Embarrassment came a-knocking

I know my posts have been a bit philosophical of late but here is one that may get you laughing (at my expense again of course)…

So, you may recall I mentioned a missing courier in my last post? Danger is going through a stage of being frightened of the bath so, not being able to find any in stores, I ordered him a set of bath crayons online. He has such a penchant for drawing on the walls I thought this might appeal to his inner vandal. Well they were finally delivered today. I say “finally” though in reality I only ordered them on the weekend so they actually got here pretty quickly, only I had promised Danger he didn’t have to have another bath until his new bath toy arrived and he is a bit whiffy, so I was looking forward to their arrival with great anticipation.

The knock on the door, heralding the end of his stinky-bum-itus and pong-atosis (Danger is a fan of Doc McStuffins), came at lunch time so, kids securely fastened into high chairs, I went to collect our goodies. I signed on the small touch-screen he held out to me and taking possession of the parcel I smiled and, not thinking at all about the fact that this man had no idea of what was in the parcel he just delivered, I told the courier “Bath time is going to be fun tonight!”.

Eying the small brown paper package in my hand he gave me what could only be described as a knowing look and then he (shudder) winked at me.

Realising immediately that he assumed I was holding some kind of waterproof adult toy I blushed scarlet, stuttered out what started as a sorry and ended as a thanks but came out sounding like “stanks” and slammed the door in his face. Shaking with humiliation I walked back to my children, catching a glimpse of myself in the mirror over our mantle as I passed.

What a sight!

Not only was I crimson but half of my fringe was standing straight up (a-la-there’s something about Mary) with what could only be tomato sauce, there was spinach in my teeth and, looking liking nothing so much a huge, just squeezed, pus filled pimple, I had a dollop of hummus on my cheek.

Can I crawl under a rock and hide now? Please?

But still, bath time should be fun tonight!

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In 4 Days.

Four days ago I made an important decision. I decided to put my children first. Yes, yes I know as parents most of us would jump up and down and exclaim in horror that of course we do, if anyone were to dare claim that we didn’t. But do we? Really? I mean in every moment of every day consciously and deliberately put our children above anything else. Above watching TV, above folding laundry, washing dishes, checking emails or Facebook or any of the other thousands of little things that make up a day. How many times a day are we guilty of saying “wait” or “in a minute”, “not now” or “can you please get off me I am trying to…”
I know I am guilty of all the above and so many more and I want to stop.

I am not sure there is any single thing that started this change for me but I can point to a few specific occurrences that have contributed.

I was beginning to feel guilty. I was feeling overwhelmed and tired and wanting nothing more than just 30 minutes of time out from my squabbling, attention seeking, in-your-face children and I hated myself for it. My children are not naughty, or even overly loud but they are insistent and I just wanted out, even if only for a few minutes at a time. After sneaking out the back door for what seemed the millionth time that day I stood at the washing line, taking as long as I possibly could to hang the meager load and I wondered what it would be like to have children who didn’t insist on bouncing all over me every time I am in the same room as them. To have children that went to bed at a reasonable hour and woke happy in the morning and didn’t feel the need to start fighting the minute they saw each other. I felt that even though I seemed to be doing ok (my children are smart, polite and reach all the standard milestones months earlier than the average) I must, in fact, be doing something wrong.

Then I started noticing so many updates on Facebook, blog posts and pinterest pins on happiness and how to find it. They all said the same thing. Be thankful for what you have and live in the present. Be thankful, be present. Over and over, be thankful, be present.

Finally I read a collection of heart-wrenchingly beautiful letters written by a grieving couple to their child who died in the womb. It got me thinking, as I gazed at my own children through the haze of my own tears, how very lucky I am.
You see I never thought I would have children, was always led, by doctors, to believe that I couldn’t. Amazed barely covers how my husband and I felt when we found out I was pregnant with Danger. Actually we had an argument that morning and had gone our separate ways to work not speaking to each other. At work I felt, well, odd, and realising I had felt odd for a couple of weeks I took a pregnancy test in the public toilets in the mall. I thought nothing of it as I discretely hid the test in my pocket to read when I got back to my store, after all I couldn’t be pregnant could I? I was merely positively eliminating a possible cause for my feeling different. I honestly thought I was imagining things when the test revealed a little pink cross confirming what I had, til then, believed impossible. At once numb and exhilarated I called Action Man and, ignoring the terse “what?” that he answered with, I told him our good news. I could hear his smile before he even uttered a word. Immediately the argument of that morning was forgotten, he was shouting his joy for all of his unit mates to hear and they, in response, were cheering their congratulations. And my whole world shifted focus.

Suddenly I was terrified! What if I did something wrong? What if some careless or ignorant move on my part caused something to happen to this tiny, impossible, desperately wanted, miracle little argument ender? My baby, possibly my one chance at a complete family. Thankfully I found a fabulous midwife as the last months of my pregnancy were anything but smooth. The delivery, worse, much much worse, though that deserves a post all of its own.
By the time I got to hold my little man for the first time though nothing that had come before it mattered at all. My happiness was complete.

