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.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Overwhelmed Today

I am not the first woman to own a small business and have three kids at home. I'm also not the first woman to own a business, have three kids at home, cook home made meals most nights of the week, be in control of paying our bills, run our household, attempt to keep everyone's lives organised (probably the hardest part of all), and still find time to haul my ass to get exercise several times a week.

There's nothing special about any of that. Plenty of other women do it too. I'm proud of it, I'm glad I do it, but occasionally "doing it all" leads to a feeling of extreme overwhelm. Thanks to some good coaching (Hi Biz Guy), some amazing support (Hi  BIL, IL's and DH), and being of the planning-and-organising personality type, I manage to keep most of these things ticking along pretty nicely. Life, as it were, continues apace and things mostly get done, and some don't, and life just carries on. The past couple of weeks have been a little tough, though, as I attempt to balance the business needing my attention and the kids needing my attention. I've managed to muddle through, but it's been frustrating. Every time I get the chance to catch my breath, something will happen which reminds me I'm really only *just* managing to breathe in the first place. I'll pop into work at night to catch up on a few hours of emails, empty the inbox, and finally leave for the night with a contented sigh. Before I've walked out the door of the place, my phone beeps with emails at such a rapid pace I'm sure the damn thing is going to lie down and have a seizure right then and there. Or, I'll return a stack of voicemails, hang up the phone and then read the SMS which says, "You have 8 new voicemails."

Don't get me wrong. I am SO DAMN GRATEFUL that the phone is ringing and the email is pinging, I almost want to sit down and cry bit fat tears of joy. This is what I wanted. This is what I needed to happen in order to get my life to the place I want it to be. It really *is* happening, the hard work is paying off, the Universe is delivering all the rewards I can handle (and then some.)

But, geez, it's overwhelming.  Sometimes that overwhelm can lead to a mini meltdown of sorts, which for me translates as a few too many 'taste tests' of the chocolate buttons, a few too many hours wasted on facebook, a few too few hours spend hanging with my husband and kids because I really just need some doonah therapy, and several nights where I'm not sleeping all that well and so tiredness makes me grumpy as well. Needless to say, I'm not all that happy with myself and the situation, because I am overwhelmed by competing priorities, feeling like I'll never get ahead of the endless 'to do' list, and generally pissed off at how chaotic things have become (even though I know it's temporary.)

Today, an acquaintance of mine in his mid-30's (friend of some good friends) passed away from cancer, leaving behind two young kids and a wife. Today, I got an email telling me that the family mess I mentioned a few posts ago is moving full steam ahead. Today, I took my DD to the doctor because she has not been feeling herself lately and we need to get to the bottom of it.

Today, I remembered that being overwhelmed with all the good stuff - emails and phone calls that generate business, kids who want to spend time with me, a husband able to work two jobs to support us, having ready access to chocolate - are *exactly* the sorts of things I want to be overwhelmed with. The rest of it? The messy house, the untidy work desk, the clients who are pissed off that I did not reply to them the very second they called...well, fuck them all. I'm too busy being overwhelmed with blessings to worry about being overwhelmed by mere details.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Things I Just Don't Get: Massages

Maybe this is a fat chick thing, but to me the idea of hell is getting naked or semi-naked in a room with a stranger, and then allowing that stranger to massage your fat bits around. Or even your not-so-fat bits. Either way, massages are just about the single worst idea ever invented, and the best part is this experience is meant to be relaxing.

And - and !! - they tend to involve tinkly music, various devices which reek of stinky stuff (eg oil burners, incense, or just the oil they use in the first place) and we all know how much I HATE stinky stuff and especially when paired with tinkly music. Either one of those on their own is bad enough, but paired they become totally unbearable.

Maybe this is a chef thing, whereby I think the ONLY things which should be massaged with oil are large joints of meat. Maybe it's because I think humans, while technically speaking are also large joints of meat, were never meant to be massaged in oil. Because the whole 'massaging in oil' thing is all about making meat taste better. This is a family blog. I'm NOT going there (but oh yeah, of course I did *think* about it, didn't I?).

