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.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Surprise Yourself

So we all know that emzee over here is a big fat sap. As in, I'm emotional about everything and not at all afraid to show it (even when nobody wants to see it). This week, twice I was emotional in ways I did not expect.

It started a couple of days ago, when I had to start packing up my tiny grotty kitchen in preparation for moving to the new big shiny kitchen. Sidenote, how strange is it that you can pack and pack and pack and pack and pack and have a whole pile of boxes....and yet the space looks exactly the same, as though you've not packed anything? Very infuriating. Anyway, so I was packing and packing..and realising that I actually felt a little sad about it all. This was a very odd feeling to have - because after all I'm moving onwards and upwards and yadda yadda positive happy shiny people stuff. Sad was not at all what I expected.

I spent a couple days feeling just the wee bit crumply about this strange melancholy which had settled over me - where was the crazy happy bouncy joy? The excitement? The anticipation at ripping off tons of plastic to reveal sparkly stainless steel? Turns out it was there, hiding under the sadness over the end of an era - which, when I think about it, is how I felt when we moved out of our teeny tiny rental house and moved into our big mortgaged family home. I was then (as I am now) thrilled to be moving...but, you know, I brought my babies home to that rental house. The kitchen is no different. I can clearly remember buying my very first 25 kilo bag of flour, staring at this giant sack and wondering how on EARTH I was going to get through that much. I can even remember FINISHING that bag of flour (ages and ages later) and thinking, "YIPPEE! I'm managing to stay in business long enough to both justify and afford a SECOND 25kilo bag of flour!"

I guess sometimes it's the little things, right?

For the record, I now buy 25 kilo bags of flour about 6 at a time, and it takes me about a month to get through ALL of them. So more than one bag a WEEK..and sugar is more than that again. Fair to say the business is still in business for a reason, no?

In a manner of speaking, the four years spent in that small kitchen has actually been my business's childhood. The business is now well and truly a pre-teen. Not surprisingly, this is happening at exactly at the same time as my human children are...and so comes all the fabulous highs and head-scratching lows of parenting a pre-teen, of both the human and the business variety.

You can understand why it was that I was packing up my kitchen and feeling a bit sad and blue. Not what I expected to feel but totally predictable given the circumstances. When I turned the light off there today (for the last time), I thanked that kitchen for looking after me and my baby. It served it's purpose well, but it was well and truly time to move on.

Then came moving day (today) and I thought I'd be feeling overwhelmed, scared (okay, terrified. Holy crap that's a LOT of money I need to pay back, and a LOT of kitchen space to make use of!), worried, nervous...and (insert negative emotion here). Funnily enough, I felt NONE of those. I actually felt...hope. Excitement. Thrill. In actual fact I bounced around filled with sheer JOY as I watched all those boxes (and that box, and that stool, and that oven, that mixer, that other box, all those ribbons, and yet more boxes) get loaded onto the truck. I sang my heart out in the car on the way to the kitchen - nobody was watching, right? And then, you know, I couldn't take the massive smile off my face as I watched that box and that box and THAT box come off the back of the truck and make their way into my new kitchen.

Twice this week I felt emotions totally opposite to the ones I was expecting...and twice I was glad I did - because in the end it was quite okay to farewell the start of the story so you could look forward to the middle bit. Apparently the middle bit is where all the good stuff happens (or so says Business Guy, and we pay him to know this kind of stuff.)

Go on, do a little bounce for me. I don't expect you to - which is exactly why you should.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Parenthood Masochism

The trio are turning 10 in a few weeks - which among other things means I need to write my annual "my kids are ridiculously awesome" blog posts - but this is a big milestone birthday for all of us. A BIG one. Not just because they are now into the double digits (as they keep reminding me) but also because they are now finally old enough to have their own parties. As in three SEPARATE parties. As in, I stupidly told them they could do this when they were ten (probably to get them to shut up about it when they were 8) and now the damn kids are actually holding me to it.

Bugger. I hate it when they remember stuff I promise. Wildly inconvenient, that.

I was pretty sure I got out of parties this year altogether, having told them that the ridiculously expensive trip to Harry Potter World was their birthday present for oh, about the next five years or so. It was also their Channukah, half birthday, Xmas, Kwanzaa, Purim, Passover, Easter, and every other holiday present - do you KNOW what those wands from Ollivander's cost me?! Except that of course the whole "only kids I'll ever have" guilty triplet Mother thing reared it's ugly head, and I couldn't really just let this milestone birthday pass without SOME sort of event, could I?

