapled on a large board to my forehead.  Navigating a day like that is walking the parenting minefield.  I didn’t know which innocent instruction would set off the next homegrown greanade (it turned out to be ‘please bring your water bottle through’, who’d have known?).  I staggered into The Source holding up two fingers.  Luckily being such a good customer I jump the queue now so energy levels were promptly pumped up.  Just writing that makes me wonder if it is my good custom that pushes me up the orders or my sons’ custom of rolling about on the floor and demanding water from the fun little tap on the counter that encourages the baristas to feel the need for speed. Hmm.

I did read recently that the results of a major study into bullying have shown that children mollycoddled by their parents are 10% more likely to be bullied than those allowed to find their own boundaries and learn conflict resolution by themselves.  Glad to see my parenting technique of ‘leave them to it, they have to learn the hard way’ gets the thumbs up from the professionals!  There are simply only so many times one can say ‘stop it’ in one day, we just happen to reach that threshold surprisingly early sometimes.  For the article click here http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/features/kid-gloves/story-e6frg8h6-1226636971204.

Today everything is different!  I was left in peace until almost 7am, quite a record.  Andrew was impressed that I had turned stripping beds into something fun when I gave the boys two minutes to do it themselves before I did it for them.  He obviously hasn’t realised I am training them to be decent houseguests in order to secure sleepovers!!

There was great excitement this morning when our Easter parcel from my Mum arrived – only two months late!  Sam’s question ‘Where has it been until now?’ met with William’s reply ‘There are people who have to taste every single thing in every single parcel before we can have them.’  Now there’s a reality TV show in the making.

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With her permission I would like to share a short story about my friend ‘Agatha’s’ son’s reply to a question posed by his teacher which is still causing her to seriously consider changing her name to Agatha and moving school possibly even city pronto.

Teacher ‘ Let’s think about Balmoral Beach.  It is a natural landscape but now has lots of man-made features.  Can everyone think of a man-made feature at Balmoral and share it with the class.

Girl 1: The path along the front.

Boy 1: The rotunda.

Girl 2: The benches.

‘Agatha’s’ son: Balmoral Cellars…

I’m laughing even as I type.  She should be proud I say, I wish it had been my son’s answer!

Today is Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution Day http://foodrevolutionday.com/.  It has had no publicity here that I have seen but I’m always one to try and impose some culinary experience on the boys so tonight we are making pizzas with some lovely friends.  That is four mums and ten children.  I imagine I’ll be calling Jamie all the names under the sun this evening before taking to the drink!  In the meantime I had better go and make the dough…

This week I’ve been

Reading ‘On Writing’ by Stephen King – a present to celebrate my first commission from my gorgeous boys, loving it (perhaps I should have read it earlier?)

Reading ‘An Omelette and a Glass of Wine’ by Elizabeth David – I’ve just discover ED, such poetic descriptions of food.  No wonder she was such a revolutionary.

Reading ‘Mrs Queen Takes the Train’ by William Kuhn.  Gently enjoyable, taking a while to get going (I’ll avoid a British Rail joke here!) though.

Cooking for my lovely preggy friend Rebecca.  Curry, soup, pasta sauce.  I still remember fondly the gorgeous parsnip soup my lovely sister-in-law Lucy filled my freezer up with before William’s arrival.

Celebrating having lost 1.5 kilos, better stay off the wine (you were right Mum!).

Boys will be boys…

Aside

ImageNot a bad place to train.

Australia has a reputation as the ultimate sporting nation and there is no doubt that sport here is very much more visable than anywhere else I’ve been (on account of the climate no doubt which I’m not going to mention much at the risk of alienating readers in cooler climes.)  There is a real ‘gymkit culture’, that is that sports clothing is not confined to the pitch, court or gym but is absolutely acceptable day wear.  (This could very well be the same everywhere and something I have just never noticed since I have traditionally existed at the other end of the active spectrum and the other end of the day.)  I have embraced this and not only because it means elasticated waists are de rigueur.  There are other reasons I just can’t think of them right now, oh my god, if anything is ever to make you feel old it is the submission to comfort over style.  Was it really me that was given lectures about being cold at a party or uncomfy on a plane, why did I not listen to my mum?

