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.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Longest Overnight Ever

This week I had a really nice chat to my Mom. We haven't spoken much in a few weeks, so it was really great to catch up with her. She gets the business newsletter, so she knows about all the comings and goings in the biz, including that I've recently hired my 4th employee (and I am one of those 4.) In the conversation she told me over and over how proud of me she is, and what a great job I'm doing. It was really nice to hear - I suspect no matter how old one gets, one always seeks approval from their parents - so it was really, really nice to hear it.

My gorgeous Mom then said, "OMG! It's amazing! You're a total overnight success story!"

This gave me pause for a second or two (or three.) Overnight success story? So I said, "Overnight? Hardly, Mom, I've been working my ass off for YEARS." To which she said, "No, but it's like, all of a sudden, you're doing amazingly well."

I just had to laugh at that one. There is nothing about the business - or my life in general - which was either all of a sudden, or overnight. Heck, I even don't agree with her about the success part, either! Are things going well? Yes, knock wood, they are. Have opportunities come around which I've taken and run with to turn into big wins? Yes, of course. Do I foresee a great future for the business? Of course I do (otherwise why on earth would I bother?)

But if she - or anyone else - thinks for a minute that any of this has not been in the making for 10 years or more...they would be wrong. I've been planning this, in some small, back-of-my-mind sort of way, for YEARS. Maybe even longer than 10 years, because after all I started cake decorating when I was about 15, which was *cough**splutter**cough* 20 years ago and I knew even then that I loved it and would like to do it "for real" someday.

I mentioned this conversation to someone, and that person (forgive me, mystery person, I can't remember who you are) said, "The average time span for an overnight success is something like ten years."

Overnight successes only appear so on the surface of it - underneath the surface that business owner is sporting some massively toned calves from running like hell for the past ten years.

Am I hugely proud of what I've achieved? Ehhh.. mostly. Because I don't think I've reached (and may never reach) the point at which I can sit back and think, "Ahh! Now I've done it!" I've got a fair few years of running left to go before I'll even consider that I've achieved much at all.

In the meantime, though, I'm happy to be an overnight success in my Mom's eyes - because frankly, if she had ANY idea of the real madness of my life, the real day to day sacrifices I make, the stupid things I do and the crazy risks I take...she might not be as impressed with me. For now, I'm happy just to bask in her affection and pride and take them to heart.

Ultimately, it doesn't really matter how long it took me to get there. That I AM getting there is important enough.

But, damn, it's been one very long night.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Fix it and Stop Your Whining

I expect a fair amount from my kids - they've got chores to do which they do not get paid for, I expect them to keep track of their homework, they are expected to help around the house with non-chore jobs, and in general DH and I expect them to be responsible members of their community and their family. Sometimes I think we are a bit too demanding of them - not strict (we are anything but strict) - but we do imbue them with a feeling of responsibility for a lot of things. Sometimes a situation comes along which reinforces this concept. Allow me to share a story of how my work life and my home life collide - literally.

This past Friday was a bit of a hairy one for me, and so the kids walked to the shop to meet me (rather than head home.) I asked DS to help me carry a large (150 pax) cake out the door - we had tons of other stuff to carry, the car was parked around the corner, and a slightly dodgy back meant the crate was just that bit too heavy for me. It's not an unusual request to make, my kids have been helping (in an age appropriate sort of way) with the business for most of their lives.

So as we are walking to the car (me and DS at either end of the crate), he stumbles on a bit of uneven ground, falls down and drops his end of the crate, which causes me to drop my end of the crate. As he went down, the cake went down as well - and slid right off it's board and smashed into the side of the crate. You can just imagine the look of horror on ALL of our faces. Quicker than quick, I grabbed the crate and headed full pelt back to the shop with the kiddos chasing behind.

Good news is, the cake itself was unharmed. Bad news, the icing and decoration was totally stuffed, and had to be fixed ASAP because the cake was to be delivered very early the next day.

DS, understandably, felt horrible about it. Kept telling me he was sorry, cried, did that thing kids do when they talk to themselves under their breath about how dumb they are and how sorry they feel, and basically looked for all the world like his world was crumbling.

I let him have a few minutes of pity - because sometimes, you just NEED to feel the self pity - and then I got him to fix the cake with me. He had to stand there, looking at the mess of icing and bench full of now-unusable fondant, and smooth the new icing on, help me put the ribbon back, check the positioning of the text, clean up the cake board and so on. He didn't want to, but I MADE HIM do it. Maybe some people think this is mean - but there was a huge lesson to be learned here. You screw it up, you need to then FIX IT, because standing around feeling sorry for yourself and crying is not going to improve the situation one iota.

Of course, I did give him a massive hug (several, actually) and explain that accidents happen, that I've dropped cakes in my time (and figurines, and sugar flowers, and cupcakes, and and and and...) and that he was not at fault. Poor kid just stumbled and it could have happened to anyone, and it was not preventable. After he got the love and affection, he then got the - ON WITH IT, BOY - because there is no time for sitting around and moping. NONE. The cake *had* to be fixed. It *had* to be delivered. Life had to go on, and we had to fix something we had royally screwed up.

