Tag Archives: family life

Grown Up Writer Fail

One of the reasons I haven’t been posting so often on this blog as I would like is because I got myself a paid job as a columnist for a really-truly magazine. It still thrills me to get an email from My Editor, describing the requirements and deadline for the next column; it gives me such a buzz to have an Important Reason to go off to the cafe to write and edit; and it sends me through the roof to send off the finished copy to be published.

Because everything is done via email and from home, it almost doesn’t seem real. If my life were a movie, there could easily be a twist halfway through in which the audience discovers that the important Editor Kate has been corresponding with and writing so feverishly for is, in fact, a mere psychological construct, a delusion, built to fulfil Kate’s desperate desire to have her writing taken seriously. What we have been witnessing has in fact been a young mother’s school-lunch-and-laundry-fuelled descent into madness. Gripping viewing.

pop art crying girl

But there is one day in all the year that reassures me that it’s not all made up and I am, in fact, a writer. An after-work Christmas Drinks at the offices of Jesuit Publications. A place to meet other writers and have proper adult conversations. I couldn’t wait.

You might remember me talking about this epic event last year, when I brought the twins with me. This year, I would be child-free. A proper, grown-up writer. And even though Wednesday was a crazy day with everything on, I was going to make it work if it killed me. I even put together a timeline to make sense of it all. It looked like this:

1. (9:00am) Mum takes Annie to kinder, morning jobs and schoolwork done

2. (11:00am) Early lunch

3. (12:00pm) Drop Harry at his atrium session.

4. (12:10pm) Go to the shops to buy ingredients for the salad the children would be bringing to the scout barbecue that evening. Also get birthday present for Matilda’s friend.

5. (1:30pm) Pick up Harry.

6. (1:40pm) Get dressed up. Make salad. Prep swimming gear.

7. (3:00pm) Pick Annie up.

8. (4:00pm) Swimming lessons

9. (5:00pm) Drive to husband’s work

10. (5:15pm) Swap cars with husband. Husband drives to scout BBQ. I drive to city.

11. (6:00pm) Arrive at party. Acquire glass of champagne and fashionably bored facial expression.

It all went pretty smoothly until Step 6 (get dressed up / make salad / prep swim gear). I had put Matilda in charge of the salad preparation. I needed to put a lot of work into getting ready. I was going for ‘Sophisticated Writer to be Taken Seriously’, not ‘Dowdy Matron’. I even went to the trouble of putting shimmery bronzing cream on my arms and (shaved!) legs. The stuff was hard to open as I haven’t used it in over a year. I was as I was wrestling myself into a pair of magic underpants, designed to stop people from congratulating me and asking when the baby is due, that Matilda called up the stairs.

“Mum . . . I think you might need to take a look at this”

The salad stuff we bought was pretty straightforward – cherry tomatoes, olives, avocado and a large bag of pre-washed ready-to-go lettuce mix. It would only take a few minutes to assemble. But we had hit a roadblock. The un-opened bag of pre-washed lettuce contained a very large, live insect.

bug in salad bag

bug in salad bag!

Can you see it? Down, down, standards are down!

I sighed, tossed the salad bag into the car and proceeded to step 7 (pick Annie up). The kinder assistant was curious to know why I wasn’t in my usual uniform of jeans, sneakers and banana-spattered science-fiction t-shirt. I swelled up and told her about my grown-up writer event. The assistant looked genuinely impressed. This woman has seen me bring four of my children through the kinder and has been privy to all of my organisational fails – turning up late, forgetting forms and money, failing to provide family photos, failing at book week. I don’t often feel like a grown up when I come to kinder. But today was different.

It was with a jaunty swagger that I hurtled towards step 7.1 (return defective salad). I got myself a salad upgrade and a refund. I ignored the uneasy feeling that I was merely replacing the salad with more from the same poorly washed batch – I had no time!

I applied my make up at the red lights on the way to swimming lessons and managed to achieve a convincing ‘smoky eye’ over the course of three backed-up intersections. Whilst the children were in the pool, I put together one page of ideas on how I could revolutionise the magazine, just in case the conversation tended in that direction.

After handing the car, children and salad over to my husband, I drove off to battle the traffic. The Google Maps lady kept cheerfully directing me through bewildering shortcuts. One time she asked me to turn right from a side street onto a busy road with no traffic lights. Then she made me cross three lanes of thick traffic in 500 metres. I got the sense she was enjoying herself.

