Saturday, May 28, 2011

How To Catch A Farmer

There is a strange phenomenon going on at the moment. City girls chasing country boys. I don't really get it, but it's certainly not for me to judge. If you haven't already read my blog "The Farmer Probably Just Wants a Shag" (and even if you have), then stay tuned. I'm not saying DON'T go looking for country boys - lets's face it, they are fit, cute, hard working, strong, quiet types - I'm just saying, make sure you read the fine print first.

I'm no expert. But I bagged a farmer and I wasn't even trying. Today this came to my attention. It's the latest blog by BushBelles, and it gives information about an event planning agency taking city girls out west to meet nice country boys. Please do yourself a favour single ladies, and check it out. There's also links in there with web pages and facebook pages to explain it all.

So if it's a farmer you are chasing... let me share with you what ten years of being around farmers has taught me.

CP is going to kill me for uploading this. But this is the handsome guy I fell in love with. Nawwwww!

These are generalisations, and certainly some farmers fall outside of the mould. But this is just what I have observed.

1. Many farmers AREN'T looking for another farm worker. Sure, it will be handy if you are the kind of woman who will pitch in. The kind of woman who will have a go. (And in fact, there are also farmers who really could use an extra set of hands on the farm, but I always argue that that is what the internet is for). But if you think that by slugging your guts out in the paddock in a tractor, or sticking your arm up the backside of a cow, he is going to be completely bowled over by you, then think again. Here's a little secret ladies... if you DO get out and do all those things, he's STILL going to expect you to go inside and cook him an awesome and nutritious meal as well. Which leads me directly to number 2.

2. Save yourself the effort and just stick to the kitchen if you want to fast track your way to a farmer's heart.
I'm not saying that every farmer's wife has to be the epitome of the 1950's housewife. I am far from that myself. But I'm just saying you don't have to put in a hard day in the paddock AND the kitchen to bag a farmer. The kitchen will be enough to do the trick. I should add, that if you are multi-skilled and can manage both quite easily, then go right ahead... but be aware that once your farmer realises you have talents in both fields, he will milk you for it at every possible future opportunity. And trust me when I say he won't return the favour in the kitchen. Every farmer loves a woman who can cook. Don't worry ladies if you are a fizzer in the kitchen. Your farmer will appreciate any kind of effort.

3. Make an effort to look nice, but be practical.
When I watch 'Farmer Wants a Wife' and see the ladies all rolling up in low cut dresses made of synthetic materials, exposing their navels to Australia and beyond; all the while tottering precariously on a set of stilletos, and brandishing two inch long fake nails... I kind of cringe. Don't get me wrong... I love my heels, my synthetic materials and fake nails as much as the next person, but there is a time and a place. Flannel is good - it has its place. Outside, in the sheep/cattle yards, on your bed in the winter etc. But wear what you are comfortable in, not what will make your boobs bigger than the next girls. Remember if it's a husband you want, you'll need more than nice cleavage to get to any milestones. If it's a shag you want, then showing your navel and boobs off will probably give you a headstart. When it comes to meeting his parents, natural fibres are always nice. (Incidentally, I didn't wear natural fibres, and I am constantly reminded of the impracticality of synthetics. But that's not my point). If you are meeting a farmer for the first time, he won't even be looking at your hair and nails. (Unless he is Farmer Charles from the last season... odd). He will be looking at your face, (and your boobs, but he's only human), and be trying not to make a complete an utter fool of himself throughout the conversation. Which leads me to number 4.

4. Have a few conversation starters planned.
Most farmers I know aren't the best conversationalists. Once you get to know them and they are comfortable with you, this is no longer an issue, but odds are on that your farmer will be even more shy and nervous than you are. So have a few little 'tid bits' handy to fill in the gaps. And here is my HOT TIP of the day.... make sure you know a little bit about the weather. It also helps if you have kind of done enough research to know about the weather in the location your farmer lives. If you initiate a conversation about the weather, the farmer will be temporarily blind sided, and then feel comfortble enough to launch into a 3 hour + spiel about farming and the climate and the weather itself. If you are still awake at the end of the 3 hours, you will know that you and your farmer will live happily ever after.

