Moments

Stillness and awe

The other morning, Little R was keeping me company while I got ready. He was happily babbling away to himself and playing with some toys while I got dressed, and I tuned out for a bit, concentrating on what I was doing. Noticing that the noise had stopped, I tuned back in to see him sitting still by the window, gazing at the gusty day outside. The sight stopped me in my tracks. It mightn’t sound like a big deal, but when you’re used to an energetic dynamo of a 2-year old circling you constantly, these rare moments of stillness are a sight to behold.

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He was so peaceful, so enthralled. I could almost see the cogs turning in his head as he sat and watched.

I couldn’t resist sneaking out of the room to grab my phone and race back to get a few quick photos, which of course ended up disturbing his daydream. In hindsight I should have just stayed still, soaking up the moment, watching him just like he was watching the trees. I can’t remember another time when I’ve witnessed either Little R or his big sister just sit like that and watch the world as it goes by. Such a small thing, but so beautiful to me.

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I got down on the floor with Little R and we lay side by side on our tummies, looking out the window and talking about the wind and the leaves on the trees. Then he got up and jumped on to my back. I managed to wriggle him off me and get up to kneel, only to have him crawl underneath me, giggling. I nuzzled into his neck with my nose, making him laugh. And I thought “This. This is being a parent.”

The little things.

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Miscellany

Fighting the good fight

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I feel like a stranger in my own corner of the internet! I let this little place go for a long time.

Most of this year has felt like a struggle. There have been challenges, so many challenges. And many times, I felt like those challenges were too big to be overcome, like I should just fold and admit defeat. Because I’d been chipping away at them but the hits just kept on coming. It was too big. Life seemed insurmountable.

There were times when I wasn’t sure how we would pay our bills and afford groceries.

There were times when our family felt like it was breaking apart and I didn’t know if it could be saved.

There were times when I cried myself to sleep, or cried quietly alone in the dead of the night.

There were times when I wondered if I would ever get a win.

There was a lot of hard work and a lot of late nights, for seemingly no result.

There were times when I was beat down, my self-confidence taking blow after blow, my soul and sense of value and purpose disintegrating at the hands of others.

There were a lot of dreams, with no path that I could find to bring them to fruition.

There was yelling.

There was rejection.

And for the first time in years, the shady black dog of depression reappeared, much to my surprise and dismay.

I mourned my missing creative spirit. I KNEW what I wanted to do, and what I needed to do, to feed my soul and feel the wonder of the world again. But I just couldn’t. I couldn’t summon the energy or the motivation. And so this place was abandoned along with my knitting, and my yoga, and my other writing projects, and other crafty adventures.

About three months ago, we had some amazing luck. My husband was offered another job out of the blue, and with it came some major positives for our family. More income. More time together. These things combined have lightened the burdens on our shoulders and given us some breathing room and opportunities to do things we couldn’t before. It’s made all the difference.

So lately, I have been starting to fight back against the anxiety and disorder. Each day, I’m trying to take small steps towards what I want to manifest. I understand now that if you want things to happen, you have to seek them out, you can’t trust that they will just land in your lap. And so, my plans are formulating in my head, and I’m doing little pieces here and there to make it all come true. It is taking time, but I’m starting to feel productive and creative again.

So here I am again. I can’t say if I’ll be back again tomorrow, or in a week, or a fortnight. Who knows. And I know I don’t need to make excuses or apologise to anyone, the main person this space is for is me. But sometimes it feels constructive to acknowledge the good fights we fight.

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Miscellany

Mindful Sunday

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Sunday is my favourite day of the week. The week that was is behind us, and if I’ve played my cards right, the necessary weekend housework and socialising has taken place on Saturday. That leaves Sunday for relaxing, reflecting, and looking to the week ahead. Sunday always feels comfortable to me, a day to just be.

I’m looking forward to this week. I feel like all I’ve been doing for months is going to work, going to job interviews, and writing job applications. I’m now enforcing a break on myself and I’m so relieved to have some pressure lifted from my shoulders. This will be a week of taking it slower, revisiting exercise, reading, and catching up on Netflix.

This is also a big week at school for Moose. She’s due to be presented with an art merit award at school assembly on Friday, and I can’t wait to be there with Big R and Little R to cheer her on. And then on Friday night she’ll be going to her first school disco, and I’ll be going to my first school disco as a parent. I’m volunteering purely to spy on the littlies, it’s going to be so cute.

