Friday, 29 August 2014

Tales of Laundry Woe

This image above gives you an idea of the beginning of Mr Busy's day, when he realised his PE clothes were hanging on the line.  Wet.  Whilst we don't have a uniform at Our School we do have a you-must-wear-appropriate-PE-attire-and-school-sports-shirt rule for PE classes, so I had to write a note, which I opted to email because you know, you don't hear about these details until three seconds before running out the door.

For you amusement...the note:

Hi there

It is probably a little late in the day, but I promised Mr Busy I would email you about his PE attire today.  Dh, the resident laundry guru (as in, I have no idea how the laundry appears clean, dry and folded in this house!), upset the normal laundry routine yesterday, which meant Mr Busy's PE clothes were all wet this morning.  You can't imagine how upset he was that he wouldn't have the right clothes, because I have passed down my rule-following genes.  It took a bit of convincing that normal clothes would OK this once, considering the alternative (ie wet clothes that would stink, or ... nothing at all....).

Hope the day has been bright for you both :)

I didn't end up emailing til late in the day because Miss Mischief left information for a SAC on the table so I uncharacteristically dashed back to school for her.  I never take homework to school after we've left home (you know, if I was home to do it on a normal day), but this was an assessment thing, and I knew she would stress out over it.  In payment, she is now my slave for life, which will includes shoulder rubs whenever I desire.  It's a small price I'm sure.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

The Parenting Files: Of Learner Drivers and Teenaged Sickies: A Glimpse Ahead for Mothers of Little People.

Parenting older teens is a completely different prospect than I ever imagined for my life as a mother.  Back when I began this journey with a teeny little one (and I do mean teeny, Miss Sunshine was just under 6lb when she was born) I could only imagine myself as a mother of little people.  Indeed when Mr Busy finally went off to school it took me six months to adjust to the reality that I no longer had really little people in my house.  I don't know, those Prep's at school look mighty little from my perspective now!

If I could write a letter to my very much younger self I would tell me to embrace every moment of having small people because day I will blink and all of a sudden all my children will be bigger than I and they will no longer fit on my lap (and Mr Busy has not fulfilled his promise that I could sit on his knee when he got bigger than me!).  And those endless early days of 'peak hour parenting'?  They will be gone in the blink of an eye and don't roll your eyes, even to yourself.  You have no idea how quick that endless time goes by.  It's an oxymoron...the quick and the endless.  It's just how it is so embrace every moment: the tantrums, the illnesses, the cuddles, the innocent "I love you's", the funny pronunciation of new vocabulary, the "You can't tell me what to do" statements of a brazen (read: silly and unwise know-it-all) 3yo....all of it. 

I would tell myself to stress less about the toilet training.  It will not be the worst part of parenting.  That will come when you have two learner drivers in your house.  And they will try to kill you and crash your car every time they drive.  Almost.  Every day.  For two years.  Toilet training lasted about 9 months between the three of them and your life was not at risk.  Embrace the toilet training and its safety.  Frustration has nothing on fear-for-your-life.  Be satisfied with 'frustrated'.

Those nights when you were up changing sheets because you had children vomiting in the middle of the night.  More than once? And the chest infections and snot and slobber?  Yeah, that won't last forever either.  One day your 18yo will be able to make it to an appropriate receptacle AND clean up after herself.  Yeah, baby!! You will feel like you won the lottery on that one.  It starts to happen around 10yo.  By the time they are 18 you can leave them at home on their own for the day with the instruction to drink lots and avoid dairy.  They will be just fine.  And the nearly 17yo who goes to bed with a fever and wakes with a cough-her-lungs-out cough?  She'll be fine on her own too.  In fact, you'll leave her asleep in the morning and scrawl out a note reminder her to study around the coughing and be ready to write an essay assessment in the 100 minutes you'll have at home that night.

I do not know where the years and the little people have gone!  I still look at these three and wonder how they got all the way up past me in height.  But even though I was petrified of having teenagers these three have made it almost easy.  There is the 'blip' and the 'dumb thing' here and there.  And the teary tantrum because one's sense of justice has been breached.  But they are just this beautiful overflowing of God's grace on a mother who wanted the second coming to happen before the oldest one turned 13.

Mothers of Little People?  Don't be afraid of the teens you will have in your house.  Teens can be so amazing.  Not just mine either, there are a whole bunch of them in my girls' classes at school that are simply incredible.  You know when you look at other people's teens and say to yourself "I want my child to grow up like that"?  'That' can actually happen!  But don't wish away the Little People phase of life either.  Cuddle them lots.  Laugh with them more.  One day you'll blink and they'll be learner drivers who can take care of themselves when they're sick.  Who knew?

