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.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

The Forty List

As I mentioned previously, one of the activities at my 30th birthday party was for the guests to help me come up with a "To Do" list of goals to achieve by my 40th birthday. They could make as many entries as they liked, and the only rules where that the activity could do no harm, and that they could not work together. Otherwise, any suggestion was fair game. My intention is to complete all of these by my 40th birthday. Some will be harder to achieve than others, but the promise is to at least attempt all of these. So here it the list my friends and family provided. The ones in RED are those which I have already completed, and GREEN are those in progress. Any comments in [brackets] are mine, in (parenthesis) are theirs. Each bullet point represents a person, NOT an individual goal, as several people had more than one goal.

Without further ado, here are the things I'll do by the time I am 40:

  • Watch these movies: Citizen Kane, Hamlet (Kenneth Branaugh's version), Death Trap (with Christopher Reeve and Michael Caine.) Watch all 12 episodes of "Fawlty Towers", and learn a song and sing it in front of a crowd. A small group is okay, but YOU must sing it.
  • See your name up in lights [Heck yeah!]
  • Become an Australian Citizen [Frankly, I can't be bothered.]
  • Design a cake that looks like me (Jess), finish your course with flying colours, make up a song and sing it in front of 10 people, swim with sharks.
  • Repeat your [9 weeks in Europe backpacking] honeymoon trip, but with with triplets
  • You and DH should spend 50 hours a week together in the same bed for the next ten years. [Okay, I don't quantify the hours we spend in bed together, but we do spend as much time as we can. What we do in bed isn't your bees wax!]
  • Write a series of children's books that will be as interesting and as successful as the series of books I just read [she had just finished the No 1 Ladies Detective Agency series.]
  • Have such success in your business that you can come visit me three times a year. [Three Sweeties' doors officially open on October 1st.]
  • Graduate at the top of your class, or at least in joint first place with me.
  • Take a week off without DH and the triplets. [In November 2010, my BF Alexis and I are taking a 2 week, girls only vacation to celebrate our 35th birthdays.]
  • Join a weekend circus school, become a life coach or motivator, take singing lessons, learn to play the tuba, be under-ambitious at some point. [that last one is the real killer.]
  • Learn pole dancing, shave your head and do a mohawk [if I shave my head, how do I get a mowhawk?], get a Brazilian wax if you haven't already [I haven't], learn to tango with DH, go trick-or-treating, in costume, as a family, enter a serious karaoke competition without laughing, learn a musical instrument like a triangle or a kazoo, play naked twister with DH only, learn to scuba.
  • Write a cookbook that is suitable for people with nut/egg/coeliac allergies
  • Achieve a weekly column in a prestige publication covering topics which make a difference, become proficient in dialectic [I don't even know what that word means], acquire patience with "what if" discussions around the dinner table and "happily" participate, never lose your ability to laugh at all the silly things life throws up, keep your talent for embracing life without steamrolling the people who love you.
  • Swim with the dolphins, go to the top of Mt Kosciusko, invite me to your 40th birthday party, give me the cake that looks like Jess, encourage the kids to remember to call me "Uncle", dance at my wedding, and put a king sized bed in my bungalow [this is my BIL, who I want to live in a cool house in our backyard].
  • Climb Ayer's Rock to the summit, you will never forget it. [I refuse to do this, on principle. I've been to Uluru, I chose not to climb to the top. I wouldn't want someone scrambling on my sacred site, either. I will, however, amend this goal to be walking around the base of Uluru.]
  • Bake a cake for royalty, run a marathon, own your own cake shop and hire me.
  • Say NO to teachers who prey on you because of your culinary ability at least twice this year.
  • Go BLONDE blonde for a month, wear high heels every day for a month (with the weekends and gym sessions off), write a book that at minimum is published for friends and family.
  • Write a regular column for a magazine or newspaper, set up a franchise (baking or otherwise), bungee jump in New Zealand
  • Get to know each other better [I tried to do this, and I failed spectacularly. How do you 'get to know' someone who never wants to talk on the phone, send emails, go out to dinner, or otherwise? This one is a bit of a lost cause.]
  • Swim the "Pier to Pub" in the same year that I do, go for a 40km ride down to Sandringham and back with me and anyone else you choose, turn Three Sweeties into a national franchise to rival Mrs Fields.
  • Do at least one stand up comedy gig, do the Great Victorian Bike Ride, write a novella/short story and endeavor to have it published somewhere (your local multiple birth newsletter doesn't count).
  • You need more adrenaline, so sky dive, preferably with parachute and instructor
  • Survive three bar/bat mitzvahs, enter the Great Victorian Bike Ride, win a prize at the Royal Melbourne Show for "Cake of the Year"
  • Scuba dive in the Great Barrier Reef and the Dead Sea [I don't think you can scuba in the Dead Sea, and given that it's dead, what would there be to see?], or if you feel daring, a nice left nipple piercing wouldn't go astray, to match your nose ring (well, the one that's going to be revamped.) [I was young and stupid, what can I say?]
  • Take me dancing again, because we are such a good couple, find a way to balance food, work, sleep and family. [This entry was not written by DH. DH refused to participate.]
So there you have it. Seems like everyone is obsessed either by my getting exercise, or by my writing something and having it published. I have visions of being at my 40th birthday party with a big slide show, showing me achieving all the things I've done on this list. I think it's doable, although perhaps a bit painful as well. :) Ahh, well, I've got 9 years left to go!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Go On...

