Taking Stock: December ’16 -The New York Edition!

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Howdy! How are you all? Recovered from Christmas? Planning new year’s celebrations? We have escaped the Melbourne heat for the New York winter and are happily residing in the Upper West Side whilst experiencing as much as we can of the city’s attractions. The list is never ending! But we’re also trying not to be too rushed so that we can afford to have some lazy mornings. I have felt quite tired out by this year so am appreciating a few sleeps in – and the opportunity to ‘take stock’ before 2017 descends! Thanks to Pip Lincolne for the idea. She’s full of ideas, that one!

Cooking: prepared meals from Fairway

Drinking: hot chocolate

Watching: US telly

Reading: NY tourist guide books and websites, and The Life and Death of Sophie Stark by Brooklyn author Anna North – which seems kinda appropriate!

Buying: these coasters from the Guggenheim store

Coveting: pretty much everything at Anthropologie

Wondering: how we’ll fit in everything we want to see!

Enjoying: warm rooms after the cold outdoors

Looking: forward to seeing a handful of musicals with my girl

Hoping: for some more space for creative pursuits next year. I lost my mojo towards the end of this year

Making: time to record memories of our time away in my notebook

Giggling: at the bass player serenading a woman on the subway and the Salavation Army guy outside Macy’s dancing to Happy by Pharrell

Hearing: horns honking and the occasional whooping of sirens

Wearing: layers! Tights, jeans, singlet, long sleeve tee, jumper – and then a coat and scarf. Haven’t cracked out the beanie or gloves yet but I think they may need to come out tonight!

Disliking: holes in my jumper. They just appeared today. I think it was the weight of my bag and coat rubbing against my shoulder 🙁

Noticing: the snow outside our window! Much excitement! The rest of the family has run downstairs for photos!

Feeling: the crush of people. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such crowds! The other day outside Radio City, there was not enough room for pedestrians cross the road and to all fit on the footpath!

Paying: tips! I understand why we need to do it but I still don’t understand why the minimum wage isn’t increased. Happy for the employer pass on the cost to me. I’m paying anyway!

So. That’s where we’re at at the end of 2016! Maybe you want to take stock before the new year starts too? I’m looking forward to visiting MoMA and Purl Soho in the coming days and hoping that they’ll inspire me for the year ahead! Enjoy your New Year’s Eve celebrations and see you in 2017!

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What I did in 2016

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Well, here we are! The year is drawing to a close. Thank goodness! There has been a lot of sad news, hasn’t there? I couldn’t believe it when my man and I walked in the door this morning after our morning walk and the girl told us that George Michael had died. I went to see them in concert with two of my school friends when they came to Melbourne. So ace! We sang, we danced, we screamed! And Fast Love was playing on the radio when my man and I were driving to hospital when I went into labour with my boy. Vale, George. Thank you for your music and your gorgeous looks.

But whilst many big things have been going on in the world this year, it is the small things that make up our days that build a picture of our own life. These are a selection of the happenings that have made my 2016.

  1. Renewed my fondness for a G&T
  2. Watched my girl in her last school musical
  3. Achieved my Goodreads reading challenge goal
  4. Read a lot about US politics
  5. Supervised hours of driving practice with my girl
  6. Scored my first night time babysitting gig!
  7. Used a sewing machine for the first time in years
  8. Ate eggs for lunch A LOT! New year’s resolution – expand the lunch menu repertoire!
  9. Applauded the writing in season 4 of Please Like Me. I don’t have anyone like the characters in the show in my circle and yet they are all so relatable and authentic to me. And how good is Debra Lawrence?
  10. Made my last school lunch
  11. Enjoyed weekend coffee with my man and stealing bites of his lemon crepe!
  12. Despaired about Brexit, the US election result, and the general disregard for expert knowledge
  13. Helped out at a crafty day for refugee women
  14. Knitted a monkey for Softies for Mirabel
  15. Knitted scarves and cowls for a wintry holiday
  16. Started the year enthusiastically but ran out of puff towards the end
  17. Pulled lots of weeds out of my garden
  18. Had lovely real life catch ups with online buddies
  19. had a facial
  20. Looked forward optimistically to 2017!

