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I am away from it all at the moment and yet I still carry it with me. My big guy who is 9 about to turn 10 has gone away on a school camp today. I am away on holidays myself with my 2 year old this week and I have left my husband "in charge", at home. I had his camp bag packed and ready a week ago, which made me look overly keen for him to go but really I just wanted to make sure he didn't need anything.

Almost 10 is a hard age, well hard in that it's in between. Too old to hold my hand but not too old to not want to slip into the middle of a hug I might be  having with my husband. Old enough to want more "swagger" (something he has
already asked me how he could get more of) but really too little to know what
to do with it, if he actually had it.

I love that boy more than life itself but he doesn't know it. He thinks I love his little brother more. Mostly because 2 year olds take up more time and energy. 

We had a really big fight last week, over not much really. The usual. Not wanting to make his bed, a bit of smart mouth and then being mean to his little brother. Not life changing, but still. I had to man handle him into his room just so he was out of my site because I really wanted to strangle him. Not metaphorically - literally. He had just pushed me right to the edge and then over it. I had had enough.

Later when it had all calmed down I gave him a hug and I said "I love you so much" but he didn't look convinced. I asked if he knew how much I loved him and he said no, he didn't. Maybe it goes against all mothering by letting kids in behind the curtain, but I said I didn't like him very much at the moment but I always loved him, no matter what.

He looked up at me with big confused eyes and asked - perhaps for clarification because he didn't think it seemed right. "You don't like me?" and I said "No, not much at the moment" and then I said something which really clicked for him because I could see it in his eyes
"Well, you don't like me very much right now do you?" to which he replied "No, I don't" and I said "well sometimes that's just how it is.... but I still love you. No matter what".

After all that, I've had a few calls from him this week telling me how much he misses me and because I have been so busy with the two year old tornado I didn't think about it much, until now. Now that he has gone off into the world to try something new. Without me. He only got on the bus for camp this morning and I wasn't even there for it  ....and I miss him already.

Cheers,


Lee

 
 
I decided it was high time I took a break from reality and my everyday groundhog style like life of washing, grocery shopping and taking care of everyone else's needs.  It has gotten to the stage where I can only remember what day it is by the activity in front of me at the time. Oh, swimming lessons - must be Thursday.

I think perhaps I need to work on my idea of a break from the everyday because I brought reality with me. He sat on the plane next to me and made a plane trip of just over one hour feel like we had been travelling for an eternity. Note to self - more activities, snacks, toys and books for our trip home and ask for a cushion, the fact that a two year old sits by the window but can't actually see out only adds to his desperate need to try and escape from the confines of the seatbelt and those pesky, stay in your seat rules they have on planes.

Anyhoo, I have come to visit my mum in Fingal Bay, New South Wales. Which, in case you have not ever been here, is a really lovely part of the world. I wanted to take this time to share some of what we have been seeing with you all - mind you, Mum does live in a retirement village, so don't go expecting any wild party shots.
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Enjoying those tiny little "waves" and the beautiful view
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Three generations squinting into the sun.
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Starting off the day with a play in the park - nice to be warm enough to actually be outside. Oh, how I have waited for you sunshine.
So, now to make some plans for not much for the rest of the week. Maybe some fish and chips by the beach ... maybe some icecream. I'll worry about the gym when I get home. It's just nice to have this time to hang with my mum while I can - her being one of my favourite people and all.

Just case I don't say it enough... love you mum.

Cheers,

Lee
 
 
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Drew's first bath (not my hairy arms - in case you were wondering)
Some people are born to be mothers. They dream of a day when they will have a little person to care for and love and they feel that their lives will be complete when this happens. I am not one of those people.

I never had any interest in these small, noisy, loud creatures and to be honest, could  not understand what anyone else saw in them either. So the way in which my life had completely changed course by actually having just had a baby was set to become one of the most difficult, stressful and confusing times of my life.