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Shopping the pantry/refrigerator for a frugal menu

I am in a rut.  It's not a pleasant rut and I wish I could wriggle and inspire myself out of it, but it doesn't seem to be happening.  What I have learnt in the last few years is that when I am busy and my mind is completely focused in other areas, cooking a meal at the end of the day is this hugely stressful mountain to climb.  Which is silly.  I can cook a meal almost with my eyes closed, I've been doing it so long.  I think it is more that it's another thing I need to get done in the day.

This past weekend I just could not get to the supermarket.  At. All.  I worked really hard on Friday night to get some assignment work done.  I was out all day Saturday, home long enough to cook a dessert and then out for dinner.  Slept all afternoon on Sunday to recover.  But no shopping.  And no desire to shop.  But I have some stuff floating about in the places I keep food so I've cobbled together a menu that requires no shopping beyond some butter, bread and fruit.  Here we go:

Monday:  Meatloaf, vegies (last of my Costco mince)
Tuesday:  Pasta with bacon & tomato sauce (another of my meals made with Costco staples)
Wednesday:  Beef casserole (bought the meat last week and didn't end up making that meal)
Thursday:  Freezer meal (because whatever...I just can't do it every night!!  and thank you Costco)
Friday:  Tuna and rice (Dh brought home an abundance of milk...tuna always in the cupboard)

As of Friday there will officially be 3 lamb chops and about half a kilo of chicken thigh fillets.  I really will need to shop next weekend, but for now I'm pretending supermarkets don't exist.

Friday, 15 August 2014

Melbourne in Winter

You know spring is imminent when the daffodils begin to peak up out of the frigid ground.  And a little sunshine with a smidgen of warmth offers even more hope!

I don't know about anyone else but this winter feels like it has been colder than I remember winter being in recent years.  I'm always inclined to choose winter over summer when asked for my preferred season but my toes seem to have been cold for weeks, now.  Any season is welcome, in my book, apart from the vicious, brutal heat of summer.  We don't get the humidity like they do in the north of the country but my goodness, a 45C day will melt anyone's bones.  And sanity.

With just a couple of months until I finish studying I'm starting to dream about vegie gardens and having the time to potter about one, should I ever manage the work of planting it out.  Home-grown tomatoes and zucchinis a-plenty....I really do miss having a garden that grows yummy food.

In the meantime I'll just have to make do with photos of a stitchery I did, which hangs in my parents' home.

Look at all those pretty flowers, lovely rows neat beds of vegetables and tidy shed.  Yes, a bit of a pipe dream.  Maybe if I dream a little harder some little vegetable gardening fairy will decide to just drop a raised garden bed box or two outside my family room window and plant things that will grow despite my brown thumb.  I killed ivy once; don't even ask!  All I can say is the soil in Our Town makes even me look good!  It grows things despite my garden-killing ways.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Why "Interrupted" made me cry

My recent read through Jen Hatmaker's revised edition of "Interrupted" provoked a crazy need to underline.  I'm not normally an underliner.  It wasn't until my second semester of University that someone mentioned they highlight.  Oh.  My.  Goodness.  Marking a book?  You've got to be kidding me!  This has always been a no-no in my perfectionist little rule-following world.  However, I was transformed and went from reluctantly underlining in pencil to highlighting in with fluorescent highlighters that cannot be removed.  It changed my world.

When I read this recent version of "Interrupted" it was a digital copy....You can highlight and remove and re-highlight and change colours and whatever else you want to do.  And, you can pull up the list of highlights.  Hello world!  This is not what made me cry!!

This week I have been reflecting on the things I highlighted.  Trying to make sense of what it means to be broken by God and desperately wanting to be put back together.  To find a way forward.  To know what it is I need to do with what God is showing me.  Overwhelmingly, my highlights were focused on how we need to transform the way we walk our faith in ordinary life.  How Jesus' life showed a love-first, sold-out poured-out for others  way of life.  About the hope that we have and how just loving others completely, practically, in the places they are is the most effective way to show them who Jesus is and who He wants to be in their lives.

"Our only hope is to follow the example of 
Jesus and get back out there, 
winning people over with ridiculous 
love and a lifestyle that causes them to 
finally sit up and take notice"
                                     ~ Jen Hatmaker, "Interrupted"

I cried my way through this book because not only was there a line in there just for me ("Are you a teacher?  Your school is a mission field, plain and simple"), but the whole way through there is this thread that reminded me....As Christians we are called to just love others.  This is what Jesus lived.  Not just to offer 'church' with its programs, events, Bible studies and all its various ministries.  Although those things are not bad or wrong; in fact many of these things are quite good.  But just to love others authentically, in relationships, in lowly places, with real people.  To love "ridiculously".

I don't know what that looks like for me yet, besides that I called to teach.  I'm trying to be content with the process for now.  Jen says this part of the process took about six months, for her.  I need to just be patient (not really my thing!).  I know my season of preparation is nearly done and I don't know where I will be planted next year.  In the meantime I am contemplating, reading, reflecting and praying.  And crying.

