I Said NO

giphyI say NO in a loud Australian accent to my kids ALL THE TIME, constantly.  Do they listen. NO!

But when it comes to other people – I am not very good at saying no.  If it involves work or helping someone, then I can’t seem to say it.  It automatically comes out as a YES!

Recently a lovely lady at work asked me to take on a new task.  And with everything happening in my life at the moment, I was reluctant, but as usual I said yes.

I shouldn’t of.

For the last couple of weeks, I have been finishing work really late and I have been in a permanent state of panic.  And then I made some mistakes.  I don’t like making mistakes – it makes me nauseous even thinking about making mistakes.

Eventually I had to admit to myself I wasn’t coping at all, not even a little bit.  I had to write an email and say NO.

It hurt.  I was letting them down.  I was pulling out.  I felt absolutely dreadful.

But I have made the right decision.  Today was the first day without the extra task and I have lost the swirly feeling in my tummy.  And I might, just might, even get to lie on the sofa and watch some of the hundreds of TV shows I have recorded, that I haven’t had a chance to watch since before Christmas.

I think I need to say NO more.  But I wouldn’t be who I am if I didn’t run around like a mad thing all day every day.  If I said NO I would be very relaxed and chilled out and sit on the sofa a lot and that just wouldn’t be right.

But I will consider my answers from now on and will weigh up just exactly how much time I have available before I promise anything.  Mainly because I could end up even crazier than I am now and that would scare the children.

Love from Mum

mum1Today has been an emotional day.  Tears have been streaming all day and that’s unusual for me as I am a bit of a hard nut.  And it’s also made working at the computer all day a bit blurry!  Not good.

But the reason is that my mum has booked her flight to come over here for good.  I think I have been holding everything in and together until I knew that it was really going to happen.  Can’t imagine what it’s actually going to be like at the airport – I am expecting floods.

So, I thought I would let my mum guest post on my blog today.  This is an email she sent out today to all her friends and probably what set my tears off.

Love from Mum

The last two months —what a drama, a catastrophe, a kerfuffle, a chaos and an altogether life changing experience. I have been through many stages – loneliness, indecision, panic, tiredness, lethargy, self-doubting, worried, confused and bamboozled.

The garage sales were successful, irritating and exhausting–the house looked like a bomb had hit it with (treasures, possessions, clutter, crap -take your pick) everywhere. Then it was mostly all gone and the remainder sent to Animal Welfare (picked up in a truck) bless them.

The next step was to get the house ready for inspection. Well that was an adventure to say the least. More decluttering, scrubbing, bleaching, painting, sawing, hammering, washing curtains, plugging up millions of picture holes in the walls and making the house beautiful for the photographer. Friends were amazing, energetic, practical and supportive. Without them it wouldn’t have been possible. Thank you to everyone— you know who you are.

Finally, with only one minor hiccup, the house was sold due to a mammoth effort from my estate agent, and the next stage is slowly getting under way. I have to get boxes to go on the ship, sell the remaining furniture (house sale on Saturday -7.00 to 1.00), get the dog her rabies shot and her dog box to practice sleeping in, get my flu shot and history from the doctor, decide what to pack in the boxes , what to discard and what to pack in my one suitcase to last me at least a couple of months, book my ticket, finalise the bills etc. and of course play a bit of golf and have a farewell party. Writing this down gives me a shock –but it will get done somehow. I plan to leave on the 12th of April and be in time for Easter in England.  Springtime in Southampton??? Flowers, sunshine and family or maybe rain, cold and family. Whatever– I will be there.

Love to everyone –come and see me sometime–Betty Lou.  

Waiting for the Hiccup

Lean really close to the screen, because I want to tell you something, but I don’t want to jinx it…. So, it’s just a secret between you and me, okay?

Everything is going very well at the moment…. Manic busy and everything balanced precariously, but everything is slotting into place.

My mum has had a bidding war on the sale of her house and signed a contract for more than the asking price and will be here by Easter!!!!

She said to me that she keeps waiting for the hiccup, that it has all gone too well and was too easy.

That made me take a step back.  Why does she expect a hiccup?  She has worked day and night, so very, very hard to get everything ready for the sale.  Of course, it should go right, she has put everything in place for it to go right.

giphyBut I do know what she means.  I am in a permanent Ninja pose, ready to tackle the next thing that is thrown our way to disrupt the flow of life.

Why do we do that? Why do we expect the worse to happen? Why are we so tense?

