Wandering Saffa Chick
Tuesday, 19 January 2016
Monday, 18 January 2016
I mentioned that I was depressed in my last post (back in October). This was a huge deal for me to admit. My South African/British/Australian culture/heritage frowns on such self-absorbed feelings and counselling is "not done" so I felt I had no one to talk to. I haven't made any close friends here in Canberra yet. Even my blog was out of bounds, because my friends and family sometimes read it, so how could I vent here?
I've been carrying around an enormous amount of anger and resentment and sadness at Milord since he quit his (sole providing) job almost 3 years ago. Damn, that's a long time to be angry and sad. Even after we dragged ourselves out of the Pit of Despair onto safe ground again I was still upset, although I didn't show it except for being physically quite unaffectionate with Milord.
I finally reached my breaking point in October. It was hard and painful but Milord and I had some difficult conversations and at least one full-blown row (most unusual for us, and I was reminded of why I don't like confrontation with him - he fights dirty) but it actually helped after the dust settled! The simmering rage and deep sadness have passed... I won't say we're 100% but we are certainly better.
I even fancied sex the other day. For the first time in years!
I no longer feel like I am in a holding pattern in my marriage, I can see a future together again. It has been so very hard, for so very long. I was afraid that I would never forgive him or trust him again, and that we were doomed to fail.
I have a good feeling about this coming year!
Tuesday, 13 October 2015
Lots going on, I just don't feel like posting. I think I'm depressed. I think I know why. Just gotta deal with it...
Back to the lots going on, anyway!
Anniversary of my Dad's death
At the end of August it was 3 years since my Dad died. I feel conflicted because I feel I ought to miss him far more than I do, or feel more sad, or something. I am coming to realise that he really wasn't a great part of my life after all, and so there isn't much to be missing?
We didn't have that close father-daughter relationship that some girls have with their Dads. Dad wasn't around much when I was small, and didn't care for me much as a teenager. He probably struggled to relate to his non-sporty, bookish, arty daughter! He didn't mentor me as a teen (although apparently he did mentor other teens, which just pisses me off). I'm sure that I was a disappointment to him until my 20s when I became a computer programmer and he could finally be proud of my accomplishments. Once I moved overseas we'd talk on the phone a few times a year, and we got on just fine as adults, but we weren't close.
I feel... guilty? And sad because of what I may have missed out on. But not sad because he's gone? I just... *gah*
Princess and King both had birthdays at the end of August! Princess is now 6 and King is 4.
In the first week of September Milord's entire little company went to Hamilton Island (tiny tropical resort island) for a week for a conference. And they took me along!
I was in charge or organising and cooking meals, but otherwise I was free to wander the beach/hills/marina or simply chill out by the pool. It was awesome.
It was the first time I've been away from my kids since Dad died, and the first couple of days were gloriously kid-free. Then I missed them terribly! And I had nightmares about them every night (like, in one dream King's Lego burst into flame, because we used the wrong batteries...? yeah). It was a lovely break, but I was very happy to get back to my babies!
We had a note from the school nurse that Princess wasn't doing well on the eye chart even with her glasses, so I took a couple of days off and took her to Sydney to see the specialist. Turns out her eyes have actually improved slightly, so we had her glasses adjusted.
Seeing as we'd gone so far I decided we'd stay a couple of nights and do stuff and see people. On our first night we stayed in a hotel in Darling Harbour (central Sydney). Princess enjoyed this experience so much she didn't want to leave!
The following day Princess and I visited the Sydney aquarium (awesome), the mini zoo next door (pretty good), and Madame Tussuad's next door to that (this was a free ticket, we wouldn't have normally gone as Princess doesn't know who any of the statues are supposed to be!). She was exhausted by the end, and that night we stayed over with friends before heading home.
We have been worried about King's speech for some time, he struggles with some consonants and is sometimes extremely garbled. We have finally got him into therapy and it is helping already... at the moment we are working on "L" with help of a reward chart!
I got called up for Jury Service again! I'd already deferred it twice and it was a quiet time at work so I decided to go along (I could probably have gotten an exemption because I'm a contractor, but I thought I'd go anyway). About 50 people turned up, and we were told there was to be just one short trial requiring 12 jurors... 12 from 50, that's good odds not to be picked, right? Especially since I'd done jury service 10 years ago in the UK - the gods wouldn't be that cruel again, right?
