“Someone Different to Everybody”

In the last book I read (All the Bright Places (Jennifer Niven)) Finch, a troubled teenager struggling to get through says “the great thing about this life of ours is that you can be someone different to everybody”.

After my first day back at work on Monday, I can completely understand this. Only, as a Mum it feels that almost 100% of the time you are different personality to everybody – we can chop and change as quickly is needed (with the role of Mum, always filling the baseline).

At 5.30am I was a chef and one armed food preparer (V2 insists on her food being on her high chair before she will consent to being lowered into it). By 6am I was giving the role of ‘relaxed wife drinking coffee with my better half’ my best shot. When all children were breakfasted and relatively content, I ventured to prepare for my role in the corporate world as I dressed (thanks to a pre-return to work shopping spree this was quite fun!) and did my hair (a new edgy bob meant some nice edgy waves, which I then decided were too fun for a day back at work so back into the Mum ponytail the hair was swept – I will never get those 7 minutes curling time back!).

At day-care drop off, I had to resume the relaxed mum façade even though I was more than a little worried about the first full day away from the kids. At the office, I tried to be the competent, confident and ‘quick to provide the answer’ employee that I was a year ago. By lunchtime I was swimming in a bunch of things I was struggling to understand and prioritise. I made it all the way to 11am before calling to check in on the kids as the role of worrying Mum prevailed (I’m pretty sure the day-care ladies knew the relaxed Mum was just an act!)

Feeling somewhat frazzled and very tired (despite three hot coffees – the perks of working in the office!) at trying to be what everyone else needed, I’d already lost track of the time and was running late. After a quick sprint to the train I settled in to read and finish my book. With spare time to ponder the book, I began to worry about the fact that I was missing the kid’s dinner and baths as the role of guilty mother surfaced.

And then it dawned on me – no wonder I was tired. It’s tiring being a different someone to everybody, but with practice I will strike the balance and perhaps even begin to really enjoy my time at the office as a working Mum! (I certainly enjoyed the coffees and lunch at a restaurant where I wasn’t picking up morsel of food and spilled drinks repeatedly. Plus, I’m fairly certain I yelled a lot less than I do in an ordinary day (the puppy and V1 are still learning about each other so the yelling is for their own safety!)).

Perhaps once I’ve managed to strike this balance, I’ll be sure to focus on being the different someone I need to be for me as well!

 

Book 2 – Done and Dusted

So it was a momentous day yesterday for a number of reasons.

  1. I finished my second book from the list: All the Bright Places (Jennifer Niven); and
  2. I returned to work for the first day back after more than a year.

All The Bright Places was really an enjoyable read. The cover describes it as “the story of a girl who learns to live from a boy who wants to die”. Theo (Theodore Finch – Finch for short) and Violet are two troubled teenagers who find each other at a tumultuous time in their respective lives. Violet recently lost her sister in a car accident where she survived. Theo is searching for the meaning for his existence and his identity following his parent’s divorce, troubled school life and the usual ups and downs of being a teenager at school. Their first meeting is precarious as they find themselves on the ledge of the bell tower at school, for different purposes. They become friends, and more, sharing their lives and fears together as they work on a school project ‘wandering’ around beautiful and eclectic places in their home state of Indiana. They share their love of writing, words and books and this extends to numerous communications in the form of extracts of books and poetry ranging from Virginia Woolf to Dr Seuss. Even the most childish of phrases appear prescient to their budding relationship.

Finch changes his persona often – ranging from what he calls ’80s Finch’ to ‘Badass Finch’, amongst others. He has a small group of friends that accept him and his various personalities without question as he struggles to find his identity and his purpose. He helps Violet through her grief and guilt as she remembers her purpose and what she enjoys. However she still struggles to understand why her life was more important than her sister’s life which was taken so arbitrarily in a car accident. Finch takes solace in the fact that, in his own words, “The great thing about this life of ours is that you can be someone different to everybody”.

