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.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

1600 kilometres later...

...and we're still not only having the time of our lives, we have yet to kill one another. I can say with some certainty that all five members of my family are still alive and well. I can't comment on the dog because he is holidaying with my IL's, but I trust he too is still with us. (IL's, feel free to leave a comment and let us know.)

When I last blogged we had been in Canberra two nights. The next day we spent not nearly enough time at the War Memorial - somewhere I was going along to mostly to humour DH (who, in addition to being as Aussie as they come) loves all things military related. I honestly expected the kids (and me, let's be frank here) to be whining about being bored about five minutes into it. Instead the kids AND I were all quite disappointed to have to leave - we did a 90 minute tour and all of us felt we really only scratched the surface. There is SO much more to see there that we have already planned a trip back. From there we went onto Parliament (where I had a slightly heart-rate raising moment when we went through the explosives check and I got pulled aside). Parliament, too, is another place we could have spent more time. The last stop on our "Geek's Tour of Australian Government Icons" was the Royal Mint - disappointing only because it was not a working day for them and so we did not get to see all the machinery in action, but otherwise fascinating in many respects.

Our last day in Canberra dawned a bit overcast, but we pressed on with our plans to visit Cockington Green - a minature town of replica buildings. Bitty bitty people in bitty bitty buildings doing things like playing bitty bitty cricket games. For me this was our most disappointing stop, because not only was it a bit expensive, but I don't remember it being as ...meh...as it was. The kids enjoyed it, especially the ridiculous kiddy train ride (so small each of us took up an entire bench in a carriage) and it was fun but I don't think I'd go again.  From there we went on to the CSIRO Discovery Centre, which, as the name suggests, is a place for older kids to discover a lot about the work CSIRO does (did you know they invented WiFi?). We were the only ones there, which was a good thing as it means the kids (okay, DH and I) could run around madly pressing buttons on stuff and not have to pretend like it wasn't us who made the little solar powered lolly machine continually give out lollies.

From there we pressed onto Wallerawang - not the bustling metropolis you might imagine with a name like that, but a small town in the coalmine area of NSW. En route we stopped in Goulburn, supposedly to have lunch and get petrol but really to take pictures in front of the giant Merino. Not giant as in "Wow, what a big sheep" but giant as in "Let's climb up into it's body and look out of it's eyes onto the road below." Onwards (and a few wrong turns along the way) we ended up in Wallerawang. It turned out to be a lovely town, with a lovely hotel in a former school - the owner of the hotel was actually a student of the school for most of his life, which is such an "only in Australia" sort of thing, isn't it? Dinner at the local Chinese (delicious, shame about the horrible waitress, but then with no competition to speak of I can't imagine anyone is too worried about things like customer service!). Morning saw us up and about and heading for Jenolan Caves - and to give you some time perspective, that was this morning I'm talking about.

Jenolan Caves is one of those places which cannot really be described with words - and apologies about the lack of pictures, but uploading from our various phones and cameras is a bit more fiddly than I feel like dealing with, so I'll do some photo posts on our return. We spent our entire day on a couple of tour caves (translation: in awe of the caves, in awe of the sheer number of stairs, in awe of the number of photos it's possible to take), walks around the blue lake (more @&*@# stairs!) and eventually a very happy but weary emzee family made it back to the car (guess what? stairs to the carpark, too). Unequivocally it was one of our most adventurous days yet - and we worked out that by the end of it we had climbed or come down over 1,600 steps. Goodness knows how we will feel tomorrow!

Afternoon had us heading into Sydney and to our accommodation for the next week - sadly a disappointing 'granny flat' place under a home in Allambie Heights (just outside of Manly.) While it's mostly clean, it's clear that the owners are not experienced at having people stay - no dishes, no cutlery, no real bin (!) to speak of, and so on. I'm pretty certain the fridge was stolen from a few grotty fraternity boys - and in terms of cooking 'equipment' the best we have is an electric frying pan...so suffice to say our emergency Coles run had items like tea towels, big bags, spatulas, toilet paper and so on make their way into the trolley. I'm pretty disappointed but as usual the kids don't give a shit and are rolling with it - they were just thrilled to see a Scrabble board in the cupboard!

I have to say the real heroes of this trip have been the children - they have soaked up every moment of it, revelled in the adventures, taken more photos than I will ever know what to do with, and just LIVED in each moment of every day. To be sure we have asked a fair bit of them, but they've taken it all in their stride and have proven themselves far more flexible than I ever anticipated. The electronic sanity device has yet to get out of the box, even though they discovered it's existence early on in the piece. They are laughing, smiling, engaged kids - and while they have tried to get on one another's nerves now and again, generally speaking I throw a handful of Werther's lollies back there and all is right with the world. They have even tolerated us playing endless Beatles CD's (thanks DH for the music selection) but in turn we've sat through hours and hours of their books on tape (DS picked audio books which a) go on for HOURS and b) require a lot of active listening. Bless him.) They have already decided that "road trips rock!" and that the ONLY solution to this problem of not seeing all we want to see is just to repeat this exact trip next year, but go to the places we just did not have time for.

We've all been having so much fun that we've forgotten both the date and the day of the week - today DS asked me what the date was and I literally had no idea. I'm pretty sure that's what this vacation was for, just to forget about life for a while. In which case - objective achieved.

Tomorrow it's the pinaccle of this trip (although in hindsight, maybe not..) - the Harry Potter exhibit at the Powerhouse Museum. I'm going to sign off now because DH and I have some planning to do for the rest of our days in Sydney - and connecting to the 'net via my mobile phone is probably costing as much as ...well...a lot.

Sydney, I hope you're ready for us, because we've got big plans for you...! (Pylon lookout, Chinese garden, Manly Aquarium, clifftop walk from Bondi to Coogee...and so on!)

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Older and Wiser

For what it's worth, I don't intend to blog every day of our trip. I'm meant to be on vacation, not tied to a laptop. That said, having talking about this trip for so damn long, it would be remiss of me to not at least give you the occassional update of how we're doing.

My birthday today was glorious - filled with sunny skies, time spent with the people I love the most, plenty of delicious food (and gummy cherries. We've got snakes still but the cherries are my fave, so I opened the bag early...) and plenty of sight-seeing and being loved. I got a number of birthday wishes via text, phone calls, and facebook posts so I feel loved fron all corners of the globe. I am *much* happier at 36 than I was at 26 (the kids were not yet a year old, I'm pretty sure I slept through my birthday) and much happier again than I was at 16 (good lord, is any 16 year old happy?!). All in all, it's been a great day and tomorrow is our "History of Australia" geek day with tours of Parliament House, the War Memorial, and the Royal Mint. Today's geek activities - the highlight of which was the National Dinosaur Museum - were all suitably geeky and a good time was had by all.

In between all the love and joy I've thought a bit about my word of the year - and the one word which keeps coming back to me is "value." Value works for me on two levels - one, as a reminder to me to value all that I already have and all that I have achieved, and two, to do things which I value or which bring value to my life. Less stressing, more enjoying - less 'busy work', more putting time into those things and people which I value.

I did for a while consider "treasure" and "blossom" and some other ones...but I think VALUE is the one it's going to be. To just stop for a second and ask myself, "What value am I getting out of this?" (and not be referring to monetary value) sounds like a great way to consider all that has come before, and all that is yet to come. I'm going to try this word on for a bit and see how it fits. We'll see.

Other than that bit of thinking, I'm spending my days revelling in the love and affection of my madcap children and my adoring husband, as hurl-worthy as that sounds. This is *exactly* the right way to end 2011, and a fabulous way to start of 2012.

Sending love, humour, sweetness and of course a healthy dose of sarcasm to you and yours on this merriest  of Christmases.

M xx

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Very Much Still Alive

I'm writing this from our hotel apartment in Queanbeyan- which is in New South Wales, a short hop from Canberra, the capital of Australia. Canberra is in the Australian Capital Territory, an independant patch of land in the middle of NSW but somehow NOT NSW (a bit like Washington DC in that respect.) Suffice to say we're not exactly in Party Central, Australia - but it's a gorgeous city and there is nowhere I would rather be right this very moment.

The good news is that there is no bad news - today was one of our longest driving days (8 hours or thereabouts) and we've all had a glorious day. With every passing kilometre I could literally feel the stress, worry and hysteria of the past few months just seeping out of my pores - in between eating too many gummy snakes and changing the CDs over for the kids I managed to have a think about a few things, catch a nap (or two or three) and just really relax as the Victorian, New South Wales, and ACT landscape just passed on by.

It was a glorious, blue sky sort of day - the kind where it looks like the perfect white fluffy clouds have been painted into the sky, where even the sheep and cows on the side of the road appear to have been Photoshopped onto the hillsides. We spent our day visiting various gourmet spots (and as a result now have a car boot filled with indulgences), walking around country towns, and in general loving every minute of our adventure. The kids did not ask for nor need any sort of electronic stimulation (not a single kid asked to play on my phone, which is pretty miraculous when you consider they often ask on the drive from their bus stop to home - which is about 3 minutes long.)

All in all, today was a really great start to our Geeks Tour of Southern Australia - the only real "excitement" of the day was when DH looked at the fuel thingie which said we had "1 kilometre to empty" and the nearest gas station was 14 kilometres away. HE managed to be in a flap about it, I viewed it as an opportunity to teach the kids a lesson about packing too much shit in the car. Pushing the car that far would have surely made my point abundantly clear, no?

Tomorrow the Geek Tour begins properly, as we fit in views from the tops of various mountains, a birthday* picnic at Causarina Sands (thanks Kazari for the idea) and then an afternoon at...yes, the National Dinosaur Museum. Chat to you tomorrow, but for now this is a very tired but very happy and relaxed emzee, signing off.

