Friday, January 28, 2011

Carry on Camping

So we have survived our first major holiday as a family of five, traveling to the South Island for five days to visit friends and relatives.

We’ve been away overnight before, but this was the first trip that involved aeroplanes, hire cars, extensive lists and camping grounds. It was excellent practice for future tent-camping holidays, as we stayed in cabins, where you have a proper bed, walls and a roof; table, chairs and proper plates and cutlery.  We had to walk about 10 yards to the toilet, kitchen and showers, but that was all under cover, so it was no hardship and gave us a good indication of how the kids would cope with a small area to live, eat, play and sleep in, without the extra hassle of leaking canvas and lumpy groundsheets.

The girls had a great adventure, as the park we stayed in had a massive playground, a trampoline and lots of interesting-looking people coming and going.  The baby crawled determinedly towards the door at every opportunity as if to say “you can’t keep me here, I’m Steve McQueen”.  They all played very well, and as we were out and about most days, they didn’t have to be stuck in one place all the time.

We visited a few friends, but time was limited, so we had to restrict ourselves to the main people we went to see (the childrens godparents) and people on the way to other places.  We still didn’t see everyone though, so we are planning to do another trip for longer in order to properly catch up with all the new marriages, births, builds and break-ups.

Weather down South was cold but sunny, we had a little bit of rain on the last day, but it came and went over lunchtime when we were warm and dry and stuffed full of chips and aioli (well it said aioli on the menu, but it was a spoonful of Hellmanns finest as far as I could tell).  We returned to major rainstorms and fields so wet the crickets have come inside to get out of the weather, so I think we got a good deal there.

Tareka is trying very hard to get as much time off in January next year as possible, so we’re hoping we can do a big road trip south before the end of the school holidays.  We have a huge tent already, so this year I am going to be slowly gathering camping supplies.  I already have 2 nice storage boxes labeled “camp bathroom” and “camp kitchen” and I am filling them with appropriate items such as soap, shampoo, tin openers, corkscrews and earplugs.  I think I may also need a “camp laundry” and a “camp bedroom” box.

The idea of the boxes is very simple.  Once they are filled with all the trappings needed for camping under canvas, we should (theoretically) be able to just pack clothes, tent and boxes into the trailer and set off on an adventure.  No lists, or major planning, just pack and go.

I’ll keep you posted…

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Mandarin and Mukluks

I have made a very good start on my resolutions so far.  I have started running 2-3 times a week, currently doing 15 minutes of interval training where I walk for a minute then jog/run for a minute.  I have managed to keep it up with Tareka at work, although it is harder to focus when the girls are fighting and the baby has woken up and started shouting.

I am also the sort of person known in New Zealand as “rip, shit or bust”, in that I go all out to do something, then burn out and give up just as quickly.  I am fighting the urge to try and run hard out for the full 15 minutes, as I know I won’t manage it, and I will end up not running at all.  I am also impatient to see results in the waistband area, and I have to keep telling myself that the running is for my MENTAL health, any fitness gain or weight loss is secondary to keeping me sane.

I have also managed to keep up with the photo a day.  This has not been especially difficult so far, as I tend to take pictures every day anyway, the trick this time has been to choose a good one, or take pictures of things that might be interesting to other people.  I have also tried to be a bit more arty in the composition of some of the pictures, but they are showing a very good snapshot of a year in our life so far.  It will be interesting to see how I go once school starts back up and I have a regular routine going on, it will be good for making me notice the beauty in each day I think.

As for the resolution to learn a new language, I bought myself Rapid Chinese from Earworms and have been listening to it every night, and when I am running.  So far I can order a coffee, a tea or a beer; say thank you and you’re welcome; count to 10 and potentially to 99 as the numbering is very simple.  I am really enjoying trying to learn a tonal language too, as I have never attempted it before.  The words and sounds are so alien to me, but it’s almost like singing, and I find myself just enjoying muttering odd Mandarin phrases to myself when I am out and about.

I may end up like this bloke if I’m not careful….MUKLUKS!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Running to stand still

The garden is sprouting away like mad, so we’re getting a good feed of veg fresh out of the ground on a daily basis.  Tareka has moved the old shed into place ready to be converted into a chicken coop and we have made space for a greenhouse/plastic house that we are due to collect sometime before the weather turns cold and wet.

The land is cracked and dry and the poor farmers are worrying about their cows.  Our FLF (friendly local farmer) had a gorse fire just next to his paddocks down the road from us just recently, and it burned through a couple of his water lines.  The poor coo-beasties were a mite thirsty for a couple of days, til he and Tareka got up the hill to fix it.

