Friday, 8 March 2019

Autumn is here

This morning we woke up to the soothing sound of pattering rain.  It's still raining now and hopefully it will continue all day.  My Aussie friends will probably scoff, but we really need rain.

It's been ages since my last post and in that time we've shifted from summer to autumn.  There've been some cold nights, and there was even a sprinkle of snow on the mountain before the end of February. 

In the last week or two I've noticed a flush of yellow at the top of the gingko tree out my kitchen window.  It reminds me that we're coming up to two years here in NZ.  That flush of yellow was one of the first things I photographed when we arrived, with our toddler and our baby.  The toddler is now in her last year of kindy, and the baby is in her first.  The cycle goes on.  And I love having the seasons to mark out the memories.

The longer we're here the more I can recognise the different seasons with my eyes closed.  Summer is the ear-splitting zing of cicadas and the drone of tractors.  In autumn it's the song of blackbirds and the sound of chainsaws.  Spring is bees buzzing and the sound of chainsaws, and winter is the smell of woodsmoke and the sound of chainsaws.

It's also the changing angle of the sun coming into the house.  Usually highlighting somewhere that I really need to vacuum.

The vegetable garden has passed its summer peak and we're in the process of changing over to winter crops.  I don't want to see another zucchini for a really long time.  I've already harvested my first head of broccoli.  The beans are done (thank god) and I'll be pulling the vines down once this rain stops.  The cherry tomatoes are ripening their last fruits and the carrot bed is almost empty.

The grape vine has a couple of tiny bunches which will hopefully ripen before it gets too cold.  The lemon tree is dropping the remainder of last year's crop while the new green lemons start to swell.  The hydrandeas in protected spots carry on giving.

I've filled the wood basket and set the fire in readiness but am proud to say I haven't lit it yet, despite some chilly mornings.  

I picked up my needles and cast on a new knitting project for the first time since last winter.

The lawn is suddenly covered in fallen leaves which weren't there yesterday.

So that's where we are in almost-mid-March.  Overall, happy.  Just really happy and content.  With the odd bout of sibling fisticuffs for good measure (more about that on another day I think).

Sunday, 13 January 2019

Back to normal

After having a very relaxing time over Christmas and New Year, I woke up last week with a steely glint in my eye and a fire in my belly.  I washed and vacuumed and mowed.  I packed away the Christmas decorations.  I ruthlessly culled my wardrobe of clothes I no longer wear or which no longer fit (thanks The Bod!).  I weeded all the garden beds.  It felt great to be so productive and to get the place in shape after taking a holiday from (most) responsibilities for a couple of weeks.

Christmas feels like months ago already.  We spent the morning at my sister-in-law's place for an amazing brunch, then to B's dad's in the afternoon for a swim and a barbeque.  We brought the girls home for their bedtime and then B went back for a few beers with his brother who was over from Australia.

Between Christmas and New Year we went up to the bach a couple of times.  It's only an hour's drive away which makes it easy to come and go.  B's mum babysat the girls so we could go to the bach for New Year's Eve unfettered.  We even made it to 2am!  I can't remember the last time I stayed up that late, ever.  We were up early on new year's day to get back home and it's safe to say I wasn't feeling my best.  The first day of the year was a struggle to say the least, especially with two little girls who weren't going to let us out of their sight in case we snuck out on them again.

Speaking of New Year's, I can't decide if I'm a resolutions person or not.  Generally if I want to change something I wouldn't wait for the new year to do it.  That said, the good habits I picked up doing The Bod program have slipped a bit.  I'm drinking way too much coke, I'm eating a lot of pasta and fast food.  I'm still eating a good amount of vegetables, because at the moment the fastest food is that right outside my door.  However, the diet could use some improvement.  Some days, the only fluids I have are coffee, coke, and wine.  I know.


We are tentatively planning to include Meat-Free Monday (or, any day) every week, and I'm aiming to drain my 750ml water bottle at least once a day.  My mum told that if you drink the majority of your water before lunch you won't be up all night going to the loo, so my aim is A Litre by Lunch.  Catchy!

Another resolution, if you want to call it that, is to attack my to-do list.  One thing that bullet journalling taught me last year is that I am quite happy to just keep writing the same tasks on my list every week without ever ticking them off.  But then I feel constantly irritated and can't relax looking at all the things that need doing.  So.  Just do the things.  Tick them off.  Move on.

The thing that will make the ticking off of the list easier is that, as I've mentioned about eleventy billion times already, A starts kindy this year.  Regular solid blocks of time, kid-free.  Obviously there'll be a touch of Real Housewives watching, but I'm really looking forward to some major time to get jobs done.