*Post about this to follow, but DH totally ACED my birthday cake and I've got the pictures to prove it. We had to enjoy it earlier than my real birthday, but suffice to say he didn't stuff up a single part of it (okay, he did. But it was *my* fault and so that does not really count.)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Lean On Me

Tonight the family and I were at an event which required us all to sit on the grass and hang out for a bit - and within a few minutes of sitting down, DH had a child sitting on his lap, I was leaning towards him, I had a child laying with their head on my thigh, and child number three was sitting in my lap, leaning back on me.

The young girl sitting next to us commented to me, "Geez, you guys are a family that really like to lean on one another."

She doesn't know how right she is.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Just Back Yourself

A couple of posts ago, I wrote about my amazing friend (who I have yet to come up with a blog moniker for) - and how I find her strength inspiring. She responded to me personally and said that when she tells her other friends about me she describes me as the woman "willing to back herself." Today I met another woman who - in quite possibly the most brave way I've ever heard of - also chose to 'back herself' and take charge of her life. To live the way SHE wanted to live. To seek new horizons (literally), to experience things differently, to just "back herself" in such a way as to turn her life around completely. 

I think we all need to remember to do this once in a while. Just - BACK ourselves. Believe. Do something completely crazy and insane which - because you backed yourself - will lead to great things. Or maybe not, but surely it's worth trying?

In talking to this woman today (hello, woman! You too need a blog moniker)...I told her about the crazy story of how I ended up going to culinary school. The story of how I backed myself because "life, the Universe and everything" basically forced me to do so. The short version is, I had reached the point in my working life where every single day was breaking a chunk off my soul. SOMETHING had to change. The long version is this:

I'd been working in a large University for a long time. Universities are wonderful places because the benefits of being an employee are fabulous as long as you never want anything actually DONE. So you get crazy good entitlements, but your brain atrophies as you realise that another year has gone by and you have achieved SFA (shit fuck all). People in Universities are AWESOME at meetings - having them, attending them, planning them, fighting in them, planning more of them and so on - but not a damn meeting RESOLVES anything. Ever.

It's very annoying.

Anyway - I needed to stay at said job (hello, benefits, and hello, husband who kept losing jobs, and hello, toddler triplets) but I hated it. The "I hate this so much I cry almost every day" sort of hating it. So I went through a (too long to talk about) very long process to get a secondment to another area of the University, in the hopes this would keep me from the daily wanting to pull out my eyelashes and make a bonfire at my desk. I got the secondment and on the first day my new boss calls me into her office to tell me that my job was non-existent. They invented the role and the project as a way of retaining their funding from one year to the next, but the role and the project were pure works of fiction.

I left a job I hated, in the hopes of making my life more bearable - to walk into a job which did not exist.


This meant I had 9 months in which to do even less than nothing, because even I could not call meetings together for non-existant projects. I'm good at bullshitting, but I'm not THAT good. My official work instructions were to, "show up late, take long lunches, and leave early. Look busy while you're here."  This is in the days before smartphones and facebook...so options for how to look busy were limited. PLUS, I would have much rather been home with my trio (at least parenting is productive) - but we really needed that money.

That same year, I applied - and got rejected from - culinary school due to there being (ironically) no funding for local students. Later that year (with my brain now in complete melt down) I got a call telling me they had last minute funding for some spots. I had 30 minutes to tell them if I wanted the spot - and I had one day and one weekend before the course started. Long story short, I took them up on the offer and then went to tell my boss that I was quitting her ghost project.

She wouldn't let me quit. They *needed* me to remain employed until the project was complete, so that they could retain their funding. If I left, the jig was up, and they were screwed, financially speaking. I tried to argue that it was ridiculous - a government funded university was going to PAY for an employee to train in another area at another school, and literally produce NOTHING in exchange. Ridiculous on SO many levels. In the end, I just threw my hands up and gave in (I suspect she would have paid me if I showed up or not). So - several days a week, I'd start the day in my corporate gear, go to "work" to piss fart around for a few hours, then at lunchtime drive to culinary school, change into chef whites, and be the person I so desperately wanted to be.

I led this insane life for a couple of months (just till the end of the 'project') and then went on to culinary school and a real chef job and so on - and life got a whole hell of a lot better.

Kitchens rarely have meetings, and when they do, it's generally fuelled by the promise of creating fabulous food, enjoying the buzz of teamwork, the adrenaline of service and, you know, actually ACHIEVING something.


This is why you need to back yourself once in a while.

Because sometimes there is just no other choice.

This Morning


For longer than one rotation (actually I think I got up to about 30 seconds worth)...and while I'm no expert yet I need WAY more practice yet)...I did it. I actually hula hooped. For real.

Yiippeeee! Roll on 2012! (literally. skating is next.)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

I Shall Wear Midnight*

Next week I'm turning 36. This means I'm on the other side of halfway in terms of getting to forty, and I know I said I wasn't going to use that expression any more...but..damn, I'm getting up there in years. I'm none too happy about this whole getting older thing, mostly because in my mind I'm still somewhere in my 20's. It can of course be argued that my 30's are WAY better than my 20's - if for nothing else than I've done heaps more living and experiencing, and I'm slimmer, fitter, smarter and cuter now (not to mention I can do WAY cooler stuff like blog and bake like a rock star)...but, still, I'm none too thrilled about it.

I can see the benefits of ageing (namely improving one's rock star skills), but...meh. Heading on to forty just seems so....forty, you know? Of course the irony here is that I have a number of friends who are forty and beyond and who totally rock that age. You know, the ones who wear kick-ass sparkly runners, the ones who spend more money on concert tickets in a month than I spend in a lifetime, the ones running marathons, the ones who own several pairs of Docs (with lots of eyelets) and so on. So it's not like 40 is the new dead or anything...it's just that I've still got that ridiculous teenage notion that anyone above, say, 30, is pretty much ancient. It's a bullshit notion, but then I never claimed to be clever all the time, did I?

Anyway so now that I'm on 'this side' of my thirties, I'm thinking I need to do something to somehow stop the ravages of time. I've decided that on my 2012 'to do' list, I'm going to put in a bunch of ridiculous (mostly physical) things which I never achieved in my childhood or young adulthood that I'd like to learn how to do now. I've got the added bonus of being more physically able, having my back in good condition (for now...ask me again once I've done this list) and also wanting to push myself physically a bit this year (because I clearly have nothing else to fill my time).

So far my list includes learning how to:

  • Hula Hoop
  • Inline skate
  • Roller skate
  • Ice skate
  • Ride a scooter
 I've rejected learning how to:
  • do a cartwheel (small matter of boobs, and inability to go upside-down)
  • go across monkey bars (too tall now)
  • ride a unicycle (yeah. no.)
  • wear a boob tube (I'm laughing as I type this. NOBODY over an A cup should attempt this at any time.)
  • Do a flip on a trampoline (no trampoline, ours died.)
  • Instigate a first date kiss or ask a boy out (I'm pretty sure DH might have something to say about that.)

So while I still have no word of the year (but I'm getting closer), I do have a bunch of ridiculous silly things I'd like to do to prove to myself that age is a number and NOT a state of mind or a barrier to silliness.

Suggestions welcome.

*Five bucks to anyone who can work out the reference.

Monday, December 12, 2011

A Giant Leap Forward

This afternoon the mobile phone on my desk rang, scaring the living shit out of me.

Given how wedded I am to my phone (I made a 5 tier cake for the commitment ceremony), you would think this occurrence would not be all that unusual. Except, of course, it wasn't MY phone which rang, it was the BUSINESS phone which rang.

It was a MONUMENTAL moment for me. Seriously - HUGE.

I know you all still don't get what the big deal is - so allow me to explain.  When the business became a business in the "now I don't do this in my home kitchen anymore" sort of way, I put my mobile phone number on all my business cards. That meant that every work-related phone call I ever got came to me personally. At odd hours, on odd days, and all the damn time - but, you know, I didn't mind so much. Calls meant business and business meant success, so it was okay. People started to assume that the business was still home based (and thus a bargain type company), and as part of my non-existant marketing strategy I decided to make the address of the company sound more official (Kitchen 4, XX Acme Street, as opposed to XX Acme Street.) Then I decided to get a 1300 number (free from any phone in Australia) rather than publish my mobile number. The 1300 number needed a 'landing' number though ...which of course was just my mobile phone because I had no other option. So although I suddenly LOOKED a bit less small time, I was pretty much still small time.

And then came the day when I was not so small time anymore. I had an honest-to-goodness shop, and facebook followers, and crazy stuff like business plans and social media strategies and....most painful but useful of all....a budget and a cash flow chart thingie-whatsit. You know, I could no longer pretend that having the money in the bank to pay the rent was just sheer good luck.

In all this time, the business number has always 'landed' at my personal number. Which means I spend my time sneaking out of movies to answer queries about cake, I half-assed watch my son play basketball because I'm answering queries about cake, and I sit on the toilet and answer queries about cake.

Yes, I really do. Get over it.

Anyway - as part of my overall plans for myself personally and the business, AND as part of that whole slowing down thing, I finally decided it was time to separate the siamese twins which are my personal phone number and my work phone number. The surgery was long and painful (bloody Dr Optus!) and it took several days of rest and recovery as I waited for it all to take effect...but this afternoon, the BUSINESS phone rang. NOT *my* phone. I even picked it up and very tentatively said, "Um, helll-ooo?" because I was convinced it was some wierd prank. Nope. She had, you guessed it, a query about cake.

I finished up talking to her and called DH to squeal to him about the success of the surgery and I asked him to call me back on the 1300 number to check it worked. He TRIED to call back several times...but the damn thing kept ringing and ringing and so I  missed his calls. Too busy answering queries about cake - which is how it should be.  Sheesh. He's my husband. He should know to only call me on my personal phone! ;)

Then of course I changed my personal voicemail to make it, you know, PERSONAL.  I then got DH to call me again to make sure THAT worked and it really did work!  Because apparently among other things, DH is a phone line and voicemail tester of the highest calibre.

