Thursday, 30 June 2016

A Little Break

View from the front door of our cabin

It seems like, when you have kids, you never know when the last time is the last time.  Mr Busy reminded me of this when we were walking along the other day.  Our hands bumped as we walked and he remembered that once upon a time we had held hands when crossing the road.  We don't do that anymore.  He's 16 and 6 foot 3 inches.  He doesn't need me to keep him safe like that.  I never knew, the last time I held his hand to cross the road, that it would be the last time.

Since we have some baby adult kids now I am so keenly aware that we don't know when the last family holiday will be our last one together.  We've just spent three days up on the Murray River in Echuca.  Actually, Moama.  These border towns are such a thing!  We slept in NSW and spent our time in Victoria.  In any case, three days in a little cabin, in a big caravan park, but right on the riverfront.  We got to watch the Emmy Lou paddle past from time to time, and we watched the river meander by.  It was cold, so we cosied up inside with a good heater and played games and read books and watched "The West Wing" episodes (we all wish we could vote for Jed Bartlett in our federal election on Saturday).  Dh worked a fair bit, because that's what you do when you're self-employed and some of your clients are near Echuca.

But mostly we just enjoyed being able to watch the river.  There is something serene about being near slow-moving, calm water.

Banks of the Murray River - right opposite our cabin

Miss Sunshine showed me how to use the panorama function on my phone's camera.  The teacher in my just *had* to take a shot of the erosion on the river bank, since we've just been learning about that in class.  My new phone also takes a few seconds of live action, so it's been kind of fun to see what is captured when you think you're taking a still shot - like cousins heckling each other as they get into position for a photo.

I don't know how many family holidays we have left before our baby chicks start leaving the nest, but this one was delightfully relaxing.  Slow days, dark and quiet nights for good sleeping, enjoying our funny little bunch of crazies.

Friday, 24 June 2016

Cousin Time and More Breakfast!


Dh's brother and family are in Melbourne from interstate this week.  Our kids adore one another and cousin time is hard to come by when they live so far from one another.  In honour of the fact that our kids are all in independent schools and are already on holidays we began the week with breakfast at a cafe.  It was local to them, yet an hour from us.  By the time we arrived I was getting a tad grumpy about the drive.  An hour!  First thing in the morning!  I'd had an apple to tide me over, but still.

All of us girls ordered waffles with poached pear and this is what arrived on our plates.  Had I known I would have shared with one of my girls.  As it turned out Mr Busy was the happy vacuum cleaner that got to eat about a whole waffle sans pear.  It was absolutely delicious!

Yesterday the six kids jumped on trains and met near the city for a day of exploring the MCG and surrounds.  Miss Mischief's public transport anxiety rose to the surface and entertained us all.  She was all back pack on and ready to walk out the door a full 45 minutes before they had to leave!  Miss Sunshine likened it to a little Preppy getting ready for their first day of school.  Anyway once I'd written out all the details, handed over the one MyKi we owned, and some money, she settled a little.

At some point through the day Miss Sunshine got tired of keeping up with the long-legged boy people and snapped this pic, saying "they have such long legs".  They're all over 6ft!


I have been in love with the combination of these three boys together all their lives.  They are smart and funny and cute and three peas in a pod.  They all still give their aunties and uncles and mums and dads hugs, even though they are big teenaged boys.  They are polite and respectful and have beautiful gentle hearts.  This is teenaged kids at its very best.  I adore them.

We're all having dinner tonight.  The big, crazy bunch that is Dh's side of the family.  I can't wait to see this bunch of cousins together with a couple of the older ones as well.  They are completely delightful and entertaining in the best possible way.

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Working Full Time - A Year In Review

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A whole year has whisked its way through my life since I started working full time.  It's one of those strange phenomenon, where the days seem long but the year passes in the blink of an eye!