I was chatting to the ladies I am doing my course with and I admitted that I had gone ahead in the planned weeks study.  I do this just to make sure that if anything does happen, I will have some leeway.  I can’t help myself, I am mentally preparing for something disastrous to happen.

There have been some things thrown at us previously that maybe would give us this attitude – Dad being bitten by a snake at Christmas, being one of them.  But in reality, mostly life just ticks along.  I need to stop living in a sense of panic and chill out.

  1. Normally – bad things don’t happen
  2. Normally – things work out
  3. We only get the normal amount of difficulties that most people deal with
  4. Any bad thing that has happened, we have coped with and sorted out

But because I work so hard to keep everything sorted and ahead of schedule, that is why we can handle the bad things when they do happen.  I am that calm looking duck on the pond, who’s little feet are paddling away furiously underneath.

But I do think I need to relax my ninja pose somewhat.  I also need tell Mum to take a deep breath and try not to expect those hiccups.  I know if they do happen, we can handle them without even breaking into a sweat, because we have done it before!

Toilet Roll Mystery

I have been struggling over the last week trying to come up with something to write.  My last posts have been so emotional and a bit epic, that I feel a bit drained by it all.  And I am so insanely busy at the moment….so busy that I haven’t put the clothes washing away and Hubby had a meltdown because he couldn’t find clean jeans!  Hahahaha!!! Bothered?  Nope!!

But there has been something mysterious going on whilst I have been running around being insanely, chicken with its head off, busy.  WE RAN OUT OF TOILET ROLLS!!!  I HAD TO GO TO THE SHOP!!!!

Now dear, dear readers you will know from reading ALL my previous posts (you have, haven’t you?), that I don’t like going to the shops.  It’s all a bit too peopley at the shops.  So, over the years I have got my household shopping down to a fine art.  I order online once a week (Sunday evening) and the delivery comes on Monday morning.  I have enough food to last the whole week – because I plan my meals for every day.  Yes, yes, yes, we all know I am a control freak.

Well, I also have toiletries planned and timed perfectly.  I know that 1 big packet of toilet rolls will last us 2 weeks and a bit.  Every 2 weeks I automatically get another pack.  So, to run out – well that is completely unheard of.  I was completely flummoxed. How could this happen in my well-ordered life?

I had noticed that the rolls were a little bit looser on the toilet roll holder. I decided to go off to investigate this mystery.

20170215_201403You are not going to believe it people – really you are not.  They have increased the diameter of the cardboard roll in the middle.  So…wait for it…. you get less toilet paper!!! Now why would you do this.  I DON’T UNDERSTAND.

Then I realised that the price of the toilet paper had not gone up.  Therefore, to cover their increasing costs (?) they have increased the inner roll and dropped the amount of toilet paper.  I can see their flawed logic behind this, but really do they think this is the best solution.

Why muck up peoples perfectly planned lives to save putting a products price up.  Surely the reconfiguration of the machine to make the bigger rolls would have cost a bit. Was it worth it? We all know that the price of things go up – JUST PUT THE PRICE UP.

Don’t mess with my head – it’s already too messy as it is.

Community Spirit

When my sister and I left Australia after our father’s funeral, we left my mother with quite a bit to do.  It was so hard leaving her, knowing the mammoth task she had ahead of her and for her to have to do it all alone.  I can only help so much on our daily phone calls.

The estate agent asked her to clear the 5-bedroom house of all the stuff and take all the hundreds of pictures off the walls.  He also asked her to fix all the broken bits, clean and paint. She had just over a month to accomplish this before the Open Day, to sell the house.

Mum and Dad have lived in this house for 30 years and have filled it to the brim of 70+ years of their stuff (and to be honest some of my sister’s and my stuff too :)) How was she to get rid of it all?  How was she to mend rotting skirting boards and facia boards?  How was she to get rid of the mould on the ceilings, which comes with the territory of living in the Tropics?  How was she to do all this alone?

Well I shouldn’t have worried.  Mum hasn’t been alone, not for one day.  An army of neighbours and friends have been around EVERY day to help her.  They have sorted, packed, taken to the dump, garage sale organised, sold things on Gumtree and Facebook, cleaned, bleached, pressure hosed, mended, fixed, painted and oh my word – just everything.  And these people are really a bit cross that we are taking Mum away from them, but they have all come together as a community anyway and helped her – so very, very much.  They have worked in 35-degree heat and 85 percent humidity, they have got sweaty, dirty and tired – all for my mum.  They are just wonderful and I don’t know what to say to express just how beautiful and kind they are.

