Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Two down. . .

***I wrote this post two and a half weeks ago, but I was in such a hurry that I forgot to post it!  Better late than never.

It is General Conference time again.  (Sigh.  I love General Conference.)  We ate cinnamon rolls, and  actually sat and watched all of the sessions with very few interruptions.  It's nice to have my children getting older.  For instance, last week we had the missionaries coming over for dinner and I also had to pick up Caleb from a play date.  You'd think pick up would only take a couple minutes, but I often find that "play date" here means "wine and cheese by the pool."  (No thank you, to the champagne, but I'd love a glass of water.)

 Actually, my one and only big complaint about Australia (besides the fact that everyone is driving on the wrong side of the road) is the alcohol.  Alcohol seems to be the language of hospitality here.  And though I don't drink, it doesn't bother me much to say no to a glass.  People are honestly trying to be nice when they offer me something to drink.  What I do have a problem with is children and alcohol mixed together.  Let's see, first there was the kindergarten disco where my son was handed a can of beer instead of a soft drink, and my friend's two year old got ahold of a can that was already open - he slept very well that night.  For the public school art night, every admission ticket came with a complimentary glass of wine.  Oh, and the school's family fun night:  all of the children went in a room for crafts and a sausage, while the adults stood around and drank.  (Family fun?)  At the last class parent rep meeting, one of the topics of discussion was how the school could get a liquor license for their next fund raiser.  When my daughter told me about the father's day gift this year, I made a pre-emptive strike so my husband would actually be able to bring his 3 lovely gifts home.  I brought sparkling grape juice to the school for the girls to put their hand painted wine labels on.  The saddest thing to me was listening in on a conversation where one mum was telling another that it was time to teach her 15 year old daughter how much alcohol she could handle.  I felt sick.  Australia would be a very difficult place to live as an alcoholic.  I'm glad I'll never have to deal with that. But just for the record, we have plenty of fun, laughter, and engaging conversation without the alcohol.  And now I'm really off on a tangent . . .
Emily's sparkling grape juice label from the Father' s Day breakfast.  

I went to pick up Caleb from a play date, said no to the champagne, swung by the grocery store to grab a few last minute ingredients for dinner with the missionaries, and came home to a perfectly clean kitchen!  My children (mostly Emily) had cleaned the kitchen and living room!  The magazines were even in a little row on the end table.   The floor was even swept.  I love having older children.
Speaking of older children, look who is almost taller than his dad.  

I also love having the missionaries over - especially this set, because one of them is family.  Sort of.  Shon's cousin's wife's nephew is serving in our ward.  Another tangent:  Elder Sio shared a bit of polynesian parental advice with our family.  When a parent asks you to do something, you have two options:  Do it, or do it sad. 
Here's Elder Thornton.  We just call him Elder Cousin.  Cuz for short.

But back to General Conference.  I feel so at home watching General Conference.  This particular one means our family has been in Australia for two years!  We moved here just a few days before conference, and in my jet lagged state, I woke up at 4 AM and watched it live on the internet.  (Because we are a day ahead of Utah, we end up watching General Conference a week later than the US.) 

We have learned a lot in the last two years. 

We have "learnt" to spell like an Aussie, whilst "practising" saying "Hache" and "Zede" in the alphabet (H and Z if you're confused.) 

I learned that I can indeed whip egg whites to a peek, with just a whisk. Our stuff took 3 months longer to get here than we had planned, so I had to learn to make do with what we had.  Ha!  I only thought I needed a mixer.  Seriously, try it.  It gives your fore arms quite the workout.

We learned that we really don't need plastic grocery bags.  After seeing dead turtles on the beach, and realizing how much easier it is to carry everything in with the big fabric bags, we, like the rest of Australia, have abandoned plastic bags.  Besides, they are just gross.  We have also abandoned paper towels.   Total waste.
There is a lorkeet on Caleb's head. 

We learned how to Surf!  That was fun.  Seriously, I love the beach.  How did I ever live without it? 

The kids learned to talk like an Aussie.  I am however stuck with my American accent (though I am frequently asked if I am Canadian - but I think most people who ask me this just can't tell the difference and know that Canadians don't like to be called Americans, but Americans don't really care.)  The two youngest are the best at turning their Aussie accent on and off.  It takes a few minutes after getting home from school for "mum" to become "mom." 
The family in Singapore.  Caleb is going to be an Elvis impersonator when he grows up.  

The biggest thing we have learned is that the world is very beautiful, and very small.  All those countries you see on the news, with tsunamis, earth quakes, and social unrest - they aren't so far away. 

We are all just neighbours, mate.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Reasons why I have nightmares. . .

Others have excuses, I have my reasons why. . . (cue music from Nickel Creek)

Hi my name is Juli.  I am a mother of five.  I heard that someone asked a large family once if they were all one family, or if they were on a picnic.  The mother replied that they were all hers and it’s no picnic. 

I agree.  It’s no picnic. 

I love my children.  I have always wanted five children.  When people asked me when I was little what I wanted to be when I grew up, I always said I wanted to be a mother and have five children.  I am very blessed to have the desires of my heart.  I love being a mother.  I am happy that I am the one that gets to raise my children, with my husband.  It is definitely a two person job.  But I was the one who breast fed them.  I rocked them to sleep when they cried in the night.   I folded their cute little socks – so little they sometimes got caught in the washing machine filter.   I took them to their first day of school.  I taught them to ride a bike (well, Shon did that.)  I “helped” make pinewood derby cars (the ones Shon "helped" with won, but not mine!)  This weekend I am taking my eldest to his first stake dance.  Sooner or later, I will take them to college or to the MTC.  I feel full of joy that I get to be the one to do those things for my family. 

