Wednesday, December 5, 2012

2012 - in summary

One of the first posts on my Facebook timeline for 2012 is a comment from Keegan getting upset at Christmas decorations on 2nd of Jan "Why do they STILL have their decorations up, Xmas is gone already!".  But mostly, the early days of January were spent waiting.  Waiting for Monique to arrive.  Due on 22 December, she didn't grace us with her presence until 7 January!

Brennan had 5 weeks off work over the Xmas period, and most of that was spent renovating our unit on Frederick St (and waiting, waiting, waiting!). 

We put our unit on the market in February and it sold quickly to the first people who looked at it, and for a price that we were reasonably happy with.   Keegan started school.  Monique smiled for the first time.  A hunt for a new house commenced with vigour, but nothing could be found, so we moved into a rental in March for the next six months.  The photo of me and the kids in front of the Sold sign was taken by our agent, and it sat in his window for MONTHS!!  All the kids at school thought we were so famous :)

March also meant a new car, one that we all could fit into - a Peugeot 308 with 7 seats (a spare for a friend).   Brennan was promoted in March from Manager, Delivery and Excellence (aka doing stuff and awesomeness) to Manager, Strategic Projects (aka doing interesting stuff).  We took the new car for a weekend away to a campground in Forster (photo below).

April's highlight was that Fergus started daycare meaning that I could concentrate on working without him delivering rubbish from the recycling bin to my desk!   After Easter, Vincent proved (philosophically) that Mums are better than God. The summarised version is:
V: How was the first person made?
Me: There are several different theories...
V: I think God made them.
V: But, who made God?
(long discussion about the options)
Keegan: God made himself
V: Nah, God's Mum made him, cos everyone is made by their mum.

The highlight of a boring month - May 14's status update: "My kids gave me the best Mum's Day present possible. Sitting with perfect manners while out for breakfast yesterday and garnering compliments for our fabulous parenting ability!!"

In June, the school had their athletics carnival and Keegan won the 5YO 100m dash by approximately 50m.  Using typical kid logic, Keegan decided the night before that he needed to shave his head, so that he would be faster.  But according to a teacher, the thing that made the difference was that he was paying attention at the start.  He dashed off at the starters gun while his classmates were still figuring out what to do!  Vincent also won his heat, but due to a clerical error he didn't run in the final for his age-group and was a bit confused when the ribbons were given out and the boy who he beat in the heat got the first place ribbon.  It was a tough lesson for him, but also good to understand that no system is perfect!

A big decision was made in August when we (finally) found a house to buy.  A tiny 2 bedroom Federation villa, it came with a huge back yard.  Built before the post office used street numbers, it has its own nameplate (Verona), but Fergus refers to the house as "back yard".  Eg, "We go to back yard now".  The vendor is our neighbour, so we negotiated to have access to the property before settlement to allow us to do some work on it before we moved our furniture in.  So we had several weeks to fix the rotten floors, put in a new hot water system, fix the fire-place and do a few other minor things without having to work around our things.  And most importantly, we could put up the trampoline, much to the delight of the children.  We officially moved in during the start of September - our third address in 2012!

September started poorly with Vincent breaking his ankle on the trampoline.  And to all the people who said "perhaps you should only let one kid jump at a time?", where is the fun in that?  Technically the ankle was a torn ligament and an undisplaced fracture of the tip of the ankle bone, so nothing that required a cast, just rest.  Well, resting proved difficult and there were a couple of visits to the hospital when it was re-injured, as well as the dual problems of having crutches at school and the litigious, safety, issues of being in an upstairs classrooms; and the biggest issue (for Vincent) of going on holiday with crutches.  It puts a real dampener on things when you have only one leg and can't run wild at the Gold Coast!  A few days at the Gold Coast was a fun holiday, we went to Sea World and Vincent rode the crazy fast jet ski ride.  The kids went to the top of the tallest tower with Brennan, and we did some swimming and digging holes on the beach. 

October brought the start of cricket.  Both older boys were upgraded into the Under9s team, and play half day games on Saturdays.  All in whites, so cute!  Our local ground had its 100 year anniversary and the Australian cricket captain, Michael Clarke, came to play for his old club (ours!!), so we went along to watch. 

