Thursday, November 27, 2014

Teaching your kids to drive and for Learners

Miss 16 got her "L" plates in July and since then we have been official family driving instructors. Teaching your kids to drive is a HUGE responsibility, you are giving them the skill to use a fast and very dangerous machine. I have been absolutely shocked at how laid back some parents take the whole driving lesson thing and forge hours so their kids can go for their "P" earlier. I feel very strongly that we need to teach our kids respect for the rules, especially with driving because the statistics are stacks against them.

Miss 16 has 40hours driving under her belt and she is at the stage now where she is the designated driver wherever we go, she has no choice. It is hard work to get the 120hours in a year but I want my kids to have as much experience as possible before I let them loose. A couple of weeks ago we were driving with Miss 16 and  she negotiated a complicated merging lane incorrectly and ended up pulling in front of another car, no problem because the other car was being very aware of the "L" plate driver. Then she got off the merging ramp and an ambulance went past, a minute later another ones comes screaming past and cars are pulling off, then a third one. She is just recovering and a truck is broken down in the outside lane and she gets stuck behind it. We arrived at our destination and Miss 16 was quite shaken up, I calmly explained to her that is why getting all your hours up is so important because being a good driver is about understanding all the outside forces and other drivers, not just your own driving.

My husbands car has always been the dedicated "learner" car because it is old and only has bomb insurance so it didn't cost extra to add a learner driver. After our 6 hours spent in the car a couple weekends ago with hubby and I taking it in turns to get wind blown, I declared she was ready to drive the good car. This is where the drama with the insurance started. Our current insurer wouldn't cover Miss 16 to our insurance policy without tripling the costs and the excess so we started the quest to find cheap car insurance with adequate coverage. After speaking with other parents, plenty didn't realise that lots of insurers don't automatically cover learner drivers any more and this could be one expensive lesson if the worst was to happen. So if you have teenage kids, check out your insurance before they start driving. which kids can do

There are some government initiatives to help parents and kids, we did the keys2drive program which is a free lesson and chat with an instructor for both parents and the learner driver. We learnt so much in the lesson about the best way to teach, the stages of lessons and just watching the instructor teach Miss 16 was a real eye opener.

There is also a Safe Drivers Course which costs $140 and gives students  50 hours of logbook hours. It can only be done once the learner has 50 hours of driving hours experience. It is a three hour group discussion on how drivers can manage risks on the road followed by a two hour driving lesson with another learner which focuses on practical safe driving behaviours.

So here is my advice for teaching your kids to drive;
  • Sort out your insurance and make sure they are covered to drive your car
  • Service the car and get the mechanic to do a full safety check
  • Get some driving lessons
  • Do the free Key2Drive program with your kids
  • Enrol them in the safe driver course
  • Do the hours regularly, don't leave it all to the last minute. Make the learner the regular family driver, the most experience they have, the better driver they will be.
Do you have a learning to drive story?



Wednesday, November 26, 2014

#Men and gifts for them

Every year I have this conversation with my mum, my sisters, my girlfriends about what to buy men. We all agree they are so freaking hard to buy for. Men tend to have few wants and those they have they simply fulfill themsleves. Whenever I think I have a great gift lined up for a man, they tend to buy it themselves.

I have bought all the usual gifts, the undies, watch, books, cooking classes and interstate trips. I really want to buy my husband his dream gift but since I am not yet earning a dream wage that one is in the secret tank for a later date. Now Mr 18 has his own wage, buying his gifts just got really hard.

Today I did a talk about social media and I inspired everyone to use # on social media. So I went to instagram and typed in #men, the results are hilarious!
Oh gosh, if this is what the new generation call men, I am worried for my daughters. Although they do all have great hair maybe the new LYNX Hair range has been getting a workout.

So after checking out the instagram hastag for men, I will be buying my son, undies, lots of new hair products, maybe some speedos........ and a jacket, that should have me in the cool mum books right??!! Hang on I am confused.

What are you buying your men this Christmas.


Sunday, November 23, 2014

Pregnancy changes everything.

