Saturday, 27 February 2010

What's that smell? Oh, love is in the air.

Hello there!

Today is a special day for me as it is our (Tomas and I, that is) 7 year anniversary. Seven years sure has flown by pretty quickly, but we've crammed a good deal of living and adventuring in between those quiet moments shared together on the couch channel surfing or absorbed in the screens on our respective laps.

The very first time I laid my eyes on him I was intrigued. I was 10 years old and he was the new boy in class. He had super thick, straight, long, straw coloured blonde hair. It was like nothing I had ever seen before. To this day I cry EVERY time he shaves his head, which is pretty much his standard haircut these days, so there are a lot of tears in our house...

...but he is used to my tears. Used to my tears, my rants, my undies left on the bathroom floor, my constant need for a lift somewhere, my anal placement of tins in the cupboard, teabags in the caddy, my clothes on the bedroom floor, my wool everywhere, my voracious appetite for food and the tears and grumpiness that accompany my lack of it, my hypocrisy, my reluctance to brush my teeth each night before bed, my inability to end an argument in anything other than tears, my penchant for British television, my stinky armpits, my hairy eyebrows, my insensitive bashing of his Catholic upbringing, my daily chocolate desires, my late nights and long sleep ins and my grey hairs and he suffers it all with never a harsh word but always an open and forgiving heart.

So, I'm a pretty spoilt and lucky lady really, wouldn't you say?!

Here's what my Swedish darling left on the kitchen bench for me to discover this morning when I got up -

It's nice to say it with flowers! Even if your Swedish isn't very good, you still get the message!

Allow me to indulge myself further here, with a little film Tom made for me...
It's my 'world' apparently, according to him. My world involves living in a terrarium that kind of looks like the surface of the moon. It also involves no makeup and messy hair, so, be I certainly wasn't when I was unwittingly being filmed!

I hope that wherever you are today someone gives you a hug and tells you that they love you. Because they do! If that hasn't happened though, don't fret - I guarrantee someone is thinking about doing it! And if you don't believe me then feel free to give me a call, I'm awfully good at hugs and declarations of love. Maybe it's my welcoming bosom (everybody needs a bosom for a pillow), long arms or powerful grip, I don't know, but trust me, I rock at hugs.

Happy weekend, remember to breathe deeply and inhale the love in the air! xx

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Julie Andrews, my new job mentor

Yes that's right, you read correctly, I finally have a new job. (But no, it's not as a nun. However, Julie Andrews is crucial to my skill set.) Hence the absence from blogging - I've been in training and it has been so exhausting learning all the new skills I will need that I come home and hit the sack immediately, too tired to even turn on my computer. Sorry Internets, I missed you dearly, will you ever forgive me?!

When I was made redundant before Christmas last year I knew that it was a chance for me to change the path I was on - to grow, learn and fill my days with a job that made me feel good about myself, made me feel alive and didn't leave me wondering if I could call in sick every morning. But even that 'chance' was sort of stressing me out. I couldn't find any jobs advertised that I liked, that I felt I could be passionate about. I was really getting worried that my window of opportunity was closing, money was running out and decisions had to be made. I couldn't just stay home watching Midsomer Murders and Come Dine with Me all day and chatting on twitter, apparently.

Now, I LOVE The Office. I just hate working in one. I can't stand office politics, micro management, petty infighting, jealous co-workers, no pay rises despite working hard and deserving them, getting promoted without a pay rise due to the lame excuse of economic hard times, food court lunches, eating lunch at your computer because no one takes a lunch break, doing unpaid overtime practically every day, getting no recognition or praise for your efforts, wearing boring smart casual office clothes and performing mind numbing work that sucks your will to live.

I know we all have to pay our bills somehow, but I never imagined that I would have to work in an office to do this. I don't know what I imagined exactly, maybe I never really thought it through - I just know that the past 3 years of working in an office have left me rather bruised and reluctant to return. So when the chance to do something completely different came up, I decided to grab it with both hands.