Time marches on so quickly.  In November Monique started to stand without holding on.  Nearly 11 months, and she's about to start running wild with her brothers. 

December brings a trip to NZ for Christmas and a big party that we've organised in a house we've rented but haven't seen.  I hope it has enough space for the extended family!!  Also, Brennan is having laser eye surgery, so no more glasses for him.  I've heard that it's a life changing event, and I hope that it all works out (am a little nervous, but the paperwork includes enough risk mitigation in the process that I feel comfortable enough).  School is nearly finished and the boys have done well this year.  Brennan's work has been busy as usual, with several trips around the country, mostly to Brisbane and Perth.  There are some interesting things on the horizon for next year.  My work has been rewarding without anything too new and exciting.  The project with Rob is trucking along well, and my other clients seem happy with my output.  I picked up a new client too, which is always nice.

2013 is likely to include more moving, as we are planning to build an extension on this property, and we will have to move out for the construction phase.  Onwards and upwards!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

So fast...

Last week, a parent at school said "You should get Keegan into training, he's got such great natural speed.  I used to be an athlete and you can train a lot of things, but not speed."

Internally, I screamed "but he's only 6", while politely thanking him for his kind observation.  He obviously felt that I wasn't going to take this seriously and implored me to get Keegan into training. I ended up telling him that we were doing cricket this summer and one sport is plenty for us.  Playing in a team and learning a wide range of physical skills is more important than being the fastest six year old. (Although the six year old is pretty pleased with himself and quite likes the idea that he is the fastest).

I spend my working hours researching horse racing, and the statistics show that horses that race as young horses have longer racing careers, so there is a huge benefit to early training.  It's just that I think the parallel to humans should be education, not running.  Early education is where humans get the long term benefit.

It is education that gives a person the greatest advantage in life.  Being able to run fast is not really a career option.  And even if it is, having an education will give the athlete options when their body fails them.

Photo:  Yearlings at Widden Stud in NSW

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Some Scrapping

A few layouts... and for some reason Google is an idiot and has put them in weird rotations.  If anyone knows how to fix this, I'd be happy for a tutorial.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Risky Play

So one of my sisters just said "Go forth and update your blog.  It's been ages" (since I wrote something profound).  Or at least, I hope that's what she was thinking in begging me to put some thoughts on e-paper.  So I've turned the Hilltop Hoods up loud and am writing....

"Working Mum with Loads of Children" has been busy with the usual pursuits.  Washing clothes, moving house, walking kids to school, working (!), baby wrestling (or at least attempting to stop her pulling the computer cables out of the wall).

Apart from the normal stuff, #1 boy has broken his ankle.  We recently sold our unit and bought a back yard (and a tiny 2 bed-room Federation house.  The word 'villa' seems to overstate it).  And erected the trampoline.  Oh, what a relief, the children have some room to belt about, to get all that energy out before bedtime without ruining the furniture.  It's been great.  So relaxing.  Such fun.

For a week or two, anyway.  Until they were all on there together with an adult, and #1 fell awkwardly and started yelling in pain. The ankle started to swell, so we put ice on it and waited.  Nurofen seemed to help things, and he limped around a bit for the rest of the afternoon.  But just to be cautious I took him in the GP in the morning.  The GP recommended an x-ray, and we found an "undisplaced fracture" on the pointy bit of the ankle bone.  Too swollen for a plaster, but broken enough for crutches.

So many people have said "perhaps you should have a 'one-kid-at-a-time' rule for the trampoline".  Perhaps, but where is the fun in that?

Now #1 kid is pretty active, and therefore really quite bad at resting, so it was no surprise that it hadn't made any progress after two weeks, and no surprise that after another three weeks he re-injured it.  This time, we took him into RPA in an attempt to get a moon-boot (which would at least ensure the joint was protected while he ran around "resting").

But the doctor wasn't interested.  Mostly the damage is ligament damage (in old speak - a sprained ankle), and therefore if he rests the ligament then the bone will also heal.  The fact that we were here for a second time because this strategy hadn't worked the first time fell on deaf ears.  So we are back to compression bandages, yelling "Rest that foot" as he races past and the odd "Please rest, I don't want to see you hurt again".

