Last Christmas, I gave you my heart

I think I must have blacked out for a bit there. And now I’ve come to, Christmas – that sneaky, emotion-charged season – is in full swing. Do you know what that means? It means it’s a whole year since I looked up from making pom poms (those bastard little school fete pom poms) to realise that my marriage was toast.  It also means I can legitimately buy myself (I mean the kids) an enormous tiger soft toy and listen to soppy Wham songs.

I’m doing those things right now.Wham. Tiger. Me

Yep. Last Christmas was positively craptastic.  There’s nothing festive about sucking it up and holding it together for the kids, when all you want to do is crawl under a large rock. I was lucky, though, to have my sturdy support crew, who propped me up through December and January while I stomped my feet and cried bucket-loads. Whatever it took (wine, inappropriate jokes, nose blowing) they had my back, and helped me stumble through the season in a pretty rock ‘n roll fashion.

This Christmas is so much better.

Some marriage break-ups stretch out over a bumpy, painful road for years. Mine felt more like a gut-wrenching supernova at the time. But once the shell shock subsided, I realised that not only was I still standing, I was starting to feel a little inkling of something good. It felt like one of those stinking hot Melbourne days we have, after the rain washes all the heat and stink away. When everything feels fresher and newer, and suddenly you can breathe properly again.

I won’t sugar coat it and say it was a walk in the park from there on. Some of this year was absolutely, mind-numbingly, face-palmingly frustrating.

And here’s what really blows about being a separated parent. It’s the stupid (and not so stupid) little things:

Stupid little thing 1

The school uniform that got left at the other house.  And by the way, it doesn’t make any difference how many sets you buy – they always end up at the other house.

Stupid little thing 2

The Goddamn Tuppaware and drink bottles and homework books that you need right now, this very morning, but are also at the other house.

Stupid little thing 3

The freaking 20-pack of kids socks and undies you bought last week, which seems to have migrated, on mass, to – you guessed it – the other house. Or the grandparents’ house. Or their beach house. Or ANY HOUSE OTHER THAN THE ONE YOU’RE IN RIGHT NOW.

< Deep breathing >

(not so) Stupid little thing 4

It’s when you’re in the car, absentmindedly fielding questions about McDonalds / why you shouldn’t play with your doodle in public / why the lady on that song just said shit… And then the littlest one hits you up with:

‘Mumma, can you explain again why Daddy had to go and live in another house?’

It’s the little things that make your heart feel like it might just implode. Because you realise that these questions are just floating around in their subconscious all the time, and it’s only every so often that they rise up to the conscious level and bubble out as words.

At times like these, about the only thing that can save you from unravelling then and there, is a really funny motivational meme.

YOU'RE ALL MISS UNIVERSE

But the good news I have is that at this point, I’m still relatively sane. And on the whole, things have been pretty awesome this past year. Being mindful of attention spans and word count, I’ve decided to loosely classify the good bits into the following neat categories:

People. Dancing. And The Universe.

People

This year, from the comfort of my lounge room, and thanks in part to this little blog, I’ve met people from all over Australia. They made me laugh out loud, and reminded me I was fun again.  They saw me travelling to Byron Bay for 5 days of yoga, mindfulness and slightly raucous gin and tonics.   And to Darwin, for my first crack at a long distance relationship. And two stops on the train, for renegade dietitian meetings. These beautiful new and old friends helped me start picking up the pieces and sticking them all back together again.

And the kids – my little people . They’re just as baffling, and high maintenance, and hilarious as they ever were. I can’t help but be happy when I look at their precious faces and sturdy little bodies. Sometimes I want to eat them.  I mean like literally devour them. And sometimes, when they’re arguing (which is a large percentage of the time), I also want to knock their bloody heads together.

Dancing

I dance a lot these days. I’ve always danced in the kitchen and on big nights out. But six months ago I twisted the arm of a new buddy into taking me dancing (it didn’t take that much twisting – just a few scotches).  I’m talking beginner swing dancing class.