Yeah, no. I got picked and spent 3 days on an Aggravated Robbery trial. It was quite intense, and certainly an interesting life experience (again). We found the accused Not Guilty in under 5 minutes.
Milord's sister was in Sydney visiting her daughter, and decided to hop on the train to spend some time with us in Canberra. It was during my jury service so I only saw her in the evenings, but she's quite lovely and my kids are still talking about her!
Princess is totally her mini-me too!
The weekend before last was a long one and some friends from Sydney came to stay with me for the weekend (Milord was away in London, more on that below). They have a boy who is Princess' age, and he played so nicely with my kids!
They arrived late Friday night, and on Saturday we went to Questacon (kid's interactive science museum), on Sunday we went to the pool for a couple of hours and then to Floriade (spring bulb festival in a local park). On Monday we visited the local model village, Cockington Green, and had a pub lunch before they headed back to Sydney.
And then the kids and I collapsed! Our weekends are usually a lot quieter than that!
Milord in London
Milord is currently in London for 2 weeks. An old friend is losing a long battle with cancer and Milord wanted to say goodbye. It is very sad.
Monday, 17 August 2015
Whoops, where did the last couple of months go!
We spent a day at Questacon (like a Science Musuem for kids). This is me trying not to chew during a lunch break...
Princess and my Goddaughter with crazy mirrors.
Very cool river table...
Large animal statues at the Reptile Zoo.
A very pretty Princess ready for a party.
Friday, 26 June 2015
My plan was to live blog tomorrow (Saturday) because we had no real plans and I wanted to slow roast a couple of ducks the way I did back here 5 years ago. 5 years already??!! Wow, that's insane.
However we have now been invited over to the neighbour's on Saturday afternoon for a birthday spit-roast so I'm going to have to figure out roasting the ducks around that, swimming on Sunday morning and a kid's birthday party on Sunday afternoon. Mom has volunteered to cook them for me but I wanna do it *wah*!
My freezer is too small to get 2 ducks into, and anyway we have plans for next weekend... So I'll probably mostly cook the ducks on Saturday and then finish them off after the party on Sunday. I hope they turn out okay.
So how about I "live blog" from now until then and you watch the chaos unfold? LOL. Comment if you're watching.
My alarm goes off and dredges me up from a deep sleep and an odd dream. It is very dark, but happily the heating came on an hour ago so the house is warm in spite of the frost on the ground outside. I am alone, because Milord has slept on the sofabed in the study. We prefer to sleep together, but when one of us is ill or boozing then they snore like crazy and annoy the other one and it just works out better to have separate sleeping places.
Earlier this week Milord had minor surgery to remove a skin cancer on the bridge of his nose next to his left eye. He is rather unhappy and uncomfortable with a large chunk of his nose bridge removed and the rest stitched together. He looks like he came off worst in a fist fight actually, with swelling around his left eye and bruising under both eyes. He's being brave about it, but is hitting the booze quite hard and so slept in the study last night. I can still hear the snoring through the wall, but at least it doesn't keep me awake!
I shower and do my hair and makeup and dress, interrupted twice by King and then Princess coming in for a wee. Princess is night trained at last, but King still needs a nappy at night. In summer we will try night training him again, but I am not interested in dealing with a wet bed in the middle of a cold night!
As it is Casual Friday I dress in jeans and comfy shoes and a soft blue floral top. The jeans are a bit tight, but not as tight as last week... either I have dropped a bit of weight or they're just stretched from being worn once already since washing. I did make it to the gym twice this week, so maybe...? Ugh, who am I trying to kid?!
I walk into the living room and greet Milord who is watching the news, and Mom who has also just showered and dressed. A cup of Nespresso coffee is waiting for me - yum. We love our coffee machine! I make Mom a cup of tea while she starts herding the kids off to get dressed for school and daycare. In the fridge are several prepackaged salads and packs of sliced chicken and smoked salmon, which I gather up to take to work. Also a ready-to-heat chicken pho noodle soup... mmm maybe I'll have that for lunch today!