This does not mean that I won't be the person resposible for answering the business phone a vast majority of the time. I will. It's just that now, if I don't WANT to take the phone into the toilet with me, I don't HAVE to. I can sit on the toilet and facebook on my personal phone instead, which I am told is exactly what freedom feels like.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Still Me

I was thinking about this blog the other day - thinking about how much it has changed over the years. I seem to recall that at one point I was pretty funny. At many points I was sarcastic, some points I was earnest (oh you all need to go and bake for other people right this very second!) and at all points I was honest.

The me who has been writing this blog over the last ....2 years?....isn't the me who started it. A whole lot of things have happened since then. When I started this blog, I was still in pastry school, was morbidly obese and the trio were only toddlers. Now I'm the Boss Lady of a cake company, am living with 3 pre-teens and a dog, am minus a parent, minus some weight, and basically a whole different person (visually AND mentally. But I still have insane, will-not-sit-still hair.) In thinking about this blog, I realised that I kinda miss the blogger of old - who talked shit about Helicopter Mum, who wrote funny posts about things like Australian food, and who didn't take life nearly as serious as I have been in recent time.

I fear I have become boring.

Boring is just about the most offensive adjective one can use to describe me, so my thinking that I am boring is in and of itself something akin to a crisis.

I'm pretty sure the very essence of me has not changed - I'm still acid-tongued, still saracastic, still surprised by stupidity, still curse exactly enough, still am funny on occassion, and still think other people's kids suck. It is remarkable to me that I can be all of those things and yet still be blogging like a grown up - and all these posts of late have positively reeked with eau de grownup.

I'm not entirely sure how I feel about this. Evolution as a person and therefore as a blogger is exactly what I expected would happen...but somehow the lighter moments in this blog have disappeared as a result. I have no idea why this is. Other irritating people still inhabit the earth. My children are still as imperfect as they need to be to seem normal. My ass is still too big. In some ways not much has changed.

I have no witty ending to this post as it's really just a verbal diarrhea of my thoughts on the page...but if you are a blogger, has YOUR blog changed? For the better? Worse? Not at all? Share with me.

Yes, It Gets Worse

If you are reading this without reading the post below on "How to End Your Marriage" - stop right now. You NEED to read the first part before reading this part. Trust me.

So when we last left the stupidest husband on earth, he was totally fucking over his wife's birthday party. Determined to rescue something of this event, I pressed on with the cake planning. Not surprisingly, this did not go well.  He had grand ideas for all sorts of stuff ... but when I pointed out the limitations (you cannot put a 3D grand piano on top of a cupcake tower unless it's a very small piano) he got a little irriated with me. "You're not working with me, emzee!" - never mind the sheets and sheets of design options I've got there, it's just because I can't make what he wants (small matter of gravity, my friend) that he's not all that impressed. I can deal with this - part of my job is telling people what IS possible.

Yeah. That assumes clients with SOME concept of reality. We were not getting very far and believe me, I was really trying to rescue this thing. (Woman to woman, she NEEDED me to make at least one thing decent.)

Finally I say, well, you said she likes matching stuff - so maybe next week when the invite comes out, email it to me and I'll come up with some design options which coordinate. "No, I really just think we should go with what I like."

Wait. Tell me again whose party this is you are ruining?

Anyway we eventually agree (and by agree, I mean I gently force him into the one idea which is not ugly, impossible, or going to cost him thousands) on a design. Then he decides he wants a figurine of her on the cake - so I need details, right? Hard to make a figurine look like someone unless you have some idea as to their appearance.

He tells me she has brown hair, kinda wavy, and sorta long-ish.

He tells me she has no favourite clothes or colours, and spends all her days in track suit pants and moccossins so we should put her in those (remember? The baby. I forgive her, but not him. I am NOT making a figurine with track suit and moccossins. It's her birthday for cripes sake.)

He tells me that he does not care what the figurine looks like, because ANYWAY it's HER birthday and people will know it's meant to be her.

At this point, I decide this woman needs SOME shred of dignity left in her party-that-wasn't so I ask to see a picture of her for reference purposes.

I'm very glad I did that.

She's BLOND. With straight hair. And a bob which goes just to her chin.

I saw more than one photo so I know it wasn't a one-off.

I EVEN saw a photo of her holding said baby as a newborn, and let me tell you, she is as blond and straight haired as it is possible to be. She's also wearing nice clothes, has jewellery on, and basically looks like somoene who does not deserve to be married to Moron Of The Year.


Eventually - and at this point, I've aged rather a few years - we get to the end of the consult, and I tell him the price. It's something like $380 (or an odd number in any case.)

"Well," he says, "I like it, but I'd like it MUCH more if there was just a zero next to that 3."

"Well," I say, "I like you, but I'd like you MUCH more if you were not as dumb as two short planks, but we do not always get what we want, do we?"

(Okay. I didn't say it. I wanted to, but I didn't. I just explained that we charge what we do because we are worth it.)

He then proceeds to make the cupcake tower smaller by more than 20% because, "It's not like anyone will notice if not everyone gets one, right? I mean nobody eats cupcakes, do they? No big deal if there are like 20 people who don't have one, whatever, they'll miss out." Me, I'm thinking 20 out of 50 people not getting a bit of the only dessert...will look bad, but hey, what do I know of these things?

OH FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, am I *that* shit of a person that the Universe feels the need to send me clients like these?!

Oh wait. Without them, I wouldn't have two fabulously ridiculous blog posts!

Universe, bring on the stupids!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

How To End Your Marriage

This week I had a client whose marriage is not going to last very long. The entire story of this client actually falls into the, "If it did not happen to be I would not have believed it" category.  The first part is so insane, I'm going to split this across two blog posts so I do not give anyone a heart attack.

This client came to an appointment with me to discuss his wife's surprise 30th birthday party cake. For the rest of this blog post, I'd like you to remember that he told me it's a surprise party, okay? So we sit down and I started to gather all the details about the event - number of guests, location of the party, if the cake is a stand-alone dessert, and so on. He knew the number of guests, and the date. He did not know the name or address of the venue, nor what the food would be, and he was even a little vague about the timing of it all.

The hairs on the back of my pastry chef neck are already standing on edge. How does one plan an entire surprise party but know so little about it? I mentally shrug (hey, who knows?) and carry on with the consultation.

We start talking about the design, and I ask all sorts of questions to get an idea about the sort of cake which might wow his wife - it IS a surprise after all, and he IS spending a bunch of money, so we might as well DO this thing, right?  Apparently she has no hobbies, no interests, no favourite colours, food, or music but she does like everything to be very "matchy matchy."  Well, I say, what does the invitation look like? Can we colour match the cake to the invite?

No, he says. She has not made the invitations yet.

Wait. WHAT?

(*mental backflips* He DID say SURPRISE party, right?)

I'm sorta thinking this is all a little...odd...but against my better judgement I carry on. It becomes clear (hell, he says as much) that she organised the entire thing. Booked the venue, picked the menu, decided on who her 50 guests would be, organised the room decoration, is making the invitations, and so on.

I can't help it. I HAVE to say something, right? So I casually say, "Sounds like it's going to be a great party but I thought you said it was a surprise? Is just the CAKE the surpise?" (Entirely within the realm of possibility, right?)

"Oh NO," says soon-to-be-divorced client, "It's a surprise PARTY." "So," I say, "If she organised it all, I don't quite understand what the surprise part is?" (as I try to maintain my you-are-a-fuckwit thoughts to myself.)

"Oh," he says..."The surprise is that I called the venue and I changed the time of the party, so instead of being at night, it's in the morning, at BREAKFAST time."

At this point, I did not even pretend. I just lifted my jaw right up off the floor.

He went on to explain, "Yeah, so she's sending out invites next week with the right location but the wrong time, and I've emailed everyone already to explain that it's a surprise breakfast, not dinner. It's great. She's booked it all and got it organised, which is why I don't know much about it."

And, Mr Stupid, how do you plan on getting her there on the morning?

"Oh, well, I'm going to tell her we need to drop something off there, like a CD or balloons or something, and when we get there, everyone will be there."

Divorce. For sure. Because I don't know this woman, but she IS female. So I'm guessing that on the day of her 30th Birthday Bash, she's planning on going to the hairdresser, has bought a damn hot outfit and heels, will get a spray tan, and in general willl spend her day preening so she feels and looks great in front of the fifty people coming to her party.

Instead she's going to walk in there, probably dressed in trackies and moccosins (more on why I know that later), looking like shit. Did I mention she has a 9 month old baby? We all know how fabulous mothers of new babies look in the morning, right?

I should offer him a 10% discount on divorce cakes, because no self respecting woman would stay with a man stupid enough to think this was a good idea.

Part Two: Yes, It Gets Worse.


Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Other Side of Halfway

Several times a week I go to the gym, and it's a circuit gym which means you do some cardio warm up, then two circuits of mixed cardio/weights, then some more cardio, then stretching.  The two circuits are formed around a rectangular shape - meaning lots of stations along two long walls, then the shorter walls have only 1 station. In my warped mind, I think of the long walls as "half circuits" meaning that once I've done one end of one circuit, I consider myself 1/4 done. Then it's 1/2 done at the end of one full circle, then 3/4 done at the end of one circuit and a half, and so on. In my head I'm mentally working out how much further I've got to go - and it's not for the reasons you might think.

I've been a gym junkie most of my adult life, and as amazing as it might seem for a fat chick, I actually really enjoy exercising. I like that for that single hour of every day, nobody is demanding my attention. I can't hear my phone ring, I can't hear my email inbox ping, nobody wants me to do anything for them, and for that hour I think about NOTHING (except for counting circuits.) I'm not counting circuits because I hate exercise and can't wait for it to be over, I count circuits because I am totally a horizon person AND I'm the sort of person who gets a fabulous high off of achieving things. Meaning I am *always* looking forward to the next thing, or reaching the finish line, or ticking something off a list, or making another list. I'm forever looking at the sunset in front of me and almost never looking at the sunrise that was behind me.

