I'm trying to keep my business, my triplets, and my waistline under control. I excel at one of those, fail at another one of those, and one is a work in progress. Which is which is day dependant.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Got Me Again

Tuesday nights are a bit of a mess around here. There's the usual school pick up, homework, lunch and dinner making and blah-di-blah...and then there is the ballet class, and more recently the Cubs (Boy Scouts) for DS. Most of our "events" end well after 8pm. 8pm on a Tuesday after I've been cooking since 7am mean I'm a bit of a wreck. This makes my Tuesdays a nightmare, especially as DH is working loads of extra hours and I can't rely on his usual help.

Tonight, I brought DS home from Cubs, sent the girls to bed and sat down with my son to eat (his) dinner. Over slow cooked Osso Bucco (you KNOW I was going to get a food plug in there) with him, I looked over and realised just how, well, grown up he looks. Most amusing was when he took a bite of dinner, chewed a bit, cocked his head to the side and said, "Hmm. Tender, juicy, flavourful... exactly as it should be, Mum." (And thank you, future MasterChef judge!)

Anyway so I'm looking at my silly, gorgeous son...all tousled hair and red cheeks and gorgeousness, and I'm thinking, WHEN the heck did my little boy grow up? So, lacking in self control and with a tear in my voice AND my eye, I say to him, "Oh, my gorgeous boy. When the heck did you grow up?"

And he says...

"Possibly in the last 8 years I've been alive. I'm pretty sure that's when I did it."

Bloody kid. Ruined my moment.

Monday, July 27, 2009


In Yiddish the word "bashert" (bah-shehrt) refers to fate or destiny. It's most commonly used in the arenas of love and marriage - where your bashert is your divine, ultimate partner. A bashert is someone you were meant to be with, a match made in heaven (like me and DH. Awwwww....) These days the term bashert is often used to refer to other things which were meant to be - finding the perfect job, finding a great house, etc. If it was meant to be, it was 'bashert.'

Today, I quit my job.

My cooking job which I really enjoyed, which suited my days and my hours and most of all my pocketbook. Suffice it to say I had no intention of quitting my job today - the opposite, actually. My last day there will be August 31st. When I started the job, I told the owners that I would stay for the winter and then re-assess the situation with my business. Here in Australia winter ends on August 31st, and officially Spring begins on September 1st. All that is a very long way of saying that I quit my job, but I think it's bashert.

I went into the office to tell the owner that I needed some time off in September, to rearrange my roster and take some days off. This is because in September we have a huge number of family and religious committments which are non-negotiable. My neice's Bat Miztvah, the Jewish High Holy Days, and so on. September is just a month of a lot of stuff happening, and just luck would have it that most of them are on the days I normally work. So I went in to say, "September is a hard month for me, scheduling wise, can we work this out together?" and then give them the dates and see what we could work out. I imagined we would talk about swapping shifts, maybe getting another person in, etc.

What happened in reality was very different. The owner had a MASSIVE tantrum, and repeatedly told me that I was unprofessional, ridiculous and an altogether irresponsible person for not telling them about this earlier. Ahem. 6 weeks is not enough notice? Really? Has he ANY idea how most chefs barely bother to give 6 HOURS notice, let alone 6 weeks? It's a very long story but in the end I never got to talk about the roster, I just got yelled at for several minutes. According to the owner, I should have mentioned these things when I got interviewed, as it may have impacted the outcome of the interview. Is he kidding me? I asked him if his prospective Christian employees need to ask for Christmas Day off (while they are in the interview), and he said YES, they do.

Yes. Ahem. That was the proverbial straw. So I said, "Well since you're all about giving notice, and my contract requires 4 weeks notice of resignation... HERE IS YOUR NOTICE. My 4 week resignation notice starts TODAY." and I walked out.

Freedom never felt so good. It took a lot of will power not to punch the air and yell, "YYYEEESSS!!" as I walked away.

So back to the bashert part. I was telling The Neighbour's Wife all about this and she kept telling me it was bashert, that this was meant to happen, that it means NOW is the time to focus on making the business a massive success. I laughed her off, saying that the whole concept of bashert is just bullshit. She started to ask me all about a property I am VERY interested in for the business. I've made about 3 phone calls about this place and so far it's been really hard to pin down the agent to go and inspect the place. Anyway TNW just kept saying, "I'm telling you, it's bashert. It really is."

So I laughed and hung up and went to make dinner.

I checked my mobile phone, and it turns out I had missed a call while talking to The Neighbour's Wife. The call was from the agent of the property I want for the business, inviting me to make an inspection appointment. For tomorrow.

Bashert? Hmmm.