I'm willing to concede that there are people (very odd people) out there who find massages relaxing. I'm even willing to give babies (who don't know better) and dogs (who also don't know better) a pass on this one, because we can't blame them for thinking it's a good idea. Hell, babies and dogs just love to be touched and they don't much care if there is tinkly music or not.

Seriously. I'm as touchy-feely as the next gal, but no way do I want to be pummelled and squished and prodded all around while laying face-first in a terry towel which heaps of other people have laid down on. And those tables just LOOK shonky, you know? Like as if I'm going to haul myself up there, maybe start to get into this whole thing and then a table leg will slowly give way. And of course I'll be slippery and whatnot, so I'll slowly and smoothly slide down to the ground in one of those "I saw it happening in slow motion but was powerless to do anything about it," moments. So then I'll find myself naked, going insane from the tinkly music, covered in sticky smelly oil, probably having lost my modesty towel somewhere on the descent, and humiliated because I need a hand up to get off the floor.

Thank you, but no. Massages are not for me.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Tiny Rant: Pepper Grinders

Number 6 trillion 100 hundred million four hundred thousand and eighty one on the list of things I don't understand: those enormous pepper grinders which restaurants offer you within three seconds of putting your plate down in front of you.

Firstly, and kinda unrelated to why I hate them, why on earth are they so large? Is this some sort of penis thing? As in, the owner feels the need to brag about their size by having the biggest pepper grinder on the block? Personally I do not love having this enormous phallic thing shoved in my face at the best of times, and certainly not when I'm about to tuck into a gorgeous meal. Any woman will tell you that of all the sexy appendages men have (and oh yes, there are many!) a penis is not one of them. They're plain ol' ugly. Fun to play with, but ugly as sin. And a penis which shoots black dust out of it...well, let me assure you, sooo not sexy.

So. Nevermind that I find the actual device itself somewhat offensive, I also don't quite get why that practise exists in the first place.

Let me let you in on a little secret. It's the chef's JOB to season your food properly. What does this mean, "to season"..:? It means to add enough salt and pepper so that it tastes at least a thousand times better than it would if you made that same dish at home. Definition of "to season", the truth version, is : Add WAY MORE salt and pepper than you would at home, AND to every component to the dish, which is why you can't replicate it at home even if you really want to, because home cooks are WUSSES when it comes to seasoning. This is why chefs get paid the crappy salaries. To season stuff better than you can. So if you sit down at a restaurant and they shove a pepper grinder in your face, it's like the restaurant saying, "Not sure where we got this crappy inexperienced 11 year old chef from, but he doesn't know how to season things, so we're doing it for you. Right here. Right now." In other words, just by offering to grind some dust on your plate, they're saying we have no faith that our chef did his job properly.

Which makes you wonder why they hired him in the first place.


I'm willing to believe you are one of those people whose taste buds are totally out of whack. You're one of those people who thinks tomato sauce on everything is a good idea, who thinks meat should always be cooked to within an inch of it's life (and therefore it loses all flavour entirely), who thinks cheap vanilla ice cream is some sort of treat, who thinks sandwiches need butter AND mayonnaise, who has smoked a shit load in their misspent youth. Suppose you're one of those people. I don't like you, but I understand you exist and so I tolerate you. You too lack faith in this chef and it's entirely possible that you WANT more pepper on your dish. Okay. Fair enough. The customer IS always right after all.

Here's what I want to know - in addition to crap taste buds, do you also have food ESP? As in, you know before you taste something that it's going to be under-seasoned? Because those jerks with the white apron and the huge phallic grinder are offering you their wares BEFORE you've even taken a bite, and you, dear eater, accept their ridiculous request.  By accepting their offer, you too are saying, I have no faith that your chef did his job properly. Or, I have no tastebuds left (all that smoking you know) and therefore I need shit loads of pepper just to remind myself there is actual food on my plate. 

Of course, should you taste your food and determine that in fact the chef was no good at their job (entirely possible, there are plenty of crappy chefs out there) - then by all means, self-season your food. That's why there is salt and pepper on the table in the first place (well, that and just because they look kinda cute.)