But it is no picnic. 

I have this repeating night mare where I wake up sweating, thinking that I have forgotten something important.  Unfortunately, some times it isn’t just a dream.
Shon caught one of the penalty kicks.  

For instance, last week, Shon had to go out of town to New Zealand for work. (A trip that conveniently coincided with the Rugby world cup, I might add.)  I knew it would be busy.  Every night there were multiple things going on.  Wednesday Emily had early orchestra, I had cello lessons (which went horribly, I might add – I’m blaming it on the fact that I donated blood Tuesday morning and I spent the rest of the week feeling less than sharp), a class representative meeting, swimming lessons for the kids, volleyball practice for Bryce, softball practice for Emily, and something else I couldn’t quite put my finger on that I knew I hadn’t put in my calendar.   I also helped Emily make a skirt for a Personal Progress project, but we didn’t quite finish it.  She is supposed to wear it on Tuesday night. 

Thursday was equally bad:  ballet and jazz, a softball tournament for Emily, basketball practice for Bryce, and piano lessons for the younger children. 

Friday was an all day volleyball tournament for Bryce, an eye appointment for Sarah, and girls camp began for Emily.  Unfortunately the volleyball tournament was on the complete opposite side of the city from the girls camp.  I spent most of the afternoon driving.  Seriously, hours, and 6 trips over the Gateway bridge ($3.85 each way). 
Bryce loves volleyball.

Saturday was no better:   a primary meeting, followed by a basketball game and the rest of the volleyball tournament (from 1-7 pm) which I had to leave to pick up Emily from her camp (girls camp is only a one night deal here).  Unfortunately, it was raining hard, and I had a miscommunication with the leaders, so Emily was already home as I drove through the rain from Bryce’s volleyball tournament, missing his last game – the only one that they won, I might add. 

I might have been able to handle all of our activities, but I also had a talk to prepare for Sunday morning, hymns to learn for the organ, and the primary presentation to prepare for (I’m the music leader, and is the responsibility that stressed me out the most); and we have company coming from Singapore, which we are going to take on a holiday to the Whitsundays next week.  I am so excited for guests, and I love holidays, but getting 5 children ready, with school makeup work too, and a house to clean for our guests, is no easy task.  Whenever we go on vacation, I wonder if it is worth all the work.   

Sunday, Shon came safely home, in spite of the strike at Quantas.  He was a bit surprised at the state of the house, but I had only done the things that are absolutely necessary, like scrape the oatmeal off the floor.  My talk went well.  I prayed, worked hard on it during the volley ball tournament (I let the kids play video games between matches).  The primary practice went well!  I asked my friend to play the organ for me.  Sunday I was asked if I could help with a musical number on Tuesday that desperately needed a pianist.  I’m not the world’s greatest sight reader, so I said I would if I could find a couple hours to practice. 

Monday went something like this:  Student free day so the kids were all home, Emily had testing which I didn’t know about because I didn’t read the note at the bottom of the pile of papers I haven’t gotten to (which really annoys Shon), we mowed the lawn, took Bryce to the mall with friends, tried to find a friend for Sarah to play with, but she had fun doing the grocery shopping with me, picked up Emily, picked up Bryce, tried to clean house, had people over to my messy house (so embarassing) for a last minute practice of the song for Tuesday (which went horribly, I didn’t have time to practice, and it ended with them asking if I knew anyone else who could play the piano at the last minute).  I threw together dinner just as Shon came home to another messy house.  And the doorbell rang. 

So, back to my nightmare, where I wake up, my heart beating uncontrollably, as I try to figure out what I was forgetting. 

Shon had arranged for me and the kids to go to the H family's house and have dinner and help teach the discussions to their daughter.  

On Wednesday night.

He reminded me, twice.

Oh, and I told my friend J she could bring her kids over to my house while we went to the Year 8 Parent Information Night  (also written about in note on bottom of pile).  She remembered. I forgot, until the doorbell rang and she came to pick me up (me wearing jeans and an old t-shirt, though “Information Night” apparently means “wine and cheese on the terrace” at our school.) 

Oh, and I finally got around to checking my messages on my answering machine.  There is one from Luke H, politely asking if we are coming for dinner. 

And one from Sofiah’s mom asking if Sarah could come over and play.  (My heart broke.)

It’s Tuesday morning.  I know I should be practicing the song I have to play tonight, but can’t.  Or maybe I should be practicing the cello so I can redeem myself from my last lesson after which my teacher is wondering if I know how to read music.  Or maybe I should be up on the terrace, introducing new parents to each other at the new student orientation (I am the class parent representative after all.)  Or maybe I should be doing the horribly filthy laundry from girls’ camp (it was muddy), or putting the zipper in Emily's skirt she is supposed to wear tonight.  Or maybe I should be cleaning up the house from the past week, but I’m not.  Instead I am typing and hoping that writing about this will somehow make me feel better. 

And if it doesn’t make me feel better, perhaps it will make you feel better when you have a bad day, or two. 

Can I just say thank you?

Thank you to the H family for making dinner for 7 extra people (who didn’t show up) and for so graciously accepting my apology. 

Thank you to Shon for coming home.  I don’t know how single parents do it.

Thank you to my friend J who brought cute cookies with candy corn (our favorite American treat - seriously Bryce asked for a bag for his birthday!) and for waiting for me as I changed out of my grubby clothes. 

Thank you to the sweet sister in my ward who wrote me an email to say how much my talk helped her, that it was the answer to her prayers.  It made it all worthwhile. 

***Update:  I found an hour to practice and the musical number went flawlessly.  The spirit was very strong.  My next cello lesson was excellent and Emily never finished her skirt!