As for me, I have had my first session of the new year with my psychologist and it was most productive.  First of all she blew all my pros for avoidance out of the water by pointing out that they simply weren’t true.  I was convinced that avoiding issues that caused me stress would prevent pain, guilt, blame and distress for all parties, and she said very simply that this was just not true, as the people involved still had those feelings purely because the issues had been avoided and not resolved!  She’s right too.

I also discovered that I avoid confrontation, or even talking frankly with people because I am afraid that they will think I am a horrible person for being open and honest.  I am sure that underneath my attempts to be normal, I am a nasty, selfish, ungrateful, spiteful, evil being and I need to squash that being with all my strength to prevent it getting out and upsetting someone.  The times it has got out and I’ve said something in the heat of the moment, I have upset people, and this has served to strengthen the idea that I need to avoid confrontation to prevent it.  The trouble is, it takes a lot of mental strength to hold that little monster in, and it makes me very sick when I do, both mentally and physically.

Moving to New Zealand and being part of Tareka’s family has introduced me to people who let the little monster out now and then.  Tareka’s family argue and fight and say mean things, but then once the initial shouting is done, everyone seems to feel better and then make jokes about the thing that annoyed them.  It’s almost like allowing a small, controlled explosion to prevent a massive nuke being detonated.  They also do not hold grudges, or go over and over the problem, other than to turn it into a joke and all laugh at each other (and themselves).

I discovered, when living with the in-laws while we built our house, that it was OK to be grumpy and snippy sometimes.  My mother-in-law would either sympathise, or ask me if I was looking for a fight and laugh; my father-in-law would deliberately annoy me until I lost my temper and then he’d giggle like a schoolboy and break the tension, then he’d buy me chocolate; my brother- and sister-in-law would tactfully leave me alone til I was feeling better.

I was saying to the psychologist that this is fine with people who don’t take offense or take everything to heart, but how do I deal with it when I snap at someone and then they feel bad forever about it.  She pointed out that pain is a subjective feeling; unless you stab someone with a knife you cannot cause them pain unless they choose to feel it.  She also said that I can be honest and frank without it sounding like I am attacking someone.  I said that I didn’t have time to think when I snap at people and she said you have time to go and splash water on your face, or hide in the toilet til you are calm.  She has a point and I will try that tactic in future.

Finally she has given me some practical steps to take to improve my own mental well-being, increase my inner strength and help me break down some of my negative thought processes.  First of all I have to start running regularly, and I need to make sure that I have no excuses for not running.  I have to fit my life around the run, not fit the run into my life. 
  Second, I have to start some form of meditative exercise like yoga, tai chi or meditation again.  This I can do as I studied both yoga and tai chi, and with a little help from YouTube I am sure I can remember the sun salutation and the form. 
  Finally, I have to list the advantages of open and honest communication.  My next session is at the end of January, so I will get writing.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Back in Black

Back in the UK, before I had children and waaaay before I became The Shape of a Mother, I read one of those terrible spam emails.  It was one of the ones with a tragic story and an insistence that the reader made life changes so that the tragic story was not about them next time.  For some reason, this one actually got through my cynical defenses and struck a chord with me.  It urged me not to save my best jewelry, perfume and undies for special occasions, and to make every day a special occasion by wearing them every day.  I decided there and then to find a perfume that suited me, put in my earrings and wear only matching underwear from that day forwards.

I kept it up for years.  I wore earrings, spritzed my pulse-points with Chanel Coco Mademoiselle every day and bought 4 new bras, each with 2 pairs of matching knickers.  It made a difference to my mood, strangely enough.  I felt more like I was taking care of myself, and felt more inclined to smile and stand up straight.  I was surprised at the change it made, and wondered why I had not done it sooner.

When we moved to NZ I kept it up til I got pregnant and my nice undies stopped fitting.  After the birth of my first child, I made a considerable effort to lose my baby weight within 1 year and got back into the nice undies and perfume, and I bought studs for my ears due to grabby baby-hands.
  Then came the second baby and I didn’t quite lose all the weight.  Then I ran out of Chanel and kept forgetting to ask people to bring me some when they came through duty-free. Then came the new house and the third new baby and I lost sight of myself for a while.

Now Tareka and I have decided that Hakopa is probably going to be our last child, he is about to turn 1 tomorrow and we have finished breastfeeding.  I have lost about half the baby-weight, but have a long way to go til I can fit all my nice undies again.  I may well not ever fit them again thanks to breastfeeding gifting me D-cup boobs which haven’t shrunk back to my pre-baby B-C cup size.  I have no more Chanel, but plenty of nice moisturizers and face cream and a jewelry box full of trinkets.

I am back in matching, non-maternity undies (not my fancy pants yet, but nice sets nonetheless) and I do my hair every day.  I have a little beauty routine about once a week and I am using the treadmill more and more.

Bring on your tragic spam emails, I’m ready to show the world who I am again.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Resolution 3

Project 365 - 1 photograph from each day of our lives over the year.