5. Be yourself.
Don't ever pretend to be a farmers wife before you actually are. You'll find that the farmer is so blown away by female attention, and will be naturally chuffed that he found someone so completely outside of his own gene pool, that he will just be loving you for YOU. Don't pretend to be a domestic goddess if in fact you aren't.  Don't pretend you like animals if you don't, don't think you need to be able to ride a horse if you can't. It will come back to bite you in the end. This is actually the most important point. If you can't be yourself, warts and all, you'll only be setting yourself up for disappointment. The night I met CP I had no intentions of ever hooking up with him. I had plans to go travelling (as did he) and it was nice to 'talk shop' with somebody else. There was no pressure.

6. First impressions count. And you only get one chance at it.
The night I met CP, I was wearing a tight fitting 3/4 length green and white top, navy blue fitted jeans and white skater sneakers. I know this because CP remembers it vividly. I remember what CP was wearing too. White footy training short, and a red footy shirt, white and red knee length socks with navy blue NIKE sandals. He needed a hair cut badly. But we spoke about traveling, and I was thoroughly impressed by how much he had done. Even more than that, we both walked away from the night thinking what a nice person the other one was, even though there were no dating plans on the cards at all.

Only picture of me in above mentioned green shirt (not very farm like at all)... still early days back then...
7. Laugh!
There is so much to be serious about these days. Especially where farms are concerned. And it's true that if you ARE having a good time, it will show in your face, and people are drawn to that. People want to surround themselves with people who make them feel good. Laugh and your farmer will laugh with you. And have fun. The farmer you are chasing might not be in Wagga Wagga or Tamworth. So perservere, and have a ball in the process!

A quick footnote!
 I just asked CP what he thinks is the most important quality in a potential wife, and he said “someone who fits in – not a square peg in a round hole”. I then asked how I made the cut, as I was most definitely a square peg in a round hole. CP responded with, “I guess desperation does funny things to a person…”

Typical CP response…

Good luck ladies! Apparently even desperation will be enough… but hopefully you bag yourself something a little more substantial than that!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

How To Survive On A Farm (Tips From Someone Who Knows Nothing About It). Part 8: Find a Drinking Partner, ahhh, I Mean FRIEND...

Ten years ago I moved to St George knowing NO ONE. Not a soul. And NO THING, (nada, nil, zip) about the bush. Ten years on, I can't imagine myself anywhere else. Okay, that is a blatant lie. I still hope and pray that CP will wake up one day dreaming of THIS - ocean as far as the eye can see, and shopping centres every few kilometres. But since I know that he will die before that will happen, I repeat, I can't imagine myself anywhere else.

Luckily for me, I've picked up a few very good local friends along the way. This is CRITICAL in making the country your HOME. So in no particular order, and in no particular portrayal of the truth, I have categorised some of the important people in my life. They know who they are. XXX.

1. The Drinkers / Girls Weekenders.
It is essential that you find someone who you can just rock up at their house with a bottle of Omni Blue, a packet of Barbeque rice crackers, cut up kabana and a Hummus dip and know that they will not only welcome you openly, and help you consume way too much of above mentioned food and beverages, but also feed the three children you've had to drag over there with you if your stay extends into meal times. The drinking buddy is important because they don't make you feel guilty about anything. You will mostly turn to the drinking buddy when you need to escape your house. This could be because the children / husband / work / weather / cat or dog is getting on your nerves, or it could be because you need to return the mail that was wrongly left in your mailbox. It could also be that you feel bad eating a whole kabana on your own, or drinking a bottle of Omni on your own, and need someone to appease your guilt.

This type of friend is also up for either a girls trip away or 'weekender'. They will come / organise a few days away with just the girls. It involves fake tans, having nails and hair and make up done, watching movies, getting dressed up and shopping. And no children. Or husbands.

PS: Logistically speaking, it helps if at least one of your drinking buddies is also your neighbour. But we can't always have everything. (Unless of course, you're me.)