I wonder if the tears will ever be done with?

In the meantime I can love on people where I am right now...I just feel so tied because of the things I need to be doing right now.  And my kids wonder why I insist on "payment in hugs"!

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Books on my shelf...

I have been ordering up myself a little storm of books in the last month.  That ill-informed 'break my heart....' prayer was the catalyst.  I'm not normally a non-fiction reader, by choice, but I am about to change all that.  I suspect my heart will be broken even further, but I'm  hoping the first three books on my pile will bring hope and a way forward as well.

The Nesting Place is there because my house has always been 'functional', but not particularly 'beautiful'.  I'm hoping to gain some inspiration and some direction.  I feel an imminent shedding of 'stuff' and more deliberate choices are on the horizon.  A balance of nostalgic items and how to organise rooms to reflect our history and our current place in life.

And children's picture books because life is too short to be without them.  The Swap and Granny Grommet and Me are both shortlisted for Children's Book Week this year and they are just beautiful.  The Vegetable Ark is a slant on the Biblical story of Noah's Ark - a great book for teaching critical literacy, especially in a Christian school.  And whatever else they are, they are just lovely stories that simply had to join the collection on my bookshelf.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

These Are the Rules of the World

In the last week I have found myself saying "but these are the rules" quite often, so I thought I'd share the rules of the world, as I know them to be.

Rule #1: the rules of the world are that Australia has to win the Commonwealth Games.  Russia, China and the USA duke it out for the Olympics.  There's just so many people in those countries and apparently so many athletes to choose from, so we don't get much of a look-in.  But the Commonwealth Games are ours.  And it started off that way this time, but then England decided to go ahead and do its own thing.  I don't know England...what did you think you were doing there?  I don't even know why we have to have this conversation!  The Games weren't even in England, you know, because home-ground advantage seems to be the only thing that might be a reason for breaking the rules.  Clearly you forgot yourselves this time.  It's OK though, the Games are coming to the Gold Coast next time so I hope you realise that home-ground advantage and 'the rules' mean we're back on top.

Rule #2: the rules of the world are that children are the ones who make cups of tea for the adults in the house.  When I say 'children' you know I mean kids who are old enough to mess with boiling water and teabags and milk and balance two cups at once without spilling it on themselves and causing a third degree burn, right?  Well, Miss Sunshine seems to have misinterpreted the rules as well.  It seems to be the week. She asked Mr Busy to make her a cup of tea the other day.  I told her that's not the make adults cups of tea, kids don't make kids cups of tea.  Other kids can't request a cup of tea and have another kid make it.  That's just not how it works.  Quick as a wink she pipes up "I am an adult".

Apparently this rule needs some careful clarification.

Miss Sunshine is not a 'grown-up' adult.  She's still a teenager.  She's still at school.  She still needs to get told to do her dishes jobs.  Clearly she is not a grown-up!  So I have explained to her that the people in the house who are the same generation are not cup-of-tea-slaves for one another.  Only the grown-up generation can request a cup of tea from the younger generation of the household and expect to have it made for them.  That is why we have children are all.  So we can rest our weary bones at the end of the day and have our children give us some cup-of-tea love.  Miss Sunshine hasn't wrestled the will of a child throughout her day so she has to make her own.

There you go people.  Those are the rules.


Saturday, 2 August 2014

The Parenting Files: Failure and Mercy

I've said, recently, that when pushed to make the gut-wrenching choice between justice and mercy, I'm a justice girl.  Mercy is something that I live under, yet have to work so hard to live out.  Justice, however, just makes so much sense to me.  I can do justice compassionately with the aim of restoration, but mercy is a whole other thing.

I read an absolutely beautiful article the other day about offering mercy when our children mess up.  I know with the very depths of my being that "good kids do dumb stuff".  I first read that in For Parents Only (Feldham & Rice) and it has been my mantra ever since.  Then that sentence visited my family and I had a very good kid do a very dumb thing.   So when I read this guest article the other day from Jen Hatmaker at "All Mom Does" it resonated so deeply for me.  There is no way I could say this better than Jen, so I would encourage you to read her article.  I would click you over there myself if I could.

In our experience with the good kid and the dumb thing, we required much from said kid once the 'dumb thing' was brought to our attention.  There were a lot of conversations and a lot of digging to get to the heart of the 'dumb thing'.  There were many excruciating steps to restoration.  I'm sure 'the kid' felt like a bug under a microscope.  But it was an opportunity for us to speak into this young life and offer words of life and restoration.  Words that called out the qualities we see in this precious child and a determination not to allow a behaviour to define the future.

"We mess up, we fess up, we own up, we make up.  
It's that simple" 
(Jen Hatmaker)

We call the dumb thing 'the blip' these days.  An affectionate term for a defining moment in this child's life in which we required much but left the 'dumb thing' where it belonged.  It was done.