Saturday, 17 November 2012

Children - who needs them?

Anyone who has spoken to me over the past few days knows I’ve had a challenging couple of weeks to say the least. Words such as vomit, fevers, bed-wetting and head lice spring to mind not to mention a flat tyre, sleepless nights and cooking meals that no one wants.

Just when I’m trying to write my 50,000 fabulous words for NaNoWriMo, I‘ve had to deal with every inconvenience that having children can bring.

However yesterday I caught the train to town with my 15-month-old daughter and we met a lovely woman who got on at the same station. We started chatting and as it happens she and her husband, after five rounds of IVF, are sadly unable to have children.

I then explained the challenges that we’d faced trying to have our second baby, which resulted in three miscarriages. But at the end of the day we got lucky and my new best train friend did not. Even so she was incredibly generous and philosophical about it. I tried to make her feel better by saying, “Well I had no sleep last night,” and was about to launch into my tales of woe when she said quite firmly, “Oh that doesn’t matter.”

And she’s right. It doesn’t matter. At the end of the day all this will pass and I’ll still have two beautiful daughters to cuddle – even if they’re both in my bed at the same time, which usually means I end up crossways along the bottom.

After bidding farewell to my new best train friend, I went to the skin specialist for a routine check-up. I was pregnant with my second baby when I last saw the doctor (who also has kids) and this time with baby in tow, we started discussing quite fondly those kid-free days of our 20s.

It was the second time in a week I’d thought back to that particular era. Last weekend my husband and I bought some everyday wine glasses from Ikea because we keep breaking all the ones we got as wedding presents. The glasses we chose are quite small, not the huge goblets of my 20s even my 30s. Then I remembered how everything was oversized back then. I had noodles bowls the size of salad bowls and plates as big as platters. It was all about pleasure and self-indulgence.

Last week not only did we sadly change to smaller wine glasses but also smaller plates in an attempt to eat smaller portions, as we seem to be consuming more than we need.

The heady days of our 20s are definitely over. Life is not about indulging ourselves anymore but doing the best we can for our kids. And even though right now it doesn’t feel like much fun, after chatting to someone who will never know the difference, I’m feeling a lot luckier than I did last week.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Hurray for NaNoWriMo!

October 31 has never been quite so significant.

Firstly my four and a half year old has discovered the spirit of Halloween in a big way. Which I find quite extraordinary as we have never early mentioned it, she hasn't yet started school and she doesn't have an older sibling to pass on the news. But it seems to be unavoidable these days so we have prepared a costume - this year she will be a ghost - and put up scary cobwebs and we are about to cook some spooky cupcakes.

Luckily for me, she has now planned her costumes for the next few years  - at least until she is 9yrs old. Next year she is going to be a vampire, the year after a fairy, then a princess, then a builder! (obviously doesn't like any of the builders who have come over lately to give quotes) and then finally a superhero. So I have plenty of time to prepare.

However luckily Halloween has fallen on the last day of October because tomorrow is November which now means only one thing:


check it out

On monday night I was interested but thought that it was absolutely impossible, no way could I do that, when would I write etc etc...

Then I was (quite easily) talked into it by author and experienced nanowrimo writer Lisa Heidke who said, "Think about it," and so I did and signed up immediately. It didn't take much persuading because in fact I think it's a great idea.

Well when I say great - it's scary, daunting and quite possibly incredibly frustrating and annoying.

Yet even if it gets 10,000 words out of me, then that will be a great month! Even if the house is dirty (nothing new there) and my family have to fend for themselves (also not unheard of).

And I have to say the thought of it has helped me through Halloween and its massive build-up so its timing is perfect - this year and those years to come!

Friday, 19 October 2012

Hello Twitter!

I have finally done it.

Last night when my husband was out at a work function, I opened up a Twitter account.

Not that it's a secret, I told him when he got home. It's just we're so backward when it comes to social media, I almost felt like I was embarking on another secret life!

I started following a couple of people I admire - I then emailed one, the very talented Lisa Heidke, just to let her know that I was following her on Twitter. (I could have tweeted her but one thing at a time)

But then she tweeted me!

So I tweeted back!!!

It took me approximately 3 hours to put a sentence together at a time when I should have been writing a magazine article due next week. It probably would have been quicker to write a letter and pop it in the post!

I know that half the world (not an exact statistic) has been tweeting for hundreds of years (again not exact), it's just all a bit new and exciting for me. But I have to say that although it's only day two, already I am in love! Again my husband knows and is fine with it.

So I'm on Twitter.

I have sent two tweets but now I need more fabulous and exciting things to say to my new twitter friends. I'm starting to feel the pressure of impressing a new group, being cool enough to hang out with - not too mention living with the guilt of tweeting when I should be writing to pay the mortgage.