Okay, okay, I COULD. Technically speaking it would be possible. But...you know...I couldn't. So I had this bright (read: IDIOTIC) idea that we'd have a sleep over party. Because it's one night, does not involve much in the way of organisation (order pizza, pop in DVD, prepare to yell at kids at midnight to shut the hell up) and seemed really EASY to organise. So I got DH on board with this idea (poor man, the one time his "yes, wife" nodding to all I say will turn out to possibly kill him) and then I floated this idea with the kids. Who, not surprisingly, LOVED it...which should have been the first clue that I was heading head-first into Birthday Party Mayhem. All was soda pop and fairy floss in the world of emzee's birthday party planning until all the questions started.

How many kids can we invite?
Do the girls need to sleep next to the boys?
Do we have to watch a dumb girly movie?
Do we have to watch a stupid boy movie?
What if nobody wants to watch a movie?
What kind of pizza should we order?
When are you going to send out invites?
Can I *pretty pretty please* invite just ONE more person?
Why do the girls get to invite 3 friends each, making 6, but I only get to invite only 3? SO unfair!
How will the girls make their own private space if there are boys around?
What if the girls want us to be nice to them all night?
I don't think all those kids are going to fit in our lounge room, Mum.
Do I HAVE to sleep next to a boy?
Do I HAVE to sleep next to a girl?
What if we put a line of sticky tape down the middle of the room so there is a girl side and a boy side?

...and so on and so forth...which is how I now find myself sending out invitations to TWO slumber parties, one where there are "no girls allowed" and one where there are "no boys allowed" and organising the the other kid/s to sleep over at their grandparents on said nights. I'm giving up two Saturday nights (and Sunday mornings) in a row to have my house turned upside down by stacks of pre-teen kids. I'm also making three cakes (of course), ordering a shit load of pizza, renting some 'girl' and some 'boy' DVDs, planning games (which apparently is also gender-specific as boys don't like the same games as girls do. Who knew pass the parcel was gender specific?!), making lots of pancakes....and either drinking or smoking a whole lot of god-knows-what just to survive it all.

Remind me again...was it ME who thought this was a good idea? Because if so, I'm totally claiming temporary insanity when the men in white coats come by to get me. Please, god, may they not serve pizza at the institution. Or at least let it not be BOY pizza.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Privacy Part Deux

Late last year I wrote a post all about the notion of privacy and blogging. If you haven't read it, go right ahead and I'll wait for you.


Since then, my thoughts on this haven't changed much, other than to acknowledge that the joy I get from blogging has thus far outweighed any potential fall out. Something happened yesterday which has made me re-visit this notion of privacy - and I'm going to share it here in the hopes that some of you take the time to share with me your opinion on this.

As a result of a blog post I wrote, I recently received an email from someone I have not heard from in a long while. I was really happy to receive that email - but the catch is I had no idea that person even knew I had a blog in the first place. My blog has never been private - in so far as there is a picture of me on it, a vast majority of my friends and family members know that I write it, and in general it's not like it's a big secret (although I do make the effort to leave out real names and my surname). I know very well that this blog is read by both my close confidants and a bunch of total strangers from around the globe (check out the map on the bottom left corner. People in Asia, Africa, the Middle East...have all at some point clicked onto this blog. It's mind boggling.)

Last night I was out with a girlfriend and I told her about my shock at receiving this email, and she said, "Well, that's the thing about blogging. It's a public forum. You are CHOOSING to put it all out there where anyone can see it, so don't be surprised when you get that kind of result."

Of course she is right - blogging is as public as one can get, and I've always made it a policy to be as honest and open as I feel I need to be. For me, if I had to pretend to be someone I'm not, or edit my thoughts before writing, blogging would be pointless. I still can't help feeling very odd about all of this, though. Hell, I feel odd when people who I know read it comment to me about it in real life. It always takes me a second to think, "Why do they know that? Oh yeah, I wrote about it!" People who are new to reading this blog have said to me, "What will you do if the people you write about (like the SSOTH mothers) read it someday? How will you deal with that?" It's true that my writing is not always kind, nor complimentary - but again, that's part of me choosing not to censor myself here.