As I waited in a stagnant river of cars and painted my nails, I realised in dismay that I’d forgotten to do my homework. I’d planned to bone up on back issues of the magazine and its sister publications.   I’d wanted the work of the writers I’d be meeting to be fresh in my mind so I could pay them the compliment of being familiar with their work. Alas! I would have to wing it.

When I finally pulled into the carpark at Jesuit Publications, I took a few moments to recover. I pulled my hair out of its ponytail-knot. I had washed my hair in the morning and tied it up when it was still damp. If my plan worked, it would be all tumbling waves when I took it out. But it wouldn’t last long, which is why I waited until just now. I looked at myself in the rearview mirror. My hair looked AMAZING. I can’t remember the last time my hair looked that good. I wanted to take a selfie. I finally understood why people TOOK selfies. But no time! Must go be a grown up writer and impress people. I tucked my one page of revolutionary ideas into my bag.  Just in case.

I must have been one of the first people to arrive, despite my fears of being late. There weren’t many cars about and the balcony seemed rather quiet. I slowed my step. I didn’t want to be too keen. I tried to open the door. It was locked. Strange. Slowly, very slowly, I pulled out my phone to check the date on the invitation.

Oh. What is WRONG with me?

You see, I had been telling everyone it was on Wednesday, I had made preparations for Wednesday, I had even emailed my editor and signed off with ‘see you Wednesday!’, I just hadn’t properly checked the date on the invitation. My “Wednesday” claim was not backed by solid evidence.

The drinks were scheduled for Thursday.

Tomorrow, my hair would be lank, my nail polish chipped and my dress would smell of day-old car sweat. I was never going to look as grown up and fabulous as I did in that moment, and there was nobody there to see it. I dragged my feet back to the car. If my life were a film, this would be the climax when the protagonist realises that there is no ‘Jesuit Publications’. She would rub her eyes and realise the office she was trying to access, was, in fact, an accountancy firm and the magazine had been a mere figment of her tortured mind.

I sat in the car, feeling rather bereft. I needed to find a bright side. In the end, I found four:

  1. I hadn’t missed the event. At least it wasn’t scheduled for yesterday.
  2. I had just experienced an outing without children.
  3.  It actually wasn’t my fault. I said ‘see you Wednesday’ to the editor and he didn’t contradict me. He’s an editor. It’s his job to pick up on writer’s mistakes.
  4. I would have time to read up on the other writer’s work, after all.

I felt a bit better as I drove back through all the traffic. When I got to the scout hall, I discovered another bright side:

5. I was totally the best-dressed mum at the scout BBQ!

Things weren’t so bad.  I was still a grown-up writer.  And if the kinder assistant asked me how things went, I could always lie through my teeth.  She doesn’t need to know.

I smiled smugly and fixed myself a plate of insect salad.

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Clean Washing

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There are two baskets of clean washing on my living room floor.

In my bedroom, there are two full baskets and three more are sitting outside my bedroom door (“tripping hazard!” says Mr Knightley). One of these baskets is full of unmatched children shoes, the rest have more clean washing.

I also discovered a basket of clean washing under the desk in the schoolroom/nursery/study and another in the boys’ room. There is a basket with dirty washing in the girls’ room, but I suspect it began life as a basket of clean washing, which got buried.

I figure I really should do something about this.  So I tipped one of the bedroom baskets into the other one.  Now I only have one basket of clean washing on my bedroom floor.

It feels good.

Oh, blog!  How I’ve missed you!  I’m sorry it’s been so long since I wrote to you.  I’ve been very busy not putting washing away.

Scraps and Pieces

Scrapyard cars

 

Hi everyone.

My husband’s taken the kids to Aldi, so I really should write something.  But I’m feeling the crush of perfectionism that comes when I’ve been away from the blog from too long.  I feel guilty for avoiding you.  Sometimes I forget that my blog isn’t actually a person, it really does feel that way sometimes.

I don’t have anything of great importance to share, but I thought I’d show you a few excerpts from messages I sent my family recently.  After all, this is how this blog began.  The original ‘fail’ posts were just group emails I sent out to my parents and brothers and sisters, many of whom were doing far more interesting things overseas.