I'm sure I'll get more efficient at it, let's just hope I find something to interesting to say!

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Musical Beds

Nearly a fortnight has passed and I'm still not on Twitter and no closer to Facebook. But I have contacted a couple of builders to get quotes for our renovations! Which means my kitchen is one step closer. At this rate I will have a dishwasher by the time the girls leave home.

Speaking of my daughters, they've both decided that they really need to be in our bed every night at different times just to be that much closer to mum. Nice thought but I'm completely exhausted and need to visit my acupuncturist as I can hardly move my neck.

The girls share a room and even though the baby can't yet talk with proper words, I'm sure she and my four-year-old are in cahoots and have organised the night between them. I imagine their conversation goes something like this:

Four-year-old:      Ok, I'll go in about 11.30pm just when they've gone to sleep and say that I'm scared. Dad will let me sleep there for a bit until Mum gets cross and makes him take me back to my bed. Then that's your cue to start crying.

Baby                   Right. And I'll be really unsettled so that very time Mum thinks I have gone back to sleep, I'll start up again and she will eventually take me back to their bed because she can't be bothered sitting up all night doing controlled crying.

Four-year-old      Perfect! Then at about 3am, Mum will wake up and take you back to your cot and then just as she has gone back to sleep, say 4.30/5am, I will go in and say that I can't find Teddy. So she will have to come and help me find him. I'll ask her to stay in my bed, then we'll fall asleep and she'll wake up an hour later and go back to her bed.

Baby                   Yep, then I'll wake up at 5.30am ready to start the day.

Four-year-old     Great!

Baby                    Except won't Mum be really tired and extra cross and scream at us even more?

Four-year-old      Yeah but by dinner time, she'll be so worn down that when I ask if we can have dinner in front of TV, she won't have the strength to say no!

Baby                     Brilliant.

The other night at about 3am I told my husband crossly that we'd have to get a king size bed if this continues. I know we can't because we don't have the space plus I really do love our wrought iron bed, even if it's a mere queen size. And if we did give in and get a bigger bed, we would have absolutely no chance in ever getting them out of it. But at least I could get some sleep. I'll just have to look forward to that day, which will probably be when they've left home. Probably the same day the renovations are completed and the dishwasher is installed!

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Socially Disorganised

I have just been pushed out of bed at 5am. Well let's just say with my husband and two children in there, little room is left for me. I'm not so good with children in my bed. I'm not a good sleeper at the best of times and an extra two little people in a queen-size bed doesn't do me any favours.

So a good opportunity to get up early and get organised.

I love being organised, writing lists and crossing things off. But last night I went to a great function put on by the Sydney Writers' Centre, where the lovely Valerie Khoo talked of the value of social media in terms of building a profile and making contacts and I quickly realised that I am completely disorganised.

I'm not yet on Facebook. Tweeting is something I do to make my baby laugh when she sees a pigeon. And the other day one of my mum's group was going on about 'Pinterest' like it was her new best friend. I didn't know what she was talking about.

My four-year-old has just got up to join me in the kitchen and has demanded cornflakes and craft.

Social media will have to wait for the moment. But like a dishwasher - I will get on top of it!

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Coming Down

We are now back home from our holiday and are in desperate need of another holiday to get over it! The baby did get a fever and ended up with tonsillitis, which meant another trip to the doctor. I'm sure most people don't even know where the doctor is on Hamilton Island but for us he was fast becoming our local GP!

Needless to say there wasn't much sleep or relaxation after that and now we are back everyone seems to have completely forgotten how to go to sleep - the children that is, certainly not us. But we're all finding it hard to come down after our week away. My husband keeps saying, 'This time last week, we were...' [Insert either 'swimming in the pool', 'having a drink by the pool,' or 'in the buggy on the way to the pool.] In fact what he should probably put into that sentence is a choice of 'taking our daughter's temperature', 'giving our daughter panadol' or 'in the buggy on the way to the doctor's'.

Still holidays are important and I'm so glad we went - even if it means it has taken me an hour to settle the baby today for her sleep when she has gone down like a dream for the past year. And our four-year- old is so exhausted at the moment she has the attitude of a teenager - and usually in the middle of the night.

The baby has just started crying again and I am about to do a phone interview. This is not normal for her, she usually sleeps for three hours in the middle of the day. And I like order in my children - not chopping and changing around, especially when it comes to sleep.

Still we change things to suit us - like going on a holiday. The routine goes out the window, we don't worry about sleeps, balanced meals, bath times - even having baths at all! 'Its' good for them,' we say as we relax a little longer by the pool or go out for dinner a little later than we normally would eat. Then we go home at the end of the week and jump straight back into the normal everyday and expect out kids to comprehend and immediately adapt.