It was equal parts excruciating, exhilarating and hilarious.   Not unlike year 10 dance classes, except this time we didn’t have pimples or bad ’80s hair. We walked out with two huge grins plastered to our faces, and were hooked.

Dancing is nice because it gets you touching other people (albeit sometimes strange and sweaty people), and laughing and being a dork. In the words of Amy Poehler – dancing gets you out of your head and into your body. And by the way, I am totally in love with Amy Poehler. She has a lot of piss-funny and wise things to say about life and divorce. One of them is this:

‘Someday you may be in a happy couple again. Someday you will wake up feeling 51 percent happy and slowly, molecule by molecule, you will feel like yourself again. Or you will lose your mind and turn into a crazy person. Either way, let’s just hope you avoided tattoos, because most are pretty stupid anyway.

Oh crap.  I wish I read that last bit earlier…

Amy Poehler

The Universe

The Universe is a funny thing.  Sometimes it knows stuff you don’t, and puts you in funny places at funny times, to show you that stuff.  Sometimes it taps you on the shoulder, and then when you don’t listen the first time, it gives you a big old shove.  And then it slaps you square on the bum and grins.  Kind of like this:

Universe: Hey – look over here

You:  Ah – c’mon.. That’s ridiculous!

Universe: Yeah, I know. But trust me – I’ve been doing this a long time you know?

You:  That’s outrageous!  It’d never work.  Surely you can’t be ….. ?

Universe: Yes I can. Just shut up and go with this.

Sometimes you just have to stop overanalysing and defer to The Universe.  Because it knows stuff.  And maybe there just aren’t enough newly tattooed, swing-dancing, bar-tending, biker mole dietitian types these days.

Simples 😉

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2014 – The Year That Shocked the Pants Off Me

Okay, no doubt you’re thinking it’s a smidge late for a 2014 Year in Review type post. And I wholeheartedly agree.  I realise all the Serious Bloggers had this one mapped out by November and scheduled to go in time for festive season reading.

I also realise that Serious Bloggers write for their target audience.  They don’t jump wildly between travel, cake decorating, fashion, nutrition, parenting, and flowery reflections on life, as the mood takes them.  And they fo’ shiz don’t disappear for months, without tacking the virtual equivalent of a ‘We are experiencing life difficulties – back in 5 min’ sign on the door.

Oops. But then I never claimed to be a serious blogger.

And the beauty of that, is that I can disappear when I just don’t have anything interesting to say, or when it all goes pear-shaped, as life often does.  And if I’m getting all excited about my revolutionary new system of Lego organisation, then I’ll bloody well write about that next (stay tuned folks – it’ll change your life).

But it’s true.  Last year did shock the pants off me.  And I think it quite apt that my first post for 2015 is written sans pants, from the shelter of my doona cave. It’s quiet, warm, safe… and there’s a whippet at my feet.

And so, let’s cover the good bits first, shall we?

In Blogging News…

2014 was the year I cracked the shits with celebrity chef Pete Evans and his ridiculous brand of food-wankery (you can read the post here).  Fortunately, this turned out to be the best move of my blogging career to date, as far as stats and follows go.  But more importantly, it got me writing about what I know as a dietitian.

So I’d just like to say thanks to Pete for the inspiration.  Thanks for making my blood boil every time I heard your name, and for introducing my blog to search engines around the world.  It was great while it lasted, but I’m kind of over you now.  You see, positive body image and moderation are the new sexy, and Rick Kausman has recently ousted you as top dog on my stats page.  Not sorry.

rick ousts pete 2

In Crafting News

For much of 2014 I crafted my arse off in preparation for the school fete – making some dear new friends and earning a few new frown lines in the process.