Finch does this well, and he is transforms himself into various different someones to everybody else, but it seems he doesn’t understand which someone he needs to be for himself. When this overcomes him he terms himself ‘asleep’ as he disappears for stretches of time to find himself, with limited communication with his family and friends.

This book reminded me of the huge challenges parents face:

  • Losing a child;
  • Dealing with the grief and staying strong for your other children;
  • Trying to understand the teenage psyche without intruding and overstepping;
  • Fostering the right amount of freedom and responsibility without being too lax; and
  • Knowing when you have to step in and take control of a spiralling situation.

When I think about my first day at work and the stress I felt about getting the kids ready for school and heading to work (which required me to venture more than 20 minutes away from the centre for more than an hour – the first time ever!) and the anxiety I felt about this, it pales in comparison. It wasn’t a bad day, however I only made it to 11am before calling the centre to check on them, only to find they were completely content and happy.  On the train I willed it to rush me home (I had also finished my book and didn’t have a spare so was additionally keen to get home!). My better half was completely capable of daycare pick-up, dinners and baths but I couldn’t let my worrying mind rest. When everyone screamed at us both this morning for half an hour over seemingly inconsequential things (V2 flipped her weetbix over on her table (intentionally, of course) and V1 gave his dummy to the puppy to lick so couldn’t understand why he then wasn’t allowed to have it), the phrase “will we look back at these times fondly?” runs through my mind.

It is then that I remind myself that every problem seems big at the time however at this young age we are extremely lucky that the problems our kids present us with are relatively ‘simple’ ones to deal with. It will only get more interesting, exciting and challenging as every day passes. I know our practising and discovering how to help our little ones now will hopefully put us in good stead for when they come home as teenagers with grown-up problems for us to help with and provide guidance. Granted, nothing can prepare us for some of the problems the parents in this book have to face, but I was reminded throughout that it is so important to look at a little bit of a bad day, with a lot of perspective.

There’s a moody, irrational 2.5 year old living in my house – can someone please tell me where my baby went?

For those of you who don’t know me – oh wait that’s everyone! – I am the sister of your host, Reading Mumma. When my busy schedule allows, I too like to dabble in some reading – much of which is catered for by my sister who generously provides my next read each time she visits. I’m sad to say my reading pace is much slower than hers – I probably average one book to her 5 – but it gives us another area of common ground to talk about, that isn’t our children (the mums out there will know how nice adult conversation can be when it doesn’t revolve around children)!

My wonderful husband helps me find my sanity when I misplace it – yep, happens more than I care to admit – and together we have two beautiful children. B1 is a strong willed, fiercely independent, and beautiful 2.5 yr old girl and B2 is a perfect, totally chilled and cool as a cucumber relaxed 8 month old girl. My sister and I find ourselves regularly venting and providing suggestions on the challenges of raising children two children under the age of 3.

I don’t claim to be a pioneer – there are many other brave warriors who have traversed the rocky terrain that goes with mothering 2 under the age of 3. However, knowing numerous others have done it before you doesn’t mean that you (or they) have all the answers. Like all of us, toddlers are rarely predictable, can turn on a dime and have a vicious mean streak to rival Mr Hyde.

In order to relax when Mr Hyde comes out to challenge me, I try to relax with something that I can truly escape into. I’m currently reading Liane Moriarty’s gem, “What Alice Forgot”. Just briefly, this is about a mother of 3, Alice Love, who has a fall at the gym and wakes up having forgotten the last 10 years of her life. This includes no memory of the birth of her 3 children and her nasty divorce.

Alice’s experiences with the oldest of her 3 children, Madison, struck a chord with me. Alice wakes from her accident thinking she is still blissfully pregnant with a perfect, happy baby “sultana”.  In reality, she has a very moody, independent and difficult 9 year old girl. She has been unceremoniously launched into the trenches that is raising 3 children without so much as a twig of experience to defend herself with. No training. No help. No books. No manual. No memory of her experiences and how she has overcome the challenges of parenting to date.