What are you doing here when you could be reading my articles?

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

HPG & Me

My niece, HPG (stands for Harry Potter Girl, as yes, she is obsessed) and I get along really well. Her Mom (my snester) often says that she feels as though she is raising me all over again - which is pretty accurate, since my snester is seven years older than I am and was at least partially responsible for my influencing my formative years. So HPG and I have a lot in common - namely that we like to read, and cook, and laugh, and are considered mature beyond our years but often lack street sense, and people treat us like adults even though we find totally immature things funny. Given that there is a pretty big age gap between HPG and I (about 17 years, which I just realised is only one year more than there is between DH and I...scary!) it's amazing we get along as well as we do. While she was here, I tried to come up with a reason for why this is.

The only reason (other than her being cool and fab and just plain awesome) is that in many ways, I'm still a teenager. I don't think I've ever made it past that stage. I definetly still have the pimples to prove it (and geez, didn't someone promise me these would disappear with the onset of adulthood?! Fuckin' liars.) I have a disdain for authority. I have crushes on people. I read trashy magazines about celebrities (granted I did graduate from Teen Beat to People.) I worry about my grades. I worry about my future. I sometimes act sullen for no reason. I'm impatient, especially with my parents and siblings. I'm moody. I naively believe that everything will turn out all right in the end and that people are basically honest. I have bad hair days. I want a snack after school/work. I am often filled with angst. I always want just five more minutes in bed. I think ugly shoes are really cool. I care about the environment and other social issues. I write a journal (no longer a pink notebook but now a blog.)

HPG and me, we're not all that different. For her sake, though, I hope she grows out of the stupid stuff of teenager-hood, and keeps the better parts - parts like finding totally dumb jokes really funny.

Jokes, in fact, like the one she told me recently:

Two muffins are baking in an oven.
One muffin turns to the other and says, "Geez, it's getting hot in here!"
The other muffin screams, 'ACK! A talking muffin!"

*snort* See? A damn funny joke.

Love ya, HPG.

So freakin' annoying!

My kids are annoying the shit out of me at the moment. Thing is, they aren't really doing anything other than being their usual rambunctious, energetic, noisy and fun selves. For some reason, though, I'm finding that they are seriously getting on my last nerve. In a way it's unfair on them, because they aren't doing anything to deserve my "will you PLEASE stop that?" voice and my "you've got exactly ten seconds to quit it!" hollow threats. They're just, well, being kids. Happy kids, no less.