So there I was in the hospital after the birth of my first child wondering what the hell comes next. I had never changed a nappy, I had never bathed a baby, I had never felt so exhausted. People say (and I don't know what people, but you do hear this about the place) that when you have a baby you will instantly fall in love with it. You will feel so full of bliss and endorphins that you will immediately bond with this strange little person and wonder how you ever lived without it. Well, that didn't happen. I didn't feel like that. I felt overwhelmed, confused and seriously out of my depth.

People are very well meaning. They tell you things about your baby with the best of intentions. But all that does is make it more confusing and to be honest made me feel more like a failure. I didn't love this small noisy person more than life itself, I looked at it and wondered why on earth I had wanted to join the mummy club in the first place. After all, I didn't know what I was doing, I didn't even know where my life was headed. How could I now be responsible for someone else's?? Who thought this was a good idea and what the hell was I doing here in someone else's life?

Nobody tells you, you might feel like that. They say you will love it, they say it is magical, they say it is a miracle of life. So what was wrong with me that I was not revelling in that magic and rejoicing in the miracle of life? Nothing. Everyone feels different and that's ok. (I will skip ahead just for a moment and say things did get better...... eventually).

We named him Drew because I had always liked that name (in fact he was going to be Drew whether he was a boy or a girl) and it was an uncommon yet it wasn't odd (being a school teacher I am so over the oddly spelt, same sounding names and the just out there names - not cute and clever. Just annoying. Yep Millica - Oh, it's Mellissa  .. I'm talking to you) and I held my little guy, like you are supposed to and people came to visit with flowers, toys, clothes and fruit (cause after that experience you really need the extra fibre to kick things off - if you get my drift) and I just felt weird and lost and a little bit like a fraud.

The nurses came in and out of the room, demonstrating how to bath him, how to wrap him and telling me how to take care of my stitches (somewhere you should never have stitches) and how to look after myself and then we were ready to go home. As the doctor came into our room to check and to sign everything off and the nurses picked Drew up and handed him to us and wished us well, I thought to myself, I can't believe they are letting us take a small person home with us, we don't even know what we're doing!! When you buy a dog at the pet store they suggest further reading and equipment you may need to purchase before you leave the store, where's the manual? How does this thing work? 

I felt so unprepared for the journey we were about to embark on.... and I was.

I hope you are enjoying the Friday Flashback series Starting from Scratch and I would love to hear from you with any comments you would like to contribute.

Cheers,

Lee


 
 
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Do you ever have that feeling of impending doom? Like you've forgotten something and it's about to blow up in your face. It always seems to surface at the oddest moments and I can't for the life of me remember forgetting anything, so I don't know what it is.

Life's a bit like that, isn't it? Always too much or not enough? I think perhaps all the moments that aren't like that are the ones we don't notice because they feel so regular or normal, almost like nothing is happening it all. It seems to me the only time we really take notice of life is when it's not normal. When we have too much or not enough. 

Sometime last year (when it wasn't lemon season) I was really craving lemons and they were so overly priced at the supermarket it wasn't worth it. I like to have a glass of hot water with lemon in it each morning to start my day (good for the digestion - so they say) and I had to give it a miss.  Due to my almost subconscious daily habit I had not even given a thought to the lemons when they were readily available.... until they weren't.  

We are lucky enough to have a beautiful lemon tree in our backyard. It's not a huge tree but it's lovely and it produces more lemons than we know what to do with (when the time is right). At this time of year we have an abundance of lemons. We have homemade lemonade, we have lemon ice cubes (because I am preparing for a time when lemons will be not so readily available again), we have fresh lemons. I am now looking into how to pickle lemons..... the point is, we have a lot of lemons.

Life is a little like my lemons. Too much or not enough. I think it is time perhaps that I start to pay more attention to the plain, ordinary, everyday stuff in between because that is actually what life is. It's not the too much or the not enough - we only notice that stuff because it's few and far between. The good stuff is in the middle. Like watching you children softly breathing in their sleep, like appreciating the fact that your husband takes the children to swimming lessons to give you a break, like talking to your mum or your friend on the phone about nothing in particular or when your child throws their grubby little arms around your neck to give you a hug. You know...... life.

Now, if I could just get rid of that impending sense of dread, I'd be right. Maybe I just forgot to take my pills this morning.... yeah, I'm sure that's what it is.