In the name of Hartwell Handmade I did things with parachute cord that I never knew existed, and discovered a plethora of uses for an enigmatic substance called Modpodge. I literally developed furballs while handcrafting 400-odd pom poms and then stringing them onto garlands.  And in hindsight…  I learnt about the dark side of Pinterest, and the virtues of delegating, and Ryan Gosling craft memes.

gosling

In Pet News

2014 was the year we adopted Billie the whippet puppy.  We mopped up lots of wee, and watched her grow from a needle-toothed little teddy bear into a sleek, speedy supermodel of dogs.

Billie was very busy in 2014.  She dug up the lawn, tortured the children’s beloved soft toys, and created her own doggy door by clawing and chewing at the back door until… it just wasn’t really there any more.  You see, Billie has persistence.  And mad DIY skills.

billie one year

And in other news

I’m not quite sure how to say this.  But I’m just gonna rip that bandaid off.  2014 was the year my marriage ended.

To me it was sudden.  Nonsensical.  Flabbergasting even.

‘I just think we’ve grown apart’

WHAT THE?..

‘I have feelings for someone else’

BAM!

And there I was, suddenly contemplating life as a 41 year-old single mother of two. And wondering how on earth it happened to me.

Rest assured I won’t be delving into the details here.  Firstly because no-one wants to read a 50,000 word thesis on the subject of my marital issues.  Ain’t nobody got time for that.  And secondly because I might be tempted to use the term conscious uncoupling, and I’m pretty sure that doesn’t go with the type of expletives I’ve been using lately. I don’t think Gwenyth would approve.

So… What’s on for 2015 then?…

Ah!  Thank you – Great question!

Well, there will undoubtedly be a lot of refocusing, rebuilding and being strong this year (combined with a good measure of wine-drinking).  I’m also going to have to learn how to deal with scary spiders in the house, and inexplicable computer issues.  And my awesome friends and family will be there every step of the way.

Of course the two most important people in all of this are my beautiful kids.  I’ll be snuggling them tight, and trying not to miss them too desperately when they’re spending time with their dad (gulp).

Who knows?  Maybe I’ll throw myself into yoga, or meditation? Or swing dancing!  I already have the perfect wardrobe for the latter.  Or perhaps this year I’ll realise some deep, previously-untapped love for endurance sports or rock climbing. (No. That was a joke people).  What about a sweet (little) rockabilly-inspired tattoo? Why the hell not?

However it pans out, I’ll be sure to let you know along the way.  And I promise to think of a smashing topic that has nothing** to do with my marital issues, for the next instalment.

**well.. maybe just a little, if I’m keeping it real

This is me.  Being all positive and 'bring it', in front of a lime tree.

This is me. Being all positive and ‘bring it’, in front of a lime tree.

Dream Weaver

I love sleep. I love it now in a way I could never have remotely fathomed as a child.  A good nights’ sleep is now pretty high up on my list of good things.

The only problem is that I have an annoying tendency to bouts of insomnia – and nowadays I can’t even blame these on the children.  Discounting periods of illness (or freak nightmares in which they are swimming in baked beans), they generally sleep like the proverbial log.

The only good thing about a really bad nights’ sleep, is that the next night will be better. Here’s a brief run-down of how my bad nights tend to go:

0300 HRS:  Open eyes, after realising have been tossing and turning for best part of the night (in actual fact only past 10 minutes).

Immediately screw eyes shut.  Try to envision floaty clouds and peaceful meadows, in vain attempt to block out ‘I wonder what time it is? I bet it’s 3am. Why do I always wake up at 3am?’ type thoughts.

clouds and meadows - insomniac fodder

Please note this image contains both clouds AND meadows, and was taken by someone called ‘Allan’

0315 HRS: Get up, go to toilet (keeping eyes squinty in order to trick body it is still asleep). Tuck self back in bed and snuggle luxuriously into sheets, instructing self to fall into coma-like sleep for next 4 hours.

0317 HRS:  Resist overwhelming urge to look at clock. Tell self it is in fact 7am and alarm has just gone off, in order to trick body/brain into going back to sleep.

