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.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Damn cool inventions

There are some things in life which I just adore. They aren't always necessary items, they aren't always useful items, they just fall under the category of stuff I like. Here are some things which I really like, today and everyday:

  • My lovesac (or in Australia, the Yoko) Never was there such a brilliant piece of furniture. I sleep better knowing I have one of these - a GIANT one, no less. It takes up most of my lounge room, and I don't really care. It alternates between useful furniture and landing pad for my children who launch themselves off furniture and onto this. I am catapulted into 'instantly cool person' simply by virtue of having purchased one of these.
  • A microplane : My most favourite and coveted item in my cheffie tool kit
  • A decent bra: I have yet to find one of these but I live in hope
  • Howard's Storage World This is like heaven on a stick for organised people like me who think that shelving and cool boxes to put stuff should be some kind of religion: Organisationalism, or some equally lengthy but organised moniker
  • Smiggle: What is not to love about a store that sells an 18 inch bendable eraser that smells like bubblegum? Imagine a whole store full of colour coordinated, totally cool stationary stuff. We're talking a set of 18 fruity smelling highlighters!
  • I get loads of brilliant recipes from here.
  • Slim Pig is by far one of the most amusing and clever cartoons I've ever seen.
  • My other favourite intelligent cartoon is Little Einsteins. What can be bad about exposing kids to classical music *and* great works of art?
  • My current favourite foods: chevre (goat's cheese) and avocado on multigrain toast. Bliss! (and a nice reward after several hours working, having started at 3:30am!)
  • Culinary school: I finish in 4 weeks!
Okay, your turn. In the interests of 'random acts of kindness', share something you like a lot!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Temperature is relative

Temperature and weather, I've decided - are psychological tricks our mind plays on us. Melburnians, as a whole, are weather obsessed - they talk about it, listen to it, debate it, love the weather channel, complain about it. There is a saying that if you don't like the weather here, wait five minutes and it will change. Having been here nearly 10 years, I can be honest and say there is a lot of truth in that! What interests me today, though, is temperature. Why is it that 10C in Melbourne is "bloody freezing" while 10C in Denver is "a nice balmy day?" Is it the elusive Coloradoan "wind chill factor" which makes the difference? Is it just that we have an expectation that the weather in Colorado will be damn cold, so anything above damn cold is suddenly a heat wave? Do we expect Melbourne weather to be warmer, so that 10C feels like the Arctic? What is it about temperatures, and mental expectations of place and temperature, which makes the same weather in one place lovely, and in another, freezing? While I'm on the topic, why are the Solstices, etc in the US in the middle of the months, while in Australia the start of the seasons are on the first of the month? Surely one should not be messing about with solstices and equinoxes. (Are they equinoxi?!) I considered all of this as I had a perfect, wintery morning. I took the train one extra stop, bringing me to the middle of the CBD. I got off the train and started walking towards school. I strolled my way down Elizabeth St, stopping for a 'marble mocha' (read: all white chocolate with a scrap of that awful coffee stuff thrown in. Trust me, more sugar and milk and fat than coffee.), stopping in various book and magazine stores...I was all rugged up in the brown squishy Banana Republic sweater I stole from my brother. I felt - well, just GREAT. Of course, it was about 10C or so...fabulously cold enough to be cozy but warm enough not to be freezing. Winter (well, Melbourne winters) - for me alternate between 'it's so damn cold in this city' to 'ahhhh...brown squishy sweater bliss.' One major bonus to 10C in Melbourne as opposed to 10C Denver? The lack of that infamous 'wind chill factor'....

I *heart* crushes

For people I see IRL, I've discussed this issue before. I'm talking about crushes - those instant, unforgettable, quick feelings you have for someone which put a spring in your step and a twinkle in your eye. Crushes can be on the man (or woman) on the train, a person walking down the street, your best friend, the parents of a kid at school - anyone really. They might last mere seconds, or hours, or years (as in my crush on Billy Joel, no matter how old/fat/balding/alcohol addicted he is). Crushes can be so much *fun*. When we're young they lead potentially lead to 'men and women dancing,' when we're older they still might lead to 'men and women dancing.' When we're married with kids, they're just human nature. Of course some (stupid) people are married and have crushes which lead to dancing, but I'm not talking about those crushes. I'm just talking about the fact that once you're married, it's not like you become suddenly blind to the attractiveness of the opposite sex. Personally I think having crushes are good harmless fun - especially when it's some cute guy on the train, or the girl behind the Starbuck's counter, or that cute guy in "Prison Break." I'd like to freely admit that I have loads of crushes - most which last mere minutes, some which have lasted years (see Billy Joel comment above) and all of which will never lead to dancing. Go on, have a crush on someone today! (or wink at an old lady, and get her to have a crush on YOU. Same thing really...)

