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.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

I'm In The Wrong Business

Last night I sat through a two and a half hour seminar all about building your business. Actually, in truth, I can't really tell you what the official topic is because I have no idea. I signed up for it several weeks ago and totally forgot about it. Unhelpfully, in my diary I wrote "Biz Thingie, 6:45pm"...and for the record it started at 6:30, but whatever. Having sat through it, I still don't really know what it was all about - at a guess I'd say it was about what constitutes being a business owner, what things business owners should be focussing on to achieve success, and how to bring more customers to your business. Oh, and it was also about trying to sell me an expensive coaching program and an online marketing program.

Or at least ...I think that's what the guy said. I was kinda distracted by the the light of the projector shining in my eyes, and the man next to me who managed to get through (seriously!) four cups of tea and about a dozen cookies all in that one sitting. Where the heck does he put it?!
So I listened in mostly rapt attention and also took a lot of colourful notes with my fabulous four colour clicky pen (sidenote: I freakin' love those things!) On the table was a sheet of paper inviting us all to another seminar the next night. Being dazzled by the projector light and the cookie munching (that's my excuse, anyway), I filled in the form and thus set myself up for another hour of seminar sitting tonight.

(I got the time wrong again. I thought it was 6 but it was 6:30. I'm losing it, I really am.)

Tonight's one was all about guerilla marketing - which did you know is actually trademarked? As in, "We're not going to tell you to jump out of bushes to capture clients," but Capital G Capital M, "Here is our ultra-expensive marketing program which you can have for a BARGAIN because I've sucked you all into this room tonight!"

Truth be told I think I might have actually learned a few things from these two events. What I've learned (among other things) is that I was damn clever to agree to hire a business coach earlier this year (even though the cost made me take a sharp inwards breath at first). I'm actually slowly morphing into a business owner and not just a kick-ass cake maker, and my whole mindset is slowly shifting. Let's face it, a mere 3-4 months ago I never would have entertained the idea of going to one of these things, let alone 3 in the same week (there was a networking thingie on Monday too). Oh, don't worry - I might be the high-falutin', check-this-baby-out business owner in the next year or so...but there will be plenty of tears and carry on, and plenty of freak outs and tantrums along the way (after all, it makes good blogging).

So - as I said before I rudely interrupted myself - I think I actually walked away having learned a lot of lessons.

Biggest lesson of all? The money in this world is in telling people what to do and how to do it. The richest people of all are actually the teachers. Think about it. Personal trainers don't get rich - people who go on to make work out videos and books do. Chefs don't get rich - chefs who teach classes and write books and go on TV to teach others how to cook do. Authors don't get rich - until they go on the book tour and teach the lessons in their books to giant audiences. Burger flippers don't get rich - the ones who wrote the system on 'how to flip burgers' get rich. Teaching - the sharing, giving, taking and receiving of information - is how to make it big in this world. Knowledge is not power. Knowledge is MONEY.

...and so when I grow up, and sell this cake business for something like a majillion kajillion dollars (because now that I have all the marketing, business, and growth secrets in the whole world thanks to my seminar attendance, that's what it will be worth), I'm going to go out and become a business seminar lady. And make a majillion kajillion dollars all over again - by telling people what to do and how to do it. Because THAT'S the right business to be in.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Because I Just Don't Wanna

For as long as I can remember, I've always thought that it was my civic duty - humanity's civic duty, actually - to give back to the community in which they live. Not necessarily your immediate community but SOME community who needs assistance. Since money is nice but time was what I had more of, I'd often volunteer as many hours as I could to various organisations. As a teenager I was a staffer on a suicide prevention hotline. As a young adult I did a lot of work with AIDS Project LA. As a young mother I gave my time to the Australian Multiple Birth Association. As a slightly older mother I gave my time to my kids' school. There are a few other examples, but you get the idea. I'm a joiner. And a do-er.

For the past 9 months or so, I've not volunteered my time (in any significant way) to anyone at all other than me and my family. I lost heart in the parent's association of the kids' school because I'd lost heart in the school itself - so once I resigned from that I didn't pick up anything new. I also, at that time, felt that my resources were better spend on other endeavours - namely my business, my family, my health - and so volunteering took a bit of a back seat. I don't regret it, but I know in order to feel fully complete I'm going to have to find somewhere new to give some time. This idea - of finding a new voluntary project - has been simmering in the back of my brain for a while.

The easy answer would be to volunteer for the Parent's Association at SSOTH. There are about sixty five kabillion reasons for why that's a bad idea, and most of them start with words like "Prada" and "Gucci" and "Helicopter." So that's a definite NO WAY NO HOW.

However. (And with me, as we all know, there is always a "however.")

SSOTH has a kitchen garden which is a massive part of their curriculum, and as an off-shoot (gardening pun totally intended) of that, the Parent's Association is producing a coffee table style of cookbook. So the call went out today for all professional chefs, amateur chefs, photographers, stylists, blah blah blah food industry types interested in helping out on this committee to create the cookbook. OMG- volunteering my time to a project which involves food...and writing...and my environmental bent...and my kids...all rolled into one?! JACKPOT!