Today I’m going to finish off some odds and ends that I didn’t get to yesterday, and then I might take the kids out for a walk in the sunshine later. The trees are changing, autumn colour is everywhere, and leaves are sprinkled across footpaths and lawns. We’re in long-sleeves and long pants, but there’s no need for scarves and coats just yet.

And that will be it, the weekend complete. Simple, and perfect.

 

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Miscellany

Hello, stranger

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It’s been a long, long time.

You know how sometimes life just revolves your priorities around for a change? For what feels like months, my priorities have become reading, spending time with loved ones, more reading, and writing job applications.

I’ve always been a keen reader, but for the past two years my urge to read has been stuck on “insatiable” and I don’t see it moving any time soon. And I am totally fine with that, I’m enjoying it so much! So reading has been a priority for me, but not only have I been reading, I’ve been completely immersing myself in the bookish world. I’ve been reading blog posts, listening to bookish podcasts, watching videos on BookTube, and drooling over photos on Bookstagram. I’ve also been blogging a bit over at my bookish blog, even if I haven’t been blogging here, and that’s totally ok because I don’t subscribe to blog guilt! So, if you like to hear about what other people are reading you could always head over there and take a look, but I’ll also do a little (ok, big) bookish update here soon too.

I made a few quiet resolutions for myself this year, just some goals and areas I wanted to work on. One of those was to spend more time with friends and family, because I’d noticed that I was feeling sluggish and as a result, wasn’t making the effort. And those times are always worth making the effort for. So far I feel like this is going well, although it would go better if Big R didn’t work two weekends out of every four, but anyway. Part of this is that I wanted to spend more time with Big R, Moose and Little R, and in that respect I’m pretty happy. Big R and I made an agreement recently that we wouldn’t let the kids watch TV during the day anymore, and instead we’d keep that in reserve for the “witching hour” when they really do need some chill-out time, lest they go hyper. I felt like we weren’t making the effort to spend enough one-on-one time with the kids, again, because we were feeling sluggish. Since we made this resolve we’ve both been arting, crafting, reading, and playing a lot more and I feel like a better parent for it.

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I’ve also been trying to make more time for journalling, and yoga, and I’ve generally just been spending a lot of time thinking and reflecting and exploring. Basically, just trying to figure out how I can be the best I can be.

And then there’s the job applications. Oh, the job applications. I think I’ve written at least 8 in the past 4 or so months? They take so long and are really not fun, but unfortunately they’re necessary if you want another job (funnily enough), and I DO want another job! That’s been another of my “unofficial” (but kind of official, especially because I’ve now put it here in words) resolutions – I want to be in another job by the middle of the year. And the months are zooming by, so time is fast running out if I want to make that goal a reality. So until that becomes a reality, answering selection criteria will unfortunately have to remain a priority.

So that’s me. It’s not really that interesting, but it’s life! I hope yours has been full of all of the good stuff.

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Miscellany

The future is bright

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Sometimes I like to imagine what our family life will look like in 5, 10, 15 years time. Do you ever?

Even though I am holding on to Little R’s toddlerdom with all my might. Even though I am secretly cherishing those (now rare) moments when Moose mispronounces a word. Even though I am trying to permanently etch into my brain the vision and feeling of both of them holding my hands to cross the road, one on each side. Even though they are both making noise at the top of their lungs as I write this, and being too rough with each other…..I’m still looking at them in wonder and adoration of their smallness.

These days will be gone all too soon. And suddenly, I’ll be looking at photos of them when they were small, and wondering how that time got away from me, and mourning for the loss of these days.

But there is so much to look forward to. Think about it….

 

Family movie nights, with popcorn and everything, and not necessarily with animated movies.

Watching/listening to the news together, and discussing what is happening around us.

Helping with homework (although I imagine that one will lose its novelty quite fast) and encouraging them to simply do their best.

Watching them play sports, and reaping all the wonderful benefits that it can bring.

Neither of them requiring me to help them wash themselves.

Going to places together, like the shops or the library, and being able to go our seperate ways then meet up later.

Hopefully sharing some interests or hobbies that we can enjoy together.

Taking them to their first concert (hopefully, if they let me).

Letting them borrow my books and finding out what they think about them.

Having nights out together, and being able to go to whichever restaurant we like, see movies that have ratings higher than PG, and not have to worry about how late it’s getting. And not having to bring a nappy bag or pyjamas for them to change into later!

 

Yes. There is still so much to come.

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Miscellany

Life overtaking life

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Lately, there just seems to be no time. I can’t quite believe it’s August and I’ve been back at work for 3 months already.

