I’m back!

Not that I’ve been anywhere. I’ve been lurking, and feeling a bit like my progress in the #steppingonthecracks project has come to a screaming halt.

If you haven’t been following my project, it’s a series of challenges where I try out a new habit, technique or idea for 30 days to see how it works out. The idea is to put some of the things I’ve been reading about and learning into practise instead of filing them away under “interesting idea, should try this one day”.

I’ve had varying degrees of success with the different challenges, and I was about half way through challenge 9 (30 days of undone things), when the end of the year struck, holidays and various other unsettling events that threw everything out of line and most of my good habits went out the window, along with any capacity to make any progress on these challenges.

I’ve spent much of the past eight weeks feeling like I’d come so far, but that I’ve let myself down by letting everything go to shit. All the other stuff that was going on, well that was just an excuse to not do this.

I know! I’m being harsh on myself, and the perfectionist voice is speaking very loudly. It does that.

Last week (or thereabouts), I found the original hand-written list of the 30 little things I wanted to get done in December – you know, those things that take about five minutes, have been on your to-do list forever, but you can never quite get around to doing them. I was pleasantly surprised to find that, even though the project had collapsed, I’d still finished 20 of them. That’s two-thirds. For December, I think that’s a fairly reasonable achievement.

Hooray!

And many of the 20 things are things I wouldn’t have done if I hadn’t started this challenge. The button would still not be sewn on. I probably would have lost it by now. I’d still be using towels with holes in them.

All that’s left on the list is:

  1. Book skin check
  2. Order yoga shoes
  3. Make a list of jobs that I can do in 5/10 minutes for when I have a short gap in my day
  4. Make a list of things I can do when I have low energy rather than go on my phone
  5. Get my baby slides scanned
  6. Finish the Facing Fear worksheets
  7. Get new cord for Kramstable’s greenstone pendant
  8. Sew buttons onto purple shawl
  9. Make a list of the beers in the beer books
  10. Wash baby mat

It seems perfectly doable. Other than the purple shawl buttons. That is not doable.

The list of things that I can do in 5-10 minutes has been a work in progress for a while. I haven’t finished it because I’ve never known what to do with it, or where to put it, which is probably a reason why there were 30+ undone things in the first place. And I never felt like it was complete, so it couldn’t be put anywhere.

(I’ve combined it with another list I started ages ago of things Kramstable could do when he’s bored. He wasn’t interested.)

So, in the interests of crossing things off the list, and acknowledging that this type of list is never going to be finished, and there just has to be a point where you say, “This is enough and I’m sticking it on the pinboard and next time I have five minutes spare I’m going to do one of these things”, I present it to you now.

  • Put some washing on
  • Put washing away
  • Wash up or put the dishes away
  • Clean out a shelf in the pantry
  • Empty the bins
  • Pick up stuff off the floor in the lounge room
  • Take things that are in the wrong place to the room they belong in (bonus points for putting them away)
  • Clean out a drawer or a shelf
  • Put 10 things away
  • Vacuum a room
  • Sweep the floors
  • Quick tidy of one room (10 minutes with the timer)
  • Clear off and wipe down the bench, coffee table or dining table
  • Wipe down the bathroom sink or the bath
  • Take out the compost or the recycling
  • Go through the fridge and throw out food that’s off
  • Dust a shelf and tidy it
  • Throw something out that’s broken or we don’t need
  • Refill soap dispensers
  • Update the freezer list
  • Unsubscribe from mailing lists
  • Write a thank you note
  • Find a new recipe and add it to next week’s meal plan
  • Book a doctor appointment or haircut
  • Go for a walk
  • Go outside and look at the clouds
  • Hang out with the chickens
  • Do some colouring in or drawing
  • Write in journal
  • Write down things to be grateful for
  • 5-10 minutes of breathing exercises or meditation
  • Have a glass of water
  • Make a cup of tea
  • Read a book
  • Doodle or scribble
  • Sort a paper pile
  • Organise a file
  • Make a to-do list
  • Process emails
  • Download photos from phone
  • Sort some photos
  • Put photos in albums
  • Do something from the 30 undone things list
  • Make a new 30 undone things list

Let me know what you think.

Do you have a list like this? What’s on your list that I missed?

Here’s to getting things done, one five minute block at a time!

Back to Bacchus

Back to Bacchus
Bacchus Marsh, Australia

Bacchus Marsh, Australia


I woke up at 3.30 and couldn’t get back to sleep. Even for me this is stupidly early and I didn’t want to get up then. I

ended up going for a walk before getting the last few things I had to do before we left. Coffee, for example. I left getting Kramstable’s suitcase closed to Slabs.