Normally Milord would hop in the shower now, but he is staying home today because he's not feeling 100%. Poor bloke - the surgery really knocked him around. They did it under local anaesthetic and he found the whole experience quite traumatic. Yesterday he was worried because both of his arms were aching, and we figured out it was because he'd been clenching his fists so hard during the procedure!
Kiss everyone goodbye, put on my scarf and coat, and walk outside to the battered little blue car. It is covered in ice. Damn, I forgot to start it earlier! (I usually start the car as I leave my bedroom in the morning to give it 10 minutes to defrost) Start the car and scrape the ice off the side windows. The ice on the windshield is too thick so I sit in the car for several minutes until it warms up enough to melt and be wiped away. Finally, I drive off.
My drive to work is quite lovely, with views of the hills and distant mountains, passing though stands of pine and eucalyptus, past a meadow with cows and kangaroos, and along the shores of a huge lake with mist rising from the water in the still morning air. 2 hot air balloons hover near Parliament House in the bright dawn sky. It is hard to believe we live just 20 minutes from the center of town! I love living in Canberra.
I park in the multi-storey carpark and step out onto the street. As it is Friday I shall treat myself with another coffee! I pop into the very trendy tiny coffee shop and order my skinny flat white (that's an espresso shot topped up with skimmed milk). While waiting I exchange smiles with an extraordinarily tall and slender woman in a tailored beige suit and red pixie cut. She compliments me on my brooch, and I say that Princess gave it to me. A lot of people compliment me on this brooch... I wonder if it is because women don't really wear brooches any more? I sometimes feel like I've stepped out of the past with my blue wool coat, blue silk scarf and brooch! Hopefully I look cool and retro rather than out of date and frumpy? Yeah, who am I kidding, again?!
I walk through the revolving glass door into the foyer of my office block. I love this building, it is so new and airy. I swipe my security pass to get through the barriers, then press the number of my floor and get told which lift to catch. I can't do this without remembering the first time I encountered this sort of lift system and having to smile.
As I walk to my desk the overhead lights progressively turn on as they sense movement (I am the first here in this section). I remove my coat and scarf, plug my security card into the keyboard and log in to start my day.
My team has all wandered in. I'm still not used to working for the government - I can't get over how lackadaisical everyone is about start and end and lunch times. Especially after my last workplace who micromanaged your comings and goings! I am usually in by 8 and I leave at 5 - with an hour's lunch break that's 8 hours a day that I bill. People here drift in an hour after me, disappear to the gym at random times and go home before I do. I don't mind, but it is odd.
I have done a bit of work since I got in, but I am having trouble with my mojo. For the first 2 months that I worked here there was literally nothing for me to do (I got hired to use up budget going into the end of the financial year), and I spent all day reading blogs in a small window in the corner of the screen. Now that I actually do have work to do I am having trouble getting motivated. It doesn't help that I have no non-verbal specifications. The last time I asked for a written spec with workflow and screen design and use cases I was told they don't do that, and that I should keep the business analysts up to speed with what I was developing so that they could write the specs based on the delivered product. *sigh*
I'm hungry. Hmm, I seem to have forgotten to eat breakfast! That second coffee filled me up and I didn't think about breakfast until now. I wonder if you could just drink coffee all day - would you lose weight or is that too much milk? You'd have to switch to decaf at midday too I suppose. *googles coffee + fasting* Lots of people fasting on black coffee and water, but I can't see anyone fasting on white coffee. It's probably a bad idea anyway! I eat a low fat yogurt and couple of carrots.
My gym is just 10 minutes walk away - a Fernwood ladies gym. I like it a lot, it is always clean, the staff are friendly and it is never very busy. I've been rather slack about gymming lately, but I am trying to get back into the routine of going 3 times a week at lunchtime. I did the cross-trainer on Monday and Wednesday, so today I'll go on the treadmill.
