Mother Who Works

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Parenthood

I heard a confronting interview on the radio recently; a speaker who is paid to evangelise at large commercial organisations, that parenthood isn't what it's cracked up to be.

Yes. Really.

As someone who's given birth to four precious pups, this was an insult to the very thing that I feel defines me. Yes, I work and do other stuff, but in my heart, I am a mother. What do you mean it's not the not fulfilling thing you can do in life?

I assumed it was some kind of crazy corporate propaganda to keep the troops focused on the work and discourage them from the distraction of procreation (the outcome, not the act!).

To check I didn't dream this, here's a link to an article from The Guardian that pretty much puts forward the same argument.

In essence, the guy I heard on the radio didn't deny the elation and sheer joy at the moment of birth, but pretty much paints a picture of it all being downhill from there.

Your fantasy of parenthood never materialises as you discover your offspring has sleeping issues or feeding issues, developmental issues, learning or social issues - or all of them! They become teenagers and worry the hell out of you, not to mention their misalignment with your hygiene standards. On and on it goes. In addition, there's the drain on your emotions, energy, time and finances that prevents you from travelling the world in the lap of luxury, staying at exquisite hotels, eating at divine restaurants and drinking fabulous wines whilst wearing drop-dead gorgeous attire. I'm starting to think these people have a point.

My beautiful babes.
It's often been rumoured that parenthood is a conspiracy. That those with kids persistently encourage their peers to have a baby because heck, let's face it, why on earth should they be free and easy while you're knee-deep in small kids??

What is has highlighted for me is, that although I love being a mother, there is a very viable alternative - and it's a pretty darn good one!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Farewell my faithful friend!

Do you remember my treadmill? The appliance I once never imagined I could live without? It's gone!



Yep.

Sold it on GumTree and it left yesterday.

I started running (if you can call what I do to get my self around in active wear 'running') on the streets before work about a year ago, listening to RN news and thinking through the day ahead - it's become my routine. I reckon I've used the treadmill less than half a dozen times in the last twelve months.

Where it was going to go when we finally renovate was also an issue - problem solved!

I'd had a couple of inquiries but finally from someone serious. He asked if I'd drop the price by a fair whack and I agreed.

He and his friend arrived about 10am. Geoff had removed the study door to make it easier to get out and lo and behold - it still didn't fit!! We spent the next hour YouTubing "How to dismantle a treadmill", undoing bolts and unplugging wires. At one stage, I thought they were about to thank me for my time and leave - but no, there we were, complete strangers, sweating, jammed into the overcrowded study and working as a well-oiled team to get this sucker out!!

It may have been a tad quicker had Geoff not simultaneously been attending to a cherry picker and a tradie in the backyard who was fixing one of the blinds on the shed (another story...)

Anyway, an hour later we'd done it! We managed to get it out in two parts -  also very tricky! - and into their van. Phew!

Here's a glimpse of what space looks like!! Maybe my dream of minimalism can come true!


Monday, January 16, 2017

Welcome Back - NOT

We headed off to my parent's place in South Australia for Christmas. It's about a 7 hour drive with the car loaded up with surfboards and luggage packs just to fit everything in! (I've decided it's impossible to pack light for a summer holiday in southern Australia - you're just as likely to get sweltering, baking heat as you are freezing cold rain.)

I was driving as we approached the town, about an hour and a half from our final destination, where I was born and spent my primary school years. Nestled in a valley with a river at the base, it's a pretty town with a population of less than 2000 and known as the birthplace of the famous Australian cattle dog, the Kelpie.



As we swept in down the curving highway, I was chatting to Geoff and kids about something - probably reminiscing about growing up in a small country town- when I rounded a corner and was suddenly confronted with  a red traffic light, with roadworks further on. That was a surprise! I checked my rear vision mirror and noted the car behind me was also travelling at about 100km/h and equally loaded up. I hit the brakes and slowed fast but for the sake of safety, rolled on through the red light before coming to a complete stop. Hmmm. Now what.

