Saturday, 27 June 2015

The important things

The Month of Visiting Country People has begun! Maybe a little late, but it has begun. Last weekend I headed out to visit my very pregnant primary school BFF solo. (The girls had gone camping with DB). That was the first of four weekends when I am heading down country roads.

Holidaying can be expensive. I was trying to teach the girls the cost of life ...

Me: I hope none of you have any major expenses this moth. Between four new tyres on Paris, and paying for the hotel for Bali, I am feeling pretty broke.
Pixie *sternly to her sisters*: And she's had to buy me birthday presents.

See! I didn't forget!

You have to love a very subtle reminder that her birthday is up there on the important things that need to be included in the budget!

I had to laugh though. Pixie requested stuff for her bedroom. She had given me some suggestions after we went to Ikea a few weeks ago. She especially wanted "coke hangers". She specifically mentioned that it would be a good present for me to get her. How could you refuse a request like that? She was so excited. She insisted that her "coke hangers" be included in a picture!

(Pixie absolutely refuses to call them anything other that "coke hangers". Even now. I have given up on that fight.)

"Mummy! My coke hangers!"

Yesterday Pixie turned 12. I had been mentally preparing for another big party. Pixie had previously said she wanted to have her big "teenager" party this year, but she has since decided to wait until next year when she turns 13. After having Buglet's 16th a few weeks ago, I have to admit I won't be sorry to wait another year. I want them all to feel that their big events are special in their own right. I do try very hard to make sure they all feel they are their own separate individuals as well as being part of a family, especially since they are so close in age.

Part of this decision, included a last minute request to have her squad (the new word for group of people you hang out with at school, apparently, do you feel like you've learnt something new today), sleepover. This felt reasonable. To have the sleepover, Pixie also said that she would work super hard getting the house nice and clean. this also felt reasonable.

Wednesday ended up being a bitch of a day a work. There is no other way to describe it. I am pretty lucky with my job. I do work long days, and some days I work super long days, but I work in an area of law where it is unusual for to unexpectedly need to be in the office until awful hours of the night. Wednesday ended up being one of those days. Luckily KK picked up the girls for Guides, Apple drove them home, and Team Awesome Guide Leaders said they could manage without me (it was lovely of them to imply that they could cope rather than pointing out that they don't really need me, which is the actual case). I got home at 11pm to a sleepy Pixie who made me promise to wake her up at 5am on Thursday so she could finish cleaning.

Late night work supper. My colleagues are awesome.

I woke up at 5am to help clean. And then my darling child asked me if I was just procrastinating when we went on an early morning drive to get bread! I did point out that while I am brilliant at procrastinating, I do not get up at 5am to clean and then procrastinate. Turns out she just thought of the word. Seriously! Children these days!

It was worth it though. Pixie had a lovely sleepover last night.

Luckily the cleaning was done early. All three of her friends ended up arriving before I got home from work. I had said drop off at 6.30pm if they wanted me to be there, but turned out all the parents were fine with me not being home for the first bit. I walked into a house with music rocking and a cry of "I can't believe you have a stripper pole! You are so cool! I like you already!".

Did I mention I hadn't met one of Pixie's friends before? And that her older sister is friends with Tink, so she came for a sleepover too? Pixie has learnt something from her sisters; if you let them have their own friend they will leave your celebrations alone! Hopefully they will mention the law degree along with the stripper pole or they may never be allowed to sleepover again.

Just for the record, I don't call it a stripper pole. Just a dance pole. And the girls know I do pole dancing because I am too uncoordinated for real dancing. I like to have something to hang on to so I don't fall over.

Happy Birthday Pixie!
(The garden fairies from across the road put on the candles)

Today we are heading on our next country adventure. We are driving up to Boddington to have dinner with DB for the Pixie's birthday.

I asked the Pixie if she would like to go up to have dinner with Daddy on her birthday weekend. Her response: "I think he should like that. I get to pick where we have dinner though. Out of the two  places".

We are planning on doing an alphabet photo scavenger hunt on the way. Check out #alphabetadventures and #krisangels  on Twitter or Instagram if you want to see our pictures!

  • It is doubtful I am qualified to give parenting advice, there is still time for me to stuff up.
  • I have nothing against strippers, but not sure if it the girls' friends' parents would be thrilled b the image.
  • I have no idea how I raised children who want coat hangers as birthday presents.
  • I am not even allowed to give legal advice without supervision.
I would recommend finding more reliable sources for any advice of any nature.

Friday, 19 June 2015

One down. Eleven to go.

One down. Eleven to go.

Put like that it sounds a little daunting. It was just yesterday they were all finishing primary school.