There is no doubt it is great for children though and the options are all there, from surfing to rockclimbing via tennis and paddle-boarding.  After dropping off Sam yesterday at a holiday sports camp William suddenly requested tennis lessons which I have to admit I wouldn’t be averse to, I really rather like the idea of being a tennis mum, at least you’d get to sit down and watch in mostly decent weather rather than standing at the side of a muddy pitch in freezing weather watching your precious baby get bashed about.  I’m all for the boys having exposure to as many sports as possible (still unsure though about Andrew’s suggestion of gymnastics for William after a display of his upper body strength in a door frame) so that they can find something they really enjoy (not worrying about the fame and riches, yet).  Tennis racquets for everyone’s birthday then.

I have been trying to remember any noteworthy sporting moments in my life and can only think of a few.

  1. Tennis.  Robert and I should be very much better at tennis than we are having had a court at home when we were little.  I’m not sure it got off to the best start for me as my main memory is of the Liverpudlian builders who let us climb on the piles of gravel and gave us revolting sweeties.  Anyway, the magnificent rate of tennis ball loss meant we spent more time in the front field and on the back road finding balls with which to continue our game than we did actually playing.
  2. Hockey.  When I first went to the Mount at age 11 I only myself and Libby Clements had played hockey before.  For the first and only time in my life I was better at a sport than somebody else!  This very quickly changed (Hannah Redfern, Katie Sessions, Rachel Bayes…) but not before I was listed in the first XI under 13’s – I seem to remember there was a flu epidemic at the time.  My big match was played away from home at QM’s in Escrick.  My devoted dad endured a six hour round trip for this important occasion.  I only played half a match.  I will forever have the memory of him yelling proudly (I think) from the sidelines all the while probably realising that his daughter’s future did not lie on the sportsfield.
  3. Rowing.  Mr Davey got some of us into rowing at school (what the man had ever had to do with a boat we couldn’t fathom, perhaps he was eyeing up the mens eight too) which went well for a few terms.  I think it got us out of morning meeting a few Sundays which was one drawcard, as was the mens eight…
  4. Gym membership.  The only time I have ever belonged to a gym was the Edinburgh Uni gym before getting married and I fear that was simply to flash my wedding mags about as I half-heartedly pushed the cross-trainer.  The treadmill was easier for page turning.
  5. Running.  Now.  My new sport and hopefully the one that will prove the most successful – in fundraising if not prowess.  My gait is not elegant, I turn a really unattractive shade of red but I do feel better for it, I think.

All in all, not a spectacular sporting resume but I have had some laughs (along with some chaps – that’s on the legs in cold weather just to clarify – and a drenching or two).  I hope my boys try lots of sports, enjoy some and if they excel I’ll see you at Murrayfield or in SW19!

Vital stats:

Longest run (run/walk) – 5.6km in 44.15

Longest run without stopping 7.55mins – aiming to improve this today

Weight – 64.9 (very disappointing, may be compensating for the lack of wine with nuts and things, hmm)

This weeks I’ve been

Reading my Red and Country Living mags, my monthly indulgence, my heart is still in the country!

Listening to Flower of Scotland (school holiday homework as set by me) and Abba gold as we play yet another round of musical statues (the prize is one Jelly Baby).

Cooking with William, sausage and mustard rolls (see pic. I know, I’ll never get a job as a food stylist!) which he chose to cook out of the Junior Masterchef cookery book – they were delicious and will be a party food staple in our house from now on.

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One day of practice is like one day of clean living. It doesn’t do you any good.” Abe Lemons A month on the other hand…

Aside

Woo hoo!  It’s 5.20 on Monday morning and I’m feeling very proud of myself having made it through the weekend sustained by only elderflower cordial and peppermint tea.  Thank god for the entertainment from the boys, I’m sure it will be much bloody harder once they resume normal fighting mode, I really don’t know what came over them this weekend!

I am longing for a weekend of lounging but fear those days are well and truly over with the advent of Saturday morning sports (football – soccer for the Aussies reading – for William and rugby for Sam).  Sam bizarrely had two matches last Saturday then a break for three weeks – to give the little blighters time to recover from the shock of watching various fathers run around with flapping and pointing arms getting redder and redder in the face from lack of oxygen due to over-use of the whistle while the boys skipped and hopped all over the place trying to keep out of their way – it was quite hilarious!  I would have taken some pictures (for when Sam is playing for Scotland and pictures of his first ever match will be highly sought after…) but I was distracted by Edward sitting in the buggy being sick – an auspicious beginning all round.

But this Saturday was all about William, with whom I had an interesting conversation on arrival at the ground:

W:  “I have a feeling we’re going to beat the Panthers Mummy.”

J:  “Me too darling.”

W:  “They don’t sound very scary, or very fast.”

J:  “Do you think?  I think a black panther actually is pretty fast.”