Because I'd overshot the light, I had no way of knowing if and when it would change. Up ahead, I could see a guy with a STOP/SLOW sign so I edged forward.

BLAAAAAHHHH!! The horn of the roadworks truck next to the traffic light blared, so I stopped and saw an extremely angry young traffic manager in the rear vision mirror, leap from the cabin and storm up towards my window. I lowered it.


That was a red light you went through, she snarled at me
I know, I agreed. It took me by surprise as I came down the hill and around the corner. I wasn't expecting that while I was going at about 100.
Did you NOT see the road sign a kilometre back that said slow to 80, then the next one that said 40 and the second one after that that also said 40? There was a faint whiff of sarcasm that caught me off guard, which is probably why my answer was rather blunt.
Nup.
Clearly annoyed by my response that invited no further discussion, she was forced to tell me off like a kid.
Well pay more attention next time! And stomped back to her truck.
Okay.....

I guess the light changed because she gave me another blast of the horn to send me on my way.

I didn't even get a chance to tell her it was my home town 😒

Friday, December 23, 2016

The death of the Christmas card

In years gone by, I would write, send and receive upwards of 70 Christmas cards.

Our habit was to hang them on one of the blinds, next to the Christmas tree, forming a veritable backdrop of well wishes and good cheer.

My selection of season card was thoughtful; always supporting a charity but still sufficiently attractive to suggest I had taste when it comes to... well, Christmas cards. My personal preference is always humour, but it's rare to get a funny charity card - there's a market opportunity!

I'd spend hours, after a full day at the office and an evening wrestling small children, hand writing personalised messages - mostly to people I'd have seen or be seeing over the festive season, and just a few to those for whom this was the annual contact.

My, haven't times changed!

Here was the display about 10 days ago....



We've moved them away from the tree as it looks too pathetic.

One is from the cleaners (a big franchise) and included a note about the dates they won't be working. One is from an interstate real estate agency. One's from my sister in law, the other two from businesses Geoff works with.

I've send none. Not a one. Isn't that what Face Book is now for? Or a blog?

Wishing you all a very merry Christmas and every happiness for 2017,

MWW x

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Time flies

Is it just me or is this shooting around faster and faster??

And as further evidence of the increasing speed of time, Eleanor has now finished school!

Here's a picture of her on her very first day when she started 4 year old kindergarten at Lauriston Girls' School.



And here she is this week, almost 14 years later on her very last day, after her Valedictory assembly -sitting on my knee again - I am there - you just need to look closely!!





Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Tough Mudder

For all three of you who've been spared my over-posting on FaceBook, I did Tough Mudder and survived!

The chicks in the office and I decided we'd do it a few months ago - and then struggled to find recruits :(    Everyone started off, keen as mustard, and everyone gradually developed a good excuse (you all know who you are!!)

video

Before any of us felt sufficiently prepared, the day was here. We'd enlisted the charming and chivalrous Nige, a talented director and producer we've worked with on many projects over the years, and my rowing friend, Janet. (I think she's still my friend... Nige suggested I may have used coercion and I suggested he may have been right. Rach from the office had money on that Janet would NOT be my friend after the event - it was gruelling.)

The start was hilarious. The Rocky theme song rocked on and we were all asked to get down on one knee, then told if that hurt, we should leave now. We then took the Mudder pledge, to help each other and just make it to the end.

We were also reminded that they would have a cold beer waiting for us at the other end and knowing we'd be exhausted, they'd even open it for us. Yay.

Off we ran. Only 18kms to go....

The first of the 23 obstacles was The Kiss of Mud, crawling combat-style through a long mud pit, force to stay low with the barbed wire barrier. The next was several deep mud pits where we spotted the first casualty of the day; a guy with a safety pin from his bib that had literally skewered his finger like a shish kabob - eww. We also found an asthma pump in a zip-lock bag - eek!

There were walls to scale, nets to scramble under, tunnels to crawl through, team mates to piggy back, waterways to navigate, monkey bars to swing from and more.