Let's consider this. I told the owners I'd stay for the winter...and my last day of work there is the last day of winter. I told TNW that I would call the agent on Wednesday... but the agent called me first and organised an appointment for Wednesday.

Now I'm not saying I believe in all this bashert business - far too airy fairy, too superstitious, too... not concrete for me.

But to quit my job and have access to the property ALL on the same day? In the same couple of hours?

Well. You know.

Maybe it's bashert.

Friday, July 24, 2009

21 Up

Firstly, some housekeeping ... since I've not blogged in a while I'd better get that out of the way. My lack of blogging is mostly lack of good ideas, so if you want to hear about something specific, speak now by commenting below.

The Neighbour's Wife and The Baker's Wife have both returned to blogging. Go and give them some of your reading love.

Remember the whole mynah bird incident? I was sitting in our home office the other day when I heard a awful racket from the back of the house. Turns out one of the kamikaze birds came back for some more bubble wrap action! So first I ran around freaking out and screaming like a girl, and then I got a broom and shoo'ed his sorry ass out of the door. Seriously? What's with the bloody birds?!

And now back to our regularly scheduled (okay, getting BACK to regularly) blogging:

21 Up

This past week DH and I celebrated our 12th wedding anniversary. Since I make a big ol' deal out of my birthday, you clever types should realise that I was married aged twenty one. Who the heck DOES that anymore? Surely only chicks who appear on Maury Povich, or several of the Duggars, or people for whom the condom snapped in two. Among my friends I was the first to get married - and more frighteninglyI am still one of the only ones married. At the time my friends were supportive but secretly I think they were wondering if I'd lost my cotton pickin' mind.

At the time, it seemed like a pretty logical (and totally fabulous) plan. After all- I knew I'd met the right person. What would be the point of hanging around just dating? It was the obvious choice, the right next step for me and DH's relationship. Part of this decision making was of course driven by DH's age, and by his insistence on living in Australia. I can't imagine my parents letting me move across the globe for just any old boyfriend. That said, marrying DH was so simple, so obvious, so totally RIGHT ... that even on my wedding day I wasn't nervous. I had no cold feet, no doubts, no second thoughts, no nothing other than, "Can we get a move on with this ceremony? I've got some dancing to do!"

12 years later I look back at my 21 year old self and I think, HOLY CRAP. How the heck was she so self-assured? How did she make such a life-altering decision? I find it truly hard to believe that I had the wherewithal to make that choice - but then here I am, 12 years later, and I still adore him and he adores me and we are sickeningly lovey dovey.

Originally I was going to post a list of advice I'd give my 21 year old self - things I wish I knew then, things which might (or might not) have helped shape my life choices. Instead, as my neices (who both read this blog) are heading in that teenage/young adults direction, I'm going to write a list of stuff I think THEY should know. Granted, being teenagers, they will roll their eyes and think I am dorky and ignore me... but hey, this is my blog and they can eye-roll in their own time.

So, A and H, this one's for you. Here's all (okay, ten things) of the stuff I wish I knew then:

1. When it comes to boys, trust your instincts. Sure, it's a lot easier when your family all love the guy and your friends think he's cool. Neither of those are reasons to stay with him if somewhere in the back of your mind is a little niggle of doubt.

2. When it comes to boys, trust your friends and family. They all hate him? Maybe wonder WHY that is before committing to anything.

3. Knowing how to put on make-up properly (and not look like a circus clown or someone who is trying too hard) is an essential skill even for fashion-backwards people like myself. Knowing how to do it while driving a car is stupid and foolish, but nonetheless totally useful (esp lipstick and mascara.)

4. Independence is a fabulous thing, but it doesn't magically appear. Take the time to learn some "boy" stuff - change a tire, change a fuse, inflate tires, shovel snow, kill spiders, construct stuff from IKEA.

5. Independence is a fabulous thing, but there is something really wonderful about having another person in your life with whom you do not need to appear independant. Sometimes having a stiff upper lip isn't all it's cracked up to be. It's totally fine to let someone know the real you.

6. Cultivate the friendships which are about giving and receiving. Learn early how to "cull" the friends who only suck the life blood out of you. Friends who are always negative, friends who are always needy, friends who only want your friendship because of what it gives THEM - turf them.

7. Make sure you put energy into friendships and not just 'relationships' - because girl friends are by far your best ally in the trials and tribulations of life. Even now I regularly go out with girl friends - either one on one or in a group, just for dinner or a girly laugh or a movie or whatever. I WORK at maintaining friendships. It's worth it. I know SO many women whose lives are "lost" to their husbands/partners...and outside of their home they have nobody left. Sometimes it's lonely as hell being a wife and a mother, and your friends are who will save you from that.