Anyway, if you’re reading this and are related to me, please excuse the clip show.  I’m just trying to get back in the swing of things.

Also, if you have an idea of something you’d like me to write about, drop me a line in the comments.  I’m a bit ‘duh’ at the moment…

1. Goodmorning

“Hi everybody. Annie, in her quest for milk, managed to distribute half a litre on the kitchen floor, over the top of a stool, into Matilda’s shoes and all throughout the plate cupboard (both shelves). The worst part is, I was in the room the whole time, just didn’t realise what she was up to.

The cup in question somehow got a hole in the bottom. I can imagine Annie thinking “Why does this keep happening to me? Perhaps I should try pouring it over here instead?”

Everybody’s decided to join in the “I’m a nutter Knightley” chorus. Christopher is still in his pyjamas doing dishes at a rate of 1 dish per hour, Harry keeps trying to turn the TV on, Daisy wants to be fed nonstop and I had to confiscate Matilda’s iPhone after she kicked Christopher in a temper. No Background Briefing podcast for you today, Missy!

2.  Awkward

So I went out with a bunch of nice homeschool mums last night.  As we were walking to our cars I got a message from my husband: “ETA?”.  He was thinking of watching a movie and wanted to know if he should start it without me.  I surreptitiously communicated with my thumb:  “We’re in the carpark now, but that could still mean another hour or two.  These women do not know how to stop talking.”

Then my friend’s phone beeped.  A moment later she says “was this message meant for me, Kate?” and she read it out.  All at once I realised what I did.  I saw my husband’s text on the screen of my phone as it came in, but when I opened Messages to reply, it took me to the screen I had open from before, when I was texting my friend to let her know I was on my way.  I tried to gabble out an explanation, but it was a bit hard to talk because even my teeth were blushing.

I was home in time for the movie.

3. Ego a go go

I got an email from my editor yesterday. I was in the swimming pool cafe with Harry, Annie, Daisy and Poppy. I was a little noisy about it: “What’s this, children? An email from my EDITOR? I wonder what MY EDITOR would like me to write, me being a WRITER and all”

Then I looked impressively around the cafe. Harry said “I want chocolate.”

 

10 Short Takes … on Annie

10ShortTakes”

  1. Annie is my youngest daughter.  She is a sturdy two-year-old with hair like corn silk and deep brown eyes fringed with long dark lashes.
  2. I named Annie after Anne of Green Gables because she is utterly charming.  In real life, Annie is named after Mr Knightley’s Nan (do you remember me mentioning her buttons?) who was also utterly charming.
  3. Annie is the self-appointed Boss of the Family.  When she enters a room, she flings her arms wide and announces “I’m HERE ev’rybuddy!”
  4. Annie’s couture of choice is a tattered fairy dress paired with gumboots.  Today we’re going out to see friends. I dressed Annie in a sweet embroidered denim dress with a red top and tights underneath (every now and then I like to play dress-up dolls).  Annie protested stoutly as I dressed her up, but I kept distracting her and we got through it.  But just now, Annie’s come out of her room wearing only the red top and tights and brandishing one of her fairy dresses.  “I want to dress like a PRINCESS, Mummy!”.  I asked her what happened to the cute little denim number: “It in da wash.”  Sigh.
    fairy dresses on washing line
  5. Sometimes I try to apply some Mighty Girl philosophy to Annie’s regal aspirations.  “Princesses are wise leaders who make important decisions for their country”, I state solemly as I pull yet another tulle confection over her head.  “I so pitty!”  Annie replies with equal solemnity.
  6. As well as a junior monarch, Annie loves to be a ballerina, a mermaid, a rock star, a Wiggle and a superhero of her own devising, unaccountably called “Super Love Heart”.  Matilda will rig her up with a small blanket pegged around her shoulders and Annie will jump around the place and announce “SU-per Wubbart IN da rescue!”
  7. Sometimes, Annie and Harry play a game together called “Jack and Jill”.  I can’t quite understand the game itself, it seems to only involve them calling each other “Jack” and “Jill” and treating each other with exaggerated politeness.  There’s no bucket or anything.  I love this game.
  8. Yesterday, at breakfast time, a cranky Annie had a go at Christopher Robin: “want the milk, you idiot!” she proclaimed with gusto. “We don’t call each other ‘idiot’ in this family” I admonished.  “But they are idiots!”  Annie protested, with a stubborn toss of her golden head.
  9. When Harry has been naughty and is in trouble, he will go to Annie for consolation.  Annie will always stop what she is doing to give him a cuddle.  It’s very hard to stay cross at him when this happens…
  10. Annie’s favourite game is when she pretends she is Mummy and I am Annie.  Harry, however, finds this altered reality highly disturbing and will climb into my lap and insist on calling me “Mummy” despite his sister’s protests.  Cute.  Very cute.