When I think about it, I think it's the very nature of the internet which makes us believe we are somehow safer than we really are. It's as though the screen and keyboard in front of us provide some sort of shield - when really, we are as laid bare as it is possible to be. I often hear stories of people falling for email scams, or giving out a whole bunch of private info online and then getting robbed as a result...and I think, what morons, sharing all that info! But aren't I here, doing the exact same thing? (But no, you can't have my account number, even if the Nigerian government has 5 million waiting for me.)

On the one hand, I'm not sure that this is really a problem which requires a solution - surely a bit of discomfort now and again is bearable in exchange for what blogging has brought me (namely, some amazing friends and opportunities). At the same time, though, I'd rather not upset people (those who have read about themselves here don't necessarily enjoy the experience, even if I was referring to them in a positive way). It's all a bit...disconcerting at the moment.

Now I know most of you are readers and not commenters - so this time I'm flat out asking you to reply .... what is your take on blogging and privacy? Too risky, or worth it?

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Call All Mothers Fear

Is not, "This is Madame Secretary from SSOTH, and I'm calling to say there has been an accident," but rather a somewhat hysterical sounding son calling you at work to say,

"MUM!! I am calling to warn you that you must BEWARE when you get home. BEWARE of your daughters! They've invented A WHOLE NEW TYPE OF WEDGIE!!! Arrrrgggghhhh!" and then hanging up abruptly.

Firstly, I didn't think it was even possible for there to be more than one sort of wedgie, I mean...it's pretty self-evident that it's a one style kind of torture, right? Secondly, calling me to tell me about it when I'm at work...exactly what does the Perfect Mothering Handbook say to do in these situations? Put down your piping bag and run home? Call the fire department? Silently panic to yourself but carry on making pretty little cake decorations? What, exactly, was I meant to do here? I'm pretty sure "crisis brought on by daughters who have invented a new type of wedgie hitherto not known to man" is not one of those parenting things they write about in those "How To Raise Daughters" books.

Some time later I did eventually make it home, and while I was spared the experience myself, I have it on good soprano-singing authority that the new type of wedgie is in fact an evil thing known as ... a FRONT wedgie.

No wonder the poor kid feared for his life.

Me, I feared for my future grandkids (who are now looking doubtful thanks to this new wedgie innovation.)

Ahhh, parenthood. Always something new to fear.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

On Friendship

Those of you who know me in real life know that I am about as honest and open as one can possibly be. I'm even infamous among my facebook friends for perfecting the art of the over-share. I'm not even sure how to be secretive, or private, or keep my mouth shut - but apparently all of these are actually possible. Me, I just open my mouth and stuff comes out (and not all of it quality stuff, sadly.) In some ways this serves me really well - I can be standing in a queue and by the end of it can tell you the life stories of the person behind me AND the person in front of me.

I just really like hearing people's life stories. I like learning about people. I just like talking and I like listening. BUT (and here's where it gets hairy) - it makes people uncomfortable. They feel compelled to answer my probing questions ("Yes but how are you...really doing?") but then afterwards they feel a little awkward about it. I can't help asking the questions - and while they could probably choose to not answer, I have yet to meet someone who says, "Actually, I'd rather not say, but thanks for asking." Furthermore because I'm so intent on the pursuit of just knowing stuff, I keep asking even when the person has given the (verbal or physical) signal that it's high time I just butted right the hell out of their business. I don't really know how to be anything but intensively loving...but I guess sometimes that love can be a bit overwhelming.

This has gotten me in big trouble twice in my life that I know of. The first time, it made me lose my best friend. Literally. The second time, it made me lose a good friend. Also literally.

The first time, my BFF was going through a pretty major life change. A life change which had been going on for nearly a year but I knew nothing about. Not a whisper, not a hint, not a whiff, not even the faintest glimmer that this change was on the horizon. And when I say "best friend" I mean the person I spoke to on the phone many times a day. My DH used to pick up the phone and jokingly say, "Oh, it's your wife on the phone!" When we didn't phone, we'd email. I saw her several times a week. I wouldn't even hesitate to call her my soul mate. Anyway, she went through this life change - and she walked right out of my life. Literally. With no warning whatsoever. One day - a normal sort of day - she just didn't answer her phone when I called. She didn't answer it all that day, or the next, or the next...until it took SOMEONE ELSE telling me that she couldn't or wouldn't speak to me because this major life change was taking place.

What? She won't speak to me? But she's practically my WIFE, for god's sake.