8. Learn to be financially aware. Know how to balance a check book, how to write a budget and live within your means, how to save effectively, and how to pay bills. Yes, we all hope you marry one of Bill Gates's kids - but in the event that doesn't happen (and anyway he's not Jewish so what would your grandparents say?) you need to learn to handle money. Don't be afraid of it, because it's the thing which will allow you a pair of Prada sunglasses when you need them most.

9. Learn to cook and bake - even if all you learn is a handful of basic dishes and a decent birthday cake recipe. Knowing how to cook opens up innumerable doors. You can impress potential boyfriends (and his parents), you can look after yourself properly if you're living alone, you can make friends and influence people. Knowing something about food and how to make it is an essential skill. (Hint: It's all about the salt, okay? Salt = flavour.)

10. Have a plan, but be prepared to change it. I think it's important that everyone have some sort of life plan on which to base their future choices. For some it will be specific: "By the time I am 25 I want to be living in Paris and working as a runway model for Karl Lagerfeld." for others it will be generic "By the time I'm 25 I'd like to be working in a job, married and with 2 kids." Either way, have some sort of idea of the direction you would like your life to take. Live a mindful life with that plan in the back of your mind, and make choices based on that plan or the pursuit of the goals within the plan. Then suppose life takes an unexpected turn. Learn to revise the plan. Point is, a life based solely in spontenaity will eventually result in the feeling that you didn't achieve a bunch of stuff you wanted to, mostly because you failed to plan for it. I'm not going to go all "The Secret" on you - but I will say that most things in life are possible when you have a clear idea on how to get them. You won't ever be a Parisian model if you're eating chips and sitting on the couch.

So there you have it, girls. Advice from a cake-baking, tree-hugging, ex-hippie, totally loud-mouthed and occasionally totally insane Aunt. Do with it what you will.

...and while I'm sure this isn't the anniversary post which DH had in mind, I remind him (almost daily) how lucky he is that I was clever enough to marry him. Not bad for a 21 year old.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Release Your Inner Goth

One of the prime reasons I love Jewel as much as I do is that she shoves me way, way, wwwaaayyy out of my comfort zone. She makes me dance, she makes me think, she makes me stop being the comfortable suburban mother that I am 99% of the time. It's not always easy being friends with her - we seem incapable of idle small talk and go right for intense four hour chat marathons - but in many ways I enjoy the mental challenge. She asks a lot of questions and demands real answers. Funnily enough, someone recently told me that *I* am hard to be friends with, for much the same reason. I always seem to be challenging people to think harder about themselves, about their lives, about...everything. I'm not all that fabulous at casual conversation.

This week Jewel invited me along to a fund raising party for a local cafe... and while this sounds all innocent, let me tell you it wasn't innocent at all. First, it was held in the grounds of a historic convent. Secondly, it was a dress-up party and the theme was Victorian Gothic/Addams Family. Third, there was going to be dancing, and a ghost walk, and at least a hundred people I didn't know (but 3 who I did.) I don't really DO creepy, and I certainly don't DO dress-up, and I really, really don't do hanging out with random strangers on a cold Melbourne night.


I went. I dressed up (and I looked bloody amazing... who knew a Morticia wig and sparkly black false eyelashes could transform a person so much?). I danced, I sang, I acted like a fool, I ghost walked, and I hung out with 100 random people...and I loved every single solitary second of it. It reminded me why it's so important to step outside of our everyday lives... because sometimes, you just need a break from the infernal treadmill.

Both Jewel and Cocoa commented that I am a "joiner" - in so far as they ask me to get involved or participate in something and I tend to go full steam ahead. So not only was I sporting the wig and eyelashes, but I also had black nailpolish, vampy fingerless glove thingies, loads of make up (including a totally fab black liquid eyeliner cobweb coming out of the corner of my eye), black skeleton necklace AND a black cape. When I went to pick up Cocoa, her son (who I see every day) did not even recognize me, "Wait a second. Which Michelle are YOU?" I know, I know..me, wearing long hair, make up and nails and whatnot, and NO photographic evidence. The mind boggles.

Truly I was surprised at how much I enjoyed myself, and how much I enjoyed the dressing up bit of it. I had several people tell me that dark hair suits me (hmmm...) and in the end it was decided that I need to get in my gear again and venture to school pick-up looking like that. You know, not a bad idea at all...

So - who is inviting me out next? This suburban mother goth is ready to PAR-TAY!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

The Treadmill

Recently I had dinner with two girlfriends - people I've mentioned here but for the purposes of this post will keep anonymous. I brought up the topic of chaos, wanting to see if my in real life friends have this same sense of chaos that I do, or if it was my own special brand of crazy. Turns out we ALL suffer from chaos to varying degrees, but we've given it a new term: The Treadmill.