I know what you're thinking. Because, hell, I was thinking that, too.

I didn't do it. And I WON'T do it.

Looking around for something new to give some time to...looking for something which I'll enjoy...and I don't take up the opportunity which seems tailor made for me? WHAT THE HECK IS WRONG WITH YOU EMZEE?

I'll tell you what's wrong with this opportunity.

It makes rich people richer, and poor people poorer (coffee table books don't come cheap) and does nothing, really, to support anyone or move anything forward which isn't already doing a great job of it without my input. In short, I can't see how I would truly be helping much of anyone or anything by getting involved in this project. Not that the project does not have value, because it does..just that, for me, it would not quite be meeting my intended purposes in volunteering in the first place. And not that I'm so special I make a huge difference in the organisations I volunteer for (because I'm just a cog in a bigger wheel)...but..really? Exactly what in the world would improve by my doing this?

Not to mention it would involve probably jillions of meetings.

I FUCKING HATE MEETINGS. I'm pretty sure my hatred of meetings is why I went to culinary school in the first place. NO meetings! Coming from a career in higher education, which is ALL ABOUT THE DAMN MEETINGS, I had good reason to want a change. I have no desire to ever sit in any committee meeting of any kind ever again for as long as I shall live. And I especially do not want to sit in a committee meeting with the collective women and men of Prada and Gucci.

So I'm not going to do it - even though an argument (several, actually) can be made for why I should be.

I'm not going to make a big deal out of it, though (okay, one blog post doesn't count as a big deal does it?)...but if someone approaches me about it (which may happen, my career is not a secret among the upper eschelons of SSOTH's Parent's Committee) I promise to resist the urge to screw up my nose, stamp my foot, and whine, "BUT I DON'T WANNA!!!" (Even though that pretty much sums up how I feel about it.)

Selfish bitch? Maybe. Selfish bitch with her sanity intact? Definitely.

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Key That Radiates Potential

Today I got the key to my new shopfront.

Let's just digest that for a second, shall we?

I got the KEY OF POTENTIAL. In my hand. It belongs to ME.

I picked up the key from the estate agent's office, and did what every other self-respecting, hard working, entrepreneurial female would do on such a momentous occasion: I broke into enormous, heaving, hysterical, slightly insane sounding sobs and cried pretty much the entire way to the key shop to get copies made.

These were not sad tears - they were happy ones - but with that happiness came an entire raft of emotions. Sadness because my Dad would never step foot (at least not literally) through the door of my little empire. Excitement about all the adventures which await me. Fear about the ridiculous amount of money this little venture is costing. Relief at the decision having been finally made officially official. Pressure about the need to now be as successful as I've been talking about being. Hysteria about the realisation that this is ACTUALLY happening. To me. For real. Pride - in myself and in my conviction that I can make this work. It was an entire A to Z of emotions, right there in my tiny little car.

Honestly, it was like they handed me that key and POP! went the little cork inside the valve of pressure which has been building up inside of me for the past several months. Hiiissssssss went all the emotionally charged air as it burst through that little hole, and OH DEAR GOD went the me who was sitting in that car, attempting to drive while fogging up my sunglasses with buckets of tears.

Yes, it's idiotic to drive and cry. Who says I was behaving rationally? So I had a moment. Forgive me. This progress has been a very long time coming.

I have to say that one of the BIGGEST emotions I felt was just plain old relief. I'm relieved that I STILL feel as though I can succeed or I can fail, but either way I will have done something which is totally and utterly GRAND on so many levels. I thought I'd get the key and just feel the crushing weight of the need to NOT fail, and instead all I felt was (along with all those other things) one big fat wave of hope.

I plan on riding that wave for a while, even though I don't look so hot in bathers.

On the way back from picking up the kids this afternoon, I took them on a field trip to the new shop. I wanted to see if the Key of Potential worked, and wanted to show off to my kiddos as they've not been inside yet. It didn't start well - "Mum, I think we've got to get rid of the graffiti. And the cobwebs." (They're right, we do.)

But then my trio burst through that door and took their time exploring the big fat empty gaping hole which is my future kitchen and showroom. They insisted on seeing every corner (of which there are only a few.) I had the wrestle with the back door (note to self: fix that, too) so they could see what was in the backyard. DS insisted that I 'walk out' where everything was for him. "So your office will be where? And where are you going to put the giant fridge?" DD1 was more interested in the design details, "Will there be a sign out the front? A big one? With the Three Sweeties name on it?" and DD2, (she of the thimble-sized bladder) just wanted to try out the toilet and declare it usable (note to self: buy some TP.)

It was a glorious, glorious moment for me and for them.

It's still terrifying and exciting and a bit bittersweet and blah blah blah...but you know what?