It was well over a year before I heard from her again. Not surprisingly, I mourned for most of that year. I mourned the loss of her presence in my daily life, I mourned the loss our friendship. I'd be totally lying if I didn't say that even now (some years later), I really miss her even though now we are back in contact. Eventually she contacted me, and we began the process of healing. The very first question I asked when I saw her again was obvious - WHY?

It was hard for her to articulate, but her basic answer was this - I'm too much like hard work. I ask the hard questions, and I expect answers. I tell people things they may not want to hear. She knew that if I was around in that time of flux for her, that I wouldn't let her get away with the things she wanted to get away with. I'd call her on her issues. I'd demand answers. In short, I would not allow any secrets or lies. I'd want to know it all, and I'd want to talk and support and commiserate and just BE there as much as I could be. She told me that I'm intense. Maybe too intense.

She was right. But it still hurt like hell to hear it.

The second time this happened, it was a good friend I worked with. There was an evacuation at our workplace, and in the fray I lost sight of her. I looked for her for ages but never found her, so I called our mutual boss (at another location) to say that I was worried that I could not find my friend and that the place was utter chaos. Our boss said, "She's fine, she's on her way home...but I think the three of us need to sit down and have a chat about things."

WHAT THE...? What about what things? Our workplace is in chaos, my friend disappeared into thin air, and we need to sit down to chat? I had no idea what the hell she was on about. None. Truly. This friend had just spent time at my house over the past weekend, had come to my birthday party, knew my kids pretty well...and we needed to chat? I was gobsmacked.

That friend never spoke to me again. Unbeknownst to me, she had applied for (and gotten) another job in the organisation. She literally walked out of the building during the evacuation and that was the end of that. She flat out refused to speak to me (even when our jobs demanded it). She didn't answer my calls. I still am not entirely sure what happened there, but I heard through that grapevine that it was another case of me being too much like hard work. She and her husband had some issues at the time, and apparently my answers to her requests for advice were not the answers she wanted to hear. So she walked away, literally.

As it happens, these stories actually happened in reverse order - I lost the good friend a couple of years before I lost the best friend. The interesting thing about both these experiences is that they have totally coloured all the friendships which have come since, even those which started before I knew either of those people. I am now very, very particular about the people I befriend - and while I might blurt out all manner of detail about my life to perfect strangers, it takes an enormous amount of time and trust for me to invite people into my real life. In other words, not just anybody gets to be my friend - because I don't want to have to go through losing any of them again. The first two times hurt way too much to risk doing it again. So these days, people will describe me as shy or aloof or even arrogant because I might be outgoing, but I don't immediately take people on as friends.

Sadly for me, no amount of caution is truly protection from hurt. Recently I had an experience with a friend which seemed like it was heading in the same direction as the two I've just mentioned. Seemingly overnight, the frequency of communication slowed significantly (to me, anyway.) Wordy texts (when they came at all) became one line texts. Emails did not get responded to. You get the idea. So given my past experiences, I panicked. I could not believe that this was happening AGAIN and so this time I decided to take action and I called them on it. Long story short, this friend and I discussed it and things are basically okay now (although I suspect will never fully return to our previous level of connection). Turns out that I was right, apparently - it was happening again and happening again for the same reasons, namely:

I'm hard work.
I ask too many questions.
I'm emotionally intense (the highs are sky high, the lows are subterranean.)
I don't know when to stop asking stuff, or questioning stuff.
I'm not all that good at rolling with the punches.
I demand (or need) attention (in the form of regular communication).
I read things into situations which might not be there (but I'd argue this is being female, not unique to me.)

For a few days there, I really mulled over this. I think of myself as being a pretty good friend - and by good I mean that I am loyal, loving, helpful and supportive. But if this has happened three times now...does it mean that really I'm not a good friend at all? That it's ME who is the buggered up one here? That I'm much more trouble than I am worth?

I have to tell you, these questions really made me stop and...weep. Because what does it say about you if the friend you thought you were - is not really the friend you are at all? Am I SO SHIT at being a friend that the people who I thought were soul mates felt they could not talk to me, and instead chose to run..because running from me was somehow easier than just talking to me?

Good god, but the very idea of that hurts like hell.

In the end I could only come to one conclusion, and it's pretty simplistic: I am who I am. The me who is me is uniquely me, and if that means I'm all of those intense things...well, I guess you have no choice but to like it or lump it. The friends I have who have lasted the distance (of which there are enough to make me feel very loved every day of my life) obviously know those things about me, and either cope better or just accept that it's part of the package deal.

