Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Move minus one week...

Tuesdays are my day off...

Tuesdays are my day off...

Tuesdays are my day off...

I wonder how many times I need to repeat it before it comes true?

Well, I didn't have to leave the house by 8am this morning, so that's something. Of course, with the Universe needing to keep everything in balance I do get to leave the house at 7.30am tomorrow and Thursday in order to do a two day course in CPR (getting a First Aid certificate, whoo hoo!!!).

Went to a local carpet store and bought a 7x3.6m off cut for the house. I'm having this cut into 4.8x2.75m to cover the hideous curling up carpet tiles in the loungeroom and 3.5x2m to cover Luey and Bryn's room. They look kind of like this, but the dimples are more subtle - I should have taken a photo, it's really quite nice. This colour is just about right, though...



A very kind and generous friend is giving us a gorgeous new rug that will cover the same hideous carpet in our study and then black rug that usually sits under our coffee table will go into Erik's room (groovy black shag rug for the Tween's room, hope he appreciate's it!)...

Our main bedroom is still unsorted. Our king bed covers most of the floor space, so don't yet know what will be needed.

I have to get a decent mirror for the bathroom. At this point in time there is a tiny handheld hanging on a hook above the sink. I think the previous owner (who we think must have passed on or moved into a care facility) had a bigger mirror hanging there, because there are actually two hooks, but it's not there now. The owners of this property didn't see fit to leave a decent mirror in the bathroom, so it's up to me. It's all good though because I REALLY like the look of this one from Ikea...



The packing boxes arrive today, and I need to finish culling/decluttering the house this afternoon. I won't get everything out, but I think I'll get close - except the soon to be defunct "Dad's study". That study is definitely in it's FINAL DAYS. In the new house it'll no longer be "Man Land"! Dave and I will share the study in the new house and I'll be making sure it stays tidy!!! Man land be gone!!!

Lots of furniture is being recycled for a new purpose, too:

  • The new 8 cubby Expedit shelf I bought for the boys room in January will be placed on it's side in the loungeroom and will become our new tv stand! Not sure what I'll be putting in the shelves there yet as Dave isn't keen for Ari's toys to be right in front of the telly, but I'll figure that out later.
  • The Ivar shelf unit which the tv currently stands on will go into the kitchen and hold kitcheny stuff (nice and vague, that, isn't it?). I was thinking cereals and so on, but might put pots and baking stuff on there, who knows.
  • The 16 cubby Expedit that had been moved from the boys room to the dining room will go back into the boys room, but this time it'll hold a top row of books, then the next three rows under that will have Erik's boxes, Luey's boxes, and Bryn's boxes, in that order.
  • Ari toy shelves from the loungeroom will become a bookshelf in the master bedroom, and another bookshelf in the study will also be re-located to the master bedroom
I'll take lots of pics of the finished, furnished house - actually, I'll take before and after photos, so you can see just how hideous that carpet is in there.

I have high hopes of making this place really nice though. Mum was always a miracle worker when it came to making all our homes (of varying age and condition) really lovely to live in, and she always did it on a really tight budget, so she is my inspiration!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Let the neuroses begin!

Ok, the following isn't about mother-guilt. I don't do mother-guilt because, well, you do the best you know how at the time and afterwards you can't tie yourself in knots wishing you'd known what you didn't know. So, this post isn't about mother-guilt.

My head is full of, "How do I avoid screwing Bryn and Ari up during this stressful time?"

I screwed Erik up back around the time he was 3.5-4 years of age. Not intentionally, not at all intentionally, but through lack of understanding about his sensitivity and through lack of understanding about my own health issues.

When he was 3.5 I decided we needed a tree change - mostly I was just running away from post-natal depression and a bit of a rocky patch in our marriage, but it took a bit of counselling some years later to see it...