And that, my friends, makes all the tears totally worth it.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Inappropriately Icky

This week I had to make a cake which made me feel a bit icky, and I don't need to tell you that feeling icky is not generally one of the emotions I associate with cake decorating.

Some months ago a couple approached me about making a wedding cake for them - but they wanted something a bit off the wall, a bit different, a bit...inappropriate. Because the word "inappropriate" was actually the theme for their wedding. With my new-found "why the hell not" attitude to life in general, I figured I'd give it a good ol' college try. What the heck, I quite like doing out of the ordinary cakes - and they sounded (over email and the phone) like nice people with a great sense of humour. So I started the design process for them and we organised to meet - but by the time that meeting happened, both they and I were committed to the relationship.

Meeting them was...an experience. Unfortunately I'm a nice person, and so I could not divorce them even though I wanted to. Badly.

When I met them, they were (still) pretty nice. We brainstormed various ideas, came up with some new concepts...basically it seemed to be going pretty well. Until they started to get more and more outrageous with their commentary. What at first seemed sort of funny and irreverent and just that itty-bitty risque...became rude, and mean, and even a bit cruel, and a whole lot racist and horrid. But like I said, by then we were already committed (financially as well.)

I should have fired these people as my clients, but I didn't.

In the end we went with a design they were very happy with and I was sort of "meh" about - because while it's not horrible, it's really not all that nice, either. Funny? Yeah, kinda. Inappropriate for a wedding? Absolutely. A little..just...icky feeling inducing? Yeah, that too. Now at this point if I'd just made the cake and never saw them again, it would be okay, right?

Except...then they sent me a text. A really nasty one. Not nasty to *me*, but nasty in so far as it said a bunch of horribly racist and rude things, and it was clearly a text they had sent to all the contacts in their phone. And then they emailed me a couple of times and asked some ridiculous questions (eg "Do you think we should have [insert gross thing] at our wedding?") These otherwise seemingly nice people just... deteriorated into attention-seeking nitwits.

So I made their cake - and exacted the only, and best revenge I could - which was to make it as technically perfect as I possibly could, given the subject matter and my overall feeling of discomfort about it all. There are, of course, plenty of lessons to be learned here - about being true to myself, trusting my instincts, learning how to fire a client, and so on and so forth - but perhaps the biggest lesson of all is this - NOTHING you do in the course of your work should make you feel icky. Not even for one single solitary second. Or at least not in the, "I really shouldn't be doing this!" sort of icky.

Cake made, lesson learned...and heaven help these people's children when they procreate. (Which, by the way, they intend to do immediately. I know because they told me about it in extremely intimate detail.) (and now YOU feel icky, don't you?)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Driving 'Round Australia

Driving 'round Australia, just Mum and Dad and the kids...
Driving 'round Australia, I wouldn't trade it for quids...
It's such a beautiful country, so many things to see...
Driving 'round Australia..sounds pretty good to me!
(from a kids' CD we have in our car)
(the singer is clearly a masochist)

The shit part about being an ex-pat is that you feel as though every single holiday you take needs to be back to your Mother Country. The shit part about being an ex-pat specifically in Australia is that no matter what your Mother Country is, it's a damn long plane ride to get back there, AND you can be assured that the cost of returning is about the same as the budgets of some small European countries. It occurred to me this week that we've not had a family holiday in literally YEARS. In fact the last one we took was blogged about here. (OMG would you LOOK at how small my kids are? And how long DD1's hair is? OMG.) Anyway so that was 5 years ago - and since then, we've been on a few holidays but almost all of them have been Stateside. Those that have been within Australia have either been to the beach an hour away, or with other families, or with my Mom.

Not that I don't love my American family, because I do. Not that I don't love my Mom holidaying with us, because I like that, too. But you know what? I really, really, really just want to spend some time in the company of my immediate family -- without a plane ride over 5 hours, without anyone else around, and without having to do much of anything but smother my children and DH with love and affection and possibly good food. I just desperately need to be surrounded by their warmth and love and be allowed to truly vegetate for a while.

At dinner recently I floated this idea of a family holiday with just the five of us. Just so you know, we're still broke and in debt, I'm still opening the shop, bits of my house are broken and falling down and life at the moment has no money or space for holidays. So if this does eventuate, it'll be in a year's time...but, you know, a girl needs something to hold onto in times of chaos - so we're planning early.

I have to say that the kids' responses to possible holiday ideas were AMAZING. DD1 wants to go on a caravan trip up through the Northern Territory and entire Top End (can't blame her, I've BTDT and it's truly life changing.) DS wants to take the ferry to Tasmania and drive around there for a while. DD2 doesn't give a stuff where we go as long as it does not involve planes of any kind (poor kid averages about 3 spews per flight, and yes, we've tried the damn Sea Bands *and* Dramamine!). DH didn't really have much of an opinion except to say that he liked my idea, which was to do some sort of train trip within Australia - travel on The Ghan or something equally decadent. The kids also liked the train idea (although my budget, which is zero, did not. But that's why we need a year to get organised.)