Now, even though I have the memory of the past almost 3 years, I sometimes feel as if the memory of my experience is completely useless. I’ve learned that no amount of mothering experience can either prevent or prepare you for a toddler meltdown. Each one makes you feel like you have no idea what you are doing and that you are simply not qualified to be nurturing the next generation. And the knowledge that you’ve been through it before, only adds to the helplessness of not being able to prevent or resolve it. While Alice is challenged by her 9-year-old, my 2.5 going on 9 year old challenges me on a daily basis. I frequently find myself wondering what on earth happened to my perfect peaceful little baby as she can make me feel like a stranger in my own house. My mind boggles when I try to imagine how Alice survived her kids, without the solid memory of the ups to cling to when the downs prevailed.

In our house, simple tasks (or so we think) turn into challenges akin to climbing Everest in the middle of a total white out. Our words and coaxing are as effective as trying to prop up the Titanic with kids floaties. The floaties might buy you a second or two, but the ship is going down. I’ve read the blogs where people talk about loving but not liking their toddler and I can truly say I can see their point of view. I love my girl to bits and she constantly amazes me but I feel like I am on a constant roller coaster ride of emotions ranging from incomprehensible happiness when she shows you her beautiful, unique and quirky personality, only to come down a massive vertical drop into madness when Mr Hyde comes out to play.

Recently I’ve spent some time thinking about this, and I’ve come to a few conclusions. She is a completely normal 2.5 yr old girl who is just exploring her own personality and her limits (as well as my own). So that being said – how do we survive this phase without being driven insane and developing a very unhealthy coffee and chocolate addiction? OK, ok, you got me –yes I already have a coffee and chocolate addiction but hey I’m trying not to make it worse.

Spend more time and just ‘be’.

Much like Alice, I have realised I need to take the time to observe, interact and just ‘be’ with my children. Alice is forced to do so because of her complete helplessness without her memory.  Being a stranger in her own home she is forced to stop and truly observe her children (for the first time in her present mindset), allowing her to see them in a completely different light. Alice falls in love with their exquisitely individual personalities and needs, and, not being caught up in the highly organised and regimented routine of her previous life, she actually has some time and patience to be able to give them what they need. The lesson – if we take a moment to stop and just be with our kids instead of running from point to point with them, we may start to feel like less of a stranger in our own lives – and they in ours.

Lower expectations = increased patience.

I think it’s fair to say we all expect too much of the oldest child when they receive their promotions to big sister or big brother. B1’s passionate desire for independence actually results in me thinking she can do more than she is capable and I forget she is in fact, still a baby.  Independent dressing is a dream for both of us. Until it ends in a different way to her getting both legs stuck in the undies she is putting on over her pyjama pants (which I politely she suggested she remove several times), she, much to her dismay, needs my help. The challenge here is giving her the opportunity and encouragement to try new things to help foster her independence, but also being there to let her know it’s ok if she needs help – she only needs to ask. So – after 20 minutes sitting on her bedroom floor stark naked we got there. The lesson – DO NOT try and help her until she asks.

This requires a monumental amount of patience. Foresight and knowing the outcome of her trials is not helpful. And I am not ashamed to say, my patience is not what it used to be. My fast-paced life is diametrically opposed to how a toddler functions. She senses my urgency and my quick escalation to frustration does nothing to speed up the loading into the car. My solution? Distraction. Don’t let her see your urgency. Photos, videos, songs, stories of things to come can distract from her sensing my urgency to help keep her metaphorical skittles inside the bag. It’s nice to say we need to slow everything down and just ‘be’ but there are still occasions where life demands we participate so this solution gets us through! – for the most.

I’ve ultimately learned that B1 needs as much, if not more attention as B2. Guaranteed that on the days when I have a to-do-list an Olympic high-jumper wouldn’t even attempt to jump over that she’ll need me every minute of the day, but the simple fact is, if she needs it that’s what I try to give to her.