It's been seriously dry here for the last few weeks, not too hot thank goodness, but hardly any rain.  The paddocks are looks as dry as I've ever seen them.  The grass has almost stopped growing!  Well, not quite.  The lawns still need mowing twice a week.  Bring on winter I say.

We're still trying to address A's, and to a lesser extent, J's fussy eating.  Since B has been off work during December we've been having the occasional family dinner and I know I've said it before, but it really makes a difference to how the girls eat.  The other night we had burgers which I was fully expecting to be rejected, only for them both to dig in with enthusiasm.  Who knew!  It shows me how much I worry about their eating when they do eat without fuss and I feel so happy and relieved.  It's so good to make progress, however small.

As you may recall, A turned two in September and oh boy do we know about it.  J never really threw tantrums.  We never really had the terrible twos or the threenager with her.  Luckily, A is making up for everything that J spared us.  The fury inside that pudgy little body has to be seen to be believed.  The will of steel.  I'm a pretty stubborn person with a pretty strong will of my own and I am no match for this kid.  B and I have both been heard to say "Just give her what she wants!" to make the screaming stop.  Another one of those things I never thought I would do as a parent.  But hey.  You do what you gotta do.

One thing I want to note here is that it's now over a year since J commenced toilet training.  It's only now that she has returned to wearing undies fulltime.  It's taken a full year.  I don't know why.  We waited until she was ready.  She led the process, with our support.  I never made a big deal about anything, that I can think of.  And yet time and again she has insisted on wearing nappies, for months at a time.  She'd stay dry in her nappy all day, pulling it down to use the toilet, and yet would refuse to wear undies.  One of the very few times when we've seen her exert her will.

She turns four in February.  She's in undies now but I won't be at all surprised if we go back to nappies again.  I've tried to ask her why she prefers nappies but of course she can't articulate whatever it is.  She's nowhere near being dry at night.  I dunno.  Just one of those things I guess.

Well I'd better go tackle the lawns again before it (hopefully...) rains!  Hope you have all had a lovely Christmas and New Year and feeling positive for the year ahead.

Sunday, 30 December 2018

How did I get here?

A while back, I alluded to how my whole life suddenly changed when I got into the oil and gas industry.

Since it's the end of the year, which often puts us in a reflective mood, I thought I'd tell you the long convoluted story of how I ended up who and where I am today.

I've put the photos in this post as close as possible to the part of the story when they were taken.  I'll caption them so you have some idea of what you're looking at.


Back many years ago, when I was... 21?  22 maybe? I had quit the supermarket job I started right out of school when I didn't get into any university courses.  I went from the supermarket to behind the bar of an Irish pub, and I was really hating it.  Crying every day before work kind of hating it.

My dad took pity on me and gave me a job in his law office as a rounds clerk.  I'm not sure if they even have rounds clerks anymore but back then my job was walking around town every day filing documents in court, delivering briefs, picking things up, dropping things off, and conducting property settlements.

For whatever reason, I really enjoyed doing property settlements.  Back then (again, this has probably all changed) all the conveyancers in South Australia would meet at the Lands Titles Office every morning.  The banks had desks around the perimeter of the room, which was always packed with people and LOUD.  You walked around yelling at the top of your lungs for the conveyancer you were meeting, then you lined up to see the banks deal with the mortgages, and that's how property changed hands.

Now bear with me.  Things get a bit complicated here.  I did say this was a convoluted story.

I did my conveyancing diploma part-time at night, and I got a job at a small private mortgage company, which was then sold to a bigger private mortgage company, who transferred my role to their external conveyancer... who wasn't much fun to work for.

The view from my old house in southern Adelaide.  The black clouds are a good reflection of how I felt about that house.

After the private mortgage company was sold, and I got transferred to the external conveyancer, and he wasn't much fun to work for, I went job hunting again (always, always, looking for a change) and got a job at a company which did a lot of work for oil and gas clients.

I think this is Moana beach in Adelaide.  It's a beach south of Adelaide that you can drive onto, at any rate

Around the same time, I met my then-boyfriend's brother's girlfriend's sister (still with me?) who worked for a client of my new employer.  The boyfriend's-brother's-girlfriend's-sister had been transferred to a job in a little town called Roma in Queensland.  She recommended me for her old job in Adelaide, which I got.

I loved it, loved my job for the first time probably ever.  Part of the job was giving safety presentations.  I think the goal was 50 presentations.  In my first year I gave over one hundred presentations, all over the state.  Turns out, I love public speaking!

Me, describing in lavish detail how gas pipelines can explode and destroy everything in the vicinity.

Heading north on another pipeline safety trip, looking towards the Flinders Ranges I think

I was earning good money, feeling motivated and positive.  I quit smoking.  I got really dissatisfied with my personal life which in comparison seemed like the same old depressing hamster wheel.

