Sunday, August 24, 2014

Kindness and Gratitude

Kindness and gratitude go hand in hand. Kindness needs to be recognised with gratitude and gratitude should be repaid with kindness.

When I was getting married, a dear older friend of mine gave me some marriage advice, it was to also be kind to one another. It is always the moments when we forget this that our marriage starts to stall, things get hard and resentment builds. Imagine if everyone just became a little kinder to other. It doesn't need to be grand gifts, but just a short message to say you are thinking of someone or popping a card in the post box.

Sometimes we lose sight of looking after each other as we get caught up in the whirlwind of life, let me tell you that of late my life has been one crazy tornado. Whenever I think we have a quiet weekend planned, life has another direction for us to take and we get hustled and lose focus. My friend broke her leg over a week ago, I still haven't managed to visit, I keep meaning to drop in a coffee but then my coffee time gets cancelled by yet another obligation. So I have been thinking about what kind things we can do for each that don't take up a huge ridiculous amount of time but are thoughtful and mean a lot to the person who receives the kindness whether it be a friend or a stranger. Here are 10 ideas I have.

  • Coffee
Everyone I know loves coffee or wine so drop one over if you know someone is stuck at home or invite
them out for a coffee, sometimes people just need some time to chat. If you want to do a random act of kindness, buy a coffee for the person behind you at the coffee shop - this really will make someones day.

  • Send Flowers
If you don't live close, send a bunch of flowers. I particularly like to send them to workplaces because it gives the recipient an extra self esteem boost that someone truly does care and think about them. There are lots of great florists online now that can deliver flowers locally with a competitive price.
  •  Write a thank you card
If you sit there for a while and think about how many great things have happened each week, you realise there are a lot of people in your life who made that happen. Like last night my friend arrange a dinner out with the girls, or my parents in law watched my daughter so we could go, or my husband vacuumed the house. There are an endless list of people you could send a little thank you card to. For extra love put a stamp on it and post it, helps break up the bill cycle.
  • Offer to be Designated Driver
Off for dinner with friends? Offer to be the designated driver. Or take it in turns with your partner to let the other have a couple of drinks.
  •  Make a meal
As a mum I often dread the idea of making and deciding dinner yet again, my dream is that someone would drop in a delicious healthy meal for my family, so why not do it for a friend, or get a recipe, put all the ingredients together and drop the box off. If you bake a cake, do two at the same time and drop off to a friend to enjoy or bring a batch to work.
  • Let someone in front of you at the checkout
When I am not in a hurry I try and let people in front of me in the shopping line. I can't explain to the stranger how much I appreciate when they do this for me when my daughter decided she is busting to go to the toilet or I am trying to grab milk before the school pick up. Sometimes we are in a hurry and other times we are not, give graciously when you are not and receive graciously when you are given something.

  • Tell you Partner how great they are
When I got together with my husband, my self esteem went up. He is forever telling how great I look or that my dress looks sexy or that my hair is fabulous. He pulled me up once when I was being a bit mean and saying he was a little overweight and he said to me, why would I say that? Did I want him to feel bad. It was then that I realised that he needs to feel good about himself just like I do. Having two partners with great self esteem helps for a happy family, in a relationship it is important to hold each other up and emphasise their good points and help them feel happy with themselves.

  • Say Hi
As a society we seem to have lost the art of saying hi, I love when you visit country towns people always say hi. When I am out running I often give a cheery puffed out hi as I run past people. I noticed when I run in bad weather or early in the morning people are happier and have a content look about them and always happy to say hi.

  • Buy stuff from Kids
Buy chocolates, raffles tickets or stop at the lemonade stand. If you see kids making a positive go at life and trying to help others, support them. Building confidence in kids is so important and that little conversation and couple dollars you hand out might shape their life. Never under estimate the power of our youth!
  • Compliment People in Front of Others
People love to hear positive feedback and if it is done in front of others it makes them feel even better. If someone has done a great job, tell them and don't make it private. It seems to mean more when others hear it. The more people hear compliments the more likely they are to focus on those good things in others.

Do you think you could implement one of these kindness acts in your week? Can you challenge yourself to be grateful whenever you experience an act of kindness?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Running City 2 Surf 2014

Rocking the lumberjack look courtesy of a Kmart sale!
Last Sunday I set out at 4am to catch a bus to Sydney to run the famous City 2 Surf. It was a perfect day for the run, not to hot, not to cold just perfect! I travelled down on our local jogging group bus with hubby and a dear friend who was running her first ever City 2 Surf. I was so tired on the bus still recovering from a migraine on Saturday. I spend pretty much the whole Saturday day in bed, except two hours when I forced myself out of bed to eat comfort food (chinese) whilst high on panadeine. A tummy full of chinese and I was exhausted and came home and went straight back to bed, so much for a romantic kid free weekend with hubby. Luckily the headache had started to shift by Saturday night.