Sometimes being a parent kinda sucks. I actually admitted this out loud recently, when I told my snester that on some days, I just want to stay in bed and pretend I'm single and childless. I don't want to get up and be the responsible one. I don't want to be the person who makes the decisions, who gets everyone organized, who answers thousands of questions a day, who picks up yet another Barbie stiletto from the floor. I don't want to be the one wondering if letting my girls play with Barbie stilettos is somehow giving them body image issues. I don't want to be the one who is all rah-rah-yay-you-aren't-you-clever all day long. I want my kids to be able to read without having to listen to a reader every single night. (A reader = beginning reading book they bring home from school every day, for practice purposes.) The guilts set in when I find myself wishing I'd just wake up one day and they would be able to read, do math equations and just be able to, you know, DO STUFF without my having to put in the work to get them there. Of course, there are times I find myself wishing time would just slow down, and that I could relish every second of their childhood. At the moment, though, I'm thinking, "Seriously, how bleeding hard is it to actually TRY and sound out that word?" and planning in my head the massive world tour DH and I will take when the kids hit 18 years old and can look after themselves, thanks very much.

I suspect my irritation with them has nothing to do with them per se, and it's more about my own feeling of being overwhelmed at all the other things happening in my life. Then again, it could just be the simple fact that sometimes, kids are annoying. It's the one universal fact no mother will ever admit to - sometimes, your own kids really give you the shits.

It's annoying when they walk in on you in the toilet ten minutes after you had the 'importance of privacy' discussion. Annoying when they need to know every last detail of the conversation you're in the midst of, or the conversation you just finished on the phone. Annoying when they insist on not getting dressed unless you find the *exact* blue sock they want, in a drawer full of blue socks. Annoying when they believe you have both the money and time to buy them what they want tomorrow after school. Annoying when they drop food on the floor and ignore it until they step in it later and announce that it's gross, and no way are they cleaning it up. Annoying when they argue about taking a bath, even though they've taken one every other day for the last six years. Annoying when you're late to school already, and that's when they decide they don't have their sweater/toy/lunchbox/thing you can't find. Annoying when they are so exhausted they can barely hold their heads up, but once you send them to bed they have enough energy to light all of France for a week. Enough energy, it seems, to annoy the living shit out of each other. Which requires your intervention, which in itself is annoying because you know that they will feel so much better if they just fall asleep and get some rest. Annoying because one day they like cucumber in their lunch, and the next they hate cucumber and "don't ever give it to me again Mummy!"

Harumpf. Kids are annoying little boogers. Cute and lovable, but bloody annoying sometimes.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

TMD Day One

I discovered on our family vacation, just how hard it is to negotiate with an 11 year old boy. Thing is, I have become mega-fat of late. I could go into how depressing it all is, yadda yadda, but really, let's not bring everyone down with us. Anyway, Lucy reminded me that his Bar Mitzvah is in about 17 months. 17 MONTHS, you say? Yeah, he says. 17 Months. As in, we're no longer counting in years. We're counting in months.

Fuck. I gotta lose a lot of weight. Fast.

So, the day after the family left, I started Day One of The Matthew (his real name) Diet. Lucy/Matthew, you see, is the only family member in the history of our combined families to be thin. Partially it's lucky genetics, but most it's because the little booger eats nearly nothing (nutritious, that is.) Pretty much all fruit and veg and anything with an actual vitamin content are a no-go zone. So I *tried* to make a deal with Lucy - that for every 10 lbs I lost, he had to taste a new vegetable. Deal is, I would post a pic, but then HE would have to post a pic of him trying a veg. No dice. He tried to buy me off with "I'll eat a banana every Sunday" ...but he already eats bananas (rarely, but at least he doesn't grab his throat and mimic dying when he does). Needless to say several hours and counter-offers on my part left me with just this:

Fuck. I gotta lose a lot of weight. (and Lucy won't play with me!)