The trampoline rules haven't been changed.  They remain "no sharp things, no eating, no jumping if someone is underneath".  "Risky play" is becoming the new parenting fad.  It's even an evolutionary response to ensure safety as adults, according to this study.  I agree with the idea of learning to evaluate risk at an early age, and won't be changing the trampoline rules to 'only one person at a time'.

Monday, July 9, 2012

I love my washing machine

This book of Rob's is taking over my life. There are no spare moments in my 'working' days to do fun things, but that's probably a good thing (unless you are this blog and are being ignored). Or a hobby. Or housework (no tears here though!).

Last night, the toddler spewed three times. And I realised that I LOVE my washing machine. Just fire all the sheets in there, hit a couple of buttons and hey presto - no more spew. Fall back into bed, repeat process later...

Imagine 200 years ago (or even 50 years ago), before the invention of awesome washing machines, waking up after all that broken sleep to a huge pile of spew covered sheets. Yuk. I hate cleaning up spew at the best of times, but there is a joy in knowing that a machine has it all sorted!

Somewhere in amoungst this book, other work, the usual kid stuff, and no sleep, I've started organising a big family Christmas party. Well, I'm kind of just project managing it. I've created a list of things that need to happen to make a party happen and I'm going to get everyone else to do them. I've started by making these cute little party bags that will contain 'instructions' and a few things to get people into the Christmas spirit.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

I'm not a real writer, but what the hell, I've got a book to write and I'm going to write it!!

I have been asked to write a book. I guess you could loosely say that "I have a book deal!". But it's more that I'm an expert in a weird niche area and thus am suited for the subject of the book.
I am pretty verbose too, so you'd think it would be easy just to spew all the words onto the page.

I actually thought I was doing well, but a meeting this morning has (again) extended the scope of the project. A few weeks ago, my client wanted to know how long the book was so far. I said "82,000 words. I did some research and the standard novel is between 80 and 100,000 words". He said that we were on track. I felt I needed to expand some areas still but that meant a bit of a slash and burn in others, and I had been feeling a little directionless about it.

This week, he has read the whole thing and wants to keep most of it and expand it to 200,000 words. So it's back to bashing the keyboard and putting in the extras I want and increasing the list of things he should write. The publisher wants some of his life stories, so it has evolved into a collaboration.

In the rest of my life, I wrote a long piece about the spirit of the game when relating to the boys soccer teams. Here is the layout that it ended up on.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Great ideas and no time...

I've just looked at my blog for the first time in weeks and realised that I was completely in la-la land when considering doing a 'working mum with lots of kids' blog. There is reason none of these exist. There just aren't enough hours in the day.

I'm hiding in my office for a few minutes of peace while 4 sleeps and 1,2 and 3 are doing lego (and not fighting, wonder of wonders!). I should be cooking dinner, but it's just left overs, so doesn't really need my attention yet....

I have been putting a bit more effort into my work internet profile recently, something that has been lacking, but now it's all facebooked up. That has provided me with an easier way of updating the website with what I've been up for various clients. I feel a bit like I'm overlapping them all this week, different clients naturally want different things but the threads from each seem to be pulling in the same direction. I've had a few "well I did that for someone else, let me ask them if it's ok if I use the relevant parts for you" conversations lately.

And no time for scrapping. Which is a real shame. I miss the "time-out" relaxing it gives me. Or perhaps it only feels like I haven't done anything. I caught up with friends from Red Earth Scrapping a few weekends ago at their retreat, which was fun. And did 7 layouts from Sat evening to Sun morning - a machine at work :)

No photos of layouts to put up, but here is one of Fergus with both his grandpas at Balmoral.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The working mum

I've been reading a few mum (and dad) blogs lately and it seems to me that there is a niche for a blog for the 'working mum with lots of kids'. The quote comes from Victoria Beckham (here) so she may have already done it. Although she is probably busy with her other business.

On that thought - perhaps that is why the niche exists. Mums with lots of kids who also work don't have time to blog about it. So where does that put me? Should I do it? Or would it be cheating since I don't work in a real office?

I work in my own home, running my own business. It's still work, it still provides an income, but it allows me to have the toddler and baby at home with me. I pick my own hours (except for client imposed deadlines) and have great flexibility. It does mean that on days when I have no deadlines, and I'm tired, that I can rest and catch up on laundry and other household chores.