Not really fair probably. Ok, I'd better go pick up the baby. I guess this is not the week to start controlled crying.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

A Kid Friendly Holiday (or so I thought)

This week we have gone to Hamilton Island for a much needed holiday. I know everyone is probably in need of a holiday but it has really been a while for us. We've taken little trips - central coast, Canberra, Melbourne - but the last time we took a plane somewhere warm was our honeymoon. And since then we've had a baby, bought a house, had three miscarriages, done a law degree (my husband, not me) and finally had a second baby (me, not my husband). We got in the taxi on Saturday morning and the driver needed directions to get to the airport and after exclaiming, "You don't know how to get to the airport!!!" (not that I was that shocked as I always find myself having to direct taxi drivers), I suddenly realised  that I didn't know how to get to the airport from our place either. Then we told him the wrong way and he had to do a U-turn and go back. Definitely time for a break.

So here we are. And it's great. Although holidaying with kids is unpredictable to say the least. Or rather predictable in its unpredictability. Everything I feared has happened. And not just not being able to get to the airport.

Firstly I was worried that someone would get a high temperature. Then I was worried that someone would fall down one of the many steps in the apartment where we are staying.

Day one, we were all so excited after arriving on the island that we made sandcastles, paddled in water and went to the pool way after everyone else had gone home for showers before heading out to dinner. And we forgot warm clothes to put on after. So my four year old went home nude on the buggy, wrapped only in a towel. Needless to say that night she got a fever, together with a nasty cough and a runny nose. Had to happen I guess.

Day three, in a split second when we weren't looking, the baby climbed up the one step between the open plan kitchen/dining area and lounge and fell back onto the floorboards. Which was fine. Except her nose started bleeding and after a bit of googling (which you should never do!) we went straight to the Hamilton Island medical centre. There a lovely, non judgemental doctor (we were feeling neglectful parents) examined her and luckily she seemed to be ok. We went home for a rest and bought her back for a review in the afternoon and she was fine. Thank goodness!

So that's it, no more. This morning I gave my daughters strict instructions that there was to be no more drama and my four year old immediatey got her hand caught under the lid of the buggy's boot. But a quick ice pack later and she was fine.

Now I realise that you can't be worried. Stuff happens - and always when you don't want it to. You just have to get on and try to have a good holiday.

So right now I am sitting with my laptop beside the pool, alone! My husband gave me the afternoon off. He's back at the apartment with the girls and I've had a swim, read my book and now doing some writing. I'd like to say I'm having a cocktail but I wouldn't be able to drive the buggy safely up the hill. So I've settled for a mineral water. But anything that can be enjoyed slowly rather than gulped down because someone needs something is a treat in itself.

Short lived! My husband just called to say the baby has woken up with a fever! Oh well, I'd better go...

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

A Big Day For Who?

Today was a big day for my four year old (and her parents!) as it was her first orientation session for kindergarten at big school, which she'll start next year. Things didn't get off to a good start especially when I told her that she couldn't wear her crown, she couldn't wear all the jewellery from her treasure box and she most certainly could not take her rhythmical gymnastic stick (a throwback from the recent Olympics and my own school days). So we had tears before we left the house. Once we got there things didn't improve as she refused to wear her name tag and wouldn't say hello to her teacher. I started to panic. I thought it would all go like clockwork. But just before we both got too emotional, we found the drawing table and her teacher wondered of she could possibly write her name on her sheet which is like asking Dora the Explorer if she speaks Spanish. I left her in Kindy Red a happy girl and my husband and I went off to the hall where everything was explained regarding the coming year.

I suddenly realised it was me who needed a bit of orientation. I felt like it was my first day at school and was looking around at the other parents wondering who might be my friend. Forget my daughter! Will I find any new friends?

And I hadn't given much thought to how I might feel when school finally starts. I always imagined I would probably drop her off with a skip in my step. But today when the 2012 kindies got up and sang a couple of songs as part of the morning's entertainment, the tears were welling my eyes - and my child wasn't even one of them! What am I going to be like come February?

After the information session was over, we collected out children and had a delicious morning tea. There was no need for any worry, my daughter had a great time and was very enthusiastic. I'm sure we'll get there. Everyone does. There are two more transition sessions coming up - unfortunately not for the parents, we are on our own from here on in. As long as I can get my daughter to leave half the contents of her bedroom at home, we'll be fine. Although she has already announced that she absolutely will not be wearing any school uniform! I guess we will cross that bridge when we get to it...

Friday, 7 September 2012

Acting Up

This week I had an audition. I love audition days although now they're very different from the ones pre-kids, let me tell you.

I had to be out the door by 8am to drop the 4 year-old to daycare, cross town in peak hour traffic to drop the baby to my parents, back across town for the audition, back to the baby to give her lunch and put her down for her three hour (bless her) sleep while I wrote an article for a house magazine, then it was off to the supermarket before picking up the 4 year old and home for dinner, bath and bed!