So, I'm going back to the me of old, only now I've got the added degree of difficulty in that I'm a chef now, with immediate access to fantastic food (in ridiculous quantities). Gym going will be harder to fit in with my crazy hours, packing a lunch is as uncool as a chef can get, and I'm going to be surrounded by temptation daily. All of this hard work, and Lucy can't eat a freakin' carrot for me. *sigh*

Still. I'll do it. I won't talk about it much here other than the odd yay-me update. In the meantime, I'm happy to take on board anyone who wants to join in. You'll notice how much time I've got left to do this is currently counting down on the right hand side of this blog. Stay tuned.

*goes to cut carrot sticks*

Choo Choo / Spew Spew: A Family "Vaca"

I've been fortunate enough to spend most of the last two weeks with my snester, her husband (my BIL), my oldest neice (HPG), my nephew (Lucy - not his real name) and my youngest niece (Gumboots). Suffice it to say we had a fabulous time, and here are but a few things which might give you a hint as to what transpired:

  • Number of people to spew: 3 (me, DH, Lucy. 4 if you count DH doing it more than once)
  • Most spectacular spew: DH, in the reception area of the caravan park where we stayed. "Hi, I'm DH, we're just checking in...*projectile hurl*"
  • Number of times my snester ate a shitty tasting lunch: 3
  • Number of times she complained about it: I lost count
  • Bravest Little Indian: Gumboots, who survived my stripping her naked, holding her hog-tied over a patch of snow and saying, "oh, please please please can you pee now?!"
  • Number of times we thought for sure we would lose fingers and toes to frostbite: Daily
  • Number of times Lucy ate chicken schnitzel: Too numerous to count, but he now has feathers under his arms
  • Number of times we said, "Shit, it's COLD!" : Too numerous to count
  • Number of times I called HPG a "sullen teen" and she gave me a "I am SO NOT a sullen teen look"in a very sullen teen way: At least half a dozen times
  • Most amusing comment: (from my snester), "You mean there is no TV? HOW THE HELL are we supposed to entertain SIX KIDS?"
  • Most amusing cultural differences moment: The "brown out" in the toilet block of the caravan park, necessitating my sister getting a 'torch.' She was relieved to find it was a flashlight and not a tree branch lit on fire. Ooga Booga!
  • My amazement at my BIL's patience for my kids: Daily
  • Most sought-after and then forgotten about item: The freakin' cheese sticks at Myer Melbourne. We had to get them for my sis and BIL (or suffer some sort of early death) and then finally got them and my own KIDS ate them in the AIRPORT before everyone left. Ummm, can we say pointless?
  • Best turn around: No, this isn't a freezing bloody cold muddy wet rainy horrible cramped small kinda dirty renovated train carriage we are sleeping in. It's an eco-adventure vacation!
  • Best culinary re-naming: seaweed rice crackers into "pee pee crackers"..."because they kinda smell like it."
  • Most painful culinary experience: watching Lucy and HPG trying to sift flour. Four hours and a kitchen full of flour dust later, they managed it.
and lastly....
  • Best but Most Sad moment: All of my family standing in front of the International Departure Gate screaming at full volume, "IT SUCKS YOU LIVE IN AUSTRALIA!"
They're right. Sometimes it does suck.