Enjoy the ordinary ... now you don't hear that every day. But maybe we should.

Cheers,

Lee

 
 
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It seems that Spring has finally arrived in Melbourne and I for one am loving it! But with the change of seasons, warmer weather and wanting to get outside and soak up the warmth comes that nagging feeling that Spring should also involve a Spring clean.

I can hear the collective groan "Not more work", my life as a stay at home mum often feels like it's one step above ground hog day as it is. Now, I am not saying that I don't like spending quality time with my little guy (because I do.... generally) it is more the lack of social exchanges and the day to day of a life which revolves significantly around hanging out at home which sometimes gets me down. I mean one more load of washing and I'm going to poke my own eyes out. So, to add to the excitement of stay at home-edness (I know, it's not really a word - I'm hoping it'll catch on), I thought I would turn it up a notch and try and get my life more organised (and by my life, I mean mine, my husbands and my kids - cause they would be happy to coast along as is).

I have been perusing the living lighter (as in environmental footprint), working with what you have, saving money and living life more frugally type blogs, websites and books to garner some tips on how to do just that. Whilst perusing I have come across the book "lemons and lavender; the eco guide to better homekeeping" by Billee Sharp. Which has some exceptional blurbs in the front extolling the virtues of the author and the great ideas contained within the covers of this book and let's face it, I picked it up because the cover was pretty.

In flicking through the book I have found there are quite a number of good ideas (some obvious but hell, I'm not doing them at the moment so not obvious enough perhaps) and I have decided to take some on. I plan to take on one change a week and see how that impacts on my life. I am starting on the "Revolutionary Budgeting; Taking Control of Your Resources" chapter. Which is actually the first chapter but also the one I probably need the most help with.

To start off my time with Lemons and Lavender I am going to create a household / family budget to get a better idea of our outgoing expenses - now in saying this, I have actually begun this task a number of times over the past few years but have not finished it or set myself an actual budget. My hope in writing all this down and sharing it with someone other than myself is that now I am committed to doing it. Accountability and all that.

We have already begun working on a herb garden. It actually has a double duty - it is a water feature which I was forever worried my two year old would fall in when I was around the other side of the back yard hanging the clothes up. So we have eliminated that problem by filling it with pots and some lovely luscious herbs and lettuce ( I am so sick of buying half arsed lettuce from the shops that doesn't even last until we actually need it for salad a day or so later). This may or may not be a section in the book - I haven't got that far yet as I am focusing on the budget and whatnot. But it seems to be going great guns so f

So here it is, my promise to make one change each week and implement it into my life to create change and a greater life. Who is with me??

Got any great tips?? I would love to hear them.

Cheers,

Lee
 
 
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Giving birth is like nothing you have ever experienced in your life. You are excited about the impending arrival of what people often refer to as your bundle of joy but you are unsure of what exactly is about to happen to you.

Contractions feel like really bad cramps... to start with and it's all really down hill from there. I know some people like to put together a birthing plan and work out how they are going to handle what is about to happen to them but it's all very unpredictable. It is hard to plan ahead even if you plan for every eventuality as you can often change your mind when it actually happens to you. I know my husband and I talked at length about not using drugs or what kinds of drugs I may or may not go with on the day. We felt that the pethidine was too risky but changed our minds before the actual event. Reasoning that if it was an option, then they must offer it for some reason. In the end I went with a cocktail or gas, pethidine and a epidural chaser. It all ended in vomiting once our bundle of joy arrived.... but I am getting ahead of myself.

I went to bed two days after my baby was actually due seeing that he had not deemed it time to actually turn up yet and woke around 11 o'clock in desperate need to go to the toilet. Whilst sitting on the toilet my water broke, which was confusing because I didn't remember drinking enough to cause a huge gush of liquid and then it hit... "well, I guess this is it!". We headed off to hospital on a Friday evening, to find that yes indeed our small guest was indeed ready for his arrival but I was only a few centimeters dilated.