My original idea was to go to the Gold Coast and go mental on theme parks - and I floated that idea expecting everyone to love it. They did love it...but then went back to planning long driving holidays. I know! Let's start in Perth and drive home, stopping at Coober Pedy! I know! Let's start in Sydney and drive to Far North Queensland and stopping when we run out of road. I know! Let's start in Darwin and drive home via Adelaide. Hell, let's just follow Highway One ALL THE WAY AROUND the damn country.

Good Lord. Are they serious? I know! Let's just shoot ourselves now and get it over with, and save some money on petrol.

My heart attack started somewhere around the point of DS looking at the (miles and miles) of bookshelves in our play area and saying, "Wow, packing up all of THAT to bring with us is going to be a bit of an effort." (My kids are freaks of nature who love to read in cars and can do so without spewing. Me? Not so much. I get sick reading the street markers on a GPS.)

Visions of myself sitting on the beach with a good book and an enormous Slurpee faded into visions of myself turning around in my seat, wrenching my back, and screaming, "Would the three of you *please* stop fighting and sit your asses down and shut the hell up?" while dodging the book that sails past my head.

I think we're actually going to NEED this whole year to negotiate..sorry, PLAN..our holiday. Heaven help me.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

In My Thirties

The year I turned thirty, I had a massive freak out. Firstly because the teenage emzee could not even *imagine* being as ancient as a thirty year old, and secondly because I was worried that being 30 meant that I had to be a grown up all of a sudden. I was going to lose the very convenient excuse of being "in her 20's" and this was kinda worrying, because heaven knows at that point I felt as though I did a bunch of things which weren't all that adult or mature.

The crazy thing is, by the time I was 30 I had three kids (all aged 5), I had started (unknowingly) my business, I had worked at two careers, I finished or was in the process of finishing several degrees, and I had already been married for 8.5 years. And yet somehow all of this did not really seem to equate with being grown up. I didn't say it made any logical sense, did I? Somewhere in my heart I felt I hadn't grown up yet...but at the same time I seemed to have forgotten to have any fun, either.

I'm not sure why I think my twenties were all that free-wheeling anyway, especially considering what a bloody boring life I'd had up until then. I never snuck out of the house. Never drank (allergic). Never smoked (once, it made me hurl violently on the side of the road). Never did obscene things with boys (well, not really obscene anyway). I always did what my parents wanted me to do (except pursue a medical career.) I hardly left the damn house! So much so that my Mom sat me down and told me to get some friends because I couldn't just hang out with my parents forever (although I'm willing to bet she'd give almost anything for me to hang out with her now). I didn't party, go to clubs, get arrested, do anything illegal, kiss strangers...frankly, I did a whole lot of NOTHING AT ALL through most of my young adult life. I got good grades, went to school, volunteered for various organisations...and stayed home a lot. And then I got married, had kids, went to school, worked, volunteered...and stayed home a lot.

Damn boring, that.

Then I got to thirty, and I thought....wait a second! I just spent 29 years being gloriously boring and uninteresting and risk-averse and sitting on the sidelines. Who the hell says I STILL need to be all those things? Who says that life cannot BEGIN at thirty? And so, buoyed by my false sense of bravado, I started doing things which, to me, were risky. Dance lessons. Bikram yoga classes. Going out with my friends on Saturday nights - without my husband - and not feeling one single iota of guilt about it. Going out in the middle of the week. Flirting with anyone and everyone who was flirt worthy, and even some who weren't. Trying the odd illegal substance. Eating strange foods. Visiting strange places. Drinking (okay, not that one. Still allergic. Damn.) I started writing just for fun and even for profit. Seeing movies which were not rom-coms. Reading books which were not chick lit. Sitting right up in the middle of the front row. Volunteering for things. Standing up for things I believed in. Feeling sexy and loved up and kissing DH passionately in the aisles of my local supermarket, not giving a shit who may or may not be watching. Having sex on the school oval. Going to the gym just for fun. Eating ice cream for dinner. Leaving the house to go out anytime after 9pm. Leaning how to text and how to blog and then doing both with raw honesty.

Basically, I got to thirty and just decided that it was high time I EMBRACED this mad crazy life.

Before you all look at that list and laugh at my pathetic attempts at the wild life, you need to remember a few things about me. Firstly, that while on the outside I exude confidence and Type A personality...on the inside, not so much. Secondly, we all know how I feel about social situations. Awkward. Thirdly, even with all these fun things I decided to embrace, at the core of it I was still a shy conservative. So most of not all of these things required a leap (or sometimes just a small hop, or sometimes even a giant run-up) of faith on my part. So to you, learning to Bollywood dance might seem like a really small thing, not risky at all. Me? I was doing it when I weighed my heaviest, in the company of Jewel (coolest woman on the planet), in a suburb on the other side of town, at a time when my lack of coordination had reached epic levels. And still, for months and months and months - I shook my hips and wiggled my head and laughed my gorgeous and enormous Bollywood ass off.