I don't recommend this as a lifestyle choice, because it means that I never truly appreciate how far I've come, how much history there is behind things, and I'm spending so much time living in the tomorrow that I rarely if ever appreciate the journey it took to GET to right now.

Back to my gym sessions - so all the way through the first circuit, I'm thinking, "Woo hoo, I'm nearly at halfway!" and then, because I'm OCD like that, I'll count how many more stations there are until I get to halfway. Then once I've finished a whole circuit and started another one, I think to myself, "YEAH! I'm ON THE OTHER SIDE of halfway!" meaning that I am now on the downward slope to the finish line.

That expression - 'the other side of halfway' is one that I use A LOT (in my head). It applies to long drives, lists of cakes which need finishing, lists of anything at all, biscuits which need cutting out, emails which need replying to, counting sleeps waiting for something wonderful to happen, counting hours until meeting friends, whatever. I spend my entire life wanting to be on the other side of halfway, because once you are on the other side of halfway, NOTHING can stop you. You're on the downward slope to victory and that, my friends, is what it's all about for me. The horizon. The victory. The end point. FINISHING on the other side of halfway.

In short, it's not at all about the journey and ALL about the finish, and then it's about starting the next thing so you can finish that as well. Start, do, fnish, repeat.

Yesterday I had lunch with a friend I've not seen in a really long time.  She is, by all accounts, one of the most wonderful people I have ever had the good fortune to be friends with. The thing about her is, she is living an ordinary life - in a totally EXTRAordinary way.  She has faith, she has wisdom, she has knowledge, she has belief, she has temperance and she has patience. Like every other person, I am sure she has her moments when all of those traits abandon her entirely, but on the whole I've never meet anyone as centred as she is. I left that lunch feeling very thoughtful about the things she had to say and the experiences she shared with me. I truly believe that encounter will have a ripple effect on the rest of my life...and not surprisingly, it already has.

One of the comments she made was, "None of us truly understand how we are just mere moments away from random tragedy," to which I replied, "Yes, but we are also mere moments away from random joy," - because I am if nothing else an optimist. She agreed with me and told me that other people don't really understand just how MUCH joy she derives from a really lovely cup of tea, the sound of a kookaburra outside her window, finding the right fabric for a project, and so on.

Here is someone whose life has given her many challenges - and yet she still finds the time, and the mind space within, to do nothing but truly enjoy the little things. I'm guessing she has never used the expression "other side of halfway" because to her, it's now which is important. She has experienced how life can change unexpectedly and in a split second - and those experiences make her truly appreciate all she has and all she has done until now.

You all know that I have been struggling with this idea of not racing forward, not running constantly, and just BEING - I've been blogging about it rather a lot lately. Many of my friends (and now the neuro guy too) have been giving me the "slow down" message...and I've listened, but I'll be honest in saying I've not done a damn thing about it. I'd be lying if I said having lunch with my friend suddenly made me realise what I need to do in order to lead this calmer, slower life...but it is the absolute truth to say I believe that conversation was a turning point for me. So much of what she had to say -even in just the telling of her life stories - made me sit up and think...and think...and think.

This morning I went to the gym as per usual. I decided before I got there that I wasn't going to count the circuits, and I wasn't going to count the stations either - I'd just go along and let my mind wander as I made my way through the workout. I did catch myself doing it once or twice (Rome wasn't built in a day, blah blah)...but for the most part I took my own advice and just exercised. Nothing else.

I ended up staying at the gym 15 minutes longer than usual, worked far harder than usual, and then spent a couple of minutes in the car just feeling sweaty and rather pleased with myself. Not for a moment did I think about the day ahead, that I was probably now running late, or that there were calls to return and emails to write.

It's not much, it's really not. But it's a start...and the other side of halfway for this skill is probably a VERY long way off in the distance somewhere. I would tell you HOW far, but I don't know since right now all I am doing is looking at my feet and the road only one or two steps ahead. I've spent long enough looking at the horizon. Time to experience a different view.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Nerds on Vacation

Way back in March I planted the seed in my family's head that we all needed to go on some sort of Australian driving adventure. At the time I assumed it would be some sort of epic trip - miles and miles and miles of dry desert wasteland passing by the windows as we all slowly went insane inside the car. As I mention in that post, while I was initially keen on the idea I very quickly decided the idea was truly bonkers and I secretly hoped they all might forget about it and instead surprise me with 7 nights at a luxury resort in Thailand.

But then I do suffer from foot-in-mouth disease, don't I?

When DH said he could take 2 weeks off of work this summer, I stupidly piped up with, "Oooh, maybe we should resurrect the road trip idea!" Moron. Why do I not read and remember these blog posts? Anyway as you can imagine DH took to this idea like white on rice, and in the past few weeks he has bombarded me with spreadsheets. Spreadsheets which track our costs, the dates we are going to be places, the various activities we might or might not do in our various stops, and so on. This holiday has been sponsored by Excel. (Actually. No. By Open Office Calc. We're an open source/Linux kind of family.)

Adventure travellers? Yes. Happy to play things by ear? Yes. Willing to push boundaries, get our of comfort zones, etc etc? Also yes. Big fat nerds who plan vacations via spreadsheets? OH HELL YES.

So this is how I find myself spending two weeks driving all the way through the states of Victoria and New South Wales over the Christmas period. Documented purpose of the trip? To see the Harry Potter Exhibition at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney.

Did I mention we are an entire family of nerd travellers?

Did I mention the spreadsheet has stuff like Questacon, the Jenolan Caves, the Mint, Parliament House, and myriad other nerd-centric activities on it?

I have of course already planned the trip to Costco to stock up on various dry goods (and the world's largest bag of gummy snakes, which are necessary for long car rides). I've got my own spreadsheet for packing purposes. I've thought about which books on CD I want to get from the library, I've already worked out how to tether my mobile phone and laptop so I can literally blog from the open road, and I've also worked out the best way to recharge my phone batteries. I've even downloaded some travel and map apps. Oh, and I've also purchased the "I wish I did not need it but my sanity needs to not end up in tatters" emergency double screen, double headset portable DVD player and worked out how I'm going to connect a third headset to it (USB port.) Plus we've worked out what public transport in Sydney is going to cost, how long it will take to get from our flat to the Manly Ferry...you get the idea. The only thing I have yet to work out is how to afford this crazy idea - not so much food and lodging but all the fun stuff we want to do (it's almost $1000 for all of us to climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge, but it's on my "MUST DO" list...so...Universe, work this one out for me please!).

In short, the emzee family are headed off on the road trip of a ...lifetime? Maybe not, but certainly we plan on making memories, which is the entire point of this exercise (that and the whole Harry Potter thing.) That the kids will fight, that I will crack it once in a while, that we will likely consume too many calories, spend too much money, and in general go a little mental on this trip? All likely. That we'll eat a lot of lolly snakes, laugh a lot, take loads of pictures, and finally, FINALLY get to spend some time as a family, away from the madness of our jobs, our home, school and our daily chaos? ABSOLUTELY. How do I know this? It's on line D45 of the Holiday Activities Spreadhseet.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

This Won't Hurt A Bit

I have a particularly thin skin, so when people say, "Don't take it personally," I cringe. To me, it's ALL personal, and it's never so true as it is in my business dealings (which ironically is where it should be the LEAST true.)

This week I called a client to chase up a late return on a cake stand - and in exchange got an earful of criticism.

Long story short - we made her a (really lovely) cupcake tower and top cake - which she specifically asked to be made in pastels and not bright colours. I even underlined 'pastel' on the order form twice, because our inherent style is much more skewer towards 'brighter is better.' At first her complaint was that the colours were not bright enough in the dark restaurant, "I said I did not want baby colours!" Then it was that the cake itself, while it tasted lovely and everyone loved it, was "boring." While I was on the phone with her, I took out the order form just to check - nope, we'd had done everything according to her instructions, down to what colours needed to be what shades and what it looked like.

Apparently the day went off without a hitch and "everything was perfect except for the cake", which she was "really disappointed in." We all thought it was lovely enough that we took more than the usual amount of photos of it, and commented quite a bit about how sweet and girly it looked...but she wasn't happy, and my job is to make her happy. So I sympathised and thanked her for her feedback. ALL feedback is useful to me so I was sincere in my appreciation.

She was not happy with my reaction, so decided to up her aggravation to ME. Personally. So all of a sudden I was "extremely rude" to her at the consultation, I walked back into the kitchen right in the middle of our consult, I didn't give her enough time to make her decision, I pressured her into making colour choices, I didn't ask for enough reference material on the colour she wanted, I had something against her because she brought a child with her. She thought if she owned a business, she would want to know if she was being rude to people so felt the need to tell me about it (and so on and so forth.)

Ultimately it doesn't matter that her comments are untrue - and I could spend this blog telling you all how I give my clients WAY MORE time than most cake makers do, that I watched her kid destroy my shop (and gave him a lollipop, and invited him to our kids' play area and so on). Blah blah, she was unhappy, for whatever reasons, most of which I am sure have nothing at all to do with me or her cake and cupcakes.

I could handle her hating her cake. I could not handle her telling me off for giving her good service, because I know in my very heart of hearts that the entire CRUX of my business is the service. My employees have been known to shake their heads and say, "Whoah, you gave that lady WAY more time than I would have, and you are WAY nicer than I would have been," and clients often comment about how I (and my employees) go ABOVE AND BEYOND where we need to in order to secure their happiness. So the comments about the service I gave her - those hurt like hell, because I knew they were undeserved and yet it made me miserable to think I had an unhappy client. I was grumpy about it for an entire day and a half.