These things aside, I regularly tell myself that I am the luckiest mother alive, I have two healthy beautiful girls who I love and adore, and who I know love and adore me. While some days my oldest may shake me up more than a gym junkie does a protein shake, she is still my baby. No matter how many years I spend as a mother my children will always have the ability to make me feel like Alice – where I wake up and wonder when my perfect baby turned into a 2.5-year-old going on 16. Ultimately, I know that I am lucky to help shape her beautiful soul into the confident and strong young woman I know she will become but on some days I do feel just as helpless and challenged as Alice.

Sorry…

This is something I feel myself saying fairly constantly lately.

Sorry to my kids. Sorry to my husband. Sorry to the new puppy. Sorry to my work. Sorry to my book.

We just went away for the weekend for Easter as I’m sure many people did. I’m also sure many people also enjoyed the company of family but are now feeling the residual effects of chocolate overload! The Easter Bunny was far too kind to us, and now I find myself apologising a lot.

Firstly, I’m sorry that the Easter Bunny gave V1 so many eggs, that he is now not allowed to eat. You see, the Easter Bunny forgot that V2 is too little for eggs so he was generous enough to bring them all for V1 (Sorry V2, you’ll understand next year!) Sorry that I was so short tempered with him when I had let him eat far too many. Sorry that I listened to myself when I said “hey it’s Easter, it’s just one day”. Sorry that for him the word egg now automatically means chocolate. Not the yummy runny things we used to have for breakfast each day. It was cute while he lined them up in a row and counted them, and made snakes and trucks out of the line. But as the line got steadily shorter, so did our tempers as his energy levels increased exponentially. There was only one thing coming. A pretty big crash. It came. It conquered. And now we are left to pick up the chocolatey withdrawal pieces.

If there was one thing that came off the excess of Easter eggs, seeing V1 unwrap the first of all the eggs and give it to me. Then seeing him unwrap the second of all of the eggs and give it to Grandma. And finally seeing him unwrap the third of all of the eggs and give it to Grandpa. He is such a lovely little soul (It’s possible he also knew he had the equivalent of his body weight in eggs to get through and was daunted by such a task! But he has been known to selflessly give away his last smartie, so let’s go with the former.

Secondly, I’m sorry to my husband for hiding the rest of our Easter eggs (after eating just one more, of course). If V1 can’t have them, neither can we. Perhaps when we’re really good (or when my willpower fails, yet again) I will ‘find’ them for us!

Thirdly, sorry to the new puppy. In all the chocolatey excitement it seems Horus (the new puppy) was completely overlooked and he didn’t get anything from the Easter Bunny. Not even a non-chocolatey healthy snack. Something tells me he enjoyed all of the extra attention from the family (despite the fairly lengthy car ride to get there!)

Fourthly, sorry to my work. The excitement of family visits, packing, unpacking, repacking and the seventeen loads of washing that come with travelling (big shout out to my better half for doing most of them for me!) has meant not enough emphasis has been paid to getting ready for my return to work. I know we will get there in the end (and the oodles of Easter eggs that remain will help keep the endorphin levels steady as I drop one unhappy child to daycare while telling her big brother to sing to her when she gets sad, and embark on the commute that I haven’t done for over a year).

And finally, sorry to my book. It was dragged in and out of bags and cars all weekend with vague optimism that I would get to read it. In fact it was only opened enough for V1 and V2 to lose my pages, which incidentally happened more times than the number of pages I have actually read. I even went so far as to put it next to me on the couch while I slept. Maybe I absorbed some during my nap. Either way, it was within easy reach for V1, V2 and the dog. But I can promise it will get the attention it deserves when I return to work – the ‘quiet’ train trip will be a blessing in disguise!

Since we are talking about chocolate and being too busy to get things done, I should apologise to the softer parts of my post baby body. You are about to get softer. Sorry for the amount of chocolate I have eaten, will eat and will eat after knowing full well, that I am well full. (Does eating it faster mean less calories?)

Finally, I’ve Finished a Book!

Since this blog is supposed to be about reading the Books on the Dymocks 2017 Top 101, I’m so glad I can finally write about the first one I’ve finished.