But please, please, don't shove a penis pepper grinder in my face seconds after you've placed the meal down in front of me. At least give the chef the benefit of the doubt.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Why Love Matters

For about a year now I've been dealing with a family situation which, to put it mildly, upsets me, angers me, frustrates me, and saddens me. I can't give you the specific details nor do I want to sullen this blog with that kind of negative energy. Instead, I'm going to explain (maybe for you, but mostly for me) what is just so hard to bear about this.

Actually, the "what's had to bear" part is easy to work out: I just don't understand it. My emotions about this stem from a simple concept - I cannot, no matter how hard I try, see a reason or an explanation for the situation. Not a logical one in any case.

I just don't get it. And for me, a clever thinking person, NOT getting something is not easy.

I don't understand how people with similar upbringing can have such different core values. I don't understand how a single, unfair act of God (or whoever) can end up causing way more grief than is justified by that single act. I don't understand people who cannot accept that sometimes, bad things happen FOR NO REAL REASON.  I don't understand what they are hoping to achieve by their actions. I don't understand why, to them, what they are doing has more value than preserving the lessons and values they were raised by.  I don't understand the deliberate causing of pain.

I don't understand not being able to see - or at least have a decent guess at - that the consequences of one's actions will be far, far longer lasting and way more damaging than whatever victory they think they will get. And that the victory, when and if it comes, will be hollow.

Most of all I don't understand how others don't see this simple truth: no amount of hoping, wishing, begging, behaving well or behaving poorly, making bargains with god, or looking for some sort of concrete answer as to why these things happen will bring people back.

One they're gone, they're gone.

As much as that SUCKS.
As much as you wish it was different.
As much as you would give anything - not even almost anything, just anything at all - to turn back time and make the outcome different.
As long as you search for an answer (and if you find one or if you don't), this basic thing will never change: once they're gone, they're gone.

But here is what I DO understand: that grief can change people. That grief can be the cause of mental illness. That those with a mental illness are not acting in their normal capacity. That the disease they are dealing with is bigger than they are, does not define who they are, and that they are not at fault for being ill.

Once you're sick, you're sick - and that's as unfair and random as the thing which made that happen in the first place. Maybe more so because, in the long run, it hurts way more people and has much further-reaching consequences.

That I happen to have to watch this - destruction of a human and of a family - take place is something I don't understand, either. So while I DO technically speaking have a reason for it - that reason being mental illness - I'm struggling to accept that, especially weighed against all the other things I don't understand.

Maybe I need to stop trying to understand, and instead concentrate on my skills of strength, healing, love and patience.

So with that in mind - do your worst, Voldemort. Because even Draco learned that that the only thing which survives in times of great darkness -  is love.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Summer Daze

We've been home for a week, I've worked plenty of hours, we've done plenty of housey things...and yet in some ways it still feels like we are on vacation. I've blogged before about how much I love Australia in the summertime - which is funny in a way because I'm not a great fan of hot weather. The Australian summer is just glorious.  The light just takes on an entirely different quality. People around you, even those doing mundane tasks like supermarket shopping and queuing up for buying school shoes, just somehow look happier than they usually would. The entire place is just imbued with this gorgeous, happy, sunshiney joie de vivre. That somehow manages to be true even when Melbourne is at it's weather-fickle best and I'm dragging out a polar fleece vest to wear smack in the middle of summer.

Today was a great example of a Australian summer day - DD1 is away at camp, so I found myself with 2 kids and a long, hot day stretching out ahead of me. In the morning I had to go to work, which suited them down to the ground since apparently episodes of Phineas & Ferb run all morning long. By lunchtime, as promised, I came home (with that lengthy 45 second commute) and hopped into my bathers (almost literally.) Within 20 minutes of being home (enough time to slap on sunscreen and slap together a sandwich), the 3 of us were on our way to the local pool.

