Category Archives: Family

Sunday log

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This was the last week of our summer holidays, as I head back to the office and R1 to vacation care and R2 to his kindy/day care tomorrow.  We had visitors from home, my dad and my teenage half-brother whom the kids adore.  It was also a bloody hot week.

Steps forward

1. Escaping to the air conditioned library, I checked out 4 books which seem to have a theme…

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I soaked them up immediately, reading the first chapter of each and then jumping between books for days.  I have finished No Impact Man and 21st Century Smallholder, but will definitely have to read the latter a few more times.  Reading No Impact Man and seeing the type of lifestyle he led before embarking on his year long experiment at living without environmental impact, I realise that I am already some way along my journey towards a more sustainable lifestyle.

2. I made jam.  Pretty much, in a nutshell, that is a massive leap forward.  Jam making was the one insurmountable. For nearly a year I read countless books and blogposts regarding jam making, but until today when the kids baulked at the plums from the market because they were too tart, I did not have the courage.  God knows why, because the recipe for plum jam was plums, sugar and water.

So utilising all of my acquired knowledge I jumped in head first.

It seemed like I was doing it right and wrong at the same time.

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I sterilised all of my implements and put a saucer in the freezer for the wrinkle test.  I measured out my ingredients.  (To give you an idea of how huge a leap forward this was for me – I am a grown woman and yet have never ever weighed out ingredients for a recipe before. Truly.) A minute before I had to start the rolling boil the plums were still firm so I mashed them despite the recipe not calling for this action. I conducted the wrinkle test multiple times, beyond the time specified for maximum rolling boil, but the jam still swam on the saucer.

No matter, I poured the runny jam into jars and took photos because I was just so damn proud of myself.IMG_1103

Later I realised I had halved the plums and sugar quantities but not the water.  Oh well, next time.  Because there is definitely going to be a next time. It is so easy!!  (Unless you get it wrong 🙂 )

Step back.

1. This one is dad-related.  He wanted to take the kids shopping for their Christmas gifts, so I met him at a local mega shopping centre.  I hadn’t been there for so long and I seriously had a visceral reaction to it.  My legs hurt after walking around one shop and I realised I was no longer ‘shopping centre fit’ capable of walking all 3 levels for 6 hours at a time.  This was the good part.  Unfortunately, R2 hadn’t lost the art of consumption, and became attached to all sorts of flame wielding plastic men.  I caved in and said he could have them after we couldn’t find a single wooden toy by the third toy shop.

He played with them for all of three minutes before declaring he wanted to collect the ‘whole set’.  My heart broke to see him back on the ‘I want’ merry go round, when we were doing so well off it.

R1 only wanted school shoes, white volleys, as her Christmas present, no matter how much my dad tried to talk her out of it.  But this made me think – am I pushing an unachievable and demoralising asceticism on my children in my own egoistic pursuit of a certain kind of lifestyle?

While these Sunday logs measure my slow incremental weekly progress, my dad’s visit showed just how much my way of living has changed in less than a year.  There were stark contrasts between what we both felt were ‘normal’.  He double plastic bagged every little thing he bought and then ripped the bags open so they were unusable.  He bought a slab of 500ml water bottles which he chilled in the fridge, creating excessive rubbish and consuming energy, when I had a jug of filtered water for drinking.  His first option was buying takeaway when I preferred to use what I had at home.  His suggestion that I poach eggs in a plastic container in the microwave (I felt physically ill at the thought of this).  His inability to be inside a warm home without air conditioning.  Litres of soft drink in the fridge.  Assumptions that I hang out at the shopping centre with the kids.

These all horrified me.  Yet I hadn’t really noticed myself changing so much.

day of[f] work

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I am perilously close to getting used to not going to work.

Yesterday I went to the office with my sore back, but left early to go to an acupuncturist.  Today I stayed at home, as the pain was quite debilitating and the long walk across town from the train station to my office building crippled me yesterday.  But today I did work and achieved a lot, in between sessions of lying flat on my back on the couch (working on healing).

I spent the morning drafting and redrafting my planting schedule for my new vege beds, including a monthly calendar of activities.

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In the afternoon, I researched my family tree in the lead up to a mini family reunion this weekend.  I used the Births, Deaths and Marriages indexes and Trove newspapers to come up with this.

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I finished off the day with some weeding at dusk.

A full day of productive and immensely satisfying work.  Unlike going to the same workplace day after day.

Not that there is anything wrong with my current job – in fact there are parts I feel are very meaningful and interesting, vastly unlike my last job with a consulting company where I was treated like an automaton, unable and not allowed to have feelings, opinions, ‘issues’, hormones, interests, commitments, responsibilities.  Things I have in bucketloads.  There, I was explicitly told by manager to leave the office building one time that I was crying.  I was also told that work was my number one priority and I had to work my family life around that (I am a single mother!!!).  That was the day I applied for my current job.