Seriously, there are way too many pregnancy announcements around me. Some are beautiful news, others not so awesome. (And no despite being late this month I am certainly NOT pregnant)


One is a young mum, not married, she is in a bad place in her life and her choice of men is the same, I see only two ways that it will work out and neither is good. I want to help but sometimes help is a bail out and makes people make more poor decisions, but there is a baby involved. I feel really torn about this one.

Then there is my dear friend who will be an incredible mum. We met about 15 years ago when we were nannying in the UK, her husband is gorgeous and she has a supportive family around her. Their child will be lucky, blessed and always cared for no matter what happens. It is a true celebration.

Then there is my ex's new wife, she too has swallowed the pregnancy water. I am not sure how I feel about this, having spoken to so many step kids and parents, it is the "new baby" that really changes the dynamic. I get it, sometimes in our crazy blended family I wish my husband and I had children we could call our own together and not share with anyone else, but we knew thing would upset the balance too much. I am not sure how this will pan out and it certainly throws another spanner in the works. Again uncertainly is our future, so often in these situation the new mum becomes resentful of the existing step children and their passion for building relationships diminishes as they take on one of the hardest jobs, full time motherhood.

Despite the circumstances surrounding new pregnancies and mine certainly wasn't perfect, I think the pregnant woman still wants to celebrate the life changing events. I know because my pregnancy at the same point my marriage was dissolving certainly wasn't seen as a particularly great announcement.

But after working for the past two years at baby expo's I have some great idea for baby presents, here are some of my favourites.

  • A basket of samples, individual nappies, small wipe packs, baby panodol, nurofen and some adult panadol too!
  • I love these wool baby blankets which replace the traditional Australia gift of a lamb wool rug from the MiniJumbuk website. Blankets are way more practical.
  • Clothes, but get bigger sizes, babies grow so damn fast in those early days, I like to stick to size 0, they get the most wear out of the bigger sizes.
So should I congratulate my ex's new wife on her pregnancy, should I buy a gift? I feel like I am just not that cool......


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A weekend in the life of a working family

You would think that being a working family would mean our weekends would involve sleep ins and quiet gardening whilst sipping fabulous wine on our deck. Mmmmmm my life seems to have missed the memo. I was sick AGAIN this week, if it kind of getting annoying, although I had that light blub moment that maybe all the crappy food I have been eating, too much wine and late nights probably are not helping my quest for health. This week has been all about putting one foot in front of the other, in fact I feel a little like my whole life has become like this. Here is a little run down on my weekend. I may have taken some of the inspiration for the format of this post from the gorgeous Fiona Purcel of My Mummy Daze who wrote about her exhausting day as a commuting mum.

Saturday
6.30am Hear the pitter patter of tiny feet going to the toilet. Then going to the loungeroom shutting the door and the TV goes on. I drift back to sleep and give myself a high 5 for teaching Miss 6 to not come in on the weekends before 8am - seriously shit parenting in one way but awesome parenting in another.

7am Hear Miss 6 rummaging in the kitchen, doze some more, realise my house may be even more trashed when I get up, feel like my sinuses might explode so take 2 cold and flu tablets and go back to sleep.

7.30am Awake again, figure might as well get up and have coffee, cofffffeeeeeeee.......

7.40am Put on a load of washing, make coffee, clean up the mess Miss 6 made in the kitchen. Help her with the reminents of breakfast.

8am Hang out first load of washing, thank god for the fast cycle. Unload the dishwasher, make toast, iron some clothes.

8.30am Debate whether or not to wake up Miss 16, it is a fine line between waking her up too early and her not getting enough sleep and leaving it too late and she is rushed. We decide to go in for the wake with coffee as our shield, she is as addicted as the rest of us. Clean table, strip bed and do another load of washing.

9am Ring real estate. Talk about the fact that my new tenant is signing the lease today but I have the garage remote, agent is 30minutes away, need to return remote.But need to pick up unit keys to arrange for painter to repair damage that the carpenters did this week when repairing the door.

9.30am Clean up the shit hole my bedroom has become over the week. Get Miss 6 to clean up the loungeroom yet again. Feed the guinea pigs, curse that the kids have an incredible ability to ignore the fact that all they do is eat and shit. Try to negotiate with Miss 16 what her plans are with her friend and where she needs to be when.

9.45am Agree on a plan for the day that everyone appears happy to do. Put a batch of pea and ham soup in the slow cooker, clean the kitchen window sill.