Just like I love people in spite of (and sometimes because of) their quirks, so I expect to be loved in return...and to me, that's what true, lasting friendship is about. So forgive me if I ask the hard questions. Forgive me if I demand answers. Forgive me if I want your attention and your love. That's just me.

Maybe just consider yourself blessed that I care - intensely - enough about you to take the time and effort to do all those things in the first place.

Because, for me anyway, that's what friends do.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Church and State

When I started the business, I did everything from home. My laundry was filled with boxes and boxes of cake tins and piping bags, I'd take business calls on my personal mobile, and my kids knew that any cake sitting on a bench somewhere was never, ever to be touched unless they got express permission to do so.

As the business grew, my laundry room got even more filled up with cake tools, the cakes on the benches numbered more than one, and my business cards (cheap, nasty, had an ugly pic of a pie on there and I don't bake pies) still had my personal number on there.

Then the business grew some more, enough to get me a commercial kitchen (and an empty laundry room), buy me decent business cards, get a phone number which wasn't my personal mobile - but I still operated from the home office for admin purposes.

Then the business grew some more, and I got office space next to my kitchen space, ordered by second batch of decent business cards, hired some bodies to help me with all the madness, and still had a phone number which wasn't my personal mobile. My home office was abandoned, and I reached the point where my home life and my work life were mostly physically separated.

Then one night when I found myself emailing a client at midnight (from home...again), I thought ...ENOUGH. Just...enough of all this. I'm not going to do this anymore. That was a couple of years ago, when I realised that my home life needed to be my home life and my work needed to be my work life. One is a place of comfort, solace, love and (mostly) quiet. The other, a place of ambition, excitement, labour and also love but of a different sort. It's a real trap that small business owners fall into, that every moment needs to be spent working on or in their business. That if you don't read that email *right now* you will somehow miss out on an opportunity to bake a cake for Oprah. That if you don't answer your phone *right now* (never mind that it's 6pm on a Sunday) you will miss out on the biggest order of the year. It's a total trap, and it's one that I've spent a lot of time fighting to get the hell out of.

I suppose I just came to the conclusion that the solace of home was what I need most of all, and that my kids and husband needed me to be here with them both physically and mentally. Just being here physically (with eyes glued to a screen, of course) wasn't good enough for them and more importantly, wasn't good enough for me. I began a very disciplined approach to this. I now won't answer my mobile after 5pm or on Sundays unless it's a number I recognise. I won't respond to work emails after 5pm - hell, I won't even log onto my work email at all during the evening hours. If a personal friend calls me with a cake request, I will politely stop them and ask them to email me their order, or call me during business hours to discuss it. The gist of it is this - when I'm home, I need to be well and truly HOME in so many ways.

I do fail at this sometimes - like the tag line above says, sometimes I fail, sometimes I succeed, and mostly it's a work in progress - but I can't tell you what a difference the separation between Church and State has made to my sanity and to my relationship with my family. I love knowing that once it's 5pm, my time belongs to ME. I love knowing that I don't have to scramble to write down an order on the back of an envelope on a Sunday night, when I'd rather be watching TV with my kids. I love that if I need to take weekday time off to go to a school function, I can allow myself to put the phone to voice mail without one skerrick of guilt or worry.

Have I lost opportunities, annoyed clients, missed out on big orders as a result? Oh, hell yes, I've done ALL of those by choosing to not be available to my business 24/7 - but you know what? More opportunities, understanding clients, and big orders are always going to come my way at some point. Not being there for my kids - when I've got ONE SHOT at this parenting gig - well, that's never going to come around again. Learning to prioritize my family has been a huge learning curve for me...it would be so easy to just be married to the business and devote all my waking (and some of my sleeping) hours to it. I've done that - for years and years and years - and I'm just not going to do it anymore. I won't allow the business to rob me of my life.

Whenever I feel the slightest amount of guilt about that (and sometimes I do, I'm human and ambitious after all), I'm reminded of that old saying - "Nobody lays on their death bed wishing they had spent more time at the office."

...and that, my friends, is why you can't order a cake after 5pm. Trust me, I'll happily take your order, but I'll do it tomorrow.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

...And You Are....??