We got to the airport early, and managed to dodge the bomb scans at security. That must be a first.

After a bumpy takeoff and landing, we arrived in Melbourne on time. Zoe had to have rainbow drops because she gets travel sick. There was an interesting “we don’t have the car you booked, have this one instead . . . [after putting our bags in] . . . Oh here we go, this is what you booked” vehicle swap at the rental car office, but we finally got on the road and drove to Bacchus Marsh where we’re staying with Slabs’ family for a couple of days.

We’ll be heading off on the road trip on Tuesday. We stopped for lunch in town, and sat across the road watching in disbelief as a woman gently backed her car into the front of our rental car. Be warned lady: we have your number plate. Luckily there doesn’t appear to be any damage to the vehicle, but still it wasn’t the way we expected our first day to go.

The forecast for the first few days of the week appears to involve sky water. This is what happens when you say you love the ocean when it’s raining. This might change our plans for tomorrow, but we’ll see how the day’s looking before we decide. We have a couple of options, so we are keeping them open. As you do.

Kramstable is making a documentary about the trip, so he’s been running around with the camera commentating on what he’s doing. I’m interested to see how it all turns out.

It is really nice to be on holidays!

12 of 12 September 2015

A boring Saturday at home. The first day of my “let’s try getting up earlier and doing some things I have to do in the morning instead of lazing around and then having to rush out the door at swimming time because I couldn’t be bothered having breakfast and getting dressed until 10 minutes before we had to leave, and having all the things not done at the end of the day.”

20150912-02 Early morningThat seemed to go well.

1 of 12 – It’s been a cold winter. Really cold. Just lately there have been signs it’s coming to an end, but we all know that this is just a teaser before we’re plunged back into freezing temperatures. But for the next couple of days, it’s going to be really nice. Forecast top today: 20 degrees, actual top: 22 degrees. Quite a contrast with where we’ll be in two weeks.

1 of 12

1 of 12

2 of 12 – Juniordwarf volunteered to make us coffee this morning. He used to do it all the time a couple of years ago but fell out of the habit. Unfortunately the coffee machine goes through temperamental phases, which makes coffee very hit and miss. Today was one of those days.

2 of 12

2 of 12

3 of 12 – One of the things Juniordwarf does is help make breakfast when we have eggs. Now that the chooks are laying again, we’ve got a good supply. Fresh eggs, sautéed kale and my favourite bread from Pigeon Whole. Nice way to start the day. And yes, I do have my breakfast on Juniordwarf’s “Bunnykins” plate.

3 of 12

3 of 12

4 of 12 – I had to prune back this boronia (I think) bush because it was in the way of me being able to see where the chooks are. By “prune” I means chopping off anything in my line of vision. Note to self: clean kitchen window.

4 of 12

4 of 12

5 of 12 –Swimming lesson day.

5 of 12

5 of 12

Remember a couple of months ago when I didn’t have anything to take photos of so I went for a walk around town. (It was actually May) Here are some updates.

6 of 12 – Not so much an update as something totally new. This building has been a couple of restaurants since we’ve been here, but has been empty for several years. Looks like it will be back in use again soon.

6 of 12

6 of 12

7 of 12 – Lees Corner. The old site of Banjo’s, the lolly shop and Sintonic, which burnt down in 2012, and has sat unused since. They are now making it into a small park until the owners decide what to do with it. The work started in May. Apparently it was supposed to be finished by the end of May.

7 of 12

7 of 12

8 of 12 – Happy springtime!

8 of 12

8 of 12

9 of 12 – Old cottage, meet new hardware store. Bad luck if you want any light. In May this was the site of lots of puddles and diggers. It used to be the site of old fruit packing sheds.

9 of 12

9 of 12

10 of 12 – Anyone want to buy an old supermarket?

10 of 12

10 of 12

11 of 12 – This is the latest addition to the Willow Court site – new gates in front of the old Barracks. (I know. It’s been there several months. There are conflicting opinions on the suitability of this style for a historic site.)

11 of 12

11 of 12

12 of 12 – We are very lucky to be able to have Two Metre Tall Beer-fed Beef delivered to our front door.

12 of 12

12 of 12

Week in review: 9-15 February 2015

This week’s goals:

  1. 16,000 steps per day – 7/7 days
  2. [Private goal] – 0/7 days
  3. Go to bed before 11.30pm – 1/7 days (close on 3 other nights)

Monday was a public holiday, so no work and no school. Hooray! Juniordwarf and I made a start on cleaning up his bedroom. Not hooray!