Take today for instance. I've got two 'work' things to do (come up with story ideas for my next article at Breeding & Racing, and start putting the statistics from my articles into the book I'm writing). Neither of these MUST be done today. So instead, I've read some of my book, I've spent some time lying on the floor with Monique just staring, smiling and wasting time (oh and stopping Fergus from sitting on her), I've done 7 loads of washing and am contemplating organising some documents for our house sale. For a mum with lots of kids, today is called 'rest'.

It seems I'm also contemplating starting a 'mummy' blog. Or perhaps that should be 'mama' since that's what the kids call me :)

Thursday, March 8, 2012

A few March challenges

Stuck Sketches

Scrap the Girls

Scrap the boys (ok, I have no idea why this one is sideways, but whatever - I seem to have problems with blogging, or perhaps blogging has problems with me!)

Friday, February 24, 2012

How to fold a cloth nappy


Fold nappy in half to
make a triangle.

Fold the long edge across to make it thicker.

This is the weird part. Flick the long edge (where it is thick) under itself to make it doubly thick.

Unfold the top half of the triangle (you'll end up with a diamond that has a thick section down the middle).

Fold it across the other way (this gives you a nappy shape with a thick pad down the middle).

Nappy is usable now - put baby on it lined up with the thick pad under its bum. Pull the pad up between it's legs and fold the side (triangle) panel across. Secure with a pin or one of those clip things. For smaller babies, the side panels need a little roll/fold to make them smaller and tighter around the legs. Takes a bit of practice, but you'll get it nice and snug soon enough.

To store folded nappies, do a few more folds:

Fold up the middle thick part

Fold one of the side panels across.

Fold the other side panel across and the little flap leftover back again giving you a nice neat package for storage.

The finished pile, ready for use. They hold this shape really well for transportation too.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Feminism and androgen-ism...

This article made me think about feminism. Is the aim of feminism really to make humans into androgynous creatures that are focused on the financial goals of capitalism only?

Sure, the world doesn't really need more people - there are over 7 billion of us already - and yet someone has to breed the next generation since people as individuals don't last forever. Some people try though. So many ideas all rolled into one terrible sentence!

Surely feminism should be about embracing our differences as well as ensuring that our individual strengths are best utilised too? Men are different to women - just ask anyone who has grown both boy and girl children. (this isn't me yet, as my girl baby is too young to show any gender preference, so far she's just doing baby stuff).

And shouldn't those differences be celebrated? As a women, there is something empowering about creating life and sustaining life (through breastfeeding and ongoing care). Sure, it detracts from a career in the short term, but life is a complex thing and career is not everything. And on that note, I'm a big fan of capitalism - it's the only system that has been tried so far that allows anyone to be born anywhere in the social and economic structure to succeed.

Of course, I have a career, and I get to use my brain to earn money most days as a self-employed person. Perhaps I have the benefit of 'having it all' but in small doses...

I think everyone has something to offer the world, and it would be sad to see everyone try and be all the same.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

First adventures in PINK!

Our little girl, Monique, is nearly a month old already. I really want to say 'a month new', cos she's still so small, new and the use of 'old' just feels wrong somehow!

I've been doing a few pink layouts, and it is a whole new world - especially after spending 6 years scrapping only boy stuff. But the principles are the same, just a whole new set of colours. Mostly I've been going down the pink and green road so far, mo

stly because green seems familiar to me. I'm not really a fan of the whole pink vs blue ideology anyway, but some of the girly papers are pretty cute!
Here are a few:

Monday, January 23, 2012

Bribery and the Play Station...

In order to get us through the school holidays in a sane fashion, we instigated a new 'rule'. If you are generally good and nice to each other all day, then you get to play on the PS3 for an hour at 4pm. Mostly it has made them ask us "Is it 4o'clock yet?". We've taught them to read the clock, but the question comes just the same. Plus any time it gets to 20 minutes past the hour - "It's 4o'clock, it's 4o'clock!".

The days when they don't get to play are not fun, but when it works - bribery and the PS3 make that one hour so peaceful!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

She's here!

Our family is complete with the safe arrival of Monique.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The ticker is right`

"I should be here by now" But she is not. 4 days overdue and we are still waiting. Having never gone overdue before it's driving us all a bit crazy.

Some news soon - I hope!