As I was throwing on a bit of make-up at 7.55am while cleaning the 4 year-old's teeth and trying to stop the baby from putting holes in my pantyhose, I had a brief moment of reflection of the days before children. The days when I would wake up after a full night's sleep, maybe have an invigorating jog around the block, shower, do hair and make-up in peace, have a relaxing breakfast and coffee while I went over my script and then headed off to my audition with plenty of time to prepare, check lippy etc etc......sounds like bliss but frankly I had too much time on my hands...

Ironically this week's audition was for the role of a 40s something career woman with no kids. Bit of a stretch but nice to visit for a moment. Not that I would change my life for anything but that's the great thing about acting, you get to pretend to be a completely different person with a very different life. A bit like a holiday - an exciting change but always great to come home!

Fingers crossed it goes my way

Saturday, 1 September 2012

You're Not Old!

Amount of dishes I've washed since starting this blog (12 days) :    1269

I've actually counted and I have to say it has helped me get through. Plus I finally bought washing-up gloves which are proving successful. (Yes, I admit you were right Mum!) Not only am I sparing my hands from being constantly under water, I also save up the dishes and do one big wash a couple of times a day as opposed to washing up every five minutes.

Life does not get better than that!

Especially as we have just made our way out of our baby's first year. I may not have thought I'd be without a dishwasher at 43 but I certainly didn't think I'd have a newborn. That wasn't part of the plan at all.

But there you go. My husband and I met late in life. We had daughter No. 1 when I was 37 and then after three heart-breaking miscarriages we were lucky enough to have daughter No. 2. I was 42 when she was born. And although it has been an exhausting year, I think I'd be tired out, whatever I was doing at this age so why not be tired having a baby!

In last week's Sunday Life was an article on the beautiful Collette Dinnigan who is pregnant at 46 which is fantastic. Although it makes me feel absolutely exhausted just thinking about it but that's because I have my second already. If I hadn't, as hard as it has been, I'd probably still be trying to get there. I wouldn't advise it over 40 but I wouldn't stop anyone from giving it a go.

I certainly had my fair share of opposition from doctors because of my old age and was told such things as 'Well, it's a bit like a 60 year old man with a triple bypass trying to climb a mountain, we have the technology but...'

...but I didn't really listen and thanks to blind faith and a few disgusting Chinese herbs, things fell into place. And I have to say although it feels like I've run a marathon, it has been a truly wonderful year.
But that's it for me. No more. When I was going to the hospital for my check-ups last year, my lovely midwife kept asking if I was planning on another and I would revert back to those doctors with their bad advice. 'Do you know how old I am?' I would say to her. 'Do you know what I've been through to get here?'

'You're not old,' she would say to me - I told you she was lovely.

And I'm not. Just a bit tired but extremely thankful for the opportunity to run the race.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Little Steps

Number of items I washed up by hand today: 149

That feels like a lot but it doesn't include the usual amount of dishes used for cooking dinner as we had spag bol from the freezer. Plus my lovely husband washed up after dinner so I guess I got off pretty easy.

Still I will endeavour to get this number down hopefully without resorting to paper plates or simply having no food or water available at all. Plus I'm going to get some washing-up gloves to save my hands. I've tried to explain to people, my mother in particular, that washing-up gloves simply don't work for me and my lifestyle. But since the skin on my hands is starting to shed like some sort of alien I have no choice but to try again.

And while I was busy counting the dishes I had to wash today, my one year old daughter walked on her own for the very first time.

Suddenly all the dishes seemed worth it.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Has It Really Been A Year?

I planned to start this blog after the birth of my second child so I would have a record of her development. Lovely idea, just a tad optimistic. Especially as she turned one last week...

Well life has been busy. To say the least. Especially without a dishwasher...

My name is Susannah Hardy and I'm an actress, freelance writer and full time mum and I really want a dishwasher.

I've never cared about dishwashers. I've never owned one and never felt that I was missing out. But now with two children and very little time I wash hundreds of dishes a day and people eye my hands nervously as if I have some sort of skin condition.

We're about to renovate our house. We need a new kitchen and until that happens I have to wait. So for now I'm dreaming of a dishwasher and the day that I will have one.

Some people are turned on by fame, fortune or living in Paris (which I did and it was great) But now things like sleeping through the night without interruption, wearing clothes that are not covered in mashed banana and having the time to clean the house properly are my secret fantasies. And in particular a sexy stainless steel, integrated dishwasher.

In the meantime, I will write this blog to keep up my spirits and to share my many domestic dilemmas and delights when trying to raise kids, do auditions and meet writing deadlines -  let alone find a reliable and affordable builder, cook gourmet meals that all the family will eat and perhaps finally write  my book.

It looks like this year will be just as busy as the last.