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

On being brave

Isn't it interesting how one can be conditioned about what is 'normal' for work practices? Two things recently have me thinking about this. The first is the apprentice who left our company - she came from the public service, from a 9-to-5 job, weekends off, overtime paid, etc. Cooking (as a career) isn't like that - you get little money for way too many hours, on odd days and odd times, and you're often at the beck and call of a customer or owner. (Oh, and don't even think about having a head cold...wait, I already discussed that.) She essentially left because she couldn't get over that change in work practices - the fact that more money wasn't passed onto her, that the job often has to get done on the day (not pushed into an in-tray for tomorrow). The gap between what she had gotten used to and what she felt she deserved in this new arena was too much and she's decided to return to her previous career. The second thing making me think about this is my own desire to find a new, challenging position. I do like my job, and the people around me, but I'm very comfortable (eg bored) and am feeling antsy to try new things, learn new skills, and be out and about. The wierd thing is, it totally stresses me out to consider quitting without having another job lined up. There is no reason why it should stress me out at all - it's really normal in this industry, to have a couple of days/weeks/months between gigs and it doesn't really seem to bother anyone else. Me, however, it stresses out. It's like I think it's somehow more 'legit' if I resign because I have another job, rather than resigning just because, heck, I need some time off and I want to spend time considering my options. Is this because I, too, came from a 9-to-5 job, and therefore am conditioned to believe it's the 'normal' course of action? Is it because I have an over developed sense of responsibility? Is it because secretly I think I won't find something else, and will be stuck at home watching endless episodes of Days of Our Lives? Truly, I have no idea. The very thought of just saying, "Hey, I'm finishing in 2 weeks" without an answer to, "But where are you going?" fills me with anxiety. Hmmmm. Maybe I need to do exactly that just to realise that it's totally a normal, fine, non-stress-requiring thing to do. On the other hand, anyone know of any good pastry jobs?

I want a dog

For reasons I can't fully explain, I want a dog. Actually, that's a lie, I probably can explain why I want one, but the fact that I want one at all is strange. Strange because, frankly, I don't really like dogs all that much. In fact a lot of them kinda scare me. If I see a big dog coming down the street, I'll cross the road. If a friendly dog starts to jump on me or lick me, I seriously feel panicky. Dogs are just not my thing - my Mom is allergic to all things with hair (or so she claims) so my childhood was filled with endless short lifespan goldfish won at Purim fairs, a turtle who came back from the dead only to be made into turtle soup, and a small white mouse named Brandon who escaped from his home in my closet (he lived in a handbag and chewed his way through.) All of these are stories for another day ... and as usual I am digressing from the topic, which is that I want a dog. I've resisted the dog thing until now because the last thing I need is another mouth to feed and another butt to look after. I've got plenty of those in my house. I don't, strictly speaking, need a dog. In fact I don't really have any concept of what the day to day care of a canine involves. Yet, I still find myself pining for my very own Fido or Spot. Dh won't let us have a dog - and has endless (probably valid) reasons why (the garden isn't fenced, we're not home enough). I don't disagree with him, but I still want a dog. Maybe I should go for one of those Tamagotchi things instead - or are they so totally 90's...?

Thursday, May 18, 2006

The truth about commercial kitchens

We don't wash our hands as much as we should.
Some chefs eat, smoke, go to the toilet, etc and don't wash their hands afterwards.
We use knives for more than one thing, without washing them in between uses.
We often wipe our hands on the same disgusting tea towel all day.
We are expected to go to work when we have contagious diseases.
Sometimes we lick the bowl, or taste with a finger and then keep cooking.

Disgusting? Yes. Reality? Also yes.

I'm exposing this because today (and yesterday, and the day before), I have had one hell of a head cold. My body is tired, my sinuses are blocked, my head hurts, and I'm alternating between freezing and boiling. I called in sick for work tomorrow (giving almost 24 hours notice) because, unlike most chefs, I think it's just not cool to work with food when your nose is dripping snot. Call me crazy, but I like knowing the food I buy doesn't come with a helping of mucus. The part that kills me is that my workplace was annoyed by this - my saying, "Sorry, but no, I don't think I can bring my snot-and-mucus infused miserably-sick self into work at 4am tomorrow." I know it makes a nightmare for them, rostering wise, especially in a small team...but I still think this is perhaps the one super crap thing about hospitality. I don't mind working when others have public holidays off. I don't mind the pay, the hours, the sticky messes, the egos in the kitchen, the sometimes rude or demanding customers..but I DO mind going to work with a drippy, sticky, wet, snot-filled head. So sue me.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Today They Are Five