I spend half an hour doing intervals on the treadmill, then do a set of of situps, and then spend some time stretching while I cool down. Glance at the clock:
Gee time flies at the gym. I wish I had longer to work out, but it just doesn't... wait, what? 1:45?! Aargh I have a meeting at 2pm! Run to changeroom, dive into shower, throw on clothes, dab powder at my still red and perspiring face, and dash out the door. Speedwalk back to the office carrying my coat - thank goodness it is cool outside. Zoom into the office and get to my desk... wait, why is everyone still at their desks? Log in and check calendar - the meeting is on Monday. Oh. Huh. Guess I'll have some lunch then.
Read instructions on chicken pho soup (Vietnamese style chicken and noodles in a clear slightly spicy chicken broth) - "add water and microwave for 5 to 6 minutes". Set microwave for 5 minutes and plug details into Weightwatchers app - 7 points, not bad. Check microwave at shortly before 5 minutes - the soup has boiled over! Awesome. Note to self: the office microwave is Very Powerful. Mop out microwave. Taste soup - ow shit that's hot! But tasty. Carry soup very carefully to desk and wait 15 minutes before it cools down enough to eat. Yum, very nice.
My digital photoframe changes the picture every hour. Right now it is showing me a photo from our New Year's beach holiday last summer. I miss the beach. *sigh*
Leave for home. The sun has just set and it is a crisp clear evening.
Arrive home. Walk inside and chat to Milord. After about 10 minutes I suddenly realise Mom and the kids are not home yet (on Fridays Princess has aftercare and they get picked up late, then come home via McDonalds drive-thru). I dash outside to move my car out of the way, just in time as Mom pulls in. The kids eat their happy meals while the grownups have a glass of wine and I start dinner: butterflied marinated lamb roast with a baked potato and veggies. Both kids have a bath, a small chocolate frog and a yogurt, then it is time for teeth cleaning, bedtime books and lullabies.
The kids are in bed and I get to sit down for a bit in front of the evening news with more wine while the dinner finishes cooking.
Dish up, and we all enjoy our meal in front of "The Second Best Marigold Hotel". Good, but not as good as the first movie. More wine... then a couple of ice cream cones (Cornetto style)... oops.
I lift both kids for a toilet trip, then everyone heads to bed. Milord is on the sofabed again - thank goodness as I can hear the snoring through the wall within minutes!
Princess arrives at my bedside and wakes me up. The kids both have special clocks that change colour when they are allowed to get out of bed, which is at 7am. On a school day Princess and King quite often sleep late, but on a weekend they always get up the instant they can. *sigh* It is still quite dark, and Princess climbs into bed next to me. After about 5 minutes she fetches her own pillow and her iPad.
King arrives, and also fetches his pillow and iPad. I get up and head into the living room - my bed is not exactly comfortable any more! It is a cold and misty morning, 2C and damp and gloomy. I make coffees for Milord and myself, and Mom appears and makes a cup of tea then heads back to her room. On weekends Mom likes to avoid the chaos... I'm jealous!
I ask the kids what they want for breakfast and Princess wants a toasted cheese sandwich and King wants melted cheese on toast. Pop bread in the toaster and start the sandwich toaster heating. Mom comes along to make another cup of tea and proceeds to unplug first the toaster and then the sandwich machine when I complain... Finally I make a toasted cheese sandwich and a melted cheese on toast. During the unplugging nonsense the toast got a bit overdone and King won't eat it. *growl* Throw it away (one of the first things I had to learn as a mummy was not to eat the kid's leftovers - they make you fat[ter]).
Make another cheese on toast. Now Princess won't eat her sandwich and wants a cheese on toast instead. *GROWL* Throw it away (sometimes I wish we had a dog or chickens or a compost heap). Make another cheese on toast and threaten them both with dire consequences if they don't eat them! Feeding children must be one of the most thankless tasks ever. Milord makes me another coffee. I change the sheets on the sofabed and set a load of laundry washing.
Take the ducks out of the fridge and wash and dry them and snip away extra fatty bits and the wing tips. Dig around in the fridge and pantry for stuff to put in their cavities... garlic, onion, ginger, chillis, star anise, peppercorns and rock salt. Tie their legs together to try and hold it in. Preheat oven to 150C.