Book 1: We Were Liars (E. Lockhart)

This was such a great start to reading all of the books on the 101.

If you read nothing else of the post, the take away is this one is definitely worth the investment of time (and it’s nice and short so shouldn’t take too much of it!)

When I picked this as one of the first books I’d read from the list I hadn’t heard anything about it. I didn’t really get into the book until halfway, but that was largely my fault as I found myself reading only snippets here and there in very short snatches of time I was able to find (so I would recommend trying to get a good chunk into it to make sure it’s got you sucked in). It’s been a busy week on account of the better half writing off his motorcycle (not his fault and he’s very lucky to escape with only scratches and bruises!). On top of that, the new addition of a puppy to the family has definitely busied things up even more (I’m now picturing our family of 4 humans and one puppy living cosily in one bedroom of a three bedroom house each night for the next little while, given we all start out separately and end up in our room, mostly all of us in the one bed – perhaps we should just downsize the house!)

Back to the book. When I was almost halfway through the book, I thought it was just about the story of Cadence and her struggle to remember an accident she had during her 15th Summer on her family island with her mother, aunties, cousins and grandfather. She suffers debilitating health ramifications as well as almost complete memory loss following the accident and cannot recall any of Summer 15.  She struggles to understand why her family hasn’t kept in touch with her during her recovery and she is unable to visit the island for the next two years. When Cadence does finally return to the island, it seems a changed place. There is a new mansion after her grandfather rebuilt his house and her ‘Liars’ (actually her cousins and one nephew (Gat) of her almost Step Uncle) are acting just a little differently towards her. She spends her time trying to piece together her memory and how it relates to the actions of her family (particularly Gat, who she very quickly adores) around her, while they are treading carefully to not mention anything about Summer 15 (this is where is started to get intriguing).

At the halfway mark I realised there was a lot more going on in this story.  I had been struggling to be pulled in until this point, and then it was as if someone had pulled back the curtain and I was forced to finish the book in a single sitting as I simply couldn’t put it down – forget sleep (this was night two with the puppy – If only I’d known that the first night of having the puppy at home and his lack of whining and crying during the night was just a fluke, I would have attempted to bank some sleep!) . Her Liars became so much more complex and their group dynamic completely drew me in. Sitting here now thinking about it, the relationships and discussions Cadence explores as part of her attempt to recover her memory give me goose bumps. What she uncovers during the course of the 17th Summer on the island is astounding. Not just the actual facts of her accident, but what she learns about the individual natures of her cousins, aunties and how they really treat each other when under financial stress.

One key theme resonated with me: how children act when they are expecting to inherit their future financial security. Like many families, they maintain a facade of happiness but as it becomes clear their inheritance is not guaranteed, their bickering increases exponentionally and they soon become so desperate they attempt to force the cousins to manipulate their grandfather according to their mothers’ will. They were greedy, desperate and often untruthful – perhaps that’s where the title is derived (I finished the book ultimately unsure as to why Cadence groups her cousins as her ‘Liars’). They begin to tear their own family apart all in the pursuit of easy money. It was an interesting read to see how the strains and stresses of the mothers can affect their children. Sometimes parents can use their children for particular gain – be it intentional or unintentional and in this book, we really see just how devastating the ramifications of these bad behaviours can be for kids – I suppose many of us are guilty of this but if it gets more serious than utilising a screaming child to jump a toilet queue – that’s a problem!

Just to reiterate – Hang in there on this one – it’s well worth it !

When You Really Want to Take a Sickie

Though there are pros and cons of soon having to return to work, today reminded me of some of the differences between performing the job of Mum and the job which pays the bills. By 7am I was desperately thinking of how on earth I could call in sick. NB: I haven’t returned to paid job yet. I don’t go back until later in April. I really needed to call in sick for my job as Mum. Sounds horrible, I know. But I’m not ashamed to admit that sometimes you just know you are going to have one of those days. And with that attitude, the job really is unrelenting since a negative attitude will always influence the day.