Because it was so hot, the place was packed with people - wall to wall with toddlers, mothers, fathers, snotty teenagers, bored looking lifeguards, and all manner of poor clothing choices well worth the people-watching. We spent several hours in the sunshine, dividing our time between splashes in the pool, snacks in the sunshine, and even just a bit of quiet time for me. I must admit I am LOVING this age - the kids are over 10 and therefore no longer require parental supervision at the pool, and this means I'm not forced to be in that pool any longer than my sensory self can handle. So I can sit on the end of the pool, or chat to a friend, or..whatever...but I'm not IN the pool the entire time, being driven mad by my velcro children who seem to think drowning me and choking me are fun and interesting things to do.

By the end of the day my son had gone home with a friend we caught up with at the pool, and it was just DD2 and I left to our own devices. Some showers, clean clothes and snacks later, and she and I were bombed out on the bestest couch in the free world together. Air conditioning blowing cool air over us, coke-flavour icy poles in hand, inane TV on the box...and just...the summertime peace which comes over you when you've had a busy afternoon of sun and swimming.

I love summer in Australia, I really do. For how the sun feels on my skin, how it feels to be WARM and not cold all the time, for the delicious summer stone fruit dripping juice down my arms, for the sticky sweetness of sun cream, for the delicious 'snap' your bathers make when you pull them off, for that nipple-puckering moment when you step into a cold pool or a hot shower after a swim, for the any-excuse-will-do ice creams...for the joy and happiness and warm glow of a late summer eve when it's 9pm and still light enough for the kids to read just one more chapter.


I'll be sad when it's gone.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Sing it, Sister

I came across this article several weeks ago and I've been debating publishing it - not because I don't agree with it (oh heavens above but I DO) and not because it's not well written (yay) but because I hesitate to make this blog about weight issues.

And then I thought - fuck it. She's so right on so many levels and that, my friends, requires sharing.

This article is PURE GOLD.

3103 kms later....

...and we are home, well (mostly), safe...and ready to get back into the car and do it all over again. The joy and benefits of this trip are far too numerous to mention (although I had a pretty good go at it in earlier blogs) but suffice it to say we had a brilliant time, and I intend on bragging about it for a while.

As a family, we're awesome. RIDICULOUSLY awesome. And we're not perfect, but we're fun and that's good enough.

..and now back to your regular programming.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

2450 km later....

Well, best laid plans and all that.... meaning that in order to get up and do the cliff walk we needed to be up and about well before the heat of the day had set in. On that Monday morning, a bleary eyed me rolled over to DH and said, "What time is it?" to which he groggily replied, "10:30...or something. I don't know. Go back to sleep." Ever the obedient wife (when it suits me of course), I did exactly that - which meant that any plans for enthusiastic cliff scrambling were well and truly buggered by the time we actually got out of bed some hours later. It was hot, damn hot - so DH wandered down to the local mall with the kids for lunch and a movie while I went to meet a friend for a long meander (for which I was rewarded with a fantastic back of the neck sunburn, but it was still worth it for the good catch-up.) (And probably if I *wore* my hat rather than held it in my hand, I'd have avoided said sunburn...but...you know, that would have been easy and not interesting to blog about at all.) We spent our afternoon as a family in Manly - one last wander onto the sand, one last Slurpee shared in the dying sun. The evening found us returning to Manly to have dinner with some Melbourne family members who happened to find themselves in Sydney at the same time. The joy of that dinner - other than the company and good food - was listening to my kids share their adventures with other adults. I was hugely proud of their ability to tell a good story, to convey their enthusiasm for all we had seen and done, and in general the way they carry themselves when in the company of adults other than their parents. Kiddos:  I'm hugely proud of you, and it's a great source of pride to me that you are growing up to be such engaging, interesting people.

A wander down the Corso (for yet one more last-last-last ice cream on the beach) and we were suckered into letting the kids try "Zorbing" (no idea why it's called that, but apparently all the cool kids know these things.) Zorbing is getting into a giant (as in human sized) hamster ball which is pumped full of fresh air, then the inflated ball is put onto a giant pool of water. The idea of course is to then imitate said hamster by standing up in the ball and running to make the ball turn in the water. Sounds easy, until of course you remember that hamsters do not achieve this on water, nor with many other balls rolling around them and making waves, nor with people standing outside the barrier and laughing their asses off at them. The kids, not surprisingly, had an absolute ball (pun intended- which is good, because the next day was less than happy!