2. The Cavalry.
This is the person you go to when you need urgent and immediate help in any shape or form. These friends are real gems, because mostly you don't even have to go to them. They just know when to find you. The Cavalry are easily identified at such key moments in your life as pregnancy, major life events, planning of functions, busy periods at work. My Cavalry cooked me meals all through my pregnancies, when the smell of all foods drove me into a deep and dark pit of despair. She still cooks for me! This Friday we have a sports carnival that starts at some ungodly hour (all for a good cause though!) and she is cooking me dinner for that night, so I don't need to worry about it myself after such a long day out of the house! She is also making me lunch, and coming to cheer on my kids (who she is also making lunch for), and helping me get out of the house in time - even though she lives 1/2 an hour away. I know. I sound completely incompetent. I can't stop the Cavalry. The Cavalry is a force to be reckoned with.  The Cavalry has more energy than you could ever hope to muster yourself, and you will only ever aspire to being able to live up to such high standards, as those set by this friend.

3. The Club.
It could be a book club, a sports club, an organisation or whatever. I am a member of several. The club are people you might only meet with occasionally, but they are always worth the wait. Some of the best laughs I have are with people in 'the club'. I'm talking about crying until you wet your pants kind of laughing. Plus I get to eat garlic prawns when the club meets, so that is an added bonus. People in 'the club' are often people you have a lot in common with. They are people who all have a common interest, and as such, are much easier to find common ground with. Plus they take me away from the frightening reality of my crazy life for one evening a month. CP seems to think the 'once a month' is more like once a fortnight these days. And he could be right. But being part of a club is nice.

4. The Workmates.
These are the people who you meet strictly through work. Sometimes they are 'local' (also married to farmers), and sometimes they are just doing their country service. They understand why you are stressed, and why you cry when you are busy. They remember your birthday and bring a cake into the staff room to celebrate. They look after your children when you are stuck in a meeting or are locked in the photocopy room trying to get something productive happening. They are people you will sometimes socialise with in other capacities (clubs, parents etc.) but you will relate to mostly in a work capacity. Workmates are sympathetic to the varying needs of a working parent.

5. The Good Samaritans.
These are the friends (who probably also fall into other categories) who you constantly feel like you will never be able to make it up to. They seem to do so many 'little things' for you, even though they genuinely don't seem to mind. My good samaritans pick my youngest daughter up from the school I teach at (since I get to school at some ridiculously early hour) and drop her off at the Kindy. Then they pick her up in the afternoon and bring her back to my school for me. These are genuinely GOOD people, who I respect and admire in so many ways.

6. The Wife/Mother Crowd.
When I was first dating CP, a farmers wife (who I had very little in common with at the time, but who had clearly noticed my discomfort whilst socialising with 'the country crowd') once told me that things will get easier when I am married with children. I remember being upset by her comment and thinking that it should have been easier than that. It should just be that people like me for me, regardless of whether or not I am married or if I have children. But I understand what she meant now. Once upon a time, that farmers wife was just like me. And all she meant was that it doesn't matter if you have nothing in common with anyone out here NOW, because when you add a husband and children into the equation, we all have that in common. And that's sometimes all it takes to make lifelong friendships.

Some of the women I have met through having children and being married are some of my closest friends. They are not necessarily people I would ever have spoken to in any other circumstances, and now I can't imagine not having them in my life. Our children will grow up together. Hopefully our husbands will grow up together too. Whoops... I mean grow older together...  :)

The wives and mothers are the people you will need to see you through the crazy years of sleepless nights, and screaming children. They will offer advice, recipes, clothes, baking dishes, ingredients and anything else they know has worked for them. They are people you call when you find a sick heifer over the back fence and can't find anyone at home to tell you if it is okay. They are the people you call when you don't know why your baby is crying. They are the poeple you speak to in front of the school to complain about your husband not helping with the children enough. They are people you will car pool to JRL practise 3 hours away with. They are good friends, not only because they have to be, but because they just are special people, just like you.