We arrived at the start line 2  hours early, but it is amazing how quickly that time goes. We walked around and found a coffee shop doing a roaring trade especially selling banana. I tucked into my cappuccino and belvita biscuits, when you have a pre-run meal that works, a runner does not stray on race day. I also eat half a banana 30minutes out. The atmosphere is electric, so many people, some veterans, some first timers and everyone freaking out a great big incline they call heartbreak hill. I saw lots of other Steggles runners and it was cool to be a part of their team.

The start line still smiling!
As we lined up at the start line with thousands of other runners I started to get really nervous and wondering why on earth I signed  up to do this. Then before I knew it Red Foo had started playing and the early groups were off. I was lucky enough to be in the green group this year for runners who had done the run in 70-90minutes so no walkers and the pace was good to start with. There was lots of dodging people in the tunnel especially the walkers from the Gold group who had set off before us. By the third kilometre I had set into the pace I needed and garmin gave me an alert each time I fell behind. I have been using my pacer for a few months now but I had set it faster for the race because I had an almost impossible time goal that I wanted to reach.

By the sixth kilometre I felt great, my pace was spot on, and then I hit heartbreak hill, I don't know how I had managed to minimise it, but I forgot how steep and long it really was. It is the hill that never ends! I actually walked through the drink station on the hill and had to use every bit of my motivation to keep going it was tough. I lost a lot of time on the hill with an average pace of 6minutes which meant I needed to make up 40seconds somehow in the second half of the race to reach my goal time. I swallowed a shot bloks and started running as hard as I could. My knee locked up at the top of heartbreak hill, damn ITB but I was able to run through it much better than my last half marathon. On every downhill I pushed as hard as I could, not my usual race strategy.
I love sharing my running with my hubby.
I started to make up time but by the 11th kilometre I realised that I needed to run 5minute kilometres for the rest of the race to get under 75minutes, that is hard to do at the back end of a race, I usually run a cruisy 5.45-6min/km. But I just focused and ran harder than I had for a long time. As I approached the last kilometre I was looking out for hubby who had agreed to cheer me on after he finished the race but I couldn't see him. I saw people dropping to the sideline with injury or exhaustion but I just kept going, it was during that last kilometre that I realised I had miscalculated the time I had left at the 11km mark and I actually had an extra minute up my sleeve which was lucky because I didn't manage a 5minute pace for that last kilometre. As I crossed that finish line my face lit up as I realise I had broken my secret goal of 75minutes, I also was so emotional I almost cried, there is something amazing about training for something and beating your own expectations. I keep joking with hubby that maybe I should spend the entire day before a race in bed, it clearly helps me get a personal best.

I didn't find hubby for a while after the race, it turns out I was only 4minutes behind him and he didn't get a chance to get back to the sideline to cheer me on. It is awesome though to share the race with friends and loved ones afterwards. Here is me and a friend having a glass of champagne to celebrate her first City 2 Surf and my PB! I was so excited that I rang my mum, she has competed in the City 2 Surf so it is the only race she understands!

I ran 6minutes faster than the last time I ran City 2 Surf, I have changed a few things since then. I cross train now with a balance and Hiit class every week. I dropped a few kilos and eat way more vegetables and leaner meats like turkey thanks to my awesome sponsor Steggles. I run from the hips rather than the calves and have been building stronger glutes, hello squats! Running has changed my life and keeps me on the right path, it is the best stress buster, seriously, nothing gets out frustration better than a hard run, and it keeps me eating well and feeling strong.

Have you done the City 2 Surf? Do you make time to exercise?

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Kids Birthday Party Ettiquete and Presents

My youngest started kindy this year, anyone who has experienced the kindy birthday party craze will get what I am about to say. Parties are great fun, for kids...... Our weekends seem to be filled with yet another party and associated trip to the shops. Here are a couple of lessons I have learnt about kids birthday parties this year.
  • Expect lots of Invitations
In Kindy, kids haven't formed strong friendships and they like everyone, so most parties tend to include the whole class, so expect 25 party invites. A bit of ettiquete here, don't forget to RSVP, it is rude to just ignore an invite even if you can't attend.