Anyway, after not long at all, my boyfriend's-brother's-girlfriend's-sister was leaving her job in Queensland.  Once again, the role she was vacating was suggested as the logical next step for me.  Once again, I got the job.  Yes, in Queensland.

It never once occurred to me not to leap at the chance.  Of course I would move to Queensland if the opportunity arose.  Why on earth would I say no??  Always, always, looking for something.

I was to move to Queensland around Easter that year, with the intention that my boyfriend would be in Roma within a couple of months.

I left Adelaide mid-morning and arrived at the house in Roma late at night.  It was a big new-ish house, almost empty.  I walked in the front door, set my bag on the kitchen bench, and let out a huge sigh.

I love that I have a photo of that very moment.

I remember it so clearly.

It felt like the first time I'd exhaled in years.  At that moment I knew my relationship was over.  I was so unhappy.  It wasn't fixable.  It took getting away to realise it.

The drive to work in Queensland.  After that I never want to commute through city traffic again.

Then, very shortly after, I met B at a community boxing match.  He got my phone number from a mutual friend, we went on a date to the second-best Chinese restaurant in town, and I remember looking at him as he paid the bill.  I'm not a believer in love at first sight but I knew that this was going to be something.  This was the start of something good.

Sunset from my house in Roma, Queensland.

Of course you don't just sail off into the sunset.  Ending my previous relationship was hard and messy and painful, and severing things financially took months.  But there was no question about what the right thing for me was.

I had never wanted children.  Never wanted to get married.  In fact Past Prue would probably look at my life now and feel a bit disappointed with how ordinary it's turned out, what with the baking and gardening and stay-at-home-parenting.  But what Past Prue would not be able to fathom is how deeply contented and happy she would be - at last - in this very ordinary life.

I rattled around a lot for the first 30 years of my life.  Looking back it's easy to see that I was never very happy.  Always, always, moving job or house or friends, always looking for something.

Always dreaming of a different life without knowing what it was.

I found it!

Thursday, 20 December 2018

A pre-Christmas vignette

It's a Christmastime vignette!  My star garland, Santa snowglobe, the ever-present sweet peas and a colander full of fresh greens waiting to be dealt with (also ever-present at this time of year).

First things first, we did it.  A's bed is now in J's room.  Lots of people had positive stories for me about what a game-changer it was for the sleep issues in their house.  So far, for us, it hasn't changed a lot.  She still refuses to sleep in there at night.  Poor J was so excited to share a room, she was so downcast when A refused.  I felt awful.  The good news is, I can now tell J that I or her dad will be sleeping in there if she wants us to.  It's much easier overall.

The other A-related news is that she is all of a sudden refusing to nap.  Like when J dropped her naps, it just suddenly happened one day.  And now she often won't have a nap unless she falls asleep in the car. 

I dreaded this day - the day naps were a thing of the past - but in actual fact it's great.  We've reached the point where naps are kind of a pain.  It's great now, not having to be home for naptime!  The day is ours.  Sure, it's a bit inconvenient when I've got invoices to prepare or pay, or phone calls to make, but mostly it's way better.  Another step into that next stage of life I was talking about.

In the category of making and baking, I've been doggedly doing rows of bloody Sauvie.  I finished the cardigan and skirt set for J's doll.

I've been wilting, chopping and freezing spinach.  I made Foxs Lane's cheesy garden bread the other day, I've picked bowlfuls of peas and strawberries (and J can eat them faster than I can pick them), I've made peach cobbler and shortbread.  There is a constant supply of fresh lettuce in the fridge and I'm checking the tomatoes and squashes daily.  Did I tell you I forgot to thin the squash plants and so we have twelve of them?  Get your squash here!

The weather has been totally whacko.  We had an awesome thunderstorm the other day with lots of fantastic rumbling thunder and black clouds.  It's also been hot and dry in between times so the downpour from the storm was very welcome.

If you squint you can just see the mountain through the rain

My dad came for a visit a couple of weeks ago.  It's a great time of year for visitors with all the Christmas stuff we were able to do - decorating our tree, watching the local Christmas Parade, the kindy's end-of-year disco...  The week flew by!  Poor Dad caught a cold which put a dampener on the end of the trip but otherwise everyone had a ball.

Ok, ready for your vegetable garden update? 

Here's a reminder of what it looked like four weeks ago:

And this is yesterday:

Everything just grows like crazy here right now.  I have to pick produce every single day to keep on top of it, and it's still not at its peak.  Needless to say I'm LOVING IT.

I may not post again before Christmas so I hope everyone has a nice safe, relaxing, peaceful, non-stressful time.  We'll be with B's various family members and then it's off to the bach for a few days.  Cannot wait!

See you in 2019, if not before.