Buglet just finished her mid-year 11 exams. Three more semesters to go and then she has finished high school. That is followed by four semesters of upper school for Tink, and then four semesters for Pixie. Beginning of the end? (I will cross post-secondary stressors later, I need to get the first one through high school first).

In case you were wondering, she seems to have survived.

The biggest issue has been from people other than Buglet. She's been a little stressed, but you would expect that. And our normal schedule has been a little out of whack, but once again you expect that.

What did surprise me was how I reacted to Buglet's exams.

I am an awful student. I do genuinely love knowing stuff, but I have some how managed to survive high school and multiple degrees without ever really learning how to study. I do the readings (mostly). I go to lectures (pretty much always, I am petrified of missing out on exam or assignment tips*). But somehow I never managed to learn how to make notes, how to review, how to do all those things which help you to actually study. People don't believe me, but it is true! I managed to survive based on natural ability, good luck, and learning to live with the fact that my grades are not really a true indication of my ability. Mostly I credit good luck.

*Incidentally also the reason I rocked up to the last class of semester with a 6 day old Buglet.

The girls' school is amazing and their attention to the career pathway process, beginning in Year 10, was better than I could ever have dreamed. Buglet hasn't had the easiest time transitioning into some parts of Year 11. She has struggled a little with some of the ATAR (university pathway) subjects, and it upset me that I didn't have the tools to help her.

She got some help from Apple, some from her teachers, and some from DB. Buglet is pretty happy to have finished her exams and says she is pretty sure she passed. Just have to wait now!

DB spent a day sitting with Buglet and helping her prepare for her final study. He helped her timetable and organise her study time, and helped her go through her notes. This bothered me, and I hate that it bothered me. Don't get me wrong, I am so, so glad that he did.

But, the irrational part of me had a few things to process ...
... guilt, I should have found the time to do that.
... frustration, I manage to do the every day stuff, and he swans in at the last minute.
... annoyance, is this is a criticism of me for not having looked after her better?
... guilt, study is supposed to be my thing. I do the learning stuff, he does the practical stuff.

Unreasonable? Yes! Absolutely! He is her dad, and he helped out, and did a much better job than I could have. And I promise that there is no resentment! Just the never-ending battle of mother-guilt, and the unavoidable frustrations of co-parenting with an ex. (Let me repeat here, the issue is definitely me in this instance! I didn't say anything to him except "thank you very much, you made a big difference" 'cos he did. Unless he reads this blog in which case my cover is blown#).

#DB: Just remember, baby, you told me to write a blog. And I mean it, the crap feelings are all about me. You did an awesome job helping Buglet. Go Team!

The other thing that I wasn't expecting was tantrums from Pixie.

The girls have watched me study for years. They know the importance of study food. For me study food usually consists of Pepsi Max, chocolate and cheezels or chicken twisties. I have promised them that when they sit exams I will not only provide them with study food (the Pixie's main concern) but also I will be there to cook, make coffee, and replenish empty Pepsi Max glasses. I would not have got through the last two years of study without Buglet's taking over most of the cooking, and Tink seemingly to fill my glass before I'd realised it was empty.

I should also say, that because I am a responsible parent, study food is reserved for exam study (and in my case last minute assignment writing, but the girls are much better than I am at not doing this).

Study food survival kit; given to me by a friend to help me survive the last weeks

I dropped the little to off to school on Buglet's first day of exam week. She was home study. I endured a lecture from Pixie because I hadn't provided Buglet  with appropriate study rations. I promised her I would text DB and request that he rectify the situation at some point, which I did do and he rose to the occasion.

That night there were major dramas because Buglet didn't share her study food. I am now suspecting that the Pixie's concern attend to my duties in supporting Buglet may have been partially motivated by the hope that she would get some too.

Pixie was most indignant because is "studying too". There was much soothing of the moral upset, and validation of feelings. This was all balanced with the not-so-subtle reminder that not everything is about her, and reminding her they all get special stuff at different times depending on what they have going on in their lives. It is a hard life being the youngest (and being totally spoilt).

To end on a happy note, it's taken me a few days to write this post, so since I started Buglet has found out she passed one of her exams! Yay! I am so, so happy! Just waiting to hear about the other two now!

  • It is doubtful I am qualified to give parenting advice, there is still time for me to stuff up.
  • I am not qualified to give study advice.
  • I am not qualified to give nutritional advice.
  • I am not even allowed to give legal advice without supervision.
I would recommend finding more reliable sources for any advice of any type.

Friday, 5 June 2015

Birthday Bonanza

We've had three birthdays in the household since last time I have written.

Firstly, I am counting May 2014 as this blogs official start date. There were a couple of early posts in December 2013, but May 2014 was where we really kicked off! Appropriately with a Mothers' Day post. Happy Anniversary to us! I have just realised that this year of blogging means I am now able to share historical blog posts on social media, I feel I have reached a new level of blog maturity.