We moved to Bendigo and Dave was still working in Melbourne, so I was at home for 12 hours a day with two very bright and very understimulated children. Luey was having HUGE sleep issues at the time, so for about 6 months I lived on 2 hours sleep every 24 hours. At the end of those 6 months, I became very, very sick (had two seizures and was rush to hospital in Melbourne). Erik witnessed my second seizure, where I bit my tongue. So did Luey, but he was only just 2 years old then, and didn't comprehend much. Erik was still breastfeeding at that stage and so not only did he see me convulsing and bleeding from the mouth and then carted off in an ambulance in a semi-conscious state, but then I was gone for four days and his dad was very upset and his main source of comfort wasn't available to him.

Then we moved again.

So two moves in the same year to completely foreign places (to him) and me sick, and Dave was also carted off in an ambulance around that time with SEVERE gastro.

Lots of trauma, and we're still living with the symptoms of the deep anxiety that set into Erik's personality. I don't feel guilty about this, but it does make me sad. We're constantly working on building up Erik's sense of security and minimising his anxiety, but I think he will always suffer with the legacy of those times.

So, understandably, this move causes me concern.

Bryn and Ari have had quite a different childhood in many ways to Erik and Luey. Dave and I sorted out our issues (mostly!) and I, personally, became a much more stable mum (and person), we moved back to place where we are happy and feel quite secure. Bryn and Ari have always lived in the same house and basically haven't lived with any of the uncertainty or volatility Erik and Luey had to deal with (Luey is made of more robust stuff than Erik, though he also is sensitive, he just has a stronger core. I think having to deal with a lot of pain early in life and feeling cared for helped him become stronger).

Last year was quite stressful, but we manage to keep things pretty much stable and secure for Bryn and Ari despite it all. This year is seeing a LOT of change, and I don't want Bryn to lose his sense of normalcy and stability, it is constantly at the back of my mind because he's about the same age Erik was when everything went pearshaped for him.

Ari is experiencing less of me than the other boys had. He has a lot more time with Dave though.

I'm highly aware that the boys all pick up on all the undercurrents so I'm constantly reminding myself to be calm, not to panic (though sometimes I really want to!)...

This parenting gig is HARD and it seems the more you know, the harder it gets!

Anyone want to tell me how them maintained their preschooler's sense of normalcy and security during a move???

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Is being a Stay-at-home-mum a luxury?

This question was posed on a parenting forum recently and I found myself in turmoil trying to answer this question for myself.

I've always thought it wasn't.

It's certainly nothing like spending a day in a spa, or going on a holiday to Tahiti (I'm guessing about that last point as I've never been on a holiday to Tahiti or anywhere like that). In my experience it can be a hard slog on bad days and certainly tiring on good days. It's also very, very rewarding (in hindsight, mostly, I've found). Having been a SAHM (whether the S stood for "stay" or "studying") for the past 10.5 years, I can say I preferred that role to the alternative - you know, having to go out to work or study and leaving my babies with someone else, however loving (even my lovely Dave).

But now I'm seeing a different perspective on the concept of "luxury". Luxury doesn't always mean opulence, and with regard to being a stay at home parent, I'd kind of forgotten that teeny-tiny differentiation. Sometimes the concept of "luxury" actually refers to "choice".

Ok, so some of you are going to say that there is always a choice, that most families live well and truly beyond their means and if they just exercised a little discretion then there would always be the "choice" of having one parent stay at home - even if it meant living on reconstituted lima beans.

Hmmmm, I guess I'd beg to differ, and I beg to differ having come from the perspective that you can choose to live quite frugally so that one parent can stay at home.

Maybe this is the issue, it's not so much about ONE parent staying home as WHICH parent gets to stay at home. At least, this is the new perspective I'm facing.

I'm currently doing a Certificate III in Children's Services. That is, I've signed up, paid the first part of the payments and shown up to most classes in the past three weeks. I would love to work in Children's Service, so that's not an issue. Still something is causing me unease. That something is the tiny little voice in my head that keeps reminding me that I'm missing time with Ari at the tender age of 16 months.

I've been going through the motions of doing this course, all the time hoping Dave would hurry up and get a job so I could postpone my studies until Ari is at four year old kinder. Or even, just do the course mostly at night and do blocks of placement to get it over and done with. It's not happening though. Dave is no closer to getting a job now than he was three weeks ago (I know, it's only been three weeks, but that seems such a long time!).