In truth, I'm a tad claustrophobic so wasn't sure I'd be able to handle The Birth Canal - a long crawl in mud under a sling of water that's heavy and in some places, pressingly low. I talked to the guy in the Canal on my left so I didn't have to look ahead and to distract myself, and just when panic was about to get the better of me, a random competitor reached in from the end, yelled at me to grab his hand and hauled me out in the nick of time.

It really was that kind of camaraderie that made the experience so enjoyable. Not just among our own team but everyone in our wave. We held hands with strangers as we picked our way blindly through pitted mud trenches, accepted leg ups out of deep holes and were dragged up walls by burly blokes. And of course we returned as many favours as we could.

The most alarming challenge was the Arctic Enema (it's on the video). A slide into a deep pool of iced water and ice blocks that literally takes your breath away, only to discover there doesn't seem to be an obvious way out. A volunteer explains that you need to swim under a wall to escape. So if the first dunking hadn't given you a good dose of brain freeze, the second most certainly did!

We also discovered the very weird sensation of running when you're drenched down to your undies with mud....

At the finish, my shoes (actually, my friend Sal's old shoes - she'd donated them for the occasion), socks and T all went straight in the bin.

So are we back to do it again next year? Quite possibly! Message me if you'd like to join us!!

(Thanks to Nige for the video, Gab and Rach for the commitment and laughs and Janet for still being my friend - I think!)

Thursday, November 17, 2016

How to Unshrink a Jumper

It can be done! For anything wool I suspect, but here's my tale.

Remember when my car got towed? I mentioned then that there weren't the words to describe the feeling you have at the exact moment you realise you left your car in a clearway and it's now past 4.30pm?

We need to neolexicate (that's a made up word that means to make up words).

Whatever the word is, I had that same feeling as I was hauling stuff out of the dryer - Geoff's work gear, school uniforms, sportswear - and spotted my black French wool felt jumper.

I nearly cried.

Not being one to spend lavishly on my wardrobe, this was one of my few 'investment' pieces. I say 'investment' because I find that term hilarious! By my definition, an investment either appreciated in financial value over time or delivers a return - clothes, or handbags for that matter, don't. I think the theory in fashion is that a big ticket item is so lovely and of such fabulous quality that it dissuades you from purchasing more items... again, not in my experience.

Anyway.... so out falls my jumper, not surprisingly a shite-load smaller than it used to be. It was short to start and now I was forced to wear an additional black singlet under the built in one so there was no gap and cascading muffin between pant and top.

The topic came up after rowing one Sunday morning. Sal had heard a of a method to unshrink wool - I tried it and - who'd have thought! - it worked!

Fill a bucket with warm water and mix in a good hand full of hair conditioner (any quality will do - even the old one in the back of the cupboard to comb out lice!). Submerge the item and squeeze the solution through the garment. Take it out and roll between two towels to remove excess water. Lay flat on a dry towel and start pulling/tugging/coaxing it back into the desired shape. I focused on length, but you might want the neck and cuffs. Lie it somewhere you'll notice it and every time you walk pass, give it a little stretch in the right direction as it dries - and voile la!

You are then supposed to rinse the conditioner out and dry and stretch and blah blah - but it smelt nice, fitted again and frankly, ain't no one got time to be rewashing a clean jumper!


Ta-dah!!




Tuesday, November 8, 2016

The Second Rummage

It happened again last Wednesday night. I'd been to the supermarket and was unloading groceries over a few trips, talking to kids and forgot to lock my car.

Goddamit!!

I came out on Thursday morning to pack for Oaks Day (Day 3 of the Spring Racing Carnival) and some of the contents of my glove box were over the seat. They'd been back.

Another pair of cheap sunglasses, stolen, plus all my parking meter money, my first aid kit and my manuals and service book! WTF??

There is a brand of car that apparently once you have the service book, you can organise a replacement key. A quick call to the service centre and I discovered my car isn't one of those.