On our last morning in Sydney I was woken at 6:30am by the plaintive cry of, "MUM! I'm vomiting!" which is just about the worst wake up call a parent can get (second only to your twelve year old waking you with, "Mum! I'm pregnant!")  My poor DD2 was feeling a bit under the weather - to say the least - and the poor thing still had to sit through a 6.5 hour drive.  With nothing for it, we bundled her and a bunch of plastic bags and paper towels into the car and headed for all points south.

I'll spare you the details (because they're not pretty) but suffice to say that by the time we reached Pambula on the Sapphire Coast of NSW (a full *9* hours later!), 2 girls were down for the count, and a third girl (that would be me) was not far behind. By midnight, DH had succumbed as well - meaning that 4/5 of us were less than healthy, with a hale and hearty DS feeling totally fine, the lucky bugger.  Oh but we were a pile of misery, weren't we? Wednesday was a health-enforced pyjama day, mostly because DD2 was feeling better, DD1 was kinda okay-ish, I was tettering between feeling okay and feeling shit, and DH was...well, I've seen him look better (grey as a complexion colour does not suit him.) The two healthiest kids did manage a good long swim in the motel pool - hooray for country motels with pools!  Happily enough for the emzee travellers, by this morning (Thursday) all of us were fighting fit and ready again for adventure. In a way I'm not sorry we got sick (but healthy would always be better if I had a choice) because it makes for a good story, and in a way we all needed a good day of sleep just to catch up after two weeks of craziness.  This morning we headed off to Magic Mountain in Meriumbula, and to prove our good health, we managed to spend close to 6 hours with the kids going mad on the rollercoaster, go-karts, toboggan run, water slides and bouncy castle. We gave the mini golf a miss (thank god. I hate being beaten at anything. :) ). We spent a lovely evening enjoying dinner at the local bowls club - all in all a really nice finish to a really nice day.

Tomorrow is our last day in Pambula and we have no specific plans, which is in many ways a pleasure and in some ways a worry as I feel as though we need to squeeze every moment we can out of this glorious time together before it comes to an end.  Saturday we've got a long drive punctuated by a long lunch with some friends at the half-way point to home, followed by another long drive as we roll back to Melbourne sometime in the early evening.

I have a lot of thoughts about this trip - some funny ones about the experiences we had along the way, some observations about who we met, what we did, and some funny Australian "culturalisms" I've noticed - but I'll share those in posts in the coming weeks. For now, while my writings chronicalling this trip have mostly been fairly dry in tone, that's because one purpose of this blog is as a legacy to my children, not just as a collection of amusing anecdotes. Someday I'd like them to read this and remember not only the highlights (of which there were many) but also the lowlites (of which there were few, but damn they were funny.)

My next entry is likely to be once we have returned home - but in the meantime the emzee band of merry travellers is exactly that - merry - and that's exactly how I like it.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

1800 kilometres later...

When this blog last left our intrepid family travellers, we had just arrived in Sydney and were looking forward to several jam-packed days. The Harry Potter exhibition was as good as a Muggle like me might expect - in other words, pretty damn fabulous and well worth planning a 2 week driving holiday around! The Powerhouse Museum provided several hours of fun and discovery once we exited HP Land - I was surprised at how much joy we all got from the rest of the museum itself. At one point I lost track of everyone - the kids and DH had all scattered to see various bits of the museum and I was alone in a hall with a penny farthing bike on one side of me and a warplane above me but no family to be found.

Eventually (thank you, mobile phones), I discovered DH and DD1, and together we eventually found the other two - only to all get scattered and lost again as everyone found the bits which interested them the most. It was really several hours of fabulous discovery, and best of all is how engaged the kids were. We eventually walked from the Museum to Darling Harbour to visit the Chinese Garden of Frienship, which sounds completely dorky and all - but in reality is a stunning oasis right in the middle of Sydney. We traipsed around there for quite a while - around each corner there is something more beautiful to admire, or another pagoda to get some shade in. The weather throughout this trip has been stunning - but after so many hours on our feet in the blazing sun, we had all reached the point of no return and decided to head home. (Although we did entertain the idea of a few more tourist spots, DS had 'hit the wall' as it were and it was well time to head back. Poor kid fell asleep on the ferry ride home.)