The reality is, we're now paying $450 a month more rent. *I'm* paying $450 a month more rent, and what's more, because I thought I'd get a payment from the government to do this course, I took some advances on my payments, so I'm paying $450 a month more, on $300 a month LESS than what I was getting in December. So, we're now $750 a month less well financed than we were before I signed up for the course. We've always lived on quite a small income. We don't run a car, or go on holidays, or have magasine subscriptions...

I NEED to get work if Dave isn't getting work. I NEED to face the fact that I can't afford the luxury of being a SAHM. We need to be able to breathe a little easier.

So, these days my answer to the question, "Is being a SAHM a luxury?", I'd have to answer for me, it is.

Oh yeah, I should be in bed (it's 1.35am)...

My ADD is getting me down.

Life is beyond hectic atm, and I know you're all going to say that is what the problem is, but...

My inability to focus long on something has never really gotten in my way. I've worked around it, yk? I've been aware of my ADD since I was 18, but cognitive behavioural therapy has been enough to keep things in check, and I guess I've also never done anything too demanding. Well, yes, I did a Masters degree back when I was pregnant with Erik (and subsequently, Luey), but I changed from a thesis to a coursework degree after Luey was born because of the post-natal depression and Luey's severe reflux (and all that entailed).

So, I've cruised along haphazardly making things work out in the end, but now I feel a bit overwhelmed about my inability to draw focus from my mind to get on with the work I know I need to do - and even WANT to do.

I have to finish this Masters this year but I'm just not doing the work (as this is going to facebook and my supervisors are on my facebook - though I'm sure they have much more important stuff to do than read my blog - this is a fairly big thing to admit to)...

I plan, plan, plan in my head, and headwork is good in many ways, but when it comes down to the nuts and bolts of sitting down and rewriting, I'm just not able to focus. I'm not watching tv, I'm too distracted to do that. Mostly, I'm surfing the net, playing bejewelled, twittering, facebooking, yk, snippets of this and snuppets of that...

I have a plan for the new house, my desk is going to be in a room that I can be in on my own to write, or rewrite as the case may be. The thing is, I'm worried about the fact that the net is at my fingertips.

Dave thinks perhaps because I'm older now, I don't have the physical resources I used to have to summon up the energy to focus in the evening when the house is quiet and the kids are otherwise occupied with sleep. Maybe he's right. I don't know. All I know is that I have to figure this out, and FAST!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Let's get moving!

Well, I saw a psychic last August, and she asked me if we were planning on moving, and I said we'd been planning on moving for about three years but hadn't managed to get our act together enough to move. She then told me to start paring down because we'd be moving suddenly, "early next year"...

Ok, so we'd planned to move this year anyway. In August or September. Didn't think much of the psychic's words because, honestly, we had no interest in moving early in the year with everything else that was going on, besides which we wouldn't have the money to move until tax time, and aren't the kind of people who move "suddenly" at all!

But then, out of the blue, two weeks ago we got a notice to vacate by the first of June. June can't be consider "early" in the year by any stretch of the imagination. Neither of us have work, and besides which, we couldn't break our lease that ends on June 1st.

But then the landlords said we'd only have to pay March's rent if we got a house earlier than June 1st.

Then we saw this great house on the same street as our kids' school (my dream since they started school).

Then we applied for the house, even though it seemed unlikely we'd get it because of our many kids, and jobless status.

Then we got the house!

So, during February we'll have gone from getting a notice to vacate our current place, to moving into our new place. February is early in the year and one month from notification to having moved is pretty sudden...

PHOOOOAR! Takes my breath away.

Getting the house, in this instance, will definitely be "the easy bit", though...