This time last year I was eagerly preparing myself to teach in a school where I didn't know anyone and not one of my students was familiar to me.  In short order I fell in love with that quirky, funny class.  And then six months later I left, since I only had a short term contract.  This year I am teaching in the school where I worked before I got my degree; the school my children attend(ed).  I knew all my students before I entered my classroom, some of them before they were even born!  I even get to teach my niece.  Along with all the lessons I'm learning about how to be the best teacher I can be, I've learned a lot of lessons about being a Mum who works full time as well.

1.  You can't do it all.
I've always known this.  Working part time and studying was a hard gig.  But I was home almost straight after school and I had time each week to weave in things that I enjoyed.  These days I'm not at home for about 10 hours a day.  I can't do all the things I wish I could.  At the start of the year I decided not to even pretend to try.  I have a good friend whom I pay to clean our house.  My kids cook lots of meals.  The girls help with ferrying Mr Busy to middle-of-the-day destinations, like his VET course on a Wednesday.  I choose not to feel guilty about any of those things.  

2.  Know the season you're in and respond appropriately.
I know that my current season is not an easy one.  Learning a new job, learning to do that in two different school cultures in one year, learning how to juggle motherhood with working life.  It's a big learning curve.  Working full time with a family is so different to working full time before having children.  In this season it means lots of self-protection.  Our weekends are fairly quiet and we don't do a lot of entertaining.  I sleep a lot on the weekends.  I am very careful about what I commit to.  I look forward to my work life being more seamless and streamlined than it is right now, but I know that is not my current season.

3.  Work/Life balance is a myth.
Because I can clearly identify my season and how I need to respond appropriately I am not overly concerned about the fact that my life is quite unbalanced at present.  My work takes more of my time than I would like it to, but it's part of learning how to do what I do now.  I was chatting with my BIL yesterday morning and he agreed - we need to make sure what we do aligns with what we believe is important.  I am content that my life exhibits that alignment.  I am committed to doing my job well.  I am committed to being in community within my church community.  And of course, being a mother means family is always a high committment.  My life is not and does not look balanced.  But it is totally aligned with what's important to me.

I am so grateful to have had 13 years at home with my children, focussing on just one thing: being a mum, raising great kids.  I am grateful to have the opportunity to move into a new season, where I get to do a job I love, and that this has coincided with my children being in their late teens/early adulthood.  I never thought I would want to work outside the home again.  I feel so blessed to be able to work, again, in the place where my son also spends his days.  I love that I get to work full time, and yet touch base with him in the playground, or when he stops by my classroom to ask for money for the tuck shop.  I am blessed to have one daughter who has decided she doesn't like being home when the house is being cleaned so she comes and helps in my classroom.  

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Breakfast Anyone?

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We are people who love to go out for breakfast.  Usually just me and hubby, but occasionally the kids as well.  As you can imagine this means we are ever on the look out for a new little cafe that does a good breakfast, and we've become quite the breakfast connoisseurs!  Miss Sunshine found us a new little spot a half hour drive from home.  A nice drive out in the country - more country than we are already.  We visited there on Monday, thanks to a public holiday, and then Dh and I were there again on Saturday thanks to a rainy morning that prevented Dh from going bike riding.  On Monday I had the french toast and yesterday the smashed avocado, without the eggs.  You know what?  This was so incredibly good, and is an easily reproducible breakfast for home as well.  So there is no reason to feel too sad if you can't make it all the way beyond the outer reaches of fair Melbourne town.  

This morning I found an avocado, some goats cheese and some dukkah, so I got a second go.  At home.  Without the travel and without the mushrooms (which I love, but they had all been gobbled by other people at some point through the week).

I toasted my favourite grainy sourdough bread (from Aldi), buttered it, lightly mashed half an avocado over it and then sprinkled some herbed goats cheese (also from Aldi) that I broke up into little chunks over it.  I had some zesty lemon dukkah and salt to sprinkle over, and, well....YUM.  If you're a mushroom fan you might want to have a go at sautéing some button mushies with balsamic glaze and thyme.  At least that's what I would attempt to do if our mushroom monster had not eaten all the mushrooms!

