Wednesday, 23 September 2015

It's been a long time

I had a draft, actually several drafts saved.  But they became less and less relevant.  And now here we are - 18 months later.

18 months.
1 marriage (my brother's)
1 baby (also my brother's) - I am now a proud aunt - and they were right, it's different when it's your brother's baby.  He's the cutest, sweetest baby ever.
1 new job.
A new pair of boots (they're gorgeous and I can't wait for it to get a little cooler so I can wear them!).
A new outlook.  I told my friend, it feels like the universe is shifting.  Finally.

I was in a rut.  Unsure how to dig myself out.  Then an opportunity presented itself.  And I rose to the challenge.  Still rising, I think.  I'm daring to dream.  I think I'd forgotten what I was capable of.  Out of the shadow of my old mentor - whom I loved dearly.  I work for someone who appreciates what I bring to the table, who listens to my perspective and asks for my opinion.  It's not that I didn't have that before.  It's that there wasn't enough for me to feel challenged.  And maybe at the time it was what I needed.  But the universe has shifted.  And I feel good.  Feeling good inside has slowly made me feel good outside.  Daring to dream of possibilities.

You know the image - the one with the sun shining through a break in the clouds?  That's how I feel now.  Except I never knew that the clouds were so dark.  None of this may be coherent but that's OK.  I feel light in my heart and I am thankful.

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Pig Latin

Everyone knows what Pig Latin is right?  Where you take the first letter of a word and stick it at the end of the word and add the sound "ay" to it.  And then proceed to do that with every word in the sentence?  The lengths teenage girls will take to say things cryptically.  I was never much good at it.  Actually Pig Latin would be handy for parents too.  Sometimes I wish my partner and I had a second language we could revert to when we don't want our children to understand what we're saying.  If I try to talk cryptically to him I am met with blank stares that leave us both annoyed - me because he didn't understand me and him because how could I expect him to understand?  As I said, I was never much good at it.

Anyway my little guy just turned three*.  He also recently toilet trained.  So now we no longer have nappies in the house.  (Well we do because while he doesn't technically need them at night, I'm not willing to take that risk during winter).  We've graduated from Mega Bloks to Duplo and even regular Lego.  Most of the baby paraphernalia has been passed on with the exception of his bottle (I know shame on me) and a couple of prams (got rid of two, have two left - again, I know, shame on me!).  I no longer have babies in the house.  For 6 years I had a baby or a toddler and now even my five year old is beginning to lose her teeth and my boy goes to preschool.  I suppose I should be a little wistful.  I am, at times.  But I can't imagine going back to babies now.  After my third I had a moment where I thought perhaps I would want a fourth.  Except I didn't want to be pregnant again.  Giving birth I didn't mind so much.  I also didn't mind those first few months so much.  I enjoyed breastfeeding (when else can you sit for a few minutes while the world keeps rotating around you and not feel any guilt?).  And baby cuddles.  But the thought of meeting the demands of my three plus the demands of a baby kinda does my head in.  I actually get a physical reaction just thinking about it.  That's how I knew I was done.

I realise I have teetered dangerously close to "verbal diarrhea" if I haven't already crossed that line.  The purpose of this post was really to talk about his language skills.  He talks.  A lot.  I think he was late starting but I don't know.  My oldest was really early in talking so anything else seemed late.  And for awhile his vocabulary seemed really limited.  There were a lot of grunts and screams.  I think.  My memory has become a little fuzzy.  I suppose maybe I should have started this blog earlier.  Or perhaps even a diary.  Then maybe I might remember who did what when.  I have never been good with those things.

Right - language.  So he still can't say certain letters.  And he still replaces those letters with other letters so for example he switches the hard "c" sound at the beginning of words with "t" and "sh" sounds like "f", "g" sounds like "d" and "r" sounds like "w".  So cat sounds like "tat" and sugar like "fugar".  He drops the "s" sound at the beginning of words if they are followed by a consonant (School, is "Tool").  And then there are words that don't follow any "rules" really - "jymanas" are "pyjamas"  It really is quite complicated.  It took us (his parents) awhile to figure out what he was saying.  His sisters on the other hand picked it up quickly.  When he was younger they would translate for us.  He'd be asking for something (and getting frustrated), we would offer random things trying desperately to figure out what he was saying and then a little voice would pipe up and say something like "He wants to play blocks."  Oh.

Now though - we understand him.  Mostly.  Sometimes we translate for each other.  Sometimes, he translates for us.  But what really makes me smile is listening to his sister have a conversation with him.  His sister, who can  pronounce everything the way it's supposed to be pronounced (in Canada anyway), will switch to saying things like "Did you have a dood day at tool?" or "You tan't pay with my teddy beaw, otay?".  She doesn't even have to think about it.  I imagine she'd be good at Pig Latin.

*Well he had just turned three when I first wrote this.  It's been sitting in a draft folder for awhile.