10am Start the crazy game of trying to get everyone dressed and out the door. Miss 6 seems totally fine with leaving the house in her PJ's and believes hairbrushing is optional, Mr Blended needs to send one more fucking lot of troops to battle (seriously I fucking hate video games) and Miss 16 needs to look appropriate for a shopping trip because she might see someone she knows. We all try at one point to get into one bathroom all at once and I feel like losing my shit.

10.30am We all load into the shit car so Miss 16 can drive, we haven't manage to change the other cars insurance yet so it is unairconditioned luxury the whole way. In other words it is a wind tunnel in the back seat.

11am Chat to Real Estate, realise that tenant has issues with removalists and is actually moving in on Monday now FFS. Grab the spare keys and be cheery.

11.10am Decide to take the back roads into Wollongong to give Miss 16 some better experienced, the traffic is horrific, takes 30minutes to drive 14km.

11.40am Miss 16 parks at work, there are some perks to a CBD parking spot, it looks like she was drunk, leave the car on an angle and leave the L plates on. Give Miss 16 lunch money and kiss her goodbye, friends are way cooler to shop with than us. Go to the shops, buy alcohol, lots of it. Some as gifts. Buys 4 birthday cards and a welcome card, get a bottle of champagne for my tenants. Get distracted by cool shops full of shit I don't need but lust after.

12.30pm Take obscene amounts of alcohol to the car. Walk to my unit with hubby, Miss 6 and champagne with me. Assess wall damage, not too bad. Try with hubby to rehang the clothes dryer in the laundry but the fucker will not go up and hubby manages to contort my back over the sink in a way that no 30 something year back should ever go. Miss 6 comes into the laundry and underfoot 5,000 times talking incessantly. In my head I am dying right now, it is the freaking weekend people.

1pm Write a card for my tenants, repeat myself too many times whilst I try to drown out Miss 6's non stop talking - do they ever stop? Leave the champagne but wonder if it would be better if I took it home with me...... Drive a few suburbs away to Outback Steakhouse, had heard good thing but never visited.

1.30pm Review food menu, blown away by the prices, hubby encourages ordering wine, I go along like a very willing participant. Enjoy a delicious meal, Miss 6 is so well behaved I don't want to leave. She starts dancing in the isle and attracts the adornment of a young couple behind us. They think she is adorable, I tell them she isn't always this cool and don't rush into having kids. But honestly she was so good that we stay for an hour.

2.30pm Head to McDonalds for icecream next door to reward Miss 6 for awesome behaviour, she decides on a frozen sprite with popping candy, that advertising and pretty pictures sure is effective. 

3pm Drive back to the real estate agents to drop in the keys

3.30pm Start heading home, offer to pick up Miss 16 and friend from Wollongong on the way through, but they want to catch the train.

4pm Arrive home. Put a video on for Miss 6, lock the bedroom door and attempt a strip tease for hubby he promply tells me it isn't going to happen and disappears to the loo. I lay down on the bed. Ahhhh peace.

4.20pm Text from Miss 16, train arrives in 5 minutes. I respond ok......

4.25pm Text from Miss 16, can you pick us up? FFS I just sat down.........

4.30pm Hubby picks up Miss 16 from the train. I get Miss 6 to write in a birthday card and I wrap 4 birthday presents.

5pm Head out with Miss 16 driving for another 30minutes trip to a kids party. Squished in the back with an oversized car seat and Miss 16's friend, super squashy.

5.30pm Get dropped off at party whilst the rest of them disappear, realise I don't know any of the mums, stand aquadely in the corner. Parents start doing the drop and leave. Stuck in an industrial estate in the middle of nowhere. Text hubby to come back.

6pm Miss 16 picks me up, we head to Kmart for a rocking Saturday night. I do Christmas shopping for teh kids, hubby wants to buy clothes for himself, Miss 16 buys gifts for her friends, time is lost.

6.50pm We drive back to the party and grab a DVD hire on the way. We shall have fun tonight, we shall.

7.30pm As we leave the party Miss 6 gets a lolly bag, devours the whole thing before we get to the car, fucking fantastic, more sugar for a Saturday night.