It’s not every day I refer to it as a job. The majority of days it’s my privilege, pleasure, and joy to look after the kids (and the minor hiccups each day, are in fact just hiccups!) However, today started out somewhat differently to those days.

I should have been rested after a lovely weekend away in the mountains with my better half, V1 and V2. We stayed with our family in a lovely refurbished convent with lots of grass for V1 to roll around on and numerous breakable antiques for V2 to set her sights on (aside from some artistic doodling applied to a cupboard and a little spew down a lovely looking fabric upholstered – eek – chair, it was a relatively incident free weekend!). Looking back on the weekend I can see with only the clarity that hindsight brings that I consumed far too much alcohol, slightly too much good food, the perfect amount of good company and not nearly enough chocolate. Chocolate deficiency aside, it was a lovely weekend and I was relaxed enough to happily sacrifice my reading time (hence why I’m not talking about the book I’m only sadly 50 pages into!). I ambled casually by myself for almost two hours through Leura Mall and supported the local economy with some small purchases including a well chosen gift for my better half, which he actually liked – well done me!

So, my mood took a hit and was replaced by dismay when this morning V2 was still insisting on rising at 4.30am, three mornings after the end of daylight savings. I should also point out a pointless pre-bedtime argument with my better half was lingering in my mind and therefore created an environment conducive to anger and negativity when coupled with the early hour. Sadly, having forgotten to change the clock in the bedroom, my better half tried to help out with our little rooster. I heard the beep of the microwave as he heated her breakfast and her screams amplify when someone other than me, entered her room. She was quickly put back into bed after a quick cuddle, however she was rather unimpressed about her false start to the day.

When 6am finally rolled around and she was still not back asleep, we all gave up and rose. When 7am arrived and mid nappy change, V1 strolled casually into V2’s room to advise he had spilled my coffee I gave up hope for redeeming the day. I reconsidered the wisdom of my decision to drink my coffee for enjoyment instead of in the usual three gulp fashion mothers have made so fashionable. I’m fairly sure the freshly cleaned fabric sofa bed was reconsidering the wisdom of my decision too. I then spent the next 15 minutes multitasking:

  • task 1 involved scrubbing the fabric
  • task 2 involved cultivating anger at myself, instead of V1, for allowing the situation to happen where he was given the chance to spill!
  • task 3 involved being almost overcome by extreme guilt at the anger I initially directed towards V1 when I knew pure and simple this was my fault.

As many of you know, guilt and anger are time hungry emotions. They sucked up a large portion of the early morning rendering me incapable of active participation in the kids’ play for a significant portion of the morning, supporting my initial idea that a ‘me’ day would have been appropriate for today. After all, I wouldn’t head in to the office and sit at my desk doing essentially nothing but observing. Since this wasn’t an option (despite my better half’s kind offer of doing a half day so I could at least take a half!) I researched my other options.

Option 1. Bury angry and guilty head in a giant bowl of fried carbohydrates.

There were a few problems with this. It was 7am. It would render the diet useless. And since it’s only day 1 after a few too many off days, it’s probably too early for a cheat day. The main hurdle however was that I don’t have anything fried in the house, it was raining and I was still in my pyjamas.

 Option 2. Make another coffee

I couldn’t bear the thought of this on being knocked over so I scratched this one quickly.

      Option 3. Start the day over

Stop throwing myself a pity party (after all, I was the only one in attendance). Be positive, head outside with V1, watch him ride the bike, take in some fresh air, listen to the birds and try to start the day again while V2 finally decided to sleep.

I went with Option 3 (after shedding a few therapeutic tears), which also included a bought coffee while making a trip to town before soccer as well as, rather embarrassingly (or resourcefully, you decide!), devouring the haloumi out of the mini haloumi pastry puffs purchased for V1. It’s not technically a carb – please don’t correct me, I know the argument is tenuous at best – so I enjoyed every mouthful of cheesey goodness without even lamenting the lack of pastry. (It now seems I managed to find a solution which involved an element of all three of my options – that’s efficiency for you!)