It's the trio's birthday today - five years old! One wonders how DH and I survived this - the noise, the mess, the chaos, the three-heads-are-better-than-one schemes. People often ask me how we cope, with three kids to look after. The reality of it is we cope because we have to - if I let them rule the roost, imagine the mess ! However the truth of it is we cope by maintaining our sense of humour and enjoying each step of the way from the ridiculous to the sublime. Thanks, trio, for reminding me every day that one should laugh at the small stuff, and call the fire brigade for the big stuff. Dad and I love you more than your five-year-old selves could truly understand.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Mother's Day

This is an excerpt from an article I recently wrote about my own attitude to motherhood:

I didn’t start out wanting to be a Mum. In fact, I was one of the least clucky people you might meet—I never ooh’ed and ahh’ed over babies, never was one to chase after the kids at family events, and never really thought about having children of my own. My world was going to be filled with an amazing career, travel, and adventures long before I would even consider the concept of having children. Kids were something which happened to other people! Then my older sister had her first child. In all honesty, at first I wasn’t all that interested in her either! She was born while I was still in high school. I was much more interested in applying to college, being in the school play, and other time-wasting activities. Every once in a while, though, my sister would ask me to baby sit, or I would be left alone with my neice...and I’d look at that gorgeous face (even when it was a crying face), and think, “Welllllll….maybe it wouldn’t be so bad after all, this whole motherhood thing.” I still was not particularly convinced, even after my sister had her second child. Adorable as he was, he still was not enough to convince me that motherhood was for me. Time passed and I eventually met the person who would be my husband. He made it clear (pretty much from our first date), that he wanted children. He really was one of the clucky ones; having always dreamed about becoming a Dad, wanting nothing more than to cuddle a child of his own. He did make the googly eyes and funny noises at other people’s newborns, played with the kids at the family events, and had truly spent time thinking about how many children he wanted...you get the idea! By then I still didn't love the idea but I had warmed to it ...although I wasn’t totally convinced, since he was so keen I went along with it.

The rest of the story you probably know—we ended up parents of triplets. For someone with little or no interest in kids, this was one heck of a shock. I’d managed to get through my niece's and nephew’s childhoods without actually bothering to learn anything about the care and feeding of babies. How was I supposed to take care of three of them at once? It was almost like some sort of great cosmic joke. The good news, of course, is that I managed to take care of them (with a significant amount of help from DH) and thus far their nearly-five years of life have been without any great disasters. I love and adore them with a strength and protectiveness I didn't think I was capable of. Along the way I have learned an enormous amount about myself, and for those lessons I am grateful to my children. Among these lessons are:

· Learning that I am brave in the face of danger: Imagine walking into a room where you know there are three kids with gastro, and you’ve run out of gloves…

· Learning that I can roll with the punches: We’ve taken them overseas three times and not once did I find myself beating on the plane doors shouting, “Let me out of here!”

· Learning that I am a woman of wisdom: I know why the sky is blue, why everything is always unfair to the person whose turn it isn’t, and the importance of not continually answering the question, “But WHY Mummy?”

· Learning that my sixth sense is my best sense: When all is quiet in the house, you had best go investigate. It’s amazing how quietly three kids can tear apart a house brick by brick.

· Learning that while maternal instincts are not always natural, they can be learned: Without having to stop and ask for directions, I knew which end was for feeding and which was for cleaning. I didn’t necessarily enjoy it, but at least I knew what to do with it.

Above all else I am glad that on a daily basis my children remind me of the importance of being able to laugh at oneself and with others— long, loud, and hard. Being a parent is hard work – far harder than I ever, ever could have imagined...but it is also far more rewarding than I could have imagined either. I’m still not ‘clucky’ when it comes to other people’s children ...but when I am left alone with a baby, I find myself thinking, “This motherhood thing is DEFINETLY not too bad!”

Seek first to understand

Some time ago I took some workshops all about communication and leadership. All of the facilitators promote the concept of "active listening" - basically repeating back to the person you're talking to. By repeating back what they've said, they feel heard and you get a better understanding of what they are trying to say. The theory goes that you should "seek first to understand, then to be understood." Two recent conversations have highlighted for me just how bad I am at this. I desperately want to just listen, and hear the person out - but my sense of irritation, injustice, or just plain old but-i-know-I'm right keeps me from seeking first to understand. The end result is a conversation in which neither party is listening to the other. Each is repeating their stance on the issue and you end up going in cicles. It was only (in both cases) after the conversation that I realised that I failed to seek first to understand. This is probably why I was left re-playing those conversations in my head and feeling like both issues were unresolved. Listening is a very difficult skill...for me especially since I both want to and feel the need to be heard. Let us all try to listen a bit more to one another today, and take the time to seek first to understand.

