Getting back on the horse – and a ‘taking stock’ of sorts

Well hey there! Here I am! I tell you, it feels like it has been a while since I have had the chance to sit down and immerse myself in a blog post. Not to say that this is going to have any earth-shattering insights. Rather it is me climbing gently back on the horse – or the bike – whatever takes your fancy! The kiddies – can I still call them that now that they are both adults?- have started back at uni this week and my brain is beginning to find some breathing space again *sigh*. Usually we have a week down at the beach over the summer to allow for chill time but this year we headed overseas, which was excellent, but it’s a different kind of holiday, isn’t it, when you are out and about, taking in the sights? And when we returned, my girl was ON A MISSION to clock up her driving hours so she could go for her driver’s licence (note for non-Aussie readers –  under 21s need 120 hours of driving practice before they can take the test) so we were driving here, there and everywhere around Melbourne and beyond chasing those hours! Want to see a movie? Great, Lion is on at a cinema 35km away (left the cinema with tear-stained cheeks). Let’s drive for half an hour to see La La Land (both felt a bit ‘meh’). Coffee? There’s an excellent cafe on the other side of town. Love being with my girl, but it was quite time consuming, and ate into those long summer days with nothing to do but mooch around the house and do a bit of self-reflection!

Anyhoo, the last couple of weeks have had a few less commitments and I THINK I’m now back in a place where I can plump up the old brain and get some creative juices flowing, where I can absorb a little more of what I’ve been reading, and I can get out and about to explore what is going on in my lovely city. A nice way to balance the other responsibilities of life!

So this is how things have been chugging along so far.

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Started this cosy stripe blanket. Pretty happy with its progress!
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Joined in with the weekly challenges for The Collage Club
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Went to the David Hockney exhibition at the NGV
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Borrowed Truly Madly Guilty from the library. Nearly finished it. I’ve never read Liane Moriarty before so was keen to give her a try. A page turner but I’m getting a little impatient for it to wrap up.
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Dipped my toes into doing a little bit of journalling. This one was from a lovely summer’s evening sitting with my boy whilst waiting for my girl.

Feeling a bit more content within myself with this under my belt. The last few months, I felt a bit shrivelled inside! Think I fell into a bit of a rut with the whole end of year commitments, beginning of year activities, and then this sort of PARALYSIS sets in where you don’t feel you have the time to create, and then when little spaces open, there’s no ideas in the head, so you just sit like a BLOB scrolling through Facebook and Insta feeds. Or maybe that’s just me!

But now I’m back on the horse and hoping to keep cantering along!

Catch up again soon!

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Taking Stock: January ’17

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Gah! Can you believe it? January 31 already! It feels like it has been quite a full month. It started out in wintry New York and has ended in sunny Melbourne. In between there’s been LOTS of driving around Melbourne as my girl has been trying to get up her hours before going for her licence, 18th birthday celebrations, university offers and subject choices and a husband with a broken foot! Phew! I feel like a need a holiday sitting by the beach! Alas, that is not about to happen, so instead, I’ll take stock whilst sitting on my couch.

Making: another one of these for Softies for Mirabel

Reading: The Dry by Jane Harper

Drinking: tea

Cooking: sausages and mash

Eating: passionfruit and nectarine

Watching: Lion with my girl over the other side of town at Sun Theatre. Yep, getting up those driving hours! What a tear jerker! Having said that, I cried in Beverly Hills Chihuahua when the doggy friends had to part!

Hearing: the clunking of crutches coming down the hallway

Savouring: extra holiday time since the now-two uni students still have another four weeks at home!

Loving: the flowers my man brought home to celebrate our wedding anniversary tomorrow!

Liking: morning walks to the shops to buy provisions.  More relaxed start to the day than jumping in the car

Marvelling: at the way my girl has reunited with a friend from years ago and it’s as if they’ve never been apart

Wishing: Trump hadn’t been elected

Cheering: protesters

Hoping: the girl’s room will actually be cleaned up tomorrow!

Wanting: a little more quiet reading time

Celebrating: regaining a bit of creative mojo

Bookmarking: Craftsy classes

Attempting: a little bit of art journaling

Looking: forward to a weekend catch up with friends

Enjoying: sunshine and warm air

What have you been enjoying this month? Do you have some happy things to look forward to in 2017?

 

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New York!

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img_1011September 2016 heralded a year of significant life events in our family – my man’s 50th, my girl’s graduation from secondary school, her 18th, our 25th wedding anniversary, and my boy’s 21st. Phew! To celebrate all of this – and maybe that this could be our last family holiday – we decided to spend two weeks in New York for our ‘summer’ holiday. We were all quite excited! We spent five nights there just over five years ago so we’d done the big ticket touristy items – Top of the Rock, Empire State, Statue of Liberty, 9/11 Memorial. This time round we were looking forward to exploring the different neighbourhoods, seeing some different galleries and having the opportunity to go to the theatre (me and the girl) and the basketball and ice hockey (the males in the family). Gosh, that last bit sounds like a traditional gender split, doesn’t it? Anyhoo…here are the highlights!