Now we have to:

  1. Sign the lease, pay bond and 1st month's rent and pick up keys.
  2. Give 28 days notice on our current place.
  3. Organise a removalist.
  4. Pack about 120 boxes, dismantel beds, some shelves and outdoor equipment.
  5. Organise disconnection and reconnection of phone, net (involving cable installation), electricity, gas and water.
  6. Have mail redirected.
  7. Unpack everything at the new house
  8. Clean current house.
  9. Steam clean carpets.
  10. Manicure gardens.
  11. Hand in keys to current house.
And all the while we're still looking for work (Dave) and studying two courses (me) and supporting our children through what will likely be a very unsettling transition period...

Now I need a cup of tea and a lie down...

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The go-ahead.

Well, good news! The landlords of our current place have given us the go ahead to give a months notice to move out. This means we will only have to pay rent for March if we can sure a house in the next couple of weeks, yay!

That doesn't mean we WILL secure a house in that time, but it's a great start!

We've found a couple of places we like:

This place looks good. We're going to go have a look at it on Saturday morning. On the upside, it's about the same vintage as our current place, so hopefully that means the landlords won't be too precious about us have a hoard of kids. It has all the stuff we want, locality, number of rooms, airconditioner and garage. On the other hand, I guess it's not very charming - not that that is the be all and end all, but it's kind of "just a house"...

We love THIS house though! The locality is great, and it has airconditioning and a garage as well, and is about the same price as the other house, BUT, oh so much more charm! I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Califorian Bungalows. Our favourite house since having kids was a CB. As well as the "must have"s, it's also got a dishwasher, classic fixtures, and a slightly more userfriendly entertainment area out the back. But the Pièce de résistance is that it has THREE (count them 3) toilets!!! Yes, that's right, one for me and guests and two for those messy ones, the ones with the out of control fire hoses!

We don't have an inspection time for the second place, and I'm just hoping and praying it hasn't gone already (and that our not having a job between us isn't too frightening for the landlords, afterall, we've been stable and reliable tenants in this house for five years).

In other news, we're all starting to settle into the new routine with school and kinder and course etc. We're still having issues with the boys' school about their book packs because we've decided to keep the "spare books" at home for the boys rather in the class. For this the boys have been told we aren't being nice to their teachers because the teachers don't feel trusted. This is kind of funny, because, um, well, the reason we're not leaving the books in the classroom is because we CAN'T trust them to return leftover books to us at the end of the year and last week, despite there being a leftover exercise in Erik's class with his name on it (because we bought it and labelled it for him last year and gave it to his class teacher), he was forced to write on loose leaf pages last week because we'd been naughty parents and not purchased his book pack in time for the first week of term.

Oh well, they may well get their knickers in a knot over the books. The way we see it, we paid for them, they're ours :).

Looking forward to more settled times.

Friday, February 05, 2010

HUGE WEEK!

I knew this week was going to be a big week, but it's been so mindbogglingly crazy that I'm feeling quite shell shocked as it comes to an end.



Many firsts this week.

Monday was not only the 1st day of February, but also the first day of the 1st term of the 2010 school year.

Monday was Erik's first day in grade 4, and Luey's first day in grade 3, which also marked Luey's first day of middle primary. He was no longer a junior school member! Luey was pretty excited about this, and that excitement was encouraged by the fact that his two besties had also been allocated to his class (much to everyone's relief, not least of Dave and myself!).

This week was the first time Erik and Luey got themselves to and from school under their own steam. They took the bus home on Wednesday alone - I did meeting them at the bus interchange, half way through their journey home, but they insisted I let them travel the rest of the way home themselves and take the alternative bus myself to meet them at home. Thursday they took the bus to school themselves and today they came home themselves again. I'm so very, very proud of them!

Wednesday was Bryn's first day of Kindergarten, and while I *sadly* had to miss out on seeing him into his first ever kinder day, he was very excited to be going and enjoyed himself immensely! He starts regular session this coming week, so hopefully his enthusiasm with continue then as well.