7. The Family.
The immediate family, the in-laws, the cousins, the grandparents. It doesn't matter who they are. They will be another component of your friendship network. I couldn't have survived without mine. CPs parents help me with the children. They have introduced me to some of my closest friends. CPs cousins were some of my first friends out here. They helped welcome me to a new, large family. And I love them. It's true that you CAN choose your friends, and you CAN'T choose your family. But I have been incredibly lucky with both.
And your husband. You have to like your husband. Even though he might leave the cupboard doors open, and never put the milk and margarine back in the fridge. I argue with mine a fair bit, but I love him. I love him a lot.

I have been asked in the past if the friendships you make 'out here' are as genuine as friendships I made 'before'. And I can honestly answer that, 'yes', these friendships are real and important, and even though they are also necessary, they are often even more important. Women out here understand what you go through on a daily basis. They understand the dynamics of farm life, and country living, and the work/life balance that you try to maintain even without local child care facilities.

My friends and I, we are peas in a pod. They help me to make sense of my life as it is. And I can't imagine things any other way.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Road Trains

THAT is not a truck! THIS, is a truck...

Depending on the weather, October and November are big 'harvest' months out here. Last year it was all over the shop, and some people didn't get their crops off until Christmas - if they were lucky. Many people's crops were entirely lost to wet weather. In a good year, there are a few weeks when the road becomes a traffic jam of road trains. Out here it's the wheat harvest primarily responsible for the traffic congestion, however in other areas of Australia it's the livestock movement that is responsible.

This is at a station in the territory. These are the trucks that will be removing the cattle (over 2000 of them)  for sale.
And this is the little dance that happens so that the operation runs smoothly. These photos were taken in 2001, but I would imagine that little has changed.

They're amazing machines (is that what you would even call them??), and I am not even a truck person. In fact, I've lost enough perfectly good windscreens to those suckers, that I have every right to detest the local road trains. On one occasion, I had practically pulled over off the side of the road. I'd completely come to a standstill, and a MASSIVE road train tore past me in the opposite direction at 100 miles an hour, flicking up rocks the size of bowling balls in its wake. My windscreen bore the brunt, and for a time, I viewed the world through a spiderweb of glass every time I got in the car.

A fellow blogger (checkout 'A Farmer's Wife' - love her stuff - pay close attention to point #6 for the purpose of this blog - even though many of the other points are even funnier!) once spoke of the perils of a farmer's wife learning to drive a truck herself (or a tractor for that matter). It's true that whilst the driving of a truck can keep one gainfully employed in the country, a farmer's wife should carefully consider the impact of such a talent on her quality of life!

But never fear my city friends... you will never be subject to the dangers of driving beside one of these beasts on your flawless stretches of highway. Road trains are contained to only limited sections of road around the country depending on their size. So unless you take a trip out to visit some of your 'country cousins', you will never experience the JOY (sarcasm intended) of overtaking one of these road hogs on a straight stretch of road. You will never experience the few seconds where you actually feel your heart stop beating. The moment where you hold your breath and tense up until eventually you actually make it past all three carriages and can re-enter the safetly of your own lane of traffic again.

And yet as much as they can frighten me, I am truly in awe at the sheer magnitude of 'the roadtrain'. And like it or lump it, every harvest we can look forward to the constant passing of them from the humble comfort of our bus stop, a mere metres away from their ultimate destination at the Grain Silos.

Our view from our bus stop during harvest.
Anyway, it doesn't matter what I think of the roadtrain. My children adore them. And anything that makes my children happy, makes me a little happy too.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Some Things I Know...

Because I can, I want to share some interesting conversations I had this week, which kind of sum up parts of my life very nicely. The first is a story about my present situation. How incredibly lucky and privileged I am when it comes to things I take for granted... like not having to buy meat. The second story is about my earlier life. The happy little bubble I lived in before I learned that life existed outside of Brisbane. Hope you enjoy!

Yesterday I had to walk into a butcher and BUY meat. This is significant because my husband is a sheep and cattle farmer. Buying meat is not something we really ever do. It's kind of a given that it will always be in my freezer. So when I organised a barbeque and realised we wouldn't have enough meat for everyone, I made an executive decision to just go and buy some. Here's what happened.

Butcher: Hello Mam. Can I help you?