It has also been 12 months since we got Paris the Yaris. Considering the amount of time we spend in her I think this is definitely worth a mention. This blog would not be the same with the chatting opportunities that being in the car gives us. It does bother me a bit though that after 12 months the Pixie still gets very excited every times she sees another Yaris. I don't care how exciting it is I am still not beeping my horn hello every time I see another Yaris. I don't care if it makes Paris sad.

(Please note, I didn't re-read the early posts in case they make me cringe. Does anyone else hate re-reading what they wrote? My usual reaction is what was I thinking!).

Perhaps more importantly, May was also Buglet's 16th birthday. Not just any old birthday, her 16th birthday! I wrote a lovely, heartfelt post to Buglet last year. I didn't this year. Not that I don't feel lovely, heartfelt things about her, but this year I showed by love with Extreme Cleaning rather then beautiful blog posts.

Look! Birthday muffins on the actual birthday. Bought with love.

I've mentioned before that May was the Month of Domestic Godessing, and Buglet's birthday was the reason for this. When they were little they had a birthday (of the McDonald's variety mostly) pretty much every year. Followed by a big part when they were 12 or 13 (their pick), but then I said no more parties until they were 16 and they've done something little a few friends instead. The plan has always been a big party for 16, a grown-up celebration for 18 (aka no drunken brawls, underage drinking friends etc), and then I would host a final big party for their 21st (Are you all a little bit impressed by my forward thinking? I will let you know how it all works out in 9 years when the Pixie is getting ready to turn 21. Buglet and I have discussed a joint 21st/40th so I do have hopes that my theory is sound).

We did so much cleaning and gardening and sorting; cupboards, boxes, drawers. It feels great to have some massive jobs crossed off my to-do list. Not enough to make this a full-time hobby, but it still felt good.

My mask: it petrified two of my nephews.

Buglet had a 'Masquerade Gala'. Family from 5pm to 7pm followed by her school and dance friends from 7pm to 10pm. We enlisted the help of some super awesome friends with the decorating, and DB did a great job with the food as always.

In the interests of sharing the benefits of my experience with you, here are some of the things I have learnt from this party:
  • You don't put parents' contact details for RSVPs on 16th birthday party invites. Buglet informed me that this caused great amusement with her friends.
  • 'Gala' can be misinterpreted as 'Galah'. 
  • Masks scare toddlers and babies.
  • If people offer to help, accept it. 
  • Don't offer to help if you don't want people to accept 'cos they just might.
  • Teenage girls wear Very High Heels and Very Short Skirts.
  • Ex-husbands may leave scary looking tools at your house if they know teenage boys are going to be there. 
  • They may also do things like sharpen knives using power tools.
  • Don't try and sneak alcohol. You will be caught. Me, not the children. 
  • If you've survived 16 years of parenting, you should get to celebrate too!
Buglet's big tip is to allow your sisters to have their own friends there. Buglet conducted her own negotiations with the Pixie, and the Pixie had two friends and a cousin sleepover on the condition that they didn't harass the "big kids". I think Buglet was less concerned about Tink, but Tink had a friend sleep over and they conducted their own party in the front room with a few other extra kids. Pixie and her entourage partied in the play room, and a fun time was had by all.

t was a great night. It was lovely to celebrate the early part with people who have love us and have helped Buglet grow into the person she is today, and Buglet's friends seemed to have a great time too. Saying this, back-to-back parties are exhausting. Especially when followed by a post-party de-brief with one or two of my friends and the girls' friends who slept over!

I spent the post-party day in bed. Literally. I only got out of bed to eat left over party food, and for other necessities and actually spent most of the day asleep. Particularly impressive as there were six girls that got picked up at random points during the day. I got up at 5.30pm to do a quick tidy, but was back in bed (in clean pyjamas!) by 7pm. So, so worth it!

Buglet sneakily invited DB around for breakfast on her birthday so that I wouldn't take photos or anything before she was dressed and all 'presentable'. Her theory being that if we were waiting until he got there to do presents and muffins she would be able to get up and get ready. The little two were a bit sorry they didn't think of this.

The girls on the birthday morning.
PS: Future posts relating to bits I wanted to include in this but decided it would make the post way to long: Scouts, performing arts, Pixie on birthdays, remembering what you've said to your children,
and 'it takes a village'. Intrigued? Keep following!

  • It is doubtful I am qualified to give parenting advice, there is still time for me to stuff up.
  • I am not qualified to give event planning advice.
  • I have no idea what is trending in the real world.
  • I am not even allowed to give legal advice without supervision.
I would recommend finding more reliable sources for any advice of any nature.