Under an 8 year old’s bed. A place no one should ever have to go.

At least I finally managed to get him to start thinking about things he didn’t want or need any more, and start getting rid of some things. This is progress.

I’ve not done this ‘bed before 11.30’ thing very well. I did go to bed before, well let’s say midnight on Monday, but my body decided to compensate for that by waking me up at 4 am on Tuesday. How considerate of it.

On Wednesday I got my 5th strawberry off my plants. $10 for 6 plants, 5 strawberries = $2 per strawberry. Gourmet gardening!

I also learned a valuable lesson. Juniordwarf has a cheap writing pad that was sitting on the dining table. I was sitting at the table after dinner and picked up a pen and started doodling on his writing pad. He saw it a bit later and asked why I’d done that.

I said that I’d just wanted to scribble a bit.

He looked very upset with me and said, ‘But that’s my paper and you didn’t ask permission.’

My first instinct was to think that it was only a cheap writing pad, and why would I need his permission, since I probably gave it to him in the first place. But I somehow managed to think before I spoke, and it occurred to me that he was right. It was his writing pad and I hadn’t asked if I could write on it. I knew I’d be really annoyed if it was one of my notebooks and he’d scribbled in it – so why would his notepad mean any less to him than my notebook means to me?

So I apologised and I really meant it. He accepted that and asked that I not to this again. Then he went and got another sheet of paper from somewhere and put it on top of the pad to replace the sheet I’d used. Then we both moved on.

An important lesson

An important lesson

Speaking of stationery, my favourite stationery store Notemaker tweeted this link about ‘Why grown women really fetish stunning stationery’. The author says that the Midori Travelers Notebook ‘ has space for 3 inserts from a range of handy and practical refills and accessories’. I suggested that with only 3 inserts, she hadn’t tried very hard. Mine has 7 inserts, including 4 books. Yes, you really can fit that many in. It looks like this:
Cult of Midori

Cult of Midori

On Wednesday we got 3 eggs – both of the new chickens are now laying. After their initial reluctance to roost at night, they’re now roosting with the other chooks, but haven’t worked out that the nesting box is the place to lay the eggs. They’ve been laying underneath the perches. This requires something of a contortionist effort both to get the eggs and to put the perches, which they invariably knock off, back into place.
Little eggs

Little eggs

Thursday was 12 of 12, so you know about that already.

On Friday I went to the first scrapbooking class for the year. We usually have a break over December and January and go back when school goes back. I finished one page from 2013. In 3 hours. Yeah I’m good at this (ha). I also started to design a layout for a taste test I did in 2013 of 2 different varieties of Two Metre Tall Forester Ale. Because occasionally I do a page that doesn’t feature Juniordwarf.

Scrapbook layout plan

Scrapbook layout plan

Then it was the weekend. We had some friends come to visit, and Juniordwarf had a great time with another kid in the house.

Next week’s goals:
1.  17,000 steps per day
2.  [Private goal]
3.  Go to bed before midnight (baby steps!)

 

Week in review – 2-8 February 2015

Week Goals:

  1. 16,000 steps per day – achieved every day. Gold star for me!

What we did:

This week was almost back to normal. School went back on Wednesday, and you already know how I felt about that.

Juniordwarf was with Slabs on Monday and I went to work. It was my last long day, where I got in to work and left at around the same time as most of my colleagues.

Since going back to work from maternity leave I’ve worked full-time (for 5 months), part time (3 days a week with 2 days at home) and part time (reduced hours for 5 days a week). I’ve made this choice because I want to spend time with Juniordwarf. I don’t want to put him in afterschool care every day and I don’t want to impose on my mother too much.

I’m grateful that I’m able to make this choice and that I have the opportunity to hang out with Juniordwarf after school.

But (there’s always a but) – I’ve found the reduced hours-per-day model is a lot harder than the 3 days full time-per-week model. I find it very draining, and one of my goals for this year is to make it work better for me.

The 6-hour days, where I take a lunch break and leave work some time between 4.00 and 4.30, aren’t too bad. It’s almost a standard day. But the 5 hour days, where I have to leave at 2.30 are awkward. I feel like I’m walking out almost straight after lunch, just when everyone else is settled into their afternoon.

I’m sure they don’t think this, but I’ve convinced myself that they’re thinking that I’m a slacker and not committed to my job because I’m leaving so early.