Me: Ummm... yeah you could lower the price of lamb and beef by about $10 a kilo for a starters... (I should add that I was smiling, so he knew I was trying to be funny.)

Butcher: Yeah... you must be a farmer's wife?

Me: That obvious? I'm actually trying not to pass out or vomit at the moment. Are you kidding me? Is this how much meat seriously costs? Actually, we run sheep and cattle, so I don't do this very often... this is really hurting me!

Butcher: (laughing)

Me: Okay then... I'll take some of your overpriced porterhouse steak, and some of those lamb chops that surely must be laced with diamonds...

Okay, so maybe the conversation didn't go EXACTLY like that... but that was definitely the tone of it. And now that the meat is at home, I'm not sure if I want to eat it, or frame it?

It's kind of been a week for sharing completely irrelevant stories like this about my life. Earlier this week at work I had a discussion with a colleague about how on earth I ended up out here. The gist of it is as follows.

About eleven years ago, I received a phonecall from District Office (for non-teacher people, this is the group of people who hire teachers and put them into specific jobs). The conversation went something like this...

D.O: Hi, we'd like to offer you a teaching position in St George.

Me: Uhhhh... how can you offer me a job in Sydney, if I trained in QLD?

D.O: I think you might be mistaken. I mean St George, western QLD. Ever heard of it?

Me: No.

D.O: What about Roma?

Me: Uh-uh. No.

D.O: Toowoomba?

Me: I've heard of it before, I think.

In retrospect (and this will only really make sense to anyone who either knows ANY of these towns and their locations well enough to see any humour in that conversation at all, or who just checked an atlas to see what just happened) the poor lady on the phone at District Office probably rolled her eyes 175 times over the duration of a 5 minute phone call. Toowoomba (for those not in the know) is an hour drive from Brisbane. Having lived out here for over 10 years now, I find that when I am driving to Brisbane, and reach Toowoomba, I already feel like I am 'there'. So it is pretty funny to think that once upon a time, I considered Toowoomba to be the 'sticks'.

Everything changes when you live out here. Your perception of distance. Your understanding of just how small Australia is. The actual amount of money you are prepared to spend on red meat. Whatever it is, I have had my mind opened. I appreciate the vast difference between city and country. I can even laugh about it.

These are just some things I know.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

A Day For Mums

My children tell me daily that they love me 'more than the trees'. (A cute reference to how many trees they perceive there as being in the world). And today is supposed to be a day to pay tribute to me. Their earth mother. Actually, scratch that... just their actual mother.

I've never been big on 'occasions'. I love Christmas. I love the noise, the celebration, the time with family, the food, the time off. And if I am being entirely truthful, I actually do enjoy birthdays and Easter as well. I am a 'giver' by nature. Don't get me wrong. I like doing my fair share of taking too! But I get more of a kick out of doing things for others, and especially my kids.

I believe I may even have blogged once upon a time about how CP isn't big on gifts. Maybe that's the REAL reason I enjoy giving so much??

And so today was Mothers Day. I almost forgot. Thank goodness for teachers everywhere who send my little babies home armed with priceless treasures they have been concocting at school and Kindy.

My day started with Olivia entering my room and announcing loudly, "Oh my goodness! It's Mothers Day! You stay RIGHT THERE while I get you breakfast in bed! What do you want?"

I smiled sneakily and declared "Pancakes please!"

Olivia's jaw dropped and her right eyebrow raised questioningly. "Really?"

"No, of course not silly! Peanut butter on toast and a glass of juice would be fine." Actually, I'm not big on breakfast, but I was so excited about the prospect of Olivia getting it for me, that I would have probably eaten the cereal box, if she had served me that.

"And what would you like for Mothers Day, Mum?" Olivia seemed keen on making my day perfect.

"12 hours of solid, uninterrupted peace and quiet, please."

And again Olivia's jaw dropped and her eyebrow raised quizzically...

"Okay. Just a cuddle would be fine." I believe that's called compromise.

When Darcy and Sam awoke, I was set upon with cards and flowers picked from Granny's garden and cuddles. With a little help from Sara (au pair) during the day, I was also presented with a lovely short story (illustrated by Olivia, and partially written by Olivia too), and a gorgeous heart shaped cake. It was truly beautiful.