  •  I Hate Play Centres
I have pretty much always disliked them but now I really hate them, way too many out of control kids, so noisy and less than sanitary conditions you know the snotty kid in the ball pit ewwww. Plus the coffee is pretty guaranteed to be awful, but they are so freaking convenient, no cleaning, no food prep and no entertainment required!
  •   Kindy Kids want a big Party
Miss 5 has been planning her party all year! If we do it her way, it will cost a fortune. I saw a great party program at our gym the other day so I rang up about the price and it was $27 a head, times that by 25 kids and you get a whooping $675, holy crap that is a fancy weekend away! I haven't decided what we are going to do yet, but I like the idea of park party with a sausage sizzle! Some parents spend a lot on these parties including designer cakes that resemble wedding cakes with a similar price tag! Be aware that your cheap party may not be as easy to get away with as you think.
  •  Opening Presents
Kids rarely receive guests or presents anymore, and they never seem to open gifts in front of the other guests. I guess this make practical sense, but I can't feel a little sad that I would like my child to open the gift and give thanks for it's thoughtfulness rather than just having guests dump them on a table and never hear anything again.

  •  Cost of Presents
Now I didn't investigate this very well before our first couple of parties where I allowed Miss 5 to choose a present up to $40 but steered her towards the $30 mark. But if you go to 25 parties that could equal $1,000, plus you have to put on a party for your own child ouch! I have since realised that most parents try to spend $15-20 for kids parties.

  • Online Shopping
 I was all righteous about the presents and getting your child to pick something thoughtful for the recipient, but after our tenth party this year, I am starting to lose that righteousness. In fact after my last dash to the shops before a Saturday morning birthday party I vowed to shop en masse to prevent this last minute dragging the kids to the shop experience.

The next Monday as I was recovering from the hell that is my crazy weekend life, trying to fit everything into just two days I received a lovely email from the guys at Yogee Toys offering me a voucher to try out their shopping experience! Perfect timing, so I went a little crazy and bought lots of presents suitable for kindy kids parties to pop in the birthday box ready for the next invitation that would hit the school bag.

It was so easy that I just jumped online with a glass of wine, shopped by age group and price, picked lots of small gifts for the seemingly endless birthday party caper. Shipping is just $7.90 and is shipped same day if you order before 1pm my order came within days. Yogee Toys is a local company shipping from Sydney and service is great. So if you hate shopping with kids as much as me, give these guys a try!

I would love to know how much you spend on presents and if you have a present box.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

{Giveaway} A day in the life of an office worker

I was sent the entire second series of the VEEP to watch on DVD. My first thought was "I don't have time for this" then I realised that if I wanted to do something I needed to make time. Life has just become nuts for us, I had two weeks of work which was way way more than full-time and I really don't enjoy working 14hours straight getting home at 11.30pm and then getting up at 6am to start it all again. But then on top of work, my little girl got mildly sick, my big sister got really really sick and I have a teenage girl, do I need to explain more? Anyways I am hoping that now work things have calmed down, I can enjoy a little more me time and watch the rest of the series.

Last weekend I sat down and watched a couple of episodes of VEEP, I was totally drawn in ,because characters closley aligned with people from offices I have worked it. All week I have been watching the antics at my office, and matching characters from the storyline to my collegues.

The Vice President of The United States played by Julia Louis-Dreyfun best known for playing Elaine on Seinfeld. She plays a hilarious role, working twice as hard as the president with half the recogonition and everything that could go bad does. She is power hungry and wants to twist people to do things her way, god help the assistant if her lipstick colour is not right. She reminds me a lot of those office woman who are high up on the food chain but not quite at the top. The ones who do pretty much all the work but also get all the blame and none of the glory. She would be quite painful to work for I think.

The climber, who will pretty walk over anyone to rise up in the white house. He is a pain in arse and will go to any length to make himself look good and others bad. Everyone insults him because he is a dick. Does this remind you of anyone, there is always one in every office.

The hard working, married to her job woman who is extremely organised but would do a lot better under a different boss! She is the personal assistance who does all the behind the scenes and of course gets blamed for everything that goes wrong.

The staff member who spends more time thinking about his finance problems than his job and continues to spend money making more issues for himself.

The receptionist from hell, you won't get through her to the Vice President but you might get an insult or two.

My office is not quite like this but there certainly is some power plays going on, quite a few insults, and some direct statements, for example "shut your mouth whilst you are chewing". This series states what everyone really thinks about their bosses and co-workers.