0330 HRS:   How can bed be so bloody uncomfortable?

DO NOT look at clock. Do NOT think about time. Time is an imaginary mathematical concept which is based on the motion of matter…

…Except for people who have jobs, and children to boss around, and phone calls to make, and shopping lists to write, and washing that they need to put on first thing in the morning or everyone will run out of underwear and STOP IT!!

Stop thinking about the time and GO to SLEEP.

0344 HRS: Give in and look at clock. I knew it. Why do I always wake up at frigging 3am??

Time is an abstract concept


Time is an abstract concept (image: Milos Janata)

0350 HRS: Commence mini anxiety attack.

Throw covers off and sigh a lot, imagine downward spiral into insanity.  Wonder at possibility of actually having nervous breakdown, and how on earth family would survive while I reside in facility reminiscent of One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest.

0400 HRS:  Remind self have had anxiety attacks in past without ever actually ending up in loony bin. Concentrate on breathing. Be mindful. Or something.

0402 HRS:  Mini anxiety attack retreats.  Feel proud of self for remaining in bed, and not alerting snoring husband to potential need for straight jacket.

Realise, however, that could not possibly be more awake.  Consider merits of Pilates session or vigorous star jumps in lounge room, in order to make use of awake time and unusual craving for exercise.  Attempt to store feeling away for morning, when such prospect is usually akin to poking finger in own eye.

pilates


Person who is not me, but could be how I looked if I did ever do pilates (image: myyogaonline)

0411 HRS:  Slip into familiar self-doubting thought pattern, and begin to ponder faults: Sedentary lifestyle, lack of financial plan, greater than ‘healthy guidelines’ alcohol consumption, failure to use legumes and quinoa enough in cooking, frequent use of sarcasm in communicating with children…

0430 HRS:  Remind self of half-decent job raising kids, running household, maintaining health professional status and fact that children don’t have scurvy.  Feel moderately better.

0435 HRS:  Hungry. Soooo hungry. Craving hot dog with mustard, sauce and cheese.

0440 HRS:  Still hungry. Now dreaming of club sandwich.  Try to channel hunger into creative meal ideas for kids involving kale.

Kale and sweet potato pie?

Hot dog with kale leaf in place of bun?

0500 HRS:  Okay, technically morning now. Hear car driving past in distance, and feel simultaneously relieved (that night is over), and sickened (at paltry amount of sleep achieved so far).

Imagine how will feel at 1500 HRS when required to be serious health professional with genuine interest in client. Hit self on forehead repeatedly. Forcibly shut eyes and attempt to conjure up existential ‘sleep window’.

sleep window


This is kind of how I imagine my elusive, existential sleep window (Image: Matthew Peterson)

0525 HRS:  Sleep window?! Where is sleep window?!?  Alarm due to go off in 1hr 35 mins and still no sleep window.

May as well just check phone..  Read blogs/check Facebook/look at photos so as to feel vaguely productive while waiting for sleep window…

0700 HRS:   What!!? Alarm going off! Shit!!

Extremely up to date with everything ever posted on Facebook, yet no sleep or creative meal plans involving superfoods.

0701 HRS:  Oooooh.  Eyes really heavy now.  Bed so warm and comfortable.

Maybe just ‘rest’ eyes for a sec while mentally preparing for the day….

(zzzzzzzz).

My (attempted) technology break

This weekend we put in some serious family bonding time, travelling down the Great Ocean Road, to a remote farm property near Johanna Beach.  A family love-in, if you will. With no wifi, and no 3G coverage.  Yeeeek.

When we arrived late Friday afternoon, we were greeted by the farm owners and their beautiful cattle dogs Charlie Brown and Zach.  They took us on a tour of the property, and encouraged us to use the produce as needed.

After 5 hours of togetherness in the car, all that space and fresh air was like a tonic to the soul.  I was just a little discombobulated, when I found I couldn’t access Instagram to post a picture of the kids with the dogs.