Thing about The Treadmill is, we're all on it, and we can't see any point at which it might stop. The Treadmill is work, the endless laundry, the homework and the house and the life which feels as though we will never, ever get ahead of what needs our attention. My friends have the same kinds of things on their treadmill - children, jobs, houses. We spoke at length about how women these days (parents or not) just never seem to stop... moving. One said she longed for another baby, JUST so she had a excuse to "check out" of her work for a year. Another said she wishes she never bought her house, just so that she didn't feel the desperation which comes with needing to come up with a mortgage payment every month. Without exception, we all feel as though we will never get ahead. At what point in our lives to we get to just ENJOY our lives?

I'm not saying I'm miserable. Compared to most I think I'm a pretty happy person living in a fairly happy life... but that's only because my personality meter is far more edged towards optimism. I have my days - more than I care to admit - where I just feel totally overwhelmed. I feel as though I will never, ever get off that infernal treadmill of people to see, things to do. Is life just like this? Where along the way did we as women stop enjoying life and start feeling as though it's just one endless To Do list?

We also commented that our parents - mothers in particular - never seemed to be as harried and flustered as we all are. Maybe they hid it better, maybe we just never noticed. Now it should be said that in all our cases, our parents had the means by which to call in resources - all of us grew up with cleaning ladies and lawn mower guys and that sort of thing. Thing is, ALL OF US have that too... and yet we still feel as if there is no getting ahead. Even with these resources, I feel as though I will never really get a handle on my life. I'll never have enough time to do what I need to do, and never have enough time to just sit and enjoy the fruits of my labours. Heck, I'll never have the time to just SIT.

In The Baker's Wife's comment on my chaos post, she says, "To me, you have a very normal life in that you seem to be saying you all manage meals together regularly, you have 3 juniors in bed at a reasonable time, you meet all your school/social commitments and earn money for the family to boot. " She's right in that I do manage to achieve all those things... but all those things, to me, are really only the basics. All she's really saying is that I manage to feed, clothe, feed and love my kids, hold down a job... but isn't there a whole lot more to life than that? Or if not, shouldn't there be?

Is this really because modern women feel they can - or should - have it all? Is it because society now has an expectation that women will work, and so we do even when we don't want to? Is it just the dearth of "time saving" devices like mobile phones and email - which eat up our "free" time? Time which we might otherwise spend enjoying a cup of tea, a game with our kids, a night our with our partners? Why do all of us feel as though we are SLOWLY DROWNING in our lives?

The sad thing is, in all our cases we noted that among all this chaos, something has got to give. For one, it's her marriage. For another, it's a lack of progress in a career which she has real talent in, but no money or time to pursue. For a third, it's a whole bunch of health issues which never seem to get resolved. All of us, without fail, were able to identify one or more things which are just...falling apart... as we endlessly walk that treadmill. The things which are falling apart are not a clean house, perfect make-up, and fancy cars. Instead the things suffering are the IMPORTANT ones. A happy marriage, good health, self-fulfilment. Things which, in my book, are non-negotiable.

One woman made the point that if we are ALL suffering, WHY DON'T WE CHANGE THINGS? Why don't we, as women, bond together to stop this madness? Why are we the ones who are our harshest critics, talking shit about the stay at home Mom, snickering at the stay at home Dad, snorting with derision about the Mom whose kids eat take-out every night. We point fingers, we laugh at one another, we gossip and we complain and we say, "Look what SHE is doing!" rather than trying to care for one another, support one another, offer resources and advice and good old fashoined help. The truth is I don't know why we don't try to change things. Maybe it's all too hard, maybe we don't have time to help a friend (too busy writing emails)... maybe it's going to take more than 3 women at dinner to change this craziness.

Opinions - if you have the time - all welcome.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Stranger Than Fiction

For anyone who doubted that my life is indeed chaos, or that crazy stuff only ever seems to happen to me, I present the latest in the "truth is stranger than fiction" category. The following are photos which I took of a recent series of text messages on my mobile phone.

...and because he knows me so well, he also said:

...well, he wasn't kidding. I did consider taking photos of the evidence, but even *I* have standards. Suffice it to say those were some seriously stressed out birds and the kids have some fabulous stories to tell about DH trying to shoo them out of the room. Just to add a certain believability to this story, I asked DH if he used a broom to sort of 'shoo' them out, to which he said, "No, I used this piece of bubble wrap which was in the back room."

Yes, my husband the tough guy went at a flock of birds with a large piece of bubble wrap.

P.S. Stop laughing! *grin*