Fortuitously, I had actually read my car manual last summer but still very annoying. I rang the local police in case they thief realised the books were useless and dumped them somewhere.
If you'd like to make an official record, we'll need to send out the crime squad to take finger prints on your car, the sergeant informed me.
Bit late for that I'm afraid, I confessed. I've already touched everything and anyway, I'm off to the races.
If it's got your rego in them, we'll find you, she added helpfully.

If you see someone around town wearing a tortoise shell pair of these - but TopShop, not Mui Mui - good chance they're mine!!!


On Sunday, as I headed off to Avalon (charity for the homeless) I remembered I'd grabbed a client-branded backpack from the office to donate. Now where was that? Oh that's right - it was in the car...

It would most likely have gone to some poor homeless drug addict and now, I supposed, it was the property of some poor homeless drug addict - so I guess on this occasion, we'd just cut out the middle man!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The weekend of contrast

Talk about extremes.

Saturday was Derby Day of the Spring Racing Carnival (horse races). Some friends and we hosted a car park On The Rails - an enclosure right on the track available only to members and their guests. It was a perfect day in every sense. The weather was magnificent, mid 20s, sunny and only a cool, light breeze late in the afternoon at the day's warmest. The roses were blooming and the French champagne following. 

The chicken sandwiches, pea and feta tartlets, eye fillet, salads (including edible flowers), brownie, slices, fruit platter and chocolates were all exquisite (if we're allowed to say that about our own catering!). We had a long table set up under shade, with a white cloth adorned with fresh flowers.

Geoff and I invited friends we've known for more than 30 years and the friends of our co-hosts were fabulous and engaging company as well. Other friends popped by to say hello, have a drink and ask if anyone was winning on the horses. It was, as always, an extremely convivial event.

We got home and raised a glass with our friends (and some neighbours who we lured in to join us!) to a hugely successful day.

It's the kind of carnival that attracts millions of dollars in sponsorship, corporate and private entertainment, gambling, horses and fashion, with people coming and going in cars, trains, boats, limousines and helicopter.



In stark contrast, on Sunday night, Sass and I headed out with Avalon Centre - the organisation that distributes clothing, bedding and toiletries to the homeless. The afternoon, when we'd sorted and packed the buses, was warm and windy but a cool change had come through and it was cold and raining intermittently. 

We usually see people who are hard up - of course - but Sunday was worse than usual. There was a 9-year old girl with her mum, getting a meal from the organisation that puts on a dinner in the park and a pink coat from Avalon to protect her from the cold wind.

I chatted to a gorgeous girl with an apparent ice addiction who was quite happy and gregarious only to slink over later and apologise for being 'sloppy' in front of Sass, who she hadn't realised had been within ear shot when she'd been mouthing off about something. She was so down on herself it hurt to hear her grovel for forgiveness. Sass and I assured her no offence had been taken and all was fine. She seemed to spring back a little.

There were a couple of softly spoken indigenous women, one with bare feet on the cold pavement. That was a problem we could fix. There was a polite young guy with nothing but the few clothes he was wearing and an impolite woman from Europe who was demanding, insistent and trying to take things that weren't on offer.

One of the Avalon buses outside Flinders Street Station


I don't know why, but there seemed to be more people than usual, drunker, dirtier and more drug affected. The smell of stale urine was more apparent and the language less tempered. There was a bit of agro and a few police. It was cold and we ran out of blankets early.

A woman was looking for some feminine clothes and we couldn't find anything to fit the bill. We checked the shoes - nothing there either. As I repacked the tub, I spotted a pair of almost new orange sandals - bang! I walked up and down the street but couldn't find her - it ruined my night.

I thought back to the apologising young woman at the first stop. She explained she'd been drinking all day. In truth, I'd been drinking for much of the day before. Same, same but so very, very different.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Another quick dinner recipe


Here's another quick weekday dinner that makes a decent lunch reheated.

In a baking dish, I put a can each of black beans, lentils and cannellini beans. (I really wanted chick peas but didn't have any in the cupboard.) Add two cans of crushed tomatoes. I also added a chopped onion and a couple of diced bacon rashers as they were hanging around in the fridge looking lonely.