Most people blame their 'sieve brain' tendencies on being pregnant or getting older. I have none of these convenient excuses, but I suffer from the condition in a very real way. It's most notable when it comes to faces and names. I'm really, terrible at remembering either faces or names, and often it can become quite embarrassing.

Just to give you a few real life examples of what I mean...I can easily meet someone half a dozen times or more, and not only will I have no idea what their name is, I'm almost always certain I've never clapped eyes on them in my life. If someone calls me and introduces themselves on the phone, I forget their name about one millisecond later. Very often when friends are talking mutual friends or acquaintances of ours, I have to ask for a LOT of detail about who they are talking about..."Do you mean the one with the red hair?" "The one with the fat baby?" "The one who wore that hideous headband?"...and even with their answers I will shake my head and say, "Nup. Sorry. NO idea who you mean."

The same is sadly true of my clients - whose names and faces I never remember but whose cake I *always* remember. Not at all unusual for me to get a call from a client who says, "Hi, emzee, it's Sally Jones here, you've done my last forty-two cakes for me and we've met ten times!" and for me to say, "Hi, um..Sally.... Remind me again what the last cake I did for you was?" Then the lovely Sally will tell me and my brain will go PING! and I'll be all, "OHHH! Sally of the shark cake! How *are* you, dear Sally?" Of course when Sally comes to pick up her 43rd cake, I will have no idea who she is (truly.)

Embarrassing. Ridiculously so because it happens to me ALL THE TIME.

This week I was at the gym, and a woman overheard me talking about the new premises. Important to note here is that I've seen her at the gym a lot (we are there at a similar time most mornings). I don't know her name (of course). I pretty much just had her in my brain as "other morning gym lady" but that's about all I really thought. Anyway so she hears me talking, comes over, and says, "Oh, so you're no longer working for Big Catering Company?"

I stared at her. Last time I worked at Big Catering Company was about 4 years ago. WHY THE HELL DOES SHE KNOW that I worked at Big Catering Company? OMG. Do I somehow KNOW this woman but I didn't know that I know her? So I casually say, "No, I don't work for them anymore...but how did you know that?" and she said, "Oh, last time we chatted we talked all about it!"

Last time we chatted? There was a last time we chatted? Really? Clearly we don't chat all that often because a heck of a lot has happened between my working for Big Catering Company and me owning the Awesome Cake Company.

But..shit. Really? I knew you well enough to tell you where I worked? Because I was pretty sure I only knew you as other morning gym lady.

This required some help, so I called a friend who is also an avid gym goer..and of course when I told her this story she laughed her ass off, because not knowing this woman is an extremely emzee-like thing to do. To try and help me out, she asked me, "Well, what did she look like? Tell me and I'll try and figure it out for you."

Umm. Yeah. Well. She had brown hair...I think. And she was kinda...medium-ish size, maybe? And...ummm...yeah. She looked like that.

Sieve brain. It's what happens when you're not paying attention.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Discipline or Regret

A couple of weeks ago when I went to the Guerilla Marketing thing, the last slide presented had this quote on it in massive letters:

"Discipline or regret. Your choice."

I have to be honest, at first this really appealed to me. It can be applied to SO many things in life, not just business or marketing. In particular it appealed to me from a weight loss point of view - because if we used food and exercise discipline, we'd lose the weight and then not have any regrets about could have, should have, would have (been thinner, fitter, whatever). It also appealed to me from a parenting perspective - when we discipline effectively, or parent in a disciplined way (as opposed to not presenting a united front, changing the goal posts for our kids and so on), then we are less inclined to live with the regret of raising insane, out of control kids. Of course it also applies to the little things; in theory having the discipline to not eat the entire tub of ice cream in one sitting means you won't regret it later.

For a couple of days there I really liked that mantra. It was neat, simple, and it made perfect sense. After a while, though, it began to grate on me a little bit - and when I thought about WHY my sudden flash of "OMG this is IT!" morphed into "Seriously? What bullshit!" the answer was very obvious. It allows absolutely no room for a) being human, and b) having any fun.

This is not to say that one should not be disciplined in a number of areas in their lives, because I truly think that mental discipline (which often leads to physical discipline) is the only way to get anywhere in life. My work colleagues know that I often say (irritatingly!), "Messy desk, messy mind," because I really believe that to be true. We are blessed with remarkable minds which can do extraordinary things and you don't need to look very far to find examples. My triplet pregnancy which everyone told me would end in premature, sick babies born at 30 weeks or earlier ended with healthy, robust babies born at 35weeks. Why? Because I was mentally determined to make that happen, I had a very specific date which I had to carry those kids to, and I was totally mentally convinced it would be so. I think old people declare that they will live to see their grandchildren marry (and then do live that long) because they BELIEVE that they will....and lots of other examples of mind triumphing over matter. I'm not suggesting that mind over matter always works, I'm just suggesting that the possibility is there.