Have you discovered the wonders of going out for breakfast?  What's your favourite thing to have?



Tuesday, 14 June 2016

The Things We Say


Do you find yourself saying some unusual things to your children?  It seems to happen regularly around here.  Probably owing to my propensity for being direct.  And the fact that my children are just funny.

So, for your entertainment - a note recently written to my girls as I dashed out the door at 7.15am.  Written on a Thursday morning before my friend came to clean.  I simply cannot make her clean the hair out of the bath - all of which belongs to Miss Mischief!  And Miss Sunshine needs a big lead time to orient her mindset if I want her to cook dinner.

I got a text from Miss Sunshine later in the day suggesting we would not all die.  I don't believe her.  She's never tried to get away without feeding this mob of eaters.

What odd things have you found yourself saying to your kids?

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Twenty Years in the Making - A Perfect Mother's Day


I haven't really enjoyed Mother's Day for well... my whole mothering life, although it has slowly improved in the past few years.  The best Mother's Day I had when the kids were small was the one two days after Mr Busy was born, because I was in hospital, being lavished with chocolate and being spoilt by nurses who get it.

Recently in our house we had a conversation around how much I don't enjoy Mother's Day.  My husband maintains that I am not his mother, and I pointed out that he had not taught his children to honour theirs.  To add insult to injury he has been overseas since late last week so he wasn't even here for Mother's Day.  At all!  As it turns out, that was the motivation the kids needed.  That, and the girls now have their own means and opportunity (money and transport) to make things happen without relying on anyone else.

On Sunday I woke up to gifts, purchased by children who thought about what would bless me.  After taking Mr Busy to church early I returned to ham and cheese croissants for breakfast.  Lunch was a cheese platter and dinner was a chicken and dauphine potatoes, a la Jamie Oliver, with apple pie for dessert.  We watched "The Dressmaker" together, and I got have a little nap.  It was perfect.


The day before I spent the day doing a flower arranging class, taught by a friend.  Mum drive down to Melbourne and joined me, and then I took her out to a local nursery/cafe for lunch and we wandered about the nursery afterwards.  In amongst writing reports and marking student work it was simply an amazing day.

So I think the Mother's Day curse has finally passed.

How was your Mother's Day?  Difficult?  Delightful?  Improving?  No hope in sight?

However it turned out, we can encourage one another and the other mothers know.  We can tell one another what an amazing job they are doing and honour the sacrifice, love and commitment they pour into the lives of their children.  Who do you need to encourage today?

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Grasping at Health...A Delicious Quinoa Salad


I've learned something about myself over the past two years.  I am not a raging carnivore.  Don't get me wrong, I would miss it if I never got to eat meat, but I'm really happy not to eat it too.  The trouble with that is that the alternative - legumes - are not my friends.  I don't mind eating them, but then I don't want to be near me.  Which is pretty much inescapable!

We have had a bit of back-and-forward tussle in our house over things like couscous and quinoa.  I enjoy them; my family does not.  Until last night.  Inspired by a recipe from "Jamie's 15 Minute Meals" and a lunch I was served on a PD (Independent Schools Victoria completely spoil their seminar attendees!) I decided to try a quinoa salad.  My goal?  An ecstatic moan-inducing salad.  No pressure, right?

This salad?  Life-changing!

I cooked a cup of raw quinoa and half a cup pearl couscous using the absorption method in chicken stock, and then mixed that with:

  • toasted pinenuts
  • diced oranges
  • finely sliced spring onions
  • fried and diced haloumi (the haloumi I got from Costco - amazing!)
  • finely chopped parsley

After mixing it together I dressed it with the juice of a lemon and a good drizzle of olive oil.
I would have added avocado but mine weren't ripe yet, and if you preferred you could use feta.

All of my non-quinoa people enjoyed this salad.  Guess what's for lunch this week?!