Then when Danger was 9 months old, and growing into such a funny and handsome little character, I fell pregnant again. Sunshine’s birth was the polar opposite of my previous experience. Returning to the same midwife, I had an ally and an advocate who fought hard to make sure that the same mistakes were not made this time around. Sunshine arrived on a calm and relaxed, sunny Tuesday morning. Her ready smile, cheeky blue eyes and flame red hair have brought light and love into our lives ever since. I am lucky, so very lucky.

So as I blinked at my children through those tears of grief for these parents I have never met, for their child they will always love but never again hold, that I thought how unfair it was of me to give my precious babies anything less than my everything when these unknown people would give anything to be able to do the same.
Please don’t misunderstand me here, I don’t mean that I intend to give up all other pursuits in my life and spend all my time just playing with my children (though that would be nice). I am also not suggesting that I will give them everything they want, I want to raise happy children not demanding, entitled little monsters. I am also not saying that I will sacrifice my personal needs in favour of the demands of my children, sometimes the only way to put them first is to take the time to recharge your own batteries.
How can I explain this? It occurred to me that so much of my time was spent physically in the same room as my children while my mind was elsewhere. What’s for dinner tonight, where did I put that box of batteries, will the courier finally deliver that thing I ordered today? My hands were busy, sorting, folding, typing, and because my children were playing around my feet, and I was on hand to separate them when they started fighting, I was deluding myself into thinking I was ‘parenting’ them. It finally occurred to me that all of this bouncing on me, wailing at each other, late bed times and destructive behaviour was nothing more than a plea for my attention. Well Duh! Only every parenting book ever written could have told me that but some things you need to learn on your own.

So I made my decision. I am lucky enough that we can afford for me to stay home and raise our children and that is exactly what I will do. I will still be wondering what is for dinner and where those batteries are, I will still sort and fold and type but as I am doing it I will be present for my children. I will acknowledge them every time they try to get my attention and I will stop what I am doing (even if only briefly) to see what it is they want to tell me. I will not step over or dodge my little girl as she ambles toward me but pause for a cuddle or a tickle. Now when my little boy calls for my attention with his usual “Mummy, Mummy” I smile and say “yes Darling?” and really listen to what he has to say and when my little girl waddles up to me I stop and let her hug my legs while I stroke her hair and rub her back.

In 4 days I have made 2 tiny changes in the way I interact with my charges.
In 4 days my children have stopped fighting with each other.
In 4 days I have seen more smiles, heard more giggles than I can recall in the last 4 weeks.
In 4 days my son has told me some wonderfully creative stories.
In 4 days my daughter has shown me she loves to dance.
In 4 days bed times have gotten earlier, sleeps deeper and mornings calmer.
In 4 days my house has become a little messier, my children a lot happier.
In 4 days I have become a better mother.

Reality Check

I lay on the bed this afternoon, the winter sun streaming in, warm and comforting. I stretched then mirrored the small ash coloured cat curled up beside me and reveled in the contentment flooding through me. My babies were joyfully playing next to me, waving through the window at children on their way home from school and giggling when they got a response, their happy bouncing causing the golden red glow of sunlight through my closed lids to flicker periodically to blue-black. I pondered and marveled on how beautiful this life is that I am living…

Then, as only a small pointy elbow to the gut, driven by the force of a full body slam can do, I came crashing back to Earth. Better go get the dinner on I guess.

Goals Update – Week 6 – Lesson: Running from Zombies really does give you a little more motivation!

I am a day late in posting this weeks update. I didn’t think it was fair to write it yesterday when I was having such a blah day, you know the kind, where the motivation to wash the dishes is at absolute zero and the zombies on your running app were just not chasing you frequently enough to make you feel that you got a decent workout, you know what I mean? No? Maybe that one is just me.
It’s the day where you finally had to admit defeat over the lawns and call the local lawnmower man to do it for you and you woke up that morning and realised that, even though you had a lovely evening having dinner with your husband’s ex and their wonderful teenage daughter and the ex’s bubbly second daughter, that it was your wedding anniversary and that even though you have been together for 14 years and married for 4 you cannot recall a single time when you actually celebrated that fact together as husband and wife. It is supposed to be your husband and not his ex that you have dinner with on your anniversary surely? Or maybe that is just me too?

It has actually been a bit of a blah week all round, nothing going quite how I wanted it to and I don’t feel I have achieved anything really. It was the kind of week that had me second guessing myself and wondering if I shouldn’t just pack it all in and give up on the whole goal setting thing altogether.