So clearly I'm all for the discipline part...and for obvious reasons, I'm not such a fan of the regret part. Generally speaking there are only a few things in life I regret, because, hell, they've already happened and I can't do anything about them. Most stuff, I tend to feel very strongly and emotionally about...and maybe let it drag for a while..but eventually, I'll let it go. Being pro-discipline and anti-regret means I should love that concept above...but I don't.

Because, tell me, what happens when you...
- Eat the tub of ice cream and enjoy every last bite?
- Choose to skip a gym session so you can have breakfast with an old friend?
- Don't follow the well thought out, planned business rules but instead follow your instinct?
- Take a risk? Take several of them in succession?
- Allow your conscience to be your guide, rather than your personal trainer or your business advisor?
- Put all your eggs in one basket rather than spreading the risk out over more than one area?
- Choose not to follow the advice the experts give you?
- Allow your emotions to rule every once in a while, even though you know it's probably a waste of time to wallow?
- Grant yourself a micro-mini vay-kay when your To Do list is a mile long?
- Ignore the parenting books?

I'll tell you what happens. You bugger some things up, you succeed spectacularly at other things, some things earn a decided "meh" and along the way you learn a heck of a lot. It's called being human, it's called having fun, it's called living a life which is about so much more than either discipline or regret. I've come to think that quote is a load of bullshit because it allows for no grey areas, not humanity, no just being who we are - which is people who every day just hope they're doing the best that they can, and sometimes the 'best' is mere survival.

Sure, life is all about discipline and regret...but it's all the things which come in between those two which make it worth living in the first place. To believe it's as black and white as that is just no fun at all - and to assume it has to be entirely one or the other, well...that's why all work and no play makes Michie a dull girl indeed.

Fuck it. I say eat the ice cream to the bottom of the tub, enjoy every last indulgent second of it, and get your ass into the gym in the morning.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Passover Song

YouTube won't let me embed it, so you'll just have to go and click over here. Fun video, and even though it's a few weeks early - I don't know about you, but I could use some cheesy music and lyrics in my life. Plus as much as it's embarrassing to admit, "Party in the USA" is one of my most favourite songs to listen to - gets me moving when I'm feeling decidedly sluggish.

Go on, click and watch and smile.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Teacher Conferences


Next time, I'm totally not bothering to show up. I know my kids are awesome, and do not need to travel 30 minutes (an hour for DH) in peak traffic to hear you tell me my kids rock. Furthermore, all of you giving me the freakin' "poor you triplet mother" shtick is getting really, really OLD. And while I'm on the topic, I get it that you only have 15 minutes per parent - so if you're limited on time, instead of staring pointedly at the clock and being kinda rude about it - just email me to tell me they're awesome.


Not Sure Why I Bothered To Go When I Knew It Would Just Lead To A Blog Post

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

How Many Matzah Balls Can You Do?

There's an ad on TV and radio at the moment for Weet Bix - which are those strange Australian breakfast bricks I've written about previously. The ad centres around the idea that big, strong people (mostly athletes) eat a whole bunch of these bricks in one sitting. So - "Important Athlete does 8 Weet-Bix. How many can do YOU do?"

It's not an ad I understand at all, because it seems to promote over-eating and stuffing one's face with wet concrete, but whatever. I had to tell you the background to the title of this post before getting to the real topic - which is that I've spent many, many hours in the past day and a half attending a LOT of school seders.

A seder is the word for the feast eaten at the start of the holiday of Passover which is coming up soon. SSOTH had each class do a (admittedly, really lovely) seder activity to which parents were all invited. Naturally, as my kids are in separate classes, I had to attend three of these. Each of them went for about 2 hours or so, and consisted of a number of 'stations' you went to. Each station was related to the holiday. Like I said, it was a really nice event and I'm glad I could go and support and love my kids....but by the end of it I think I'd "done" enough matzah balls for several elite athletes.

