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Beautiful things

I had a wonderful night out on Thursday night, celebrating a friend’s birthday with “Margaritas and Dessert”. It helped that it was a stinker of a night – well over 30 degrees even well into the night – so frozen drinks and treats were very welcome, but as always the conversations were the best part.

One that was very close to my heart was about beauty and happiness. One woman talked about her time at art school. She still remembers a guest speaker who came and spoke about the importance of beauty, with the example that even if you are just getting out a bowl to beat an egg, that bowl can (should) still be beautiful. Another spoke about the book, The Architecture of Happiness, which considers how where we are might influence what we are (and what we become). And I spoke about Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project, which I credit as a catalyst for some of the important (and positive) changes I made in my life last year. I probably need to re-read it, actually.

I try to surround myself with things that I love and find beauty in, that make me feel good, but sometimes I choose things that are functional rather than lovely. And I always regret it.

 
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Posted by on February 10, 2014 in be happy, friends

 

I like driving in my car

Otto is doing a holiday program this week. A holiday program that I carefully forgot (at least four times) to book her into. Unfortunately for me, she remembered (at least once more than I forgot) that she really REALLY wanted to do it.

She’s learning how to build Apps.

Sometimes I want to do school holiday programs too.

Anyway, this program is on the Other Side of Town. And driving North-South across Melbourne is kind of hellish. As in, Took-me-ninety-minutes-to-get-home hellish. And most of the week, I am driving over to collect her and then back again. Conservatively, that’s a five-hour daily commute.

I’ve looked into public transport, but it’s tram + train + bus, with all the accompanying potential for disaster, and even my buddy the metlink journey planner says 90 minutes minimum, each way. That’s too much commitment for me.

As this is posted, I have three more of the long commutes to go. And I kind of want to buy a Go-Pro so that I can do an exciting time-lapse photostream, just to share the horror with the world.

Or maybe there’s an App for that. If not, there should be – maybe Otto can deliver?

 
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Posted by on January 22, 2014 in family

 

Thematic?

Every so often, I start to think that the Internet is a normal place, filled with normal people who do really sensible things.

And parts of it probably are.

But then I stray somewhere and cannot get the weird things I find out of my head.

No, not THOSE weird things.

Things like “What is the theme of your bedroom?” which was posed as a serious question (I guess I deserved it, looking at Home Decor as a category on Pinterest). Unfortunately, there were no Cliff’s Notes to go with it or to suggest what might be considered an appropriate answer.

I know that, when decorating for children, some people go with a theme. That’s really rather sweet. Had I been more organised, I might even have had a crack at it. But for adults, it feels like it’s maybe a bit weird. GAMES have themes. Not bedrooms.

Don’t get me wrong. The Indiana Jones Lego bedroom we stayed in at Legoland was awesome. I just can’t see myself deciding to replicate it chez moi.

Tomb Room

Quite apart from anything else, I can’t face the thought of having to dust the monkey every day.

Lego monkey

So what would be a “normal” bedroom theme? Because my mind goes to Bordello and, well, it stays there, weeping.

Anyway, I’ve resolved it for now. The theme of my bedroom is “Tired. In every sense of the word.” The Bigster’s is “There is no such thing as too many books” and Otto’s is “Wow, mummy REALLY likes pink.”

That solved, I think I’ll go find a normal corner of the Internet now. Where they talk about action points vs set collecting as a mechanic, and whether linen finish cards are REALLY better than the other kinds. And whether Renaissance Italy and Ancient Egypt are overdone as themes.

 

Counting down

It’s hard to believe that in eight days both of my kids will be back at school. *counts on fingers* OK, maybe nine.

Some apparently very small and single digit number, anyway.

Otto only finished school on December 19 – that means she’ll have had five and a half weeks of break between Year 5 and Year 6.

That doesn’t seem enough to me.

I know it’s impossible for working parents who only get 4 weeks’ annual leave (I’ve been there myself), but I just don’t see that five weeks is really enough to relax and recharge for school. And I don’t think it’s enough for the teachers to really relax, either – because of course they are back before the kids, and finish after them.

My friends are saying the same. Their kids are TIRED. Still. When we were young, we got seven weeks’ break (eight if you went to private school). It seemed to stretch on forever. Sometimes we slept in, sometimes we didn’t, but we were relaxed and rested by the end of the holidays.

This year, we had a week for Christmas then a week at the beach and we’ve been back for two weeks now. Next week, she’s chosen to do a holiday program Monday to Thursday – and then, four days later, she’s back in the classroom.

And of course the real holidays should be in February-March, when we tend to have the hottest weather – she’s heading back with the promise of mid-thirties weather to come.

She does get three weeks in April and July (Bigster gets two) as well as two in September. But I’d like a couple of extra weeks RIGHT NOW – enough for her to get thoroughly sick of being at home and really looking forward to going back to see her friends.