The world at the moment is pretty yuk with all the nasty politics going on – in fact I am a bit worried we are going back into the dark ages with scientists being vilified, domestic violence being decriminalised (Russia), racism, wars, etc. etc. – yuk, yuk, yuk.

Then I am reminded about community.  Our communities, the life we are living in and I have a resurgence of hope.  I am so amazed at the people that have and are helping my mum.  I am amazed at the lovely community of ladies at my work, who let me run away at a moment notice at Christmas and have since been regularly checking in on me to see if I am ok.  I love the very essential community of mums at the school gate, who I know are always there to pick up my kids if something happens.

I have also joined a new community for the course I am doing.  I have entered a little peer group of woman who are all juggling, work, life, kids and now studying.  They are lovely and we are all there to help and support each other.  I am loving it.

I know that celebrating our communities may seem pointless in the face of the horrible politics going on, but I definitely think it’s a good starting point.  And also, a nice personal reminder that not all people are racist idiots.  So, here’s cheers to all the lovely groups of people that help us get through our days! Thank you…

Sobbing at a Comment

mum-2I was having a bit of a moan on Facebook on Sunday night.  I was sitting at the computer reading my course work, I was sewing ribbons on Baby Girl’s new ballet pointe shoes and I was sticking on labels on my yearly batch of birthday cards.  I was fed up.  I had run around all weekend like a mad thing and was feeling out of sorts and needed some Facebook love.

I was also a bit cross that Hubby was lying on the couch doing nothing.  It always amazes me how the amount he achieves in a weekend is something I could do in 30 minutes, but all that I achieve would take him 6 months.  A lovely friend of mine has in the past insisted that her Hubby take her out to lunch, as she can’t stand to see his unproductivity compared to hers.  I totally understand.

Anyway, I had a word with him, and he rightly stated that he works very hard and that if he didn’t rest on the weekends, he would make himself sick.  Yes, I agreed with him, but I suggested maybe if instead of only doing 1 flurried hour of work, he could up it to say 2 hours and then maybe I could get to sit down for 1 hour.  Ah, he said – he hadn’t thought of that and said he would try.

So, my lovely friends commented on my moany post and were all very gorgeous and supportive.  Then one said “You need your mum!”.  OH MY WORD.  I just lost it and had a little sob.  Yes, I know I’m tired and probably slightly hormonal, but there is a reason behind my tears.

My mother lives in Australia and I live here.  All my proper adulty life – mortgage, husband and 2 kids life, she has been on the other side of the world.  This is not her fault or mine (could possibly be Hubby’s?) but that is just the way it is.  I would see grandmothers standing at the school gates doing the pickup and sigh.  I would hear other school mums saying they were going away without the kids for the whole weekend and that the kids were at the grandparents and feel green with envy.  I have even on occasion lectured my friends on how lucky they are to have babysitting services and parental support on tap.

But I wasn’t sobbing at my friend’s comment because my mum is not here.  I was sobbing because finally, as soon as she sells her house, she is going to BE HERE.  WITH US FOREVER!!!!  She will be here, sitting at the dinner table at Christmas, she will be able to go to Baby Girls ballet concerts, she will be here for birthday parties and summer BBQ’s.  She will just be here.  I am so very excited, she is great company and a great mum and I CAN’T BLOODY WAIT!!!  And for the first time in my fiercely independent adulty life I am proud to say – Yes, Yes indeed, I do need my mum!

Abandoning My Children

img_1628I think I have only left my children overnight once with Hubby.  I went to a lovely wedding in Scotland.  I think that I spent weeks preparing for it.  The right food in the fridge – the stuff you can just put in the oven and know everyone will eat.  The right activities planned to keep everyone occupied and happy. House clean, tidy, clothes washed, ironed – everything done.

This time I left them for nearly 3 weeks to go home to Australia because of my Dad (see last week’s post) and I only had 3 hours notice!  In that time, I had to pack, find passports, find all the Christmas presents from Santa, sort into 2 x black bin bags and hide them in the shed, shower, get dressed and go!

So, the house was not clean and tidy and the clothes were not washed and ironed.  There were no activities planned.  The fridge was full of fresh food, for cook from scratch recipes.

Hubby was in for an exciting time!

As a control freak it is a huge thing to have to hand over the reins to someone for so long, with no preparation.  But there was nothing I could do about, nothing I could say and I just had to go.  There was so much happening in Australia, that I really didn’t have time or the heart to even think about what was going on at home.  I had to trust and I had to let go of those reins.

And they survived and so did I.