This was the job ad -

"If you want this choice position
Have a cheery disposition
Rosy cheeks, no warts!
Play games, all sorts

You must be kind, you must be witty
Very sweet and fairly pretty
Take us on outings, give us treats
Sing songs, bring sweets

Never be cross or cruel
Never give us castor oil or gruel
Love us as a son and daughter
And never smell of barley water

If you won't scold and dominate us
We will never give you cause to hate us
We won't hide your spectacles
So you can't see
Put toads in your bed
Or pepper in your tea
Hurry, Nanny!"

Well actually, I've grabbed this chance with one hand and the other is multi-tasking. Say hello to the new Sara, part time nanny and freelance writer extraordinaire.

Who would hire a 27 year old with relatively no experience with children to look after their 5 month old baby boy 3 days a week? My sister-in-law Sara would. Bless her for believing in me. And bless Austin, my darling nephew, for naming me his favourite Auntie. (He hasn't learnt to speak yet of course but when he does, we all know what he will say.)

It's a bit of a leap of faith for me really. It feels like a brave decision, for me, a bold move even. I've certainly felt some opposition to my decision...
"But you've got two degrees and first class honours in English, you've got loads of experience working in digital, what about your career?"
"Ew babies, gross. They cry a lot. And poo and stuff."
"Working for family huh? Hmm, that's tricky, I hope that works out for you..."

Well all of these statements may be true but where else would I find a job that allows me to sing all day long, like my life is a musical? Singing at meal times, sleep times, play times, happy times and sad times, I love to sing. And I mostly make up all my own words too, because I can't remember the words to most nursery rhymes and childrens songs for the life of me. I can wear whatever daggy old clothes I want because they are going to get covered in food, drool, milk and tears anyway. I get to nap several times a day! I GET PAID TO NAP! These are a few of my favourite things, people!

So I'm channelling Mary Poppins and Fraulein Maria for nannying advice because they are 'practically perfect in every way' and as I've seen those films a million times each I suspect that the Julie Andrews School of Childcare brainwashed me from an early age.

If you've got any pearls of wisdom about parenting, or auntying, or nannying to offer, I'm all ears.(Please, I'm begging you!)

And the freelance writing part? Well that's a whole different ball game. I was never very good at sports. But I do try. So 2010 is my year for trying new things. Wish me luck!

Monday, 8 February 2010

my love/hate relationship with Melbourne

I hate Melbourne for stealing my best friend Naomi. But I do love going to Melbourne to visit her.

You're awfully lovely Melbourne, with your delicious places to eat, dangerous places to shop and delightful art and crafty spirit. But you lose points for STEALING MY BEST FRIEND.

We spent a good week at the end of January down in Melbourne and it was a welcome break from my unemployed, house bound routine of late.

We ate the best jam donut I've had in a decade (also the only jam donut I've had in a decade), we had karaoke fun times at KBox (Gangsta's Paradise went down a treat, One Hand in My Pocket, not so much), indulged with yummy cake based brunches in Yarraville, amazing Ethiopian in Footscray, lots of late night gelato runs to Charlies, a drive in the country to Healesville with yummy olives and cider at the brewery there, we saw the mind blowingly talented Ricky Swallow exhibition at NGV, we watched the tennis on the tele, we had yummy BBQs with homegrown goodies, swims at Williamstown, homemade ginger beer, saw the wood chopping in Alexandria gardens on Australia day, played a thrilling game of bocci, tried to buy brie in Footscray Markets (rookie error, Footscrazy idea!), we thoroughly warmed Naomi and Anthony's new home, got a bit competitive over a finger sprint game on Naomi's iphone, hauled several tonnes of Bluestone on and off the back of a borrowed ute after some accidentally over zealous ebay bidding and we dined in a hurry due to a cranky waitress at Pellegrinos.

Here are some of the times I remembered to use my camera:

Thanks for a swell time Melbourne! You're tops!

I do however always feel terribly self conscious whenever I'm in town - not only is everyone is so good looking and well dressed but I'm always in constant fear of being ousted as a Sydneysider. Even Hitler hates on Sydney when in Melbourne. Every time I hop on a tram and wonder how to work the ticket machine I worry someone will realise I'm from Sydney. Can Melbournians smell fear? Do I have an accent that might give me away? A girl once asked Tom for street directions when he was standing outside a pub in Carlton, talking on his mobile phone - when he apologised and explained he was from Sydney, her reply was - WELL, YOU'RE COMPLETELY F#CKED THEN! Yes, it feels like it sometimes.