Of course this isn’t the case. First, I’m only paid for part-time hours, so I’m doing exactly what I’m being paid to do. Second, spending the afternoon with Juniordwarf isn’t the same thing as taking the afternoon off to do stuff I want to do. Sometimes it’s fun. Sometimes it’s tolerable, and sometimes it’s downright frustrating and I wish I was back at work.

Mostly I let him decide what we do. If I try and get him to do something I want to do that he’s not interested in, it usually ends badly. So, rather than stress about this, I’ve dedicated the two afternoons we have together as Juniordwarf time. He can choose what we do – mostly. Sometimes I have things that I absolutely have to do, but mostly it’s up to him.

As I said, sometimes it’s fun. Sometimes it’s tolerable, and sometimes it’s frustrating and I can’t wait for Slabs to be ready to go home.

So no, it’s not an easy afternoon off. As several parents I know have said, spending time with a small child – while you’d never give that up – can be way more draining than the time you spend at work.

I could go on, but I think I’ll leave it there for now. There’s work to be done here!

Here’s another picture from the main street – this is the Shoe Mart, a longstanding establishment in the town, which is closing down soon. I love the signage. I hope it can be preserved.

The Shoe Mart

The Shoe Mart

The Wooden Boat festival is on in Hobart this weekend. Two Metre Tall has a stall there, so there’s no Farm Bar this weekend. Unfortunately I had to go out at lunch time on Friday. I’m not sure how I ended up here.

Ooops! How did this happen?

Ooops! How did this happen? It’s a Salty Sea Stout by the sea …

While I was enjoying my Salty Sea Stout, the Constitution Dock bridge was opened to let boats into the dock. I’ve never seen this before. My initial hopes that I’d be trapped in the boat festival’s Waterside Tavern indefinitely were dashed when I realised I could get back to work the long way round. Oh well.

Constitution Dock

Constitution Dock

I’ve been walking every morning in preparation for CARE Australia’s Walk in Her Shoes Challenge. On weekends I’ve been doing 90 minute walks that include the track around the river. The forecast for Saturday was 34 degrees (it actually got to 35 degrees). You’d never have known that in the morning.

Misty start to the morning

Misty start to the morning

We got two new chooks on new year’s eve. Today we got our first egg. This one is compared to the old chook’s egg.

Little egg

Little egg

Today we took Juniordwarf to MONA. Slabs and I had been in 2013 (it was one of my 100 things to do that year – and one of the few I actually ticked off).

We’d told Juniordwarf about it and, as you’d expect, he was fascinated by the idea of the ‘poo machine’. Slabs and I had seen it get fed the day we went, but didn’t stick around for the other end of the process. So today we finally got to see it. Juniordwarf said it was gross, or to use the terminology of the day, courtesy of Coraline, ‘gross-sgusting’.

We had an interesting afternoon and we think Juniordwarf enjoyed himself.

IMG_7689

IMG_7694

Snake!

Snake!

Yes it's the poo machine

Yes it’s the poo machine

Fat car

Fat car

IMG_7706

Next week’s goals:

  1. 16,000 steps per day – I don’t want to peak too early.
  2. Go to bed before 11.30pm.

And so another school year begins

Today Juniordwarf started Grade 3.

I don’t know about anyone else who has kids, but these holidays seemed to fly by. Yet even though the holidays have zoomed past us, last year (when we were wishing his Grade 2 teacher all the best for her retirement) seems like a lifetime ago.

Time’s a funny thing. Something can go past in the blink of an eye, yet seem like it started foreverago.

When I was Juniodwarf’s age the summer holidays seemed to drag on and on, and I’d get incredibly bored. Yes, in those days the summer holidays were longer than they are now we’ve got a 4-term system but, even so, the holidays seemed to last forever.

I expect my mother, at home with 2 kids, felt the same way.

And I don’t know if I’d been at home with him the entire time if I’d feel the same way about these holidays too. But I wasn’t. I spent most of January at work, with a few days here and there for our little getaways and then towards the end, I took some time off to spend with Juniordwarf.

He never seemed bored while I was with him, but leading up to school going back he started to get excited about going back. He was especially excited about seeing his friends.

Even if there were periods when he got bored, he never seemed to experience that excruciating, neverending boredom that I remember from my childhood.

Yesterday I told him he was my big Grade 3 boy, and he told me seriously he wasn’t a Grade 3. Not yet. Not until tomorrow. Until then I’m Grade Zero. I’m not in a grade yet.

OK. If you insist. Who am I to argue?

I guess I got a bit sentimental last night.

He’s now been at school for 4 of his 8 years. Half his life. This year is the start of his ‘big kid’ years at primary school. His classroom is in the main building. He’ll have his first taste of the NAPLAN tests. He’s not a little kid any more.