It's utter BULLSHIT that I let her take control over that much time in my already full life.

It makes me think about how often we forget the good stuff and dwell on the crap stuff. I have kajillions of happy clients, but it's the ONE who is unhappy which sticks RIGHT in my craw. I've lost a billion kilos (at least) but it's the two I've gained in the last 6 weeks which irritate the shit out of me. My kids are all around awesome, but it's their one moment of losing it in public which makes me feel like a shit parent. I give as much as I can to friends but it's the one time I can't help them immediately which makes me believe I'm a shit friend. You get the idea. What a terrible character flaw us humans have, to dismiss lots and lots of positive achievements and attributes when faced with only a SINGLE painful comment or experience. We are so wrapped up in that single negative moment that all the positive ones before it pale into non-existance.

I've got to see that client again tomorrow, when she comes to return the stand. I'll smile and be polite and will sincerely think to myself, "I really hope that the WORST problem you ever have to face as a parent is that the pink in your christening cupcakes wasn't pink enough for you," and then I'll think, "Stupid bitch!"...and I'll feel better, and go back to making squillions of people happy. Because although the next client who is unhappy will also make comments which will hurt, all of it is lessons learned and a skin which will grow ever thicker, so that eventually, I'll be able to take on criticism and it won't hurt quite so much.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

NaBloPoMo is No Mo'

Today is the last day of NaBloPoMo, and again I find myself feeling enormously pleased with myself for having made it through the month without too many "cheater posts" (a cheater post being one where I said nothing interesting, or just posted a link or whatever). And as per the last several years I've done this, I finish with the intention of continuing on because I like the intellectual pressure of having to come up with something to say on a daily basis, I like the therapeutic nature of blogging, and frankly I find it all just a bit of fun (and an ego stroke that there are people who give a shit about what I have to say.) Each year I promise myself that this year, I'll keep blogging daily. This year, I'll set myself a 365 posts challenge. This year, I'll bring back the weekly activities I used to have (namely baking recipes you are meant to go and share with other people.) This year, I'll be a better blogger. This year, I'll edit every post (for grammar, spelling AND content) before hitting the publish button.

I'm not going to say ANY of that this year - because the year is about progress, and I've learned that sometimes progress is knowing when to say no, or knowing when to just say, "What I'm doing is good enough for now," or just plain old, "Fuck it." So in the spirit of progress, this year I'm going to say I'd *like* to blog a bit more often (and to a higher quality), but if I don't always get to it...well, that's okay too. I did not start this blog with the intention of being on the scale of the Mommy Bloggers who quit their day jobs to write full time. I never thought I'd have any readers beyond my husband and my in-laws, never thought I would use this as anything other than a chronicle of life as a wife, mother, lover of all things sugary and baked, and person for whom sarcasm is a way of life. Of course, it's been ALL of that - and far, far more - but there is some itty bitty teeny tiny part of me that wishes it was all that and then all that PLUS all that and then all that again. The only way to achieve ALL THAT would be to blog more often - because writing is a skill like any other, and it requires practice and perseverance in order to improve at it.

Not surprisingly, being insanely competitive with oneself does not only apply to exercise or business or weight loss. Like everything else in my life, blogging is something I expect to excel at - actually, I work DAMN HARD at excelling at. Good enough...isn't good enough. Ever.


As I mentioned earlier, in the new year (word yet to be determined, although some of the suggestions have got my brain ticking over) I'd really like to be more about what I AM doing rather than the endless beating myself up over the "coulda shoulda woulda wanta needta. RIGHT NOW." So - let me leave you with only this promise: I'll do my best to write more often, and continue to be mostly witty and soul-baringly honest. Sometimes, I'll be boring. Sometimes there will be long gaps between posts. Sometimes I will fail and sometimes I will succeed ...but always I will be grateful to the 6 of you who keep reading, and I'll keep on writing for the six of you and the one of me because we all seem to enjoy it.

And that, as they say, is that.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Those Crazy Kids

I found out about a project which pairs up local businesses with students doing their degrees in IT at about the same time I needed some IT work done.  The basic idea is that the kids involved get some real life experience, and the business gets an inexpensive (eg free other than time) product which hopefully they can get some use out of. They are very careful at the start of the partnership to let you know that NOTHING may come of it at all, that these are after all students, and that it's not a matter of getting free labour as much as it is a potentially beneficial activity. There are no guarantees that you'll end up with anything at all but of course the hope is that you will.

On Monday morning I went to my group's final presentation of the system they designed for the business. They designed a cloud based customer database (or if we're fancy, CRM system- Customer Relationship Management system), which among other things can keep track of our clients and their orders and payments, produce a bunch of reports, auto-send a bunch of reminder emails (to various templates), generate invoices, track income, and a bunch of other pretty cool features. The final presentation was just fabulous - my band of merry nerds had gotten all dressed up (as had I), they gave a really great presentation and everyone was suitably impressed with them. So they should be, those kids worked incredibly hard and produced a great piece of work which I believe I'll be able to get a lot of use out of. It's not entirely done - it's about 90% there - but I've hired these same kids to finish the job for me, so I will get it working for us probably by the end of the year.

So here's the thing I found most amazing - literally every time I had a meeting with these kids and their supervisors, and today at the presentation, a bunch of people THANKED ME for being an outstanding client. It actually got kinda embarrassing there for a few minutes with all the gushing and photo taking and carrying on. Literally, the kids themselves, their teachers, a bunch of local Council representatives, and other academics kept telling me what an amazing client I am, how seriously I took it all, how much the kids appreciated my professionalism, and so on. So either I'm really that fabulous, or they've had pretty bad client experiences before, or maybe both of those...but the part which really bothers me is, SURELY these kids *deserved* to be treated with kindness, respect and professionalism. OF COURSE they did. OF COURSE. That anyone - and anyone in small business - would think or behave otherwise is just, to me, appalling.

From the minute I started this project, I basically treated it no differently to any other business relationship where I need a product or service and another company is providing it to me. That I was dealing with a group of pizza-eating, Coke-swilling, messy jeans and t-shirt wearing young men made NO difference to me at all. For their part, my group was professional, organised, pleasant ...and unless I knew I was dealing with 19 year olds, I'd have assumed I was dealing with adults working for a normal, professional consulting firm. In a word, they were totally awesome and worked damn hard for me (added bonus, they practically orgasmed every time I walked into a meeting with a box of cupcakes for them.)

That they needed to thank me so much for simply behaving like a grown up...well, that just proves that maturity clearly is not related to age or experience.

Monday, November 28, 2011

That Dance Show

This past weekend was DD2's dance recital. I'd like to carry on about how horribly cruel it is to make parents sit through 3.5 hours of dancing, but The Neighbour's Wife took care of that one for me. Instead I'm going to ask the question: Is the 3.5 hours about what the kids want, or what the parents demand?

My daughter was in 8 different dance pieces - and there were *46* pieces all up in this one concert. Yes, she does 3 sorts of dance (ballet, jazz, tap)...but I've got to be honest with you, I would have been quite happy to have seen her in only 3 pieces and that's it. DD2 told me that some girls were in as many as 13 dances. Let's digest that for a second here - we're asking a 10 year old kid to perform in THIRTEEN dance pieces. Ridiculous! Who is it that wants to see so many, and who is it that is demanding so many in the first place? I adore my DD and I'm proud of her achievements, but for me her dancing is much more about fitness, confidence and fun than it is about some overblown performance at the end of the year.  I simply don't understand the logic behind this - which again makes me ask, is this about the KID or is this about the PARENT? My own kid, who feels that dancing is a vital part of her very survival, was herself pretty stressed out about all those costume changes and how much she had to remember. She too was asking why she needed to do SO many of them, and unfortunately I had no (reasonable, without curse words) answer for her.

I imagine the owner of the dance school feels the pressure to give parents what they pay for, and at something like $1500 a year (I'm including shoes, etc in that), and ferrying your kid to class twice a week for weeks on end...you're going to want to have something to show for it. I understand that. I also understand that the owner is trying to keep stage mothers happy by showing off Little Ballerina A LOT...but 3.5 hours of ANYTHING involving children is just ridiculous. Yes, I want my child to perform, but NO I don't need it to be the dance equivalent of War & Peace.

At the end of the performance, the owner gave out some awards - and by some, I mean TOO DAMN MANY. Literally I think it was 40 of them (out of about 100 kids. You do the math,) and a bunch of them were for 'encouragement' and (my personal fave) 'enthusiasm.' I understand she wants to honour these kids and their achievements...but I'm not sure how honourable it is to say that, "this award is being given to the child who has not only been blessed with a dancer's body, but also has the enthusiasm and potential to go really far in her dance career." Fabulous, I think girls don't get enough negative body images, let's now give AWARDS for it as well.  I also do not understand how valuable it is for either the parent or the child to realise that they're exactly as enthusiastic as the 30 other kids who got the same award. Aren't awards meant to be about exceptional achievement? How exceptional is it to be enthusiastic about doing something you really like anyway? She also managed to say pretty much the exact same spiel for each kid...so again, exactly WHAT is so special about these awards that so many of them were necessary?

If you're wondering if I am bitter about DD2 not winning anything, let me assure you I could give a shit if she won, just so long as she is getting the fitness, confidence, and fun which is all I ever really wanted for her in the first place.* Much more importantly, SHE could give a shit (actually, she said she was kinda glad she did not win, since winners have to do a solo and she doesn't want "yet another dance to remember!").  I don't understand the need to make these children perform so many pieces (for whose benefit?) and I don't understand why we need to give a 3 year old an enthusiasm award (again? for whose benefit?).