Of course this would not be a blog post without some snarkiness on my part, so I made the following observations while at these events:

- The events took place in a kitchen garden (eg a massive vegetable patch). I was one of the few mothers not wearing high heels. Henceforth I was capable of walking on the gravel while the rest of them slid around. Would be funny if it were not so sad.

- The Dads all seem to have penis extensions known as massive digital cameras, or else they all think they are Ansel Adams. Seriously. Never seen so many thousands of dollars of Nikons all in one place before.

- Last I checked, making matzah by hand was not an athletic, competitive sport....but apparently I'm wrong about that. Competition is alive and well in the matzah making stakes.

- Because there is no such thing as a Jewish event with no food, at the end of each of these we were invited to have some chicken soup and matzah balls with the kids. Just as entertaining as it was to eat out of a really tiny bowl with an ineffective plastic spoon was watching how many mothers rejected the soup. Maybe it's not approved by their personal trainers?

- If one more person looked at my quasi-sympathetically and said, "Oh, you again! You're the triplet Mum, right? You have to go through THREE of these things, you poor thing!" then I was surely going to sock someone right in the eye. Which I'm pretty sure would embarrass my kids.

- I can apparently "do" 6 matzah balls in the space of a day and a half. Kinda pathetic, really. Might be time to increase my weights at the gym.

I'd be lying if I didn't admit that I actually had a lovely time - even though I had to hear the same shpiel 3 times, sing along to the same songs 3 times, make matzah 3 times, and do all the rest of it 3 times (and there was rather a lot of "the rest of it.") But I certainly earned my Mum brownie points for being there as much as I was, and for looking interested as much as I could. Tomorrow night, I've got parent/teacher interviews - which, according to the timetable they sent me, will take around 2 hours. I've got to meet no less than 6 teachers (minimum of 2 per kid) plus some others I probably forgot about. I've got to look interested and aware and excited and informed and involved...and there is no matzah ball soup at the end of it.

I'm pretty sure there is a special place up in heaven reserved just for me.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Drama Drama Drama

My kids are not teenagers. They are barely event tweens, for cripes' sake. Yet with the magic of hormones, and being taller/bigger/etc than most of their peers, they are suddenly running headlong into teenager-ville. Or at least, their bodies are - and in DD2's case especially, their attitudes are as well.

I love my kids. I do. But I'm pretty sure that their teenagery-ness is going to drive me to drink. Or eat. Or...something. Because around here, EVERYTHING is suddenly a drama. Favourite jeans in the washing? DRAMA. Brother reading your book while you were at ballet class? DRAMA. Mum asking you to put away the milk and assorted breakfast stuff instead of leaving it out? DRAMA. It's a full half hour before you need to leave for ballet class and Mum is not available on her mobile phone? DRAMA with a snarky voicemail message to boot. Sister asks you to please move over a bit on the couch? DRAMA.

For the love of god, these children of mine are doing my head in. They might like to use the word "chillax" but seem to have no idea of how to chillax themselves - everything seems to end up in a long, drawn out, whiny voiced dramatic episode. Me being me, responding to DD2 (because she
is Queen Drama Numero Uno) in the same whiny spoiled, the world-has-wronged-me tone of voice she talks to me in really only infuriates her further. Which kinda makes me laugh. Which just makes her more pissed off than EVAH !! and so she storms up to her room to whinge and cry ... which of course means EPIC WIN for me because she and her attitude are out of my immediate vicinity.

(and I'm pretty sure women my age should not be using the word "epic"...but there you go.)

Yep, I'm pretty sure that sound was the sound of The Mother of The Year Award going down the drain. Again. Damn!

The only good part about having precocious kids is that I live in hope that this means by the time they are 13, it's all over. For most parents the teenage crap is from around 13-15, but since we're getting a head start on all of this, I'm thinking that by 13 I am free from it all. Stop laughing! My logic works, doesn't it? Ahhh but then maybe there's the rub - who ever said anything about teenagers was logical in the first place? *big sigh* What makes this harder is that I tend to parent with a pretty hefty overtone of sarcasm even on a good day...which, speaking from experience here, only results in pissing already snarky kids off even further. I don't know why they don't love it when you imitate them, but then maybe they temporarily forgot just how much fun the repeating game really is?!

At nearly ten years old, drama queen teenager-ish moody hormone crap is not really what I thought I'd be dealing with....but then the very IDEA of my kids actually being ten years old (and where, exactly, did that time go?!) moves me to tears. Damn. Now who is being all about the drama?