Maybe my blah feeling stemmed from the fact that I have spent a lot of time crying this week. Not in sorrow mind you but in empathy. You see I was recently nominated by one of my readers for a versatile blogger’s award and part of the rules of the nomination are to thank the person who nominated you, which I have done but thank you again Elizabeth, and to pass it along to 15 other bloggers who have touched your life in some way. Well at the time of nomination I was only following half a dozen or so other blogs and so I figured I had better get reading if I was going to find 15 others to nominate. Wow. It is amazing how these small snapshots, these tiny windows into other people’s lives can have such an effect on you. I have read stories of beauty, redemption and discovery and so many of them have made me cry that I was beginning to wonder if I was becoming nothing more than a big blubbering sook! Pah, wondering nothing, I have always been a sook – I can (and have) cried over TV ads.

Anyway I didn’t want any negative feeling seeping into my post so I delayed.

Luckily today I am feeling a lot better which is surprising actually as I had a rather severe case of Pinsomnia last night. Here I was at 10pm, all the chores done, congratulating myself that I would be in bed by 10.30 tonight after a quick check of my emails… before I knew it the clock was reading 12.30am and I was in the midst of a pinning frenzy fantasising about all the fabulous places I want to travel to someday. Pinterest you will be the ruin of me I think.

So onto the achievements (or lack thereof) for the week. It hasn’t been a total write off, I just had more in mind is all.

I still have no idea if I have lost any weight. I now know what is wrong with my scales but am no closer to being able to fix them. I am officially admitting defeat in this area as well and will buy a new set. In the mean time I plan to take my measurements so I can see if I am getting any smaller as opposed to just weighing less. Of course I won’t know if I am until I measure again in a month but it is a start. I will not be sharing those measurements though, sorry if you were curious.
To my shame I have fallen off the 30 day challenge wagon. I don’t even have a good excuse, I got to day 17 and just stopped. I vow that today I will pick up where I left off. I have however been enjoying using the elliptical trainer and ‘running’ from zombies with the new Zombies, Run! app I downloaded onto A-Man’s phone. Hope he doesn’t mind, who knows he may even use it himself, he is a bit (lot) of a zombie fan too.
I have joined an online community called SparkPeople. It is a free program that allows you to count your daily calories, track your exercise and get tips and recipes from the site administrators and other community members. I have even followed along with one of their yoga videos which was interesting. I was a little more flexible than I thought but a lot less than I should be. I know a lot of people are steadfastly against counting calories but I have found success on Weight Watchers in the past and find that kind of system a lot more effective for me than anything else I have tried. I considered joining again but object to having to pay the $35 odd that WW charge for their online program and I sure as heck am not dragging my children to meetings for $15 or $20 a week! So far the 4 days I have completed on SparkPeople has been great and the exercise log means I can more accurately keep track of how much to pay myself.

I really thought I would have all my lanterns done by now but I think some sticky 2½ year old fingers got hold of some of my supplies and I am missing some components necessary for completion. If he remembers what he did with them he is not letting on. If I don’t find what I need in the next few days I may have to make a strip to the store though I really don’t want to.

I have not paid any more off my credit card either as I never did list any more items to sell online. I really will make more of an effort in this area, especially now the travel bug is hitting hard (thanks to my aforementioned bout of pinsomnia) and I need to get saving rather than paying off.

As I promised to myself I have been trying plenty of new recipes lately though I am remarkably crap at remembering to photograph my creations. Although I try my meals never seem to look quite as beautiful as the ones in the book or magazine I copied from, so I don’t feel honest using their photo to show you, even if the recipe is the same (which it usually isn’t quite, I just can’t help myself but change it just a little).The one time I did remember (and even took photos of all of the steps) I forgot the dish in the oven so my final photo looks terrible and the food is about 6 shades darker than I intended. It is close to, but not quite, burnt beyond redemption so although it looked disgusting it actually tasted ok and the kids were happy to eat it too. I am still of two minds as to whether to share it though. I also had great intentions of trying some raw energy bars this week. It seems you can’t log onto facebook, pinterest or any food blog lately without it featuring some clean, raw or Paleo (or better yet – clean, raw AND Paleo) recipe. It seems to me that about 90% of them involve dates, almonds and coconut oil, maybe with one or two extra ingredients thrown in but the basics are always the same, and the other 10% require a juicer. Now I have all of those things but I don’t believe we are designed to live on dates, almonds, coconut oil and juice. I am not opposed to including them in my diet though so I got myself set up to make some of these miracle treats. Just before I started loading ingredients into the food processor though there was a wail from the bedroom announcing that Sunny was awake and kitchen playtime for mummy was over. On the way down the hall to collect her I shoved an almond inside a date and ate it. You know what? It was good, and that is good enough for me, I found a new snack and saved myself some extra dishwashing. Win!

Something that I am proud of this week is how I have thrown myself into the FlyLady system of home management. I am still not so hot on following all of the routines I have been trying to put in place for myself though when my dinner guests arrived on Tuesday I was not scurrying around the house frantically shoving clothes under beds and wiping bathroom sinks as I usually would be at the prospect of visitors. The house was already quite respectable and that felt good. I am still not caught up on all of the laundry folding that needs doing but I am getting there.

On that note I am off to fold another basket in front of the heater. The sun is shining but it is still rather chilly and my toes are cold.