My Mom made an interesting observation- that the owner gave out the jillion awards and then immediately reminded everyone that 2012 re-enrolment forms are due. What parent still in post-award glow would deny their kid re-enrolment? I'm not nearly as cynical as she is...but she's got a point, doesn't she? When your kid runs up to you clutching their plastic gold statuette says and eyes all shining says, "Oh please Mum, can I come again? Can I? Can I? Can I?" I'll bet that re-enrolment form gets burned from the speed of the pen filling it out.

For what it's worth, I'll keep on keeping on - meaning as long as DD2 is happy dancing, I'm happy supporting her. I've just come to realise that dance concerts are a little like childbirth, in the months between giving birth and getting pregnant, we somehow forget the pain and suffering bit.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

It's That Time of Year

Last year I crapped on (sorry, 'waxed lyrical') about choosing my Word of the Year. I ended up choosing the word - progress - and swear on a stack of cupcakes, I actually USED my word of the year all year long. There were several weeks when I forgot about it entirely, but there were several weeks when I used it every day (mostly to motivate my ass to the gym or for a morning shufflin' session). Seeing as how I am - or more accurately, have become less of - a sceptic about all things woo-woo and "Universe" and "affirmation," it wasn't so easy to come to the WOTY party. But, I believe that when you play at someone else's house, you play by their rules so I ended up embracing this whole woo-woo Universe affirmation word thing really well (because over achievement does not only apply to tangible things). You know, it's been a pretty amazing, progress-fuelled sort of year for me and mine. A year ago, DH was not (yet) working, the whole lease on the shop thing had blown up in my face, my kids were utter pains in the proverbial, we were in hock about a squillion dollars, and everything was just...shitty.

This year, the year of progress - DH is working (and volunteering, and getting fitter, and looking hotter than ever before, which is pretty fantastic for a nerdy bespectacled love-handled engineer), the kids have loved their new school, the shop and the business have come along in leaps and bounds, and while we are still in hock a squillion dollars, on the whole me and my family are much happier, content people. We have ALL made an enormous amount of progress this year. I'm in no way saying that all this has come about  just because I chose to make my focus "progress," I'm simply saying that the combined forces of intent, hard work, determination, perseverance, the restorative powers of sugar and doonah-therapy and the support and love of an entire crowd of people has made this one of the best years my family has ever had.

The coming year is STILL going to be about progress, as all the foundations laid this year will continue to reap further reward and benefit - but I need  new word to reflect what I've got planned for the coming year. My plans for 2012 include (but in no way are limited to), a reasonable amount of travel for purely adventure purposes, some increased demands on my own fitness goals (I'm SO going to give that Zumba thing a try, and I'd like to learn to roller skate), increased success for the business which enables me to continue along my 5 year business plan, some goals for DH and I as a couple (just between you and me, I'd like to hang out with him NOT while in front of Top Gear or Dr Who), and some other things involving the children, our home, and some other bits-and-pieces stuff. With all that I intent to do, but being mindful of the words of the neuro guy (and all the friends who seem to agree with his advice), my word of the year needs to be something which reflects my desire to continue to move forward but perhaps not at such breakneck speed.

I'm struggling with this - is there any sort of word which means 'kick life's ass' and 'slow the fuck down' all in the one word?

I'm thinking maybe "gratification" - because one of my problems is that I FORGET to just stop and ENJOY all the things I work so hard for, but then that seems a little...selfish? Self satisfying?  I've rejected: Gratitude (because I practice that every day anyway), Achievement (well, duh...), Serenity (too boring), Measured (again, boring!)...and a couple others but so far nothing is fitting right.

Suggestions welcome - and feel free to share if you 2011 word worked for you, and if you've thought about one for 2012. Come and join me on the woo-woo band wagon. It's fun here.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Slowing Down

Stuff I did today, in no particular order:

  • Apply stage make up to DD2 for her ballet concert,
  • Watch DS play basketball (who knew my kid could hustle so well down that court?),
  • Clean up yet another flood at the shop, this time somewhere totally different to the other two floods I cleaned up this week,
  • Drove well over a hundred kilometres,
  • Made lunch for my family,
  • Apply DD2's stage make up again (for concert two),
  • Answered work emails,
  • Answered work calls,
  • Will sort out some sort of dinner for all and sundry (but I probably won't cook it),
  • Put on three loads of laundry,
  • Did several bits of washing up and putting away,
  • Sorted out some mail,
  • Delivered 4 orders,
  • Folded two loads of laundry,
  • ...and probably some other stuff I have yet to do (it's only 2:30pm as I write this.)

Somehow I think this whole "slowing down" thing might be just *wee* bit harder to do than I thought.

Friday, November 25, 2011

This Time

My words escape me only because I've had a really fabulous, happy day but one which left me no time for blogging. Rest assured my words will come back tomorrow, but in the meantime I leave you with my favourite kids' joke:

Two muffins are baking in an oven. One muffin says to the other, 'Geez, getting kinda hot in here, isn't it?" The second muffin screams, "ARGH! A talking muffin!"

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Slow The Fuck Down, Would You?

My life runs at double speed. Heck, sometimes triple speed - I always seem to be on the go, I have a million (at least!) things which need my attention, I've always got the phone ringing and the email pinging, and basically my life is completely insane. I love it (most of the time) - because I like being busy and needed, and I like having things to do and people to see and all that. The old adage of, "if you want something done, ask a busy person," totally applies to me.  I fill as much stuff into my life as I can because I enjoy living each day to it's fullest, and lots of things are important to me. So I make the time for the gym, for work, for friends, for STUFF.

It sounds a little nuts, but I live my life as though my time will run out, as though I am in a race against a hourglass filled with sand. I not only LIKE to live my life as busy as I can, I also feel I NEED to. For reasons I can't exactly explain, I just feel like I need to GO GO GO all the damn time. If I don't succeed NOW, if I don't pay back the business debt NOW, if I don't do everything NOW....well, I don't even want to think about the consequences of that. Will anything happen if I don't achieve, do, be, go, have all those things right this very second? Probably not, but I don't plan on finding out, either.

Sometimes, living your life at maniacal pace gets (a lot) exhausting, and sometimes that exhaustion manifests itself in funny ways. For the last several months, I've been struggling with my words - I trip over them, mis-spell them, forget whole phrases, and in general feel as though the words in my brain do not match those which come out of my mouth. It's very disconcerting because I am such a word-oriented person. I read - no, I DEVOUR - several books a week. I read and write blogs, talk a lot, handwrite notes, and so on.  I just adore words...so to be losing them is horrifying to me. Strangely, NONE of my family or friends have noticed this peculiar thing happening. It finally got irritating enough that I went to the GP, who although she felt it was just stress-induced, sent me along for a neuro consult anyway.

Today was the consult - and although things seem to have settled down a bit, I thought it was worth going along anyway. The doctor and I had a good long chat, and he did a whole bunch of tests, both physical and cognitive, and we had another long chat about what is going on. The good news is, there is not a damn thing wrong with me. There is no mysterious organic brain disease, I'm not suffering early dementia, no signs of anything at all untoward. He did take all of it very seriously, but smiled when he said most patients who present with brain troubles generally do NOT engage in witty banter between the testing questions, nor do they stop to tell him why the questions are flawed in the first place and suggest ways to make them better. He was particularly amused with my answers to one of the questions - which was - in 60 seconds, name as many words as you can which start with the letter 'p.' Apparently most people do not come out with words like 'polycystic' 'perpendicular' 'positively' 'prehensile' and so on - but being the professional that he is, he carried on with ALL the testing even though it became pretty obvious there was nothing wrong with me.(...and for the animals one...apparently 'tree frog' 'rhinoceros' 'wallaby' 'seahorse' and 'sulphur crested cockatoo' are not common answers either. Go figure.)

We got to the end of the consult and he looked me in the eye and said, "Okay, well, I think we've established there are no brain issues here, but there is no doubt that you are being driven a little crazy by what is happening with your words. So here's my suggestion: SLOW YOUR LIFE DOWN."

"That's it?"

"Yes. That's it. MAKE the time to have quiet time every single day. Learn to meditate if you need to,  listen to relaxing music, swing in a hammock, whatever it takes to make you just STOP for an hour a day and just learn to BE."

"You make it sound simpler than it is."

"Actually, it IS simple. The human brain is only capable of making ONE decision at a time, no matter how much the current social norms would have you believe we are capable of more than that. It's yes or no, on or off, but it's only ever ONE of those at any given time. Remember that - you are only capable of making ONE decision at a time. ONE. I never, ever want to see you in my office again, so I'll say this again so you cannot ignore me: SLOW YOUR LIFE DOWN."


Bad News: I probably need to actually take his advice.
Good News: I'm the only patient he has ever had who managed to get more points on the damn test than it was actually worth.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Totally Shit Day

I had an extremely crappy day today - filled with lots of sad and yucky things like funerals, floods, migraine headaches, broken equipment, late deliveries, and a bunch of other crap. So I am not much in the mood for blogging today - and I'm sure you'll forgive me, won't you - but I did want to say this:

Everything today was kinda shitty. But I'm still counting my blessings, and I'm still grateful for so many things...that tomorrow, when I wake up, I just know things will be okay. And even if some of them are not...well, it's what keeps life interesting, isn't it?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Best Gift Ever (from DH)

I feel the need to rescue my poor DH's gift reputation by telling you all about the best gift he's given me - in terms of actual tangible gifts. The intangible ones are too numerous to blog about. (Awwww....)

I can't remember if I've blogged about this before, so forgive me if you've heard this story already.

Since I was old enough to do so, I've worn a gold chain around my neck. At various times it's had various things on it - but it always has a gold letter "M' which my Mom gave me, a small diamond and sapphire charm my Dad gave me, half of a 'best friend' heart my sister gave me (she has the other half), and at the moment there is a small opal DH gave me for my birthday several years ago, plus the item I'm going to tell you about in a minute. When I was pregnant, I hung my wedding rings on it because my fingers were so swollen, at times it's had charms from friends, and so on...it's a terribly useful piece of jewellery. I very rarely take this necklace off, and it's extremely important to me because it hangs right above my heart. I love that the people I love are symbolically close to my heart and so this chain pretty much is as much a part of me as my hair or my skin or anything else. Anybody who knows me in real life knows how much a part of me this necklace is.