Tuesday, May 9, 2006

Running Away From Soup

I recently shared this story with some work friends. Re-telling it after all these years made me laugh so hard I thought it was worth blogging about. So when I was about 6 or so, I went to a friend's house for a playdate. She lived about a mile away. Incidental info: they had a two story house with an olive green elevator in the middle of the house. So we're playing and her Mom offers us lunch. We agree to lunch, and while we're waiting we're playing in the kids' play room. The play room has a couple of those old school desks - the kind with the chair attached and you lift the 'desk' part to reveal storage underneath. So lunch arrives. It's soup. It's olive green, lumpy, and smells positively horrid. I take one look at this soup and think, "NO WAY am I eating that." However, politeness dictates that I at least try it. I take one slurp and discover these kinda....squishy...nuts in there. Yes, we're talking about barley. Something I'd never tried before and which I thought tasted, frankly, like small bits of gristle from some unsuspecting small animal. I just couldn't do it. I couldn't eat that soup. It was just...well, pea green lumpy smelly soup. I sat there, in 6 year old stressed silence, wondering HOW to get out of this mess. I couldn't very well say, "Can you please remove this bowl of spew from my sight?" As I sat there, stressed out, my friend left the room for some reason (I can't remember now why.) I did the only course of action I could think of. I lifted the lid of the desk, and I put the soup in there (bowl and all, I didn't pour it out.)

Then I ran. All the way home. I didn't look back.

My Mom was a little surprised to see me, all tears and upset, mumbling about some damn green soup with wet nuts in it. She called the other Mom to tell her I was okay. Needless to say, my friendship with that girl never really went anywhere after that. I don't know when and if they ever found my bowl of soup, hiding in that desk. As an adult now, I think...imagine what the girl must have thought, to have come back and see NO friend and NO soup there. These days, I'm no great barley fan.

Sunday, May 7, 2006

Arranged Marriages

At work recently we were discussing arranged marriages. The Sicilian's take on this was that they were horrible...the concept that one did not get to choose their intended, to her, was totally inconceivable. Personally I don't think they are that bad. Apparently some huge percentage of arranged marriages are actually successful, which by far beats out the 50% rate of divorce we've currently got. Marriage these days just seems to easy to get into and get out of - I wonder if they sanctity of the concept is retained at all. It saddens me so much when I hear of children younger than my own whose parents are no longer together. Do I think people who are miserable should stay together just because they made a vow? Absolutely not - however I do think that if the marriage vow were less easy to 'get out of,' perhaps those people would have tried harder to resolve their issues. I am sure when relationships end (married, de facto or otherwise) it's emotionally a really, really difficult thing...honestly I can't even begin to imagine what it's like. However it just seems like everyone is getting married over and over, and divorcing over and over. Society these days is so much more accepting of the 'temporary' state of marriage. One look at the various celebrity magazines and one might think it's trendy to get married, and then trendy a few days later to get divorced. I just don't get it. Maybe I'm old fashioned about this, thinking that marriage should still be for life? To get back to the arranged marriage thing, is is possible that they 'work' more often because they are theoretically harder to get out of? Or is it just that in the cultures where these marriages happen, the women are less likely (less able) to speak or act out if they are miserable? Are there scores of women out there, suffering in arranged marriages because culturally they are trapped? Is that statistic of the marriages being successful really just because the women do not have the freedom to say otherwise? What about those women who, given the choice, would choose such a thing? Could you argue that mail-order brides and the like are choosing to be 'arranged' by making themselves available to men overseas? Are they, too, being somehow 'forced' by circumstance to choose that route? I suspect this topic is way larger than can be discussed in a blog....feel free to comment.