Since then we’ve had a few hurdles for the day (my washing outside has now been wet and dry three times because of Sydney’s marvellous ability to showcase three seasons in one day) but nothing we couldn’t overcome. And I certainly will not complain – the kids are performing the miraculous and occasionally mythical synchronised napping and I have a quiet moment to myself (and I remembered an open packet of Lindt balls under the bed that V1 had already made a dent in when we weren’t looking so I can resolve the chocolate deficiency!) Goodbye diet and hello day continually getting better ! A switch to a positive attitude, admitting a few tears is sometimes helpful, and being a little kinder to myself has certainly paid off and made a less than inspiring beginning to the day fade into memory. And the sun is now out again so the next load of washing might stand a chance at drying.

Now I will capitalise on both V1 and V2 being so exhausted from the morning’s exertions and attempt to get at least another 50 pages into my book!

 

A Kid-free Trip to Dymocks

As you know, my last trip book shopping was somewhat eventful as V2 decided to snap a carrot, as my sister would say, right as I decided to commence the slow browse. So this time I decided to make the trip kid-free and see if I had some more success.

In my previous trip, the usual peace and tranquillity of being in a giant room filled with books quickly evaporated as I rushed through the shop, tossing books into the pram I had usefully bought along to use as a trolley (since V2 wouldn’t have a bar of sitting in it). All while she attempted to back flip and roll out of my arms as I loaded each of the books onto the counter, only then realising most were ‘off list’ purchases – aahh impulse buying. (Inevitably amidst the chaos of V2, I forgot the Gruffalo’s Child which resulted in a very unimpressed V1. He was quickly placated by the SIKU construction truck gift pack I didn’t even realise you could buy in a bookstore!)

For this trip the day started a little poorly, if i’m honest, which didn’t bode well. V2 smashed most of her weetbix out of my hand, consistently wiped the contents spilling from her nose across her face (great timing for her top teeth to commence their descent!) and then threw her water bottle into my near full coffee cup nestled safely under my chair (she’s got skills). Let’s just say when I dropped her and V1 off at her very first practise run away from me today for a couple of hours, my hopes were sitting safely around the low to middle bracket of having time to get everything done.

I must admit the anxiousness about the tears I knew she would shed (and the subsequent tears I knew V1 would shed in sympathy – he’s such a good big bro) did put a slight dampener on things. This was quickly followed by something only akin to incredulousness at how she went to the carer so easily (or was it disappointment?), no tears or anything while I was in sight. Was my anxiousness about today all in my head? Did I actually want her to cry and miss me horribly? Would I and my worries be vindicated later in the day?

As the passing of time would only answer that for me, I headed to the shops, somewhat lacking in my usual dose of caffeine but instead armed with a long shopping list and my efficiency hat (metaphorically for the latter of course). I managed a rather peaceful trip to twice as many stores as I would with kids in tow, and most notably a relaxing trip through Dymocks to pick some books from the new 101.

Since deciding to read through the list out of order, I decided to start with three that I haven’t read. I’ll then return to those I have already read as I near the end of the list! After a quick browse through the shelf, I walked out with three new additions to the collection. I haven’t read a thing about them, other than the fact that lots of other Dymocks readers voted for them so I’m excited to start and discover a gem or two. (The trip also saw me locate the much anticipated very own copy of Gruffalo’s Child (Julia Donaldson) so V1 will be very excited when he wakes!)

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As my reading time today will be slightly curtailed given I had to collect both V1 and V2 before making it home (she had sobbed herself to sleep in the carer’s arms but she appears unscathed and happy as anything up on returning home!), I best get cracking. This, combined with the good news (I think) that the TV may in fact be fixed today, means goodbye extra reading time unless I can convince all parties in the house to leave the noise box switched off during the evening. That argument will keep and now as both V1 and V2 dream of dummies and fluffy sheep respectively, I’ll say eeny, meeny, miny moe (if that is in fact how you spell it) to pick which one will fill this rainy afternoon nap time.