I hope your year has formed happy memories for you. Maybe you have reacquainted yourself with some old pleasures? Maybe you have had some new adventures? Perhaps you have waved goodbye to a stage of life? I look forward to us sharing our 2017 experiences with each other!

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This was Monday night

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On Monday morning my girl’s Year 12 result flashed up on her phone. The stresses and self doubt of the last couple of years lifted from our shoulders as she ran to us, her face a combination of happiness, shock and relief. It was enough for her to be able to study her course of choice at her uni of choice. Hugs, moist eyes, and the eloquently expressed congratulations of her brother – ‘I f****** told you!’ – as he flung his arms around her! By evening, the boy had headed to work and the girl was out having dinner with a friend. Just me and the man at home, and he was beavering away in the study. ‘Think I’ll have a glass of wine,’ I said. ‘Think I’ll finish watching Gilmore Girls,’ I said. ‘Actually, think I’ll have A BATH whilst watching Gilmore Girls,’ I thought. The girl texted that she had decided to go back to her friend’s for the night so I didn’t need to do a pick up but could take my book to bed and, with any luck, nod off before the snores that usually hinder my attempts to sleep, commenced!

What is this strange new world? Where is the routine? The predictability? It’s like we’re living in a share house – with less disputes about food and bills! – rather than the mum/dad/kids home of just a few weeks ago. I am acting super chill about their social plans but inside my mummy-bird voice is twittering ‘please come home safely’ and peaceful sleep does not arrive for me until I hear the key in the front door – and then its slam and thumping footsteps down the hall.

And so to all of you labouring under the weight of end of year school concerts, sports break ups, kriskringles, money collections for teacher presents, I remember the precision planning required to coordinate it all. I remember the ‘Really? You need a costume for tomorrow morning?’ I remember being unable to imagine that life would ever be any different. But different it becomes, and a strange new world of wine, tv and soaky baths awaits!

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*Added bonus – no more school lunches and trying to think of what to pack for snack. Gosh, that was a pain!

Taking Stock: November ’16

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Gah! Nearly the end of November so JUST squeezing this in in time! I had hoped that I might have popped out a couple of posts this month but, alas, ’twas not to be! Life is full of surprises that divert us from our plans. I did think this week would be a quiet one with my girl away with friends for the week celebrating the end of school, and my boy at work. But yesterday afternoon the texts started coming in that she wasn’t feeling well – some sort of tummy bug – so we’ve been on a rescue and retrieve mission today! And the boy came down with a fever last night so can’t go in to work. Meanwhile, the man is working from home because he’s put his back out! So there is much fun and games at our place! Aside from all of that shemozzle, here’s where life’s at in these last few hours of November.

Making: this little guy in orange wool for Softies for Mirabel

Eating: eggs and spinach with buttery toast

Drinking: water with slices of lemon. Making the plain exotic!

Cooking: bland stuff for the ill one – fish, potatoes, stewed apples. Delicious!

Buying: Hydralyte!

Watching: Shetland. My man is working himself into a lather over the bleak weather on display. My girl feels letdown at the lack of ponies and dogs shown!

Reading: Frankie and Flow. Just finished This House of Grief but events of the last couple of days have prevented me getting on to something new, book-wise. I feel I need something light and breezy. Any suggestions?

Hearing: my girl tapping away on her keyboard, my man on a work call

Looking: at the pictures on my wall that have decided to hang at a jaunty angle

Wishing: for a tinsy bit of solitude

Needing: to get to my facial appointment tomorrow for above mentioned bit of solitude!

Wondering: when I’ll get my Christmas shopping done. That was what I was meant to be doing today…

Pondering: what to buy for the fam for Christmas. They are very unhelpful in providing any suggestions!

Bookmarking: recipes for Christmas Day. I like the look of this and this. My mum and I share the load. She does the meat and I do the salads.

Wanting: to finish watching Gilmore Girls so I can finally read all the critiques. I’ve got through ‘Winter’ but that’s all so far 🙁

Hoping: everyone returns to health tout suite. Let’s end this year on a high!