Friendship Upgrades

Have you ever seen that email joke which talks about "if women were computer programs" and it mentions the program Girlfriend 1.0 being upgraded to Wife 1.0? (etc etc) DH and I were recently talking about how this concept can be applied to friends. Acquaintance 1.0 can get upgraded to Friend 1.0, to Best Friend 1.0, etc. Theoretically these people can also be downgraded, to Moocher 1.0, Former Friend 1.0, Drinking Buddy 1.0 and so on and so forth. Some people can make it to V2.0 - those who you are friends with, lose touch with, and then re-aquaint yourself with. Having recently been through a rather painful downgrade myself (I was the programmer, not the program), DH suggested that I have some friends who "might need upgrading." All in all it's a very entertaining way to think about one's friends. Friendships also change as you grow older...some people you see often, some not so often. I have friends who I see (in the flesh) maybe only once every 5 years. Once we meet again, it's as though we never had the time in between and we just carry on as it once was. Other friends live in the same city as I do, but I don't see them all that often...but somehow that doesn't seem to affect the quality of our relationship either. Depends on the person I suppose....It's also interesting when people you meet in the normal course of your daiy life suddenly become very important, and interesting when you retain friends you dind't think you would. Often the ones who I don't think have 'staying power' end up being the very ones who get upgraded! Friendship is a funny thing. I have this on the brain tonight because I was at 007's birthday drinkies when someone asked me how I knew her. The truth is I only got to know her as well as I do now AFTER we had known one another (literally not biblically) for a long while. She and I got to be friends because the circumstances of our lives had us suddenly spending a lot of time together....I wonder if we would have the friendship we have today if we hadn't had that opportunity. Life, and friends, are just like that, I guess...where opportunity and inclination result in something wonderful. What can I say, my friends rock. :)

Wednesday, May 3, 2006

Over the Top!

I used to think I was nothing like my parents. Then I grew up and realised that in many ways, I am very much like them. Today I was reminded of the best thing I got from them - the absolute pure joy and bliss in being being my completely over the top, loud and fun self. I love BIG stuff. Loads of balloons at parties, making noise, singing too loud, getting excited to the brink of hysteria, etc. I've realised this is a total Israeli thing, to make a big deal out of everything. Case in point, today is the "birthday" of Israel - the day Israel became a State. Jewish schools across the world are celebrating in many different ways. At the hungry three's school, there was an asembly with songs, flags, ribbons, poems, music, dancing...all the kids were wearing blue and white. They released 58 'doves' to signify our messages of peace flying to Israel. The kinder kids baked and decorated a cake in the shape of the Israeli flag, sang Happy Birthday, ate Israeli food for lunch, sang songs about Israel, etc. For the past 10 days or so the school has been preparing for this event. You know what? I loved it. I love the fact that we go so totally crazy for this day - basically we've upgraded it into a full blown holiday. Why the heck not? The fact that I stood there in the freezing cold, huddling with other parents and a billion kids, singing songs about Israel...ya know, it's just brilliant. It made me ever so GLAD to be into it, to be someone who is over the top and doesn't apologise for it. I think we need more, bigger holidays....wouldn't the world be a better place if we all made a giant deal out of, say, Grandparents' Day? Friendship Day? Mother's Day? ANY day? Your challenge for the week is to go out and make a big deal out of something. Heck, bake a cake because it's Wednesday, and have a Happy Wednesday party! Take the time to do something BIG, just for the heck of it!

C25K Week One

The good news: Both DH and I have made it through all 3 workouts of week one of the couch to 5K program.
The bad news: I run slower than most people walk, and DH is sure that I am doing this to try and kill him.
We've since decided to repeat the Week One workouts until such time as we are both comfortable with it. Having been out of fitness action for so long, it's much harder to do than I remembered. I find I have one bad workout, then a GREAT one, and then one like today which is laughable. My recovery time is brilliant, so I've just got to work on lengthening my stride and putting more power into the runs. DH has to work on actually making it through the runs (without stopping early). So those are our goals for the next set. Watch this space!

Colour Therapy

When I was growing up, I didn't really have colouring books and markers and stuff. Actually I don't recall most of my childhood, but that's another post! Anyway, it's only as an adult that I have discovered the joy of colouring. Yes, I'm talking colouring in a colouring book picture with markers or crayons or coloured pencils. I must have discovered it earlier because my brilliant sister bought me this massive, amazing box of Prismacolours - coloured pencils you can use with water for a watercolour effect. I've always liked art in general, but colouring is just good old plain therapy! (Without the angst, dollars-per-hour, or stigma attached.) In recent weeks I've been doing tons of colouring with the hungry three and re-discovering how good the crayons smell, how nice 'cool' coloured markers are, and how damn satisfying it is to finish a picture in a colouring book. Recently I got very upset about something, and my brilliant friend 007 came over to comfort me. She and I sat down, got out the colouring books, and spent well over an hour colouring in and chatting. When we finally tore ourselves away from the fish, zebras, and other assorted colouring-in pages, I realised I felt far more relaxed and cheered up than I had when we started. I might be forced to start some sort of group colouring society.