8pm Get home start the bath, teeth, hair brushing bed rountine.

8.45pm Finally turn off the lights to Miss 6 and wonder how I got through the day.

9pm Sit down and watch the movie, Blended Family - awesome movie feel better about my life. Cuddle my husband and realise that our life isn't too bad.

11.15pm Crawl into bed, look at the time and say Fuck.

Sunday

6.30am Hear Miss 6 tinkering in the lounge room.

and Saturday repeats itself........................






Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Operation Slow Down {Review Menulog}

Six times a year I work away from home, three glorious nights in a hotel with per diems to eat food, drink wine and have control of the television. As I travel alone though I don't always want to dine alone, so I give myself one night during each trip that I order food in.

Just over a year ago I discovered Menulog. I am one of those people who interogates locals, hotel staff and waiters for their opinion. I ask everyone where the best coffee it, a good running track or the best pizza I prefer to take a chance at  someones opinion rather than just do it alone and that is how I discovered Menulog.

I was away working last year and the girl I was with wanted Dominos and an early night, I wanted a decent glass of red and a cracking woodfire pizza and a date with the television. I enquired with reception at the hotel who explained the concept of menulog and that I could get on and check out the reviews and that they would deliver to the hotel, Holy crap that was a novelty! Having grown up in the country I always think of home delivery as a rediculous luxury that only city folk get. Anyways I jumped onto Menulog spend ages picking the restaurant with the best reviews and had a perfect woodfire pizza delivered in Melbourne 45 minutes later.

Since that first time I make it my little ritual to have one night each trip away that I order from menulog and eat in the hotel. I have had such good food including ribs one night in the Cross and  a lamb pizza and chilli fries last weekend in Melbourne. This week I even extended my hotel dining to include my family in my ritual and we ordered locally through menulog for delivery. It wasn't a restaurant we usually visit but it was freaking delicious, especially when I ordered before I left work, got home, got changed then there was a knock at the door. Perfection! You can time orders in Menulog to go through when you want it, you can even order in the morning for dinner - organised!

Sometimes life moves faster than you can hold on, I try to keep delivery and takeaway for these times. But seriously if you feel like you need to do some slowing down, take a leaf out of my book, order delivery and throw all the containers in the bin afterwards. Spend some time on yourself and your family relationships.

If you are travelling and your kids have turned feral but you still need to eat, order in and save yourself rediculous hotel room service prices and get a family every one loves, I will give you a hint some places will even deliver you a bottle of booze!  Or maybe kids are tucked in bed and you want to pretend you have a life pour a glass of wine, order on menulog, get out plates and cultery, lights some candles and pretend you are in a restaurant on a date.

What will you do to practise some slow down in your life. Do you do home delivery?

Disclosure: Menulog was awesome enough to help fund my addiction on my latest occassion, but as a serial user of their website you know I love it and I can stand by this opinion.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Struggling with motherhood

Lately I have been struggling with where we are at in life. We have our new bathroom, I have a job I actually like, we are finally moving forward, but....... yet I feel a sense of unease, of monotony of missing contentment. There are moments of pure contentment, but then there are weeks full of just putting each foot forward and smiling through each day.

What I didn’t expect from going back to work was the feeling like I lost my life and more importantly I feel like I have lost a bit of my spark. Sometimes I take a solo walk and people watch, especially when I am somewhere other than home. As I watch people in different places I witness excitement, lust for life and passion, that same desire I know but feel like I have lost.

I have always been a passionate person but lately I am realising that being a mum I has zapped me of my passion. Maybe it is the lack of spontaneity, maybe it is the lack of sleep but I often find myself thinking, I am more exciting than this, but a glass of wine and movie in bed sounds so damn good.
Who am I? 

Am I the exciting naughty girl always one step away from trouble? Am I the quiet girl who goes to bed early and is loyal to her family? Am I the career girl, the one who loves her job and constantly wants to learn more? Am I the dedication mum who puts their kids needs before their own?

I just don’t know. I feel a little loss in who I am right now.

I miss those cheeky night out where you flirt and laugh the night away, but then I have no desire to go out either, I would rather snuggle with my hubby on the lounge.