Monday also saw me starting my Certificate III in Children's Services course. By the end of the first day, I realised the time commitment was going to be somewhat greater than I thought with 185 hours of placement time needing to be completed by the middle of June as well as the three days a week contact hours. I decided to just grit my teeth and get on with it, and immediately set about contacting a local daycare provider to arrange placement. That all went very smoothly and despite lumping Dave with 5 days a week care of the children for equal to half of the next 5 months, I figured we could make this happen so that I can start paid out of the home work in July or August, around about the time we planned to move. For the move we'd need either Dave or myself to be able to show a taxable income when applying for a new rental property.

But then...

Monday night, Dave dropped a rather large bombshell.

We'd been served a Notice to Vacate by our real estate owners for the 1st of June this year! This was to coincide with the end of our tenancy agreement. This news was quite upsetting if I'm perfectly honest. Not only was it a couple of months ahead of my perfectly planned schedule for this month, but we'd be required to find a new rental property at a time when we'd have no savings, and more importantly, NO JOBS.

Dave has been unemployed since his redundancy last April. I have been in regular paid employment in a decade and a half. While I was studying this Cert. III, I was going to rely on Dave to be with Bryn and Ari during the day. I can't get a job at the moment without deferring my studies, and if Dave gets a job, then I lose my childcarer for the boys and will have to defer or quit the course.

As far as Dave getting work goes. Well, he's remaining positive about it, but I have to admit that the combination of his age (50) and the current economic downturn, and his current long term unemployed status has me concerned that he will find it difficult to find work.

The current economic downturn is also affecting the availability of rental properties and there have been a number of shows highlighting the difficulty of finding a property if you just happen to have more than two children. As well as this, ANY property we find in our area (and we do have to stay in this area, not only because we want to disrupt the boys lives as little as possible but also because of my vision impairment requiring me to have access to good public transport and ammenities) will cost us between $100-$150 more per week than our current property.

But even if Dave did get a job, and we did have an application for a property approved, because the landlords have chosen to uphold the lease agreement, we're legally bound to paying rent on this property until the end of this lease. Normally, we could break the lease and just hope they found new renters quickly (which would be likely with the demand for rental properties) but as this property is going to be renovated and therefore taken off the rental market (at least in the medium term after we leave), there is no hope of breaking the lease and not having to pay rent until June 1st. So, leaving here before June 1st would mean paying two lots of rent instead of one. We are barely going to be able to afford one lot of rent.

So, we can't even begin to look for properties until the middle of April - which is ok for Dave trying to secure work before then - which will give us 5-6 weeks to find a place, secure it, and move in before this lease is up. The term, "pushing hot shit uphill with a fork" springs to mind about now...

In other news...

Today Dave had a first as well. It was his first driving lesson of this year, after a nearly two month break, and the first lesson in an automatic car, as opposed the manual car he'd been learning in last year. He'd decided to switch to automatic because, while he had learned the mechanics of driving the manual, he didn't feel he was *quite* reaching the fluency he needed to sit and pass the driver's test. We both felt that enough time has elapsed that it was starting to take too long for this lisence thing to happen and so perhaps simplifying the driving process by eliminating the clutch and manual gear shifts might speed the process up a bit. Anyway, so he took his first lesson today, and I'm sad to say he came away from it feeling pretty discouraged. The new car was quite different to manage (much more sensitive) and it had been two months since he sat behind the wheel and I think he felt like a fish out of water.

If only we had our own car, our own automatic, so he could have continued to have instruction from his previous instructor who he'd built up a report with, and so he could practice during the week between his lessons.

Ah, so, it's been a HUGE week, and in some ways a very challenging week.

Moreover, it's a week when the fact that life is ever changing has been thrown into stark contrast!

In the photo above, the boys are standing again our garden fence. I have so many photos of them against that garden fence, but soon there will be no more such photos. This time next year they'll be standing in front of a different background, and Bryn will also be wearing a uniform. Dave will most likely be working, or I will be working, or BOTH of us will be working, and Dave will have his lisence. Our lives will be unrecognisable from what they are now.

I really hope that this time next year, I'll look back on 2010 and see how we were presented with wonderful opportunities to effect great changes in our lives and how those changes enriched our lives in many wonderful predictable and unpredictable ways.

I hope!

Teenagers and the failing parent...