Friday, 21 February 2014

Family Day

Monday this week was "Family Day" - a good excuse for a public holiday in February.  I wrote this then.

The thing about living in a country where winters are long is that you have to make the most of them.  This year has been especially cold.  It was -6C today and the children were peeling off their layers as they raced down the hill in their toboggans.  That's perspective for you... -6 is positively balmy when we've been stuck with -20 (and colder) all winter!

It's Monday of a long weekend and I'm sitting here on the couch with a cup of tea (made with love by my other half), a hot water bottle on my sore lower back (it froze up yesterday probably due to the roughhousing I attempted with my 5 year old - there's a reason I usually leave that up to their dad) and this computer on my lap.

3 year old is sleeping.  And the girls are painting.
"Don't get mad." says the 5 year old to her sister who had made a mistake on her first sheet and got frustrated.  "Just take deep breaths and it will get better."  I love hearing them talk to each other.

We've had a weekend filled with family commitments.  We had dinner on Saturday with my in-laws.  The sun was shining and so we took the children out tobogganing before supper.  Tobogganing (sometimes known as sledding) is basically sitting on a contraption (known as a toboggan) and sliding down a hill.  It's super fun and can make the grumpiest of us, scream with laughter.  Nothing like beating a bad mood out of your system with sliding down a snowy hill.  This week someone had piled the snow into ramps at the bottom of the hill to create a ramp.  The children loved picking up speed and flying off the ramp.  I kept wishing I'd brought the camera to take photos.  The sun felt warm on our faces.  As opposed to being frigidly cold, it was a brisk cold that made you glad you were outside.

Sunday dinner was at my mums with my side of the family.  More cousins, more chatter and laughter.  I don't think I saw the children the entire time.  Both sets of families are growing.  New additions means lots of babies to cuddle.  It's fun to watch them all interact, the older ones looking after the little ones; last year's baby, crawling across the floor in break neck speed; the littlest ones snuggled in the arms of their grandmas while their mums and dads enjoy a much needed break.

My sister-in-law asked me the other day if the only reason we moved back was for family.  I'd say it was.  I love watching my children with their grandparents, aunties, uncles and cousins.  I only have one brother but I have lots of cousins with whom I am very close.  I love that there is a new generation of little ones getting to know each other, building their own memories.  I wanted my children to be a part of that.  I think it's as good a reason as any.

And the snow of course.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014


When we first moved to Australia almost 6 years ago we were meant to be there for 3 years.  My children were almost 2 and almost 3 months respectively.  I remember pushing them in the fancy new buggy that we purchased when we got down there.  Pushing them along the cracked sidewalks (footpaths as they're known as there) I could not imagine what 3 years down would look like.  And as the end of our stay approached, I could not imagine what it would be like being back home.  I knew it was going to happen but I could not imagine it.  That's how it is with change.  Even when you know it's coming you have no idea how it's going to be.

We're moving offices so I'm having similar feelings.  For the most part I could care less.  I'm not so invested in the location of where I work.  It is meaningless in the grand scheme of things.  Yet I find myself a little nervous.  I won't be sitting across from the woman who's been across from me the last 2 years that I've been back.  She has a little boy who's around the same age as my middle child.  We share war stories and commiserate over our lack of perfection when it comes to parenting children.  She'll not be more than 2 rows away from me but there's something about turning your chair around and having a quick chat - even if it is to proofread something quickly.

When I left work 5 years ago I never thought I would come back.  Not here anyway.  But the way the cards fell I had to come back to work.  I remember the month before I came back I was so angry.  Angry at my hard working partner because he didn't deliver on his end of the bargain.  Callous and selfish, I know.  He was stressed.  I was stressed.  I had to remind myself that being a supportive partner meant that I have to be supportive when things go well AND when they're not going as well as expected.  It's the latter that they are referring to when they say "for better or worse."

So I came back.  And everyone adjusted.  My mum cares for the children during the day.  I have someone come to help her for the hours after school when everyone is a little bit crazy and wound up.  When I get home there is usually dinner waiting for me.  I play the role of the 1950s father.  Except that I give the children baths and put them to bed.  Did fathers do that in the 1950s?  

I find that as a working mum I am not as good a parent.  I have a great deal of admiration for all those women out there who seem to have it all together.  I need more alone time than anyone else I know.  I don't enjoy anyone's company.  I am miserable most of the time.  Miserable and tired.  I dread hanging out with the children.  I look forward to the time when they're all in bed.  I feel awful about it.  Because as much as I feel that way I know I am not going to get this time back.  That that 2 year old who was my sole companion those first few days, weeks and months in Sydney has grown up into a 7 year old.  More and more when I look at her I can see the young woman she will become and no longer the baby I once held.  Her sister, my lovely, beautiful 5 year old.  She started kinder this year and has already lost her first tooth.  They're not babies anymore.  My little boy is in the throes of being three.  It's hectic and fun and full of possibilities.  And yet I can't see the forest for the trees.