W:  “Oh, I was thinking about the pink panther…”

I can’t now speak for laughing.  In the end the Mosman Lightning did in fact beat the slow, friendly Panthers with William scoring the winning goal. This was their First Ever Win, an enormous and hard-won milestone finally reached after 6 months, go Mosman Lightning!

lightning after winningMosman Lightning and mascot/hooligan

I decided to run home from the football ground, a nice almost straight, pretty much flat (and so not too challenging…I hoped) couple of kilometers.  This was put to the boys as a race.  As they were busy stuffing their faces with sausages at the time I had a nice head start and merrily set off.  I think that this method is training is what started Paula Radcliffe off with her interesting sideways head movement – she ran looking over her shoulder every few steps I’m sure.  There’s nothing like knowing you’re about to be overtaken but you just don’t know when to keep you moving.  But at 2.12 kilometers I had to stop as I thought I was going to puke, the dilemma and the pressure were very hard to bear but those of you who will know Mosman will appreciate the shame that vomiting halfway up the highstreet would cause.  Those of you not in Sydney imagine, Wimbledon Village, Stockbridge, the high street inAlderly Edge, Bridge Street in Kelso…..

But I did make it home first and with a sprint finish (from the gate to the front door, about 10 meters) recorded a time of 2.79kms in 21.17, that’s 7.38 mins per km, hmm.

Thanks for reading, I’ll try to be less verbose in future but probably won’t manage so those people who like a short pithy blog can just skip to the end and the vital stats…

Longest run – 7.11 mins (mini improvement)

Fastest 1km – 2.58 (pretty bloody good)

Days without Sauv B – 4 (amaaazing!  and includes other intoxicating liquors eg cooking sherry, meths, dettol)

This weekend I’ve been

Watching- Rise of the Guardians – family movie night on Saturday, isn’t it gorgeous, and Jude Law’s voiceover, mmmm!

Listening to – the Trance soundtrack, brilliant Danny Boyle direction, like the film, very cool.

Reading – less than I’d like to, I’ve just finished Maggie O’Farrell’s latest , Advice for a Heatwave which I loved.  She is the most brilliant Britist (Scottish!) novelist around just now in my opinion, beautiful prose, such well drawn characters.  You find you have sympathy where you intended none.

Cooking – Sunday night eggs, thank you thank you Neil Perry, the most divine easy supper, made this for the second time with some trepidation as the last time I was really hungry and was just at that stage of tiddlyness where anything tastes amazing but it was, thank god, just as good.  Here’s a link http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/food-by-neil-perry-20130304-2ff91.html

Weekend hurdle cleared!

Aside

Hello and thanks for reading!  I am going to log the last month of my journey towards my first ever ‘fun run’ (for pretty much my entire life those two words have been for me mutually exclusive and it has taken something big to begin the process of change).  As my friends will attest,  I am one ‘the unsporty’ verging probably on the conspicuously inactive unless you count running after small boys.  Even this though is happening less as we have very cleverly produced enough of them to run after each other rendering me surplus to requirements.

http://www.facebook.com/DoingItForDarcyNz?fref=ts

Anyway, on that very subject I would like to introduce to you a little boy called Darcy who, at 7, is just a few months older than my eldest, William.  I was told about him by Mardi, my great friend Becca’s Mum.  Darcy has Neuroblastoma and is currently undergoing immunotherapy.  It is impossible to hear about serious childhood illness and not feel humbled by the courage shown by these amazing kids.  Darcy is just that boy.  I am going to run my 8ks for Darcy and hope to hell that all of you understand just how massive an undertaking it is for me.  And that’s only the run, we still have to consider the Sauv B!  I am the mother whose first glass accompanies the ‘thank god they’re finally bloody well asleep’ moment.  Pretty much every night.  Until tonight when I am having my last few glasses of the good stuff (actually pretty average stuff) and then swearing off it for a month.  Bloody hell, don’t know what possessed me really, oh yes, Darcy Wilson.

http://www.facebook.com/DoingItForDarcyNz?fref=ts

https://mail-attachment.googleusercontent.com/attachment/u/0/?ui=2&ik=771b8b4a05&view=att&th=13df8a5d85d0757f&attid=0.1&disp=inline&realattid=4b16a160e9f3300e_0.1&safe=1&zw&saduie=AG9B_P--2gknK3N9ZzxRBs839GP2&sadet=1365686906055&sads=RgqCyZ8q02QSiagskQ12BUdkga4

I will be in touch very shortly about my fundraising page.

Julia x