They were a little feral – overtired and full of sugar, badly dressed.  But they were semi-clean and the house was clean and the washing was done.

Things were a little untidy and I am still finding stuff that was put back in the wrong place.

The fridge was full of junk food and oven food.  But it had food in it.

Not bad Hubby, not bad at all!

Were they glad to see me – oh yes.  Do they like being back to Mummy routine – oh yes.  Have they forgotten completely all their gratefulness that I was back and have started taking advantage of Mummy again – oh yes.

But I am grateful for the experience of abandoning my children – I am glad we all just got on and dealt with it all.  I am also grateful that I got to spend some time with my sister, mother and family as a grown up with no kids – that was quite nice and something I could do again (but not for the same reason of course.)

And I have a new threat to yell at the children when they are driving me mad – “DO YOU WANT ME TO GO AWAY AGAIN!”  Works a treat!

Overwhelmed

20161227_092942I haven’t written for a while, as I have had a rather dramatic and traumatic time.  I have had to fly back to Australia, because my father passed away.  It is a story that I want to write about at a later date, because it was a time of poignancy, drama, heart wrenching sadness, bizarre events and even hilarity.  But I can’t just at the moment … if you are interested google “Cairns” and “Taipan Snake Bite”, as the whole saga went viral.

What I do want to write about is kindness….

Overwhelming kindness, generosity, gentle hugs, comforting food, beautiful words and wonderful, wonderful, extraordinary people.

From the moment, everything happened and my sister and I flew across the world, our family has been surrounded and supported by the most amazing sense of caring and love.

All we see in the news is bad politics, awful wars, racism, violence etc. etc. etc.  But things like my dad passing away has reminded me that at the grass roots level, at the people dealing with people level, the world is full of an abundant spirit of generosity and a depth of friendship and support. And we should remember that …. all of us … all of the time.  On a day to day basis most people are just wonderful.

So why am I waffling on like a greeting card.  Am I being over the top sentimental.  No … no I am not, I have just experienced the most overwhelming few weeks of incredible thoughtfulness and benevolence.

People brought us food, people came and cooked for us, people asked us to come eat with them.

Beautiful flowers, chocolates and cards from all over the world.

Facebook messages, private messages, text messages, emails, phone calls – lots of which we didn’t have the time to respond to, but I hope everyone knows we are grateful.  One friend in particular, has really touched my heart.  She just kept checking in on me, to see if I was okay.  She is dealing with the passing of her own father just recently, but she still had the time to worry about me!!

One friend abandoned her family and flew up from down south to be with us.  She cleaned and tidied and spent lots of time wandering around with platters of food, but most importantly she was just there, in all her kindness and wonderfulness – I will never ever forget that.

My uncle was by my Mother’s side at the hospital the next morning and his wife was there the next day.  As it took my sister and I, two days to cross the world, this is something that I will be forever grateful for.  And for his children to join him at the funeral was so touching, plus they were mean whisky pourers at the wake.

My old work colleagues were all at the funeral, all in their uniforms, straight from work.  They didn’t really know Dad, but they were there for me and it was so wonderful to see them.

People mowed lawns, cleaned, sorted things out, took things to the dump – all without asking, all because they wanted to, all because they are kind. (And they continue to do so, whilst Mum is sorting things out to come to the UK.)

The lady in the Bank – was like an angel, she gently helped with everything and gave Mum the courage to face things on her own. I was so touched, I went around her desk and gave her a hug!

Lots of lovely friends who just popped in for a cup of tea and brought cakes, or came to the wake and shared our celebration of Dad’s life.

I really could go on and on.  It was really so overwhelming and I kept asking myself why are these people doing all this for us.  But I realised that there is no real reason, it’s just that when it comes down to it, most people are just nice and kind and thoughtful and in our day to day bustle to get on with life, we sometimes forget that.

I won’t now, ever.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart, all you very nice people.

Small Half-Finished House

There are advantages and disadvantages of living in a very small half-finished house at this time of the year.

  1. Doesn’t take me long to clean from the top of the house to the bottom…. but it never looks pristine clean as there is nothing much you can do with half built walls, plasterboard and builder damaged floors…sigh…

 

  1. We don’t keep crap, because we have no place to store stuff. This means I have become very good at getting rid of stuff we don’t need and this soothes my control freak nature.  But it does mean that it is IMPOSSIBLE to hide Santa’s Christmas presents, especially as Baby Girl doesn’t seem to have an awareness of other people’s personal spaces or stuff – everywhere and everything is her’s apparently.  At the moment, I have presents squirreled in the boot of the car, coat pockets, handbags, suitcases and balanced precariously behind my rack of clothes.  I must remember to move everything to the shed this Friday morning – before the kids finish school – because it will totally destroy the Santa belief if Baby Girl sees me scurrying around the house on Christmas eve.  Disadvantage of no walls or doors upstairs – I can’t lock the kids away at night.