I remembered back to just before he started school in 2011. How distressed I’d been about putting him into this system we call education. (I wrote a post about it here.)

This time wasn’t like that. This time was more reflective and wondering.

I watched him sleeping last night and I thought I could see, in the dark, with my crap eyesight, a glimpse of what he’d look like when he was a lot older.

Sleep is honest. It shows you things you don’t see when people are awake.

When my father was ill and Juniordwarf was a small baby, I can remember looking in at my sleeping father and thinking how much like a sleeping baby, how like Juniordwarf, he looked. So peaceful.

The same feelings came back to me last night. I could see, if it wasn’t a trick of the light, the young man he is going to become.

And I wondered . . . Is this the year?

Is this the year he leaves behind some of his treasured playthings and companions?

Is this the year he stops wearing his exotic headwear?

Is this the year he tells me not to come into school with him?

Is this the year he doesn’t want to hold my hand any more?

Is this the year?

I don’t know. A part of me doesn’t want any of this to happen. I love who he is right now and I love the things he does, the things he wears and his assortment of companions, real and imaginary.

But I know that, just like he’s moved on from Ben & Holly, he will – when he’s ready – move on and grow up. He’ll find new interests, new things to delight and amuse me with, and new people to be with. Eventually he won’t want me around as much (or ever).

None of this might happen this year (I hope it doesn’t) but, even though I know it has to happen, it’s going to be hard to cope with.

Perhaps one reason for feeling like this is that every first for me is a last as well.

With only one child, every first wobbly tooth will be the last first wobbly tooth. Every first day at school will be the last first day at school. When he grows out of something, there won’t be anyone else to love it, play with it or do it any more.

And so I tell myself to make the most of the moments I have because I won’t have these chances again. So at the times I’m with him*, I’m trying to fully enjoy the quirky things he does – even the ones that are annoying (remember Ben & Holly?) – to be present and engaged, to observe when he’s entertaining himself and to participate when he needs me.

I owe it to him, and I owe it to me.

 

 

* Opens discussion about boundaries and me-time, which don’t quite fit here!

Week in Review: 26 January – 1 February 2015

This week started off as part of a five-day weekend. I had a day of leave on Friday, a weekend, a public holiday on Monday and then another day off on Tuesday.

On Monday Juniordwarf and I filled in for a presenter who’s taking some time off, at our community radio station TYGA FM on Monday’s midday show, The Time Tunnel. This is a show that features music from a particular year. We looked at 1981 and played Australian music for Australia Day.

TYGA FM

TYGA FM

Juniordwarf was very excited that we were going to have another day together on Tuesday. I was excited too. We hadn’t had a lot of time together these holidays, so it’s been great to have a few days where it’s just him and me doing pretty much whatever he wants to do.

It was a really relaxing break. We didn’t have to go anywhere or do anything apart from the radio show. It was good just to be at home and potter around and spend some time together. It made me miss the days before school started when I’d have a day (or two days before he started kinder) at home with Juniordwarf and I actually felt like a proper mum, instead of someone racing between home, school, work, school and home every day, with hardly a second to take a breath in between.

Sadly, it had to end, and I went back to work on Wednesday.

I’ve kept up with my walking in the mornings and I’m trying to adjust my wakeup time to be able to do the walk I want to do and still give myself time to be ready at the time we need to leave.

I exceeded my 13,000 daily step goal every day, so I’ve increased my goal to 16,000 steps a day leading up to the CARE Walk In Her Shoes challenge in March.

Getting ready for the CARE WIHS Challenge

Getting ready for the CARE WIHS Challenge

Ducklings I saw on my walk on Saturday morning

Ducklings I saw on my walk on Saturday morning

The most interesting thing that happened was that our new chickens, which we got at New Year, have finally started getting up onto the perches in the chook house by themselves at night.

One of the new chickens

One of the new chickens

Oh, and I got another strawberry from my strawberry plant. Yay!

We saw this bird in the garden on Saturday (dodgy photo because I took it through the kitchen window on maximum zoom).

Bird in our garden

Bird in our garden

This was an interesting ‘uncover’ on the main street I noticed during the week. When we first moved here, this shop was called Cooper’s and it was a hardware store. It was most recently True Blue, which had been a real estate agency as well as a removalist service and a ‘bits & pieces’ store. It closed down at the end of last year and is now a store selling local hand-made crafts – but as they’re doing it up, the old Cooper’s awning was uncovered.

Coopers awning

Coopers awning