During birthing classes when they spoke about giving birth I always felt that I would be quite prudish and not want to be showing my bits off to all and sundry but the truth is I didn't care. The nurse asked if I would like to hop in a warm bath to relieve the contractions and I immediately stripped off to my birthday suit in front of her and hopped in, to my husband's amazement.

I ended up partaking in all the drugs they had on offer and although each person needs to decide on their own pain threshold and where their limits lie at the time, I've gotta say it was the most painful experience of my life. Ok, so I was going to try and sugar coat it but what's the point, if you're about to go through it you'll find out soon enough.

You watch those birthing movies and the woman screams obscenities at her husband and pushes a bit and it's all over. Well, it's not like that. My little guy didn't want to make his way into the world and seemed to be hanging on in there. The Doctor tried a suction cup and then was eventually forced to perform an episiotomy (that's basically cutting bits where you don't want to be cut) and pulling him out with the salad tongs (that, by the way is not the technical term). He arrived in the world almost exactly twelve hours after my water broke and I spent a fair amount of time after that vomiting  - and you thought that was all over once the baby was actually out!

I spent all this time pre-birth reading books, looking at how the baby was developing from the size of a nut to the size of an orange and on and now it was out in the world and I really didn't know what I was doing. I had expected the experience of birth to be full of the unknown and scary but to be honest the really scary stuff started after he arrived in the world and came to live with us. 

Cheers,

Lee

 
 
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Whilst sitting in a cramped, stuffy, dark corner the other day watching my son participate in "The Musical in a Day" event at his school it got me thinking about all the times my parents came to watch me in school events. (Sorry, scratch that. I mean parent - my Father never attended anything. It wasn't really his fault. That was the done thing then. Nobody's Dad came to school events.)

I thought about all the times my Mum came to watch me "do" something at school and in all those years of schooling I can really only remember one occasion. Not that I have blocked other occasions out - I don't think there were any. 

In today's schooling calendar there are so many days booked out for events so that you can go and watch your kid do something (too bad if you have more than one, you might as well get a room at the school). The thing is, it's not like I don't want to watch my child participate in events, I don't want him to be the only one there without a parent watching on.... it's just that I'm not that interested. I mean you have to feign interest if they're interested (it's like being on a really bad first date, "uh, so you're into Dungeon's and Dragons? That is so fascinating!) I do admit there have been many times when the phrase "Good God when is this thing over? And "Please not one more song, I couldn't stand it!" float through my head. I cannot possibly be the only one?? 

If I really thought my child was getting a kick out of being involved in the whole hoopla, it would make me feel more things than just bored but he seems to be doing it out of duty as well. I mean, when I asked him why he wasn't singing at the "Musical in a Day", having not seen his lips move once he said it was too hard to concentrate on remembering when to move and singing at the same time. He honestly didn't look like he was loving it.

I remember as a child when you moved from kindergarten to "big school" and that was that. Now there's a graduation and some song and dance parade (that you don't want your child not to have a parent in attendance for) that you drag yourself up to school to watch. When I was a kid, we didn't celebrate everything like they do now, you just did it. Sure it's nice that they all get a participation ribbon for having a go but doesn't it kind of take the shine off celebrating really special achievements and events if you're celebrating everything?

My husband is a big sports fan. He doesn't play much of it, more the sit on the lounge and cheer the team on type of fan. Anyhoo, he will set the alarm to get up at two o'clock in the morning to watch a game and when I question this, he says "You just don't get it! This is a big game!". From where I stand that seems to be the response to every sporting event - I am beginning to wonder if they play little games at all, as all these big games seem to be hogging the limelight. And this is how it has become with all these events at the school. Everything seems to be important, so nothing actually is.

The extra level of difficulty for me at these events is trying to wrangle a two and a half year old whose had enough and would like to go home now, thank you very much. I know how he feels.

I'd like to say the shot above is just a bad photograph but we were sitting so far away from the action that that was pretty much all I could see of him. Well, there were all those crowds, it was a big event you know.