So now I've gotten to thirty-five and a bit...and while there is no way I would say that I am living an uninhibited life, I will say that I've spent the last five years having a pretty good time of it. I intend on spending the next five doing the exact same thing, by which time maybe I'll have loosened up just that little bit more. And the five after that? Well, who knows. But for now, I'm in my thirties and I've woken up to the fact that life is for the living, not for the hiding.

Now. What are YOU all going to do which shoves you out of your comfort zone?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Survivor: The Camping Edition

DH looking proudly on at his efforts. Tiny tent for me and him, big tent for trio. Please notice the sheer amount of random crap strewn about the place.

Late on Sunday afternoon, I had a minor tantrum about this whole camping business. My lounge room was chock full of mystery bags filled with mystery sticks and mystery rolls of material, and I was NOT HAPPY about any of it. I could not believe the sheer amount of crap we needed to load up just for the pleasure of sleeping on hard grass, in a suburb twenty minutes away. To put this into perspective for you, we drive a station wagon ...and the ENTIRE back was chock full of stuff. So much so that when you dared open the back door, random crap would rain down on you.

DH, in a moment of humour, pointed out that if we were going for a week rather than just overnight, it would be the same amount of crap we'd have to lug with us. This is why I don't do camping. It's not a vacation, it's an endurance test.

So we trundle out to SSOTH - kids in high spirits, me looking forward to getting some topics for blogging - and prepared ourselves for 24 hours of....experience. The good news is, we managed to arrive and get ourselves set up with no problems at all. Mostly DH and DS did all the hard work, while the DDs ran around like crazy people, and I attempted to help but really just got in the way a lot. It was a gorgeous, sunny Melbourne Sunday. Hot enough that icy poles were in order (although, this being Australia, icy poles are *always* in order). It was really stinking hot, but we were all determined to have a great time even though none of us cope well in the heat. Once we got all set up (Oh! So THAT'S what those sticks are for!) DD1 and I decided to check out some of the activities and headed for the painting tent.

On the way there, DD1 looks at me and says, "Oh, that's funny, I thought I felt a droplet of water land on my head." Looking up, there was not a cloud in the sky, so we both shrugged and kept going. We were in the painting tent for about 20 seconds when KABOOM! - the sky opened up and the heavens pissed down on us. Not normal rain - the kind of rain which looks like a wall of water. DD1 was happy, I was happy - but we were trapped in that damn tent looking out at the people who were either enjoying the downpour (the kids playing soccer) or not enjoying it (the parents rushing to batten down the hatches.) That ant song played in my head for a while..."The ants go marching two by two, hurrah, hurrah..." as we watched what seemed like hundreds of little tiny Jews all running for cover.

I'm pretty sure this was god playing a biblical joke on all us Jews out there in the middle of that school oval...because it was funny as hell watching all the people secure their weather covers, realise they forgot to peg down their tents and run to keep their temporary homes from blowing away, and sadly come to understand that the tent which has been in storage for the last ten years is in fact no longer weather proof.

I'm not going to lie. It was really fucking funny to watch.

The rain did eventually ease up a bit - but basically it rained for all of the rest of that day and most of that night, varying from "...and thar she blows!" to just a light sprinkle. Apparently a couple of families literally upped sticks and went home. Some families - and I love these people - decided to abandon their tents right where they were and just go home for the night, only to return in the morning to retrieve their tents. The guy across from us was one of those people. The poor chap spent hours putting his tent up - because the string on the sticks broke and so he had to MacGyver them together with sticky tape - and then ended up going home about an hour later. When he got back the next day, he said, "Well, it's not like home was all that far away anyway!" and vowed to try again next year. The organisers did their best to make a bad situation bearable, so most of the activities and events moved indoors and we all just coped as best we could. As I pointed out to one woman, "You know, at least it makes a good story!"

Then there were the people who hired tents but the tents were not delivered with sticks at all. Then the guy whose first tent had a massive hole in it (a problem only when it storms...oh wait...it did storm) and whose second tent (that he ran out to buy once the storm started) also ripped to shreds when he tried to unzip the doorway.

Truly, all the rain and madness just added to the excitement and craziness of it all. Yes, a bunch of the planned stuff just didn't go ahead, and yes, I'm pretty sure drowned rat was not the look I was going for, and yes, my DD2 has a big fat whinge about it...but damn, it was funny. Of course DH and I's reaction to this was to a) laugh and then b) head to the nearest supermarket for supplies of umbrellas, magazines, and junk food and then come back to camp, properly set up for the experience. Later that night I volunteered to help cook dinner - and let me tell you, it's actually quite fun bbq'ing several hundred chicken skewers in a see-through t-shirt while your hair drips water onto the hot plate. Sidenote - it was me and 4 other men doing the bbq'ing duties, and every one of those men was not happy about me encroaching on the boys' club. No, I don't need help. No, I don't need you to relieve me of my duties because it's hard work. Yes, I know how to check when chicken is cooked through. No, I wouldn't rather be in the kitchen with the other women making salads. No, I don't need you to relieve me of my duties because it's wet out here. No, I don't know why a woman would volunteer for bbq duties either, except maybe because she's both capable of it and enjoys it. Yes, I appreciate that the bbq is the only place in your house where you have any control at all and therefore you want that control here, too. Yes, you have a big penis because you can cook over hot coals. (Okay maybe that last one wasn't said. But the one before it certainly was, and not by me!)