And then reality set in. I had piles of laundry to do, rooms to clean, floors to sweep, vacuum and mop. And Mothers Day was forgotten. But like I said... I'm not big on 'occasions', so technically there is nothing really to complain about. As I cleaned, and washed and folded and put away, I dreamed of an hour spent lying on a fold away massage bed. Hot rocks, essential oils, and gentle music playing in the background. In reality, children cried, fought and complained.

Tonight I am up later than usual. I am enjoying the serenity. I had the most wonderful dinner with my amazing family. I still dream of hot rocks, essential oils and gentle music, but I am incredibly satisfied with my little piece of farming paradise. My children tell me on a daily basis (and Darcy on a 100 x daily basis) that they love me 'more than the trees'. They are the three most amazing things to ever happen to me. They are little miracles. And even though I will always dream of a relaxing massage, I wouldn't swap my children for all the trees in the world.

Happy Mothers Day everyone!

Friday, May 6, 2011

A Day In The Life Of Me

So it's been a while since my last blog, and trust me when I say it's been hurting me. I love this stuff. But the phrase 'too busy to even scratch myself' has never been more true. I am technically working a mere three days a week. Practically a walk in the park right? Wrong. With three small children and a 40km drive to work, I am feeling the pinch. I have reached breaking point and something has to (eventually) give.

So tell me then, why I felt like an absolute cretin when a student recently spied me practically inhaling a 'V' energy drink? Why did I feel the need to hide this apparently awesome sin? Is it a sin, I wonder, to crave, nay, depend heavily upon, a double hit of gaurana and taurine to see me through the last 6 hours of my day?

Three days a week keeps me pretty busy. Okay, I'm lying. Three days leaves me feeling like a zombie from Night of the Living Dead. (Even more than usual - this also explains my increasing dependancy on energy drinks). This will be the norm for the remainder of the year. I am slightly nervous about the stress of it all. Not because of the work part, but because of the rest of my life. Let me take you through "a day in the life of me (when I work)."
Because of my lovely, darling children. I am usually woken between 5:30am and 6:00am. This is an improvement. We used to be woken around 5:00am. If I am lucky, I will listen to Sam calling "Good morning Mumma! Come and get me!" And if I am not so lucky, I will hear the heavy THUMP THUMP THUMP of Olivia, Darcy and Sam racing into our room, crying and shouting about who is going to lie next to Mum and who is going to lie next to Dad. Either way, I fly out of bed (always 1/2 an hour earlier than I would like to) and deal with whoever is crying the most, first. Usually this is my baby, Sam.

I change Sam's nappy. Fighting off his protest (a barrage of kicks and twists and turns), I pin him to the change table and force him into a new nappy. He is already happier, and I take this moment to dress him. It's at this point I start screaming like a banshee for Olivia to get her school uniform on, and Darcy to get dressed for Kindy.

Olivia drags herself... sloooowwwwwllllllllllllllllllllllllyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy back to her room and puts on her school shirt and shorts. Darcy is never far behind, and as I put Sam back onto the floor, I try to open Darcy's cupboard (and hope and pray that she hasn't thrown everything in and slammed it shut - in which case it will all come tumbling out again) and find something for her to wear for the day. I take out the first outfit.
"NOOO!!!!! Not that one! I don't want to wear a skirt!" (As I throw it back in and pull out some jeans.)

"NOOOO!!!! I HATE those jeans!" (Back, try again with shorts...)
"MUM!!!! I want to wear a dress!" (Strike three.)

"OK," I say,"a dress it is, and so help me God, if you don't just put it on, I think I am going to flip out!" And then as I rush to pull out a pair of socks for Olivia, Darcy is at my feet, "Help me put my undies on!" And then Sam is at my feet...
I'm hoping and praying that Charlie is already out of bed, dressed and in the kitchen, preparing breakfast. If not, I then turn my screaming banshee voice towards him.

"PLEASE start getting the kids breakfast sweety! I am rushed off my feet!"