Cheers,

Lee
 
 
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It's always hard trying to find something interesting to do with the kids. Each weekend we make a promise to ourselves that we will not just hang around the house and that we will try to come up with new and interesting ideas that go very much like this, "So, what do you want to do?", "I dunno. What do you want to do?", "I dunno...... Well, we should do something?". Often this may take until lunch time at which point the 2 year old has to go and take a nap and the day is pretty much on the downhill slide by the time he gets up anyway. 

Having a 2 year old and a 9 year old adds to the degree of difficulty on decision making front, as everyone likes something different. The hubby and I would be quite happy to go to a nice quiet cafe and have a hot chocolate and a piece of cake but that is impossible with a 2 year old. Well, not so much impossible as having the fun and relaxation sucked out of it by a 2 year old. 

The 2 year old requires a space which is entertaining, with enough room to run around in, without being able to get into too much trouble. The 9 year old, likes what he likes ... which sometimes feels like nothing (I can hardly wait until he is a teenager) so it's hard enough forcing him out of the house and away from his handheld games in the first place. 

The thing is, if you can be arsed there is always something happening or somewhere to go in Melbourne. So I decided to add to the excitement of the weekend by not actually telling them where we were going and just all piling in the car. Seeing as we can only be out for the morning anyway, before nap time, it's not really a huge undertaking. 

So in we got and drove to our surprise destination. Altona. Yep, bet you didn't see that coming. But I have to say it was a really nice morning. The kids love looking for fish, jelly fish and other sea creatures as we peer into the water from the pier and who doesn't love catching a ball, throwing a frisbee by the water or digging a hole in the sand?? 

  

We finished up with a play in the park across the road and sat on the grass to eat our hot chips. So a fun morning was had by all and as the crowds gleaned onto our good idea and started to turn up in numbers, we had to head home for nap time anyway. Nice.

Hope your family weekend was just as nice.

Cheers,

Lee
 
 
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As promised, I will be blogging a new series on Fridays, starting today!! Yay!! So if you are thinking about motherhood, about to become a mum or have just become a mum, then this is for you. Do not count yourself out if you having been doing this mum thing for a while either - come walk with me down mummy memory lane to where it all started. I promise to be straight-up about my experience of becoming a mum but know that it will not always be pretty (in truth, most of it won't be) but it will be honest.

So here we go ....

I have never been a very maternal person. This may come as a small shock now that the career page on my resume currently reads "stay at home mum" (God who saw that coming - I can honestly say I didn't) but that's how it is. I know people who LOVE babies, can't get enough of them, always want to cuddle other peoples and can't wait to have one of their own - yeah well, that wasn't me. 

I never had any interest in babies or children. I did not want to hold them and I could not understand why people wanted to show me pictures of their sprogs when I was so clearly not interested. So the day I announced that my husband and I were expecting came as a BIG surprise to many (and yes, it was planned so I was not one of them). Prior to hitting 30 I thought having children was something other people did and I did not have the slightest interest in joining that club. Then one fine day (sometime after my 30th) it just hit me in the face that I might actually want to get involved in this whole parenting caper. Really, no-one was more surprised than me about this turn of events. 

So, hubby and I talked it through. What were we doing? Could we afford it? Was this the right time for us? Was this the right thing at all? And we came to the conclusion that we were just going to give it a whirl anyway, regardless. The thing is, you spend most of your 20's partying (OK, maybe that was just me.. whatever) and trying not to get pregnant, so it goes without saying that once you start trying - it will just happen. At that time we had friends who desperately wanted children and had been trying without success for a fairly lengthy period. So I figured, if they wanted a baby so badly and it wasn't happening for them, maybe it wouldn't happen for us either. I had spent a good 16 years on the pill (yeah yeah, partying and trying not to get pregnant) so I thought this is probably going to take a while.

Being not so child friendly, my husband and I just decided to keep this change of heart about trying for a baby to ourselves until we knew what we were up against and the thing is ... it was very quick, much quicker than I had anticipated. So, when I went to the Doc's cause I kept throwing up, I thought it's probably a bug - which it kinda was.. really more of a parasite. Anyhoo, I rocked on up to the Doctors to be told that I was pregnant. Although we were  scared, freaking out... and still vomiting we were kind of excited.