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Label Fail.

Calm and Factual Label

I have this thing about label makers.

Something about those neat, white strips, calmly stating important facts in no-nonsense typeface just speaks to me.

I figure if I were to own a label maker, I would finally become Organised Lady. My household would run like a well-oiled machine. My children would arrive on Book Week Day wearing elaborate hand-sewn costumes. Friends would pop over for a spontaneous catch-up to find me relaxing in an immaculate house, the smell of a delicious, healthy treat wafting out of the (shiny, clean) oven.
I wanted that label maker.

But, I remonstrated with myself, such things really are an expensive extravagance. There really isn’t much I can achieve with a label maker that I can’t also achieve with a permanent marker and a roll of masking tape…

And I almost believed myself.

But then, last week, Mr Knightley casually commented that he’d seen label makers on special at the local stationery emporium. Was that something I could use?

When I had fully recovered my powers of speech, I reassured Mr Knightley, in an abundance of words, rapidly spoken, that I did indeed covet – er, need – such an object.

The Precious

Oh, just look at it.

I didn’t know it was going to be pink. I know it’s childish, but I love it when things are bright pink. I was thoroughly over-excited by my new acquisition.

But I wasn’t the only one.

It started when Harry took my label maker to a quiet corner, typed out the entire alphabet and then printed several labels to commemorate this achievement.

I admonished Harry, confiscated the label maker and placed it high out of reach.

Harry watched and waited.

The next time I pulled down the label maker, Harry was ready. The first moment my back was turned, Harry absconded with it to further investigate this mechanical wonder. This time, he managed to jam it all up. I firmly resolved, as I extracted scraps of twisted labels with my eyebrow tweezers, to keep the precious contraption out of reach at all times on the top shelf of the pantry, next to the Milo tin.
Which brings us to this morning.

After coaxing a particularly reluctant Annie out of a dirty nappy and into her cot for a sleep, I returned to the kitchen to find Harry covered in Milo. In the moments that followed, I took in the following information:

  1. A kitchen stool had been pushed into the pantry
  2. The label maker was now on the bench
  3. Harry had merrily printed off THE REST OF THE TAPE whilst sitting at the bench eating Milo

Here’s what happened next:

  1. I started yelling and storming about the house like a demented rhino, firing off abusive texts to my husband.
  2. Harry burst into tears and then rubbed his tear-stained Milo face all over my top.
  3. Christopher Robin walked through the floor-Milo and tracked it through the house
  4. Annie woke up.

Label Maker Mess

I had a read over the warranty, but there’s nothing in it to cover the wanton destruction brought about by insane two-year-old saboteurs…

My one consolation is that Dymo – or, indeed, Milo – might approach me with an endorsement deal for introducing my readers (yes, both of them!) to the wonders of their product.

Perhaps they could pay me in label cartridges?

The Missing Messiah

Image

I was talking to Mum yesterday and she said that the figurine of baby Jesus from her nativity set was missing.  Indeed, the young Messiah went AWOL directly after our last visit there when Christopher Robin had been playing with the figures.  You can do without a shepherd, perhaps, but a nativity scene really doesn’t work without a baby Jesus.  He really is one of the key players.  Perhaps Christopher Robin might know where it had been deposited?

Accordingly, after Christopher Robin came in from playing in the backyard, Grandma asks “Christopher Robin, do you know where baby Jesus is?”
Christopher Robin says “yes” tremulously.  Everyone catches their breath.
“Where’s Jesus, Christopher Robin?”
Christopher Robin pats his breast solemnly, “In my heart, Grandma”

Good to know his religious instruction is having an impact.

In case you were wondering, Grandma’s Baby Jesus is still at large.