Pop ducks in oven and set timer for an hour. Give the kids a snack of rice crackers and a banana, then get them dressed. Mom sets the first laundry load tumbling and pops more in the washing machine. The kids are watching a slideshow of our photos on my computer... King starts being a right menace and ends up dragged to his room by Milord for a 10 minute timeout. When King returns he is back to normal - timeouts work like magic in our house thank goodness. I head off to scrub the en-suite bathroom and take a shower. Milord cooks himself bacon and eggs, and Mom has some biscuits for her breakfast.
All is clean and the kids have gone outside to play in the sandpit and trampoline. Mom has folded a load of laundry, set a load tumbling and set another washing. Having a live-in-granny is awesome!!! I sit down to catch up on blogging...
The timer goes off and I get the ducks out of the oven. Turn them over, drain the fat (they have rendered a cup of fat already!), pop back in the oven and set the timer for an hour. Milord is watching golf and Mom is reading in her room while I sit at my computer in the study. I'm hungry, maybe it's time for my breakfast?! Eat a muesli bar and drink a glass of water.
The kids want to play with walkie talkies. Find the walkie talkies but they are not working so I replace the batteries. Then Milord, Mom and I play walkie talkies with the kids around the house. This is not as much fun as it sounds and thank goodness they get bored after half an hour! Milord sets up a movie on the computer and projector in Princess' room for them.
The timer goes off. The ducks are starting to smell amazing, and as I turn them over their skin crackles. Another cup of fat has rendered out! I open a Savannah Dry cider (we have just discovered that a shop near us stocks South African items! Very exciting). The sun has come out at last so I hang the most recent load of laundry outside and set another load washing.
Mom emerges from her sanctuary and offers sandwiches to everyone. Milord and I are fine, but the kids are hungry so she makes them lunch - did I mention how a live-in-granny is awesome?!
The timer goes off again. I take the ducks out and wrap the whole lot tightly in tin foil - I'll finish them off tomorrow evening. The house smells divine and I am quite disappointed that I am going to have to wait! I hang out another load of washing and set a load of towels washing. Weekends are quite laundry-intensive because I wash towels and bedding then in addition to the normal loads of clothing. I make myself a cheese sandwich and settle down to read rubbish on the internet for a while.
In about 3 hours we will be heading next door for their spit-roast party. It should be fun, I hope... at least I can just come home if things turn pear-shaped!
We all head across the road to our neighbour's party. They have a large covered patio in the backyard with a very smokey chiminea and a gas space heater for warmth, and very small spit roast over a charcoal barbeque. It's so smokey though that we end up standing well away from any warmth and I'm glad I thought to wear my ski jacket! There are quite a few kids and mine are having a ball, while we introduce ourselves to the neighbour's friends and family and chat while the sun sets and Venus and Jupiter sparkle brightly in the cold sky. There are plenty of nibbles set out so I don't worry about my kids normal dinnertime as they are grazing. Plenty of wine gets consumed.
The spitroast is ready and I have a portion of pork and crackling, and a roasted corncob. All the kids are watching a movie indoors.
It is well past my kid's bedtime and King turns feral. I gather up our stuff and the kids and head back across the road while Princess howls because she wants to stay! Wash hands and faces, brush teeth, into pyjamas and we settle down to read a bedtime book. Mom arrives home and helps me settle the kids into bed.
Mom and I change out of our stinky smokey clothes, then sit in the lovely quiet warm living room with a final glass of wine. I fold out the sofabed and get it ready for Milord, with his pyjamas laid out. Drink a lot of water and put myself to bed.
I am asleep, although I am vaguely aware when Milord arrives home much later.
I wake up just after midnight for a wee and a drink of water. Tiptoe through the study where Milord is snoring and lift Princess for a wee too. Snuggle back under the covers.
King arrives at my bedside and wakes me up - I wish his clock had a weekend setting! King has a very chesty cough and I decide to skip swimming today. He snuggles with me for half an hour until he wants breakfast, then we tiptoe through the study where Milord is still asleep, and I make myself a coffee. Princess wakes up too and Mom appears for a cup of tea. I make both kids melted cheese on toast and they eat the lot without complaining for once in front of the TV. I make myself cheese on toast too and another coffee and read my book while the kids play.