The whole thing was just one big long freakin' hilarious event and I truly loved every single moment of it (except possibly the amount of dragging and carrying and work which was involved in setting up a place to sleep. Me, I prefer check-in/keys/lay on bed.)

I will say this, though - the next day dawned bright and mostly dry and we finished the event on a high note. I didn't Zumba (but did seriously consider it), and I didn't swim (because it was a kids thing), but I did wake up at 7am mostly refreshed and feeling pretty happy about life. Of course, my hips might never be the same (damn, grass is HARD). I did wake up and proceed to lay in my two-man tent, snuggled into the arms of my DH, eat Pringles for breakfast and read Who Weekly magazine and think, right in that moment, life could not possibly get any better.

...but if you think my ass would actually attempt this somewhere further than 20 minutes away, in a place with actual bugs and dirt, with no working toilets...well, no. Because holidays are meant to be about relaxation, not survival.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Camping for Rich Bitches

It's all fun and games until someone gets a hair out of place.

This weekend is the SSOTH's major event for the year - a camp out on the school's oval. Yes, that's right- more than three hundred Jews (for whom camping is actually against their religion) are going to go and hang out - together - on one enormous, perfectly groomed patch of grass for about as long as it takes for someone to break a nail (or 18 hours.)

This event is not free, by the way - you need to pay about as much as one might pay for a night in the Honeymoon Suite at the Park Hyatt to attend... but it's not even one-sixteenth of the fun as that might be. Because I'm pretty sure that if DH and I have the kind of knock down, drag out, scream the room down type of sex in that tent which we'd be having at the Park Hyatt, my kids would get kinda embarrassed about it.

In preparation for the Great Exodus - in which all these Jew families leave their McMansions, chriophractically correct mattresses and Mercedes behind for one night of hell on earth - I decided to read the event manifesto...sorry, the program of events...to see exactly what it is that I am in for.

Good Lord.

First, it's a THREE PAGE document. Really. Just to tell us how to sleep on grass.

Second, there was a whole email with explanations (to which the document was attached), with pertient news like, "Just to dispel the rumours, the movie being shown is not E.T. and is not animated." Yeah, like I gave a shit in the first place? Wait...there are people who are so devoid a life they need to generate rumours about this in the first place?

Good Lord.

Here are some other gems from the Camping With Jews Manifesto:

- There is a "Camp out Shop" which will be selling snacks and drinks and other crap. Just so you know, it's a fully catered event and it goes for less than 24 hours. Clearly, ss Jews take food really seriously and therefore have to have an on tap food supply such as the shop. Personally I'm hoping it's the kind of shop where you go and ask for the "chocolate bar" and with a wink and a nudge you actually get an ounce of pot. But that's just me.

- Each family has a designated area in which to pitch their tent - because really, the opportunity for bitch cliques was far too high to allow the possible riots which would ensue. I'm thinking Lord of the Flies but with hairspray and Prada sunglasses.

- They are expecting me to Zumba with skinny manicured women at 8am. Um, that would be a NO.

- They are then expecting me to SWIM with said skinny manicured women at 10am. What pat of "not on your fucking life!" is not clear? On second thought, maybe this is meant to be a kids activity? Either way my ass is going nowhere near water at any time during this event.

- There are a bunch of other activities designed to push me right the hell out of my comfort zone. African Drumming Workshops. Soccer games. Dinners. Monlight Cinema. Mini Olympics (AKA watch the fat Mum fall on her ass while the Alpha Males try to prove how big a penis they have by winning the potato sack race). And...the event which strikes fear in the heart of every socially awkward and uncoordinated person such as myself - the "Mystery Activity" which starts at 9:30pm. Which I'm pretty sure is the same time as I am meant to be having sex with DH in the tent, so- sorry! Can't be there. Y'all have fun without me, 'kay?

...and just in case you thought this event was about having fun, here is the official list of rules (not in any way altered by me.) (For real.)

  • No smoking anywhere on school premises
  • No fires
  • This is an alcohol-free event
  • Please leave the campsite clean. All rubbish to be put in bins provided
  • Parents are responsible for their own children at all times
  • No wandering around the school – please stay within the campsite ground
  • When walking with hot drinks, always use a lid
  • Children are not allowed near the hot urns
  • The most important rule is YOU MUST HAVE FUN!
Responsible for my own children? Can't let them play with boiling water? Need to have a lid on my vodka cocktail? Can't escape to snog someone in the woods? Really?