 

  1. As the kids have no real bedroom, more like a shared corridor (no walls or doors remember), it means that they are mostly downstairs with us. This is good because even though they may be plugged into their various electronic devices, I can keep an eye on what they are doing and it also means that they talk to us about what they are doing.  So, that’s good…. but sometimes it would be nice if they would just not be in there with us…sometimes you know…when you can’t listen or answer any questions or you know, be a parent anymore today!!!!

 

  1. 20161202_215739In the summer, I had a lovely time sewing in my new huge loft bedroom. It was great – very bright, spacious and peaceful.  It didn’t matter that I dropped bits of cotton on the floor, as the floor is not carpeted yet and I could spread the fabric out to cut it out. Now it is winter though and the loft has no heating or lighting yet, therefore I have had to move my sewing down stairs. Sigh, there are 4 of us and the dog in a 2 room downstairs area – so spreading out fabric isn’t an option most nights.  I did get one chance when Hubby was out last week and I commandeered the loungeroom floor and banned the children to the kitchen – it wasn’t as peaceful as the loft though – come back Summer soon please….

 

  1. And lastly because the house is so small, it doesn’t take much to decorate for 20161211_213707Christmas – pretty much all we need is a tree and to stick the Christmas cards up and we are overflowing Christmassy. It just happens that Baby Girl has also just turned 11, so we also have the birthday balloons, birthday banners and birthday cards up. The floor is covered in pine needles and the stringy silver stuff the kids insist on using on the tree – that never stays on the tree.  It’s just very, very, very messy and cluttered and oh just messy, messy, messy – did I say that already?  But it is just so very messy and it gets worse on Christmas day when there is wrapping paper and presents everywhere and they insist on keeping their presents downstairs as they don’t have their own rooms…

Remind me again the advantages of living in a small half-finished house, I do know there are some, and I really, really do love my little house and I do know that one day it may be finished but this time of year it does push my PYSCHO WOMAN buttons.   HO HO HO Happy Christmas…..

That ONE Present Shopper!

I had to go to the shops today.  I don’t like going to the shops.  Too many people at the shops, especially at this time of the year.

I prefer internet shopping.  Internet shopping is quiet and peaceful and then a nice post person brings it to your door, so civilised.

skipperxmasBut alas there are somethings that you cannot get on the internet.  I did try but when I searched “a big bag of tatty crap suitable for 10-year-old girl stocking fillers” – nothing came up.  That meant it was off to “Poundland” (cheap shop with things for sale for £1.00) for me.  AND I was informed yesterday by said 10-year-old, that there will be 2 x new stockings hanging up this year – one for the dog and one for the hamster – Sigh.

Anyway people, I am warning you, if you haven’t already braved it – it’s a WARZONE out there.  Screaming babies, toddlers running wildly yelling “But I WANT it!!!”  and so many, many, many people.  Chaos people, its chaos!

As I was walking around laden with all my bags, I kept seeing these other mountain like mounds of shopping bags, moving from shop to shop.  If you look closely at these mounds you can see the strained and panicked eyes of someone who is in charge of “Doing” Christmas.  The one person in the house that has to “Deck the Halls” – which means clean, decorate, shop, wrap, post, shop, prepare, cook and then clean again.

Then I saw the other type of person walking around the shopping centre.  These people usually have one little bag, maybe also a roll of wrapping paper.  Even possibly, they may have a nice warming cup of coffee and a lovely sandwich.  But more noticeable is their smug and satisfied look.  That’s it they have finished their Christmas shopping, all done, nothing more to do – the kids will wrap it.  See that wasn’t hard!!

These people are the other people that live in a house with those mounds of shopping bag people.  They are the ones that say “So what did WE buy such and such…”, “Did WE send a card to my cousin’s daughter’s boyfriend’s mother?”  and “Are WE cooking parsnips for Christmas lunch?”

These people have 1 job.  To buy the shopping bag mound person a present.  1 job and 1 job only.

And boy oh boy, they better put a bit more effort than last year, which was a last-minute dash around the supermarket on Christmas Eve.  A little bit of thought, love and appreciation is required.

Or this moving mountain of shopping bags person is going to cancel Christmas next year. Bah Humbug!