Milord surfaces - he is not very well. He drank an awful lot of red wine last night! I go for a shower and finally get the smoke smell out of my hair. Mom sets a load of washing going. It is going to be a lazy day... the only thing on the agenda is a kid's party that Princess is invited to at 2pm.
I have a tin of smoked tuna slices on multi-grain crackers and a glass of wine while reading my book, then browse the internet for a while. Wrap a present. Get the kids dressed. Do some laundry.
Princess and I head to McDonald's for a birthday party. The mum in charge tells me I don't need to stick around so I get a coffee and go and sit in the car with the engine running for warmth, and read my book and listen to the classical channel for an hour an a half. Bliss!
Home again. I take the ducks out of the fridge and put them on the side to warm up while we all watch kid's movies and the grownups drink wine. The movie "Strange Magic" is awesome!
King eats dinner (Princess isn't hungry after her McDonald's). Preheat the oven to 150C.
Uncover the ducks and put them in the oven for an hour at 150C. Peel parsnips and potatoes and cut them into bite size pieces, then cover them with cold salted water and bring them to the boil. After 5 minutes of boiling drain them, then add a tablespoon of duck fat and some salt and pepper and toss until well coated. Tip them out into a roasting tray. Prepare a bowl of hoisin sauce, honey and dark soy sauce to glaze the duck. Prepare some baby brussels sprouts for steaming by trimming off any woody stem bits.
Both kids have baths and I wash their hair.
Remove the ducks from the oven, turn breast side up and set aside (this would be much easier with 2 ovens!). Turn the oven up to 200C. Slide in the tray of potatoes and parsnips and cook for at least 30 mins until they begin to brown on the edges.
When the potatoes and parsnips start browning turn the oven down to 150C, then brush the glaze liberally over the ducks and slide them into the oven.
Milord and I brush the kid's teeth and read bedtime stories and sing lullabies and tuck them into bed.
Set the brussels sprouts steaming for exactly 9 minutes (any more and they get soggy). Bring the ducks out of the oven. Phwoar!
Dish everything up... Wow. Seriously wow! Resting for a day has not been a bad thing at all for the ducks, they are moist and falling apart and so so so good. The root vegetables are soft and slightly crispy and delicious, and the lightly steamed baby brussel sprouts make an excellent fresh taste next to all the richness.
We watch another movie - Cinderella. I enjoyed it but I can see why my kids don't like it - it is very slow compared to most modern kid's movies.
I am in bed, much too full and a bit tipsy. Life is good!
Thursday, 25 June 2015
Every now and then I plug my phone into the computer and a very random collection of pictures downloads!
Every now and then on a Sunday afternoon we will take the kids over to the golf club to get outside for a bit (we don't have much of a backyard so we don't really go outside at home). Sometimes we play with stickers and puzzles and coloring in, and sometimes we watch the kids exploring. It is not a posh golf club, so they don't mind kids around, as long as they are off the actual fairways and greens.
I have no idea why this picture is in my phone, I don't remember taking it and I can't think why it would have been taken. Anyway... lollipops after bathtime.
The other day I was making a cup of tea at work and happened to notice window washers on the high rise opposite. Madness! Also, nice view from our kitchen, right?
King at a birthday party at the local Reptile Zoo. A very cool venue for little boys, with lots of snakes, lizards and frogs to look at. The birthday group was also treated to private show where we all got a chance to look at and touch iguanas, pythons and turtles!
Occasionally I catch the bus home if Milord is unavailable. This was the sunset from the bus the other day on a freezing winter's evening.
Princess has lost her first tooth! It was wobbly for weeks, and I finally plucked it out one Sunday night. That night the Tooth Fairy came and took the tooth and left Princess several chocolate coins. Princess was thrilled.
This is King trying to show me his teeth too. My poor little bloke - he has a missing nerve in his left cheek and so his smiles are super wonky. There is nothing we can do about it. When he grows up he will probably learn to smile with his mouth closed as it looks more "normal". Most people think he pulls this face on purpose...
The other day I took a walk at lunchtime and found this awesome sculpture. It was a gloomy day so it is hard to make out, but the awning on the building is also a bird!
Sometimes on the weekend Mom and I manage to get out for a walk. Last weekend we did a circuit around Lake Ginninderra - sunny but very cold!