It's going to be one seriously fucking long night.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


I pretty much knew that when we decided to send the kids to the Shmancy School on the Hill (SSOTH), we would be among the poorest people there. I also knew that when it comes to money, I'm totally judgemental of those who have it. I also knew that my chances of being friendly with the "haves" was going to be slim to none - because as a "have not" I can't keep up with the Cohens and nor do I want to.

Occasionally, however, it's just unavoidable that I'll run into one of these people and will have no choice but to deal with them. A couple of months ago Mum at ballet approached me and said, "Oh, I didn't know DD2 was going to go to SSOTH next year! In fact I didn't even know she was Jewish!" Oh, sorry - did I forget to stitch the yellow star to her leotard? This same Mum was then lucky enough to be the Helicopter Mum I discussed earlier. So she was already on 2 strikes with me, and it was only a matter of time before she headed for three. It didn't take long.

This week SSOTH celebrated the Jewish holiday of Purim (think of it as the Heeb version of Halloween.) Each class had a colour theme, and for DD1 it was black. Apparently while we were away, a parent organised for all the girls in the class to dress as black cats...but nobody bothered to contact me about it. Since we've been back, being a black cat is pretty much all DD1 has talked about - and I checked with her MANY times to be sure that the parent in charge knew she was part of the group.

The event was this past Monday. The Friday previous at about 3pm I got a voice mail from the two strikes Mum, letting me know there was a "miscommunication" about the costumes. Hmmm. I called her back...and in the course of this conversation I heard that she didn't know how to contact me while we were away (it's called email, bitch!) and she wasn't sure if DD1 wanted to participate (it's called a phone, bitch!) and that she didn't have an extra costume for her (it's called bad planning, bitch!).

She went on to tell me that the costumes (and by costume we are talking ears, a tail, and a necklace thingie which she made herself) were *very* expensive, purchased from two different shops (both in high streets, uuuff coouurrrssee) and that there were none left for me to go and buy even if I wanted to. Great. You totally fuck my kid over and then call me to gloat about it? Nice move, that. Apparently out of the goodness of her heart she managed to make my DD one of these infamous necklaces, but didn't bother to send it to school with the other costumes since she still did not know if DD1 was part of the group or not. So then we entered into negotiation about how to get said necklace to me (not hard, our kids are in ballet together, right?) (It's called being a decent human being, bitch!).

Then she has the balls to ask me WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO ABOUT THIS, EMZEE? I'm pretty sure she asked me that no less than a half dozen times. "It's FRIDAY at 4pm! Where on earth will you find a costume for her by MONDAY? It took me *weeks* or searching and getting it organised and you will *never* find something for her. What are you going to do?"

I don't fucking know, bitch, but I'm pretty sure I'm not going to be friends with YOU any time soon.

And no, I don't know why I did not just hang up the phone in her plastic surgeried face right then and there. I just answered back a half dozen times, "I have no idea what I'll do, but I'll figure it out." (But it's FRIDAY AT 4pm emzee!!) (No shit, I know you left it to the last minute just to piss me off. Can we hang up now?)

So I did what any other mother would do. I wandered into a local craft store, found my kid black ears, tail, nose and bowtie, and paid a whopping $3.5o for it. My kid looked totally and utterly cute and loved every second of her costume, meowing all over the house and feeling entirely fabulous.

And since I know you want to know... the infamous necklace made it to ballet by some miracle. It was a piece of black elastic onto which she had threaded a piece of shit tiny bell and a little heart onto which she had texta'd my kids' name. Good thing she worked out how to SPELL DD's name, because that would have been the final straw. It was a pathetic piece of costume crap, let me tell you.

Since I can't end this post without a "and then what" conclusion, I tucked DD1 into bed on Monday night and asked how it all went. "Well," she said, "Mum, all the other girls' cat costumes were different to mine. But I didn't mind, it just means I have my own special style."

...and that's exactly why my kids will ALWAYS kick your rich kids' little perfumed ass, bitch.

The People You Meet In Real Life

It's been a crazy couple of days for me. In the last 4 days I've managed to meet 3 people who I previously only knew via the internet or text or other non-physical forms of communication. I've blogged about this notion before - of how well you know someone if you've not met them in person, and how potentially it could turn all awkward and weird.

So let me tell you about the people you meet in real life, who you have already met in every way other than physically.

Person One was a reader of this blog and now a facebook friend - who was exactly like I thought she would be (actually, a bit better.)

Person Two was a business associate and now a friend - who was exactly like I thought he would be (actually, a bit better.)

Person Three was the one I've known the longest, through a parenting website from before I was even pregnant with the trio, and she too was exactly like I thought she would be (actually, a bit better.)