Monday, July 9, 2007

A Promise Kept

Being as goal oriented as I am, I am always looking for new and better ways to achieve stuff, to push my own boundaries and go beyond my own comfort levels. At my 30th birthday party I had everyone fill out an index card (or several) with goals for me to achieve by my 40th birthday. Some of them are insane (wear high heels for an entire month) and some are terrifying (do a stand-up routine at a open mic night), some are reasonable (ride the Great Victorian Bike Ride) while some are hilarious (go totally blond). All of them were pretty amusing, and many were food for thought. Interestingly, many of the goals repeated - meaning that random people around the room said the same thing. None of them consulted with one another until after the task was done, so the repeats were the ones which really made me think. If I get around to it, I'll post the entire list and then virtually 'cross off' the ones I finish. Anyway the biggest repeater was "get published" - with variations about writing books for children, writing cookbooks, writing a weekly column for the newspaper, and so on. The gist of it was to find a forum for my writing. I achieved that goal in part by starting this blog - technically it was original, "published" material in a public forum. This week, I learned that I achieved the second part of this goal - I became a paid published writer.

Read all about it here.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

God? Are You Out There?

On this blog, I make no secret of the fact that I am Jew. Go on, hurl some matzah balls - either way, it's who I am. However, one thing I've been aware of is that I am a cultural Jew rather than a religious one. I managed to make it to the ripe old age of thirty one without really forming an opinion on the whole God part of it all. Since childhood, though, I've pretty much blindly followed the cultural requirements - the food, the rites and rituals, the putting on a skirt (!) and trying not to fidget. I sing the songs, I read the passages, I ask for forgiveness (and pray that this whole fasting thing goes faster, hellooo, I'm starving here!) and so on. However, my knowledge of Jewish history, and my ideas of god are totally missing. As in, there is a jolly HUGE gap in my knowledge. Normally, this isn't really an issue - I enjoy the cultural aspect of it and that basically fulfills me.

In recent days, however, I've begun to wonder about this. Partially it's because DH took on a (huge, massive, time consuming) senior role in our temple. Partially it's because the children have started to ask questions which I'm not sure I can answer. Partially because I think it's because the time has come. I didn't have a religious upbringing at all - it was entirely based on cultural rituals. I can't ever remember my family discussing religion or God. I didn't really attend a Jewish School (only for the first few years), I didn't do the whole after school Hebrew School thing, and we never went to temple with any real regularity. My Bat Mitzvah was an excuse for a MASSIVE black tie party and had little if nothing to do with Judaism at all. (Side note: It rocked, and I looked FAB.) I had this kinda strange upbringing where I spent several summers at a Chabad (*cough*cult*cough*) day camp, rote memorizing various prayers to be a part of "Hashem's Army" but then had no actual Jewish education. So I feel a little clueless, and as we all know, I don't DO underachieving. So in recent time I've set about learning more about this whole Jew business.

I did what any self-respecting person would do and I headed for the library, where I found the "Pocket Idiot's Guide to Judaism" (no, I'm not kidding. Stop laughing. It's not funny.) I also found a couple of other books, mostly aimed at the young adult category, which I read right there in the library. Anyway so I brought home this little slim volume, and over the course of a week read it. A funny sort of thing happened. A light suddenly turned on. I found myself saying things like, "OH! So *that's* why we do that!" and "This is SOOO cool!" and then reading passages to DH. He would just look at me and say, "You didn't know that?" and I of course would say, "No (duh, that's why I'm reading this) How did YOU know that?" and in his most infuriating way, DH would say, "Well, I just....know." So now I'm wanting to know more, and intend to return this book to the library just a wee bit more smarter than I was before. I'm going to find some more in-depth reading on this. Honestly, I don't think I'll ever be much more religious than I am right now. We - as a family - have reached a comfortable level of involvement. We're active members of our community, we enjoy being a part of a temple, and the children are getting the religious *and* cultural education that both DH and I feel they need. So on that front, it's all good. On the education of me front, it's also all going ahead.

As for the God business...well, I just don't know. I remember praying to god as a child (mostly asking Him to get my parents to stop fighting) but I'm not sure if I really understood what I was doing. As an adult, knowing more about evolution and so on - I have my doubts. Either way Judaism is a rich, often entertaining , fascinating religion with a lot of interesting facets to it. The best part, of course, is the basic thing on which all of Jewish history is based:

They came. They tried to kill us. We won. Let's Eat!