How’s your November been? Smooth sailing or hiccups?

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Taking Stock: October ’16

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Hello lovelies! How are you going? Are you getting your Halloween on? It’s certainly gaining in popularity here in Melbourne. I’ve been noticing on my walks around the street that people have already been decorating their houses. That’s a bit different from previous years when the decorations only seemed to pop up on the day. I’ll make sure we have lollies ready to go but we won’t be doing anything else. Both kiddies have their heads buried in books, notes, or tapping away at keyboards as they’re in the middle of their end of year assessments. The pressure to achieve particular marks to get into courses or higher levels of study – eugh! I always fall into a state of inertia at this time of the year, tip-toeing around the house, delivering sustaining snacks and making cups of tea, doling out the hugs when the a bit of emotional support is needed.   There hasn’t been much levity in our house of late! So what has been sustaining me?

Making: crochet flowers for this project

Drinking: champagne with other parents whilst our girls were in their English exam!

Eating: chocolate

Cooking: my girl’s favourites – anything with chicken, salmon or pasta!

Watching: not a lot. Just started Deep Water which has a stellar Australian cast

Reading: This House of Grief by Helen Garner. I thought it may be a bit macabre and voyeuristic but I’ve been assured the focus is more on the legal and criminal procedure of the case rather than the case itself

Wearing: activewear!

Hearing: the washing machine thudding and whirring

Looking: at the blue sky and sunshine out my window

Hoping: both kiddies are satisfied with their efforts at the end of the year

Needing: to put a bit more thought into holiday planning for the end of the year

Looking: forward to a birthday lunch with friends later today

Wishing: my girl was not so critical of herself

Feeling: a bit emotionally drained. It’s been a demanding few years

Wanting: a magic wand so that I could give the other three people in this house what they want

Knowing: that not getting a particular mark is not the end of the world. Just have to convince others of that!

Hmm. Seems to be a bit of a theme running through that! Guess that’s just where we are at at the moment – and that’s what ‘taking stock’ is all about, isn’t it? Just taking moment to notice what is going on, being experienced, at a particular point in time. Sometimes they’re cheery, sometimes a little more fraught. What would your ‘taking stock’ look like at the moment? Thanks to Pip for the inspiration!

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Farewell stras sandwiches and Friday treats

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When my boy started school way back in 2002, my strategy for dealing with requests for not-so-healthy lunchbox inclusions was to institute a routine – on Fridays he could have a stras sandwich and a chocolate bar in his lunch. Not on any other day, just Fridays. Two years later, when my girl joined him at school, it was the same deal. She once told me that it became quite the event amongst her friends to find out what her ‘Friday treat’ would be! Forty weeks of school per year, 13 years per child. If my maths is correct, I think that means I’ve made over 1000 stras sandwiches and popped over 1000 chocolate bars into lunchboxes. This morning, I made my last Friday lunch box. It’s the last full week of school for my girl. The last full week of being a school mum for me.

When my boy finished school, I remember my heart filling as I watched him conduct the year 12s in singing a farewell song at their valedictory dinner, listened to him – along with all his classmates -tell of his reflections of his time at school at his final cathedral service, and then my eyes moistening and overflowing as he walked out of his final chapel service, candle in hand with the school choir singing Coldplay’s ‘I Will  Fix You’.  I recalled the nights I stood rocking my baby boy to sleep, his tiny hands resting on my neck, and now here he was, towering over me and enveloping me in his embrace as he we stood in the courtyard farewelling his schooldays.

Next week it is my girl’s turn. On Monday she will have her last classes. Tuesday morning will see her celebrating muck-up day with her friends in their dyed and remodelled summer uniforms. In the afternoon we will attend her final assembly at school when all the year 12s will be presented with a rose from the prep girls. The little prep girls they once were, now grown into beautiful young women. In the evening we will attend her valedictory dinner. And then the next morning, the final revision before exams starts.