  1. Snow! I know some of you northern hemisphere folk must be thinking that’s a bit crazy with all the shovelling and plowing and general brushing off of snowy clothing and shoes, but it’s a novelty for us. Sure, we can drive to the ski fields and toboggan runs for a bit of snow play, but snow in the streets? On rooftops? In the park? Very beautiful!
  2. Art – in galleries and on the street. Last time we scratched the surface at The Met. This time we scratched a little more, and made it to the Guggenheim and MoMA but, really, you could spend weeks just looking at art museums. And I loved keeping my eye out for street art and loved looking at the artwork in the subway.
  3. The subway! Love it! Where we live, we do have great access to public transport but gosh, I love a proper subway! Frequent, interconnecting. Big ticks from me! And there was some pretty cool busking happening down there too!
  4. Sharing a subway ride with Mandy Patinkin. He was texting with the big type face and had on New Balance runners. There were a few other Broadway types my girl spotted roaming the streets and in audiences. She was excited!
  5. Architecture. Maybe NY isn’t as uniformly, romantically beautiful as Paris but I love the mixture of European inspired buildings, the cast iron district, Art Deco, and modern architecture.  And with the grid plan of Manhattan, there are great sight lines. The High Line is a fantastic way to view the rooftops and to peer behind buildings.
  6. Cynthia Erivo in The Color Purple. Phenomenal! We cried! (Actually, we cried in all the shows we went to see!) I could feel my girl shuddering next to me! And then when we left at the end of the show we wound up in the front row for signings at the stage door – got one Playbill signed for the girl and another for one her friends at home. Pretty chuffed with that! And what a fab, enthusiastic audience. Lots of ‘you go, girl!’, ‘that’s right, honey’.
  7. I’m not the sort of person who goes away for the shopping but LOVE AnthropologiePurl Soho and  Paper Source.
  8. The Bryant Park Winter Village. A lovely pop-up market behind the New York Public Library.
  9. Chatting to our neighbouring diners at Bluestone Lane, one of the ‘Melbourne cafes’ in NY, who asked if my brunch of eggs, feta, mushies, spinach and tomatoes was any good. It was delicious, how could it not be? They said they’d try it next time they came in. Oh, and I think they thought my girl and I were friends rather than mother and daughter so had a spring in my step walking out of there!
  10. Buying my groceries in Fairway to the strains of Ol’blue eyes singing ‘New York New York’!

And, of course, when you’re in another country there’s always the differences from home that you notice. No judgement, just observations!

  1. The water level in the toilet bowls is unusually high to my Aussie eyes.
  2. Snow is preferable to rain.
  3. Yale and Columbia are AMAZING campuses. Melbourne and Monash Unis are tiddly by comparison. The photos and names in their bookstores are both awe-inspiring and intimidating.  I didn’t see Rory’s photo at Yale…maybe she needs to write a few more articles for New Yorker!
  4. There are A LOT of theatre nerds! My girl found her people! Eavesdropping on conversations in the theatre and at the stage door there were lots of ‘I’ve seen this ‘x’ times’, ‘I saw…last night/week’. One guy had brought along a birthday present for Cynthia and was coming to the show again four days later!
  5. Ads on TV for some pretty heavy duty medication. We’re talking chemotherapy drugs, Crohn’s, psoriasis, MS, diabetes. ‘Ask your doctor about…’ Why? I’m assuming my doctor would know about these drugs and whether they were an option for me. And then there’s the list of possible side effects warnings! The one we found most perplexing was a cancer treatment drug – ‘This drug is effective in prolonging your life. Side effects may include confusion, diarrhoea, racing heart and death.’ What???!!!
  6. Very tiny power points.
  7. Are there landscapers in the US? On the train from NY to New Haven – cos Gilmore Girls fans! – we noticed the houses didn’t seem to have any gardens, just grass and maybe a couple of shrubs right at the front of the house, maybe a tree. And not much in the way of fences. Was this just a Connecticut thing? We researched further by watching many episodes of Fixer Upper and House Hunters but again, we failed to see much in the way of garden design. So…are home gardens ever landscaped? And how do you keep a dog safe without fences?

And now we’re home – with an extra suitcase! I don’t think the boy will need to buy clothes for the rest of his uni degree, and the girl now has enough casual clothes to wear after spending the last ten years wearing a uniform every school day! If it was our last family holiday, it was a good one. And that’s the best souvenir to bring home.

Have you been away over Christmas and the new year? Have you been to New York? Do you still have lots of family holidays left to enjoy? Next year, we’ll be back at Apollo Bay – with or without the kiddies. We’ll just have to wait and see!

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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!

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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