To the super trendy ladies casually dripping from head to toe with the latest indie fashion and design, I genuflect, then quickly step, out of your path. My eyes linger longingly on your shoes as you stride up Centre Place...

Oh Melbourne, why can't we be friends?! I'll be like Tai in Clueless, you can make me over.

Will this wonderfully geeky graffiti seen in Hosier Lane ever come true?

Thursday, 4 February 2010

handmade love

Thank you everyone for your kind comments about my tiny felt bunting and for sharing with me how you add a touch of handmade love to your gifts, I love them all! First impressions may count for something but I'm also pretty sure that in order for your gift to impact with a sucker punch to the heart then your best chance is to give something handmade.

I know making stuff is hard. (Well, it is for me.) It takes a super long time, always longer than you thought it would, it usually costs way more than if you'd bought a 'ready made' gift and often it doesn't turn out exactly perfect either, or like the vision you had in your head.

But these reasons (aside from the cost!) are what makes receiving a handmade gift up there with a big bear hug when you're feeling really down or a really sucessful therapy session. Handmade gifts are forged in the fiery furnace of love, people! That warm fuzzy feeling growing inside you is actually heat emanating from your handmade gift.

Why am I harping on about handmade love you ask? I'm probably preaching to the converted. You've probably been making amazing gifts for years and think nothing of it, it's just what you do. Well, you're amazing and I appreciate your efforts. I aim to be just like you one day - generous and thoughtful and talented. But have you ever found your handmade gift didn't receive the praise or appreciation that you were hoping for? How did you cope with that?

I love receiving handmade gifts. I was brought up by a ridiculously humble, super talented maker and every year of my life has been filled with handmade clothes, special birthday dresses, beenies, scarves, jewellery, endless handbags, nighties for me and matching ones for my dolls, dinosaur pjama pants stolen by numerous uni friends, teddie bears, blankets, blankets and more delightfully cozy blankets. My mum is a powerhouse of handmade love. Now it's just how our family operates - we make stuff for people we love.

Recently I was referred to as 'the eccentric aunt' by the father of my partner's 2 and a half year old niece. I've always make sure our presents for our niece are handmade, or at least partly handmade, because I thought it was important to carry the handmade torch, to share with her family the joy of handmade love and to show how much I care, but despite my efforts to connect with her she will barely say more than two words to us.

I was really upset by his comment. I interpreted it to mean that I was crazy, wacky, out of touch with reality and that my crappy handmade gifts would have been better received had they been Wiggles merchandise or store bought items. Maybe it means my colourful clothes or the flowers I wear in my hair don't make me look like a respectable adult. Whatever he meant - it made me feel like who I am and what I stand for weren't right and that was why our niece doesn't like us very much. And that made me sad.

A big grey storm cloud hung over my head and I just didn't feel like making stuff anymore.

A few weeks later, on a day that matched my miserable mood, I was surprised to find a parcel in the letterbox addressed to me. As I opened the parcel a gust of wind swept up behind me and hundred colourful spots danced around me on the wind. I gasped loudly, not knowing what they were at first, then laughed with delight when I realised it was crepe paper confetti and like a burst of tiny colourful balloons being released into the sky, this signified a momentous occasion, a special moment in my life.

Special doesn't begin to describe what was inside that parcel.

Kate, completely unbeknownst to me, had knitted me one of her special panda hats and sent me one on the sly. A complete surprise. For no special reason, other than the lady is filled with talent and love and generosity of spirit.

I actually burst into tears. Happy tears, of course. My tears of pain and sadness and self doubt were flushed out and replaced by happy, grateful, inspired, wonder filled tears. The best kind.

I'm certain that this is a magical hat and that whenever I wear it my spirit will be filled with strength, generosity and happiness and remind me of the power of handmade love and the importance of passing that love on.

I may be fragile, weak, childish, not particularly talented, flawed in many ways, eccentric even but at least I know that people will still share their handmade love with me. I couldn't think of anything more wonderful than that honour.

p.s If you'd like a panda hat of your own or for someone in need of a magical strength giving handmade gift, speak to Kate as she mentioned she might sell one in her etsy shop!
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