I haven’t found the time to blog here as much lately as I have wanted to, although I have certainly had plenty of blogging ideas churning away so it’s not for lack of inspiration, just lack of being in a position to do something about it when the inspiration strikes.

Winter has been harsh this year, and for the most part we have tried to escape it whenever possible by hibernating. But it hasn’t escaped us. Like most families in Canberra at this time every year, we’ve been hit hard with various illnesses in our household. Poor Little R seems to have had a runny nose since about June, and his first few months in childcare have seen him pick up the obligatory smorgasbord of bugs. He’s had colds, a minor bout of conjunctivitis, and most recently a 24-hour tummy bug which he kindly shared with both his parents too (Moose managed to sidestep it somehow, although she did vomit on the bus on a school excursion in the same week, but I put that down to motion sickness). The rest of us have also each picked up a cold at some point this season.

We’ve had to cancel so many plans with friends and family over the past few months thanks to illness, as have others with us. It’s felt like we’ve been cut off from our circles, isolated out of necessity. The kids have been bored, I’ve run out of entertaining ideas, and nothing could be done about it.

Moose also had a run of back-to-back injuries at both preschool and childcare. Firstly, she tripped over her own feet while running on concrete, scratching the side of her face and biting the inside of her cheek. Then the next day, she had a slip on some play equipment and split her chin open, requiring a trip to the emergency room and thankfully no stitches, only glue.  For a while there, I was getting called from either preschool or childcare multiple times every week thanks to both illness and injury!

My return to work has condensed what little time is available for everything else that comes with running a household. We’re finding that by the time we leave work at the end of the day, pick up the kids, come home, make dinner, eat dinner, have baths and read stories, the kids are usually not getting to bed until 8.30pm. We have to get up at 6am in the mornings to allow enough time to get everyone ready and out the door on time, so most nights Big R and I have to choose between only having around an hour of free time to ourselves to relax and enjoy our own interests before it’s time for sleep, or staying up late so we get more time to ourselves and being exhausted the next day. It’s a tough call. That free time at night is also the only time I have available now to tend to things like emails, bills, the shopping list and ordering the groceries, exercising….sometimes I’ll go days without a shred of time to pause and take time for myself.  This might just be business as usual for some people, but not me. I crave solo time, I need it regularly to keep me energised and feeling positive.

Yes, winter has been harsh this year. The house has suffered. The garden has suffered. The dogs have suffered. The kids and Big R have suffered. My mind, body and soul have all suffered.

Like I said, there’s just not enough time. Lately I have felt like I am always racing, racing, and just hanging on by a bare thread. I feel like if I am late or something unexpected happens, this whole bundle I am precariously trying to balance will be knocked over and will flatten me. My whole outlook from the previous year of “slow, simple and mindful” has been left by the wayside.

What I wouldn’t give for some warming sunshine, a lengthy catch-up with friends, and an assured few hours of alone time every week!

 How are you feeling at this time of the year – restful and chilled or completely run ragged?

Linking up with IBOT at Essentially Jess and The Weekend Rewind with Maxabella Loves and friends

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Miscellany

Household Miscellany – organising the groceries

Running a household, regardless of how big or small your family is or whether children are included, is a job on its own. It takes a LOT of time and energy to make sure those bills are paid, fill in all the forms, keep track of the family budget, file away the important documents, research the options for new purchases/home maintenance/insurance etc etc etc ETC ETC!!  The job is never done.

There are many made-up names for this job, of which some of my favourites include:

Household Business Manager

Family Secretary

Minister for Finance/Administration/Health/Foreign Affairs/Trade

The Boss

And yet, even with such fancy titles to describe the job, it’s surprisingly under-paid and under-appreciated!

I know that talking about how to organise your home stuff is, to a lot of people, about as interesting as watching the grass grow.  But personally, I enjoy reading about how other bloggers go about organising their homes and families!  It’s the kind of stuff I talk about with my IRL friends.  We love it!  The Mrs W of 15 years ago would probably be horrified if she knew that she would grow up to get excited and gossipy about domestic duties and organising.  Sorry to disappoint you Miss W.  But hey, nowadays you can wrap and accessorise a kick-arse birthday gift like no one’s business!

So today I had the bright idea to blog about how we I organise the groceries in our house.  I’ve tried a couple of different ways of doing this task, and recently changed my method in a mission to find the best fit for our family.  What are you talking about? It’s just GROCERIES for crying out loud I hear you say! Yes, buying groceries is not rocket science, but when you add the layers of work (talking about the kinds of jobs that pay, here) or study, and then children, and then all the day-to-day miscellany of having a house and a family, you need to find the best ways to be efficient with your time.