The thing is I knew my friend would be devastated and I wanted her to hear it from me, at home, so she could process it all, without an audience.  It was one of the worst days of my life, telling her that we were expecting. Me, the woman who wasn't big on kids anyway, who wasn't really interested in babies, was telling her (someone who so desperately wanted to be a mum) that we were expecting. I know that it was heartbreaking for her. I knew it would be like a kick in the guts and understanding that and made me feel so sad that I was pregnant and she wasn't.

After that significant lowlight the pregnancy was filled with many highs..... (What! I think I was typing on autopilot for a moment there). It was crap. It was a crap experience and I did not enjoy being pregnant one bit. I know what you're thinking "what a selfish bloody cow - seeing as your friend wanted that so bad." Well before you jump on that - let me give you a glimpse into the future and tell you that it did happen for her and she now has two lovely girls.

So... back to me. Head in the toilet, feeling very sorry for myself. The thing is, people say "Oh, you should be happy about morning sickness. It means the baby is healthy and growing really well. It's a constant reminder that you're going to be a mum!!" Mind you these are people that aren't pulling over on their way to work to vomit by the side of the road.....

See you for more of flashback Friday next week - want to share some of your experiences?? Please do!!

Cheers,

Lee

 
 
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Sometimes my little guy sits so close to me he would have to hop in my shirt to be any closer and whilst it is lovely to feel his little body there and know that he loves being next to me, it's not always conducive to cooking dinner or a multitude of other everyday tasks.

Now I am not saying that he sits by me all day, truthfully he is like a jumping bean and lives his life by the motto "why walk when you can run" - in fact he's often covered in bruises and scrapes because of this (nobody said moving everywhere double time didn't lead to more personal injuries). The thing is, he has a problem with personal space and I am beginning to wonder how he can possibly get past this when I am so often in his face, smothering him in kisses and cuddles.

I was trying to get off a plane once when there was some kind of hold up and we were all left standing in the aisle. Now I am not a smaller breasted woman myself but I don't want to be feeling anyone else's either. So as we stood there waiting in this airless space the woman behind was so very close to me that I could feel her breasts pressed against my back. So I moved forward as much as I could to allow for some space (as you do) and she came up again behind me bazoombas pressed squarely into my back. Inside I was screaming "back off lady" but as it was an incredibly close space I didn't want to make the whole thing any more uncomfortable than it already was. So I bit my tongue and she continued to use my back as some kind of resting space for her boozies. Maybe it was cultural, maybe she just had no concept of personal space - I don't know what the deal with that was. 

Whilst reflecting on this story it got me thinking about kids and personal space. How can you expect them to learn it when you're in their faces all the time?? Sometimes when me little guy (whose two) and I have a bit of a tumble and play together on the floor, I will pin him down and say "Now what will it be?? Would you like to be smothered in kisses or tickles??" - he always used to pick kisses but as he gets more of a grasp on the language of the natives he often picks "cuddles", which wasn't actually a choice but seems to give him a bit of a breather.

I have noticed that as he grows, learns new words and develops an understanding of the world - personal space is not something he's actively working on. Any time I am at his level he is in my face, there are no two ways about it. I think, he thinks that's just how it is and as he sometimes likes to play at being a dog this has resulted in my face being licked on more than one occassion.

When he is not strapped into his high chair at meals times he wants to sit on my lap and eat from my plate. I have tried to remove this issue by creating the same dining experience for him on his own plate but apparently it doesn't taste as good when it's not coming off someone else's plate. He often grabs my face and smoothers it in wet sloppy kisses and is always trying to steal my sunglasses ... while they are still on my face.

My nine year old on the other hand has now got to the stage where he won't hold my hand while we walk to the bus stop. Actually, I should say he will hold my hand  - just not when anyone else from the bus stop is looking. Although he still accepts cuddles and will magnanimously let me give him a kiss before he gets on the bus.

I guess I should probably make the most of it, licks and all. One day they will be teenagers and probably won't even want me to stand next to them - I guess we'll all be getting enough personal space then.

Cheers,

Lee