An indication of how traumatised I had been by the previous workplace – in my second week at my new job I had an unpleasant event happen in my life, and I was asked by my supervisor if I was going to be alright.  My immediate response? Yes, I promise I won’t let it affect my performance.  She repeated, no, are you going to be alright?  I had forgotten how to be treated like a human being.

So when my manager yesterday showed concern and empathy regarding my back and said to take as much time off as I need to recuperate, then I know I am in a good place.  And yet……the idea of spending most of my waking life away from my home where the real work needs to be done is grinding and weighing me down.

all i want for Christmas

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This time of year is for yearning.

Yearning for togetherness, with those already in this world, and those long dreamed of, but who haven’t arrived yet.

I was chatting with my sister last night and the topic of her relationship was brought up.  Despite having semi-regular phone catch ups all year, somehow the fact that she has broken up with her partner, who still lives with her, had not been mentioned.  She corrected me, they are ‘broken’ not yet ‘broken up’.  A question of semantics and logistics to me.

But there went my hope.  My sister had found her ex-partner (it’s my blog I can call him this) on RSVP in September last year and within weeks he was declared ‘the one’.  By the time I met him at Christmas, there was open talk of children.

I first went on RSVP 2 days after I separated in early September 2009.  This was followed by match.com, Oasis, eharmony, and plenty of fish.  Night after night I responded to ‘kisses’.  I met a handful, but apart from the first which lasted 6 weeks, none went more than the third date.  I even had one call off a first date due to having had a ‘heart attack’ that day.

My hope was spurred by a new colleague who only last week left these shores for North Carolina to be with her Man forever, whom she met on POF in June this year.  But I have now pulled my profile from all these sites.

I no longer have the energy to respond night after night, especially as some people were just not civil.  I felt like I was fraying my energies, and it dawned on me that if I refocus these onto my home and my family, then I can tractor beam my ‘soulmate’ to me.  Besides, I really do not have time for a fledgling relationship, men seem to need more attention than babies… A man is going to have to ingratiate himself into my life so slowly that I won’t even notice he is here. The ideal arrangement would be ‘fly in fly out’.

Learning of my sister’s news (which came via my father btw), I then had to break it to the kids that ‘Uncle Y’ was not coming to visit at Easter or anytime.  While they had only met him once, I create a family for them by talking about the extended relations over on the other side of the country constantly, so they are never out of mind, and to ensure the kids grow up knowing that they are a part of a larger whole.

My sister’s biggest regret about having spent over a year financially and emotionally supporting a grown adult who wouldn’t get a job? That the likelihood of her having children is now slimmer.  Her lights are on.  The proverbial is ticking.  And the yearning is intense.  She even mused that she would have sex with her ex-partner one last time to get pregnant before he moves out, but for the fact that a) it would give him false hope and b) she can’t stand the idea physically.

My father failed to mention that he had offered to pay for a sperm donor for my sister for Christmas….

This would ordinarily seem bizarre, but I am related to this man.

And it is not out of the question.  Far from it.  My sister and I discussed doing this together the year I turn 39 (and therefore my last chance) and when she is 35.  If, you know, things don’t happen in any other way.  Single motherhood does not scare me in the slightest! But not having any more children does.  My sister reminded me that my situation was not as dire as hers as I already had two.  But the yearning is no different.  I have always wanted 4, ever since I started naming them and spacing their years of birth as an 8 year old.

This had been the plan with the kids’ father, but only because he came along when he did.  (Actually, to nutshell it, and flag for another day – he was the one who pressured me to have babies after 10 days, and had been on the look out for an incubator ever since he split up with his previous girlfriend who had had an abortion.)

My family is not complete, and I will continue to yearn.  But I need to know what it is like to have a baby with someone I love.  The two I have take the pressure off, biologically, so I can take the time to ensure that I have met my life partner.

‘happy blogs are all alike…’

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Last week, after my first post, I texted my sister the web address and asked her to check it out.  Eager for some reaction or feedback, or even to just to know she is still alive, I spoke to her on the phone last night.  I asked again what she thought, and she said she had ignored my suggestion as [to paraphrase] she didn’t feel like reading about people who are living a dream life as she can’t really be inspired by such people. [Forgive me C if I didn’t paraphrase you correctly]

After the initial disappointment of still not having a reader – even my own sister, and trying to shake off the weight of her pessimism, I reflected on the fact that, actually, I have come across this sentiment on other blogs – a feeling of inadequacy in comparison with the highlight reel of others’ lives, especially ones who boastingly claim they are living a dream (don’t you know it is tongue in cheek…).

I hope you do end up reading this C just so you know that some blogs are not meant to be inspirational, and some blogs don’t highlight just the best bits, but that some blogs are written so that you can see that  ‘happy families’ come in all shapes and sizes, as do ‘happy lives’.  A dream life is something everyone can have by going on what they’ve got.

I know where my sister is coming from. Trust me, if you were a member of our family you would be feel insanely jealous/ inadequate in comparison to other families who appear to have their shit together. As adults, my sister and I have shared our common experience of fear of ‘happy families’ during our high school sleepovers.  We felt like aliens at breakfast tables where mother, father, and children all sat and ate together.