Monday, May 05, 2014

The Ups and Downs of a Life More Than Half Lived

At the beginning of the year I posted 45 things I wanted to achieve in my 45th year circling the sun. If you've been following my blog you'll know I got off to a flying start and achieved quite a lot in the first two months. And then, suddenly, thanks to writing, uni and general stuff, I slowed down. Well, I'm happy to say that this week I unexpectedly managed to find the time and circumstances to cross another three off my list.

18. Clean out the walk in robe. 

To be honest, I hate making goals regarding cleaning. Keeping the house neat and tidy should come naturally to any house wife, shouldn't it? Shouldn't it? It doesn't come naturally to me. I hate cleaning and can always think of something I'd rather be doing, such as playing with my kids or reading or writing or...well, really, that's it. Also, I'm now married to a man who'd rather see me happy and relaxed with the kids rather than cleaning and handing out orders to the family, so he actively dissuades me from housework. I love that there's no pressure to Get Things Done, but at some point I begin to notice just how much it's built up and suddenly everyone is given a tea-towel and a spray bottle and told to get into it.

Last Wednesday was that day. Lee had spent the weekend painting Connor's school-room. We had put everything from that room into our bedroom, so as the painting came to an end and the various items removed back to their appropriate place, I once more began to notice just how bad the walk-in robe really was.

So, I grabbed a chair, placed it in the middle of the robe and made a thorough survey.

It was worse than I thought.

I had an hour before school started, so I called the kids in and between us we emptied the robe out. We were half way through when Erin had to leave. By this time I was sniffling and wheezing, so took this as my cue to ingest a hayfever tablet. It didn't help. I spent the rest of the day removing items, dusting them, dusting shelves, making decisions regarding what would be kept, thrown or given away. Piles were created, then dealt with. I vacuumed, I sprayed, I wiped, I put back. By the end of the day I was exhausted, but it was done. The walk-in room was spotless.

Here's the down part. I ended up with dreadful hayfever that I couldn't control. I had to double up on the dosage it was so bad. By Thursday I had what felt like the beginning of a sinus infection, tinnitus and asthma. Ventolin and two days of colloidal silver have seen off the infection and asthma, but the tinnitus remains.

But at least it's done and (ahem) dusted.

Our room is not normally like this. This was how it looked when everything from the robe was removed. Honest.

After. I love my robe. I'd say about 85% was removed and either thrown or given away.

Which leads me to:

25: Declutter 45 things from the house. 

This was accomplished without me even noticing at first. It was as I was marking off #18 that I happened to look down the list and notice this one. I'd already decluttered 28 items at that point, so the disposal of old magazines, kid art, old shoes, outgrown clothes, tatty handbags and other paraphernalia (including two wedding dresses) brought the total up and over the 45 mark. The bonus of that was a great feeling. What wasn't so great was opening the bag to my wedding dress and finding it covered in yellow and brown stains. I was hoping to sell both dresses, but in the end mine has to go to the Sammies. I'm not paying to dry-clean something I'll never wear again, so off it goes.

It's time to let go of the past and hold onto the present whilst exploring the future. My dress from my wedding to Lee. 

And, finally, the loveliest goal reached this week:

29: Play a full game of hopscotch with the children.

This was one of those unexpected moments that make life that little more golden. Lee and I had decided a weekend break was in order. The kids were desperate to try archery, so we decided on Toodyay, a town we'd often passed through to visit my Mum, but one we'd never seen properly. We did some research and found that the Moondyne Festival was coming up. Connor and I had covered Moondyne Joe (local bushranger and convict) in our lessons on WA history, so this all seemed to coincide nicely. We saved up our money, made our reservation and then, on Saturday morning, left on our trip.

It was fantastic. Lee and I have created a very strong and loving family unit with all our children, but what we have with the Battkids is really special. The four of us make a core unit that has faced, weathered and defeated some pretty big storms. Erin and Connor think nothing of holding hands while walking together and so that was us in Toodyay, being a family of tourists, the kids walking together with Lee and I arm-in-arm behind.

Armed with nothing but our good humour we arrived at the Archery Park and announced ourselves as absolute beginners whose only claim to experience was watching The Hunger Games. We were given a basic lesson, given our bows and arrows and told to go off and enjoy ourselves. And so, we did.

I have to admit, I was really nervous about Connor. My darling boy has the best personality in the world, but he is given to bouts of stupidity. Yeah, he mucks around and plays the fool. No, don't tell me it's a boy-thing. I have two other boys and they're not on the same scale of silliness as Connor. I was fully expecting to have to be on Connor's back throughout the entire excursion, pulling him up, reminding him how to behave.

I needn't have worried. Connor was excellent. Erin was also excellent, but then Erin's behaviour is always of merit. We knew she'd be fine. Connor's brilliant behaviour was an added bonus. At the end of our time I could only compliment my two wonderful children on their amazingness (yeah, it's a word. My kids prove it.)

Anyway, on we went to Toodyay. We had a lovely time touring the town, eating out, eating at the van, eating in the car. One of the rangery-types at the caravan park lit a bonfire and encouraged the kids to feed it while we sat back and enjoyed the show and a bottle of wine.

Sunday came and with it the Moondyne Festival. I won't go on about how great it was, except to say that we enjoyed it very much. At the end of the day we toured the Toodyay Gaol where Moondyne Joe was kept for part of his incarceration. As it was festival time, they'd made it an interactive experience with games and dressing up. One of the games on offer was hopscotch. The kids begged me to play. They didn't have to beg too hard. I told the kids the rules and away we went.

Obviously I'm not in any of these pictures because I was taking the photos. Lee may have one which I'm sure he'll blog at some point. Meanwhile, here are pictures of my kids. Because I love them.

The Toodyay Gaol people put on an amazing experience for families. Well done! 

You can find more photos of the Gaol (including Erin and Connor) at the Facebook page 

It was one of the best half-hours of the weekend. We threw our rocks, we hopped, we cheated. It was wonderful. Some of the better goals I've achieved have centred around enjoying myself with my family, particularly my kids. Which brings me back to my original point. Don't fret about housework. Spend more time with your kids. In 20 years Erin and Connor will remember jumping squares with their Mum, not that she kept the bathroom clean. Do what is right for you and the people you love. The rest will follow in its own time.

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