How long are your kids’ holidays? What do you think of the length?

 
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Posted by on January 20, 2014 in children, education, family

 

Cooking

Something awesome that has happened in the past month is that Otto has discovered cooking.

Well, more that I have had time to discover cooking with her. It’s a little bittersweet, as Bigster had just decided she wanted to learn to cook when she got sick, so now her sister is learning things that she never got the chance to learn. And that sucks for Bigster, but if we are totally honest it is really rather glorious for her little sister.

A year or two ago, I bought a slow cooker with a “sear” setting. It’s perfect for us, because you can sear things and then add all the slow-cookery things and leave it bubbling away in the background. And because I am completely paranoid about Otto using the  gas stove to cook on.

She’s a whizz at bolognese sauce. The good kind, too – she even directs Fraser when they are home together (Now I need the WHITE wine, daddy). And she’s pretty good at salads, and even spent Christmas day regaling the family with the recipe for the (very yummy) vinaigrette dressing she’d made for the potato salad.

Lately, though, she’s expanded her repertoire.

She bought a box of macaron mix and made macarons, virtually all by herself. We’re going to try them from a recipe soon. I do get frustrated that everything takes longer when she’s doing the cooking, but of course it takes less time than ever when I don’t have to stand there cooking. And you don’t nag the child with the sharp knives.

When we went to the beach after Christmas, she cooked dinner. Not once, not twice, but EVERY SINGLE NIGHT. With daddy’s help, which meant that we swapped jobs and I got to do the dishes. Without a dishwasher, boo hoo. It helps that the burger patties were really, REALLY good, so we ate them a lot – but she got right into it (and a bit bossy too).

It’s getting so I can’t use my kitchen any more. Tonight, we defrosted some chicken I’d marinated and she insisted on cooking it for me. And the rice, AND fluffing the rice with a fork, and then she told me which platter I should serve it up on.

Because my kids aren’t a bit bossy.

 
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Posted by on January 18, 2014 in food, parenting

 

Too many things?

The other room I have been working on is the bathroom. Because now that we have our amazing gorgeous shower screen installed (yes there is a row and a half of tiles still to be done, they are on order now and will be glued in when they arrive), I have realised that there is Way Too Much Stuff in the bathroom.

Also, EVERYTHING in the bathroom is covered with a fine layer of cement dust.

I know this because I can see it. Also because I wiped down the bathroom bench a few days ago and when I got up the next morning it was covered in dust again. And has been every morning since then. It’s a war of attrition but I will triumph eventually.

Why yes, this IS a very tight photo. Why do you ask?

Why yes, this IS a very tight photo. Why do you ask?

Meanwhile, the quest is on to use things up. Four cans of deodorant and a roll-on? I know there’s a heatwave, but we’re not THAT stinky. A whole BOX of toothpaste and tooth mousse? Three containers of squirty soap? OK, one is the Raspberry Foam that only Otto likes, but it still seems excessive. And that’s before I even look at the shampoo box…

 
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Posted by on January 16, 2014 in decluttering, house

 

Cleaning the study #ohmyexcitinglife

Several years ago, the professional organiser I hired told me that we needed to throw out 60% of our stuff. She was completely and absolutely wrong then and she is wrong still, but she might be a bit closer to right than I really thought she was.

I thought that the first room I attacked would be the bathroom. I did start to clear it, but then Fate intervened. In the form of the technicians who showed up to install our new FTTP (yay) National Broadband Network Internet Connection. So Fraser’s side of the study (which the girls use too – I am ABSODEFINALUTELY not blaming F for ALL the chaos here) went from this

Chaos on the floor

To this

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In about half an hour.

And then I got excited and cleared my desk off. Except for the cats.

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There is no before-photo of my desk. Whew.

And now I am working on The Chair. You know The Chair. The place (other than Mummy’s desk) where everything gets dumped. And I do mean everything. In our house, it’s even worse, because it is around a corner so you don’t even have to look at it. I found dirty clothes, clean clothes, new clothes that didn’t fit, my notes from my honours thesis (that I threw out the first time the professional organiser came, but later retrieved), my original HSC results certificate, empty plastic storage containers … even a parachute and a pair of mop slippers. I’m trying to do a bit every day but so far it has gone from this

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To this

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I can see the progress. And I can explain each and every thing that is there, and WHY it is there, which is more than I could before. Even better, I know that there are FOUR empty storage boxes and an old broken shelf there. Fraser has promised to put the shelf out in the garage (our staging location for big purges), and I am sure I can find uses (or at least a home) for the plastic storage boxes.

And meanwhile, I am contemplating a Shed. And a Garage Sale. Or just intimate first-name acquaintance with the local charity drop-off points.

 
 
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