The day the children were born, I lay in that hospital bed (feeling rather blech indeed) and DH handed me a tiny jewellery box. Inside of it was a small gold medal - basically a round disk. On one side it had engraved the words, "Citius, Altius, Fortius" and on the other, "17 May 2001."

Not surprisingly, I burst into tears, put it on my chain and it has not come off since.

Here's the backstory. DH and I went through the lovely process of IVF to have our children.  It was not the most pleasant experience (although compared to some, really not too bad either.) I struggled with the whole experience emotionally - I felt like a failure, resented that we needed it at all, and so on. Believing that knowledge is power, I attacked this experience like a project which needed me to whip it into shape. I researched, I read, I took notes, I asked questions, I demanded answers, I challenged the status quo on almost everything, I made phone calls, joined online forums and so on.  In short, I was the biggest pain in the arse patient my doctor(s) had ever encountered. I advocated not only for me and DH but also for the children we were yet to have, and I was determined as anything to be successful at this (but I did have a "no more treatment" cut off point in mind.) DH and I went through the main part of our treatment right in the middle of the Sydney Olympics, and pretty much that is all that was on TV, radio, news, etc. Olympic fever had taken over Australia in a big way. On one of my darker days, DH told me I needed to treat this experience like the Olympics - meaning that like an athlete, it may take us years and years and years of dedication, preparation, special treatments, etc...but in the end, making it to the Olympics (getting pregnant) and then maybe even winning (bringing home a child) would make the long haul to get there totally worth it.

The Olympic motto is "Citius, Altius, Fortius" - or "Faster, Higher, Stronger" and so we adopted this as our mantra. I'd whisper it to myself every time I had an injection, suck down a pill, or sniff something (nobody tells you about those nasty nasal sprays.) I'd repeat it in my head while going through yet another embarrassing and demoralising internal examination. I'd scribble it down while writing down the notes from the (endless) lectures we got from doctors. DH would squeeze my hand and  whisper it in my ear when he saw I was going to (yet again) burst into tears.   Basically I lived and breathed that expression and I hung onto it like a lifeline because if I just believed in it and stayed the course, we'd get through it, surely. Giving up was not an option for me. I'm no athlete but in this case, I was as prepared and organised for that race as any of them are.

Once we got pregnant, I hung onto the mantra still.  Every time I had a pre-natal check up - because triplets are high risk, and we still needed all that strength to make it through the pregnancy we both wanted so much. We really NEEDED those kids to be faster, higher, and stronger than most triplets are - because more often than not, higher order multiples are born prematurely, need hospital stays, and are in general in need of more care than your average baby. So I swallowed enormous amounts of vitamins, drank oceans of water, litres of milk for calcium, ingested as many calories (of the good variety!) I could possibly, and basically again treated this pregnancy like I was in training for an Olympic event. These babies were going to come out happy and healthy and well because I was going to work damn hard to make it so.

On May 17, 2001 - the most amazing miracle babies were born. All of them a very healthy weight for triplets, none of them needing very much special care, all of them then meeting their developmental milestones either on time or even a scrap early. By the time they were 6 months old all three of them had not only grown enough to be on those stupid baby growth charts, but were the right size or a bit over what would be expected for full term singleton children. In short, all that preparation was well worth it.

The best tangible gift I ever got from the love of my life was the gold medal he gave me on the day our children were brought into this world. It's a gold medal we both earned, but I get to wear above my heart every single day to remind me that together, we can do anything - and that almost everything in life worth doing takes patience, time, and perseverance. The gift of the gold medal was in fact about much, much more than just a piece of gold.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Art of Giving

Thanks to Marie's lovely comment, I thought I'd write about me as a gift giver...because it can't always be about receiving, nor should it be.

I'm not a huge gift giver - meaning that more often than not I totally forget about needing to give gifts at all. Not that I'm selfish or inconsiderate, more that I'm a social retard who never seems to know who is meant to get gifts and when. Luckily I am friends with The Neighbour's Wife, who not only reminds me of gift-appropriate events but also shops for me! I actually am a far more prolific gift giver when it's NOT an event - so I'll see a cute card and send it to a friend for no reason, will cut articles out of newspapers that I think are of interest and will send them on, will go out to dinner with a friend and offer to pay just for the heck of it. Or I'll be out and about somewhere and will find something - a book, some foodstuff, whatever - which will remind me of someone I love and I'll give it to them for no reason at all. I'll send flowers, send cupcakes, write "I'm thinking about you" emails and texts. I'm far more about the smaller, more often gifts than I am about the big showy once-a-year gift. I want my friends to know I am thinking of them and love them even when it's NOT their birthday. Many times the gift I give is just one of time and love - so I'll give a friend biz advice if she asks, will take time out of my chaotic life to have a chat to a friend on the phone, will put 500% more effort into a cake they've ordered from me, will go for early morning walks (on a Sunday) and so on. Sometimes it's not really the gift of 'stuff,' it's just the gift of time and love which is important.  In many ways my friends are my family, and I want to honour that by being a gift giver when no gift is really necessary.

That being said, when I *do* remember the big gift events, and I do take the time to think about it - I LOVE giving gifts and especially those which the recipient does not expect, and one which is totally tailored to them in every way I possibly can.  Perfect example of this was our recent wedding anniversary - DH and I are anniversary nerds and so therefore follow the "first year is paper, second is wood" etc Hallmark rules. We do have a "creative interpretation" rule, though - so for 'tin' he got a 30-can box of Pepsi Max.  Why? Because he is totally addicted to that stuff, in Australia cans are known as "tinnies" and they're made out of aluminium, which is the closest I could get to actual tin.  For 'paper' he got a paper bark tree and a note about how we, like the tree, would weather many storms and still be standing. You get the idea. (Although god help me next year, which is crystal.)

This year was ivory - and since I'm not into harming elephants, I had to get creative. You can actually buy mammoth ivory (which is okay, environmentally speaking) but again, I wasn't all too happy with that option. So DH got an enormous (and I mean huge), sculpture of an elephant (wearing shoes) which was made out of white chocolate.

Let me dissect this gift for you. First, white chocolate is not white, it's ivory in colour. Second, elephants produce ivory. Third, for a very long time now we've had an inside joke about elephant shoes. If you see someone across a crowded room and mouth the words 'elephant shoes' to them, it looks as though you are saying....wait a sec. Go find a mirror and try it. You'll see why it's our inside joke. :) Lastly, my DH's favourite treat is white chocolate, and this was the expensive European couveture sort so I was being especially nice.  So this gift was appropriate on a number of different yet very personal levels. Exactly the sort of gift I love to give.

If I'm going to get a gift for someone, it's going to be the end all and be all of gifts - not just the gift voucher you picked up at the department store (although they too have their place). I've given friends all sorts of crazy things - because to me, putting in the effort and love to make it truly personal is SO much more important than what you spent on it, or when they gave it to you. I absolutely ADORE giving someone something which they are not expecting, which comes at a time when they are not expecting, and which really and truly says, "I've been thinking about you, and you are a part of my heart."

As for gifts I've received which meant an enormous amount to me...well, there have been a lot of those. The earrings which belonged to my Mom, the ones I'd always admired - the ones which even now when I put them on I suddenly feel extremely grown up. The beautiful vase a friend brought into the shop right after I opened it - she knew it would look perfect, it was one of her own special collection and yet she chose to pass it onto me. The flowers my SIL brought me, also when I opened the shop. The paintings a friend gave DH and I for our wedding. The various people who have contributed small charms to the gold necklace I wear every day of my life. The personal time Biz Guy makes for me even though he is not one for friendships. The funny parcels which appear on my doorstep from The Good Doctor - parcels which he sends at random times with his family members so they look as though they have appeared out of thin air. The stuff my sister sends - the drawings her children have done, the pictures she has taken of them, the picture frames which she sends for me to put those pictures in. You get the idea. I suppose for me the giving of the small stuff is wonderful, and the things I get which I love are those which are sent with love.

Ultimately, gifts are wonderful to give and receive - we all like getting stuff, right? For me it's remembering that not all gifts are given wrapped with a bow that is the most important of all.

Sunday, November 20, 2011


This week I received a package of new business stickers from my graphic designer. In the package was the stickers, a really nice note from her...and a laminated card with a photo of some creepy old guy on one side. The other side had this circle thing with a bunch of other circles inside of it, with numbers and the star signs and symbols and other stuff on it.

I have NO IDEA why that was in there. No idea who the creepy guy was either, so I asked my resident Catholics (just in case it was some bishop? Deacon? Religious dude not of my flavour?) on there. One person looked at it and said, "Yeah, no freakin' idea who that dude is," and the second person said, "I'm pretty sure that's Nostradamus and some sort of calendar on the back."

Now I'm not terribly religious, nor superstitious...but why on earth was there a laminated creepy old guy in amongst my stickers?

I should totally have emailed the graphic designer to ask, but exactly how does one say that delicately?! Ummm, excuse me but I think you may have misplaced some quasi-religious dude inside of my label bag?

Anyway I stuck Nostradamus (or the artist formerly known as him, since we did not have a positive ID on this guy yet) on the shelf and tried to forget about him. I couldn't forget, of course...those damn eyes kept following me around the room. He really creeped me out! I couldn't just throw it out, isn't that messing with my juju? Or karma? Or...something? I just couldn't chuck it out all willy-nilly like that! It seemed somehow sacreligious, or tempting fate, or...something to throw out this guy. For all I know we could have thrown him out and he comes to life, or...something. All I know is, I was not happy about him being in my kitchen, and I had no sage with which to smudge the place once we got rid of him.