Soon, I can choose to leave.  I can choose to leave work I should clarify.  The thing about me is I'd rather be given the boot than CHOOSE.  There are new questions that come up.  What will my mum do?  I feel like her being with the children gives her purpose.  What will I do?  The children are all in school pretty much full time.  Being a stay at home mum here is different than in Sydney.  For one thing, there is hardly anyone else around.  Everyone else works.  What would I do for my brain?  That needs to be figured out because even here I feel like I am slowly dying.  Filling my time reading blogs about everything and feeling inadequate because the skills for which I was hired are not being used as much as they could be.  I don't want a pity party.  I just need to get all this out.  This noise in my head.  I can't figure out which way to move.  I feel like I'm stuck in a bog trying to figure out which way to go.

If I leave my job I'm leaving financial security.  I have a really well paying job.  That I hate.  Golden handcuffs.  If I leave my job I am taking away a job for my mum.  Though she'll be the first to tell me that that's dumb.  If I leave my job what else would I do?  How would I go about doing it?  

Writing this, I feel self indulgent and ungrateful for all that I do have.  I am very lucky.  Why can I not just focus on that?

Right now I am paralysed.  I know to make any change you just need to take a step.  Just look at the first step and take it.  But I don't know where the path leads.  Surely to take the first step you need to know where you're going?

Soon we will have been back longer than we've been away.  Soon I will be 42.  Soon we will no longer have any of the baby paraphernalia that is still lingering in our house.  Soon I will be taking a new route to work.  Soon we will have passed an anniversary.  So much changes.  So much stays exactly the same.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

When the boughs break

I was going to do a silent Sunday post but then it became Monday and we were still without power.  I needed to conserve the power on my phone to do important things like text or call people to find out what was going on.

It rained all day Saturday.  Slowly but surely, freezing as it landed.  The snow wasn't melting instead it was getting covered by a thin layer of ice.  I went out and took some pictures.  It's always beautiful when it's freezing rain.  It can be deadly but it is beautiful.

We lost power on Saturday night.  First it flickered and then about thirty minutes later it went out completely.  We could see lightning flash through the dark sky.  I regretted not turning the dishwasher on earlier.  We went to bed not having anything else to do on a dark winter's night.  

By Sunday morning it looked like someone had painted over the landscape.  The trees sparkled with an inch of ice covering each branch.  Christmas lights have nothing on the beauty that is nature.  I kept wanting to step outside to take pictures.  But photos (with my crummy camera)* or words don't really do it justice.

I'd like to say that my children were angels - well behaved in the face of adversity.  The power was still out.  It was cold, they'd been inside too long and were feeling a little under the weather.  They kept fighting and we encouraged them to stay positive: "In an emergency we all work together." and finally, "If you can't play Lego nicely together then you're not allowed to play it at all!"  Instead we snuggled in my bed for warmth and stories.  The little one (he's 3) kept asking why we couldn't use the microwave or the lights or the t.v.  The answer was the same each time.  I'm still not sure he really gets it.

It took 20 minutes (maybe longer) to chisel our way into the car.  Another hour I think to break the ice to create a path from the house to the car.  Those skating lessons are paying off - "bend your knees and march" were the instructions we gave to the children. 

It wasn't until we were on the road that we saw the destruction.  Trees were bowed down to the weight of the ice.  Once majestic and tall. they stood broken.  Some in half.  Some with lost limbs.  Others were completely uprooted across lawns or the roads, power lines brought down with them.  It was cold.  More wind the following night meant more trees fell.  When it all clears up the landscape will be much different.  I saw branches on cars.  I saw ones that missed narrowly missed homes.  We were lucky.

Road block

On Sunday night we slept, the five of us, huddled in one room generating warmth from our bodies.  Outside our room the temperature was at least 10 degrees lower.
They're working on restoring power but it looks like some people might be in the dark for Christmas. The community has come together.  People are huddled up at their neighbours' homes.  Families are getting together earlier than expected.  When things fall apart, people come together.  There is beauty.

This picture was taken on Saturday.  That big tree in the background on the right looks much different now.  I'll post a photo once I can access the ones on my other camera.

I can't end this post without being a little pragmatic.  We are staying warm.  Our house is still without power but it is intact.  We are lucky that we have family around us who do have power.  We spent one night at the house and then last night we bunked at my in-laws.  The children are enjoying the company of their cousins and grandparents.  And I am at work.  I'll go by the house this afternoon to empty out the fridge and freezer.  Life goes on, doesn't it?

Where there is light
I'm not sure I'll get another post in before the New Year so wish you all a very happy, healthy 2014!

*I took all these photos with my iPhone.  I have some on my other point and shoot but can't get them off without the wire thingy which I left at home.

Update: The power came back on this evening and we're going home tomorrow.  The ice has started to crack and it's slowly falling off the trees.  The drive home this afternoon was absolutely lovely - the ice shone in the sun - I now know the inspiration for tinsel.  I took these ones this afternoon.

Check out that tree on the left