So this notion of not knowing someone unless you can meet them face-to-face? Total and utter bullshit. Were there moments of awkwardness? Sure - but that's mostly because it was sort of like going on a whole bunch of blind dates, and we all know how awkward a blind date can be, don't we? On the whole, though, I was really pleasantly surprised to find that my instinct about all of these people turned out to be totally true.

...and now if only I can find the time to re-connect with those who I already know, have already met, but who for whatever reason are not in my life as much as they should be. There are just not enough hours in the day for as many wonderful people as there are in the world.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Shiny and New!

This week I signed the lease on a new home for the business. Exactly five minutes after I did that, I signed the paperwork on the loan to afford the new home for the business.



Watch this space (literally. I'll post progress photos as we build it from an empty shell into a gorgeous, shiny, bloody adorably cute and fabulous kitchen and showroom.) (And for the record I have the hottest builder ever, makes this project totally worth it.)

When Money Brings Me To Tears

I originally emailed this story to a friend, but it says a lot about life over the last few weeks so I am re-posting it here for your reading pleasure.

Today my DH came home and said, "I've got a present for you!" and made me close my eyes. When I opened them I was looking at a (long and detailed) piece of paper with a bunch of numbers on it which took me a minute to work out. My gift was his first payslip - because even though he only started on Monday, the pay period ends tomorrow so he got paid for 3 days of work.

My eyes went to the bottom line (of course) and I noticed this - that my husband got paid more in 3 days of working than I get paid for more than a MONTH of working...and no guesses as to who works harder (certainly physically. Mentally it could probably go either way.)

So I did what any emotional, exhausted, sick woman would do. I buried myself in his arms and I burst into tears. Happy tears mostly but also overwhelmed tears, because:

1) It just seems so damn unfair (the pay difference),

2) I am so grateful for that money you have no idea. I literally spent a good hour today working out which bills I could avoid paying so the mortgage can get paid on Tuesday (and had come up with no workable solution),

3) I'm exhausted from playing the money game and living in fear of Tuesdays. I've spent months and months and months managing to keep our chins above water (and fucking it up a couple of times so we nearly drowned.) I've spent all this time trying to figure out how to keep my family afloat on the smell of an oily rag and it's just mentally exhausted me. Tuesdays is when our mortgage goes out (hence my fear of Tuesdays),

4) I'm sick and feel horrendous but had so much to do today that I've not allowed myself to be sick, and so I was (almost) upset that it's so damn easy for him to just go to work, have no responsibilities, and take home that amount of cash and for a split second I wanted that freedom, too,

5) Bloody grateful his job started *exactly* in the same week I no longer have to go to my second job, effectively giving me the freedom I so desperately need to make my business into what I believe it can be,

6) Feeling proud of myself for managing to do #3, even though #3 was horrible, I still made us to the finish line (mostly. Now need to work on paying down debt in an aggressive fashion but that's much easier on me mentally),

7) Feeling exceptionally glad that I pursued all the things for the business I've pursued, even when I was totally unsure of their potential success, because even though I did not know it, it was the first of MANY leaps of faith I would be taking in the coming months/years,


8) Just... felt like some big giant boulders rolled off my shoulders today and so I cried them away.

We're nowhere near being out of the woods (and DH still has to work a crappy job on the weekends to give us some breathing space and the chance to get rid of some of the debt)...but....I'm REALLY doing this. I'm surviving. I'm BETTER than surviving.

I cried and cried, and DH hugged me tight, stroked my hair and said, "Firstly, I am so damn proud of you...It's YOU who has kept me and this family going for all these months and you should be really proud of yourself, too. Secondly, the pay difference is really only because I've had twenty more years on you of working my arse off."

...it's been a long couple of months. But, you know, Universe and all yadda yadda...PROGRESS.

All That Universe Bullshit

Last year when I hired my new employee, one of the very first things she told me (and if memory serves I blogged about it) was that she really believed in the idea that "the Universe provides." At the time I laughed my ass off about it - because back then (a mere 6 months ago) - I thought all that Universe stuff was complete and utter bullshit. All that crap about visualising things to make them happen, "putting it out there" to get what you want, and so on and so forth. I've said several times here that the only "universe" I believe in is the universe of hard work, occasional good luck and arming oneself with shitloads of knowledge.


In a perfect blogging world I would now tell you all that I believe in this Universe crap and that I was wrong...oh so very, very wrong...and that she was right about it all.


There is no way known I could have done a total 180 in my thinking in a matter of mere months. I will say that in the intervening months I've done a heck of a lot of work on who I am, where I am, what I want, and other quasi-midlife crisis kind of thinking. I've learned heaps and heaps about myself, and not all of it very pretty or nice to admit. It is also true that in recent months I've made a hell of a lot of effort to get what I want - not only for me but for the business as well - and it's paid off in spades. Or, to put it in her terms, I've set my intention (hurl) and put it out there in the Universe (puke) and the Universe has thus provided (gag.)

Damn. What happens when the crap other people spout all of a sudden starts to make sense and becomes decidedly un-crap? What does one blog about then?