Zac the sheepdog

Looks like we have to get a dog then…

We were shown to our wooden cottage with views of the serene hills dotted with cows, sheep, and the occasional kangaroo.   Ah… the serenity.  And yet, I quickly worked out that if I stood on the balcony with my arms outstretched, I could sometimes get enough reception to refresh my Facebook feed.  

We also met a very opinionated sheep called Barbara, who was well-trained in the art of voice projection.

In the morning we were hounded out of bed by kids eager to check the nesting boxes for breakfast eggs and feed the sheep.  So off I trudged – sleepy, make-up-free and clad in sensible footwear.  I made sure my phone was securely in pocket, ready to capture the picking, plucking and gathering activities.  Annoyingly however, the sheep were unable, (or just unwilling) to divulge any secret wifi hotspots.

PlumsWe took to the road again Saturday for some obligatory sights – the Apostles, Port Campbell beach, and a cheese farm.  All beautiful.  And along the way, I checked my phone and found the sky hadn’t fallen in on social media.

Back at the farm that evening, we opened a bottle of sparkling for an anniversary toast, and took in the stunning view together for a few minutes.  But when Cam returned to cooking the dinner, and the kids went checking for eggs (again), I found myself walking 500 metres up a hill, to post this pic to Instagram.

Serenity... and Moet

Moet: meet the cows. Cows: this is Moet.

The farmer looked at me like I was a little bonkers, as I waved down to him – glass in one hand and phone in the other.  Maybe he was right.

After dinner (and handwashing of many dishes) we all sat together on the couch and indulged in a bit of Winter Olympics heckling and local cheese eating.  Now this was quality family time.  We turned in for an early night, while the fog rolled in and a gentle rain started on the iron roof.  Arguably the best sound around.

All in all it was a spectacular weekend away from my laptop.  And if it wasn’t for bloody Barbara and her nocturnal exclamations, I could say it’s the most tranquil few days I’ve had in as long as I can remember.

Barbara the sheep

Barbara (old windbag)

(my laptop’s on a) Midnight Train to Georgia

Hello!  I’m back.  And I hope you’ll see me posting a little more frequently (and certainly more succinctly) from now on.  You see, I’ve been to a blogging workshop this weekend, and for the first time – well – ever, I’ve had the time and space to focus on what I want this blog to be.  I’ve been fortunate enough to have been mentored for a few days by Melbourne writer Karen Andrews, of Miscellaneous Mum.  And now it’s over to me to put all of that wisdom imparted into practice right here.  

No pressure to be brilliant or anything…

My hello! coffee, West Village, NYC

My hello! coffee, West Village, NYC

As a few of you will know, I’ve been writing about my experiences as a parent, and as a 30-something-turned-40-something woman for a little while now.  In fact, it’s been almost a year since my first nail-biting, bumbling foray into the blogiverse.

This time last year I was floating around on my own little cloud 9, looking ahead to two wonderful, child-free weeks in New York City.  The blog was merely a seed of a thought, and my anxieties around leaving our two children for that length of time had taken shape as my own personal guilt-gremlins (who were prodding me at regular intervals).

Sadly, there’ll be no international jet-setting for us this year, but with school and kinder now up and running, I find myself with just a fraction more time to myself, and a hankering to be creative.  I figure it’s time to put some concerted effort into Life is a Minestrone, and see what comes about.  You’ll be pleased to know that I also plan on putting a concerted effort into drinking coffee, and indulging in the occasional nap on the couch.  I figure I deserve at least that, after 7 years of having to go to the toilet with an audience. 

Many of you have been generous in reading my verbose accounts so far, and have made me feel so encouraged with your liking and sharing (ooh, and I do love the comments!).  It’s gratifying to see that people are reading my musings, and that they’re eliciting the odd chortle from time to time.  