During their time at school I’ve watched both my boy and my girl grasp the opportunities their schools have offered them. They have been prepared to participate even if they’ve not been overly confident in their abilities and I think that is a wonderful attribute to have – to not feel that we have to shine at something to give it a go. I’ve seen them take part in activities where they have had ability, and this has been recognised by their school and peers. And I’ve seen them grit their teeth through activities they really didn’t want to be a part of – swimming sports, school camps, we’re looking at you! But that’s part of life, isn’t it? Sometimes you just have to suck it up! Through it all, I think they’ve learned that the more you put in to an experience, the more you get out of it. They have learned about themselves – what they like, who they like, what they value.

When my boy was approaching his final days, I wondered how I would cope without the regular school routine. How would I adjust to life with someone coming in and out of the house at odd times, and maybe not even needing to be out of the house on some days? But having overcome that hurdle, I am looking forward to waving goodbye to the demands of the school routine. I am excited for my girl to have flexibility in her days and to take the skills she has learned at school into her new world and to use them to expand her experiences even further. The many extra curricular actvities she has thrown herself into, combined with a constant and heavy academic workload, have made life very difficult at times.  To be freed from the rigidity of the school timetable will be much appreciated by her – and us!

Nevertheless, I know that a bucket load of tears will be shed – by her and me! I will be remembering the touch of her little hand in mine as we were out and about doing the shopping in the days before she started kinder. I will be remembering the little girl who wandered out from her bedroom before her first day of school asking ‘Mum, what if I’m in the secret garden and …’. I will be remembering all the ballet concerts, plays and music performances we’ve seen her in and the joy on her face when we’ve met her ‘after the show’. And I will be marvelling at the beautiful, compassionate, socially aware, witty, interesting young woman she has become – a young woman who is deeply appreciative of the education she has received, aware that there are many young girls throughout the world who do not have such an opportunity.

So. It is now time for me to wave goodbye to their childhoods. But they will always be my babies and I will never wave goodbye to my children.  And they will never be too old for me to tell them I love them to the moon and back and even more than that.

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Taking Stock: September ’16

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Happy spring or happy fall, depending upon where you are! Have you felt a change in the weather? We haven’t experienced a lot of spring warmth here in Melbourne but the days are certainly getting that bit longer. I’ve been watching the shelves at my greengrocer’s for the appearance of summer fruit. Whilst I don’t hate the apple, banana or mandarin, they are a little pedestrian. Berries, stone fruit, mangoes…well, they are just a bit more enticing, don’t you think? But whilst the days have still been a little chill and rainy, this is how I’ve been passing the time.

Making: a skirt for a futuristic themed 18th my girl was invited to. Honestly, there have been so many costumes this year between 18ths and school dress up days!

Reading: The Turner House. I’ve been a bit unfocussed with my reading of late but I am enjoying it.

Watching: The Bachelorette. Love Georgia and LOVE the guys this year. How could you get rid of any of them? Oh well, maybe Rhys!

Smelling: peanut butter and choc chip cookies fresh out of the oven

Hearing: my girl humming as she studies for maths. It creates the illusion that she is enjoying it but I know the reality is different!

Cooking: pasta for boy before he heads out to work.

Drinking: instant coffee. Nothing fancy today.

Eating: maybe eggs for lunch?

Enjoying: sleeping a bit better the last few nights. No night sweats! Do you feel me menopausal pals? Far out! The continual search for the cool spot in bed!

Liking: that our kids are now bigger so that I can have the odd weekend away with my man without needing to organise babysitters. So much freedom!

Wanting: to get onto a new craft project just not sure what.

Pondering: Disgraced, the play my girl and I went to see last night. Lots of stuff in there about identity and prejudice and changing societies. A play for our times.

Hoping: the coming months will not be too stressful.

Wearing: sloppy clothes. Yoga pants, t-shirt and hoodie. Need to change out of that soon otherwise I’ll feel slothful all day.

Finding: myself stressing out too much.

Wondering: why I let myself get stressed out too much! Just let it go!

Opening: my laptop to write this!

Giggling: at Michelle shopping with Ellen

So that’s September! Have you been baking or making? Watching or reading? Taking Stock posts spring from the creative brain of Pip Licolne. Maybe you want to have a go too?

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