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Pre-kids, I used to take an early afternoon off from work once a fortnight on payday, to go to the supermarket and buy all our groceries for the fortnight ahead.  We got paid fortnightly, so I would shop only once for a whole fortnight to get it done and out of the way.  It helped me keep control over our fortnightly budget, once the groceries were done I knew I wouldn’t have to do them again for a whole two weeks.  I would write a fortnightly menu plan and grocery list beforehand so that I wasn’t filling the trolley with “unauthorised purchases” as we jokingly label them in our house.

But once Moose came along, I found it too difficult to get through the 1-2 hour shopping expedition with an energetic toddler in tow.  And then I found online shopping.  *Cue angelic singing and harps*.  Not only was it a complete novelty to buy the groceries in my pyjamas from the comfort of my own couch, but I saved time by not having to weave my way up and down and around the supermarket, deal with dodging around other people in the aisles, and unload the groceries at the checkout then back in to the trolley then in to the boot of my car then in to the house.  And because I was ordering a fortnight’s worth of groceries, the total cost was usually a big enough sum to earn me free delivery.  You mean someone will pack all my groceries for me and deliver them to my house for NOTHING?! All hail the digital age!!

Now that there are two little ‘uns in our house, and knowing that I would soon be going back to work part-time (I started back last week), about a month ago I started thinking about how I could make the process even more efficient.  I was starting to feel like it was taking me longer and longer to write up a whole fortnightly menu plan and grocery list, and then order it all online in one big go.  That whole process was taking me between 3-4 hours!  Ain’t nobody got time for that.

So I have changed it up again.  My new process is a weekly shop – I write up a week’s worth of meals and the required groceries.  I don’t look any further ahead than just one week, if I think we won’t need something until the following week, I put it on the shopping list for the next shop in a week’s time.  And so far this has been working extremely well.  Here are the pros:

  • Even though I have to go through the task of writing up a menu plan and grocery list twice every fortnight now instead of only once, it takes less time to do it.  It’s relatively easy to come up with 6 or 7 homemade dinner ideas, but if you have to add on an additional 6 or 7, it adds on a lot more time as you start flipping through recipe books and magazines, scrambling for ideas….
  • And obviously, the online ordering part takes a lot less time too, because the order is smaller.
  • I was finding that once we got past the first week of the fortnight, we would be making quick stops at the shops two or three times in the last week anyway to stock up on things – such as milk and bread which had run out, fruit and veggies that had gone bad and had to be thrown away, etc.  Doing a weekly shop instead of a fortnightly one has really cut down the amount of extra visits to the supermarket.
  • It’s also reduced the amount of food we are throwing away, as we’re only concentrating on one week at a time so food is more likely to be used up before it goes off.  Which also means we are spending less money on topping up the supply of fresh food as it gets thrown away.  And because we are buying our groceries more regularly, we can enjoy eating fresher fruit and veggies, rather than stuff that has been hanging around for over a week!
  • Another lovely side-effect from this new arrangement is that I’ve made it part of my weekly routine with the kids on my day off from work.  At the same time I decided to change to a weekly shop, I decided it was time to boycott buying our fruit and veggies from the big supermarkets.  I was done with spending so much money on “fresh” produce, which never looked fresh to begin with, and which never had any taste, only to have it go completely rotten within a few days.  I was feeling so revolting from eating this stuff, I was sure that none of us were actually gaining anything nutritionally from it.  So I decided that I would only buy non fruit/veg/meat groceries online from the big supermarkets, and on my one day off with the kids every week, I would have those groceries delivered in the morning, then we would go to the gym, and on the way home go to the local fresh food markets to buy our fruit/veg and meat (and have a play on the playground while we were there) (and sometimes have a browse through the gorgeous bookshop too, because books).  We are loving our little weekly ritual together!  And the fruit and veg we are buying from the markets actually tastes like yummy, fresh fruit and veg!

There is only one down-side to the new weekly-shop method so far – our budget, which is still a fortnightly one because that’s how we get paid, is a little less controlled because we don’t know exactly how much we will spend on groceries each week.  But because we’re not throwing away as much food and not spending money on little additional trips to the shops here and there, I think in the long run it will still work out to be cheaper to shop more regularly.  I’m still tracking our weekly spend to compare it to our old costs, so time will tell.

I can’t believe I’ve just written over 1000 words on groceries. 

How about you – how do you organise the groceries at your place?  And do you get a kick out of reading about how other people manage their households the way I do?

 Linking up with The Weekend Rewind at Maxabella Loves

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