So here ends my little Hello speech.  But I’ll leave you with a valuable life lesson I learnt this weekend on my way home from blogging school:

It turns out that you (that is, I) don’t need to be drunk, or otherwise incapacitated, to do really stupid things on public transport.  For example, disembarking a train carriage carrying only a telephone and a water bottle, and failing to remember that when you boarded the carriage, you were in possession of a bag (containing laptop and credit card).  Oops.  Double oops.

Flinders St Station

Bye bye laptop bag….(Photo: Omer Ziv)

The good news story is that I was saved from my stupidity by a very nice end-of-line station-master, and a very forward-thinking husband (who immediately threw the children into the car for ‘a big train chase’), after my panicked call.  He was on the platform at Lilydale when the train arrived, and had said laptop bag delivered straight into his arms.  Computer, credit card, cash, all intact.

I did have a good forty minutes or so though, to ponder my idiocy, and imagine all the ways I was utterly screwed if someone did decide to adopt my bag as their own.  There were many self-inflicted mental slaps about the face, during that time.

View from Melbourne train

An idiot’s view (Photo: Yuyang Rihcard Lu)

As a result, I am in the process of drafting a policy document for myself around the use of smart phones and various (very engrossing) social media on public transport.

If you’re so inclined, you can join me in my sheepishnes, and tell me about something equally stupid that you’ve done in recent times.

It can’t possibly be just me… Can it?

 

 

Escape To New York

So in just under a weeks’ time, my husband and I will be saying good-bye to our beautiful progeny, and our white station wagon, and embarking one of those enormous jets bound for New York City.  I can’t quite believe we’ve pulled it off, to be frank.  How did we manage to talk our parents into this? They live-in at our house in order to feed, bathe, ferry around and clean up after our monsters, while we skive off to distant lands, where we can entertain grand delusions that we’re young and unencumbered.  Sheer brilliance, is what it is!

It will be spring in New York City, and it will be the first time in ten years that I’ve left Australia.  It’s intoxicating (lordy – imagine the freedom), weird (and again – how on earth did we get away with this?), and somewhat stressful (sheesh – only fourteen days to catch up seven years of spontaneity, adventure and sleep-ins).

And my plan is even more fabulous than at first glance.  In a combination of happenstance (and, let’s be honest here, a little scheming), it happens we will be in Manhattan at the same time as a pair of our dearest friends.  That’s you Sally and Jon.  Imagine the opportunities that await us;  The shopping-running-into-long-luncheon type opportunities.  The stopping-for-a-wine-at-three-pm-just-because-we-can type opportunities.   The.. The.. Oh it’s all too much!

It seems it’s also all a little cliché, being a ‘significant’ birthday for me this year. I actually think I may have borrowed the idea of this trip from a school-mum friend, who is also staring down the barrel of the forty.  But once the seed was planted, it kind of took on a life of it’s own.

And yes – okay – it’s also possible that I’ve watched a little too much Sex And The City in my time.  I’ll own up to that.  So how best to document this trip, than to dive head-first (or more accurately – stumble blindfolded) into the blogosphere?

I’m hoping it will help alleviate my compulsion to bombard Facebook friends with CONSTANT updates about me being fabulous in New York.  Because we all know how irritating it is to be notified that ‘Marnie checked in at Magnolia Bakery’ again.  Just like she has EVERY OTHER DAY FOR THE PAST TWO WEEKS that COW!  (And in that photo, is it the lighting, or do you think she’s porked up a bit after all those lavender donuts?….)

Anyway.  If you’d like to stop by in the coming weeks, I imagine that this space will entertain:

  1. Gratuitous images of my fashion forward moments in NYC
  2. Much crapping on about food – gluten free and otherwise
  3. Rather too many shots of me with wine-in-hand and rosy cheeks
  4. More wine!
  5. And so as not to come across as shallow, I’d better add that we plan to fit in a bit of culture around the necessary shopping and face-stuffing.

Right then.  I best get packing…