So if you want to change the way you think about those annoying traits co-workers can possess just watch the series and give everyone a silent character, it is amazing how the dynamics in politics mirrors every office around the world.

You can win a complete copy of the second series of the VEEP thanks to Warner Bros. Just comment below about a shady character that you have worked with!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Men and gifts

It is my wedding anniversary next month. I am a little bit excited. We have a fantastic marriage but it is hard work. I feel so blessed to still be madly in love with my husband two years after our wedding and four years into this blended family relationship. Hint if you want to really have to work on a marriage throw three kids in to start it off!

My marriage has been totally life changing, I have become such a better person with my husband beside me every day. He makes me want to be a better person and often helps me nut out problems to make the best decisions. At night we are best friends who chat about work, kids and even politics. I am not saying it is perfect all the time because marriage is hard work some days too, especially when you combine two fiery red heads.

Today I was reminiscing on our honeymoon, probably one of the most amazing holidays of my life. One week of just me and him together alone, to simply enjoy each other completely. I really really want to do it again. It sounds totally selfish I know, but holidays with kids just isn't the same. So that is my ultimate gift that want. With our two year anniversary looming I was thinking about how to celebrate and remember why we got married to start with. But guys are hard to buy for especially when you want it to be special so I set out to investigate in the name of blog research, and asked Mr Blended himself.

Here are his top 10 presents ideas for guys.
  • Toyota 86  (Hubby wanted me to take this out as unrealistic but I know he really wants it and it was his first reply)
  • A boozy Gift  from The Basket Factory he likes the "my guy" basket with his favourite James Squire beer.
  • V8 Hot laps experience
  • Day out abseiling or rock climbing, prepare an awesome lunch to really make it awesome.
  • Man suitable cooking classes, send him for a great day out and get him to learn how to whip up a meal in the kitchen, win win I say. I have sent my husband for sausage, meat and tapas classes all accompanied with suitable alcoholic beverages. He and my dad like to go and bond, it is a really cool idea!

  • Day out Charter Fishing
  • Steak night with accompanied marital extras......... his idea not mine!
  • Underwear - seriously every man needs them although he might not ask for it. Mix it up with a bottle of wine, a DVD and some chips for the perfect night in.
  •  A home brew class, men love to be able to make stuff and then drink it, a perfect combination.
Do you have a great man gift idea?

Recipe to being a supermum

Do you know it? Is there even a recipe?

Should I start wearing a cape?

Do I need to fly in an rescue my daughter when she has an accident?

Do I need to have an extremely stressful morning that starts with wee all over the kitchen floor, being late to work and then tearing up when my boss asks if everything is ok?

Is it putting dinner in the slow cooker before you go to work and coming home to a hot cooked healthy meal?

Is it working full time?

Is it staying at home full time?

Is it getting through the day with post natal depression and managing to feed and clean your kids?

If I want to be a supermum, do I need a house that looks and smells like a display home without any offending wee odours?

Is it driving around like a crazy woman getting your kids to their million and one after school activities? The ability to fly would be handy at this point?

Is it being the perfect stepford wife?

Is it driving a sexy car from the family friend Volvo car range whilst you juggle kids in and out of cars and activities?

Is it running a half marathon whilst juggling marriage, a full time job and a blended family?

It is preordering pizza online and picking it up on the way home from work?

Is it snuggling in with your kids at night and reading them a story?

Is it looking hot and excising regularly, you know to set a good example to your kids?

Is it wearing clean ironed clothes rather than the crumbled vomit covered clothes that regularly adorn mothers?

I have been posting a few photos on instagram lately with the hashtag #supermum because when I am killing this crazy life I feel superhuman. This working thing with kids, does not come easily. I feel torn everyday. I adore my kids and my husband, but I really like my job too. I am enjoying using my brain again, I like working with people, I like researching technical questions. I loved the thrill of getting a major job over the line today, even if I worked a 14 hour day yesterday and pulled a huge week last week. I felt guilty that my husband had today off today to take my daughter to the Dr because his job is more flexible right now.I got 5 hours sleep last night, that is supermum right there, just like every mum who gets broken sleep with a baby or a sick child.

The thing I have realised in the last few weeks is that all mums are supermums, we all just put one foot in front of the other and do our best. Reading to your child or snuggling up and watching a movie is being a supermum. Working and bring in money for your family is supermum. Cooking dinner for the family tick. But on the other side looking after yourself, respecting your soul and being kind to yourself is also all supermumish. Kids only have one mum, we need to teach them by example, what I want to teach my girls is to respect themselves and their soul. Be their own superhero, whatever that means.