Anyway after several days of me freaking out about ol' Nostry (if that's even who he was) Brave Employee got exasperated with me and chucked his ass right into the bin.

No points for guessing who has had crappy days at work since.

Update: OMG I just Googled it and she was right! Here's the picture we got...and OMG his full name is Michel de Nostredame. Coincidence?!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Worst Gift EVER

Since it's "the most wonderful time of the year," the conversation on the radio (and subsequently at work) has been all about gift giving. In specific, the worst gift you've ever been given.

I've actually got two of these.

The first one was from my DH - who in addition to being the most fabulous man on earth, is also the worst gift giver on earth. He always radiates good intention but pretty much fails miserably. I'm not going to repeat the whole birthday cake saga, but suffice to say he is a shit gift giver (sorry my love. But this is not new news for you.)  Anyway, the first year we were married, he gave me the strangest gift for my birthday - an enormous A3 sized Ahskenazi Haggadah. (Translation for anyone who wants one: broadsheet sized religious book.) To this day, I've got no idea why he bought it. Sure, it was nice..but a) I'm not terribly religious and in fact hate Passover most of all the Jewish holidays, b) I don't find sitting at a dinner table reading a broadsheet sized book all that comfortable, and c) are you for real, DH? What the hell were you thinking?


Second worst (actually the WORST but chronologically after the Jewish Book That Ate Manhattan) was from DH's Uncle and Aunt. For my 27th birthday (I think? In my 20's in any case) they made a big song and dance about my gift. How they put a lot of thought into it, thought I'd enjoy it, how they really thought it was appropriate for me, how much use I'd get out of it, and so on and so forth. They presented me with said gift at the dinner table and encouraged me to open it in front of everyone, so with some excitement (new car? mortgage paid off? clothes voucher? vacation?!) I opened the gift.

It was a personal blood pressure device.

I totally thought they were kidding and so I started to laugh. It took a minute or two before DH leaned over to me and said, "Seriously, it's not a joke gift," when he realised before I did that nobody else was laughing. The Uncle and Aunt in question then went on to say that they really thought someone of my size (eg FAT!) needed to be aware of these things, should look after themselves, and how important they felt it was that I use this thing. I basically got a "You are fat and will die early," lecture at my birthday dinner in front of my family.

I've never been so humiliated in my life, not even the time I fell down during the big "Beauty School Dropout" number in high school and popped all my balloons on my costume as the curtain rose on Act Two. I literally wanted the world to swallow me up right then and there.

I did try to see if there was some OTHER gift hiding somewhere - maybe in the card - but there wasn't. That was it. A blood pressure monitor and a lecture. I know they were coming from a place of love and good intention...but it was just plain horrible. My brothers in law saved me, though, because they immediately wanted to grab it and give it a go and play with it. We soon discovered the damn thing was crap, because the same person could do a reading 3 times in a row and never get the same answer - one minute it would be wildly high, the next very low. Not enough they gave me a horrible gift but the damn thing was crappy quality as well.

I'd love to tell you all that I'm over this gift, but I'm not. I totally appreciate their concern for my health, but are they so socially inept that they had NO idea just how horrible that might make me feel? Needless to say, I generally refuse to open gifts in front of other people now.

In case you are wondering, I came home and chucked it in the back of the cupboard for a while...and eventually threw it out. Not because it's not useful, not because it's not a nice thought - but because no medical device needs to make me feel so horrible about myself.

...and for the record, should you ever be in the market for a gift for me, please may they not:

- be smelly. No soaps, no perfumes, no creams, nothing of the "stinky stuff" variety. I really hate that crap and on the effort scale it's a minus five.
- require either ironing or dusting. "Dustables" irritate me, and ironing is against my religion.
- imply in any way that I am fat or thin or anything in between, the size of my ass should not be reflected in my gift in any way
- have the word "medical device" anywhere on the packaging unless we are talking about a vibrator (oh yes, I went there...)
- ugly handbags are also out of the question and for the love of god:


Consider yourselves warned. Less than 6 shopping weeks to my birthday.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Brain Malfunction

I tried to write a blog post from my phone but the damn thing did not want to cooperate with me! It's now 11 minutes to midnight and I'm posting purely to make sure I don't miss a NaBloPoMo day...but I've got nothing to write about at this late hour.

Instead I'll post a quote I read today - you can't move on to the next chapter of your life if you're spending all of your time re-reading the last chapter. :)

Until tomorrow (where I will be more awake and infinitely more witty, I hope).

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Friends of Friends

So .... what happens when your friends (who you love and adore for so many reasons) have other close friends which you simply can't stand?

Do you...
- just be grateful you don't need to see those other friends much?
- say something? (not sure what the purpose of that might be....)
- suck it up and pretend to like your friend's friend? Even though you are very bad at pretending to like people, and they can probably see right through it?

....because here's what I'm wondering. I think the whole 'birds of a feather' thing is really true, in so far as we are attracted to certain personality traits and so all our friends have at least a few common threads. Assuming you like your friends for personality traits X,Y,Z...is it that you don't like their other friend(s) because those people are too much like you? Or do they like *different* personality traits in those people to the ones they like in you? Shouldn't it be a simple if you like them, you should probably also like their friends, because theoretically all of you share personality traits, which is what attracted the person in the middle to you and the person you don't like?

Enlighten me.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Once in a while, you get a fabulous NSV (non-scale victory) come along which just reminds you WHY it was so worth 'waking up' a few years ago and deciding to get your act together (from a weight and fitness POV anyway!).

This week at work we've got 50 gingerbread houses to make. 50 might not sound like much to you, but we are talking about 550 separate pieces which need to be rolled, cut, baked, and then assembled. This is without making the dough itself, decorating the houses, wrapping them, etc.  Physically, the dough making is pretty hard work but it's the rolling and cutting which is most demanding on one's body. It's heavy work, it's extremely demanding on your hands, arms, and chest muscles...and bloody hell, it's WAY more work than you think it is when you first embark on said experience. It's not just rolling, it's kneading all the bits back together again, lifting the trays back and forth all the time, and so in. In short, it's a pastry chef's idea of hell.

These houses are also fairly large, so there is the added bonus of only having 4 roof pieces fit on each tray, and if you're rolling the dough out - the MOST you can get out of one roll is 7 pieces (possibly only because I have long enough arms to roll it out that long...the average was more like 3-4 pieces per roll out.) We needed 100 roof pieces - which is one hell of a lot of kneading and rolling...and we're not using any machines for the rolling bit of it, so that's a HELL of a lot of physical labour right there. That's not counting front door, back door, side walls, tree pieces...

Anyway, it became clear early on that the person who was going to do a vast portion of this couldn't physically do it - she'd broken her wrist not that long ago, and she's not as tall as I am so bending over the bench and rolling that far was none too easy. Since I believe the buck stops with the boss, and I didn't want to place unreasonable physical demands on an employee like that, I took over the job and have spent something like 18 hours getting these pieces rolled and cut. By the end of the first day, I thought I would get home and my arms would ache, my chest would ache, my back would be throbbing, my feet, hips and legs would be in agony, and I'd be able to do nothing but lay on the bed and beg DH to end it all for me.

The NSV is that I'm now at the end of the rolling and baking...and NONE of that is true. My arms, chest, feet, etc all feel totally fine. I am tired (but it's mostly mentally) and my body can feel that it's had demands put on it...but basically, I'm fine. I don't feel like I am going to die. I don't feel like my arms and legs are made of lead. I don't feel shitty AT ALL. What...freedom (!) that is!

By the end of this week, when all the houses are done (and I've probably got RSI in my wrists from the damn piping!), and all the other orders are finished, and I've hosted dinner for 13 people on Friday night, and I've answered a bunch of work emails, and done a whole lot of Mum/Blogger/Business Owner stuff...I'll probably be pretty wiped out. But I will STILL BE STANDING and that, my readers, is the BIGGEST NSV of all.

68 kilos and 2-and-a-bit years ago, no way in hell would I have been even able to stand up after such a week...and no way in hell would I have been able to even contemplate taking over the rolling job in the first place. I would have given it a red hot go, but no way would I have been able to do it, in the time I've done it, without suffering a whole lot of physical and emotional consequences.

Please may I hang onto this feeling of victory for a good long time. NOT being exhausted feels pretty damn fantastic.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Things I Can't Do

  • rollerblade
  • roller skate
  • ride a scooter
  • jump rope
  • hula hoop
  • skip without looking like a complete idiot
  • go across monkey bars (not even when I was small.)
  • ski (have tried many times.)
  • knit (have tried many times.)
  • eat just one cashew nut
  • eat just one Pringle chip
  • suck up the last slurp of a Slurpee with a straw, I have to hold the cup up and knock the last bit out into my mouth.
  • not give my opinion on something
  • drink tea without sugar or fake sugar of some sort
  • go a day without myriad hugs and kisses - I'm a touchy feely person
  • tolerate people who are stupid, or slow at doing stuff, or both
  • wear sporty-style socks which are anything but white
  • put my shoes on while standing up (I fall over)
  • put my undies on while standing up  (I fall over)
  • cook without salt (no salt, no flavour - true for sweets as well)
  • run in any graceful or even vaguely natural looking sort of way
  • sing in tune, although I so sing with gusto and enthusiasm
  • give up sugar for longer than...about ten minutes
  • keep my mouth shut even when I know I should
  • wear yellow, it makes me look ill
  • drink alcohol (it makes me itch)
  • smoke cigarettes (it makes me throw up)
  • enjoy vanilla ice cream unless it's in an iced coffee, in which case it's only just bearable
  • cut a straight line with a knife. I blame this failing on having boobs which get in the way
  • use an umbrella. What is it with those things? I am literally incapable of using one and staying either dry or looking coordinated. Why is the damn stick in the middle and not to one side?

What are you incapable of doing?