I added some crushed garlic, it's optional. I used a couple of cloves from this one below. It's cold smoked, looks terribly gourmet, was a bit expensive and I wish you could smell it through the internet because it's amazing! Unfortunately, a bit like my smoked chicken adventure, once you get past the fragrant outer layers, inside, well, it's pretty much just regular garlic :(



Anyway.... the real key ingredient is this one below - sweet smoked paprika. Don't be shy with it! 


Give it all a stir. I then wrapped some chicken thighs with prosciutto (you could use regular bacon - again, it's just what was in the fridge...), nestled them into the beans, sprinkled some more paprika over the top, covered with foil and banged it in the oven at the usual 180C.


I probably should have taken the foil off and browned the prosciutto a bit, but I was working and forgot and then everyone was hungry so we just ate it. It doesn't look overly pretty, but it's really tasty -  smokey and yum! -  filling and on the healthy side.

Enjoy!

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Mother of the Year

A friend's young adult daughter recently sustained an ankle injury that required a trip to casualty and an x-ray.

Gee, said the doctor looking at the results, when did you last break your ankle?
I haven't, replied the daughter, somewhat bewildered. You actual have, said the doctor, I can see it on the image.

Needless to say, my friend was aghast to think her daughter, at some stage in her childhood, had suffered a fracture and she'd failed to notice. She said she felt terrible.

Oh goodness, I said, I'll raise you!

When Elle was about three, back in days before everyone was so litigious, games like 'Stacks On' where completely acceptable at creche. That when for entertainment, the kids literally jump on top of each other and make a big pile - go figure why that's fun but they all thought it was hilarious. During one game, Elle was launched upon by a much bigger 5 year old and complained for days about a sore shoulder.

You may recall that Drink a glass of water is my panacea for all things wrong with the kids, but after a few days of continual complaining, occasional weeping and no apparent improvement, I felt a trip to GP was finally warranted. He send us straight to the sports medicine centre for an x-ray which confirmed she had broken her collar bone. Whoops.



Anyhoo.... on the upside, there is no treatment for a three-year old with a broken collar bone. The GP made her a sling (he assured me it was more for psychological benefits than anything else) and on we went.

The difference between my friend's daughter and Elle is that she had no recollection of even a mumble about a sire ankle - I think I win!

Friday, October 14, 2016

Ratatouille

Our household loves a bit of 'rat' as we call it. It's an excellent way to painlessly boost everyone's veggie intake, leftovers can be eaten cold or reheated for lunch and it's dead simple. What's not to love?



Like much of my cooking, the 'recipe' is quite free-range, but I"m sure you'll get the drift, catch what I'm throwing or even smell what I'm cooking!

Here goes:

Chop the following into similar sized pieces (helps them cook evenly)
  • 4 mid-sized eggplants 
  • About 4 zucchini
  • About 4 red capsicums
  • Button mushrooms (or not if you don't like mushrooms)
  • 3 or 4 onions - I quite like the red Spanish ones for this but brown will do as well
  • You can also throw in some rosemary sprigs and cracked black pepper (I don't use salt)
I try and keep everything touching the baking dish's base and give the pieces some space so they get well roasted, browned and a bit crispy, so spread them over two trays. If they're too crowded they can steam and be a bit soggy. 

Douse liberally with olive oil and throw in the over at 180C; fan forced if you're in a hurry. After about half an hour, give them a toss to get the other side browned. I actually don't know how long it take but allow an hour and just look at them when you think to!

The veggies all shrink a bit so once they're done you can throw them all into one dish. Add a couple of cans of chopped tomatoes and torn fresh basil or oregano leaves if you like them and they're around. I add black olives and occasionally even some capers if I'm feeling so inclined. These all give plenty of saltiness so you probably don't need to add any. (You can add feta to the cold leftovers for lunch too, which is pretty yum.)

Throw it back into the oven to get it hot again (the tomatoes cool it down) and it's ready to go!

Have it with steak, baked chicken breast, salmon - even snags, You could serve some green beans as well if you wanted - and dinner's done!

Disqus for Mother Who Works