I think these days so many people screw stuff up, feel shit about it, but then somehow don't ever understand that unless you pick yourself up and get on with the job of fixing it, nothing will improve. So many in my generation whine endlessly about their dead end jobs, their shit partners, their horrible financial situations, their 20 kilos they can't shift, their broken cars or houses or relationships...but then don't ever do anything to fix the situations they are in. By all means, have a good ol' whinge or cry about it - I certainly do - but then GET ON WITH THE FIXING.

In the middle of the cake fixing, my boy started to smile again. His tears dried up. He even seemed to be having a good time (of course....cake is crazy good fun,) and realised that, hey, this situation is fixable. He could DO something about his feelings of sadness and guilt and upset rather than stand around and beat himself up about it.

Was I a bit stressed, a bit shitty, a bit annoyed, a bit irritated? Oh hell yes I was - but again, none of those emotions were going to get that cake sorted out. So I felt all those things, but I got on with the job of repair. No other choice. I wish my peers would realise that the same is true of the things in their lives which are broken. Feel shit, by all means...but then get on with it.

Half an hour after that cake decided to try out the effects of gravity, it was looking brand new again. My son had learned a lesson about taking responsibility for things (even those beyond your control), and that most things in life are fixable - even the cake Mummy worked so hard on. He also learned that I wasn't ever going to be angry or mad at him in this sort of situation - that instead we would work together to make the best of it. That $225 dollar cake was worth so much more than that - because it taught my son a whole lot of lessons about life, about how to repair a cake, and about the kind of support he can expect to receive from his Mum when he buggers stuff up (which he will. He's human after all.)

I think most of my generation needs to, metaphorically speaking, learn to drop a cake and then fix a cake and stop all their endless crying about it.

And ...if you think he didn't learn even MORE lessons than those I've mentioned above, let me tell you that when the cake was all done (again) and it came time to take it out to the car, I asked for his help. To which he said, "Actually, Mum, why don't I take your bag and purse, which leaves YOU free to take the cake to the car."

Clever, clever boy.

A win for cake, and a win for my kid.

Can't ask for much more than that.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


One of the 'features' of the kids' school is that they have one hell of a long bus ride both there and back. The bus is actually considered one of the integral experiences of SSOTH, because the bus is where romances start, business deals are made, allegiances are formed, and candy is sold for a ridiculous sum of money well above market value. The SSOTH is in the middle of nowhere-ville, and as such a vast majority of students take said bus to and from school every day. As these kids grow up, let me tell you, the microcosmic culture which is the SSOTH bus becomes as much a part of their education as anything else. There are plenty of lessons to be learned on the bus - and probably some I wish they didn't learn (hello sex, drugs, and rock n' roll).

My kids were lucky enough to end up on a bus full of what can only be described as PAINS IN THE ASS BULLIES. So all bloody year I've had to hear stories about what transpires on the bus ride - none of it good and all of it slightly disturbing. I'm not that shit of a mother that I didn't intervene when necessary. Now my kids bus lives are basically trouble free, and the stories have now become observations on what happens to the other kids as opposed to stories about the injustices heaped on MY kids.

Recently the discussion around the dinner table was all about how most of the kids on the bus spent their time plugged into various i-devices. Ipads, Iphones, Itunes, Idon'twantotalktoyou, Iwanttobeleftalone, Ineedashower, Iamantisocial, Iamincapableofconversationwithfellowhumans and so on. The kids were commenting about how they don't understand why people who own all these I-items are so anti-social - like when my son was watching someone play on their Nintendo DS, that kid lost the plot about being watched while playing and demanded that my son find a spot somewhere else.

The kids were a little perplexed by the reaction of the DS-playing kid, and wanted to know why these kids don't realise that bus time is for hanging out with your friends, talking about your day, finishing the homework you forgot you had, and so on. They just don't 'get' why their friends are basically tuning out at a time when they should be tuning IN to what is going on around them.

DH and I are not anti-games or anti I-devices, but we both feel pretty strongly that there is a time and a place for them, and that time is not ALL the time, nor is that place EVERY place. We have made a conscious choice not to give our kids all those things - and as much as he and I are married to our smartphones, even then we try to turn them off at night, not use them during family time, and so on. Both he and I (and now the trio to a degree) just think that we've gotten ourselves into such a connected world, we somehow have forgotten to interact with actual humans.

I find it quite sad that you can get onto the kids' bus and be amazed at just how quiet it is because the vast majority of kids' eyes are glued to an itty-bitty screen (except when all the bullies decide to fight with each other, and everyone looks up to watch.) What happened to all the stuff which is supposed to happen on the school bus? Where are the notes being passed, the lollies trading hands, the snogging in the back row? How sad that even on a 20 minute ride to school, these kids all feel they need to be entertained by something other than the people around them.