Sunday, 2 December 2018

Things that are good

Here is a list, in the order they occurred to me, of things at the moment that are making me happy...

The other day, as I was knitting in front of the tv, realising that I was knitting mostly by feel without having to watch my hands the whole time.

The smell of sweet peas on my dining table.

Swapping out the flannelette sheets on the bed for plain cotton ones at last.

Little girls making each other giggle helplessly, without it ending in tears.

Rocket that grows so fast I can cut some for my lunch every day.  I can't believe how much I was paying for bags of the stuff at the supermarket.

Christmas being just around the corner.

Time spent together as a family.  It doesn't matter what we're doing, my favourite thing is to be all four of us together.

Realising the progress I've made on the ukulele when songs I found challenging a couple of weeks ago are now easy and effortless to play.

When the mowing is done, the weeding is done, the laundry up to date, the house tidy (if not clean...).  That happy, weary... slightly sweaty... and virtuous feeling when all jobs are done.

Kindy mums who let me know that, on her first day at kindy last week, A stopped crying a minute after I left.  And kindy mums who convince me to forget my to-do list on that day and to go have a coffee instead.  Which I did.  And read two whole magazines.  Heaven.

When I've waited all day to sit down with my knitting, that feeling when I do finally sit down with my knitting.

And now, just quietly, some things that are less good...

The loaf of sourdough I made the other day which was as flat as a pancake, and which I finished off by burning it in the oven.  Why?  All that effort down the drain.  Or into the pig bucket, as the case may be.

Following a new recipe to the letter and having it fail.  Again I ask, WHY?

Winds that bruise and damage plants.

My girls both having a cry every single day that they miss their dad and want him to come home from work.  Shutdowns bring home the bacon but they are not conducive to family life.

Now let's not end this on a negative note, because not only am I sitting here with all jobs done, slightly sweaty, I'm also about to pick up my knitting!

Happy Sunday, friends xx

Sunday, 25 November 2018

Things in November

I just went for a quick walk around the place to take the photos for today's post.  It rained basically all day yesterday and everything is soft and dripping.  It's so intensely green.  I wonder if I will ever get used to how green it is?  You can almost smell the photosynthesis.

It's been excellent staying-inside weather, and I've made a concerted effort to finish those knitting and crochet WIPs in my basket.  I FINALLY finished A's baby blanket (only *cough* two and half years later), and I've cast on the back piece of the dreaded Sauvie vest.  It should be ready for next winter.

I'm also working on some clothes for the girls' dolls in the hope that they might stop raiding their own drawers for doll clothes.  Anyone else's kids do this?  It drives me berserk!!

Speaking of those little girls, it's been a real joy and a BIG relief for me to see them start to get along and play cooperatively at last.  Basically since A has been able to express herself she and J have fought.  I mean they really go to town.  It never occurred to me in having two kids close together that they would fight so much.  Recently they seem to have found a groove together though.

Maybe because A can participate in imaginative play a bit better now, or maybe because J is a bit older and more understanding, or probably a combination of a million factors, but it's been a delight and, like I said, a huge relief.  They might not end up on the Jeremy Kyle show after all!

Other than playing nicely with her sister, J is suddenly consumed with writing.  She doesn't really draw and has never shown much interest in writing, other than her adorable pretend writing which looks like the scratchings of a serial killer.  When I've offered to teach her how to write her name she couldn't be less interested.  If it's not important to her, it's not important to me.

Until now!  It's fascinating to watch, to see it click in her mind, and her excitement that all those shapes can be arranged to mean something.  The first recognisable thing she wrote was B's name and I think I almost saw a tear in his eye when she showed him.

With all this sun and rain the vegetable garden is going off its head.  Remember what it looked like a month ago?  Here let me remind you:

And here it is today:

I cannot keep on top of the weeds.  I weeded it a week ago.  I give up.  I'm now just trying to keep the beds weed-free and let the paths take care of themselves.  I do hate how messy it looks but there just is not the time, especially as I also have to mow the grass at least once a week or else it's like trying to cut hay.

One reason I've been trying to get through my craft WIPs is because at this time of year they take up too much time.  There's grass to mow, garden beds to weed, plants to plant, water, harvest, stake, and prune.  My knitting naturally falls down the list as the days warm up.

Plus, it's much harder to sit on the deck supervising the girls' water play with knitting on my lap than with my ukulele in hand practising my latest song.  I have a folder full of tunes to learn and am still really enjoying myself.  Can't say I will be dragging it out at parties or anything just yet (singing in public, no thank you) but it's fun for me and the girls have even started making requests which is very gratifying.  Although admittedly sometimes I get a couple of bars in and A starts yelling "Mummy no!  Mummy 'top.  'TOP IT, MUM".

I hate to do this to you, but just think - a month from today it will be CHRISTMAS!!