I fly into the kitchen. Everyone is dressed (except for me), and huddled around Dad.
Olivia: Can I have porridge please? No sugar, lots of milk. Not too hot.

Darcy: Can I please have muesli and cornflakes, mixed together. Cornflakes on top, lots of milk. Not one of those baby spoons Dad!
Sam: Toast Daddy! Toast!

Darcy: I change my mind. Can I have porridge too? Honey and sugar.
Me: Right - is everyone good? Good! I'm going to get dressed.

Then it's a quick dash back to my room. I splash my face with water, removing the sleep from my eyes and brushing my hair. On a good day, I will already have laid out the clothes I am planning on wearing for the day. Excellent. On any other day, I start digging through my wardrobe for a weather appropriate piece. Mostly these days nothing seems to fit. I'm at that lovely 'in between' size, and I am certainly not complaining about where I am, but it would just be nice to fit something (ANYTHING) either way. I am dressed now, and still loathing myself in whatever I am wearing. I fight back tears just long enough to apply a small amount of makeup. Surely that will make me feel better. But no. It just makes everything worse. I remember once upon a time reading that 'as you get older, your skin begins to lose its elasticity.' I know what that means now. But sadly I am at that age where I am old enough to understand that fact, but not old enough to have embraced it.
I make it back to the kitchen in time to catch a bowl of cereal about to land on the floor. I do a quick dishwasher pack and bench clear, and then hurry everyone into the bathroom where there is a cacophony of voices, screams, toothbrushes flailing wildly in (hopefully) little mouths, water being turned on and turned off, and the repetitive sound of a hairbrush pulling through a child's hair. Hopefully we can scrounge around long enough to find some hair ties lying around somewhere.
I make a quick dash back to the kitchen as the children try to locate a pair of matching shoes. There is that terrifying moment of eerie silence as I run through the mental checklist of what needs to be done this morning.
1. Children: up, dressed, fed, hair and teeth done, shoes on, lunches in bags, homework completed and packed, library/sports bag packed, notes/money due packed, school hats packed... dear God, please let that be all.
As I sweep my hair up into a quick and easy kind-of ponytail, I run through my own list...
2. Dressed, makeup, hair, teeth, school 'stuff', handbag, lunch, purse, glasses, hat, phone... food (no time), dear God, please let THAT be all.
3. House: Is the dishwasher packed and is all food off the table? Check. Are there any jobs/shopping that need to be done in town today? Is a load of washing in? Is there fuel in the car? Do I have any classroom resources I will need at school today?
My head is literally swimming with the routine of morning chaos. This lasts until I have rounded up two of my three children (playing somewhere around the house by this stage), and am safely inside the vehicle, all children belted in tightly, 2-way turned on, phone plugged in, ready... and then I spend the 30 minute drive into town worrying about what I have forgotten.

My youngest stays at home with Sara (our au pair), who is actually a tremendous help. Sara is here so that I can actually go to work (there is no child care or day care facility in our town). Whilst Sara helps keep the house tidy, it's amazing how much damage three children can do to a clean house when they put their minds to it.

The school day itself is actually the calmest part of my day. I enjoy (in varying degrees) the six or so hours I am there immensely.

The drive home is filled with tales of how everyone's day was. What they did and didn't eat, what the best/worst bit of the day was. And then we alternate between practicing sight words and times tables, and listening and singing along to our favourite songs on the iPod. (But mostly just 'Who Let The Dogs Out' over and over again!)

Ultimately, I spend my four 'days off' cleaning and babysitting and trying to plan for school. Currently there is no such thing as 'me time.' That is also a lie. Somehow, I find time to throw myself into an episode of True Blood every now and then. I'm still trying to discern whether or not this is because I can totally relate to their 'living dead' exterior, or the fact that it is as far removed from my current state of existence that I find it mind-numbingly beautful?... hmmm.
Anyway. It's only with a full (double shot) can of 'V' that I am even remotely capable of facing the last six hours of my day. And I refuse to feel guilty about that.

I don't know how working mothers do this. But they certainly deserve a medal for it. Or at least a can of 'V' without feeling guilty.