If you ask me, I think it's high time we need to teach our kids to get off their iPad, iTouch and iPhone and learn how to make some iFriends - because last I checked, no iPad will teach you the lesson that if get you a Chupa Chup on the bus for five bucks, it's a good deal.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Cat Is Away

DH left today on a trip which will take him half a globe and something like 15 hours out of my timezone. He's going to be away for almost three weeks, which at this end of his trip seems like a bloody lifetime away. It took about ten seconds for me to go from the glee of the "hooray, hooray, now the doonah is mine, all mine!" to the crash down to earth of, "oh shit, now I have to cook AND clean. Bugger."

The truth of it is, DH is the ying to my yang, the jelly to my peanut butter, the cookies in my cookies and cream - and I don't much like being without him. I actually forget just how co-dependant we are on one another until we are separated, and then I begin to panic just a wee bit and then suffer from phantom husband syndrome.

Still, he really wanted to go on this trip, and god knows I flit off to hither and yon often enough that it's high time he had a turn, too...but...geez, I miss the old bugger already and it's only been 9 hours.

It's going to be a long 3 weeks.

At least I've got the doona for company (Pro: warm and cozy. Con: Does not do dishes.)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The New Normal

Today I read a quote on a weight loss blog which said, "If it's important to you, you'll find a way. If it's not, you'll find an excuse." Of late, I've been feeling a little...bored...when it comes to this whole weight loss thing and so this quote really spoke to me. I must admit, I wondered if I am making excuses (and therefore doing idiotic things) because I lack a goal. I have no specific numeric goal in mind, no magic number I want to reach. This is FAR different to my previous efforts, actually, where I believed that unless I has a goal - a whole series of goals, actually - I'd never succeed at this.

Then I remembered something I had told myself a long time ago - which is that the goal is just to have being at a healthy weight become normal.

You know that whole thing about setting small goals and giving yourself rewards at each step along the way? I totally used to do that. But then what happens when you reach the LAST goal? I'll tell you exactly what happens. You celebrate reaching goal by eating out at a fabulous restaurant and eating the whole bread basket before your starter has arrived. And then you flail around like the proverbial beached whale because you are now lacking in purpose. You're lacking in a goal - an end point - a "almost there, nearly there, going to get there, GOT THERE!" experience - and so you are lacking in a way to keep yourself mentally busy and committed to lettuce leaf sandwiches and 40 minutes on the treadmill. So, you fall off the wagon spectacularly. I mean SPECTACULARLY. Because - doing it for no reward? Why bother?

Frankly, I'll be honest with you. Being devoted to exercise and weight loss is very, very time consuming. It eats up (pun intended) a whole LOT of your real time, and a whole lot of your brain time. It's like having a second full time job. It quite literally consumes you.

This is not to say I am not a believer in goals, because I am nothing if not an over-achiever, and the best way to do that is to set a goal and then smash the shit out of it. This time, though, this time is different. Because there is no goal. No end point. No nothing except living a happy, healthy life to the best of my ability. I just want being this weight to be the status quo.

And you know...normal...is kinda boring.

Because ...this means that I will miss a few gym sessions. Or maybe go to the gym, but once in a while NOT put in 110% effort. Or, like today, eat a shit load of lollies (OMG have you *tried* choc covered milk bottles? Because those damn things need their own religion, or something.) Or...just eat whatever the hell I feel like for a couple of days in a row. BUT this also means that I *know* that the "goal" (such as it were) is just to 'keep on keeping on'...and so I'll be back at the gym tomorrow. I'll buy something horrid to eat, relish that first bite, and throw the rest out (yes, I really do this. Often. And often because the item never lives up to how good it is in my head, and calories for things which are not worth it? Not my scene any more.) Or I might not buy anything horrid at all for weeks and weeks on end. I might be so perfect as to need a halo.

I'll have my good days, my bad days, my GREAT days, my HORRID days...but what I've come to realise is, THIS IS THE NEW NORMAL. The new normal goes to the gym like she said she would. The new normal walks to work sometimes, just for fun - and who knew, but for the new normal, walking IS fun. The new normal gets up off her ass to do stuff she would previously have gotten other people to do. The new normal voluntarily exercises on the weekend with her family. The new normal eats too many lollies once in a while, but it's not really a big deal. The new normal is just that...normal. Easy. Simple.

I may never be entirely happy with my dress size or the numbers which flash on the scale...but you know what? I don't really care any more. Because it's important to me, and so every single day of my life, I am finding a way. Some days, I'm still making excuses. Hell, some HOURS I am still making excuses. But you know, living a life without a food or exercise or weight loss goal...is exceptionally liberating. To not be held hostage to the constant thinking about it is just...so wonderfully CALM.

And, honestly, the most difficult part of weight loss? The mental shift in realising that you don't need goals to do this. At all. And realising that there is no end point (for me anyway), because I don't really need one.

The new normal does not need to think about food and weight and gym all the time...because it's important to her. And ultimately, it being important - is the most important goal of all.