A train ride, a ferry ride, a bus ride and we were home again - a quick dinner and a early-ish night in for all (although I must confess, that DVD player did see the light of day..but only so DH and I could watch a movie that night!). The next day we were out and about and ready to adventure once again, so we headed into Manly. A trip to the local aquarium (Oceanworld) and then a good long day at South Steyne Beach and a wander down the Corso - the beach was great fun for all of us, especially DS who loved laughing his ass off at his mother gettting repeatedly knocked over by the huge waves. I'd stand up, get pummeled by a wave, stand up, and start all over again. I never got the hang of wave jumping, but then it was more fun to watch him piss himself laughing than it was to wave jump anyway. The required lunch of fish and chips, more wave riding (okay, wave pummelling) and off we went back home to change and get ready for a night out.  We headed out for dinner with friends - friends who conveniently have a pool - so more swimming, heaps of eating (a deliciously grand BBQ dinner) and several hours later the exhausted, happy emzee family headed back into the night once again.

New Year's Eve Day dawned bright and early, but by now the emzee family had pretty much reached the end of their tether. We've planned SO many adventures, but have hardly taken the time to draw breath - so while we had an entire day of city touring planned, we didn't quite make it before our energy reserves ran dry! We ended up wandering around The Rocks, then climbing stairs (which are rapidly becoming a theme on this trip, with DS sighing and saying in a sarcastic tone, "Oh look! MORE stairs!") to get to the Pylon Lookout - which is almost like climbing the bridge except minus the grey suit and the $1000 price tag. Plenty of stairs, sun, and lots to see from up there - including the thousands of people lining up all along the Harbour in anticipation of the NYE fireworks! Lunch at a nice cafe in the Rocks, and it was time to head back to home and prepare for dinner. Dinner this time was at the home of some friends who again spoiled us with far too much food and good company - and while we *tried* to keep the kids awake, there was not a snowball's chance in hell they would last the distance to midnight. We staggered in the door of the flat, turned on the TV, and with 21 seconds on the Harbour Bridge countdown clock, watched the fireworks through eyes with lids at half-mast.

This morning - no rest for the wicked - we were up and about and headed for Taronga Zoo, where we met up with a third set of friends. With some of the most spectaculr views across the Harbour, and with some beautiful enclosures and interesting animals to look at, we had a truly brilliant day. New friends, new experiencies, heaps of sunshine - I'm pretty sure it does not get much better than that..but then this is OUR holiday so of course it does. We had a short space of free time, so we wandered into Bondi to get a ice cream - which is notable because there was no actual SAND at Bondi, only bodies to be seen...and also because it was the second shittiest ice cream I've had in Sydney. Possibly in my life. Seriously, is there no good ice cream in this town?! Dinner was again with friends - and the kids had the chance to mess about with kids their own age, something I think they really needed at this point in the trip.

We have been truly spoiled by the Sydney portion of this trip - by the sunshine which has made every day more glorious than the last, by the many friends who have welcomed us into their homes with open arms, and by the myriad adventures which have been exactly enough to make us exhausted and ecstatic in equal measures.

Tomorrow - our last full day here - has us attempting the Bondi to Cogee Cliff Top Walk in 30 degree weather, and the afternoon is currently free so we will see what adventures it might bring. It just might be time to relax in the cool of a movie theatre, or do some packing up, or...who knows. It's the one day we have not planned to the n-th degree. Tuesday morning we are headed off for Pambula - for 3.5 days of rest, relaxation, and recovery from all the endless running about we've been doing. We have loved every moment of the madness but a few days of recovery will be welcome.

We are all happy, healthy, well...and utterly unwilling to believe we're nearly needing to head home soon. With so much still to see and do, I'm pretty sure the kids will be planning our next road trip before you know it!