I kind of crave a decent career again and I want my knowledge back it seems to have been hidden in random part of my brain for the last  years to resurface only when it wants in bits  and pieces. But then I feel ties with my desire to be with my family and be a rocking relaxed mum.

I want to travel a lot, but with balancing this with our children needs means we keep putting it off. With one child doing HSC and one struggling with a vision problems and adjusting to school this year or even next year. it simply isn’t best for our kids.

I feel constricted by those bounds of being an adult. But are these bounds real, or am I overthinking everything? I want to put my kids and my relationship first, then building a future, then my career. But someone in there needs to be me, prioritied, what do I want and need? The answers I guess lie only within me.

My ex is being a dick again and decided after 6 years and countless lies and half promises that now he is remarried he wants to be a full time dad. At the same time moving two hours away and expecting my daughter to have to travel to him. It is a stressful time not knowing where the future will be. He is more interested in % of care and nights he has her than her best interest and that upsets me greatly. I decided the other night that as I mum I need to always fight as hard as I can for what is right for my child. I decided that I need to stand up for my daughter because she can’t stand up for herself.

I have spent this week reading as much research as I can about children from split families, the effects of shared care – would you believe that a third of kids in shared care situations have extreme clinical anxiety? I guess it makes sense! How stressful living in two homes. I  know how much Miss 15 struggles with two homes and sadly what else is the answer?

Somedays I feel like my life is a constant fight, trying to balance right with wrong, excitement with contentment and money with time. It isn't an easy life I have chosen but some moments show me that it more than worth it.

Do you have an answer?

Thursday, October 23, 2014

House Envy

I am in Melbourne tonight, travelling with work. I relish working away, it gives me a chance to be something other than a working mum. I am going to be honest here, I don’t love this working mum shit it is hard freaking work. The last thing I want to do after a busy day at work is make dinner, clean the kitchen and feed the family. When I work away I finish work eat in a restaurant and go back to a hotel to write, read or sleep. No obligations.

In the last few we had also been trying to fix up the house on the weekends. We got our new bathroom a few months recently and I am totally in love! Nothing is more rewarding than jumping in the spa when the kids go to bed with hubby and a glass of wine to de-stress. It makes it so much easier to work everyday when you can enjoy a beautiful bathroom.

Last week we put in our plans to get our kitchen designed so that we no longer have to deal with a stinky cupboard because the sink doesn’t seal properly. We are hoping for a kitchen that actually fits rather than a modular one that doesn’t quite work.  A few weekends ago we managed to strip back one of our window and fit gorgeous wooden venetians. This job took about  hours because of bad workmanship so the paint.  I put in a new garden down the side of our house to try and help with the water fall and dampness that happens when it rains. 

Because our house is old and the previous owners did dodgy renovations, it seems there is always something else to do.  The never ending job of fixing things is the story of home ownership I guess. My parents built their dream home 30 years  ago, the last few years have been never ending repairs, Dad commented the other day it would be better to upgrade your house to new every 20 years to avoid the money pit that older houses become.

Coral Homes Kitchen Yes Please!
Last year hubby and I went searching for our dream home, we found so many we liked and one we loved. The idea of selling our old house in needs of endless repairs for a sparkly new house was very inviting. I fell in love with a house from Coral Homes  that I could image my family growing up in. I love the open living areas and sectioned off parents retreats that come with the newer homes. Plus those beautiful clean fresh windows, bathrooms and tiles without cracks in them. Moving into a home with nothing to do, just move in and live life.

We crunched numbers, being accountants that’s what we do, head over heart. We realised we needed to fix up our home first before we could put it on the market. We realised that we would need to sell an investment property to fund the new home and finally we realised that our kids are growing up too quickly and leaving home. We have already had one child fly the coop and join the navy, Miss 16 only has twelve months left of school and is uncertain of her plans after that. It seemed a little silly to build our dream five bedroom, so we decided to go back to the drawing board and get something a little smaller and newer to see us through to retirement. Although I am content with our decision, part of me is secret envious when I visit friends with their beautiful new homes, especially when I am sanding and stripping paint for hours. 

I still think one day we will own a beautiful new home, one just like the show homes we went through. But for now I am staying content with our new bathroom, blinds and kitchen.

Do you get caught up in materialism? Do you want a new home?  Have you ever built?

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