For me being supermum means doing the things I really want to do that work with my family, this means eating great home cooked food, both my husband and I working, continuing to train for long distance events, reading my daughter a story every night and looking after me. Everyone has a different set of what makes them awesome everyday, find yours and celebrate it, it might be as little as making the bed each day or simply enjoying time with your children or maybe your aspire to a crazy life like mine. Whatever it is, I think every mum is a super mum!

If you could have a superpower what would it be?

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The big lie girls are told growing up

This may seem extreme, but I feel like we were all told a great big lie when we were growing up. As little girls were told we could do whatever we wanted, study hard, get a good career, work your way to the top, there is nothing to stop you. I, like many woman swallowed the lie and set myself up as a career girl, I was going places. I could work as many hours as anyone else, I could study just as hard and achieve as much.

When I was 29 I was married (terrible marriage), I owned two apartments, travelled the world and had a great career job in an enviable company, I had literally ticked everything off my list of things to achieve. But I was not happy, in fact I was miserable and depressed. I drank way too much, worked too hard and spent too little time nurturing myself and relationships. I unexpectedly fell pregnant and my life changed dramatically. I was hospitalised at 19weeks and underwent emergency surgery. It fell around easter and ANZAC day so although I had a couple of weeks off I only took 4 days sick leave, I returned to work and was still not 100%. What happened after that shocked me. I was taken off a big job that I had been working on for over 12 months because being pregnant I was too much of a liability apparently and they needed someone who wouldn't get sick. So I ended up just doing small jobs and helping out others.

At this time I started to notice other woman and mothers in the office, one of my bosses was a mum. It was common knowledge in the office that she was past over for a promotion when she was pregnant and had to wait until six months after she had returned from maternity leave to get the promotion she deserved. She also had managed to negotiate a 4 day a week job which I thought was pretty cool. But then you delve into her situation deeper, yes she only had to come into the office 4 days a week but she actually worked all hours of the day from home. It wasn't unusual to receive emails from her at 4am in the morning or at midnight. I talked to her about childcare and it turns out her baby went for 11.5hours a day four days a week. As I looked at the woman in my office who had careers and I realised I didn't want to be like them.

When I took maternity leave I really had no idea what I was going to do. I was pretty sure I was going to run out of money after six months and thought I would get bored being at home especially as a single mum. It turns out I loved it and my maternity leave quickly ran out and I made the decision to stay at home a little longer and enjoy the bonding time with my baby. I moved out of Sydney when my daughter was born and settled into Wollongong and rented a gorgeous little townhouse for the two of us. It wasn't until she was 18months old that I started to get a little bored and wanted to get back into working. This is when I realised that there are not many opportunities for accounting jobs as a single mum! Who looks after your child when they are sick? Who picks them up from day care if your client needs a late appointment? One of the most distressing things I realised was that there were no part time jobs available, I even applied for some full time ones with a cover letter asking for part time but each one was completely ignored. How had I gone from a desirable candidate to one who couldn't even get an interview.

So rather than read more job adverts for mining jobs in Victoria or positions that required you to commute or move, I started my own business with the view to return to work full time when my daughter started school. It all went well and I loved my business, I remarried and became a step mum and the day loomed closer to when Miss 5 would commence school full time. I applied for a couple of jobs last year which I wasn't successful in, but it was ok because my plan was always to wait until this year. Early this year I started the full time job hunt, applying for lots of jobs each day. It became quickly evident that I wanted a flexible job that worked around my family rather than a job owning me. I was looking for a job that I  would suit our family, but so were a whole lot of other woman and each rejection felt personal. Finally I landed a couple of interviews and was able to negotiate a somewhat flexible job in my profession.

Two months in I quite like my job, the work is varied and interesting and I get to leave at 4pm two days a week which means so much to me. Having that extra time in the afternoon to be with my kids and prepare dinner is a life saver and helps me find a little more balance. The pay is rubbish, after 5years out of the industry I am actually getting paid slightly less than my first job out of university - scary! But I guess that is the price woman pay for raising their young family, I hope that it is only temporary and my knowledge with be back up to date by the end of the year. But I also know I will never command the high wages that I was aspiring to earn in my pre-child days, I am not interesting in doing the hours that are required to rise to the top. In the last five years I found balance and a love of my family. Work is work, I go, do the best I can, come home and enjoy my family. I am still working on finding my new balance but I am getting closer.

Did you have a career path before children? Did it change after you had kids?


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